Earlier this week, the Seoul District Court disclosed the names of former trainees of Mnet's 'Produce' series who were victimized by the broadcasting station, Ahn Joon Young PD, and Kim Yong Bum CP.
According to the court, trainees Kim Soo Hyun and Seo Hye Rim were eliminated through vote manipulation on season 1; trainees Sung Hyun Woo and Kang Dong Ho were eliminated through vote manipulation on season 2; Lee Kaeun and Han Cho Won on season 3; and Anzardi Timothee, Kim Kook Heon, Lee Jin Woo, Goo Jung Mo, Lee Jin Hyuk, and Geum Dong Hyun on season 4. Among these trainees, Kang Dong Ho, Lee Kaeun, Han Cho Won, Goo Jung Mo, Lee Jin Hyuk, and Geum Dong Hyun were listed as trainees who would have made it into the debut lineup during the final voting round of their seasons.
In light of the news shocking the entertainment industry as well as numerous fans and viewers, representatives of K-Pop entertainment companies have commented on the situation, as well as some of the frustrations and dilemmas imposed. One rep from an agency of a victimized trainee said, "We are disappointed, but at the same time, we question whether there's anything more we can do about it than to just say that this is the reality of the entertainment industry. We were done wrong without any strength to fight back, but as far as we can tell, there's nothing visibly different [with the names revealed]."
Another company rep remarked, "Since the opposing party is a large broadcasting station, it's uncomfortable to convey our honest thoughts and statements. The agency must also take into consideration that we not only represent the victimized trainee, but we have other label artists to promote. It's not necessarily that CJ ENM is pressuring other companies to keep quiet, but more that most entertainment companies wish to minimize any internal disputes with CJ ENM as much as possible. The fact that the names of the victimized trainees was revealed can be applied as a good thing, but in the long term, companies are still in a position where they must continue to work and negotiate with the large broadcasting station."
Another rep additionally disclosed, "It's true that news of such a systematic manipulation comes across as very shocking, but in the first place, we knew that there would be some discrimination regarding screen time, and that the production crew had certain images they wanted for the show. If Mnet tries to resume trainee audition programs again, most companies will have no choice but to send their trainees on it [for fame and relevance]."
Finally, an industry insider added on, "This issue should not end simply with this 'compensation' that Mnet promised to the victimized trainees, but the broadcasting station must work to ensure that they receive certain treatment which assures their future activities, and these negotiations must consist of visible actions which viewers can confirm. Now that the names of the trainees have been revealed, this is no longer a two-sided matter between Mnet and the victims."