“Body Changing” Diet-Drink Generously Donated to High School Students

(Source)

Young Korean women — not men — are the only demographic in the OECD that are getting more underweight than obese.

Call me making a mountain out of a molehill, but diet-drink companies being allowed to donate their product to teens, out of supposed concerns for their heath? And plastering their classrooms with ads of heavily photoshopped women in the process? Those may just have something to do with that:

청정원 홍초가 수험생 여러분을 응원합니다 / Chung Jung Won’s HongCho Cheers For Students Taking University Entrance Exams

by Kim Jong-hoon (김종훈), Asia Today, November 4 2012

대상은 자사의 브랜드인 ‘청정원’ 홍초가 수능시험을 앞둔 고3 수험생을 응원하기 위해 오는 7일까지 서울시내 20여개 학교를 찾아 다니며 홍초 2만여개를 무료로 나눠줄 계획이라고 4일 밝혔다.

On Sunday, Daesang’s brand Chung Jung Won [English website here] announced that to support 3rd year high school students about to take their university entrance exams, they would visit 20 high schools in Seoul before the 8th (the day of the exams) and donate 20,000 bottles of HongCho to students (source, right).

청정원측은 오랜 시험준비로 지친 수험생들이 좋은 컨디션으로 시험을 볼 수 있도록 응원하기 위한 마음으로 기획 된 행사라고 설명했다. 수능이 끝난 이후에도 홍초를 내세운 다양한 마케팅 활동으로 그간 고생이 많았던 수험생들을 지원할 계획이다.

Chung Jung Won explained that this is an event for tired students that have been preparing for the exams for such a long time, so that they can be in good condition on the exam day. Also, that even after the exams, the company plans to continue supporting those students that have suffered so much, through various HongCho marketing events.

한편, 홍초는 피로회복 등에 도움이 되는 기능성 원료인 콜라겐과 헛개나무 농축액, 그리고 식이섬유를 풍부하게 함유하고 있는 건강기능성 음용식초다.

HongCho is a healthy vinegar drink that includes collagen, liquids extracted from the Oriental Raisin Tree, and a lot of fiber, and is very helpful for recovering from tiredness. (end.)

For sure, HongCho does sound quite healthy. And, technically, it is not a diet-drink:

Diet drinks: Include calorie-free and low-calorie versions of sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and carbonated water, consistent with definitions reported by the National Cancer Institute and U.S. Food and Drug Administration food labeling guidelines. Diet drinks do not include 100% fruit juice or unsweetened teas or coffees.

(Source)

However, a quick perusal of the Chung Jung Won website demonstrates that it is explicitly being marketed as a “body-changing” drink, with — especially after photoshopping — exceptionally tall and skinny Jun Ji-hyun (전지현) endorsing it most recently (that’s Kim Hee-sun/김희선 from 2010 above). Also, the following website screenshot (from 2011) and commercial show that the body-changing theme is no mere Konglish accident:

(Source)

There also appears to be a sponsorship deal with the Diet War program:

(Source)

Meanwhile, girl-group Kara (카라) are promoting the drink in Japan, with much the same theme. Which is ironic, considering that these are the same women who admitted that they can’t even drink water on the (frequent) days that they’re required to wear revealing clothing:

What do you think? Have any Korea-based readers had similar promotions at their own schools? How about overseas? Are concerns and issues different there? I know that in the US for instance, it is more sodas that are the considered a problem, and that if students drank HongCho instead that would probably be considered a blessing. From TIME back in March (my emphasis):

If some public-health advocates have their way, sodas could become the cigarettes of food. Doctors already dislike the sugary drinks for their teeth-dissolving properties and for the role they may play in childhood obesity. There’s a constant struggle to get soda vending machines out of public schools, with administrators often forced to choose between losing sponsorship money from big soda companies and dealing with overcaffeinated, less healthy kids. Given the sheer size of the American soda industry — 9.4 billion cases of soft drinks were sold in the U.S. in 2009 — it’s not a war that will end anytime soon. Especially if a certain C word starts getting thrown around.

Update: From the picture, I got the impression that is was only girls’ schools that were targeted, but the advertorial (I can’t bring myself to call it a news report) only mentions 20 schools, and is repeated verbatim across newspapers. If readers find any more information though, please pass it on here!

