Rating:
Average user rating 4.6
142

CJ E&M under fire for suicide of Drinking Solo rookie PD

I’m sorry to say that tvN’s Drinking Solo is making headlines half a year after its run, and for all the wrong reasons. CJ E&M, the conglomerate behind cable channels tvN and OCN, is currently weathering a firestorm of criticism for both the circumstances leading up to the death of a rookie PD who worked on tvN’s Drinking Solo and how they handled the situation in the aftermath.

Last October, junior PD Lee Han-bit was found dead from an apparent suicide two days after the last episode of Drinking Solo aired. People were aware of this when it happened back in October — the production team cancelled their reward vacation, citing the downcast mood following his death — but the issue is resurfacing now because a civilian investigative committee made up of lawyers, labor union officials, and activists held a press conference today (April 18) in Seoul condemning CJ E&M’s actions following Lee PD’s suicide. The committee is demanding a formal apology, as well as measures to prevent something like this from happening again.

According to reports, what drove Lee PD to take his own life was the physical and mental toil of working on the Drinking Solo set. Most of us are aware of the physically demanding environments that are drama productions, which include many sleepless nights and manual labor for the cast and crew. However, Drinking Solo was also plagued by production missteps early on: The show was originally planned to be half pre-produced, but after filming only a fourth of the episodes, the external vendors and staff in charge of lighting and camera equipment were replaced. As a consequence, filming had to stop for a while and a large chunk of footage also needed to be re-shot. After that, it seems the atmosphere behind-the-scenes on Drinking Solo became very tense, and at times even hostile.

Because of the acutely shortened timetable, the crew was overworked, even by dramaland’s standards. Lee PD’s responsibilities included, but were not limited to: costumes, props, cast and crew meals, data delivery, set prep and clean-up, handling receipts, and editing. On top of this, for reasons that aren’t clear yet, Lee PD was subject to substantial verbal abuse from fellow staff members. His younger brother revealed that the newbie PD had recordings of calls and instant messages on his phone that were full of abusive and aggressive language from his colleagues.

Tragic as this situation is, Korea is no stranger to its youth taking their own lives from being overworked and/or bullied; every once in awhile, you’ll hear of conscripted soldiers either killing themselves from being tormented, or even dying from their wounds after being physically abused. I think what has got most people (even more) riled up, is CJ E&M’s actions around the time of Lee PD’s death, and in the months following it.

While his body was found on October 26, Lee PD was actually reported missing on the 21st when he didn’t show up for work. However, it wasn’t until October 25 that his parents were notified, albeit for different reasons. Lee PD’s parents were summoned to CJ E&M’s offices to criticize their son for his work, calling him unqualified to work for them. (As a side note: In the 55 days before his disappearance, he only took 2 days off, with no weekends.) His parents found his body the next day.

Angry yet? Because, don’t worry, it gets worse. On behalf of the bereaved family, the aforementioned civilian committee was set up back in November to investigate the circumstances surrounding Lee PD’s death. In the months since, they attempted to work with CJ E&M, but what they got was (1) a stubborn refusal to allow Lee PD’s family to participate in the investigation, (2) deliberate attempts to stall by requesting document after document from the family and committee, (3) refusal to provide objective documentation regarding Lee PD’s workload and shifts, and (4) testimonies from staff members that were made to paint the rookie PD as negligent and lazy. They also suggested that his suicide was solely due to his own mental weakness.

The heartbreaking irony in all of this is that Lee PD, a recent graduate of prestigious Seoul National University who had just joined CJ E&M 9 months prior to his death, had entered the company because of his interest in social issues centering around employment and labor rights. As a student, he was an active supporter of labor movements, and was interested in issues like the plight of temporary employees (think Jang Geu-rae in Misaeng). He had foregone other job opportunities to make dramas that could provide comfort to such people who were marginalized in the labor force.

Amid the furor that built throughout the day, CJ E&M released a statement that expressed deep regret regarding the situation surrounding Lee PD’s death, and also condolences to the bereaved family. (This was, notably, not an official apology.) The company said that they had cooperated to the fullest extent in both the initial police investigation and the following civilian investigation, so they thought it unfortunate that the committee had held such a press conference. They added that they will actively cooperate in any further investigations, and implement any recommended reforms internally.

It’s not clear if this will affect any plans for Drinking Solo Season 2. Even if CJ E&M were to issue an apology now, I’m not sure they would be able to contain the controversy that’s brewing. The country is, understandably, extremely sensitive at the moment towards large conglomerates seemingly abusing their position, or turning a blind eye toward injustices committed internally. Just look at the drama landscape. Hopefully, they’ll take a leaf out of their own shows to do the right thing, although I don’t know whether that makes me an optimist or just naive.


