중앙데일리

Drunken youth and television don’t mix

Apr 17,2007
“Alcohol Zero,” a cable TV show about the drinking habits of young Koreans. [Comedy TV]
One of the moments that I realized I am practically a full-fledged member of this country’s newspaper society came when I developed a sudden urge to gulp down a boilermaker. Wishing for that golden proportion of 20 percent soju and 80 percent beer, I came to fear myself. Mind you, I’m neither a big fan nor a big drinker of boilermakers. The only possible (and poor) excuse I have is that I am only human, and as such tamed by an occasional round of bombs (another name for boilermakers) with senior reporters.
It’s a rite of passage for most middle-aged reporters to “manufacture bombs” for their juniors at social gatherings, to create a sense of “solidarity.”
I once insisted on having a bottle of wine, and I was simply awed when they made bombs with wine called “Draculas.” After gulping down a glass of this, you are certain to have two reddish streaks dribbling from each corner of your mouth. Those streaks look like blood, so the drink was given the name Dracula.
And it’s not just middle-aged reporters who enjoy alcohol. I myself appreciate its tranquilizing effect amid the throes of this cruel, chaotic world. But sometimes (maybe too many times), we fragile human beings give in to the power of liquor.
Go out in neighborhoods like Sinchon or Jongno and there are soju joints everywhere you look. This may be because soju, one of the most popular liquors in this country, is quite affordable and it has become a part of the country’s culture of commoners. This rampancy of alcohol even led to a TV show, titled “Alcohol Zero” on the cable channel, Comedy TV.
The idea of the show is that it would visit bars downtown and help drunken youths get home safely. First, the hosts randomly go into bars and ask people why they’re drinking. On a recent show, a girl answered, “I’m under too much stress because my boyfriend would not kiss or caress me.”
Maybe she was already so drunk that she forgot there was a chance that her parents might be watching the show, but her words went on the air unfiltered. After going around to several more bars, the hosts invite some people to play a game, with the winner getting “money to get back home safely.”
The game was a scene of almost pure pandemonium since most of the participants were obviously already under the influence of alcohol. The person who made the others laugh was the winner, and people did all kinds of things that I would describe as nothing but silly. A girl put clumps of Kleenex in her nostrils and blew them out by snorting out her nose. A boy made a harangue about the Statue of Liberty in New York. It was as if they were acting out a campaign against people drinking too much alcohol.
Yet, this game was much better than the games from the show’s early days, when male participants were challenged to take off a girl’s stockings with his mouth.
At the end of the show, hosts give the prize to the winner of the game and have him or her recite the commandment that they will not drink too much and they will always go home early.
Over the course of seeing the show, I decided the best thing would be for it to be abolished all together. This would mean there would be no boilermakers, no more drinking too much and no more silly games.


By Chun Su jin [sujiney@joongang.co.kr]



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