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Korean Word a Day: 왜색 (倭色)마케팅

Korean musical group Girls’ Generation is drawing netizen ire over its just released mini-album cover, evoking images of Japanese WWII symbols like the Rising Sun flag and the Zero fighter plane, which once ruled the skies in WWII and was used for kamikaze strikes. If you’re bored and interested in reading the thoughts of middle schoolers, you can check out the comments on the fanboard at the group’s homepage.

  • http://briandeutsch.blogspot.com Brian D

    Should’ve just played it safe and went with Nazi uniforms.

  • colontos

    Ok, so the plane looks like a Zero, but I don’t see any Rising Sun imagery. Their military uniforms don’t really look especially Japanese to me. I don’t get it.

    It’s more just general military imagery.

  • lupin_the_4th

    Or they could have played it safe and appeared in blackface… is blackface still kosher in South Korea? Yeah, Hitler theme is safer…. Whichever way this plays out, it helps show that the public edumacation system isn’t doing anyone any favors.

    Just like the 18-yo Chinese girl who unknowingly approved a Tiananmen Square Massacre celebration newspaper ad to be run in China… these Korean girls are only as stupid as the teachers who beat them allow them to be.


  • seouldout

    Isn’t the point of the worldwide branding campaign to let everyone know Korea is Japan with a little “j”?

    If that’s still the plan lifting the red and white checks from the Croat flag won’t help. Croatia ain’t cool.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Would it make any difference to say that the Zero in question was piloted by Tak Kyung-hyun?

  • ulsanchris

    “Just like the 18-yo Chinese girl who unknowingly approved a Tiananmen Square Massacre celebration newspaper ad to be run in China… these Korean girls are only as stupid as the teachers who beat them allow them to be.”

    I don’t think these girls have much choice in what they wear on their album covers. They are told what to wear.

  • Sonagi

    The costumes look like generic cutsy sailor suits. I doubt the girls picked them out, much less provided any input on the design of the album cover, so if anyone deserves any flak, it’s the producers. The Empire of the Sun doesn’t come to mind, when I look at the cover, but apparently, some Koreans have made the connection.

  • WeikuBoy

    “If you’re bored and interested in reading the thoughts of middle schoolers …”

    Wait a minute. Aren’t all of us …? OMG am I the only …? You mean, some of you are like middle-aged old people [gulp] in your 20′s? Are some of you, like, men? White men? OMG.


  • Yu Bum Suk

    LOL @ #1-5. Thanks for putting a smile on my face this morning. I can’t think of anything better to add.

  • Benicio74

    Don’t see any Japanese imagery at all. These netizens are absolutely insane- losers with no pives who who look anywhere and everywhere for something to attack. Looks like they don’t mind inventing things to get in a rage about.

    As for groups like Girls Generation, they have absolutley no say in what goes on in their career. The production company tells them what to sing, how to dance, what to wear, what to say- everything. If any one of them rebels in the least, they can easily be replaced. Or, as learned in the Jang Ja Yeon case, the producers can even beat or threaten them.

    What irritates me, like Brian in Jeollanamdo, is that they call it a “comeback”. They didn’t go anywhere!
    The Korean entertainment industry has been doing this for as long as I can remember- saturating the market as much as possible with the ”it” group of the moment for a few years until it becomes totally played out. Said group fades into obscurity while the public is assaulted with the next ”it” group.
    They keep calling successive releases that follow one right after the other “comeback”,
    proving they don’t understand the meaning of the word.
    They need to learn “follow up”!

  • Benicio74

    losers with no pives- “lives”

  • dry

    “Just like the 18-yo Chinese girl who unknowingly approved a Tiananmen Square Massacre celebration newspaper ad to be run in China… these Korean girls are only as stupid as the teachers who beat them allow them to be.”

    Good grief mate, that’s some painful English

  • http://www.jdlink.co.kr Linkd

    Benicio: Open this link in one tab


    and open the link in the OP in another tab. Click back and forth between them. Still don’t see it?

  • Granfalloon

    I don’t see why we have to level these accusations against Girls’ Generation for being insensitive and politically incorrect. It’s so much more satisfying, truthful, and accurate to level accusations against them for making shitty, shitty music.

