CJ ENM, the South Korean entertainment giant, is facing public criticism for rehiring producers who were previously convicted of manipulating audience votes in popular audition programs such as "Produce 101" and "Idol School."

In April last year, it was revealed that Ahn Joon-young, a producer involved in vote manipulation for all four "Produce 101" series, had returned to Mnet, CJ ENM's music business division. Ahn served a two-year prison sentence before being released in November 2021. Kim Yong-bum, another producer convicted of the same charges, was released in July 2021 and returned to work at CJ ENM's Global Music Task Force in February.

On the 10th, news broke that Kim Tae-eun, a producer who manipulated votes for "Idol School," had also returned to Mnet. CJ ENM confirmed Kim's reemployment, stating that he had received disciplinary action after serving his prison sentence and was currently working in the Mnet business division.

These rehiring decisions have led to public outcry and skepticism about the company's commitment to fairness and transparency in its audition programs. CJ ENM has apologized for disappointing those who were dissatisfied with the hiring decisions, admitting that it was a "wrong and inexcusable judgment."

Despite the controversies, Mnet continues to launch audition programs like "Girls Planet 999: The Girls' War" and "Boys Planet," which are under constant scrutiny for vote fairness. Recently, Mnet had to clarify rumors that it had manipulated a contestant's performance video on "Boys Planet" to boost their popularity.

This incident highlights the public's distrust of Mnet's audition programs. CJ ENM promotes itself as a leading force in the K-Pop industry, but its ethical decisions seem to be at odds with that image. With a track record of harboring criminals, it remains to be seen whether CJ ENM is truly qualified to evaluate the dreams and futures of aspiring K-Pop stars.