Lee Han-bit PD

Via TV Report, Kookje, Maeil, Sports Kyunghang, Ilgan Sports, Xports News, Joongboo News

RELATED POSTS

Tags: ,

142

Required fields are marked *

That is so awful! As viewers, what can we do to demand better work conditions? Reflects the story of unpaid actors and director "Faith", who committed suicide. As much as we enjoy our kdramas, it comes from the industry full of social injustice: overworking, verbal abuse, sexual harassment cases, funding issues, debts...

29
0
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

So, so tragic. Gives a new perspective on the machination behind these beloved kdramas.

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Well, at least we see that when Koreans make dramas, they're not being overly dramatic. They just portray reality.
I mean suicides etc.

3
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I watched Pinocchio recently and it does portray reality, the behind the scene of delivering news, manipulating and distracting news, the pressure of newbies on company. It's just sad that in reality, the tragedy ending is real as "done deal". We can not write substitute ending or fanfic as we do in dramaland...

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I had thought that tvN ordering a second season was a bit inappropriate given the circumstances even before all this came out, now it seems like outright mockery to the family.

So sad to see such a new and young talent squandered like this.

33
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

That's horrible. Stuff like this makes it really hard to enjoy k-dramas/k-pop sometimes. They really need to overhaul the entire system. Yes, I want my steady stream of k-dramas, but not at the expense of people's well-being. I rather wait than have people completely break down.

43
0
12
reply

Required fields are marked *

It hurts even more because you know there are so many talented and hardworking people in the industry. Yeah you want to watch great content, but at what cost?

23
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

The cast doesn't get paid, young actress commits suicide because her company forced her to prostitute, tons of idols have sponsors and if drama doesn't do well director is in huge debts and is nearly forced to kill himself.
And here we got a bulling case.
I really wonder for how long I would be able to see this type of news and feel comfortable watching dramas

18
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I don't really think that's a problem that is only drama-related. Korea has one of the highest suicide rate in the world, they even managed to "beat" the Japanese on that front. While I enjoy watching dramas at home, I'm also aware it hardly reflects the realities of Korean Society which is just way too competitive... Sadly Japan, China and Korea have this way of sucking out the energy and soul of its people to get to the top... that makes for very successful countries on paper even if it drives people who are supposed to have succeeded mad (I'm not even considering those who worked hard but didn't succeed)... I'm not sure we agree on the definition of what is a successful country nor a successful life. Sadly, I don't think this is going to change anything. Sure people are sensitive now, but there's a system in place that is widely accepted and I'd say supported by the same people who suffer from it even as they complain...

15
0
9
reply

Required fields are marked *

The definition of being successful life is a very flimsy one and as of Korea, from whatever I could sense in drama - there is a brand madness everywhere. I really find it so uncomfortable when there is any scene of characters having made it because they own a brand now. Am not sure its only in drama narrative for ppl purposes and its one tiny example that comes to my mind but as long as the definition of successful life hinders on materialistic, this wouldn't change.

As you said, sadly there is a system in place supported by all sections of society, yes including the ones who suffer. As long as it gives them economic mobility.

5
0
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

THIS. Though the world has become very materialistic as it is today, I have yet to see a culture where that is more celebrated than Korea, where a person is judged by their looks, who they know, the status of their families, where they go to school, etc. Unless this is changed, I doubt anything will change when it comes to how people treat each other, etc.

6
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Seems like you haven' seen much of asian culture. Singling out Korea is pretty wrong here.

3
4

I completely agree with you. Unless their fundamental beliefs are changed, society will remain the same. While I like the respectful/hierarchical society, it comes with too many chances for abuse and abasement and along with it the desire for people to all behave the same. Those who toe the line will make it and continue to perpetuate the same behaviours and attitudes. Those who stand out as individuals or fight the system get knocked down severely.

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

From what I've learned through the lens of viewing dramas is that South Korea needs better labor laws at many levels. (One of my co-workers taught English there for 8 years, she has shared some stories of things that would not be tolerated here for an instant going on.)

1
0
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Right now Korea is the #1 country for how many hours employees work.

I remember reading this article about a man who worked for the fish and agricultural department. He woke up at 5am to get ready for work and catch a train to Seoul. Work started at 8am. He would then not get home until around 10pm at night. He also worked Mon-Sat. He said he only saw his children for 15min. on the 6 days he worked. How is this life? How is this sustainable? At this point you are just living for your job and the hope your children and spouse will have a better life. If you have employees working weekends and hours longer then their designated shift, then these companies need to start hiring more employees to take on that excess work. It costs more but it also for the welfare of your employees.

The sad thing is, there is a law for employees to only work 40 hours a week, 5 days a week. However, companies are able to demand employees work 12 overtime hours in a work week and 16 hours on the weekend (So the full weekend). By law, they are allowed to ask their employees to work an additional 28 hours in a single week. I also really do hope South Korea starts implementing better laws to help protect employees in their country.

