A Korean appeals court has named K-pop boy bands NU’EST’s Baekho and UP10TION’s Lee Jin-hyuk as among the 12 victims of vote rigging by producers of the popular Korean survival audition TV show “Produce 101.”
During a hearing on Nov. 18, the Seoul High Court affirmed the sentences of “Produce 101” producers Ahn Joon-young and Kim Yong-beom. Ahn was sentenced to two years in prison and Kim to one year and eight months.
In May this year, the Seoul Central District Court handed down the prison sentences for the two producers.
The court affirmed their prison sentences for rigging the text votes and manipulating the rankings in the shows “Produce 101” in 2016, “Produce 101” Season 2 in 2017, “Produce 48” in 2018 and “Produce X 101” in 2019 to favor certain contestants.
“The candidates who were eliminated from the competition because of the fraud will live with the traumatic experience for the rest of their lives, and TV viewers proud of voting for their idols were left with a bitter sense of betrayal,” according to the Seoul High Court, Yonhap News reported.
At the hearing, the court revealed the names of the 12 contestants who were unfairly eliminated from the shows but did not disclose the contestants who benefitted from their elimination.
They are Kim Soo-hyun and Seo Hye-rim in “Produce 101”; NU’EST member Baekho and Sung Hyun-woo in “Produce 101” Season 2; Lee Ka-eun and Han Cho-won in “Produce 48”; and Anzardi Timothee, Kim Kook-heon, Lee Jin-woo, Goo Jung-mo, UP10TION’s Lee Jin-hyuk and Geum Dong-hyun in “Produce X 101.”
Lee Ka-eun originally placed fifth in the voting while Hand Cho-won ranked sixth but they failed to debut in IZ*ONE. In “Produce X 101,” Goo Jung-mo ranked sixth, Lee Jin-hyuk placed seventh and Geum Dong-hyun was in eight place but they failed to make it due to vote manipulation.
“Right from the outset (of the scandal), we figured out who the victims were, and have been discussing compensation with them. We sincerely apologize for the pain we have caused the trainees and their families,” Mnet said after the court decision was handed down.
The shows produced the K-pop project groups I.O.I, Wanna One, IZONE and X1. IZONE released the album “Oneiric Diary” last June while the other three groups had disbanded.
The controversy began after the finale of “Produce X 101” in July 2019. Viewers and fans noticed that there was a pattern in the difference in votes of the 20 finalists.
This led to an investigation that resulted in the indictment of Ahn, Kim and six other people in December 2019. Through their lawyer, Ahn and Kim admitted most of the charges.
X1 debuted in August 2019 but disbanded last January due to the vote-rigging controversy. The decision was made during a meeting on Jan. 6 between CJ ENM, Swing Entertainment, X1’s agency, and the CEOs of the respective agencies of the X1 members.
“This is Play M Entertainment, Yuehua Entertainment, TOP Media, OUI Entertainment, MBK Entertainment, Woollim Entertainment, DSP Entertainment, Starship Entertainment, Brand New Music. We have discussed with X1 members and their management companies in order to come to an agreement. However, we could not meet in the middle, thus, we decided on X1’s disbandment.”” the agencies said, according to Osen.
Before this, CJ ENM CEO Heo Min Hwe issued an apology about the vote manipulation and said “this incident is entirely at our fault, no need to justify anymore. We bow our head apologizing for immensely disappointing you with a series of incidents related to Mnet. In particular, I feel extremely sad when I think about the trauma that so many trainees, who devoted all their hearts to the single dream of making a debut, suffered. I am really sorry,” according to Osen.