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[Opinion] TV Worsening Social Problems

Posted November. 29, 2008 11:22,   


Korea is dubbed a “drama republic” in that the nation’s three major television networks air more than 20 dramas combined. One can watch dramas all day long as cable channels broadcast them 24 hours a day. A large number of them, however, are heavy on illicit love affairs, murder and violence. According to the Korea Communications Standards Commission, seven of the 21 dramas that the three major networks broadcast as of May dealt with adultery. Can we really say TV is not harming the people, considering that soap operas, whose biggest target audience is housewives, constantly brainwash them with provocative stories of deviation and broken relationships?

The protagonist of the MBC daily morning drama “Don’t Go Away” is an immoral woman who puts sleeping pills in the porridge of her father-in-law, who knows about her shameful secrets, when he loses consciousness in an accident. MBC’s weekday soap opera “East of Eden” is referred to as “bloody drama” due to its graphically violent scenes of torture and killing and lack of quality dialogue. The KBS drama “You Are My Sunshine” that airs at the prime family-viewing time of 8:25 p.m. promotes an atmosphere of social disharmony with its derogatory and insulting lines against the poor. Worse, it artificially dramatizes tension between a woman and her excessively stubborn and demanding mother-in-law. SBS’ “First Wives Club,” which ended in October with a rating of more than 30 percent, also revolved around two men who cheat on their wives.

News and morning educational programs that normally cover main social issues are also fueling social conflict. Of 1,025 news reports aired by the three major networks in prime time from April through July on the resumption of U.S. beef imports, only three sources cited were pro-U.S. beef, whereas 159 opposed the resumption, according to a report by Kim Gyeong-mo, a mass communications professor at Yonsei University. The Civil Coalition for Fairness in Media also said morning education shows excessively dealt with U.S. beef imports and mad cow disease between May and July. (MBC 47 percent, KBS 23 percent and SBS 32 percent). More than 90 percent of MBC media reports encouraged anti-U.S. beef demonstrations in title and content.

The majority of Korean entertainment programs also hardly offer anything more than a play on words. Article 5 of the Broadcasting Law says, “Media should contribute to the unity of the people, the harmonious development of the nation, and the creation of democratic public opinions. They should not cause conflicts between regions, generations, classes and genders and should not encourage unethical behavior, obscenity, violence and a speculative spirit.” This rule is obviously being ignored as the three networks have aggravated social conflicts between people. They must keep their dignity, grace and fairness.

Editorial Writer Huh Mun-myeong (angelhuh@donga.com)