First, it was allegations that a contestant had solicited prostitution, followed by accusations of bullying by another. The latest? An innocent yet cringe-inducing production gaffe was aired last week that should embarrass Mnet and its parent company CJ E&M, a South Korean entertainment behemoth and self-professed evangelist of K-pop overseas.
On Feb. 3, the show aired the finals for Seoul’s eastern Gangdong district, where contestants fought to survive by finishing in the top two. Contestants Bang Jae-min, Lee Jee-eun and Park Eo-jin duked it out in a three-way match.
As normal in such audition shows, “High School Rapper” displays lyrics on screen. It could be argued that the necessity is greater, given that much of hip-hop lingo, even in Korea, is in English.
|(`High School Rapper``s Instagram)|
This was clearly caused by a lack of English proficiency among those who run the show, as Lee actually said “rapping,” as opposed to raping, an act of sexual violence.
“Due to the busy production schedule, there were parts that were overlooked prior to airing. It was a clear mistake and we apologize,” the production team at Mnet told Yonhap News Agency.
They also explained that in the rerun and online edit, the mistake has been corrected.
As aforementioned, the show has had its share of controversies since the beginning. Following its premiere on Feb. 10, the show became mired in controversy over allegations that contestant Chang Yong-joon had attempted to solicit prostitution in the past through Twitter.
Producers of the show then issued a statement that Chang “deeply regrets his immature actions from his younger days.” Chang, who happens to be the son of Bareun Party Rep. Chang Je-won, dropped out from the show.
Later rumors surfaced on the internet that contestant Yang Hong-won had engaged in serial bullying in the past. Yang also later apologized but stayed on the show.
Last week’s typo raises questions on Mnet and CJ’s reputation as leading Hallyu advocates.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Lim So-jung, a university student in Seoul, who said she watched the episode through CJ E&M’s on-demand streaming app TVing.
“It was just disappointing that the production team would let such mistake, which makes a big difference, slip through,” Lim said.
Oh Gyoo-yeol, a 39-year-old company worker in Seoul, also said he was flabbergasted by such a strange gaffe by a big company.
“As the country’s leading entertainment company, Mnet, and ultimately CJ E&M, in many ways represents the South Korean entertainment industry. It was kind of funny and at the same time sad that such a big company would make a mistake like that.”
Or perhaps it is a sign of a greater systematic issue within Mnet. Last December’s live broadcast of the Mnet Asian Music Awards, the network’s annual flagship show that has been staged in Hong Kong for the past few years, was also marred by several on-screen English typos and text blunders.
Jeon Seong-deok, director at the Korea Brand Marketing Association, stressed the importance of maintaining a consistent level of quality, especially for media companies that seek to expand its overseas business.
“It’s important to consult and receive help from related experts beforehand so as to maintain the (channel’s) brand reputation and not damage it,” Jeon said. (Yonhap)