Aug 16, 2016

    Anti-graft law may hurt Korean showbiz


    A NEW anti-corruption law in South Korea that is set to kick in on Sept 28 has cast doubts over the future of the local entertainment industry.

    The law restricts public officials, private school faculty and journalists from receiving certain amounts of gifts or paid-for entertainment.

    Such gifts include complimentary tickets for cultural arts performances including concerts, musicals and theatre shows, under the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act, or the Kim Young Ran law.

    "One of the biggest worries for us is what this new Kim Young Ran law will mean for the future of our productions," said a spokesman at one of the country's largest theatre and musical companies, who did not wish to be named.

    "Not being able to give out complimentary tickets to journalists is what we are the most concerned about."

    She explained that press tickets are "not about giving away gifts to journalists" but is a way to promote the show.

    According to a report by the Korea Economic Research Institute released in June, the law is expected to result in a loss of roughly 11.6 trillion won (S$14 billion) in annual sales for local businesses.

    It has been customary for entertainment and performance companies to invite reporters to their shows to write reviews.

    Industry insiders said they are sceptical that media companies would be willing to tap on their own budget to dispatch reporters to these shows.

    Some suggested the new law will greatly affect smaller, independent productions that are already struggling to capture media attention.

    Meanwhile, proponents of the anti-graft law have pointed to the "entertainment expense" fund as an alternative.

    The fund, enacted in recent years to support the local arts industry, gives companies a 20 per cent tax exemption on expenses in which at least 3 per cent of the funds are spent on anything cultural or arts related. This includes concert tickets, exhibitions and sporting events.

    The system, however, is also subject to the looming anti-graft law in that each fund or ticket must not exceed the 50,000 won cap.