4:28 pm - 10/07/2019

Lee Hae In Comes Forward With Experience On “Idol School” And Terminating Contract With Agency

Lee Hae In, who appeared on Mnet’s “Produce 101” and “Idol School” took to her personal Instagram to open up about her own experience on the shows.

Read her full story below:

Hello, this is is Lee Hae In.

Up till now, I’ve been hesitating on how I should talk about this and how I should act, and as I do not have an agency, I was thinking about how I should share my stance, and I have come to the decision to post it here.

It is not a positive issue, which made me hesitate even more about sharing this, but I no longer wanted to tell my story through my dad or others, so I want to personally talk about things that happened. I believe that telling your story through the media or through acquaintances can lead to exaggeration or secondary interpretations.

I believe I am someone who can’t know for sure whether there was any manipulation [of the results] or not, and I’m not sure whether the existence of manipulation is an important part of my life. Over a long period of time, I have felt that life is not fair to everyone, and setting aside what is going on, just as I was lucky to be able to be active for a short period of time and meet the fans who are supporting me, I was ready to just think of “Idol School” as an opportunity I was unfortunately unable to grab.

I believe the truth will be revealed through the police investigation.

Regarding the controversy about the audition with 3,000 people, it’s true that I was asked to not participate. If the staff are going to say that everyone did participate in those auditions, I want to ask them if they’d be willing to release the video tapes of everyone. The broadcast date and the date we actually began living in dorms together were completely different. I will only speak of the factual things I know, setting aside any personal speculations I have.

When we were preparing for “Mr. Mr” on “Idol School,” we prepared for the performance thinking we were competing amongst ourselves, like the position battle on “Produce 101,” but on the day of the performance, the rules were changed so that it was a battle between teams. For “Catallena,” which was supposed to be a live dance performance, the opposing team lip synced their parts. For the last mission for the live show, where we were auditioning for new songs, I was told by the people who rejected me that the staff were against me, and they apologized to me.

Other than this, there were also instances where they would tell us to move to a beat, even though there wasn’t any music playing, and say that a song was good, or to turn around and smile, filming scenes like a drama.

Unlike the reports, not all 41 people received exclusive contracts, only a few people. If they really want to claim that everyone signed a contract, then they can end this issue by revealing the account balance that shows payment of a contract deposit.

The day before I was eliminated on “Idol School,” they were going up to certain contestants who were probably going to debut but didn’t want to and consoled them. This made me think that I was probably going to be eliminated, and I prepared my elimination speech just in case, and after preparing for my performance the next day, I went on stage thinking that it would be the last stage of my life. As expected, I was eliminated, coming in at 11th place. I want to ask the staff who handed me a microphone. Why did you make the person who came in 11th place do an elimination speech when you didn’t ask the person in 10th place to do so, in a competition that only picked nine people? I want to know what you were thinking when you filmed a two-shot of me and another contestant who had appeared on survival shows.

Like what has been reported on the news recently, we never spent a single day outside of the Yangpyeong English Town from the moment we entered in May till the final broadcast. I believe this system, which was unlike “Produce 101” where we were only in the dorms for a short period of time, was only possible because we had our phones taken away and we didn’t have agencies to protect us.

About once a month, we were given the opportunity to buy necessities at Olive Young, and we had nothing to eat other than at meal times. Even if you missed a meal because you were sleeping from fatigue or because you were sick, we weren’t allowed to go to the store in the facilities, so it’s true that we starved. Like what was reported, it’s true that contestants who would go to school once or twice a month would smuggle food back in their clothes, and many of them had that food taken away as the staff would conduct body searches once they returned. The temperatures of Yangpyeong are very different from Seoul, and it felt much colder. As the end date neared, many of us continued to object to our treatment but the staff said they couldn’t let us out, so they let us get just one package from our parents.

Do you really think this was just because we were a little hungry and cold? The staff would order food for themselves and eat snacks, and we would sometimes smuggle away the food they left behind to eat it, there were no human rights when we were filming. Most of the contestants were underage, and they did not keep industry standards for filming hours. We developed skin diseases, stuck in studios without a single window, but the staff just told us to sleep. We complained and complained and when we were finally granted permission to move dorms, that’s when we realized, nothing would change unless we spoke up. We were at least able to go to the hospital of our choice.

