TIMELINE: LOONA’s legal battle with BlockBerry Creative

Christa Escudero

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TIMELINE: LOONA’s legal battle with BlockBerry Creative

LAST WITH BBC. K-pop group LOONA poses for a photo after attending South Korean music show ‘Show Champion’ on June 29, 2022, for their comeback ‘Flip That.’ The comeback serves as their last with agency BlockBerry Creative.

LOONA’s Twitter page

LOONA’s Yves on Wednesday, March 13, announces her signing with a new label. All members of the K-pop group have now found different agencies after leaving BlockBerry Creative.

CEBU, Philippines – LOONA member Yves has signed with South Korean label PAIX PER MIL, she announced on Wednesday, March 13.

PAIX PER MIL was founded by Millic, a former producer of YG Entertainment sublabel HIGHGRND.

“Please stay tuned for my journey with PAIX PER MIL, and root for us. Thank you for waiting so long,” Yves wrote on Instagram.

Yves is the last LOONA member to sign with a new label after all members left BlockBerry Creative, amid a long legal battle against the agency.

Here is a timeline of key events.

2018 to 2021

The birth of LOONA was unlike any K-pop group, catching the attention of enthusiasts and the industry alike. 

The members – Heejin, Hyunjin, Haseul, Yeojin, Vivi, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, Choerry, Yves, Chuu, Go Won, and Olivia Hye – were each introduced through 12 solo debuts and three subunits starting 2016, culminating in a full-group debut on August 20, 2018. The unique concept had drawn in a loyal following, who pioneered memes such as the viral “stan LOONA.”

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The group had consistently charted on iTunes every comeback. All their Korean albums, ++, XX, #, 12:00, &, and Flip That peaked at number one on iTunes US. 

December 2021

After endless solo schedules left and right that drew in concerns, LOONA member Chuu filed an injunction in court against BlockBerry due to contract arrangements.

According to a Dispatch report a year after, when Chuu signed with BlockBerry, her contract stipulated a 7:3 split of revenue from her activities, with BlockBerry Creative getting 70% and Chuu getting the remaining 30%. Another stipulation is a 5:5 split of costs for entertainment activities.

The LOONA member expressed her discontent with her contract terms, especially after numerous endorsements and guestings on South Korean shows.

February 2022

LOONA held a concert in Seoul, LOOΠΔVERSE: FROM, from February 11 to 12. BlockBerry previously announced on February 8 that Chuu would be absent due to health reasons.

Chuu, however, appeared before fans near the end of the February 12 concert, addressing them with an emotional message.

March 2022

Chuu won a partial injunction, with a new contract stipulating her getting 70% of revenue from her activities and BlockBerry Creative getting 30%.

LOONA, including Chuu, joined South Korean reality competition series Queendom 2, which aired from March 31 to June 2. The group won second place.

May 2022

On May 31, BlockBerry announced LOONA’s first world tour, LOONATHEWORLD. The tour ran from August to October, with stops in the United States and Mexico in August, Europe in September, and South Korea in October.

June 2022

On June 3, BlockBerry announced that Chuu would not be joining the LOONATHEWORLD tour, citing scheduling conflicts.

On June 20, LOONA made a full-group comeback with its special mini album Flip That, with a title track of the same name.

A few days after, on June 23, BlockBerry denied rumors that Chuu was leaving the group, threatening legal action.

August to September 2022

LOONA started its LOONATHEWORLD tour on August 1.

On August 23, Popstival, a music festival in Manila featuring K-pop and P-pop acts, announced LOONA as part of its lineup, adding that Chuu wouldn’t be able to join due to “prior commitments.”

LOONATHEWORLD went on from August to September in the US, Mexico, and Europe. Several LOONA members sat out various tour stops due to health issues. Fans raised concerns about the tight schedule of the tour and the apparent lack of rest for members between stops. 

On September 17, BlockBerry announced the South Korea stop of the tour set for October. A few days later, on the 21st, it followed up that Chuu wouldn’t be joining again due to scheduling conflicts.

October 2022

LOONATHEWORLD ended with a stop in Seoul on October 15 and 16.

At the end of the concert’s second day, Hyunjin told fans that she hoped they wouldn’t forget that LOONA would always have 12 members.

On October 21, LOONA visited the Philippines for the first time, joining Popstival. Aside from Chuu, Haseul and Choerry also didn’t make it due to health concerns.

November 2022

On November 25, BlockBerry announced the removal of Chuu from the group, claiming she was “abusing her power” against staff.

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Chuu denied the allegation on November 28. “As I have not received any contact regarding this series of situations or know anything about them, I’m currently grasping the situation, but what I’m sure of is that I haven’t done anything that would be shameful to my fans,” a Soompi translation of her statement read. 

