Earlier this year, DSP Media filed a lawsuit against APRIL's Lee Hyunjoo after the singer and her brother alleged that other group members bullied her. The South Korean entertainment company denied the allegations in a statement explaining Hyunjoo's involvement with APRIL and her departure.
Meanwhile, K-Pop industry insiders believe that the organization could be fighting a losing battle given the nature of the allegations. Hyunjoo herself recently posted on Instagram about the allegations for the first time, saying she was harassed for three years while in the group.
However, DSP Media once again refuted the allegations.
What are Hyunjoo's bullying allegations against APRIL?
A social media user claiming to be Hyunjoo's younger brother claimed that she left the group due to bullying within the team. He wrote:
"She was severely harassed and bullied in the group and suffered from panic attacks and breathing difficulties. Eventually, she even tried to take her own life."
DSP Media denied the allegations with a lengthy explanation defending APRIL, stating that Hyunjoo wished to pursue an acting career. Later, the agency said they would take legal action against Hyunjoo and her family, writing in a statement:
"Lee Hyunjoo insisted that she was the victim, shared a very one-sided version of her facts, and demanded us to release a different statement on our position."
Hyunjoo took to Instagram earlier this month to share her side of the story, stating that the bullying started in 2014 when she was preparing for the team debut. The 23-year-old wrote:
"For three years, I endured physical abuse, verbal abuse, mocking, harassing, and hate from the members. When they began verbally attacking and harassing my beloved grandmother, parents, and my brother, I felt so much pain. The agency knew about this, but they did not take any action to stop it. They neglected me.:
DSP Media, as well as APRIL members Chaewon and Yena, continued to deny Hyunjoo's allegations of bullying.
Why K-Pop industry insiders believe DSP Media could lose their lawsuit against Hyunjoo
According to Koreaboo, quoting Korean paper Ilyo, K-Pop industry insiders do not believe that DSP Media's lawsuit against Hyunjoo will be fruitful. The insiders noted that whether the bullying took place or not, DSP Media carries the responsibility as an entertainment agency to resolve all matters involving managing their artists.
The agency's failure to handle the alleged incidents among the members will play a role in DSP Media's defeat, according to these insiders. An anonymous idol management professional stated:
"Generally, all entertainment agencies are required by contract to provide quality management for their signed artists to carry out activities without issues. If their signed artists develop physical or mental conditions during the period of contract, they are responsible for supporting recovery, though the details on how are to be discussed with the artists."
Moreover, given that Hyunjoo was a minor at the time of the alleged bullying incidents, DSP Media could be held responsible for violating the South Korean Youth Protection Act.
An insider said:
"And as per the Youth Protection Act, if their signed artists are minors, they must guarantee and protect the minors' fundamental rights like moral rights."
Meanwhile, fans are demanding that DSP Media release Hyunjoo from their contract as they seek legal action against her. The actor and singer had previously claimed that the company had stopped her from working while preventing her from leaving the agency.