On January 14, the Seoul Central District Court held the second pretrial hearing for the “Produce 101” series manipulation case.

The case involves three CJ ENM Mnet officials, including director (PD) Ahn Joon Young, who is suspected of manipulating the voting results of the “Produce” series, and five representatives in the entertainment industry facing charges of violating the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act through bribery.

Ahn Joon Young and all other defendants were not present at the Seoul Central District Court today as the defendants are not obligated to attend pretrial hearings. Instead, their legal representatives and the prosecution were in attendance.

During the hearing, Han Dong Chul, who had been the chief producer (CP) of “Produce 101,” and staff member referred to as “Park,” who had been the main writer, were selected as witnesses. Han Dong Chul and Park are suspected of being involved in rigging the debut group of the first season.

The prosecution also requested season one contestant and singer Lee Hae In to appear as a witness, but the summoning was delayed as her lawyer stated that she would make her decision to appear at the next hearing.

Ahn Joon Young and chief producer Kim Yong Bum generally acknowledged the prosecution’s charges, but expressed their intention to fight legal battles over whether their charges were unlawful. Their lawyer said, “We generally acknowledge the basic relations of the charges, but we will be making legal claims.” The lawyer also added that although the producers did indeed make wrong choices for the success of the program, they had no intention of committing crimes.

In response, the court pointed out that it did not seem as if the producers acknowledged their crimes any further. They also stated, “Right after acknowledging the charges, you said that you cannot be guilty, but whether you deny the charges and plead not guilty, you need to decide on a strategy. If there is a significant argument, it can be dealt with, but if you argue in this manner, it will only cloud our judgement.”

The first hearing with the witness interrogation involving chief producer Han Dong Chul and writer Park will be held on February 7.

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