Prosecution Recommends Prison Sentence For Production Staff Of Mnet’s “Idol School”

The prosecution has submitted their recommended sentence in the ongoing trial of the production staff of Mnet’s competition reality show “Idol School” on charges of obstruction of business and fraud.

On April 26, the Seoul Central District Court, led by head judge Lee Won Joong, held a hearing for Kim Tae Eun, the chief producer (CP) of “Idol School” and “Kim,” the planning and production team leader and acting department leader at Mnet. Both were charged with the same crimes by the prosecution, who recommended that Kim Tae Eun be sentenced to one year and six months in prison and “Kim” to one year in prison.

Mnet launched “Idol School” in July 2017 in response to the popularity of the “Produce 101” series, which also aired on Mnet. “Idol School” was designed to debut a girl group through an “expert education” concept, with 41 trainees entering the “school” and receiving instruction in various fields for 11 weeks. A total of nine members would be selected to debut in a new girl group, which eventually became fromis_9.

In September 2019, as the “Produce 101” series came under suspicion for manipulation of viewers’ votes, the police expanded their investigation to “Idol School” as well. In July 2020, Kim Tae Eun and “Kim” were charged with obstruction of business and fraud.

During their trial in November 2019, both defendants admitted to manipulating votes, but pleaded not guilty on the basis that their actions did not constitute a crime. Kim Tae Eun’s lawyer argued that the producers had adjusted the votes because the low viewership ratings and low amount of viewer participation meant that family and acquaintances’ votes were skewing the competition. The prosecution argued that their actions had resulted in a sense of loss and deprivation for both the contestants and the viewers and that the crime should not be taken lightly as a result. However, the prosecutors also added that it should be taken into account that the manipulation had not taken across multiple seasons like the “Produce” series.

The final hearing in this case will take place on June 10.

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