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Issues with the Korean Drama Industry

December 10, 2015

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So, this is a video we’ve been wanting to do for a while now. A couple of times we talked about the dark sides of the Kpop Industry, including being overworked, as well as being screwed into slave contracts. We’ve kind of stepped away from kpop since then, but now we’d like to draw our attention to the Korean Drama industry, and just how evil and insane it is as well.

Now, while we didn’t act in any Korean Dramas, we did have a few experience with Korean film crews, on just a small scale, and it soured us quite a bit, to the point that we pretty much turn down almost all offers to do Korean TV now unless we’re protected so that we don’t film in the same conditions that most Korean TV shows film. We’re not asking for limos and jars full of only blue jellybeans, but we do ask for three meals a day and to not film more than 12 hours at a time. Before we had these demands, though, and our few tiny experiences were enough for us to know that Korean TV production is a bit too poisonous and didn’t give a shit about the wellbeing of anyone involved, so long as the video is finished.

Story time: a few years ago we did a video shoot for some kimchi refrigerators. We were supposed to do five different shoots in five different locations. On the day of the fourth shoot, they decided that they wanted to shoot two episodes in one day. To do so, we’d have to start earlier and film longer. We agreed beforehand to be paid a daily rate, and so now they wanted to get as much bang for their buck as possible. That day they picked us up at around 5AM. We got in the car and drove for roughly three hours to the location, somewhere between Seoul and Busan. They said we had to film quickly, so we didn’t have time to stop for breakfast.

Us: But, hey, we’re hungry, it’s first thing in the morning. Do you have any snacks or anything in the car?
Them: Nope. Gotta keep driving.
Us: Well, we’ve been driving for a while now, can we stop to use the bathroom, and while we’re at it pick up some snacks.
Them: Sorry, we don’t have time for that.
Us: Ok then, will we eat when we get to the location?
Them: Yeah yeah, sure sure.

But that was a lie. We drove up to the location, the cameraman jumped out and started setting up while we went to the washroom. When we came back they said it’s time to film.

Us: What? We just got here. We didn’t even eat yet. We’re starving and exhausted. I’ll need at least a coffee to wake up.
Them: No time. Start filming. We’ll eat after.
Us: But we’re going to film here for a couple of hours. I can’t start the day on an empty stomach and go five freaking hours without eating.
Them: I’m sorry, but that’s what we have to do. Let’s go.

Fuck that. No, we didn’t go. I told the guy in charge we’ll film once we’re taken care of. I didn’t want a full course meal in Downton Abbey, but I needed something! A sandwich at the convenience store, anything, dammit! The guy in charge didn’t agree, and reminded us that he’s not hired to be our father to take care of us; he’s there to get the video done. So I told him to do the video without us.

We waited in the car for 45 minutes while the other car went out and got food for us. Fortunately the driver brought food for the other people on set, and everyone got a chance to eat. Oddly, though, nobody else protested beforehand, but nobody turned down the food when it came. Sure, we were seen as assholes thinking only about ourselves. Everyone is making sacrifices! Everyone has it tough! Why would we want to be treated better than everyone else? But that wasn’t the case. I wanted everyone to be treated well, but just because everyone accepts shitty working conditions doesn’t mean I’m going to do the same.

Afterwards, the guy in charge was terrible to us, threatened to not pay us, was difficult on set and scowling, and wouldn’t talk to us directly. Fine by me. Maybe in the future he’ll learn to schedule in time for people to be taken care of. Or maybe he’ll just refuse to work with foreigners ever again. Hell if I know.

I definitely sympathize for the Han Ye-seul for leaving mid-shooting of her drama, and I’m appalled that so many people complained that what she did hurt the drama. Why are people talking about the drama as if it’s more sacred than people’s health and wellbeing? Why are people treating dramas as if they’re above treating people decently? I’m appalled whenever I hear about actors fainting, but I’m more appalled when people praise them for toughing it out instead of standing up for themselves. Stop telling actors “fighting!” when you hear about how terribly they’re getting treated. Stop telling them to keep on being abused and worked almost to death, literally almost to death, so you could be entertained. What you should start doing is start telling them to get the fuck out of there and start taking care of themselves. We should care more about their health as people than we care about their portrayal of characters.

Since we’ve just about stopped working with Korean production companies, we have done some work with film crews from other countries, and we’ve also spoken with friends that work in the industry in countries that we haven’t worked with. All of them are appalled by Korea’s work conditions. And though that doesn’t make their country’s tv industry shining beacons of integrity and ethics, I think we can all acknowledge that the Korean Drama industry is sick and ethically bankrupt. I don’t want to support it anymore.

