|Minister of Gender Equality and Family Jin Sun-mee speaks at the government complex building in central Seoul, last December, about her countermeasures against school sex crimes. / Yonhap
By Kim Jae-heun
The government's new guidelines for local broadcasters and TV show producers have sparked controversy here over a suggestion to refrain from showing too many K-pop stars that have similar appearances.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF) released the revised guidelines Saturday in an effort to prevent "lookism," which TV can appear to promote.
One of the clauses in the guidelines recommends restricting the number of idol singers appearing on a TV show at any given time, saying they all look alike which suggests narrow beauty standards for young viewers who admire K-pop groups.
"Are the singers on TV music shows twins? They seriously look identical. Most are idol group members," the guidelines say. "Most of them are skinny and have similar hairstyles and makeup with outfits exposing their bodies."
Regarding the guidelines, people asked why the government was trying to regulate the "norm of beauty."
Criticizing the guidelines, Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party said on Facebook, "The gender ministry says K-pop idols should not star together on television because they are all skinny and pretty with pale skin. What's the difference between this and the crackdowns on the length of hair and skirts during the military dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan?"
The politician said there is no objective standard for appearance, saying this was a matter of individual people's taste, not something to be regulated by the government.
But some said they understand the purpose of the guidelines, especially pointing out that the outfits for girl group members are focused on commercializing sex. "I agree with the ministry's efforts to make changes in the broadcasting scenes where commercialization of sex is prevalent," an internet user said.
The ministry said Monday that the guidelines only aim at raising awareness on the negative effects of lookism on public health, adding the recommendations were not mandatory and TV producers can decide whether to reflect them in their programming.