Korean agencies association comments on Fantagio takeover

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Seo Kang Joon (left) and Lee Tae Hwan of 5Surprise, a group under Fantagio
Seo Kang Joon (left) and Lee Tae Hwan of 5Surprise, a group under Fantagio Fantagio’s Facebook page

The association of Korean agencies has issued a statement regarding the corporate problem that has plagued Fantagio, which manages artists including Gong Myung, Seo Kang Joon, ASTRO, Wanna One's Ong Sung Woo.

The Korea Entertainment Management Association (KEMA) has warned agencies against taking in foreign investments in their companies.

Last December, Fantagio founder and co-CEO Na Byeong Joon was ousted from his position by Chinese majority stakeholder JC Group, which now owns 50.7 percent of the agency through a subsidiary.

As a result, Fantagio employed warned that they would hold a strike if Na Byeong Joon is not reinstated.

"On December 28, there was an incident where the Na Byeong Joon, the founder of Fantagio which is one of KEMA's member companies, was dismissed without prior notice and the staff declared a strike. This cannot be overlooked as just one entertainment company's problem and it is time that we all acknowledge that this isn't a new problem that just emerged," KEMA said in a statement emailed to members.

KEMA said at present, corporate deals between Chinese companies and Korean entertainment agencies are still going on.

"Reflecting on this incident at Fantagio, KEMA would like to point out to you that inviting reckless major capital investments could potentially result in losing management control," it warned.

The association added that "we are very sad about the Fantagio incident that has raised awareness and caused shock to the industry. We sincerely hope that they will reach an amicable solution and there will be no further issues."

Even Ong Sung Woo, who is temporarily managed by YMC Entertainment due to Wanna One's contract, expressed concern about the power grab at his agency.

"I, as well as my fans, think of Na Byeong Joon daepyonim as like a father. He's the person who has allowed the current Ong Seong Wu to exist. My fans started a hashtag movement for Mr. Na, and I was so grateful for that. I dearly hope Fantagio family come together in times like this and the issue be resolved as soon as possible," he said.

This article was first published on January 16, 2018