11:59 am - 02/02/2013

The reality of the acting industry told by an anonymous actor of 10 years

Korean Ilbo recently ran their cover story on a nameless male actor to show what the reality is like for those who don't get the boost in opportunities idols are generously given.



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Pictured above is actor A working a part time job at a restaurant in Seoul. He requested to remain anonymous and faceless because "criticizing the production companies and broadcast channels will mean the end of my career".

"I make barely $2,000~$3,000 a year... but I am still an actor."

There are times when he isn't even paid that amount in full, leaving him ineligible for any type of insurance coverage. He has to work part time jobs to make ends meet, but his craze for acting is what has kept him on this career path for the past 10 years.

"An actor is nothing like what you see on the outside. You could work really hard all throughout a drama, but the reality is that you end up having to beg the production companies for your pay."

For the past 10 years, A has only played minor roles which he was able to land through the help of a 'casting director' broker who connects actors to production companies. For actors like A, they receive $150 per episode, 30% of which is given to the broker. It might seem like a lot for a day's worth of work, but opportunities only come a few times a month.

"My friends are in the same predicament." The $2,000 they make in a year isn't enough to qualify them for health and safety insurance or a pension.

When asked if he ever felt a sense of shame over his inability to make ends meet despite being 10 years into his career, he replied, "There's nothing you can do about it by getting mad or getting your pride hurt. The only thing you can do as an actor is to continue showing all of your skills. If you're not satisfied with what you're being paid, you don't have to do it. As for me, though, I want to act."

The problem ultimately becomes the production companies who don't even pay the small amount that these actors do earn. "I wasn't able to receive my pay for months at a time once so I wrote a letter to the CEO saying he should not think he can get away with stealing money from someone just because they're nameless. He ended up paying me half of what he owed. Situations like this are frequent."

Last year, he had spent all night memorizing a script and even bought a new outfit out of his own pocket when he woke up to a text message the day of the recording saying that he "didn't need to come in". He later found out that a higher-up producer had decided to fill his role with another actor they had a mutual relationship with.

"I grew up knowing that pursuing the arts runs the risk of going hungry so I learned to starve when without money and help others when with. Now that I have a family now, though, it's difficult to see life that way. When I'm not filming, I'm working part time jobs but it's still not enough to buy my daughter meat for dinner or to buy my wife a birthday present."

After feeling remorse for putting the financial burden of the family on his wife, he briefly found a job as a cosmetics salesman before the company went bankrupt. "I realized that the only thing I was good at, that I could see myself doing forever, was acting."

He now considers success his biggest form of revenge and continues practicing his script with his daughter in front of the mirror. "I promise her that one day people will be able to just look at her and say, 'She's the daughter of that actor.'"

-

1. [+527, -8] With actors like him who live day to day just to survive, please stop casting idols into leading roles with their crappy acting;;;; Opportunities should be given to rookies or actors like him instead of idols who don't have the skills or any knowledge about the acting profession;;; There are so many successful actors that all started from the bottom and worked their ways up, who do idols think they are??? Give these opportunities to the actors!!!!!!!

2. [+377, -8] I bet the producers sleep so soundly at night knowing that he chose idols with crappy acting over passionate actors like him

3. [+293, -5] Dramas really need to stop using crappy idols purely for their popularity...

4. [+247, -5] I hope that he never gives up his dream and continues to fight against the obstacles of reality to make it come true

5. [+236, -4] I'd cast him 1,000 times over any T-ara member

6. [+196, -4] The fact that dramas are using idols simply for the "money" and for their fanbase to raise viewer ratings just goes to show that idols are not "singers" but "products"

7. [+164, -5] There are probably more like him in our country and yet dramas still insist on sticking in idols everywhere

8. [+148, -4] The production companies are starting to sound like mobs

9. [+140, -5] And yet today, an idol named Han Seungyeon insists that she must be an actress

10. [+122, -8] Kids like Suzy are so blessed.



Sources: netizenbuzz and Korean Ilbo via Naver (original article)
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prettyminstrel 2nd-Feb-2013 04:30 pm (UTC)
song seung hun is dat u
soft_daisy 2nd-Feb-2013 04:42 pm (UTC)
hahaa omg irl XD

but srsly, at least he has cfs so probably not him
missnothings 2nd-Feb-2013 04:33 pm (UTC)
This is sad, obviously, but this is the way of the entertainment world. This happens everywhere, not just Korea. And at some point, it's been 10 years, maybe you have to sit down and realize, it's not going to happen for you, and to go get a full time job to feed your family.

