JYP Entertainment (JYPE), in charge of discovering and managing Korean pop sensation the Wonder Girls, has denied that the American branch of their agency ill-treated the girls who have been expanding their singing career into the United States.
The response came after local daily English newspaper The Korea Herald on Tuesday published an email interview with Daniel Gauss, the group's English tutor from October 2009 to May 2010, who claimed the girls were not covered by health insurance in U.S. and were being illegally housed in the JYPE office building in New York.
"The content of the report makes no sense. It's groundless," refuted JYPE CEO Jung Wook in a phone call with Asia Economic Daily later in the day. "They are malicious claims made by the English tutor who was fired over issues of his salary and are completely unfounded."
Jung went on to address Gauss' assertion that "one girl in extreme pain...... received no professional medical treatment" and "saw others with minor ailments go untreated" because they were not given health insurance.
"The Wonder Girls aren't new singers so they wouldn't have just stayed put if such problems actually existed. They've also been communicating freely [with their fans] through Twitter -- there is no reason they would have not been able to say anything if they were being mistreated," fired back Jung.
He also said he "will have to check" whether JYPE had to pay a fine of over 2,500 dollars in the U.S. for having the girls live in the office building which was illegally renovated for residential use, as argued by Gauss, but assured the five-member group had no problem living there.
"We were going to buy a place in New Jersey for the Wonder Girls but they said they wanted to live in Manhattan so we renovated the third and fourth story of the building into a house," explained Jung.
Gauss had also written that the group's leader Sun had to perform at a concert for mobile phone manufacturer Sony Ericsson, which the girls endorse in the Asia-Pacific region, despite her father suddenly falling into a coma.
Jung again flatly dismissed the allegation and vowed to "take legal action if necessary after finding out why this person made such unfounded remarks."
The accusations have fueled heated debate amongst fans of the quintet who are considered one of the most popular female idol groups in Korea and also a hit in several countries in Asia.
Their singing career in the U.S., which they had virtually launched from scratch, took off to a record-breaking start when they placed their U.S. debut single "Nobody" on No. 76 of the Billboard Hot 100 in October of last year, making them the first Korean artists to be placed on the chart in its 115-year history.
Most recently, they have been garnering increased attention and hype ahead of their international album "2 Different Tears" waiting to go on sale on May 16 (Korea time).
The release of the new record will mark the girls' full-fledged debut into the U.S. market, and will be accompanied by an album launching event to be hosted by U.S. blogger and TV personality Perez Hilton at the 1400-capacity Avalon in Los Angeles.
Reporter : Park Kun-ouc kun1112@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@
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