[Exclusive] LOONA *Including Chuu*: Possibly Promoting in Japan and Not Domestically
[SBS Entertainment News ㅣ Reporter Kang Kyoung-yoon]
A possibility has been raised that the group LOONA, which has effectively ceased music activities due to conflict with its agency, will be promoting in Japan rather than domestically.
According to an entertainment industry official speaking on the 2nd, Japanese label Universal Music Japan has begun taking action to directly exercise exclusive rights to the LOONA members, whose full-group activities have been postponed indefinitely due to a contract dispute with agency Blockberry Creative. Universal Music Japan is an investor in LOONA, and handles the group’s management in Japan.
It was reported that Universal Music Japan is currently crafting detailed plans for Japanese promotions of LOONA as a full 12-member group.
If Universal Music Japan exercises its exclusive right to LOONA, replacing Blockberry Creative which is facing dire prospects regarding team activities, it is expected to demand the group to relocate its base of activities to Japan for at least three years and engage in focused activity including album releases and fan meetings, taking into account the COVID-19 hiatus. Full group activities in Japan would include Chuu, who had already begun solo activities.
The official reported that the Japanese agency is planning to correct the pay disbursement issues, which caused the conflict between LOONA and Blockberry Creative, by directly providing settlement account history to the members; and further that it is determined to show its stature as Japan’s number one record label.
However, according to the source, the Japanese label also holds the view that if the members refuse activities that it proposes for no understandable reason, they will have to follow procedure and undergo a legal dispute in Japan as well.
It is said that the exclusive contract which all of the members signed with Universal Music Japan in September 2019 specifically has the following provision: “Even if the contractual relationships with Blockberry Creative were to expire, the members must still carry out this exclusive contract, and if they do not comply, they are required to pay damages according to Japanese law.”
It was reported that Blockberry Creative requested arbitration from CEMA (Korean Entertainment Management Association) last December regarding Chuu, and that it has also submitted petitions regarding the activities of Heejin, Choerry, Kim Lip, and Jinsoul, members who have recently won injunctions through a lawsuit to provisionally suspend the effectiveness of their exclusive contracts.
These actions can be interpreted as a preemptive defensive maneuver against the lawsuit that the Japanese side would file, given that Blockberry Creative is at risk of essentially handing over exclusive rights to LOONA to the Japanese agency.
In the past, there have been precedents with other girl groups whose domestic contracts expired but still had exclusive contract terms outstanding with Japanese agencies, and such groups have travelled to Japan and carried out remaining activities even after team activities had practically ended.
While LOONA is composed of 11 Korean and 1 Hong Konger members, last November the agency expelled Chuu citing reasons such as abuse of power towards a manager, and reformed the group as an 11-piece.
Previously, Chuu had won an injunction in a lawsuit to provisionally suspend the effectiveness of exclusive contract against the agency, and had engaged in individual activity. On the 13th, members Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, and Choerry also became able to freely pursue activities. However, Haseul, Yeojin, Yves, Olivia Hye, and Go Won lost their cases and remain in the company.