I believe this was all because they did not have enough managers to take care of so many people. But that does not change the fact that they did not provide us with basic support while living in those dorms, where we stayed for their convenience. For five months, we lost concept of time and we were not paid any money as that was before the law was changed. We were trapped there, and people will tell us, “But you wanted to be there.” But I believe that, like when you get a job at a company you wanted to go to, you shouldn’t be forced to endure unreasonable situations.

After the finale, I felt ashamed to see my parents and go to the party afterwards, so I met with the teachers by myself to console my heart. I had crumbled and was crying because I was eliminated, and I was left speechless when the staff came up to me to ask if this was really worth crying about.

The day after I was eliminated, I asked to terminate my contract, and asked to know the truth about the manipulation controversy that was present at the time. The response I got was, “You’re trending on search engines right now, you’re the winner,” and when I said I was worn out and didn’t want to be in a team, they promised to make me a team. They asked me what shows I wanted to appear in, they said they’d let me appear in all the dramas and other things I’d been personally contacted for, that they wouldn’t leave me hanging in the practice room, that they’d let me pursue individual activities while preparing to debut in a group. When I was with other trainees, who hadn’t been training for that long, they even said that I was the only one with a promised debut and if they weren’t ready, I would be allowed to debut on my own.

They said we’d have to push the debut back a little to prepare as a dancer for MAMA, for which I agreed, but after MAMA, the timing became awkward and they said that if I do too many activities on my own, people might get tired of seeing me so I did what they asked and focused on training with the others as the oldest and leader of the group. Seeing the article that “Produce 48” would be taking place, I expressed my desire to appear on the show because I wanted to do something, but they told me it would be best for me to not appear, so I continued to go to the agency by myself to train, with nothing but the hopes of the October debut that they had promised me.

Trainees sign a trainee contract while artists sign an artist contract. For artist contracts, there is an obligation for each party to faithfully carry out their role as there is money involved. If I had known that I was going to be a trainee all throughout my artist contract, then I would have signed a trainee contract. All I did in terms of activities was one radio appearance and attending Fashion Week just once, so I really have no words if people are going to claim the agency did things for me. The people who had been so proactive in holding on to me when I said I didn’t want to do this anymore, none of the higher ups would meet with me when I asked to terminate my contract this year, as it was becoming too difficult economically to carry on as the promised October debut date had long passed.

What I asked for wasn’t to just leave the agency. I asked them to just give me a sense of direction, even if the details weren’t concrete. As the debut project that had been discussed when I signed my contract was basically over, I wanted to know what the new plans were. But they told me they had nothing to tell me yet, and they said it would be difficult for me to do anything on my own, such as acting, so I requested that we come to an agreement to terminate my contract as they did not fulfill their duties of the contract. I asked for this in February, and we came to an agreement on April 30, but I only received the document that finalized the agreement in the summer after I contacted them every day for it. This is the post-it that came with the document [“You’ve worked hard all this time. We’ll support you from afar.”]. Thinking that years of my life are in that single post-it, I can’t hide the feeling of emptiness inside of me. I didn’t want to talk about this and I know that I will lose if I speak up, but I felt like not speaking up would lead to misunderstandings and regrets later in life, so I’m sharing the facts. I apologize for posting about such an unfortunate issue.

As in my case, where I signed a contract and did not make it, there were others who signed contracts who didn’t make it those who didn’t sign contracts who did make it. I want to make it clear that it can’t be used as proof of manipulation and can’t be used to make assumptions about people. People like me have no way of knowing if there were people chosen to be in the final lineup in advance. All I know is that we weren’t 41 people who had been chosen out of 3000 in this competition. I hope there aren’t any misunderstandings.

sources: soompi, @s2onlyone1 1, 2
theweebdream 7th-Oct-2019 03:16 pm (UTC)
Holy fuck. I didn’t read all of it, and I knew it was bad, but WOW that was terrible.

She said something about film industry hours or something?? I thought they didn’t have the Korean equivalent of a screen actors guild to give them rights so I’m surprised to hear that (esp hearing about how they film dramas/mvs). Anyways, if they don’t they definitely need to unionize. It’s esp fucked up that kids/teens are being treated this way.
goshipgurl 7th-Oct-2019 03:41 pm (UTC)
They do have laws regulating how long children are allowed to work, since 2014 I think.

Under the new law, underage stars will be guaranteed the basic rights to learn, rest and sleep, though exceptions can be made for projects requiring long-distance travel.

Weekly working hours for children younger than 15 are not to exceed 35 hours, while minors aged 15-18 are limited to 40 hours. Minors cannot work between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless their guardians give consent.

