MBC‘s Newdesk ran a segment looking into several aspects of terrible treatment that trainees on Produce X 101 and Idol School received.
In their segment titled “The Unfair Power-trip By Massive Production Company CJ,” MBC once again interviewed former trainees who participated on both Produce X 101 and Idol School, who told their stories about their treatment in exchange for anonymity.
Beginning with Produce X 101, the trainee revealed the poor compensation they received for their appearance on the show.
We were given ₩100,000 KRW ($83.63 USD) for every episode that we appeared in.
We weren’t the underdogs, but more like just extras, and we had to bow our heads down and just do well, and just be careful in what we do, even if we didn’t like (the situation).
For each of the songs, the “underdogs” were just given ₩1,000,000 KRW (₩836.30 USD), and we weren’t given a portion of the extra profits.
— Produce X 101 trainee
An official from an entertainment agency also stated how the trainees would need to ask permission to do things, and how the companies didn’t get paid all of the money they were supposed to.
MBC also highlighted the treatment Idol School trainees received, with one trainee even comparing themselves to beggars.
We had to wear clothes suited for summer, throughout the winter. I even mentioned ‘this is how it would feel to be in the military.’ I was dying of the cold for 6 months, but we had to keep on wearing summer clothes. I kept on shivering.
— Idol School trainee “A”
The school allowed us to go to the store just one or two times a month. Because of that, some of the kids (trainees) would hide things like snacks in their hats or in their underwear, then they would all empty out their snacks from their underwear and share them together, like a group of homeless beggars.
— Idol School trainee “B”
Korea Music Copyright Association‘s secretary general Choi Kwang Ho commented how sometimes, agencies will compromise the safety and conditions for their trainees in order to try and get them to debut faster.
The agencies are operating under the position of ‘well, if the trainee’s ranking on the audition program goes up, then we can debut them in a much shorter time, and develop a variety of entertainment contents.
Whether there are human rights violations or unfair demands on the contracts, they are willing to take them (for the hope of hitting it big.)
— Choi Kwang Ho