“A slave contract,” Bada spoke as she raised her eyebrows.
She seemed very upset.

“What is it about exactly?” Maru raised the TV volume as he asked.

The reason he was interested in political stories was because it was closely tied to everyday life.
What kinds of new laws were passed, what kinds of bills were proposed, as well as what happened – as a citizen of the country he could not help but be interested.
The same could be said about the entertainment industry as well.
If it was before, he would have just looked at it and thought nothing of it.
After all, it was a world he wasn’t involved with.
However, right now, he was more closely related to the entertainment industry than politics.
If a provocative word such as ‘slave’ was used for a story, then it would be better if he knew about it.

How much do you think a popular idol earns?”

“A lot, probably.”

“I thought so too, but it turns out, that’s not true.”

At that moment, a handsome-faced singer in front of the mic started speaking.

-First, we apologize to all the fans for worrying you.

The three of them stood up and took a deep bow as an apology.
A round of flashes burst out again.
The man seated in the middle spoke in a heavy voice.

-We, The Five, have endured until now thanks to the love of our fans.
Many things have happened, but we have endured while thinking about the fans that looked after us and cheered for us.
However, we couldn’t do that anymore.
First, we will clear up the situation at hand.
The reason we, The Five, split up, is not because of disharmony between the members.
It is because of the unfair contract we signed with the agency.

The screen switched to the news studio again.
Next to the host was a man in a suit, who seemed to be a legal advisor.

-Yes, that was from the press meeting that occurred this morning.
Sir, what is the precise cause of this incident?

-According to the revealed contract, there are a few clauses that are problematic.
The first is the clause that states that the singer has to tell the company his position at all times and must be able to be reached by phone.
The second is the clause that states that the singer must participate in events the company wants without compensation.
There are more, but these two clauses seem to be what triggered this incident.

-Ah, so there’s a clause that states that they have to participate in events for free.

-Yes, while it does state that the event has to be company-related events and events that are aimed at advertising the singer, the interpretation is vague.
After all, you can say that every event is related to the company.

-So that means that while they may hold activities as public singers, they will not get paid for their activities.

-In an extreme case, yes.

After listening to the two speaking, Bada looked at him as though she was saying ‘isn’t it serious?’ Maru nodded his head.
He did hear from the news that an idol boom was about to begin.
It seemed congested even now, but more and more people from the younger generation were joining anyway.
It must have become a red ocean in an instant, consequently leading to free human resources, naturally leading to the fact that people lowered their own value to sign a contract.
Going beyond that, there might be instances where they would even have to sign an unfair contract.

“The reason we go to their concerts and cheer for them is for them to do well, not for the company behind them to fill their stomach.
But now, I found out that only a tiny sliver of the money went to the oppas in the first place.
A friend of mine is a fan of The Five, and she told me that she’ll go to a riot in front of the company building.
It looks very serious.”

Bada went to his room before calling out to him that he should come.

“Look at this.”

On the monitor was The Five’s official fan café.
On the main page was a very ominous-looking line considering the circumstances.
‘We Have To Protect Them’.
Below that line was a map and it seemed to be the location of The Five’s agency.
Gathering at 7 p.m.
There were already over 100 comments that said that they would participate.

“Are you going as well?”

I would have if it was TTO that was like this.”

She was quite cold-minded when it came to things like this.
They returned to the living room.
There was one more person on the news.
The new man seemed to be a journalist.
The three of them discussed in depth about this incident.

-So there’s a possibility that unfair contracts between agencies and entertainers might come to the surface.

-I can’t say that for sure.

It was a sensitive topic, so the news host did not ask anymore.
Maru sympathized deeply when the journalist said that he couldn’t be sure.
It was unexpectedly difficult to scrape out the dead flesh.
That was because the dead flesh was always in contact with living flesh.
Just deciding on how much to scrape out would take ages.
Above all, the pressure on the singers that would leave their agencies was too heavy.
While they were still under a contract, they at least got some form of compensation.
They might think that little was better than nothing, and while they kept thinking that way, no one would be brave enough to go against their agencies.

