What's the Korean for Ben Shapiro?

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What's the Korean for Ben Shapiro?

By David Tizzard

Micro-aggressions, trigger warnings, safe spaces and unconscious racist bias training. These fill our prejudice-free echo chambers and social justice warrior-infused safe spaces of social media.

If you don't know what any of those words above mean, congratulations. You are winning at life ― even if that means you are probably not very "woke." But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

You may have also missed the rise of non-mainstream media over the past couple of years: The reason why people now spend their subway journeys submerged in a smartphone screen and not in the latest edition of Caravan Digest.

Joe Rogan's "The Joe Rogan Experience" gets more than 16 million downloads a month, mixing comedy with politics and science, talking with his guest for up to three hours at a time.

Controversy was caused on the show last year when Tesla's Elon Musk took up Joe's offer of a joint and subsequently saw his stock price fall dramatically, wiping tens of millions of dollars off the company's value. Big figures, big guests, big consequences.

But it's not just comedy and pot-smoking entrepreneurs that have locked horns with the mass media. Sam Harris' "Waking Up" podcast attracts a great many listeners too as he explores controversial topics away from Fox and CNN.

From a British perspective, actor Tom Walker has created the fictitious news reporter Johnathan Pie, delivering blistering acerbic rants on Trump, Brexit and everything in between while blurring the lines between reality and production.

And then there is "The Daily Wire." Promoting conservative American viewpoints and opinions, it is funded by petroleum magnates Dan and Farris Wilks and hosted by Ben Shapiro. The loquacious host injects opinion and meme references into his personal take on the American political scene to both fanfare and condemnation in equal measure.

There are of course a million more of varying degrees of quality and success. The broader point being illustrated, however, is that for the past half-decade more and more in the Western world have been turning to alternative media and platforms for their news, entertainment and politics.

And so it is now in Korea. For what was once the "Land of the Morning Calm" may soon become more widely known as "The Land of Putting Rival Politicians on Blast." That is how YouTube videos are meant to be titled now, I think.

While political discussion here was often centered around Kim Eo-jun's daily morning news show on TBS FM ― normally featuring high-level politicians and figures opposing each other on a variety of issues ― now the debate, like elsewhere, has moved away from the mainstream.

Last December, former conservative party leader Hong Joon-pyo launched his own YouTube channel called "Hongka Cola."

Yes, you read that correctly. Much awesome, right?

Hong has gained over 230,000 subscribers to his program thus far as he delivers "refreshing" bite-size opinionated clips, predominantly featuring criticisms of the current Moon administration and the policies being enacted. Some of his remarks concerning previous liberal governments' associations with the DPRK have already proved a source of some controversy.

Despite having stepped away from the main conservative party, Hong is seemingly now testing the water for another possible run in the next presidential election.

However, a wild liberal challenger appears: Rhyu Si-min's "Alileo." Hosted by the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation's YouTube channel, Rhyu's nascent show has already surpassed his conservative challenger in terms of viewing figures.

His first episode featured presidential adviser Moon Chung-in and the video raced to more than 2.4 million views. The channel now has over 550,000 subscribers.

Interestingly, the ruling Democratic Party has stated that social media activities will be a deciding factor for incumbent lawmakers standing in the next general election in 2020.

This is particularly significant as YouTube surprisingly remains the most used mobile app among Koreans, with WiseApp reporting last year that South Koreans spent more than 31.7 billion minutes on YouTube. In comparison, the omnipresent Kakao messenger app only reached 19.7 billion minutes.

If this is to be South Korea's latest political forum, one can only imagine how the comment sections of the videos ― if not the content itself ― will increase in severity over the coming years.

One of the popular appeals of the move away from mainstream media in America has been that it gives people the chance to be more candid. Koreans will have to ensure that they use such freedom appropriately.

It will also be interesting to see whether the channels remain outside the remit of the law. The popular "mokbang" videos on YouTube were subject to government regulation last year because they apparently encouraged binge eating and raised the risk of obesity.

Will any such measures be applied to these new political channels that have arrived, either explicitly or clandestinely?

Will the reach of the government extend beyond the terrestrial broadcasters and into the private users' domain?

Furthermore, I'm interested to know whether any of the debates will extend beyond the current format. One of the main reasons this platform is used in the West is because it allows people to explore issues and talk freely for anywhere between two and three hours without advertisements.

That is, after all, also the length of a standard university lecture. It takes a long time for people to really expand on ideas and thus establish nuanced and detailed positions on complex and difficult issues. Currently in South Korea, however, it seems that there is neither the attention span nor desire for such a format.

Nevertheless, for all the oft empty talk of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that reverberates around university campuses and government think tanks, we are now actually seeing another technological change in the approach to politics here.

So, next election day, don't forget to subscribe, click the "like" button and leave a comment below. Just don't expect to see Hong blazing a phat one for the nation.


David Tizzard (datizzard@swu.ac.kr) is an assistant professor at Seoul Women's University.


