Monday, May 26, 2008

Politics, Emotions and Television

Anyone with a bit of experience in Korea will acknowledge that Korean people are passionate. This cultural characteristic is on display in the current political upheaval over importing American beef and the FTA with the United States. If you doubt this, view the following video presentationNot surprisingly, one of the factors that ignited the current wave of political emotion was a documentary on mad cow disease aired by MBC. Some of the television images from that program reminded me of the time, as a high school student, that I toured a Swift Company meat-packing plant in rural South Dakota. Surely, seeing cows slaughtered and cut apart is something that we consumers of pulgogi, ribs or hamburgers seldom think about, and many of the images can be frightening, especially to young people seeing them for the first time. In an earlier post I mentioned the role of instant messaging on mobile phones in Korea's current political upheaval. Equally important is the emotional and visceral impact of graphic visual news on television. To see some of that, look at another video that is circulating widely in South Korea via television and the internet.

1 comment:

  1. Dear. Mr. Larson.

    I visited your blog again as I am interested what foreigners in Korea think about this situation. I can understand that your blog is usually focused on IT industry in Korea. I admit that I haven’t read all of your posts related in IT industry. If you are only interested how the internet and TV images can influence to Korean people, maybe you would like to skip my message.

    However, I can’t just ignore regarding the issue to resume American beef and Korean people’s demonstration against it.

    As I sent a message to you before, this demonstration is not just related with American beef. Even it is not just related with FTA, either. They only triggered people’s anger which has accumulated since the start of Lee administration. As I already mentioned, this situation attributes to many mistakes by current Korean government including Grand Canal Construction Project, privatization of National Health Insurance, Electricity, Water, falsely pursued education policies suppressing teenagers, etc.

    Certainly, it could have been disturbing to see disgusting images of downer cows on the TV program, which is “PD수첩(pocketbook)”. However, this situation was caused by the insulting negotiation result not by those images of TV program. If the negotiation result didn’t seem to threaten our life right, we wouldn’t need to take the street with such a big outrage.

    I think you would agree with that it is easy to gather together to enjoy something like football match or something. However, it is not that easy to do so concerning political issues and people are usually passive about that. What drew them to the square? Some frightening images? Only partially true. If they are not true, people would not believe them. The thing is that those images provide the evidence to prove the truth. That’s all of their role.

    I would be very happy if you are willing to give your own opinion about my message. I always wonder what foreigners think about Korean current. As well, I would recommend a newspaper website which will help you to understand the situation better.

    If it’s okay for me to give the fact, Chosun Ilbo, Joonang Ilbo (IHT Joongan Daily and Dong-a Ilbo are usually interested in distorting the truth. They don’t provide the truth. They are regarded as so-called ‘extreme rightist newspapers’, even not just so-called ‘conservative ones’.
     Korean Newspaper "Hankyoreh"
     an article related with this American beef issue by American press

    Thank you very much for reading and hope you keep your interest in Korean society.