Update: Agencies Deny New Chart Manipulation Accusations Made By Political Party + To Take Legal Action
Updated April 9 KST:
The agency of girl group BADKIZ has now also come forward to deny allegations of chart manipulation.
A representative of US Entertainment stated, “Last year, BADKIZ transferred agencies to US Entertainment to make a new start. We have confirmed with their former agency, and the former agency stated they did not put out an album in two years and the suspicions of chart manipulation are not at all true.”
The representative went on to deny that they had committed sajaegi or tried to manipulate the charts. “If false information continues to be spread, we will be taking strong legal action against the defamation of our artists,” they said.
Updated April 8 KST:
Further statements have been made by related parties after the company Creativer was accused of manipulating charts at the request of several artists.
A source from Korea’s largest music site Melon told EDaily, “It’s not true that Melon has experienced ID hacking, and we have defenses and a monitoring system in place to prevent artificial chart intervention.”
The source spoke about Melon’s current measures to protect its charts from sajaegi, the manipulation of music charts and sales/streaming numbers by an artist’s agency.
“Even before the issue of digital music sajaegi was brought up, we have been in discussion with the related government department to stabilize the market,” the source stated. “If we receive a request from an investigative agency that aims to carry out an investigation that serves the public interest, then we will cooperate as much as the law permits.”
The head of Creativer also spoke to the news outlet Sports Seoul. They said, “The artists mentioned by the People’s Party are in no way connected to us. A misunderstanding occurred in the process of us developing and testing the platform.”
“We have not received requests to commit sajaegi or tried to do so,” they said. “If we had committed sajaegi then we would take the punishment for that, but we do not have the capability or conditions required to commit sajaegi.”
Creativer is described as an artificial intelligence curation company that was launched by the marketing agency N Star Company in 2017. Recently, N Star was accused of committing sajaegi for artists Song Ha Ye and Young Tak. The head of N Star stated that after establishing Creativer, they were monitoring a new digital music platform and used songs by Song Ha Ye and Young Tak as part of their testing because they are acquainted with the artists’ agency.
In regards to the latest accusations, the head of N Star stated that they have never received requests for sajaegi from the mentioned agencies and said they will be releasing a statement that will clear up suspicions. They commented that if The People’s Party had checked with them about the truth first, these misunderstandings would not have occurred. “I apologize to the mentioned artists who are suffering because of me,” they added.
One of the artists accused by The People’s Party candidate Kim Geun Tae of sajaegi is Ko Seung Hyung. On April 8, an outlet reported that they’d spoken to a former employee of Ko Seung Hyung’s agency STX LIONHEART.
The report stated the source had told them, “It’s true that there was a request made for Ko Seung Hyung’s sajaegi, and [we] gave them tens of millions of won [approximately tens of thousands of dollars].”
A source from STX LIONHEART later told Maeil Business Newspaper, “The suspicions about digital sajaegi are groundless. We’re currently looking into the person who claims to be a former employee and we’re preparing legal action.”
In addition to Lee Gikwang, BOL4, and Song Ha Ye, whose agencies previously revealed plans to take legal action, the agencies of So Hyang and Ali have also denied the allegations and announced plans for legal action.
Regarding these announcements by the artists, Xportsnews reports that Kim Geun Tae has said, “It’s their right to take legal action and they have every right to explain themselves.” He added, “If they respond by taking legal action, then I will also respond according to procedure.”
The People’s Party has accused artists of chart manipulation.
On April 8, The People’s Party candidate Kim Geun Tae held a press conference at the National Assembly revealing the circumstances and evidence surrounding marketing company Creativer’s illegal acquisition and misuse of regular citizens’ online accounts in order to manipulate music charts.
Through five months of research, Kim Geun Tae identified 1,716 Daum and Melon accounts of Korean citizens that were used to illegally manipulate music charts. The victims of the hacking were people of all genders and ages, ranging from people born in 1935 to 2003.
Calling themselves a marketing company, Creativer performed illegal “under marketing.” Out of the hours that count toward chart results, Creativer used the time users are least active, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., to carry out the manipulation. Activities included searching songs to place them in [Melon’s] hot search words section and streaming and downloading songs. In order to avoid being accused of manipulation, Creativer simultaneously carried out viral marketing and also played other musicians’ songs, such as IU’s, to divert suspicion.
The companies that manipulated the charts would borrow and partition servers to open multiple windows and play music, or they would make computers be recognized as mobile devices in order to play and download songs. Furthermore, those behind the chart manipulation also manipulated realtime searches on main search engines as well as realtime votes and comments on online communities.
According to the reports, the artists that implemented underhanded marketing techniques with Creativer and its derivative Lionti Holdings were artists Ko Seung Hyung, GWSN, BADKIZ, BOL4, Song Ha Ye, Young Tak, YOYOMI, So Hyang, Ali, and Highlight’s Lee Gikwang.
Following the reports, representatives of Lee Gikwang, YOYOMI, GWSN, BOL4, Ko Seung Hyung, Young Tak, and Song Ha Ye all strongly denied the claims. The agencies of Lee Gikwang, BOL4, and Song Ha Ye also revealed plans to take legal action for the spread of false rumors and defamation.
Kim Geun Tae stated, “Due to illegal chart manipulations, songs by good musicians who should have gotten the spotlight were unable to properly get attention. We will fight till the end so that a fair competition can take place.” Kim Geun Tae expressed his hope to remove the manipulation of public opinion on the internet completely with the help of the public.
The People’s Party announced their intention to reveal the 1,716 hacked Daum and Melon accounts soon. Information such as the servers and IP addresses used in the chart manipulation will be transferred over to an investigative agency. The People’s Party also requested the investigative agency for a strong punishment in the case that the evidence is destroyed and also asked Melon and other music streaming platforms to reveal the history logs of the music played by the hacked accounts.
Earlier, Kim Geun Tae had acted as the spokesperson for the Right Solid Party to provide supposed evidence of Song Ha Ye’s song using chart manipulation. At the time as well, her agency denied the claims and revealed plans to take legal actions.