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Double standards in K-Entertainment

2011/11/05 Source

Some time ago, when Korea was in a frenzy of banning Kpop songs, I joked that maybe they should ban also the dramas. I take back my bad, bad joke.

It's been on my mind for a while, but was wondering whether I should bother and cause another stir. But since it's my evil nature, I decided I should. K-entertainment is full of double standards, and non-equal treatment. We got accustomed to it to the point of numbness. I guess we all remember the "Han Ye-seul gate", so to those who somehow slept through whole summer - short recapitulation. Shooting of the drama in usual korean circumstances - 2 hours of sleep per week, 4 meals per week but 100% efficiency. You may ask how actors do it? I have no idea, frankly.

Harsh opinions follow, this is a fair warning.

And in the middle of this, one actress said stop - "I care about my health" and left the filmplan. The tidal wave of "unprofessionalism", "egoism", "broken promises", "bla bla bla" followed. All she wanted was just a bit of sleep and care, normal care for human basic rights. And she was labelled as diva b*tch who orders people around and wears her nose higher than usual folks. Drama shooting stopped for 3 days. Apparently everyone had moral right to judge her. And everyone condemned her to hell.

And now, another drama stopped shooting for 2 weeks, but no one seems to raise a voice about unprofessionalism. In this article there is mentioned something that has been floating around for last week. The internal conflict between drama (Love Rides the (b)Rain) PD and main star - yes, Jang Keun-suk. He, as we all know, embarked on his Japan tour lately, causing drama to stop just because he's the center of Hallyu Universe and as the Prince of Asia has full right to do it. Any problem folks? No, he's being professional for starting tour in Japan in the middle of shooting his drama. And he's being professional to drama staff by giving them 2-week rest. Because ALL serious actors do it.

Park Park Yoo-chun is a Star, no one has any doubts about that. During filming of "Sungkyunkwan Scandal" - he focused solely on "Sungkyunkwan Scandal". He didn't say: "yo, folks, need to have week break, me and my pals going to have a sign-up tour". Why? Because this is what being a professional means - to yield everything to what you are supposed to do now. He practiced choreo on the film plan when he wasn't shooting, but he didn't leave the film plan.

And please, don't throw Kim Jae-joong into my direction (actually... I wouldn't mind) as the example of the same of what Jang is doing. They are NOT the same. JJ is a star in its fullest definition, and Jang is just a wannabe "singer". Jae never caused the film plan to stop even though "In Heaven" promotions were in full swing when he was shooting "Protect the Boss" and he'd have the full right to do it. Bags under his eyes are the proof of this.

Of course there is a conflict between PD and multitalented Hallyu star. There has to be. I bet he was chosen for the part, because everything with JGS on it will sell to the last bit. Fangirls all across the WORLD will watch every drama, even such a masterpiece of train wreck that Bury Me Mary was. So yes, as I see it - it was for promotional uses. The fact that this drama consist of almost exclusively idols also says something about the depth level.

So, we have Han Ye-seul, who left the film plan for a weekend because of the fear for her health, causing havoc in Korea, and we have Jang Keun-suk, who left the film plan for over 2 weeks, but no one says anything. Maybe health is more important, but who am I to judge?

Few days ago, netizens (again netizens) made screenshots of Girls' Generation interview in English for MTV Iggy. Since I don't follow this group, I just based on those screenshots in my opinion. Two of the members (don't remember the names, sorry) looked "bored and unprofessional". One of them was apparently sick, and all of them were bored to death since the interview was in English and they probably understood only their names (if those were mentioned). Netizens started hell again - "if you are an idol you should show the full professionalism even if you are sick or uninterested!" Fair enough, it was about their promotions, but I doubt American viewers even noticed that. It's just korean netizens that like to watch everything frame-by-frame and point out some incoherencies, forgetting the biggest incoherency lies between their ears.

But surprisingly no one lifted the red flag when TOP (Choi Seung-hyun) was texting during one interview. Why? Why differentiate?

And when everyone thought it's the end – it is not. Two days ago very similar articles popped up here on HanCinema about deeming few dramas as "unethical" (Here and here). Some may ask: "How this has anything in common with double standards" in Korean entertainment?" Oh well, let me explain. Looks like few people in high places in Korea decided to turn back the hands of time and throw the country into Confucianism mixed with fascist ideology. They arbitrary decided which drama is good for our health and which drama we should burn on stakes. And it turns out – all dramas that present the life as it is (for drama purposes of course) are condemned to hell. "New Gisaeng Story" was deemed unethical because it showed a man possessed by spirit. I work in this field, and trust me, ghost possession has absolutely nothing in common with any ethics. My small brain can't even link those two things, but probably I'm not that enlightened as those "wise" people out there. Few other dramas showed women seeking revenge, and this is unforgivable sin, apparently. Plus, few dramas, including "A Thousand Kisses" were banned as they "distorted reality and stimulated viewers with violence and unethical content to get higher ratings" (article here), moreover, the latter was accused of showing "unethical scenes and stories, such as trying to accept an abandoned woman as a daughter-in-law, or another daughter being in a relationship with a nephew. They are also repeatedly displaying a certain supporter through lines and screen time, displaying them so much that it has an advertisement effect". (article here)

