SM Entertainment has landed itself in more legal trouble because a new lawsuit has just been filed against the agency.
On 11th May, legal representation JC Partners stated that singer-actor No Minwoo has filed a lawsuit against the agency over an alleged contract of 17 years and a broadcast ban. The rep further stated that Minwoo already filed the suit in Seoul Central District Court at the end of last month. The actor also reported the agency to the Fair Trade Commission for unfair actions.
Minwoo made his debut as a drummer named “Rose” in SM Entertainment group TRAX back in 2004. He departed from the group in 2006 and became a guitarist briefly for TheRomantist before it disbanded. He then became the leader of the project group “24/7” with Lee Jangwoo and Hyunwoo, and released the single, “24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week”. He left SME in 2009 and signed a contract with Core Contents Media in the same year.
According to Minwoo’s representative, Minwoo’s contracts are “considered unfair” in Korea. The reps said:
Before No Minwoo debuted, he ended up signing a contract spanning 17 years, as a result of SM Entertainment’s unilateral terms of contract extension. Truthfully, contracts extending over seven years are considered unfair, so taking issue in a 17-year contract is a matter of course. While the 17-year contract is an issue, in addition, as soon as No Minwoo showed signs of opposition [to the contract], SM halted all support activities expected of a management company. He did start activities again on his own, but SM Entertainment blocked his television appearances.
The reps then stated, “It goes to show how wronged No Min Woo must feel, to go to court with a huge management agency like SM over a contract that is already over. The development of this case will be something to see.”
In response to the lawsuit, SM only stated:
We plan to take legal action an all accounts regarding the groundless lawsuit and report (to the Fair Trade Commission).
This isn’t the first time that SM Entertainment was embroiled in a contract termination lawsuit as former TVXQ! members Jaejoong, Yoochun, and Junsu filed a lawsuit against the agency in 2009 over an alleged slave contract. Former Super Junior-M member Hangeng also filed a lawsuit against SM Entertainment, citing that a 13-year exclusive contract was amongst many things, unlawful. This was then followed by Kris and Luhan of EXO-M, who sued the company over an invalid contract.
UPDATE (12th May, 2:34pM):
Minwoo’s current agency has revealed more details regarding the artiste’s lawsuit.
On 11th May, a representative of MJ Dreamsys told Ilgan Sports:
As soon as No Min Woo entered his second year of middle school, SM Entertainment tried to sign him. Although he wasn’t planning to sign, [SM] convinced him and eventually signed the contract. However, [the agency] never once properly played out their role as a management. When [No Min Woo] questioned why they weren’t doing their job properly, they neglected him even more. All this time, No Min Woo’s mother, who is currently the CEO of his agency, helped him with his activities on her own. Even more, people from SM would come to the broadcast station and cause a disruption in the midst of filming. They behaved in a way that goes beyond all reasonable bounds, which has led to this [lawsuit].
The actor’s legal representation also stated:
No Min Woo was unable to appear on broadcast due to [SM’s] silent pressure. There were times when his casting had been confirmed, but was suddenly cancelled.
As for the reason why Minwoo only decided to take action now, his attorney explained:
No Min Woo and his mother have been contemplating the lawsuit since a year ago, but after seeing this series of events, they made the decision to go through with it.
What do you think of the lawsuit? Do legal issues surrounding SM Entertainment and its artistes surprise you anymore? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.