According to the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEJ), a large number of medical and health programs on three major cable channels in Korea—Hankyung WOW, MBN, and Medical TV—have become marketing tools for private clinics and for physicians trying to attract patients. The coalition says that the programs repeatedly portray the same physicians and place too much emphasis on aesthetic, dental, and other expensive procedures.

A CCEJ Representative (whose name is not disclosed) says program directors should be more socially responsible by providing useful health information to viewers.

“Cable programs offering health and medical information have become popular with television viewers because of the well-being trend,” the representative says. “But they have focused mainly on advertising certain clinics and doctors rather than distributing helpful information.”

The group says that in a recent program aired on MBN, the host praised a laser-beam dental treatment for its effectiveness and safety without providing verification, giving viewers the false impression that the technique is superior to others. Last month, the program also aired an aesthetic surgery procedure using high-frequency waves for young women who want to have slim legs for the summer.

Medical TV aired similar programs, including an interview with a physician who introduced his treatment facilities and shared positive responses from his patients about his treatments. The program also repeatedly aired aesthetic surgery programming for improving people’s looks rather than for restoring the appearance of people hurt in accidents.

CCEJ says the shows carelessly describe the surgeries as safe and quick without elaborating on their costs and potential side effects.

The representative has called on the medical and health cable companies to diversify their programs, provide more useful medical information, a wider range of treatment options, and information on preventing poor health.

[times.hankooki.com, July 3, 2006]