The first agency/idol beef of 2013 has just arrived, with boy band Block B today filing a lawsuit against their agency, Stardom, to have their contracts nullified. The 7-member group, who are all united on the issue, claim that not only have they not been paid by their agency's CEO, but that he also owes them almost $70,000 that he borrowed from their parents to fund the group's activities.
According to Korean media reports (translated by allkpop), Block B's suit reads as follows:
“During the signing of the exclusive contract, it was promised that in addition to providing proper training opportunity and facilities, we would be paid on every 25th of the following month… However, the agency has not paid us for nearly one year since April of 2011.”
“It started last year in March when one member’s contract was ended and his portion of the pay was calculated… Appearance fees from events as well as pay from SBS drama ‘Phantom’s OST, MBC drama ‘Golden Time’ OST, and funds collected from the inaguration of our Japanese fan site’s fan club, and more for a total of 10 things, have been omitted.”
“The CEO of the agency, Mr. Lee, has also disappeared with the 70,000,000 KRW (~66,000 USD) that he collected from the members’ parents to use for promotion and production costs… He never listened to the members’ opinions or thoughts on their activities and directed only in his way.”
Issues this severe between idols and their agencies aren't uncommon in K-pop. We recently saw JYJ settle their longstanding dispute with SM Entertainment, while just last year, SS501's Park Jung Min won his lawsuit for contract termination against his agency, CNR Media. Contract beef in 2011 was a little heavier, with hallyu superstars, KARA, and famous K-diva, Ivy, both filing suits against their respective agencies. KARA managed to work things out between their agency and eventually benefited from the mammoth publicity of the scandal, while Ivy won her lawsuit and was able to make a successful comeback under a new agency last year.
The difference in Block B's case is that they're still generally considered a rookie act, having only been active for about a year-and-a-half, and the lawsuit drama could develop into another damaging scandal for the group. They've already caused a ton of trouble since their debut: their Thailand scandal almost ended their career, and they've continuously remained in the headlines through smaller controversies, such as disparaging comments they've made, the behavior of their fans, and even some interesting dating rumors.
Surprisingly, the Korean public seem to be on Block B's side for now. According to NetizenBuzz, which translates the most popular comments made by Korean netizens on the country's major news websites, there's a lot of sympathy and support for Block B's legal plight. Perhaps Block B's bad boy image is now working in their favor, allowing them to be involved in controversy without being torn to shreds by angry netizens. Either that, or the netizens are just behaving rationally for the first time in their entire lives.
Update: Stardom has since responded to Block B's claims. Read what had to say by clicking here.