A 5-member male idol group was reported to have signed a contract with their agency on December 2015. They trained for years and were finally able to debut in the summer. Although they may have debuted with the general goal of all trainees – to become the top idols in K-Pop – their dreams were soon crushed even before their 1st anniversary.
The agency began to cut down on a lot of the production fees that idols require to promote, such as having a manager, method of transportation, vocal and dance lessons, and more. The company also began to let a lot of the staff members go.
Along with production costs, the agency suddenly deemed that the idols should pay for their own hair styling, makeup, and cosmetic procedures like botox. They claimed it was the idols’ responsibilities to take care of their appearances. They rented out an aerobic classroom as the idols’ practice room, but the idols were locked out of the room because the aerobics class changed the password.
They failed to even provide enough of the basic necessities, such as food and other basic living needs. The agency told the idols, “You won’t die just because you miss a meal.” When a staff member fought that the idols required sufficient food, the agency forcefully fired the staff member.
The idols also promoted in Japan and Taiwan, but the conditions that unfolded in the foreign countries were even more severe. The agency didn’t send a single employee to their foreign promotions, so the idols were in charge of crowd control themselves. They weren’t even given security guards, which resulted in the members getting sexually harassed at events.
The agency’s CEO frequently insulted and threatened the members by saying, “If you don’t listen to me, I will make sure you’re done in this industry.” He also threatened to change the members or make them pay large penalty fees. He would also insult them by saying, “You’re ugly”, “Your parents didn’t teach you correctly”, “You look like someone that needs to get hit in the head”, and more.
The members continued to promote for their dreams even amidst the harsh conditions, but they haven’t been correctly paid once.
In the end, the members filed a lawsuit claiming that the company violated various contractual obligations. The 25th Section of the Seoul Central District Court Civil Affairs Committee approved all of the members’ claims, officially cancelling their contracts.
“The contract was cancelled because the company had violated various contractual agreements.”
— Idol Group’s Members