Anchorwoman melts staid news imageOn television these days, channels, programs and people no longer have only one title. Information is meeting entertainment. A TV actor, for example, becomes a singer and comedian and is called a “multi-entertainer.”
The public has become used to this fusion trend in almost every field on television except news anchors. Korean viewers, who are usually generous to career changes stars make, somehow wouldn’t be so forgiving of news anchors. If a TV announcer dresses in an unconventional way on a show, it immediately causes controversy. If he or she dances on a variety show, viewers would be outraged and decry it as not being classy.
Recently, the anchorwoman Choe Yun-yeong wore a sleeveless top on a news program on MBC. Soon enough, she became the talk of the town. Because of viewers’ strict preferences on how serious and conservative announcers should look, changes have been feared by them.
However, it doesn’t mean that the changes are non-existent. This year, Kang Su-jeong, an anchorwoman on KBS television, is a real standout.
Ms. Kang has hosted educational programs such as “Muhanjidae Q” (Unlimited Zone Q) on KBS-2 and “Muhan Eumakjidae” (Unlimited Music Zone) on KBS Korea, a cable channel. She also hosts a children’s singing contest, “Nuga Nuga Jalhana” on KBS-1. These are the standard ones.
But she has done other things that are not typical for a Korean anchorwoman. She tried acting on the sitcom “Nogane Romance” (Roh Family’s Romance) on KBS-2 channel and after that on the variety show “Happy Sunday.”
On “Happy Sunday,” Ms. Kang appeared with comedians such as Lee Gyeong-shil, Jeong Seon-hui and Jo Hye-Ryeon in a skit called, “Yeogeol 5” (Five Outstanding Women). Even after the section was renamed Yeogeol 6 and changed some of its members, Ms. Kang continued on the show to rave reviews.
On her longevity, Ms. Kang says, “It is never because I did well. I still have a lot to learn. Maybe they wanted to keep me because I’m cheaper than others?”
Unlike other TV stars, Ms. Kang receives her salary from KBS. Her modesty, however, belies the difficulty she went through to try to differentiate herself from other anchorwomen, and the past year was a thorny path.
A fan backlash ― a rare experience for anchorwomen ― was one of the difficult parts, she says. Whenever popular guest stars flirt with Ms. Kang, she would get hate e-mails from the guests’ fans, condemning her as an “easy woman.”
“I have received so many e-mails,” Ms. Kang says. “Even the titles were full of curse words. I was shocked, but also learned about life. Now I don’t care anymore, as long as I’m not ashamed of anything. A show is a show, not reality.”
But things did not stay terrible forever. After going through changes, Ms. Kang has developed into an iconic figure, breaking the conventional image of anchorwomen. She started having admirers, as her nickname, “Eoljjang (great-looking) announcer,” shows. Now her popularity equals that of well-known actresses, and she has active fan clubs.
Still, Ms. Kang is so gung ho to keep learning about her job because she worked hard to get where she is today.
Ms. Kang failed tests to qualify as an anchor six times until she finally succeeded on the seventh try. Naturally, Ms. Kang is “obsessed” with her job. That may be why she seems to keep trying different shows on television. She also hopes to become a radio host one day.
But that’s not all. Ms. Kang says she is deeply interested in writing. She has been writing a romance fiction on an online Web site.
One might wonder where her energy comes from.
“I think that is what being a professional is about and I want to have that attitude, whatever I do,” she says.
by Lee Sang-bok