When Shin was fixing the cable connection he pointed out channel 22: OCN, which reassures its viewers that it is Korea's #1 network with alarming frequency. He asked if we had OCN in Canada, and was surprised to learn we did not.
Of the 70 odd channels in this cable package, about 5 are in English, and I have to say they paint a pretty terrible picture of Western culture to the Korean shut-in, who has no other window. With CNN, re-runs of The Nanny, Tyra Bank's talk show in tandem with Sex & the City and various vapid lifestyles of the rich and famous shows, add a helping of Maury Povich showing shock-value hidden camera footage of domestic and child abuse and shudder that the only relief is the Discovery Channel and the odd B-movie (Lair of the White Worm!!! Wooot!). I don't get AFN, which is the American Forces channel, but from what I'm told, concerns itself with dispensing propaganda, military history and warnings to soldiers abroad: like don't play golf on the airstrip runways, and don't bite babies on the head, foreign as they may be.
Korean TV then is a bizarre hodgepodge of:
- e-sports. 3 channels that regularly feature pro Star Craft and computer game championships!
- terribly low-budget historical action-dramas, like lower than Xena, or Sinbad ("What port would deny Sinbad the Sailor!?").
- shopping and cooking shows, which frequently feature inappropriate Western tunes. Nothing makes me want to buy a pinstripe suit off TV more than hearing it modeled to Twisted Sister.
- confusing talk shows that regularly feature cross-dressing and canned sound effects.
- MELODRAMA. Lots of love-lorn standing on rooftops in the rain with misty looks.
Though it's a pity we can't check out the state-run TV from the North, it seems the conclusion is that TV is a barren wasteland no matter where you go.
Glad I brought some thick books...
A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.