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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. For SM artists, especially the Chinese ones, it is easier to be able to sue the company and still be sucessful because they still have the Chinese industry to fall back on. For example, Kris has released 2 new songs and his movie is coming out soon. But I think that for Korean members its harder unless its a whole group lawsuit like Block B or B.A.P bevause the rest of the band and the company will try to block you like with TVXQ and JYJ.

    5 years ago
  2. 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
  3. i got awesomely distracted by simon s moustache and martina s hair!!

    5 years ago
  4. Meg

    This is so sad if not unsurprising. I’ve been hearing for awhile (from you guys and others) that idoldom isn’t all its cracked up to be sometimes. Which is sad because they do work so hard. But like you said in the post, the same can be said for the average Joe working in a Korean office. Working hard and long hours and not getting adequately paid for it.

    5 years ago
  5. 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
  6. Mmm, does this change how I view kpop? No, not really, music’s music. As for the industry, I guess, but nothing here is surprising… frankly, it sounds exactly like all the stories I’ve heard of the (old? don’t know if anything’s changed…) american music industry. I’ve never heard the b.e.p. acronym, but they followed the same system of non-transparent, non-controllable “artist development” investments in order to control artists and profits, run their lives completely to make things “easier” on the artist, etc. Even the most successful artists basically had to play out the string on their first contract (6 albums or so, if memory serves) before renegotiating into the contract that finally made them rich. Any industry where the supply of willing talent so vastly outstrips the number of successful positions, particularly when there’s this much money involved, is likely to lead to pretty heavy abuse from those in control. The only real way to counteract it that I’ve seen is something like hollywood has, a super-powerful union representing all the artists and capable of crippling the industry if they’re not worked with fairly.

    5 years ago
  7. What are the names of some of the companies that treat their stars well? Are there any differences in how artists are treated between k-pop groups and solo artists (Psy, Ailee, IU, BoA, etc.)?

    5 years ago
  8. This issue actually reminds me of the contracts that geiko have with the okiya that they work for. Basically, okiya will invest all of this money into training (and basically raising) geiko. They provide the geiko with a place to live, food, clothing, etc. This is incredibly expensive. A single kimono with obi, obiage, accessories (such as kanzashi for the hair or fans), etc. can easily cost thousands of dollars. This is just for one outfit and it is rare for a geiko to wear the same kimono more than once. Geiko then have to work very hard to pay off the debt they have to their okiya. Geiko would work event after event, often getting very little sleep, only to have to do it again the next day. Mineko Iwasaki, possibly the most famous geiko of all time, is one of the only geiko to speak out about the limited rights that geiko have. I could write all day about this, it’s a complicated issue, but that is a basic overview of the issue. It’s quite similar to what Kpop idols deal with today.
    **Small disclaimer: I know that the art form of the geiko is slowly dying today, so I do not know if these issues are still as prevalent today as they once were. Geiko are not as common these days so okiya may not have as much money to invest in geiko, therefore making the debt a geiko owes smaller. However, I doubt much has changed over the years, because it can be difficult to cause change within a system that has long standing traditions.
    Sorry for the long post! ^^ haha

    5 years ago
    • Would you say that this is a work choice a person makes ? I know it sounds bad and an investor won’t invest in anything unless he or she thinks they can get a return.It’s much like western style employment in the car resale industry and in Insurance where by you are paid a flat wage less than the minimum wage and it’s looked upon as a loan by your employer which you have to pay back by commissions on vehicles sold or insurances written.
      The next worse thing is young students who work in Chinese restaurants for sometimes $6.00 an hour in the hand no tax and it explains why when you go to Yum cha there are more people serving than eating .As a friend told me some of these restaurants lose money on Yum cha in order to gain customers who will come back for dinner.
      It all boils down to how desperate you are to get money and it is becoming common place for University students to assemble a sex website on a pay per view basis in order to get some money for their living expenses and this is in Australia.
      I was having a conversation with the German manager of the Hilton in Hefei and he was telling me the turn over of staff in China in this industry is over 70% because of the poor wagers and the conditions of employment.
      Your story does not suprise me.

