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Studios claim to tackle issue of leaked nude photos

May 23,2018
Some photo studios say they are helping their models file complaints with law enforcement authorities after their pictures ended up on pornographic websites.

The studios are coming forward after a YouTube star revealed last Thursday that a studio in Hapjeong-dong, western Seoul, coerced her into taking sexually explicit photos. The pictures of her in lingerie ended up on a pornographic website.

Another model, a college student surnamed Lee, said her photos appeared on a pornographic website in February even though she had a signed a contract in 2015 that stated the images would not be published. The photographers had also signed the agreement, according to Lee.

“Anyone could tell it was me,” she told the JoongAng Ilbo on Thursday.

Lee suspects that a photographer sold her photos to pornographic websites for profit. When the owner of the studio found out, he helped her file a police complaint.

The studio owner, surnamed Kim, told the JoongAng Ilbo that he knew of 14 other cases where photographers illegally published photos of female models who signed non-distribution agreements. He believes that there are at least 100 more cases like these.

Some studios deceive models into signing contracts that appear to ban distribution of their photos but contain loopholes to allow photographers sell their images online.

In one contract obtained by the JoongAng Ilbo, the studio allowed photographers “to use the photos of the model for commercial purposes if the model does not keep to the schedule of the photo shoot.”

Since March, Kim said he has assisted several models in filing police reports against 12 photographers and 14 pornographic sites. Another studio owner surnamed Jo said he helped one of his models file a police report in April after her nude photos were also uploaded online.

“The photographer was greedy,” Jo said. “He posted the photos with financial motives in mind.”

Studios are usually responsible for recruiting models for shoots and connecting them with photographers.

“We find models either by posting about part-time jobs online or through connections,” Kim said. “One of our models will introduce us to her acquaintance or her friend.”

After studios find the models, they notify photographers about the gigs. Photographers usually pay a fee of 50,000 to 70,000 won ($47 to 65) for a shoot, which is used by the studio to pay rent and the models.

Kim said the photographers who participate in the shoots are generally men in their 40s and 50s.

Jo said he has noticed the shoots becoming more pornographic. “Studios cooperate to hold these kinds of photo shoots because there is demand by photographers,” Jo said. “But the leaked photos are also damaging to the studio” and its reputation.

Since Thursday, after Yang Ye-won, the YouTube star, came forward with her story, thousands have signed petitions to the Blue House demanding punishment for studio owners and photographers who deceive models into taking sexually explicit photos.

As part of its ongoing investigation into Yang’s case, the Mapo Police Precinct on Tuesday brought in the studio’s owner and a model recruiter at the studio for questioning.

BY OH WON-SEOK [song.hankyul@joongang.co.kr]