This story contains mention of alleged sexual harassment.
The K-pop boy group held a press conference earlier today (November 16) alongside their legal representatives to address their ongoing controversy with SPIRE Entertainment. During the conference, OMEGA X’s lawyers told media that the group will be pressing charges against the label’s former CEO Kang Seong-hee for her alleged mistreatment of the group, according to TenAsia.
“We will proceed with pressing charges against the former CEO for threatening, assaulting and exploiting the members,” the band’s attorneys said, according to a translation by Koreaboo. “First, we will apply for nullifying the exclusive contract for OMEGA X’s activities.” OMEGA X have so far filed for a termination of contract, they said, and have plans to demand compensation at a later stage.
Elsewhere during the press conference, the 11 members of OMEGA X also personally made allegations about acts of abuse, including sexual harassment, inflicted upon them during Kang’s time as CEO, per YTN.
“CEO Kang forced me to drink some alcohol after practice and before leaving work, and made sexual remarks. [She] habitually sexually assaulted me by touching my thighs and my face,” leader Jaehan alleged. “She [also] made abusive remarks, such as threats of murder. She also made the members tremble with anxiety when she told us that she would make an extreme choice.”
OMEGA X’s attorney also added to Jaehan’s claims: “Remarks of sexual harassment occurred occasionally, but there was also physical contact, such as touching of the thighs while drinking and bringing the face close enough to hear breathing.” OMEGA X’s lawyers had made a statement earlier this week (November 14), claiming they had “video evidence of [sexual] harrassment”, according to Koreaboo’s translations.
Allegations regarding the SPIRE Entertainment CEO’s mistreatment of the K-pop band first emerged late last month after OMEGA X wrapped up their ‘Connect: Don’t Give Up’ tour of the US. The media outlet SBS News published video clips which were said to depict Kang verbally abusing and manhandling the band both outside a concert venue and in their hotel lobby in Los Angeles.
At the time, Kang denied the allegations to SBS and SPIRE Entertainment later issued a statement saying the members of OMEGA X and the agency had “resolved all their misunderstandings”.
During the press conference, member Junghoon said that following that incident in LA and after the group’s return to Korea, “we feel we have yet to receive a sincere apology”. Instead, he claimed that Kang “brought up our military duties and threatened us with a falsified statement of accounts” that, OMEGA X’s attorneys said, claimed that each member of the band owed the company a debt of ₩300million to ₩400million (approximately £190,940 to £254,000).
NME has contacted SPIRE Entertainment for comment on the allegations aired during the OMEGA X press conference. Neither SPIRE nor Kang have yet commented.
About a week after the videos of OMEGA X and Kang in Los Angeles first circulated online, the band launched an Instagram page independent of their agency where they shared a group statement alleging “unwarranted treatment” from SPIRE and “pressure” from the agency that affected the extent to which they could speak on social media.
SPIRE Entertainment later issued an official apology, where it also announced the resignation of “the CEO responsible for this matter”, ostensibly Kang even though she was not named. Kang is reportedly the wife of SPIRE Entertainment chairman Hwang Sung-woo.
The allegations made by OMEGA X in today’s press conference add to other claims reported by SBS last week, which allege that Kang engaged in ‘power-tripping’ behaviour towards the band and that the agency made its members hide positive COVID-19 test results and continue performing.
Yesterday, it was reported that OMEGA X have filed to trademark their group name and other phrases related to them, in an apparent bid to secure their ability to promote as a band regardless of their future with SPIRE Entertainment.