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‘We don’t have any bargaining power’: The creatives behind some of streaming’s biggest shows demand better than living on the breadline

The lack of remuneration is a global problem.

via Netflix

Hollywood has been railing against streaming services like Netflix during the dueling actors’ and writers’ strikes, but things are arguably even worse in Korea, with the country’s status as a hotbed for some of the biggest episodic and feature-length hits on-demand doing nothing to enhance the financial compensation offered to many of its key creatives.

It was only a few days ago that Netflix was in the headlines after a scathing report outlined that it doesn’t pay residuals to Korean filmmakers because it doesn’t have to, but The Hollywood Reporter has followed that up by noting that the local Director’s Guild is banding together in an effort to change that, with spokesperson Yun-jeong Lee offering a damning assessment.

Squid Game
Image via YouTube

“Without revising the Copyrights Act, we don’t have any bargaining power to negotiate remuneration issues with the production companies. We are not at the stage yet to discuss details of payment distribution models. By revising the legislation, we want to start the discussion and ask for minimum rights to share in profits with the companies in some way, so that backend remuneration is not zero like now.”

Under current legislation, staff writers receive residuals, but the independent scribes and directors who produce the majority of content do not, with their freelance status denying them profit participation, sharing, and even the right to be able to go on strike, with Lee explaining that their demands aren’t unreasonable.

“Our demands are very basic at the moment. We’re not asking for a large amount of money. We just want to start the discussion about the remuneration system and create acceptable guidelines within the industry.”

THR even notes that the majority of working Korean directors spend an average of four and a half years on a project for a salary that equates to $13,644, which is even lower than the national minimum wage when taking a full-time working schedule into account, which dramatically underlines the need for change.

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Scott Campbell

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