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TL;DR – Kpop Slave Contracts

December 4, 2014

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We’ve been wanting to tackle this topic for a while. We’ve been sitting on this information about the unfairness of Break Even Points in the Kpop industry and how it’s used to keep artists in a clouded cyclone of debt, but we didn’t feel comfortable talking about it until other bands made it public. Han Geng supposedly talked about the lack of transparency or accountability when it comes to how his pay was determined, and recently B.A.P. have done the same, so we figured it’s time to talk a bit about the topic, and to let people know just how royally messed up and unfair the system can be.

**ULTRA MAJOR DISCLAIMER** We haven’t read every single Kpop contract by every company, obviously. We can’t speak for every group or label. What we’ve discussed in today’s video about the shittiiness of the Break Even Points of Kpop companies might not apply to your favourite artist. It might not even apply to 10% of the artists. But it does apply to some, and that’s worth talking about. Hopefully we made it a little more understandable, so you’ll be better prepared when more artists leave their bands next year. Because it’s gonna happen.

The two of us have discussed this topic a whole lot, and one of the things that we’re unsure about is whether, even though these contracts are clearly unfair, if it’s still a bad situation for Kpop artists. Think about it this way: if they weren’t in a Kpop band, working obscene hours, eating and resting terribly, and getting paid not much, what other options would they have? Joining a company, becoming a salaryman/salarywoman, and working obscene hours, eating and resting terribly, and still not getting paid much? We live right beside the CJ, KBS, and MBC buildings. Plenty of times on the weekend, we come back from a late night, Saturday night at 2AM, and look up to see half of the office lights on. Why the hell are people still working that late on the weekend? GO HOME TO YOUR FAMILIES!

Working stupid hours and getting paid poorly like this isn’t unique to the Kpop industry. It’s not even unique to Korea, really, but it is rampant in Korea. So what would a Kpop artist do if they weren’t in the industry? Maybe you know this better than I do, but how many Kpop artists were top notch students? From the few screen caps I’ve seen of Kpop artists talking about school, a lot of them weren’t the brightest in class. Kpop gave them an opportunity to still work, though. And at least now they have fame that they can capitalize off of afterwards, right?

In B.A.P.’s case, they could leave their company, and do stuff on their own and make a buttload more than $400 a month. Hell, even here at the Eatyourkimchi Studio we pay the staff significantly more than that, and we’re just small time YouTubers. B.A.P. don’t even need to work for a company: they could just open up their own YouTube channel and do stuff on there. They’d be popular enough to make a living on that. Didn’t Jay Park sing in his room for a bit? Radiohead has been selling their own music. My Bloody Valentine sold their music on their own website as well. Kpop artists could do the same, and with the following they’ve made, their fans would definitely support them and buy their products, even moreso than before, because now fans will know that it directly goes to supporting the artists, rather than their greedy bosses.

So, to play Devil’s Advocate here: yes, Kpop artists are in really bad contracts, and there definitely needs to be some reform, and yes Kpop companies are banking off their artists and paying them terribly. But they have a lot of potential now. All hope’s not lost. Kpop artist can keep doing what’s happening lately: suffer under the contract for a couple of years. Think of it as a Kpop internship. And then when they’re popular enough they can demand better terms from their companies, or break off and do their own thing and not owe anyone a dime.

Oh man. We’re definitely going down the rabbit hole here. Before we go on 100 different tangents on this matter and how we feel about the industry, we’ll cut it off at this point. Long story short, we feel bad for B.A.P. for being so badly screwed over by their company, but they’re not the first kids to have this done to them, and they’re not going to be the last, but now they’ve done well for themselves they can break out of the cycle, we hope.

Just remember kids: fame and wealth do not necessarily go hand in hand. There are plenty of anonymous millionaires, and impoverished stars.

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TL;DR – Kpop Slave Contracts

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  1. First I want to say WOW for you guys taking on such a strong and somewhat controversial topic. IEven though I’ve often wanted to hear your thoughts on it, I felt that you wouldn’t address the issue if for no other reason than to protect your future interests with the Kpop stars you know/want to interview. So thank you and kudos for taking this on.

    Now in answer to your question – this has…somewhat changed my outlook on K-pop. When I first started really getting into K-pop and learning about trainee programs and what not, I was ENTHRALLED. I have always loved to perform (I even tried to get my friends into a group but could never find any of them that were interested enough to take it seriously) but am not a great natural talent. I can sing and dance but nothing to really wow a person into signing a contract for a million albums. But Kpop offered me a chance. I thought”oh they see potential and they groom it and then debut it! It’s perfect!” I was seriously going to audition.

    But now…as I hear more and more about what goes on beyond those trainee years and behind the stage and cameras, I don’t think I’d be happy. Working like a slave and having almost nothing to show for it…that’s scary. As much as I like to perform, I can’t see myself doing it just for the sake of doing it.

