“Produce” PDs Reportedly Cited Pressure From Wanna One’s Success As Motive For Ranking Manipulation
On December 7, various media outlets reported details from the prosecution’s written indictment of Mnet producing director (PD) Ahn Joon Young and chief producer (CP) Kim Yong Bum.
According to the indictment, Ahn and Kim said that Wanna One and I.O.I’s success made them feel pressured about the subsequent success of IZ*ONE and X1. Unlike the first two seasons of the “Produce” series, which the producers have only admitted to partially manipulating, it is alleged that the final rankings of “Produce 48” and “Produce X 101” were entirely manipulated by the producers.
The investigation into Ahn’s case also revealed that he was recognized as a valuable employee by CJ ENM due to the financial success of the first two “Produce” seasons and that he received special incentives as a result.
Also according to the indictment, Ahn conspired to choose the final lineup in “Produce 48” regardless of votes when he saw that trainees whom he felt didn’t fit the concept made it in to the top ranks. In the case of “Produce X 101,” Ahn mentioned specifically X1’s long contract (five years) and their status as a boy group (inviting comparisons to Wanna One) as reasons for the manipulation of their rankings.
However, the media outlets who reported on the written indictment noted that Ahn’s testimony may not align with suspicions that he received special treatment from agencies. According to the prosecution, Ahn received this treatment 47 times from five entertainment agency representatives between January 2018 to July 2019. “Produce 48” aired from June to August 2018 and “Produce X 101” aired from May to July 2019. It has not been confirmed whether this special treatment influenced the ranking manipulation.
On December 3, eight people related to the case were indicted for suspicions such as obstruction of business, fraud, breach of trust through bribery, and violations of the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act. Ahn and Kim were indicted with detention; the others were indicted without detention.
Ahn and Kim’s first official preparatory hearing will take place on December 20.