Young Koreans Find Surrogates in Reality TV

      June 20, 2015 07:55

      Top stars are busy dating, cooking and raising children these days, all of it before the camera. Judging by the explosive popularity of a spate of such reality TV shows, it seems young Koreans who are having a tough time finding jobs and are putting off marriage live vicariously through these celebrities.

      The MBC program "We Got Married" sets up two celebrities and puts them into a connubial environment. The program has been popular for eight years now.

      Another popular show on TV Chosun features two male celebrities living as a make-believe married couple with female North Korean defectors. A new season is in the works. Since April SBS has been airing a program that sends male celebrities on dates with regular girls.

      Shows focusing on celebrities raising their kids have been a runaway hit since last year. The latest twist in this type of programming features middle-aged male celebrities encountering various real-life situations with their adolescent daughters. Another program on KBS features celebrities having babies.

      Yet the main audience are young people who are putting off marriage after having a tough time landing jobs, suggesting that many live vicariously through these programs.

      Lee Myung-jin at Korea University said, "Due to the chronic job shortage among young people, it is tough for them to fulfill their needs in real life, so TV offers them a chance to live a picture-perfect life vicariously."

      The same principle seems to apply to the popularity of cooking shows or celebrities traveling to glamorous destinations overseas.

      Culture critic Jung Seok-hee said, "During Japan's long-term slump during the 1990s, programs featuring child rearing and blind dates were hugely popular as well. It's a pity that young people who feel they're missing out are getting so immersed in these shows."

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