BH Discuss: Are Korean reality talent shows unethical?
Brad Moore, the American drummer of Korean band Busker Busker, stirred up a lot of controversy and discussion this week when a tell-all interview about his time as a contestant of MNET’s music talent show Superstar K was released by VICE.
The portrayal of the show in the interview was, frankly, bleak. Moore spoke of pressure to undertake botox injections and to go on a diet and being constantly monitored and completely shut off from the world around him, including friends and family.
On top of the personal difficulties, he also highlighted potentially serious ethical problems with the production of the show itself. These included contestants not being paid for the promotional work they took part in and for music sales, rigged results, pressure to lipsync, bad working conditions and dodgy contract dealings.
Emboldened by Moore’s confessions, Joe McPherson of Zenkimchi spoke out about his bad experience of Korean reality TV on Masterchef Korea which was shown on the the O’live channel which is also owned by CJ E&M along with MNET.
Most of these issues seem to stem from the fact that the show itself appeared to exist mostly as a vehicle for the promotion of CJ’s massive line of food products.
YG Entertainment’s new reality show WIN, which pits two groups of trainees up against each other fighting for the prize of debuting, also sparked a lot of discussion recently after Yang Hyun Suk confirmed his plans to disband the losing group in the competition. There were complaints about the cruelty of training young people for so long, putting them in the spotlight and then taking away their opportunity to succeed.
So with all this in mind the question is: Are Korean reality TV programmes unethical?
Korean shows are not the only ones who have faced previous criticism for bad practices. The British version of the X Factor has seen various scandals over the years from autotuning in auditions to inviting bad contestants to audition again for the purpose of entertainment.
But does the Korean entertainment industry have particularly unethical practices? This is not the first time former contestants have complained about pressure to undertake cosmetic procedures or that votes have been rigged or changed. What is it about the industry that enables this kind of behaviour? Does it need to change?
Here are some interesting related links from Beyond Hallyu and around the internet:
Discuss in the comments! Let us know what you think.