A five-piece Korean boy band debuted during the summer of 2016 after signing a contract with an agency in December 2015. However, the group’s hopes of becoming part of the next generation of Hallyu were shattered in less than a year.
The agency, downsizing its workforce, did not provide the band with a manger, a vehicle or vocal and dance lessons.
The bandmates were asked to pay for their own hairstyling and makeup, as well as aesthetic procedures such as dermal fillers and botulinum toxin injections as part of “self-management.”
Their practice room was often rented out for aerobics classes and sometimes the agency changed the password to keep them out.
The band also wasn’t given money for living expenses or meals. An official from the agency reportedly said, “They wouldn’t die by skipping a meal.” When an employee asked for food-purchasing assistance, the agency dismissed him from the company.
The five-member group’s living environment was even worse during overseas performance trips.
No one from the agency accompanied them abroad and they had to tout their concert tickets themselves. And when they were participating in events, they were constantly subjected to sexual harassment, as no security guards were hired for them.
The president of the agency reportedly threatened the bandmates on a regular basis, saying he would “bury them” from the industry should they go against his will, for instance.
Despite enduring such dire conditions, the group says it was still not paid.
The band, with their names confidential, filed a lawsuit against the agency claiming the contract must be terminated because it violated a set of duties specified by the contract.
Seoul Central District Court ruled in favor of the band and granted the contract termination Friday, acknowledging the claims.
By Ahn Sang-yool (firstname.lastname@example.org)