The success of The Squid Game has opened the eyes of Korean society regarding the struggle for remuneration rights of Korean Audiovisual Authors.
In 2019, Bong Joon Ho’s Korean film, Parasite, generated unprecedented audience and critical success for its country’s audiovisual culture, winning an Oscar for Best Picture for the first time for a non-English language film. This achievement positioned South Korea cinema as a new option for the general audiences around the world. Two years later, since its premiere last September, The Squid Game has become another popular benchmark in the global audiovisual industry, consolidating its position as the most watched show on the Netflix platform with more than 142 million viewers worldwide. Because of this, in recent months, the media have placed the Director and Screenwriter of the show, Hwang Dong-hyuk, at the center of the audiovisual scene, achieving a growth of his persona according to the commercial success of the show. The global presence of Korean Audiovisual Authors in the media highlighted the omission in the application of the legislation that guarantees their creators a remuneration commensurate with the dissemination of their work.
The visibility of this situation has allowed the DGK (Directors Guild of Korea) to give an explanation on national television about the current situation of Korean audiovisual authors rights, more specifically, the difference between the rights of the producer and those of the Director. The case of fifteen Korean directors who received a settlement for the broadcasting of their Works in France was also brought to light.
In turn, Hwang Dong-hyuk gave an interview to the British newspaper The Guardian, in which he explained that his remuneration was limited to that agreed in the original contract signed with Netflix, while the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal had previously published that the Author had had to pause the writing of the script of the show to sell his personal computer. It should be noted that The Squid Game could provide Netflix with a profit of approximately 900 million dollars.
In an electoral political context (presidential elections will take place in South Korea in March 2022 and the government will take office in May), the DGK’s intention is to publicly emphasize the unfavorable treatment of its Authors under the current legislation, as quickly as possible, in order to influence the public policies of the incoming government. This strategy will be supported by Audiovisual Authors from around the world at the next Congress of the Audiovisual Authors International Confederation, AVACI, to be held in Seoul in May 2022.
On the other hand, within the framework of the Busan International Film Festival held last October, the DGK held a virtual panel discussion entitled Fair Remuneration for the People Who Made the Film: An Essential Precondition for Sustainable Creativity, with the participation of Park Hyun-Seon, from Yonsei University; Yang Sang-Hun, from the DGK; Jung July, Audiovisual Director; Cheon Ju-Hee, from the Center for Cultural Society; and Hong Won-Chan, Audiovisual Director. The panel was moderated by Lee Yoon Jung, Audiovisual Director and Vice President of the DGK, and discussed the current situation regarding remuneration rights for South Korea Audiovisual Authors.