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Dismissal of KNB’s ballet dancer caught in legal dispute

Ballet dancer Na Dae-han (KNB)
Ballet dancer Na Dae-han (KNB)

The Korea National Ballet’s firing of a member earlier this year for traveling abroad during the home-quarantine period has come to the center of a legal dispute, as the state labor committee viewed it to be an “unfair dismissal.”

According to the performing arts scene on Monday, the National Labor Relations Commission officially acknowledged that the national ballet troupe’s dismissal of Na in March was unfair.

The labor committee viewed that Na had the responsibility to comply with the troupe’s self-quarantine orders and he violated his obligations to the dance company by traveling abroad at the time.

However, it said the breach cannot be a reason to fire him, as he was not violating the government’s official self-quarantine rule and the dance company abused its power to discipline in firing him.

While the labor committee ordered the troupe to reinstate Na, the dance troupe refused, arguing Na had damaged the reputation of the company. The company filed a suit at the Seoul Administrative Court in October in an appeal to annul the committee’s decision concerning Na.

Na, a former corps de ballet dancer of the troupe who was widely recognized by the public for featuring in a TV romance reality show, was embroiled in controversy after posting a photo of himself traveling to Japan with his girlfriend on his social media account on Feb. 27.

At the time, the dance troupe was in home quarantine after performing “Swan Lake” in Daegu in mid-February, shortly before the city was hit hard by cluster infections of COVID-19. Performances in other cities were canceled as the troupe went into self-quarantine.

Na was the first dancer to be fired from the state-funded ballet troupe for inappropriate behavior since it was founded in 1962.

Other members of the state ballet company, soloist Kim Hee-hyun and principal dancer Lee Jae-woo, have been suspended for three months and a month, respectively, for conducting private lessons during the period of home quarantine.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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