CJ ENM apologizes for re-hiring producer Ahn Joon-young

Producer Ahn Joon-young [NEWS1]

CJ ENM, cable network Mnet’s parent company, apologized for re-hiring producer Ahn Joon-young.

Ahn was sentenced to two years in prison for rigging the votes on multiple idol audition programs which aired on Mnet.

“The decision to employ producer Ahn Joon-young was undeniably the wrong one,” the entertainment company said in a press release on Wednesday, a day after admitting that Ahn rejoined the company in April.

“Our decision was made to provide [Ahn] a chance to redeem past mistakes but did not meet the standards of society in terms of fairness.”

“The matter [of Ahn leaving the company] is currently being internally discussed,” CJ ENM told the Korea JoongAng Daily on Wednesday.

Ahn, 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 upheld a lower court's guilty verdict from May 2020. The pair was found 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) while Kim was sentenced to 20 months.

According to local media, Ahn was not dismissed from Mnet, but instead was put on a leave of absence.

Local media first reported that Ahn had returned to the company on Tuesday.

Allegations of vote rigging in the “Produce 101” franchise surfaced soon after the final results for “Produce X 101” were released in July 2019. Fans of the show claimed that the final voting numbers all had obvious patterns. After a police 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).