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Issues with the Korean Drama Industry

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  1. My fiance worked in the industry for some time and according to what he told me, things look a bit better in my country. First of all, there are no extremely long days; if something is not finished in time by whatever reason, it usually ends up with the deadline pushed further. Second, no overworking the actors. He said that, actually the most important thing in the whole production is the actor himself and everything around is just adjusted according to him. So, if they need more time to prepare for the role, they got it. Sometimes even the scripts get adjusted according to the actors. And the scripts are ready way before the filming. There are no last minute changes or viewers’ opinions peeking through. Set crew can eat and rest properly during breaks, and there are a lot of tea/coffee/smoking breaks. There are no contracts for crew members though (most of the time) and there are no overtime pay but usually there’s no overtime work in the first place. He said that everything mostly go by word of mouth, business-wise, so not paying the crew or treating them inhumane is at minimum. And if you mistreat your workers or actors? You can kiss goodbye future job opportunities as a production company. Because your company image is everything if you want to remain in the industry. As a downside to all these: no attention paid at safety. He told me that if someone gets injured during filming, most probably it’s gonna get overlooked. But generally nobody cares about safety here, so it’s a day to day thing. Also, the wages for crew members are low, but again, it’s the reality of my country in many lines of business. I’m sure it’s not all flowers and sunshine all the time but it still sounds better. I wish we could do something about the situation in Korea though, because I think they’re just wasting a lot of talented people.

    1 year ago
  2. Coming from California and all those glittering Hollywood lights, I cab honestly say that even the lowest of the low people on the totem pole get treated better than that. Now, it wasn’t always like that. Truth be told, these kinds of conditions are why the performers formed unions that served to create a better work environment for everyone. For the most part though, all of the United States seems to try to regulate how many hours a person can work back to back and when we should be fed, etc. etc. I’m really bothered when I see a country so beloved and advanced seem so backwards in areas such as what Iwould consider to be basic common sense in my own country. It’s 2015 everywhere in the world but Korea at times and it’s something we definitely hope to see changed in the future for the better. It’s not as if they can’t be better, just perhaps that they aren’t quite there yet.

    1 year ago
  3. I remember in the beginning of running man Song Ji Hyo would fall asleep everywhere. In the middle of challenges on high towers they would find her curled into a ball passed out. They laughed and joked about it like it was cute but I thought.. “Is she ok?” Now I wonder if it was because she was filming dramas simultaneously – or perhaps if running man was just incredibly harsh giving none of them any down time. It also makes you wonder if Yoo Jae suk is human?? Infinity.. running man.. plus everything else he gets into, and he always powers through. How can they have any time for their families? :(

    1 year ago
    • oh yeah, Running man is really physical hard ><
      When i watched Family outing they usually go to sleep at 1-3 am and wakes up at 7-8am and i was thinking, that for me it's quite normal and why they get up so hard… but now i understand. One time Daesung's team lost and had to get up at ~5am to do a job, so Yoo Jaesuk with other older guys didn't wake up Dae, cause he knew how much he is tired after Bigbang's schedule. that was so sweet

      1 year ago
  4. I’m studying film producing in grad school, and the basic understanding here is that you have to have meals every six hours of work, and you have to have a twelve hour gap between ending production one day and starting it the next. That’s basically what will keep you safe with all the US film unions. Film work is already so stressful, I can’t imagine working without these guidelines! Once I had to make my crew have just 11 hours for turn around, and I felt terrible.

    1 year ago
  5. As a media student, I’ve had several lectures how these kind of shoots are so many kinds of wrong. Most of the time very illegal. Definitely think S. Korea needs a push for change. The good episodes of the drama show how talented writers can be, but they do not have room to grow. You can see the potential creativity in writers, directors, and actors. The desire of volume for minimal cost over value(which will probably cost more) sounds like the struggle.

    1 year ago
  6. I work in the industry here in LA, and I can definitely attest to the fact that there are moments similar to what you bring up in your video. Does it happen all the time? Technically, no. But it does happen often enough for it to be an issue.

    For instance, it’s not unheard of to receive scripts at the very last minute, even receiving line changes or new pages just before you’re about to step out in front of the camera. This is more common than you know, at least in TV.

    Also, our crews would easily be pushed to work 12-14+ hours in a day, were it not for financial penalties put in place by the unions (our one saving grace, for those of us who are fortunate to be in the union – non-union shows (of which there are many) are a different matter).

    And people are not treated well if they do complain. Just look up the backlash Katherine Heigl received several years ago when she complained on Letterman about having to work 17-hour days on “Grey’s Anatomy”. Pretty much everyone (in and outside of the industry) thought she was being a baby. In this industry (as I’m sure it is with many), it’s difficult to complain and stand your ground because there is a line of people waiting to take your spot, and you want to be hired again, for better or for worse. Business is business no matter where you go in the world, I guess.

    Unfortunately, the only thing that has really created any dialogue or reason for concern is tragedy. Back in the ’90s, there was an accident involving a camera person (Brent Hershman) who, after a 19-hour day on the set of “Pleasantville”, fell asleep at the wheel and was killed. This prompted many concerned news articles and even a documentary (“Who Needs Sleep?”, dir. Haskell Wexler) that called for stricter enforcement of the 12-hour work day on set. Having decent work hours and being able to get enough sleep/rest is still a source of concern in the film and TV industry.

