Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yoo Jin-ryong, third from left in the back row, poses with elderly entertainers after a luncheon at Korea House in Pil-dong, central Seoul, Wednesday. / Courtesy of Culture Ministry
'Hidden heroes' of hallyu speak out
By Park Jin-hai
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yoo Jin-ryong paid tribute to elderly entertainers for their dedication to hallyu or the Korean wave.
Yoo invited nine senior entertainers to a luncheon at Korea House restaurant in Pil-dong, Central Seoul, Wednesday. They included Koo Bong-seo, 87, comedian; Song Hae, 86, emcee; Lee Soon-jae, 77, actor; Choi Bool-am, 72, actor; and Keum Sa-hyang, 84, singer.
"Today's hallyu couldn't have been possible without your devotion. K-drama and K-pop fervor that is sweeping the globe couldn't have happened overnight. Based on the foundation all of you have built, hallyu could take a deep root and blossom," said Yoo.
Senior entertainers made the most of the rare opportunity to air their grievances. They said they are losing places to perform and asked for more. Keum, the singer of "Miss Hong Kong," complained that KBS's "Gayo Mudae," which has provided time for elderly singers, has had its air time cut by 10 minutes.
Lee and Choi, dubbed as "father figures of the general public," voiced their concern in the drama industry, too. They denounced the unfavorable environment to actors where they get scripts as late as sometimes on the day of the shooting.
Comedian Koo mentioned the economic difficulties facing elderly comedians. According to him, some comedians have to tour nursing homes to earn money. He said he hoped that comedians could receive government aid as does the film industry.
Yoo pledged to implement policies such as standardizing contracts between entertainers and broadcasting companies and securing funds to nurture entertainers.