Monday, December 31, 2012

KOREAN CULTURE: Saehae Bok Mani Badeuseyo!

새해  많이 받으세요! (“Saehae Bok Mani Badeuseyo!” literally means "In New Year, may you receive many blessings," thus "May your New Year be filled with blessings.")   

Happy New Year!!!

The year 2013 is the year of the "Black" Snake that comes once every 60 years but not until February 10, 2013, the first day of the lunar calendar since the zodiac signs are based on the cycles of the moon.  Most Koreans consider Lunar New Year Day or Seollal much more important than today (the first day of the Gregorian calendar).

2010 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Kim Yuna poses wearing Hanbok.

Please read my old posts below if you want to learn about how South Korea sends off the year and welcomes in New Year and of course what they eat and do on New Year's Day.

A hearty bowl of Ddeokguk

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

KOREAN POLITICS: 2012 South Korean Presidential Election

Today, South Korea proved again that the greatest threat to democracy is uneducated citizenry.  The coronation is complete. The two Koreas now have one thing in common. The children of the world's worst dictators in history have become the head of each nation: South Korea's Park Geunhye, the daughter of Park Chunghee and North Korea's Kim Jung-un, the grandson of Kim Ilsung.  Awesome!

And it's a shame South Korea has just lost a rare opportunity to become a country where "people" come first.

2012 Democratic presidential nominee Moon Jae-in

Thursday, December 6, 2012

KOREAN HISTORY: Jürgen Hinzpeter's 1980 Documentary Film on Gwangju Massacre and 2012 S. Korean Movie "26 Years"

<웬디의 요청에 따라 아래의 영어 본문을 한국어로 번역했습니다. 영어 본문이 끝나는 부분에 실었습니다저는 영어를 빼어나게 잘하는 사람이 아닌데도, 일단 영어로 쓴 걸 한국어로 옮기려니 제가 쓴 글인데도 결과물이 번역본처럼 영 어색합니다. 감안하시고 읽어 주십시오.>

It was not until I went to college that I realized the inconvenient truth: that it really had happened. Of course, once or twice while growing up, I had overheard conversations on the "riot" that had risen, instigated by the barbaric North Korean regime, somewhere in S. Korea. One day, while watching the military parade held in commemoration of the Armed Forces Day on TV, this friend of mine mentioned something about the merciless airborne troops. She said, pointing her finger at the airborne troops parading on TV, "Look at them. Look at their red bloodshot eyes. I heard they are really scary." So I asked her why they were scary and she said she didn't know exactly why but she had overheard her parents saying something like that - like they killed people. It later turned out that her parents were from Gwangju. But I just shrugged off her comments 'cause I couldn't believe our nation's proud military would do such things to its own people. And I was just an ingenuous youth!

So, I was greatly shocked when I had the chance, in college, to learn the truth about the Gwangju massacre through books, pictures, and films. And I was really sorry. I was sorry that I had not known that the people of Gwangju had paid a dear price for our nation's democracy and for me; and I was sorry that I had taken democracy and freedom for granted without knowing that they were earned by the blood of the people who had lived in the turbulent times before me. And I was angry with myself for having been completely fooled.

Up until 1997, the inconvenient truth had been buried by the shameless dictator Chun Doohwan and his long-time friend and coup accomplice Roh Taewoo, both of whom were Park Chunghee's favorite underlings. In 1993, Kim Youngsam became S. Korea's first directly and freely elected, civilian president. Kim's presidency came with his untidy compromise - he merged his party with Roh Taewoo's ruling party, which is now represented by Park Geunhye, the daughter of the dictator Park Chunghee. Now that Kim colluded with the corrupt, Chun and Roh could easily get away with their past crimes with a mere formality.

During the ten years of Kim Daejung's and Roh Moohyun's civilian democratic government (1998~2008), Chun had maintained a low profile while living high on the hog with money and properties he had extorted and confiscated from South Korean people while in office. However, when Lee Myungbak, associated with Chun's former party, was elected president in 2008, Chun started strutting around; and now that Park Geunhye became the leader of the party and its presidential nominee in 2012, he is back on his high horse again. As I mentioned above, Chun was Park Chungee's favorite underling hence has maintained a very close relationship with Park Geunhye: She calls him "oppa." And not only is she about to pick up Chun's endorsement in the 2012 presidential election but she received 600 million won (approx. 600K US dollars) from him in 1980 after her father's assassination. The money was, of course, from the public purse and its current value is 30 billion won (approx. 30 million US dollars).

Chun Doohwan laughs with Lee Myungbak.
Chun Doohwan shakes hands with Park Geunhye.

Greatest Threat to Democracy is Uneducated Citizenry

In the divided Korean peninsula, South Korean version of McCarthyism has been the only and best weapon for former military regimes and corrupt governments to suppress the voice of the people. And lately, they started making the absurd, shameless allegations again that North Korea's special operations forces were secretly sent to Gwangju in 1980 to instigate the "riot." In these momentous times when the daughter of former dictator and her followers are about to rise back to power, I found some hope while reading the news that more than a million people have seen the movie "26 Years" less than a week since its release. FYI, the movie is based on Kangfull's 2006 on-line comic by the same title which is a "faction," based on the 1980 Gwangju Massacre. Thomas Jefferson once said, "The greatest threat to democracy is uneducated citizenry.” I hope tens of millions of people will watch it and learn something from history. 

Now, let's first watch KBS television documentary "Blue-eyed Witness, May of 1980" (with English subtitles), aired on May 18, 2003, in the first year of Roh Moohyun government, to commemorate the Gwangju pro-democracy protest. This film was made based on the videos filmed and produced by Jürgen Hinzpeter, a retired German journalist and witness to the event.