    (Quick aside: I went to a screening of the documentary back in film school, and during the Q&A, there was a person in the audience who was in no way affiliated with the film industry, who seemed really confused by it all and asked, “Why are you trying to fight for a *12-HOUR* work day??? Why not 8?” … Why, indeed.)

    Most recently, the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones (who was killed after being struck by a train after neglectful producers had the crew set up on train tracks that were supposed to be permitted and closed off, but weren’t – oops!) has refueled the cause for safer working conditions on set in the US. Has it really changed things? Hard to say, but at least it’s still a part of the dialogue for now.

    I know I’m bringing up a lot of bummer stories, but this is the truth, and we are unfortunately still fighting for better working conditions. Is it better than South Korea? Probably. But is it the best? Hard to say.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’ve worked on many, many wonderful sets with wonderful, caring people. But I’ve also worked on some HORRIBLE sets with people who are still running HORRIBLE sets and indirectly teaching other people how to run equally HORRIBLE sets. They need to be stopped.

    I don’t know how many of you are working in some sort of media production, but I just want to tell you to treat your workers well. A happy, healthy crew member is a productive crew member. I’ve worked on sets where we were on our Nth day of going past the 12-hour mark and getting close to going into 17+ hours (on a non-union show, so none of us were compensated or particularly fed well), and people were getting careless and started making mistakes and getting injured. Don’t run your sets like that.

    No movie or show is ever good enough to have someone get severely injured on set, not even yours.

    1 year ago
    • I am in the Visual Effects industry, regularly working 12 hours or more. It’s an expectation at larger studios, especially closer to deadlines that work hours are very long and sometime overtime is not paid as such (some studios, not all).

      Sarah Jones was a classmate of mine at University and ours professors talked to us about the incident. Standard safety regulations had not been followed by the professional crew working with the student crew from my school and several people were injured.

      Most sets and productions I have worked on the management had no clue about the man-hours it would take to complete the project and as such scheduled production extremely tight. Since most projects are paid lump sum, not by time, the studios then working on the project have to stretch their crew and put pressure to get as much work as possible done as fast as possible.

      Again, not all studios are that bad, but when you first start out in the industry it seems like no one will respect you if you stand up for yourself. Having just quit a job due to excessive overtime, lack of sleep and poor pay, the people that understand what it’s like, will respect you for having the courage, some will even help you find a job at a studio with better management.

      If anyone is interested in the issues of Hollywood and Visual Effects industry, watch ‘Life after Pi’. Rhythm and Hues, the studio working on “life of Pi’ made this documentary about the industry and it’s dark side.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lcB9u-9mVE

      11 months ago
  7. One of the burning questions I have is…why all the bathroom scenes in kdramas? There are kissing scenes, crying scenes in the bathroom as well as people doing there business. There are also a lot of references to indigestion, wind, constipation, etc…Are Koreans more comfortable with themselves in this realm than us in the USA are?

    1 year ago
  8. I’m just finishing up on getting my degree in TV Production here in LA. There are some strict policies when it comes to shooting, where it is illegal to film more than 12 hours a day. When we were filming our Senior Thesis we had to abide those regulations as well 12 hours on set, 12 hour off. That doesn’t mean that shady things can occur, but I mean, isn’t that the same for any place? With all the unions however, they are certainly getting properly paid for overtime. Lastly, it would be completely unheard of for a script to be written in that fashion. While they can be written within the same week, actors will still be getting a decent amount of time and full script in order to properly act out their roles. Bummer, I was slightly interested into looking into working internationally for entertainment. Still looking into doing the English teaching program however…unless that’s a bad idea as well.

    Side note: Heirs is one of the worst. I love me some Lee MinHo, but even his pretty face couldn’t get me to watch that sadness.

    1 year ago
  9. Lo

    I was in the audience of a show here in Korea and we were treated extremely well. We taped two episodes during the seven hours I was in the studio. We got food and drinks, breaks during commercials and between episodes, and were even given free skincare (full bottles, not just samples!) and cash to get a cab home on the way out. While I agree that some companies hold the sadly low standard that you described above, I don’t think it’s fair to say the ENTIRE Korean industry is like this…

    1 year ago
    • Except they didnt say that the entire industry is like this? Go back and watch the video starting at :25. :)

      1 year ago
    • Good thing that’s what they said in the beginning! :) :)