    I have also gained MORE respect for the artists I love. Not only did they train tirelessly for years to get this point; not only do they forgo comforts like easy family access, stable sleep schedule and healthy meals…they also struggle against the bonds of some tight contract with their company. Their passion for what they do is immeasurable. (I especially think of SNSD who just signed a new contract.)

    Anyway – this was a lot. TL;DR version I wouldn’t want to be in the industry but I respect and love those who are even more.

    4 years ago
  2. Thanks for going more in depth on the topic of their contracts. I’ve adored TVXQ abd JYJ since back when they were still one group and during/after the break up, there was some information about contracts that came up but it was kinda hush hush after that and everything else was just rumors that were being spread around. It was like an open secret that most, if not all, Kpop fans know about but with all that’s going on, we tend to push it aside and try not to look deeper into it. But with everything going on this year, it’s undeniable that the Kpop industry truly does have so many issues regarding their treatment of their artists and workers in general.

    On a side note, I’m really looking forward to something a little more lighthearted for the next TL;DR too because whew, while serious topics are important to bring up, they’re honestly really depressing. ;w;

    4 years ago
  3. 2014 hasn’t changed my opinion of Kpop music or artists but it has majorly changed for the companies. SM Entertainment was my favourite company until the news of members leaving. I was shocked that they wouldn’t treat them with some respect. Although they need to make profits and pay their workers, in my opinion the artists themselves should be paid at least double of everyone else in the company because they are the ones working their butts of and suffering in terms of health. I think the industry needs a big change in favour of the artists because, the way they are treated now isn’t fair at all.

    4 years ago
  4. I’m always very happy when I do hear that these things happen because it’s the idols aren’t taking any more shiz. I am always sad when someone leaves, but I mean when they wanna go, and for those reasons, go. My best friend and I were listening to a podcast about how Kpop is doing so great finacially and globaly, but if this keeps happening, these companies are going to end up belly up. I feel really conflicted all the time over whether to financially support these companies. I can be a big fan of a group, but you can’t ever know which company is screwing them over and all probably are.
    The best thing is that this is coming out. I don’t get how the public can sorta defend these companies sometimes. Even the living situation of a lot of idols is terrible. If these CEOs can manage to afford these lavish things, they can afford to let these idols have more than one room to all sleep in and on the floor.

    4 years ago
  5. This reminded me of this week’s Roomate episode, Jong Ok’s friends came to visit, and one who was an ex-kpop star from the 90s stayed the night. Sunny from SNSD is Jong Ok’s roommate and went to sleep in another room to allow the two of them some time together, once she left the room Jong Ok told her friend how sorry she felt for Sunny and how mature and world weary Sunny is despite her young age, and mentioned how much she wishes to see Sunny be able to go to college. Her friend mentions she understands since she went through all that as well. But that they even showed that scene I felt like it was a jab at SM from the part of the show and how even the broadcasting stations are sorta willing to comment on the unfairness of it. This wasnt the first time the show has done that this season, but it really felt interesting, made my heart hurt for Sunny, even though she usually seems so cheerful.

    4 years ago
    • Oh my gosh I just commented on the same episode, but about Jackson!

      4 years ago
    • I remember that episode. Also when Kang Joon showed how he and the some of the other members of 5urpise lived and when the members came to visit wanted to live like him at the house.

      4 years ago
      • Yes! They were cute, same sorta with how chan-yeol’s member came to visit too (sorry exo-fan girls I can’t remember his name) and with Jackson talking about how he hasn’t seen his mom in two years and she is sick and alone and how bad he feels about it. Also Sunny always teaching nana and young-ji to be careful with what they say

        4 years ago
        • I’m not an EXO fan girl but remember that it was bacon (yes, I know that’s not his name) because it wasn’t long before that it came out that he was dating whoever SNSD member and I was thinking that SM was trying to do some damage control.

          4 years ago
  6. Thanks for brushing up on the topic. I kept hearing about all the lawsuits and poor conditions these pop stars go through. I never really knew the details so I had a hard time forming my own opinion on the situation. So thanks for explaining in more detail. I hope groups continue to speak out because most of the companies are not being fair. 2014 wasn’t a great year but on the bright side we did have some really good music so that’s a plus. Maybe 2015 will get better!

    4 years ago
  7. There was a great bit on an Aussie show about this ages ago that talked about the fact that if you want to make any money from music you need to be a songwriter not a performer. I don’t think its unusual at all for only 40% of the profits from a release to go to the performers (in this case towards their BEP) as they are only actually a very small part of the pop music making machine. The BEP itself and the lack of transparency is kinda not cool though but surely young people going into the industry now know and expect this having seen so many people go before?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmWdbuE-mwg#t=6m20sec

    4 years ago
    • really great video that you pointed out. Thanks :)

      4 years ago
    • On the songwriting front, I spoke with some people who said that songwriters earn something like 30%. There’s good money in that, it seems :D

      4 years ago
      • What about idols who are song writers? Jonghyun, Onew, Changmin, etc? Do they get a bigger share of that revenue or does it all go into whatever slave contract they have? Does it matter if it’s their own group that performs their song or another group?

