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Wonder Girls ill-treated: ex-tutor

A former English tutor for popular K-pop group Wonder Girls on Tuesday painted a grim and detailed account of the group’s management company JYPE’s “ill-conceived” handling of the band’s venture into the North American market.

Daniel Gauss, who was the group’s New York-based English tutor from October 2009 until this month, said over a series of e-mails to The Korea Herald that the girls had been mismanaged and mistreated by local music mogul Park Jin-young’s entertainment company.

Original members of Wonder Girls                               (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
Original members of Wonder Girls                               (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

Gauss’ claim as the group’s private tutor was confirmed over the telephone on May 11 by two current Manhattan-based JYPE employees.

Gauss alleges that all members of the group were housed illegally in the Manhattan offices of JYPE and that they had not been given health insurance coverage during their time stateside.

“I was shocked when one of the girls told me that the girls are not covered by health insurance in America,” he wrote. “I once saw one girl in extreme pain -- due to a pre-existing problem stemming from a previous operation -- who received no professional medical treatment for the pain and I saw others with minor ailments go untreated.”

Gauss further wrote that after the group acquired a sponsorship deal with Sony Ericsson, JYPE had Sun-ye perform in Sanya, China, for Sony Ericsson executives, shortly after her father was rushed to hospital in a coma.

He wrote that Sun-ye had told him “her father had stopped breathing and had to be rushed to the hospital. In the ambulance, (Sun-ye) and her family had to decide whether the father should be given treatment to be kept alive since he had lapsed into a coma. The family chose to keep him alive and I was told by the girl that he was never going to come out of the coma.”

“Very shortly after that trauma, she was performing for Sony Ericsson executives in Sanya,” Gauss wrote. “I did not have the heart to ask her whether it was her idea or JYPE’s idea for her to perform.”

He also claimed JYPE illegally housed the members at the company’s Manhattan office -- for which he said the city of New York slapped the company with a $2,500 fine.

An online link to the New York City Department of Buildings provided by Gauss confirms that the company had not only been issued a class-2 citation (violation No. 34765862, infraction code 208, section of law 28-118.3) on May 28, 2009 and fined for altering and changing an occupied building for residential use without a valid permit, but also defaulted on the violation.

The company was scheduled to appear in court for a hearing last month, but failed to do so, which has resulted in the case being given a default status.

Gauss also said that JYPE had sold the band’s CD at a bargain basement price of $1 at retail clothing chains around the United States, which significantly boosted both its sales and its performance in the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

On Oct. 23, 2009 the group’s single “Nobody” entered the top 100 at No. 76, something widely publicized by the local media.

This was confirmed by Wonder Girls’ former manager and current JYPE marketing department employee David Hyun.

“That was part of our distribution deal and that is definitely one of the reasons why they cracked the top 100,” Hyun said.

When pressed about Gauss’ other allegations, Hyun refused to comment any further.

“I rather not comment on anything that came from (Gauss) other than confirm he used to tutor for the Wonder Girls,” he said.

Jane Kim, the group’s current manager, refused to state why Gauss had quit his job as a private tutor.

“I feel as though I don’t have to comment on anything (Gauss) might have told you,” she said over the phone.

“The girls are confident they can become a success here (the U.S.) and they have refuted (Gauss’) accusations about the company.”

A request for a phone interview with the group was denied. In a telephone interview with The Herald Business, JYPE chief Jung Wook, dismissed the allegations by Gauss.

In his e-mails, Gauss claims he quit his position because he had become disenchanted with JYPE’s management of the band.

He had been contacted by reps from the company after he had posted an ad on Craigslist as an English tutor in New York. But according to him, once he began his job, he became increasingly concerned about the way the group was being managed by the company.

“I cannot profit in any manner by revealing this information,” he wrote. “I believe my motives are genuine. I did not ask for any compensation for any of this information and I do not want any. I saw and heard about some nasty things at JYPE and I think people have a right to know the truth, especially since the girls are under contract for the next three-plus years and might not be able to speak freely about negative aspects of their experience.” 

By Song Woong-ki (

[Korean Edition]

미국에 진출한 여성그룹 원더걸스가 해외에서 부당한 대우를 받은 사실이 알려졌다.
헤럴드경제의 자매지 코리아헤럴드가 11일 단독보도한 내용에 따르면 원더걸스는 지난해 미국 진출 당시 건강보험이 가입되지 않은 상태에서 미국 활동을 시작했고, 멤버들이 불법 개조된 사무실에서 지낸 것으로 밝혀졌다.

이런 주장은 지난 2009년 10월부터 올해 5월까지 원더걸스의 영어 개인 강사였던 대니얼 고스가 코리아헤럴드와의 이메일 인터뷰를 통해 밝힌 사실이다. 그는 이메일에서 원더걸스 멤버들이 소속사로부터 잘못된 대우을 받았다고 주장했다
그는 “모든 멤버들이 최소한의 의료보험 조차 없었다. 한 멤버가 나에게 우린 의료보험 적용이 되지 않느냐고 묻는 것을 듣고 놀랐다”며 “한번은 또 한 멤버가 예전에 앓았던 질병 때문에 굉장한 고통을 표한 것을 봤다. 그녀는 어떤 질병에도 전문적인 의료 행위를 받을 수 없는 상황이었다”고 전했다.

고스는 또 JYP엔터테인먼트가 미국에서 원더걸스의 CD를 할인 품목 코너에서 1달러에 판매했고 이것이 앨범 판매와 빌보드 차트 진입에 큰 역할을 했다고 전했다.

원더걸스는 지난해 싱글앨범인 ‘노바디’로 빌보트 차트 핫 100에서 76위에 올랐다. 당시 원더걸스는 1894년 시작된 빌보드 차트 역사상 한국 가수로는 처음 빌보드 싱글 차트 100위 내 진입으로 큰 화제를 모았다.

원더걸스의 전 매니저이자 현재 JYP엔터테인먼트의 마케팅을 담당하고 있는 데이비드 현은 통화를 통해 “그런 음반 유통 방식은 원더걸스가 100위 내에 진입할 수 있었던 요인 중 하나”라고 언급했다.

그는 또 JYP가 소니 에릭슨과 스폰서십을 진행할 당시 미국을 방문했던 선예의 아빠가 혼수상태로 병원에 실려갔음에도, 문제가 해결된 이후 선예가 곧바로 공연장으로 가야했던 일도 설명했다.

고스는 “아빠가 호흡곤란으로 앰뷸런스에 실려갔다. 굉장히 위급한 상황이었다. 하지만 이 사건이 끝나자마자 선예는 소니 에릭슨 관계자들을 위해 공연을 해야했다”며 “그녀가 공연을 하러간 것이 JYP의 뜻인지 그녀의 뜻인지 모르겠다.”고 전했다.

또한 그는 이메일을 통해 현행법상 사무실은 숙박 용도로 사용할 수 없지만 불법 개조를 했고, 여기에 멤버들이 머물렀다는 것. 이 때문에 뉴욕시에서 JYPE엔터테인먼트에 2500달러의 벌금을 부과했던 사실도 폭로했다.

한편, 고스는 인터뷰의 말미에서 “이 정보를 공개하면서 어떤 이익을 얻고자 함이 아니라 이렇게 제보를 하게된 가장 큰 동기는 바로 진실 때문이었다. 나는 어떤 보상을 원하는 것도 아니다. 단지 사람들이 JYP의 실상에 대해 알 필요가 있다고 생각했다.”고 전했다.

(헤럴드경제 홍동희기자/

Korea Herald daum