[Viewpoint]The show goes on

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[Viewpoint]The show goes on

One of the popular entertainment programs on TBC TV, before the authoritarian regime merged it with KBS TV in 1980, was called “Show, Show, Show.”
It was Korea’s first TV variety show, combining dancing, singing and comedy in one program. The host of the show was Gwak Gyu-seok, better known by his stage name, “Hurai-boy.” Gwak, who served in the Air Force, actually intended to style himself as an aviator, thus introduced himself as “fly boy Gwak Gyu-seok.” But people started to confuse “fly” with “hurai,” which means making silly lies.
So his stage name accidentally meant a comedian who tells silly lies. Because of that, Hurai-boy’s “Show, Show, Show” became the symbol of something plausible, regardless of its contents.
More than two decades after its final curtain was drawn, “Show, Show, Show” has been revived in a colorful way.
Shin Jeong-ah, whose talent for telling lies is much better than Hurai-boy’s, is the host. Shin flew here and there, showing off her fake doctoral degree certificate from Yale University and telling sheer lies about her educational background.
And she staged a show, as if laughing at the world, saying, “Who needs a doctorate? A diploma from an Ivy League university has no use. I have proven that someone with a high school degree can do just as well.”
Shin went to New York recently, as if she had something more to show. Anyway, she is the new Hurai-girl.
After Shin Jeong-ah’s show reached its peak, Lee Ji-young, an English lecturer who worked as a hostess of the KBS radio show, “Good Morning Pops,” for seven years, quickly staged a second show.
She said she went to Britain when she was a high school senior and graduated from the University of Brighton in England with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in linguistics. But it was revealed recently that she received her primary, middle and high school education in Gwangyang, South Jeolla, and a high school graduation certificate is the only thing in her educational background that she can certify. Although she was admitted to Sunchon National University after high school, she did not attend. Instead, she went to Britain and studied at an English language school in a small town called Hove near Brighton for a year and at a vocational school in Brighton for another year. Of course, she did not earn a diploma.
However, Lee Ji-young has worked as a popular English lecturer at Yonsei University’s language institute and at private English institutes in Korea many years. She even won a prize, in 2004, proclaiming her the best radio show host/hostess in Korea’s television and radio broadcasting. Isn’t putting on such a show both exciting and stifling?
For people who may think “what matters is one’s ability, not one’s educational background,” this must have been an exciting show indeed. For people who say, “How could she broadcast a radio program for seven years while disguising her educational background?” this must have been quite a show as well.
The ultimate goal of a show is box office success. Academic degrees and educational backgrounds are like colorful neon-lit signboards put up for performances.
Thus, if someone hangs a colorful neon-lit signboard and achieves great box office success by showing it off here and there, it will be regarded as a sign of the person’s real ability, even if he or she is a fake.
This is the self-portrait of Korea that we cannot conceal.
If this trend goes on, numerous other fake doctorate holders will emerge in the future and the falsification and laundering of one’s educational background will become even more rampant.
At the same time, the psychology of show business -- that one should attract an audience no matter what it takes, will eventually produce the third Shin Jeong-ah or Lee Ji-young.
We must stop this vicious cycle of shallow shows. At the moment, it is worrisome that the coming presidential election will be tainted by the overwhelming influence of show business and becomes another “Show, Show, Show” program.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chung Jin-hong
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