KBS Documentary: Blue-eyed Witness, May of 1980 (Part One)
Aired on May 18, 2003

KBS Documentary: Blue-eyed Witness, May of 1980 (Part Two)
Aired on May 18, 2003


On May 13, 2005, Gwangju Pro-democracy Protest-Bereaved Families Association and the May 18 Memorial Foundation released the official estimates of the number of victims of May 18: 606 deaths.  165 people died during the event (May 18 through 27), 65 people are still missing and presumed dead, and 376 people were wounded and later died. Among the 165 people who died during the event, 126 died of gunshots, 9 were killed by bayonet stabs, and 17 were beaten to death by the soldiers. The average age of the people killed was 27.5. 41 people were students and 30 of them were under 18 (Korean age): 13 college students, 11 high school students, 6 middle school students, and 2 elementary students. The youngest victim was a two-year-old (Korean age). 1,394 people were arrested and among them, 427 were indicted.  Among 427 people indicted, 7 were executed and 12 were sentenced to life imprisonment. Among 23 soldiers killed during the event, 13 soldiers died in the friendly-fire incidents, which disproves then-military claim that significant numbers of soldiers were killed by the armed civilians. (NoCut News)

The following video was made with a song from Kim Kwangseok's 1998 posthumous album and pictures taken during and after the Gwangju pro-democracy protest, in remembrance of the victims and their families of the event.

Related Posts:
Once Upon a Time in South Korea... National Security 1985 and 26 Years
Singer Lee Seunghwan and Cartoonist Kangfull Talk About "26 Years"
Music Video of the Song "Flower" from the Soundtrack of "26 Years" Unveiled
MBC’s “I AM a Singer” Season 2 (4)

블로그내 관련글4·19 학생혁명, 5·16 군사반란, 12·12 군사반란, 그리고 5·18 광주민주화운동

유르겐 힌츠페터의 1980년 광주항쟁 다큐멘터리 그리고 2012년 한국영화 “26

대학에 들어 가서야 나는 그 일이 실제로 일어났던 일이라는 사실을 알게 됐다. 물론 내가 어른이 되는 동안 한 두번 쯤은, 극악무도한 북한 괴뢰의 사주로 한국의 어디에선가 폭동이 일어난 적이 있었다는 식의 이야기를 우연히 들어 본 적은 있었다. 하지만 이와는 대조되는 예를 들자면, TV에서 중계되는 국군의 날 행사에서 행진을 하는 군인들을 함께 보던 친구가 무자비한 공수부대에 관해 얼핏 이야기를 꺼낸 경우가 있었다때마침 행진을 하던 공수부대를 가리키며 내 친구는 저 사람들 좀 봐. 저 눈에 뻘겋게 핏발 선 것 좀 봐. 정말 무시무시한 사람들이라더라.”  그 얘길 듣고 난 왜 그 사람들이 무시무시한 지를 물었고 친구는 자기도 이유는 잘 모르겠지만 아무튼 공수부대가 사람들을 죽였다는 그런 비슷한 얘기를 자기 부모님이 하는 걸 우연히 들었다고 했다. 후에 알게 된 바로는 친구의 부모님은 광주 출신이셨다하지만 나는 그런 친구의 말을 그다지 새겨 듣지 않았다. 우리 나라의 자랑스런 국군이 자국민에게 그런 짓을 할 리는 없다고 생각했기 때문이다.  그때 난 세상물정을 모르는 애였으니까!

그래서 대학에 들어가 책과 사진, 그리고 영상물을 통해서 광주 학살의 진실을 알게 됐을 때, 난 엄청난 충격에 휩싸였다. 정말 미안했다.  우리 나라의 민주주의와 나를 위해 광주 시민들이 그렇게 비싼 값을 치루었다는 사실을 모르고 있었다는 게 미안했다. 험한 세상을 나보다 앞서 살다가신 분들의 피와 바꾼 민주주의와 자유를 당연한 것으로 여기며 살아온 것 또한 미안했다. 그리고 그렇게 철저하게 속아 넘어갔던 나 자신에 대해 화가 났다.

1997년이 될 때까지 광주의 불편한 진실은 후안무치한 독재자 전두환과 그의 오랜 친구이자 쿠데타 동지인 노태우에 의해 꽁꽁 숨겨져 있었다. 이 두 사람은 박정희의 총애를 받던 부하였다. 1993년 김영삼은 직접, 자유 선거로 당선된 대한민국 최초의 민간인 대통령이 되었다. 하지만 그에게는 약점이 있었다바로 자신이 이끌고 있던 제2야당인 민주당과 김종필의 공화당, 그리고 집권여당이었던 노태우의 민정당을 합당하는 3당 야합을 통해 대권을 잡았다는 사실이다. 이 민정당은 현재 독재자 박정희의 딸인 박근혜가 이끄는 새누리당의 조상인 셈이다. 김영삼이 부패세력과 야합함으로써 전두환과 노태우는 약간의 요식행위를 통해 과거의 죄상에 대한 면죄부를 손쉽게 얻게 되었다.

김대중과 노무현의 민간인 민주정권 10년 동안(1998~2008), 전두환은 줄곧 저자세를 유지했다. 물론 자신의 집권 기간 동안 민간에서 갈취하고 몰수한 재산으로 떵떵거리며 호의호식하고 살았지만 말이다. 하지만 2008년 전두환의 민정당을 이어받은 한나라당 소속의 이명박이 대권을 잡게 되면서 전두환은 기지개를 켜기 시작했다. 그리고 독재자의 딸 박근혜가 한나라당이 이름만 바꾼 새누리당의 2012년 대선 후보로 선출되면서 이제 다시 기세가 등등해지고 있다. 앞서 말한 것처럼 전두환은 박정희가 총애하던 부하였기 때문에 박정희의 딸인 박근혜와 아주 가까운 사이다. 박근혜가 오빠라고 부를 정도로게다가 대권 후보인 박근혜에 대한 전두환의 지지선언이 임박했을 뿐 아니라 지난 1980년 박정희 암살 직후 박근혜가 전두환으로부터 6억원이라는 어마어마한 돈을 받아 챙겼다는 사실이 밝혀졌다물론 이 돈은 개인 재산이 아닌 국가 재산이었으며 현재 시가로 약 300억원에 달하는 거액이다.

