Survey by Seoul government, actors union reveals unfair practices within industry

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Survey by Seoul government, actors union reveals unfair practices within industry

Eight out of 10 professional television actors received an annual salary of less than 10 million won ($9,200) in 2020 while only five out of every 10 respondents said they signed contracts for work they did.
 
These revelations were the results of a survey held between October and November by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Korea Broadcasting Actors Union (KBAU) to provide a closer look into the working conditions of television actors. 
 
The survey on the practice of contracts was conducted on 560 actors in the industry, including non-union members, and information on salaries was collected from 4,968 union members.  
 
Analysis on the latter reported that the average yearly salary dropped from approximately 28 million won in 2015 to 19.9 million in 2019. Last year, 79.4 percent earned less than 10 million won of yearly income; 5.6 percent earned less than 20 million won; 3.3 percent earned less than 30 million won; 3.4 percent earned less than 50 million won; 3.4 percent earned less than 100 million won; and 4.8 percent earned more than 100 million won. 
 
The survey found that the average yearly income was 19.97 million won. Those who said they took part-time jobs other than acting accounted for 58.2 percent. Of that number, 78.5 percent said they were taking other jobs for their livelihoods, 9.5 percent for additional income and 2.8 percent for a change in their occupation.  
 
Just 49.4 percent of respondents reported they signed contracts for their appearances. Twenty-nine percent said they verbally made deals while 21.6 percent agreed to exchanging positive evaluations of their work in lieu of signing a contract. 
 
According to the Popular Culture and Arts Industry Development Act, all standard form contracts are required to be in written form and violating the act can lead to a fine of up to 5 million won.  
 
There were also numerous cases reporting unfair treatment on production sets. 
 
Those who received scripts minutes before they began to shoot took up 33.4 percent, while 43.2 percent said that they did not receive proper payment for extra hours, food expenses and other additional payments for their work. 
 
Of those who said they received reduced salaries with the promise of being rehired for other shows, 27.1 percent accounted for that category; 21.8 percent said they did not receive payment for extra hours they worked or food expenses; 17.9 percent experienced working for more than 18 hours straight; 12.5 percent received reduced salaries as their parts were edited out of the show; and 10.5 percent were forced to perform other activities not mentioned in their contracts.  
 
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said it plans to improve related laws and policies based on this survey.  
 
BY HAN YOUNG-HYE   [lee.jaelim@joonang.co.kr]  
 
 

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