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[Op-Ed] Vulgar Language on TV

Posted October. 24, 2009 09:07,   


In a parliamentary inspection of broadcast-related organizations, ruling Grand National Party Rep. Jin Sung-ho played video footage of comedian Kim Goo-ra using foul language on air. In a survey by the Korean Communications Standards Commission in June, Kim was cited the most frequent user of foul and vulgar language among those appearing on national television.

Media commentator Byun Hee-jae also said Kim’s 2002 song used abusive language in blasting politicians, including former presidents and Lee Hoi-chang, who was then the presidential candidate of the Grand National Party. In the campaign for the 2004 general elections, Kim changed the lyrics to attack politicians who led a parliamentary motion to impeach then President Roh Moo-hyun. In 2003, he criticized then Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak and cursed Lee using his names. In fall 2004, Kim rose from obscurity to stardom after being named emcee of a popular talk and music program at KBS Radio.

Certain groups say entertainers facing criticism are being persecuted. Would they remain calm if they became the targets of abusive language? After a left-wing Internet newspaper said it missed the days of the Roh Moo-hyun administration, when Kim could freely use his venomous language, another Internet news site, Today Focus, posted a rebuttal, asking what would happen if former Presidents Kim and Roh were the targets of such language.

Entertainers cannot be expected to have as much dignity in speech as men of the cloth, professors or public officials. Their verbal abuse cannot be protected by the right to freedom of speech, however. When criticism degenerates into verbal abuse, words and writing are reduced to social weapons. The right to pursue happiness includes the right to hear only refined words.

Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-hwal (shkwon@donga.com)