KARA’s Legal Dispute Grows into a Battle Between Two Prominent Attorneys


Amidst the deepening legal dispute between KARA and their management agency DSP Media lie two prominent entertainment lawyers who each party has hired lately as their new legal representatives. One is Sejong Law Firm’s Lim Sang Hyuk and the other is Hankyul Law Firm’s Kim Jin Wook. Ironically, both has led and won separate lawsuits against SM Entertainment just recently. Lim will now be the legal representative of DSP Media and Kim will represent the three KARA girls (Nicole, Seung Yeon, Ji Young) who requested a contract termination from DSP.

Lim is a veteran attorney in this field who’s led many entertainment lawsuits in the past. He currently leads JYJ’s legal team and this past Thursday won the lawsuit against SM Entertainment (SME) that invalidated SME’s allegedly exclusive contract with JYJ. Lim in the past has also been part of the “Celebrity X-Files” case and solved the dispute between ad agencies and celebrities. He also represented a Japanese game company involved in a lawsuit against singer Ivy’s plagiarism allegation for “Sonata of Temptation.” Sejong Law Firm itself is one of the largest law firms in Korea, with over 300 attorneys in its staff.

Kim on the other hand has been deeply involved in film industry problems as Hankyul Law Firm currently handles over 60% of all legal issues and contracts in Korean movies. But Kim has also led the legal team for former Super Junior member Han Geng in his lawsuit against SME last year (He won the case). Han Geng’s exclusive contract with SME was ruled invalid after Kim took over the case, and Kim’s outstanding skills at defending his clients have garnered much industry-wide attention.

Lim and Kim have maintained a friendly relationship so far mainly due to their common goal of defending their respective clients (JYJ and Hangeng) against SME. But the two are expected to battle it out this time as they sit on opposite ends in the KARA v. DSP Media case. The biggest point in dispute is the amount of earnings: the three KARA girls say each member received only 860,000 won ($775 USD) per month from January to June of last year, while DSP claims each member got more than 200 million won ($180,000 USD) in total over the same period. As big as the gap between the two amounts is, this lawsuit is expected to be a dogfight—and standing at the center of it will be these two star attorneys.

But the real issue here is not about who wins or not. Rather, it’s the fact that any celebrity that gets involved in such controversies or legal battles, like KARA has, inevitably must take damaging blows to their reputation. In other words, regardless of the lawsuit’s outcome, DBSK and JYJ, Super Junior and Hangeng, as well as all the KARA girls are no doubt in danger of hurting their celebrity brand, and perhaps K-Pop’s overall image as a whole. It’s just a losing battle for all parties involved.

(Original article written in Korean by @alice; Translated by @eugenekim222)