A staff member of the SBS television series, Still 17, has reportedly passed away on August 1st in his home and the death is suspected to have been caused by a combination of overwork and the extreme heat during the drama production.
According to other staff members, there was no filming scheduled from July 31st and August 1st, but the filming of Still 17 continued from July 28th to the 30th despite the intense heat.
South Korea has been experiencing record-high temperatures of up to 39 degrees Celcius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) and over 20,000 patients have already visited the hospital for reasons related to the hot weather.
The National Union of Mediaworkers pointed out the severity of the issue and has been demanding that the government and broadcasting companies come up with a solution.
“Although the details of the cause of the death has not been revealed, it is impossible not to suspect the long working hours of drama production sites as the cause of a sudden death in a healthy 30-year-old worker who did not suffer from any particular illness. It was reported that the man had worked 76 hours outdoors for the 5 days before his body was found dead. 60 hours per week is recognized as chronic overwork by the Ministry of Employment and Labor.” ㅡ National Union of Mediaworkers
The National Union of Mediaworkers urged the Ministry of Employment and Labor to take lead in strengthening the labor law that cut the working hours to 52 hours per week.
“The labor laws are not being complied with at the filming sites. Until when must these production sites be an exception? Moreover, the government has decided not to regulate or punish those that do not comply with the law relating to the reduction of working hours for 6 months. The government must call of this deferment and take stricter control of the 52-hour workweek as soon as possible.” ㅡ National Union of Mediaworkers
Moreover, they demanded that the broadcasting companies immediately announce a solution to improve the long working hours at the production sites.
“Broadcasting companies must understand the situation of the production company laborers, and create and supervise guidelines for unreasonable outdoor labor such as the extreme heat to protect the workers working at the production sites. They must take initiative in regard to the reduction of working hours and make certain that it is applied to both their companies and the production companies.” ㅡ National Union of Mediaworkers
Meanwhile, SBS has revealed that the cause of the staff’s death is yet to be confirmed.
“We are currently waiting for a police report on the cause of the death.” ㅡ SBS