      1 year ago
  10. Dear Simon and Martina, so sorry to hear about your bad experiences. It is also heartbreaking to see and to know what many Korean entertainers have to go through. This issue falls in the spectrum of things I hate about Korea (there are things that I love,love,love as well), but it also happens to be connected to many aspects of Korean life (and the things I hate about it). I think that the reason this happens is cultural, first and foremost, the monopoly of the entertainment industry and the competitiveness of Korean society as a whole.
    The fact that individuality is straight up frowned upon, the concept that “you” as a being have to fulfill a larger purpose, that your individuality doesn’t matter, that you owe dues to your parents, ancestors, the company, the fans, the country, the school, the society…everyone else seems to be more important than the self. Recently I watched yet another documentary on Korean plastic surgery and they were trying to explain the phenomenon from a socio- and psychological perspective. I find it conclusive when a sociology professor from Yonsei explained that “In Korea, we don’t care what you think about yourself,you should care about what others think of you.” And explained the roots from Confucianism and its interpretation by old Korean ways that permeate to this day. I think that explains a lot about attitudes regarding: education, achievement, work ethics, gender roles, hierarchy, pressure to conform, plastic surgery, suicide rates. I’ve stayed in Korea for about half a year, I am also married to a Korean man and have many Korean (유학생) friends. I have friends who don’t want to go back to Korea because they know the pressures they will have to face-and they know it’s for no good reason. I have friends who went back to Korea and started working and they are facing the same attitudes as the entertainment industry; there is no sick-day, over-time pay, vacation, fair treatment and most of all fair promotions (even promotions are a matter of hierarchy-not talent and hard work). When I ask why they won’t quit and go elsewhere they say “If I quit they will just get someone else who will accept the terms, plus, at the new place they will ask both me and my former employer why I left and they will not hire me because it is everywhere the same.” It’s heartbreaking.
    I think a social change is in order. Sorry for the long post.

    1 year ago
    • I think you explained it so well. I really love Korea, I really do, but a lot of things have to change. I have a Korean friend and she is living in the emotional hell you described. She is working long hours, has almost no days off, doesn’t even have the right to rest at home when sick. This “overworking is best!” mentality is rooted deeply in many of Korean people, so much that when she was working for one of the giant brands’ other country branches, it was literally the same even though she was in another country. It’s really irritating. Things aren’t far better in my country but it isn’t that bad either. I think it’s time for Korea to change its collectivistic style and adopt a more indivualistic one.

      1 year ago
  11. Telling moment: When Snoop Dogg commented on shooting a video with Psy. He mentioned that it was one of the most grueling things he’d ever done, and was surprised that they were willing to shoot all night if necessary. He was begging for a break. When Snoop Dogg thinks you’ve gone overboard, you need to question your life choices.
    Having said that, I’m still watching those dramas like the crack they are. Figuring out when things have gone off the rails has started to become almost a sport. No preview? It’s off the rails. There is no preview because they have no idea what the next episode is going to be. Oh My Venus had its first preview-less episode yesterday. They’re only on episode 8. Eight more to go, should be an interesting ride! Whee!!!!
    The problem is that changing a storyline while writing it must have worked for a few shows. I’ve noticed that if something works for someone in Korea, everyone else will try it to see if it works for them too. No one seems to think that the thing that worked may have had special, unrepeatable circumstances, or it was just luck.
    I’m glad someone is finally going to try something else. Look at how successful Netflix has been by dropping an entire season in one shot. You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

    1 year ago
  12. Oh hey, I work in the US tv industry! The company I’m contracted with atm does non-fiction so it’s a bit of a different set-up but we seem to have it way better (and I also work for a really good company). There are long days but for us that’s more on the production side, we don’t shoot as much for the shows but those are usually 10+ hour days (I think that I’m being paid pretty darn well for a just-above-entry-level job but producers are apparently the ones who make the most money anyway). And, like I’m seeing a lot of people saying, people will make sure you eat, I was going through some of our papers and found that on a recent shoot each crew member had $41 a day for food! That seems excessive to me and another coworker was explaining to me that sometimes the film crews get a bit snobby about it (“damn it we’re working so hard and so many hours that we had better be fed well”) which does make sense but I still have to marvel at that much money.

    1 year ago
  13. I remember watching “Strong Heart” with Park Shin Hye talking about being in an accident during the filming of “Heartstrings” which is down right heart breaking. She stated she told the press it wasn’t a big accident, but if you look at the pictures it’s horrifying. She was crushed on the passenger side and her seat belt almost took her ear off. She said her staff members were hospitalized for 4 months while she tried to go back to work the next day. The drama did delay an episode after her accident. These live-shoots are insane for anyone.

    I’m glad there are some dramas coming in the new year which will be pre-shot. It’s a step in the right direction for the industry. Breaking away from the live-shoot will bring better shooting conditions, but also better quality of dramas.

