The reality of the acting industry as told by an anonymous actor of 10 years

Korean Ilbo recently ran their cover story on a nameless male actor to show what the reality is like for those who don't get the boost in opportunities idols are generously given.


Article: Listening to the qualms of male actor A...

Source: Korean Ilbo via Naver

Pictured above is actor A working a part time job at a restaurant in Seoul. He requested to remain anonymous and faceless because "criticizing the production companies and broadcast channels will mean the end of my career".

"I make barely $2,000~$3,000 a year... but I am still an actor."

There are times when he isn't even paid that amount in full, leaving him ineligible for any type of insurance coverage. He has to work part time jobs to make ends meet, but his craze for acting is what has kept him on this career path for the past 10 years.

"An actor is nothing like what you see on the outside. You could work really hard all throughout a drama, but the reality is that you end up having to beg the production companies for your pay."

For the past 10 years, A has only played minor roles which he was able to land through the help of a 'casting director' broker who connects actors to production companies. For actors like A, they receive $150 per episode, 30% of which is given to the broker. It might seem like a lot for a day's worth of work, but opportunities only come a few times a month.

"My friends are in the same predicament." The $2,000 they make in a year isn't enough to qualify them for health and safety insurance or a pension.

When asked if he ever felt a sense of shame over his inability to make ends meet despite being 10 years into his career, he replied, "There's nothing you can do about it by getting mad or getting your pride hurt. The only thing you can do as an actor is to continue showing all of your skills. If you're not satisfied with what you're being paid, you don't have to do it. As for me, though, I want to act."

The problem ultimately becomes the production companies who don't even pay the small amount that these actors do earn. "I wasn't able to receive my pay for months at a time once so I wrote a letter to the CEO saying he should not think he can get away with stealing money from someone just because they're nameless. He ended up paying me half of what he owed. Situations like this are frequent."

Last year, he had spent all night memorizing a script and even bought a new outfit out of his own pocket when he woke up to a text message the day of the recording saying that he "didn't need to come in". He later found out that a higher-up producer had decided to fill his role with another actor they had a mutual relationship with.

"I grew up knowing that pursuing the arts runs the risk of going hungry so I learned to starve when without money and help others when with. Now that I have a family now, though, it's difficult to see life that way. When I'm not filming, I'm working part time jobs but it's still not enough to buy my daughter meat for dinner or to buy my wife a birthday present."

After feeling remorse for putting the financial burden of the family on his wife, he briefly found a job as a cosmetics salesman before the company went bankrupt. "I realized that the only thing I was good at, that I could see myself doing forever, was acting."

He now considers success his biggest form of revenge and continues practicing his script with his daughter in front of the mirror. "I promise her that one day people will be able to just look at her and say, 'She's the daughter of that actor.'"


1. [+527, -8] With actors like him who live day to day just to survive, please stop casting idols into leading roles with their crappy acting;;;; Opportunities should be given to rookies or actors like him instead of idols who don't have the skills or any knowledge about the acting profession;;; There are so many successful actors that all started from the bottom and worked their ways up, who do idols think they are??? Give these opportunities to the actors!!!!!!!

2. [+377, -8] I bet the producers sleep so soundly at night knowing that he chose idols with crappy acting over passionate actors like him

3. [+293, -5] Dramas really need to stop using crappy idols purely for their popularity...

4. [+247, -5] I hope that he never gives up his dream and continues to fight against the obstacles of reality to make it come true

5. [+236, -4] I'd cast him 1,000 times over any T-ara member

6. [+196, -4] The fact that dramas are using idols simply for the "money" and for their fanbase to raise viewer ratings just goes to show that idols are not "singers" but "products"

7. [+164, -5] There are probably more like him in our country and yet dramas still insist on sticking in idols everywhere

8. [+148, -4] The production companies are starting to sound like mobs

9. [+140, -5] And yet today, an idol named Han Seungyeon insists that she must be an actress

10. [+122, -8] Kids like Suzy are so blessed.