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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Korean SNL as a Sign of Change?


Korea's cable channel tvN is going to launch a new show, a Korean Saturday Night Live. The original American SNL is known for its satire on global, national, and pop issues, hosted by some of the most well known celebrities, and shot live on the spot. It paved way for stars to showcase their more intelligent yet comedic side. Having almost no live shows for celebrities, the Korean SNL is trying to break through that mystical wall.

One thing you have to know is that Korean celebrities hate live shows. Or at least their companies hate them. It's prone for mistakes and in the Korean entertainment world with nasty netizens, one drop of mistake can be a lifetime of shame. So it's a better safe than sorry thing. And, like any other public figure in the world, Korean celebrities' voices are taken seriously. Apparently, again to keep their certain, precious image, stars are mostly forbidden to speak out on what they believe. This includes, but not exclusive to, politics.

Even though it's a somewhat copy of an American original, I take this with relief. I'm actually glad Korea gets to have a show like this, a show that will showcase the bad sides of people in the best way possible through comedy. Of course, SNL doesn't only talk about serious stuff. It talks about, or mostly make fun of, their own kind which are fellow celebrities. Mostly, for SNL hosts, they will do a skit that makes fun of themselves. Since when are you going to have a Korean celebrity make fun of themselves?

It's also interesting to see how the actors and comedians will handle this. This is something new to Korean TVs; an entertainment show shot live with no edits or retakes. It takes a skilled person to become an actor, but it takes mad skills to act live. I wonder if they teach improv in Korean acting classes. After all, most celebrities who act in dramas and movies almost rarely go back to the theater.

So the invasion of cable networks is more of a good thing than bad. More quality dramas are released. Because it's not a national channel, you don't have the same choking constraints. More sensitive, but important matters can be discussed. I say, good for you Korea. Even if they do get a lot of heat with this show, which I'm certain they will, I hope tvN won't chicken out. This can be a pivotal point in Korean entertainment, so I hope they just swallow their guts and march on. Not sure if that's the correct metaphor, but you get me, right? It's going to be a slow start but if they manage to pull through, it might make a breakthrough out of it all.

The show will feature 16 actors and comedians and the first broadcast will air on December 3, 2011 with guest celebrity, Kim Joo Hyuk.

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