  • JW

    What? Why is it satisfying to be talking smack about such good looking girls? I mean shit, i think wonder girls kinda suck in terms of their vocals, but it would never give me any satisfaction to have to say that about them.

  • gbevers

    They do not look very Japanese to me.

    By the way, am I the only one who thinks the Wonder Girls are kind of “dokdoseureopda” (독도스럽다)? In other words, they are not really beautiful, but people want to believe they are.

  • colontos

    Hey, is the girl at 9:00 wearing an SS hat?

  • wjk, 검은 머리 외국인

    Gerry, only one girl looks pretty good to me in the Wonder Girls set.

    Gerry, the cute girls who mentioned many a while ago in the Japanese duo, ‘W’. They are both relatively short and not pretty, as judged by me. More on the cutesy side, but at the same time less of a woman, and more of a child, but I think one of them got knocked up and they broke up or something like that.

  • JW

    I think Gbevers may be spending a little too much of his teacher salary on roombbang. There is no other explanation for what he just said about the wonder girls given his age and facial features. Come clean, you dirty man.

  • gbevers


    I was just trying to make a distinction between cute and beautiful. A lot of my students have said they thought the Wonder Girls were beautiful.

    Also, I do not chase young women, and do not really like seeing other older men, Korean or American, chasing or flirting with young women. It just doesn’t look right.

    By the way, what is a “roombbang”? Some kind of homemade bread?

  • rampowers

    @ colontos

    As is the girl at 12 o’clock and the one 3 o’clock

  • JW

    쭉쭉빵빵 룸빵 . Mr Bevers, I’m sure you can come up with an extended haiku using that as a title. Let’s see it man.

  • WeikuBoy

    WeikuBoy comes clean.

    I like Girls Generation (서녀시대). I even have a favorite member, 수영 Soo-Yeong, who looks SE Asian in my eyes. Here are their three biggest songs, to date: Gee; Into the World; and their first big single, the name of which I don’t know, but which is the origin of their signature phrase
    (used since in multiple television ads): 어리다고 놀리지 만아요 (eo-ri da-go nol-li-ji man-a-yo).
    Loosely translated: Don’t lack faith in us just because we’re young.


    Don’t laugh. Knowing a bit about K-Pop culture is a great icebreaker that gets the students to speak English, and thus is one of the keys — perhaps the key — to being an effective teacher.

  • JW

    I’m not laughing, my friend. I’m a big fan of nine!beautiful!girls! singing and dancing to what seems to be a non-stop rollout of catchy songs.

  • H. Lagenberg

    Why doesn’t anybody mention the French Medal of Honor she has pinned on??? Has the Kanghwa-do Incident been forgiven and forgotten??? Gotta love the striped hotpants though. Very effective at whipping out the erotic factor, which of course I do not see nor have ever thought about because we are talking underage girls, and me being a 6’5″ white, fat, balding, red-in-the-face middle aged man.

    Sonagi, please edit the text to “kamikaze” instead of “kamikazi”. It reveals the language you are really proficient in…
    WeikuBoy, go check your Korean textbooks before typing 어마, 서녀시대 and 놀리지 만아요 ever again. Either that, or tear the 한/영 key from your keyboard and enjoy that 26-letter miracle we call alphabet.

  • Granfalloon

    I guess old-fashioned guys like me prefer musicians who have . . . damn, what’s it called? . . . oh yeah, talent.

  • http://hanbitesdog.wordpress.com Han bites dog

    They’re just hats from a hat shop, I’m sure they’re not actual replicas.
    Not sure what concentric circles have to do with the rising sun either, which doesn’t have concentric anything. Is it because its red?
    That plane looks like a randomly chosen period plane, too. It’s definitely different from the Zero shown – look at the wings.
    And I don’t think any AXIS units had striped hot pants, although I could be wrong.
    So what’s this fuss about then. I dunno. I don’t think they’re using Japanese Colonial or Nazi images, though. And even if they were, I don’t see its that different to the Libertines wearing redcoats or various indie bands wearing CCCP t-shirts and hammer and sickle signs.

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