Thursday, July 12, 2007

Working Hard In Korea

Ah flibber flabber fruck!

I guess that's my blogger version of swearing, which, in person, I'm very good at. For some reason unless something just really irks me, I keep a handle on it when I blog.

Okay, I've been interning. I'm getting my on vacation butt handed to me daily simply because it's a lot of work. Anyway, it's for academic credit, and I don't graduate if I don't do it. Plus, the person I'm working for is doing me a huge favor, and I'm very conscious that my reputation will be affected by how I perform, so I'm doing my best. I'll cease whining about it now. I just miss my blog, and I don't have time to write much.

Anyway, the good thing is, most of the time, I get to work from home and it's Internet-based. This morning I had to do some research and found this article at the Choson-Ilbo's website about some foreigners who are on TV here.

It seems that the stars have gotten some notoriety, and they're making guest appearances elsewhere. Now I know this is pretty much common back home and I'm from L.A. You'll see shows intentionally cross-pollinate stars for cameos or other unique moments. However, here it's a big possession deal. Er, psst! Producers...it will get people not watching to tune into your show!

Are ‘Global Talk Show’ Regulars Too Famous?

The KBS 2TV “Global Talk Show” is going through a rough patch as regulars become stars. Saori Chang, a Japanese woman who has attracted much attention for her idiosyncratic way of talking, is in dispute with the show’s producers over her decision to stop appearing on the show. According to the producers, Chang signed an exclusive contract that forbids her to appear on shows by other broadcasters between March and September, but she has simply stopped turning up.

Chang recently signed with an entertainment agency and is appearing on other variety programs including MBC’s “Sunday Night Show.” Producers of “Global Talk Show” said, "Although we can’t prevent Saori from making contract and working with an entertainment agency, it is an apparent breach of the contract that she appeared on another broadcasters' program without any consultation with us." They added it was “an issue of basic trust” and they are considering their response.

But Fun Factory, the artist management agency Chang signed with, tells a different story. Fun Factory says it informed “Global Talk Show” producers of the new contract they signed with Chang and got the green light for her to appear on the other network. But two days before the shoot, the producers changed their minds and insisted Chang cannot appear elsewhere. “It’s absurd for the ‘Global Talk Show’ producers to say Saori breached the contract. We asked them in advance and notified them of her schedule,” Fun Factory said.

This is not the first problem with the regulars. Ha Hwang Haiyen from Vietnam left “Global Talk Show” and started appearing in a soap on KBS. Regulars Eva Popiel, Junko Sagawa and Lu-vada Dunford appear in various commercials and campaigns thanks to the popularity they won by appearing on the show.

Producers are worried because the trend waters down the show’s original purpose of providing a view of Korea from ordinary foreigners living here. “Global Talk Show” producer Lee Gi-won said, "It might benefit the show when the cast turns into stars. But it’s important to have guests who aren’t accustomed to Korean culture and don’t appear on other shows, given the special nature of the program." The producers say there is no perfect solution but they will try to change the format by rotating a new cast of regulars.

“There is no reason for us to prevent the cast from going into show business. Saori’s case became an issue because she broke the contract without consulting us,” Lee said. “If Eva and others decide to appear in soap operas, they will naturally be dropped from the show, but I wish them success.”
Unfortunately, this is common in Korea, at least it is as a foreigner where your employer views you literally as their possession. It can be very frustrating because you know the value, not just income-wise, but overall for collaborating and working with others. I had to resign from a job once where they rolled back on a promise to let me work elsewhere for my vacation. I won't get too deep into it as it was a long time ago, but I worked this out when they hired me. However, my error was not getting it in writing upfront. Anyway, it was minor, and with the help of fellow law school alumni my transition went just fine. Yes, they tried to hold out on the release letter...but I got that taken care of.

Like me, I'm sure the ladies will do fine if they move on. I'm not saying that people shouldn't be held to exclusive contracts, but, in the case of TV personalities, it's more common to share. It's just a irksome to hear that, even at this level, there is this possession mentality.

Good luck ladies.

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