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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

KOREAN ROCK: YB’s “The Blue Whale” Supports the Weak (2)

YB’s Mini Album Hinsuyeom Gorae (흰수염 고래, “The Blue Whale”) 


From left: Park Tae Hee (bass), Huh Joon (guitar),
Yoon Do Hyun (vocalist and guitar), Kim Jin Won (drums), and Scott Hellowell (guitar)

Official Website for YB
or Yun Dohyeon Baendeu (윤도현 밴드, “The Yoon Do Hyun Band”)


Kang Sane performs Ggae-eona ("Wake Up").
Kang wrote the song and its lyrics.


Yoon Do Hyun is a Korean singer, musician, the main vocalist of the Korean rock band YB (formerly Yoon Do Hyun Band), and (accidental) actor.  He has been vilified for being Jwabbal (좌빨), a leftist commie, in the communist-phobic Korea by extremely conservative leading media's malicious journalism. 

Many right-wing extremists have called him Anti-American only because he took part in the concerts held to protest over the Yangju Highway Incident in 2002, against the government’s decision to deploy Korean troops to Iraq in 2003, or in 2008, against its decision to import American beef meat and beef products, including bone-in as well as boneless, that was installed over a case of mad cow disease in the United States. Yoon later said it was only natural that he had expressed deep remorse and empathy for two teenage girls, the victims of the Yangju Highway Incident as he had also grown up in one of the cities where the U.S. Army bases are located. And also, he was only voicing an opinion against the Korean government's decisions as he is anti-war.  And who wouldn't worry about their health and well-being?  Or who wouldn't care about what they eat?

Or many right-wing Koreans think Yoon is a politically active celebrity because in 2000, he attended the opening ceremony of the Democratic Labor Party and sang the song, Ggae-eona (깨어나, “Wake Up”) in support of the party.  Even worse, they have labeled him as Rohbba (노빠, “Roh-natic), a Roh enthusiast only because (i) in 2002, he endorsed the late Roh Moo-hyun, the 16th President of South Korea, which was not meant to be even publicly announced; and (ii) in 2009, he (and the YB Band) performed in the concert during Roh’s funeral procession.  But the truth is all these are such false accusations; if he really had been a Roh enthusiast, how could he have stood up against the government’s decision to deploy Korean troops to Iraq during Roh’s presidency?

C’mon!  Yoon doesn’t even deserve all those titles!  When he’s done only six notable “so-called political” activities in the forty years of his life so far, which I just mentioned above, how dare they give him such prestigious titles?  Nooooooooooo way!  I bet Yoon will be so excited and close to tears if he hears me say this.  Seriously, I’d rather label him as basically a “humanitarian” who just loves to rock and roll.


YB played the Vans Warped Tour (2009)
Naneun Nabi ("A Flying Butterfly") & part of "It Burns"


Now, can you imagine the likes of George Clooney, Bono, Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, or Sean Penn losing their jobs only because they dare to express different political views from the government?  You may go: What the…?!  South Korea is no North Korea but the truth is that really happened to Yoon, not once but at least twice (that I know of) during Lee Myung-bak’s presidency only because he is Rohbba, a Roh enthusiast, and thinks differently from the government: His TV show “Love Letter” (2002~2008) was canceled and he was forced to leave his radio show “2 PM Date With Yoon Do Hyun” (2010~2011) in spite of the shows’ high ratings.  Some were outraged that the government (or at least its officials) was behind the shows’ cancellation; others lashed out at them for making false accusations.

Recently, however, approx. 2,600 page-long government documents released by the (United) Democratic Party and the KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) Labor Union have confirmed what many of us already suspected:  The Lee government is in fact the hidden hand that has not only deprived civilians as well as celebrities of means of livelihood1 because they expressed different political views but also illegally monitored them using the NIS (National Intelligence Service), Korean CIA if you will. Those illicitly monitored celebrities include entertainers (such as singers, actors, comedians, or TV/radio show hosts), journalists, activists, rival (or even their own) party members, and so on while online bloggers and posters are among the  illicitly monitored civilians.

What a shame! That is the very negation of the fundamental democratic values we cherish.  Today's Hallyu (한류, “The Korean Wave”) is the hard-earned fruit of democracy that was stabilized and blossomed for the past decade (1998~2008) but is now rolling back to the 70’s. Without freedom of expression, speech, and thought, where would all creative minds and spirits go or even be?  Any society with such censorships and constrictions on expression are destructive to the creative endeavors.  It will soon stop producing creative minds/spirits and its cultural, economic, and social development will eventually reach a standstill. And I don’t want Hallyu to die off or die out.


