[Letters] Entertainment’s dark side
A few weeks ago, I received a mailing from an Internet-based service announcing it will start offering a diploma course for entertainment managers. Since I have a dream of becoming an entertainment company CEO and thought that there were too many unqualified entertainment managers, I welcomed this diploma program.
Soon after seeing this encouraging advance toward an ideal entertainment industry in Korea, I heard the news about the actress Jang Ja-yeon’s suicide and her slave-labor contract with a management agency. She (and possibly other victims) was reportedly required to sleep with rich and powerful men from corporations, private businessmen, lawyers and even politicians. Furthermore, it was alleged that she was battered, and her income was illegally withheld by her agency.
Since anyone can establish an entertainment agency after receiving a certificate of business registration, innumerable agencies are prospering; smaller agencies, especially, coerce female actresses to trade virtue for fame and stardom. They are under pressure from their agency managers, who broker openings for them with entertainment industry producers.
The Fair Trade Commission’s decision to enforce standard contracts for entertainers by June is good, if belated. Such standard contracts curtail management agencies’ control over entertainers by stipulating that producers cannot work in both film and drama production, and the commission that an entertainer pays an agency for any film, drama or advertising job should not exceed 20 percent.
However, profits in entertainment are nowadays made by multiple uses of their products, as risk to the entertainment industry is ever-growing. Thus the measure is meaningless; almost none can make a profit with the enforcement of such a standard. The notion that producers who create new content are just brokers who make their living through brokerage fees is naive.
Moreover, the government’s effort to encourage a public recruitment system is also meaningless since it will only bring about more competition for a small number of opportunities.
In my view, the introduction of a two-tier management system similar to those that exist in New York and California is most promising for the future of the Korean entertainment industry, as a newspaper article once mentioned.
In that system, one agency handles the entertainers’ legal affairs such as contracts and another is in charge of that person’s activities and performances.
By this means, the monopoly that entertainment companies have held over celebrities would be lessened and, accordingly, so would legal violations.
In “Moulin Rouge” (2001) by director Baz Luhrmann, the Duke demands beautiful nightclub singer Satine (played by Nicole Kidman) in compensation for his financial backing of the club and her career.
In Emile Zola’s 1880 novel “Nana,” the author shows the scant boundary between the worlds of actresses and whores. Stories like these can be all too real in today’s world of entertainment.
Korea today is engulfed in a star celebrity culture, and in their most formative years, countless boys and girls are lost in a hallucination called “Stargate.”
Koreans in their 20s are not much different; as entertainers breaking out as celebrities are getting younger and younger, young female wannabes will trade anything they have for a niche to propel them to fame and success.
The tragedy of sexual slavery can befall them from this basic desire to succeed.
Terry Kim, high school student at an international academy
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