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10 people booked for alleged ‘Produce X 101’ vote rigging

Police said Tuesday that they booked 10 people, including producers of a K-pop audition TV show and officials of CJ ENM, in connection with allegations they had rigged the results of audience voting.


Police are looking into whether high-ranking officials from music labels were involved, whether there was any vote rigging on former seasons of the Mnet audition shows and whether bribes were given in return for allegedly manipulating the votes.

“I think an investigation into alleged vote rigging should be conducted thoroughly to achieve a fair society,” Lee Yong-pyo, the commissioner of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, said at a press briefing.

The 10 people who were booked include Kim Yong-bum and Ahn Joon-young, respectively chief producer and director of Mnet’s “Produce X 101.” The “Produce 101” series is a recurring fan-voting K-pop competition through which popular bands such as Wanna One have debuted.

The two were arrested last week on allegations of conspiring with music labels to manipulate mobile text message-based votes to get certain contestants to rank higher in the competition and ultimately be selected to debut. They are set to be sent to prosecutors Thursday.

The investigation began after some fans questioned the results, as several promising contenders were not on the winners’ list while unexpected names were. Viewers took issue with dubious numerical patterns in the final vote count, noting that the top 20 contestants had vote numbers that were multiples of a specific number.

The vote-rigging scandal has dealt a blow to the K-pop acts that debuted through the popular program.

Twelve-member Korean and Japanese girl group IZ*ONE, which debuted after the third season of the “Produce 101” series, postponed a comeback showcase and an album release that were slated for Monday.

By Ock Hyun-ju (