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Here’s another (sort of) detailed timeline of what’s been going on with FIFTY FIFTY (PT. 2)

Since our last article, there have been a number of updates regarding the legal disputes between ATTRAKT and the girl group FIFTY FIFTY. Most of these updates have given reason to the public to be on the side of ATTRAKT’s CEO, Jeon Hong-joon.

July 3, 2023 – ATTRAKT releases “damning” audio recording between CEO and Warner Music Korea

The recording released by ATTRAKT seemingly backs the agency’s claims that Warner Music Korea had attempted to “poach” FIFTY FIFTY. In the audio, Warner Music Korea’s Executive Director Yoon can be heard discussing with CEO Ahn Sung-il of The Givers about a “buyout,” which is a term that refers to the recruitment while there is still an ongoing contract and that contact will be terminated when a certain amount of money is paid, with the members of FIFTY FIFTY.

Below is a translation of the audio recording from May 9, 2023 (provided by Soompi):

Warner Music Korea Executive Director Yoon: “I have one thing I want to check.”

ATTRAKT CEO Jeon Hoong-joon: “Yes, yes.”

Director Yoon: “I previously offered CEO Ahn Sung-il a 20 billion won (approx.. $15.3 million) buyout.”

ATTRAKT CEO: “I haven’t heard of that.”

Director Yoon: “You haven’t heard of that?”

ATTRAKT CEO: “Yes. What is a buyout?”

Director Yoon: “No, that label.”

ATTRAKT CEO: “What about the label?”

Director Yoon: “That is, we normally express it as we take over the kids. [That is] what we talked about.”

ATTRAKT CEO: “No, no.”

July 4, 2023 – Dispatch’s exclusive report surrounding FIFTY FIFTY, Ahn Sung-il, The Givers, and ATTRAKT

In a tell-all exclusive report, South Korean news outlet Dispatch revealed the truth surrounding past reports, along with a timeline of events prior to the lawsuit—from 2019 up to present.

2019 – The planning of FIFTY FIFTY

There were 3 key people in the creation of the “FIFTY” project: Ahn Sung-il, Jeon Hong-joon, and KAMP. The third is a US-based performance production company that has been behind several K-Pop festivals around the world, and Ahn Sung-il had formerly worked for them.

Their relationship had begun in 2019 during KAMP Singapore 2019, where Jeon Hong-joon first suggested to KAMP’s CEO to collaborate together to create a global K-Pop group. In November 2019, Ahn Sung-il, Jeon Hong-joon, and KAMP launched the “FIFTY” project, and were joined by two other KAMP staff named “B” and “L.”

2021 – The end of KAMP’s involvement and the formation of The Givers

Jeon Hong-joon gathered trainees for a year—from December 2019 to December 2020, and used monthly evaluations to decide on the trainees that will debut as FIFTY FIFTY. At the same time, KAMP had planned the project’s global strategy and searched for foreign composers and possible songs for the group.

However, in 2021, there had been a disagreement in the global strategies between Jeon Hong-joon and KAMP. The latter had decided to pull out from the project altogether, and the former had contracted Ahn Sung-il.

Soon afterwards, Ahn Sung-il and employees “B” and “L” all resigned from KAMP and created “The Givers.”

2021 – 2023 – Raising FIFTY FIFTY and the group’s launch to success

Jeon Hong-joon and Ahn Sung-il worked together—the former working on investments, while the latter was in charge of FIFTY FIFTY’s training.

Despite the amount of prepayments that Jeon had gotten from investors and distributors, the money was not enough to cover the cost of producing a girl group, which is an estimated ₩2.00 billion KRW ($1.53 million USD) annually. FIFTY FIFTY had received lessons in vocals, music theory, rap, dance, English, fitness, and acting, with the company spending between ₩20.0 million KRW ($15,300 USD) and ₩30.0 million KRW ($23,000 USD) on lesson fees each month.

FIFTY FIFTY’s 3-bedroom dorm in Gangnam was also ₩3.30 million KRW ($2,350 USD) monthly. Gangnam is one of the wealthiest districts in Seoul, South Korea.

In 2022, the music videos for all 4 songs from FIFTY FIFTY’s debut album had cost over ₩500 million KRW ($383,000 USD), and an additional ₩250 million KRW ($192,000 USD) was spent for the MV production of “Cupid.”

This is where Ahn Sung-il said that he had sold his car and expensive items to raise funds for FIFTY FIFTY.

2023 – FIFTY FIFTY’s stardom and success

By April 2023, FIFTY FIFTY had already broken personal records and had entered Billboard’s Hot 100 music chart with their viral track, “Cupid.” At the time “Cupid” became viral, Ahn Sung-il received a lot of attention because of his production of the track.

“Cupid” was originally written by students from the Swedish School of Music (Adam Von Mentzer, Mac Felländer-Tsai, and Louise Udin), and Ahn Sung-il had arranged the song to make it fit the “easy-listening” trend.

The copyright holders of “Cupid”

Dispatch was able to find the exact breakdown of copyright holders for the viral track:

via Dispatch
via Dispatch

Ahn Sung Il (SIAHN) – 28.65%
Employee “B” (AHIN) – 4%
Song Ja-kyung (Keena, FIFTY FIFTY) – 0.5%
The Givers – 66.85%

The Swedish students who had initially produced the song weren’t mentioned at all in the copyright distribution. Dispatch had found out that Ahn Sung-il had paid the students $9,000 USD to buyout their rights to any copyrights in January 2023. In short, Ahn Sung-il alone earned 99.5% of the song’s copyright.

