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Debates Over “Gangnam Moms”

Posted June. 28, 2007 03:14,   


New SBS soap opera called “Catching Up with Moms in Gangnam” (most affluent districts of Seoul in the south of the Han River) premiered on June 25 (written by Kim Hyeon-hee, produced by Hong Chang-wook, Monday and Tuesday at 9:55 p.m.). Afterward, debates over the education frenzy of Gangnam moms erupted again.

The TV drama received a viewership rating of 14.1 percent on June 25, and 16.2 percent on June 26 (according to TNS Media Korea), the highest among all TV programs on at the same hour.

The new drama’s main plot starts as Min-ju (played by Ha Hee-ra), a resident of the Gangbuk area (north of the Han river), decides to move to Gangnam after his son, the smartest student in his school, received one of the poorest marks in an English contest against students in Gangnam. After, the drama showed that Min-ju’s friend Sumi (played by Lim Seong-min), a Gangnam resident, bluntly emphasize the educational gap between the two regions, that moms in Gangnam area shared information such as ‘30 new entrance in Ivy League universities this year,’ and that students in Gangnam area wear and carry designer luxury goods. Other major characters include Mi-gyeong (Jeong Seon-gyeong), who wants to move to Gangnam, and Sumi, an arrogant Gangnam resident who loves luxury items.

The controversy centers on the lifestyles of Gangnam moms featured in this drama. About 500 articles have been posted on the official website of the drama written by moms in both areas. Park Myeong-suk, a housewife married for 10 years and residing in Gangnam said in her posting, “Many residents in the Daechi-dong apartment complex moved to this area for their children’s education and they mostly rent. Though there are many rich people in the neighborhood, most of them are just members of the general public burdened with living costs and educational fees.

Hong Chun-gi said in another posting, “The drama shows children wearing designer clothes and adoring the Tower Palace (a luxury apartment complex). But in reality, not all Gangnam moms buy their kids luxuries and many are bargain hunters. The drama should not overgeneralize people in this neighborhood.”

Kim Hyeon-suk added in another posting, “Characters in the drama easily talk about a ‘billion won,’ but not many have that much money in this region. Our only guilt is that we sold our house and land just to come here for the sake of our children’s education.”

On the other hand, Ahn Mun-ju, a mom seemingly residing in non-Gangnam area, said, “The only people who search for cheap clothes in Gangnam stores are those who are from non-Seoul areas. If you look at people at a bookstore in Gangnam for an hour, you would see eight out of ten buy expensive items. Some merchants say you have to sell expensive clothes in Gangnam because otherwise your business is in trouble.”

Mun Seon-hee said, “I once worked part-time at a kindergarten in Gangnam. I saw kids who went on overseas trips to Europe, China, and Latin America every summer vacation. So I felt I was a stranger there.” Lim Chung-sun, a Gangbuk mom, said, “It’s discomforting to watch the drama. It seems to me that people in Gangnam area do not consider nor understand people living side by side with them.”

SBS Drama Chief Producer Gu Bon-geun explained the subject matter of the drama, saying, “We wanted to expose controversial issues straightforwardly and discuss them.”