Roh’s not in office but jokes are flying

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Roh’s not in office but jokes are flying

It’s been two months since the general election, and Roh Moo-hyun, the president-elect will take the oath of office next Tuesday.
Last Friday on my way home on the subway, I noticed that the election still is not over for some folks. A usual Friday night crowd, a bit tipsy from too much liquor, had packed the car when an elderly gentleman stepped on.
Catching sight of a blond, blue-eyed young man standing next to his Korean girlfriend, the gentleman walked over to the couple. “Thank you very much, America,” he yelled aloud in nearly indecipherable English, casting a chill upon the bustling underground. He went on in a dignified manner, “Lee Hoi-chang is the real president,” he hollered. “Roh is not; he’s half.”
The young man, however, did not seem to appreciate the words of support.
“I’m Canadian,” he said.
The gentleman was visibly disappointed, but he wasn’t done yet. He looked at all the passengers in the car, raised his arms in the air and cried, “Lee Hoi-chang, come back!”
That old gentleman is not the only one who thinks the presidential race is still going. MBC-TV recently launched a parody of the presidential-election TV debates. Three comedians impersonated Roh Moo-hyun, Lee Hoi-chang and Kwon Young-ghil on the TV station’s Saturday prime time program “Comedy House.”
Park Myeong-su, who’s better known for his not-so-successful plastic surgery attempt at getting double eyelids, performs Mr. Lee. Bae Chil-su, who has made his name by impersonating dozens of characters, takes the role of Mr. Roh. Kim Hak-do, wearing thick-rimmed glasses with knitted eyebrows, is a fine incarnation of Mr. Kwon. The show was a big hit ― people love to watch their less-than-favorite politicians impersonated and parodied. Mr. Kim recently said that the show gave him the strongest feedback ever since he started his career.
The show followed much the same formula as the real-world debates. Each candidate, seated in a chair, quarrels with his opponents over any number of topics. The three argue ceaselessly until the master of ceremony barks, “Silence! The whole nation is watching you.”
While the two important candidates temporarily remain quiet, Mr. Kwon abruptly asks, “Dear citizens, are you happy?” Though the real Mr. Kwon sounded perfectly serious when he said the same thing, his imitation cracks up the viewers.
On top of this basic formula, last Saturday’s program had the three candidates phone George W. Bush to give him some tips on the war against Iraq, only to fight among themselves over who would make the call.
But the producers know on what side their bread is buttered ― after all, Mr. Roh did win ― and he receives a far gentler needling than the other two.
The old-timer from the subway probably would not like that show.


by Chun Su-jin

“What’s on Korean TV” appears Wednesdays in the JoongAng Daily.
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