Two producers of a K-pop competition TV show were arrested late Tuesday over allegations they rigged the results of audience votes that decided which singers would progress through and win the competitions.
The Seoul Central District Court issued warrants to detain a producer and the chief producer of the Mnet program “Produce X 101,” a fan-vote audition show through which popular K-pop bands, including Wanna One, debuted.
The two are suspected of having conspired with music labels to manipulate voting results of “Produce X 101” seasons one to four in favor of certain contestants so that they could be ranked higher in the competition and selected to debut as X1. Voting was conducted via mobile text messages from viewers.
Most of the charges against the two were clarified, and the case was serious, the court said in issuing the arrest warrants. However, requests to arrest two others involved in the allegations were rejected.
The vote-rigging allegations came to light after the latest season’s final episode aired in July.
Some fans had questioned the results, as several promising contenders who appeared to have outperformed rivals throughout the season were not included on the winners’ list. Furthermore, some contestants unexpectedly made it to the top 11.
The viewers took issue with dubious numerical patterns in the final vote count, noting that the top 20 contestants had vote numbers that were multiples of a specific number.
The fans filed a complaint against the Mnet production officials and music agencies involved in the scandal.
The producers additionally face allegations that they accepted bribes in exchange for manipulating the results.
Police conducted raids on CJ ENM, the headquarters of Mnet, and five K-pop labels, including Starship Entertainment, which represents two of X1’s 11 members.
Mnet had initially denied allegations regarding the final voting results, but it released an official apology Tuesday.
“We are deeply sorry for causing a stir regarding ‘Produce X 101,’” the company said in a statement, adding it would cooperate with the investigation and take responsibility.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org