On November 26, 2014, X-Sports News reported all six members of B.A.P filed a lawsuit against TS Entertainment. Many fans and the media were surprised, but the news was not shocking. Since May 2014, there were rumors B.A.P were working on a lawsuit after Segye Ilbo leaked clues in a vague post circulated among K-Netz and I-Netz on various social media platforms like Naver and Tumblr. These rumors were quickly dismissed as many fans felt TS Entertainment treated the group well.
Or so they thought.
Daehyun explains Himchan’s absence during a concert on Twitter/BAPTrans on Tumblr
As months went by and nothing came from the rumors, fans forgot it, but many noticed how the members’ health seemed to deteriorate: Daehyun grew increasingly more depressed; Yongguk’s weight fluctuated; and Himchan appeared more exhausted in August and September, even missing a performance for “personal reasons.”
Fans shared their concern with the boys on social media asking if they were okay. When Daehyun was down, fans even came together to create a day of positive messages just for him to show their love and support. No one knew what was wrong until the suit was filed at the Seoul Western District Court.
What We Know
B.A.P filed the suit against TS Entertainment to have what they deem as “slave contracts” nullified. They signed the contracts in March 2011 for seven years, but the contracts did not kick in until they debuted with “Warrior.” Contract length then became seven years and ten months. With this, B.A.P states their contracts go against what the Fair Trade Commission considers fair.
Dispatch shared information regarding contract terms a day after the lawsuit announcement. Some contract issues include:
- Unfair Contract Clauses: Illegal contract length, violation of civil rights (lack of privacy).
- Dispatch printed the court documents on their website/ via Dispatch
- Unfair Profit Distribution: B.A.P was promised 10 percent of the group’s profits. The group did not see any payment for over 40 months, nor did they know where profits went. They were only allowed a brief glimpse into the money situation on at least two occasions, but what money was used for was not specified other than “promotion costs.” When asked where the rest of the money went, they were told it went into the CEO’s personal account.
- In July, B.A.P did receive some compensation, but each member only received around $400-$450 USD. The contract stated,
- Net profits for CDs, Matoki merchandise, and official merchandise were supposed to be split 1:9—B.A.P would get 10 percent, TS 90 percent.
- Non-domestic concert profits were to be split 5:5—TS 50 percent, B.A.P 50 percent.
- CD profits were to increase after their third full album from 1:9 to 2:8. First Sensibility was their first full-length album although they’ve had 11 mini-albums released (Korean and Japanese albums combined).
- Unfair Treatment: The boys were not allowed breaks. Since their debut in 2012, they’ve been promoting constantly in Korea or Japan with albums and singles, and they’ve been on tour for much of the past two years. Part of the suit outlines how B.A.P members were even “forced” to perform even when they were ill. One such example was the MBC Korean Music Wave Concert in China. Allegedly, TS told B.A.P that if they did not perform, those who put on the concert may file a lawsuit in which case TS told the members they would be responsible for the consequences (Sources: Dispatch, Eat Your Kimchi, B.A.P Yessir).
- In the court papers, it was also revealed that TS did not pay for hospital treatment; B.A.P family members did. Their families also paid for other expenses if necessary. TS did, however, pay for rooms, food, and travel expenses during promotion periods.
Daehyun’s former vocal coach, HAK ssem, tweeted his support for B.A.P’s lawsuit November 27 and 29, further outlining B.A.P’s living conditions and some of what B.A.P went through since their debut. He tweeted:
I am tweeting in a really long time. Although this is coming from a third-party perspective, I think that what the 6 members probably need most right now is the fans’ strength. They must have gone through a really tough time and I hope that you stick with them until the end. Gain strength!
All of this content is what I certainly heard from keeping in touch with the members and their parents. I was also patient up until now and because I couldn’t just sit back and watch, I am posting this. To the fans that care about BAP like me, please trust and support them until the end.
First, Dispatch reports most of the information correctly, and throughout their promotions, I didn’t say a word to not cause damage to the team, but now I have to speak up. They [B.A.P] didn’t even request a financial statement last year, but only asked that the details of the financial statement be shown to them. Even then, it was not properly shown to them. The company only handed out the sum table and told them to only read it then so how can the parents look at that and accept it? They saw that the financial statement came out in the red without any proper explanation. So, of course from the parents’ perspective, it is a situation which cannot be understood.
They received an official break for the first time this year. Before that, all they did was get 1 or 2 days about 2 times when they were let out of the agency by the head of department and manager. What is really a shame about that official break itself is that when it was all about to fall apart with a clash with the parents this year, the agency stopped taking proper care of them to the point that one can only think that the company was trying to get them to slip up so that it would be advantageous to them if a lawsuit were to occur and waiting for them to get involved in a mishap that would be a violation of the kids’ contract by canceling their schedules and quickly grabbing [schedules] again… The same people who kept a close eye on them even when they were going to the convenience store in front of the agency headquarters sure have gotten nicer [sarcasm implied].
Even if they contact people through KakaoTalk or FaceTime on their iPads, just in case they might get caught during a device inspection, they would always delete their entries. They are kids who’ve memorized their friends, teachers, and parents’ numbers.
The company didn’t allow them to meet up with their parents at first, but later when they were in a meeting with the CEO, the CEO cursed out and yelled. But isn’t it only natural that the parents, who trusted the CEO and put their kids under his care, would be worried if the CEO is acting like that to their kids who they can’t see often?
