Adding to the long list of lawsuits (this year ain’t over yet), YouTube star turned solo singer Megan Lee made headlines recently for requesting a contract termination from Soul Shop Entertainment. What captured the media’s attention, however, was not the actual lawsuit in itself, but the mess of finger-pointing and mud-slinging that transpired between the two parties.
Soul Shop Entertainment is notable if not for its acts, but the big name behind the business. Owned by g.o.d‘s Kim Tae-woo, the agency debuted Megan Lee on May 15 with the title track “8dayz“. A little more than seven months later, Megan Lee filed the lawsuit on November 25, citing unfair contract and breach of trust against Soul Shop Entertainment.
The news of Megan Lee’s lawsuit broke in a rather roundabout way, starting with a seemingly disparate announcement from King and I Company that the production company was considering legal action against the rookie singer. The producers claimed that Megan Lee, who had signed on to star in the musical “All Shook Up”, had missed two practice sessions and avoided phone calls from the company before withdrawing from the production a week before its opening, causing setbacks in the schedule.
Megan Lee’s side responded with a lawsuit against Soul Shop Entertainment the same day, with claims that the agency had mismanaged Megan Lee’s activities without consulting the singer:
She [Megan Lee] had overseas schedules agreed on by the label, but they signed a contract with the musical ‘All Shook Up’ without her consent even though they knew this. When signing the musical contract, they used Megan Lee’s seal that was provided to create a bank account for her without her permission.
Soul Shop released a statement in response to refute accusations of an unfair contract, stating that the contract’s length of 5 years and profit split of 50-50 (excluding song and album sales) were generous for rookie artists. In addition, Soul Shop claimed that Megan had requested to audition for the musical, accepted the role, and signed the contract herself. In conjunction, the King and I Company released Megan Lee’s audition video.
The core of the issue, Soul Shop claimed, was that Megan Lee had made the final auditions of a US drama she and the company had previously sent an audition tape for which conflicted with the musical schedule. Reportedly, she participated in the final audition without properly notifying her label and when accepted into the drama, sent a “one-sided” email through her mother informing the musical production company of her withdrawal from “All Shook Up”.
Things took an ugly turn, however, when Megan Lee’s side turned attention to Kim Tae-woo’s wife and mother-in-law, respectively the managing director and chief operating officer of the label, for improper management and mistreatment of the singer. Megan Lee accused the two women of being responsible for withholding financial statements, signing the musical’s contract without consent, and verbally abusing Megan Lee to the point of psychological treatment. While Megan Lee has insisted she “thinks gratefully of her PD Kim Tae-woo”, the statement released by her side is pretty damning:
But due to Kim Tae Woo’s wife Kim Ae Ri’s tyranny, she is unable to continue with the contract and requested a nullification of contract.
Soul Shop has said little in relation to these accusations, only labeling Megan Lee’s statement as a personal attack and outlining the company’s plans for Megan Lee’s future activities (the Pinocchio OST, musical, and a second comeback) as proof that she was being properly promoted. In short, Soul Shop stated:
As such, we cannot see her actions as anything other than her nulling the contract so she can grasp the opportunity offered her from the United States.
What’s interesting in this case is how completely these two accounts conflict with each other, especially in regards to whether or not participation in the musical was consented, which suggests that one side must be more than stretching the truth. Also notable about Megan Lee’s lawsuit is the singling out of Kim Tae-woo’s wife and mother-in-law for their transgressions. Requests for contract termination rarely call out specific staff members as the perpetrators, but instead hold the company as a whole responsible. Specifically naming these two women in statements is sure to raise the stakes of the lawsuit, as they are related to a public figure. Whether or not the accusations against them prove to be true will reflect back on Kim Tae-woo’s character no matter how much respect Megan Lee states she has for her mentor.
To be sure, both sides have their share of backing evidence. Soul Shop Entertainment alongside King and I Company are at least able to prove Megan Lee’s early dedication to the musical, as well as the negative impacts her sudden withdrawal had on the remaining participating members of the production. If Soul Shop’s statements are indeed true, it should not be hard for the agency to show that Megan Lee did leave to audition without proper communication or that she did in fact sign the contract herself.
On the other hand, Megan Lee submitted her request for an injunction on her contract to the Seoul Courts the same day as another Soul Shop artist, Kil Gun. In her statement to the press, Kil Gun supported Megan Lee’s stance by stating that she herself had “suffered no small amount of mistreatment while at Soul Shop”. And as B.A.P‘s own lawsuit has illustrated, a lack of financial transparency and fairness is becoming quite characteristic among entertainment agencies. The first questioning with lawyers of both sides was held on November 26, and the second will take place on December 17, but until then we’re left with a tangle of accusations and no clear-cut truths.
What are your thoughts about Megan Lee’s lawsuit, readers?
(Star News, Asia Today. New Daily, Nate, Images via Soul Shop Entertainment, BNT)