Song Ji-hyo fights for unpaid salaries of employees under agency Uzurocks, is owed over $900k herself

Song Ji-hyo fights for unpaid salaries of employees under agency Uzurocks, is owed over $900k herself
Song Ji-hyo spoke up about salaries that were unpaid to herself and her colleagues.
PHOTO: Instagram/my_songjihyo

What would you do if your employer has been withholding your salary for months?

For South Korean actress Song Ji-hyo, speaking to the press became her last resort.

The 41-year-old, who is a regular member of the variety show Running Man, has reportedly not been receiving wages since she joined entertainment management company Uzurocks in October last year.

According to a report by media outlet Dispatch on Wednesday (May 17), the total amount owed to the actress is now approximately 900 million won (S$907,000).

However, speaking to the media about her own unpaid salary is not the main purpose, as she is more concerned about salaries owed to her colleagues, many of whom are said to be young adults who just started working. 

She said: "I can live without that money right away. But the employees have become credit defaulters. Their credit cards have been blocked and their mobile phones have been cut off.

"The 2 million won Porsche lease fee for the CEO of Uzurocks [Park Joo-nam] is [a] luxury, but the monthly salary of 2 million won that these [employees] should receive is for their livelihood."

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Uzurocks was established in 2019 and focuses on creating content for social media platforms such as YouTube and TikTok. Park later expanded his business into music production, theme parks, beauty and fitness, but these businesses have been facing losses, reported Dispatch.

Ji-hyo reportedly even paid for a colleague's medical bills after the latter met with an accident last year and had to undergo two surgeries. Her colleague's family could not afford to pay the bills, which amounted to 10 million won.

The staff member told Dispatch: "Due to Covid-19, I was not allowed to have a caregiver to stay with me in hospital. It was Song Ji-Hyo who came to keep me company at night.

"She was there for me when I was admitted to the emergency room and there for me when I was discharged from hospital. The hospital staff were all surprised."

Ji-hyo is not the only artiste who is fighting for her colleagues' unpaid salaries. According to a report by news media Sports Seoul on Wednesday, fellow Running Man member Ji Suk-jin, who is under the same management company as Ji-hyo, has been helping to pay the wages of some employees out of his own pocket.

Staff who worked with the 57-year-old comedian and television presenter said that he would ask members of staff, including his driver and stylist, every day if they received their wages and would pay them if they did not receive it.

Dispatch spoke to six employees in their 20s and 30s and understood that the average annual salary stated in their contract was 27 million won, but their actual take-home monthly pay was closer to 2 million won.

With salaries that were unpaid or paid in an untimely manner, employees had no choice but to dip into their savings and even ask their parents for financial help.

One employee, who has chronic illness and had to postpone his medical checkups, said: "I wanted to be a proud son to my mother and not to worry her anymore when I started this job. But in reality, I could not even pay for my own medical bills.

"[My mother] was so concerned about my health and if I was eating proper meals … She handed me 50,000 won and told me to never give up."

Employees who spoke to the media outlet were similarly concerned with unpaid salaries owed to the actress, as Ji-hyo allegedly has been paying for company-related expenses out of her own credit card.

Another employee said that Ji-hyo always provides taxi fares to the accompanying staff at the end of their schedules.

"To us, she is not just a celebrity but like an older sister, like family," he added.

ALSO READ: Running Man's Song Ji-hyo earns admiration for using sign language to interact with Malaysian fans

yeo.shuhui@asiaone.com

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