After the broadcasting of Infinite Girls from 2007 to 2013, famous women comedians Song Eun-ee and Kim Suk did not have any notable activities on television. Crowded out from the screen, Kim and Song began investigating other methods to communicate with audiences. Over the last few months, their podcast shows and other activities on numerous media platforms have gained huge success among viewers. Their accomplishments serve as a symbol of hope for many female comedians and content creators all over the country.
“Ask the producers why I am not appearing on TV,” Song said pleadingly during an interview. Her words indicated that will had nothing to do with her onscreen absence; it was the absence of producers who wanted to cast her for a new program that had pulled her away from the cameras. Kim was facing similar hardships, having been discharged from a show without any reasonable explanation. For her discouraged friend and co-worker, Song proposed to continue their activities through podcasts. Kim accepted the proposal and opened the gate to new and different opportunities.
On April 2015, Kim and Song’s first podcast show Secret Guaranteed, or Bi-mil Bojang in Korean, was launched. Their honest language and familiar, comforting dispositions soon gained a large following among the public, and Secret Guaranteed continues to rank at the top among numerous podcast programs. Furthermore, their popularity has gotten producers to come calling again, landing Kim a place in JTBC’s With You-Season II.
▲ Kim and Song’s podcast show Secret Guaranteed. Provided by Vivo TV
Their podcast triumph continued through programs such as Sister’s Radio, or Kim Saeng-Min’s Receipt. Those even advanced into national TV, allowing Kim and Song to once again visit audiences through the TV screen. Their active appearance is fueling hopes for increased appearances of female comedians, as well as more activity in diverse media platforms such as YouTube, podcasts and social network services (SNS).
Time to Bring Back the Ladies
Between 2000 and 2010, female comedians were relatively active in television. Comedians like Park Mi-Sun and Lee YoungJa made audiences laugh with unique, fresh comedy routines or hosted a show as skillfully as their male counterparts. Programs like Chungchun Bul Pae, which gained significant popularity and recognition in the mid 2000s, featured many female characters.
As time passed, “survival and challenge programs,” which required intense physical activities, became popular, naturally forcing female comedians off of the screen. In an interview with Kyunghyang Shinmun, culture critic Son Hee-Jung confirmed that, “after the 2000s, survival reality programs involving small units of people gathering to solve missions gained popularity.” She added that after this male domination, most of the programs continued to showcase talents geared toward male comedians. Furthermore, the rise of programs featuring male celebrities taking care of their children like Superman has Returned further isolated female celebrities. However, Son stated that the trend is changing and that compared to “TV comedies five years ago, the public’s attitude towards comedy has changed as well.”
It is true that Kim and Song’s media content do not directly feature feminist issues. However, their activities have indeed given numerous chances for female comedians to continue their careers. For example, Celeb-Five, a comedian girl group made of Song Eun-ee and four other female comedians, has been an instant hit in the current Korean music market. What started as a mere idea could become a reality due to Song’s popularity and her basis as a content creator through her podcast. The project made progress through one of her podcast channels, Opening up the Platform, and gained instant recognition and even an appearance on TV. A larger presence of female comedians on TV indeed gives room for their colleagues’ talents to shine; Kim and Song’s success are important cornerstones in the media, explaining why Kim and Song’s success is so symbolic for current Korean television.
▲ Celeb-five. Provided by Sports Chosun
New Media, New Hope for Creativity
Along with the hope that the duo's success will impart to female comedians greater opportunities, their success story through their podcast programs was also a sensation for numerous different content creators. Currently a many celebrities are working through YouTube, podcasts, and social media to communicate and gain recognition. Amber from F(x), Lee Su-Hyeon from Akdong Musician, comedian Kang You-Mi, and many more are each making videos showing their daily lifestyles and interests, hoping to interact with viewers more closely during their career.
A similar trend is appearing between noncelebrities as well. Countless streamers and YouTubers are now using their talents to create diverse videos apt for various purposes. People who want to learn how to apply makeup go to YouTube and search for the top beauty YouTubers in Korea. Others who want to learn about politics or foreign languages use podcast channels, and some just want to chat with famous streamers through Afreeca TV.
Compared to previous years, new media platforms have been diversified and popularized and one can only guess how many more platforms will be created. Even management companies for content creators have been created to lead the new trend. Three Pines Entertainment and Media or Samsong E&M, is a new type of a management agency for content creators. The companies use their infrastructure to provide different content creators a helpful environment to showcase their talents and to lead the quickly changing new media market.
The amount of creators and media content is increasing day by day, and as time passes, types of media platforms will diversify accordingly. culture critic Jung Duk-Hyun stated, “Considering the current change in the media sector, there is no doubt that new media such as SNS will become the main platform in the future. Therefore, rather than focusing on traditional media, attacking new media as a way to continue their career like Kim and Song, may have more potential.” However, Jung also showed his concern towards potential stereotypes the public may hold for content creators, adding that “criticizing those who don’t have significant presence on mainstream media by saying that they ‘did not try hard enough to search for pathways for success’ should not be the attitude the public should hold.”
About the concern that an overwhelming increase of media content through diversified platforms may lead to unsatisfactory quality, Jung stated that diversification of content shall actually guarantee its quality. He explained that “selective consumption will become the new culture” and predicted that “curation, an act of allocating and delivering different contents according to their purposes, will eventually gain significant importance.” In the end, he said that people will be able to freely choose and consume content they desire from the sub-specialized media platform.
Media trends change quickly; trends of 2017 may not be identical to those of 2018. Kim and Song successfully decorated their career in 2017 and 2018, but it may be different in the years to come. However, their return to glory will certainly open up many chances for development and change for the media sector. The public is now looking forward to diversification of new media platforms and increased appearances of female comedians on media.