Back in 2009, Hero Jaejoong, Micky Yoochun, and Xiah Junsu pressed charges against SM Entertainment for their 13-year contracts, claiming they were too long, too restrictive, and gave them almost none of the profits of their success. Because of this situation, the K-pop industry (specifically entertainment labels) were investigated on how they treat their talent. As a result, slave contracts were brought to the forefront.
For those who are unfamiliar with slave contracts, they are ridiculously long-term contracts signed by K-pop idols. There are usually a multitude of restrictions, unhealthy labor practices, very little control, and very little financial rewards. Sometimes, the contracts call for certain requirements that may or may not go against an individual’s personal beliefs such as mandatory “skinship” or being overly sexual. RaNia is a prime example of a K-pop idol group delegated to slave contracts. Trainees went through a strict regime consisting of singing, dancing, and Taekwondo. Contact with friends and family members was restricted, and they were put on harsh diets.
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Today, slave contracts are mostly no longer in existence. Back in 2014, South Korea passed a law regulating the K-pop industry – mostly to protect underage K-pop idols from unhealthy labor practices and overtly sexualized performances. It also guarantees that K-pop idols have the right to “learn, rest, and sleep.” Ergo, contracts are far more humanitarian now than they were before, but there are still some restrictions and regulations implemented. One such restriction or regulation is the dating ban. Depending on the agency, K-pop idols are not allowed to date for a certain amount of time. Some even go as far as not allowing K-pop idols to date other K-pop idols.
In JYP Entertainment, there is a three-year ban on dating. Though three years doesn’t seem like a long time for members of popular K-pop idol groups, the fear of not being able to date later (due to age) does sit in the back of their minds. This was recently brought to light when Jackson of GOT7 and Nayeon of TWICE appeared together on a variety show.
As mentioned above, Jackson and Nayeon were guests on the January 22, 2016 episode of A Look at Myself on KBS 2TV, as reported by Korean outlet Nate News. According to Soompi, the two K-pop idols represented the age group in their twenties as they discussed various worries among others representing other age groups. One such worry was dating, in which Nayeon not only made known most individuals in her age bracket think about, but it is an issue for her too given her three-year ban on dating.
“I think [they have] a lot of dating worries. Our company has a three-year dating ban. I won’t be able to date for a while. I’m not particularly interested in dating right now, but I worry I won’t be able to date later.”
Jackson provided more insight on JYP Entertainment’s three-year ban on dating, in which he revealed what K-pop idols in relationships prior to signing up have to do. However, he seemed to smooth out that the ban may not be mandatory anymore.
“You have to break up. Rather than a rule it feels more like they would prefer us to not date.”
That statement by Jackson does seem peculiar since it is reported he has an actual “no dating” clause in his contract. It should be noted that Jackson, along with the rest of GOT7, did sign on with JYP Entertainment prior to the implementation of new laws.
[Image via Screen Capture of January 22, 2016 Episode of A Look at Myself]