By David Tizzard

Micro-aggressions, trigger warnings, safe spaces and unconscious racist bias training. These fill our prejudice-free echo chambers and social justice warrior-infused safe spaces of social media.

If you don't know what any of those words above mean, congratulations. You are winning at life ― even if that means you are probably not very "woke." But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

You may have also missed the rise of non-mainstream media over the past couple of years: The reason why people now spend their subway journeys submerged in a smartphone screen and not in the latest edition of Caravan Digest.

Joe Rogan's "The Joe Rogan Experience" gets more than 16 million downloads a month, mixing comedy with politics and science, talking with his guest for up to three hours at a time.

Controversy was caused on the show last year when Tesla's Elon Musk took up Joe's offer of a joint and subsequently saw his stock price fall dramatically, wiping tens of millions of dollars off the company's value. Big figures, big guests, big consequences.

But it's not just comedy and pot-smoking entrepreneurs that have locked horns with the mass media. Sam Harris' "Waking Up" podcast attracts a great many listeners too as he explores controversial topics away from Fox and CNN.

From a British perspective, actor Tom Walker has created the fictitious news reporter Johnathan Pie, delivering blistering acerbic rants on Trump, Brexit and everything in between while blurring the lines between reality and production.

And then there is "The Daily Wire." Promoting conservative American viewpoints and opinions, it is funded by petroleum magnates Dan and Farris Wilks and hosted by Ben Shapiro. The loquacious host injects opinion and meme references into his personal take on the American political scene to both fanfare and condemnation in equal measure.

There are of course a million more of varying degrees of quality and success. The broader point being illustrated, however, is that for the past half-decade more and more in the Western world have been turning to alternative media and platforms for their news, entertainment and politics.

And so it is now in Korea. For what was once the "Land of the Morning Calm" may soon become more widely known as "The Land of Putting Rival Politicians on Blast." That is how YouTube videos are meant to be titled now, I think.

While political discussion here was often centered around Kim Eo-jun's daily morning news show on TBS FM ― normally featuring high-level politicians and figures opposing each other on a variety of issues ― now the debate, like elsewhere, has moved away from the mainstream.

Last December, former conservative party leader Hong Joon-pyo launched his own YouTube channel called "Hongka Cola."

Yes, you read that correctly. Much awesome, right?

Hong has gained over 230,000 subscribers to his program thus far as he delivers "refreshing" bite-size opinionated clips, predominantly featuring criticisms of the current Moon administration and the policies being enacted. Some of his remarks concerning previous liberal governments' associations with the DPRK have already proved a source of some controversy.

Despite having stepped away from the main conservative party, Hong is seemingly now testing the water for another possible run in the next presidential election.

However, a wild liberal challenger appears: Rhyu Si-min's "Alileo." Hosted by the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation's YouTube channel, Rhyu's nascent show has already surpassed his conservative challenger in terms of viewing figures.

His first episode featured presidential adviser Moon Chung-in and the video raced to more than 2.4 million views. The channel now has over 550,000 subscribers.

Interestingly, the ruling Democratic Party has stated that social media activities will be a deciding factor for incumbent lawmakers standing in the next general election in 2020.

This is particularly significant as YouTube surprisingly remains the most used mobile app among Koreans, with WiseApp reporting last year that South Koreans spent more than 31.7 billion minutes on YouTube. In comparison, the omnipresent Kakao messenger app only reached 19.7 billion minutes.

If this is to be South Korea's latest political forum, one can only imagine how the comment sections of the videos ― if not the content itself ― will increase in severity over the coming years.

One of the popular appeals of the move away from mainstream media in America has been that it gives people the chance to be more candid. Koreans will have to ensure that they use such freedom appropriately.

It will also be interesting to see whether the channels remain outside the remit of the law. The popular "mokbang" videos on YouTube were subject to government regulation last year because they apparently encouraged binge eating and raised the risk of obesity.

Will any such measures be applied to these new political channels that have arrived, either explicitly or clandestinely?

Will the reach of the government extend beyond the terrestrial broadcasters and into the private users' domain?

Furthermore, I'm interested to know whether any of the debates will extend beyond the current format. One of the main reasons this platform is used in the West is because it allows people to explore issues and talk freely for anywhere between two and three hours without advertisements.

That is, after all, also the length of a standard university lecture. It takes a long time for people to really expand on ideas and thus establish nuanced and detailed positions on complex and difficult issues. Currently in South Korea, however, it seems that there is neither the attention span nor desire for such a format.

Nevertheless, for all the oft empty talk of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that reverberates around university campuses and government think tanks, we are now actually seeing another technological change in the approach to politics here.

So, next election day, don't forget to subscribe, click the "like" button and leave a comment below. Just don't expect to see Hong blazing a phat one for the nation.


David Tizzard (datizzard@swu.ac.kr) is an assistant professor at Seoul Women's University.




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