K-pop entertainment giant HYBE has reportedly launched an investigation into its subsidiary ADOR after reports that CEO Min Hee-Jin and an unnamed executive were caught leaking confidential information to potential investors.

ADOR, which was founded as a subsidiary of HYBE in 2021, is best known for being the label of internationally-recognized K-pop group NewJeans. ADOR was originally wholly-owned by HYBE until Min acquired around 18% of the company in 2023, while other ADOR executives own a collective 2% of the remaining shares. Min was appointed as CEO of ADOR following her role as the Chief Brand Officer of HYBE.

According to Newsis, the two executives reportedly aimed to seize control of the company and coax HYBE into selling its remaining shares. Aside from Min, the unnamed executive allegedly works in the investor relations wing of the sub-label. As of writing, HYBE is currently considering pursuing legal action.

In response, HYBE issued a statement to Yonhap News Agency confirming that they did launch an investigation into a number of ADOR executives, and that they “seized computerized assets from ADOR’s office and obtained face-to-face statements from company officials.”

“It is correct that the company exercised its right to audit the ADOR management on suspicions that the management tried to seize control of the company,” a certain official from HYBE shared to Yonhap News Agency.

Min later released a statement, saying that the allegations were an “absurd media play.” She went on to say that “they are trying to dismiss me as I took issue with ILLIT copying NewJeans,” referring to BELIFT LAB’s latest new girl group, which debuted last month. BELIFT LAB’ is also a subsidiary of HYBE. ILLIT’s debut single “Magnetic” is currently trending online, and debuted at No. 91 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

ADOR went on to release a full statement of internal disputes in the HYBE ecosystem regarding ILLIT copying NewJeans’ concept and sound. “HYBE operates a multi-label system for various labels to independently create their music and pursue cultural diversity. ADOR is one of those labels. Ironically, ADOR and our agency artist NewJeans’ cultural achievements are being most severely infringed upon by HYBE,” the label said in a statement translated by Soompi.

“HYBE chairman Bang Si Hyuk produced ILLIT’s debut album. The copying of NewJeans by ILLIT was not done independently by BELIFT LAB but also involves HYBE. HYBE, a leading company in K-pop, is blinded by short-term profits and is mass-producing unoriginality by copying successful cultural content without hesitation.”

They continued, “There are reactions that it is understandable that ILLIT is similar to NewJeans as they are both under HYBE labels. Some even think that ADOR and NewJeans have allowed or consented to this similarity. However, these reactions are clearly a misunderstanding, and we want to clarify this. A multi-label system is a system for each label to independently create the music they want, not a system to give indulgences to other labels to copy the cultural achievements of another label just because they are affiliated labels.”

“ADOR has never allowed or given consent to anyone, including HYBE and BELIFT LAB, to copy NewJeans’ achievements. ADOR does not want NewJeans and ILLIT to be associated in any way. We have no intention of tolerating promotions such as groups being sibling groups just because they debuted under HYBE labels.”

They went on to say that ADOR raised issues internally regarding the “copying incident” and “a series of behaviors taken by HYBE against NewJeans” to both HYBE and BeLift Lab. “However, HYBE and BELIFT LAB did not admit their wrongdoings and were busy making excuses, delaying concrete answers. Amidst this, HYBE suddenly informed today (April 22, 2024) that they would suspend and dismiss CEO Min Hee Jin from her duties, stating that there is “concern that [CEO Min Hee Jin] could significantly damage ADOR’s corporate value.”

Min later shared, “HYBE doesn’t seem to have any consideration for the condition or schedule of its artists. I do not want to dilute the essence with unnecessary public opinion warfare. I have an important schedule coming up, so I’m thinking carefully about how best to conduct myself…I was hoping to somehow resolve things with HYBE by raising an official issue internally, but the sudden attack made me think more. Looking at HYBE’s press announcement and raid today, it seems like the intention is to tarnish individuals by spreading public opinion in a direction that is different from the essence of the problem.”