대한민국 수구세력의 계보

친일파 자유당 공화당 민정당 민자당 신한국당 한나라당 새누리당

민주주의의 가장 큰 위협은 무지한 국민이다

한국화된 맥카시즘이야말로 분단된 한반도에서 국민의 소리를 억누르기 위해 군사독재정권이나 부패한 정권이 쓸 수 있는 가장 효과적이고 유일한 방법이 되어 왔다그리고 최근 저들은 후안무치하고 어처구니없는 주장을 다시 시작하고 있다.  1980년 폭동을 사주하기 위해 북괴가 특수부대를 비밀리에 광주에 남파했다는 것이다. 독재자의 딸과 그 배후세력들이 다시 한번 권력을 쥘 수도 있는 이런 중차대한 시기에 나는, 개봉 일주일도 안 돼서 영화 26년을 본 관객이 벌써 백만을 넘었다는 뉴스를 읽으며 약간의 희망을 보았다. (참고로 이 26년은 만화가 강풀이 1980년 광주항쟁을 모티브로 그린 동명의 2006년작 웹툰 일종의 팩션 을 바탕으로 한 영화이다.)  토마스 제퍼슨은 민주주의의 가장 큰 위협은 무지한 국민이라고 말했다나는 수천만 관객이 이 영화를 관람하고 역사에서 무언가를 배울 수 있기를 소망한다.

아래의 비디오는 노무현 정권 첫 해인 2003 5 18, 광주 민주화 운동을 기리기 위해 KBS에서 방영했던 다큐멘터리 “1980 5, 푸른 눈의 목격자이다이 영상은 은퇴한 독일 기자이자 광주 항쟁의 목격자인 유르겐 힌츠페터가 촬영하고 제작한 영상을 바탕으로 만들어졌다.

역사적 사실

2005 5 13,  5.18민주유공자 유족회와 5.18기념재단은 5.18 관련 희생자 통계를 공식 발표했는데  총 사망자는 606명으로 추정됐다그 중 165명은 항쟁 당시 (1980 5 18일에서 27일 사이) 숨졌고, 행방불명으로 사망한 것으로 추정되는 사람이 65, 항쟁 당시 부상을 당하고 이후에 사망한 사람이 376명에 달한다.  항쟁 당시 사망한 165명 가운데 126명이 총상, 9명이 자상으로, 17명이 맞아서 숨졌다.  165명 사망자의 평균 연령은 27.5세였고 그 중 41명이 학생이었으며 18세 이하가 30명이나 되었다대학생이 13, 고등학생이 11, 중학생이 6, 심지어 초등학생도 2명 사망했다.  최연소 사망자의 나이는 2세였다.  1,394명이 구속 연행되었고 그 중 427명의 기소자 가운데서 7명이 사형을 당했고 12명이 무기형을 선고 받았다계엄군 사망자 23명 중 13명은 부대간 오인사격으로 인해 숨진 것으로 확인되었고 이로써 "무장한 시민군에 의해 계엄군 상당수가 숨졌다"는 그동안의 주장이 잘못됐음이 드러났다. (NoCut News)

다음의 비디오는 광주의 희생자들과 그 가족들을 기리기 위해 만들어졌다이 비디오는 김광석의 1998년 유작 앨범 수록곡인 부치지 않은 편지와 광주 항쟁 관련 사진들로 이루어졌다.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

KOREAN MOVIES: Free Concert Performed to Promote the Movie "26 Years"

On November 16, 2012, there was a free concert performed in the heart of Seoul Plaza to promote the 2012 South Korean action revenge film "26 Years."  The movie is based on Kangfull's 2006 comic by the same title which is also based on the historical event that happened in 1980, that is, the Gwangju Democratization Movement, aka, Gwangju Pro-democracy Protest or Gwangju Massacre. (Click to learn more about the event.)  The following clip is a cast interview video featuring Jin Goo, Han Hyejin, Bae Subin, Im Seulong, Lee Kyung-young, Jang Gwang, Jo Deokjae, and Kangfull.

And the video clip you are going to watch next features the cast and director interviews at the movie premiere (Nov. 22, 2012):

This movie will open less than two days and I hope it will be a mega hit movie of all time. Now, the last clip for you to watch is the 5-minute highlights from the movie:

Related Posts:

KOREAN MUSIC: Lee Hi (Lee Hayi) Updates (10)

(UPDATE)  At this very moment I'm writing this, Hi is on a plane heading to Hong Kong, together with Big Bang. Scroll down to see her pictures taken at the Incheon Int'l Airport today (Wednesday morning (11/28/2012) in KST).


Yesterday (11/24/2012), YG said Hi's new song "Scarecrow" was meant to be a surprise gift to people in their 30's and 40's (LINK). As many of you already know now, this song was written by JYP at YG's request five years ago and was supposed to be Park Bom's solo debut song.  She even performed it in 2007 Big Bang concert.  When YG chose to form 2NE1 and made her join the group, however, the song seemed doomed to remain unreleased. But as he loved the song so much and he figured out over half of Hi's fans are in their 30's, 40's and even 50's, he wanted to comfort these old school analog generations with an old school analog song. According to YG, this song will not be featured on her next album scheduled to be released early next year and her next songs will definitely lean towards soul.


(You ask me) why I don't know
that all kinds of love will change over time.
(You tell me) things will change in a year
and even the thought of you will not pain me.
But I know my heart too well;
I know too well that it will never change.
Because everyone has a perfect match,
that kind of love will never be forgotten.

(Refrain)You may think that I've forgotten you
and that I am happy with someone else.
But I still can’t forget you like this,
like a scarecrow that is left standing alone.

When the sun sets and everyone goes home,
I am left standing alone in an open field.
Darkness grows thicker and gradually makes me blind
so it scares me more and more because I'm alone.
But before I know it, when I open my eyes that I have kept tightly shut,
I see stars beautifully twinkle.
They look like you who are so far away
so I pray to them that you will come back to me someday.


You may think that I've forgotten you (oh, you may think that I)
and that I am happy with someone else (having forgotten you).
But I still can’t forget you like this (I can't forget), 
like a scarecrow that is left standing alone (even when you left me, like a scarecrow).

Like a scarecrow that is left standing alone.

