Back To Top

Fee for celebrity government appearance sparks dispute

Popular talk show host and comedian Kim Je-dong’s high fees for a lecture hosted by a regional government has sparked controversy.

Kim, on Wednesday, faced public outcry after it was revealed he would be paid 15.5 million won ($13,100) by the local district government of Daedeok-gu in Daejeon for a 90-minute talk show titled “A Person to Another Person,” targeted at students and their parents.

Kim Je-dong (Yonhap)
Kim Je-dong (Yonhap)

The minor opposition Bareunmirae Party’s Daejeon office issued a statement on the day accusing the local government of paying the speaker an unreasonably high fee. On Tuesday, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party also requested the cancellation of the show, labeling it a waste of government money.

The 45-year-old TV personality has gained popularity by offering advice for everyday problems and worries people face. Kim, who has never been shy in expressing his opinions on political problems, has often been the target of attacks from the conservative sector.

Poster image of Kim Je-dong's talk show (Daedeok-gu Office website)
Poster image of Kim Je-dong's talk show (Daedeok-gu Office website)

Despite lawmakers’ derision, the public has appeared divided over the issue. Many users on social media criticized the expense as a waste of taxpayers’ money, whereas some accepted the amount as reasonable.

“I understand that Kim also pays his staff with the money, but still I’m envious of such a fee,” one Twitter user wrote. Another questioned the disapproval, saying, “I don’t understand why this is an issue. Shouldn’t it be up to the audience to decide whether the show was worth the money?”

As the controversy continued, the Daedeok-gu Office explained that the fee was not excessive in consideration of what Kim typically commands.

“Kim’s stipend for the coming event was set at 10,000 won per seat. Considering the ticket prices for his other shows -- ranging between 70,000 to 80,000 (won per seat) -- our compensation cannot be seen as unreasonably high,” an official from the local government said.

By Choi Ji-won (