Strong Criticism of Korean Entertainment Industry by Japanese Investigative Report JYJ

“Even if a sunbae (aka senior) songwriter sells the copyright of his hubae’s (aka junior) song, the hubae is unable to object and is reduced to swallowing his own tears. There are hierarchical relationships in Korea that would be unimaginable in Japan.” (a Japanese record label representative)

On the 2nd, JP news reported, “a Japanese weekly magazine attributed the reason for conflicts between Kpop idols and their management companies, such as those involving Dong Bang Shin Ki and Kara, to Korea’s peculiar ‘Family discourse’.”

Influential Japanese weekly magazine Shukanbyun for its Feb. 3 edition interviewed Kpop expert and radio DJ Furuya Masayuki, a music representative who worked with Kara, a Japanese entertainment reporter, a Japanese record label representative, etc. and released a comprehensive, investigative piece on why ‘the Korean entertainment scene has no other option but to run into conflicts.’

“In Korea a unique family discourse is applied to the entertainment industry. Because of this the relationship between entertainers and their management companies are not seen as business relations but as familial. SM Entertainment refers to its signed artists collectively as ‘SM Town’ and YG Entertainment does the same with ‘YG Family’; both companies have actively developed this image. Because the entire company is portrayed as a family, the CEO, who takes on the role of the father, cannot be disobeyed.

Although the average person might think that before filing a lawsuit it’s possible to work things out through dialogue, but signed artists in these companies have no choice but to respond ‘as you wish’ to the father-figure who reminds them ‘I got your back.’ Furuya Masayuki, who was also an MC at one of Kara’s Japanese events said, “the very act of filing a lawsuit in this context is to signal a desire to open dialogue, because there’s no way otherwise” to the magazine.

According to the coverage by JP News, this magazine not only referred to Korea’s peculiar family discourse but also pointed to Korea’s peculiar idol fostering method as a source of the problem. The system resorts to ‘slave contracts’ because the management company absorbs expenses for housing, meals, lessons, transportation and education in the duration between [a trainee’s] acceptance via audition and up to his or her debut, following an incubation model, and is compelled to regain those costs. “For every 100 accepted trainees only 5 go on to become stars. Those 5 have no choice but to be held responsible for and earn back the training costs incurred by all 100. In the case of Dong Bang Shin Ki, their 13-year long-term contract earned it the title of ‘slave contract’, but the contract length is so long because it is uncertain how much they will make in how much time after becoming stars.” (a Korean sports reporter)

“Yet, if the contract length is shortened, in order to make up investment costs in a shorter amount of time [management companies] push excessive schedules on to their singers. Such overexposure is a poor strategy as viewers get fed up, which only makes the career lifespan of the entertainer even shorter.” (a Japanese entertainment reporter)

The magazine also pointed out the excessively contradictory methods of calculating [earnings] in the Korean entertainment industry. Mr. Yamada, Chairman of the Asia Authors’ Association, recalls “I once presented a Korean singer with [his/her] earnings from royalties for that month, but upon seeing the amount [the singer] asked, ‘how many years’ worth is this?’ at which I couldn’t hide my shock,” and heavily criticized the state of copyright compensation in Korea’s entertainment industry, which, with barely a foundation, is at an absurd level of development.

Furthermore, the magazine introduced a representative of a Japanese record and entertainment company who criticised Korean entertainers, “Korean entertainers only know how to say money, money.” But it’s because issues surrounding money aren’t clean/transparent in Korea that they come to Japan and display such sensitive reactions to issues related to their contract or money.

The weekly concluded, “in consequence, the reason why Korean entertainers expand abroad is because it’s impossible to survive in the domestic market. Korea’s CD market has shrunk so much that it’s difficult to find a proper record store in the country and illegal downloading is rampant, making it impossible to retrieve royalties.

Since people can get into televised music programmes by simply standing in line, even at solo concerts tickets don’t get sold. Given this context, the claim that Kara ‘in Japan makes 10 times what they earn in Korea’ and so ‘Kara are traitors for money’ is unfortunate/misguided.” And with this, JP News ended its coverage.

– Reporter Ohn Jongrim-
Translated by: Jimmie of TheJYJFiles
Shared by: TheJYJFiles

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