UPDATED: Star Empire and ZE:A Leader Junyoung + Kwanghee Weighs In

A lot went down this past weekend between ZE:A‘s leader Moon Junyoung and his agency, Star Empire. We know that it was probably easy to get lost in the chaos of it all, so we’re here to give you a blow-by-blow of what happened, when it happened, and what the current status of the issue is. Here we go:


1) Junyoung calls out Star Empire CEO Shin Joo Hak on Twitter

On the morning of September 21st, ZE:A leader Junyoung (also known as Lee Hoo) uploaded a series of shocking tweets criticizing his company’s CEO for mistreating him to the point that he considered committing suicide. Below is the transcription of those tweets, which have since been deleted.

Tweet #1
Everyone, you know that I love you right?

Tweet #2
From now on, I’m going to let the public know everything, the world that I’ve seen with my eyes and the life I’ve felt through my tears.
Please follow me.
I’m especially asking journalists…

Tweet #3
My SNS….I’m giving you a hint and a promise that it will become a place for me to vent my frustrations.
From now on I’m just going to live like a human being and like a man.
I’m not just going to pass by injustice when I see it.
I’ve pointlessly put up with so much.
You see, all I have gotten in return is only useless curses and a depression that has trapped me.

Tweet #4
Without needing to say much more, if one is to be a true leader, owner, and a king, I think that he has to know the concerns of his citizens.
I can’t be like a fox.
Instead I will live like a lion.
No, it’s just that it’s my style and I will not hide it.

Tweet #5
With tears turning to wrath, I will show you what a true leader is, what sacrifice is…what truth is.
This is not a joke.
Soon more interesting things are going to happen.
If my Twitter gets deleted or muted, it is because I have been pressured by forces strong enough to do it.
Even if that happens, I’ll break out of it.

Tweet #6
Sincerity and truth and heart can connect and move…
They can also manipulate…
Please understand
I’ll first ask the world this question…
Star Empire CEO Shin Joo Hak – who I truly trusted and loved – have you been fair?

Tweet #7
Crying, I told you not to go too far… I told you CEO Shin Joo Hak… You crossed the line that you shouldn’t have, and now you must deal with it
I’m at my limit
From spot baldness to depression, there is nothing that I haven’t suffered
Be prepared
CEO I’m sorry, I apologize.
All I wanted was one warm word…

Tweet #8
I even attempted suicide… in front of my family who I love
I have seen my parents cry tears of blood, and now you shall cry the same kind of tears too CEO Shin.
Even though I was so pitiful and weak that I had become abominable, because I am a man I should at least close my eyes before I get any more pitiful.

Tweet #9
My fans, my parents, the parents of us nine…
And everyone in the world
Why is CEO Shin Joo Hak raising me as a killer?
Now I’m going to pay it back
Be prepared
Beginning tomorrow
I’ll upload files one by one
No, I’ll just let it all explode
Do you remember when I asked if this was funny?

Tweet #10
I’ll let you know how I can change your laughter to horror
You called us your kids right? You say we’re your sons?
Well then, now I’ll ask you a question
That money like blood, that we nine sons earned while shedding our own sweat and blood…
Where has it all disappeared to?
Answer me with your hand over your heart

Tweet #11
I’ll go no further today
But even though you are an owner and a representative of the agency, you screamed at us to respect you?
I’ll respect you…
I’m leaving now, grinding my teeth
Have a lovely day CEO
Why did you do that? …please…just… you know I told you to stop.

Tweet #12
Ah, and there’s something I forgot, if you are going to blackmail or bribe the other eight members of ZE:A, I will do the same to you.
Since I’m ready to punch that hard, please stop CEO
I won’t tolerate anymore

Tweet #13
Those kids, the ZE:A kids…
They’re my kids. Since I was an only child, I was so lonely but they became like brothers to me.
Don’t touch them. They’re mine.
Don’t take anything away from me anymore.
I’ll become a killer to protect our members and our fans.
Father God, please listen and help me.