Also smh at netizens' hate-hard-on for actor idols. Yeah, there's probably too many idols being cast just because they're idols, but they seem to conveniently forget that a few of their favorite and really popular actors today started out in the biz as idols.
cirtnecce 2nd-Feb-2013 04:44 pm (UTC)
Their mindset that actors are automatically so much more worthy than idols to the point of ridiculous belittling is really sad. I can understand the dislike for actor idols, but to be hated on just by getting compared to an actor is just absurd.
soramai 2nd-Feb-2013 04:42 pm (UTC)
he had to beg to get paid?! uggh, this is so shady.
bunica1990 2nd-Feb-2013 04:51 pm (UTC)
Mte.

Edited at 2013-02-02 04:51 pm (UTC)
anconeous 2nd-Feb-2013 04:43 pm (UTC)
Sucks for him, but sometimes it just boils down to luck. There's only how many roles out there for hundreds or even thousands of actors. Some just end up having the right timing or looks or connections or something that gets them ahead.
krobwell 2nd-Feb-2013 05:01 pm (UTC)
i'd cast him 1,000 times over any T-ara member

Edited at 2013-02-02 05:01 pm (UTC)
lee_chikin 2nd-Feb-2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
I don't really care about them enough to be aware of their acting skills, but I've seen the clip about Dani. I'd cast the biscuit I'm eating over her anytime.
epona 2nd-Feb-2013 05:16 pm (UTC)
I mean it's shady but, if you're trying to become an actor anywhere you're going to have to go through shitty times. Only the big names make sufficient money and I'm assuming he's not one of them.

But I totally agree that idols acting in everything is tired and needs to stop.
eun_chan 2nd-Feb-2013 06:01 pm (UTC)
"if you're trying to become an actor anywhere you're going to have to through shitty times"
it is not the same as not being paid for the work you have done. that`s just wrong.
muramatsu_aoi 2nd-Feb-2013 05:27 pm (UTC)
don't think all that idol hate is justified. Idols go through worse to make a career when they start out anyway. mercifully, there's is a certain age cap to it- no one wants to scout an idol over 20.
cherrypop 4th-Feb-2013 10:40 am (UTC)
Are you kidding me??? Yeah, maybe a few, like Infinte's Sunggyu and IU. But there are puh-LENTY of idols who got into companies simply on the merit of their wealthy parents (seriously, by plenty I mean... A LOT).
luvey 2nd-Feb-2013 05:28 pm (UTC)
in a way it sounds pretty much like normal for most actors in the entertainment industry. (except for the not getting paid part). sometimes it isn't about talent for the major roles, and those with minor roles keep working. for years my friend was in minor roles in movies and tv shows. taking side jobs in between roles (she was fortunately a trust fund baby so she had a little extra help with money.) eventually it turned into who she knows, and talent. now she's out of the acting game and into the writing/directing one. still her movies aren't big hits, more indie.
erbalurbal 2nd-Feb-2013 05:33 pm (UTC)
Those netizens need to chill with their idol hate. Some of their faves are terrible too.
lysblack 2nd-Feb-2013 05:51 pm (UTC)
i'm going to copy what i wrote on netizenbuzz:

while i feel really bad for rookie actors, do netizens really think that the drama roles given to idols will go to rookie actors? the korean drama ent is really closed off, you see the same small group of people over and over again, from leads to secondary characters, if it wasn't taken by an idol would be taken by one of the often used actors that always play supporting characters. with or without idols it is difficult to break into it, so they should stop complaining about idols being casted and maybe start doing something to help the rookie actors.

with all that said, it makes me really sad and mad how they claim that the idols have it easy, it's like they love to turn the blind eye on how hard idol life actually is.

Edited at 2013-02-02 05:52 pm (UTC)
iwantchocopie 2nd-Feb-2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
it's like they love to turn the blind eye on how hard idol life actually is.