Lyrics and Music by JYP
Translation by ONSEMIRO

BTW, is it just me or does this song sound quite familiar with Tashannie's 2000 song Haru Haru (하루 하루, "Day By Day")?  Tashannie's song was a cover of Jung Yeonjun's 1993 song; Jung, a former member/leader of Uptown, aka, Chris Jung, was the producer of the duo. He claimed that he wrote the song himself but in fact, the song was mostly a rip off of Karyn White's 1988 song "Superwoman."

[MV] Tashannie: Day By Day (2000)
Warning: This video contains content some viewers may find disturbing.

[MV] Karyn White: Superwoman (1988)

Lee Hi pictures taken in the Incheon Airport boarding area

Monday, November 19, 2012

KOREAN MUSIC: PSY Performs with MC Hammer at 2012 AMAs

MC Hammer joined PSY on American Music Awards finale tonight and their mashup of "Gangnam Style" and "2 Legit 2 Quit" (Too Legit to Quit) brought the house down.  PSY once said when he was a Berklee student in Boston, he had so much fun dancing in the club instead of studying - such students or people in general are vulgarly called Nallari in Korean (lol) - and I don't think it was a waste of time for him. Ever. Look, he is one heck of a swagger! And it was great to see you again, Mr. Hammer! (Or should I call you Pastor?)  Actually, I'm quite positive that it was PSY's idea to get Hammer back to the stage.

[HD] At 4:38, you can see Joe Hahn of Linkin Park

(UPDATE) Yeah~~ I was right it was PSY's idea!  Watch him explain why he wanted Hammer to do the performance with him:

Read Related Articles:

MTV Article: "Psy, MC Hammer Unite At AMAs, Send America Into Gallop-Like Frenzy"
Korean rapper Psy was the icing on the cake at the 2012 AMAs.... MC Hammer hinted that the two might work together again. “He’s got the whole world dancing,” he said and compared Psy to James Brown, Michael Jackson and himself.” After the AMAs, Psy said to the press, “That was awesome. We experienced a miracle tonight.” (Excerpt from the Examiner Article, Justin Bieber wins big, Psy steals the show at the 2012 AMAs, by Jackie Kass)
No 1. PSY & MC HAMMER:  P!nk's performance was braver and harder to pull off, but PSY's feverish rendition of "Gangnam Style" accomplished what so few award show performances can: a palpable sense of excitement. The combination of the K-pop star and MC Hammer, who shimmied onstage to mash up "Gangnam" with his 1991 hit "2 Legit 2 Quit," was a stroke of genius that very few could have seen coming -- although PSY's baggy pants might have been a sly tip-off. Furthermore, "Gangnam Style" and "2 Legit 2 Quit" sounded incredible when paired together, with PSY's international dance anthem given a stronger backbone by Hammer's throwback barks. The PSY performance was always going to be a highlight of the 2012 American Music Awards, but upping the ante with MC Hammer made the sort of water-cooler fodder that doesn't happen often enough. (Excerpt from the Article: AMAs 2012: Top 5 Best Performances, by Jason Lipshutz)
Greatest Ending Ever: Don't lie, you know the dance—Psy got the crowd going with "Gangnam Style." And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, MC Hammer got on stage and they mixed the Korean dance song with "Too Legit to Quit." (Excerpt from the E!online Article, 2012 American Music Awards: Best & Worst From the Show, Plus Full Winner's List, by Bruna Nessif) 

Dance Practice: Gangnam Style/ 2 Legit 2 Quit Mashup

Thursday, November 15, 2012

KOREAN MOVIES: Music Video of the Song "Flower" from the Soundtrack of "26 Years" Unveiled

As follows is the music video of "Flower," a song featured on the soundtrack of the 2012 South Korean movie "26 years" with English subtitles. The song/video features South Korean musicians and actors such as Aktoong, Bae Subin, Bye Bye Sea, Horan, Im Seulong, Jin Goo, Jung Jichan, Kim Hyungjoong, Kim Jongseo, The Koxx, Lee Gyuho, Lee Hyunseok, Lee Seokhoon, Lee Seunghwan, Peter Pan Complex, Pia, Romantic Punch, Rose Motel, Soran, Taru, Trans Fixion, Yellow Monsters, Ynot, Yoon Dohyun, Yoon Sang, Yozoh, Zitten, and the cartoonist Kangfull.

Lee Seunghwan revealed on TvN's "Taxi," aired on November 8, 2012, that it was unusually hard to call his artist/musician friends together to collaborate on the song 'cause the movie deals with sensitive topics. Many of his musical colleagues who readily accepted his offers to collaborate at other times chickened out and said no this time.

The song "Flower" was originally released March 12, 2003, along with its music video, just 8 days before the Iraq War (3/20/2003~12/18/2011) broke out.  South Koreans were so amazed when they first watched the video as the purpose of the video was to convey the anti-war message. In fact, they posted messages such as these: "Was this video made, predicting the war in Iraq?" or "Let's send this video to CNN so that people around the world can watch it too." Lee Seunghwan said he wanted to tell the world that no war is justifiable in any case. The video also conveyed the message of hope as it showed a flower blooming in the ruins of war at the end of it.

The music video featured the actress Park Shinhye ("You're Beautiful") at age 13.  During the time she was signed to Lee Seunghwan's Dream Factory (DF) (2003~2009), she was trained to be DF's BoA but it's been known that despite her outstanding dancing talent, her singing abilities, especially when expressing her emotions while singing, held her back. So she was advised to take some acting lessons and ironically took up acting in the end. Yes, it's true when we say no one knows what tomorrow may bring.

[MV] Flower: Lee Seunghwan (2003)
Featuring Park Shinhye

Related Posts:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

KOREAN MUSIC: Mashup! PSY vs. Madonna

PSY and Madonna performed a mashup of his "Gangnam Style" and her "Give It To Me" at Madison Square Garden today (11/13/2012)!

HD Version 1

HD Version 2

Sunday, November 11, 2012

KOREAN MUSIC: PSY Wins the EMA Best Video Award!

PSY just won the Best Video award!  The award was presented by David Hasselhoff and his acceptance speech was really moving, especially, when he showed his gratitude to his family who have to live with his selfish job and this selfish guy and also to the lady who decided to marry him 6 years ago.

