The Korea Fair Trade Commission has launched an investigation on SM, JYP, and YG regarding idol photocards.
Such an investigation is made in response to criticism that excessive varieties of photocards are being produced, leading to suspicions of the 3 major Kpop agencies enforcing “forced sales” practices.
On August 2nd, the FTC conducted an on-site investigation at YG Entertainment. On-site investigations at SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment were also carried out on July 31st and August 1st, respectively.
Meanwhile, there has recently been an increase in consumer complaints about large entertainment agencies’ “overproduction” of photocards for idol albums.
For instance, popular boy group NCT are said to have released nearly 50 different versions of photocards. As these cards are sold in a random manner, where fans need to purchase albums to check which photocards they receive, public opinions are raised, stating that the practice has gotten “too extreme”. Typically, the price of one album ranges from 15,000 to 40,000 won.
“Photocards”, which are the size of business cards, are printed photos of idol group members. They are usually made from “selfies” of the celebrities not disclosed online, and some even come with handwritten signatures. These photocards are included randomly with every copy of an idol album.
As such, idol fans would purchase multiple albums until they obtain their desired member’s photocards, and sometimes resell photocards to make money. The value of photocards varies greatly, with rarer ones being highly sought after and being listed at higher prices. In several cases, passionate fans may purchase dozens to hundreds of albums to obtain the desired photocards.
Meanwhile, the FTC has been conducting a series of investigations targeting entertainment agencies. Earlier in the beginning of July, they conducted on-site investigations to examine violations of subcontracting laws by major planning agencies such as HYBE, SM, and YG, who outsourced the production of albums and goods to external companies.
The FTC is also investigating unfair contract practices between entertainers and their agencies.
Regarding these investigations, an FTC official stated, “We cannot disclose details about the case and the investigation.”
Source: Chosun Biz