South Korean Lesbian Club Shades Dancer Aiki And Her Crew “Hook” Over Show Cancellation, Now Faces Defamation Lawsuit

ESteem Entertainment claimed, in an official statement, that neither Aiki nor HOOK has been booked in the first place.

On June 25 (KST), a South Korean lesbian club NEWFLOW took to its official social media platform and claimed that Street Woman Fighter star Aiki and the members of her crew, HOOK“canceled [a] booking on the day of the performance, after having signed a contract and received the payment.”

Korean dance crew HOOK | @hook_realbeat/Instagram

The club’s Instagram post, now deleted, detailed the process leading up to the “sudden cancellation.”

A partial screenshot of NEWFLOW’s statement on Instagram. | @newflow22/Instagram

Hello, this is NEWFLOW. We regret to make this sudden announcement. We have signed the booking contract, sent the full payment, and got the permission to promote the event prior to marketing the event. But all members of Aiki’s HOOK crew reached out earlier today and canceled the booking on the day of the performance, after having signed a contract and received the payment.

We’re honestly so bummed that the crew decided to cancel on the day of the performance without reaching out to us to discuss first, when we already paid each crew member. Having to deliver this news makes us extremely upset and disappointed…

… We’ve been promised again and again that the performance will take place. And, after getting the permission to mention the crew being included in the lineup, we’ve been promoting HOOK’s appearance since Friday. But today, on the day of the performance—despite the promises, the contract, and the full payment—we’ve been told that the booking has been canceled…

— NEWFLOW

Based on the claims made by the club, Korean online communities shaded the dancer and her crew for “power tripping.”  When speculators hinted at the unverified possibility of the booking getting cancelled due to the nature of the venue, some online comments even attacked Aiki for “queerbaiting for clout” but “being homophobic” to perform at a lesbian club.

| theqoo

  • “Haha. [Aiki] has been queerbaiting with her ‘lesbian concept’ since SNL. She’s something else.”
  • “Wow. It’s incredibly rude of her to cancel the booking on the day of the performance. Also, if it does turn out that she actually cancelled because NEWFLOW is a lesbian club… That would be even worse because Aiki has been queerbaiting for so long. What an as*hole move.”
  • “She has been queerbaiting for clout but then she’s being homophobic now? LMAO. Even if this isn’t the reason, she’s over the line for thinking it’s acceptable to cancel a booking same day.”
  • “Queerbaits, of course. Haha. Why am I not surprised?”

When Aiki’s agency, ESteem Entertainment, took note of the backlash online, it also took to Instagram Stories and shared an official statement denying all points being made by the club.

Aiki | iMBC

The agency clarified that while it is true HOOK received an offer from an entertainment booking agent (and not the club itself) to perform at NEWFLOW, the offer was turned down within an hour after confirming that Aiki’s schedule would not work.

A screenshot of ESteem Entertainment’s statement on Instagram Stories. | @esteementertainment/Instagram

Hello, this is ESteem Entertainment. We would like to comment on the situation regarding our artist Aiki’s booking with the club NEWFLOW.

In the evening of Friday, June 24, we received a booking offer for the said event from an entertainment booking agent. Once we received the offer, we reviewed it and considered accepting. We eventually decided, however, that we won’t be able to accept the offer because Aiki had other schedules booked before and after the event. At this point, we also found out that the booking agent provided us with the incorrect information regarding the venue and the event. So we declined the offer within the  first hour following the initial communication with the booking agent.

— ESteem Entertainment

ESteem Entertainment also made it clear that “neither Aiki nor any member of the crew received any payment for booking the performance.” Adding on the fact that the club has proceeded to promote the performance using HOOK’s logo and pictures of the dance crew after the booking agent has been told no, ESteem Entertainment warned of “legal charges for the spread of false information and defamation.”

Club NEWFLOW in Hongdae, Seoul. | @gslighting_/NAVER BLOG

We would also like to make it clear that the claims of the club having signed contracts with all members of the crew and having paid them are not true at all. The said ‘contracts’ are signed between the booking agent and the club and without any prior arrangement with ESteem Entertainment. Neither Aiki nor any member of the crew has been involved in this contract signing process. Additionally, we have not approved any financial transaction made by the club—because, again, there has not been any prior arrangement with ESteem Entertainment.

We would like to emphasize the fact that both Aiki and ESteem Entertainment clearly declined the booking and that the club and the booking agent proceeded to sign contracts and make payments between themselves without our consent.

Regarding the commercial use of HOOK’s logo without permission, we confirm that it is a result of the lack of communication between the club and the booking agent. And as for the false information being spread by the club, we’ll pursue legal action and press charges of defamation on behalf of Aiki and all the members of HOOK.

HOOK is dedicated to bringing the best performances to stage. Please continue to share love and support for Aiki and the crew. Thank you.

— ESteem Entertainment

Following the firm denial from Aiki’s agency, NEWFLOW—under a different, private Instagram handle—came forward with another somewhat-incoherent statement, still blaming the dancer and the crew for “changing their minds after initially confirming the booking.”

From the second round of claims, the club also insisted that it has spoken with ESteem Entertainment (and not the entertainment booking agent) in an hour-long phone call and that their understanding of what happened “greatly contradicts” the club’s.

A screenshot of NEWFLOW’s second statement on Instagram, under a different handle. | @continue_789/Instagram

Hello, this is NF…

… We would like to point out that we spoke to not only the booking agent but also the crew’s agency for over an hour over the phone. A lot of the claims made in ESteem Entertainment’s statement contradicts what we’ve heard and recorded. As we recall from the conversation with the agency, Aiki’s HOOK crew confirmed booking and then changed their minds to cancel. We spoke for an hour or so around 7…

… though disappointing to the fans and the clubbers, we’re going to soon share a more detailed account of what happened. And we promise there is nothing false about the claims we’re making.

We have a lot to resolve, so we’ll be closed for the night. We’re sincerely sorry for causing concern. We plan on refunding the entry tickets as promptly as possible.

— NEWFLOW

Though NEWFLOW apologized for “the controversy” and promised to refund the club-goers who purchased tickets to see HOOK, it added that it will continue to share the details of what happened in hopes of clearing its name.

Neither Aiki nor ESteem Entertainment has responded to the second statement.

| @hook_realbeat/Instagram

Meanwhile, now seeing the series of events as a giant mistake on the booking agent’s part, Aiki fans are demanding NEWFLOW to apologize for “trying to blame the faulty contract” on the dancer and her crew.

| theqoo

  • “Apologize to Aiki and HOOK first, instead of babbling away with excuses. So good at playing the victim.”
  • “Figure it out with the booking agent. Apologize to Aiki and HOOK.”
  • “What do they mean they talked to the agency as well? The booking fell through after they talked to the agency?”
  • “STOP TRYING TO BLAME IT ON AIKI. LMAO.”
  • “So why did they word the first statement like it was all Aiki’s fault? She got so much hate for it, I feel terrible for her… Apologize HOOK and then figure out how to resolve the matter. Also, stop calling it Aiki’s HOOK. That’s not the crew’s name.”
  • “Well, usually, venues would announce a booking cancellation like ‘due to an unforeseeable circumstance,’ and not like ‘the artist broke their promise on the day of.’ The club is getting heat because it keeps involving ‘Aiki’s HOOK’ when the crew literally had no say.”
Source: Hankyung, Topstarnews and theqoo (1), (2), (3) and (4)