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Year-end award shows under fire for inadequate preventive measures against virus

Major broadcasting networks are facing blistering criticism for pushing ahead with their year-end award ceremonies despite the raised social distancing level in the wake of the worsening COVID-19 situation in Korea.

The organizers announced earlier that the events would be held in accordance with the government-imposed preventive measures by having no live audience, installing glass shields and establishing social distancing among participants.

But with the successive confirmed cases among celebrities and other workers in the entertainment industry as well as the rise in the number of asymptomatic infections, the public is questioning whether the ceremonies with multiple attendees gathered in enclosed spaces are justified.

The drama award shows hosted by the three major broadcasting stations ― MBC, SBS and KBS ― are scheduled to take place today and Thursday amid the government's nationwide ban of private gatherings of five people or more until Jan. 3.

Early this month, CJ ENM's Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) faced controversy over its COVID-19 response. Although the attendees wore masks almost at all times, some questioned the effectiveness of a female staff member in body tights and high heels instead of proper protective clothing spraying disinfectant on stage. In September, the Ministry of Environment recommended against the spraying of disinfectant in the air as this could irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory system.

The measures taken by SBS Entertainment Awards held Dec. 19 faced a harsher backlash as there was no social distancing among the mask-wearing participants at the tables. What made the matter worse was that the award presenters and winners wore no masks on stage while sharing several microphones.

In the case of KBS Entertainment Awards, Dec. 24, its preventive measures fared relatively better than others as only the hosts, presenters and grand prize nominees attended the event in person while others spoke via prerecorded videos. The presenters wore masks, but there still remained concerns as the grand prize nominees stood together on stage in close quarters and the winners gave an acceptance speech without masks.

As a result, many viewers pointed out how such year-end award shows ended up poorly implementing preventive measures amid the third wave of the pandemic, with some claiming that they seemed to be just for show.

"The fact that the broadcasting stations are putting up a pretense that they are taking precautions in this way shows the entertainment industry's lack of awareness toward COVID-19," one internet user wrote.

Another stressed that when it comes to public health, "it is important to set a higher standard for celebrities appearing on stage who have a social influence over millions of fans."

Meanwhile, the 41st Blue Dragon Awards ceremony, originally scheduled to take place Dec. 11, has been postponed to early next year.

Many other major international award shows and cultural events throughout the year have also either been postponed or transitioned online, including the Academy Awards, the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony and awards at the Berlin International Film Festival.





source: The Korea Times
Tags: award show, health
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