A flood of YouTube content
The author is a deputy editor of the industry team of the JoongAng Ilbo.
I am sorry but I didn’t feel like laughing. In fact, I felt heavy-hearted as I watched the video on Gangwon Provincial Office’s YouTube channel.
The channel administrator posted a video titled “Apology from Gangwon Provincial Office’s YouTube channel administrator.” I thought the provincial office was in trouble and clicked, only to find that the administrator was sorry that the channel had only 10,000 subscribers. Two officials celebrated 10,000 subscribers by going around the office in jerseys and demonstrating aerobic exercise moves.
The video was so absurd that it led to nearly 800,000 views in a month. It is the biggest hit on the Gangwon office’s YouTube channel. The video borrows from the typical apology scenes from controversial YouTubers, combining it with B-rated sentiment. The creators seem to be encouraged by the result and are using various online memes in follow-up videos.
I cannot laugh off these harmless efforts because I can feel how the officials are struggling to make a living. Local government officials have no reason to care about YouTube views. But views mean successful PR, so they are struggling to get attention.
The Gangwon Provincial Office channel is not the only one. Many local governments, government agencies and public agencies have PR channels and show similar patterns. They start channels and diligently update the channels run by civil servants. Some obsess over popularity and become controversial for excessive content.
They mostly have little or no budget allocated, so commonly, the youngest, and therefore the weakest, staff in each organization complete the task. They are pressured to create fresh content that can capture attention as long as they don’t cause trouble. In the end, they mostly present products that are a waste of time and efforts.
Of course, any content can be created if it has a clear purpose. It’s okay if they don’t get many views. If they have a clear message, the least meaning of existence can be secured. But regrettably, there are only a handful of channels by civil servants with basic blueprints that have a clear purpose for production, provide useful information and have clear targets. Removing the absolute majority of them would be better for petitioners and civil servants.