K-Pop fans may be most familiar with Ashley Choi as a host of DIVE Studios‘ Get Real alongside many other idols, including BTOB‘s Peniel, KARD’s BM, and Junny.
Before joining the cast of the show, Ashley promoted with her K-Pop group Ladies Code, who debuted in 2013 with the track “Bad Girl.”
Ladies Code were active as a group from 2013 to 2020 before the group went on an indefinite hiatus for the members to pursue solo careers after their contracts with Polaris Entertainment expired.
In April 2020, Ashley shared a vlog as part of her ADULTING SERIES, where she described the feeling of getting her first paycheck after living in Korea.
According to Ashley, she made money as a member of Ladies Code, but all of it went to the debt that she owed the company.
I know this sounds crazy but it’s my first time ever like working hard and getting paid for it. You might be like ‘how is this possible?’ but I did make money as Ladies Code but none of it was physically mine because it all went to the company to pay off our debt. So for the past seven years I didn’t know what it felt like to make my own money.
— Ashley Choi
Ladies Code’s former company, Polaris Entertainment, is the parent label of BlockBerry Creative, which has recently been the target of much criticism following the expulsion of Chuu from LOONA.
In text messages revealed by Dispatch, BlockBerry’s financial issues are brought to light, which they addressed in a statement.
LOONA is a project that took a lot of effort over a long period of time. Because it was a long-term and significant project that required a lot of investment and money compared to a typical idol group, the results that appeared on the surface were often less revealed than we tried.
After LOONA was planned and formed, there was an endless need for expenses that a small to medium-sized agency could not easily afford. But of course, we thought that this was the agency’s responsibility, and we persevered by paying upfront investments.
And there were also many misunderstandings and speculations regarding the settlement issue. Still, as a result, we always felt sorry for the members who could not generate profit for a long time. From the beginning, LOONA’s success was a near-impossible task that had to be accomplished with the investment and efforts of the agency, without any promises of reaching the break-even point.
— Blockberry Creative
While Ashley thankfully now makes money as an independent artist, her past statements highlight how unfair idol contracts can often be, even nearly a decade after her debut.
You can check out Ashley talking about her first paycheck below, starting at 0:51.