Monday, December 10, 2007

How the Korean Media Works

I've been sitting on this one a while but a recent "rant" by the Metropolitician just reminded me of how the Korean media lacks any sense of journalistic integrity. So, I must relate a story of something that happened to me a few months back:

On 11 Jul 2007, I was asked to participate in a taping for ?????? (I want to....sooooo bad I want to say the name but I don't want to wind up in the same boat as ZenKimchi was last year.) A Ms. Kwon (가명?) called my wife to ask if I would be willing to participate. She spoke to my wife to insure proper understanding of the issue (my wife is Korean). I was asked to help "verify" the abilities of a man in Daegu who had taken the TOEIC 14 times with a perfect score. Though I asked more than once and received an indeterminate email, the details of the “interview” were kept cryptic. Prior to my arrival, as any professional would, I prepared. I prepared a brief test of spoken English to verify that his speaking ability was on par with his test taking ability.
When I arrived, much to my chagrin, I was asked to take a 20-question head-to-head TOEIC-type test with this man for the sake of showing his ‘amazing test taking speed.’ I refused to participate in such a ridiculous display, the purpose of which is dubious at best and potentially embarassing. Teachers make tests, they don’t take them and such a test of speed has absolutely no educational or practical value and could leave the unwitting viewer with the impression that somehow speed has to do with ability. Does it seem reasonable that a college professor would be asked to do such a thing on national television? On top of it all, imagine my surprise when I arrived and learned that the man was an American citizen “Kyopo” being passed off as someone with an amazing ability. Yes, he was an exceptionally fast test taker (another reason I would not test against him) but the fact that he is a native speaker is a fact that was amiss in the final cut of the program and was never mentioned before I agreed to participate. I am sure the audience would find this omission distasteful.
Not wishing to have wasted my time, the PD/cameraman, the "Korean" man and I decided to try and film something closer to what I was told to expect. In hopes that they might use some of the footage. However, Friday July 13, 2007 when the show aired, none of the footage was used in the feature. I was not advised in advance that none of the footage would be used. In order to make the taping, I cancelled appointments and wasted an afternoon preparing for nothing except to waste my valuable time. I agreed to participate gratis because I thought there might be residual benefits from being seen on TV as 'the expert.' Family and colleagues were advised prior to the taping that I would be on the show. Imagine my embarrassment when I saw no sign of the time spent.

Needless to say, I was miffed. Enough so that I sent a bill for services rendered to the producer who lied to me in the first place (expecting to receive the exact same nothing that I did). I also learned that a Korean professor from a local college was asked to participate. After being told what he would be doing, he refused. I guess the PD had in mind something that she wanted to portray and the facts of the case were just totally unimportant. And the more I read stories like the aforementioned from the Metropolitician, the more I realize that there is little or no journalistic integrity in the Korean media.

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