A letter written by the parents of the NewJeans members has been revealed.

Amid the ongoing conflict between HYBE and its label ADOR, which is home to NewJeans, Ilgan Sports unveiled an email sent by Min Hee Jin on April 3 to HYBE and its label BELIFT LAB. In the email, Min Hee Jin forwarded a letter she received from the parents of the NewJeans members on March 31 in which they speak out about BELIFT LAB girl group ILLIT’s similarity to NewJeans, HYBE chairman Bang Si Hyuk’s treatment of NewJeans, and more.

Read the parents’ email below:

As the parents and legal guardians of Kim Minji, Hanni Pham, Kang Haerin, Marsh Danielle, and Lee Hyein (NewJeans), we submit the following statement to ADOR CEO Min Heeji on March 31, 2024.

We express deep concern over the controversy that has risen with many similarities in concept (photos, music video, etc.), styling, choreography, etc. between NewJeans and a group that debuted under another label of HYBE (hereafter referred to as “000”).

These similarities appear to be the result of intentional imitation by HYBE / BELIFT LAB.

What is shown in the series of concept photos, styling, music video direction, choreography, and internally-produced content along with the employment of NewJeans’s debut-era staff who had exclusively worked with NewJeans without prior experience with other idols make it difficult to deny the intentionality behind these actions.

Content similar to NewJeans has already been mass produced, and suspicions such as the copying and plagiarism of NewJeans have circulated widely. It is deeply regrettable that another label under the same parent company could plan a team that is intentionally reminiscent of NewJeans’s debut era within just one year and eight months since NewJeans’s debut.

More than anything, we question the rationale behind such irrational planning within the same company although it is common sense for teams with different characteristics to target different markets especially when the debuts are not far apart. We understand that ADOR was not involved or cooperative in this process.

We request that HYBE / BELIFT LAB clarify their intentions behind these similar plans that were made arbitrarily.

Moreover, marketing a new team in a way that cunningly draws comparisons to NewJeans poses a greater problem. Did ADOR give permission to use choreography with identical motions?

If these situations continue, this will undoubtedly damage NewJeans’s reputation and brand value.

As the public criticizes and refutes similarities between the two teams and various controversies and unnecessary comparisons are created, the members are experiencing severe mental distress in this process in which NewJeans’s achievements until now can be damaged. Not only the members, but their families feel severe fatigue about 000 being mentioned together in almost all articles about NewJeans and on social media and even feel helpless about not being able to stop this. We are upset and hurt that NewJeans is being used in unnecessary comparative analysis, and it is painful.

On the TikTok video that sparked plagiarism controversies because 000 did not credit a foreign choreographer, a comment that received countless likes surprisingly stated, “I thought this was NewJeans.” The relevant video has a high view count. Someone may view the video and misunderstand it to be NewJeans’s fault.

Even within 000’s [internally-produced] videos, there was content that could be used as gossip. We believed that certain references within 000’s videos internally-produced by BELIFT LAB were very inappropriate. As feared, relevant gossip was produced, and we discovered content mocking NewJeans on an online community. It is most unfortunate that this content was not filtered out although it was all produced and edited by HYBE’s internal production team.

Do BELIFT LAB / HYBE have any intention of protecting the brand value of NewJeans and each of its members?

The reason it was not treated as a major concern is because absurd situations occurred frequently. We wonder why HYBE’s chairman Bang Si Hyuk ignored the NewJeans members and their greetings whenever he ran into them at the company.

First, we had doubts when we heard from the children, “He must not have recognized us,” and asked them again several times. However, this happened on several occasions, and as there were times when they ran into him alone on different dates and different locations, he must have recognized the members to be NewJeans.

Even if he did not know that they were NewJeans members, it should be basic [courtesy] to respond to someone who offers a greeting first. Is it so difficult to exchange greetings within the company? After hearing more than one or two instances of standing blankly in the elevator because it was embarrassing to be ignored, noticing that [Bang Si Hyuk] was pretending not to see them, and feeling like they were being avoided on purpose, we were surprised at this childish and unbelievable situation as parents, and we were at a loss as there was nothing we could say to our children. These members are just of middle school and high school age.

This is not the only treatment we cannot understand. In the past, the NewJeans members signed as SOURCE MUSIC trainees after hearing the offer and promise to be HYBE’s first girl group, and afterwards, they had to blindly wait without hearing any explanation from SOURCE MUSIC while the project was delayed. In the meantime, we heard news of 000 and 000 signing contracts. Eventually, unlike what was promised at the time of signing [the contracts], another team debuted as [HYBE’s] first girl group.

The broken promise of NewJeans being the first girl group under HYBE and the endless waiting and neglect experienced by the NewJeans members when they were SOURCE MUSIC trainees are unforgettable nightmares.
Due to the challenging process experienced at SOURCE MUSIC, there was a member who considered giving up on debuting.

The ongoing plagiarism issue that is currently shaking up various fan communities and social media are the results of HYBE’s unfair treatment and lack of transparent communication, and we believe this is only the beginning.

We object to the use of NewJeans as a strategy to deliberately attract attention only when needed by HYBE under the reason of being from a HYBE sub-label, and we express regret at HYBE / BELIFT LAB’s promotional methods that were carried out arbitrarily without request or consultation although there was no involvement or prior agreement with ADOR, and we request corrective measures.

Considering issues that happened from the past to the present, including the content we could not include in this email, we, as NewJeans’s legal representatives, believe that it will be difficult to restore our broken trust in HYBE.

It has become clear through various incidents that HYBE does not respect NewJeans, which worries us about how HYBE will exploit NewJeans in the future and what they will imitate next.

With heavy hearts, we officially request that ADOR’s CEO Min Hee Ji, who is in charge of NewJeans’s management contracts, to take measures to block the infringement activities against NewJeans by HYBE / BELIFT LAB and to protect their brand value.

According to the exclusive contracts signed on April 21, 2022, ADOR is committed to faithfully providing management services so that NewJeans’s talents and qualities can be maximized and to putting in their full effort to ensure that profits are maximized, thereby promoting mutual benefits. We strongly request that ADOR take the best possible measures to eradicate the ongoing plagiarism disputes caused by HYBE and the marketing activities that exploit [these disputes].

Additionally, we hope that you will enlighten HYBE to protect the value that NewJeans possesses and to allow their potential to be realized by encouraging individual labels to create diverse content based on their own new ideas and not through unethical methods of stealing and promoting existing content, thereby innovating the music industry.

We read an article stating that the 000 members mentioned at their debut showcase, “Producer Bang Si Hyuk meticulously monitored our practice videos and gave us feedback,” indicating that Chairman Bang Si Hyuk had taken charge of their overall production. If no one else but the chairman directly produced it himself, it would be appropriate to employ a differentiation strategy considering the existing teams within the company. Moreover, if any overlapping content is discovered, even if it happens to be unintentional, it should be immediately corrected as a matter of principle. However, the impression from the interview articles suggests his condoning, acquiescing, or even leading [such actions], which inevitably raises questions about HYBE’s ethical consciousness.

In the wake of NewJeans’ success changing K-pop trends to the extent that the term “male NewJeans” has been coined due to frequent imitation, we convey our strong condemnation for HYBE’s compliance with this trend in its most severe form without any consideration for protection of originality.

As a leader of the K-pop industry, HYBE should provide a sensible and healthy environment for its labels’ artists.

We demand a strong protest against HYBE for the issues mentioned and await their response and corrective measures.

March 31, 2024
Legal Representatives of NewJeans

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