There has been a lot of controversy surrounding many idols about their “slave contract,” especially in SM Entertainment. TVXQ’s Junsu, Jaejoong and Yoochun left SM Entertainment because of it, and so did Super Junior’s Hangeng, quoting the same reason. However, are their actions justified? SM Entertainment puts in an uncountable amount of effort, time and money to build the idols to what they are now.
So how much does it take to make one person to be an idol?
When SM Entertainment trainees sign a contract, they sign up for at least 3 years of training. During their trainee season, everything is paid for – including food, transportation and even dorms are provided for those who live too far away to travel back and forth every day. Not only this, but trainees get lessons on dancing, singing, acting and foreign languages. They are paid to go to gyms and hair salons and even to get plastic surgery if required.
Everything they need is paid for, and each person costs on average 20,000,000 KRW – 40,000,000 KRW ($18,000 USD – $36,000 USD) per year, and many end up costing more. Since large companies such as SM Entertainment has at least 20 trainees at a time, money spent on trainees end up being over 1,000,000,000 KRW ($900,000 USD) per year.
On average, every trainee spends about five years training. So if one person need 150,000,000 KRW ($135,000 USD) to debut, a 9-member group such as Girls’ Generation will need at least 1,300,000,000 KRW ($1.2 million USD).
However, for them to debut, a manager needs to be hired, a car needs to be bought, and a dorm needs to be prepared. On top of that the artists need stage outfits, and albums need to be made, produced and promoted. In the end SM Entertainment spends at least 2,000,000,000 KRW ($1.8 million USD) just on their debut, and will keep spending about the same amount even after debut. For bigger groups like Super Junior the money is exponentially more. TVXQ also costs incredible amount of money because of their heavy promotions in both Japan and Korea.
Does this change your perspective of the contracts?
My answer is: