Korea’s leading entertainment agencies, including SM and JYP Entertainment, agreed to put in a joint effort with the government in order to enhance the rights of young entertainers that have often been violated, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Tuesday.
First Vice Minister Mo Chul-min said the ministry held an official meeting with representatives of leading entertainment agencies Monday to come up with measures to protect young entertainers who have been reportedly sexually objectified and work long hours, without getting enough time for their education.
The government and agencies have agreed on: Extensive annual research by Ajou University on situations and institutional problems of the entertainment industry; mandatory education programs on work ethics, finance, law and human rights for young entertainers, their parents, and entertainment officials; counseling services and emotional support systems for entertainment workers; introduction of a legal, standard contract which every agency should follow; the Korea entertainers’ ethics committee’s volunteer efforts to come up with measures to guarantee young entertainers full access to education.
According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, Mo said, those under the age of 18 who work for an entertainment agency are not considered to be workers. “Hence the labor law does not apply to them. We are in the process of making new sets of laws to regulate working hours of the young.“
Meanwhile, he emphasized that his ministry has dual duties when asked about young entertainers’ limited access to education. “The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism needs to support Hallyu and protect these young entertainers at the same time,” Mo said. “When thinking about expanding the Hallyu influence, sometimes the talented have to focus on one thing to be the world star, like BoA or Michael Jackson.”
Mo also said the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the Fair Trade Commission Republic of Korea, and the Korea Communications Commission will jointly come up with more specific measures to prevent possible violations of rights of young entertainers in future.
Back in July, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the Youth Policy Analysis and Evaluation Center conducted a joint survey of 103 young entertainers 53 male and 50 female aged between 9 and 24. The survey showed that at least one out of every 10 young entertainers was sexually objectified by their employers, including being forced to reveal body parts and receive plastic surgery.
About 10 percent of the teen respondents of the survey said they have exposed specific parts of their body for work, such as legs, breasts and buttocks. Among them, 60 percent of the female teens said they were forced to do so. About 40 percent said they have worked on weekends and night shifts. The 47 percent said they have missed more than half of their weekly classes, while 34.1 percent said they cannot make time for their homework.
By Claire Lee (email@example.com