Politics is seen as a fair target for most comedy shows, but in South Korea a politician is suing a comedian. The lawsuit – claiming that the performer defamed all politicians – has drawn immediate criticism from various parts of Korean society, inundating social media with jokes and comments.
Choi Hyo-jong is the 26-year-old male comedian in question, from one of South Korea’s top comedy shows, ‘Gag Concert’, which airs on Sunday primetime network television. In one recent comedy segment, Choi pretended to tell children guaranteed ways [ko] to become a politician [note: the show is not actually for children].
Kids, first make friends with the head of the ruling party, so they can endorse you to an electorate which has traditionally been in favor of the ruling party. When you run for the (mayor/governor's) seat, be sure to visit the election committee and bring 200 million Korean Won (176,000 USD) with you.
During the campaign, go visit the local market place you hardly ever visit, and shake hands with old ladies there. That is no big deal, right? And sure eat the entire bowl of rice soup [locally made inexpensive soup, which usually the working class eat] that you rarely eat.
When you make campaign promises, say you will build a bridge or a subway station. Oh, you think that is too hard? No worries, you just need to say that without actually doing it.
If you tenaciously go on about others’ weaknesses like a dog, you can become a politician.
Kang Yong-suk, a policymaker who was ousted from the ruling party after he made lewd remarks against several news announcers, sued Choi on November 17, 2011, for making his defamatory comments.
This move has shocked the Korean public. As a sign of support, several thousand net users have filed an online petition [ko] in Daum Agora, the nation's largest public forum, to protect Choi. Twitter users have encouraged each other [ko] to follow Choi's Twitter account (@hyojong66) to empower him with numerous followers. Their goal is make Choi have 100,000 followers.
The comedy community has expressed strong support for Choi and encouraged other comedians not to succumb to any censorship. Kim Mi-wha (@kimmiwha), a legendary figure in the Korean comedy community, tweeted [ko]:
효종아..기가막히고 코가막힌다 그쟈!! 강용석의원이 우릴 코미디언이라고 우습게 보나본데[…]”국회의원 모욕죄”로 고소했다고? 우리도 맞고소하자. 국회의원들..뻑하면”코미디하고있네” 라고 코미디언 모욕했으니!!
혹시 내 후배 가운데..개그 때문에.. 벌금 나오게 된다면..전액 내가 내주마..맘 놓고 하던거 해라.
개그맨들이 하는 개그는 미학적 개그입니다. 즉 개그맨들은 정말 바보가 아니라 멍청한 척 연기하는 거죠. 반면 강용석을 비롯한 국해의원들의 개그는 존재론적 개그입니다. 그건 연기가 아니에요. 삶이에요 삶… 리얼 라이프 잇셀프.
어디 가서 마포 산다는 소리도 창피해서 못하는데[…]이런 ‘모욕감'은 어떻게 씻어야 할지.
Mr. Chun even half-jokingly asked his fellow Twitterers [ko] whether they knew any good lawyer so he can sue Kang for “defaming” the entire of Mapo's residents.
“강용석 의원 왜 이래요?”의원실에 물었더니.우리라고 욕 먹는 걸 모르겠냐? 알면서도 하는 것””무소속 된 뒤 찾은 새 할 일은 블랙 마케팅, 확실히 자리매김될 것” j.mp/uVHuCd 확실이 맛이갔군.
Blogger Kim Na-young, however, provided another explanation to the case [ko]. According to Kim, such a lawsuit is not to restrict freedom of speech, but is Kang's shrewd attempt to invaliate the concept of group defamation, so Kang, who has himself been accused of group defamation, can stand on better ground in his next court appeal.
Last year, Kang made lewd remarks about various news announcers and was sentenced as guilty in a lawsuit that several female announcers filed against him. Kang even lost his appeal. If he accepts the court's decision, it means he is no longer eligible to hold his post.
자기가 유죄 판결 받은 “집단 모욕죄”가 애당초 말도 안되는 법이라는걸 보여주기 위해서랍니다.…아무런 관계도 없는 무고한 최효종을 끌어들여 본보기로 보이겠다는 겁니다…나 말고, 얘도 유죄 때려봐, 하는 식으로. 만약 최효종이 무죄를 받으면 왜 재는 무죄고 나는 유죄야? 하겠지요.
Whatever Kang's true intention, this is just another story idea for some creative types. Choi's colleague, Kim Won-hyo (@wonhyokim), tweeted [ko] that he is thinking of a new comedy segment with fun titles, such as ‘Sue-back 60 minutes’ (parody of the American show 60 Minutes) or ‘Sue Anything’ (mimicking a Korean show titled ‘Ask Anything’).