        It’s not surprising these companies haven’t reformed since the various scandals have broken out. Totally predictable in fact. Nothing will change until they are forced to change, probably through the law.

        It’s interesting that SHINee has hinted that they have agreed on what they are doing as a group when they come up to renew next year. Personally I hope they go the Shinwha route but whatever they do like Abba said – Thank you for the music.

        4 years ago
  8. I remember when I was watching Roommate and they showed the apartment where Orange Carmel lived and they didn’t have furniture and they all lived in one room. I was thinking how wrong that seemed and another group was talking about they eat ramen every night and begged for someone to buy them some meat. So sad

    4 years ago
    • The group that said they ate ramen every night was Kang Joon’s 5prise acting group, so they aren’t exactly kpop but i doubt their situations are any better. I had forgotten about the orange caramel dorm bit.

      4 years ago
  9. While some people may feel that this video and post may have been called “K Pop Slave Contracts” jokingly or ironically, these are actual techniques that human traffickers and slave owners around the world use to keep their slaves under control and working. That whole thing where they give you a debt to pay back (and keep piling on extra costs)? That’s a fairly common technique used by brothel owners in India (and other places) to keep their girls working as hard as possible without having to beat them. After all, once the debt is payed, they can go home to their families, so why not work as hard as a possible to go home faster? I’m not going to say that K Pop idols are literal slaves or that the companies they work for are human traffickers, that would be false. But I will say that once your company policy starts to resemble those of traffickers, it’s time to reevaluate your morals.

    P.S. I recommend reading the book Sold by Patricia McCormick if you’re interested in reading more about human trafficking.

    4 years ago
    • Not to mention that putting a bunch of fifteen-year-olds on stage and making them work for hours a day basically amounts to child labour. And I totally agree with the points you made, maybe it doesn’t go for all K-pop artists and their contracts but it is most definitely a slave contract that , indeed, borders on the methods used in human trafficking.

      4 years ago
  10. “Just remember kids: fame and wealth do not necessarily go hand in hand. There are plenty of anonymous millionaires, and impoverished stars.” Damn, that was deep and completely the truth.

    I’m almost glad all these idols are filing lawsuits against their shitty companies. People keep saying things like “2014 is the worst year, it’s cursed” but I think it’s just finally come to the inevitable implosion in kpop where many groups are maturing and realizing what a vicious cycle they’re stuck in. It’s gonna be a painful ride but it may end up creating positive change. Good for BAP for sticking together and I wish them all the best.

    4 years ago
  11. Maybe it’s just the tiny, obnoxious, socially incompetent bald eagle living inside of me that’s doing the talking, but when I read stories like this, I just want to raise my fists and shout: “THAT’S RIGHT, MY GOOD FELLOWS! STICK IT TO THE MAN! SEVER THE BONDS OF SERVITUDE AND RIDE OFF INTO THE SUNSET, WITH YOUR HEADS HELD HIGH AND YOUR MIDDLE FINGERS EVEN HIGHER!”

    Did I mention obnoxious? I hope this doesn’t draw in too many hateful comments….

    4 years ago
  12. I’m so glad that some of these people and groups have spoken up about it and actually -done- something to fix it. I wouldn’t call myself a Baby, but I’m immensely proud of B.A.P. for letting it all be known and publicly get it taken care of. I’m not quite as proud of ZE:A, because the Twitter rants made their leader seem emotionally unstable and that cast some doubt on their situation. I do think something really, really bad happened with them and I hope to god it wasn’t what I suspect ( I read rumours that it was sexual abuse/rape.. =\ ). In any case, I’m hoping these artists will get some strength from B.A.P. and all the others, to stand up and take care of their own situation if they are also in something similar.
    I also hope our dear friends of EYK aren’t in a situation like any of the ones we’ve heard about. I’d be utterly heartbroken over U-Kiss, Amber ( f(x) ), Eric Nam, MFBTY, and everyone else having to go through that. Already it’s sad when I see Brad ( Busker Busker ) – he has this garbage happening yet shows up with a bright smile in your videos.

    From a more wide-reaching standpoint, there should definitely be some new laws put in place to prevent this from happening. It’s incredibly sad that basically all South Koreans, adults and students, are pushed so hard and get treated so poorly. Their economy shot up basically overnight, but it’s still taking a while for them to adjust socially. Some aspects are great, but others are holding them back, like how they treat women ( especially like last week’s subject ), how they treat foreigners and minority groups of any type ( including homosexuals and etc ), and the thought process of “I must work/study 24/7/365 and practically kill myself” even though that’s proven to be completely false ( the US and many countries in Europe are a great example of this, in some areas ).

