Min Hee-jin Breaks K-pop

"If you want to come at me, come at my face, don’t talk behind my back. I’m just an ignorant art school bitch."

Min Hee-jin Breaks K-pop

mage: Min Hee-jin at her two-hour press conference. Credit: MBC News.

What seemed to be another mundane round of K-pop corporate infighting has erupted into fireworks surrounding the creator of NewJeans 뉴진스, one of the hottest K-pop girl groups. 

On April 22, HYBE Entertainment, the production company that created BTS 방탄소년단 and is the most highly valued in the industry, claimed that Min Hee-jin 민희진, the 45-year-old star producer responsible for such superstars as Girls’ Generation 소녀시대, f(x) and Red Velvet, was attempting a hostile takeover of ADOR, a subsidiary label of HYBE headed by Min that owns the rights to NewJeans. HYBE accused Min of plotting to leverage her 20% stake in ADOR to oust HYBE’s 80% ownership by pressuring NewJeans to cancel their contract with the company. HYBE has demanded that ADOR shareholders terminate Min, and says it plans to file a criminal complaint against Min for breach of duty.

Min fired back in spectacular fashion on April 25. Flanked by two lawyers who appeared utterly bemused by their inability to control their star client, Min held a rambling, profane two-hour press conference that was televised live: “There are too many fuckers in this business. Sorry I cursed, but I gotta relieve some stress. … These assholes send around all these KakaoTalk screencaps, trying to kill me. They are making me out to be some psycho. If you want to come at me, come at my face, don’t talk behind my back. I’m just an ignorant art school bitch. Look at me, wouldn’t you think, ‘Man, that’s some crazy bitch?’”

HYBE reacted immediately, calling her press conference “full of lies” and demanding Min resign from ADOR. The price of HYBE shares crashed, wiping out more than KRW 1.2t (USD 0.8b) in market cap in a week. But Min’s press conference effected a surprising turn in public opinion after many women identified with her railing against the old men at her workplace: “HYBE is rich and they used me as much as they could. I perform for them. I didn’t do anything wrong - it’s not like I go around in a chauffeured car just so I can drink and play golf.” The striped green shirt that Min wore at the press conference quickly sold out, attesting to the charisma of her performance.

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