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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. 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.

    5 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.

      5 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!

        5 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?

        5 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.

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

          5 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

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

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

      5 years ago
  2. Fun TL;DR Question!

    What are some Korean mythologies or folk stories? Do they have their own versions of witches, trolls, etc., and are there any good TV/Movies that have them? Another way to think of it is like how Japan has shintoism, does Korea have their own religion that predates Christianity & Confucianism? Thank you!

    5 years ago
  3. 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….

    5 years ago
  4. Eatyourkimchi:

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

    5 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.

      5 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

        5 years ago
  5. Hey Simon & Martina!!! I have a question for TL;DR and your answer would really help me out! Are there any allergic precautions taken in restaurants (like telling the waiter/waitress about a specific food allergy and having your food made a certain way) or foods in convenience or grocery stores that are made specifically for people with certain allergies (ex. sesame, gluten, soy, peanuts, etc.)? I’ve read up that you can make cards that have “I am allergic to. . .” in the language of the country you are visiting but I wanted to know if the food industry in South Korea actually takes these allergies seriously.

    5 years ago
  6. “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.

    5 years ago
  7. I just read a book on K-Pop by a social theory professor (the title is really long but the author is John Lie) working at the University of California who wrote about this issue in great detail. The first half of the book focused on recruitment and the money companies spend to promote K-Pop groups. It COMPLETELY changed how I perceive K-Pop. This year alone has changed how I view K-Pop so much because the groups I grew up listening to haven’t released any music and all the groups and solo artists that have been debuting aren’t really my cup of tea.

    It doesn’t surprise me that these “slave contracts” are so severe and lucrative law-wise because the law system, as effective as it is in South Korea, is known for this sort of transparency when it comes to business contracts because the government has been trying to build up the country’s economy since the mid 1980’s. These companies are highly profitable because they’re perfected this formula to create pop stars and music groups by ensuring that they the company makes the majority of the profit. The government will not get involved in this sort of scamming because it’s politicians are linked to the companies and their relations have ensured that everyone but the ones performing (they don’t actually sing or dance, but are told what t do) get a significant portion of the profits.

    It’s sad to say, but I don’t think these slave contracts will ever end because K-Pop is an industry that realizes on innovation, talent, and social media to succeed. Anyone can become a K-Pop singer as long as they have a company to back them. Unless the law system does anything, like introduce law reforms, slave contracts will continue.

    5 years ago
    • *relies on innovation, talent, and social media to succeed.

      5 years ago
  8. For your next TL;DR could you discuss the differences between living in Seoul and living in other parts of South Korea (other cities or in the countryside). A lot of dramas, and variety programs seem to depict distinct stereotype of non seoulites, or simply show people moving to Seoul to find work. You guys went on a road trip around SK this summer; what were the things that surprised you guys? What kinds of things had you expected before your trip? What are some of your favourite places outside of Seoul?

    5 years ago
  9. Could you guys talk about K-pop “Uncle Fans”? It´s something I find really disturbing, especially when I read articles that talk about girl groups remmaing with their “innocent vibe” to please their uncle fans. Most of these groups have really young girls on them, so It’s too hard to accept that whole culture of man in their 40’s praising young girls.

    5 years ago
    • Oh my god yes!! They are so creepy!! I was at the Dream Concert this past June and in the row in front of me were a bunch of ajusshi’s in their late 40’s decked out in Girls Generation/Girls Day/A-Pink gear :/ They seemed so out of place in that sea of fangirls. I kept thinking “Damn this guy better be Jessica’s dad or else he’s a pervert.”
      They were there the whole 6 hours but only payed attention towards the end when the girls came out. They even pulled out DSLR’s and camcorders. The guy in front of me was eagerly trying to get good leg shots of Girls Day:/

      5 years ago
      • You have missed the point.Open up your eyes.
        Who has dressed these girls in this manner?
        Who pays them to dress like prostitutes?
        Who creates the sexy theme?
        Who do they create it for ?
        The onus falls back onto the owners and not the lookers we all have two eyes and there is no law against looking but there should be laws against the use of women to promote sex.

