According to many assistants and stylists in the Korean entertainment industry, they not only have to work overtime but also not get paid enough.
A study conducted by the Korean Women Workers Association of Seoul has recently showed the harsh working conditions many stylists are facing in the entertainment industry.
More than 80% of 203 people surveyed said they were paid less than $ 1,000 a month; 91.3% of them worked more than 8 hours a day, and 40.7% worked more than 12 hours. Most of the assistants or stylists are female, aged 21-25. In short, they are all young women who work more than 8 hours a day, sometimes for a whole week, but their monthly salary does not exceed $ 1000 USD.
Being an assistant or stylist is an extremely hard job because of its physical requirements. They have to pick clothes from the brands and sponsors’ stores, and then return them daily. Each singer or actor needs 5-6 outfits every day, not to mention the occasional events, which means the number of clothes they have to fetch is very big.
In addition to busy running every day, the assistants and stylists must consider what styles his/her singer/actor likes, what he/she dislikes, and which brand or sponsor they has to choose for their idol.
If a stylist or assistant doesn’t work for an A-list star, they are just a second choice for many fashion brands. A stylist assistant once shared that she had been repeatedly treated unfairly:
“Once, a company suddenly announced that they would not lend us the outfit because my idol was an announcer. I couldn’t stand there arguing with them. If I leave a bad impression, they may cancel the sponsorship in the future.”
“Another time, I chose a specific outfit. But after a few days, they said that an A-list actor has decided to pick that outfit.
Worse situations are when stylist assistants have to deal with their own companies and idols. They share that many companies pay what they feel like paying, meaning they don’t really pay a fixed salary.
“Some companies only paid us for a few months. They say this is a way to make sure we don’t work just because we want to meet our idols.” – A stylist assistant shared.
Some people only get paid $300 to $500 a month, but always have to be prepared for phone calls any time of the day. In addition, they have to prepare costumes for unofficial events and small events as well.
There are two type of people who work under this bad working condition. The first is those young stylists and assistants who hope to someday become full-time stylists, leading the fashion brands. The second is people who have non-contractual relationships with the industry insiders.
Behind the limelight of the stage, there are many women working day and night. They are not paid fairly, are overworked and are not respected. The entertainment and fashion industry will need more solutions to ensure safer and fairer working conditions for such stylists and assistants.