    I love South Korea for many reasons, but these things definitely don’t fall under the list of positive traits. I plan to live and work from South Korea, but I still have doubt because of things like this. I hope that by the time I get done with school and everything, it’ll be in a much better place than it is now.

    4 years ago
  13. It’s really hard because I love listening to them, and BAP was amazing live. But there is no way I want them to suffer in any way. This puts a whole new perspective on things. I knew some of this stuff, but so much more happens that we don’t know of. EXO, BAP, JYJ(TVXQ), SUJU FIGHTING!!!

    4 years ago
  14. Great topic, great hair and great mustache =)

    For me, I’m actually interested to find out the role of Kpop fans in this whole drama, because I feel that they (or actually we) are not exactly helping the problem.

    In a breakup, I felt that fans always had this ethical dilemma of whether to continue to support the remaining members of the group despite how horribly they were treated.
    for example: “I hate SM and how they treated Hangeng like a slave, but then what about the rest of Suju’s? I love them so should i continue buying the albums? But then that would be helping SM etc.” And then the next album comes out, the same fans will buy it, and the vicious cycle resets.

    So in a nutshell, I believe that there is a third party of slaves in this kpop industry, which is devoted K-pop fans and it’s just not right, but will it get better?

    Only time will tell.

    4 years ago
    • Oooooooooooooh Aaron, now THAT is interesting.

      I remember how pissed off I was at DBSK once. In my head I compared them to now-Bieber or One Direction. I was on Livejournal back then (yeah, I’m “old” lol) and there was this girl who seemed on the brink of suicide when it was announced the band would break up.

      Then I was like “Wtf ? If this is what this world it, I don’t want in, uuuuuuuuugh” . But then in 2009 I discovered SNSD and that went out the window, heeeeh.

      I admire the artists. If I like the music, I’ll just buy it. Because the money is still being made and the artists deserve the recognition. We just need to help change the money distribution.

      I want my favorite girl groups to buy all the dresses and Louboutin shoes they want. I want everyone to buy themselves cars, houses, whatever. And I want them to be able to stop when they think it’s right, as sad as it may make me.

      4 years ago
  15. I feel that the main problem is the “invisible” BEP where the artists or their families have a clue what the cost of the debt. I mentioned families because most of these young artists also have to have a parent come in a sign these contracts too. By doing so, the company sort of escape the problem of child labor. I feel that in South Korea, there are a lot of young teens that want to join the entertainment career without any thoughts, which is really dangerous. These teens end up going through years of training which probably increase the BEP (debt). There might be parents out there that advise their kid to think about it a little more before joining a company but I feel there are also parents that sign the contract without looking through and try to understand the contract (which is where the problem begins). However, this does not only happen in South Korea, it happens everywhere in the world. There were many problems with Japanese, Chinese and even American entertainment companies because companies one focus is to gain profit and I feel like Asian companies will cut corners to earn the most profit (rather it will be not paying the proper amount to their artists or having fans pay crazy prices for items).

    4 years ago
  16. At university, we actually did a group project on this subject, and actually these types of contracts are the norm. Because I was the only Canadian Westerner type, I cant remember the sources since they were in Korean or Chinese, but essentially these contracts are the norm, and there are many ppl who have signed these contracts, who owes a ton of debt, but never even debuted. You think there’s a ton of groups that debut each year? There’s tons more who have signed contracts and gained training, but realizing how bad their contract was and opposing it, never debuted, it’s a closed industry that only allows the compliant to ‘succeed’ as an idol… Of course, this is not every company, nor even every contract- but there are a lot more victims. This also reminds me a lot of the Coogan child actor’s law developed after the kid in charlie chaplin’s ‘the kid’ had earned a million when he was very young, but his parents had spent all the money when he became of age to inherit it. I feel like these CEOs are like those irresponsible parents- how is it even FAIR?! And lastly, there is a history in Korean culture of treating entertainers as the lowest class, since the lowest class in the Joseon period were entertaining kisaengs (Korea’s version of geishas- or courtesans). In ways it does not surprise me that entertainers are treated with a mindset that theyre not powerful agents of change and critical or artistic voices that challenge societal norms, but rather enforce them. And this mindset seems to justify (to me) why CEOs think it’s ok not to owe their workers nothing, they simply portray what the company wants to portray rather than the American model in which a label decides it’s in their best interest to represent an artist.

    4 years ago
    • I read somewhere I can’t remember where, I think it was a Korean article but there’s basically a 0.001% chance a trainee would ever debut. Most people can’t handle the pressure and no sleep etc and quit and some get too old so are dropped.