        5 years ago
      • And another thing A recent fan interview with Strawberry Milk revealed a very disturbing thing.
        The first question from a young fan was who has the biggest boobs Choa or Way?
        What an insult!! If I could get my hands on this guy I would throw him off a cliff.

        5 years ago
    • You could not be more wrong.
      The Uncle fans have musical backgrounds that go back so far ,so they have heard it all love their music and appreciate good music when ever it appeals to them .Being any particular age has nothing to do with your rights to listen and engage in Music.if it were not for their wallets many stars would not make a living.
      Think of the Rolling Stones.They are all in their sixties and making a mint.Do you then consider they should not play instruments and that all their fans should be under a certain age ?Does that mean that young girls who like the stones are looking for a sugar daddy or want to become a groupie ?
      You also have to consider the psychological element of older fans.many are protectionist and have younger sons and daughters and they see a lot of these Kpop artists as vulnerable .

      5 years ago
  10. I posted this on YouTube, but noticed there was more of a conversation happening on the Blog, so I thought I would post here as well. My first, “Wow, Seriously?” Moment was when seeing the dorms of Nana from Orange Caramel and Chan-yeols from Exo and their work schedules on Roommate. I enjoy the music and want to support them, but felt like they were not financially seeing any of it for all their hard work. It makes you not want to buy the albums if the artists aren’t going to see any of the money from them. On the other side I think of YG Artists and feel the exact opposite. I like buying YG music, because i feel the artists are well promoted and supported. I get that not everyone can be BigBang, but how many members have had their own place? How many get royalties off songs they write? You actually see them travel, do things outside of work, and GD will even flash his Lamborghini from time to time. You can look through their growth and see how their hard work paid off and how YG made sure they received their fair part. I’m admittedly YG biased, but there is a reason for it.

    5 years ago
  11. 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.

    5 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.

      5 years ago
  12. I said a couple of years ago that the kpop companies need to remember that the Cylons ALWAYS revolt in the end. Sure enough, here we are.
    High five to anyone who understood that nerd reference (higher five if you agree).

    5 years ago
  13. Wow, talk about moustache…

    5 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.

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

        5 years ago
  14. I’m really glad you guys did a Tl;Dr about this topic. To answer your question- yes, it does change my perception of KPOP. I really like KPOP and how different it is from a lot of western pop music, but I wonder if I am simply adding to the poor working conditions of these artists by feeding into the ridiculous promotions and debuts and all that. I realize being a responsible consumer is important, like not buying from companies that employ sweatshops or practice unethical business.

    I guess I never really stopped to consider music can be a part of that ugly cycle too. It makes me sad, because I love music. :/

    5 years ago
  15. Personally, I’d be really happy for K-Indie Playlist to make a comeback and maybe you can do a ‘favourite Kpop of the month’ style video occasionally if you’re disillusioned with Kpop (I’m not sure I’ve ever taken Kpop too seriously because I got into it because of you guys – hahaha). This TL;DR just makes me sad and makes me want to go and free all of the artists languishing in slave contracts! Maybe in the next TL;DR you can explain what this Honey Butter Chip thing… or how food can go viral.

    5 years ago
  16. 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.

    5 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.

      5 years ago
  17. A question on a subject you guys have touched on before, but I was wondering what is it like for a vegetarian/vegan to live in korea in terms of for example grocery shopping (I have pretty much only found information on restaurants)?
    Is there options to meat and dairy products, such as soymilk/oatmilk/alond milk or soyprotein “meat”?
    Is it easy to know when fruit and vegetables are in season and are there any possibilities to find organic options?

    5 years ago
    • I would really want to hear about this too! As well as words and exspressions that would help us vegans to explain ourselfs to people/restaurants.
      Also, is it abnormal to meet/be a vegan/vegetarian in South-korea? How is this matter treated by others who do eat animal products in for instance social events?

