image captured from 그것이 알고싶다 Investigating Documentaries
SBS current affairs and culture program ‘그것이 알고싶다 Investigating Documentaries’ (hereinafter referred to as ‘ID’) faced backlash after dealing with the dispute over the exclusive contract of ‘Fifty Fifty’. The essence of this controversy has been obscured by allegations of K-pop commercialization, biased comparisons between ‘Fifty Fifty’ and other artists, and claims of inaccurate settlement amounts. Moreover, even PDs from other broadcasting stations pointed out, “I’m not sure what this broadcast is trying to convey.”
On the 19th, ‘ID’ aired a program titled ‘Billboard and Girl Groups – Who Broke Their Wings.’ The show covered the dispute over the exclusive contract between ‘Fifty Fifty’ and their agency, Attract.
Previously, ‘Fifty Fifty’ had filed for an injunction to suspend the effect of their exclusive contract against their agency, Attract. In this process, Attract identified the representative of The Givers, Ahn Sung-il, who produced ‘Cupid,’ as an external force that caused the dispute. However, Ahn Sung-il denied these claims. The initial attempt at mediation has reached an impasse.
In relation to this, ‘ID’ reorganized the situation and conducted interviews with key figures including Baek, the Director of The Givers, Mr. Jeon, the head of Attract’s content team, and the families of ‘Fifty Fifty’ members. Baek initially mentioned, “This is a dispute between the agency and the artist, and there is definitely something within it. External forces are trying to divert attention using provocative words like external influences, gaslighting, and tampering,” while also showing a cautious attitude, saying, “I cannot officially represent a standpoint. Regarding this matter, it doesn’t matter if I say something or don’t say something; it will all eventually come out.”
Viewers and netizens raised allegations of biased broadcasting against ‘ID.’ This included points such as ▲not representing both sides despite known facts, ▲solely conveying the opinions of ‘Fifty Fifty’ and appealing to emotions, ▲misrepresenting the essence of the incident compared to other idols, and ▲associating the K-pop industry with gambling.
During one segment of the show, a commentator mentioned the costs invested in producing K-pop idols, saying, “It’s somewhat close to gambling. Since the chances of success are low, a lot of money comes back. Everyone seems to be willing to accept that level of risk and proceed with production.” While this was a metaphorical statement, ‘ID’ visualized gambling scenes and used the investment amount of ‘Fifty Fifty’ when explaining to define the atmosphere as “K-pop = gambling.”
Even the seemingly unrelated mention of BTS by ‘ID’ drew criticism. The statement that “the adults around the members, instead of building trust as true artists, poked them as calculators of desires” and defining this incident as driven by ‘desire’ was also problematic. Furthermore, it was questioned whether it was a biased broadcast as it emotionally appealed, saying, “Throughout our coverage, we have communicated with ‘Fifty Fifty’ members, but we cannot force young members like them to appear in front of the camera. The members responded with handwritten letters themselves.”