5 Korean Celebrities Who Didn’t Get Paid By Their Agencies When They Were Supposed To
With fame comes fortune, but sometimes, Korean celebrities do not get access to it because their agencies do not pay them.
Although the Culture, Sports, and Tourism Committee passed a new bill recently requiring entertainment companies to disclose the details of their earnings to their artists at least once a year, musicians and actors are continuously in disputes with their agencies due to financial issues.
Here are five moments celebrities didn’t get paid by their agencies.
1. Lee Seung Gi
The bill that passed recently was a response to Lee Seung Gi’s incident, which became a big issue in November last year. On Dispatch, it was revealed that he was never paid for his music in the 18 years that he was an artist.
What started as an accidental text revealing the royalties of his songs from his agency HOOK Entertainment, Lee Seung Gi realized that he was supposed to have been paid at least ₩10.0 billion KRW (about $7.51 million USD). To his and the public’s dismay, however, he was paid nothing as the agency and the CEO Kwon Jin Young gaslighted him to believe he was a “minus singer” who hadn’t made enough earnings yet.
The situation went to the extent where Kwon Jin Young threatened to spend the rest of her life trying to “kill Lee Seung Gi.“
2. Song Ji Hyo
Actress Song Ji Hyo is the most recent celebrity to make headlines that her agency Uzurocks has not paid her in time. Six months after joining the agency in October 2022, it was revealed that she notified Uzurocks of ending their exclusive contract.
It was then revealed that the Uzurocks had been struggling financially, and there were witnesses to prove it. The agency laid off about ten employees, and Song Ji Hyo claimed she wanted to terminate her contract because she lost her trust in them as an agency—who has not paid her in over two months.
The agency initially stated that the actress did not terminate their contract, but three hours and 48 minutes later, they acknowledged her desire to end the contract and apologized for not paying attention to the details that needed to be provided to their actors.
In the fall of 2022, singer Chuu shocked the world when she revealed on the program Dr. Oh’s Golden Clinic that she had zero income in 2021. Because she didn’t have the money to eat whatever she wanted, she started binge eating, which caused gastrointestinal issues that led her to visit the ER multiple times.
Her former agency Blockberry Creative announced that Chuu was expelled from her group LOONA, claiming she abused the staff. Fans suspected that Blockberry Creative made up this “incident” to silence Chuu and cover up their alleged mistreatment of her.
Staff members and artists also stood up for the singer by sharing their personal experiences working with Chuu—even a snack brand Chuu once endorsed came to her defense.
Dancer NOZE, best known for her appearance on Street Woman Fighter, sued her agency, Starting House, in December of 2022. She also asked the judge to nullify her contract until the trial ended.
According to NOZE’s lawyer, the dancer hadn’t been paid for several months after continuously pushing back the payment date. At one point, Starting House explicitly refused to pay and claimed they would deposit the money after discussing her promotions. The agency also claimed that NOZE’s social media controversy kept them busy, so they could not handle her finances.
Soon after, Starting House stated that the agency and NOZE had resolved their conflicts after a deep conversation where they cleared their misunderstandings.
5. Hong Ji Yoon
Trot singer Hong Jiyoon, who won second place on the audition program Miss Trot 2, reportedly filed an injunction against her former agency to suspend the validity of their contract.
It was reported that in August 2022, Hong Ji Yoon’s fan cafe manager A raised suspicions that the CEO of her agency SPK Entertainment embezzled money from the fan cafe. In response, the CEO sued A for defamation.
This caused the singer to announce that she would temporarily suspend all activities, stating that she cannot proceed with the schedules she had planned “until the company’s problems are sorted out.”