Saturday, March 10, 2012

Abundance Thinks: Foreigners in Korean Media

There comes a point, living in Korea, when you are watching the Korean TV and see a foreign person mixed in on a regular TV program. The next thing you know they are spouting out nearly perfect Korean and you don't have a clue what they are saying. You can only hope they aren't making fools of themselves and indirectly making foreigners look like dum-dums. A lot of words have been exchanged throughout time on the Kblogosphere about foreigners in Korean media. Sometimes the imagery is good and other times it is scripted. The big issue seems to be most networks want to just book "beautiful blondes", which for some is misleading the audience. Let's take a look at several bloggers who commented about this article of interest in Korea, and also some sites that touch on the imagery.

1. Roboseyo: A nice long article about how both sides tend to portray each other in certain aspects. He makes the notion that, "Living overseas, we sometimes make the mistake of comparing Korean popular media with the very best our home cultures produce -- after all, THAT'S what we consume while we're overseas. It's hardly a fair comparison: we've got to compare SNSD with Miley Ray Cyrus, not with freaking Radiohead, and we've got to compare Misuda with Maury, not with 60 Minutes or even Oprah, or we're missing the point."

Check the post to understand more. 

2. Drama Beans: Here we get a bigger sense of how and what the foreigner make up looks like on Korean TV (for 2009). You can see that it is mixed up, but still shows foreigners as more eye candy than essence on the programs. "The problem is, the television roles for foreigners still don’t mix in freely, and the perspective on directing foreign actors is still as the “other.” We’re still at the level where the casting of a foreign actor stimulates curiosity with viewers."

3. Global Voices Online: Then there is the case of the show "Misuda" that has a set of foreign women, dressed up nicely who chat with Korean men. From what I recall around the grape vine, it is all scripted. I for one distaste this show as I am instinctively jealous of the ladies and also how they put them on a pedestal. Here in this post you can see the issues at hand. "f the purpose is to provide chances to reflect on Korean society and culture and to learn about other cultures, how about middle aged foreign women and grandfather? How about foreign kids?"

4. Zen Kimchi: But then you get hope that wholesome involvement of foreigners in Korean media is possible. Especially when Joe from Zen Kimchi and his pals are portrayed on TV. Also Joe has worked hard with Arirang to do several series. 

I for one have this advice, be careful answering video surveys on the street. You never how they can twist your words around. Anyways, if you have any thoughts on foreigners in Korean media than go ahead. 


  1. Just wondering who the guy is next to Joe. Is it Daniel Gray of Soul Eats?

  2. Nope. That is Yu Jae Suk from the show Running Man and Infinity Challenge. A celebrity in Korea here.

  3. Yu Jae-seok is one of the two or three most popular TV hosts in Korea.

  4. "We’re still at the level where the casting of a foreign actor stimulates curiosity with viewers."
    If the foreign actors are being used as foils to make Korean actors to look good then that's a good starting point. Look at Hollywood. They do that with minorities actors all the time.

  5. I meant minority actors. Sorry for the spelling error. :)