Extra! Korea

June 30, 2010

What do an intangible cultural asset and girl group 2NE1 have in common?

Filed under: music, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 2:52 am

Can you guess?










Here’s a hint.

Renowned Korean dancer and intangible cultural asset Kong Ok-jin, 79, known for her “Beggar” dance, came back on stage for the first time in five years.

[ snip ]

Kong is a talented pansori singer and learned dancing from a former great, Choi Seung-hee. Her “Salpuri” dance is particularly perceived as the best.

Kong became an intangible cultural asset of South Jeolla Province last May.




Give up?


(from here)

Madam Kong Ok-jin is the grandmother of 2NE1’s Minzy (공민지). She has clearly passed her dancing talent genes onto her granddaughter.

According to the description, this video was filmed when Minzy was 12 years old, and based upon the information in her biography, I’m inclined to believe it. Look at that little kid go!

(Updated) Actor Park Yong-ha, latest celebrity suicide?

Filed under: actors/actresses, suicide — extrakorea @ 12:16 am


K-Bites has numerous updates, including reactions from Jo Kwon (of boy band 2AM) and his friend Jae-joong (of boy band DBSK (a.k.a. TVXQ)


Original Post:

It looks like there’s been yet another celebrity suicide: actor Park Yong-ha (Korea Herald, AllKpop)

He was found this morning by his mother, hanging from a cell phone recharging cable. He was only 32.*

He earned his fame as a hallyu celebrity through TV drama “Winter Sonata.” Park was particularly popular among fans in Japan and Southeast Asia.

He was also scheduled to play the lead role in upcoming drama “Love Song,” a remake of the film “Chum Mil Mil,” with actress Yoon Eun-hye.


* Keep in mind East Asian age reckoning.

June 29, 2010

All chicken franchises have endorsements, so now it’s pizza

Filed under: advertising, economics, music — extrakorea @ 3:49 am

Almost every fried chicken franchise in South Korea has a commercial endorsement from a boy band or girl group, and some have more than one (though it could be because one group’s has expired). Of all of them, it seems that Goobne Chicken has spent their money the most wisely. Here’s the score so far:

Girls’ Generation –> Goobne Chicken

Super Junior and Shinhwa –> Kyochon Chicken

SHINee –> Mexicana

2AM and Big Bang –> BHC (Big Hit Chicken)

U-Kiss –> Vons Chicken

BEAST, Wonder Girls, and DBSK (TVXQ) –> BBQ Chicken (They’re really hedging their bets!)

T-ara –> Nene Fried Chicken

KARA –> COB Chicken

As the Grand Narrative once put it:

Yes, those are indeed shapely buttocks firmly thrust into our faces 3 seconds into the commercial.

4Minute –> Dasarang (“All Love”)

Secret –> 9ers Chicken

SS501 –> Hotsun

ZE:A –> Mom’s Touch

With every chicken outlet spoken for (up to three times over), it’s time to move on to greener pastures: Pizza!

June 28, 2010

Lee Hyo-ri deletes 7 songs from album due to plagiarism accusations

Filed under: intellectual property, music — extrakorea @ 9:33 am

You might recall how some of the songs on Lee Hyo-ri’s album have been accused of being plagiarized. In addition to admitting that they were copied (unprecedented in Korea), she has now announced that she will delete the accused seven songs from her album, H-Logic, leaving it with seven songs left.

I’d say that she’s taken a lot of responsibility. If you deleted 7 songs from the Wonder Girls’ latest “album” you’d have -3 songs, as it consists of So Hot, Tell Me, three versions of Nobody, and five (!) versions of 2 Different Tears. They worked for a year on one new song?

One of the problems was this:

Chang said Bahnus, who introduced himself as “a Yonsei University graduate who had sold numerous songs to foreign artists during his stay in the U.K,” lied about other things too.
“He was not a Yonsei University graduate and the contracts he had suggested for potential song sales were also fabricated,” he told a local daily.

The guy introduces himself as a graduate of Yonsei University* and people want to buy music from him? Did Keith Richards or Paul McCartney graduate from Oxford or Cambridge?

Another problem is that when one of these agencies has someone who actually has talent, they literally don’t know what to do with them. Take, for example, IU (아이유), below:

And what do they do? They waste her ability by making her sing a pop song about candy while dancing around with a guy in a marshmallow costume.

Even she doesn’t seem to expect to have her talents appreciated. When she co-won a music show contest, beating strong contenders like f(x), Seo In-young, and 4PM, er, I mean, 2Minute, I mean 2Minutes-Past-4 … she was so stunned that she had to be led to center stage, and when presented with the microphone, she tried to hand it off to somebody else.

* Yonsei University is one of Korea’s top three universities, known by their acronym SKY (Seoul National, Korea, and Yonsei). Graduate from one of them, and you’re set for life.

