Extra! Korea

July 23, 2009

New Anti-Piracy Law; Earnings of Top Songwriters

Filed under: intellectual property, music, technology — extrakorea @ 11:17 pm

A new law meant to crack down on intellectual property piracy went into effect yesterday. So how strict is it?

Your five-year-old daughter mimmicks a popular song at home. She is so cute, so you pick up your camcorder to record her one-minute performance. You upload the clip on your blog to share it with your friends and relatives. This seemingly benign act, however, is in violation of the Korean copyright law. No kidding. Last month, there was an actual incident in which a video clip showing a five-year-old kid singing Son Dam-bi’s “Crazy” – for 58 seconds – was uploaded on a blog run by Naver.com, and the Korea Music Copyright Association asked the country’s biggest portal to block public access to the video clip.

[ snip ]

Under the revised rules, the Culture Ministry can shut down an online community or service in connection with copyright violations, even without a complaint from copyright holders.

[ snip ]

But what ordinary bloggers fear the most is the threat from law firms. A host of Korean law firms are currently representing copyright holders in the fields of music, images, and video, and they often send an email to users, asking them to pay a settlement fee in return for dropping the lawsuit.

In April, a local law firm threatened to file a suit against 8,047 users on the charge of copyright violations, and earned 7 billion won in settlement fees, a tactic that turned out to be illegal.

However, some web-sites can get a kind of “stamp of approval” from the government if they offer copyrighted material but protect it from downloading.

Regulators are rewarding those protecting cultural content. Soribada (www.soribada.com), a music content Web site, became the first online service provider (OSP) to be officially designated a “clean site” by the authorities.

Soribada was chosen for having functions that protected copyrighted content, including a filtering system that blocks the transfer of illegally copied material to other sites.

Once labeled clean, OSPs are able to enjoy a variety of benefits including exemption from governmental monitoring and supervision. But it can maintain its clean status when it passes the re-examination every six months. Visit http://www.cleansite.org for more information.

Despite this, this is expected to increase the exodus of Korean users from Korean sites (such as Naver) to foreign sites (such as YouTube) which began earlier this year. Heck, even the Blue House is doing it.

Since we’re on the topic of intellectual property, how much do Korea’s top songwriters earn?

According to the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA) on Monday, Park [Jin-young, also known as JYP] earned W1.078 billion (US$1=W1,249) from copyrights in 2008.

[ snip ]

The top earner was composer Cho Young-soo, who made W1.109 billion. Lyricist Ahn Young-min came in third with W928 million.

[ snip ]

At least 100 composers and lyricists earned over W100 million a year, and the top eight made over W500 million a year. With the growing digital music market led by an increase in sales of karaoke machines and mobile phone ringtones, the income of songwriters has been growing fast.

[ snip ]

Compared to Japan and the United States, what these songwriters are making in Korea is mere 1/10 and 1/100, leading to calls to come down harder on piracy.

(Updated) MC Mong’s new, insensitive music video

Filed under: music, Uncategorized — extrakorea @ 8:00 am

To add to his past offense of flagrantly ripping off Unkle‘s “Rabbit in your Headlights” video, MC Mong has now released his music video of “Indian Boy.”
If you want, I’ll spare you the pain. Dressed up as a Native American, Mong goes around chasing people with a bow and arrow, because that’s what Native Americans do. In his defense, the people are after his treasure, so what’s an In-di-an In-di-an In-di-an boy to do? People around him beat drums and shout war-whoops and “Hoo, hoo, hoo!” because that’s what Native Americans do. At one point (2:37), they carry somebody off on a spit, because as everybody knows, Native Americans are cannibals. His followers lower and raise their heads and arms to him in a gesture of worship, because as we all know, Native Americans are superstitious.

I wonder how Mong would feel if an American singer released a music video in which people in hanboks tied a dog to a spit while the he sang:

I’m a Ko-re-an Ko-re-an Ko-re-an boy
(A-ee-go!)
Ko-re-an Ko-re-an Ko-re-an boy
(That dog looks tasty!)

