Korean agents reined in with contracts

Suicide sparked investigation, new regulations

SEOUL – A standard contract for Korean entertainers will be introduced as early as this month and applied to local management agencies, giving more rights to performers who are often seen as victims of forced promotion activities and extensive intervention by their agents.

Korea Fair Trade Commission, a government body that formulates and administers consumer-related policies, announced this week that the group is currently negotiating with agents and entertainers to revise the current terms and conditions of contracts, which currently limits many performers’ freedom.

An agreement for Korean entertainers was long regarded as “a slave contract” in the industry, with conditions including mandatory appearances in free advertisements or functions hosted by the agent. Currently, many agents require their clients to report to the company before departing the country; the performers can neither retire nor stop their activities without the agents’ approval.

Such clauses became an issue earlier this year when a TV actress committed suicide after she was allegedly forced to offer sexual favors by her agent. The commission held a major investigation into the activities of local agents since April before announcing the plan.

The standard form will require the management agencies to follow the new terms. However, until next month, the agents will be advised to revise their terms voluntarily.