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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. cool moustache!

    5 years ago
  2. This topic made me think about this week’s episode of Roommate. Seo Kang Joon and Lee Guk Joo visit Jackson before his performance with Got7. But Kang Joon jokes that Jackson’s mom may be waiting to come in and surprise him–KJ wasn’t trying to be cruel, but Jackson was close to tears and when Guk Joo came out instead of Jackson’s mom, he explained how he hasn’t seen his mother in TWO YEARS! he just looked like a sad little boy and my heart broke for him. To top it off, he’s with one of the (supposed) better agencies! It’s a horrible system that is hopefully changing. I’m glad you addressed it this week.

    5 years ago
    • yes I felt so sad watching that too, and even though I knew it was just gook ju that was outside I was hoping they had somehow gotten his mom there too. I think he also mentioned how his dad is always travelling for business and his mom is sick (on another episode) and how bad he felt for not being able to go visit her.

      5 years ago
  3. This year has been very hard for kpop, but I think this shows that the people in this industry do have a voice. It shows the public how unfairly they are treated. Some people have been mad at certain kpop members for “abandoning” their group but I personally support everyone who is standing up for themselves and I hope that the companies will treat their stars better.

    5 years ago
  4. This year has been very hard for kpop, but I think this shows that the people in this industry do have a voice. It shows the public how unfairly they are treated. Some people have been mad at certain kpop members for “abandoning” their group but I personally support everyone who is standing up for themselves and I hope that the companies will treat their stars better. Also I have been watching the kdrama Modern Farmer and at one part a little boy is bullied because his mother is not Korea. I was wondering if this happens in Korea and are mixed couples socially acceptable?

    5 years ago
  5. This situation it’s just so sad. One topic that I discussed with a korean friend is about the fan clubs. They pay a lot of stuff to their artists! Food for staff and members, give presents, money, merchandise, donations,just not once but all the time. One thing that I was surprised when I first went to a kpop concert fan clubs from Thailand, Philippines, Hong kong, etc giving free cards, candies, photos for the people in the line. After I came to korea, my mind changed so much I saw so many stigmas and situation that I can’t describe.

    5 years ago
  6. 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
  7. I think that 2014 has been the worst year in k-pop EVAR! My favorite group is EXO which two members have left this year and now every exo-l is waiting for a new song like wtf and no one in exo has talked about any “new song making” or whatever and then this makes all us exo-l’s feel like “WHAT IF OVERDOSE WAS THEIR LAST SONG?!?!?!” and yeah. BAP is my SECOND FAVORITE GROUP LITERALLY RIGHT BEHIND EXO and now they are all leaving too. It’s better for bap and luhan and kris because they were all treated TERRIBLY and I think companies need to fix this kind of thing NOW. All the kids in south korea that want to group up and become k-pop idols and spend hours training and going to every single try-out thing dont know what they could be getting into. idols can join companies when they are still little kids, and everything about this industry is wrong.

    5 years ago
  8. Thanks for doing a video on this guys! It’s a really important topic and I have a feeling we’ll see a lot more trouble about contracts in 2015.

    Regarding your point that they could just suffer through the contract, and then afterwards use the fans they earned to be successful in a self run project – I’m afraid I have to disagree. Why yes this would work for individuals from highly successful groups, so SNSD and EXO, for all those people in mid to low level groups they almost just disappear.

    If I use my favourite group Nine Muses for instance. They are not the most popular group but did manage to get millions of views on their music videos, and charted relatively well especially with Wild. They also appeared on a variety of shows so they were known as it were. While we don’t know how much they were getting paid if you watch their documentary ‘9 Muses of Star Empire’ they are clearly mistreated by their management. Also ZE:A who are in the same company had a massive issue with their pay and working conditions. Three members of Nine Muses have left recently. Eunji and Lee Sem appear to have been completely burnt out on the entertainment lifestyle from their time in the group. Nobody knows what Sem is doing, and Eunji has gone to college and recently does some modelling work on the side. Sera, who was without a doubt the most talented and popular member, is trying to continue making music by posting covers and original songs on YouTube but they usually only get like ten thousand views. She also works for a radio station. So you can see despite them being from a fairly popular group, it hasn’t really helped them at all in future careers. Hey, Eunji was a model BEFORE the group so really what difference did it make to her. They all enduring awful contracts and came out the other side with very little sadly. Now imagine what happens to groups who are even less popular than Nine Muses! They suffer through their contracts, leave with no higher education or skills that could get them a job as a salaryman/woman, don’t have enough popularity to make it by themselves in entertainment (an may not want to considered the mistreatment they’ve faced in the business), and most entertainment companies probably consider them too old now to take on as trainees.