Edit/Update:

There’s something that I didn’t notice before, even though it was staring me right in the face. (Perhaps my brain got overwhelmed by the war bonnet and other nonsense.)

The video begins with elephant sounds and Mong on a safari. I guess the makers of the video thought, “Africans … Indians … What’s the difference? Spear-chuckers, arrow-chuckers, who cares if they’re on opposite ends of the earth? Let’s just make the video.”

(Updated) Hillary Clinton and North Korea refer to each other as children

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 6:46 am

In recent remarks, Hillary Clinton referred to North Korea as an “unruly teenager.” In response, North Korea has compared Ms. Clinton to a “primary schoolgirl.”

Edit/Update:

The Marmot’s Hole has a great post on this.

I fart in Kim Jong-il’s general direction.

(Updated) Calling Dick Tracy. Calling Dick Tracy. Your watch phone is now half-price

Filed under: technology — extrakorea @ 2:14 am

Both Samsung and LG are planning to start selling watch phones later this summer in Europe. American releases may follow. Samsung’s phone is about half the price of LG’s, but lacks some features, such as video calling.
These phones have not been scheduled to be released in Korea as of this time, which is yet more evidence that the multinational conglomerates such as Samsung screw over the consumers in their home country.

Edit/Update:

Somebody at the Korea Times is channeling me:

Closed Mobile Market Frustrates Consumers

South Korea is allegedly the mobile-phone capital of the world and local telecommunications companies claim credit as its main architects. Consumers, on the other hand, grumble about being locked in a high-tech hermit kingdom.

In the age of “app stores,” mobile e-mails and “tweets,” Korean wireless users are still basically stuck in a phase of text-messaging despite owning among the most expensive pieces of hardware on the planet.

[ snip ]

No, you can’t access the Internet from your phone without going through our excuse for a mobile Web portal. And remember, an hour of online news reading will cost you roughly the price of a pair of tennis shoes.

By the way, we just scrapped the Wi-Fi functions on your new 800,000 won (about $630) Samsung smartphone because free Internet can’t be that good, can it? And no, we don’t intend to make it easier for you to use that shiny handset sold by our rival carrier, although technically, it would only require the switching of universal subscriber identity module (USIM) cards.

“Korea is often mentioned as an IT powerhouse, but those who know better, like early adaptors or power users, would say that the country represents nothing but one of the most closed mobile markets in the world,” said Jang Jeong-woo, the creator of the popular tech blog, IT Gadget Impression (www.alonecrow.com).

. . .

July 22, 2009

Seoul to introduce new national slogan? Boooooo!

Filed under: hard to categorize, waste of money — extrakorea @ 12:50 pm

Seoul intends to introduce a government logo that will be used by all ministries and agencies as well as a new national slogan.

Officials said the images currently under consideration included those of the Korean Peninsula and the rose of Sharon, or Mugunghwa, the country’s national flower.

The council also plans to conduct a survey until the end of the year on the country’s current slogan ‘Dynamic Korea’ and the more commercially used ‘Korea Sparkling,’ a move that could lead to the creation of a new slogan.

I don’t think Korea needs a national slogan. I don’t understand this obsession with “national brands.” I think it’s just a jargon term for being well-known in the world, one invented by, and exploited by, snake-oil salesmen. Korea would be better off spending that time, energy, and money on other things.

If were asked to suggest a slogan, it would be: Extreme Championship Government.

MC Mong totally rips off “Rabbit in your Headlights”

Filed under: intellectual property, music — extrakorea @ 10:57 am

First of all, if you haven’t already, you should watch the video of “Rabbit in your Headlights” by Unkle (below), and continue reading when you’re done.

Finished? OK, now look at this video of “Invincible” by MC Mong.

What a freaking rip off. To those who will claim that it’s a parody: How is this funny? No, the farting was not funny. And the part where he headbutts a girl in the face several times is definitely not funny; it’s misogynist. If he weren’t a neanderthal, he’d know that.