    1 year ago
  14. This was a really interesting video. Thank you for the information!
    The reason I got into korean subculture and looking at your videos is I started looking at dramas(by looking at j
    Japanese dramas at first). This is not shocking because of the stories about other media consumption like kpop. It’s really sad that this normal in a community and that this is my reaction. This is really devastating to see…
    During a long time I’ve wanted to start a campaign against this issues since I heard about the kpop industry and now this! I want to start an organization like amnesty international because this is really wrong and shouldn’t be normal. But I don’t know how to help and I’m sure you have tried to find ways for working against this issues.
    I’ve once been casted as a extras to a criminal swedish serie in Sweden(because that’s where I’m from and live). We got so many breaks and got “fika”(being social while taking a coffee break with sweets) every time and a lot of sandwiches and fruit and beverages. We also got lunch and I’m a vegetarian so I got worried if there would be any good nutritious vegetarian food. But the food was really good (it was tzay which I love<3).
    But I'm sure somewhere in the swedish industry people treat people badly but that's against the law to give bad working conditions so if they would be reported they would loose their job.
    I wonder if the extras(EVERYONE in the crew) are also treated badly or if they are treated well to hide the true issues behind the drama industry? I just wonder if I can help in some way? The working conditions suck in Korea meanwhile in Sweden we demonstrate to get better conditions. But the regular working hours during a week is 40 hours. An you can work over but then you have to maximum take 48-50 hours during four weeks not more. And if you don't get to rest it's against the law. Sweden has a long way ahead to develop even more but in South Korea should take care of people's health and well being. It's a human right to favourable and fair working conditions and same salary for the work according to UN. Everyone has a right to have a healthy and secure job.

    1 year ago
  15. It’s disgusting the amount of foreign fans you will see with the same kind of attitude too, though. Like all those people who hate on the former EXO members and other ex-idol members for leaving bad conditions, and say that all idols put up with bad conditions. Or when they say they should deal with it cause “they signed a contract”. It’s absurd how they think that people should just “put up with it” in order to entertain them. As someone from an Asian upbringing, I can understand the whole communal thing and doing what’s best for everyone, but only to an extent. No one should have to sacrifice their health for everyone else to be happy. When I hear of actors who get injured on set, and then come back a couple days later so as not to hold up filming, it makes me sick that people think it’s okay.

    1 year ago
  16. Sad TT

    1 year ago
  17. I was going to write to ask you guys to talk about this! I was thinking about it in the middle of the night last night. A lot of the child actors from my favorite childhood tv shows grew up to have some considerable issues. So much so, that I cringed everytime I tried to share one of my old fav. sitcoms with my kids now, until I gave up. And that got me thinking about even adult actors and my current favorite tv, kdramas. Is it all just about $$$? So much of Korean culture seems polite it is odd to picture this ridiculously inconsiderate behavior in the film industry. On the otherhand, the US has so many divas- it is my hope that Korea could embrace a middle ground where everyone is treated with respect.

    1 year ago
  18. I do think majority of drama all over the world is done like this. Based on what I read somewhere (or I heard from the news here), many dramas in Indonesia are shot back-to-back. The drama usually airs every single day in a week. An episode is around 1 hour with commercials, sometimes 90 minutes. People are practically leaving in the set. I wonder how they do the editing because there are times when the shooting is done an hour before it airs! The plot is also crazily twisted here and there. The length of the drama can’t be determined either. There are no fixed amount of episodes in a drama. It can has 30 episodes or stretches to 100 episodes, or continues with season after season for 6 years! I don’t really know about the pay but I think it pays a lot tho.

    1 year ago
  19. I remember one of my first jobs was working as a receptionist in a hotel, and I ended up working for 12 hours a day not counting the travel time and meetings you have to attend. I was completly exhausted listening to people throwing tantrums all day and not getting to sit or eat really. You only get one day off if no one suddenly quits on you. I can’t imagine not even getting a few hours to rest and cool down at home. I think I would have a nervous breakdown. I think being overworked and underpaid is a huge problem in a lot of industries, but this completly blows my mind. I hope for the sake of everyone that people wake up and realize that there needs to be a change.

    1 year ago
  20. I can’t imagine variety shows are much better. You see so many reports of idols and others injured doing variety shows. If a US band had a member injured by some crazy variety show stunt or competition the network better hope the lawsuit settlement didn’t kill their careers or show. Of course, the member wouldn’t be propped up in a chair onstage while injured either.

    1 year ago
  21. Joo Won recently confessed that he thought he was going to die during the filming of Yong Pal. It’s crazy! Seriously, health is more important than having 2 episode per weeks!
    http://www.allkpop.com/article/2015/10/joo-won-thought-he-was-going-to-die-during-filming

    1 year ago
  22. Is the variety side of filming just as bad as the drama side? Also, how do the film crews survive on $1000 a month? Working 23+ hours a day doesn’t allow for another job…

    1 year ago
  23. Yes, the conditions are bad but won’t watching the show help bring up the views so the actor or actress can get more money from being on the show. I am not sure about the tv industry in Korea. I am not trying to sound naive.

    1 year ago
    • Not naive at all! :)

      Actors and crew are paid a fee negotiated into their contracts (since the contract would just be for the duration of that 1 drama); the money they earn wouldn’t increase due to a ratings spike.

