This is the 14th in a series highlighting women and their accomplishments in the various facets of the Korean entertainment industry. ―Ed.
Mnet show writer Kyung Hyun-ju has been in the game for a while. In her 13 years as a writer, she’s spent the last 10 at Mnet ― a place she says allowed her to grow as a writer.
The first show she wrote for at the cable channel was a blind date program, which ended up running for four seasons. After just three, Mnet made her a main writer, something unheard of for a beginner.
“The reason why I stuck with Mnet so long is because they let me grow up. They taught me,” she said.
Success has continued to follow her, though Kyung is quick to say she’s just a normal person working her way up. She is currently the head writer for popular hip-hop audition program “Show Me the Money,” which premiered in June and will broadcast its final episode next week.
Getting to know people on a personal level is the part of the job she enjoys the most.
“I get to hear about people’s lives … I try to observe the people who are on the show and I try to get personal with them,” she said.
In previous shows, she worked with celebrities and only had to focus on making them look good, she said. But with “Show Me the Money,” it was more about showing the emotions of the competitors.
At times this has caused conflicts. She said people often say the producers and writers who work on “Show Me the Money” don’t know much about hip-hop, which she admits is true.
“We started learning about hip-hop in season one. So rappers wanted to keep their own colors. But ‘Show Me the Money’ people, we know what works with the viewers. So there was conflict,” she said.
|Mnet writer Kyung Hyun-ju on set for “Show Me the Money 3.” (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)|
Where once she would try to argue over the rappers, she said now she just listens.
“Rappers are fun. They talk about themselves a lot. Usually people don’t talk about themselves that much, but I think it’s a cool thing to do. After all, it’s not about the program, it’s about the people. That’s why I’m pulled towards writing for shows like this.”
She said working as a show writer has also brought her out of her shell. She was very introverted and easily influenced by others. But since becoming a writer, she has become outgoing, confident and can talk about herself more.
“Finding myself like that was a fun experience. I’m an introvert usually, but when I go to work, ot the stage I’m the busiest one. And my family can’t believe I’m writing that show,” she said, adding that they still watch for her name in the credits as proof.
It’s her first audition show and currently the only show she writes, even though most writers work on two or three at a time. However, even with one show, Kyung says she still has a full schedule, joking that since they started planning season three in late January, she’s been working 24 hours a day.
She said planning and writing takes much longer than actually filming the show, but the most important thing is to make sure that everything goes as planned.
“The hard thing about doing an audition show is that it’s a survival show and the people have to rank them (the contestants). And I have to rank them. So the people on the show are edgier because of that,” she said.
Kyung said that with any show comes a certain pressure when a new season starts, especially if the previous season was successful. There is a lot of mental stress and she confessed that with each show, she always thinks she won’t do the next season.
When things go well, she said she feels she should just stop right there ― leave the stage while the audience is still clapping. At the same time, she worries she might regret it.
“Up until season three, it was because of my loyalty to ‘Show Me the Money.’ This time, I kept thinking that this season would be my last one, so I did my best,” she said, continuing a second later with a laugh, “But then I might just do season four.”
With “Show Me the Money” winding down, Kyung plans to take a well-deserved break before deciding what to work on. Kyung said she has five different offers on shows, but she is holding off on everything to rest.
“As a writer, my dream is not to do a big show. I just want to do my best at what I can do,” she said.
By Emma Kalka (email@example.com)