(This post is part of the “Looking Past Korea” series which is a run down of all things I think are superficially important, culturally important, and things foreigners think are important but I think are pretty over rated)
Superficiality: Music videos acting as blatant advertisements
Why it happens:
Money. Remember that episode of Entourage where Vince got paid 100,000 dollars to be in a Japanese commercial? Same thing applies in Korea.
Additionally, the government has made it illegal to pitch a celebrity’s product on talk shows. No Oprah giving out free gifts or pushing books with her monthly book club. No celebrity’s going on the talk show circuit and “mentioning” they had a stereo system installed by so and so. Paris Hilton, a known spokesperson came to Korea, did a talk show, and was not able to talk about her product line.
What it tells us about Korea:
Opposed to American entertainment which questions artists or actors’ credibility when they sell out and do a commercial, Korea is all about selling out. Nobody really has any artistic integrity anyway, and if they do a stupid commercial won’t change that. A cell phone commercial means that you’ve made it.
Korean commercials are more about style. As opposed to a movie, which is ostensibly about the directors and writers finding stars that they can mold to fit their stylistic vision, Korean commercials are where a celebrity as brand name begins and ends.
One of my favorite examples. Min Hyorin – Touch me (coincidentally, the slogan of the cell phone in the video)