Korean tv isn’t any better than tv anywhere else. Ads are just as mad or bad, game shows are as awful or as good, and soaps are soaps. But there was one difference: last night we watched the latter part of The Lion in Winter, with Glenn Close and Patrick Stewart. (It’s very well done, by the way, and Close is brilliant in an excellent role.) At one point there was an ad break, an ad break to end all ad breaks. It took the form of an infomercial, but don’t ask me what they were selling. There were two utterly enthusiastic presenters, as well as other bodies, and occasional ‘dramatised’ scenes. There was a great deal of banging and crashing of numbers on the screen, and little bell noises as numbers came up. Apparently whatever they were selling was only going to cost 21,000 won.
All this would have been okay if it had been presented once, but it was presented for some eight minutes. It wasn’t just the same thing repeated exactly, but the same material was shuffled and reshuffled until it all became terribly familiar - and mind-bogglingly awful.
On the other hand, this afternoon there’s been a children’s language program on - teaching English to Koreans, and doing it very well.