MBC-HYBE feud casts shadow on 'Idol Star Athletics Championships'
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Twice a year, during the Lunar New Year and Chuseok holidays, dozens of K-pop groups and their loyal fans gather at an arena for a day of athletic festivities to flaunt their sportsmanship and teamwork for the biannual “Idol Star Athletics Championships” (ISAC) sports entertainment show on MBC.

But particular keen viewers may have noticed that no HYBE artist has taken part in the grand get-together since 2019.

Rumor has it that the ties between Korea’s K-pop powerhouse and MBC, one of Korea’s three largest stations and the broadcaster of ISAC, have been severed since 2019.

Why? Because agencies don’t have to fear television channels anymore.

Members of boy bands NCT 127, The Boyz, Verivery, girl group ITZY and more K-pop stars view a congratulatory performance given by retro music band UV at the Goyang Gym in Gyeonggi for MBC's “Idol Star Athletics Championships” (ISAC) sports entertainment show on Aug. 12, 2019. [NEWS1]

No HYBE artist took part in ISAC in 2021 or in 2022, and boy band Seventeen’s last appearance was in the 2020’s Lunar New Year program, before its agency Pledis Entertainment was acquired by HYBE in May that year.

GFriend also appeared for the last time on the show before its agency Source Music was acquired by HYBE in July 2019. Whether Viviz, the girl group with three former GFriend members, will reappear is something for fans to look out for, but that’s a different can of worms.

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