Tweet #14
From now on I will live and fight to protect my people.
Lord, I am sorry for having bad thoughts and for acting badly for a bit…please believe in me as much as I believe in you…
I will work to clear the singers who have been unfairly blamed… Amen.


2) Junyoung deletes the tweets

Junyoung deletes all of these tweets except for Tweet #1 in which he asked everyone if they know that he loves them, and Tweet #4 in which he states that a king should know the concerns of his citizens.


3) Star Empire makes a short statement

Star Empire made a statement in reaction to Junyoung’s tweets, saying, “We have confirmed that Moon Junyoung has posted these. We are currently discussing his Tweets amongst the employees. Based on what he wrote, it seems like this is a financial issue, so we need to clarify our position on the matter. After some discussion we will issue an official statement.


4) Junyoung briefly continues on Twitter 

Tweet #15
Portal sites, I’m so disappointed. Don’t take the search terms “Moon Junyoung,” “ZE:A,” “Star Empire Mistreatment,” and “CEO Shin Ju Hak,” but rather raise them up.
If you have sons like me, please do it.
We can’t have another victim…
If you keep doing this, I’m going to reveal my first round

Tweet #16
I’ll ask once….the moment that other people and other agencies take the side of Star Empire, I will open my mouth about the corruption of those agencies and reveal things too…
Don’t get hurt by this… Don’t get involved in another country’s war.
If you can handle it, then buy your way out of it.
That’s your specialty, you know.
That’s just the truth of it.


5) Junyoung deletes Tweets #15 and #16


6) Junyoung uploads another slew of Tweets, this time including details about ZE:A’s contracts

There’s not much time now until the day is over… There should be no more victims, including ZE:A… Why should they be suppressed while doing the music that they love? In the entertainment world you’re a criminal if you don’t have money and a winner if you do.

Sunbaenims, colleagues, and hoobaes, and those who will continue to sing and dance according to their dreams… I want to show you that while on the outside it seems flashy, it is all really empty on the inside. It is not that no one is opening their mouths, it is that they cannot open their mouths. What is money in this world, that it shuts mouths. Reporters, please help me.

But I want to clear up all the accusations. Those stories about everything turning out like that… not being able to speak and swallowing everything into our hearts, doing as we’re told — that is how it is for celebrities like us. I don’t want to lose my group ZE:A, so I’ll strengthen my heart once more. Help me…

If this incident is buried again, I cannot say that the world that you are all thinking of is wrong… Siwan said, ‘Today, we shut our mouths like cowards,’ before our standard contracts came out. Our exclusive contract lasts for 12 years — 10 years excluding the 2 spent in the army.

After that, we got the notification that the contract we received from the Fair Trade Commission said that we would have a 7:3 distribution in which the company took 70% and we took 30%. We worked for years under that 7:3 arrangement. If we earned 1,000,000 KRW, CEO Shin Joo Hak took 700,000 and we took 300,000… there are 9 of us… From 300,000 KRW we divide it over and over again amongst ourselves.

The contract length is 7 years – 9 including our military enlistment. From my teens and into my 20s I have given my entire youth to Star Empire. Because our dorm conditions are poor, we break our faces while goint to the bathroom while half-asleep, and a week before our ‘Aftermath’ comeback, I broke my leg after being sent out on ‘KBS Dream Team.’

Are there broadcast station politics too? The ‘Dream Team’ PD told me to come out on the show, and my leg was broken so badly that I had to get metal pins, but in the broadcast I had to say that I hurt myself practicing. This is what I’m saying is wrong. After my surgery all these people brought me was a fruit basket. The reality is that this is the only way we can go on music shows.

Even then, I shut my mouth. At the time I was more concerned with my hospital fees than with my broken leg. What is it about money that kept me from saying what I should have said… what I…. what we wanted was just one warm word. But you made me… us…. like this.

