Hook Entertainment has denied allegations that it did not pay veteran singer-actor Lee Seung-gi for his musical ventures.
The allegations emerged after reports last week that Lee had requested a full report of revenue generated through his music ventures from his agency Hook Entertainment. At the time, Hook said it was “working hard to resolve the issue amicably”. Days later, the South Korean media outlet Dispatch published a report claiming that Lee had not been paid for any of his music since signing with Hook 18 years ago.
Hook Entertainment CEO Kwon Jin-young made a statement a day after personally addressing the allegations. “As bad stories have been coming out about me and our agency from news outlets recently, regardless of whether they are true, I am so ashamed,” Kwon said.
Yesterday, Lee’s legal counsel issued a statement claiming that Hook Entertainment called Lee a “minus singer” – or an artist that did not bring in profits – and that the entertainer has been receiving “insulting and threatening remarks that are difficult to even say from the CEO and others”.
As translated by Soompi, the statement also claimed that “representatives of Hook Entertainment did not bring up anything regarding payment for music in the slightest, he was not even aware of generating profits from music”.
Lee’s lawyers also shared plans to carry out “a close examination of various legal relationships between Hook Entertainment including CEO Kwon Jin-young and Lee Seung-gi”, and officially requested that the agency “reveal the details of sales and settlement of accounts over the course of Lee Seung-gi’s activities in the entertainment industry through several certification of contents”.
Now, Hook has explicitly denied the allegations that it has not paid Lee. In a statement issued to South Korean press earlier today (November 25), the agency said that the accusations of Lee not being compensated for the digital streams and downloads his songs have generated, or that he was forced into an unfair contract, were “not true”.
The agency claimed that when both parties were renewing Lee’s contract with the company in 2021, they had “checked the settlement details” and even “wrote an agreement to confirm it.”
“We regret to tell you that there is unconfirmed information spread by the media in the process of sorting out Lee’s payment records, which were requested by Lee’s legal representatives,” the agency’s statement reads, per Korea JoongAng Daily. “Yet, Lee has called the matter into question again, which is why Hook Entertainment is closely reviewing the payment settlement details.”
Hook Entertainment’s new statement did not address the allegations by Lee’s legal counsel that its CEO directed “insulting and threatening remarks” at the singer-actor. Yesterday, Dispatch published an audio recording said to be of CEO Kwon Jin-young allegedly threatening Lee. In the recording, a voice allegedly belonging to Kwon is heard speaking about what they are capable of when angry and the consequences of Lee requesting transparency about payment.
“I would become so scary and callous that people would say I would become a murderer and that I would become a very evil human being,” the person alleged to be Kwon said, per Koreaboo’s translations. “I become very [scary] like that, and I am now starting to become like that. Now that [Lee is] not holding back and has asked for our accounting records, it seems he’s really not holding back.”
In other portions of the recording, the same voice is heard threatening violence against Lee Seung-gi. “I swear on my name that I will kill him. I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to kill Lee Seung-gi. That motherfucker. I swear,” the person is heard saying. “I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to kill him.”
Dispatch also released a string of text messages, which the outlet said were supplied by Lee’s manager. These allegedly feature exchanges between the manager and Kwon. The messages allegedly sent by Kwon feature her allegedly asking employees in some instances to use company funds to pay for luxury clothing for her personal use.
In others, Kwon allegedly barred Lee from using company funds to pay for parking fees, snacks and dinner, among other expenses. In one text, Kwon allegedly told Lee’s manager: “Seung-gi is the way he is because you allow it.”
Besides the voice recording and text messages, Lee’s manager alleged to Dispatch that Kwon “brainwashed” Lee, per Koreaboo’s translations. “The CEO would always say, ‘You’re a minus singer [meaning a singer who does not generate profit]. Your fans never spend money but ask for so much. You made a lot of money through other [acting, variety shows] projects. Just think of your singing career as fan service.’ She brainwashed him,” Lee’s manager reportedly alleged to Dispatch.
“If he had questioned her about the accounting, he would have been scolded. Lee Seung-gi chose not get cursed out rather than get paid.” Hook Entertainment’s latest statement did not address the texts and recordings published by Dispatch.