      4 years ago
  17. When you love KPop & idolize them you assume their life is great, perfect and they love what they do. You never think about behind the scenes and what they might deal with especially they contract and money issues. It’s really sad to hear they basically treat people like products and not humans. These idols are artists and they give their 150% percent for their fans & to survive. Including working crazy hours, not sleeping, diets, traveling and even car accidents or work accidents. All they want to do is be who they are doing what they love and provide for their families or save for their futures. To hear about the unfair payments and the greedy company owners is just awful and cruel. Some are slaves & share a tiny dorm with no beds while the owner is buying new or several new cars. Yuck. It’s not humanly or respectful. I’m sure some artists bring in big bucks and they should be compensated for their hard work and effort. I respect them and still like Kpop because I like the art and music I like watching the shows and such that aren’t as scripted. Some new concepts , hair cuts, and looks just suck so take that greedy companies! If you treat a person better and with respect you will get respect and better / longer performance. Kpop idols! Fighting! – Canada

    4 years ago
  18. What really gets me is, on the outside, KPOP is so fashionable! And glamorous! And fun! And super fantastic! And everyone is having a great time! But the deeper you go, the darker and dirtier it all becomes. It’s really a shame, that these idols in these groups aren’t getting any fair treatment in any aspect, when they bring so much happiness and good times to their fans.

    4 years ago
    • The companies have perfected creating this glamorous facade to lure in customers. It’s all about the looks, not the actual music. The majority of the music is actually American, but because of sneaky copyright laws, they are able to use the music. The music isn’t what these companies want to make money on, but what they advertise the merchandise to be. It’s really the K-Pop groups and singers that they are selling as products. Their image, their ideals, and their personal stories are what K-Pop fans are actually paying for. That’s why so many of them rely on contracts with other companies, promoting products for Samsung, etc. to survive; because these companies treat them like things, not people.

      4 years ago
  19. Also, if your looking for a happy TLDR to do coming up. They has got to be something on the 2018 Peyongchang Winter Olympics. This will be the biggest event to come to South Korea in decades and it would be exciting to hear about what the different venues and stadiums will look like. How different cities in South Korea are preparing for the games and if they’re any major news items coming out of the prep like if they has been any major controversial topics taking place in light of the prep for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and the issues with the 2022 Winter Olympics Bids.

    It would be perfect to discuss with the winter sports season’s heating up!

    4 years ago
  20. :( It sounds so rough, all of a sudden I’m picturing all my favorite KPOP stars singing “Sixteen Tons” what with how the company can lock them down in an endless cycle of debt. You add the money stuff to the crazy hours and obligations they endure and it just shouldn’t be legal to use people like that!

    4 years ago
    • OMG, that was the EXACT SONG that popped into my head! I’ve been referring to these entertainment companies as the “Comp’ny Store” ever since I learned about how poorly they treat the artists!

      4 years ago
  21. While I was studying in Korea for a month, we were discussing the situation regarding kpop and the slave contract. Pretty much everything you mentioned, my professor mentioned in class. The entertainment companies are pretty much investing into these trainees to perfection.

    In regards to whether 2014 Kpop Apocalypse have changed my interest in the music, I would say it has. My heart cracked when I first heard the news regarding Han Geng/Han Kyung and JYJ’s lawsuit came out, but then I was happy to hear that these slave contracts were in the media light and the justice system did something about it. Now I’m absolutely terrified on how conniving these companies are and how they are getting away with these bullsh*ts. My heart completely shattered when I read how much B.A.P were being paid. I feel like there is going to be a slow change after this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if another major group goes through something like this again.

    The only reason I’m still into Kpop is because I don’t know how to get out of it…

    4 years ago
  22. Heck just solely looking at the figures, the numbers scream SCAM!!

    Another case of conflict that I’ve noticed is of Megan Lee and her company, which is interesting in that the CEO himself used to be a kpop idol and yet this cycle is perpetuated.

    4 years ago
    • I was wondering if there was any difference between companies owned by former idols and those owned by an outside party so that is interesting to learn. I did read those her issue wasn’t with him but his wife and mother-in-law(?) who he handed the company over to. I did read that from AllKpop I think though and I am never 100% sure in their accuracy.

      4 years ago
      • Not extremely solid on the specifics either, but I believe even though his wife and such are in management he is still the CEO and there were also issues of lack of financial transparency.

        4 years ago
  23. The state of the kpop industry more really saddens and angers me, but it also makes me respect the artists for still being able to make amazing music and time for their fans despite what’s happening behind the scenes.

    Best of luck to all kpop groups, I’m sure there are many out there who are not yet confident enough to make their struggles public.

    4 years ago
  24. Will there be a Christmas Special videos since Christmas is near? :)

    (sorry, off topic. the tl;dr topics are so sad hehe)

    4 years ago
    • Of course,Chrome family have already got theirs out,can’t miss an opportunity to make a buck.

