According to the BBC's reporter Lucy Williamson, some of K-Pop's biggest popstars were built on the back of slave contracts, which tie trainees into long exclusive deals, with not much control and little financial reward. A slave contract is a long-term, often unfair agreement signed by K-pop musicians and the term is used in a negative way to criticize the way in which some South Korean entertainment companies exploit their singers.
Trainees who agree to sign a slave contract are often put into a "factory-styled grooming process". Al Jazeera's journalist Drew Ambrose reported that trainees from the K-Pop band RaNia underwent a "strict regime" of singing, Taekwondo and dieting. Contact with friends and family members was also restricted 
A considerable number of K-pop bands and musicians have left their former agencies and music labels to produce music as independent artists. Some have also taken their management agencies to court.
In 2009, three members of K-pop boyband TVXQ - Hero Jaejoong, Micky Yoochun and Xiah Junsu - took their management company SM Entertainment to court, claiming that the company's 13-year-contract was too long, too restrictive, and gave them almost none of the profits from their success. The South Korean court accepted their claim, and its decision prompted the country's Fair Trade Commission to issue a "model contract" to improve the boyband's situation.
A growing number of legal disputes over such alleged mistreatment has resulted in the South Korean government issuing standardized contracts and establishing a support centre for K-pop musicians where they can seek legal advice.
- Williamson, Lucy. "The dark side of South Korean pop music". BBC. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- Lim, Alvin. "Korea Fair Trade Commission Clamps Down on Entertainment Companies “Slavery” Contract Terms". CoolSmurf.Wordpress.Com. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- "South Korean 'K-Pop' strives for global fame". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 19 December 2012.