Extra! Korea

August 12, 2010

GP Basic’s video teaser looks as pedotastic as some of us feared

Filed under: music, youth — extrakorea @ 1:44 am

Do you remember GP Basic, the new girl group with one member in elementary school and the other five are in their second year of middle school/junior high? They’ve released the video teaser for their upcoming debut single and video (via PopSeoul, K-Bites, and Seoul Beats). Unfortunately, it seems to confirm many of my worst worries. Three of the members are wearing short shorts/miniskirts. (I hope the full video doesn’t feature them doing so-called “sexydances.”) They look surprisingly like some other, older K-pop girl groups (e.g. high heels).

Seoul Beats writes:

I did a little research on South Korean child labor laws and they say that: All children under the age of 18 need permission of their parents to work, those under the age of 15 need even more permission from the labor ministry, children need to attend school at least until the age of 14, children between the ages of 15-18 may only work 7 hours a day and no more than 42 hours a week and are not allowed to work overnight hours.

BoA debuted at the tender age of thirteen, but she has always relied upon her dancing and live singing skills instead of wearing revealing clothes or trying to be “sexy.” That’s why I give her a pass.

August 8, 2010

Cube Entertainment has its performers meet with mental health specialists

Filed under: music, youth — extrakorea @ 6:36 pm

From Omonatheydidn’t comes a translation of an article which describes how Cube Entertainment (a subsidiary of JYP Entertainment) has its performers meet regularly with mental health specialists.

Every week, the Cube idols are able to meet with a mental health specialist and they can train their personalities and characters to be strong. Cube executive, Hong Seungsung, said, “Our singers are able to receive education and mental consultation.”

Hong also feels Cube has a responsibility to the families of 4minute and BEAST: “Their parents entrusted them to us while they were still in their 10s, and therefore it is our responsibility to think only about their futures. And because the effects of becoming a celebrity is greatly increased the younger a person is, we value character building for our trainees before they become famous in order to avoid problems.”

I’m very glad about that, considering how young some of these performers are when they begin training and debut, and how pitiless the Korean music industry can be. I’d be happier, though, if these kids were allowed to grow up first before being thrown into the corporate gears.

Maybe that cartoon about short shorts isn’t quite accurate after all

Filed under: gender equality — extrakorea @ 6:07 pm

You might have seen the cartoon below (from the ROKetship blog) and/or the post by Grand Narrative that included and discussed it. The idea is that Korean women aren’t shy about showing a lot of leg, but won’t reveal much cleavage, and that for western women, it’s vice-versa.

Maybe it isn’t quite accurate after all. I’ve been in Canada for a couple of weeks, and I’ve seen a lot of young women in short shorts (though very few in miniskirts). Mind you, I’ll be the first to point out several limitations to my observations, based on the fact that I’ve been mostly in Montreal and Ottawa:

– I’ve seen mostly city-folk, and not as many from the suburbs or small towns.

– Montreal is in Quebec, and Ottawa is in Ontario, but next to the border with Quebec. Quebec has a French culture, which doesn’t have as many hangups about the human body as Anglo-Saxon culture. Further west in Canada, it might be a very different story.

– Of course, Canada is not America.

North Korea seizes South Korean fishing vessel

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 5:16 pm

According to Yonhap News, the New York Times, and BBC News, North Korea has seized a South Korean fishing vessel. North Korea had threatened some sort of retaliation for South Korea’s recent naval drills, and it looks like this is it, or at least, the first.

[F]ishing boats from either side have occasionally drifted into the other’s waters, often after engine trouble. How fast they were released often depended on the tenor of bilateral relations at the time.

[ snip ]

Four South Koreans and three Chinese crew members were on board. South Korea’s national news agency, Yonhap, quoting an unnamed coast guard official, said that the ship was being towed to Songjin, a port on the eastern coast of North Korea, for interrogation of the crew.

“Our government hopes for the safe return of our ship and crew according to international laws,” the coast guard’s statement said.

August 6, 2010

(Updated) New girl group has member in elementary school. Stop the madness!

Filed under: music, rapid cultural change, youth — extrakorea @ 3:17 am

According to K-Bites and AllKpop, a new girl group named GP Basic is set to debut next week. Since you can`t swing a dead cat without hitting a girl group or boy band member these days, what makes this noteworthy?
The youngest member is still in elementary school and the other five are in their second year of middle school/junior high.
Stop the madness! Please, for the love of God, can`t we let kids be kids before throwing them into the meat-grinding corporate gears of the Korean music business?

Edit/Update:

It looks like I’m not the only one who is concerned about the welfare of these young people.

Some believe that dressing prepubescent girls in tight pants and high heels is ethically wrong and should not be attempted.

No sh** Sherlock. And how about this piece of irony?

There is also a problem for GP Basic’s appearance on various music programs, since a handful of them require parental guidance for those under 15. The shows include KBS Music Bank, MBC Show! Music Core, and SBS Inkigayo. If all three shows ban young kids from even viewing the show, how will they be able to perform in the show?