Congrats, PSY!!!!!

Click to watch the HD version.

PSY's Best Video Acceptance Speech

Saturday, November 10, 2012

KOREAN MUSIC: PSY Talks and Performs Live on Jonathan Ross Show

PSY made a guest appearance on the Jonathan Ross Show in the UK today (11/10/2012). This was the best talk show that had ever featured PSY and really enjoyed watching him talk with his usual carefree nature.  I think he looked very relaxed probably because the show was quite well scripted and Ross is a funny, kind, and friendly host.  BTW, he revealed that his next dance move has to do with some sports, not animals.

KOREAN MOVIES: Lee Joon (of MBLAQ) Will Star in the Upcoming Film Written and Produced by Kim Kiduk

Director Kim Kiduk and Singer/Actor Lee Joon
on SBS's "Strong Heart" (9/4/2012)

According to OhmyNews (11/2/2012), Lee Joon, my most favorite MBLAQ member, has been cast as the lead role in Bae-wuneun baewuda (배우는 배우, "Actors are Actors"), a film that will be written and produced by Kim Kiduk and directed by Shin Yeonsik, one of Kim's apprentices. Lee will play an actor who becomes a star overnight then hits rock bottom.  (However, OhmyNews reported J.Tune Camp, Lee's agency, was very unforthcoming about whether Lee will appear in the film. Wait, didn't they act the same way when Rain was cast in the 2010 KBS drama "The Fugitive: Plan B"?)

It is the third film that Kim will only write and produce (but not direct) since the 2011 film Pungsangae (풍산개, "Pungsan Dog," aka "Poongsan"), directed by Juhn Jai-hong; and it is the second in the "A is A" series.  Jang Hun's Yeonghwaneun Younghwada (영화는 영화, "Movies are Movies," aka "Rough Cut") is the first in the "A is A" series and also the first film to be written and produced, not directed, by Kim. Both Juhn and Jang were Kim's apprentices as well and Kim's been doing it to help them make directorial debut.

When I first heard the news, I couldn't help but be reminded of the show, SBS's "Strong Heart," aired on September 4, 2012.  I always get the impression that most of the guests on the show can't care less about others' stories; I may be wrong but they don't seem to listen with their hearts even when they pretend as if they do. But Kim Kiduk was different. Contrary to people's belief, he is a very caring, empathetic, and respectful person and his personality shone through on the show. He was all ears and heart when Lee Joon shared his stories; he even turned around quite often to look at Lee while he was talking.  And when Lee revealed he had wanted to be cast in Kim's film and when Kim said he hoped to work with him someday, I kind of could see it coming and yes, it's really happening!  I just can't wait to see what Kim and Lee do together to surprise us. Now, here's a scene from the show where Lee reveals he wanted to be cast in Kim's film.


YG revealed today Psy is booked to perform at the American Music Awards (AMA), Sunday, November 18th and also for a guest spot on NBC's The Tonight Show on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 22nd).  He will also perform at the MTV Europe Music Awards (EMA), a week before the AMAs as he received his first EMA nomination for Best Video. (News link)

And recently (November 1st), YG said in an interview with eDaily that he had already listened to Psy’s US debut single and he personally thought it would be no less than “Gangnam Style.” It was originally scheduled to be released sometime in November and its lyrics would be a mix of half Korean and half English. According to YG, however, chances are that its release will be postponed until early next year because “Gangnam Style” is still going strong (in the US). YG also revealed that they were reconsidering the ratio of Korean to English in the song and contemplating ways to get him ultimately good results.

BONUS 1: Ever curious about PSY's female backup dancers? The girl who always dances to his right (or to his left from your point of view) is Won Ayeon (the blonde in the video below) and the other girl is Yoon Heejin. They are part of YG's Crazygirls Dance Team. Ayeon is my favorite and was featured in "Gangnam Style" music video - she was the hot girl who opened the video by cooling PSY with her fan, strutted with him in the outdoor parking lot, and danced with him in the stable.

BONUS 2: Watch PSY perform in front of over 25,000 Parisiennes and Parisians who seem to have authentically inherited Ddechang (떼창, "group singing") from South Koreans.

PSY performs at the Trocadéro, located across the Seine 
near the Eiffel Tower, Paris. (May 11, 2012)

PSY performs at the Trocadéro, located across the Seine 
near the Eiffel Tower, Paris. (May 11, 2012)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

KOREAN MUSIC: KBS Bans Hot Potato's Music Video "Pillow"

Kim C is a South Korean folk rock musician, actor, TV personality, and author; he’s the lead vocalist, guitarist, and song-writer of Ddeugeo-un Gamja (뜨거운 감자, “Hot Potato”), a two-person folk rock band consisting of Go Beomjun (bass) and himself.  (His birth name is Kim Daewon.)  Hot Potato recently released their 5th full-length album “Who Doesn`t Like Sweet Things” after a 2+ year hiatus since their mini album “Seesaw”(2008).

Well, this post may belong to Zilly Talkz, not Korean Music, since the music video of their title track Palbegae (팔베개, “Pillow”) was recently banned by KBS for some stupendously ridiculous, "zilly" reasons and I dare you to guess why. Of course, I know you gotta watch the video first:

Hot Potato: Palbegae (Pillow, 2012)

So, can you tell why this vid was banned?  Now, scroll down to see if you guessed right.

Hot Potato (left to right): Go Beomjun and Kim C

The answer is "Misdemeanor": Kim C walks the wrong way down the moving sidewalk and also commits a littering in the video.  

Last Wednesday (10/31/2012), Kim C tweeted, “The funniest story of the year – the music video of “Pillow” was banned by KBS due to walking the wrong way down the moving sidewalk, a public facility, and throwing out the trash on it. Hahahaha.” (C@slykimc)

I would call it a comedy, a black comedy. The song is about sharing your love downward, i.e., with people who are worse off, which is a way of life against the tide of materialism, consumerism, and physical comfort.  Was there any human society where people didn’t “like sweet things?” But the narrator of the song chooses to live against human nature, which is symbolized by his walking the wrong way down the moving sidewalk in the video. As he says in the song, he might feel his arm is going numb while lending it to someone as a pillow, which means his life turns out to be bitter, but he still wants to go against the tide. And his “littering” is symbolic of his strong determination to pursue goods for others by giving up his belongings, favorite things, and habits. (Note that Kim C was a semi-professional high school baseball player.)

