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‘Let’s make up for NewJeans’ sake’: Min Hee-jin offers peace to HYBE after winning court injunction

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The winner has spoken — Let’s stop hurting each other and make up for the sake of NewJeans, said NewJeans producer Min Hee-jin at the press conference held on the day ADOR decided to keep her as CEO.

“We’ve all been hurt, probably myself the most,” Min told reporters on Friday afternoon in her first appearance in just a little over a month since her last press conference on April 25.

Min adopted a visibly brighter mood — evident by a visibly brighter outfit — which had transformed from a darker-colored casual jersey with her face covered by a blue baseball cap to a formal yellow jacket with all of her hair neatly pulled back. The outfit change demonstrated her “immense sense of relief of being proven innocent by the court,” according to the ADOR CEO.

CEO of ADOR, agency to girl group NewJeans, Min Hee-jin smiles during a press conference held Friday in central Seoul. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

“I just feel so free now that I’ve won the [injunction] case,” she said, sporting a much more restrained and laid-back manner compared to her prior presentation to the press, during which she burst into tears and let out explicit words toward HYBE’s executives. None of this took place on Friday.

“I honestly have no idea what the conflict was for, or for whom,” she said. “I’m just so tired of everyone trying to bring everyone down and hurting each other. I know that you all are tired, too. There are so many things that can’t just be explained in a few lines of chats or articles. What I wish for right now is that we all come to our senses and come to a conclusion that’s for the good of all.”

Earlier on Friday morning, shareholders of ADOR voted to keep Min as the CEO of the NewJeans agency, but with the exchange of two existing board members for three new personnel recommended by HYBE — an outcome relatively favorable to the CEO, at least for now.

HYBE was banned from exercising its rights as the 80-percent owner of ADOR after the Seoul Central District Court took Min’s side and approved her request for an injunction in an unexpected outcome a day earlier.

Min had filed for an injunction to the Seoul Central District Court to prevent HYBE from exercising its rights as a main ADOR shareholder in regard to firing Min as CEO. Min’s side argued that the contract between her and HYBE explicitly states that Min should serve as ADOR CEO for five years, meaning that it is therefore unfair for HYBE to demand her resignation.

The court “recognized the attempt by Min Hee-jin to weaken HYBE’s control over ADOR and seek a way to manage the company independently from HYBE,” but concluded that she did not act on her ambition. Min’s attorney had also argued that there was no “attempted” breach under the Criminal Act during a press conference held on April 25.

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

“Min Hee-jin’s actions can be a betrayal of HYBE but it is difficult to be seen as a breach of trust against ADOR,” the court said.

“I have been hurt emotionally, but so have they,” Min said. “But I want to rise above. We really poured everything into the fight, so let’s just move on — let’s move on to the next chapter.”

HYBE hasn’t yet responded in any way other than that it will push forward with the police charges, but the three new board members give HYBE “a fighting chance,” should they decide to pursue any action.

Three HYBE executives were named as the new members of ADOR’s board on Friday — Chief Human Resources Officer Kim Ju-young, Chief Strategy Officer Lee Jae-sang and Chief Financial Officer Lee Kyung-jun — signaling a likely uphill battle for Min in her decision-making in the company.

It is possible that the three board members could outvote Min and push for a co-CEO, but that would go against the contract between Min and HYBE, according to Min’s attorney Lee Sook-mi of Shin & Kim.

CEO of ADOR, agency to girl group NewJeans, Min Hee-jin smiles during a press conference held Friday in central Seoul. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]
CEO of ADOR, agency to girl group NewJeans, Min Hee-jin smiles during a press conference held Friday in central Seoul. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

“It’s up to HYBE now,” Min said. “As I’ve been saying, trust is a two-way agreement. The outcome will differ according to how they will react. I know that HYBE may misunderstand where I’m coming from but I’m willing to give up a lot of things, even money, if they just fix a clause in the contract. But right now, it’s difficult for me to say anything because it’s going to change according to how they react.”

For now, Min “believes that the new board members will work in the best interest of NewJeans” and not fight her every step of the way toward her “vision” for herself and the girl group.

“My vision for myself and NewJeans is just to be happy,” Min said. “All I hope for is for all of us to be able to pursue that vision. I can honestly really give up the money. We had a dream, which may be money to some people, but for us, we have a vision.”

“We’re preparing to perform at the Tokyo Dome in June and go on a world tour next year,” she continued. “In order to do that, we need a set track list, which is why we have to have an album by the end of the year. The past month has obscured all those plans but I hope that everyone knows that I wish the best for myself and NewJeans. I really hope to come to an amicable agreement with HYBE.”

NewJeans released its two-track single on May 24 and is set to perform at the Tokyo Dome on June 26 and 27. ADOR announced that the quintet will release a full-length album by the end of the year and go on a world tour next year.

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