      4 years ago
  25. It totally has changed the way I look at kpop. Perhaps on top of school and getting older, with the awfulness that is 2014, it made me reevaluate how I look at these boys and girls. Putting so much emotion in to these people only to have the reality hit you in the face is really sobering. I guess it all started with Kris leaving EXO; it was no longer fun, people were bashing him for leaving and just hearing the rumors surrounding his health made me sad. Sad. I never thought I’d be sad over kpop. Kpop was supposed to be fun and filled with fangirling and getting to know passionate people, not sad. I came to the conclusion that I can’t take this seriously. These people are hard working and dog tired and because of being from a different culture and my opinion not mattering as a foreigner just adds to the frustration. I still pay somewhat attention, but to say I’m part of a fandom like an EXO-L,BABY, iGOT7, whatever, I don’t associate that way anymore. I would still freak if I saw anyone in real life and I wouldn’t mind going to a concert, but I feel like that part of my life is over and that makes me sad. Sigh, ramble over.

    4 years ago
    • Preach it friend! My sentiments exactly. =(

      4 years ago
    • We’re starting to feel the same way about Kpop. When we first started Music Mondays, it was all fun and filled with silliness and laughter, but the more we get into it the harder it is to not see the shadows behind the glitter.

      4 years ago
      • I like your playlists~ I know it’s difficult, especially when it’s on a topic that just isnt positive anymore. But with your eykas here, I feel so behind in all the nominations! For those who cant participate in the eykas, it’d be really nice to even have playlists to go through. I dont keep up with kpop at all- it was only through you guise that I listen to kpop at all!

        4 years ago
      • I know this sounds like a long shot! But would you ever consider quit doing K-Pop stuff all together to maybe more focus more on the Indie Scene?

        4 years ago
        • ( Can’t reply to Simon and Martina in this thread, wat )
          I really hope you don’t quit doing kpop stuff. You guys introduced me to U-Kiss, the first group that I’ve actually cared about the members ( like an older sister ). Also all the other music that’s indie and otherwise non-kpop, I would have never found them otherwise. Even though this is a deeply heinous thing that happens, it’s not like every person out there is a virtual slave. I’m sure there are groups who are paid well and are happy to work hard, and enjoy their lives as kpop artists ( and also the regular workers in South Korea! ). It’s hard to not see the bad, but there’s a lot of good too.

          4 years ago
        • Well, regardless of future directions, We Nasties will always be behind your back =)

          4 years ago
        • I’m not sure. We’ve been thinking about some things. Not gonna say what yet, though :D

          4 years ago
        • They have on the past! They used to do it on Sundays, and it was great, I got into Korean indie because if the . I miss the indie k playlists T^T

          4 years ago
  26. I knew it was bad but I didn’t think it was that terrible. It’s indenturing. I’m between yes, this is a incredibly terrible thing but it does bring up, where are they going to work then? From what’s being described, I would imagine this is one of the few viable job options available. Or if there are other jobs, again, difficult to get into or just as bad as what they have now. I would hope the kpop industry enforces better policies but I’m not going to bet on it. They might lose one or two members but they won’t lose fans, more importantly, they won’t lose customers.

    4 years ago
  27. WOW, What a crazy topic. Is it the same for all of Korean Music/K-Drama’s or is it just K-Pop. It would be interesting to see how deep this goes into Korean Pop Culture!

    4 years ago
  28. Wow, talk about moustache…

    4 years ago
    • I know. I keep having cartoon visions of Simon, twirling his moustache, as an evil doer and Martina as the fair damsel. Spudgy comes to save the day with Meemers as his trusty sidekick.

      4 years ago
      • To me it also reminds me of circus :p He only needs to paint it black and wear a vertically striped hat

        4 years ago
  29. 2014 was a bad year, and because of all the drama and company scandals, people are either leaving or staying away from the Korean pop. SM is one of the biggest causes of the drama though since most of what is going on is with SM and stuff. (At least what I have read)

    4 years ago
  30. Kind of random but semi-related: do you guys know of any good English resources on Korean law? I’m wondering because I want to figure out how these companies have managed to get around what at least on the surface seem to be all kinds of violations of international labor laws. And where does child labor fit in? Some trainees start start at like 12 years old, right? Good grief. It *is* a slippery slope.

    4 years ago
    • And what about their “sasaeng stalkers” and anti-fans? Are the artists able to take legal action against them? Because some of them really toe the line for breaking-and-entering or assault….. Didn’t an anti try to poison an artist’s drink once?

      4 years ago
      • I neeeeeed someone to do a psychological study on sasaeng fans. I hereby volunteer myself to be part of the EYK research team!

