Fantagio employees vow to hold strike after CEO's dismissal by Chinese company

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Gong Myung, Seo Kang Joon, Weki Meki and ASTRO
(Clockwise from top left) Gong Myung, Seo Kang Joon, Weki Meki and ASTRO (Twitter) Twitter

Employees of Korean entertainment agency Fantagio are up in arms against the dismissal of the company's founder and co-CEO by a Chinese company that is now the primary owner.

Fantagio is considered actors' agency for its roster of stars including Gong Myung and Seo Kang Joon. It also manages K-pop groups ASTRO, Weki Meki, Hello Venus and Wanna One member Ong Sung Woo.

The company was founded in 2008 and in October 2017, the Chinese company JC Group through Gold Finance Korea bought 50.7 percent of Fantagio's stocks to become the majority owner.

But on December 28, Fantagio founder and co-CEo Na Byeong Joon was removed from his position by JC Group due to a budget deficit. It installed Wei Jie as the only CEO of the company and the agency is now being run by the Chinese owner.

This didn't sit well with Fantagio employees who vowed to hold a strike unless Na Byeong Joon is reinstated.

"The reinstatement of CEO Na Byung Joon and the suspension of the Chinese major shareholder's abnormal business intervention," according to a statement issued by a committee composed of Fantagio's employees.

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"If CEO Na Byung Joon is not immediately reinstated to his position and the Korean branch of the Chinese major shareholder does not halt their illegal and abnormal interventions into our business practices, the staff employees will go on a general strike. All employees will protect their company and artists from the current illegal tyranny," the statement read.

The employees also accused the Chinese side of "unfair transfers and terminations."

"We have delivered our position to the shareholders and are awaiting a response. We are trying our best to resolve the situation through dialogue. We will do our best to minimize the impact this will have on our artists, but we will not hesitate to go on a general strike if necessary," they said.

This article was first published on January 3, 2018