      5 years ago
  18. Please please PLEASE!!!!! Can you talk about diabetes in Korea? I want to teach in Korea one day, but my parents are worried because I have type 1 diabetes and need insulin to live. Is it common there? Is insulin cheap or expensive? Do they know a lot about it or not really?

    5 years ago
  19. 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.

    5 years ago
  20. One more thing. It would be cool if all of these fan groups decided to become advocacy groups. They love their oppas and unnis? Then advocate for their rights! Demand transparency, or talk with their wallet. Honestly, if the group isn’t getting the money anyway, why should the company get it?

    5 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…

    5 years ago
  22. MLE

    Wow that was so interesting! Thanks for talking about such a serious issue. For a fun TL;DR question, I know that in Japan there are tons of festivals and there’s the whole matsuri culture of wearing yukata, playing special games and winning prizes, and all that good stuff. Are there large festivals like that in Korea? What are they like and have you been to them yourselves?

    5 years ago
  23. Martina and Simon, do you ever miss teaching? if you could magically manipulate time or could be in two places at once would you go back to doing both youtube and teaching?

    5 years ago
  24. This reminds me of an oldies song that I would listen to with my dad about the coal mining back in the 50s in the US. Tennessee Ernie Ford sings the song “Sixteen Tons” and it talks about how the old coal mining companies used to pay the workers vouchers for the company stores instead of cash so they could never save up money. At the same time housing was also often supplied by the company and was taken out of their paycheck as well.

    5 years ago
  25. 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.

    5 years ago
  26. Why are the parents signing these contracts for their children? Or are kids allowed to sign contracts on their own? I could not imagine signing my young child into a job where I have 1. No contact for years, 2. No way to see debt versus income, and 3. Have to fight to claim their hard work. I understand supporting a child’s dream but why are the parent going into this with their eyes shut? Many of the Kpop artists are signed on as young kids who are excited about doing what they think they want to do for the rest of their lives, it is exciting. However, the parents should know better than to sign a contract that does not offer them the ability to control their kids’ life a bit more. Yes, the industry is messed up but what is it saying about the parents who are doing this to their children? If parents did not sign contracts with these companies than the companies would have no business or would have to change the contracts. I think it is not just the companies but the parents, too, who are at fault.

    5 years ago
  27. Simon, yes, corroborate is a word, and yes you used it correctly. https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#safe=off&q=corroborate

    5 years ago
  28. As a former Kpop artist and entertainer I can verify on multiple levels that what you have heard is true. I used to put in long hours with my group and go from concert to concert for a measly ₩100,000 a month. When I did tv shows or talk shows, I would get a smidgen of what was paid to my company. On average a management/entertainment company will take 60 – 80 percent off the top. The artist is left with almost nothing. You can contact me if you would like to know more!

    5 years ago
    • Was it for a small company ? When did your group debut ? Why/When did you guys break apart? If only you left is your group still promoting/”on a hiatus”?

      5 years ago
  29. 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.

    5 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

      5 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.”

        5 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.

          5 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.

        5 years ago
  30. In some ways, because all of this has become more transparent this year, I consider it to be a good year for K-pop. Right…? I dunno. It’s depressing, but I’d rather it be depressing and we all know about it and the sacrifices the K-stars are making so we can appreciate them better and cheer them on as they fight for their own rights. I used to wonder, “What’s the point in sending K-pop idols birthday gifts? I mean, really, I love them, but they probably have more money than I do and can buy all this stuff – BETTER stuff – for themselves,” and now that opinion has absolutely changed.

    All this aside, I would LOVE to see a TL;DR on your CostCo trip! And Christmas stuff! I will NEVER get tired of your holiday videos and I wish there was a whole mini-series of them for me to watch. Honestly, in the lead-up to the holidays, I have been craving some of the Christmas atmosphere you guys create! I’d love to see your Christmas decorations of the studio, of your house, and some video/photos of those cute window displays you hinted at from behind on Instagram! ^0^ Or, you know, the state of unicorns in Korea. This is important stuff!

