Dispatch Releases Explosive Exposé On Chuu’s Feud With BlockBerry Creative — Text Messages Shed New Light On Fall Out

Chuu was previously kicked out of LOONA for allegedly abusing her power.

On December 19, media outlet Dispatch released an explosive article on Chuu and her withstanding feud with agency BlockBerry Creative.

Chuu | Korea Times

In the article, Dispatch released several text messages between Chuu and employees at the agency that shed new light on the feud between the label and the artist.

The article starts with a letter written by Chuu to an employee of BlockBerry Creative.

Letter from Chuu |

Hello! Director B. The tenth member to debut with LOONA on December 28 is Chuu! Thank you so much. I am so happy to be given this great opportunity, and it all feels like a dream.

Do you remember that day in 2016? (On that day) I was immature and lacking, but I tried my best… Seeing this (how I debuted) I guess you really can’t predict what’s going to happen. Hehe. Moving forward, I will evolve to show a much better side of myself.

— Chuu

Just as Chuu said, no one could’ve predicted what was going to happen. These are messages Chuu sent to the same employee in June 2022.

For context, Chuu had shown fans the choreography for a new song. CEO A then sent a text to Chuu’s mother, writing, “We can’t reveal the point choreography yet, what should we do?” Chuu’s mother then sent CEO A’s message to Chuu. Chuu then messages the employee to ask who had messaged her mother.

Text exchange between Chuu and BlockBerry Creative employee | Dispatch

  • Chuu: Over something like this? LOL. You are giving me grief about (showing the choreo for) 1 second?
  • Chuu: Should I not care?
  • Chuu: I’m not going to participate in this album.
  • Chuu: You guys are just messing around.
  • Chuu: Don’t you even dare dream about me participating in Queendom or anything similar to it.
  • Chuu: You should be reflecting on your mistakes.
  • Chuu: Didn’t you know before the spoiler that a different group and our group’s fan sign will be broadcasted?
  • Chuu: Aren’t you going to respond?
  • Chuu: Director. (Employee)
  • Chuu: Answer.
  • Chuu: Answer.
  • Chuu: Will you guys get it together if I die and tell everyone what has happened until now?
  • Employee: Let me figure out what’s going on.
  • Chuu: Aren’t you the one who sent it?
  • Employee: No. I am not the one who sent it.

Text exchange between Chuu and BlockBerry Creative employee | Dispatch

  • Chuu: Don’t overstep boundaries. I am serious. This is your last warning.
  • Chuu: Send this message to CEO A.
  • Employee: I will have a talk with our internal employees.
  • Chuu: You guys are so~~~ pathetic, LOL.
  • Chuu: Let me know who sent it.
  • Chuu: That text, LOL. This isn’t even funny.
  • Employee: Looking at this, it seems CEO A has told your mother.
  • Employee: I am sorry for troubling you. I will apologize on CEO A’s behalf.
  • Chuu: Send my Kakao talk message to me before I decide not to participate in this album.
  • Employee: Yes. I will send it to him.
  • Chuu: It must be hard for you to work with CEO A.
  • Employee: You don’t have to worry about me. Eat well, and gather strength.

Dispatch revealed the stark change in Chuu’s demeanor towards BlockBerry Creative and its employees, between 2017-2022. The media outlet then tracked back to the very beginning of the feud to see where it went wrong.

A bad start.

In 2017, Chuu wrote a letter to Employee B, writing, “I am so happy to be able to be given this great opportunity.”

And it was a great opportunity. LOONA was a project in which the label revealed a new member every month. It took around two years to reveal all 12 members.

Chuu benefitted from LOONA’s system. She was a trainee for around three months. She entered the label in September 2017 and was introduced as member 10 in December of that year.

During the 542 days since the group’s full debut, BlockBerry Creative had released 12 individual albums and 3 unit albums, totaling 15 albums. The albums and their respective music videos cost the label ₩6.00 billion KRW (about $4.58 million USD).

Due to the system, Chuu was able to debut quickly, but the label quickly ran out of money. This would be the start of their undoing.

BlockBerry Creative’s scheme backfires.

Chuu signed an exclusive contract with BlockBerry Creative on December 4, 2017.

Article 7 (Distribution of profits, etc.)

