South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has passed an amendment to the Popular Culture and Arts Industry Development Act that expands labor protections for underage K-pop idols.
The changes to the law, passed on April 21, include requiring entertainment agencies to provide financial transparency by disclosing their income statements to their idols at least once a year and whenever the artists request them.
The new rule comes months after allegations that Hook Entertainment signed popular singer Lee Seung-gi to a “slave contract” that kept him unpaid for 18 years made headlines.
In addition to guaranteeing more financial transparency, the new law sets several other new rules aimed at protecting minor-aged K-pop idols.
The bill imposes a lower limit on the number of working hours for young entertainers with different limits based on their age. The previous regulations allowed up to 35 hours per week for artists under 15, and 40 hours per week for those aged 15 and older.
The new rules dictates that those under 12 years old can work a maximum of 25 hours per week and 6 hours per day. Those aged 12 to 15 can work up to 30 hours per week and 7 hours per day. Those who are 15 years and older are allowed to work up to 35 hours per week and 7 hours per day.
The bill also bans activities that infringe on young idols’ right to education, such as school absences or dropouts. The bill also aims to prohibit actions that pose risks to their physical, emotional and mental health, such as physical or verbal abuse or any coercion and commentary regarding their bodies and appearance.
To ensure the protection of young artists’ rights, the amendment requires entertainment businesses to appoint a “youth protection officer” responsible for safeguarding their well-being.