"Produce 101" Season 2, the Korean reality survival TV show aimed at picking 11 boys for a boy band unit, continues to be hounded by controversy.
After contestant Ha Min Ho was ousted from the show for allegations of sexual harassment of minors, channel Mnet has revealed that illegal votes were cast in the selection of the Top 60 contestants.
"Some foreign fans have bought and sold CJ One accounts at a Chinese e-commerce sites for the purpose of participating in 'Produce 101,'" Mnet said.
It said the number of voters participating in the illegal scheme comprised 2 percent of the total votes cast.
"All the wrong votes were nullified but the number of votes did not change the ranking," it added.
Mnet has requested that the post on an e-commerce site in China be taken down but it admitted that it was impossible to prevent transactions occurring through other routes.
To prevent illegal votes, Mnet said it has implemented three measures.
One is to block votes coming from IPs in China and the second is to enhance user verification through a two-step captcha system. It also added an authentication system on the voting page.
"We will do our best to ensure fairness and system security for the voting so that the program will not be affected in the future," Mnet assured.
Regarding Ha Min Ho, Mnet has decided that it will not add another contestant to fill up his ranking and the show will go on with 59 contestants.
Another contestant, Kang Daniel, has been penalized for trying to influence through social media the concept song that he wants to perform for an upcoming evaluation on the show.
An online poll was conducted asking netizens to vote which song matches a trainee and Kang tried to encourage his fans to vote for a certain song. He apologized later.
Mnet has barred him from being assigned to the song he liked.
"Produce 101" has been a popular TV show since it began last April 7.
In the latest Content Power Index (CPI), developed by CJ E&M and Nielsen Korea, to measure popularity of TV shows, "Produce 101" remained No. 1 with 271.8 points, topped the ranking for four consecutive weeks.
Placing second is "Yoon's Restaurant" with 240 points followed by "Mom's Diary-My Ugly Duckling" with 227.1 points, drama "Perfect Wife" with 226.3 and "I Live Alone" with 224.