  1. BlockBerry Creative and Chuu will split all revenue generated from her activities 70% (BlockBerry Creative) 30% (Chuu).
  2. After which, expenses generated from activities will be split between 50% (BlockBerry Creative) 50% (Chuu).

This clause in the contract is clearly problematic. The split between generated revenue and expenses is inconsistent. In other words, revenue is split 7:3 while expenses are shared 5:5.

In addition, BlockBerry Creative chose to split revenue first and then split expenses. This is a scheme that allows BlockBerry Creative to pass off another 20% of expenses they should be liable for onto Chuu.

BlockBerry Creative spent a lot of money in launching LOONA. This project was that much riskier. For the label, it was important for them to hang on (for them to survive). To accomplish this, they changed the expense share ratio from 7:3 to 5:5.

This scheme, however, would later backfire on them. It would lead to a lawsuit that would allow Chuu to exit her contract.

The tables turn.

In January 2022, Chuu filed a lawsuit to terminate her contract, which was granted in March.

The tide has turned in Chuu’s favor, and now the desperate one was BlockBerry Creative. By now, the label had spent ₩15.0 billion KRW (about $11.5 million USD) on LOONA. The label had no choice but to try to hold on to Chuu for the sake of the group. The label proposes to change the original contract.

How did the contract change? Dispatch was able to get a hold of the new contract signed in April. This new contract would take precedence over the original exclusive contract.

First, the revenue split had been changed to 3:7 favoring Chuu. In the case that expenses exceed the amount of revenue generated, BlockBerry Creative agreed to cover 50% of it.

Claims for damages were also made possible in the new contract. If damage is caused, either side would be able to claim up to ₩50.0 million KRW (about $38,200 USD). Also, a clause was put in that allowed either side to immediately terminate the contract.

Chuu’s right not to participate.

Chuu was also able to obtain the right to abstain from activities. The contract states, “To ensure Chuu’s personal schedule, she is able to abstain from participating in the following activities.”

The “following activities” are listed below.

  • A. The right for her to abstain from LOONA activities three times a month.
  • B. The right for her to miss LOONA’s album schedules three times a month.

Chuu also added that “In the case of unnegotiated activities, (Chuu’s) personal schedule will take priority. In the case (BlockBerry Creative) needs to change a schedule, they may do so once.”

Lastly, BlockBerry Creative chose to agree to Chuu’s request for the label to transparently share all proposals regarding future activities. “All proposals for broadcast, advertisements, etc., will be shared with Chuu.

The amended contract will expire on December 31, 2022.

The amended contract is triggered.

On May 25, 2022, the day after filming for the “Flip That” music video, Chuu’s mother triggers Article 5 Section 2 in the new contract.

Article 5 Section 2.

If a party causes damage, they are liable for ₩50.0 million KRW (about $38,200 USD), and the contract will be terminated.

It is specified under Article 5 Section 2. We have made several requests for documents, but it is already May 25. Because you have violated the contract, please pay restitution.

— Chuu’s mother

Chuu’s mother asks CEO A to pay ₩50.0 million KRW (about $38,200 USD) for violating the contract. What happened? She hints that “It is already May 25.” She claims that a delay in the filming of the music video is cause for violating the contract.

Below is what happened.

  1. Filming for the music video for “Flip That” begins on May 24 at 9 PM.
  2. Filming is delayed, and the 11 PM scheduled filming for a group scene is also delayed.
  3. BlockBerry Creative asks to delay for an hour.
  4. Chuu’s mother asks for ₩50.0 million KRW (about $38,200 USD) for the delay.

Chuu was scheduled to film a commercial the next day on May 25. Chuu’s mother claimed that the music video delay obstructed Chuu’s personal schedule and requested for BlockBerry Creative pay restitution.

“Flip That” music video filming schedule |

 What occurred on the set of the music video.

On May 25, a LOONA member called CEO A at 12:27 AM.

  • Member: CEO A, this is member C. Are you able to talk?
  • CEO A: Yes, C.
  • Member: It’s because Jiwoo (Chuu) says she’s going to go now. It’s for a group scene, but she says she’s going to go. The choreography is for the 12 of us to perform, but now only 11 will be performing it. We have to listen to what she says, but I’m calling you to let you know this doesn’t make any sense.
  • CEO A: Can you check to see how much filming we have left
  • Member: We don’t know that… Can we let you know through the manager?
  • CEO A: Yes, yes.

