Artists in the South Korean entertainment industry are signed to a specific agency that manages them. Like in all industries, artists are sometimes mismanaged and mistreated by their agencies.
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Some choose to keep quiet because of the contracts they've signed, but others came forward, spoke up, and even went ahead to file lawsuits against their agencies.
Here are some of the idols that have sued their agencies for various reasons.
On November 25 of last year, BlockBerry Creative announced the removal of Chuu from LOONA. Previously, in December 2021, Chuu filed a lawsuit against BlockBerry Creative to have her exclusive contract terminated.
Following Chuu's removal, it was reported that the remaining members of LOONA, with the exception of ViVi and HyunJin, filed an injunction to suspend their contracts with their agency in the same month. On January 13, reports revealed HeeJin, Kim Lip, JinSoul, and Choerry had won their lawsuits to suspend their contracts, while the court didn’t find the contracts of HaSeul, YeoJin, Yves, Olivia Hye, and Go Won unfair, and they lost their lawsuits.
2. LEE SEUNG-GI
Lee Seung-gi's legal representative disclosed on December 22, 2022, that he filed a legal case for fraud and embezzlement against Hook Entertainment's CEO as well as the agency's former and current directors. According to the released statement, the agency hid the profits that were being generated by Lee Seung Gi through music for approximately 18 years since his debut and didn’t pay him for it. Furthermore, Hook’s former and current directors deceived him and also didn’t pay a part of his advertisement model profits.
3. OMEGA X
On November 16, 2022, OMEGA X held a press conference and announced that they would take strong legal action against their then agency, SPIRE Entertainment, and its former CEO over accusations of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, assault, and gaslighting. The members alleged that the agency had mistreated them for quite a while. The news of abuse came to light in October 2022 after a fan posted a video on Twitter of the CEO yelling and hitting the members publicly after their concert in Los Angeles.
On January 11, OMEGA X took to Instagram to share that they won the lawsuit against the agency to suspend the validity of their exclusive contract.
In order to end their exclusive contract, B.A.P filed a lawsuit in 2014 against their label, TS Entertainment, alleging unfair treatment. They claimed that their contracts were significantly more advantageous to the agency and unfavorable to the members. The company had been profiting from them without paying the members their dues. The contracts also included unjust terms such as keeping the members under the label for longer than the agreed-upon seven years, and the official start date of the contract was not the date it was signed but the date of the release of their first album.
5. LAI KUAN-LIN
Lai Kuan-lin, a former member of Wanna One, sued his management company, Cube Entertainment, in 2019 to get his exclusive contract terminated. According to his released statement, the company transferred his management rights to a third-party Chinese agency without his or his family’s permission. Moreover, the label allegedly added schedules without his consent, which conflicted with his other activities.
Despite losing his first lawsuit, the artist filed another one, and on June 17, 2021, the Seoul Central District Court ruled in his favor, terminating his contract with Cube Entertainment.
6. KANG DANIEL
Another former member of Wanna One, Kang Daniel, also filed a lawsuit against his then-agency, LM Entertainment, in 2019. According to the statement of his legal representative, LM Entertainment distinctly violated the exclusive contract between the company and Kang Daniel by signing a joint business contract without the idol’s consent that transferred the rights to various sections of his exclusive contract to a third party for compensation.
However, both sides ultimately dropped their injunctions and came to an agreement through meditation by CEMA (Korea Entertainment Management Association).
7. LUHAN, TAO AND KRIS
Luhan, Tao, and Kris, three Chinese members of EXO, sued their company, SM Entertainment, to nullify their contracts at different times. Kris filed the complaint in 2014. Following him, Luhan also filed a lawsuit that same year, and Tao filed a lawsuit to terminate his exclusive contract in 2015. Their legal disputes shared similar causes. They claimed that their contracts were invalid due to contract duration, mistreatment from the company, unjust profit distribution, and other factors. All three of them departed the company and the group.