South Korean Government To Review Working Conditions in Entertainment

D-Bo , Jan. 22, 2015, 10:02 a.m.

All crew involved in making the hugely successful film "Ode to My Father" were given employment contracts, a rare move in an industry that relies heavily on casual work.  This added W300 million (US$1=W1,084) to the production cost, but the working conditions of staff saw considerable improvement. 

Following this precedent, the government decided to work on improving working conditions for workers in the field, from film and broadcasting to the game industry.  The Ministry of Employment and Labor on Wednesday said it will inspect three or four film and broadcasting production areas first, review their hiring practices and working environment of staff and see if they adhere to labor laws, and ensure staff are given written contracts. 

Extra hours, overnight work and late payment are so commonplace that they have frequently been condoned as part of the job.  The average annual wage of those working in film production is reported to be a paltry W6.23 million, and the nonexistence of contracts made it difficult to protect them.   According to the ministry, 25,000 out of 611,000 workers in the culture industry work in production. 

The ministry also decided to crack down on employers who pay young people little or nothing for hard work in the name of "work experience" and "opportunity."  This became a hotly debated issue when it was revealed that a famous fashion designer's studio pays just W100,000 a month to an apprentice and W300,000 to an intern.  The ministry will soon embark on an inspection of 150 workplaces -- fashion studios, bakeries and patisseries, hotels, and leisure facilities -- that hire many interns and apprentices.

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