There are many types of entertainment in the Republic of Korea, thus it is often called the “Republic of Media.” Beyond observational types of entertainment, talk shows, and reality shows, the combination of genres is becoming a new trend, out of the original forms of variety shows. For example, the combination of observational entertainment and talk show programs includes “You are My Destiny 2” and “My Little Old Boy”. Also, “Lanlife” and “My Little Television V2” are the examples of the combination of personal media and variety shows. However, the masses don’t want mere TV programs anymore. Now, media consumers are eager to enjoy diverse contents and media platforms like Netflix, YouTube, and Watcha Play. Still, they produce programs by themselves. Then, although various programs exist, why do people seek new pleasures?
Do you know “Coffee Friends,” a show that was televised in January 2019 and ended in March? I instantly recalled the series “Three Meals a Day” and “Youn’s Kitchen” while watching this program. Maybe, you would agree with me if you watched it. But then this program involves Na Young-seok, the producer of “Three Meals a Day” and “Youn’s Kitchen,” participating as CD (Creative Director). Na Young-seok is one of the most famous and influential entertainment producers in the country. However, his variety shows, “Boys Over Flowers,” “Little House in the Forest,” “Korean Hostel in Spain,” and “Kang’s Kitchen,” a supplementary story of “New Journey to the West,” are so similar to each other. I think the reason why is because all of these programs pursue healing and reality. The program, made by an able producer with similar topics, casts, and subtitles, gives clichés to viewers. People think such types of entertainment are so banal and boring that they want something new. Nevertheless, various types of entertainment exist in Korea.
There’s another reason that people want to enjoy novel pleasures. Korean content producers think that people will become curious if they take different ideas from similar materials. Naturally, these programs can be fun at first, and consumers enjoy such type of media. However, as time goes by, people lose interest easily. Maybe you can understand by citing examples. Simply, come up with many types of Korean variety shows featuring music, travel, and food as main materials. Many programs have at least one among those. Let’s compare three programs. First, there is “Salty Tour,” a travel show that emphasizes cost effectiveness. The members of the cast travel with a small budget, but they have to come up with the best trip. Second, “Battle Trip” is a program that compares two destinations and schedules by offering diverse information on the featured destinations. Lastly, “Traveler” contains the travelogue of two men, Ryu Jun-yeol and Lee Je-hoon, through a combined narrative form of travel and documentary. These three programs take different directing methods in which people feel unusual and unfamiliar at first. Surprisingly, the more programs get more airtime, the less unpopular they become. The interests of audiences blaze quickly, and then blow over more rapidly. So, they lose interest so fast, and want something different next.
On the other hand, “Great Escape,” “Omniscient Interfering View,” and “Master in the House” are new but tested types of entertainment. Also, new platforms like Netflix and Watcha Play emerged. They are getting popular not only by broadcasting movies and TV programs, but also producing original contents. Moreover, there is a theory that media are a one-way street. Still, the “interactive” genre is a two-way approach. The “interactive” genre is a form that introduces different stories and conclusions based on the choices of the users. “Dunia: Into a New World” and certain Netflix contents are examples of these interactive programs. “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” and “You vs. Wild” are only the forms of “interactive” genre in Netflix, but it is expected that it will also include the variety genre soon.
In conclusion, media consumers have different options because there are many types of original entertainment and platforms. Thus, media producers have to try to introduce more novel and funny contents in the media market. The ideas of media producers and different approaches are important, but, as a media consumer, we have to make a rational decision to develop the media entertainment market.
Kim Se-been (ST Reporter)