African Artists Face Slave-like Working Conditions in Korea

From Naver:

African Artists Offered Work…Treated Like Slaves


In Gyeongi-do, one art museum is bringing in African artists to perform.

But the treatment of these individuals has been miserable, and criticism of whether or not this is exploitation is pouring in.

Let’s take a look.

Correspondant Bae Ju-Hwan has the story.


It’s the Gyeongi-do Pochan African Art Museum.

Artists from West Africa’s Burkina Faso perform traditional music and courtship dances.

Here is where they have been living for two years.

It’s an empty farmhouse provided by the art museum.

Mice damage clothes left in the room and leaks in the bathroom are soaking the floor with water.


“(Museum employees) said things were fine. They mopped the floors but after five days it was leaking again,” Burkina Faso artist, Castro, remarked.

Sculptors from Zimbabwe also found the same living conditions.

The rooms, converted from a farm warehouse, were covered in mold and lacked functioning heating, leading to reliance on electric floor pads to get through the winter.

“There were nights when it was so cold, we had to double-up our covers just to get some sleep,” said Zimbabewe sculptor Lirmo.

In all, there are 12 African artists now working at the museum.

They work 8 hours per day and 6 days per week but only bring in between W600,000 – W650,000 a month, half the legal minimum wage.

“In regards to the pressing issue of wages, if we convert their salaries to hourly pay, it works out to only W3,000 per hour. It falls well short of what was the standard minimum wage 10 years ago,” said Yohan Kim, a certified labor attorney.

When doubts were raised regarding whether the African artists were being exploited, the museum responded by saying there is no problem, explaining that the income was given as specified in the contract.

Museum officials responded by saying: “In addition to their salaries, our employees are given $250 for utilities, such as heating expenses.”

But the African artists are demanding to be compensated for as much as they were shorted below the minimum wage.

Comments from Naver:


A national disgrace. Let’s do the right thing, catch these guys and make ‘em pay.


Our country is #1 in being worked to the bone and getting shit for pay.


A national disgrace. This needs to stop.


Cold-hearted bastards. I really hate them. Even if you can’t help others, at least don’t harm them.


We really need an end to our older generation.


Honestly, we need to keep in mind ideas like “if the situation were reversed” or “put yourself in someone else’s shoes”. What if we send our country’s artists abroad to work and they meet the same slave-like conditions? We’re would swear up and down about it, too. How ironic! It would be nice if we could show our considerate hearts to foreign artists.



Don’t you know that even if you contract them in advance for less than the minimum wage and still refuse to pay them at least the minimum, you’ll get busted?


Dirty bastards. Embarrassing to be Korean now.


These sons of bitches. No conscience either. If you people go to another country, would you like to get the same reception? You lack the basics of good character.


The museum director is the secretary general of the Saenuri Party!!!


[To the news reporter] Why did you leave out the fact that the museum director is secretary general of the Saenuri Party, Hong Mun-jong?


This really ruins our country.


Even slaves are given more than that…Such a national shame…tsk tsk tsk


Goddamn museum pricks really tarnished Korea’s image on this one. No wonder Africans think Samsung products are from Japan.


Well, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Last time, some agency called over a Chinese circus team and didn’t pay them a dime. These guys are trash. [The agency’s representative disappeared. Upon hearing the news, local civic groups donated to the circus team.]

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