TV doesn't stimulate divorce rates. Divorce has nothing in common with TV. But there is a grain of truth in it. Imagine a woman, like Woo Joo-young, trapped in a failed marriage with a guy who cheats on her with his mother abusing her on every day basis. When she catches him in flagranti – she decides she can't continue like that. This is something what normal woman does, no? What's left when the guy you married cheats on you left and right? Oh I know – bow down and excuse you are so bad wife that he HAS to look for another woman. So women should swallow their pride and suffer for the rest of their lives just because "this is what woman should do?" Who made those rules? I'm pretty sure not women.

So, our imagined woman is in exactly the same situation. Seeing that one lady on TV has enough of guts to fill for divorce – she does the same.

But it looks like even if they break free from unhappy marriage, they can't be happy. Why? Divorced women and widows should probably hang themselves and not to bring more shame to the ideal Korean society where no gay people and divorcées are allowed (long live "Life is Beautiful"!!). If a woman is not happy in the kitchen making lunchbox for her hardworking husband or changing diapers of the kids, she won't be happy anyplace else. This is probably the logic of those people "up there".

Main lady in "Queen of Reversals" after hard struggle with life and clingy ex-husband, finally found her happiness with a... (O! Tempora! O! Mores!) younger man, who pursued her ceaselessly and displayed borderless love for her. And I think the fact that women after divorce CAN find happiness is what irks people out there the most.

In Confucianism, women had strictly limited place in society. In all dictatorships the knowledge is forbidden, books are burned. Rules and ignorance is what keeps people in their places. But when people start to gain their own individual conscience, they start to think:"wait a minute, something's wrong, why should I do this?" And this is what politics fear the most. Because that means the lack of control. And it's really hard to rule the "thinking" crowd. Extremely easy to control the herd.

Double standards? Those dramas show unethical behavior in terms of seeking the happiness and trying to live. Fine. But what about the situation presented in many dramas – forced marriage? This is nothing "unethical"? Why parents force their kids into "same-level-marriages" regardless of kids' feelings? This is borderline immoral behavior, like we had in "How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor", or we have now in "A Thousand Days' Promise"? Why no one can look back on own history and say: OK, this is the tradition, but maybe not all traditional elements are good? Maybe we should ditch it already? This is why "Protect the Boss" drama was so meaningful in this element.

Why all women in dramas are forced to "be beautiful"? Beauty is elevated to the absurdity level as if it was the only one asset that woman is capable of having. What about brain? Is head a place for flawless hair and baby skin?

What about the drinking problems that virtually all characters in dramas have? This doesn't affect the innocent people? They see characters drinking in every episode and nothing, right?

Calling a woman who in the drama seeks a revenge a sl*t is nice, really nice and truthful, right? But allowing 15 years-old girls on the stage to behave like pole-dancers is a perfectly normal Hallyu sexiness?

I don't believe a fully grown human being can be affected by what he/she sees on TV. This is why dramas have rates – 15 years and above, 19 years and above etc. The fact that those dramas are watched by 12 years-olds is not the TV's fault, but parents who allow that. Besides, if a kid is bright enough, she/he knows that "this is just a show", nothing more. I've been watching movies all my life. I have watched "Terminator" since really young age, but I didn't slam any mechanical device close to me. This is a movie, and this is just a radio – that was my logic.

Nowadays, dramas are watched by the whole world. And although it's nice (personal opinion) that they are not as vulgar as some western shows, let's not over-sugar them either. In dramas real life is presented, right? So if divorce happens in a real life, it's normal it will be mentioned in a drama, not vice versa. We, viewers from The Menacing Bad Western Countries like a dose of realism, and not the pink fairy unicorn (damn, another phallic symbol, soon my blog will be banned, I swear) dramas, where everyone is nice, sugary and cute.

People that issue those stupid bans and statements I advise to first take courses in: Philosophy, Logic, History of Religion, and maybe Sociology and Linguistic (because they have no idea what words they are using). And maybe leave for a day or two their limousines and take a bus, listen to real problems people have, listen to the situations of real people. How about doing something for growing multiculturalism in Korea? How about preventing the suicides that are the highest lately in Asia? How about making women situation at the workplace better? There are so many real issues that need to be fixed, but I guess it's easier to take on a work of fiction than on a real life. But maybe, just maybe, few moro... uhm, "moral-guards" should re-evalute their world view? Then, dramas will stop to be seen as such vicious means to destroy "our innocent young people that still think kids are found on the cabbage field".

If anyone touches "A Thousand Days' Promise" and "A Thousand Kisses", I swear I will bite. And I can do it.

But in any case, preparing my own list of "ban ready" dramas. This is fun.

The base article (much more harsh) is found here.

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