A female trainee has been sued for quitting, according to DongA's exclusive report.
In June 2017, a 21-year-old aspiring female signed with a small agency. The trainee suffered from vocal cord nodules and knee joint pain due to rigorous training that exceeded 10 hours a day. She was also diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder.
The trainee stated, "The agency affiliates verbally assaulted me and there were many days where I trained all day with only eating an egg and a chocolate bar."
Ultimately in July 2018, the trainee expressed the wish to quit with only a month away from her debut. The agency then sued the trainee and demanded a compensation of 180 million KRW (158,730 USD). The compensation is a sum of the costs for training, album production, dorm fee of 70 million KRW (61,728 USD), employee salary of 30 million KRW (26,455 USD), and mental distress of 50 million KRW (44,091 USD).
The trainee received training with 8 other trainees for a year and a month without any payment. The 9 girls lived together in an apartment for about 2 months. The trainee expressed frustration at the compensation amount, and stated, "I think they demanded the yearly fee of all 9 trainees to me."
In the trainee's contract with the agency, there is a clause stating that the trainee must compensate all investment cost if she fails to proceed with her debut due to personal issues. The trainee has medical reports proving her illness and is eligible for an exemption if the agency used the standard contract. However, the standard contract is only recommended, and not mandatory for all entertainment agencies as of yet.
In March, the Korea Fair Trade Commission demanded the 3 major entertainment agencies in South Korea to use the standard contract for their trainees. However, the law does not yet apply to small agencies.
Meanwhile, a rep of the female trainee's agency stated, "Her claims are different from the truth. With objective evidence, we are waiting for the ruling by the court."