More and More Foreigners Present in Korean Entertainment
kpride, Sept. 11, 2014, 8:52 a.m.
Many special TV programs over this year's Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving featured plenty of foreigners, a relatively new development at times of national coming together. Some 1.6 million foreigners lived in Korea as of Jan 1 this year, and their growing ranks are starting to produce talented entertainers.
Yoo Ho-chul, a producer at MBC, said, "In recent years, a number of non-Korean celebrities have emerged -- think of Sam Hamington, Henry Lau and Fabien Corbineau -- so it was easy to plan special Chuseok programs with a more multicultural cast."
The multicultural TV personalities are expanding their sphere from singing contests and talk shows, where they have been a popular fixture for some time, to reality shows and soaps, where they are no longer a side show.
"They're almost-Koreans," Yoo said, "and now some of them can carry a show without a Korean panelist."
Cultural critic Ha Jae-geun recalls that foreigners were treated as curiosities on TV, but the broken sentence weren't so charming with chattering teeth, and the background loners soon lost their appeal. Instead their clout has grown with their growing audiences.
"Today's TV programs try to depict foreigners as neighbors we need to understand better rather than as outsiders," Ha added. Prof. Han Geon-soo of Kangwon National University said, "Most TV programs have tended to invite foreign guests to get them to say something nice about Korea. This ought to change. They should be seen as an opportunity for deeper discussion and to expand our understanding of issues all over the world."