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The Inside and Outside of Conspiracy Theories, Storytelling of Long-term Unsolved Cases - Focusing on SBS’s “While You Are Tempted”

  • Journal of Popular Narrative
  • 2023, 29(1), pp.73-108
  • DOI : 10.18856/jpn.2023.29.1.003
  • Publisher : The Association of Popular Narrative
  • Research Area : Interdisciplinary Studies > Interdisciplinary Research
  • Received : January 6, 2023
  • Accepted : February 6, 2023
  • Published : February 28, 2023

Sueahn Kim 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article focused on the storytelling of criminal events attempted through infotainment programs that combines investigation programs and entertainment programs in legacy media, and tried to examine its journalistic value and limitations. The main targets of analysis are two episodes of SBS’s “While You Are Tempted,” which narrowed the theme of the story to ‘conspiracy theory’ and put it at the forefront, dealing with the ‘Frog Boy’ case. The difference between the two episodes in the way they relate long-term unsolved cases and conspiracy theories was also linked to changes in the method and intention of using ‘conspiracy theory’ as the subject of discussion. In previous episode that dealt with the Frog Boy case, it tracked the path of conspiracy theories surrounding long-term unsolved cases and explored political, legal, and financial interests related to the formation and dissemination of conspiracy theories. On the other hand, the second episode focused on scientifically verifying several hypotheses that infer the culprit and the tools of the crime, and submitting another hypothesis that is most likely but not certain.In the episode, the precision of scientific verification methods that followed from existing exploration and reporting programs was emphasized and displayed excessively, and as a result, the conclusions drawn compete with the conspiracy theories that were intended to be verified. This difference was caused by the adjustment of conspiracy theory to the subject material of reasoning like a ghost story or mystery, unlike the previous planning intention to take issue with conspiracy theory as the theme of the program. The original sense of purpose of “While You Are Tempted” that states the conspiracy theory itself as a problematic can be read as a clear political decision in that it presupposes public opinion that opposes the conspiracy theory. At the same time, it is also necessary to consider that the reproduction of such public opinion is a symbolic capital that supports the authority of legacy media. The authority was also the basis for legacy media to diagnose that various conspiracy theories were threatening public safety during the height of the pandemic crisis, and to present reasonable criteria for judgement. The program’s sense of purpose and use of conspiracy theories, which changed significantly before and after the reorganization, showed the self-reflection to maintain the authority of legacy media and the ambivalance that it was easily reversed.

Citation status

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