It seems that money is everything in this world. It seems to be even worse in this entertainment industry that I have experienced. The manipulating mass-communications companies shut people up and even make them attempt suicide… Don’t believe it… Please know that there is a reason that the sweetest candy melts fastest.

We are also our parents’ precious children, more precious than anything to them. CEOs, self-reflect. If you really think of us as your children, you would never be able to do those things to us.

I am going now to settle things with CEO Shin Joo Hak. Please wait… don’t take me down from the search words.


7) A few hours later, Junyoung returns to Twitter to report on the outcome of his meeting with Star Empire CEO Shin Joo Hak

I have just finished speaking to CEO Shin Joo Hak. It has been decided that Star Empire will be run by me, by us, as a ZE:A company. Everyone, I promised you all that ZE:A’s day was coming, that I would either cause all of this to collapse or absorb it entirely. Everyone, it’s now time to protect us… But the truth is…

In the end, CEO Shin Joo Hak has lost everything and is completely broke. I still resent and hate him, but I still served under him for 8 years and I took him down. That responsibility… for that I will accept the shaming from the public and from the fans. CEO Shin Joo Hak and I will take all responsibility and all of the abuse and criticsm. It has also been decided that the contract will be flipped, 70% to us and 30% to the CEO.

What I want to say is that, through this incident, all of the agency CEOs are aware of the fact that there are many contract issues. I will keep my mouth shut, so please correct this problem and treat your artists better. I respectfully make this request of you. From the bottom of my heart… if you really understand…

Restart again with a fresh heart… put everything else aside and believe that these are your own children.

And to everyone, the fans and reporters who helped us… thank you… I sincerely thank you for revealing the truth. To everyone reading this… as the representative of singing, dancing, acting, and variety show group ZE:A, along with all of my sunbaes, colleagues, hoobaes, and all artists I vow on my changed name ‘Lee Hoo’ that I will work and live bravely.

I am not a coward, but I’ll keep quiet and observe for now. To all of the agency CEOs and management, I hope that you will take care of your internal issues, correct them and apologize for them. What we want is for you to push everything else aside and try to win back the hearts and minds of your artists.

If something like this happens again in the future, in this entertainment industry that I know and see and feel… be aware of the fact that I have a weapon that could turn this entire industry upside-down. I’m sorry for causing trouble… thank you again. Thanks to you we have once again found our hopes, aspirations, and dreams. Thank you, and please take care of us.

There are some who are misunderstanding this… This is just about ZE:A internally. The guys who don’t do anything don’t get any share of the money. When I was hurt, I didn’t receive pay for 2 years… zero KRW… we don’t divide the pay between the members. I won’t say anymore. Thank you.

The thing about popular opinion is that one minute you’re a hot topic and the next instant, a fool. The criticisms began rolling in instantly when I didn’t show you anything interesting… people are saying, “He’s the same, it’s all for the money.” I won’t pay attention to such statements. Even when I was young, my own father didn’t slap me.

I was a student who started down this path because I liked music… I endured being slapped while doing what I loved and shut up and kept it inside… Everyone, please help me stay quiet… I beg you… I’m sorry. I will now call a ceasefire in this war and I’ll see you next time. I once again sincerely thank you all.

Yes, that’s right. I’ll put the final nail in the coffin. Just because I am a man, just because I am the leader, the representative of ZE:A, I got slapped by Star Empire CEO Shin Joo Hak. It wasn’t just one or two times. This sort of strong, provocative statement… I’m a human too… If I just wanted money I would have said this from the beginning… sigh……..

And please don’t criticize our members. Honestly, those kids did nothing wrong. They are good guys who work hard and did everything they were told to. Curse me and CEO Shin Joo Hak. Please think again about who did this and for what… Please… If I am at fault, I will accept my punishment.

I’m sorry. And I thank you…


8) Junyoung deletes all of the above tweets.

