The popular trend of 'Sulbang' (alcohol + broadcasting) is facing a roadblock as the government revises media guidelines to regulate the burgeoning content involving drinking. While the majority view these as minimal and necessary regulations due to the accessibility of most drinking broadcasts to minors, there are voices of concern about infringements on viewing freedom.

On November 30, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea Health Promotion Development Institute officially announced the 'Media Alcohol Scene Guidelines' at the 'Alcohol Harm Prevention Month' event held at the Baekbeom Kim Koo Memorial Hall in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. The revised guidelines have expanded from 10 to 12 items. Newly added are regulations to minimize access for children and adolescents to content excessively highlighting or glamorizing drinking and to provide warning messages about the harmful effects of alcohol.

The Ministry stated, "The new guidelines consider YouTube and OTT platforms. As they cannot be legally regulated, the aim is to encourage voluntary self-regulation."

This reflects public concerns over the increasing trend of 'Sulbang,' featuring famous celebrities and influencers. Shows like Lee Young-ji's 'Nothing Much But Drinking' ('Cha Jujipul'), 'Shin Dong-yup's Soju Talk', 'Jo Hyun-ah's Thursday Night', 'Pungja's Drunken Talk', and Gian84's 'Soolterview' are notable examples.

The charm of 'Sulbang' lies in its alcohol-fueled talk show format, prompting guests to share candid stories they might not otherwise and fostering a sense of intimacy as viewers see celebrities intoxicated. The shows became popular as they disarm guests and bridge the gap between them and the audience, even without aggressive promotions, thereby attracting massive views.

The issue arises as these contents are accessible to children and adolescents, potentially instilling distorted perceptions of drinking. Today's youth idolize celebrities to an almost divine level, mimicking their style, food choices, and even their words and actions. This influence is evident from the views on 'Cha Jujipul' featuring BTS's Jin surpassing 21.79 million and BLACKPINK's Jisoo's episode nearing 19.70 million. Therefore, seeing idols drinking can be concerning, as they are adults but also influence young fans.

'Sulbang' needs moderation. Content freedom should not be oppressed or forced, but glorifying binge drinking, presenting drunkenness as charming, or subtly encouraging alcohol culture must be strictly avoided. Since legal regulation is challenging, it's time for self-reflection and correction in the industry.