Show Me The Money 777: Why is it popular in Korea?

Article by: June Park

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Show Me The Money, a survival rap programme in South Korea is getting more and more popular as a new season is released. It is a very competitive and selective survival show that any rappers can participate and the final winner can receive $200,000.

Although it seems like a normal rap audition program, its influence and impact is very huge as every season gets started. The songs that rappers make becomes popular, people try to imitate the rappers’ fashion, rappers name is searched a lot on the search engine, and most importantly, people really enjoy watching the show.

Then why is Show Me The Money so popular? As one of the big fans who watched 3 seasons, I interpreted the reasons why it is so special.

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(, This picture is showing how much each rappers got from each producers after the second audition.)

Firstly, the standards. Show Me The Money has four teams consisting two producers each where they select four rappers each when there are 16 rappers left at the end. The producers are like judges and mentors at the same time for the participants, but they only evaluate rappers through ‘rap skills’. As there were a lot of audition program in Korea and there were some cases that participants are passed due to their background stories which arouses sympathy from the audience. However, SMTM only considers participants’ rap skills then the producers suggest how much money to provide for them based on their ability. As the amount of money that can be provided must be considered seriously, the standard of choosing the rappers whether they pass or not become harsher and clearer. Regardless of the age or own circumstances of participants, they only judge through rap and skills as a rapper.

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(, A rapper Lee Su-rin is saying “No one is better than us.” in the interview.)

Secondly, the rappers. Due to the Korean society where Confucian ideas were deeply ingrained for a long time of history, it is not well-accepted when people shows themselves up or act too confident in front of people. Although some people are proud of themselves, it was a culture and norm to show it  indirectly or implicitly. However, due to the competitivity in SMTM that the rappers must impress themselves to the producers and the audience, they started to mention and put lyrics on how amazing they are. When there’s an interview, it is largely found that participants mention “I am the best rapper in South Korea.” or “There’s no one who can beat me.” From these rappers who are very proud of themselves and do not hesitate to impress themselves, the audience feel it interesting and fun to watch.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 4.50.59 PM(, In a diss battle, a rapper Woo Won-jae has put lyrics saying “Actually, santa claus does not exist.” to a 13-year-old rapper, Jo Woo-chan.)

Thirdly, the competition system. As South Korea is a country that led a massive development and progress in a relatively short period after the Korean War, competition pervaded South Koreans’ lives deeply in order to ‘survive’. It became a norm for South Koreans that they must beat others to get a better result and win a prize. Therefore, it is comprehended ‘lazy’ if someone does not work hard or feel relaxed. And SMTM shows the reality of South Korean lives. The rappers must beat the others and be better than the others to win and get to the next stage. I believe that Koreans feel empathy a lot from this show that they need to put effort and fight against others to get their cheese.

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There are some critics saying that Show Me The Money encourages a culture for extreme and harsh competition. As they talk about ‘money’ and even a betting system has been introduced to this new season ‘SMTM 777’, it results in people become obsessed with earning money. On the other hand, in my opinion, audience can enjoy watching the show and competition so that they can take some comfort that they are not the only one who are fighting against and putting effort to earn what they want. Also, a lot of good songs are released and people can enjoy listening those songs, I think Show Me The Money is a good programme. From the show, we can feel that how much the trend is changing and the new generation is becoming more confident that they don’t hesitate to express themselves and not be self-conscious of others.

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