“Produce 101” PD Claims In 2nd Trial That Manipulation Was Due To Pressure Of Success, Not Bribery

The second trial regarding manipulation in Mnet’s “Produce 101” series was held on March 23.

The Seoul Central District Courts held the second trial at 2 p.m. KST on March 23 regarding producing director (PD) Ahn Joon Young, chief producer (CP) Kim Yong Bum, PD Lee Min Kyung, who are charged with manipulating text voting results, and agency representatives who are accused of offering bribes to them.

All defendants in the case were in attendance at the trial. It had originally been scheduled for February 21, but the trial was delayed twice due to the courts closing from public health concerns over COVID-19.

During the second trial, PD Ahn and the other staff members of the “Produce 101” series admitted to the majority of the charges made against them, but denied that they had accepted any bribes. PD Ahn Joon Young’s lawyer stated, “The results were manipulated due to feeling pressure about the program’s success and ratings, it was not because he received any bribes from agencies.”

Legal representatives for the agency representatives charged also denied the bribery charges and stated, “Though they did entertain [the staff], they did not talk about the show in that setting,” “They were just meeting as friends,” and “Though it was mentioned that they have trainees on the show, there were no comments made to treat the trainees in a favorable light.”

When prosecutors were asked why these specific agencies had been singled out of the many agencies that participated in the “Produce 101” series, they responded, “We looked into them based on evidence such as phone conversations they had with the staff. Other agencies communicated with the staff as well but we focused on them as they had trainees who made it to the final debut lineup. For evidence, we have some of the phone conversations with the agencies.”

In response, PD Ahn Joon Young’s lawyer stated, “Although it is true that [Ahn Joon Young] had drinks with certain agency representatives, they did not discuss the program while they were together,” and “The content of the phone conversations that were submitted as evidence by the prosecution is exaggerated as they were attempts by the agencies to brag,” and firmly denied the charges that he manipulated results because of bribery.

Finally, the trial ended with the judge stating, “The defendants claim that they would meet up out of friendship. If you have proof that the defendants met up often with people who were unrelated to the ‘Produce 101’ series, please submit it,” after the prosecution stated that the claim that PD Ahn Joon Young met with other agencies who weren’t part of the “Produce 101” series was true.

In the first trial, legal representatives for PD Ahn Joon Young and CP Kim Young Bum argued that voting manipulation had been conducted due to trainees wanting to leave, and they had also denied the bribery charges.

The third trial is set to be held on April 7.

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