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Monday, October 5, 2020

The issue of trainee abuse in the K-Pop industry continues to loom behind the lure of instant debuts

Article: Promise of an instant debut... 8 years of training, 600 million in debt, depression, the bag of lawsuits

Source: Kyunghyang News via Naver

Article talks about the ongoing problem of entertainment agencies luring young teens in with the promise of an instant debut only for them to end up in physically abusive situations with no way out because they are tied down by massive contract termination fees. Trainees are put under intense pressure like being expected to memorize 30 dance choreographies within 15 days, often under emotional abuse for the sake of competition. Talented trainees are given lower scores on purpose to keep them working harder than they need to. 

A trainee under a company of a single girl group shared, "We weren't managed other than 1-2 dance and vocal classes a week. We had no manager or coordi, and we were never provided with any outfits for our music videos or performance events. We had to dig through our closets to find our own clothes to wear. Our dorm didn't even have a lock system and the only key was kept by our CEO. The CEO would threaten to disband us if we were even a few minutes late to replying to his Katalk messages."

The intense scrutiny unfortunately caused divide between the members. "The other members would drink and get into relationships, and I guess they thought I would snitch on them so they would start hitting me without reason and watching me." This led to a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. "I was beaten enough to get injured once and when I told the CEO, he wouldn't let me go to the hospital. When I confessed about my depression, no measures were taken. The CEO claimed he would try and console me only to sexually harass me. Multiple times."

Another male trainee of 8 years shared, "I never once received any training. The only training we received was listening to the CEO's lectures. The CEO claimed that if we listened to his college lectures, which he charged us 1 million won an hour for, for up to 10 hours a week, which he tacked on to our investment debt." While describing the violent atmosphere of their office, he explained, "They would force plastic surgery on us and yell at us to lose 10 kg in a month. We had to send topless pictures of ourselves every morning. They would use the leg of their glasses to point at our face and highlight what we needed to fix as a joke." All of this eventually led to depression and panic disorders. "Still, I didn't think of leaving because I thought this was the only way. There's a handwritten contract the CEO forced me to write where I promised to pay 600 million won in penalty if I did anything to damage the team." 

A dance trainer of 5 years shared, "Once an idol debuts and earns popularity, they're basically considered dead because of how hard they're worked. Every idol has probably experienced taking an IV drip before a performance. They're propped up just barely enough so that they don't faint on stage."

On the topic of these trainees also being exposed to sexual exploitation, the trainer shared, "There's a word that idols and trainees know where you're 'called'. You're 'called' when your agency forces you to attend a setting where you have to serve men. I had a trainee who was just at the cusp of debuting with a girl group until she was 'called', which forced her to give up her debut and become a hermit for 2-3 years. It haunts you for life." Idols who don't get paid on time and suffer financial difficulties also end up in pr*stitution work. 


1. [+254, -1] Should've just posted the agency's name 

2. [+115, -5] It's a sad reality that everyone in our society knows about but stays quiet on. We should really deal with the entertainment agency once and for all right now. These are all things that have been kept hush hush because of how lucrative the K-Pop industry has become but we really need to go over everything one by one so that we don't have more children fall victim to this.

3. [+50, -1] All these agencies are basically running our country's image into the ground. They need to be caught and dealt with.

4. [+17, -2] Remember there was that sports player a few months ago who commit suicide after years of abuse? And after all that talk, no one mentions it anymore. It's the same with idol agencies. They're in the news every once in a while and it gets people riled up but people forget all about it once BTS gets on the Billboard or something. Koreans are rock bottom when it comes to sentiment on human rights. People will fawn over idol survive shows while ignoring the pain and suffering that these idols are experiencing everywhere else.

5. [+11, -0] What is the government doing?~~~!! Please start coming up with conditions to help them!

6. [+11, -1] It's so funny to me that agencies tie these kids down by saying they're "investing in them" when it's basically just debt. Shouldn't they be investing their own money to debut their own idols? If you don't have that kind of money, then why set up an agency in the first place? Imagine if companies forced their interns to cough up all the money that went into training them if they want a chance at being hired full time. People would think that's ridiculous. We already think it's crazy that some interns aren't paid positions so this whole idol industry just basically seems like a bunch of thugs running things to me. They need to be gone.

7. [+10, -0] Out of the agencies, Yang Hyun Suk and YG did a lot of things like this

8. [+8, -0] These agencies are worse than pimps

9. [+8, -0] These things should be investigated so that the culprits can be caught. Who is going to be responsible for the lives of these poor children? ㅜㅜ

10. [+4, -0] All of the agencies aside from the top tier ones are scammers. Everyone should terminate their contracts. Don't be afraid of any threats of lawsuit or termination fees. You don't owe them anything. Scamming agencies like these don't have any money to their name anyway so if you file a lawsuit against them, they'll all end up in jail. DOn't let them scare you!



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