Hyein, Hanni Pham, Minji, Danielle Marsh and Haerin of NewJeans.
(Araya Doheny/FilmMagic)

HYBE Controversy Explained: What’s Going On With ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin?

This might be K-pop’s biggest controversy of the year. If you’re a K-pop fan, you’ve heard of HYBE Corporation, but you might not be familiar with ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin or what’s going on between them.

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Also known as HYBE Labels, the company houses several subsidiaries, such as Pledis Entertainment, Source Music, and more. They have several star-studded names under their roster, such as BTS, SEVENTEEN, TXT, and LE SSERAFIM. For many K-pop fans, HYBE was considered THE biggest K-pop company, able to house several labels and artists and boost them into A-list stardom.

However, things seem to be changing. Currently, HYBE Labels is involved in a messy feud with one of its subsidiaries, ADOR, and its CEO, Min Hee-jin. The drama has gotten messy, with allegations of plagiarism, shamanism, cult affiliations, and more. Several artists have been dragged into the feud, with some garnering sympathy from the public and others having their reputations trashed.

Here’s a full run-down of HYBE’s messy feud with Min Hee-jin, the CEO of ADOR and creative director of girl group NewJeans.

HYBE initiates audit against ADOR and Min Hee-jin

On April 22, 2024, HYBE surprised the public after it was announced they were initiating an audit on ADOR. The company initiated an audit against ADOR, believing the label’s management was using underhanded methods to usurp total control of ADOR and become independent. HYBE called for a shareholders’ meeting to hold Min Hee-jin and ADOR’s management accountable, as well as appoint someone from HYBE to work as a director under ADOR. They also demanded Min Hee-jin resign from her role as CEO.

That same day, ADOR released its own statement about HYBE’s audit. There, they dragged another artist into the mix: ILLIT, a girl group under BELIFT Lab, which is also a subsidiary under HYBE Labels. In their statement, they claimed that although ADOR and NewJeans are under HYBE, it is the company itself that is infringing on NewJeans. They claimed that ILLIT had copied NewJeans; everything from their hair, make-up, clothing, choreography, photos, videos, and event appearances were mentioned in the statement.

They claimed that when ILLIT debuted, people online thought it was NewJeans, and that the group had a concept that was “Min Hee-jin’s style.” ADOR stated that HYBE was heavily involved in ILLIT copying NewJeans’s style, noting that the company’s founder and chairman produced their debut album. ADOR has stated that ILLIT copying NewJeans’s concept has caused damage to both the group and ADOR. They did not want NewJeans to be associated with ILLIT and stated that they are not sibling groups despite both coming from HYBE Labels. ADOR claimed that they tried to raise this issue to both HYBE and BELIFT Lab, but stated they received excuses rather than concrete answers. Soon after, Min Hee-jin was informed that they wanted to dismiss her as the label’s CEO.

HYBE releases audit results

On April 25, HYBE put out a press release to inform people of the results of the audit. They stated that HYBE had secured evidence that proved Min Hee-jin formed a plan to usurp total management control of ADOR. According to the release, one of the auditees submitted evidence that contained information on how they would seize control, such as contacting potential investors. There was also supposedly a written document on how they would attack HYBE during the investigation.

It was also claimed that Min Hee-jin instructed her management team to brainstorm ways to pressure HYBE to sell their 80% of ADOR shares. Text chains of Min Hee-jin allegedly instructing people to “torment” and “counterattack” HYBE were shared with the public. Another piece of evidence claimed Min Hee-jin used the words “ultimately leaving HYBE” in a written message.

The company announced it would be filing a formal complaint against Min Hee-jin and other members of ADOR’s management for occupational breach of trust.

After she accused ILLIT of copying NewJeans, Korean media outlets reported that Min Hee-jin also accused more groups of plagiarizing the ADOR girl group. Yonhap News claimed that Min Hee-jin accused TWS and RIIZE of copying NewJeans, as well. They also reported that Min Hee-jin accused HYBE chairman Bang Si-hyuk of copying her for BTS’s releases.

ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin holds emergency press conference

On April 25, Min Hee-jin held an emergency press conference, denying all allegations and claiming she received unfair treatment working at HYBE. Min Hee-jin claimed that she had joked about taking over total management rights in casual conversations, but had no actual plan of doing so.

