Amid skyrocketing housing prices, viewers are increasingly turning cynical toward some reality TV shows that peek into luxurious homes and lifestyles of celebrities.
MBC's reality show "I Live Alone," also known as "Home Alone," is one of them. Following the lives of celebrity singles, it has been one of the broadcaster's biggest hits. Its website introduces the program as aiming at forming a "social consensus" on single-person households whose number totals 4.5 million, which has become a major new trend in the country.
However, viewers complain that the celebrities shown on the program these days live vastly different lives from theirs and that the stars do not depict the reality ordinary singles often face.
One of the recent episodes featured a new home of its host Jun Hyun-moo. Local media then reported that the 156-square-meter apartment unit in southern Seoul was traded at 4.49 billion won ($3.87 million) at the end of last year.
Fellow cast member comedian Park Na-rae also made headlines after purchasing a two-story single house in Itaewon for 5.51 billion won through an auction, and another member, singer Hwasa, also showed off her luxurious villa in Hannam-dong.
Other reality shows such as "My Little Old Boy" on SBS and "The Return of Superman" on KBS have also had celebrities disclose their homes.
Some viewers defend the entertainers, saying it is natural for the top players in the industry to have luxurious homes. Others, however, complain they cannot enjoy the show anymore, saying it used to be different ― featuring stars who seemed to live "normal lives."
"Where Is My Home," a TV show in which celebrities find sweet homes for ordinary clients, has also become a target of cynicism. Following reports on the celebrity hosts' luxurious homes, viewers say that they find it "uncomfortable" to watch rich celebrities saying "wow" at the humble homes they show for ordinary people. "I don't see any sincerity here," a viewer commented on a news article about the show.
Kim Sang-jin, a professor of the real estate department at Semyung University, said entertainers have become a target for people to take out their frustrations.
"It is natural that rich people live in luxurious homes in a capitalist society, but the skyrocketing housing prices give ordinary people a sense of defeat. They are wondering how those young people could purchase such luxurious houses after only a few years of work," he said.
Kwon Dae-jung, a professor of real estate department at Myongji University, said there would not have been such cynicism if it weren't for the surging housing prices.
"People now don't think those who have expensive homes in Gangnam or other areas of Seoul got there through righteous means. They think there might be some irregularities or illegalities," he said.
"I think they have reason to believe so since it has become impossible for salaried workers to buy homes in Seoul no matter how much of their salaries they save."
Source: Yoon Ja-young for Korea Times
What do you think, Omona? Should shows like "I live alone" show more realistic homes or at least engage more with the housing crisis to make it more relatable to viewers?