CEO A call with Chuu’s mother |

At 12:35 AM on May 25, CEO A called Chuu’s mother.

  • CEO A: You’re currently waiting to pick your child (Chuu) up right? It seems the group scene isn’t finished. I am so sorry, but I think filming will be delayed for an hour. I called to ask if you could wait.
  • CEO A: I’m sure Chuu is also in an awkward situation. All 12 members need to perform it together… Hello?
  • Chuu’s mother: Yes, I am listening.
  • CEO A: I know you have a long drive, but do you think…
  • Chuu’s mother: I understand.
  • CEO A: Then do you think you can wait? If she misses the group performance, the situation will be difficult.
  • Chuu’s mother: Whatever the case is, I understand.

The group performance that cost ₩50.0 million KRW (about $38,200 USD).

Immediately after ending the call, Chuu’s mother messaged CEO A. In the messages, she claims that the filming delay violated the contract. She asks for restitution as per Artice 5 Section 2.

Text exchange between Chuu’s mother and CEO A |

  • Chuu’s mother: I will wait, but I will file for violating the contract. It’s a clause that you put in, so I hope you honor it.
  • CEO A: As long as you’re triggering the clause, then I ask that she stay for the entire length of filming.
  • CEO A: I will await your confirmation, at which point I will let the management know. I am asking for your opinion. As the members are waiting, I ask that you respond quickly.

CEO A then called Chuu’s mother again.

Phone call exchange between Chuu’s mother and CEO A |

  • Chuu’s mother: Hello?
  • CEO A: Are you able to speak on the phone?
  • Chuu’s mother: I am not in the mood to speak to you. What did you just write to me? Since I’m going to trigger the clause, you want her to stay until (filming ends)? She has a commercial tomorrow… I am not in the mood to speak. Hang up.

Chuu’s mother ends the phone call first. CEO A then reaches back out through text to apologize.

  • CEO A: I think we failed to consider Jiwoo (Chuu). I ask you to forgive me as it was a result of a delay in filming. As for the delay, we feel also feel regrettable. I also apologize as it may also affect Jiwoo’s filming on May 25.
  • Chuu’s mother: Then you shouldn’t have messaged me in that way.
  • CEO A: Still, I ask you to consider allowing her to stay to film until scene 19.

In exchange for receiving ₩50.0 million KRW (about $38,200 USD) from BlockBerry Creative, filming resumed. Chuu stayed to film the group scene and left around 3 AM. However, scene 19, which CEO A asked her to participate in, was forfeited. The scene, along with the fees for the set, were all forfeited.

Did Chuu abuse her power?

Chuu would leave LOONA. No, she was kicked out. The reason why is due to her abusing her power. BlockBerry Creative revealed text messages sent between her and a staff member (from August 2021~ to July 2022) as evidence.

For example, on December 28, 2021…

Text between staff and Chuu |

  • Employee B: Jiwoo. I heard from management that you aren’t participating in LOONA album promotions. Is this true?
  • Chuu: No, I am going to participate.
  • Chuu: I’ve never ditched a schedule ^^. I have never not done a schedule after saying I wouldn’t broadcast anymore.
  • Chuu: Stop lying. I’ve never skipped a schedule and you people don’t even have the competency to get me a (broadcast) schedule, and you guys don’t even have a reason why I couldn’t cancel a schedule, so stop making me look bad.
  • Chuu: You guys really aren’t able to do anything other than lie. Tsk. Rest well~

Chuu’s words to Employee B are harsh, but by then, Chuu no longer trusts the agency. Chuu can be seen calling her label incompetent, and on top of that, she calls them liars.

Was it BlockBerry Creative’s incompetency?

December 30, 2021.

  • Chuu: Employee B? My mother asked for my (legal) stamps, remember?
  • Chuu: Is the label not even going to give me my stamps?
  • Chuu: Are you ignoring my mother?
  • Chuu: You guys don’t give me my money~ You guys don’t give me my stamps~ You guys don’t give me a transparent accounting~
  • Chuu: BlockBerry is the best~
  • Employee B: I never ignored your mother. As for the stamps, I will contact you after speaking with the company.
  • Chuu: You guys said you’d give it, but it seems like you won’t. Uh-oh.

