|A poster of reality show "Salt Tour." / Courtesy of CJ ENM|
By Kang Aa-young
Cable channel tvN's reality travel show "Salt Tour" has been heavily penalized by the communications watchdog for gender insensitivity.
The Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) discussed the scene in question from the program, aired on Aug. 18, during its official meeting in Seoul, Monday.
In the episode, singer Seungri from five-member K-pop group BIGBANG joined the main cast as a guest member during their trip to Xiamen, China. Seungri asked the other guest, Sejeong of eight-member K-pop girl group Gugudan, to pick a favorite among the five male cast members and pour a drink for him and the broadcaster aired the scene without editing it.
"There are five guys here right now. Forget about their status and popularity. Simply consider their personalities and style," Seungri said. He then got the five guys to empty their glasses for Sejeong to pour a drink for "the person she favors." Though Sejeong was flustered and seemed uncomfortable, she ended up pouring drinks for two of her favorite and two of her least favorite cast members.
After the show was aired, many viewers expressed their annoyance for Seungri's behavior and blamed the show for broadcasting the scene which lacked gender sensitivity.
The show reran several times after its initial airing, on Aug. 22 and Aug. 25.
According to the KCSC, "The content could have been interpreted as sexual harassment, but they aired the show despite the criticism, and the program and producers damaged the ethics and emotions of the viewers."
The KCSC ultimately decided to penalize tvN and its affiliates OtvN and XtvN for airing the segment. TvN and OtvN received a warning, while disciplinary action was taken on XtvN.
TvN's weekly show "Salt Tour" features a group of celebrities traveling on a small budget. The main cast members include comedians Park Myeong-su, Park Na-rae, Moon Se-yoon, Heo Kyung-hwan and singer Jung Joon-young. Each member is responsible for a day's itinerary on a shoestring budget.