LOONA members Vivi and Hyunjin reportedly file lawsuits to suspend their contracts with Blockberry Creative

LOONA members Vivi and Hyunjin have reportedly filed lawsuits to suspend their exclusive contracts with Blockberry Creative.

JTBC News reported earlier today (February 3) that both members have filed for an injunction to suspend their contracts with the embattled agency – which would mean that all 11 members of the girl group (which was a 12-member group before the firing of Chuu in November) have filed to exit their contracts with Blockberry Creative.

The JTBC News report claims that Vivi and Hyunjin have “a high chance” of securing their injunction, as both members allegedly have similar contract terms as Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Choerry. These members successfully secured injunctions to suspend their contracts with Blockberry Creative last month.

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Neither Vivi and Hyunjin, nor Blockberry Creative, have commented on the report at the time of publication.

LOONA no comeback showcase for the origin album
LOONA. Credit: Blockberry Creative

Should Vivi and Hyunjin secure their injunction to terminate their contracts, Haseul, Yeojin, Yves, Gowon and Olivia Hye will be the only LOONA members remaining under BlockBerry Creative’s management. The five members requested the same injunction as the four successful members in January, but were rejected as they had reportedly amended parts of their contracts with the agency in the past.

Earlier this week, the Korea Entertainment Management Association (KEMA) revealed that Blockberry Creative had petitioned both KEMA and Korea Entertainment Producers Association in December 2022 to suspend former LOONA singer Chuu’s entertainment activities in the country.

The agency’s petition claimed Chuu had “tamper[ed]” with and allegedly “violat[ed] the management contract” with the agency after she allegedly moved to sign a new contract with a different agency named BY4M Studio in 2021.

In response to the petition, KEMA requested Chuu’s attendance at its Reward and Punishment committee. Chuu’s legal counsel responded with their intent to attend the committee “to confirm the facts regarding Blockberry Creative’s claims and… investigate the case fairly”, as translated by Soompi.

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Blockberry Creative later confirmed that it had indeed filed the petition regarding Chuu and also revealed plans to submit a similar but separate petition to “prohibit the entertainment activities of the following four people, Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, and Choerry, to the committee as well”.

While those four members have yet to respond to Blockberry’s statement at the time of writing, Chuu has responded to the agency through a brief statement on her personal Instagram account. In it, she claimed that “slanderous articles based on false reports have gone too far” and that she was not aware of the company BY4M in December 2021, per translations by Soompi.

LOONA were previously set to release a new record titled ‘The Origin Album: 0’ via Blockberry Creative on January 3. ‘The Origin Album: 0’ would have marked their first record as an 11-member group, but its release has been “postponed indefinitely” as “various concerns about the members’ situation are not resolved.”

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SM Entertainment announces plans to debut four new K-pop acts in 2023

K-pop label SM Entertainment has announced plans to debut four new musical acts sometime this year.

Earlier today (February 3) in a video announcement, SM Entertainment CEO Sung Su-lee and COO Young Jun-tak outlined plans to establish a “multi-production center/label system” – or a music production strategy designed to help SM release more music and debut more artists by transitioning from one executive producer overseeing the production process to several “production centers” that can focus on different projects.

With this new strategy, SM Entertainment now has plans to debut at least two new groups per year (up from debuting one group every 3.5 years on average) and release over 40 albums per year (up from releasing an annual average of 31 albums).

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As part of their new music production strategy, SM Entertainment also announced plans to debut four new musical acts sometime this year. These include NCT’s Japanese sub-unit NCT Tokyo, a new boy group and girl group and a virtual solo artist.

Though details on SM’s new groups have yet to be released, it was previously reported that Nævis, a character from girl group aespa’s fictional lore, would make her musical debut as an “AI artist” during aespa’s VR concert at this year’s South By Southwest festival this March.

Apart from announcing the roster of new acts scheduled to debut with the label, SM Entertainment also outlined plans to release over 40 albums for 2023. These comprise seven albums within the first quarter of the year, 12 albums each for the second and third quarter of the year, and 10 albums for the fourth quarter of the year.

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TWICE announce new mini-album ‘Ready to Be’

TWICE have unveiled the title and release date of their 12th mini-album.

In a teaser posted to the group’s official social media accounts yesterday (February 2), TWICE announced that their 12th mini-album will be titled ‘Ready to Be’, and is slated for release on March 10, 2PM KST/midnight EST. The record is available to pre-save and pre-order here. Target-exclusive physical editions, in CD and vinyl format, are available.

TWICE first announced plans to release their 12th mini-album in late 2022 through a teaser poster detailing their plans for the “first 1/4 of 2023”.

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The announcement arrives several weeks after the release of ‘Moonlight Sunrise’, the pre-release track for their upcoming mini-album. ‘Moonlight Sunrise’ is the nine-piece group’s second English-language single after 2021’s ‘The Feels’.

The group’s last mini-album was ‘Between 1&2’, which was released August 2022. That record was led by the single ‘Talk That Talk’, and was recently revealed as the US’s sixth top-selling CD album in 2022, per American music data tracking firm Luminate.

Apart from the release of new music, TWICE will also embark on a “large-scale” world tour sometime this year, according to an investment plan released by JYP Entertainment in late 2022.

