Spoilers spoiling Korea’s top reality shows

Home > All Articles >

print dictionary print

Spoilers spoiling Korea’s top reality shows


The reality show craze that has dominated Korean television for the past couple of years doesn’t show any signs of abating. Triggered by the popularity of competition reality shows like “Superstar K,” Korea’s take on “American Idol,” there are more than six reality shows airing right now with another four slated to hit the airwaves later this year. But they all being threatened by one thing: social media.

Broadcast networks have increasingly been forced to adopt new tactics to prevent spoilers from spreading among smartphone-using Korean viewers, who are eager to get the inside scoop on their favorite reality shows and share it with their friends. These broadcasters fear their shows could eventually face decreased viewership and ratings if the spoilers continue to spoil their shows.

A recent victim of this trend is MBC’s “Survival, I Am a Singer.” Every time an episode is taped, spoilers are posted on Twitter and other social networking sites before it airs.

Launched earlier this month, the show is a singing competition but its seven contenders are professional singers, including Kim Gun-mo, Yoon Do-hyun and Lee So-ra.

Each week, the stars sing their own songs in a competition judged by a specially selected studio audience of 500 viewers ranging in age from 20 to 60. The singer who receives the lowest mark is eliminated and a new contender is brought in.

The show has been successful thus far, but the program’s producers say they are worried that spoilers from the audience will eventually drag down ratings.

“We’re thinking about ways to deal with spoilers,” said Kim So-jung, an official at MBC.

When asked whether members of the studio audience, which is the same every week, were asked to sign nondisclosure agreements, Kim said, “Not really,” a sign that they didn’t anticipate spoilers would be a problem.


Reality shows like “Superstar K,” top, and “Project Runway Korea,” above, have dominated Korean television in recent years. But many reality shows are having trouble with spoiler leaks on social networking services, which producers fear will eventually drag down viewership. [JoongAng Ilbo]

MBC is not alone in its battle against spoilers. Producers of the KBS show “One Night, Two Days” said they’ve recently come up with a plan to prevent leaks.

On the reality show, which claims the highest audience ratings among all Sunday prime-time shows on the three major networks, six male celebrities travel around Korea every week and are put in challenging situations, such as in one episode when they were forced to sleep outside in sub-zero temperatures.

Producers used to notify the stars and staff of the filming location a week before the show’s air date. The show’s personnel have started getting notice just 24 hours in advance.

“Spoilers are the biggest concern for the show’s producers,” said KBS official Park Jung-jae. “For this reason, they even deny access to reporters planning articles who want to follow the program.”

And it’s not just reality shows that face this challenge. Drama series are also struggling with leaked information on social media sites.

When “Secret Garden,” which came to an end earlier this year, was nearing its final episode, an abundance of spoilers about the finale circulated on the Web.

But “Project Runway Korea,” the Korean version of the U.S. reality show that airs every Saturday on cable channel OnStyle, has set a precedent in averting spoilers.

Since its inception, staff members, contestants and the judges’ managers and stylists have had to sign nondisclosure agreements saying that they will not reveal the content of a show before its air date.

“Spoilers are fatal to reality programs,” said Han Su-kyung at OnStyle. “The core of these programs is watching who’s going to be eliminated. About 100 people or so have signed nondisclosure agreements so far for this season.”

The show’s nondisclosure agreement states that anyone revealing any part of the program before its air date will have to pay the production costs for season three, or about 1 billion won ($840,336).

“This is our third season and everyone knows that [leaking information] doesn’t do us any good,” said Han. “But it’s hard to be free of spoilers, no matter how tight our security is.”

By Sung So-young [so@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article[OSEN]

리얼리티 쇼 망치는 스포일러

`나는 가수다`, 역발상 오디션프로의 `시행착오`

MBC 예능프로그램 `우리들의 일밤-나는 가수다`가 역발상 오디션 프로그램의 시행착오를 보여주고 있다.

이 프로그램은 그간 방송된 오디션 프로그램들의 출연진-심사위원 관계를 정반대로 바꾸는 것에서 시작한 프로그램이다.

`도전 슈퍼모델`, `프로젝트 런웨이 코리아`, `슈퍼스타K`, `위대한 탄생` 등 국내에서 기존에 방송된 오디션 프로그램들은 모두 일반인 출연자와 전문가(연예인) 심사위원이라 공통점이 있다.

하지만 `나는 가수다`는 이와 반대로 가수(연예인) 출연자에 일반인 심사위원이란 자리바꿈을 시도했다. 이 점은 이 프로그램을 특별한 의미를 갖게 해 주는 동시에 시행착오를 겪을 수 밖에 없는 원인을 제공한다.

일반 청중단 500여명이 심사에 참여하고, 그것이 사전 녹화되는 방식이기 때문에 스포일러 가능성이 현격히 높을 수 밖에 없다. 단순히 청중을 믿는다는 말은 너무 순진한 태도다. 특히 SNS가 발달한 요즘은 더욱 그렇다. `슈퍼스타K`에 스포일러 없는 일반 대중 참여가 가능했던 것은 생방송으로 현장에서 즉시 진행된 것이기 때문이었다.

또 출연자가 가수들이고 거기에 방송에서 매니저라고 등장하는 사람들까지 연예인들이기 때문에 사전 녹화는 방송 내용은 많은 가요 방송 관계자들에게 결과가 노출될 수 있다. 유출 가능성은 자연히 높아진다.

실제로 `나는 가수다`는 방송 두 회만에 스포일러로 몸살을 앓았다. 지난 방송에서 네티즌에 의해 유출된 스포일러가 일치한 것이 치명타였다.

스포일러에 더해 조작 논란까지 불거졌다. 조작논란은 `어떻게 베테랑 가수들을 평가할 수 있느냐`란 이 프로그램 애초의 논란과 최근 불거진 이른바 `발편집`에 대한 질타까지 함께 묶어 생각할 수 있는데, 가수들, 즉 오디션에 참여하는 출연자의 `권위` 때문이다.

조작논란이라고 주장하는 네티즌의 글을 보면, 이는 출연자가 일반인이 아닌 가수들이란 점에서 비롯된다. 즉 가수, 권력을 지닌 출연자이기에 탈락을 바꾸고 내용을 조작할 수 있는 내용이 가능하다는 것이다. 하지만 제작진은 이를 철저히 부인하고 있다.

`발편집 논란` 역시 출연자가 갖고 있는 남다른 권위 때문에 이뤄진 결과라고 할 수 있다. `나는 가수다`를 좋아하는 시청자들은 오디션 프로그램의 재미도 재미지만, 특히 베테랑 가수들의 콘서트 같은 무대를 볼 수 있기 때문인 것이 크다. 그렇기에 공연 내용을 잘라먹는 편집을 용서하지 못한다.

일반인을 관객으로 둔 연예인들의 리얼 서바이벌 프로그램은 분명 야심찬 도전이지만 어려운 과제임이 분명해 보인다. 무엇보다도 현재로서는 철통보안을 위한 장치가 절실한 상태다.

Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now