The leader of Korean boyband The East Light, Lee Seok Cheol, held a press conference earlier today to speak out against the physical violence they have endured at the hands of a producer in their agency, Media Line Entertainment.
The East Light debuted in November 2016 with six members, Lee Seok Chul, Lee Seung Hyun, Lee Eun Sung, Kim Jun Wook, Jung Sang Kang and Lee Woo Jin, currently aged between 15 and 18 years old.
During the press conference, Seok Cheol was accompanied by his lawyer. The latter revealed that they had been physically abused by their producer, whom they referred to as A during the press conference, since March 2015. The producer would verbally abuse the members, slap them and even hit them with a baseball bat.
Seok Cheol said, "In 2015, producer A hit us in the buttocks several times in the basement practice room and recording studio. He threatened us, 'If you tell your parents, I will kill you.'"
He added, "My brother Lee Seung Hyun was assaulted by A until his head was bleeding and his thighs and buttocks were bruised. Vocalist Lee Eun Sung also suffered bruises."
He also revealed that in one instance, around the period of their debut, the producer wound a guitar string around his neck and would pull it whenever he made a mistake during that practice session. Seok Cheol added that their CEO, Kim Chang Hwan, saw the abuse but did nothing.
When the case was brought up to the management, the company assured them that it would not happen again and that the producer would not be allowed to come into contact with the members, but another assault happened a month later.
Seok Cheol revealed during the press conference that he and his brother will be taking legal actions against the company.
It took a lot of courage for Seok Cheol to speak out, yet, at the press conference, he seemed regretful towards his fans when he said, "We promised our fans that we would always give them good music and show a good image, so I'm sorry that this had happened. I couldn't tell the truth earlier and I think it has hurt the feelings of many good people around me."
He added, "Although, mentally, it's very hard for me to do this, I hope that child abuse and human rights violations would cease to exist not only in the K-pop industry, but also in our country."
Yesterday, Media Entertainment released a statement to iterate that their CEO does not condone acts of violence. They wrote, "One year and four months ago was the first time we became aware that an assault occurred in the process of teaching and training the members of The East Light. After that, we spoke to the parents of the members and promised to prevent recurrences."
They claimed to have resolved the issue with the members at that time, and producer A had resigned from the agency.
This article was first published in CLEO Singapore