      1 year ago
    • Unfortunately, I’m not sure it works that way. (I’m not 100% certain about this so I could be very wrong) From the sound of it Actors/Actresses are paid based on a contract, already stating how much they’re going to make. Therefore, the shows ratings probably don’t figure back into the actor’s pay, just the broadcasting company’s. However, appearing in more dramas that get more viewers allows them to receive a celebrity status and appear more frequently in dramas and possibly a higher pay than an actor less known. Like I said I’m certainly not 100% on that, but that’s what it sounds like is happening

      1 year ago
  24. When I was part of an Idol show then we def had enough time to eat. We were actually put into a really nice hotel with the best breakfast buffet ever and got served dinner there as well. I have no memory of lunches tho… And even though it was a live show, we still had enough time to rest. I’m sure the finale time wasn’t as relaxed but we def had enough time up to that.

    1 year ago
  25. My dad used to work in a company that gave funding mostly to film and tv projects in Canada (you might know which one). He doesn’t know how the working conditions are for actors and production crews, but he has told me about those who direct and produce these projects. Often times, they’re stuck in a vision where they think they know everything and are jerks about it. He has said that sometimes the producer puts too much input into the screenwriting process and can make the product go against what others want. Same goes for the creators of a show.

    Dad mostly told me about the inner workings about companies that provide funding to make the projects become reality here in Canada. If it isn’t “Canadian” enough, there’s no support. He ended up quiting from this company due to disliking the amount of crappy projects that were being funded, and good ideas being turned down, and other reasons I never asked about.

    My dad was also an executive producer for a certain documentary on a certain marijuana activist from Vancouver. He assisted in ensuring the project would be finished and assisting in managing the budget. He told me he liked assisting in this documentary. He also told me how much of a jerk the activist is.

    1 year ago
  26. OMG… The Heirs.. I really want to enjoy it but I cannot handle it, was way too *()$&. The only reason why I tried was because kim woo bin <3
    Other than the incident you mentioned in the blog and the food commercial (forced to have dramatic excitements), what are some other stores? We would love to hear more from you guys!!

    1 year ago
    • I stuck in ep13 (over 6 mont) :D can’t to watch anymore. I also watched because of Woobin, Jin-hyuk, Min-ho and others, but even they can’t make me to finish

      1 year ago
  27. I’ve been working in the animation industry in my country for about 3 years now. We are always given lunch breaks and food during overtime but… the wage vs. time thing is definitely an issue. They’re always trying to get more out of you for less. Thankfully my company is so stingy that they don’t “do” overtime unless you’re at the crunch end of production, but our contract has us for 50 hour work weeks. So we’re expected to work the full 50 hours. Not to mention how freaking difficult it is to find a job in my country because a vast majority of animation jobs get outsourced to other countries (like Korea) who are willing to work for crazy cheap or whose country gives better tax breaks than yours. It’s a nightmare. Almost everyone I know who has worked in the industry for a while has become nomadic because we’re all essentially working temp jobs – project to project, company to company. Did you hear about the Visual Effects protest in the US? I don’t know all of the details but they have the same problems with working crazy overtime to compete with outsourcing problems. If I could go back in time, I would have told myself to find another career – not because animation isn’t a passion of mine, but because I expected a more livable lifestyle. How can you expect to get married or settle down if you’re chasing jobs to other countries? It’s like being in the military without the benefits.

    I have heard stories from animation veterans who would work late into the night and sleep only a few hours under their desk before getting up and doing it again. I’m sure this is still the way at many studios. I think anime would be ruined for me if I knew what kind of working conditions they have, but I’m sure it’s pretty bad. I don’t know how they churn out some shows at the quality that they do unless they have a crazy large budget. Moral of the story: The film industry is BRUTAL. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    1 year ago
  28. This is so incredibly crazy to me! I was always under the impression that they got everything set up and ready before the started shooting anything, and that filming was the only aspect of production that continued on after the show started airing. This actually makes so much sense, though. It explains so much! There were so many things that never made sense to me; Why has the mythology suddenly changed? Why was this back story so important last episode but means nothing now? Why has the plot suddenly seemed to change? Why does the ending make absolutely no sense? Why did this show start off good but has suddenly become too painfully boring and illogical to continue on with?

    For me I think one of the more obvious examples would be You Who Came From the Stars. Honestly, I thought the show did really well, up until the last episode. I think the script writers stayed pretty true to what they had originally intended for the story until it started becoming obvious how they intended the ending to happen. They got an extra episode and it was like they were forced to completely go against all of their own rules and change everything in order to give the ending the fans wanted, even though the way it came about made absolutely no sense. It was a really big shame because the show up until that point had actually been really good…

    1 year ago
  29. Inspiring Generation wasn’t that awesome from the start, but it really went awry after Kim Jae Wook decided to quit (episode 8…. of 24!) and they change the writer team altogether (I’m not sure, but I think they change that team more than once). I still don’t understand how this drama won any award and got more than 10% ratings. I remember the preview, man the preview were great! It seemed like the next big thing and all, with a really good plot and drama and love triangle in this big gangster thing with treasons and stuff. But it really wasn’t, and after episode 8, it dragged its sorry ass all the way to the end. It was painful. And sadly, since I’m was too into the drama already, I had to finish it. At least it taught me a lesson : if it ain’t good after 4 to 6 ep, drop it now until your caught with something awful for 24 damn episodes…

    1 year ago
  30. OMG thank you!! I’m not the only one who saw like 10 minutes of Heirs and asked WTF is this s$%@#.

