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Court Invalidates Entertainer “Slave” Contracts in Korea

15 Aug 2010

Last week, South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled that long-term contracts between entertainers and their agencies were “unfair,” and subsequently “invalid,” reports The Korea Times.

Entertainment companies had artists sign contracts which essentially placed them under the company’s stringent control for extended periods of time, some for as long as a decade! These so-called “slave” agreements have reportedly been “long-established” practice, and the court’s verdict will likely halt such a tradition.

According to TIME, these so-called “life-long slave contracts” were first highlighted in 1999, after a trio of sisters Hans Band sued its agency Yedang Entertainment, citing a “grossly unfair” contract which left them with only $15,000ㅡeven after two successful album releases. More recently, three members of the popular boy band TVXQ filed a suit against SM Entertainment in 2009, claiming they were harassed into appearing at performances and broadcasts against their will for 13 years.

In another case, any violations of contract terms would have cost one boy band singer a financial penalty three times the agency’s investment in him.

Around the same time, JYP Entertainmentㅡwhose signed artists include 2PM and the Wonder Girls (pictured above)ㅡbegun to spur the industry in the right direction by announcing they would apply a standard contract verified by an outside committee for all their artists.

The TVXQ lawsuit compelled the Korea Fair Trade Commission to draft guidelines for entertainer-agency contracts (because what are entertainers but goods for sale?), setting the maximum time period at seven years and restricting intervention in the artists’ private lives.

That it’s taken for the agencies over ten years to be beholden to such standards is disturbing. It’s the Korean entertainment machine, manufacturing year by year their little minions!

[via MTV Iggy; image via Korean Beacon]

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