Viral Hashtag Calls for Cancellation of Hello Counselor
KBS’s Hello Counselor is under fire for a recent episode featuring a father boasting about touching his son’s genitals in a manner that is raising red flags for sexual abuse. Earlier this week, the hashtag #EndHelloCounselor began circulating widely on Twitter, calling for the cancellation of the problematic show after yet another controversial episode.
In the episode, a mother was featured as the guest with concerns over her husband’s behavior. Along with inappropriate behavior towards his wife, the man often harassed his son and daughter (aged 5 and 3 respectively), often taking what he claimed to be “jokes” too far. The most alarming of these accusations, however, was the claim that the father would kiss and play with his son’s body, most notably his genitals for five to ten minutes at a time. In response, the son—who was sitting beside the father for the duration of the episode—would yell and hide. When asked for his reasoning for this behavior, the father simply said that the whiteness of his son’s skin entices him and that this is normal behavior between a father and son. The show ended with the man promising to be more respectful towards his family.
The show, of course, more or less played this behavior off for laughs, although it is unclear how much the reaction of the cast was scripted. GFRIEND members Yuju and Umji starred as guest counselors for the episode and have also been targeted on social media for their reactions to the family’s story.
Of course, cultural differences between Eastern and Western societies come into play here, as explained by DKDKTV in a recent episode on their YouTube channel. In collective cultures such as South Korea, the bonds between families are quite strong with heavy respect for elders. While deeply-rooted beliefs such as these can explain why the father may have behaved this way with his family, tradition should not excuse him. Similarly, this could explain why the episode did not raise many eyebrows until the content reached Western audiences after going viral on social media.
Despite its popularity, Hello Counselor has always had its issues; as any viewer knows, the entire premise of the show is to bring average people on to have their problems counseled by the hosts and special guest stars. While some of these issues do lie on the more humorous side, many of the problems are of a more serious nature that likely require professional intervention.
Earlier this May, a similar controversy arose when an episode of Hello Counselor featured a daughter whose father’s physical advances caused her tension. In the episode, the daughter revealed that her father would kiss and lick her face in addition to touching her stomach. Furthermore, the girl’s younger sister added that the father would even watch her bathe. This led to viewers raising the question of sexual harassment to the Korea Communications Standard Commission. Choi Hojin, the father in the episode, later sued netizens for defamation among other charges.
Given the differences between cultures, it is unclear how KBS will respond to the numerous complaints from around the world. Korean netizens have since also began voicing their concerns over the incident, further inciting hope that something can be done to remedy the situation and prevent further issues like these from arising in the future.
Disclaimer: The referenced episodes of Hello Counselor may be disturbing to some individuals. Please use discretion and watch with caution.