K-pop, or Korean music that influences Hallyu in general, has become a multimillion, possibly a multibillion-dollar industry for South Korea. Many K-pop acts will do all they can to be the best they can be to achieve a slice of that pie.
Unfortunately, certain people in the K-pop industry may partake in underhanded schemes to make certain K-pop acts “look good” or “be more appealing.”
For example, The Entertainment Pascal reportedly lied and threatened the members of Stellar to get them to do what they wanted them to do despite how uncomfortable the members of the girl group were.
Sometimes, the underhanded scheme may not be towards K-pop acts but be ways to bolster them dishonestly. With this in mind, there is now a huge conversation going on about “sajaegi” or digital chart manipulation.
Pledis Entertainment for Nu’est, IU, RM of BTS, and other K-pop acts have come forward to provide their insight on the matter.
Nu’est W gets highlighted for ‘sajaegi’
Recently, the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) aired a recent episode of Unanswered Questions that dealt with the topic of “sajaegi” digital chart manipulation. Apparently, it is “more common” in the K-pop industry than anyone expected.
An anonymous insider with knowledge of the topic said he received personal data used for digital chart manipulation. The emails he received from his “insider sources” included one song that could easily be seen: Deja Vu by Nu’est W.
After the episode of Unanswered Questions aired, Pledis Entertainment — the entertainment agency and label representing Nu’est — came forward with a statement denying the rumors on manipulating charts for the boy group.
They also demanded an apology from the show for accusing Nu’est, whether inadvertently or on purpose, of “sajaegi.”
“Our artist [Nu’est], who worked hard for several years, has received serious damage from the defamation, speculations, and rumors that are being spread due to the Unanswered Questions broadcast.
Therefore, we ask [Unanswered Questions] to admit to and apologize for the production mistake of airing the group’s name as an ‘artist under suspicion of digital sajaegi‘ when the matter is unrelated to our artist and to correct the mistake on VOD rerun services.”
Other Korean musical acts speak up on ‘sajaegi’
After SBS aired the sajaegi episode on Unanswered Questions followed by the debacle with Nu’est and Pledis Entertainment, many other Korean musical acts, mostly in K-pop, came forward to speak their minds on the matter.
On Saturday, January 4, 2020, popular soloist IU uploaded a story on her official Instagram which was a screenshot of the insider on Unanswered Questions. She also provided the following caption to the story:
“I then realized why people do ‘sajaegi,’ but don’t do it, please.”
RM, the leader of BTS, also made a statement on “sajaegi” at the 34th Golden Disc Awards. During their acceptance speech for being awarded the Daesang for Best Album, RM wanted K-pop acts to be sincere and to reach out to the public fairly with their work.
He hoped that “things that have been done wrong in the 2010s can end with the 2010s ending.”
Other artists have also responded, especially those accused of “sajaegi.”
This includes Lee Seunghyub, the leader of N.Flying, who uploaded a song titled Living Proof 8 that disses those who “hurt his fans” for spewing “fabricated lies” of N.Flying committing “sajaegi.”
The “sajaegi” episode of Unanswered Questions just recently aired, so we don’t know how much of an impact it made.
So far, nobody representing any of the Big Three — SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment — have commented on “sajaegi.”