Details About Artists Accused of ‘Sajaegi’
It is already well known that the competition in the South Korean music industry nowadays is extremely fierce. Various big names of idol groups and singers are competing to release the best songs and try to master the main music charts in South Korea.
However, in the midst of competition, suddenly new names have emerged that have managed to slide to the top position of the charts. This certainly makes the public wonder, especially when they succeed in shifting idol groups that are on the rise and have a large fandom. One of the things that keep coming up in K-Pop is something called Sajaegi.
In this article, Channel-Korea will provide you with a detailed rundown of everything about Sajaegi, or chat manipulation in K-Pop. Stay tuned and let’s learn more about the artists accused of Sajaegi.
What is Sajaegi?
Apparently the term Sajaegi is used to designate a specific practice to inflate sales of digital songs or chart manipulation, but nowadays it is used more generally in the meaning that a group or singer with their company are buying huge quantity of copies of their own albums in order to get higher on the charts, or to have a better chance at winning first place on various South Korean music programs.
The accusation of sajaegi has been thrown everywhere like it is anyone’s business, even though those in the industry say it is impossible. It will surprise you to learn that the accusation of chart manipulation usually arises when newer groups and singers are seen as threatening to popular groups and singers. And sajaegi is often used to explain facts that do not really require an explanation.
Artists Accused of Sajaegi
Here are some of the K-Pop idols and singers who have been involved in rumors of Sajaegi.
When his song suddenly became very popular, South Korean musician Shaun drew the attention of K-Pop fans. The singer allegedly got success in Korean music charts, in an unusual way. The issue really bothered many fans, especially fans of the idol group that had just released the album. Shaun’s song titled “Way Back Home” suddenly rose to the top of South Korea’s music charts, beating popular idol groups, such as Twice, Blackpink, Mamamoo, and Apink and took the #1 position on the music charts.
Shaun and his agency Limez Entertainment were accused of having done chart manipulation, or Sajaegi, in order to be able to take the top place on the chart. Shaun shared his thoughts on overcoming popular idol groups and taking over the music charts. He said that it was unreal for him, something like that actually happened in his life and he is still stunned.
Shaun also explained that he is not guilty of the sajaegi accusations. He said that there was no manipulation at all. He also said, “Even my close peers were suspicious, but the agency is not the size that could do sajaegi. The people I work with have been with me for 4-5 years.” After being accused of sajaegi, Shaun revealed that he has been avoiding people and became a homebody since the controversy. He is trying his best to be an artist who can prove himself with music.
In 2015, the popular South Korean boy group Bangtan Sonyeondan (also known as Bangtan Boys, or BTS) also has been accused of sajaegi after reportedly the group outselling K-Pop icon BIGBANG on the physical album charts.
The accusations happened when physical sales of BTS’ new album 화양연화 (In the Mood for Love Part 1) had beat BIGBANG’s Made Series-m according to the ranking of the Hanteo Chart.
Controversial discussions of possible sajaegi where BTS’ company, Big Hit Entertainment buys albums in large quantities to inflate the official numbers, have arisen among netizens because it is an extremely rare accomplishment for an idol group from a small company. Big Hit Entertainment claimed, “Big Hit Entertainment doesn’t have the resources to do such a thing.”
BTS began their music show performances after releasing their album with their title song “I Need U” which swept charts shortly after the release. In addition, they have taken fans behind the scenes of the jacket shoot and music video filming and have hinted at the possible release of the 19+ version of their music videos. Meanwhile, BIGBANG began their promotions shortly after BTS starting on South Korean popular music program Inkigayo and achieved a perfect all-kill with their track “Loser” after it’s release on May 1st, 2015.
K-Pop’s hottest new girl group Momoland has experienced a real Bboom Bboom in popularity lately. However, the group has been at the center of a controversial issue for allegedly faking their album sales and buying the popularity they have just achieved with their successful single, “Bboom Bboom.” The nine-member Korean girl group Momoland was formed by the agency DubleKick Entertainment. The seven members of the group, Hyebin, Yeonwoo, Jane, Nayun, JooE, Ahin, and Nancy were scouted through the reality show Finding Momoland and debuted on November 10th, 2016, and a year later, Daisy and Taeha were added to the group.
After releasing their third album GREAT with the title song “Bboom Bboom,” Momoland was accused of plagiarism scandal involving “Bboom Bboom”‘s similarity to Russian group Serebro‘s 2013 indie hit “Mi Mi Mi.” The album also sold an incredible amount in one day. More than 8,200 copies were sold, a number that is more in line with popular boy groups.
The song then had peaked at the #4 position on the Billboard World Charts and continued to climb the Korean charts, the album also hit highs of number 3 on the Gaon Chart. The music video of “Bboom Bboom” has smashed the hundred million views on YouTube. As a result, the massive surge in sales and subsequent jump in charts led many people to suspect that the group has done sajaegi, or chart manipulation. However, South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (MCST) claimed that based on their first investigation, Momoland is innocent of the sajaegi accusations for their 3rd mini-album Great!
In 2014, boy group B1A4 was also accused of sajaegi when they released their 2nd album Who Am I. The allegations were made due to the odd increase in album sales during the end of their promotional period.
People speculated that during the time of their promotional period, B1A4 had sold a total of 67,186 albums, which the accusers stated is not a realistic number for the group when comparing it to their past album sale records and the album sales of bigger groups. Although B1A4 fans argued that it is due to the new album having different covers and fans buying multiple covers, the accusers said that their numbers are still not realistic when compared to big groups who have released multiple covers of albums.
In 2017, many netizens were shocked due to the fact that rookie girl group LABOUM’s latest track “Hwi Hwi” won over veteran singer IU and Oh hyuk’s collab song. The total music video views of LABOUM ”Hwi Hwi” was also significantly lower compared to IU.
While it does seem a bit peculiar on the surface, KBS explained about the rumor regarding their latest win and said that the ranking every Friday was decided by the sum of all the data from the week before and confirmed that LABOUM’s data was not a problem. Music Bank‘s #1 is decided by 65% digital sales, 5% album sales, 20% broadcast points, and 10% viewer votes. LABOUM was able to win over IU by beating her on album sales.