[ENTERTAINMENT]Tune in, take note, then go shopping

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[ENTERTAINMENT]Tune in, take note, then go shopping

When Elliott offered peanut butter candies to his alien friend in Steven Spielberg's 1982 classic "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," sales of the treats soared. That is often considered the first product-placement promotion in a movie. Since then, product placements have became common throughout the entertainment industry.

But only recently has the Korean entertainment scene tried its hand at product placements. Makers of the big 2001 hit "Jopok Manura" (My Wife Is a Gangster), made a deal with Yakult to promote the company's ramen noodles. However, the director of the film, who was not so interested in the deal, spontaneously dreamt up another noodle company, and instead the character was hawking that imaginary brand.

The producers of "Dalmaya Nolja" (Hi, Dharma), another hit from last year, made a 15-million-won ($12,000) deal with Hyundai quick delivery service. Unfortunately, the prop supervisor apparently did not know much about the deal. In the last scene, where a man bearing the Hyundai quick delivery service logo is supposed to appear, a paper box with a big, gaudy LG washing machine logo appeared instead.

How quickly things have changed. In barely a year, product placements have become a much sought after source of mutual back-scratching. Producers of this year's not-very-successful, but very-big-budget film "Yesterday" reached a deal with Tylenol, negotiating with the pharmaceutical company to redesign its packaging to fit the movie's futuristic look.

The medium that most fully accepts product placements, however, is television. MBC, one of the big three local broadcasters, has been especially prolific. In the latest soap opera, titled "Ineo Agassi" (Mermaid), a whole group of commercial goods -- cell-phone services, jewelry , you name it -- are shamelessly displayed.

On the station's Web site, www.imbc.com, there is even a special section called "One More TV," to promote placed products. Web surfers can buy the coveted items right from the Web site. The introduction to a hair dye reads, "If you want to look young and beautiful, like the middle-aged lead actresses in this TV drama, use this product."

This promotion has been criticized for being too aggressive, but the TV station personnel seem to be indifferent. "As long as it benefits both parties, the policy will go on," said someone on the production team.

by Chun Su-jin

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