K-Pop Group Shares Story Of Terrible Working Conditions And Issues With Their Agency
The unfortunate story of an idol group and the treatment they received from their agency has been revealed following a court verdict nullifying their exclusive contract.
A five-member idol group signed an exclusive contract with their agency in December 2015 and after months of trainings, debut in the summer of the following year. Like many trainees, they stood on stage with the dream of standing at the center of the Hallyu Wave, but their hopes were broken even before they had been active for a year.
Their agency kept decreasing the size of their staff, so it became difficult for the members to expect support from the agency in the form of a manager, transportation, and vocal and dance lessons. The agency required the group to pay for their own hair and makeup costs, and cosmetic procedures such as botox or fillers were also paid for by the members themselves as it was considered by the agency to be “self management.”
The group had to rent out an aerobics classroom to rehearse, and there were times when the members couldn’t get in because the password had been changed. The agency did not provide the members with monetary support to buy food and household items at their dorms, telling them, “You won’t die just because you skipped a meal.” A staff member who spoke up and requested that the agency pay for the group’s meals was forcibly removed from the company.
This group was also active in Japan and Taiwan, but the situation was not ideal. The members were not accompanied by managers or other staff when going overseas, so the members had to get out and promote themselves. They were not provided any security personnel, so the members also suffered from frequent sexual harassment at events.
The members are also said to have suffered from verbal abuse and threats from the head of the agency. The head would create an atmosphere of fear as they said, “If you don’t listen to me, I will destroy you in this industry.” They would also insult the individual members, and threaten the members by saying they would change group members or make the members pay an exorbitant penalty for breaching their contract.
Despite this, the group worked hard to promote their music, but they were never paid any of the money they earned through their activities. The group finally filed a lawsuit against the agency and claimed that their exclusive contract was invalid as the agency had violated their contractual duties. On June 22, the Seoul District Courts sided with the idol group, acknowledging all of the charges the group filed against their agency.