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K-Pop Idol Drama: Power Struggle at the Top Spells Trouble for NewJeans and ILLIT

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“ILLIT is copying NewJeans in every aspect of entertainment activities such as hair, makeup, costumes, choreography, photography, video, and event appearances.”

Amidst a conflict between South Korea’s largest record planning company, HYBE, and its subsidiary label ADOR, CEO Min Hee Jin argued that the fundamental issue is not a hostile takeover but ILLIT’s copying of NewJeans.

NewJeans group image, ILLIT group image [Photo=ADOR, Belift Lab]

HYBE has launched an audit against Min Hee Jin, the CEO of ADOR, the subsidiary label responsible for the girl group NewJeans, and demanded her resignation. HYBE alleges that Min attempted to break away with NewJeans illegally and conspired to seize control of the company.

On the other hand, representatives for Min stated, “The problem was that HYBE and Chairman Bang Si Hyuk copied NewJeans when debuting ILLIT.” They claimed that “when we officially raised issues about HYBE’s actions towards NewJeans, HYBE suddenly informed us that they would suspend Min Hee Jin’s CEO duties and proceed with her dismissal.”

ILLIT is a five-member female idol group that debuted in March of this year. It was produced by HYBE’s label Belift Lab and by HYBE Chairman Bang Si Hyuk. CEO Min raised the issue of ILLIT copying NewJeans, stating, “ILLIT is being seen as Min Hee Jin’s style, Min Hee Jin’s genre, and a spin-off of NewJeans.” She further criticized, “The emergence of this spin-off has depleted NewJeans’ image and dragged them into unnecessary controversies, causing worry and fatigue among fans and the public. The instigators of this situation are HYBE and Belift Lab, but the damage falls squarely on ADOR and NewJeans.”

The conflict between HYBE and CEO Min Hee Jin has dragged their respective girl groups, NewJeans and ILLIT, into the fray, causing an uproar among fans. Online communities are already filled with comparisons of NewJeans and ILLIT’s concepts and comments attacking each other. The adult fight seems to be spreading to fandom fights. The atmosphere dampens the artists’ activities, and fans get upset.

NewJeans is set to make their comeback on May 24th. They plan to release double singles in Korea and Japan on May 24th and June 21st, respectively, and have a fan meeting at Tokyo Dome in Japan on June 26-27. They are ready to set a remarkable record of entering the Tokyo Dome in the shortest time (1 year and 11 months) after their debut as a foreign artist. Even if there is no problem with the May comeback, public attention may be diverted by unnecessary issues. Long-term plans are also a problem. Second-half comebacks or next year’s world tour may falter, and questions about NewJeans’ identity based on Min Hee Jin’s DNA may arise when considering measures such as Min Hee Jin’s resignation.

The biggest hit is ILLIT. ILLIT made a successful debut with their song “Magnetic,” sweeping various music charts and TV music programs, and made history as the first K-pop debut song to enter the US Billboard main chart Hot 100. It is achieved by pushing forward a teenage emotional image with HYBE’s full support. However, if they are framed as copying NewJeans, the range of music colors and concepts they can pursue in the future will inevitably narrow. Above all, making NewJeans’ fandom an enemy in a state where they have just debuted and the fandom has not yet settled down can only be a burden.

Most notably, NewJeans and ILLIT are comprised of members in their teens and early twenties. If they are exposed to unnecessary issues beyond their control, it could lead to significant mental distress. Even veteran celebrities in the industry endure the burden of malicious comments and the stress of constant comparison for years. Fans are concerned that such circumstances may negatively impact the artists, highlighting the importance of prioritizing the well-being and protection of artists over the desires and self-interest of adults.

joynews24
content@viewusglobal.com

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