News
 International
 National
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Business
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Taekwondo
 Media
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Life
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Housing
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 Job
 English Teaching
 Translation/Writing
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Business
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Entertainment
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Community
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 PenPal/Friendship
 Volunteers
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  National
Op-Ed Special
Revamp Media’s Perspective of Foreigners
By Benson Kamary
Associate Editor & Writer
Foreigners dancing on street in Seoul

I have lived in Korea for seven years now. Despite firsthand experience and research on media and education, I still do not claim to be an expert in Korean media culture. No doubt that media are powerful tools that orient us to reality particularly in societies like Korea where media are a near ubiquitous. The significance of new media in contemporary Korea lies in its proximity; smartphones have become our closest consultants. In the words of Marshall McLuhan four decades ago that “the media work us over completely” couldn’t be truer today. McLuhan is considered the father of modern communications.

It is also common knowledge that media largely influence our choices: what we buy, what we eat, how we dress and sometimes invokes our thinking on topical issues. Beyond the traditional functions of media to inform, educate, persuade, entertain and set agenda for deliberations, media too form deep-seating cultural perspectives or worldviews. In fact, McLuhan asserted that all media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values. His claim that media are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, or unaltered is quite evident in modern life.

In the recent days, there has been a series of publications focusing on multicultural aspect of the Korean society. Some discussions have dealt with multicultural families, immigrant workers and mixed-race children. Fair enough, over the years Korean TV dramas such as “Golden Bride,” “Wandeuki,” “Banga Banga,” “Ojakgyo Brothers,” among others have involved foreigners, and significantly, though in varying intensities, depicted key multicultural issues. These initiatives are fantastic though I always anticipate that they transcend entertainment scenes. Importantly, some interpretations in media necessitate reformation for they often raise eyebrows due to distorted images and unnecessary stereotyping.

News about foreigners, particularly from the developing world, habitually cover stories involving a legal tussle, domestic violence or minorities as victims of some sort. It is also common to see news about foreign minorities receiving goodwill from generous Korean individuals or companies. While hospitality is by all means much appreciated, emphasis on these perspectives can potentially reinforce a misconception that foreigners are underprivileged or deeply in need. Some TV documentaries have occasionally presented one-sided stories of poverty, conflicts or tribal communities from especially the developing countries. These too reinforce ‘reductionist’ views.

Thus, the media, in their effort to encourage positive multiculturalism, may directly or indirectly disseminate images that do more harm than good to the very desire for culturally diverse society.

Depictions of minority foreigners as ill-informed, severely needy, or dirty, fail to promote the cultural diversity that the very existence of foreigners conveys to the Korean society. In some instances, foreigners have been subjected to excessive expectations of one-way “total assimilation” of the local culture. Some have been frowned upon for their critique of certain aspects of Korean culture even when the criticism is done constructively.

Through a balanced coverage, media can meaningfully help the society to understand that foreign minority do contribute to Korean socio-economic framework. It will also be helpful if media content producers would seek opinion of those they intend to characterize. Two offending advertisements by Korean companies which were recently pulled out of the market could illustrate a distorted view about other cultures.

C.S. Lewis, a profound thinker and prolific writer once argued that every culture has its own blind spots, its own viewpoint and from that bearing, it superficially perceives certain truths especially predisposed to make certain blunders.

Korean society can be a beautiful multicultural mosaic and I am optimistic that media images can prudently offer positive contribution. Without bearing in mind the feelings of the minorities they typify, the media may end up inhabiting a tiny universe that will choke the otherwise prospective multicultural dream.

The writer is a professor in the Department of Education at Kosin University, Busan, and a consultant in media and culture. He can be reached at bkamary@yahoo.com



Related Articles
    Welcome to Africa Madam President!
    My Take on “Hell Joseon” Narrative
    Kenya Community Holds Historical Retreat in ...
    World Education Forum Could Enrich ...
    Terrorists Came to Maim Kenyans But Instead ...
    Madam President, Please Don’t Snub Africa
    Big Task Awaits New African Union Leader
    Korean Air's Apology Timely
    World Bank Presidency and Moral Aspiration
    College Entry Exams and Inconsolable Desire
    World Should Back Kenya’s Mission in Somalia
    South Korean Experience Inspires Foreigners to ...
    S. Korea Can Still Attract More Foreign ...
    Wangari Maathai: Audacious Woman of Her Time
    Zambia: Slow But Sure, New Sunrise Goes Up
    Nairobi Fire Tragedy: A Call for Urgent Safety ...
    IAAF False Start Rule Rips Athletes of Their ...
    Record Holder David Rudisha Gives Kenya a Gold ...
    Kenyans Make History in Marathon Sweep
    Kenyans Awed by Daegu Ahead of IAAF World ...


Benson Kamary, professor of Tongmyong University in Pusan, serves as an Associate Editor & Writer for The Seoul Times. Based in Busan, South Korea, the Kenyan professor also serves as chairman of Kenya Community in Korea (KCK). He can be reached at bkamary@yahoo.com

 

back

 

 

 

The Seoul Times Shinheungro 25-gil 2-6 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 82-10-6606-6188 Email:seoultimes@gmail.com
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange