Agencies React to New 35-Hour Work Week Law for Child Entertainers

Entertainment agencies, especially those whose talents are still minors, are baffled at some of the clauses included in the recently passed Culture and Arts Industry Development Law that will take effect starting July 29. The agencies expressed concern especially on the “legal working hours” that are said to not be in accordance with the current conditions that they are in.

 According to the law, child entertainers under the age of 15 can only render 35 hours of work in a week and should observe proper working hours which prohibits them from taking on projects from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. in the morning the following day. Observing the same working hours as those aged 15 and below, the young entertainers aged 15 and above will be allowed to work not exceeding 40 hours in one week and will be allowed to work an extra hour totaling to six hours a week with parental consent.

But currently, considering the schedule that idols have, it would be hard to follow this kind of “working hours” set by the new law.

In order to appear in music shows that are broadcasted during evenings, Idols have to prepare from the morning and have two to three rehearsals before the live show. It takes about 10 hours for one appearance on the broadcast shows. With this, the 35-40 hour work week will already be completed only with three to four appearances on television and there won’t be anymore time for other activities.

Aside from music programs, the idols would have to be selective with their promotional appearances including variety programs and interviews. There would also be restrictions in performances, CF filming, and the earning potential of the idols.

Thus, there is great concern and confusion about the scope and limits of the bill when it is implemented. According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, in the case of singers, the hours they spend on moving from one location to another and the hours spent resting and waiting will not be counted in the total work hours for the week. Only the relevant hours spent ‘providing the service’ including rehearsal and the actual live performance will be considered.

The limitation on the actual scope of “service” isn’t stipulated in the article and hence, there could be a conflict between the singer and the agency.

According to Jung Wook, the head of JYP Entertainment, “We have to adhere to the law but we can feel that there would be some difficulties.”

Jung Tae Sung, the team leader of the Content Agency under the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, said, “This bill was passed to protect the interests of the child entertainers. We will continuously hear out the different opinions and make amendments in the process.”