HYBE Might Have Carried Out Illegal Marketing Without BTS Knowing

BTS’s chart manipulation suspicions in the past sparked heated discussions again, leading to various interpretations

According to the ruling obtained by a newspaper regarding the 2017 Big Hit Music blackmail case, the judge sentenced A to one year in prison, specifying that A’s marketing actions were “illegal marketing”.

The case erupted in January 2017 when A extorted 57 million won by sending emails to agency officials, saying “I have material evidence of BTS illegal marketing. f you don’t pay, I will disclose the related information to the media.” At that time, the court pointed out “illegal marketing” in the verdict and explained the sentencing reason, saying “Big Hit Music engaged in marketing activities through improper means, giving grounds for extortion.”

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When the incident became known to the public, suspicions arose that BTS and Big Hit Music’s manipulation, but Big Hit Music denied the allegations, calling it a “common viral marketing strategy”.

However, as the ruling was announced belatedly, manipulation suspicions arose again and controversy continued. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism even received complaints asking them to investigate BTS’s manipulation allegations.

As the issue sparked public rage, Big Hit Music released a statement on May 2nd, saying “We would like to clarify that manipulation marketing, concept plagiarism, Dahnworld-related rumors as well as other suspicions that defame and slander BTS are not true”.

As BTS got involved in unpleasant issues, their fandom ARMY also expressed disappointment in the company by sending protest trucks and condolence wreaths to HYBE’s office building in Yongsan, Seoul with messages criticizing HYBE and supporting BTS.

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Interpretations of the court ruling will continue to pour and suspicions related to past music chart manipulation suspicions are likely to intensify.

Lawyer Jeon Jae-no stated, “While it is acknowledged that Big Hit Music was involved in chart manipulation and illegal marketing, there is no evidence in the verdict suggesting that BTS members were aware of or involved in these activities.” In other words, BTS members may not have been aware of or involved in the illegal marketing activities stated by the court, indicating the possibility that these actions were carried out solely by the agency.

Fandom’s protests are also expected to continue for the time being. In particular, ARMYs issued a statement via a newspaper asking HYBE to protect their artists.

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