June 26, 2010

Uruguay knocks South Korea out of the World Cup, 2-1

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 3:55 pm

Uruguay has knocked South Korea out of the World Cup of soccer with a score of 2-1.
After being caught napping in the first half, Korea roared back in the second to equalize, but later gave up a second goal. Despite strong efforts and some very close near-goals, Korea never caught up.

June 25, 2010

Things I’ll miss about Korea: having a man bag

Filed under: gender equality, things I'll miss about Korea — extrakorea @ 3:18 pm

I think this will be the first in a series: Things I’ll Miss About Korea. I’ve decided to start with something unconventional, the fact that in this country it’s OK for a man to carry a man bag.

(from ROKetship)

Lee Hyo-ri’s plagiarism scandal begins to envelope other artists

Filed under: intellectual property, music — extrakorea @ 6:32 am

Recently, several songs on Lee Hyo-ri’s latest album, H-Logic, have been accused of being plagiarized. After initial denials by Lee’s agency, Mnet Media, she admitted that they were, perhaps the first time that a K-pop artist has ever done so, and then ended promotions for the album.

(The Joongang Daily has a summarized history of artists previously accused of plagiarism, including Hyo-ri herself, and you can go here to listen to samples of Hyo-ri’s songs and those that they’re supposed to have been plagiarized.)

The songs were submitted to Mnet by a seven-member songwriters’ group called Bahnus Vacuum, led by Bahnus (Lee Jae-young), who tried to prove his innocence by providing documents that were later found to have been forged.

Since many K-pop artists don’t write their own songs, and rely on people like Bahnus, the scandal is threatening to envelope other artists like Lee who relied upon Bahnus and his group.

Columnist Choi Seung-hyun elaborates:

The larger problem is how frequent [accusations of plagiarism] such are. Many if not most singers releasing new albums these days are accused of plagiarism. This is because singers have become cash cows rather than artists who are able to communicate with the public. Singers who present original songs about their own emotions are an endangered species, while a handful of composers contracted by powerful management companies dominate the tunes that top the charts. This increases the risk of plagiarism as each one of these composing machines churns out more than 50 songs a year.

Lee’s biggest mistake was in fact her failure to take charge of her songs and her album, contrary to what she has been saying in public. If a 13-year veteran of the entertainment industry and Korea’s reigning queen of pop is in such bad shape, things must be even worse for the younger singers who are being groomed by their agencies. Veteran rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Shin Jung-hyun said in a recent interview, “There is no real music on Korea’s pop music scene these days. There is only greed.”

Music critic Park Eun-seok would agree:

“It is highly likely that the management agency was fooled by the composer as the original songs are mostly non-mainstream,” music critic Park Eun-seok said. “However, this case clearly shows the abysmal reality of mainstream K-pop culture where songs are manufactured rather than created.”

(emphasis mine)

So why is the nation’s music industry so vulnerable to plagiarism scandals?

As it turns out, Korea has no established system to handle such disputes. The Performance Ethics Committee oversaw plagiarism cases in the past, but since being renamed the Korea Media Rating Board in 1998, no single body has been responsible for resolving plagiarism issues.

Almost all cases are handled through informal negotiations, although copyright holders can bring cases to the Korea Copyright Commission or to court. Those convicted can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of 50 million won ($42,000), but few cases, if any, have involved court rulings.

[ snip ]

“There is a widespread idea among fraudulent songwriters that they can get away once they take money,” Baak Eun-sok, a pop music critic, said.

June 24, 2010

(Updated) 16-year-old Sulli has the most ajeosshi fans. Ewww …

Filed under: gender equality, music, youth — extrakorea @ 2:56 pm


Somebody has monkeyed with f(x)’s Wikipedia entry and taken out all of the members’ profiles. Is someone trying to hide something?


Original Post:

You might have heard of Sulli, of the girl group f(x). While fifteen years old (international age), she danced to the lyrics “Crash into me real hard”* and showed a lot of leg in a photo shoot. (As one commenter pointed out, they didn’t try to make her look older.)

Now sixteen, Sulli had done another leggy photo shoot, and according to a poll, from amongst all the members of f(x), she has the most ajeosshi** fans.
Ewww …

* Notice how the cameraman tries to get underneath her skirt at 0:35 of the video below.

** Translated as “uncle,” it refers to a middle-aged, married man.

Latest girl group: the Lotte Girls. Seriously?!

Filed under: music, What the hell?! — extrakorea @ 9:15 am

The avalanche of girl groups continues, and the latest one is called the Lotte Girls. Yes, seriously, “Lotte” as in the chaebol (Korean multinational conglomerate). What’s next? The Samsung 5? ‘N LG?

June 23, 2010

Kim Jong-il may be smoking again; hopefully he’ll die sooner

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 1:17 pm

I know an old lady dictator

who swallowed a fly started smoking again.

I don’t know why

she swallowed a fly he started smoking again.

I guess she’ll hope he’ll die.

– with apologies to the original Mother Goose nursery rhyme

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