Extra! Korea

May 12, 2011

Restaurants, companies pay for positive reviews & repress negative ones

I’ve explained the concept of “reviews” to my students. I would always add that in foreign countries, reviews are useful because people write both good and bad reviews. In Korea, however, they are not, because every restaurant that is reviewed on TV gets a thumbs up and an enthusiastic “Wahhh! Mashisseoyo!” (“Wow! It’s delicious!”).

I’ve always figured that it was either because the TV station didn’t want to make anyone lose face, or because of Korea’s ridiculous libel laws. (In Korea, you can sue someone for libel even if they tell the verifiable truth. For example, let’s say that Mr. X is a thief who robbed you blind, and you write in your blog, “Watch out for Mr. X. He’s a thief.” Mr. X can successfully sue you for libel, even if you present documents showing that he was convicted for theft and served prison time.)

It turns out that restaurants pay TV companies for positive reviews.

In order to make the documentary [“The True-Taste Show”], Kim [Jae-hwan, a former MBC producer] opened a small restaurant of his own in Ilsan, Gyeonggi, and recorded his attempt to get featured on television shows.

Kim’s restaurant was featured on ‘‘Live Show Today” on SBS earlier this year. In return for that, he had to give 10 million won ($9,090) to a broker and the broadcasting station. It took 9 million won for the restaurant to be featured on another show “Find! Delicious TV” on MBC, and all true-life incidents are described in the film. Kim shut down his restaurant after it was introduced by a couple of shows.

According to the documentary, food shows are no more real than television dramas or comedies. People are hired to sit down and show two thumbs up when asked how the food is.

Remember those ridiculous libel laws that I described above?

Broadcasting stations are considering suing Kim.

Fortunately, Kim is not backing down.

“I’m ready to be sued because I think it’s better to bring this issue to court,” Kim said.

“The True-Taste Show” will be released sometime this month.

Now that is a documentary that I would love to see.


What do you get when you cross a multinational conglomerate with the mafia? Samsung. Just ask Michael Breen if you don’t believe me.

A Mr. Ham bought a Samsung Galaxy 2 smartphone with his own money and, after using it for two weeks, he posted a negative review, “Nine Nasty Flaws of the Galaxy 2,” on his blog, which is hosted by Naver (which itself seems to be a bit of a bully). Samsung demanded that Naver remove the blog post, along with the over 1,400 comments it had received, which it did.

The same fate befell another blogger, Mr. Kim, after he wrote a post entitled “Three reasons why the Motorola Atrix is better than the Galaxy 2.” Ironically, Mr. Kim had been planning to write another post called “Three reasons why the Galaxy 2 is better than the Motorola Atrix.” According to Samsung, looking at two sides of an issue or having balance is unacceptable.

How dare they write negative reviews of Samsung products! Don’t they know that Samsung is Korea’s royal family? Bloody peasants!

An official from one portal site said, “Of the thousands of temporary deletion requests we receive per month claiming defamation, many are from corporations and politicians.”

This indicates a system adopted on the justification of blocking invasions of personal privacy are also used more insidiously as a means for powerful groups to control online opinion.

So what does Samsung have to say for itself?

Regarding this, Samsung Electronics’ public relations office said, “The matter was in many ways a communication failure that arose due to insufficient understanding of the particularities of the Internet at the Galaxy 2’s marketing sector.”

“It’s a misunderstanding. You must understand our special situation.”

There is also debate about the fairness of review marketing. Most review marketing takes place with compensation exchanging hands. The problem is that this is rarely revealed, so the objectiveness of the review is easily lost. Some firms even filter out critical posts from the very beginning by getting prior confirmations. Recently, one mobile phone community was conducting a user review event for the Galaxy 2, with the phone being provided for free or at a discount based on the favorableness of the review.

[ … ]

The Federal Trade Commission of the United States has since December 2009 required bloggers to reveal if they received corporate support or payment when they write product reviews.

October 8, 2010

Incident in Itaewon: One article says two foreigners, others says one

Filed under: crime, expatriates, idiots, media irresponsibility — extrakorea @ 11:31 am

Korea Beat has translated a Korean-language articles that says:

Controversy is spreading after a video showing two young foreigners assaulting a white-haired elderly man began spreading on the internet.

(Emphasis mine.)

The entire article repeatedly states that there were two foreigners involved:

The 1:43 video … two foreigners … The two foreigners … they … the foreign men …

This seems to be the same incident described in other articles (which were translated at the Marmot’s Hole) which clearly stated that there was only one foreigner.

So which account was correct? If you watch the video (below), you can see for yourself that there was only one assailant. Clearly, the people at cbs.co.kr are a bunch of morons. Or too lazy to even watch the video footage in question. Or too stupid and lazy to watch said footage.

(Caution: Video contains foul language and violence against the elderly.)

September 15, 2010

Kang Shin-who is at it again

Filed under: (lack of) journalistic integrity, idiots, media irresponsibility — extrakorea @ 5:41 am

You know him. You love him. (Well, maybe not.) He’s the two-time Journalist of the Month, Kang Shin-who, and you’ll never guess whom he’s trained his cross-hairs on this time. Go on, guess. Foreign teachers! I bet you never saw that coming, since he’s never done that before.

The government has made efforts to set up more foreign schools as a means to create an environment friendly to foreign investors. However, these schools?accounting [sic] and other operations have not been supervised by the authorities.

Actually, the article does bring up some points that are valid discussion topics. For example:

“Teaching without a license could be problematic, but we cannot intervene in the matter as it should be handled by the education ministry,” said an immigration official.

“We, as a law enforcement agency, are just checking drug and criminal records of teachers.”

At the same time, experts say the turnover rate for teachers is very high compared to those of Singapore and other nations. In the case of Singapore, many teachers at international schools stay for more than 10 years on average, but it comes down to two to five years for teachers at foreign schools here.

However, there are just a few problems with the article.

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, so we don’t know if the information is accurate.  He has been outright wrong with his facts before.

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, so we don’t know if the quotes are accurate.  If the quotes are not to his liking, he’ll just make them up.

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, a member of the hate group Anti-English Spectrum.  He claims that he became a registered member only for the purpose of gathering information. I’m sure that we can trust that 100%.

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, who, in the past, has both used his own, personal definitions of “unqualified” as well as shifted from the term “unqualified” to “ineligible” to “inadequate” so as to make sure that the umbrella term is large enough to put whomever you want under it.

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, who in the past has conflated two different, unrelated topics (e.g. “unqualified” teachers and sex crimes against minors; “unqualified” teachers and consensual sex between Koreans and foreigners).

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, and so some people will, after seeing the author’s name, not want to read it.

June 19, 2010

Kang Shin-who reports 3-month-old news about Kim Yu-na’s Fs

Filed under: education, media irresponsibility, sports — extrakorea @ 12:28 pm

Reporter Kang Shin-who, a favorite of Brian and other expatriates, does a write-up on how champion figure skater Kim Yu-na received two failing grades from Korea University. Hmmm … that sounds familiar.

(from the Korea Herald)

May 16, 2010

Even the Joongang Daily needs proofreaders

Filed under: health, media irresponsibility — extrakorea @ 3:04 am

Everyone knows that the Korea Times has descended into a parody of a serious newspaper, with articles about man-boobs and alien graveyards. (Why Michael Breen continues to write for them is perplexing.) Unfortunately, it looks like the Joongang Daily is also in need of proofreaders, as evidenced by this article, “A little too much iron in Special K, Corn Frosts.”

“Corn Frosts”? Don’t they mean “Frosted Flakes“? A major newspaper shouldn’t be reprinting Konglish in their headlines, even if said Konglish is commonplace.

Still, speaking of food safety, the Korea Food and Drug Administration plans to label food as either “red,” “yellow,” or “green.” Based upon the colours of traffic lights, this is intended to tell children which foods are good for their health (green) and which are not (red).

“By clearly showing to the children what nutrients the foods they eat contain, the system will help them better manage their eating patterns. It will be used for nutrition education,” Park Hye-kyung, director of the nutrition policy division at the KFDA, told The Korea Herald.

[ snip ]

According to the plan, a red traffic light label is to be attached to a snack if one serving contains more than 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat or 17 grams of sugar.

If a meal contains more than 12 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat or 600 miligrams of sodium per serving, it will also get a red label.

The KFDA found based on its simulation tests that at least 74 percent of chocolate products, 58 percent of ice cream products and 42 percent of bread would be labeled with a red traffic light under the new plan.

It also found that some 76 percent of hamburgers and sandwiches would receive red light labels.

August 20, 2009

Journalist’s writing proof of no knowledge about teaching. What a surprise

Filed under: education, idiots, media irresponsibility — extrakorea @ 1:44 pm

In today’s Korea Times is an article about some of the foreign English teachers who were hired by EPIK (English Program In Korea) and have just arrived in Korea. In the text is proof that the writer has no clue about teaching.

Unlike in private English-teaching institutions, teachers at EPIK are not required to stick to a rigid curriculum, but must work in a more proactive setting and provide ideas.

Teachers in hogwons (private institutes) have to stick to a rigid curriculum?! Bwa ha ha ha ha!* And by the way, what’s wrong with having a curriculum and sticking to it? Many people, including a lot of so-called “teachers” seem to think that the only purpose of a curriculum is to be an unnecessary inconvenience. They are, among other things, to help plan lessons, prepare students, and have teachers be accountable.

* I refuse to use the irredeemably idiotic “Lol.”

July 14, 2009

Canadian wins $160,000 at casino. “Poker crime ring” members tearing their hair out

Filed under: crime, media irresponsibility — extrakorea @ 4:26 am

According to the Korea Herald and Times, a young Canadian man has won 190 million won (about $160,000) at the Seven Luck casino.

The foreigners who were arrested for playing poker at home and labeled “a gambling crime ring” by the Korean media must be tearing their hair out.

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