First-ever agreement benefits Korean workers

South Korea’s first-ever labor agreement, signed on April 18 last year between the Federation of Korea Movie Workers’ Union and the Korea Film Producers Assn., went into effect July 1. Some worried the deal would cause labor costs to rise, but for the time being its primary accomplishment has been to nudge the wild-and-woolly world of Korean film shoots toward a system that more closely resembles Hollywood.

The agreement introduces weekly pay (as opposed to a per-film lump sum), maximum weekly working hours with overtime pay, obligatory insurance and mandatory off days — all benefits that workers in many countries take for granted.

Although only a handful of productions have officially been lensed under the agreement’s terms, the industry as a whole appears to be making a slow shift toward the new system. A report by the Korean Film Council found that after July 1, the number of 24-hour shooting days — common in the past — had dropped considerably.

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