That reminds of when the video for “Change” by Hyun-ah (of the girl group 4Minute) was deemed to be “inappropriate for those under 19 years of age” when she herself was under 19.

August 2, 2010

Interview with “Godfather of Korean Rock” Shin Joong-hyun

Filed under: music — extrakorea @ 9:32 pm

Remember Shin Jung-hyun (Shin Joong-hyun)? The Joongang Daily had an interview with him about the custom-made guitar that he received from Fender, and about guitars in general.

In December, he became the sixth guitarist to receive a custom made guitar from Fender Musical Instruments Corp., the leading manufacturer of guitars in the world. Since 1964, Fender has dedicated custom made guitars to musicians who have made significant contributions to rock music. Other guitarists who have received the honor include Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Yngwie Malmsteen and Eddie Van Halen.

[ snip ]

What do you like about guitars?

A guitar can express anything. For example, there is a technique where you pull a string upwards or downwards to change the note. It is a subtle change you cannot easily produce with other instruments. Also, amplifiers expand the scope of expression to infinity. It’s limitless.

When I retired in 2006, I thought I probably would not have another chance to perform in front of an audience, but receiving the Fender guitar seems to be a sign that is my calling to continue making music.

We need you Mr. Shin, to educate the current generations who are tone-deaf to real music, mainly because they`ve never been exposed to it.

A member of DJ Doc, Lee Ha-neul, had a great rant about the Korean music business lately:

We had the weekend off thanks to them [Inkigayo] cancelling our performance, because apparently if you refuse to show up on Strong Heart, you don’t get to perform

[ snip ]

The one-sided love that management companies show to the music program producers is certainly a problem, but the authoritative producers who like to show off and only think of artists as disposable products for their programs!!

[ snip ]

The program that sucks up to the artists from major management companies, and the stage where those that suck up to the producer get to perform on …

Are sexual crimes against children increasing rapidly in South Korea?

Filed under: crime, youth — extrakorea @ 6:01 pm

Recent articles by the Korea Herald and Korea Times suggest that the number of sexual crimes against children has increased dramatically. But is it the number of crimes, or the reporting of said crimes, that is increasing? This excellent post by Gust of Popular Feeling strongly suggest that it is the latter.

In any case, the number of such crimes committed in South Korea outnumbers those in the United States, Britain, Japan, and Germany, sometimes dramatically.

Sex crimes against children in Korea outnumbered those in Japan by more than three times and Germany by nearly nine times, but a great number of such cases here ended up being unsettled as victims are reluctant to undergo police investigations.

[ snip ]

Another new finding by the research was Korean victims were much more reluctant to report their nightmarish experience to police than those in the other countries, a factor exacerbating the situation further.

Only one out of 168 victims contacted the police. In Britain, one out of 12.2 victims report their cases to police, while in the United States, one out of 2.7 victims did so, the research showed.

“Given this reluctance, the actual number of child sex crimes in Korea could be far higher than the number officially reported,” said Kang Eun-kyung, a senior researcher at the criminology institute.

(emphasis mine)

Damn you, Grand Narrative!

Filed under: gender equality, music — extrakorea @ 3:56 am

This might seem like a strange thing to say, considering that I left a complimentary comment under one of his posts.

In a follow-up to this post, I was intending to point out yet another example of how so-called “sexydances” are a staple of Korean variety shows, to the extent that they are evidence of either laziness or a lack of imagination on the part of the staff writers.

But Grand Narrative beat me to it. He basically mentions everything that I intended to, plus a whole lot more. The only thing that I would add is this: When Hyun-ah finished her “sexydance,” she covered her face in embarassment. This might seem strange, considering that she has defended her choice of revealing stage outfits, saying, essentially, that she should be able to wear what she wants. However, I think that it`s not incongruous, because there`s a big difference between performing for one`s fans, out of choice, and having your arm twisted to do a “sexydance” for pervy, middle-aged, B-list celebrities.

While we`re on the subject … I`ve always wondered why Hyun-ah`s video for “Change” was deemed inappropriate for those under 19 years of age* but the same thing was never done to the Brown Eyed Girl`s “Abracadabra”? Watch the two videos below. Are the hip-thrusting movements really that different?

* Since she herself was under 19 at the time, that meant that she would have been too young to watch her own video!

American English teacher accused of sexual assault

Filed under: crime, expatriates — extrakorea @ 2:38 am

On the heels of this embarrassing incident comes news that an American English teacher has been accused of sexual assault.

According to police, an America citizen, a native English teacher at a private language institute, is accused of sexually assaulting a Korean barmaid in a public restroom of a building in Dunsan-dong, Daejeon, at 3 a.m. Saturday.

Police said the victim didn’t want the investigation to go further in exchange for compensation from the American.

Under the law, police investigations into a rape case can only continue with the victim’s approval, meaning that the probe must be halted.

I find myself wondering why the woman is asking for compensation instead of having the man put in jail for his alleged crime. In any case, I`m sure that Lee Eun-ung, the founder of Anti-English Spectrum, will run with this as far as he can.

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