Fair treatment of artists essential for the growth of K-pop

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Singer and actor Lee Seung-gi sent proof of content to his agency to request transparent disclosure of the settlement details. In the past 18 years of activities with hit songs such as ‘Because You’re My Woman’ and ‘Will You Marry Me, they have yet to receive any music revenue.

The scale of 10 billion won is being discussed. Lee Seung-gi even claimed to have been told by his agency that he was not profitable because he was a ‘minus singer.’ It is difficult to conclude as the battle will continue, but it would be shocking if true.

The problem of settlement of profits in the music industry is always a potato that never cools down. From artists with maniacs to top-notch artists, we hear news of conflicts with their agencies several times a year over settlement issues. Extreme cases such as abusive language or assault are not uncommon. It is difficult to verify all cases, but it seems clear that the perception that such absurdities are prevalent in the entertainment industry is firmly established in public as well.

Of course, the primary victim is the artist. She needs to be adequately compensated for her hard work and achievements in the entertainment industry, which is full of uncertainty while honing her talent. In some cases, the growth of an artist is directly hindered because the agency does not force, permit, or support specific activities.

In an environment where the direction of a career is determined by the agency’s judgment or minimal cooperation, it is easy for an artist to be in the position of ‘B.’ There are claims that the agency deliberately refused to increase the artist’s ransom ahead of contract renewals.

Fans are bound to be secondary victims. This is especially true in the current fandom culture, which has transformed from a ‘follower’ to a ‘supporter’ status. Fans’ consumption is not only a payment for their pleasure but also has a strong meaning as an act of supporting the success of the artists they support.

If the result of the support did not go back to the artist, the adjective ‘collapse’ would not be able to capture it. More than anything else, when I found out that the activities I had supported as a fan were, in fact, the scene where my favorite artist was betrayed for his dreams and efforts, the horror was indescribable.

It cannot help but have an impact on the Korean wave industry itself. The so-called ‘slave contract,’ as well as inappropriate and violent treatment, rumors of involvement in gangsters, and rule-of-thumb operations, are suspicions that have hung over the entertainment industry for a long time. Overseas fans are also familiar with the fact that such an absurdity ‘can exist’ behind the wonder of K-pop. But, of course, it is not just a matter of status abroad.

The constant suspicion of a backward environment far exceeding everyday standards harms the public’s perception of K-pop. It has nothing to do with the fact that even though they praise their achievements day after day, the gaze that often disparages K-pop as childish and crude does not disappear, and fans are often hostile to their agency.

There can be wicked people in any group, but there are bound to be times when a group is condemned because of their presence. Those trying to advance the system and operate it fairly to produce quality content suffer unjust damage.

In addition to hoping that Lee Seung-gi’s agency dispute will be resolved relatively and moderately, this case will be a step toward improving the entertainment industry’s culture. Tragically, the entire Hallyu industry is constantly accused of the existence of those who betray artists and fans.

If there is any sense of responsibility towards the fans who support the industry, it is only right that they do not spend their days feeling ashamed or regretful about their tastes and choices and doubtful.

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