Chuu’s feud with the company started over money. This is evident when reading her write, “You guys don’t give me money~ You guys don’t give me a transparent accounting~.” For context, Employee B was involved in casting Chuu in 2017.

Is this Chuu’s “Media Play”?

Chuu is often referred to as LOONA’s Daddy (translated). This is due to her being the group’s breadwinner. This, however, is wrong as LOONA members get paid individually. Chuu receives the money she makes, and the members make what they make, respectively.

Below is a text message between Chuu and CEO A.

  • Chuu: CEO A, am I paying for the debts of the other members? No, right?
  • CEO A: Of course not.

According to BlockBerry Creative’s accounting, LOONA made ₩18.2 billion KRW (about $13.9 million USD) and spent ₩16.9 billion KRW (about $12.9 million USD).

According to the label’s strange accounting practices, LOONA is to receive 30% of this (₩5.40 billion KRW (about $4.12 million USD)). From the amount, if you subtract the expenses (of which the group is liable for half) ₩8.40 billion KRW (about $6.41 million USD), the group is left owing the company ₩3.00 billion KRW (about $2.29 million USD). If spread among the 12 members, each member still owes the company ₩200 million KRW (about $153,000 USD).

Accounting for Chuu, however, is done differently. Since December of last year, she has been paid differently. She received her first payment in January of this year, for the amount of ₩70.0 million KRW (about $53,400 USD), and has thus far been paid a total of ₩220 million KRW (about $168,000 USD).

Chuu’s payment for January 2022 |

On top of that, Chuu founded her own label in April. She has been promoting independently since the court’s decision. She receives 100% of the money she makes through the company. BlockBerry Creative only schedules LOONA performances for her.

BlockBerry Creative caused the rift.

Dispatch received a recording of a phone conversation between CEO A and Chuu, Employee B and Chuu, Chuu’s mother and CEO A, and Chuu’s mother and Employee B. Dispatch was able to reveal what was going on through these conversations.

BlockBerry Creative started a project that they couldn’t handle. They spent over ₩17.0 billion KRW (about $13.0 million USD) in five years. They released 24 albums and filmed 44 music videos. It was unprecedented for all 12 members to have individual singles and music videos.

Due to this system, Chuu was a trainee for only three years before debuting. On top of that, the label focused on promoting Chuu. It is true that they gave her more opportunities. (Although it is true that Chuu made the most of those opportunities.)

With that said, BlockBerry Creative isn’t free of blame. The first reason for this feud is the label’s accounting scheme per the group’s original contract. If the label had followed normal contract standards, there wouldn’t have been any reason to terminate the contract.

According to the label, the accounting practices were necessary for the label to survive.

Without the 5:5 cost-sharing clause, the label wouldn’t have survived. At the time, we felt it was the best way to save the company and the members. We explained it to the members, and they all agreed.

— BlockBerry Creative

Chuu gains the upperhand, again.

BlockBerry Creative provided the reason for the rift. Chuu attacked the  label’s weakness. She gained the upper hand (7:3) by re-negotiating her contract. BlockBerry Creative was no longer in control, and Chuu had the power to decide for her own.

At least for this year, Chuu was greater as an individual than as a member of a group. She chose the promotions she’d participate in and also chose the time. BlockBerry Creative was in a position to only accept Chuu’s decisions.

In the end, BlockBerry Creative was the first to end ties. They figured they couldn’t go on any further. In a sense, Chuu had willed the label to do so. Her contempt for the agency is evident. Her Kakao Talk messages are evidence of this.

Dispatch had to meet with Chuu. It wanted to hear the reason why she couldn’t return and were finally able to reach Chuu last week. Chuu first criticized the accounting problem.

At the time, I didn’t understand what retroactive accounting even was. I was just happy to debut and sign. I didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to get paid due to this (retroactive accounting).

— Chuu

Anyways, the conflict has a set conclusion.

