Global Talk Show not quite as global as it thinks
Interesting. Another Misuda panelist in the harsh glare of the media spotlight.
I don’t really follow Misuda (Chatting with Beautiful Women, aka Global Talk Show), for various reasons which I’ve mentioned before. But it’s a pretty popular talk show, and has managed to springboard its foreigners-in-Korea panelists to visibility, some even to acting roles or singing (with varying degrees of success). It’s a non-threatening way for Korea to indulge its fascination with things Western and foreign from within the safe confines of talking about something comfortable — itself.
Some former Misuda participants who’ve moved on to bigger entertainment careers include Haiyen (Vietnam, acting), Eva (Britain, acting), and Jamilya (Uzbekistan, singing — although I use the term “singing” lightly).
All week long, Chinese participant Cai Lina has been in the news and generally lambasted because of the discovery that she actually does have Korean parentage. What’s the big fuss?, you might ask. Given that she’s built up her image through Misuda, and that Misuda is explicitly a show for non-Korean residents of Korea, people are finding her so-called “hidden” Korean background to be disingenuous. Particularly since she’s passed herself off as a Chinese student with an interest in Korean culture.
The netizen response (are we surprised?) has been typically severe. Cai Lina has defended herself saying she’d never concealed her Korean parentage (just not gone out of her way to make it known, perhaps). But people are saying some pretty harsh things, particularly on her own mini-homepage. The backlash almost reminds me of the recent spate of “memoirs” that have been outed as fake (Peggy Seltzer, James Frey), although to a lesser degree; the public feels as though they’ve been cheated, having been sold one thing and receiving another.
The head PD of the program is defending its panelist, saying it will take legal measures to counter some of the more serious and malicious statements being leveled against her, and possibly even request the cyber investigation department’s involvement. A source says, “If you take a look, a few people are continually changing their IDs to post negative comments,” and suggested taking a hard line in dealing with the matter. (And I say: Dude, this is the internet. Like that’s new?)
As of now, there are no plans to remove Cai Lina from the Misuda lineup. She explained that she doesn’t see the big deal, especially since she’s been raised in a Chinese environment and schooled in the Chinese education system, and therefore feels more affinity with her identity as Chinese. She does have a point, but come on, would a (full-blooded) Korean born in America be accepted on Misuda and praised for her interest in Korean culture despite her American identity? (I can tell you, that’s an emphatic no.)
Personally, I think there’s a grey area where Misuda is concerned, because of the nature of the program. If she were an actress or singer, the internet blowup would be an overreaction, because her background shouldn’t affect the quality of her work. But Misuda trades on the novelty of its kitschy-cute-foreigners angle, and when its raison d’etre is undermined, it’s got a very weak leg to stand on, methinks. But then again, I think it’s a silly show to begin with.
SONG OF THE DAY
Wax – “그 흔한 김씨” (That common Mr. Kim) [ Download ]