4
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

The worst part is that research shows that overworked, stressed and exhausted employees end up being unproductive. The same people would probably be able to do the same work better if they were allowed to spend more time engaging in self-care (eat and sleep properly... what a revelation!). It is particularly upsetting to think that this may not even be good for the companies! What is the point?

2
0

I'm always shocked when senior employees physically reprimand junior employees in Korean dramas (not to mention the verbal abuse). At first I thought it was an exaggeration or something (you know, 'cause it's TV), but now I've become deeply suspicious that it is an actual reflection of co-worker relationships in SK... I can't imagine any of my senior co-workers hitting me on the head or telling me that I'm stupid after I've made a mistake, a) because I would deck them myself in response, b) I would report something like that to the HR department in an instant.

It's horrifying to me that such behaviour is often portrayed in a comical way in Korean dramas with flimsy background music (?!).

I've also noticed the glorification of sleep deprivation, especially in medical dramas and school dramas. Really? What are you so proud about? That you're ruining your health and - in the case of doctors - actively endangering your patients's lives?

This leads me to believe that the whole Korean society needs to change its viewpoint on work/life balance and basic human decency towards your colleagues, otherwise the stories like this will sadly appear again and again.

5
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Unfortunately sleep deprivation seems to be glorified throughout the developed world. Just look at the life of interns/residents in the United States, to stick to the very good example you gave. I always wonder how they and their patients survive those years, and cannot believe that that is the most effective way to train new doctors. And the emotional abuse... It just seems like a really nasty form of hazing, a kind of torture--as if you could only be allowed into this very special club if you were willing to put up with two years of complete suffering. It's inhumane and it should stop, everywhere.

2
0

The fact that he was an advocate for labor / employee empowerment makes me so sad that he took his own life after experiencing the injustices at work. I fully cannot comprehend how Korean companies can overwork their staff especially the interns / youngest staff. The Korean government should sanction companies who do not give their employees a good working environment.

If any of you is going through all these injustices at work, please resign. Look for another job, the one that you deserve.

26
0
11
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm sorry to say this, but looking for another job is not so easy these days... Obviously nobody wants to be driven mad at work but given the time it takes most of us without connection to get a proper job, it's not so easy to quit. Given the competitive environment in Korea, I'm sure it's even worse than in my country. I'm not saying you shouldn't quit a job you're abused at... but frankly it's easy to say very difficult to do unless you've got rich parents or a very-well-paid partner in life. If you're on your own well, most people just hang in there until they're so sick they end up at the hospital, taking anti-depressants or whatnot. Basically, unless you've got a well-thought-out plan and some savings, you don't quit until your health is threatened. That is a sad reality but again, that's the capitalist society we all live in.

18
0
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

How can we prevent another work-related suicide then? We can't just live with it and say this is normal. I'm not saying to do something drastic like leave your job without any replacement. We all have bills to pay. I guess the right advice should be to do some job hunting first. If you get an offer, then resign. That's what I did and I'm in a better place now.

I think this is a wake-up call for everyone especially to Korean companies. I do hope justice will be served and changes will be done so we can spare another life.

1
0
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Most jobs face a similar culture in those countries. If everyone around you in the city works to the extreme, you basically have nowhere to escape to. They stress work effectiveness rather than work life balance.

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think the government needs better laws. In Germany you're Not allowed to work more than 10 hours a day. Of course there are exceptions like doctors or firemen. Like People Who are lifesavers or one time events. But in dramaland that's a constant problem. So dramaproductions should be excluded entirely from the exceptions.

I also think life-shootings are so stupid. Because they want to react to vieles but it's like educating their audience to be nitpicking. But I think knetizen are having too much Power in general.

4
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Comment was deleted

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Giving up and resigning is definitely not helping. So you quit from a crappy company, what is the guarantee that the next place you end up working at has improved conditions when the core rights of employees aren't protected in the first place. This is all just so incredibly disheartening, hopefully a wake up call to the people in charge.

1
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

You're all making a really good point, that quitting the job (assuming you can find another) is no guarantee when the emotional abuse and excessive work hours are pretty much the norm in the society. Luckily the only time I had a really abusive boss i had the luck that a) my hours were not crazy so I could go home after and rant to my roommates and b) the economy was good and after two months I was sailing off into a much better job (atmosphere-wise). I don't know what I would have done if i had had no time to vent and had no hope of things being better in a different job...

1
0

>advocate for labor / employee empowerment

Unfortunately, many suicide attempts and deaths seem to be the only way for these people to scream for their advocacies. Why should one life be sacrificed before people act on the issues?

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This situation pissed me off the most. Reminds me of what I have experienced in the past.

In my last company, I worked my ass off, crazy overtime, even on almost every weekends and holidays, with no overtime pay or any sort of appreciation (Plus abusive boss who always called us lazy when we only took 3-4 days off a year). Some people in my industry told me it's a normal practice and I have to be 'passionate and dedicated' and stop 'complaining'. I gave up on what I thought would be my dream job because it finally took a toll on my physical and mental health. I don't even regret quitting without any job offer in hand (Luckily, I have some savings since I am pretty stingy and don't have to support any family, yet).
It took some time to recover from the burn out, panic attack and depression. Finally months later got another better paying job, minus the crazy workload and abusive culture. Best decision of my life.

