ILLIT agency's plagiarism rebuttal video backfires

Screen capture from the Belift Lab Announcement video, countering Min Hee-jin's plagiarism accusations [SCREEN CAPTURE]

A video posted by Belift Lab, the agency of girl group ILLIT, addressing plagiarism claims made by ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin was met with negative comments online as the sibling subsidiaries continue to fight over "copycat" accusations.

Belift Lab is waging war against Min for calling the girl group a "NewJeans copycat," with an additional lawsuit and a video comparing ILLIT's choreography with other girl groups to prove its innocence.

The HYBE label uploaded a 28-minute video on its YouTube channel Monday in which Belift Lab's CEO Kim Tae-ho and other staff from the label refuted the plagiarism claims made by Min during her April 25 press conference when she publicly called out ILLIT for copying NewJeans.

ILLIT has been a central point in the ongoing spat between Min and HYBE, with Min saying Belift Lab's plagiarism was the reason she made an internal report to HYBE.

The video featured girl groups including S.E.S, Fin.K.L. and Girls' Generation to explain the similarities and differences between them and NewJeans, pointing out that the resemblance in female K-pop acts is only customary.

"I think of NewJeans as a team that appeals more to a generation nostalgic for the late 90s and Y2K, rather than a team that tells the stories of modern teenagers,” said Kim in the video. “Conversely, ILLIT was planned with the concept of being endearing puppy-like friends you might sometimes see in class."

The video went on to refute ILLIT's plagiarism allegations regarding NewJeans' straight hair by highlighting other girl groups that used the same hairstyle, such as GFriend and Lovelyz.

Lovelyz was mentioned in the video of Belift Lab [SCREEN CAPTURE]

"I am really at a loss as to how to respond to the claim [by Min] that 'straight hair belongs to me,'" said Kim. "Everything she creates is always 'original,' and even if something similar existed before her work, she insists it’s not copied. Everything that comes out after her work is considered a copy of hers. This is always the premise of Min Hee-jin's plagiarism claims."

"This is the 'Brand Strategy Planning Document' from Sept. 1, when the debut members [of ILLIT] were decided and we began planning the group's branding," said vice CEO Choi Yoon-hyuk while holding the document. The document contained phrases like 'Where can we find our unique positioning?' and 'Not NewJeans, Not Blackpink, Not IVE.'

Belift Lab also refuted the similarity between the dance moves of ILLIT's "Magnetic" and NewJeans' "Ditto" (2022), which had been pointed out by multiple K-pop onlookers, explaining that the similarities are marginal.

Comparison between the choreography of ILLIT's ″Magnetic″ and NewJeans' ″Ditto.″ [SCREEN CAPTURE]

"Looking at the flow of the dance, it does not feel the same at all," said Belift Lab's performance director Myung Sang-woo. "The similar section does not even last for two seconds, and I do not think this part constitutes plagiarism."

The video also argued that NewJeans had been accused of plagiarizing the concepts of other artists as well, showing a comparison between the choreography of Nmixx's "Love Me Like This" (2023) and NewJeans' "Ditto" (2022).

NewJeans' "Ditto" was released about four months earlier than Nmixx's "Love Me Like This."

Comparison between the choreography of Nmixx's "Love Me Like This" and NewJeans' "Ditto" [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Comments were mostly negative toward the content of the video.

One user asked if the video was "Min Hee-jin's portfolio promotion video," while another pointed out that the video was "confirmed by Bang Si-hyuk [HYBE founder and chairman]," and possibly biased. Other users commented their frustration that the video mentioned different K-pop groups, saying "How dare they put GFriend's name in their mouth."

The video came in addition to a civil lawsuit that Belift Lab filed on Monday against Min.

Belift Lab CEO Kim Tae-ho counters Min's plagiarism accusations in a Belift Lab Announcement video. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

The civil lawsuit demands Min to compensate for the damage she inflicted on ILLIT and its agency by calling the girl group a "NewJeans copycat," according to a notice that Belift Lab posted on Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The post said that Min's offense against ILLIT and its agency was a different matter from the court's decision that sided with Min.

"The decision by the Seoul Central District Court to grant the injunction was about preventing HYBE from exercising voting rights at ADOR's temporary shareholder meeting, and was not a ruling on the plagiarism issue," said Belift Lab. "It should not be distorted to seem as if Min beat the charges of accusing Belift Lab with plagiarism allegations."

ADOR's shareholders voted to keep Min as the CEO of the company at a shareholder meeting held on May 31 after the court took her side in the injunction case against HYBE earlier that week.

Both HYBE and Belift Lab reported Min to the police for obstruction of business, breach of trust and defamation on May 22.