Eyes wide shut, Java addict rejects the iceThere was a time when Korea was a Starbucks-free zone and I did not know the difference between a cappuccino and macchiato. Life was beautiful back then, without a Starbucks every few yards. That was a time when dying one’s hair was thought to be a symbol of teenage delinquency or the mark of a TV celebrity.
However, after that global coffee chain conquered Korea circa 1997, followed by a number of similar chains, I found myself completely enslaved by them. A caffeinated zombie, now I cannot live without a regular dose of cappuccino with double shots of espresso, low-fat soymilk and a bit of Irish syrup drizzle. And my hair is dyed dark brown. Still, I am, on occasion, strangely nostalgic about the time that I was cappuccino-free with ebony black hair. That nostalgia became more intense after I saw a episode of the TV show, “Zero Complaint” on MBC-TV.
Airing Thursdays at 7 p.m., the show takes aim at everyday goods or services that infringe on consumer rights. One episode of the show aired late last year targeted the quality of ice used at the high-priced coffee chains and MacDonald’s.
First, they take samples of ice from the chains and another set of samples from the water in their toilets. Then they take them to a science research center and conduct a bacteriological examination. Surprisingly, the water from the ice cubes used for customers was found to have more colon bacillus than the toilet water. Then the show found that the chains cannot clean their huge icemakers often enough for several reasons.
In a recent show, they ran an experiment on hair coloring products commonly found in supermarkets, and found that rumors that these products may weaken the users’ visual power and cause allergic reactions on the skin are true.
Another case of consumer rights under attack featured the 3,000-cc beer glasses at bars in Seoul, which, in fact, give less beer than standard mugs. It seems they use thick glass or double-layers of glass to reduce the amount of beer.
What was also impressive was that the show makes a scientific effort to find fault with the products or services it examines. It does not jump to conclusions, and, before being judgmental, they first take a close look at their targets to see whether they are truly flawed or not.
A good example was a recent show where their target was Internet shopping malls and their fake varieties of branded goods, which have become very popular.
For one thing, a pair of Nike running shoes, which look the same as the ones at department stores, is available at the Internet shopping malls for about one fourth of a price. The show’s producers buy the same model of running shoes from a department store and an Internet shopping mall respectively, and took them to about three science institutes to test durability and the inner structure.
Then the producers travel to China, which is suspected of being the originator of the fake goods. They actually find a hidden place that produces and sells fake Nike shoes and get an interview with a Chinese owner who said that Koreans are among their major customers.
Then the show’s producers found a customs office in Korea to issue a warning message from its director that a buyer of fake goods may face punishment in some cases.
Too many people in this world like to force their own judgments and conclusions on others, but this show at least tries to make sure their accusations are scientifically proven. And this is why the show deserves a certain acclaim, with their goal to make a world with “Zero Complaint,” although that does not mean that I will be able to save myself from my cappuccino and hair dying addiction. I will at least stop having cappuccino with ice and close my eyes while having my hair done.
by Chun Su jin