'Years of gaslighting and oppression': Omega X's agency refutes Spire's claims

Jaehan of boy band Omega X during a press conference on Nov. 16, 2022 [NEWS1]

Members of boy band Omega X were gaslighted, abused by and "forced to show affection" toward their former agency chief Kang Seong-hee during their time at Spire Entertainment, the band's current agency IPQ Entertainment said Wednesday.

The statement came as a refute to the claim of Spire Entertainment, Omega X's former agency, that member Lee Hwi-chan groped the company's former CEO Kang Seong-hee against her will.

Spire Entertainment claimed in a news conference Tuesday that Hwichan had sexually assaulted Kang in July 2022. IPQ Entertainment contested the accusation and said that the physical contact in question was “forced” by the former executive.

During the Tuesday conference, Spire Entertainment presented surveillance camera footage from July 11, 2022, showing what appears to be the Omega X singer touching and kissing Kang.

Spire Entertainment CEO Hwang Sung-woo, left, reveals surveillance camera footage of Omega X member Lee Hwi-chan groping the agency's former CEO and Hwang's wife Kang Seong-hee in July 2022, during a press conference held on Tuesday in southern Seoul. [NEWS1]

Spire Entertainment's current CEO, Hwang Sung-woo — Kang's husband — claimed that Hwichan had requested a private conversation with Kang, during which he forced himself onto her “against her will.”

IPQ Entertainment rejected the account on Wednesday and said that the Omega X members were abused for years and forced to "act affectionately" toward Kang.

“It was Kang Seong-hee who requested the private session with Hwichan, according to testimonies from the members and the group's former manager,” the agency said.

“Kang demanded gestures of affection and touching, as usual, even after the members and staff left the room,” it added. “Hwichan was forced to follow her demand, because he was scared of the threats and verbal and physical abuse that would follow if he didn't comply.”

“Even the surveillance camera footage shows that Hwichan did not 'force' himself onto her, nor does she express signs of refusal,” the agency continued. “This is proof that Kang had requested signs of affection in the past.”

IPQ said that Kang later sent images of Hwichan drunk and asleep to the group's former manager. The manager offered to transport the singer back to his accommodation, per the agency, but Kang was determined to “take him herself.”

Photo shared by Omega X's current agency, IPQ, on Wednesday, shows a KakaoTalk messenger screen where Kang Seong-hee, wife of the CEO of Spire Entertainment, Omega X's former agency, taking a photo of member Lee Hwi-chan in his sleep to the former manager of Omega X [IPQ]

IPQ Entertainment demanded that Spire release surveillance footage of the full encounter, rather than the edited version presented at its news conference, in order to show “the whole truth.”

"Kang and Hwang repeatedly forced the members to drink with them during their contract term [with Spire Entertainment]," IPQ said.

"The members had been exposed to extreme mental stress due to years of gaslighting and oppression. They were filled with fear that should they not comply with Kang's demand of affection or touch, which were made on a frequent basis, that they would be excluded from the album or be restricted in their activities."

Spire Entertainment said it will press charges against Lee for sexual assault. IPQ Entertainment will countersue for false accusation.

"We thank all the fans for having sent continuous love and support despite the long legal battles and rumors," the agency said.

"We hope that the truth is quickly revealed so that the members' names are cleared and it is seen how they were forced to give into the two years of nonsense under Spire Entertainment."