SBS Responds To Allegations Of Extreme Working Conditions For “The Last Empress”

SBS has released an official statement responding to allegations of poor working conditions on the set of their drama “The Last Empress.”

The Hope Alliance Labor Union filed a bill of indictment with the Ministry of Employment and Labor against SBS. They stated, “On October 25, SBS signed an individual work contract that promised to better working conditions in their drama department. However, SBS has continued to push forward with their schedule without expressing any desire to meet and discuss how to better working conditions. On October 10, one of their filming schedules lasted 29 hours and 30 minutes. From November 21 to 30, the staff had to undergo ten consecutive days of intense filming schedules that lasted for many hours without a single day of rest.”

The allegations were met with a response from SBS through an official statement that read, “In the case of the filming schedule in question that took place on October 10, the team left Yeoido at 6:20 a.m. KST and finished filming the next day at 5:58 a.m. KST. Included in this time period was the time it took to drive to the locations in Jungeup and Yeonggwang and plenty of breaks, meaning the total number of work hours was 21 hours and 38 minutes. Each individual was also paid an additional 40,000 won (approximately $35.35) for travel expenses and were given the next day off.

“However, SBS will take this opportunity to promise that we will do our best to adhere to agreed-upon work hours while maintaining a high quality in our productions.”

A source from the labor union responded to SBS’s official statement and stated, “Their claim that there were plenty of breaks during the schedule is false. Also, it took approximately four hours to drive back from the filming locations. SBS stated that filming ended at 5:58 a.m. KST, but most of the employees had to drive back up to Seoul after the schedule ended. Past precedents have shown that additional travel time that deviates from the normal work schedule must be included in working hours. Therefore, the total amount of working hours should be at 29 hours and 30 minutes, not the 21 hours and 38 minutes that SBS claimed.”

They also stated, “SBS is obligated to pay an additional 50 percent of a day’s wage if a filming schedule ends past 6 a.m. KST. However, they are trying to avoid this by only paying 40,000 won (approximately $35.35).” They stated, “We have documents that show the filming schedule. Most days required the staff to work over 20 hours per day. We will publicly release this schedule on December 18.”

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