Watchdog Clamps Down on Slave Contracts for Aspiring Starlets

  • By Gwak Rae-geon

    March 08, 2017 13:14

    The Fair Trade Commission has amended the contracts of some of the country's top talent mills with aspiring starlets after investigating what are often slave-like conditions in their stables.

    The FTC on Tuesday said it reviewed contracts at the top eight agencies with assets over W12 billion -- Cube, DSP Media, FNC, Jelly Fish, JYP, LOEN, SM and YG. The watchdog embarked on the probe last December as the number of trainees increased dramatically amidst the popularity of audition reality shows.

    Trainees sign with agencies to prepare for their debut in showbiz and are given singing and dancing lessons until a select number are chosen for a manufactured act.

    The cost of training is covered by the agencies and costs them about W53 million a year for one hopeful. But the FTC found that the talent mills often impose excessive penalties for ending contracts and other infractions.

    The contracts of six companies including JYP and YG had a clause that allowed agencies to claim double or triple their investment back if the trainee breaks the contract. This has now been amended so agencies can claim at most the money they actually spent.

    Another unfair clause requiring trainees to sign exclusive contracts with their agencies once they are launched has been scrapped. Cube, DSP Media and JYP made trainees pay back double the amount the agencies spent if they signed with another agency once their training was complete.

    Agencies used to insist on a right to terminate contracts without notice but must now give trainees a 30-day grace period so they can try and improve. Agencies also had a right to unilaterally cancel a contract if the trainee was deemed to have brought disgrace on the company, but the FTC said that was far too vague and sweeping.

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