Monday, July 22, 2013


These days, there is only one Korean programme I will "본방사수" and that is KBS2 TV "Gag Concert" (개그콘서트). First things first, the meaning of "본방사수" (本放(送)死守). What this "신조어" (新造語, new word) literally means is to "defend first broadcast till death", or simply, only watch the original broadcast. "Why so serious?", you may ask. It is all about "시청률" (視聽率, viewer ratings) and only the ratings of the first broadcast matters and ratings mean advertising dollars. So if you are a fan of a programme, you will have to "본방사수".

Back to Gag Concert. When KBS World was first available on local station many years ago, Gag Concert was broadcast without English subtitles. It was one variety programme I would not bother with since I could hardly comprehend anything in the show. But time has changed. I no longer subscribe to KBS World after it was made a paid channel and my Korean is good enough for me to enjoy the "first broadcast" of Gag Concert every Sunday on KBS website. It has since become my source of laughter every Sunday's night.

The following "corners" are my current top five (in descending order) in Gag Concert:

1. 황해 (The Yellow Sea)

The Yellow Sea is the sea that separates China mainland and Korea peninsula but the title gives little clue about the storyline. The theme of this corner is actually "voice phishing" or "telephone scam". A pair of scammers (supposedly from across the Yellow Sea) generates "stomach-bursting" laughters every week with their antics and foul-ups. The pair comprising a rookie and a veteran, is anything but a potent mix. They always ended up making a fool of themselves instead of their victims poorer. This corner is not without controversy. The featuring of scammers who are supposedly from the Joseon ethnic group in China has raised more than a ruckus. However, as they say, "개그는 개그일 뿐" (Gag is only a gag). On the positive side, the corner can serve as a medium to educate the public on telephone scam and immune them against falling victim. This corner is number one on my watchlist. I have since mastered the way the syndicate head said, "너 밥먹기싫으니? (You're tired of eating?)

 2. 두근두근 (Pit-A-Pat)

"두근두근" is the sound made by the heart in love. A couple who are "죽마고우" (竹馬故友, childhood friend) started to develop affection for one another. They kept going out together without admitting they were on date. The laughing points in this corner are the awkward moments which arose due to the couple's 애매모호(曖昧模糊, vague)한 사이 (relationship). There is a Chinese saying that says, "爱在暧昧模糊不明时最美” (Love is the most beautiful during the time when things are vague and unclear). This is one corner that makes you to laugh from within. You laugh because you can easily associate with all those awkward (or beautiful) moments which you might have experienced when you were with someone you like and whom you have not confessed to.

3. 남자가 필요없는 이유 (Why We Don't Need Men)

This corner plays on gender steroetypes, in particular, male stereotypes:

Stereotype 1: 잘 생긴 남자 (handsome man) is a 바람둥이 (playboy). This guy has so many girlfriends that he was always confused who is who and with whom he did what or who likes what. When he slipped his tongue, he would always lie his way out. He has no qualm flirting with other women in front of his girlfriend.

Stereotype 2: 나만 바라봐주는 남자 (man who only loves you) is a nerd. While this guy is a dedicated lover, he is a very sensitive and unsecure man. Whenever his girlfriend seems to know something very well, he would suspect that she has a lot experience doing those things with her previous boyfriend or other guys and become jealous. When she assured him that was not that case, his mood would undergo a 180 degrees change and start to tease her, calling her "요물" (妖物, devil).

Stereotype 3: 보통 남자들은 (ordinary men) 다 늑대야 (are all "wolves" or peverts). This guy would do everything to get intimate or what Korean called "스킨십" (skinship). When his girlfriend showed her disapproval towards his ungentlemanly behaviour, he would take that as she was being shy and suggest, "왜 사람 많아서 그래? 저기 사람없는대로 갈까? (Why, is it because there are too many people? Shall we move to a place where there is no people?)

You cannot deny that such men do exist but the funny part is the stereotypes have been overly exaggerated. I believe guys, in general, do not like to be called "늑대", but they would not mind being called "비스트" (Beast).

4. 시청률의제왕 (The King of Ratings)

This corner is intended to be a satire on how the myopic pursuit of viewer ratings have distorted the way dramas are being made these days. A sad fact of the industry is, the more trashy the drama, the higher the ratings. This corner is about how to make ratings go up by turning a "boring" feel-good drama into a "막장 드라마" (trashy drama). The elements that go into making these dramas include 배신 (背信, betrayal), 막말 (rude talk), 불륜 (不倫, incest) and 아이돌 (idol) with weird Korean accent and bad acting skills. Whenever there is a 반전 (反轉, reverse) or 역전 (逆轉, abrupt change) in the flow of the story as ordered by the director, it would always tickle my funny bones and set me laughing non-stop. While "막장 드라마" may carry all the wrong social values, you have to admit they are actually more "entertaining" in some way.

5. 현대레알사전 (Real Modern Dictionary)

Man and woman are wired differently. The contrast in their perspective is always a good source of jokes. Every week in this corner, the perspective of man and woman is sought on a selected topic. Below are some amusing gender-biased interpretations:

Topic: 사랑 (Love)

Man: Men from 20s to 70s love "예쁜 여자" (pretty women) 
Woman: Women in their 20s love "나쁜 남자" (bad guy). 30s 능력이 있는 남자 (capable man). 40s "남자" (man).

Topic: 결혼 (Marriage)

Woman: 결혼이란 아가씨가 아줌마가 되는 것 (Marriage is when a girl becomes an auntie)

Man: 이 아줌마를 데리고 살아야 되는 것 (Marriage is when I have to live with an auntie)

Man: 신혼 부부들에게 결혼이란 너때문에 사는 것. (10년차는요?) 애때문에 사는 것. (20년차는요?) 죽지 못 해 사는 것 (To a newly-wed couple, marriage is I live because of you. After 10 years, I live because of my child. After 20 years, I live because I cannot die.)

Woman: 10대에게 결혼이란 첫사랑이랑 결혼해야지. 20대는요? 이상형이랑 결혼해야지. 30대는요? 이상하지만 않으면 결혼해야겠지. (To a woman in her 10s, she will have to marry her first love. In her 20s, she will have to marry her ideal man. In her 30s, she will probably have to marry a man so long as he is not weird.)


  1. I don't watch 개그콘서트 much, but whenever I do have a chance to see it my favorite sections have been 용감한 녀석들 and 멘봉스쿨. I can't get enough of 갸루상 and 나영이!

    1. I like 용감한 녀석들 and 멘봉스쿨 too. Between "갸루상" and "앵그리버드" I like the latter better. Angry bird saying "화가 난다, 화가 난다" was just so funny.

  2. generally agreed, but it the previous generation of comedians at the show used to be more creative so i believe. never managed to get tickets to go there live ...

    1. Gag Concert has been successful all these years because it underwent constant renewal. It is also a tradition for the seniors to give up their place so that juniors have a stage to perform and grow on. New generation of comedians will eventually because old generation someday and that's how continuity is preserved :)

      If you can't get ticket to Gag Concert, you may want to watch their performance at some theatre in Daehangno instead.