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Lee Seung Gi files case against Hook Entertainment CEO, directors over embezzlement and fraud

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Dec 22, 2022 9:24 pm

Lee Seung Gi has filed charges against the CEO and directors of his former talent agency, Hook Entertainment, for embezzlement and fraud.

The South Korean singer and actor was with the agency for 18 years since his acting debut in June 2004. He departed from the company in May of this year to establish his agency, Human Made.

In a lengthy statement translated by Soompi, Lee Seung Gi's legal representative said that the actor has "filed a complaint against Hook Entertainment's CEO as well as [the agency's] former and current directors" on Dec. 22 at the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office.

The move comes after Lee Seung Gi was reported to have sent a certification of contents to Hook Entertainment last Nov. 18, asking for the transparent disclosure of payments. Several media outlets also reported that before this, the company's building was seized by the country's Severe Crime Investigation Division of the National Police Agency as authorities speculate embezzlement among Hook Entertainment's executives. 

Three days later, on Nov. 21, Korean entertainment portal Dispatch released a report, alleging that Hook Entertainment never gave the singer his digital music profits from the 27 albums and 137 songs he has produced throughout his 18-year stay with the agency. 

The report also states that the agency allegedly earned 9.6 billion won from the distributors of Lee Seung Gi's music. However, the amount was speculated to total over 10 billion won, as statements from June 2004 to August 2009 were also missing.

On Nov. 22, Hook Entertainment CEO Kwon Jin Young briefly released a statement, saying that the company is in the process of fact-checking the allegations On the other hand, Lee Seung Gi's legal representative on Nov. 24 confirmed that the agency has never paid Lee his music profits.

The following day, Hook Entertainment released a statement that says it has "settled the financial bond-debt relationship between [the] company and Lee Seung Gi." This was once again denied by Lee's legal representative on Nov. 28.

On Nov. 30, Kwon announced through emails sent to media outlets that she will "take full responsibility for the dispute with Lee Sung Gi." The company also claimed last Dec. 16 that it has now paid Lee Seung Gi his unpaid music fees worth 2.9 billion won and an additional 1.2 billion won for interest.

On the same day, Lee Seung Gi shared an Instagram post, stating that he has received 5 billion won in his account and intends to donate it all to those "who are in need." Still and all, the singer-actor is resolute in taking legal action against the company.

"However, I do not understand Hook’s calculation method," Lee Seung Gi wrote. "So I think I will continue to fight in court. It will become a tiresome fight, and I want to first apologize for causing fatigue to the public who is watching this occur."

In the statement released by Lee Seung Gi's legal representative today, Dec. 22, the actor's camp announced that they have "filed a legal complaint against Hook Entertainment CEO Kwon Jin Young and the financial directors on the suspicions of violation of the Act on the Aggravated Punishment etc. of Specific Economic Crimes (occupational embezzlement) and (fraud).”

On top of the unpaid music profits, Soompi's report states that Lee Seung Gi discovered that Hook Entertainment's former and current directors did hand him his advertisement profits. “Lee Seung Gi believed that approximately 10 percent was paid to the advertisement agency under the title of ‘agency commission,’ but it appears that in actually, Hook Entertainment’s former and current directors did not pay a part of the agency commission to the ad agency and [instead] shared it amongst themselves," the actor's legal representative said.

They continued, “Lee Seung Gi has never reached an agreement with Hook regarding music fees and payment. Despite this, on the morning of December 16, 2022, Hook without prior notice transferred about 4.81 billion won (approximately $3.8 million) of unsettled payment for music and defrauded advertising payment and filed a confirmation of non-existence of debt lawsuit against Lee Seung Gi.” 

“While simultaneously responding to the lawsuit on the confirmation of non-existence of debt, we will file a counter lawsuit, and we plan on claiming damages against Hook and related personnel for unpaid music fees and illegal acts," the statement read.