She denied claiming that BTS copied from her, stating she never said such a thing and that the lie was being spread to defame her. Min Hee-jin also denied saying TWS and RIIZE copied NewJeans. Instead, she doubled down on HYBE Labels and BELIFT Lab copying “NewJeans’ formula” for ILLIT’s debut. However, she made sure to note that the blame is on the adults in this situation and not the members of ILLIT.

During the press conference, Min Hee-jin recounted lies and broken promises that she says HYBE is responsible for. She said the members of NewJeans were recruited through an audition that claimed it would produce HYBE’s first girl group, and that they would be produced under Min Hee-jin. However, HYBE blocked NewJeans from debuting first, opting to debut LE SSERAFIM under Source Music first instead, after casting former IZ*ONE members Sakura and Kim Chaewon. She then claimed she was barred from promoting NewJeans during their debut so that the public would focus on LE SSERAFIM. She also accused Bang Si-hyuk and HYBE CEO Park Ji-won of intentionally being rude to her and NewJeans.

HYBE Labels releases statement on ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin Press Conference

That same day, HYBE Labels released a statement denouncing all of Min Hee-jin’s claims. They stated that the ADOR CEO distorted facts by changing the timeline in a way that made her seem like the victim. HYBE stated they have evidence to support their claims, but they did not reveal it at the time.

They urged Min Hee-jin to stop lying and demanded she resign from her role as CEO, claiming she had proven herself unable to lead. They also asked Min Hee-jin to stop mentioning the names of artists, stating it “degrades the value of the artists.”

They released a more in-depth statement on April 26, saying there is proof that Min Hee-jin planned to separate from HYBE and had even involved third parties in the equation—not just a joke. They also claimed that they had no choice but to delay NewJeans’ debut due to reorganization with the establishment of ADOR. They denied accusations of banning Min Hee-jin from promoting NewJeans’ debut, saying that they even shortened LE SSERAFIM’s debut promotions so that NewJeans could be properly promoted.

On May 2, ADOR released a statement in response to HYBE’s claims. There, Min Hee-jin denied once more that she wanted total control of the label. The statement also claimed HYBE Labels lied about the reason NewJeans’ debut was delayed, and that they lied about making a schedule for NewJeans’ debut, stating there were no such agreements and that HBYE held back NewJeans promotion because they wanted the public to believe Min Hee-jin had produced LE SSERAFIM.

NewJeans members’ parents get involved

On May 13, 2024, Ilgan Sports released an email Min Hee-jin received from the parents of the NewJeans members, where they speak out in defense of their daughters, reaffirming Min Hee-jin’s claims that ILLIT seemed to copy NewJeans and that Bang Si-hyuk was openly rude to them.

They urged ADOR to take every possible measure to protect NewJeans and their brand value. HYBE soon responded, saying they had already replied to the email and accusing Min Hee-jin and ADOR’s vice president of pretending to be NewJeans’ parents.

Soon after, the parents of NewJeans held and interview with Ilgan Sports. There, they said they had attempted to communicate with HYBE on the day of Min Hee-jin’s press conference. They say HYBE CEO Park Ji-won revealed that they planned to put NewJeans on a long hiatus, claiming they were looking for a Grammy-winning producer to produce their next album. The hiatus would reportedly take at least a year and six months.

HYBE released a statement, stating that they did plan on putting NewJeans on a hiatus, but stated it was not done with malicious intent. Instead, they stated the hiatus would be done after they had a comeback, and that they were not going to be exiled.

HYBE accused of erasing NewJeans

Amid the drama, netizens claim there are signs that HYBE is paying media outlets to erase NewJeans and diminish their brand value. It was noted that several journalists released articles claiming that ILLIT has overtaken NewJeans in terms of brand value and popularity. Many believe HYBE paid for the articles to be written, and that NewJeans was still the more popular group. 

The conflict between Min Hee-jin and HYBE is far from over, and more developments are expected to occur in the coming weeks.


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Author
Alexandria Lopez
Alexandria "Alexa" Lopez (She/Her) is a Freelance Writer for TheMarySue.Com. She graduated with a degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications from the University of Asia and the Pacific and has been writing online since 2017. Currently residing in Metro Manila, Alexa has been a fan of K-pop since she was a child, and this is a phase she will likely never outgrow. Besides that, Alexa loves video games, anime, and keeping up her Duolingo streak.