MBLAQ‘s G.O, now an active host on Afreeca TV, shared his personal knowledge behind Korean idol entertainment agencies scamming their idol groups.
G.O claimed that Korean entertainment agencies are often ripping off their idols, especially during the groups’ rookie days. They wouldn’t keep the cost calculations transparent and even lie to the members.
“The rookies get scammed more because they don’t know how things work yet, so they’re easy targets. The older, more popular idols know better, so they don’t get tricked as much.” — G.O
He added that it’s a very unstable career. He knows a well-known group that only made $20,000 USD at its peak. After dividing it up among the members, each person would barely make $300 a month.
“I know that a group, whose name you’ll all know if I told you, made $20,000 in a year, even when the group was at its peak. But that’s not all. The group had to divide up the $20K into the number of members, meaning one person earned $3,000~$4,000 for an entire year. That’s less than $300 a month.” — G.O.
Agencies are able to trick the idols into believing the group was paid less than the agency received, mainly by not sharing the contract details. And rookie idols don’t dare ask the agency to see the actual receipts, fearing they won’t be able to find work in the industry anymore.
“Say the agency sends a group for $10,000 for a performance. The agency will tell the idols they are going for $5,000. The agency keeps whatever it doesn’t pay off to the idols.” — G.O
Rookie idols are more prone to being scammed this way because the entertainment agencies specifically seek out rookies for this reason. G.O explained, “Let’s say an agency receives a request for its well-known idol to appear for $30,000. The agency will turn down that request and instead, suggest to send a rookie instead for half the price.”
“Once the rookie group performs, the agency will go as far to tell the idols that they didn’t receive any money for the performance because they were sent to promote themselves, not to make money. So it’s a loss for the rookie idol that works hard but doesn’t get paid and a loss for the more popular idol that can no longer book performances and doesn’t get paid. It’s only good for the agency who eats all the money.” — G.O
G.O supported that these are true stories, coming from his personal experience of working with not just one but two entertainment agencies that went bankrupt and shut down.