Dispatch was also able to find the invoice of the buyout done:

via Dispatch
via Dispatch

Tax invoice for “Cupid” on March 31, 2023- ₩12.5 million KRW ($9,570 USD after taxes).

Jeon Hong-joon and The Givers

Jeon Hong-joon had entrusted the management of the FIFTY FIFTY members to employee “B” from The Givers, which led the latter to also be in charge of communication with the members and their parents.

On May 2, 2023, member Aran underwent surgery for an unknown problem. Following her surgery, employee “B” suggested also to give the other members a break from May 10 to 28.

Jeon Hong-joon had originally countered by making it into just a week of a break, but employee “B” said that the request had come from the members and their parents. The conversation had concluded with Jeon Hong-joon giving FIFTY FIFTY members an almost 2-week break.

On June 9, 2023, Ahn Sung-il and Jeon Hong-joon talked about FIFTY FIFTY’s upcoming release with “Barbie.”

via Dispatch
via Dispatch

Ahn Sung Il: It will definitely be good to do the Barbie movie. I’ll meet with them first to try to persuade them and I will communicate with Aran.
Jeon Hong Joon: It’s good for you, the group, and the company, but since it’s also a matter of dealing with a health issue, communicate well with both the parents and the members so that there are no misunderstandings~!!
Jeon Hong Joon: With such a good showing it’s frustrating that they cannot do anything these days~!
Ahn Sung Il: Ok. Aran listens well to my opinions anyway so I’ll check her condition first.
Ahn Sung Il: I’ll go to personally see her mother.

July 5, 2023 – FIFTY FIFTY’s trial and the registering of trademarks for FIFTY FIFTY and their stage names

As initially reported last June 28, 2023, all FIFTY FIFTY members had filed for an injunction to terminate their exclusive contracts with ATTRAKT.

The reasons for their move were stated to be for 3 reasons: lack of settlement data transparency, violation of the artist’s health care obligations, and insufficient support for essential resources. The members also mentioned the lack of trust between them and ATTRAKT, with the recipient of advance payment being Star Crew ENT, a private company owned by Jeon Hong-joon.

ATTRAKT’s legal counsel had addressed the claims, stating that there was a misunderstanding between the relationship between Star Crew ENT and ATTRAKT and that the girl group had originally signed an exclusive contract with Star Crew ENT.

FIFTY FIFTY’s legal rep clarified that the group isn’t demanding monetary gain, but rather because of the trust between the 2 parties have been “irreparably damaged,” the continuation of the exclusive contract is now impossible.

On the part of the label, they mentioned that they were unable to establish contact with the members because they do not respond. “While personal freedom allows for individual choices regarding meetings, it seems that external influences may be at play in this case involving the young members of FIFTY FIFTY.”

In another report by SBS on the same day, it had been found out that several trademark rights related to the group name ‘FIFTY FIFTY’ and the members Aran (Jung Eun-ah), Keena (Song Ja-kyung), Saena (Jung Se-hyun), and Sio (Jung Ji-ho) were registered on June 19, 2023.

It had been earlier reported that ATTRAKT had applied for the trademark rights for the name ‘FIFTY FIFTY’ last June 15. As of writing, the application is still pending examination. 4 days later, four individuals had registered ‘FIFTY FIFTY’ in Korean, with the individuals sharing the same family names as the four members of the girl group.

On the same day, the members of FIFTY FIFTY had filed for a provisional injunction to suspend their exclusive contracts with ATTRAKT.

July 6, 2023 – Dispatch releases phone recording between Jeon Hong-joon and Ahn Sung-il regarding “Cupid”

In another exclusive report, Dispatch has continued to look into the controversy surrounding FIFTY FIFTY, ATTRAKT, and The Givers.

The South Korean news media outlet revealed a phone call between ATTRAKT’s CEO Jeon Hong-joon and Producer Ahn Sung-il from The Givers, which took place in April of this year.

The translation is as follows:

Jeon Hong Joon: “I received a call from an investor today. They asked, ‘Hey, you said you bought the song from overseas, right?’. And I said, ‘Yeah’. Well, apparently, the Copyright Association had an investigation going to see if I had told a lie. Apparently, it only shows Ahn Sung Il, SIAHN. And I said, ‘That’s our chief Ahn Sung Il’. So it seems like the Association wanted to check and make sure, because no foreign composers were listed.”

Ahn Sung Il: “Do you mean the 1st album songs?”

Jeon Hong Joon: “No, for ‘Cupid’.”

Ahn Sung Il: “That will take 3 months.”

Ahn Sung Il: “My name was listed first because I am a domestic composer.”

Jeon Hong Joon: “Your name was listed earlier [than the foreign composers]?”

Ahn Sung Il: “Because how else would [you] also register for it?”

Jeon Hong Joon: “I see. You still have the receipt for the $10,000 we paid to [the foreign composers], right?”

Ahn Sung Il: “Of course.”

Ahn Sung Il: “Maybe they are inquiring about the publishing rights…”

Jeon Hong Joon: “Why are the foreign composers not listed…”

Ahn Sung Il: “Once everything is registered, the publishing rights will include all that.”

Jeon Hong Joon: “It’s been two months, but it’s still not fully registered?”

Dispatch is also intending to confirm all of the claims provided by The Givers by contacting the original composers from Sweden.


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