A recent investigation carried out by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MEXT) has cleared MOMOLAND of all “sajaegi” accusations.
Note: “Sajaegi” is the act of manipulating music chart rankings, usually by artificially inflating album sales numbers by purchasing (or outsourcing the purchase of) large volumes of albums.
The group was first accused of “sajaegi” by netizens in February when their 3rd mini-album “GREAT!” sold 8,261 copies in one day. The sudden increase in sales raised suspicions because the album was released on January 3, and sold around 5,000 copies that month.
Their agency (Duble Kick Entertainment) responded to the accusations, clarifying that the sudden jump in sales was due to Japanese fans buying the album after MOMOLAND revealed their plans to promote in Japan.
“The increase in album sales on February 12 was due to an increase in demand from Japanese fans and other fans overseas, after the official announcement of the group’s Japanese promotions.” — Duble Kick Entertainment
Netizens, however, still had their doubts. Due to the heavy scrutiny MOMOLAND was under, the Hanteo Chart requested a formal investigation be carried out by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, claiming that “it would have a negative impact on the music industry as a whole if the allegations were not clarified.”
Hanteo Chart data shows that “GREAT!” sold 8,261 copies in one day, causing it to jump to the 1st place ranking on Hanteo’s real-time charts on February 12.
Because of the investigation, the members of MOMOLAND were unable to enjoy their success. The group looked doubtful and stressed in moments that should be filled with joy, like winning the #1 spot on a music show.
To protect their artist from further backlash, Duble Kick Entertainment publicly released the invoice evidence submitted for investigation, showing payment for the pressing of more albums.
Duble Kick representatives have clarified that album order requests came in from a Japanese corporation on February 2, as well as on February 6, in order for the “GREAT!” album to be used as official merchandise for MOMOLAND’s upcoming Japanese promotions.
After months of deliberation and investigation, a representative from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism stated to E Daily that the evidence they had was sufficient to clear MOMOLAND and their agency of suspicion, and the investigation was likely over.
“Proof of album payment has been submitted by the Japanese side. The Hanteo chart, who submitted the complaint, requested for additional data, but unless new suspicions are raised, the investigation is likely to be finalized.” — MEXT representative
Now that the investigation has seemingly come to a close, hopefully MOMOLAND can move on from the controversy as well.