    I wonder if this is why web based dramas are becoming more popular, because there is already a base story line and a general idea of how it’s gonna go, like Orange Marmalade, or the Girl Who Can See Smells.

    I can think of a couple kdramas that fall victim to the whole lack of character development and sudden unexplainable changes. I’ve also noticed lately for some dramas that there were obviously several retakes of a specific scene, and while I think the average person wouldn’t be paying much attention to the scenes, I noticed things like the way a character is sitting in one camera shot will change when the camera angle changes and whenever they pan between camera viewpoints several times in a 5 minute time frame. Cheer Up had that happen in one of the later episodes where the female lead sat down at a table and in one frame her hands were in her lap, but in another frame (same scene), her arms were laying on top of the table.

    1 year ago
  31. I knew the Korean drama/film industry was bad, but I really had no idea it was this horrid! Being a former media and film student in Norway, I have many friends that are working in the industry today. Providing food and comfort to your cast and staff are main priority, and there really are no way to avoid paying overtime and working inhumane hours are a huge no-no! Of course there are times when things get rushed and a bit complicated, but that really is no reason to refuse your cast and staff proper treatment. My experiences in Tv productions, both small and very big are all very positive.
    In Norway there really isnt that much of an hierarchy (besides the obvious fact that some people are in a position where they are better informed) when it comes to these kinds of things either, so that might be a big reason as to why there are few conflicts.

    1 year ago
  32. Ah, that make a sense ;D that’s why last few episodes of “King of high school” was real shit. I really like that drama, Seo Inguk was really amazing, but few last episodes was so bad, so bad… looks like they planed to make longer drama, but have shortened in the middle..
    And There is movie “Twenty” and even it is a movie not a drama, the end is so wtf O.o looks like all writers died and they have quickly to end movie somehow…

    1 year ago
  33. I teach theatre in the US. For every role out there in television or film or on stage there are hundreds of people capable and willing to do the work. I’m not kidding. Hundreds. I once auditioned over 100 kids for a show in three hours. And I live in a small Midwestern city.
    Because of the numbers, there is sometimes a feeling among executives that anyone can be replaced. They are right. If this person doesn’t work out, there are six more ready and willing to take the role.
    Those conditions set people up for exploitation, as does our society’s attitude toward art. It is common to expect artists, musicians, dancers and other performers to accept smaller wages and difficult working conditions because they love what they do.
    There are unions in the US set up to protect workers in the industry, but getting into the union isn’t easy.
    I did my graduate work at a school that was training students to go to Broadway. We followed the union rules during the rehearsal process and tech week. During tech week student actors were called from 10am-12am on Saturday and Sunday with two one hour breaks for meals. They where called from 6pm-12pm Mon-Fri. Student crew members were called for the same start time but were expected to stay one or two hours later. These were students who also maintained a full time class schedule in addition to the shows they did. It doesn’t take a lot of math to figure that these kids were over worked.
    It’s a brutal business.

    Shows that derailed? “Secret Hotel”, “Mary Stayed Out All Night”, “Level 7 Civil Servant”, “King of Dramas” was freaking awesome up until episode 18 then boom splat. “Blade Man”, “Boys Over Flowers” I’m sorry Martina, I can’t take anything with Lee Min Ho in it, he’s just so bland.

    Not to plug another site but girlfriday and javabeans from Dramabeans wrote a book about K-Dramas and the chapter on why K-Dramas do things the way they do was pretty interesting.

    1 year ago
    • “For every role out there in television or film or on stage there are hundreds of people capable and willing to do the work. … Because of the numbers, there is sometimes a feeling among executives that anyone can be replaced. They are right. If this person doesn’t work out, there are six more ready and willing to take the role.”

      THIS! SO! MUCH! I recently was employed in media, and this is the attitude in the entertainment industry overall.

      That coupled with the consolidation/shrinkage of the industry (due to HUGE corporations buying out the smaller companies and wanting maximum profit with minimal payout, 1 person is now easily doing the jobs of 3 people), you end up with stressed out, burnt out, overworked people that are not performing at 100%. All in the name of ‘profits’ (which are never enough, btw) In Canada last month, a large multi-platform media company posted a $700M profit for their Q3, only to let go 400 people nationwide the next week). But complain, and you’re frozen out; because a 1000 people would take your job in a heartbeat.

