“Four Sons” drew attention for being produced by “My Love From the Star” PD Jang Tae Yoo and having actor Park Hae Jin as the lead role, with Nana as the heroine. It is a fantasy romance thriller that tells the story of a man who meets three men looking exactly like himself while investigating his mother’s suspicious death.
However, according to multiple sources, filming for “Four Sons” was has been suspended since May 10. There were several reasons for why this crisis occurred, but according to several sources, the biggest reason was due to the production company’s unreasonable requests and unpaid wages.
According to the sources, the production company of “Four Sons,” Victory Contents, failed to pay the staff’s wages three times during the project. Furthermore, there was no financial support for the shoot as well. They did not pay for the rent fees for drones, MCC cameras, and other equipment, on top of necessary cast fees for the choreographer and accident management costs.
A source of the drama said, “Because the ending of episode 1 is an incredibly important scene, we prepared a lot for it. We paid 4 million won (approximately $3500) for equipment at the Busan Film Commission, but the production company could not secure the schedule for the equipment. So we ended up using another company’s equipment. At other companies, it’s usually about 8 million won (approximately $7000) a piece for the equipment. But the production company said we should delay shooting because of 4 million won (approximately $3500). We can’t put off shooting when we’ve already prepared the actors and staff’s schedules and shooting locations. So at first, PD Jang Tae Yoo said he’d pay for it, but it was already at the point where he had paid 100 million won (approximately $90,000) out of his own pocket. Then, the camera director said he’d pay for the car fees, which cost 4 million won (approximately $3,500). Usually, the rent fees for equipment are for 12 hours of use, with additional charges if we go over the 12 hours. After shooting, we had to pay more than 18 million won (approximately $16,000). But the production company said the camera director would have to pay the entire amount. They said it wasn’t because they couldn’t give us the money, but because we used equipment that they told us not to use that they wouldn’t give it to us. PD Jang Tae Yoo had to pay for the equipment of not only the shooting group but other teams as well because [the production company] wouldn’t allow us to borrow the equipment. They said they couldn’t pay for the teaser production fees either so PD Jang Tae Yoo, again, paid for it himself, but the production company asked for the original files.”
Another source gave the tip that PD Jang Tae Yoo had paid for the fees of the drones and the waltz choreographer. They said, “We had to shoot a day after heavy snow fell in Daegu. The director and the production staff spent all day clearing the snow themselves along with the Daegu firefighters. Because we needed a choreographer for the proposal scene between Park Hae Jin and Nana, we cast the younger sibling of someone from a private dance group. We had to give them the casting fee for the day but they said they’d pay from PD Jang Tae Yoo’s company. We asked, ‘This should be paid for by the production company, what are you doing?’ They responded by saying that they couldn’t cover those fees. The PD paid for the casting fees of three people. We also had to use a drone for one scene, but they also didn’t pay for that. The PD did. When I learned of this later on set, I was surprised but I also thought that the PD was an amazing person.”
However, the biggest problem was the situation of the staff’s unpaid wages. “Four Sons” entered its first shooting session in January, but staff were not properly paid until May. The person to take responsibility for this was not the production company, but PD Jang Tae Yoo, according to sources on set.
A source said, “Normally, the shooting team will have monthly contracts for their wages. However, the production company told PD Jang Tae Yoo not to enter the shooting stages yet, and to change the script instead. Because of that, we only filmed four times in January and one day in February. The production company then told the contractor that they would calculate the wages based on not monthly but daily basis. So the two shooting teams reported this to the Ministry of Labor and quit. Other staff also got their wages for January and February in April and there were three instances of these unpaid wages situations. Because other staff began to quit as well, PD Jang Tae Yoo made contracts through his own company and gave staff their wages himself, while he received the original pay. Because of these fees, as well as the rent fees for the equipment the production company did not allow the staff to borrow, PD Jang Tae Yoo spent over 100 million won (approximately $90,000).”
They continued, “In the process of trying to switch production companies, we suspended shooting for the drama for two months, since May 15. During that time, almost all of the staff involved including the stunt, editing, shooting, lighting and other teams left. As Victory Contents started coming back, the company asked staff, one by one, ‘Will you continue shooting when we start production again?’ So the staff told them they would be leaving.”
Although many people thought PD Jang Tae Yoo had gone into hiding, many confirmed that this was not true. The sources all supported PD Jang Tae Yoo, saying that the PD was strongly attached to the drama. According to them, the PD took responsibility for everything and tried to continue shooting.
In response to this issue, Park Hae Jin’s company announced their official position on July 10 and said, “We hope the situation can become stable. We do not have anything to say right now in particular. We hope filming can begin as soon as possible.”
The production company, Victory Contents, also released an official statement through a press release and said, “It is not true that shooting has ended due to unpaid wages, and we have already paid the leading actors and spent hundreds of million won on production cost expenses. Also, PD Jang Tae Yoo demanded more than the established budget. After he announced his resignation, he has not responded to our calls.”
Victory Contents also stated that none of the staff in the news who said they collectively sent in letters of resignation or released positions of leaving the production of “Four Sons” actually relayed anything to the company. They said that excluding PD Jang Tae Yoo and his staff, the entire production staff came to work that day, ready to restart shooting. They also stated that the actors were of similar mind.
Finally, the production company said, “We are trying to clear up the situation as soon as possible and are looking towards resuming the filming of the drama. We apologize for the disgraceful articles, and we will try to greet you again with a great work through of a smooth production. Thank you.”
“Four Sons” has only filmed four episodes out of the total 16. Originally set for a November broadcast, in this situation, the broadcast date is unclear.