      5 years ago
  9. I’ve been “in” the world of Kpop for almost 9 years now and I can remember quite clearly how shocked and outraged I was when news about JYJ and TVXQ broke. This was the group that actually made realize that Korea was more than just another country in the world and they were treated like shit. As more and more details came out, the clearer my rose-tinted glasses became. I’ve still continued to love Kpop since then, but I’ve been much more weary about what goes on. I started to pay closer attention to how the groups would act in interviews or what they would post on social media sites. Depression, anger, eating disorders, etc. When we look hard enough, it’s there for us to see.

    2014…. The are really no words to describe it. A popular term that I see on r/kpop is “Kpopcalypse” and really, that’s what it’s seemed like. Honestly, all the new information just makes my heart ache for all of these boys and girls who are stuck in such situations. As much as I love my Kpop, I do understand that most times it’s just another form of human slavery and these people who we come to love and adore are being exploited for the profit of some very greedy people.

    5 years ago
  10. This video came it such great time, I’m writing a compare and contrast essay in English class, Kpop vs. American pop. The assay is mostly about the differences about the industries. Thank you guys!

    Also, did you know that SM Entertainment makes every staff member memorize a handbook, it has everything from makeup and best shots for MVs in different countries. One of the main criteria of every SM MV is that it should include the 360 degree slowmo camera.

    5 years ago
  11. I in no way agree with how the performers are being compensated for their work. With that said, I want to put a few thoughts out there. First, the price of fame has never been cheap. These idols do not do this for the simple “love” of music. If that were the case, then they would be content with the indie scene. They purposely audition for these companies seeking fame. While they are underpaid and overworked like the salaryman/salarywoman, idols do not have to worry about basic needs like, rent, utilities and even food. They are given dorms to live in and they are usually provided with someone who takes care of the dorms and cook for them. They are given this as trainees. All of this happens even long before the idol debut. They do not have to worry about the expensive travel expenses that come with promoting. So from trainee days until they release the first successful album, the company is footing an expensive bill. How many people have $450 disposable income every month? Again, I in no way condone the use of slave contracts. I just think that it is not as black and white as we want it to be.

    5 years ago
    • Of course its natural for these kingpin investors to want a return.They are like the mafia, they pay you look after you,they own you,and when the Godfather makes his call for you to repay the debt he will tell you what he wants you to do.if you fail to make a return he can kick you out the door,collect the subsidy provided by the South Korean government to the Kpop Industry and file a tax write off.On the other hand he may be thinking about something else, maybe he will send you to one of his hotels and you can serve in hospitality or maybe he might send you to another city to work the streets for him.
      Nothing comes free and some one has to pay eventually.

      5 years ago
    • Did you not watch the video? They aren’t being given this stuff for free – the expenses are added to the BEP, which they have to pay off. At the trainee level they’re usually fairly young too, but they’re given the bare minimum while being told to do physically and emotionally exhausting work day after day. But, hey, $450 dollars is cool I guess…

      5 years ago
    • It’s not $450 disposable. That would be taxed. I get room and board is given but it’s more like the army, you are several people to a room. You do not decide where and when to sleep. The hours are not downtime eating drinking and singing like the overwork culture in other professions. I doubt anyone is productive at 2. I expect they learn to look busy. It’s work or working out and barely sleeping. It’s your boss deciding on your calorie intake. Who cares if they put money into an idol. They will profit off them soon enough. It’s part of the cost of their doing business. Would you work for $12 a day, taxed at 16 hours plus and a bunk bed at a hostel for a couple years?

      5 years ago
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. Happy TL;DR question!? XD

    What are some of the cool happenings around Korea? Seoul mostly then because of obvious reasons XD
    Because when I watch for example, The Return of Superman, they’re all visiting these really awesome locations that are hard to find here in Sweden? Like, places where you can go ice fishing and then afterwards try to catch a fish with your bare hands? Places where you can go into some kind of greenhouse (??) and pick all kinds of leaves and stuff to eat later? And just now I saw on Roommate S2 that they went to Yeouido (spelling) and climbed 60 floors in like a competition? I don’t know if it’s normal around the world, but I’ve never seen anything like that in Sweden. I hope my examples weren’t too shitty and that you understood what I meant and will answer this question^^

    5 years ago
  15. To be honest, this has been my discomfort and dislike of Kpop from the beginning. Although being interested in it for a number for years now (7, to be exact), I have always been very concerned with these contracts and the health and conditions of the artists. This was one of the reasons why I left Kpop a few years back — I couldn’t justify my support toward artists where I wasn’t sure exactly how they were being treated and where the money people spent on “supporting” their favourite artists actually went.

