Outrage over ‘slave contracts’ for Korean stars

23 Jan


SEOUL – BEHIND all the glitter and glamour of the Korean Wave, or hallyu, many popular girl and boy groups here are struggling to assert their rights against powerful talent management companies.

Many of these celebrities and wannabes are bound by long-term contracts – some lasting over a decade – that also force them to put in long hours on punishing schedules. Some women are said to be forced to offer sex services to sponsors.

Several cases of such ‘slave contracts’ have made headlines, threatening to put a dent in South Korea’s reputation as its pop groups and drama shows continue to rack up successes around the world.

They have prompted the country’s government to launch a strong crackdown on the industry, with Parliament seeking to enact new laws next month to force all entertainment agencies to register. The authorities have also been clamping down on agencies, as part of efforts to uncover and remedy the “slave contracts”.

Last year, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said more than half of teenage celebrities were not being schooled properly, and were being forced to wear revealing clothing or to work more than 40hours a week.

Things may get better. Almost 700 entertainers have been allowed to rewrite their contracts with the top 30 agencies. S.M Entertainment, which said it revised most of its contracts to cut the duration and mitigate penalties for terminating them, was let off with a severe warning.

Some celebrities, however, say that such cases are a minority. Singer BoA and singer Choi Si Won of group Super Junior have said they were never treated badly.

Added the Korea Entertainment Producers Association: “Hallyu was not the brainchild of slave contracts, and we wish for the music industry not to be slandered by a few cases of contracts gone awry.”

By Kim Ji Hyun
FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Source: THE STRAITS TIMES, Saturday, January 22 2011.
Written by: Kim Ji Hyun
Shared by: [YY] @ 2s1family
PLEASE TAKE OUT WITH FULL CREDITS.

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