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KBS denies ‘Song to the Moon’ airing on President Moon’s birthday was intentional

The KBS main building in Yeouido, Seoul (KBS)
The KBS main building in Yeouido, Seoul (KBS)

Terrestrial broadcaster KBS has denied claims that it intentionally aired the aria “Song to the Moon” during one of its shows on President Moon Jae-in’s birthday to gain approval from the nation’s leader.

On Tuesday, KBS’ music program “Open Concert” released an official statement in response to a controversy over soprano Kang Hye-jung’s performance of the “Song to the Moon” during the program which aired on Jan. 24.

That date also happens to be President Moon Jae-in’s birthday, leading to speculation online that the song was selected intentionally to curry favor with the government as KBS seeks to raise license fees.

National Assembly member Park Dae-chul only further fanned the flames when he claimed on Tuesday that the only other time the song was played on KBS TV and radio in the last five years was on the same program on Jan. 27, 2019, which he said also fell close to Moon’s birthday that year.

In its official statement, KBS argued the selection was a coincidence and stated that the singers who appear on the show have their say on song choices.

“The ‘Open Concert’ informs the singers of the episode’s theme and asks them to select music that goes with the theme,” KBS said. The theme for the Jan. 24 episode was songs from movies.

“Soprano Kang Hye-jung selected ‘Think of Me’ from ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ from ‘A Room with A View’ and ‘Song to the Moon’ from ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’ The producers considered the length of the songs and ultimately selected the songs from ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Song to the Moon.’”

KBS also pointed out that the song has been performed multiple times on “Open Concert,” mentioning that it was also performed in episodes that aired on Aug. 24, 2003, Jan. 14, 2007, April 12, 2009 and Aug. 9, 2009.

On Monday, the KBS Union posted a statement titled “‘Song to the Moon?’ KBS is not a broadcaster for praising the president” on its website, criticizing the state-run broadcaster for airing the song even if the selection had been a coincidence because of the ill timing.

The controversy comes as KBS board members are set to decide on a motion, which was brought to them on Jan. 27, to raise license fees from the current 2,500 won to 3,840 won.

By Lim Jang-won (ljw@heraldcorp.com)
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