Are people on the censor board just ignorant, insensible, and unaesthetic or what? How come they didn't get it?  Or do they just hate the band ‘cause they are signed to Daeum Entertainment, home to such musicians/entertainers aware of social and political issues as Jeong Taechoon, Park Eunok, YB, or Kim Jedong?  Whatever the reason is, it’s really frustrating….. and funny. Stupendously, ridiculously funny.

BTW, even though Hot Potato is often considered a social commentary band, they also have a mellow side. So, here’s a bonus: Two other music videos of the band’s 2010 hits, “Confession” (featuring Bae Doona and Kim Taewoo) and “Seesaw.”  Hope you enjoy!

P.S. At the request of my blog reader a, I also subtitled the music video of Kim C's "Love," the title track from his first mini solo album released this year (2012). Actor Zo Insung, his old friend of 10 years, was featured in the video.  Please scroll down to watch it.

Hot Potato: Gobaek (Confession, 2010)
Featuring Actress Bae Doona & Actor Kim Taewoo

Hot Potato: Seesaw (2010)

Kim C: Love (2012)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

KOREAN MUSIC: miss A's Fei and Jia, Weak Links or Underappreciated?

The miss A is so far my most favorite from JYP because they have the offbeat style that sets them apart from other JYP artists. And most of all, all miss A members are quite evenly talented singers and dancers. Though, I like this group basically because of Fei and Jia who I think are the most talented in the pack. Thus, you'll probably know by now how sad I feel that they are the most underrated miss A's, sometimes considered the weak links on the group at least in Korea.

My heart especially goes out to Fei for some reasons. Firstly, even though she is the lead vocalist of the group, people think Min (who is also the lead vocalist) sings best of all other members. But I think Fei has really attractive voice when she sings. Secondly, even though she is a great dancer with a solid background in dance, people think Jia is the best dancer in the pack. Of course, I admit Jia is a darn good dancer but people, Fei is just as good! And lastly, of course I agree everyone has different taste in beauty but I think she's the most beautiful and gorgeous miss A who is always overshadowed by Suzy. (Maybe it's just me but whenever I see Fei and Jia, they respectively reminds me of Kim Ahjoong and Gong Li.)

Fei & Jia (of the miss A)

Now, let's first watch the music video (dance version) of their 2010 hit "Breathe." (Click to watch its official music video.) This video invites you to witness the delicately subtle details of Fei's and Jia's dance moves that make them stand out.

So, I wonder why Fei and Jia couldn't attract as many as fans I thought they would in Korea. Probably because the language barrier has kept them from being featured on TV talk shows or entertainment shows? Whatever the reason is, I hope JYP will get to promote other members as much as Suzy, just like SM has supported each and every member of SNSD to shine. Otherwise, the rest of the pack will probably become wasted talents in the long run 'cause I think they are already slipping into Suzy and the Girls.

BTW, their newly released album "Independent Women Part III" and its title track Namja eopsi jal sara (which translates to "I Don't Need a Man" or literally "I Can Live without a Man") is the best I've heard from them in a long time since their 2010 hits "Bad Girl, Good Girl" and "Breathe" and I really love this subtle Chinese flavor added to the song.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

KOREAN MUSIC: Lee Hi (Lee Hayi) Updates (9)

Lee Hi's Debut Single "" Unveiled

SBS's "K-pop Star" Season 1 runner-up Lee Hi just released her debut single "" today (Oct. 29 (KST), Oct. 28 (US Time)). The song was created by Choice37 and Lydia Paek, YG's in-house producers, and its lyrics were written by the rapper Masta Wu.  Choice37 also participated in writing Big Bang's "Bad Boy" and G-Dragon's "One of a Kind" and Lydia Paek (of Quest Crew) is a writer of 2NE1's "I Love You" and Park Bom's "Don't Cry."

YG Entertainment, her label/agency, promised that she had completely transformed her music as well as her look, beyond anyone's expectations, and her fans had been eagerly awaiting the release of her song/music video, the genre of which is known to be retro-soul.  And voilà!  Here's the music video of her debut single. (Please scroll down to see its English lyrics.)

In an interview he had with Star News yesterday (Oct. 28), YG (Yang Hyunseok) said he had become fascinated with Hi's twisted charm while producing her debut single. "As she's had no dance training ever, her dance moves in her music video will give fresh charm (to all her metamorphoses)," said he. The twist he sees in her is that her voice is really mature for her age (16 (Western age), 17 (Korean age)) yet her cute appearance exactly shows her age. He said, "When she danced to 2NE1's "I Am the Best" on her first "K-pop Star" stage, we the judges all laughed 'cause she was really cute. I saw there was more to her than just her cuteness. Something that is beguiling, as epitomized in her debut single."

Actually, I still remember how YG reacted to Hi's dance: "You danced like you got two left feet but I really like you - your confident look and sassy gestures. You must have been really nervous (but it didn't show)." Let us now watch her first "K-pop Star" stage, which brings a smile to my lips every time I watch it.

Lee Hi sings Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Window" @ 0:44
and dances to 2NE1's :I Am the Best" @ 2:25.
(Aired on 12/11/11)

So how much do you think she's changed?  Do you agree with the direction she's heading in?


Hey, c’mon now!
I said, 1, 2, 3!

Stop kidding yourself by thinking I'm still yours.
I'm not the girl I used to be.
A flower has bloomed at the sound of morning dawning
but why can't you snap out of it?

(Refrain) ## I’m sick and tired of your hypocrisy.
Sloppy liar, ooh! Will you get lost already?
I think I’m going, going crazy, ooh!
I think I’m going, going crazy, ooh!

Don't look so miserable!
Please disappear, far away from me.
No, no, Nananananana!
Don't cry; it's pathetic.
Please forget everything forever
(=Please kiss everything goodbye),  no, no.

