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Beware Korean Food TV Scams

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This was posted recently on Facebook:

Hello, everyone!
Namaste ^^;
Today, I received a call from a big cable broadcasting company in our country. There is a kind of food broadcasting.
They suggest to me that some famous entertainers come to our restaurant and take a broadcasting of eating the food.
But they asked me to sponsor some money. approximately 7,000,000 KRW (6,800 USD). I don’t have money. Ha Ha Ha….. lol
The unreasonable truth that can not go to the TV show, if there is no money.
Have a nice day all. ^^;

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This was from Taj Mahal in Korea, an Indian restaurant in Daegu.

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I’ll say firstly that not every production in Korea does sleazy tactics like this, but I’ve had enough experience with productions to not trust what you see. Don’t trust most of the blogs. Don’t trust the TV shows. Don’t even trust many of the newspaper articles. And NEVER, NEVER, NEVER trust a line outside a restaurant in Seoul. Restaurants have “plants” stand in line. They put out chairs and ticket number machines to make it look like they’re fake-ly popular.

I mentioned before that my old restaurant partner at the pub paid an agency to get bloggers to write trumped up reviews. This was one of the reasons I left the restaurant.

Almost every restaurant in Seoul has been featured on TV, so it’s nothing special when they have signs showcasing their thirty seconds of fame. Autographs on a restaurant’s wall don’t mean much. To paraphrase Graham Holliday’s Eating Korea: Reports on a Culinary Renaissance, they’re more like graveyards of fame than endorsements of the restaurant.

Don’t even trust the tourism organization, or even Michelin. They seem to have been corrupted as well.

Don’t even trust people like me appearing on TV. In many cases, we’re paid to be “interviewed,” which means they give us a script to go by. They frown on us giving our real opinions, and if you want to go home after 14 hours of filming some inane scene, you would say just about anything. That’s why you don’t see me much on TV these days.

Blogging and media culture in Korea just doesn’t have the ethical standards. In some cases, they are corrupt to the core. In most cases, they’re just unaware of ethical standards.

We need more restaurants and people on the inside exposing these practices. I’m jaded enough to believe that they won’t change a lot of the old unethical tactics. But I’m more interested in consumer awareness.

Spread this around.

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