The Korea Herald


179 artists in state troupes broke public service rules

By Im Eun-byel

Published : April 8, 2021 - 14:51

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National Gugak Center (NGC) National Gugak Center (NGC)

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism reported that 179 members of state arts troupes had violated regulations by giving private lessons or taking part in unauthorized activities, according to People Power Party Rep. Kim Ye-ji, who is a member of the National Assembly’s Culture Committee.

The regulations concerning public officials, which apply to members of state arts troupes, state that individual activities must be approved in advance and any payment received must be reported. If the artists conduct private lessons without following the regulations, they can face disciplinary action.

The Culture Ministry reported that 179 members of six state-funded arts troupes had violated the terms of their employment between Jan. 1, 2018, and March 6, 2020.

Some 69 artists from the National Gugak Center, 52 from the Korean National Ballet, 44 from the National Theater of Korea, 11 from the Korean Symphony Orchestra, two from the Seoul Performing Arts Company and one from the National Chorus of Korea were found to have given private lessons or participated in unauthorized individual activities in violation of the regulations concerning public officials.

Earlier last year the Korean National Ballet issued an official apology in the name of its artistic director, Kang Sue-jin, and took disciplinary action against three of its dancers for violating self-quarantine measures. One was fired for traveling abroad, while two were suspended for giving private lessons.

The Culture Ministry issued an “institution warning” to the ballet company for “disappointing the people and damaging the reputation of a state-funded arts troupe,” and ordered an inspection of the 17 state-funded cultural institutions under its wing.

Of the 179 artists who violated regulations, 84 faced disciplinary action and 95 were given warnings. Those who took part in inappropriate individual activities repeatedly or during work hours were reprimanded, suspended or had their wages cut.

Since the inspection, state-run arts troupes have decided to modify their regulations and the range of approval for individual activities and jobs. They also plan to educate their members on the public nature of the national arts troupes.

But Rep. Kim, who is a pianist, pointed out that more fundamental reform is needed.

“There are many state arts troupe members who take part in other individual activities, citing financial issues. This is not an easy matter as the situation of artists who are not part of national troupes should be considered, too,” Kim said.

“Individual activities during work hours must be strictly prohibited and inspected upon, but activities during non-work hours require discussions that reflect the reality, characteristics of each art genre and institution,” she said.

By Im Eun-byel (