Entertainment industry puts money over passion


Credit: Lucy Knowles/The Foothill Dragon Press

Riley Knouse

Credit: Lucy Knowles/The Foothill Dragon Press
More often than not, People in the entertainment industry now pursue money rather than art. Credit: Lucy Knowles/The Foothill Dragon Press

When we see entertainers or hear music in America, we go through three initial steps. First, we think about how good they are, then if we decide that we really like this person or group we might research them a little more.

What we do not tend to pay attention to is what label they are from. This is not necessarily bad, it is just the way it is.

When it comes to Korean pop, however, the story is different. The beginning process is the same, however the agency does matter in this case. In the K-pop industry, there are the “Big Three” entertainment agencies: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. There are many other agencies, but these are the largest and most well known.

For most (if not all) K-pop fans, knowing what label their favorite group comes from is basic knowledge. For the people who also follow the labels, the company’s past is basic information.

SM Entertainment has a history of issues with entertainers under their label, filing a lawsuit against them about a “slave contract,” where the entertainers are treated unfairly, a few examples being unfair profit distribution, unnecessarily long length of how long they are bound to the company, and no concerns for the entertainers health.

With this knowledge now in mind, it is not all that surprising that EXO’s Wu Yi Fan, also known as Kris, is now filing a lawsuit against SM Entertainment. EXO is a 12 member boy group, with two sub-units EXO-M and EXO-K. EXO-M primarily promotes the group in China, and sings their songs in Chinese, while EXO-K primarily promotes in Korea and sings EXO’s songs in Korean. Even before they debuted, EXO was popular. In Mnet Asian Music Awards 2012, about a year after they debuted, they won Best New Asian Artist Group and were nominated for group of the year. They have been very successful as a group thus far.

It is safe to say that if you are a K-pop fan, you have at least heard of EXO. Even though it seemed like it was just a matter of time before someone under SM Entertainment would file another lawsuit, it is shocking to see it come from a group who is currently doing well, and is still relatively young.

This is a problem that is not just happening within SM Entertainment, but all over the K-pop industry.

Instead of pursuing their passions, be it dancing, singing, rapping, acting, modeling, etc., there is a disturbingly large number that are instead being worked to the point of poor health conditions, and having unfair contracts. Music, something meant for the enjoyment of not only the listeners but also the performers, is turning more and more into a tool for corporate gain. Kris has stated the he feels SM has treated him “like a machine part or as an object of control,” and JYJ (former members of the group TVXQ!) stated in their lawsuit against SM in 2009 that they hoped they would “be able to continue their careers as they wish, instead of being used as tools for the agency’s profits.”

It is one thing to want to work hard and perfect your passion, and these idols are aware of the fact that it will be difficult to become famous, but they are still human. Humans cannot travel to different countries, practice day and night, and constantly promote themselves with only three hours of sleep.

A lot of these big corporations are exploiting k-pop idols and their willingness to work hard for their passion. Instead, it is leaving them with health problems and unjust contracts.

Even though money making is involved in entertainment, it should not be gained at the risk of the well being of entertainers.

What do you think?