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Prosecutors seek jail term for Mnet ‘Idol School’ producers over vote-rigging: Recommends Prison Sentence For Production Staff Of Mnet

mnet idol school production team to serve prison time

Prosecutors have demanded prison terms for the two executive producers of Mnet’s K-pop survival show, “Idol School,” Monday, for manipulating the voting results on the show.
In a hearing at the Seoul Central District Court in Seocho-gu, Southern Seoul, prosecutors called for a year-and-a-half prison sentence for the show’s chief producer (CP) Kim Tae-eun, and a year for his supervisor and the network’s production division head at the time, surnamed Kim.

The prosecution has submitted their recommended sentence in the ongoing trial of the production staff of Mnet’s competition reality show “Idol School” on charges of obstruction of business and fraud.

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TV Time - Idol School (TVShow Time)
Mnet’ idol school

Mnet’s Idol School

The CP of “Idol School” was indicted last July on charges of fraud and obstruction of business, including accepting 15 million won ($13,500) raised through voting messages for the show. The former head of the Mnet division in charge of the program was also charged as a conspirator.

“The charges against the defendants cannot be treated lightly as they have resulted in a sense of loss and deprivation to both the show’s participants and viewers,” the prosecution said. “However, we have taken into consideration the fact that the incidents only occurred during one season.”

“Idol School,” which aired on the cable channel from July to September of 2017, invited 41 trainees to compete for a chance to debut as part of a nine-member girl group. The participants were ranked at the end of each episode through text message-based votes from viewers.

The reality show faced vote-rigging allegations when the “Produce” series, another audition show on the network, featuring a similar format, came under investigation for taking bribes and manipulating the rankings of contestants.

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In July 2020, Kim Tae Eun and “Kim” were charged with obstruction of business and fraud.

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Mnet November Trial 2019

During their trial in November 2019, both defendants admitted to manipulating votes, but pleaded not guilty on the basis that their actions did not constitute a crime. Kim Tae Eun’s lawyer argued that the producers had adjusted the votes because the low viewership ratings and low amount of viewer participation meant that family and acquaintances’ votes were skewing the competition. The prosecution argued that their actions had resulted in a sense of loss and deprivation for both the contestants and the viewers and that the crime should not be taken lightly as a result. However, the prosecutors also added that it should be taken into account that the manipulation had not taken across multiple seasons like the “Produce” series.

The final hearing in this case will take place on June 10.

Mnet made headlines with its audition program’s vote-rigging scandal in 2019. Ahn Joon-young, the producer of the mega-hit “Produce” series was sentenced to two years in prison last month, after admitting to manipulating the voting results of all seasons of the show. The series’ chief producer was sentenced to 20 months.


During the hearing, the producer admitted to all charges and asked for leniency. “I committed a huge mistake. However, it was not for my personal gain, but to prevent losses for the company. So there was no bribery involved,” he said. “I’m sorry to everyone who was hurt by this case. I will reflect (on my deeds) for the rest of my life.”

The former division head, surnamed Kim, however, pleaded innocent, claiming that he did not know about the vote-rigging nor did he receive any reports from the producer on the matter.

“As the supervisor at the time, I do regret that such a thing happened. And I feel a sense of burden to think that I could have prevented it if I had been a little more attentive,” he said. “But, I do not believe that I acted beyond the law.”

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