S Korean TV station takes flak for reality show suicide


A top South Korean television station faced a storm of media criticism on Thursday following the shock suicide of a female contestant on its popular reality matchmaking show.

The contestant on "Jjak" (The Mate) -- a show aired on SBS, one of the South's top three TV stations -- was found dead Wednesday during a week-long production shoot at a guesthouse in the southern island of Jeju.

The 29-year-old, surnamed Chun, appeared to have hanged herself with a hair dryer cord, police said, adding she left a note saying she didn't want to live anymore.

The weekly show puts about 10 men and women in the same guesthouse, dubbed "Lovetown", for a week while they are filmed by TV crew and surveillance cameras.

The participants, clad in matching uniforms, are put through various physical challenges in hopes of getting a date out of one of their fellow contestants, before making a final choice at the end of the week.

Since its debut in 2011, the show has made a name for putting participants through the emotional wringer, forcing them to eat alone outside when rejected by the date of their choice.

"The Lovetown ends in tragedy," ran the headline in the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper, which interviewed past participants who spoke of feeling bullied and humiliated.

Chun's mother told the JoongAng Ilbo daily interviewed Chun's mother that her daughter, in their last phone conversation, had said she would not be able to live in South Korea if the show was aired.

Friends quoted by the newspaper said Chun had also complained the producers were trying to depict her as an unpopular, "tragic girl".

Seoul's top daily, the Chosun Ilbo, highlighted text messages Chun had exchanged with friends saying the producers had shot "too many scenes of me being alone... to highlight matched couples".

SBS cancelled the scheduled screening of the show on Wednesday and issued an apology to viewers and Chun's family, but did not accept any direct responsibility for her suicide.

South Korea's vibrant and highly competitive TV industry has no shortage of reality shows involving everything from singing auditions to plastic surgery.

In "Let Me In," one of the most popular shows, two female contestants tearfully compete for a chance to get costly, head-to-toe plastic surgery.

South Korea has the highest suicide rate among members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, with an average of 33.5 people per 100,000 taking their lives in 2010.

The figure equates to nearly 50 suicides a day.

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Sounds like an absolute "must watch" for me. Definitely not.

Great pity for the girl. Great disdain for those who create and watch such spectacles. Great concern for a society that chooses to criticize others while watching 50 of its citizens commit suicide each day.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Kind of an emotionally sick show.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

While the TV station is drawing flak, it's only reflective of the society trends. And this girl chose to be on this show knowing what she could gain and lose. I pity her that she went on it despite knowing, but didn't have the courage to live with that choice.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

the article states that the show is famous for putting contestants through an "emtional wringer" and humiliating them. so she knew this could happen to her, but she went on anyways. sorry, but if you're emotionally fragile and you put yourself in a situation where you can be abused, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

And that's why reality shows should be taken off the schedules. Their sole purpose is to humiliate contestants for the braying masses, no matter what country they are shown in... but these ones in the article sound particularly bad. I mean to humiliate a contestant to the point where she commits suicide? Come on, that's just sick. Execs are clearly devoid of any kind of moral compass.

RIP poor girl.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Very unpleasant. It seems some people get off on watching others humiliated. Hope this makes more people realise that this kind if TV is both dangerous and stupid.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A top South Korean television station faced a storm of media criticism on Thursday following the shock suicide of a female contestant on its popular reality matchmaking show.

As terribly shocking and sad as this story is, I was even more shocked as I misread this to mean the suicide actually took place on the show.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I mean to humiliate a contestant to the point where she commits suicide?

Give us a break. There is no particular point where any human will commit suicide and it was obvious that they had reached it. Lots of people commit suicide based on the actions or words of others, while those others have not done anything that does not happen everyday to lots of people who don't off themselves.

I hate all "reality" TV shows because a great lot of it does seem to be enjoyment of the real pain and humiliation of others, and that is why I despise them. I hate sharing this planet with the sort of people who get off on that psychological gore.

But lets not act like every single person involved or spectating should not know what is going on by now. Maybe some don't, but about the best that can be done is to start each show with a fat disclaimer that producers are maneuvering and manipulating the people in the show to get results that garner ratings. Its not real at all.

I feel sorry for this poor young woman, but I have a strong suspicion a million things could have set her on the same path. Its not like there has been a rash of "reality" TV suicides.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The recent increase in suicides in general in this country is a worrying trend.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is why it's sometimes a good thing they're so fake.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

TV is just getting weird the whole world over.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Now if the producers and director(s) were place on trail for murder, that may be a show to watch.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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