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Hybe-Ador CEO conflict gets messier

May 12, 2024 - 17:43 By Kim Jae-heun
Ador CEO Min Hee-jin speaks at a press conference in Seoul on April 25. (Yonhap)

What started as a dispute between Hybe and Min Hee-jin, the CEO of its subsidiary, Ador, over Min's alleged attempt to usurp management rights is getting messier.

Hybe last Friday released a statement saying it would take civil action against Min for revealing an internal audit it had conducted Thursday of Ador’s styling directing team leader over suspicion of embezzlement. Ador’s team leader is alleged to have received advertising fees directly from an advertiser instead of through the subsidiary.

Ador defended its team leader's action, explaining that it is the industry norm. But Hybe said it is an illegal act as no company allows its full-time employees to receive hundreds of millions of won directly from an advertiser.

"The audit was conducted on an Ador employee who is not an executive. Hybe had no plans to disclose the matter to the media. However, Min made it public, which she should not have done if she had wanted to protect her staff as a supervisor herself," Hybe said in the statement.

Hybe Chairman Bang Si-hyuk (Hybe)

"We strongly regret that Min has once again attempted to mislead the public by issuing a statement based on false facts. This is a serious defamation of the company. We will pursue all possible civil and criminal actions against Min," Hybe added.

To support its argument, Hybe also disclosed a private conversation between Min and her acquaintance regarding the team leader’s possible embezzlement on the mobile messaging app KakaoTalk.

However, Ador said it has fully addressed the issue with Hybe and has submitted the relevant information to the parent company. The subsidiary went on to say that Hybe is attempting to cloud the issue by disguising the “legitimate payment” as illegal.

Ador further pointed out that Hybe had sent two auditors to the styling team leader’s house to request the return of her company laptop and her personal cell phone.

A conversation between Ador CEO Min Hee-jin and her acquaintances on KakaoTalk (Hybe)

“Hybe abused its authority, exerting pressure on our staff member during the audit, threatening to report her to the police if she did not cooperate. Hybe should stop using Ador as an excuse to disclose (Min’s) private conversations for its own purposes, as well as not protecting the human rights of its subsidiary's staff member,” Ador said in a statement, last Friday.

“As of May 9, we have made our intentions clear through a notice (to Hybe) of our withdrawal from the agreement on the provision of information and its use. We will take civil and criminal actions against Hybe if the company continues to distribute false information to the media, including the content of KakaoTalk conversations between private individuals,” Ador added.