On the same day, JTBC’s Entertainment News Team reported that nine LOONA members – HeeJin, HaSeul, YeoJin, Kim Lip, JinSoul, Choerry, Yves, Go Won, and Olivia Hye – have filed injunctions to suspend their contracts with BlockBerry, citing breach of mutual trust. The agency quickly denied this.

The said members became noticeably absent from the group’s social media platforms since the report surfaced.

December 2022

LOONA Union, a group formed by LOONA fans, posted on December 5 an open letter to BlockBerry, demanding a formal explanation until December 7 regarding the issues on Chuu’s removal, the suspected contract stipulations of the remaining members, and their apparent overwork – or else fans hold a boycott.

On December 7, instead of an explanation, BlockBerry confirmed to Korean media its preparations for a LOONA comeback. LOONA’s social media accounts subsequently posted a teaser on December 11, announcing a January 3 release.

The fan boycott pushed through.

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On December 22, BlockBerry announced that the January comeback, dubbed The Origin Album, had been postponed “indefinitely.”

“After taking the opinions of many people including Orbits into consideration, we have decided that LOONA’s comeback activities would be meaningless when various concerns about the members’ circumstances are not yet sorted out,” BlockBerry Creative said in their statement as translated by Soompi.

Preorders for the album were drastically low compared to LOONA’s previous albums, running at 531 combined on K-pop stores Ktown4u and Synnara as of midnight of December 22. Preorders for the group’s previous album Flip That were at least 25,000.

January 2023

LOONA members Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, and Choerry won their respective injunctions to suspend their exclusive contracts with BlockBerry, South Korean media reported on January 13.

“While the four members had been keeping a contract with the same terms as Chuu’s, the other five members had some of the contract terms changed one to two years ago, and the court did not view the changed terms to be unjust enough to warrant terminating these contracts,” Seoul Economic Daily reported.

February 2023

On February 1, Korean media reported that BlockBerry had submitted a petition to the Korea Entertainment Management Association (CEMA) and Korea Entertainment Producers Association to ban Chuu from entertainment activities in South Korea.

Chuu slammed her former agency’s bid on February 2, saying it was “exhausting and disappointing.”

On February 3, Hyunjin and Vivi followed suit in seeking the suspension of their contracts with BlockBerry.

March 2023

LOONA as an 11-member group held their concert in Japan on March 3. Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, and Choerry still participated despite the suspension of their contracts with BlockBerry.

The four members then signed exclusive contracts with Modhaus on March 17. The agency was founded by former LOONA creative director Jaden Jeong and is home to K-pop group tripleS.

The agency then launched the ARTMS project on March 31, featuring the four members.

April 2023

On April 4, CEMA dismissed BlockBerry’s February petition for “insufficient” evidence.

On April 7, newly-formed agency ATRP announced that it had signed an exclusive contract with Chuu.

May 2023

On May 9, Hyunjin and Vivi won a partial injunction in their bid to suspend their contracts with BlockBerry.

June 2023

Hyunjin and Vivi signed exclusive contracts with CTDENM, the brand new agency announced on June 11.

On June 16, Haseul, Yeojin, Yves, Go Won, and Olivia Hye won their respective injunctions to suspend their exclusive contracts with BlockBerry.

The Seoul High Court’s Fifth Civil Cases Division ruled in favor of the five members, citing “a problem with BlockBerry’s transferring of exclusive contracts to Japanese agency Universal Japan without the written consent of the members,” Seoul Economic Daily reported.

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On June 20, Modhaus announced that Haseul had signed with the agency and joined the ARTMS project.

July 2023

Yeojin, Go Won, and Olivia Hye (now known as Hyeju) joined Hyunjin and Vivi in CTDENM on July 5.

On July 6, Yves announced her plans of going solo, adding that she was still considering her options on a new agency.

Kim Lip, Jinsoul, and Choerry revived the old LOONA subunit Odd Eye Circle and released the mini album Version Up on July 12, with Air Force One as its title track.

During a press event on the album’s release, Kim Lip clarified that LOONA has not disbanded, saying the members were open to possibilities on their return as a full group.

Hyunjin, Yeojin, Vivi, Go Won, and Hyeju then launched their new group, Loossemble, on July 31.

September 2023

Loossemble released their eponymous mini album on September 15, featuring the title track Sensitive.

October 2023

Chuu on October 18 released her first mini album Howl, with a title track of the same name.

Haseul then released her latest single Plastic Candy on October 26.

Heejin followed suit with her first mini album K on October 31, with the title track Algorithm.

February 2024

Chuu released her latest single Chocolate on February 13.

ARTMS on February 28 announced the release of their first full album Dall on May 31, with a rollout of singles from March to May.

March 2024

Yves announced on March 13 that she had signed with PAIX PER MIL. – Rappler.com

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Christa Escudero

Christa Escudero is a digital communications specialist for Rappler.