The CEO of a contracting company was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment for blackmailing Big Hit Entertainment.
He threatened to reveal information about an alleged illegal marketing tactic that was used by the agency.
Two years ago, Big Hit Entertainment and the contracting company worked on a marketing project together.
The contracting company, however, started struggling financially early this year, so its CEO resorted to criminal ways to extort money from Big Hit Entertainment.
In an anonymous email, the CEO threatened Big Hit Entertainment with this demand:
“By hacking you, I have obtained all the documents about the illegal marketing you’ve used for your artists.
If you don’t send me 330 million KRW ($291,455 USD), I’ll share everything with media sources and through social media.”
— CEO of contracting company
In fear of tarnishing their artist’s reputation, a Big Hit Entertainment employee sent the CEO installments over 8 weeks totaling 5.7 million KRW ($50,335 USD) in January.
The case soon went to trial, the presiding judge announced that his crimes were serious and gave him a prison sentence.
“The victim (Big Hit Entertainment) is also at fault for giving the defendant a reason to threaten them for their marketing methods, but Mr. A [CEO] abused his knowledge of the agency’s secret, so he has committed a serious crime.
We have reason to believe he will coax other agencies into a compromise and continue threatening them.”
— Residing Judge
Shortly after, Big Hit Entertainment released a statement about the case and explained that the claims about the illegal marketing documents were completely one-sided. Below is a translation of their official statement:
“This is our statement about Big Hit Entertainment’s blackmail case.
Two years ago we worked with the defendant in this case Mr. Lee to for album marketing, but after seeing a lack of results, we ended our work with them after one project.
After that in early 2017, Mr. Lee told a Big Hit employee that he had documents about our illegal marketing tactics, and he threatened us with blackmail by saing ‘if you don’t give me money, I will spread it to the media and on social media.’
The employee believed this controversy alone could damage our artist’s image, so he/she attempted to solve it by himself/herself, but later realized that they couldn’t solve it on their own, so it was brought to our agency’s attention.
Big Hit understood the situation and immediately reported it to the police, and after investigations ended on August 31, 2017, Mr. Lee has been sentenced to 1 year imprisonment on charges of coordinated blackmail, fraud, and etc.
The illegal marketing mentioned in the criminal’s threats are completely one-sided, and the marketing methods mentioned referred to online viral marketing.
Mr. Lee’s claims have nothing to do with the work we did with his company, and we had nothing to hide as the victims, so we immediately filed a report of damages to the police and complied with investigations.
As for the money lost [to Mr. A], it was a result of our company employee personally attempting to protect our artist’s image, and Big Hit Entertainment has never sent Mr. Lee any money.
Big Hit Entertainment and its artists are victims of blackmail. We, as a transparent entertainment agency, execute all financial exchanges and contracts according to accounting standards.
After comprehending that we were victims of blackmail and cooperating with investigations, we realized that if our reputation ends up being damaged by these claims and reports of using illegal marketing tactics, then there will be no entertainment agencies that can take appropriate measures against blackmail.
We apologize to the BTS members and their fans who were shocked by this incident.
In order to prevent this from ever happening again, we will do everything we can to carefully manage our business partners and contractors.
— Big Hit Entertainment