Here’s what I think happened. The original video is like literature or an abstract painting. There are different interpretations, all of which require contemplation or deep thinking. One is that the tunnel represents Life. As you journey, some people hit you, some people try to help you, and others yell at you. If you stop worrying about what other people think, and stand up for yourself, then you become immune to hurt.
Another is that this is about the way that the poor/homeless are treated by society, hence the Christ-like pose at the end.
Yet another interpretation is that only when you lose everything are you free to do anything (hence, the taking off of the jacket).
Or the cars could represent the hectic, fast pace of modern life, and the harm it can do to you. Ignore others’ demands to conform to this, and you immunize yourself.
In any case, it’s obvious that Mong is too dull and shallow to to understand it, so he recasts the video in the only way his simple mind can make sense of it: He’s invincible because he’s Superman. It’s like reading Shakespeare rewritten by an idiot, or a copy of one of Michelangelo’s paintings by someone without artistic talent. Go here to see a teaser video in which he makes Native Americans the butt of jokes.
But then again, this is to be expected, since Mong is a “gagman,” a term referring to comedians (to use the term loosely) who specialize in lowbrow slapstick, such as dancing around in women’s clothes or hitting each other with rubber mallets. Mong is a cast member of a so-called “comedy” show in which somebody literally died from the stupidity.

On September 13, 2004, voice (dubbing) artist and 2003 KBS Entertainment Awards Grand Award (Daesang) winner, Jang Jeong Jin (장정진), was recording for The Lord of the Alley (골목의 제왕) segment where he had to eat rice cakes during a game and was later hospitalized. Because of this incident, Jang died a month later (October 11, 2004) due to necrosis (“brain death”) and loss of oxygenation to the brain.

Some Koreans have referred to him as “Korea’s Tupac Shakur.” Yeah. If Tupac were alive. And did lowbrow slapstick comedy. And had no talent. And no brains.

BoA interview and new video on Entertainment Weekly

Filed under: music — extrakorea @ 8:59 am

Via the Korea Times comes this Entertainment Weekly interview with, and new video of, BoA.
The video looks and sounds great. Though I was taken aback when I first saw it, I’m loving her new look (jeweled “tattoo” and braided hair on one side of her head). And did I see an Elvisesque sneer?

BoA: Well, I went to Atlanta last year and recorded “I Did It For Love” with Sean Garett [the man behind hits for Beyonce, Usher, Ciara, and Chris Brown] and one more song is coming out for my repackaged album released in September — it’s the same as the first album but with added new songs. I also have one with Flo Rida, he was featured in my “Eat You Up” song.

So she’s releasing a repackaged album, which will be the same as the original one but with additional songs. Hmm, I wonder how the people who bought the original album will feel.

BoA: [ snip ] But I don’t have car in L.A., so it’s pretty hard to go anywhere. I tried to get my driver’s license but I failed — I didn’t study well. I didn’t know that the test was so hard. Actually, I failed twice last year, but don’t tell anyone!

We won’t tell anyone … except for the thousands who read this interview.

EW: Do you feel like you will have success in the U.S.?
BoA: Hopefully, that’s why I’m here. If it’s not going that way, I think I got a lot of good stuff from relationships, met other producers, doing choreography with really great dancers. If it goes well, I’ll be happy, but I don’t care.

That’s a good attitude to have, since the U.S. is a tough market. How many artists these days get the million sales necessary for platinum certification? Not many. The best-selling album of 2008 was merely 3-times-platinum. With illegal downloading, CD sales and legal downloads are way down, and artists make the majority of their money from concert tickets, merchandise sales, and commercial endorsements. I’m sure she’s trying her best; she didn’t become a huge success in Japan without hard work. But if things don’t pan out as planned, I’m glad to hear that she won’t be jumping off a bridge. Reading the article, I remembered that she released her album in March, only four months ago, and yet people are already writing her off as a failure. At least she’s released an English album, unlike Rain (who canceled his concerts and had to settle out of court after being sued for such) and Se7en, who released only one single before being shipped back to Korea. Park Jin-young (JYP), on the other hand, literally invested everything he had in Korea, including his house, to finance his attempt to be successful in the American music industry. If you’d like to see what he bought with all of that money, look here.