    I had a change of heart, though, and am actually happy to back into Kpop in this time of change (hopefully). I’m very sorry that so many groups/artists were being underpaid and treated so unfairly, but I’m hoping all of these lawsuits and stuff cause even the slightest shift in the industry. So, in a sense, I’m glad this has come to light, and I’m hoping it brings a lot of awareness to the issue.

    Everyone has a right to follow their dreams and their ambitions in life, and it saddens me to think that by following their dreams that it comes as a cost as unfair as this.

    5 years ago
    • Oh! And just a little side note — there are actually some artists I read about who did well in school, for example Donghyuk from future YG group iKON was top of his class, and even Yongguk from BAP did well, too (correct me if I’m wrong, though). It kind of just emphasizes my last point: it’s sad to see those who want to follow their dreams have to suffer as badly as this.

      5 years ago
  16. 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
  17. There is no way I ever want to be a Kpop artist since to me it feels as if you are selling your soul but normal jobs can be a pain too. I think it’s good that Kpop stars, how to call it, rebel? Something has to change within the music industry, it has to become more fair and transparant in the costs and such since as mentioned in the video why hire a high end ballet teacher when someone knows a really good one who can give cheap or free lessons. Since the artists pay in the end they should have a say too. And maybe through those actions of Kpop idols some employees at other companies will finally have the courage to speak up for themselves too.

    One of my Korean email pals told me about the crazy working hours and such. She told me that next to just work she also had to sacrifice her free time quite a lot to go out for a meeting, meal/drink with her boss/colleagues and that it’s hard to say no to alcohol because not being able to drink lots of alcohol was seen as a weakness by her boss. I asked her if she could say no to those meetings but no that’s also seen as that you are not taking your job seriously. And she said she was lucky because friends of her had it much worse. I know that not all jobs in Korea are like that but you see it happen in Kdrama a lot too.

    Due these insane working hours I suddenly wonder how the daycare system works in Korea not only for babies and toddlers but also for children who go to school. I mean due this insane working hours when are you going to pick up or bring your child to school or daycare? And do parents even have enough quality time with their children? I guess not every mother can quit working till the children are old enough and grandparents or other family and friends are not always able to babysit.

    5 years ago
  18. I think it can be a really difficult situation for the fans to respond to because we might see the companies as the villains and the artists as the victims in some cases but they are both getting their living from us continuing to buy albums. So you might want to show how much you disapprove of what a company is doing by not buying their albums but that will just mean even less money for the artists and if it seems that a group is having a drop in popularity the company might put less effort into giving them good songs and videos. I think in a way the companies can take advantage of that because they know that no matter how bad they look that will just make us feel more sorry for the groups they are mistreating and make us want to support those groups more. I’m glad that the artists themselves are taking action because then at least we have a chance to support them without adding to the cycle. I hope that the increased awareness of these issues will really make the companies think about how they want to be seen but maybe it will take having different people in charge before fundamental attitudes to money and music change.

    5 years ago
  19. I agree with the horrible conditions and how Kpop idols do have a better chance of a better life after leaving a company. However, if in the future, the conditions are good when an idol breaks contract to make more money, I would be in unhappy, the way some Koreans are mad about Lyhan and Kris, though they have (theoretically) more justification to leave.

