The Korea Herald


Change of 'National Singing Contest' host garners mixed reactions

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : March 6, 2024 - 15:31

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Kim Shin-young, former host of Kim Shin-young, former host of "National Singing Contest" (KBS)

The news that KBS has changed the emcee of "National Singing Contest," one of the longest-running variety shows in Korea, has been met with mixed reactions from the public.

First aired in 1980, "National Singing Contest" is a weekly singing competition show that takes place in cities, towns and villages around the country, featuring contestants from those areas.

The contestants compete in various rounds and Korea's popular songwriters participate as judges to select the winners.

After forty-four years on air, the show is one of the longest-running variety shows in Korea.

A major change came to "National Singing Contest" in June 2022 with the passing of its veteran emcee Song Hae, who had hosted the program for 34 years.

Comedian Kim Shin-young, then 38, was chosen to succeed Song over many veteran emcees with careers spanning more than three decades and whose names were mentioned as possible successors.

Kim has hosted the program for 17 months.

On Monday, KBS announced that comedian Nam Hee-seok would replace Kim as the host of "National Singing Contest" starting March 31 without providing any explanation for the decision.

Numerous fans of the show have taken to KBS' viewer petition board to express their opposition to the unexpected change.

"Is it possible for KBS, which calls itself the nation's broadcaster, to change hosts in such an arbitrary and reckless fashion? KBS should change the host after clearly explaining why they are replacing the host," the post read.

When asked about the reason for the change, the public broadcaster declined to comment.

"There is no plan to release an announcement from KBS regarding why Kim was replaced as the host of 'National Singing Contest,'" a KBS official told The Korea Herald.

There were also posts online that expressed support for the change.

"Since most viewers are from the older generation, only a few viewers know Kim Shin-young," read a post.

"I still feel that she lacks expertise as an emcee for 'National Singing Contest,'" read another post, while another pointed to the declining popularity of the show.

"There are also people who say that the viewership ratings dropped sharply after Kim Shin-young became the emcee, so it's natural to change the host," read another post.

During Song's tenure as emcee, "National Singing Contest" maintained viewership ratings in the 10 percent range. However, the ratings dropped to 3.4 percent in October 2022 following the change in host. The ratings for the latest episode, which aired March 3, stood at 6.4 percent, according to Nielsen Korea.