|Official poster of 'Produce X 101'/ Korea Times file|
By Jung Hae-myoung
Mnet's idol group audition reality show "Produce 101" series producer Ahn Joon-young has admitted that he manipulated the voting results for all seasons of the show.
Ahn was arrested Thursday on multiple charges related to manipulating viewers' votes and giving advantages to specific contestants from a particular management agency.
Two other staff members were also questioned by prosecutors, along with chief producer Kim Yong-beom.
"Produce 101" is a popular audition program series on Mnet where idol trainees appear on the show and compete to gain the most votes from the viewers in order to debut as an idol group.
Ahn was originally booked for manipulating votes in the third season "Produce 48" and fourth "Produce X 101."
However there were also irregularities in the number of votes counted and actual viewer's votes for seasons one and two, which Ahn later admitted to being involved in.
Because of this, groups WannaOne and I.O.I cannot escape the suspicion that they were created under illicit circumstances.
Recently debuted groups IZ*ONE from Produce 48 and X1 from Produce X 101 are also going through a tough time managing their music career. IZ*ONE, a 12-member girl group created from the winners of season three cancelled its first regular album release originally set for Monday, and the rest of its scheduled activities.
X1, an 11-member boy group from the latest season, said it will not participate in the "2019 V-Live Awards," today.
|Ahn Joon-young, the main producer of the Produce 101 series, is arrested, Thursday, for manipulating viewer's votes to give an advantage to specific contestants in the show./ Korea Times file|
"We take the situation very seriously," an Mnet official said. "We sincerely apologize and feel that we have a heavy burden of responsibility. The company, is preparing a statement, ways to compensate the program victims, and demands for a fundamental solution to this problem so that it will not recur."
The suspicion of vote-rigging first surfaced July 19, after the final stages of Produce X 101 aired live. The viewers were suspicious when some unexpected trainees made it through the finals to become part of a group. Another suspicion was that the votes were too evenly differentiated.
Angry viewers formed a "fact-finding committee" and demanded to be shown the original voting data and called on police to strictly investigate staff and authorities of Mnet and the management agency involved in the show.
Police requested the prosecution to seek arrest warrants for four staff members of the management agency and Produce 101 team Oct. 30, and booked them, Nov. 5.
During the investigation, officers also found that Ahn was entertained by management agencies on over 40 occasions at a cost amounting to several millions of won.