MBC’s “News Desk” reported on November 12 that Shin Hyung Kwan, the vice president of CJ ENM and the person in charge of Mnet, has been booked as a suspect by the police.
A search and seizure has also been conducted on his office, and it’s reported that the police acquired a computer hard drive and other materials related to Mnet’s audition programs. Shin Hyung Kwan has been in charge of Mnet’s shows including the “Produce 101” series and “Idol School,” which are under suspicion of vote manipulation.
A source from the police stated, “Vice President Shin was booked as a suspect in order for the search and seizure warrant to be issued.”
“Produce X 101” producing director Ahn Joon Young and chief producer Kim Yong Bum were arrested last week, and MBC describes this most recent development as due to the police now aiming their investigation at higher ranking staff within CJ ENM.
The police source stated that they need to look into the suspicions regarding Shin Hyung Kwan further. MBC reports that while they made a cautious statement, the police are determining if Shin Hyung Kwan was deeply involved in the ranking manipulation as he frequently communicated with the production team.
After analyzing the materials obtained through the search and seizure, the police may call Shin Hyung Kwan in for questioning following the confirmation of suspicions.
Earlier on November 12, the police announced at a press conference that they have booked 10 individuals related to “Produce X 101” including high-ranking officials from CJ, Ahn Joon Young, chief producer (CP) Kim Yong Bum, a producing director (PD) named “Lee,” and Starship Entertainment’s vice president “Kim.” The individuals are expected to be forwarded to the prosecution on November 14.
Police Reportedly Looking Into Questioning Contestants
Meanwhile, Newsis reported that the police are planning to summon contestants from “Produce X 101” as witnesses to question them regarding the suspicions of manipulation.
According to the report, the police believe there are certain trainees who were benefited by the manipulation and others who suffered a disadvantage. Those who will be questioned include trainees of agencies that were searched and seized, as well as trainees who were highly likely to make it to the final lineup but did not make it. Newsis predicts that the police will ask the trainees if they heard anything while filming or from their agencies regarding rank manipulation. The news outlet adds that the police will look into all suspicions including the possibility that popular contestants were purposely taken out of the final lineup due to concerns that the results would complicate their upcoming agency-oriented activities.
Furthermore, police are reportedly investigating the possibility that there might have been lobbying and the exchange of favors by the so-called major agencies in the process of selecting the final 11 members out of the 101 contestants.
Newsis previously reported that Ahn Joon Young began receiving favors at drinking establishments that were allegedly paid for by an entertainment agency starting from January 2018. According to the report, escorts were present at the scene. Ahn Joon Young reportedly began receiving these favors six months after the finale of “Produce 101 Season 2” and five months before the premiere of “Produce 48.”
Police stated that over 100 million won (approximately $86,355) was spent for these drinking entertainment services. SBS reported on November 6 that Ahn Joon Young admitted to manipulating the results of “Produce X 101” in 2019 and “Produce 48” in 2018.
source: @soompi, soompi 2, naver newsis