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TV Programs Testing Limits in Foul Language

2009/05/04 Source

By Kim Tong-hyung
Staff Reporter

SBS perhaps could change its name to something that includes "swearing", as it leads a list of major broadcast networks exposed for their increasing use of bad language.

The Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), the country's watchdog for television, radio and Web content, said a jump in profanity was found on virtually every network in both the terrestrial and cable field.

Viewer complaints have also been rising, it said.

Of the 158 complaints submitted to the commission in March, about 70 percent of them were about programs from national networks. There were 17 complaints regarding language standards, the commission said, up from six complaints in the previous month.

Many of the viewer complaints were arrowed toward "Temptation of Wife", the immensely popular SBS miniseries starring Jang Seo-hee that allegedly set new highs for Korean television entertainment, or new lows, depending on who one asks.

The recently-finished drama, based on the plot of a housewife-turned-vamp seeking revenge on her betraying husband and back-stabbing friend, provided a buffet of distasteful actions such as adultery, kidnapping, slapping, kicking, hair-pulling, and predictably, verbal abuse.

Critics have accused "Temptation of Wife" for being "flooded" in vulgarity, which includes frequent use of degrading language toward women. The commission had issued warnings to its producers in November last year and March this year.

"Viewers found the frequent swearing in 'Temptation of Wife' offensive, with the characters repeatedly shouting `nyun' (bitch) at each other, and there were complaints about vulgarity in the new SBS drama, `Princess Ja Myung Go', too", said an official from the commission.

Aside of nationally televised programs, there were also complaints about explicit sex scenes on late-night cable television, the commission said.

Last week, the commission issued a warning to SBS, for its new drama, "Princess Ja Myung Go", for violence, which included stabbing scenes and a baby thrown into a river, and foul language. MBC, another national network, was also warned for profanity in its movie preview program, "Start, Video Travel".

Television networks and regulators are always engaged in a debate over where to draw the lines between expressiveness and profanity, and the boundaries seem blurrier for comedy shows, due to the improvised nature of many of them.

In a separate report last week, the commission announced the results of its content review of the sketch-comedy shows of the three terrestrial channels.

"Laughter Search", another SBS program, was deemed as most offensive, as the commission counted 115 cases of abusive language, and sexually suggestive or violent expressions in two episodes that aired on March 27 and April 3. The number was 76 for MBC's "Gagya" in two episodes that aired on March 28 and April 4.

KBS's "Gag Concert", one of the country's most popular television shows, had 51 cases of inappropriate language and actions in two episodes that aired on March 29 and April 5, the commission said.

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