It will also be illegal to coerce minors into wearing revealing stage costumes or dancing sexually suggestive choreography routines.

Breaking the law will result in a recommendation of correction from the culture ministry, and failure to comply will yield a fine of roughly $10,000.

In addition, one can face up to five years in prison for forcing underage talent to act out rape or sexual harassment scenes. Onlookers have voiced concern, for example, about 14-year-old actress Kim Sae-ron's engaging yet disconcerting performance in the child abuse drama A Girl at My Door, which premiered earlier this year at Cannes.

Two years in prison or a $10,000 fine is the punishment for employing minors in commercial endorsements for drugs or venues and items deemed harmful for juveniles.


Though lbr, no one really cares about these laws. And since their parents sign these contracts it probably acts as them giving consent.

Edited at 2019-10-07 03:42 pm (UTC)
lizanka23 7th-Oct-2019 11:04 pm (UTC)
that's still messed up. the official work week is 40 hours in the States and that's for adults. i think in Korea an adult's work week is like 52 hours, so in general there is just this culture of overworking in Korea
dior_chic 7th-Oct-2019 11:57 pm (UTC)
And tbh 40 hours a week is too much as it is 😵 so 52 would prob kill me
lizanka23 8th-Oct-2019 01:41 am (UTC)
yeah there are already discussions in Europe about cutting the work week hours even more and that we're mostly productive the first few hours of work anyway and after than productivity decreases. those long hours don't necessarily lead to good results. i can't imagine being a kid working 35-40 hours a week plus trying to go to school
dior_chic 8th-Oct-2019 12:17 pm (UTC)
I think that’s great that they’re having those discussions- in the US that’s not changing anytime soon, it’s so ingrained in our culture :( and then I see in countries like Korea, they have the same mentality but it’s amplified even further
lizanka23 8th-Oct-2019 03:14 pm (UTC)
yeah in the US I don't see it changing anytime soon. more people are going on strike which is good but there's still that idea that time is money and you should be "productive" all the time or otherwise you're worthless. i know korea has unions so i guess the work week used to be even longer and they fought to decrease it to 52 hours. i have to look that up but it would be great if they could reduce it even more
bloodtaki2 7th-Oct-2019 05:03 pm (UTC)

We been knew these companies take advantage of people's dreams and waste their talent away (sometimes just out of arrogance or pettiness) but it still baffles me how they are so shameless about exploiting people, especially children.

mortkero 7th-Oct-2019 06:01 pm (UTC)
She really dished the dirt.

All those trainees and companies and no one says anything until it comes to this, that shows how much of a stranglehold these big companies have on the whole industry.
cxxl 7th-Oct-2019 07:31 pm (UTC)
First off Haein went Whitney Houston’s “It’s not but it’s okay” asking for the math. She know it don’t add up and she was there!!! When Haein was talking about how they got *slightly* better conditions after speaking up and standing together I was like...unionize. But that’s never gonna happen because the older idols are either sitting too comfortably to care or are so broken down they just gave up, and the younger ones are entering the storm naively.

Also Haein pretty much confirmed the group we BEEN knew was supposed to happen but didn’t. If she was talking about October 2018, then Yeah she was she wasn’t getting anything because...izone. This isn’t any of these groups faults, they are just the product of MESS. I think Yuri making it into IZone pretty much further halted development and Haein basically said eff that. This makes me sad because we saw her with certain girls: I think shin Sia, Bae Eunyoung (I heard) And Natty were reported, and then this year the rumors about the dissolution of a certain rookie group. I follow two of them on Instagram and Sia seems to be making her own way, but Natty seems more or less stuck in limbo. And instead of just moving forward or rigging another show up for them, you waste these girls time.
Getting off topic, it’s just a shame that this whole MNET scamming halls votes with rigged results thing is turning into something bigger.
daynr 7th-Oct-2019 07:43 pm (UTC)
That was brutal to read, their living conditions at the school.
dior_chic 7th-Oct-2019 11:03 pm (UTC)
I’m really proud of for coming forward, this is pretty horrific
myungung 8th-Oct-2019 04:06 pm (UTC)
It definitely was shady that she didn’t get in to the final lineup since she was one of the more well known ones. But wow at this shitty management during the filming.
Entertainment companies don’t surprise me with the dodgy business they do, and while it is sad that she had to go through disappointment again and again, I feel like what’s sadder is that her story probably skims the surface as she is more well known. Imagine the other companies and unknown trainees who can’t speak up
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