    5 years ago
  9. *sigh* I have no words. This is just so sad…
    Of course I knew that the companies don’t treat the groups so well but hearing things like this just breaks my heart. </3 I wish I could own the companies so they wouldn't suffer like this. It feels so frustrating when there is nothing you can do. Hopefully this thing will be fixed in the future.

    5 years ago
  10. I think there’s hope for K-pop. K-pop has always seemed to me like a close image of Hollywood but moving at… more than quadruple speed probably. The user DD commented about music here in Korea in the 80s, and how stars were paid, but their pay was no reflection to the success of their work. This goes back to pre-MGM pre-Technicolor Hollywood and how unless you were one of the biggest stars you got a standard wage and you were locked into a contract with your company for that small amount.

    K-pop changed and is now doing these awful slave contracts. I don’t think Hollywood ever had a BEP, but at the height of Hollywood, MGM was tops and even today it’s called the “Golden Age of Hollywood”, the stars were slaves to the production companies that owned their contracts. (Unfortunately, hollywood stars still made way better wages then than the K-pop stars do today) But film companies stopped caring as much about quality as they did for quantity, and dozens, or more, films were released every week, often starring many of the same actors and actresses. The actors couldn’t break contracts, couldn’t work for any other company without permission and giving up a portion of their wages, and in some cases, like Judy Garland’s, they were even drugged by their studios so they could continue working up to the studios demands.

    But hey, stylistically, Korean media is entering the sexual revolution, just like American film did as the studio system died out. Enter the 1970s and we see more creativity and freedom. And much better conditions for all of the talent. Also one of the first, or maybe the first, instance of stars taking a percentage of profits in lieu of a good salary. Star Wars father George Lucas couldn’t afford to pay his stars the going rate at the time of filming, some stars just took the salary they could get, other stars (the smart ones) agreed to a cut of the profits… and they’re all still making bank from that.

    TL;DR: If you learn about and watch/listen to Korean media starting from post-War up until now, it smells strangely just like American media did during all of its different stages. So much so, that you can almost predict how things are going to change stylistically and production-wise from year to year. If it keeps following this path, and at this pace, I think before 10 years are over we will see a vastly improved situation for everyone involved, and also in that time, Korean media could come to rival the other major media industries in a powerful way. Just my, admittedly optimistic, opinion, but I’ll keep being hopeful for the future.

    5 years ago
    • Thank you for your interesting observation. I am currently a Korean studies sophomore in college, and what you mentioned is something I’d love to do research on.

      5 years ago
  11. B.A.P got barely any pay but were treated like literal crap. They often didn’t know what schedule they were going to, because they never got to see it. They had to smuggle with other phones and delete the history because they would be punished if they were caught calling their parents. They had to tour pretty much all of the year, sometimes the concert would be just next to each other so day 1. Concert day 2. Concert day 3. transportation to location and preparation for concert…. jfc they had it bad. This is why I would keep music as a hobby.

    5 years ago
  12. 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
  13. I paid £120 to see B.A.P live in London (About $190 I think)- which is really freakin’ expensive for a 2 hour concert ticket (This was VIP though meaning I got early entry so I got to be right at the front) but I figured hey- this could be the only time they ever come to England and I want to have the best experience, and thought it’s fine because I want to help support them and give them money because they work so hard and deserve it and to think they got basically none of it really is awful!!
    I always thought they were overworked, ‘cos I’m pretty sure they were in England for maybe a day?? And they filmed that whole ‘Where are you?’ music video, some of which was shot in Essex which is quite a drive away from London, and me and my friend got to their gig to wait in line at about 3pm, but people we met and spoke to said the members had come in wayyy earlier than that so they must’ve been working non stop!
    I really really hope they end up winning their case and hopefully getting paid properly or joining another company because besides SHINee, they’re my favourite group! And they work so hard they deserve fair pay and a break!!
    I read on a B.A.P blog that when they went to Japan, none of them could afford to go shopping when Bang suggested it so he offered to buy stuff for all his members (I think they were getting financial help from family). Poor babies :(

    5 years ago
    • You mentioning how much you paid for a concert ticket ticks me off. I have many friends who have small indie bands, and told me most of the money they make comes from concerts. Once I learned that anytime I go to a concert I always try and buy a little extra like a shirt or sticker instead of an extra beer.

