Ms. Perky probes the 26.5 inch waist landPresidential hopeful Park Geun-hye has a 26.5 inch waist. So what? Ms. Park’s rival Lee Myung-bak walks up 11 flights of stairs to his office every single day and drinks his wife’s magic juice every morning. Again, so what? And I don’t need to know that another presidential contender, Sohn Hak-kyu, likes to commute on the subway in order to “strengthen the foot muscles,”’ especially when taking the subway is, for me, not a patrician whim but a plebian necessity. I would much rather know what kind of strategy these natterbugs have for keeping society healthy, instead of being tossed their tarnished two cents on how to keep their bodies in shape. Am I asking too much? Well, obviously I am, at least when it comes to “Live: Today Morning” on MBC-TV last week.
Airing 8 a.m. on weekdays, the show is usually off my radar, but I had to watch it last week, after Park Geun-hye chose the show to make her remarkable statement about her waist measurements, which led to a media frenzy. It turns out the show has this daily segment called “how celebrities keep in shape,” and last week it temporarily changed the title to “how prominent figures keep in shape” so it could feature the five strongest presidential contenders. Well, this is a free country and MBC-TV has the right to enjoy that privilege but I seem to recall that, as a public TV channel, it is supposed to work to serve the public good. Well, MBC-TV was not doing that on the “Morning” show. It was promoting the presidential hopefuls in the most flattering manner imaginable.
It sent a perky female “reporter” to the home of each contender. Ms. Perky’s brief was to find anything that would make her host look good. The first was Ms. Park, who welcomed her guest dressed in a bizarre tracksuit outfit and then started to tumble around like a puppy. Well I’m sorry Ms. Park, but your antics are now near the top of my list for the 10 most unsightly TV scenes of the year. Now I hope fans of Ms. Park do not get me wrong. I’m not being critical of Ms. Park as a power politician. It’s just that as an average TV reviewer, I got the impression that Ms. Park was acting like a contestant in a beauty pageant, not a presidential election. This impression grew when Ms. Park changed into a housewife’s outfit and began cooking for little Ms. Perky who screamed “delicious,” leaving me speechless.
I did learn something from Ms. Park, when she described her secret for soft hands. “I learned it from my mother,” she said. “You mix glycerin and alcohol into skin lotion and keep your skin soft.” Well, her mother is Yuk Yeong-su, first lady of the dictatorial Park Chung Hee, so we must assume Ms. Park plans to capitalize on her family’s charming legacy as she runs for office.
The day after Ms. Park, the show featured her competitor, Lee Myung-bak. I should be fair and give Mr. Lee the same number of words as Ms. Park, but this is a newspaper with limited space. The bottom line of Mr Lee’s show was that he diligently trots up to his 11th floor office, drinks apple-leek juice, wakes up early and is vegetarian. For all this Miss Perky rewarded him by saying he has a “killing smile,” and that almost killed me.
I could not review all five shows last week because of deadlines, but all the plots seemed equally bizarre. There was Sohn Hak-kyu (the subway rider with the weak foot muscles), Kim Geun-tae (another veggie juice addict) and Goh Kun (I don’t remember a thing about him, sorry). I am simply dumbfounded by the audacity of MBC-TV’s decision to broadcast these dog and pony shows as if they were revealing something useful about the presidential hopefuls. Maybe MBC-TV wants some more governmental support when we elect a new president next year but, as the race is too close to call, they sent Ms. Perky along to play the sycophant to all five contenders. I hope for MBC’s sake that my theory is wrong.
by Chun Su-jin