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Ex-LOONA member Chuu responds to Blockberry Creative petition to ban her from entertainment activities in Korea

Blockberry Creative has filed a petition to Korean entertainment industry bodies to ban former LOONA singer Chuu from entertainment activities in the country, and has plans to file another against members Heejin, Choerry, Kim Lip and Jinsoul.

Yesterday (February 1), per News1, the Korea Entertainment Management Association (KEMA) revealed that Blockberry Creative, the embattled agency of K-pop girl group LOONA, had petitioned KEMA and Korea Entertainment Producers Association in December 2022 for the suspension of Chuu’s entertainment activities.

Chuu was a member of LOONA up until November 2022, when the agency announced her “expulsion” from the group, alleging to online skepticism the singer’s “violent language and misuse of power toward our staff”. Chuu later responded by saying she had not “done anything that would be shameful to my fans”.

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According to KEMA, Blockberry’s petition claimed that Chuu had “tamper[ed]” with and thus allegedly “violat[ed] the management contract” with Blockberry after she allegedly moved to sign a new contract with a different agency named BY4M Studio in 2021, per translations by Koreaboo.

In response to the petition, KEMA requested Chuu’s attendance at its Reward and Punishment committee. Per Sports Chosun, Chuu’s legal counsel responded with their intention to attend the committee so as “to confirm the facts regarding Blockberry Creative’s claims and… investigate the case fairly”, per Soompi’s translations.

Blockberry Creative later confirmed the reports of its petitions in a statement to South Korean media outlet TV Report. It also revealed plans to submit a similar but separate petition to “prohibit the entertainment activities of the following four people, Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, and Choerry, to the committee as well”. These are the members of LOONA who managed to secure injunctions and terminate their exclusive contracts with the company last month.

While Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Choerry have yet to issue official responses to Blockberry’s statement at the time of writing, Chuu has shared a brief statement on her personal Instagram account.

“It’s really tiring and sad that I must keep revealing my position. Recently, it seems that slanderous articles based on false reports have gone too far,” she wrote in an Instagram story posted earlier today (February 2), per translations by Koreaboo

“In December 2021, I didn’t even know the company BY4M. It’s hard for me to put up with the fact that even the members are tied up with the lies, so I’ll organise my position and respond soon.”

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loona chuu statement blockberry creative ban entertainment activities instagram
Credit: @chuuo3o on Instagram

Besides Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Choerry, five other members of LOONA also filed injunctions to suspend their Blockberry Creative contracts: Haseul, Yeojin, Yves, Gowon and Olivia Hye. They had their requests rejected last month as they had reportedly amended parts of their contracts with the agency in the past, said the court. Members Hyunjin and Vivi were not involved in the lawsuit and will presumably remain under the agency.

Following news of Blockberry Creative’s petitions, SBS News reported on February 2 that Universal Music Japan is currently in talks to “directly exercise exclusive rights to the LOONA members”, and “is in the process of crafting detailed plans for LOONA’s Japanese promotions as a full 12-member group”. The company has been an investor in LOONA, and manages the group in Japan.

According to SBS News, Universal Music Japan may exercise exclusive rights to LOONA and thus have the band relocate its primary base of activities to Japan for at least three years, with activities that include album releases, fan meets and more. The report also said that Chuu would be included in the group’s reported relocation to Japan.

According to the outlet, an exclusive contract LOONA signed with Universal Music Japan in September 2019 contains the following clause: “Even if the contractual relationships with Blockberry Creative were to expire, the members must still fulfil this exclusive contract, and if they do not comply, compensation for damages will be required according to Japanese law.”

Blockberry Creative, Universal Music Japan, and the present and past members of LOONA have yet to comment on this report.

LOONA were previously set to release a new record titled ‘The Origin Album: 0’ via Blockberry Creative on January 3, which would have marked their first release without Chuu and as an 11-member group. Blockberry Creative later announced that its release would be “postponed indefinitely” as “various concerns about the members’ situation are not resolved.”

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ENHYPEN lead line-up of new Las Vegas festival We Bridge

ENHYPEN have been announced as headliners for a new festival in Las Vegas, We Bridge.

We Bridge, billed as a three-day cultural expo and two-day music festival celebrating Asian entertainment and culture, will take place in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Convention Center and Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino from April 21 to 23.

ENHYPEN will headline the festival’s second night (April 22), sharing the bill with other K-pop acts including boy group ONEUS and soloist Be’O, as well as girl groups VIVIZ and fromis_9. Other Korean acts, namely Dreamcatcher, CIX and soloist Kang Daniel, have been announced as the performing line-up for day one (April 21). ONEUS will be performing both days. More artists will be added to the We Bridge line-up at a later date.

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Fans are now able to purchase their festival tickets and expo passes on webridgeexpo.com, with both full event packages and individual day tickets up for sale.

Credit: We Bridge Expo

Aside from the music festival, We Bridge will also be showcasing various other Asian music, media, art and fashion as part of its expo. According to a press release, the GRAMMY Museum is set to have its own stage on the expo floor across all three days, consisting of special performances and Q&A sessions with music festival acts. Hi-touch events (where K-pop artists give fans high fives before/after a concert) will also follow each panel and will be made accessible to ticket holders of qualifying tiers. We Bridge will also be partnering with culture curators and creators to introduce and showcase Asian and Asian American visual artists.

The current line-up for We Bridge is:

ONEUS
Dreamcatcher
CIX
Kang Daniel
VIVIZ
Be’O
fromis_9
ENHYPEN

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