      5 years ago
  14. Given the choice between being a kpop star and working crazy hours or being a salary man and working crazy hours, I would actually pick the latter. Not only, because the dream of financial freedom through kpop is mostly a lie, but because, there is actually more freedom for the salaryman. You get to pick what you eat, where you live, which company you work for, which doctor to see if you get sick, etc. etc. even if it’s not much of a choice, it is still more freedom, especially mental freedom, emotional freedom, and I feel that overall, your health would probably be better. If you managed to save any money you could do what you want with it too. Frankly, if it were me, I would just go elsewhere, out of the country. It’s hard leaving home but salarymen/women end up leaving home a lot of the time anyways and this way, you have a bit more of a chance at a better life than with kpop.

    It hasn’t really changed my view of kpop since I knew or suspected a lot of this already. I probably listen/dance to kpop now more because there is nowhere else to go for sheer volume of catchy pop. If say, Romania came out with 10 new pop bands of awesomeness suddenly, it probably wouldn’t take much for me to migrate my interest there. However, kpop is also getting to the glut stage so we’ll see how long it can keep being so OTT. It’s just like anime and manga in north america hit a wall around 2004 where everyone and their dog was trying to rush out translations to capitalize on the hype and then suddenly more than half of the companies went out of business overnight because the market just wasn’t big enough to support so many players (and the quality of both the originals and translations suffered as companies tried to do more for cheaper).

    Cyber_3 – shouting out to “The Beguiling” in Toronto for comicbook/anime/manga xmas shopping and best children’s graphic novel selection ever!

    5 years ago
  15. 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
  16. This is why I tried to not to demand so much from kpop artists and also the main reason why I was never in kpop fandom. I couldn’t imagine how the parents and they themselves go through this. Of course you need to sacrifice to climb up to your dreams. But to the point where people used you for what initially suppose to be an ambitious dream just like the rest of us, id so cruel. Just last week I came to like BAP and after this shitty things happen

    5 years ago
  17. I don’t feel like talking about slave contracts and making me feel down like it has done when I talk about it with my friends. So hey Simon and Martina!

    5 years ago
    • Huh? The rest of the comment got cut out? Anyway here’s the rest,
      Fun and happy TL;DR suggestions:
      1. You could teach us about korean history through funny skits ( you have’t done that in a while)
      2. You talked about ghost stories, how about korean fairytales (yay more skits!)
      3. The wierdest or grossest Korean food you have ever eaten or seen.
      4. Foreign movies or songs that are/were really big and popular in korea?

      5 years ago
  18. I don’t think it’s totally crazy for companies that want to protect their investment. Think about how many groups debut but get no where? The industry is not reliant on natural talent, it’s reliant on good training. None of these people would be famous without that training. There needs to be a better balance. Think about how many millions it takes to create a single idol and then their music video. Even smaller companies have blockbuster amazing music videos and everyone can dance well because they HAVE to if they have any chance of being successful. I enjoy k-pop because of the music but the industry is messed up.

    5 years ago
  19. 2014 really sucked not only for groups breaking up and disbanding and contract disputes but for the unfortunate deaths as well.

    But I also think that what’s happening is also a result of supply outstripping demand which is finally bursting the bubble of the Kpop industry making the current model of investment and return unsustainable.
    If you think about it a company gets a trainee whom they have to groom for 2-5 years then they “need” to debut them if they ever want to see a return on that investment and that’s not counting the ones they weed out along the way or the ones that leave through natural attrition.
    Add to the fact that if the debut fails or isn’t up to expectation that piles a lot of risk on a company especially in an overcrowded market where most groups even if they do attain some measure of popularity only last 2-5 years which is the same amount of time it took to train them in the first place.
    While it would seem that for some companies someone somewhere is making money I don’t think it can go on as it is because it isn’t going to be profitable any longer and next year probably won’t just be about more disputes but also about smaller companies folding as well.

    5 years ago
  20. yeah, this is really sad… :( but i’m glad that it’s coming to light and you guys are talking about it and hopefully it’s going to change.

    oh and btw, corroborate IS a word, Martina. lol.

    5 years ago
  21. This is a really informative topic it open our eyes to what the idols from our favorite groups might go thru. About kpop lately it has lower a little but i still love it, but so many changes now more 19+ videos are coming out, in my case i’m a SONE but learning how Jessica got “kick” out of the group is making thing for me a little different, also so many new groups, the damage cause sometimes by the supposed “fans” against the idols if they do something wrong and making all they can to ruin that idols life also has help in me dimishing some interest in kpop.

