Pop — June 17, 2015 at 7:05 pm

The ‘Big 3’ K-pop entertainment agencies are delaying legal government registration


Korea’s three largest entertainment agencies, SM, YG and JYP, may become illegitimate agencies unless they are registered with the government by July 28 according to an article in the Korean Times.


The move has apparently been initiated in order to prevent the proliferation of unfair contracts between entertainers and the agencies and to ensure that young entertainers are secured the opportunity for education, which have been denied to them in the past. Previously the contracts were exclusively between the agency and their performers but this new legislation is intended to prevent unfair contracts. Existing agencies were given notice almost a full year ago that they must obtain government approved certificates by July 28 if they wished to continue operating. So why the delay?


“Entertainment agencies seem to be avoiding the responsibilities that will immediately follow once they are registered,” said Kang Min-ju, a lawyer at Hankug Law Firm, who participated in establishing a standard form contract for the cinematographers’ union. “When the agency is registered as an official entertainment business by the government, it has to follow the FTC’s rigorous standard contract form – which restricts the maximum contract period to seven years.”


The balance of power has always been in the major agencies’ hands but increasing numbers of performers in restrictive contracts have voiced their dissatisfaction in the manner that the contracts have been structured. Some of the more notable examples have led to the departure of Luhan and Kris from popular SM entertainment product EXO and B.A.P filing a lawsuit against their agency TS entertainment with allegations of mistreatment and a paltry $16,000 pay-check for three years work.


In the past when performers cancelled their contract with the agencies, some of which can be for up to 13 years like in the case of TVXQ, agencies have responded by taking them to court for amounts that are double or triple what they are supposed to be. This new legislation makes these types of claims unenforceable by law.


“If the major agencies in SM, YG and JYP don’t certify their business by this Friday, they will have to register as a newly established entertainment, which will be another month of delay,” said officials from Korea Creative Content Agency, the group tasked with issuance of career certificates. It truly appears that change is on the way when it comes to standardised contracts in the K-pop realm. Whether this is enforced is another matter but it does appear to be a step in the right direction for protecting the rights of performers and avoiding the contact disputes that continually pop up in k-pop related news.