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Hit audition show ‘Mr. Trot’ mired in controversy

Just before Thursday’s airing of its final episode, TV Chosun’s hit audition show “Mr. Trot” became embroiled in a controversy over suspected unfair contracts.

The TV show, which aired its first episode in January, is a trot singing showdown. Last year, the broadcasting station’s “Miss Trot,” featuring talented female trot singers, was a huge success, with final winner Song Ga-in rising to national stardom through the show. 

“Mr. Trot” (TV Chosun)
“Mr. Trot” (TV Chosun)

Buoyed by the success, TV Chosun produced another season of the show titled “Mr. Trot” -- this time featuring male singers. “Mr. Trot” became the first cable channel show to mark a viewership rating higher than 30 percent, recording 32.7 percent on Feb. 27.

However, on Wednesday, a day before the final episode was to air, the hit audition show was criticized online on suspicions of unfair contracts. A local media outlet reported that the contract between TV Chosun and the show’s contenders was unfair, pointing out that only the contenders can be held responsible for any breach of contract.

According to the report, the contract specifies that if the contenders arouse “social criticism,” TV Chosun can revoke the contract as well as demand compensation for damages amounting to 100 million won ($83,000).

The report also highlights that only contenders who make it to the main round receive 100,000 won per episode. Of the 101 overall contenders, the main round includes just 40.

A few hours after the news surfaced, TV Chosun issued an official statement saying, “The contract is similar to those of other audition shows.” It added that it had received legal advice on the contracts beforehand.

Over the past months, “Mr. Trot” has faced criticism centering on fairness and transparency, as some parts of the show have focused heavily on certain contenders while neglecting others.

On Tuesday, a writer on the production team praised a certain contender via a personal social media account post, inviting criticism for favoritism and questions on fairness. TV Chosun responded that the post was a personal reaction, and not relevant to the fairness of the show.

By Im Eun-byel (