Omega X Accuses Spire Entertainment CEO Kang of Abuse
Omega X has taken steps to press charges against Spire Entertainment’s former CEO, accusing Kang Seong-hee of verbal and physical abuse, including sexual harassment, the K-pop group announced in a November 16 press conference. The legal action — which includes a filing to terminate their contract with the company — comes a little over three weeks after a fan of the boy band posted an alleged eyewitness account of abuse at the hands of then-CEO Kang on Twitter. Omega X consists of 11 veteran members ranging from 21 to 27 years old — leader Jaehan, Hwichan, Sebin, Hangyeom, Taedong, Xen, Jehyun, Kevin, Junghoon, Hyuk, and Yechan — who previously debuted in other groups before their old bands disbanded or went on hiatus. The so-called “K-Pop Avengers” formed the group as a second (and for some, their last) chance at a ruthlessly competitive industry. Vulture has reached out to Spire Entertainment for comment.
In the weeks leading up to Omega X taking legal action against Spire Entertainment, evidence continued to accumulate against the agency. Kang eventually lost her job, and the band began to speak out. “The reason why we couldn’t help but endure and keep quiet about all of this until now was because we were afraid that our last chance [in the music industry] would disappear if we didn’t,” Jaehan said at the press conference. Below, everything you need to know about the group’s accusations against Spire Entertainment.
On October 24, SBS News published an exposé on the agency and its CEO, releasing multiple videos that claim to show additional incidents of verbal abuse and disturbing behavior. In one such clip, which might be an extended version of the first Twitter user’s account, a person who appears to be CEO Kang allegedly yells at the boys in a Los Angeles parking lot. “Do you think losers like you could be loved by people?” she asked. “Are you big? You didn’t come this far on your own.” Jaehan falls to the ground and she asks the other members if they ever helped her when she fell. The second video released by SBS purports to show Kang grabbing the leader by his collar and throwing him to the floor while his bandmates attempt to intervene.
Spire Entertainment denied all allegations of abuse in a phone call to SBS. “The person who posted the clip on social media, they’re more of an anti-fan against the company,” she claimed, adding, “I just asked them if they have ever helped me when I was having a hard time. An assault? No way.” Omega X’s last post on their shared Instagram account went up on October 19, but beyond their silence on social media, the group did not address the allegations until the coming weeks.
The agency released a full statement the same day the first SBS report was published. “First, we bow our heads in deep apology for having caused concern through this unpleasant news,” Spire Entertainment wrote, going on to claim that the band and the agency “have currently resolved all their misunderstandings, and they ended the conversation by saying that they wanted to move forward while being considerate of each other.” The reconciliation didn’t last long. Another SBS report dropped that day that detailed allegations that the company canceled the members’ plane tickets back to Seoul, an action that some viewed as retaliation, leaving the boys effectively stranded. The next day, SBS reported that the band had to purchase their own tickets with the help of family.
Omega X broke their silence on November 6. Opening their own Instagram account outside the purview of Spire, the band shared their own statement to address the incident for the first time. “We created this small space for communication because we wanted to thank the fans who love us and the people who are cheering us on, and we also wanted to directly inform you of the current situation with our own mouths, as the parties involved in this incident,” they wrote, saying that a contractual agreement left them unable to post on social media without the permission of the agency. “When our suffering recently became known to the world, we were worried that everything we’ve accomplished up until now would evaporate and go up in smoke. However, we have now decided to put our fears behind us and muster courage together.”
“Our group was a second opportunity for our eleven members, who gathered together after rising from difficult times of despair and refusing to give up on our dreams…thanks to our fans, we were able to endure the past two years. There were days when we received such unwarranted treatment from our agency that it made us want to cry, but our only source of strength that made it possible for us to endure it all was remembering the cheers of our fans,” the statement read, promising to continue to perform and “chase our dreams up until the very end.” On November 7, Spire announced that the CEO resigned.
SBS continued to uncover additional allegations of abuse, including a claim that she forced members diagnosed with COVID-19 to perform onstage. Screenshots obtained by SBS on November 11 allege Kang and her husband, the company’s chairman, forced the group to hide positive COVID tests alongside a video where Jaehan can be heard protesting the plan.
“She not only forced us to drink after our practices, but she made sexually harassing comments and touched our thighs and faces, persistently abusing us sexually,” Jaehan claimed, referring to Kang. “Even when such meetings were over, she would continuously call and text us and verbally assault us.”
“She would threaten us that we should ‘grovel’ if we wanted to remain as Omega X and that she would either kill us or kill herself if we didn’t,” he added.
“We had no choice but to stay with her and do as she wished,” Hangyeom alleged. “She’d also tell us there will be no next album if we reject drinking.” The group also said they are seeking medical treatment. “Whenever I got home, I became anxious that Kang would call any minute,” Hangyeom continued. “I eventually couldn’t take it anymore and started going to a psychiatric clinic. In fact, even now, when I hear a phone ring or vibrate, or anything remotely like an alarm, I panic.”
“I know not every agency is like that, but I think a lot of K-pop trainees and even current idols are being treated unfairly,” Taedong said.