Don't worry about me and mind your own business.
I don't need your pity, uh!

I said, 1 and 2 and 3, 4 , ooh!
Time will fix everything.
1 and 2 and 3,  4, ooh!
Game over, game over, ooh!
Game over! ## 

 A girl like me is almost impossible to find.
I'm sometimes sexy and sometimes innocent
and it makes men surrender so childishly.


I'm so hurt.
You seem to have forgotten me already.
Hey baby, please leave me.

I said, 1 and 2 and 3, 4 , ooh!
Time will fix everything.
1 and 2 and 3,  4, ooh!
Game over, game over, ooh!
Game over!

1 and 2 and 3, 4!
1 and 2 and 3, 4!
1 and 2 and 3, 4!
Game over, game over, game over!


Music by Choice 37 & Lydia Paek
Lyrics by Masta Wu
Translation by ONSEMIRO

UPDATE 1: Summary of Two YG Interviews

YG said in today's interview that in her debut single and music video, Hi showed her fans everything she has in her at this point. He didn't even try to sugar coat or hide her weaknesses - she's a clumsy dancer. He didn't even think about making her have dance training. For Lee Hi is a soulful singer and clumsy dancer at the same time and they wanted her fans to take her the way she is.  He said he was proud of her 'cause her song is doing great when she is not a typical K-pop idol star. He said today's K-pop industry is pretty much all about dance music or ballad and the fans are thirsty for a different type of music/singers with new content. He said he really appreciates just how much K-pop fans acknowledge their effort.  (Sources: Star News & Dispatch)

UPDATE 2: Summary of Korean Blogger's Post  

YG & Lee Hi, Match Made in Heaven

Here's my summary of this blog post: The blogger first compared Hi's song and Jimin's and Ayeon's ballad song. He said Jimin and Ayeon made the best possible choice when they chose to sign with JYP 'cause it is the mecca ballad label/agency in S Korea. Comparing the fans' response to each singer's debut song, as of now, Hi's debut can safely deemed most successful of three. Of course, it was Hi's strengths and charms that made it happen. But here, we have to appreciate YG's role and effort 'cause it seems they have prepared everything for her (debut). From her collaboration with Epik High to their marketing efforts to provoke curiosity. But most of all, they had her debut single custom-made to maximize her soulful voice and her vocal ability and style. Especially the part in the middle of the song where she sings with no accompaniment is absolutely something to remember. I think this part is irresistibly captivating.

In short, I think Hi and YG are a match made in Heaven and her voice that's different from Park Bom's will be a great addition to YG's 'cause they have one more singer to feature on the albums of other YG artists.

UPDATE 3: Two Behind-the-Scenes videos Released

Making of the "1,2,3,4" Music Video (English Subtitles)

Album Cover Shoot

UPDATE 4: YG Interviews with OSEN about Hi's stage debut (11/3/2012)

YG said in his interview with OSEN that he had cancelled his planned trip to Los Angeles to help Hi prepare for her stage debut on SBS's Ingigayo, scheduled to air on November 4. He was originally planning to meet Psy he hasn't seen for a while and also watch Big Bang's concert. He revealed he has an exceptional attachment to Hi as if she were his daughter. He said, "Had I gotten married a little earlier, I might have had a daughter her age." "As I said at the K-pop Star finale that she was the number one in my heart, I have strong convictions about her talent," added he.

UPDATE 5: Lee Hi SBS Ingigayo Debut Stage (11/4/2012)

Hi is really a cute, adorable, confident, and great singer! 

UPDATE 6: Lee Hi Wins Mnet's Countdown Award (11/8/2012)

UPDATE 7: JYP & YG on Hi, Jimin, and Ayeon (11/9/2012) (News Link)

JYP said, "When I watched Lee Hi's (music video and stage), I thought YG could call himself tiptop. He produced her song by extracting her essence that is uniquely Hi. Strangely, I adore Hi, Jimin, and Ayeon all, even without thinking about the agencies/labels they signed to. They are all lovely and I'm unconditionally rooting for them."

YG said, "The fans may consider them rivals. But as I once said to Ayeon that I wanted to join her fan club, I still like her. And also, I still remember how Jimin affected the public. I hope you don't consider them competition. Honestly, we couldn't even start competing 'cause JYP had stayed in the Middle East for two months. We consider one another family and just like JYP gave his song to SE7EN, I can always ask for his help."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

ZILLY TALKZ: Cloud Atlas Starring Bae Doona Opened Nationwide in the US

Last night (10/26/2012), the Wachowskis and Tykwer's epic adventure film "Cloud Atlas" starring South Korea's Bae Doona opened nationwide in the US. I've read quite mixed reviews about the movie like CNN's Cloud Atlas' is all over the map by Tom Charity but it's yours to decide. And if Buddhism or Buddhist philosophy (such as the "bondage of life, death, and rebirth") is not too foreign to you, I don't think it'll be too hard for you to follow/understand this seemingly too complicated, "too ambitious" movie.

Yet, the movie left something to be desired: It's too bad that the production designer, the art director, and the costume designer of the movie didn't do their homework. Future Korea is more like Japan most of the time and China at times.

In the movie, South Korean actress Bae Doona plays Sonmi-451 and two other roles. In an interview I read some time ago, she said she had learned to speak British English for the role and it obviously shows in every interview she's had. I think her British accent is so adorable.

Bae Doona interviewed at the premiere of the film "Cloud Atlas"
at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles

Unfortunately, however, as Bae's English is quite limited, I feel really sorry that she couldn't express her thoughts as eloquently as she does in Korean. So I chose to translate two of her interviews into English. First, let us watch her reveal how she was cast to play Sonmi-451, Tilda Ewing, and a Mexican woman in the movie on TvN's talk show "Taxi" aired on May 10, 2012.

And the following is Bae's interview with All TV Canada at the premiere of the movie during the Toronto International Film Festival (September 9, 2012).