    5 years ago
  22. This is a really interesting topic, thanks for sharing your views on it Simon and Martina. I am going to show my age a bit here, but in the 90’s these ‘slave contracts’ were common outside of Korea as well. I recall a boy band called Bros….had HUGE hits, toured all over the world, sold millions of albums. When it was all over, they came out with nothing. They had signed a contract when they were desperate up and comers that basically was exactly what you have described. They were liable to pay back the record company for all expenses before they made a cent. Needless to say the record company just kept racking up the expenses and the band never saw any profit. Exploitation of the worst kind :(

    5 years ago
  23. DD

    This is embarrassing thing but the slave contract is one of the recent improvement in early 90s that allows artist’s legal escape from the label and officially get payed in tear of portion ( in some company.) “Please thank for your label owner who make your work published that could be nothing. We can give you some money but it is not a payment of your work.” was 80s situation of Korean musician. Many song writer and artist was stole their work because of the forced “no contract” situation. They escaped from this situation in 90s by establishing independent studio. After that, producer’s power raised from the studio and moved to higher management and training system. ex) SM or YS. In my memory, early 90’s Kpop group was considered a kind of entry level entertainer until the situation of kpop changed. Debut as an independent musician (= leaving the group) was normal step of being independent artist at early 2000 until the KPop scene grew up in huge size. Nowadays, leaving the group means more than just leaving and it worsen the contract issue.

    I’m not saying these all are legitimate but understand the Kpop musician. It is very complicated issue even if the contract thing are all wrong. There are many other things here related to social hierarchy between senior and apprentice in Korean entertainment industry. I can’t blame the Kpop group are avoiding this issue. I hope those senior artist and producer in the company rethink about their reputation and improve the legal issue as it happened in 90s. I’m pretty optimistic for the companies that established by artist but not sure about the others. Some of management companies are just helpless.

    5 years ago
    • DD

      I have a question for you, Simon and Martina.
      I’m currently struggling in the dirt of object particle omission that not exist in English but exist in Korean and it is currently ruining my life. … My question is, how can you deal with this particle omission in Korean speaking and writing? I felt that your Korean is quite great. Did you have any episode for this issue before? This topic smells good.. hum.

      5 years ago
  24. Lately I havent been interested in KPOP at all. I think with everything expanding and changing it’s just not to my taste (either that or I’ve been desensitized by all the colourzzz). However, one thing I can say, Simon, watching the old EYK vids and JEEBUS you’re a baby. A BABY!

    5 years ago
  25. 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
  26. This is really takes you aback. I feel like we all knew, at some level, that K-Pop artists are not treated well but we never stop to think to what extent.

    Personally, I knew these groups were treated badly but I had absolutely no idea just how badly that was. $400 a month is absolute pittance, especially considering the amount of work these people do. I literally had to pause the video to take a moment, especially considering that here, in Australia, the minimum wage is $640 a week.

    This does make me feel disgusted, angry and just sick but really, I’m not all that surprised. Really, I can only hope more people take a stand against this so the vicious cycle can be stopped.

    5 years ago
    • I mean, I knew about the lack of sleep, the food, etc. and I guess I had always suspected about the lack of money (considering how most of them lived, just seeing variety shows, etc.) but this level of abuse is appalling.

      These contracts are made just to continue this cycle of slavery (I guess as the nickname ‘slavery contract’ would imply) but it’s so much more real when you sit down, think and remember that yes, K-Pop artists are real people and yes, they are being treated as something less than human.

      5 years ago
  27. 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
  28. It really is a slave contract. Indentured servant contracts worked in a similar way. People would get passage to the New World by signing a contract agreeing to work a certain number of years (usually 4-7) to pay off the debt. However, there were all sorts of sneaky ways to add on to the amount so that the person could NEVER repay the debt.

    5 years ago
    • That’s exactly what I thought of while watching this. People were indentured to the point where generations of offspring were indentured.

      5 years ago
  29. With all the talk about investments and stuff, I’m sadly not surprised. Angry, sure, but not surprised.

    I do hope too that most groups will protest. With all the artist exposition there is, the companies CAN be transparent and just be more fair with the artists while still making a ton of money.

    Tell you what: I’m pretty sure any company that sees your video and changes their system gets so much good publicity that their artists will skyrocket.

    Your move, companies. YOUR MOVE.

