On Air reveals the dark side of the entertainment industry

Another interesting point to note that the episodes thus far seems to be poking fun or divulging the naked truth about the dark side of the industry.


It has clearly defined the confrontation between producers, writers, top stars and their management companies who each have their own agendas. It has also revealed the dark side like television production companies bribing television producers, PPL (product placement), etc. With regards to this, viewers have trouble differentiating whether it’s really true or false.

How a top star behaves is too ridiculous!

In “On Air”, Oh Seung Ah (Kim Ha Neul) is a prima donna star who thinks of herself as a superstar. When she meets a newbie actress at the hair salon, she told her off haughtily, “Even pigs and dogs can be famous in this era…”, and when the newbie actress replied back, “Finished talking?”, Seung Ah has the cheek to throw a cup of water at her face and say, “How dare you talk back to me?” Another scene was when she met writer Seo Young Eun who was a newbie then and with a above the world look, “Is the script interesting? I haven’t read it yet, what’s the story about? Summarize for me.” This infuriates writers because their work is not being appreciated and actually devalued.

Script writer, Kim Eun Suk said, “In reality, there are often many instances of top stars throwing “tantrums”. Although this is a fantasy character from imagination, we wrote this character based on actual fact that it does exist.

One manager of a certain actress said, “This drama accurately portrays how artistes would go all out in order to be famous. But once they get famous, they will start getting arrogant and throw tantrums. It’s really very shocking.”


◆ “Unrealistic storylines and high ratings go hand in hand?

Writer Seo Young Eun in order to spike the ratings of her dramas, would always add cliche plots to her script like, “Cinderella story”, “Romance with a rich guy”, “Birth mystery”, “Main leads getting cancer”, etc.

And when viewers complained that her script is not realistic and without layers, she will bite back, “You complain but you still watch them in the end, don’t you?”

Kim Young Suk replied, “Seo Young Eun is a character that was conceptualized with me in mind. I also brainstorm often in particular because of ratings, but I am also puzzled when viewers say that my script is superficial and unrealistic.”

When writers writes those trademark quotes, they find it quite “greasy” themselves. In the drama, television producer Lee Kyung Min said to Seo Young Eun, “Lines like this ‘My heart cannot be takeaway’ ‘Your love is downloading very slowly’, whoever says this in reality? Don’t you find them repulsive?”

Kim Young Suk said, “I often regret what I did in my previous works and think to myself that I was maybe too over back then.” She was the one who wrote “Lovers in Paris” and “Lovers in Praque” and the creation of “Inside my heart…is you” line was by her. So her credibility is pretty high regarding this.

Vicious power struggle

The battle between the management companies was depicted very vividly in the opening few episodes. Cherry (Yook Hye Seung) which Jang Ki Joon has groomed carefully was prised away by Jin Sang Woo because of the promise of a shorter way to fame rather than the long stable route proposed by the earlier. Oh Seung Ah tells Jang Ki Joon, “I will help you get everything back.”

With regards to this, a television producer said, “Conflicts between companies do exist and when artistes are forced to switch, the whole drama planning is affected because they have to change the artistes and the script.”

Top star even if you just shot CFs and have no acting skills to talk about

This was mouthed by Seo Young Eun to Oh Seung Ah, an apparent dig at her for being a CF star but yet have little acting ability to talk about. There is a lack of credibility over using CF stars over others who have slogged for months training and honing their craft. But the industry is now geared towards just using pretty faces in movies and dramas nowadays.

And if you think long and hard, you can actually feel that this scene was poking fun at top elite CF stars like Kim Tae Hee and Jeon Ji Hyun.

Hope you are convinced about watching this because this is a good brutal take on how the entertainment industry works in Korea. By the way, the theme song “One Word” by F.T. Island is a great song for this drama.

7 thoughts on “On Air reveals the dark side of the entertainment industry

  1. I wasn’t going to watch this drama, partly because the actresses weren’t my favorite, partly because it didn’t seem that interesting (just hyped up because of the star power), partly because if I start watching something, I get hooked and can’t stop obsessing over it…:)
    …BUT, I think I may give this a try. I’m hoping that this portrays the Korean entertainment industry like it really is, not some fluffed up version of it.
    I can’t believe the cameo performances by all those stars… Wow. And FT is singing the OST so that’s another plus.
    Thanks for covering this… I started watching UM because of you and it was better than I thought so I’m trusting your judgement Coolsmurf!;)

  2. the first two episode could be a turn-off with all the shouting and then Seo Young Eun character. but beyond that, it’s a pretty good take on the entertainment industry.

  3. Enjoy reading a lot of your posts, coolsmurf. And, I also agree with this one. I might be dreaming but I thought I read somewhere that Kim Tae Hee was casted/considered for this series or something. It’s definitely funny if she plays Oh Seung Ah’s character. But don’t be too occupied thinking what’s real and what’s not. Didn’t the scriptwriter said this story somewhat retelling a real story of someone? I don’t know Korean entertainment that well to connect the dots. Hopefully you can take on the task to do so. 🙂 Thanks for the posts. Enjoy reading them.

  4. uh i love this drama. I even watched 3rd and 4th eps without subtitles which i have no idea what they’re talking about but their body language. lol

    ah, coolsmurf, don’t forget. before oh seung ah meet cherry she has seen her picture in her manager’s draft right? i don’t quiet understand that part but i think she knows that cherry is not a nice people. =]

    and rite, the first two might be turn off. but eps 3 and 4 while they focusing more in oh seung ah, you’ll eventually find is soo much more interesting that you can’t wait to see the next episode. esp the promotional scene for eps 5.. XD

  5. Huem… something interesting to pick up after Hong Gil Dong finishes….
    Looks interesting, although i heard from some people it’s a little too snappy? But I think worth a try ^_^, esp since it comes recommended by coolsmurf. Heheh.

  6. Thanks for the recommendation … since I’ve actually worked in entertainment … I really appreciated the first two episodes, although the screenwriter is WAAAYYY flaky … but most are anyways.

  7. It would be nice to see more opinions about this series. I might see it. Anyways, that theme song was really nice 😀

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