Boom of One-Person Agencies in Entertainment: The Warning from Kang Daniel’s Case

In the entertainment industry, there has been a recent increase in the number of one-person agencies. Numerous celebrities, such as BLACKPINK’s Jisoo, Jennie, Lisa, ASTRO’s Rocky, Pentagon’s Kino, and actors Lee Je-hoon, Son Seok-gu, and Lee Jae-wook, have formed their own agencies in order to maintain control over their careers and receive fair compensation.

Despite his success as a solo artist and CEO of Connect Entertainment, Kang Daniel has recently become embroiled in a legal dispute with a major shareholder of his agency, bringing attention to the potential risks of one-person agencies.

kang daniel

On the 20th of the previous month, a representative for Kang Daniel announced that they had lodged a criminal complaint with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency against major shareholder A. The charges included forgery of private documents, embezzlement, breach of trust, infringement of the Information and Communications Network Act, and computer fraud.

Last year, it was discovered by the legal team that A had forged the corporate seal of Kang Daniel’s name in December 2022, in order to sign a distribution contract worth 10 billion KRW without his knowledge. Furthermore, it was uncovered that A had also transferred 2 billion KRW from the agency’s account overseas and falsely labeled it as business income.

Kang Daniel’s representatives stated that they had spent over a year trying to find a solution that would cause minimal harm to the artists, staff, and third-party partners who had supported them like family. Despite their efforts, they ultimately reached the decision to take legal action against the individual in question, which was a difficult choice to make.

kang daniel

Due to the company’s financial struggles, Connect Entertainment has experienced a significant number of staff resignations and layoffs. Additionally, the company has sold its office building and corporate vehicles. The departure of artists such as Yuju, Chancellor, and the dance team We Dem Boyz, who were previously under exclusive contracts with Connect Entertainment, has also contributed to the company’s current state. Despite previous efforts to expand by recruiting new artists, Connect Entertainment is now facing the possibility of shutting down.

The Connect Entertainment case involving Kang Daniel serves as a clear example of the potential dangers that come with running an independent agency, and also offers insight into the advantages and disadvantages of one-person agencies.

Individual agencies offer notable benefits, enabling celebrities to independently oversee their careers and participate in imaginative and self-directed endeavors. They have the freedom to select desirable projects and operate without the limitations imposed by agency agreements. Additionally, they have the opportunity to receive a greater portion of the earnings, making it a desirable choice from an economic standpoint.

Having a well-structured one-person agency system can be an excellent choice if it maximizes brand value and achieves great success through independent activities. On the other hand, inadequate management and risk control can have fatal consequences.

Choi Ji-woo, Lee Seung-gi, and Kim Tae-hee previously ran their own one-person agencies, but ultimately decided to rejoin larger agencies due to ineffective management and a lack of risk management. They now operate with the resources and support of traditional agencies while also taking advantage of the benefits of one-person agencies.

Kang Daniel with his puppy-like charm

The lawsuit filed by Kang Daniel for “100 Billion KRW”highlights the significant consequences that arise when the downsides of operating a one-person agency actually materialize.

With the global expansion of K-pop and K-drama, the entertainment industry is experiencing rapid growth and transformation. In such a dynamic environment, celebrities will inevitably pursue their own individual paths. However, Kang Daniel’s situation serves as a reminder that these paths may not always be without obstacles.

With a meticulous examination of the pros and cons of solo agencies and diligent preparation and strategizing, such agencies have the potential to offer celebrities the ultimate freedom, opportunities, and triumph.

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