Related Post:
Bae Doona Stars in "Cloud Atlas"

Friday, October 26, 2012

KOREAN MOVIES: Once Upon a Time in South Korea... National Security 1985 and 26 Years

South Korea’s presidential elections occur quinquennially (the count beginning with the year 1988) and this year, on December 19, the 18th president of the nation will be elected. It will be the 6th “direct” presidential election in Korean history in which the candidate receiving the highest number of votes will be elected president. As the presidential election draws near, in the midst of a presidential campaign that's intensifying, there are two controversial movies waiting to be released in the late November, less than a month before Election Day.  Coincidentally, both movies are based on the historical events that happened during the era of totalitarian military dictatorship. And ironically enough, the daughter of a former South Korean dictator Park Chunghee is now aiming to become the country's first female president.  She was the de facto first lady of South Korea for about 5 years (August 1974~October 1979) from the time her mother was assassinated until her father was assassinated. In short, maybe it’s like the daughter of Benito Mussolini or Muammar Gaddafi running for president?

Namyoungdong 1985 (National Security 1985)

The movie “Namyoungdong 1985” (aka National Security 1985) is set in the cruel totalitarian military regime of the dictator Chun Doohwan and is based on a true story about the late Kim Geuntae (February 1947~ December 2011) being tortured by South Korea's National Security for 22 consecutive days in September of 1985. About 90 percent of the movie is known to depict graphic scenes of torture administered by Lee Geunan, one of the most evil torture technicians in Korean history. Lee later said torture is a kind of art.

The late Kim Geuntae (1947~2011)

Kim Geuntae was South Korea's democracy activist turned politician. While being an Economics major at Seoul National University in the 60’s, he became interested in and involved with civil rights issues and democratic activism against Park Chung-hee’s atrocious totalitarian military regime. He had been repeatedly arrested and tortured, and had served in prison until 1992.  His exposure to such traumatic experiences since the 60's resulted in developing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Parkinson's disease, which got worse over time. In 2010, he couldn't even walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding and in November 2011, he succumbed to brain blood thrombus and passed away on 30 December 2011 at age 64.  Democracy blossomed in South Korea thanks to his blood, sweat and tears and his untimely death was a great loss to its democracy. (Click to learn more about Kim Geuntae.) 

The lady in white who cries @0:09 is Kim Geuntae's widow, In Jaekeun 
who received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award with him in 1987.

FYI, South Korea's National Security was known more as Angibu (안기부, an acronym of Gukga Anjeon Gihoek Buseo (국가안전기획부())) or Namyoungdong (남영동) as it was located in Namyoungdong (currently, Galwoldong), Yongsan-gu, Seoul.  Together with Jungjeong (an acronym of Jung-ang Jeongbobu (중앙정보부, “Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA)”)), commonly known as Namsan (남산) as it was located in the Namsan Mountain, Namyoungdong was a place of dread as the torture agents there were infamous for their use of a wide variety of hideous torture methods and devices against civilians.  Accordingly, just hearing those two names, Namsan and Namyoungdong, people automatically became fear/horror-stricken.

The movie was premiered at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) on October 6, 2012 and the director of BIFF said, “The movie is about how torture destroys human spirit as well as body” and director Jung Jiyoung added, "And about how it destroys both the tortured and the torturers." Jung also suggested the daughter of Park Chung-hee watch it after all the hoopla and all the controversy she got herself into by making comments supportive of her father's 1961 coup d'état and the People's Revolutionary Party Incident (1964~1975) in which eight innocent people were falsely accused and wrongfully executed, just 18 hours after they were sentenced to death. And as expected, her response was silence.

The movie “Namyoungdong 1985” is scheduled to be released on November 22, 2012.

26 Years

Our next movie "26 Years" is based on Kangfull's 2006 comics by the same title which is also based on the historical event that happened in 1980, that is, the Gwangju Democratization Movement (aka, Gwangju Massacre) against Chun Doohwan who was ruling South Korea as an unelected military strongman starting December 12, 1979, about 2 months after the death of Park Chung-hee. The estimated number of total civilian casualties ranges from 4,369 to 5,189.  More accurately speaking though, the genre of this movie is faction, a portmanteau of "fact" and "fiction" in which five individuals cooperate with one another in order to execute Chun (the man) 26 years after they had lost their loved ones in the event. (Note that Kangfull published this comic series on line in 2006.) 

Cuts from Kangfull's 2006 comic series "26 Years"

Making of this movie had come up against a great many unforeseen yet predictable difficulties as investors were spooked and pulled their funding from the movie presumably as a result of external coercion. It was originally set to star Kim Ahjoong (now replaced by Han Hyejin), Ryoo Seungbeom (now replaced by Jin Goo), Han Sangjin (now replaced by Bae Subin), Jin Goo (now replaced by Im Seulong), and Byeon Heebong for the man (now replaced by Jang Gwang) in 2008; it was titled 29 Years as it was expected to be released in 2009, 29 years after the event.

Cheong-eoram, the production of the movie decided to try crowd funding (named Jejak Dure Project) in March, 2012, nearly 4 years after the original production fell apart, and eventually started filming the movie on July 19, 2012, with a new director and new actors/actresses except Jin Goo who had waited all the while and ended up playing the leading role – he was originally a supporting actor in the movie. 

In an interview with Hangyeore News, Han Hyejin said, “I took the role of Shim Mijin right away ‘cause I am an actor and I really wanted to participate in this movie.  So I was/am bewildered by people who worried/worry about me. I think there's nothing to worry about ‘cause it’s really what happened in the past.” She said she had watched the documentary films and pictures related to the 1980 event to be enlightened before filming and became sure that the movie would be one of the most rewarding experiences in her career.

The role Han played in the movie is a shooting athlete-turned-sniper. Unlike other collaborators who want an apology from “the man,” she thinks he deserves nothing but execution. “I want people to wake up at the sound of Shim Mijin’s gun, just like I did. For there are so many people that are ignorant of the Gwangju Democratization Movement, just like I was. I hope the victims and their families know that they are not history, lost and forgotten. I hope they know that we know. And I hope this movie can help them heal their wounded hearts,” said Han.  When asked what she thought of “the man,” she answered, “Well…, don’t you think he’s pathetic and pitiful? The most pathetic and pitiful thing is people not aware of or not admitting their serious wrongdoings.”