K-Pop Choreographer Exposes The Low Pay Backup Dancers Receive For Performances
Though choreographer Jang Mi is known for teaching IVE‘s Wonyoung and the other Produce 48 contestants, she was also part of the disbanded girl group Limesoda.
Before that, Jang Mi got her start as a backup dancer. When looking back on those days for an interview with Heyday, she revealed the small amount dancers receive for performances.
During Jang Mi’s days as part of the dance team YAMA & HOTCHICKS, they worked with KARA, Brown Eyed Girls, T-ARA, and gugudan SEMINA. They danced so much that they’d change stage outfits three times to perform for three different groups in a day.
Sadly, they weren’t paid as well as you’d think. While Jang Mi recognized the show Street Woman Fighter for drawing attention to dancers, it was rough for them in the past.
Jang Mi revealed, “We were paid around ₩70,000 KRW per episode.” That was less than $100 USD, coming in at exactly $52.60 USD per episode.
The total was even less because the backup dancers would divide the money equally. Jang Mi said, “But we had to split the money among team members, so I was only left with around ₩30,000 to ₩40,000 KRW.” She was then left with an amount between $22 and $30 USD.
Considering her expenses to travel to the studio and pay for food, Jang Mi shined a light on how tiny the payment was.
Even so, Jang Mi didn’t look back on those times with bad feelings.
Despite all these, I got those sentimental feelings. Everybody had to go through so much pain, but everything seemed like it was worth it whenever we went on stage—especially during concerts.
— Jang Mi
Although Jang Mi is now an actress, she can reflect on her dancer and choreographer days to highlight how rough it could be.