In April of last year, CJ E&M came under fire for their treatment of a producer on the drama ‘Drinking Solo‘ after he committed suicide. Later, in June, they issued a formal apology and made promises to change their ways. Now, to the surprise of only people who think gigantic corporations are families, it turns out that CJ E&M (as well as others) has come under fire from the Hanbit Media Labor Rights Center (HMLRC) for not adhering to labor laws and guidelines.
On October 30, Hanbit Center reported several companies to be in violation of the Labor Standards Act to the Seoul Regional Employment and Labor Administration. The companies included CJ ENM, Studio Dragon, Kim Jong Hak Production, iWILL Media, and CRAVE Works.
They are reporting that the dramas basically do not pay for overtime work but require them to do the overtime work, thus effectively taking their labor for free.
Though Hanbit Center had established a production guideline last July that restricted the total number of working hours in one week to be 68 hours, the center revealed that dramas such as “The Player” and “The Guest” have habitually carried out long shoots of up to 100 hours a week. According to Hanbit Center, in the case of OCN drama “The Player,” on October 9 at 9 p.m. KST, a camera staff member suddenly fainted due to continuous labor. The staff member was sent to the emergency room in an ambulance. Some of the staff members revealed that as they were paid their wages per episode, they received the same wages whether they worked eights hours or 23 hours. In the case of OCN drama “The Guest,” the drama violated the Labor Standards Act by using 87 hours and 35 minutes of labor in the second week of October, and 95 hours and 40 minutes in the third week. The Hanbit Center claimed that the respective staff members also hadn’t been paid for their overtime hours or for working off-site. Hanbit Center also reported that tvN’s “Room No. 9” held a 20-hour long shoot on October 1, without the consent of the workers, and that OCN’s “Priest” forced one staff member into filming all night long.
Understandably, the HMLRC would like an investigation into violations.
A source from the Hanbit Center stated, “To improve the production environment of dramas, we provided production guidelines to CJ ENM and Studio Dragon. However, they are not abiding by them at all. We demand that the Ministry of Employment and Labor quickly investigate and deal severe punishment.”
There are times when you truly wish being cynical just makes you look like an asshole in the end instead of prophetic.
I’m glad the family got their apology. However, the cynical side of me questions exactly who is going to oversee CJ E&M making these changes. If there’s no oversight, then this is essentially just a PR move to stop them being justifiably vilified for their actions. Truly, I hope things change for the better for those working behind the scenes at CJ E&M, but I have doubts this does anything.
So yeah … a gigantic corporation basically just made a PR move after abusing their workers so heinously it became a big enough story that it could’ve inflicted harm on their brand, but they eventually reverted back to their old ways after the fallout died down.
Shit, I’m surprised that a slap on the wrist didn’t quite make them reconsider their stance that they own the labor of their employees. Again though, if you’re hoping the investigation will do anything … I mean, don’t.