        4 years ago
  31. I’ve heard about musicians here having crappy contracts but not as bad as the BEP thing. Plus I heard that even though they usually make very little from cd or single releases they make most of their money from touring. The kpop idols need to get a union to advocate for them since it seems like alot of them are very young when they start out and don’t know any better than to sign these kinds of contracts.

    4 years ago
  32. Besides just happening not to like the music being produced, this is probably the biggest reason I’ve never been a kpop fan. What I also find sad/interesting in relation to this is just how “romanticised(?)” being a kpop idol/famous is in Korea. Obviously, I can’t speak for everybody in that country but many of my relatives agree with me when the topic comes up. It’s almost as though they imagine the “world” of the entertainment industry in Korea as a “Shangri-La” of sorts. Everytime there was an episode teaser for ‘KPOP STAR’ or ‘THE VOICE’ on Korea, someone would say, “They say this season’s entries are the best so far.” Then, someone else would promptly answer back something among the lines of, “Well… everyone’s good at singing these days.” They say it as though there are too many kids that are good at singing.

    With years and years of everyone wanting to be closer to this “Shangri-La”, simply being talented or good-looking is no longer good enough. In fact, it’s become a new norm. With genius marketing and promotion, these entertainment industries have not only made a buttload of money and increased the popularity of their entertainers (cough-products-cough), they have also successfully made everyone “realise’ that they want to be a part of that. When you look at these K-Pop stars, they’re so beautiful, talented and popular with their own interesting personalities, and it becomes easy for people and fans to forget that they are people. That behind closed doors, they may be drowning in problems that we have never even heard of. It really sucks. (I will again repeat that this probably doesn’t go towards everyone. There are probably many happy k-pop idols out there. Who knows?)

    Anyways, thanks for the video, guys! Thanks for all the information, things to think about, and possible discussions that you provide for us!

    4 years ago
  33. I have always been curious about how much contracts vary from company to company and even between members within a group. As Leigh_darling mentioned bailing as a group seems to give more credibility because otherwise I am left wondering if some people just have more balls than others or if other people are just able to put up with more crap. Either way change needs to happen. Even in America the artist profits are less than ideal as only a small portion goes to the artist. I think transparency is better but I don’t know.

    4 years ago
  34. I definitely agree that this is one of the worst years for kpop in terms of lawsuits, members leaving, disbandments, etc. However, there has to be some breaking point when it comes to the overworking and slave labor of any industry, and it has been shown many, many times in the past. Things are only going to get worse from here, but that’s actually a GOOD thing. This means that things can actually improve for not only the kpop industry, but for Korea as a whole. In other words, there will be bad stuff like this happening, but it can only mean things will improve and eventually money will not be the most important thing.

    4 years ago
  35. Honestly, as much as I enjoy kpop, I always feel some kind of relief when a band or artist sues their company. I mean, when Kris and Lu Han left my initial reaction was “Noooooo!” but after five minutes I was all “YES. YES YOU GO! LET’S HAVE A PARTY TO CELEBRATE YOUR FREEDOM!”

    I enjoy having control over my own life and pursuing my own happiness and I sincerely value privacy and free time, so I feel much happier when an artist can break away and finally have that freedom to go after what they really want. They shouldn’t be wasting their youth being trapped, overworked, miserable and broke.

    4 years ago
    • Kris makes me so proud in being Canadian. We take labor law a bit more seriously, and thinking that he’s bringing that to Korea makes me so happy!!

      4 years ago
  36. I remember that when JYJ came out to sue SM, there was a report that Kpop stars actually make less than the average office worker.

    Slave contracts aren’t just limited money and emotional strains sadly.

    When I did martial arts, I had a guy who was my senior. He was the hardest worker I met and he was the best at martial arts. Eventually he competed in China on a reality show called “The Disciple”. This was to search for the new Jackie Chan. He won the competition.

    However, something bad happened right afterwards, he was somehow in a Cpop group. But here’s the thing, this was not what he wanted, he won a martial arts talent search, not a dance/singer search, and he couldn’t get out. Our instructor heard of this from him and he helped my senior get out of the slave contract and back to what he wanted.

    4 years ago
  37. I am glad you guys talked about this and you brought up a bunch of good points. I feel like the K-Pop industry is very much like the music and movie industry in mid-century North America. A lot of the things that are happening there, happened here as well. Which gives me hope.

    In the case of B.A.P., I think anyone with eyes could see them being run in to the ground for the purposes of making it impossible to leave. The other day I told someone to start viewing the heads of these companies not as bosses but as partners (in the relationship sense.) If you look at it like that, the behavior makes sense: an abuser will go to whatever lengths needed to keep their victim under their thumb.

    I do think it is incredibly noble and honorable that B.A.P. bailed as a group. It lends credibility to their position of poor treatment. Others that have left this year and cited poor treatment did NOT do that and makes them look like spoiled children who have zero regard for the people they left behind.

