Politicians show ‘softer side’ on reality shows, paving way for comeback

By Im Eun-byel
  • Published : Oct 10, 2018 - 16:57
  • Updated : Oct 10, 2018 - 16:57

When thinking of politicians on the small screen, images of fiery verbal showdowns in black suits come immediately to mind. But imagine a man with uncombed hair who has just woken up. In his pajamas, vacant-mindedly making breakfast for his wife.

Former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, returning from a seven-year hiatus from the public eye, stars on TV Chosun reality show “Flavor of Wife.” He and his wife are special guests of the show for October. 

Screenshot of former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon with his wife on TV Chosun reality show “Flavor of Wife” (TV Chosun)

Through the popular reality show, Oh shares his everyday life: how he gets along with his son-in-law and takes care of his 1-year-old grandson. He also does not forget to show off his cooking skills.

Oh is just one of several politicians making their way to the entertainment scene via TV. The trend is not really new, as many have appeared on TV talk shows in recent years.

Software multimillionaire-turned-politician Ahn Cheol-soo appeared as a guest on MBC hit show “Knee Drop Guru” in 2009. Before the 2012 presidential campaign, the then-candidates appeared on SBS talk show “Healing Camp.”

Openly discussing their private lives on the shows, the figures shared their political views, thoughts and visions with the viewers, while also showing their wit and sense of humor.

However, there has been a slight shift in the trend of politicians on TV. They are now rushing into a more dynamic, viewer-engaging format: reality shows.

Such a change may be natural, as political figures seek ways to relate with a larger, younger public, who are thought to have little interest in politics.

Kim Han-gil, a former lawmaker, is currently featured on tvN reality show “Apart Together,” along with his wife and veteran actress Choi Myoung-kil. The new show aired its first episode Sunday. 

Kim Han-gil and his wife, actress Choi Myoung-kil, pose for photos at a press event held to promote tvN reality show “Apart Together” on Oct. 1. (tvN)

In the show, Kim and Choi travel with three other married celebrity couples. While traveling, the men and women enjoy the trip separately, showing off the differences between the husbands and wives.

“When I say something as a politician, I speak assuming that half of my listeners will have different opinions,” Kim said in a press conference for the TV series held earlier this month.

“There is our side and the other side, and I win if I win over a half of the voters in an election,” Kim said. “But TV entertainment is different. I cannot give up the other half, but should win over the hearts of everyone. This is very different from politics.”

Kim and Oh, who are both major figures in the political scene currently although without official posts, are preparing to return to politics.

The strategy was proven useful for 2017 presidential primary candidate Lee Jae-myung, who appeared for a full season on SBS reality show “Same Bed, Different Dreams.” 

Screenshot of Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung and his wife on SBS’ “Same Bed, Different Dreams” (SBS)

Cameras installed at his home showed Lee to be a humble family man. He succeeded in an image makeover, from a radical politician to a sweet husband who greatly cares for his wife.

Lee, who was elected governor of Gyeonggi Province in June, has since been mired in an alleged adultery scandal involving actress Kim Boo-sun.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)