Korea: Media Entertainment, Lies, Fans, and Tragedy

Korean bloggers have been debating the use and absue of the media the latest, particulary in relation to the cases of a few celebrities. A Korean comedian who had been in hinding after lying several years ago returned to the public view this year. Previously, she had lost a tremendous amount of weight and explained her weight loss had been achieved through exercise and not any medical procedures. Later, it was revealed she had undergone surgery multiple times. After heated public criticism, she gave up her career.

Several years passed and she now returned to public life, asking for forgiveness. It seemed that she would start her career over from scratch. She put herself on a TV program, which was about estimating the value of a participant’s belongings. She asked the value of a diamond ring that one of her best friends, a super model, presented her to show her appreciation and their friendship. According to the comedian, she helped the super model get out of financial debt. A professional appraisal concluded that the ring was an imitation and the comedian showed her heartbroken face on TV.

After that, the super model was harshly criticized in public. Later on, the model proved that she didn’t give the ring to the comedian as a gift and expressed her puzzlement and anger on her private web-page. In the end, the comedian claimed that she made up the story for entertaining the audience.

As well as her lie, another main problem was how much the TV audience should put up with these kinds of lies under the pretext of entertaining the audience. Regardless of harsh criticisms about the lie, she has been able to hold several show programs this time.

Another similar scandal came up recently. A member of a popular singing group said in an interview on a TV program that he asked a famous figure skater to have the closest relation (called ilchon) on her own homepage (called a miniroom in Cyworld), but he was rejected. After the program, his fans attacked her miniroom and criticized her arrogance left slanderous statements against her. Later on, it was proven that what the singer said was not true.

Consecutive scandals have brought up several related issues, including entertainment and sincerity, and internet abuse. Several months ago, a teenge girl who lost weight quickly shared her story on a TV program and took a photo with one of the same music group members after the program. Not being able to put up with his fans’ attack on the internet, she killed herself from depression (it’s not an officially proved cause, but it’s assumed to be partially responsible).

These cases reflect problems of how media and the internet are used. The Optimist comments on this problem.

두 사람 모두, 사과와 함께 방송을 더 재미있게 하기 위해 거짓말을 했다고 말했다. 사실 연예인들이 방송에서 한 컷이라도 더 길게, 더 많이 잡히고 시청자들에게 인상을 남기기 위해서는 어떻게든 튀어야만 한다. 몇 시간을 녹화하더라도 그가 한말이 재미가 없을 경우는 단 한 컷도 방송에 나가지 않을 수도 있다. 결국 모든 연예인들은 살아남기 위해 어떻게든 ‘웃기려고’ 노력하고 개인기를 연마한다. 그것이 여의치 않을 때는 또 다른 선택으로 이슈가 될만한 이야기들을 하기 위해 이니셜을 끄집어내며 은근한 열애설을 유도하거나 다른 연예인에 대한 뒷담화들을 늘어놓는다…

요즘과 같이 급변하는 시대에 변덕이 죽 끓듯 한 시청자들의 주의력을 붙잡아 놓기 위해서는 물론 방송이 ‘재미’가 있어야 한다. 특히 오락 방송의 경우 그 존재의 근원 자체가 ‘재미’에 있는 것을 부인할 수는 없다. 그러나 ‘재미’라는 것이 ‘한 순간 시선을 사로잡을 수 있을만한 자극’이라는 의미로 강조되면 그로 인해 다른 중요한 것들을 잃어버리는 문제가 발생한다…

With the apology, both entertainers said that they lied in order to make the TV programs much more fun. As a matter of fact, entertainers should be comparatively noticeable in order to give the stronger impression to the audience whatsoever. If what they say is not funny after several-hours-recording for a TV program, their scenes will be all cut in the middle of editing. In order to survive, the entertainers should make the best effort to be funny and polish their own talents. If their efforts do not work well, they sometimes use different tactics to get attention, such as exposing fake love relations or talking about other entertainers behind their backs.

In such a fast changing world, in order to get attention from the capricious audience, TV programs should be fun. Especially entertainment programs get more pressure for ‘fun.’ But if the ‘fun’ just focuses on stimulus that can capture the attention of the audience, it could lose other important elements…

Several bloggers discuss how the singer’s extreme fans responded. Windbox showed,

그 와중에 더 웃긴건 역시 팬들이다.
어디에서 어떤 교육을 받고 자랐길래 그 와중에도
‘피디들이 써준 대본 그대로 읽은게 무슨 죄냐’ 라던가
‘날개없는천사 이특오빠 지켜주지 못해 미안해요’ 라던가…

Funnier things are his fans’ responses.
Where did they learn and how did they grow up?
What they said was,
‘They just read the script that the producers of the program wrote’
‘I’m sorry not to protect you, angel without wings (indicating the singer).’

Chojunhee displayed many comments of how his fan netizens left their opinions,

나쁜사람이 아닌데…. 우리의 재미를 위해 이렇게 애쓰시는 분인데…..너무 슬프네요. 또 얼마나 힘들어 할까요…..너무 여린 오빠라서 눈물이 나요

He’s not a bad guy… in order to make us laugh, he worked hard… it’s so sad… how horrible time he must spend now… I feel like crying because I know he’s flimsy.

왜 오빠가 사과해요 …………………그냥 아프지만 마요 ……

Why does he have to apologize…… don’t feel hurt….

Not a few bloggers like nyperfume regard the root of the problem as coming from the behavior of media.

학교에서 학생이 사고를 당하면 관리 소홀의 책임은 학교 측에 돌아간다. 시민이 길을 가다 잘못된 구조물로 피해를 입으면 국가의 책임이다. 사회 정의에 앞장서야 할 방송국이 거짓 방송으로 물의를 빚고도 이를 연예인 당사자에게만 뒤집어씌우는 요즘 현실은 시청자들의 불신을 조장할 따름이다.

If there is an accident involving students at school, the school is in charge. If citizens are hurt in public buildings on the street, the nation has responsibility. Mass media, which should be on the cutting edge of social justice, cause these scandals and put all blame on the entertainers. It causes more distrust toward the media.

Entertainers tell lies for their survival and the media show them. The more frequently these scandals occur, the more the insensibility of this problem seems to grow up. As a result, innocent victims are more and more, and the internet seems an important means of propagating the problem, as feeling-diary commented below.

세상에피노키오들이 너무많다. 정치인들로도 모잘라 세간의 흥미와 가쉽이 될수 있다면 연예인들까지 그들의 양심을 팔아 거짓말쟁이 피노키오가 되고자 한다. 이와 발맞추어 피노키오의 일그러진 추종자(팬이라고 자청하는 이들)들은 행여나 피노키오가 맘다치지 않을까 사건의 원인제공자에게 조직적으로 댓글 폭력을 행사한다.

동화속 피노키오는 어린이들에게 꿈과 희망이라도 안겨주지만 이들과 그들의 추종자들의 광기는 폭력의 실질적인 피해자뿐만 아니라 이를 지켜보고 있는 그 누군가에게도 허탈과 증오만 안겨줄뿐이다.

There are way too many Pinocchios. Beside politicians, even entertainers want to be liars, selling their consciousness. Keeping pace with them, distorted followers (called fans) use violence toward related innocent people through the internet in order to protect their Pinocchio.

In the tale, Pinocchio gives dreams and hopes to children. But madness of these followers gives blankness and hatred to observers as well as authentic victims.

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