Dispatch sent Chuu a list of questions a week ago, and Chuu conveyed her own position on the issues through her representative. Here are Chuu’s answers to the questions Dispatch sent.
  • Q: Did you know there was an issue with your contract?
  • Chuu: Last year (2021), a member mentioned to me, ‘Isn’t it time that you got paid?’ That’s when I found out that there was a problem. I heard the explanation of the contract when it was signed. However, I did not fully understand the concept of being paid after expenses were calculated. I didn’t have the time to fully figure it out…
  • Q: So, did you proceed with the contract termination lawsuit?
  • Chuu: I did the math. If the expenses were more than 70% of the sales, then the final payment was actually a minus. It was a structure where the debt actually increased while I worked. I definitely signed a 70:30 split contract (70 to company, 30 to Chuu), but there were times it was 90:10 or 100:0. It’s late, but I wanted to fix this.
    For example, let’s assume a situation where there was 100,000 KRW in gross revenue and 70,000 KRW in costs. The split of the revenue would be 70,000 KRW to the company and 30,000 KRW to Chuu.
    However, since the expenses are split 50:50, the expenses would be 35,000 to the company and 35,000 to Chuu.
    Therefore, the company’s final payment would be 70,000-35,000=35,000 in profit, but Chuu’s would be 30,000-35,000=-5,000 in debt. Chuu pointed out this issue.
  • Q: We heard Chuu’s payments turned into profits in January 2022. You received over 200 million won just this year alone?
  • Chuu: That’s correct. It’s through a personal payment system. I had a lot of individual activities, so I was paid first. But I don’t know if the expenses were handled properly. I didn’t receive the accounting data that calculated the payment.
  • Q: Blockberry Creative countered that the payment was commissioned and audited by an external tax company. They’re arguing that there is no problem with the payments?
  • Chuu: I never asked for an external audit. The company suddenly proceeded with that. I also cannot trust them 100 percent. The important thing is, I did not properly receive the accounting data for my payment. That’s why I lost trust [in the company].
  • Q: In April 2022, the clause in the contract was rewritten. Chuu’s share of the revenue was changed to 70%. Did you also take charge of the decision-making process for this?
  • Chuu: My trust in the company, it was realistically over last year. I didn’t want to participate in Queendom either. But I didn’t want to give up on LOONA. The clause was rewritten so that I could continue with LOONA’s activities.
  • Q: But did you put your personal activities over the group activities? There was a bit of a commotion at the music video set.
  • Chuu: The filming for the music video was delayed, so I received ₩50.0 million KRW (about $38,200 USD) in restitution. However, I didn’t ask for restitution for only this issue. There have been several scheduling problems. So that’s why I claimed restitution as a warning.
  • Q: We checked the KakaoTalk messages and emails from both sides. It sounded almost as if BlockBerry was asking you for your permission.
  • Chuu: It’s true that they asked if I could participate in the schedules. However, there were some parts that were not delivered properly.
    (Dispatch notes that BlockBerry flat-out denied this part from Chuu, saying that they properly delivered all of the officially inquired-on schedules.)
  • Q: Besides this, the words from both you and your mother seem a little harsh. The company seems to interpret this as a power trip.
  • Chuu: Employee B was the only person from the company that would communicate with me. I didn’t get mad at “B”. I was angry at how the company was being operated and complained about that. However, Director “D”…
  • Q: Director “D”?

Chuu then shared a transcript of her meeting with Director “D.” The meeting was about adjusting the company and Chuu’s split of revenue.

Conversation between Director D and Chuu |

Director “D”: As you say, think carefully. This will not hurt you. Don’t write a contract right now. The idea of mistrust can be dispelled.
Director “D”: But I understand your message. I promised a 50:50 split. So now… 70:30 and 50:50.
Director “D”: Let’s just look at the math. It’s a 50:50 rate.
Director “D”: You went to elementary school, right? Haha. You did finish, right?
Chuu: Is that what you’re really talking about? I’m thinking about it right now.
Director “D”: I’m really just joking. I’m very sad right now.
Chuu: I don’t think we’re in the kind of relationship to joke around.

  • Q: Did this conversation affect your attitude?
  • Chuu: Director “D” treated me as if I was a child. It was like the feeling of someone looking down on you. I was hurt because of the feeling of distrust. You have to speak up to be listened to… So I also spoke up with strong words. I couldn’t help it. I made a mistake as a human being.

The conflict between BlockBerry Creative and Chuu is much more complicated than what was previously revealed to the public. It cannot be labeled as a unilateral fault to either side. This conflict is a combination of incompetence, disrespect, and distrust from both sides.

Source: Dispatch