Producing For an International Audience

Lydia Lee - Hello Counselor
Jake Macfarlane's picture Jake Macfarlane 2 years 7 months ago

Hello Counselor is a South Korean talk show that first debuted in 2010. The official KBS World website describes Hello Counselor as a talk show "with an emphasis on people and their stories. From stories about the daily lives of regular people regardless of their age or gender, to concerns that are too embarrassing to reveal! The purpose of this program is to help take down communication barriers by sharing stories about life." It airs on KBS World's official YouTube channel which provides full episodes of the show with multilingual subtitles, including English.

The premise is that people submit any concern/story about something or someone that is negatively affecting their daily life. Every week, three people come out to share their concern and confront their problems. It could be a personal concern or it could be them directly confronting someone for their behaviour. That person has a chance to tell their side of the story and defend their reasoning. There are five hosts who take turns introducing a person's concern. These hosts play a crucial role because they direct the questions, they mediate and lead the conversations. After discussing each concern, the studio audience and celebrity guests vote if they think it's a real concern or not. The person that gets the most number of votes wins $1,000 every week until someone else's concern gets more votes. 

I've watched the show frequently over the years and I really enjoy it! I would say the format of the show is a reality talk show with a competitive element. The setup itself is made to look conversational and casual (they have the guest appear by sliding down a slide). I find the concept of the show very interesting and addicting because every week the stories told and the people involved are different. It involves someone publicly discussing their concern, hoping to get to some support and to resolve their problems. Because the age range is big and people come from all backgrounds, the concerns that people have are endless. There's definitely some minor (and super odd) ones compared to some that are a lot more serious and extreme. These stories touch on family drama, work, problematic relationships, obsession, racism, discrimination, habits, confessions and more. Ex. A man who gets bullied for his girly voice. Co-worker confronts his bosses for pulling serious pranks. A wife troubled over her husband's obsession with tarot readings. A young mother deals with her immature husband who spends all of their earnings on partying. Recently, they had immigrants and people with different racial backgrounds talk about the struggles of living in Korea. Ex. An Uzbekistan mother faces discrimination for wearing a hijab. The hosts are comedians and not necessarily "therapists". However, they're adults who give advice to the guests and offer negotiations and alternative solutions to problems. They have an opportunity to educate the audience about negative judgments and how people should treat each other. After all, the show is nicknamed "national counselling". 

As someone who's watched a lot of the episodes, I think Canadians would find the program interesting! The show does a great job of maintaining a comedic atmosphere with the hosts witty commentary in between discussions. I think it appeals to people who also face similar concerns in society, relationships, etc. And I found that a lot of the concerns can actually be very relatable, especially if the issue relates to family relationships or personal struggles. But it's also amusing to see people with these really strange habits and addictions. You can feel an array of emotions while watching the episode, whether it be frustration, anger, sadness, sympathy and I feel like these emotions translate across an international audience. YouTube's platform and comment section allows people to have a conversation about the different concerns. Hello Counselor is a program that definitely brings both laughter and heartwarming moments.