Lies, Bullying, Racism, And More: DR Music’s “Problematic” History With Girl Groups

BLACKSWAN is just the most recent of DR Music’s girl groups.

Most fans of K-Pop have heard of the Big 3 companies — SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. These days, several companies started small but have made a place in the entertainment industry, including HYBE, Starship Entertainment, and CUBE Entertainment.

For each of the major companies, there are dozens of smaller ones that have had a single standout artist bring them into the spotlight, like DR Music.

DR Music Logo | DR Music

DR Music was originally called Deungryong’s Planning when it was founded by Yoon Deung Ryeong in 1989. Their primary artists were rock and ballad singers and boasted a line-up including Kim Tae Wook, Choi Baekho, and Light and Salt. Their lineup soon diverged into the world of K-Pop.

BABY V.O.X

DR Music’s first adventure in managing a girl group was with the debut of Baby V.O.X, who originally saw success following several line-up changes. The group’s second album Baby V.O.X II had a cute and public-friendly image, and this quickly gained popularity. After this album, one of the members, Lee Gai, began gaining attention for all the wrong reasons.

After a bit of digging, fans discovered that Lee Gai was not 20 years old as she had claimed to be but, in fact, 30 years old and had previously debuted 3 times prior to Baby V.O.X. In addition to this, it seems that Deungryong’s Planning was aware of her age, as the company had previously attempted to launch Lee Gai’s solo career in 1993 under the name Lee Jisoo.

DR Entertainment (DR Music) released an official notice and apology for the deception regarding her age, but the “damage” had been done. Lee Gai was removed and replaced with Yoon Eunhye, a girl half her age. With this line-up, Baby V.O.X hit a new level of success and got their first win; however, dating rumors between member Miyoun and H.O.T’s Moon Heejun resulted in a strong wave of anti-fans.

These anti-fan incidents culminated in a person dressing up as a staff member and spraying Eunhye in the eye with a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and red pepper.

Ultimately, Baby V.O.X disbanded in 2006 after the group used the voice and image of late American rapper Tupac in one of their music videos. They received a huge amount of backlash from the Korean hip-hop scene, including receiving the nickname “Miari V.O.X,” alluding to Miari, what was once an infamous red-light district in Korea.

Baby Vox Re.V

The label attempted to reboot the group with all new members under the name Baby Vox Re.V, a group with a much sexier image. This group quickly drew criticism for the overly sexual choreography for “Shee,” as the youngest member was only 16 years old at the time.

Baby Vox Re.V only released one more album before quietly disbanding with no official news from DR Music. The label also had several short-lived contracts with other singers, including A4, Zhang Liyin, and As One, during the time Baby V.O.X and Baby Vox Re.V were active.

RaNia/BP RaNia

In 2011, DR Music debuted RaNia, the group that the company became known for. At the time, RaNia consisted of eight members and was advertised as an “expansion into Asia” by American producer Teddy Riley. Not long after their debut with “Dr. Feel Good,” Teddy Riley announced that he would not do any more work with the company, saying that “their manager does shady business, [and] used me for my music.

In addition to many pre-debut members of the group leaving, several members of RaNia left the group in its early years, prior to their attempted debut in America.

RaNIa | DR Music

After a two-year hiatus, RaNia returned as a six-membered group with the introduction of Alex Reid, the first African-American woman to be in a K-Pop girl group. While it seemed like things would be going up, the last three members of the group left in May 2016, just a few months after their comeback. In December 2016, the group announced that along with a new line-up, they would be changing the name to BP RaNia.

Alex Reid

BP RaNia | DR Music

During her time with the group, Alex was involved in a variety of issues ranging from the company not including her in dances to a sasaeng fan being hired to allegedly pressure her into leaving the group. She ultimately left the group in 2017. Around the time of her departure, Alex shared tweets that implied that she was not treated well during her time as a member of the group.

BLACKSWAN

BP RaNia continued to lose members until 2020, when only a single member, named Hyeme, from the original line-up was left. Yet, another reformation was announced. Four new members, including two foreigners, Fatou and Leia, have been added to the group. BLACKSWAN officially debuted on October 16 with their first full-length album, Goodbye RANIA. The album only featured two new songs, and the other 12 tracks were previously recorded by members of RaNia and BP RaNia.

| DR Music

Just a month after the album’s release, Hyeme left the group amidst allegations of fraud, which sent BLACKSWAN into a hiatus that lasted until October the following year. It was around this time that bullying allegations were made by one of Leia’s family members towards Fatou, which Fatou promptly denied. According to Fatou, Leia was the one who had issues with the group, which she explained in a series of now-deleted tweets.

@blackswan___official/Instagram

DR Music referred to the conflict between the two as a constructive dispute and claimed that the two had apologized to each other.

In May 2022, it was announced that Gabi and Sriya would be joining the group, bringing the total number of members to six. This did not last long as the two remaining Korean members were announced to have graduated from the group, making BLACKSWAN one of the few K-Pop groups to promote without a single Korean member.

@blackswan___official/Instagram

According to DR Music, the group will soon make a three-membered comeback, as Leia has been on hiatus since November 9. Fatou and former member Youngheun both reacted to the news in a way that implies not all is well between the members of BLACKSWAN. You can check out more on BLACKSWAN’s current situation below.

DR Music Announces BLACKSWAN Leia’s Hiatus—Fatou And Youngheun React