WHY ARE CLEAVAGES A NO-NO! BUT MINISKIRTS ARE OK?
What’s too “racy” or “revealing,” according to your own standards? If you come from the West, the Korean notion is strikingly different from that of the West. In Korea, showing legs is okay, and recently, haeuishiljong fashion 하의실종 패션 (“missing-pants fashion,” or the “full-Donald”) was all the rage among girls in Korea, and no one batted an eye. However, Korean girls are more conservative with their upper body, and clothes that reveal too much cleavage are considered too “racy,” which is pretty much the opposite in the West. Some foreign fashion brands said they received a request to raise the V-neck line to cater to the needs of the Korean female consumers.
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WHY ARE GUNS/KNIVES/TATTOOS BLURRED ON TV?
The rules set by Korea Communications Standards Commission prohibits but allows the following only if absolutely necessary for plot development.
Graphic depiction of : Beheading/decapitation and dismemberment / Scenes of brutal killing or direct physical damage using firearms, knives, and other murder tools / Mutilated body/body parts
Also blurred are smoking scenes, because the rules stipulate that: Broadcasting shall endeavor to create a sound civic spirit and lifestyle, and shall be careful when dealing with matters such as lewdness, decadence, drugs, drinking, smoking, superstition, gambling, profligacy, and etc.
As for tattoos, there are no rules that outright prohibit them from being displayed on TV, but TV stations voluntarily blur them out because it could still be under a related rule which stipulates: “Juvenile Viewing Protection Time Zone” should consider the emotional development of the audience.
Will it stay this way forever? Many doubt it. In the past, dyed hair of idol singers was prohibited to a degree where they had to hide their colorful hair with bandanas or hats, but the restrictions are long gone. On top of that, modern viewers complain that the current restrictions prevent them from fully appreciating the story.
THEN WHY ARE BRANDS/LOGOS BLURRED?
On the other hand, brands and logos are blurred and masked despite posing no potential threat/harm to the viewers. The reason they are hidden from viewing is due to business contracts with the program sponsors. The producers pay careful attention to prevent displaying the brands inadvertently other than those under contract. In some TV shows, you can see product-placement marketing (more widely referred to as “PPL” in Korea) in action, such as certain drink bottles placed on the table in front of the talk show panelists.
WHY DO KOREAN TV SHOWS HAVE SUBTITLES?
“Bam!” “Whack!” “LOL!” “You gotta be kidding!” Doesn’t watching Korean variety TV shows, full of speech/thought bubbles and subtitles, feel like reading a comic book? First used in Japanese variety TV shows for added fun, a Korean producer introduced the system to the Korean viewers in the 1990s. At the beginning, it wasn’t received well by the Korean viewers, but it’s now an essential part of Korean variety shows. Not only does it provide relevant information like the names of the guests to the show, it also serves as a guide for the viewers to keep up with the plot development, in case it goes unnoticed. What makes it more interesting is that different shows have different flavors, depending on the styles of the show screenwriter. Muhandojeon 무한도전 (Infinity Challenge, MBC, 2005) is one of the shows that attracted a huge fan base thanks to the witty subtitles.