    5 years ago
  20. I think that’s why idols have shops or restaurant on the side

    5 years ago
  21. What a coincidence, yesterday night, I was telling my sister about these slave contracts and the whole Kpop world. Honestly, 2014 has been, without a doubt, the crappiest year for Kpop. I get that it takes a lot to get these idols ready for debut (especially with the amount of groups that debut every day, you need something to make you special, which costs money) and that the money has to be paid back, but the conditions are way to harsh. And I’m afraid that the actions that have been taken by the idols themselves wont change much since a lot of people want to be famous. When one group leaves, the company probably will just pop out a new one. And with the “greed” the trainees have to debut (probably partly to pay of the debt they already have), it’s probably “easy” to replace a group. It’s sad, but I don’t think a lot will change unless ALL the CEO’s have a change of heart a la Scrooge-after-being-visited-by-the-ghosts-of-Christmas or a beter idea would be that all the idols who are/feel mistreated by their company gang up together to form their own super company

    5 years ago
  22. I am still a bit new to liking k-pop (it’s been about 3 years now) so I am still a little surprised by groups or individual members leaving their companies. But, at the same time, the reasons why these “idols” leave no longer shocks me. You see the same reasons across the entire industry: no pay, back pay, terrible health conditions left untreated, lack of vacation time, etc. being cited as reasons for suing the company and/or disbanding groups. I feel kind of bad about it, but with the whole Hangeng thing having happened and all, I actually anticipated something similar from the EXO-M members. Don’t get me wrong, I love EXO. I have all of their albums digitally and a couple in physical copies, Chris was my EXO-M bias, and I would never wish that on any group or Fandom…I just saw it coming. These companies are so prone to making the same, stupid mistakes over and over when it comes to their artists that the pattern wasn’t all that hard to follow. As a music major, these contracts and money issues make absolutely no sense to me. In order to be hired as a professional musician in any orchestra or (most) studios in the US you have to be a member of the Musician’s Union of America. I’d say probably more than 95% of the professional organizations in America wouldn’t take the risk of hiring someone who wasn’t unionized. In fact, university music professors will even help you with the registration process (if you need it) when you are ready. This union does what your average worker unions do (ensure pay is fair and prompt, ensure safety, etc.) so it is difficult for me to imagine that these musicians are being squandered like this. ESPECIALLY when you consider their hours, treatment, physical and emotional stressers, etc. They AT LEAST deserve to be paid properly AND have access to the monetary amount of their wages and debts.

    5 years ago
  23. I read somewhere that in SM 1 reason why so many artist have stayed is because they earn money from the stocks they own within the company. Also many of them have side jobs like Radio DJ’s or MC Host that they profit from. How does it work in cases like song writers/composers and dancers that are in these kpop groups? Would they get paid royalties? Or does that go back into the company?
    And another thing didn’t SM’s contract get revised by the Seoul District Court? I’m surprised that they would still have an issue with artist mistreatment after that.

    5 years ago
    • Sai

      It is true that SM gave stocks for their idols but if I remember right they only got like 30 000$ worth of shares per idol. So not much it was more like a goodwill gesture and publicity stunt from SM rather than we gave you these so you wouldn’t leave.

      5 years ago
    • I think you are correct. SM contracts were revised by the court. I think in the case of the two EXO members that left, it was more about wanting to do separate projects that SM would not approve of.

      5 years ago
  24. Wow, that is completely bonkers!!! They work on years and years of training for that crappie load of a contract? It makes me appreciate them more for what they go through to give us the music we love. At the same time, I also feel very sad.

    5 years ago
  25. I’ve just sort of been watching this year unfolding with more and more apathy. 2014 has been terrible for Kpop and it hasn’t exactly been the best year for my family either. My brother ended up having to have 3 surgeries this year. Two people I’m close to got diagnosed with cancer. My only living grandparent ended up in the hospital twice. So, to have to deal with all of that and then turn to what used to be my happy bubble of pleasant music and fun videos only to discover that artists are jumping ship and suing everyone, well, it’s definitely changed how I view Kpop.

    Hearing what you have to say only reinforces what I was already thinking. I don’t look at kpop the same anymore and I have found that I’m beginning to lose interest in most groups as the happy, colorful facade begins to fade away. But I don’t place all of the blame on Kpop. I partly blame myself for thinking of Kpop as this magical thing that somehow existed outside reality. Though I stayed more sane than a lot of fans I’ve seen, I still somehow pictured Kpop groups as though they lived in a fantasy realm of friendship, fairness, and joy in making cute videos and singing. It is an industry and I somehow forgot that. And I guess that this sort of unfair treatment happens in a lot of industries, unfortunately. I do hope that some laws get put into place to help them out, but I somehow suspect that unless the general public changes their views on what is and isn’t fair working conditions, it will probably remain fairly unchanged.