8
0
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I am glad that worked out for you. but it must be much harder in entertainment business. I afraid that such a wave of dissaproval will disappear without much effect. They just tend to. And it breaks my heart that without it it is so hard to change any such 'custom'.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Sounds familiar to me. I just happened not have an abussive boss, but the tempo was harsh. No holidays, almost no weekends. The sad part for me was that I got used to it, it did not bother me anymore. It became normal. Switching jobs is not easy, but the depression and burn out syndrome are not a pretty picture to paint for yourself. I am glad for you :) For everyone else who are not in the position to do as you - 'Fighting!!!'. Someone always has your back, keep fighting :)

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm really glad to hear that. That situation sounds horrific!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Very sad. My thoughts are with his family. I hope the Korean entertainment industry will start realising that something needs to change.

4
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Terrible news. Shocking treatment of Lee PD's family in a time of bereavement, and the company's refusal to apologise is disgusting. This is no way to treat an employee who has been doing his best for the drama and company as a whole. I hope CJ E&M will be severely taken to task for this.

15
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is terribly sad. I don't even know what to say. Condolences to PD Lee Han and his loved ones.

4
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

could it be that the korean audience knows about all of this and as such, are perhaps 'boycotting' shows on tvN and maybe also OCN (thus the low ratings for tvN shows lately)? this is terrible!

1
0
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

It's possible, but I would imagine it having the opposite effect. Companies not doing well get even more desperate in trying to recover past success.

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I don't think so, if you look at k-netizens comments all they talk about it is how some unpopular drama is boring/they dislike casting

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is very sad news indeed. I am surprised and shocked by the fact, prior to his death, that his parents were called in to the company. Seems like CJ E&M was abusing their power all over the place. Those poor parents, berated over their sons absence, to then subsequently find him dead - terrible.

I truly hope that something good can come from an incident such as this. Real change in labor laws and enforcement need to occur. Employees shouldn't have to put up with a hostile work environment or be grossly overworked.

Sending prayers to the family.

8
0
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes! what employers call in an adult's parents?!? Was this middle school? You would think they might be concerned about a missing employee...
Unfortunately I don't think this aspect of Korean work culture/ ethic is limited to just the world of drama productions. It's seems it's just an accepted practice especially to lower level workers. I hope that the people's outrage over worker's plight at least spurs the government to enact some laws for better working conditions and protection. Seems unlikely, but maybe more do-able than waiting for an entire culture to change.

13
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, it's unbelievably ridiculous to call the parents. It should have been solely between the employer and employee.

1
0
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

What I took from that paragraph is the parents were called in after he was reportedly missing for a couple of days. I assume the parents were his emergency contact and therefore should have been reached out to about his whereabouts.

What I will never understand is the abuse and insult from the company to the parents, both before and after they learned about his death. Horrifying.

0
0
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

That really takes ones breath away.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

No, that's not true. It say they were notified but for different reasons. Because they were summoned by the company not because he was missing.

"While his body was found on October 26, Lee PD was actually reported missing on the 21st when he didn’t show up for work. However, it wasn’t until October 25 that his parents were notified, albeit for different reasons. Lee PD’s parents were summoned to CJ E&M’s offices to criticize their son for his work, calling him unqualified to work for them."

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I feel for his parents. Losing someone is like losing a part of yourself. I really hope that SK can sort out its entertainment industry so that less people are pushed to the point of suicide. It's especially awful because they have so much potential and could have really bright futures.

1
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

With the loss of a life, so much is lost. The cultural differences also cannot always be understood. To feel at such a young age that there is nothing further for them in life is more than a tragedy. For any and all, ill-regardless of where they may be geographically, that feel this is the only option for them, my strong hope is that they are able to find an alternative to this action. Whether it is a family member/friend or group that can offer counseling/aide, please look for it before this really final decision is made. For those employers, or anyone that think a human being is nothing to be considered of any worth, a strong-strong shame on you. There is special value and worth in all of us, whether we are an Einstein or sit in a corner and suck our thumbs.

0
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

CJ E&M should be made to fund and lead Korea's first large-scale mental health and suicide prevention education program in schools and workplaces. They've certainly got all the media in place as a jumping-off point. In Korea, I think a private company could probably be "made" to do that in tandem w the government based on what we've seen lately at the Blue House.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

"They also suggested that his suicide was solely due to his own mental weakness." Wow, that is absolutely sickening. No matter how many times I hear about situations like this, it still somehow manages to surprise me in the worst way possible. We become so used to the uplifting messages provided by so many of these shows and how they deal with these things... it's hard to swallow the fact that these tragedies continue to happen even within the companies that produce these beloved dramas. Like you said, tipsymocha, you'd hope they would be inspired by their own shows to do what's right. It's a pity. A huge pity.

