Adultery is becoming a common theme in TV dramas that air in the morning, when many pre-school children are watching. Research by the Chosun Ilbo shows that since 2004, nine out of 11 morning dramas on MBC and 10 out of 15 on SBS had adultery as the main theme. Strong language and domestic violence are often essential ingredients.
Documentaries also deal increasingly with lurid subjects. Kang Seung-koo, a media professor at the Korea National Open University, said, "In recession, broadcasters are going to extremes to attract advertising".
Networks feel they are following the spirit of the times. "Terrestrial channels have to compete with over 100 cable channels", an executive with a major terrestrial network explains. "Even if the topic is 'improper', if the viewer rating comes out high, it can be interpreted as another kind of cultural code".
The influence on young minds can be substantial, claims Sung Young-shin, a psychology professor at Korea University. "You have a lot of repressed anger in your adolescent years, and TV dramas on immoral subjects could spur the latent indignation of these young people". According to the National Police Agency, the number of adolescent victims of sexual violence is on the rise, from 1,811 in 2006 and 2,136 in 2007 to 2,717 in 2008. Shin Gi-sook, the director of Sunflower Children's Center for children victims of sexual violence, said "It's alarming that due to the influence of TV, an increasing number of children think of sexual violence as mere play".