    But, since I am trying so hard to look on the bright side of things, let’s not lose sight of the good things which are happening. In my own life, my brother has recovered and got a job where he is being treated well. Both of my friends with cancer are still alive and fighting it (one of them might not even have to have chemo, assuming they got it all out with the operation). My grandpa is better. I have my very first niece. And 2014 is almost over. :)

    As far as positivity in Kpop goes, I think that, maybe, these scandals are actually a good thing. Though it’s not good that these things are happening, I think it’s good that the world is finding out about them. It may give some of these kids a chance to consider whether they really want to join the industry. And change is inevitable.

    Now for some non-depressing tl;dr ideas for next week~ How easy or hard is it to find candy canes in S. Korea? Do stores play Christmas music, and, if so, what kind of songs? Do Koreans believe in Santa Claus? IF you walked down the streets saying “ho ho ho”, how many people would know what you were doing? Does Korea have those people who dress up like Santa and stand outside stores while ringing a bell to get donations for charities?

    5 years ago
  26. Also, TL;DR on state of Unicorns in Costco!

    5 years ago
  27. When you think about it, it really is like the idols are becoming slaves. When Kris left EXO I could understand why, why would anyone want to stay in a company who constantly would change your looks, the entire image of who you are? Like with His tattoo, they constantly tried covering it up, when there are plently other Idols with tattoos. It’s just plan stupid. These people who work so hard to make music and make us, their fans, happy. To me the music industry, all over the world has just hit rock bottom. What happened to making music because it’s what you love and making others happy with your music instead of making money?

    5 years ago
  28. A lot of these bands are from SM, which seems kinda suspicious. It’s kinda shitty that they aren’t receiving even a little of what they earn.

    5 years ago
    • Sai

      Well I think one reason for that is the fact SM idols are really popular. So they know they can survive just fine even after suing SM. I mean just look at JYJ even though SM try to block them everywhere they had no problem surviving. Same with Luhan, Kris, Hangeng they all knew they can survive just fine even with suing SM and leaving
      and even if they had to pay some penalty for leaving they could probably do that quite easily compare to idols from smaller companies who aren’t as rich and popular.
      I mean many idols from smaller companies who aren’t as popular as SM idols probably don’t even have enough money to hire lawyer for this kind of lawsuit that can last long time. Also even if they managed to win and leave the company since they don’t have any strong backer or massive fanbase so their future don’t look nearly as bright as SM idols.

      5 years ago
    • SM is one of the big 3, so it makes sense that we notice more of them leaving from SM. I actually find it more interesting that people are being treated like this in the smaller companies as well. For some reason, I expect this kind of behavior from companies that are at the top, so when I found out about the other companies, well, I’m thinking that this is definitely a problem with the industry as a whole and not any one specific company.

      5 years ago
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. My perspective in Kpop has change since learning more about how the idols are being treated by their companies. At times I just want to stop listening to kpop because it makes me so mad that companies screw them over. I know it’s probably not all companies and I wont’ which ones they are unless the idols speak up. Which I am happy more idols are speaking up. In my opinion I think this was so hush hush because they saw what happen to JYJ. For those that don’t know, they were basically outcasted and blacklisted in the entertainment business. No other companies wanted them, a someone actually made the company they are in now just for them. They couldn’t be broadcast in the major broadcasting networks, unless they were in a drama. Seeing the hard time they were having I think many idols were too afraid to speak up or feel it could hurt their career. Also many of them start off at such a young age, which it is easier to manipulate a teenager than an adult. I think that’s why many didn’t realize that they were being screwed over. Those that know JYJ and have been following them can say 2014 has been a good career year for them. Their comeback was awesome. They won 1st place in a music show and they were finally broadcasted after so many years! We can also agree that not only are they famous in Korea but internationally as well. So I think these idols are noticing this and realiz that even after their lawsuit they are still doing very good. Yes they went through a very rough time after the lawsuit but look at them now. So I feel because of this it has helped the idols voice their concerns and disagreements in their label company. They saw that even after a lawsuit they can still have a successful career if they continue working hard. Well this is what my opinion.