17
0
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

It's the whole Korean societal value, mixed in with a huge dose of warped Confucianism. There is constant pressure from all sides from the day you are old enough to walk. Korea is one of the most unhappy countries in the world. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2012/07/117_114805.html

1
0
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Agree. It's not just in the entertainment industry, it's everywhere and especially in the large conglomerates like CJ E&M and Samsung and Hyundai. My socially-aware relatives in Korea actually refuse to buy Korean products from companies like this and willingly pay more to buy American products there.

3
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Well, part of the problem is that other people endure it and also the people who are at the top (or in the middle, rather) had to go through the same abuse and now they're doling it out. They are probably thinking, if I had to put up with it, you should too. Or, others are putting up with it, so why can't you? Under those circumstances, it comes easy to say it was that they were weak. They seem to be confusing the issue--yes, maybe some people are more vulnerable than others, to be sure. But just because most people can endure it without killing themselves does it make it right? Where is the need to abuse people to such extent? I would not doubt that these awful managers do actually believe what they are saying--that this poor hard-working man was weak and whiny. Everyone else is so used to just swallowing the abuse and going on about their work regardless. It's preposterous.
Nothing will change until the LESS vulnerable people decide that even though they can endure, they should NOT have to. Because most people can put up with a lot, unfortunately, until that majority stands up and refuses to take it, things will continue as they are.

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This really is awful...you watch this shiny, pretty shows and wait for a happy ending and then you find out what was happening behind cameras...To be honest, I think he could simply leave this job if it was THIS stressful, but on another hand how could I blame someone for not giving up on his dream and sticking to it till the moment it killed him?

6
0
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I understand how he could think he had no scape from that nightmarish situation.
The bigest problem is the lack of confidentiality of your medical records.
There is a law that protects your confidentiality in Korea, but how you can read in this text from a metal health clinic, (http://www.counselinginkorea.com/confidentiality) employers routinely tell employees that they have access to their medical data.
And a few years back, 90% of koreans medical data was sold to different companies for profit, (http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20150726000368).
So lets see his options:
-Get conseuling and be fired by your company if they find out.
-Look for another job and lie about why you resigned from one of the top companies, if, said companie doesn't blacklist you or spread rumors to another production companies about your laziness on the job or your productivity etc. (They literally said this to his parents).
-We don't know what was on those bullying messages or the abuse he recieved, but maybe they made him believe he was unemployable if he quit.
I'll sue the hell of veryone involved.

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think the reasons why people do not leave these situations can be so different. Some are pursuing a dream and think they won't find another opportunity like that. Others are just financially trapped and too busy to look for another job. Others perhaps feel an obligation to the company and the work and unable to leave even if they're barely surviving the experience. And unfortunately, many sensitive and perfectly capable people may have depression and low self-esteem and actually believe what they're being told and blame themselves for what is happening. Perhaps this PD was one such person and just kept enduring it because he believed he was as lazy and stupid as they were telling him he was. People with depression often blame themselves. If you think that you're the problem, you're much less likely to quit and look for another job because who would want you? And since you believe you're being abused because you're worthless, you do not expect anything to improve in a different place. There's no knowing what this man was feeling that made him stay in this job until he could not take it any more. Just as people stay in abusive relationships for all sorts of reasons, people can stay in unbearable jobs also for many reasons, and we may never know why this happened in his case. What is very clear is that this is no way to treat another human being--if you don't like how someone is doing their jobs, you let them know what your expectations are and if they don't meet them you fire them. You don't make their life hell. Same with a partner/spouse.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

With the loss of a life, so much is lost. The cultural differences also cannot always be understood. To feel at such a young age that there is nothing further for them in life is more than a tragedy. For any and all, ill-regardless of where they may be geographically, that feel this is the only option for them, my strong hope is that they are able to find an alternative to this action. Whether it is a family member/friend or group that can offer counseling/aide, please look for it before this really final decision is made. For those employers, or anyone that think a human being is nothing to be considered of any worth, a strong-strong shame on you. There is special value and worth in all of us, whether we are an Einstein or sit in a corner and suck our thumbs.

8
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is legit awful. :(

3
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Wow, this is really terrible. Seems like an awful idea do a season 2 with such a tragic circumstance in the background. I hope at least this brings enough attention to the labor abuses in the industry that something starts to happen to improve conditions.

3
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Oh my goodness.

I do take for granted the amount of work and stress it takes to make a drama. Not to take away from a bad or boring dramas, but I am privileged to sit behind my laptop screen, and complain when a drama doesn't deliver what I want exactly. We are lucky to be able to comment and critique dramas that people have tirelessly worked to create.

I hope this company and its employees are held accountable for what they did, and that this devastating event results in positive change. If anyone who is suffering is reading this post, please know you are loved, and that this community is alway here for you!!