“Is Soul Entertainment the agency behind The Five?”

“No, that place seems to be the new company that those three oppas signed a contract with.
They get much better treatment there, apparently.
There’s no slave contract either.”

“Really? Then the two others are remaining behind in their old company?”


“But why?”

“I don’t know that much.
That’s causing an issue in itself.
The Five is supposed to be made up of five people, but now they split up into three-two.”

“They said that it wasn’t due to the disharmony between members, but maybe they actually had a big fight?”

“Those oppas have a really good relationship though.”

“Have you seen them?”


“Then you don’t know for sure.”

“Forget it! You don’t even know them.”

Maru shut his mouth because his sister looked at him coldly.
She was scary.
He felt like a remote would be hurled at his face if he said any more.
Maru narrowed his eyes and looked at the TV.
The problem came down to exclusivity contracts in the end.
Entertainers could only work through the medium that was their agencies.
To put it a bit bluntly, they were the companies’ puppets.

“Are you okay though?”

Bada quietly asked.
Her eyes were glued to the TV though.
Maru wondered if she was worried about him.

“I’m fine.
There weren’t any clauses like that in the contract I signed.”

“If you say so.
That’s fortunate.”

“You mean your credit card is?”

“Hey! And here I was worried about you!”

“I’m saying it because it doesn’t suit you.
It gives me goosebumps.”

Maru threw a cushion at his sister before standing up.
Although he said those words, he was thankful for her.
After all, he had thought of her as an immature kid until now.

“Wait, have you done your homework?”

“Ah, that’s right!”

Bada turned off the TV and ran into her room.
It seemed that no matter how much she liked those idol oppas, they seemed to be insignificant compared to her homework.
Having entered his room, Maru searched ‘The Five’ on the internet.
As expected of an idol in their peak of popularity, they took the first through third most searched terms right now.
Websites, cafés, and blogs were all talking about stories about The Five.

Browsing through websites, Maru stopped on one.
It was an anonymous community, and the writer was supporting the agency.
The writer went into detail about the costs associated with creating a 5-man idol band.

-The agency has to take care of the costs of idol consulting fees that may reach hundreds of millions of won.
If the idol does not succeed, that becomes the company’s debt.
While it is true that the agency ‘Alt’ has signed a malicious contract, honestly speaking, it makes me enraged looking at The Five’s actions when they betrayed the efforts and affection that the company gave them to raise them until now.
Advertising costs, education costs, living costs, as well as everything else was probably handled by the company, but they didn’t say anything while they received all those benefits, but now they want equal treatment because they grew up a little? If they really wanted equal treatment, they should have shared the costs starting from their trainee days.
But those kinds of trainees don’t exist.

It was a complex matter indeed.
There was a need to think about the effects that this incident might bring to his contracts.

Maru took out the contracts he put inside his drawer.
He read them over from the beginning once again.
Fortunately, all of the clauses included the statement that the involved parties may negotiate again on the contract, so there wasn’t anything that seemed to be a problem.

It could be seen just how much Lee Junmin cared about his own people from this contract.
In fact, there were some statements that seemed disadvantageous to the company.
The contract period was two years, and it could be dissolved at any moment during that time.
Compared to the ten-year slave contract that was mentioned on the news, this was a golden contract.

‘Providing the best treatment to his own people, huh.’

As expected of a man who chucked 300 million won to a mere high school student.
To Junmin, money was just a convenient means of achieving what he wanted, nothing more, nothing less.
Although he was doing business in order to earn money, it felt like he was giving it all back to the people under him rather than piling it up.

The movie, Twilight Struggles, was also something that was hard to expect any profit out of, yet JA Production, the investor and producer of the movie hired superstar-level actors.
Some of the articles he read after his shoot said that the movie will never break even.
Although the level of investment into the movie was commercial movie-level, the contents were definitely not suited for commercial use after all.

‘Now that I think about it, I really should make a visit.’

He was reminded of the kind smile of the elder.
Since it had been quite some time since the shoot ended, it should be fine to make a visit.
He put the contracts back into his drawer and lied down on his bed.
He closed his eyes and waited until he became sleepy.
Just then, his phone that was on the desk vibrated once.
He had received a message.

