MBC ‘Entertainment Awards’ selection criteria

Amidst the grand finale of the ‘2023 MBC Entertainment Awards,’ celebrated as a festival for entertainers, the absence of female awardees and dubious criteria for certain awards are raising eyebrows.

On the 29th of last month, the ‘2023 MBC Entertainment Awards’ took place. Webtoon artist Gi-ann84 (Kim Hee-min), who actively participated in MBC entertainment shows ‘I Live Alone’ and the ‘Born to Explore the World’ series, surprised everyone by becoming the first non-celebrity recipient of the Grand Prize and received applause. However, amidst the joyous occasion, controversial criteria for awards that are hard to comprehend are coming to light.

One major concern raised by some viewers is the ambiguity of the selection criteria. For instance, the Rookie Award was divided into male and female categories. Kim Dae-ho, an MBC announcer, and YouTuber Dex (Kim Jin-young) jointly received the Male Rookie Award, while YouTuber Pungja (Yoon Bomi) received the Female Rookie Award. There were no objections to Kim Dae-ho and Dex jointly winning the award, as they were considered strong candidates from the start. However, the Female Rookie Award was given solely to Pungja, raising questions about the justification behind the division.

Moreover, the Most Outstanding Award was further divided into male and female categories. Only the male winners were split into Show, Variety, and Reality subcategories, with comedian Haha and actor Lee Jang-woo sharing the honors. Park Narae won the Most Outstanding Female Award. While Haha and Lee Jang-woo were sufficiently recognized for their achievements in ‘I Live Alone’ and ‘Sechiheo’ as well as ‘Law of the Jungle,’ respectively, it is difficult to understand why the division was necessary for this particular award, especially considering the Male Rookie Award was not subdivided. The fact that Park Narae won the Most Outstanding Female Award alone, despite the division, also raises questions.

There are also perplexing reactions to the Grand Prize candidates. Apart from Grand Prize winner Gi-ann84, the only candidates were three individuals: Yoo Jae-suk from ‘How Do You Play?’ and Jun Hyun-moo, who appeared in ‘I Live Alone,’ ‘Setchihyeo,’ and ‘Those Overcoming Limits.’ This year, only the recipients of the Best Entertainer Awards automatically became Grand Prize candidates. Just a year ago, in the ‘2022 MBC Entertainment Awards,’ six individuals, including Yoo Jae-suk, Park Narae, Lee Young-ja, Ahn Jung-hwan, and Kim Sung-joo, were named Best Entertainers. The lack of clear criteria and the complete absence of female candidates within a year have led to puzzlement.

MBC has not provided a separate statement regarding these issues. As the awarding of prizes and criteria are unique rights of the broadcasting company, there is speculation that MBC will not respond separately in the future. The situation repeats every year, and the lack of clear criteria for award shows, maintained and passed down as traditions, is undermining the authority of year-end terrestrial awards.

Despite this, aside from these issues, the ‘MBC Entertainment Awards’ was a well-executed ceremony. In particular, the breakthrough of Gi-ann84 as the first non-celebrity to receive the Grand Prize, breaking down the walls of the ceremony, the congratulatory stage of comedians led by senior comedian Cho Hye-ryeon, and the explosive reactions of the ‘Point of Omniscient Interference’ team were highlights. However, the regrettable appearance of unclear selection criteria is diminishing the significance of the awards.