8
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is so devastating and I can't imagine what his family must have gone through and dealing with right now. ㅠㅠ So sad to hear about the circumstances that drove him to take his life. It's just really tragic that such a bright, young potential talent ended his life before he could even spread his wings or press on with what he's been advocating. =(

3
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is so awful. And a reminder of the dark dark world of filming production and large conglomerates behind the screen. Am sad for the junior pd and his family. Would justice be served or squashed again by higher powers?

1
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

First of all, dear Lee Han Bit, rest peacefully wherever you are.

While his body was found on October 26, Lee PD was actually reported missing on the 21st when he didn’t show up for work. However, it wasn’t until October 25 that his parents were notified, albeit for different reasons. Lee PD’s parents were summoned to CJ E&M’s offices to criticize their son for his work, calling him unqualified to work for them. His parents found his body the next day.

The timing is very scary and troubling. If he was reported missing the 21st and was harassed in his work, there is no way they wouldn't have tried to reach him immediately by any way, including going to his home.

Either way, I just hope that justice will be done and citizens will stand up against big corporations' wrongdoings. Where I live there were a lot of scandal like these and things have changed since then, although it's still far away from being perfect.

4
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I was really looking forward to DS2 but this news just makes the whole thing an insult. To the precious life that was lost

3
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I read and read and boiling along the way till I read point (4) and I am furious. These people aren't even human. Success of the TV stations have obviously gotten into their heads till they have no compassion as humans left in them. What could be more disgusting than to paint the deceased in such demeaning manner and worst, they don't even feel sorry for their inhumane action. I hope a lawsuit and some jail time knocking at their door real soon.

3
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I have absolutely no empathy whatsoever for the company, this is horrible, imagine how much pain his family and friends are in! It's moments like these that remind me again of how tough and dirty the drama/movie industry can be. Even if there is a second season, I personally refuse to watch it. May Lee PD rest in peace and hope justice is served.

3
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I am sad and upset. I've always felt the way of ragging newbies instead of mentoring them to be cruel. This case went too far on the abuse and has highlighted again the injustices hidden behind the glossy facade of corporations, against their very own. This puts a damper on the enjoyment of many things and entertainment. Can I watch shows in the same way again?

5
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

My condolences to the family and friend left by PD Lee. It grieves me that he received this kind of treatment when he should be recognized as a part of a succesful show. This kind of behind the scene reveal makes me leery in enjoying kdrama...

2
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

RIP PD Lee Han-bit

2
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

poor guy, i don't even what more to say...

3
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

So sad to hear all this... its the irony of everythng that makes it so sad... the moment I read about being overworked doing extreme shifts, I remembered Misaeng and how it was normal for white collar employees to go to saunas wash up and go back to work without proper rest. To think that was the reality he wanted to change but it all took a toll on him is infuriating. Hope this not only ends as a moment of outrage but as a firm step into changing the industry

1
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

It's a living proof that working in entertainment industry really sucks. I, myself, once dreamed to work behind the camera as a production staff but after reading this, I totally made up my mind that I will never try working in this career. Behind those glamour and fame is the horrible and unhealthy working environment that never treat staff as humans after all.

2
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

The only entertainment industry I hear such stories about are from South Korea.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

To the young PD, please rest peacefully wherever you are. My condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.

I do agree with many comments here that everyone is precious in his or her own way. To lose a life os the worst lost since all things are lost with it. To produce a good drama behind the scenes staff should not overwork themselves. It's good tone strict and effective but.. at the cost of losing someone is just isn't worth it. It's just isn't worth it at all.

I don't understand why people like using harsh words and call that being effective and professional. These are two different things, totally two different things. Being a professional or making a successful drama and abusing someone are not the same thing or in anyway related. It's sad to see this kind of logic is being used in the grown-up world.

3
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is so sad. We always see the shiny bright product from outside and forget how many hours of toil from crew is required. Making two hours of quality production(that is almost a mini movie) every week involves so much of hard work, dedication and team work. I have always been amazed at how much Korea is able to do such quality content in such short period.

And its extra sad to see that such talent to shows is not rewarded and celebrated but mistreated and underpaid. :(

This is when governments are supposed to step in and overhaul system with regulations making it safer and better for people safeguarding them from corporate interests but when corporate lobby becomes the government, sadly we have no place to go :(

My condolences to his family!

2
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Two days off out of fifty-five? Tell me there's going to be a class action.

3
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

They called his parents to criticize their son's work? Is this high school?

4
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

That is so heartbreaking... imagine how hard he's been working all his life. The pressure to get in to Seoul university, getting the right grades to graduate and finally getting a corporate job. The pressure was probably mounting. Considering he's a newbie, the company should have given him the proper training and support to succeed and not put him in so much pressure that he subsequently had to take his own life.

2
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

this is so sad. how could they treat their employees like this.

