Dear British Lady –whose name I refuse to acknowledge

Please do some research before you go on another country’s comedy show. Please don’t blabber your mouth and judge another country’s comedy without having the relevant background to do so properly. A) How do you expect to criticize a highly contextual comedy skit without the context? B) If you don’t have the context, don’t create a documentary that makes value judgments on Korean media. There is surely much to criticize in Korean comedy like any culture, and foreigners can criticize another culture’s comedy. But, comedy and humor, as anyone who has learned or speaks multiple languages knows, is often one of the most difficult parts of the language to convey to foreigners. You have to be constantly surrounded by the references, the cultural idiosyncrasies, and so on to seamlessly spot the thing the comedian is poking fun at. Comedians also play with language the way a jazz pianist improvises, so if you are not perfectly attuned to 1) the culture of country X and 2) the language of country X, then how do you expect your documentary to make any substantial criticisms of country X?

Now, here are some things you should’ve researched before going to Korea: 1) Koreans find mispronunciations funny. Why? Well, because Koreans receive intensive English education, and the vast difference between the two languages makes American or British pronunciation difficult –which means everyone struggles with this. Therefore, speaking English with a perfect American or British or Australian accent is usually seen as a sign of status –the opposite is obviously seen as familiar and relatable. 2) Korean comedy is much about satire and self-deprecation. However, Koreans do not self-deprecate themselves the way the British do. The British use their words to self-deprecate; Koreans expect to see one’s ego, pride, dignity, and sanity destroyed. Korean comedians, musicians, and artists have historically been the lowest of the castes –clowns who were lower than slaves. Therefore, the lengths to which they go to embarrass themselves are remnants of such a history. This is also the reason why they make fun of the Korean school system’s obsession with learning English while embarrassing the hell out of themselves in your documentary. 3) Koreans find humor from juxtaposition and chaos. Therefore, Korean improvisational comedy relies heavily on random situations that have nothing to do with what is currently going on. For instance, suppose my phone fell out of my pocket and let’s say that my phone resembles a dog. A Korean comedian would immediately spot that my phone looks like a dog and create a situation where he would pet the phone or call out a common name Koreans give to their dogs to give the situation more reality –and absurdity. This is why one of the comedians, when he saw a kettle, suddenly created a situation where you two are having a tea party. It has nothing to do with the current situation and Koreans love that. 4) Koreans obviously love slapstick comedy.

Below is a link to the awful interaction between the Korean comedians and the British lady. Please check it out after reading this post, because I think it would help you understand the cause behind the gulf between the two – and perhaps even some of the causes behind the rift between the East and the West



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