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HYBE chairman ‘repeatedly ignored NewJeans members,’ according to parents

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Bang Si-hyuk, chairman of HYBE at left, and girl group NewJeans [NEWS1, LEVI'S]
Bang Si-hyuk, chairman of HYBE at left, and girl group NewJeans

HYBE broke its promise to NewJeans that it would be the first girl group to debut from Source Music while the company’s chairman, Bang Si-hyuk, “repeatedly ignored the members of NewJeans when they said hello to him in the hallways,” according to the members’ parents.

Local media Ilgan Sports reported on Monday that Min Hee-jin, CEO of NewJeans’ agency ADOR, sent an email to HYBE on April 3 containing testimonies from the group’s five members — Minji, Hanni, Haerin, Danielle and Hyein — that the company went back on its word regarding debuting NewJeans first.

The members often told their parents that HYBE CEO Bang “pretended he didn’t recognize NewJeans members every time they ran into him in the office,” even when he came face to face with individual members at different times, according to an email that their parents sent to Min on March 31.

Bang “frequently looked the other way inside an elevator, pretended he didn’t see them or intentionally changed his course,” the parents said in an email.

Min forwarded the email to HYBE and demanded an answer from HYBE on why ILLIT — a five-member girl group that freshly debuted last March under another HYBE subsidiary, Belift Lab — imitated NewJeans’ concept and images without permission, also requesting changes to be made so as to protect NewJeans’ brand and reputation.

Girl group NewJeans [ADOR]
Girl group NewJeans [ADOR]

“The series of events that have taken place in the past, as well as things that we just could not include in this email, give us no choice but to believe that as the legal guardians of NewJeans, the trust between us and HYBE has been compromised,” the parents said.

HYBE denied the parents’ claims in a press release on Monday afternoon. The company said that it already responded to Min’s email on April 16 and denounced her for getting the artists and their families involved in the brawl.

“The claim that the situation began from [Bang Si-hyuk] ‘mistreating [NewJeans] by ignoring them’ is not true,” HYBE said.

“We deeply regret CEO Min Hee-jin’s use of the artists and even their parents for her own protection. We ask that she truly endeavor to protect artists instead of trying to manipulate the public sentiment.”

Girl group NewJeans [ADOR]

Girl group NewJeans [ADOR]

ADOR’s board meeting was held last Friday, which agreed to convene a shareholders meeting on May 31. Shareholders will vote on whether or not to dismiss Min, the current CEO of ADOR and producer of the agency’s only girl group NewJeans.

HYBE currently owns 80 percent of ADOR, Min 18 percent and other executives of ADOR 2 percent.

Min has filed for an injunction with the court to stop the parent label from exercising its right as the majority owner of ADOR during the shareholders’ meeting.

A hearing is set to take place on May 17.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]

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