COULD NOT AGREE MORE.

miss_pioupiou 2nd-Feb-2013 05:52 pm (UTC)
actors not getting paid seems a bigger problem than idols actors
asnindie 2nd-Feb-2013 06:07 pm (UTC)
The icon is love
asnindie 2nd-Feb-2013 06:10 pm (UTC)
The problem here isn't Actors struggling, it's them not being payed their dues. This is why they need a Actors union.

I remember the horror story of an actor in a play or not getting paid, and when he tried to get his money the producer beat him with a spanner for being ungrateful. That kind of shit needs to end.
eun_chan 2nd-Feb-2013 06:23 pm (UTC)
what?
goldynchickie 2nd-Feb-2013 06:29 pm (UTC)
That's some shady shit.
modestgoddess79 2nd-Feb-2013 06:33 pm (UTC)
idols are not the problem, not getting paid for your work is the problem and there are quiet a few actors who have all the talent and charisma of a wet napkin yet get cast because they are pretty

*model actors are the best actors /biased
2cutelena 2nd-Feb-2013 11:24 pm (UTC)
I completely agree that not getting paid and the general shitty live shot schedules is the problem. but gotta admit i seethe when talentless idols are cast (some idols are good actors but 95% are shit), especially when i find out that there were some really big talented names in the running.

*we share the same bias (Wo Bin) so I agree.
muzegrey 2nd-Feb-2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
This is why I get pissed anytime I see an idol getting into a lead or major supporting role.

But thing is, most people who work lowly jobs in Korea don't get paid or get scammed. That's why education and getting a good job is so important. In Korea it's hard to fight those in power.
honeebs 2nd-Feb-2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
Luv the random T-ara shade! hahaha
Srsly tho this is sad. When a big actor doesn't get paid it makes news but when the lesser don't they just tell them to fuck off. Is there a union? They need to be protected. No one is asking you to give them lines just pay them for the work they do damn. Yes this is life in the industry but damn just pay them so they can live.
DAMN THE MAN! Keep ya head up, man.
bunica1990 2nd-Feb-2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
They need to have an actors guild like the SAG in the US.
hellodee16 2nd-Feb-2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
Oh hell no. I can't imagine working like that, having to beg them to give my pay.
nekokonneko 2nd-Feb-2013 10:12 pm (UTC)
and then only getting half
vicinity_love 3rd-Feb-2013 02:30 am (UTC)
please stop casting idols into leading roles with their crappy acting
yessss times a million.
hipployta 3rd-Feb-2013 04:33 am (UTC)
What I took from this article that the non-payment issue is way bigger than previously perceived. We usually only here about it when a show threatens to stop production or the actors sue but obviously it's actually a common practice.
22by7 3rd-Feb-2013 04:34 am (UTC)
i don't think it's unwarranted idol actor hate IN GENERAL, but in a situation where working actors are actually getting CHEATED out of their due and some random cute-faced idol keeps being pressed into movies/tv and ppl are like 'omg he is improving tho! really!' (e.g. yunho, whom i love, so this is not about flat-out dissing, ha ha)... obviously this is a broader problem and actors getting the shit end of the stick and trainees getting the shit end of the stick are on a continuum. i'm not even criticising korea from my high horse, this is also a late capitalism thing. heh.
lonelymoon 3rd-Feb-2013 06:19 am (UTC)
That's nothing new. It's the same in the US, only unknown actors here make slightly more because we have higher minimum wages and incomes here.
21banged 3rd-Feb-2013 11:01 am (UTC)
That's terrible! Though it's common in almost every country, not getting what little pay you'd have earned is just plain wrong :(

But I don't get why netizens are ragging on idols for acting...Eunhye and other now famous actors started off as idols too, and it's not like idols have it all nice and easy :\
asth77 3rd-Feb-2013 12:11 pm (UTC)
"1. [+527, -8] With actors like him who live day to day just to survive, please stop casting idols into leading roles with their crappy acting;;;; Opportunities should be given to rookies or actors like him instead of idols who don't have the skills or any knowledge about the acting profession;;; There are so many successful actors that all started from the bottom and worked their ways up, who do idols think they are??? Give these opportunities to the actors!!!!!!!"


THIS so much.

It's not the whole problem but a part of it.
Good luck to rookies though :s!



Edited at 2013-02-03 12:53 pm (UTC)
mjspice 3rd-Feb-2013 01:20 pm (UTC)
Damn...this is so sad...
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