    4 years ago
    • Interesting perspective, but I totally disagree with your last comment. Anyone has a right, or should have the right, to break their contract under numerous situation, including not wanting to work for a company that you find dont represent your values, doesnt represent you properly, or you find that work environment toxic. These are workers, and personally I find the attitudes of the band members who are ‘left behind’ or feel the need to trash talk their former coworker ridiculous and just supporting the system of abuse. Ive read articles about the expected abuse, where a kdrama actress (I think of heart strings) was in a serious accident and they felt upset they couldnt work to the point of working with broken bones and serious trauma and injuries. WHO THE Frick SUPPORTS THAT???!!! The social pressures to basically sacrifice yourself with no safeguard or respect to one’s personal needs, and socially condemning ppl for being individuals and having their own wants is ridiculous and something that I absolutely hate. If someone makes a personal decision that they no longer want to work, that is their decision. If someone wants to pursue their own things, like their own business, they should not be rejected for their own pursuits. Or if they have sex, if they have a relationship- if they even have a separate life outside of their work, Koreans are just ostracized, and I find that absolutely awful. And I dont think it inherently is part of Korean culture- it’s a part of the kpop industry

      4 years ago
      • I’m not saying that they shouldn’t leave, I just question the motives of anyone who would abandon others to terrible treatment. If it’s truly abusive, you bring everyone out with you that you can.

        4 years ago
      • I agree to a certain point. But if someone has a strong work ethic that doesn’t want to drag, in this case, the show down or make it more difficult for the other workers, I find that admirable. Even if it is a social pressure, I would support the actress’s decision. It would have been nice if the director or producer or whoever in charge of the show to say, “Hey, it’s okay. Take time to recover.” but it didn’t happen this time, and things are on a schedule. Not that this excuses them but something to keep in mind. From what the actress said in particular, she wanted to continue, not the show producers, which is different in what’s happening in Kpop where the idols don’t get to decide whether or not they want to continue.

        And yes, leigh_darling brings up a good point. Even if you have individuals leaving groups, the fact that the whole group, such as BAP, leaving together, creates a bigger impact. It’s saying that no one in the group is going to take that bull. It’s like “Wow, it must be really bad for everyone to leave.”

        4 years ago
        • Very true to what leigh_darling says- and I think having BAP leave together as group is the most powerful message so far. I think this is gonna be the case that will have outstanding support and gain the attention of lawyers and the legal end of things to actually make some change. That’s what I’m truly hoping for. And as for the actress and those situations- I work in the industry, and only as a background actress, and even then, sprained ankle? Youre sent home. If youre a voice actor and have a cold? You rest up to save your voice, and work double once youre back. Big actor gets hurt? Youd better believe that this is avoided at all costs, since it dramatically sets back filming, but if theyre not careful then there will be lawsuits for big things- and for things like illness, scheduling is delayed and negotiated through representatives.The one case I remember is when the girl had head trauma and broken ribs, and left the hospital DESPITE doctors’ recommendations to stay. I’ll do my best to try and find that article- it came up on my facebook feed, but here’s a short article that you can read to understand what I mean. [http://www.dramabeans.com/2011/07/park-shin-hyes-accident-causes-last-minute-script-changes/]. Being severely injured and having a strong work ethic has nothing correlated. When you are severely injured, for international labor law you have the right to proper hospitalization and care. Actors will insist to work in fear of losing their job, or getting a bad rep with the director/ producer, even when in the long run it could severely damage their health- permanently- or prolong their symptoms. And here’s the thing- korean productions function in such a way that they cannot skip out and rearrange filming, unlike in many other places in the western world. They seem to have this scheduling model in which they must complete filming by a certain time and give no thought to extra scheduling days in order to catch up on shoots, or if filming must be delayed because of a medical emergency, they have no system to deal with it.

          4 years ago
  38. Very interesting topic. I recommend watching the documentary ARTIFACT, it goes into the US Band 30 Seconds to Mars’ struggles with their record label EMI.
    In short, the screwing of artists for the corporation’s gain is an age old tradition.
    It would appear that greed knows no boundaries whatsoever, and that many of the worlds super-wealthy do so on the backs of others.

    4 years ago
  39. The music industry is sick. I recommend highly the documentary “Artifact” by 30 Seconds to Mars. It’s crazy what goes on.

    4 years ago
  40. Eatyourkimchi:

    Brave souls,
    venturing into waters unknown,
    to answer Nasties’ Questions.

    4 years ago
    • I like your poem. It should be read in a meditative stance, while sitting by a stream in the early days of May.

      4 years ago
      • In the early days of May,
        under trees that bounce and sway,
        the EYK Crew meditates,
        as their watermelons float away.

        If I’m commenting on videos with poetry, I should probably be sleeping. Hope you enjoy my poetic rambles! :D

        4 years ago