      The irony in this is that the PTB who only see the profits dont realize that the people that they’re overworking are the ones responsible for creating the content that makes them money! They are cutting off their noses to spite their face.

      Completely OT: I see your RatM shirt Martina. I see it. :D

      1 year ago
  34. I think the worst/best example of a drama that got royaly screwed by re-writes was Marry Me Mary/Mary Stayed Out All Night. Started as a promising witty light hearted modern rom-com and quickly spiralled into a complete cluster FC.UK . The fact that they went through like five scriptwriters and directors is so obvious as you watch it veer from funny to bad the WTAF. If Jang Keun Suk hadn’t just gone “screw it, I’m taking over” and rewritten and directed the last episode it would have gone down as the worst drama ever written. Anywhere. Ever.

    1 year ago
  35. I’ve worked freelance as a crew in a couple of TV shows myself, and I can guarantee you we have shitty working conditions too (I’m from Singapore!). The shoots can easily go up to 17-18 hours a day, with lots of last minute changes that you have to accommodate for, meaning very little sleep because you end up working while you’re not on shoot, and even on your off days as well.

    And yeah, we get paid roughly USD1000 for entry level production assistants. There’s very little we can do about it, because our unions are still small and like you said, our positions are very replaceable. It’s take it or leave it.

    We only have it better than Korea in a few areas. Meals are DEFINITELY accounted for in every shoot. That includes supper when it goes late into the night, and we always have a pantry stocked with snacks/drinks. We NEVER let our cast/crew starve or forsake their health. We’ve had to push filming before because one of our cast was down with food poisoning.

    But other than that, what you’ve said is pretty much standard in the film industry everywhere, unfortunately.

    1 year ago
  36. I truly agree on this one! I work for a production company in manila and we had a project with a korean film company to shoot their drama here, it was a top rating drama with top stars in it, i was really excited to work with them, but when the shooting started we had a hard time adjusting because the korean team hardly eat while working! Production companies here in manila it is a priority that the cast and staff are properly taken care of with proper breaks and good food! We will prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for the staff but once they’ve eaten breakfast (they eat super fast!) work starts immediately,some of the filipino crew havent finish eating yet but they want to start asap. Throughout the filming they only eat once then theyll just buy burgers for snack but filming doesnt stop. so we eat while we’re working. There is also an incident where their script for the next day will be finalize the day before and we have to find costume/talents and prop requirements within less than 24hrs before filming the next day! Everytime i think about it makes my head hurt. I was really super tired when we’re filming and we have to shoot for 7 days. It didnt help that they’re lead star is super arogant and their director is such a tyrant it was really inhuman..

    1 year ago
  37. I feel like this applies to a lot of other industries in Korea, not just the film industry. Like the problem of being overworked and not being paid overtime is huuuuge for korean office-goers. I think it’s because nobody wants to challenge their superiors or the system (the big machine that pays them). You probably got away from that small five-day shoot just looking like privileged foreigners. But imagine a Korean person speaking up about these things in an environment where nobody else is saying anything and everyone just accepts that this is how it goes…. They’ll get fired. They wont have an income. They’ll be shat on by their bosses. They wont be liked or listened to.

    It’s terribleee. And there have been tons of articles published by the CNN and such about koreas working culture and the fact that people in these conditions ARENT VERY PRODUCTIVE… But it seems the news only falls on dead foreign ears.

    1 year ago
    • Oh but if I may also add.. There are production companies that do film the entire series or most of it before hand and this produces GREAT productions. They’re usually the cable channels like tvn or jtbc.

      1 year ago
  38. Martina, there are so many korean dramas that I start watching and can’t finish, I have lost count…. Even the recent drama, She was Pretty, I ended 3 episodes before it finished… Maybe I noticed the plot line, where it hit the climax and then I realize the ending and how the rest of the drama is going to drag. I have watched Korean dramas for as long as I have watched your youtube videos since 2012… hahaha… at least with your videos the longer I watch the more interested I am… Also I finally was able to visit “You are Here” cafe, I love coffee shops in general, as a former barista, and I was so excited to see it :)… I will have to come by again :)

    1 year ago
  39. Before anyone says EYK is being ‘entitled’ or any nonsense like that, they are definitely not. As a film student, or rather ex-film student, meal times have to be included into our budget and schedules even on low-budget student films, because your crew and cast are the utmost priority. Honestly I was a little taken aback at how things were during your shooting experience. Thanks for sharing!

    1 year ago
  40. i don’t watch dramas but sometimes i read about how an actor/actress fainted or got sick and still worked on the drama and i’m like?!?!?!?! do you not have contracts that protect you? sure it sucks if someone is sick and can’t work but surely they can film something else until that person is feeling better?
    i read about a drama before where they literally shot the new episode like 2 days before it’s supposed to air and i just don’t understand how they think that’s a smart plan

    1 year ago