As the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes wage on in Hollywood, the Korea Broadcasting Actors Union is attempting to meet with Netflix over its members’ own labor concerns, which bear many similarities to the issues on the bargaining table in the United States. One such issue, according to reporting by Max Kim in the Los Angeles Times, is that Netflix does not pay its South Korean actors any residuals at all, despite series like Squid Game being some of the multi-billion-dollar company’s most successful content offerings. Netflix has given a statement insisting that they are “following all local laws and regulations” because they are “a streaming service — and not a broadcaster,” but other Korean streaming services have had meetings to address the streaming-residual discrepancy.
Furthermore, union president Song Chang-gon states that supporting actors earn less working on Netflix series than on Korean network shows because they are paid per episode for fewer episodes, despite them being “far more labor-intensive,” and taking longer to shoot. Their per-episode rates, with no hope of residuals or per diems, begin at $300, amounting to several days of unpaid work for more intensive, elaborate shoots. Netflix has attempted to shift the blame to their Korean production partners for why actors are not compensated for out-of-pocket expenses, but local industry members argue that Netflix has fundamentally altered TV production in South Korea, while reaping a very large chunk of the profits. Korea Broadcasting Performers’ Rights Association secretary general Kim Ju-ho tells the Times that the union’s “only request to Netflix is that South Korean performers be given the same residuals terms that U.S. actors are getting under SAG-AFTRA agreements.” Song says that Netflix Korea executives have yet to respond to his requests to meet.