Mr. Queen’ star Kim Jung-hyun, agency resolve contract expiration issue

Kim Jung-hyun in 'Mr. Queen' (O& Entertainment) 

It’s all’s well that ends well for Korean actor Kim Jung-hyun and agency O& Entertainment as the two have finally resolved the issue on the duration of his exclusive contract. 

Kim Jung-hyun’s exclusive contract with O& Entertainment ended at midnight on May 11 but since last month, the agency had been disputing its expiry date, saying it should be extended by 11 months owing to the time that the actor went on hiatus in 2018 after leaving the drama “Time” due to health reasons. 

O& Entertainment even filed a dispute with the Korea Entertainment Management Association (KEMA) regarding his contract. 

On May 14, Kim Jung-hyun, through a public relations firm, issued a statement to say that he and O& Entertainment have finally agreed that the contract between them had already expired. 

“The representative of O& Entertainment Co. Ltd. and the elder brother of actor Kim Jung-hyun, his representative, met face-to-face today (May 14) to solve the misunderstandings of each other,” it said. 

It added, “Accordingly, an agreement was signed confirming the exclusive contract signed by O& Entertainment Co. Ltd. and actor Kim Jung-hyun ended on May 11, 2021 at 24:00, based on the ‘original contract.’ Both sides decided to understand each other without any conditions and support future activities.” 

O& Entertainment is a subsidiary of CoAsia Optics, which makes optical lenses. According to corporate filings, O& Entertainment posted net losses of 605.82 million won (about $538,000) in 2020 and 792.1 million won ($703,000) in 2019. 

The issue of Kim Jung-hyun’s conflict with his agency surfaced last month after Korean news outlet Dispatch published a news story on April 8 that the actor and actress Seo Ji-hye, his co-star in “Crash Landing on You,” were dating. It turned out that Kim Jung-hyun was seeking her help to transfer to her agency, Culture Depot. 

After it came out, the issue of his attitude towards co-star Seohyun during the press conference for “Time” made headlines. 

On April 12, Dispatch published another story stating that Seo Ye-ji manipulated Kim Jung-hyun and ordered him not to have any “skinship,” or physical contact, and romantic scene with Seohyun. Seo Ye-ji admitted that she and Kim Jung-hyun became lovers but denied the accusations and blamed it on Kim Jung-hyun.

Kim Jung-hyun issued a statement to apologize to Seohyun, the director of “Time,” writers, fellow actors and staff. 

“The memories of the 'Time' production presentation remain like shards. My appearance at that time was unacceptable even to me. I regret it that I wish I could bring back time. I've brought onto myself to do something unpleasant because of personal matters. I could not fulfill my responsibilities as a protagonist and actor. I apologize without any excuse,” he said. 

He added, “In the drama 'Time,' my behavior at the production presentation and the whole process of dropping out were wrong. I sincerely apologize to actor Seohyun, who was hurt by this, and to all the people who suffered with it at the time.”

Kim Jung-hyun promised to meet with the people in-charge of “Time” and apologize to them personally. 

“If I am given the chance, I will not take anything for granted, and I will always try to be a healthy actor who reflects and manages himself. I am sorry,” he added. 

On May 12, Kim Jung-hyun issued a statement to say that his contract with O& expired at midnight of May 11. 

It added that Kim Jung-hyun complained of health problems before he was cast in ‘Time” and he actually vomited on the day of the press conference as his health was very poor. 

“However, the agency ignored it and pushed ahead with the schedule and did not fulfill its duty to protect its actors,” it added. 

An exclusive report by Korean news outlet YTN said O& Entertainment has been preparing to close its business since March. 

Documents obtained by YTN showed that O& Entertainment was already in the process of closing as of March 31 and it actually issued dismissal notices to employees, including managers.

O& Entertainment’s parent company stated the reasons for the closure: the operating performance in the last five years did not solve its deficit, the uncertainty of future business prospects, and the difficulty of maintaining an entertainment business for a manufacturing-based parent company which has no expertise in the entertainment business. 

An official of O& Entertainment told YTN said, "At the time, in a situation where the parent company was contemplating the closure of O&N Entertainment, it was determined that if Kim Jung-hyun, the only source of income, stayed there, it would be possible to lead O& Entertainment so we talked about extending the contract.” 

In the end, Kim Jung-hyun submitted a document stating that he would remain with O& Entertainment until his contract expired.

With the issue of his contract behind him, the question now is when is Kim Jung-hyun going to resume his career.