July 20, 2009

(Updated) Has Park Jin-young unwittingly thrown the Wonder Girls to the wolves?

Filed under: music — extrakorea @ 3:34 pm

According to the Korea Times, the Wonder Girls are scheduled to appear on the Wendy Williams show today. So, who is Wendy Williams?

In 2003, Wendy Williams caused controversy while interviewing Whitney Houston on her alleged drug habits and tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown. At several points in the interview, Houston berated Wendy with expletives and told Williams “if this were back in the day in Newark I’d meet you outside, but not now, because I’m a lady with class.”

If she can do that to a musical icon like Whitney Houston, then I wouldn’t expect any quarter for the Wonder Girls. Wait, there’s more.

Wendy asks her [Brooke Hogan, daughter of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan], “At what age did you lose your virginity?”

Williams is fortunate that she’s a woman, or Hulk might have barged into her studio and given her a body slam and elbow drop.

Speaking of the Wonder Girls, they recently performed for President Obama’s daughters as they opened for the Jonas Brothers. Wouldn’t it be funny if their fans started harassing them? Or maybe not.

Edit/Update:

Both Pop Seoul and All K Pop have news of their appearance. Williams was nice to them. I kind of expected this, since they’re foreigners and English is not their first language. If she had wanted to, it would have been like shooting fish in a barrel. When she asked, “What are your names?” So-hee got the group to do their rehearsed, “Hi, we are the Wonder Girls,” to which Williams clarified, “No, what are your names?” Besides, it’s one thing to try to take down a hugely famous and wealthy star like Will Smith; it’s quite another to bully around a group of relative unknowns. Speaking of which, the funniest part of the video was the way Williams towered over them like a giant. It was like when Gandalf visited the village of hobbits. Some commenters at Pop Seoul said that they looked like they lip-synched part of their song. I hope for their sakes that they don’t. You can get away with lip-synching in Korea, but in America, if you are ever found out, that will be the end of you.
Park Jin-young wrote on Twitter, “They killed it! US national TV… They always deliver in crunch time. They r just amazing. They r truly da “Wonder” Girls. This is amazing..” Well, he’s always saying stuff like that. Do you know who he’s reminding me of? Do you remember Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi Minister of Information during the 2003 invasion of Iraq? Also, Park needs to realize that he is neither black nor gangsta.

Two of Kim Jong-il’s yachts have been confiscated

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 8:39 am

The international trade embargo might actually affect Kim Jong-il himself. Two of his yachts have been confiscated by Italian police. (The Dong-a Ilbo also has this story.)

In other news, The Hole brings us another story of confiscated evidence, evidence that I demand to see.

July 17, 2009

(Updated) Japanese claim ownership of the Liancourt Dok-shimas

Filed under: politics — extrakorea @ 3:16 am

According to Yonhap News, the Japanese cabinet, in their annual defense white paper, has claimed the Liancourt Dok-shimas as part of Japanese territory.
Hopefully, it won’t cause a repeat of these kinds of behaviors.

Overwhelmed by fury, protesters have sliced off fingers, set themselves on fire, and in one case committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.

Edit/Update:

Seoul is not amused.

“The government will deal sternly with any attempts to infringe upon our sovereignty over Dokdo,” ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said.

The defense ministry issued a statement, saying, “We sternly oppose Japan’s description of Dokdo as part of Japanese territory and demand an immediate correction by the Japanese government.”

“We stress once again that we won’t accept Japan’s claim to Dokdo, which is clearly Korean territory in terms of history, geography and international laws,” the ministry said.

It urged Tokyo to clearly recognize that the repeated claims would only get in the way of the two countries’ bid to develop their relationship into that of a future-oriented partnership.

One has to wonder why neither Tokyo nor Seoul have decided to take this to a third party, such as international tribunal, to settle.

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