    5 years ago
  31. 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!

    5 years ago
  32. i got awesomely distracted by simon s moustache and martina s hair!!

    5 years ago
  33. Simon and Martina, do you think a Union among Kpop Idols would work? With the established acts, like Big Bang and Tvxq, taking leadership? I feel that if the companies are faced with the collective voices all idols,they would be more pressured to listen. And also a Union would provide rookies a wall to lean on and knowledge of their rights and of what questions to ask.

    5 years ago
    • Thank you for posting this, I was also thinking about the same thing.
      Simon and Martina, could you maybe also talk about labour laws in Korea? As in to what extent is it even possible for a union to be formed and have any influence on the industry? (Maybe after you do a couple of happy TL;DRs ya’ll can get back to us on this :P)

      5 years ago
    • Having an established act doesn’t mean you should lead a union. While having a union might be a good idea, stressing – might -, they need people outside the industry and without bias to form it. [ Bias meaning that they wouldn’t force everything to work around what might work well for them but not for others, and also meaning they can’t have any doubt or misunderstandings due to the company they’re in. “YG bias”, even though it’s a joke here on EYK, would be a legitimate concern that would destroy a union pretty quick. ] They’d need people who – were – in the industry and don’t have direct or otherwise biased connections to entertainment companies to form it, along with a lot of lawyers, people in the government to help make laws, etc and so on. Saying something like, “GD should make a union and lead it” is impractical for him and others, a very poor plan overall, and the fastest way to make it fail legally and otherwise.

      5 years ago
      • A successful union would require all the things you have stated. But having established acts lead, even symbolically, would be a statement pf strong intent by the artists(idols) that they, as a collective, want better terms so much so that even the ‘successful’ ones would lead that charge. Still, for the organisation to work, the things you stated are a must.

        5 years ago
        • I’m not sure that “leading” it symbolically would be a good idea either. Without laws in place, the companies could drop their idols after the creation of a union and before they actually join said union. I’d imagine this would happen with the bullshit that happens in South Korea as it currently is. You’d get in major trouble here in the US for firing someone if they join a union ( and for no other reason ), but somehow I think it would definitely happen over there. There are some pretty absurd things that happen in South Korea that would never fly here, and are questionable for international human rights.

          I’d totally like to see it happen though, and some big names either join or support such a thing. I just don’t feel like it’s going to yet, I don’t think South Korea is quite at that point yet.

          5 years ago
  34. I actually just read about Brad’s (from Busker Busker) ordeal during Superstar K3 and I kind of got winded reading the story. It makes some things seem very grey with regards to shows like that. All we see is the glamour and glitz which outshines the reality… even though it’s a reality show. Kind of makes me question similar shows in North America. It seems like we were all aware of this but pushed it aside while wanting to focus on the positive stuff. I, like many, turned away from KPop because of that but came back because I genuinely like the music. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth though.

    One really interesting thing is Hanhee (aka Sarah Wolfgang) that used to be a member of Tahiti did an AMA on reddit regarding her experience as a KPop training (Here: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/24o8js/iaman_ex_kpop_trainee_ama/). Although some of the things she described were shocking, I’m not really surprised. The main thing that surprised me was that her parents took on her debt after she left the group with recommendations of a psychiatrist after being diagnosed with an eating disorder.

    An enigma that recently popped into my head is that some groups during the first few years of their contract have promoted cell phones but some of them aren’t even allowed to have phones. Does that rule just dissolve once they start being the spokesperson of that phone?? Seems like it??? idk

    Oh! (I just have so many thoughts and feels about this topic, I can’t, I’m sorry lol)

    I read that trainees sign contracts from the start of their training. If it turns out that they never debut, I’m assuming they still have to find some way to pay off their debt right? So even when you’re “free”, you’re not actually free until however much you owe the company is paid off – that’s scary.

