July 28, 2023
SEOUL – Reality and talk shows featuring the personal stories of Korean celebrities may have enjoyed huge popularity several years ago, but that is no longer the case.
In recent years, many Korean TV personalities have revealed their homes and starred on reality shows with friends and family members, allowing viewers to observe almost every moment of their lives.
Actors Choo Ja-hyun and Yu Xiaoguang are among many celebrities who starred in SBS’ reality show “Same Bed, Different Dreams 2: You Are My Destiny” to an enthusiastic response from viewers in 2017.
The couple mesmerized their fans with their drama-like married life and lesser-known stories about Choo, especially her rise to popularity in the Chinese entertainment industry as a Korean actor.
The actors were widely noted for sparking the so-called “ChooYu syndrome,” which indicated their seemingly unending popularity.
Proving their fame, Choo and Yu won the Best Couple award at the 2017 SBS Entertainment Awards and at the time, the show episodes recorded a viewership of 10 to 12 percent, topping viewership ratings among all TV shows in the same time slot.
Choo and Yu returned to the show four years after last appearing to star in the 100th episode of “Same Bed, Different Dreams 2” in 2019 to celebrate the show’s 300th episode on July 17.
Though the show usually features two to three married couples in a single episode, “Same Bed, Different Dreams 2” assigned two full episodes exclusively to Choo and Yu, believing that the couple’s story would garner huge public interest as it marks their first media appearance after Yu’s cheating scandal in 2021.
The second episode, which aired Monday, showed Yu sharing his innermost feelings and explaining the misunderstanding he caused several years ago. Choo revealed that she had been diagnosed with depression after living apart from her husband during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However this time, viewers’ responses were cold.
“I really don’t know why the couple had to talk about the scandal on a variety show. I am tired of stars who make their excuses on TV and appeal to emotions,” one netizen commented on the couple’s latest video on SBS’ official YouTube channel.
“I don’t want to see shows like this anymore,” another comment read.
The viewership ratings for the episodes focusing on Choo and Yu — aired on July 17 and Monday — hit 7.6 and 6.4 percent, respectively, just one to two percentage points higher than the viewership ratings for other “Same Bed, Different Dreams 2” episodes.
“I personally think one of the reasons why many viewers have turned their backs on the broadcasters’ content is celebrity sob story fatigue,” Lee So-young, a 32-year-old homemaker in Incheon, told The Korea Herald Monday.
It is not difficult to find a program with TV personalities showing their tears, Lee said.
“Their stories might have won viewers’ heart in the past. But it has become too much. Many of their stories are repetitive. And there are so many programs that try to make a drama out of such stories,” she added.
On May 23, SBS premiered “Strong Heart League,” a show in which the guests share stories to receive “likes” from 50 online viewers.
The program hoped to bring back the glory of the broadcaster’s hit talk show, “Strong Heart,” (2009-2013) with its similar title, format and same hosts — comedian Kang Ho-dong and singer Lee Seung-gi.
However, all the episodes of “Strong Heart League” have recorded single-digit viewership ratings of under four percent.
Meanwhile, the latest episode of KBS’ variety show “Beat Coin” presented psychological test results for the cast members.
It featured comedian Hong Jin-kyung, who cried during a counseling session, confessing that she always seems to be tense.
The show recorded a viewership of only 1.4 percent.
“I don’t think the stars are making up their stories. But it is difficult to empathize with the things they are complaining about. I just don’t want to spend my time on such things. To be honest, who doesn’t have a hard life?” a Yonsei University graduate student surnamed Lee told The Korea Herald.