1
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This puts tears in my eyes, and makes me question whether I should be consuming these products that are obviously not being ethically produced...

Please, if anyone reading this feels that they are overwhelmed and that there is only one option, remember that there are people out there willing to listen and talk you through it, even if we can only be there online.

4
0
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

My eyes teared up reading your comment. Yes, even in times when you cannot accept who you are, in times when you cannot see the value of your life, trust me there are indeed some who do, who really do. Those hands can help you through those hard times. Just hang on a bit more, a little bit more.

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Definitely there are warm hearts and arms and listening ears here for anyone who needs a hug. 😌

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Awful situation. What can we do about this?

0
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Despite the popularity of K-dramas, Korea itself remains one of the most stressful, most unhappy, and highest suicide rate of nearly all OECD countries. Taiwan, a much more laid back and fun country has a suicide rate less than half of Korea.

0
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm utterly disgusted with CJ E&M and those colleagues who verbally abused him. I hope the names and faces of those involved in this young man's suicide are exposed. I hope this story continues to make headlines as a reminder of the inhumane conditions that often crop up when producing a drama and perhaps, conditions can improve, so this won't happen again.

I'm relieved his parents have the support of that civilian investigative agency.

2
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I have a lot of thoughts on this because I'm in the medical line, and as a junior I had to work crazy hours too. And it was the culture to do so- you did it because everyone had done it, and in fact, my medical parents were often telling me that our working hours were much better than what they had in their time!

So I can understand a bit as to why the work-hard-because-everyone-is and if-you-can't-cope-you-are-thought-to-be-weak culture is as such in the production company.

However the subsequent attitude towards and treatment of PD Lee's family after his suicide is just plain disgusting and abhorrent. And there is no excuse for his verbal abuse at the company, nor the subsequent attempt at a cover up and smearing of his name.

There is also little justification for such a working culture in a drama production company. Why do you need such a tight filming schedule anyway? Can't dramas be planned earlier? I get that in this case they faced unforeseen problems but certainly even their normal live shoot schedule is too crazy and stressful.

In medicine at least I can say that long hours are more justified because firstly there is a necessity for 24hour medical care in hospitals, and it has been shown that too many handovers (when doctors pass the patient's care over to another) can be detrimental because things can be missed if it's not done properly.

But even in medicine there have been many studies on the detrimental effects of lack of sleep on patient safety and moves to improve this. Also, they have noticed that the suicide rate for doctors is double that of the general population and steps have been made towards improving the the work environment and reducing the risk factors involved.

I hope that this case will be a milestone in Korean drama filming history, such that CJ E&M are taken to task and that it forces all production companies to relook at their work practices and hours and treatment of their staff. Only then will PD Lee's death not be in vain. And as an advocate for employment and labor rights, it would be a fitting tribute to his sacrifice as well.

7
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

How awful. The ugly behind-the-scenes stories of some of these dramas really ruin the way I view dramas overall. Sure, the shows themselves are a great escape and may have uplifting stories and all, but if there are people committing suicide over how things are bts, then forget it. I still haven't watched Faith because the news of the director committing suicide is still fresh in my memory. Drinking Solo was on my PTW list, but I don't feel right watching it anymore. Things definitely need to change. I hope they eventually do.

I have never worked in the entertainment industry and don't know much about it, but are things this bad with behind-the-scenes in Hollywood TV shows/movies? Or Japanese dramas/movies?

1
0
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

My brother works as a grip (aka stagehand in theatre vocabulary) in US. He's involved in building and taking down sets, helping set up the lighting and other equipment, etc. There's definitely long hours involved on the sets, he has many 16 hour days. There is a difference in that everyone works under strict labor union regulations in their contracts. There's usually an overtime clause in the contracts that states if a union member works past a certain point, then they are paid double time( twice the hourly rate). And there are usually rules about how long a person can work each day. For my brother, if he works more than 12 hours a day (I think), then he gets double time. Production companies that violate the contract are subject to fines and legal action. The fines for violation can be heavy and if your production company has a reputation for bad behavior, then the union knows and won't work with that company. Result-no staff. There are also federal government labor laws that regulate working conditions, and companies can be sued for violating those laws as well. It's in the best interests for production companies to follow the rules. However, no one is committing sucicide, and though long hours is normal, no one is going 24 hours with no sleep for weeks at a time as in the live shooting process in Korea.

0
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

It makes me wonder if Korea has any kind of labour union at all. Why is this kind of treatment accepted? In Australia, there are laws against this type of abuse, and if you are overworked or underpaid, you can sue your employer and win.

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

omg what an awful news and what a disgusting company that is :S

1
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Urgh! This is so heartbreaking. May his soul rest in peace and may his parents find some solace as well. I can't believe all the nonsense that goes on behind the scenes. Nothing makes me as pissed as conglomerates who think that just because they have so money, they're above the law and can treat people like dirt. I would say I hope all his colleagues who lied against him and abused him feel guilty for their abominable behaviour but if their slander after his death is anything to be believed, they haven't learned anything yet. It's a real pity.

