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MBC show under fire for dishonoring Sewol ferry disaster victims

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Updated : May 14 2018

Network broadcaster MBC is conducting an investigation of its hit entertainment show for its offensive use of news clips from the Sewol ferry disaster.

In an episode of “Omniscient” aired on May 5, the production team used news coverage clips from the Sewol ferry sinking to describe comedian Lee Young-ja, one of the cast members on the show, eating fish cake.

More than 300 people, mostly high school students on a field trip, died In the Sewol ferry accident in 2014.

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Screenshots of “Omniscient” using Sewol ferry accident news coverage clips (MBC)
Many viewers found the scene to be offensive, as some “Ilbe users” have been degrading the victims of the accident, saying that the victims have become fish cakes. Ilbe users are an online group who are known for expressing their animosity toward minorities, liberals and women.

Viewers were shocked when they learned that the clips were from Sewol ferry accident news coverage, as it appeared as if the network were taking Ilbe users’ side. An online petition on Cheong Wa Dae website has been launched, asking for the show to be shut down.

In response to the mounting criticisms, the production staff issued an official apology on Wednesday. It said, the staff weren’t aware of the situation while editing as the clips were blurred when they received them from another team.

MBC on Monday said that families of the Sewol ferry victims will participate in the broadcaster‘s investigation for “a clear and fair investigation.”

MBC president Choi Seung-ho also apologized to the families of the Sewol ferry victims on social media. He is to pay a visit to the families of the victims, after a thorough investigation of the issue.

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Comedian Lee hasn’t been attending the shooting of the show, since the controversy surfaced, claiming to be in shock. MBC cancelled the show’s airing for last Saturday as well as this coming Saturday.

On Monday, MBC denied media reports over the weekend that the production team had been aware of the fact that the news clips were about the Sewol ferry incident. The reports said the staff members text messaged each other about it. MBC said that there were no traces of such text messages.

“Omniscient” is an entertainment show that observes the lives of stars’ managers. The show, which launched in March, had recorded an average viewership rating of 9.4 percent before the Sewol ferry news clip controversy.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)

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