    5 years ago
  30. This year has definitely been a bad year for Kpop. I can’t help but feel naive, I knew the industry wasn’t perfect but I didn’t realise the extent to which some of the companies mistreat the groups they represent. I know I have a different appreciation of the groups as fan/Kpop group relationship compared to the companies having an employee(s)/company relationship but it doesn’t justify the ways these groups can be and in some cases are mistreated.

    As a fan it would be silly to say that I didn’t feel different about the Kpop music industry as a whole but I will by no means stop supporting the groups that I listen too and look up too because the artists have still worked and put effort into what they have produced.

    5 years ago
  31. 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
  32. Check out this article: it’s Dispatch’s interview with TS Entertainment
    Even if B.A.P manages to leave the company, they are going to be in violation of their contract and have to pay a hefty amount to the company.

    5 years ago
  33. 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
  34. I found this so shocking. I knew it was bad. I didn’t know it was THIS bad. This is like a crime against HUMANITY! I feel like they basically STRIPPED the artists of their basic human rights!!! How disgraceful! SHAME ON ALL THE COMPANIES IN FAVOR OF THIS! This has opened my eyes so much,

    5 years ago
  35. 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
  36. Personally my opinion didn’t change at all. I always know these kinds of things. I’m 19 and ever since I was a child I’ve been able to see behind the bullshit of almost anything. When other girls talked about being princesses I always thought “hell no that is a lot of work and not some modern fairytale”. Also about celebrities as a whole, always know their lives aren’t glamorous having their privacy invaded and their relationships and words twisted around by the media. Or when I see a really cool anything and I always ask myself “Well where’s the catch?” Never really trusting stuff I know this world is run by money and money alone. I know the catch is always more money for you and not for the rest. I didn’t enter this world on the level of many Kpop fans. I wouldn’t even say I’m part of it as much as other people. I’m always independent of fandoms when I become a fan of anything. Whenever I saw Kpop artists perform I could always see the catch of money. I assume everything is for profit. I know it very well. I never saw the Kpop world as “glamorous” just saw it as another music genre for my playlist and the first ever bands that I have ever followed. I started just last year. Hasn’t been that long really. Either way, I came to Kpop for the music and the only two bands I’ll ever follow in this genre. I’ll stand by them no matter what they choose to do. But there is always a catch.

    5 years ago
    • Well aren’t you just a special little snowflake…

      5 years ago
      • hahaha I really didn’t mean it like that. Sorry. I just wanted to rant for a second. Got ahead of myself. Though I would say I’ve always been the wird kid so… really this is just me being me. Don’t know how it came out like that really…

        5 years ago
  37. I see where you’re going with the independent artist part – but I’m not sure if a lot of kpop artists could make it on their own. We all know that kpop groups are a construct, built by companies. I guess I could see it if one of the group has learned a lot about the industry and gets everyone to defect to a independent process, then somehow is able to gather all the resources themselves… But for those people getting into those contracts, they need the song writers, choreographers, stylists, etc. to achieve the level of kpop idol that they need to succeed.

    This doesn’t apply to all artists though – Busker Busker, everyone from friendznet, Jay Park – they have a marketable talent and writing ability that can stand alone and attract support. All those indie bands in korea do all that stuff too. (I’m kind of obsessed with them – please indie music sunday thingie come back)

    Anyways, what I’m saying is – yes, to have these idols, we will need companies to provide the guidance, training, and material they need to succeed BUT they need to treat them like freaking human beings. I’m glad these stars are standing up for their rights, and I really hope that it will change the industry for the better. Maybe an example can be made for humane working standards in the kpop industry and it might influence other parts of Korean society.

    … maybe they should Unionize?

    5 years ago
  38. 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
    • 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
    • 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
  39. The first thing that came to my mind after reading this was LIAR GAME. I didn’t know it was this serious, to endure for so long through training for years and then actually have their music sold and get famous but still not get any money is ridiculous. If popular bands have this kind of problem what would happen to the not so popular ones??

    5 years ago
  40. Eegads that’s just horrifying… and to think most of these kids are so young when they first sign up to be trainees. It’s unsettling to see the stark contrast between the fiction that is spun through the music and the videos, and the reality behind it all. I see your point when it comes to the blog post though. The road to a career has been seeming bleaker lately… though that’s probably just me, ha.

    Also: Loving both of your styles in this one. I’m hoping Simon’s stocked up on grooming tips and good beard wax while you were on tour!

    5 years ago