Government to order investigation into HYBE chart manipulation complaint involving BTS

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In the midst of all the conspiracies and mess floating around about HYBE and ADOR and their artists, one stood out as having at least something like that pesky evidence thing behind it, which was the re-emergence of sajaegi allegations against HYBE back in 2017 connected to promoting BTS in 2015.

Essentially, HYBE was blackmailed back then by a man who claimed to have done chart manipulation work for them. The man was sentenced for his crime, but the judge’s ruling appeared to validate that the illegal tactics were indeed used, which is why his blackmailing of the company worked to begin with. Since then, a lawyer had verified that was indeed the judge’s ruling, and mainstream outlets have also reported as much about the ruling.

Lee was sentenced to a year in prison and the three others were let off with a fine, but the term “sajaegi marketing” was specifically mentioned in the ruling, with the court saying that Lee had made a “sajaegi marketing deal” with Big Hit Entertainment and threatened the company based on that account.

The court specified “illegal marketing” in the verdict and pointed out in the sentencing reasons that “Big Hit Music engaged in marketing activities through improper means, giving grounds for extortion.”
Regarding this, Attorney Noh Jong-eun, from the law firm Presence, stated, “The ‘illegal marketing’ in this case refers to ‘music chart manipulation marketing,’ and the court decided to specify this fact because it determined that such facts existed.”

Well, now it’s being reported that the Ministry Of Culture, Sports, & Tourism (MCST) have received a petition to look into the claim, and will order it be investigated by Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), and will also look into the request to revoke BTS’s Order Of Cultural Merit.

The case will be handed over to the Korea Creative Content Agency (Kocca), the state-run institution in charge of all genres of popular culture in Korea, which will run a thorough investigation and demand an answer from HYBE.
An additional petition was also sent to the culture ministry, requesting that the Order of Cultural Merit, given out by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, be revoked from the group, should the allegation be true.

Notably, it was also reported that HYBE might have done this sajaegi without the knowledge of BTS.

Lawyer Jeon Jae-no stated, “While it is acknowledged that Big Hit Music was involved in chart manipulation and illegal marketing, there is no evidence in the verdict suggesting that BTS members were aware of or involved in these activities.” In other words, BTS members may not have been aware of or involved in the illegal marketing activities stated by the court, indicating the possibility that these actions were carried out solely by the agency.

Meanwhile, HYBE have denied the claims of sajaegi, referring reporters back to their 2017 explanation that it was simply paying for viral marketing.

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While I’m aware people continue to argue over this, all the reports that I’ve seen have been clear that sajaegi was involved, and so have the interpretation of the ruling by legal experts. Thus, barring new information emerging somehow, the investigation at this point seems more about the credibility of MCST and KOCCA than anything else.