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Is NewJeans Leaving HYBE? There’s Drama Between The Label & ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin

It’s safe to say that there’s a lot going on in the K-pop industry right now. If you’re a fan of the girl group NewJeans, the newest girl group ILLIT, or both, you may be reeling from the news that’s going around and probably wondering what’s in store for the group’s future following all of this drama. 

To bring you up to speed, HYBE labels, the recording company behind some of the biggest names in K-pop such as BTS and ENHYPEN, sent shockwaves through the K-pop community when it was reported on April 22 that it had launched an internal investigation into one of their subsidiaries, ADOR. This included asking ADOR’s founder, Min Hee-Jin, to step down following an audit against her, the label, and its executives. 

ADOR is the company that produces New Jeans, and Min Hee-Jin oversees the group’s creative direction. According to Billboard, the company had “invoked the right to audit CEO Min Hee-Jin and top executives of its subsidiary label, ADOR.” The outlet reports that HYBE, “called them to summon a shareholder meeting and sent an official letter to ask CEO Min to step down.” 

It’s also stated that the corporation did not wish to speak further on the reason behind their decision or why they asked Min Hee-Jin to step down. 

Min Hee-Jin is hardly a new name in the K-pop industry. She formerly worked with another prominent Korean entertainment agency, SM Entertainment, and helped produce some of the company’s biggest names, including Girls’ Generation, SHINee, Red Velvet, and f(x), and more. In 2019, she began working for HYBE labels and gradually started the process of establishing her own company with ADOR.

 On April 25, the drama escalated even further when Min Hee-Jin held an emergency press conference with her attorneys to give her side of the story. 

So, how did it all start? While it’s unclear what triggered this controversy, it all came to light when Min Hee-Jin accused HYBE labels of replicating New Jeans’ creative direction for their latest girl group, ILLIT, which debuted under another HYBE subsidiary, Belift Lab. The group’s debut single, “Magnetic,” has received domestic and worldwide recognition, with over 100 million Spotify streams and a spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 only a month after its release. 

In a statement, Min Hee-Jin shared that ADOR filed an official complaint against HYBE. Min Hee-Jin also brought up the copycat allegations, saying, “ILLIT has been copying NewJeans in all areas of activities including hair, makeup, costumes, choreography, photos, videos and event appearances.” She added, “ILLIT is being evaluated as a derivative of NewJeans, with terms like ‘Min Hee-jin style,’ ‘Min Hee-jin type’ and ‘NewJeans counterpart.”

Following Min Hee-Jin’s press conference, fans of New Jeans are now worried about the fate of the group and can’t help but wonder if they’re parting entirely from HYBE labels.

Many have since expressed their feelings about this on Twitter/X.  Some aren’t sure if Min Hee-Jin should leave NewJeans or remain the group’s creative director, seeing as the controversy only harms their reputation. 

Even HYBE labels has since responded to the press release with a statement.

“Today, there were so many untrue claims made by CEO Min Hee-Jin during the press conference that it’s difficult to list them all one by one,” the statement read. “CEO Min misrepresented the issues by mixing up perspectives and presented distorted facts with her characteristic skewed interpretation. We have decided not to address each claim individually as we have deemed them not worth responding to, although we could refute them with evidence.”

The future course of NewJeans is unknown, but we’ll be sure to update you on all of this!

Siobhan Robinson is a member of the Her Campus national writing program. She works on the entertainment and culture team, covering the most recent pop culture events, trends, and entertainment releases. Previously, she worked as an Entertainment and Culture intern during the Spring 2023 semester, where she was supervised in writing breaking news verticals, live coverage of events such as the Grammys and Met Gala, and interviewing emerging Gen Z talent for Her Campus's "Next Questions" segment. She is currently a fourth-year communication studies student at San Jose State University. She is also a member of the SJSU chapter of Her Campus, where she presently serves as Editor-In-Chief, supervising a staff of writers, senior editors, and copy editors and assessing their articles for the site. She previously worked as a senior editor for the chapter and assisted in editing the work of a team of 4-5 writers. In her free time, Siobhan enjoys scrapbooking, hanging out with her friends, going to concerts, and, of course, writing for fun! She's a die-hard fangirl who will tell you everything she knows about her favorite boybands even if you don't ask.