For 3 years, the agency took away their cellphones to sever ties with the outside world. Even when they came to their hometowns for a fan meeting, they weren’t allowed to see their parents for more than 10 minutes even when it was obvious that they didn’t have any other schedules. But still, they wouldn’t allow them to see their parents who came from far away. And without not even one official break, they lived under the manager’s control.
The agency pressured the kid, who went to a hospital to receive treatment due to physical and mental exhaustion, to carry out his schedule. He [Daehyun] told me and his parents that the manager would coerce him, saying that if he runs away to his parents, they’ll file a damage suit. I read that the parents covered the hospital fees in an article. Not only did the parents cover the hospital fees, but since they don’t have an income, all of the expenses involving their personal things from their trainee period up until now were covered by the parents’ cards. Even when the parents said let’s talk to the agency multiple times, the members said to trust them and that they only need to work hard in doing music and stopped their parents, never complaining once and consistently carrying out their activities.
I don’t care if this post that I wrote gets moved to somewhere else. I actually wish that this spreads so that many people may know. I am determined to fight for and alongside Daehyun.
I can’t get in contact with the members currently, but I showed this to their parents first and posted it after receiving their permission,” and “Also, I did not post this lightheartedly. (Trans. Cr. Nicole at BAPTrans and Mae L., Purdue University)
Many in the media have reported the lawsuit has been in the works since May 2014 when B.A.P asked to see more information regarding their finances. Some outlets suggest they have evidence that the suit was in the works since 2013 when they initially asked to see reports of their finances. These reports also suggest TS Entertainment knew B.A.P planned on filing a lawsuit, which is what led to some compensation in July. However, in an official statement released to Newsen by TS November 27, 2014, the company suggests they were none the wiser and heard about the suit through the media:
Hello, this is TS Entertainment.
We are here to deliver our official position regarding B.A.P’s contract nullification lawsuit that has been reported this afternoon.
All this while, TS Entertainment has tried our best to support the various activities of our artist B.A.P and strived to meet our mutual goals. And like we revealed back on October 28, all their schedules had been cancelled to give them rest as we had made the protection of our artist our priority out of mutual consideration and trust.
And while in the midst of in talks about their future activities, we learned of the sudden lawsuit through news articles.
Currently TS Entertainment is in the process of trying to figure out the details and the truth of the matter. However, we wanted to make clear that there is no such thing as a ‘slave contract’ or ‘unfair contract conditions’ in our contracts, and we have never given them unfair, one-sided treatment.
We will take steps to confirm the matter regarding this lawsuit, and respond in an official manner.
We once again convey our sorry hearts for causing concern to all who love TS Entertainment and its artists.
Thank you. (Trans. Cr. AKP)
At the time of this writing, TS Entertainment reps have not been able to make contact with B.A.P members. On social media, B.A.P unfollowed everyone but the other members, signaling that they are cutting themselves off from TS Entertainment.
Social Media Hints
While B.A.P toured for Live on Earth 2014 and for various music shows and festivals, they, for the most part, managed to remain professional and cheerful for the fans. Many fans hadn’t a clue of what was happening. However, B.A.P did leave hints along the way on their various social media accounts from cryptic, now-deleted tweets from Daehyun wishing he could return home, to Yongguk using art to speak for him.
Since news came out about the lawsuit, K-Babyz and I-Babyz have been scouring social media to see how they missed the now seemingly obvious clues indicating trouble.
Yongguk’s Instagram not only shows off his love for art, but fans now realize it may be a source of cryptic messages as indicated but some of the images over the past few months./via Bangstergram
Yongguk’s Twitter and Instagram pages seem to provide the biggest clues to issues. Starting in April 2014, seemingly darker art pieces appeared on his accounts starting with an emaciated child sitting in front of a faucet with someone clamping a hose, to an image of a boss yelling at his workers while a leader is below helping in a September post. Looking back, many felt it was Yongguk expressing his love for art, but now many fans have stated the depressing tone of many of the images now “make sense.”
Daehyun’s Twitter had some quickly deleted posts in September around the time fans noticed how depressed he looked. One post that caught fans’ attention quickly went viral within the fandom as Babyz sent well wishes his direction, prompting him to repost a fan’s drawing depicting him leaning on a girl representing the fandom.
So What Does the Lawsuit Mean?
According to Dispatch, B.A.P wants fair compensation for three years of work. Nullifying their contract would mean they would be free to go to another company. Since the initial lawsuit announcement, little else has been released in terms of how that will be approached, and TS Entertainment has yet to release an official statement after they notified the media they found out about the suit through media reports. TS said they would have a response in about a week.
Sadly, fans can expect another drawn out case much like prior contract disputes and issues with other artists; this means B.A.P will float in limbo awhile.
Is B.A.P Breaking Up?
No, the lawsuit does not mean B.A.P will break up. The members, especially Yongguk, have left clues along the way that they’re in this suit together. Not too long ago, Yongguk posted two images featuring all six members with a caption that said “6,” so fans can rest easy for now.
Another reassuring tidbit is the group waited to file the suit until Zelo was of age and finished his exams, so it seems they did not want to stress him out or leave him behind.
The only issue now is the waiting game and what will develop as the coming months unfold.
— Joelle Halon