MBC Should Be Ashamed of Farcical Awards

      January 02, 2009 10:31

      Internet portals were flooded with comments criticizing MBC after the broadcaster’s annual acting awards ceremony.

      The three-hour program started at 10 p.m. on Tuesday and ended at 1 a.m. Viewers blasted the ceremony for its lack of objectivity and professionalism. Others called for the ceremony itself to be scrapped next year. Angry viewers continued posting critical comments over the next 24 hours. An article about the awards ceremony posted on one Internet portal drew around 15,000 angry comments. Indeed, MBC’s acting awards ceremony was seen by viewers as being the “worst” of those held by Korea’s three main broadcasters.

      Out of awards in 22 categories, 15 were awarded as joint-wins to two winners. And 10 winners among those sharing awards were from MBC drama “East of Eden,” while its cast captured honors in 14 categories, including the grand prize, best actress, runners-up awards for lead actor and actress, as well as awards for popularity, best new actor and actress awards.

      As MBC continued with its ludicrous ceremony, granting practically every award to “East of Eden,” an article was even posted online 10 minutes before the grand prize was awarded, speculating that “East of Eden” star Song Seung-hun and Kim Myung-min, the lead actor of “Beethoven Virus,” would both win.

      It was the first time since MBC began giving out acting awards in 1985 that the grand prize went to two people. In “Beethoven Virus,” Kim delivered a brilliant performance in the role of fussy, despotic orchestra conductor Kang Ma-ae and created a nationwide sensation referred to as “Kang Ma-ae syndrome.” In a Gallup Korea survey conducted last month, Kim ranked first for 15.6 percent of respondents when it came to the actor that shined the most in 2008. Both critics and viewers chose Kim as the top candidate to receive the grand prize. Song put on an admirable performance in “East of Eden,” and he deserves recognition considering his popularity in Asia. But the consensus was his acting did not shine enough to deserve the grand prize.

      Grand prizes for acting given by Korean broadcasters are usually self-congratulatory affairs. If MBC went a bit far in order to boost the cachet of “East of Eden,” which it is trying to export to Japan, then viewers could be a bit less critical.

      But there are limits. The MBC acting awards ended up going too far and cannot be considered fair. MBC would have received a lot less criticism if it had held the ceremony privately, without wasting valuable airtime. MBC is an owner-less broadcaster. Because of this, its employees could strive to be more responsible and have a greater sense of ownership. But the reality is the opposite. MBC has become a broadcaster with no owner -- and no sense of responsibility.
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