    5 years ago
  32. Sadly, as you mentioned guise, this is not unique to kpop, I can go ahead an call it almost a standard in any thing called “industry”

    5 years ago
  33. Well, for Kpop, this year sucked. I’m done with this year and really hope that next year won’t contain so much drama. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. However, for Kpop MUSIC I thought that this was an awesome year! I liked almost all the songs that came out, unlike last year. But anyways, I support all the artists and groups. For those who left, I wish them luck and I won’t hate them for what they have done at all! It’s the entertainment companies I dislike, these slave contracts need to dissapear. Kpop needs a revolution!

    5 years ago
  34. I’M SO HAPPY YOU GUYS MENTIONED JUNYOUNGS CASE. When everything was still on fire, almost nobody cared for it and a lot of people didn’t gave a sh** because ZE:A is a flop group and blablabla. Junyoung was only trying to save his group from the hell that is Star Empire and only us ZE:A’s plus some other few people supported him. S.E not just doesn’t pays the boys, but also gives them poor treatment and even used Taehun to earn money from his debut as a fighter! Junyoung said(not clearly, but we figured out) that S.E. got paid to make Taehun loose his fight because the other one was a famous and professional fighter, plus being his last match, so he had to go with the glory. Taehun ended with a severe broked nose. After Junyoungs rant, they made him lie and say everything was resolved. Yes, they made him lie; some days later S.E. itself came out confirming that and putted Junyoung on a hiatus, away from ZE:A. This is just a reeeeeeally short sum up, but I thought in sharing it with everyone. Please, guys, help us support them. And ofc, not just them, but every idol and group that are suffering with this. They need us fans more than anything right now!

    5 years ago
  35. What is Korea’s view on recycling? Is it highly encouraged? Is it require by law? Is it looked down, if you do and don’t recycle?

    5 years ago
    • Korea’s huge on recycling. Garbage bags are super expensive. You have to separate out everything and recycle it according you.
      You also separate out food garbage. Even though they don’t compost it, just burn it (so I’ve heard).

      5 years ago
  36. Is this why so many Kpop idols also star in dramas and CF’s? Does that money go to them personally or is it also given to their agency?

    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. I was curious if y’all have ever talked about the age difference in Korea? Like when I am with my Korean friends who are living in the United States, they are always saying, “I am 21 in Korea, but 20 here.” And I am like, “What…” When they try to explain it, they say it is about their birth and also born after or before the Lunar year so something like that. For all I know they are just messing with me.

    5 years ago
    • In korea when you are born you are 1 year old. Then when the lunar year happens everyone in the country ages a year. So say you are born in January before the lunar year that year you are 1 in January, when lunar new year happens in February you become 2. Even though you are only two months old according the western calendar. Everyone becomes a year old not on the day of their birth, but on the lunar new year. So a person can say they are 1-2 years older than their western age depending on the time of year they are born and because they start at age 1 on the day they are born. In the west you need to be out of the womb 12 months to be a year old. Now in korea they do celebrate a babies one year of being born called a dol. it’s because they survived infanthood. In the korea aging system the child may be 1 or 2 on the date of the dol.

      5 years ago
    • Did you not learn this in KCE?

      5 years ago
  39. I fully agree that this has been a really tough time for the kpop industry and its artists. But the fact that more and more idols are stepping forward and demanding better conditions for themselves is wonderfull. This way maybe the kpop will become much better in the furture! Maybe 2014 could in some ways be seen as one of the most important years for kpop.

    5 years ago
  40. I wish you guys mentioned that there is nothing unique of Korea’s entertainment industry taking advantage of their talent. This is a struggle in every country at the dawn of every new form of entertainment. When film in the United States started up, produces never disclosed actor names (or directors or any other hired help). They knew from plays that people loved following actors and would see plays for the actor alone. Which seems like it would be good for movies, but that would mean popular actors would demand higher pay. What happened was that people referred to actors by character names, so one actress was known as The Biograph Girl. To get her name out there she posted a fake obituary saying “The Biograph Girl Has Died!” which included her name. She then came forth and said “oh no I didn’t die!” Basically getting her name out there through speculation.

    5 years ago