    All in all, I really hope issues like these start making kids reconsider this path. Although the alternative path to “fame and fortune” is more difficult, it’ll be more rewarding in the end.

    5 years ago
  35. 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.

    5 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.

      5 years ago
  36. OH MY GOD PLEASE DO A COSTCO VIDEO ~~~~ I’M IN LOVE WITH COSTCO AND THEIR BREAD. Do they have amazing artisan bread in the Korean Costcos?

    5 years ago
  37. Your comment at the end did make me want to ask about the ‘cute culture’ in Korea. I’ve had friends go to Japan and they have told me it’s full of cute mascots and characters for the most random of things. My sister went to Korea and mentioned visiting a Hello Kitty cafe but where she was, that was about all she saw which surprised her. When I visit my local Asian mart, all the snacks, drinks and even some vegetables have cute mascot characters all over them which is nothing like you’ll find in the US. The closest thing is probably cereal mascots. Is there as big of a ‘cute culture’ in Korea as in Japan or is it more watered down like the US? (Sorry for the long comment and double sorry if you’ve already talked about this)

    5 years ago
  38. When the whole JYJ/TVXQ and Hangeng’s incident came about a few years ago, it really shook the entire Kpop world because it was something that perhaps no one saw it coming. But as the years ago by, the incidents involving Kris, Jessica, Luhan etc…. personally, it just a matter of time that it pops out again. It may be a shocker to new fans, but for fans who have been supporting kpop for years, oh hey it’s nothing new, it was more of a “oh here we go again… contract disputes”. I’ve seen comments on these disputes from “fans” saying that the artistes should not really be arguing or complaining at all if they are passionate and committed enough about their music, career, company that trained them, dancing and whatsoever. As much as they worked hard for something that they love, what’s the point if they can’t put money on the table to even feed themselves properly?

    Has it changed my perception? I believe it definitely has in some point. Over the years, I realised I’m just not as happy as I was before when I was first into Kpop for some reason. You will never fail to find comments of Kpop performances such as “so and so look so tired”, “so and so doesn’t look as cheerful” and stuff like that. These artistes are being squeezed out by upperheads who only care about themselves and money/profits for the company. Even for a person with great love and passion for singing/music/dancing, it just a matter of time that the fire burns out.

    5 years ago
  39. Ok I love facts and I love Audits.Particularly Audits.
    Having dealt with many a cheating and deceptive bastard at management level for many years I usually refer my queries onto an accountant or a solicitor to get some answers. Some times you do sometimes you don’t,sometimes your hands are tied and you can do nothing but wait till a Director kicks the bucket or is kicked out to get the answers.
    But in this case I want to know the facts.
    Let’s start with one group, my favourite group Crayon Pop, and use them as an example.
    My questions are this:
    What is the points system ?
    Is that like a used car salesman on a retainer?
    Secondly how much individually do these girls earn ?
    Where does the money go?
    How is it distributed?
    Do they owe Chrome or Mr Hwang any money?

    My pet hate is subgroups but I noticed most of the fans are not adults and are children just by reading some of these comments, so they care little about the ramifications of a sub group because well, most of them are still in school and just want to be amused.
    For me though being a rare adult amongst this throng of head in the cloud fans I like to dig a little and get to the bottom.
    When a subgroup forms who gets the money?

    You know what ?
    I would like one of you delirious Kpop fans to come up with some answers to my questions but I will bet last years income that no one has the slightest idea what I am talking about or do they really care.

    5 years ago
  40. This has bothered me, how would I directly support a kpop band?

    I’ve live in North America. I am also into metal music. I’ve been told by metal bands and meet and greets or heard from others that the best way to support them is to go to their concerts, bring your friends, buy a tshirt or other merch there as the bands get more money from the concert than if I bought a CD (which they get maybe pennies on). There’s only a handful of kpop tours that come to my area and also hella expensive when they do. One hand, buying songs and such would support my favorite kpop bands and pay off their debit, but it is also kinda crummy that my fav bands work really hard and see none of their fan’s support.

    5 years ago