Political Coverage Reaches New Heights in South Korea

Computer-generated images and pop culture references put South Korean Election Coverage on the map.

May 13, 2017 11:39 am

Eat your heart out CNN. South Korean political ads just put your magic wall to shame.

The world continues to focus on the Koreas as North Korean affairs grab headlines daily and the events of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and imprisonment unfold like a K-drama. Meanwhile, in South Korea, a country where residents are as obsessed with K-pop as high-technology, South Korean political election coverage is taking a decidedly different route. The Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), one of nation’s largest television and radio news networks, is incorporating fun pop culture reference with innovative new technology, such as CGI graphics, into its election coverage.

During the recent election SBS journalists tracked minute-by-minute coverage of election results with videos that depicted the candidates jogging alongside one another, similar to the movie Rocky, with a headline that read “Game” in Korean. In another video the mood shifted to Game of Thrones, where each candidate was a player and new President Moon Jae-in was the eventual winner. And don’t forget about Pokemon Go, the video game and app that took the peninsula by storm after its arrival was delayed by six months. During the election, voters got to view the contenders to the Blue House, the South Korean equivalent to the White House, as avatars in the popular game.

Outrageous news reports and hyper-connectivity may be such a way of life on the southern peninsula that many residents have gone numb—and it may be hard to arouse their interests.

“These days in South Korea, you have to have a pretty culturally savvy video to get young people’s attention, and it’s clear the candidates are throwing major money at advertising firms and production companies to reach voters this way,” Jean H. Lee, a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told Ad Age. “It’s particularly savvy of presidential candidates to get creative with their advertising with fun and quirky videos that are a play on puns and refer to cultural references that all South Koreans are familiar with.”

As for the response, the ads seems to be a hit among Koreans who are commenting on YouTube videos of the ads how funny they are.

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