So I have something of a twitchy back. Sometimes it's nice and cooperative. Other times, it plays pretzel, and I get to lie around, staring at the TV. This weekend was a pretzel weekend, and I spent an unfortunate amount of time staring at Korean programming. A few things jumped out.
1) Koreans watch a frightening number of cop dramas imported from America.
2) Korean censorship regulations for TV are downright bizarre.
On American TV, the most salacious bits of mildly racy scenes are blurred to preserve the innocence of any youths watching. Swear words are omitted or dubbed over (yippie-ki-yay-mother-hubbard being a ludicrous example from the original Die Hard). And the most violent or sexually-charged scenes are simply edited out.
Korean TV has similar features. There is blurring, and some scenes are deleted, but the application of these tools is wildly inconsistent.
For example, this morning my back and I decided to watch some TV. I found a marathon showing the previously mentioned Die Hard and its sequel Die Hard 2. It was eight in the morning, so I figured I was about to watch a cut-up mess of censored swear words and muted bloody violence.
To my surprise, the cursing was left entirely intact. And it wasn't just because of the language barrier. If there's anything Koreans know, it's American curse words. And these were on display in all their glory, John McClain swearing up and down the Nakatomi building without a hint of dub-overs or cut scenes.
Obviously, there isn't a lot of nudity in Die Hard, but in other movies where it features more prominently, bare skin gets the pixellated treatment. But Korean censors also blur knives, wounds, sometimes guns, and even cigarettes. Especially if they're being smoked by women.
And it's strangely inconsistent, too. Holding a lit cigarette is fine and isn't blurred, but as soon as it moves to the mouth, the whole lower half of the face becomes a pixelly mess. Guns, knives, and close-ups of wounds are fuzzed out, but bodies exploding with bullet holes or grenades are a-ok. Even tattoos are sometimes blurred, and sometimes (gasp!) boxer shorts.
It is good for the occasional laugh, watching a villain attack a hero with a wad of pixels and half a face (because they couldn't show the cigarette dangling from the lips) even as they say the most obscene curse words. And it's better than staring at the ceiling, so I'll take it.