1. “There are less obvious, but no less effective, ways of coercively influencing the expression of consent. A threat, for example, to deprive the governed of their jobs or means of livelihood, by a group which has the power to do so, would undermine a democracy even if its name were retained. In fact, every overt form of economic pressure, since it is experienced directly by the individual and since so many other phases of his life are dependent upon economic security, is an overt challenge to democracy.” Sidney Hook, "Democracy as a Way of Life," in Tomorrow in the Making, edited by John N. Andrews and Carl A. Marsden (New York: Whittlesey House, 1939)  http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/interwar/hook.htm


Six days ago (04/12/2012), after being bombarded with a string of very vicious tweets from this guy who seems worse than Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, Yoon tweeted: “I can’t be anyone’s friend only because he thinks like me.  I can’t/don't hate him either just because he doesn’t think like me.  I feel uncomfortable when someone gets too close to me.  I also feel angry toward someone who tries to trample over me so rudely.  I know I can’t confront the (extremely conservative leading) media each and every time they distort (what I say, what I do, and who I am).  I like the kind of person who is good-natured and responsible, and who cherishes people.  I don’t care which political party such a person supports (or belongs to).  Please don’t force me to choose between this and that ‘cause it’s too washed-up. And please don’t make rash judgments (when you don't know all the facts).”



[LIVE] YB: Mnet’s “Lee Sora's Second Propose”(12/27/2011)
Sarangeun gyotongsago (“(Falling in) Love Is (Like) a Car Crash”)


In November 2011, YB awoke after short hibernation since their elimination from MBC’s Naneun gasuda or NAGASU (“I Am a Singer”) – they failed to pull off graduating with honors as they were booted off in their very last round. In a recent interview, Kim Young Joon, the CEO of Daeum Entertainment that YB is affiliated with, confessed had it not been for NAGASU, things would have been even tougher for them, emotionally, financially – about pretty much everything.  Contrary to most expectations, however, Yoon came back with a song, Hinsuyeom Gorae (흰수염 고래, “The Blue Whale”), that carries a comforting message of hope.  Just a month after he was forced to leave his radio show, he chose to comfort the weak and needy in our society just when he needed comfort.  Yes, that’s the Yoon Do Hyun that we like best! (Click to learn more about the song.)

YBs mini album also features such songs as Sarangeun gyotongsago (사랑은 교통사고, (Falling in) Love Is (Like) a Car Crash), which is full of Bbonggi (뽕끼) or Bbongbbal (뽕빨)2 as its a tasty, fun crossover between Teuroteu3 (20s Korean Gayo) and garage punk; and Ggumeul bbaetgo inneun beomineul chajara (꿈을 뺏고 있는 범인을 찾아라, Search for the Culprit Who Steals Dreams).  The song was inspired by the sentence Yoon’s 6-year-old daughter had scribbled on the white board and was titled exactly after the scribbled sentence.  His daughter, Yoon Yi Jeong, one day showed him her scribbles and said, “Daddy, you gotta watch out too.  Someone might steal your dreams.”  The song finds out that it was none other than the narrator himself who’s stealing his dreams.  Both the dream maker and the dream breaker were inside him (and us) all along.  The album includes two other tracks – newly recorded studio versions of the band’s 2006 hits, Naneun Nabi ("A Flying Butterfly") and “It Burns.”


A real picture of the sentence Yoon Do Hyun's daughter
scribbled on the board (Picture taken by Yoon himself)

[MV] YB: Ggumeul bbaetgo inneun beomineul chajara
“Search for the Culprit Who Steals Dreams” (2011)


2.  Pponggi (뽕끼) or Ppongbbal (뽕빨) is a slang word that refers to a quintessentially Korean sentiment portrayed in Gayo (가요, “contemporary Korean music”), which is rooted in Korea's own music, Pansori (판소리). Pponggi or Ppongbbal can roughly translate to “Overflowing sorrow, soul, or spirit” and you’ll easily know what it feels like when you listen to ABBA, Kenny G, or American country singers like Patsy Cline, Linda Ronstadt, or Shania Twain.  There’s close similarities between Korean and European sentiments and I think that’s why ABBA has been Korea’s all-time favorite since they won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo” and also, this is why SM Entertainment (SM) has been working with European songwriters to get main melodies for a song – SM later recomposes and arranges the melodies into a final work.

3.  I personally think American country music and Korean Teuroteu (트로트, “Trot,” a word derived from “Foxtrot”) music, the epitome of Pponggi or Ppongbbal, bear similarity in many ways, especially in rhythm, style, and sentiment.  Some people believe Teuroteu originated from Japanese Enka during Japanese occupation of Korea, but they are particularly alike.  I think Korean Teuroteu is more like a variety of Pansori, heavily influenced by American country music ever since the Eight US Army stepped into Korea during the Korean War.


P.S. When you enter a tunnel of despair, keep walking onward with courage and patience.  Then you will eventually come out into the light.

YB’s “The Blue Whale” Supports the Weak (1)

Fighting, Yoon Do Hyun - the sexiest forty-something alive!
Fighting YB boys!  You guys are simply the best!



1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. Seriously, I didn't why they cancelled Love Letter. I still remember when I cried watching the last epi on KBSW. No wonder, Kim Jae Dong in his label too. Now it made sense. It just that all this stuff not in the mainstream entertainment web.

    ReplyDelete

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