Legal wrinkle poses no problem for court

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Legal wrinkle poses no problem for court

Agents who represent foreign models are exempt from a legal provision that says employment agencies must provide long-term work before they can be paid, the Seoul Central District Court ruled yesterday.

In acquitting 11 people who ran unlicensed modeling agencies for foreigners, the court overturned a 2006 lower court ruling that had convicted one of the 11 of the same charges.

Prosecutors had indicted the agents because they had received fees without securing the models long-term work, as licensed employment agencies are required to do. But the court held that advertisers booked the models on a project basis, rather than “hiring” them, thus posing no conflict with the employment law.

“The models were not signed on by the advertisers to provide continuous work but agreed to appear in individual projects, so it’s hard to see that an official employment deal was made,” the court said in its ruling. “The employment law states that employment agencies connect job seekers to employers to sign an official employment contract.”

Ironically, one of the 11 agents acquitted yesterday, surnamed Jeon, had been fined in October 2006 for introducing foreign models to advertisers 245 times without a business license. In one case, he collected 300,000 won ($241) for introducing a Czech model to a local advertising firm.

Under current employment law, anyone who runs an employment agency without a license may face five years in jail and a fine of 20 million won.


By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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