Government to order investigation on BTS chart-rigging scandal

Boy band BTS [HYBE]

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will order an investigation into the alleged chart-rigging practice, known as sajaegi in Korea, of boy band BTS's agency HYBE back in 2017.

The culture ministry said Saturday that it received a petition to investigate why the BTS agency was blackmailed for chart rigging practices and paid off the blackmailers back in 2017.

The case will be handed over to the Korea Creative Content Agency (Kocca), the state-run institution in charge of all genres of popular culture in Korea, which will run a thorough investigation and demand an answer from HYBE.

An additional petition was also sent to the culture ministry, requesting that the Order of Cultural Merit, given out by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, be revoked from the group, should the allegation be true.

Online posts began pointing out last weekend that HYBE, known as Big Hit Entertainment in the past, was blackmailed by a person surnamed Lee and three accomplices in 2017 for allegedly using “expedient marketing strategies” while promoting BTS’s album in 2015.

Lee was sentenced to a year in prison and the three others were let off with a fine, but the term “sajaegi marketing” was specifically mentioned in the ruling, with the court saying that Lee had made a “sajaegi marketing deal” with Big Hit Entertainment and threatened the company based on that account.

“The victim did provide grounds [for Lee] to make the blackmail by proceeding with expedient marketing measures,” the court said in its reasoning for sentencing Lee to a year in prison.

HYBE said on Thursday that it reported malicious posts defaming the boy band and will continue monitoring online communities to prevent further damage against the artists.