2
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Tragic.
As much as I love k-drama I have never watched a series that was worth anyone's life.

2
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

:(

0
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

What a miserable situation. As foreign fans, what can we do? Do we boycott tvN and OCN shows? Can we expect sites to which we subscribe refuse to carry their shows until their terrible policies are corrected and the company is held to a higher standard of responsibility? Such practices are rampant throughout the industry. I'm not sure how we could have an effect upon their actions. But talking about it through articles like this is hopefully an excellent start to a strong dialogue about it.

0
0
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think the best solution for the foreign fans would be not to give their shows views on Viki or Dramafever and just stick to "illegal" sources*. I feel fully justified in such a course of action given this horrendous story. I know that Viki and Dramafever are just middlemen trying to survive in the competitive on-demand TV landscape, but trust me - they have plenty of international shows to choose from, their survival does not depend on tvN and OCN dramas.

* You could also not recommend their output to friends/colleagues, no matter how good it would be. Though given tvN's recent streak they seem to be giving quality a wide berth, so no loss there.

0
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Comment was deleted

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I don't have any good solution for us int fans for now, but sorry to say, I don't think not giving views from legal website is a proper solution either.
Besides, it'll take a long road for int fans to get noticed by Korean industry.
Let's not forget the crews who probably have nothing to do with this case and whose lives probably depend on the success of those dramas :)

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Foreign fans are a drop in the ocean at this point; us boycotting would have little effect on the Korean industry. If Koreans decide not to watch these channels, that would be noticeable, except less viewers means less advertising which means less money which means staff won't get paid, which would be the opposite of what viewers are trying to accomplish.

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Sigh... I love Korean dramas, I think that while some can have silly plots and episodes I have always admired the way they are produced (cinematography, costumes, ect.ect. not so much on the live shooting aspect) and the messages some of them cover. Korean dramas are addicting in a way I can't explain, but whenever I hear about what goes behind cameras I always get upset and I lose some admiration for the Korean entertainment industry. From what I hear is it just too much pressure and expectations on everyone from the crew to the cast. We have heard about injuries on set, actors who have had to go back to work mere days after suffering an accident or having some illness, actors or like in this case PDs who have committed suicide and it just continues to happen. How the f*ck do you make a person get to the point that they don't see any other way out except by committing suicide, from filming a mere show production?!? Like how? It also angers me that they used and blamed his "mental weakness" as an excuse or explanation on why he decided to end his life.

1
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Such a sad matter. The working conditions don't seem to be improving at all.
Does this mean dramas don't make enough money to pay enough staff, to avoid overwork?

How many more suicides must occur before something drastic is done?

0
0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

That's why the replace director for new season? So sad about this. I really hate dramas that filming too late (Goblin (not enough soon), Chicago Typewriter, Suspicious Partner)

0
0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think the Korean drama landscape should switch to the UK or US cable model - fully pre-produced shows that allow more breathing time for both cast and crew (especially the latter). Screw the netizens - the writers and directors should be able to tell the story they want to tell, not the one some anonymous people are dictating to them on the Internet (I rather think that anyone suggesting the creative team listen to what people on the Internet say would be laughed out of the room in the UK or the US).

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Dear tipsymocha,

Thank you for reporting this story, and managing to express any objectivity at all under the circumstances. Reading it brought tears to my eyes.

To the family of Lee Han-bit PD, I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious child and brother. I wish you peace of mind and heart, and the comfort of happy memories of your lives together. Blessings on all of you.

The first thing that came to mind as I read this article was "Sewol 2.0" -- and the wish that Lee Han-bit PD did not die in vain. It appears that CJ E&M has treated the deceased and his parents with outrageous contempt, and acted in a despicable manner while stonewalling the civilian committee's investigation.

It remains to be seen whether this scandalous behavior results in the Korean entertainment industry's own real-life version of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, the landmark 1906 novel that exposed the horrendous working conditions in Chicago's meatpacking industry. One can only hope that the case stays front and center in the public eye in the run-up to the presidential election – and during heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

This report adds new meaning to the phrase "guilty pleasure" for me as an international fan of Kdramas. As a private individual in a foreign country, there's not much I can do by way of protest – except to cease buying CJ's frozen mandoo.

7
0
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

Oh, I was INFURIATED while writing this, believe me.

2
0
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks for your reply. I hope your blood pressure has returned to normal. ;-)

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you so much for writing it! I wish we could do something.

I wish we had a place on Dramabeans called Dramabeans Cares where we could sign a virtual petition or virtual letter that expresses a viewpoint.

At least it would be a chance to show how many people are reacting to things like this. If the companies care so much about viewer input, wouldn't it be great to show them how a global audience reacts? *Wishing*

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *