Ahn Joon-young from 'Produce 101' series returns to Mnet after serving time

Producer Ahn Joon-young at the press conference of Mnet's audition program ″Produce X 101″ in 2019. Later that year, Ahn admitted that there had been vote rigging in all four seasons of the ″Produce 101″ series. [NEWS1]

Producer Ahn Joon-young, who was sentenced to prison for rigging the votes on idol audition programs, has returned to cable network Mnet, its parent company CJ ENM confirmed on Monday.

“Producer Ahn Joon-young has rejoined Mnet this month, after resigning from the company last year,” CJ ENM confirmed with the Korea JoongAng Daily on Monday.

CJ ENM added that Ahn will be a general producer in the company, but refrained from providing further information.

Ahn Joon-young, the mastermind behind Mnet’s hit audition series “Produce 101” (2016-19) was sentenced to prison along with chief producer Kim Young-bum in 2021 after the Korean Supreme Court found Ahn and Kim guilty of fraud and obstruction of business for manipulating vote results in the “Produce” series and receiving bribes from entertainment firms to favor certain contestants on the show.

Ahn was sentenced to two years in prison with a fine of 37 million won ($28,100), and Kim was sentenced to 20 months in jail.

On June 16, 2022, CJ ENM released a statement that Ahn and other staff members involved in vote rigging had received penalties following a personnel committee decision but did not provide details on the level of penalties received, citing personal information issues.

According to local media, Ahn was not dismissed from the company, but instead was given a leave of absence.

Allegations of vote rigging in the “Produce 101” franchise surfaced soon after the final voting result for “Produce X 101” was released in July 2019, when fans of the show claimed that the final voting numbers all had specific patterns that were easily noticeable. After the prosecutor’s investigation, Ahn admitted on Nov. 6, 2019, that there had been vote rigging in both “Produce X 101” and “Produce 48” (2018), and further admitted to also having rigged votes for “Produce 101” (2016) and “Produce 101 Season 2” (2017).