No snoozing when this talk show comes onHere’s a man in his 30s, by no means a loser, except for one thing: his looks. Even his diploma from the most prestigious university and a good family background can’t help him to get a job or to score a date. Should he get plastic surgery? You have two choices: A) Yes, for a better future. B) No, there must be some other solution.
Well, here is my answer: C) I don’t care. But this was not the opinion of panelists on last week’s “Dangsinui Gyeoljeong” (What’s Your Decision?), which airs Tuesdays at 11 p.m. on KBS2-TV.
The program features 20 celebrities discussing an issue of concern to a real-world person. Each panelist takes either a pro or con seat based on their opinion. After 25 minutes of heated debate, the client, whose silhouette is only visible through a curtain, makes a decision.
Late night talk shows in Korea are far from Jay Leno sorts of affairs. They’re more of the in-depth approach on how-to-save-the-economy sort of debate. “What’s Your Decision?” however, breaks the mold. It was launched this month under the slogan “The very first debate variety show in Korea.”
More than three-quarters of panelists are big-wig stars like transsexual singer Ha Ri-su, but psychiatrists, plastic surgeons and even an insurance agent are included to balance it out. “Instead of having a random public group, we thought stars would make good public representatives,” says Lee Se-hee, the producer. Indeed, the celebrities are willing to add their two cents, and sometimes are over-involved.
While the so-called professionals remain mostly silent, star panelists create a circus. More precisely, they harangue, speaking at the top of their lungs.
An all too carefree young idol star, Lee Jung-hyun, told last week’s client, “Now that you’ve reached your 30s, it’s hard to change your way of thinking. Just change how you look.” Then Kim Je-dong, a tart-tongued comedian, cut in. “Plastic surgery should be the last resort. Trust me, ’cause I’ve been through it.”
Another comedian, Yu Jae-seok, chipped in, “I’ve been to a plastic surgery clinic but I turned away at the last moment. It doesn’t hurt to consult a surgeon.” Others cried out, their voices merging into an unbearable cacophony. Just when I could stand the pandemonium no more and reached to flip off the TV, the judge, Yang Hee-eun, an old-time singer, hushes the group and lets the client decide. Last week’s client went with the pro-plastic surgery group, saying “I want to regain my confidence by changing my looks.” Those who won the debate stood up and slapped each other’s hands with high-fives.
Last week, a college student sent the following message, “I’m a student boarder and my landlady, a middle-aged divorcee, tries to seduce me day and night. What should I do?”
Again, my answer would be “Do what you want, dude, you’re a grown-up!” but the counselors were all too helpful. Lee Hyeok-jae, a no-nonsense comedian, says “Enjoy the relationship and if you get tired of it, just go to the army. If she waits for you, then what else you can do ― just marry her and be the landlord.” Other bits of advice were “Always look tired,” “Just find different housing” and “Take decisive action, like saying no to the woman.”
The “counseling” was obviously not much help and the celebrities were rather playful, not serious. But Mr. Lee, the producer, sees some hope. “As time goes by, the art of argument by the panelists is getting more sophisticated,” he says.
I truly hope so, but at the moment, it would be much easier to doze off to the all too sober and earnest late night save-the-economy debate shows.
by Chun Su-jin