Amid Its Ador Dispute, Hybe Reportedly Faces a Government Investigation Over Alleged BTS Chart Manipulation

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Photo Credit: Hybe

When it rains, it pours: Amid a much-publicized dispute with its Ador subsidiary – and as it grapples with criticism from BTS Army diehards – Hybe is reportedly staring down a government investigation over an alleged chart manipulation scheme.

Regional outlets including the Korea JoongAng Daily just recently shed light on the reported probe, stemming from alleged conduct that occurred nearly a decade ago. As described by the Seoul-based newspaper, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is expected to order an investigation, carried out specifically by the state-run Korea Creative Content Agency, in connection with “a petition.”

Said petition, Korea JoongAng Daily relayed, concerns the motivation for payments allegedly made by Hybe in 2017 to blackmailers over a purported chart manipulation scheme (known as sajaegi in South Korea) centering on one or more of BTS’ earlier projects.

The alleged scheme and blackmail were ultimately uncovered by authorities, with the four involved persons having reportedly been made to pay fines; one of the culprits was reportedly sentenced to a year behind bars. (Though the subject garners little stateside coverage, arrests, criminal investigations, and even prison sentences are relatively common in and around the K-pop sphere.)

According to a summary of the relevant detail-oriented court documents, the individual who served time had threatened Hybe over the sajaegi marketing deal that the K-pop mainstay had allegedly commissioned to boost BTS’ chart positioning.

While the English-language newspaper opted not to identify who had submitted the petition, it did indicate that a second petition is calling on the government to revoke BTS’ Order of Cultural Merit if the investigation turns up evidence of wrongdoing.

Of course, the petitions have arrived as the initially mentioned Ador showdown is in full swing. Additionally, it was only last year that Hybe engaged in an ultimately unsuccessful takeover attempt of rival SM Entertainment.

Now mostly in the rearview when it comes to media coverage, the dispute undoubtedly remains on the minds of execs – especially since Hybe bought nearly $80 million worth of SM stock in March.

In any event, Hybe has predictably pushed back against the government investigation, and in particular BTS-related criticism as well as “malicious posts.” Separately, Army fanatics on Friday took out a full-page ad in “major newspapers” underscoring their support for BTS as opposed to Hybe, per the Korea Herald.

In another testament to the depth of that fandom, the Korea Times reported today that the BTS Pop-Up: Monochrome store had attracted a massive crowd over the weekend, after opening its doors on April 26th. Some reportedly waited north of eight hours to enter the temporary store, which, as its name suggests, offers photos, posters, and other products in a (comparatively inexpensive) black and white color scheme.