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International Business Times | Apr 12
Margaret Thatcher was arguably the most divisive political figure of our time. Revered by some, hated by many, her death on Monday sparked an unoff...
So who else is to blame for the rise in teenage drinking? Well, according to the South Korean government, one culprit is provocative pop music. So it's systematically banning thousands of songs that the government says promote drinking. As Yoo Eun Lee from Global Voices reports, South Korean teenagers are buzzing with anger online.
In the last two years, more than 2,600 songs have been banned by the government for being too dangerous for young impressionable ears. Most songs were flagged for "inappropriateness" just because they made references to alcohol or cigarettes.
Case in point: the group, The Ballad, sang this line: "Drunk on alcohol so I don't miss you". It was banned. It could encourage underage drinking. An indie band, 10 cm, had the line: "When I drink and smoke with a pretty girl". Not fit for young Koreans' ears, either male or female.
When a boy band called B2ST, sang this lyric: "I must be drunk. I think I need to stop drinking." They got censored for idealizing the use of alcohol. A member of the group tweeted: "I may need to sing children's songs only".
Once it's labelled as "inappropriate for kids", a song can only be aired after 10 p.m. and no one under 19 can buy a recording. They cannot even listen to it on the Internet unless they log in with their parents' or other adults' IDs.
The bans are mostly decreed by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. It's now the most unpopular government department in South Korea. The ministry's homepage was temporarily shut down at the end of the month because angry citizens posted so many complaints.
Social media railed against the ministry. Hilarious comments were like: "Ban quail eggs, they remind me of male sexual organs", and "Ban USBs, since plugging them into the computer reminds me of sexual intercourse and embarrasses me."
Initially, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said the opposition was "no big deal. Change the lyrics. Problem solved". But changing a word in songs, one blogger wrote, "it is not a simple matter. Songs that are forced to alter their lyrics often don't sound right. They are out of context and lose the unique emotions evoked throughout the song."
Most singers just had to accept the decision, but SM Entertainment, one of South Korea's biggest talent agencies won a lawsuit at the end of August. The agency successfully argued that their singers' references to alcohol were taken out of context, and the song did not promote drinking. The court's decision has prompted the ministry to promise to issue a new set of standards on censorship of music next month. In Seoul, I'm Yoo Eun Lee, for LinkAsia.
It's not just songs about alcohol that are being banned. The government has also blacklisted a music video that showed traffic violations, including driving without a seat belt.