Home > Labour, Trafficking of Persons > Slave Contract of Entertainers

Slave Contract of Entertainers

By Hyoyeol Chong

In Korea, those who want to become celebrities must make a contract with an agency due to the entertainment industry being run by big companies and their powers.  As such, the contract is usually unfair for the entertainers such as new singers and actors or actresses. Actress Jang Ja-yeon’s suicide, which was due to the forced sexual liaisons by her company, is one incident of the serious human rights oppression of entertainers.

It is common for newcomers to make a contract, in which 90 percent of their earnings are taken by the company with 10 percent to the entertainer. Companies also force the entertainers to maintain a certain body size and to stay in an apartment that the company gives. It is widely known that entertainers cannot go outside without their managers’ permission. Furthermore, the entertainers are forced to make music albums or participate in dramas within contract terms even if they oppose it. This is because the companies want to maximize their profits by using their entertainers. As a result, serious traffic accidents with entertainers often occur due to the hectic schedules established by the companies.

Mun Jae-gap, of the Korea Broadcasting Film and Performance Artists Union, said “When a contract runs long haul, the signee has to suffer many injustices, with some having to maintain the disadvantageous conditions even after becoming a star.” He added that “It is hard to appeal to the law because their image is very important, especially for young and upcoming actresses. Also, they are helpless in dealing with wrongdoers who coerced sexual relations.”

On June 25, The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) decided to provide standardized contract forms to entertainment agencies to prevent unfair contracts during the first half of their contract year. In addition, the FTC proposed for entertainment agencies to revise some unfair clauses of their contracts, which can infringe upon basic human rights, by investigating the conditions of 291 entertainers of 57 entertainment agencies.

Rep. Choi Mun-sun of the Democratic Party, who was the former president of broadcasting station MBC, said “We need to revise the unreasonable agreements practiced in show business. We need to revise the unreasonable practices, especially the slave-like contracts. These problems are directly related to the human rights of the entertainers and we need laws to protect them.”

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