At this point all that remains of his original tweets from the previous 24 hours are his very first Tweet, “Everyone, you know that I love you right?” and his very last Tweet, “I’m sorry. And I thank you…”


9) Junyoung uploads another string of Tweets detailing the emotional meeting between ZE:A and CEO Shin Joo Hak

Hello, this is ZE:A’s Moon Junyoung. First of all, I’m sorry for causing so much trouble today. I just finished talking with the CEO, and I am very thankful that my sincerity was communicated. I also want to thank our CEO, who listened and cared for my sincere words.”

…I just wanted to let everybody know; now that the CEO is being scolded by the fans and the public I feel… pitiful. Look here, everyone… this is like a family feud between myself and the CEO. Other agencies may be even worse than this… I don’t want to see our CEO as the only one left behind.

What I misunderstood… all of these emotions… CEO Shin Joo Hak drew blood because all of the other companies are the same. Because everyone avoids the issue too. They think that this is the world and that they don’t have to worry about tomorrow, so they just move along the sidelines and watch the fight. I’m sure there are many people who are shocked at what I’ve said. Now that I’ve bought my company’s heart…

I will keep fighting for the sake of other celebrities. If you’re a male CEO, I think that you should be on the same side and know how to protect those you need to. Now I, with ZE:A, will protect Star Empire and CEO Shin Joo Hak. I especially love you all so much, our ZE:As.

These aren’t my thoughts alone… Siwan was busy with his schedule… One entertainment CEO apologized and cried in front of the eight of us, and seeing those tears I only felt that I needed to protect him more. After all of this, he is someone that I trusted, and now he’s on our side… I’m telling you all for sure that the nine of us are strongly sticking together.

Our CEO, today he really… he protected us and listened to me. Only we will know what is above this picture. We all cried so much today and learned that if we speak our true feelings, we can understand each other. We saw the tears…

Along with that last Tweet, Junyoung attached a picture (below) of what can be assumed to be a contract signed by Star Empire CEO Shin Joo Hak.


10) Star Empire finally makes an official statement, saying…

“Hello, this is Star Empire. Firstly, we apologize for causing all of the ZE:A fans to worry.

Late last night, Moon Junyoung and CEO Shin Joo Hak met, shared their true feelings, and made up. After talking the entire night with Junyoung, we were able to successfully arrive at an understanding.

We should have been more attentive and had real discussions, but since we all worked together for so long, we assumed that they understood, and that assumption ended up causing more misunderstanding. Through this opportunity, we will try harder to collaborate and work together.

Lastly, we would like to sincerely apologize again, and say that we are truly sorry for causing so much concern to all of those who love and care about ZE:A and Star Empire.”


11) On September 24th at around 10am KST, ZE:A member Kwanghee weighs in on the happenings of last weekend, writing the following message on his Instagram:

Hello, this is ZE:A’s Kwanghee. Late last Sunday night, all of the ZE:A members and company had a long talk, and at the end, the direction of the talk went well. All of the members talked together and as we gradually came to a solution, our hearts were relieved. However, because there now seem to be a lot of misunderstandings about our leader Junyoung, my heart is not ease. People are saying that Junyoung did all of this in order to receive money. That is absolutely false. We are all together in this and Junyoung did not receive any money. Junyoung, who is so committed to this group, our members, and our company will all endeavor to deliver good news in the future. To all of the people who we caused to be worried and anxious, I apologize.


That’s everything we know about what happened between ZE:A and their agency Star Empire over the weekend. We here at moonROK hope that the group has indeed secured fair and reasonable rights for themselves as artists, and that in the future, entertainment companies will work hard to ensure the fair treatment of their own artists as well.

Images courtesy of Moon Junyoung and Star Empire
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1 Comment
  1. Victoria 7 years ago
    Thanks for the rundown MR. Seems like this could have been the start of a revolution in the mainstream Korean entertainment industry, but our Che Guevara seems appeased for now. The corruption is too deep anyway, if he kept revealing things he probably would have wound up dead.

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