Update 2: It’s not really related to the original post, but if you read that TIME magazine article above, you may also be interested in the recent findings that one of the main reasons for US children’s obesity is that they’re eating away from home so often, and (of course) that they’re mostly eating junk food when they do.

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14 thoughts on ““Body Changing” Diet-Drink Generously Donated to High School Students

  1. Pingback: ?Body Changing? Diet-Drink Generously Donated to High School … | nygygulatam

  2. I’m a little surprised that you haven’t covered any of the horribly mysogynistic remarks being directed at Park Geun Hye. If you’re looking for a good reference, there was an article in the Korea Herald yesterday(?).

    p.s. This is my first time posting here, but I’ve been lurking/reading for years. Just thought I’d add that I’m a big fan of the site.

    • Thanks, and I’d love to (I saw the article too), but between my wife’s MA that takes her out of the house 3-4 nights a week, looking after my kids, my own full-time job, and trying to actually, finally, get paid for writing, there’s only so much I can cover I’m afraid (seriously, at any one time I have at least 20 things I’d like to work on). So, passing on the links in the KGR posts is about the best I can do with 99% of them unfortunately.

      Sorry to dump on you. Suffice to say I’m very very busy these days!

      • No need to apologize, I understand how busy you must be. Really, I just meant it as an observation rather than a criticism.

        Anyway, I look forward to whatever you do decide to write about.

        • I didn’t take it as a criticism, but thanks. If I did have time though, it would be very interesting to compare the criticism of Park Geun-hye today to that of Margaret Thatcher in the UK election of ’79, as I’d wager there was some then too, despite Margaret Thatcher having children and so on (Update: it would be good to compare Hilary Clinton’s presidential nomination campaign too). Also, like my mother said of that election to me years later, a lot of British women voted for her primarily because she was a woman, but then once in office she ironically did a lot to trash their rights, and I have genuine worries that the same will happen in Korea in December too. But having said that, none of the other candidates and/or their parties seem to have made women’s rights much of a priority either, and in particular I really should check whether Ahn or Moon would repeal Lee Myung-bak’s (re)criminalization of abortion (I’ve just been assuming that they’re against it), and confirm that Park plans on maintaining it.

          • Partially answering one of my own questions, a Korea Herald editorial noted that “…Park’s critics supported him [Rep. Jung Sung-ho, the guy who argued she “lacked femininity”], pointing out that she has never proposed a bill related to women as a lawmaker….there is some point in the argument that Park has neither shown feminist leadership nor worked particularly hard to represent the interests of the socially disadvantaged and the poor, of whom women account for a majority.”

  3. I never heard of similar promotions in the European countries I’m familiar with (not many).

    There are even a few countries in Europe where children don’t get meals at schools. I also know of a few countries where meals are rather healthy. From my observation of the statistics, those countries that don’t offer meals have higher obesity incidence, probably because children are forced to buy meals in supermarkets by themselves.

    • Thanks for passing that on. And, sure enough, that 2nd observation of yours, about children being forced to find their own (unhealthy) meals if lunches are not provided, is borne out by that link in Update 2 in the post above, which I was inserting just as you were writing your comment! :)

      • I read that update 2 just after I posted the comment :)
        And sure enough, if given a choice, children without fail choose candy bars for breakfast. Actually, I ate 100% wholegrain crackers and was either teased about it or got general concern for my health because they couldn’t fathom someone with a healthy stomach would eat that, haha :)

        Anyway, we should find a way to promote healthy nutrition and take away the unhealthy choices, especially for small children, with emphasis on health and not weight. But it will be difficult to do that until it is in someone’s monetary interest.

  4. I was first introduced to HongCho by female co-workers but not as a diet drink, it was used as a mixer for soju. Since then I have started to use it myself, not as a mixer or diet drink but just a simple cordial/squash to liven up my glasses of water. I could tell that it was aimed at women but I had no idea that it was supposedly a diet drink. Learn something new everyday…

  5. Well it’s a hell of a lot better than the opposite extreme. I do wish these products would try to promote themselves along with some type of sports.

    High school cafeterias also deserve more praise for keeping Korean kids a lot healthier then their western counterparts.

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