He really couldn’t be bothered, but he still yawned and sat up.
He would be really dissatisfied if it was some advert.
He checked the message.
It was from Jiseok.

Chaerim-noona wants to know your number! Should I tell her?

Chaerim? He wondered who that was for a moment before he remembered that it was the girl idol he saw during the drama shoot.
But why so suddenly? Maru called Jiseok.
Jiseok picked up immediately.

-So you’re a boy after all.

“Stop with your nonsense.
What’s this about phone numbers.”

-Noona wants to say thanks.

“At this hour?”

-I just met her.
She’s next to me right now.
She’s thankful for what you did back then.

“Oh that.
Tell her to forget about it.
I never did anything that would warrant thanks from her.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she said bad things about me.”

-Eh? Are you not going to tell her your number? She’s an idol you know? From the popular idol group BLUE.

“And what good is that to me? Since you said you’re next to her, tell her that she doesn’t need to feel thankful.
Ah, just tell her to not resent me too much during shoots.
She’s one of the main characters after all.”

-What, that’s it?

“What else do you want?”

-Really, that’s it?

“We exchanged greetings, that’s enough.
I’m hanging up then.”

-Hey! I said Chaerim-noona is right next to me!

“Good for you, there’s an idol noona next to you.”

He still had a loud voice as always.
Maru yawned and switched his phone to silent.

* * *

“He hung up,” Jiseok said with a bright smile.

If it was anyone else, he would have told her the number without even asking, but from what he knew of Maru’s personality, it was obvious that he would not be okay with that so he asked first.
However, he didn’t know that he would hang up without even listening to Chaerim’s voice even once.
Although he did feel a little sorry for Chaerim-noona who stood next to him, he found this situation interesting.
Being involved with Maru was always fun.

“He hung up?”

And he told me to tell you that you don’t need to feel thankful and that you shouldn’t resent him too much during shoots.”

“That’s it?”

“You’re not upset, are you?”

“Why would I be?”

“Or disappointed?”

“Not really.
I just tried to call him because it leaves a bad aftertaste.
If he doesn’t need it, then that’s that.”

Chaerim yawned slightly and leaned backwards.

Jiseok licked his lips seeing that her reaction was very dry.
He wanted to see something much more dramatic, but reality said no.
Jiseok got out of the car.
They were doing a night shoot right now, but it was halted due to a sudden interruption from some drunk people.
The safety guard was trying to push the two away, but the two drunkards did not leave and just kept shouting.
The production staff seemed to have gotten pissed as they even called for the police.


He yawned before stretching his arms out.
The drama shoot wasn’t as fun as he had expected.
He was a comedic character that hung around the main characters, so the acting itself was quite fun, but the waiting time was too long.
Jiseok had a hard time enduring this time where he had nothing to do but stare into the sky.
It would be great if there was someone he could play with, but Chaerim was sleeping inside the car like someone who was tired of everything.

“Sir, please get up.”

He saw some policemen that appeared in patrol cars trying to console the drunkards.
They had a hard job.
He inwardly cheered for them.
After the drunkards went away, the shoot began again.
This was a scene where the poor heroine was taken shopping.
Chaerim, who was sleeping inside the car, had a scene right after this one where she came across the other main characters inside the store.
That scene would be quite something to look at because there was a kiss scene.
It was unknown if they could enter the store to shoot, but if they could, they would achieve their objective for today.

Jiseok looked at the jimmy jib camera filled with expectation when the door opened and Chaerim got out.

“Noona, there’s still time until your shoot.”

“I had a sore waist.”


Chaerim crossed her arms and looked at the street where the shoot was currently happening.
She seemed bored.

“But hey.”

Chaerim, who looked like she wouldn’t speak, opened her mouth.


“Is he going to be the class president in the future?”

“You mean Maru?”

“I don’t know his name, but yeah, that kid.
Is he going to be the class president?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“I see.”

Chaerim nodded slightly before getting in the car again.
Jiseok narrowed his eyes and looked at Chaerim who started sleeping again.

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