The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Author: The Metropolitician (page 1 of 3)

VIP Seats to the Korea Heritage Fashion Show

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This show is looking to be very cool, but standing-room-only. General admission is all standing, while seats by the runway are all, by the planners’ definition, VIP. To my knowledge, we are offering the only way to get VIP tickets without a direct invitation, by giving us enough so that we have 10+ to offer to loyal Yahae! readers. Come on over to find out more about getting VIP seats, and/or sign your name on the list for general tickets to guarantee you get one and to watch the show as a group, even if you’re not VIP. I’m going to try to get a better standing area, or have our people enter a bit earlier, if possible. Fashion shows are touch-and-go when it comes to these things, but we might be able to work out a perk or two if we get all the tickets together.

The Korean Heritage Fashion Show

This looks to be really cool, and something Robert should especially appreciate. The government is putting on a huge fashion/culture extravaganza on October 2, in a fashion show featuring a who’s who of Korea’s top designers, taking place on a stage specially constructed on the Kyeongbok Palace grounds. There are going to be all kinds of cultural performances, as well as fashion shows featuring modern and traditional designs. The Korean government did it right with its previous, much smaller-scale event — The Museum Fashion Show — which took place on the National Museum’s grounds in 2009, and I’m really looking forward to seeing a show of this scale set against Korea’s largest palace as a backdrop.

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From the 2009 Museum Fashion Show. [See slideshow.]

I actually wasn’t given many details as to how to sign up or if there are specific tickets, but I’m going to keep updating as I get more details. Find out more, set the date, and keep up with updates — and don’t miss this show!

Red Bull Coming to Korea

I’ll keep it short and sweet — for those of you who don’t have base access and are sick of paying out the nose for bootleg Red Bull, by the end of the summer, you will no longer have to. Red Bull is coming to Korea, and they’ll be rolling out the cars with the cans on ‘em, tossing free cans to anyone in range. There’ll be more news on my site, as I get it.

Beer and BBQ with Yi Soyeon!

Way back when, readers here at the Hole were some of the first people introduced to Yi Soyeon, through a series of videos we made, more than a year before she was chosen to be Korea’s first astronaut. Since then, she’s been to the International Space Station and back, trained and studied at NASA, given international lectures, and is now working for the Korean government at the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

This year marked the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight and humankind’s first step into space. It also coincided with the third anniversary of Soyeon’s own flight, which was a major moment for Korean-kind. Her reception in Korea was somewhat mixed, mostly due to the usual netizen suspects, but her support in the international community was always very strong, especially in the Korean expat blogosphere, which she did keep an eye on, especially here, where readership is high. She always wanted to do a meet-and-greet in English, but her handlers are a bit…reserved about such things. But now, under the auspices of the “Yuri’s Night” celebration, we came up with an event that will let her do a casual, non-government sanctioned event the way she wants to do it.

So, beer and BBQ this Sunday, May 1st from 12-5 PM at Roofer’s in Itaewon, with Soyeon giving a talk on her experiences and her flight, as well as fielding questions. She expressed the desire to have things be an open, casual, and friendly chat, and really wants to see members of the English-speaking community out there! She’s a bit tired of the stiff style of press conferences and such, and simply wants to kick it and socialize with her biggest boosters on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Come on out, have a beer, and say “Hello!”

Here’s the Facebook event link with more information.

Photo Classes in English

For those of you who have DSLR’s but don’t quite know all the functions, or perhaps just want to get more control over your photography, these photo classes might be for you. These are the only ongoing and comprehensive photo classes conducted by a native English speaker in Korea. So, for those of you fellow foreigners with a high interest in photography, this just might be right up your alley. It might also be of great interest to Korean speakers of English who want to kill two birds with one stone.

I have a list of ongoing photo classes and links to the classes on the courses’ Facebook page, and a detailed course description of the beginner class, as well as myself as a photographer, on my own blog. For you photographers out there, also please check out the Chungmuro tour guide I put together in my last post here on this site. And to all my fellow photographers in Seoul, I salute you!

Seoul Fashion Week Starts This Friday

For those of you who are interested, Seoul Fashion Week starts this Friday and goes until the following Thursday. I’ve got an English-language list of all the shows for you, since their official site is funny and doesn’t play well with anything other than Explorer, it seems.

Korean designers have been on the rise since I started covering SFW in 2007, with several new, young designers starting to get some real prominence in other international fashion shows.

Of note are people such as Lee Juyoung, who jumped into the spotlight when Lady Gaga purposely mugged for the camera with Lee’s “Resurrection” brand labels at a red carpet event last year. The Black-Eyed Peas picked her up to be their official designer for their tours. Her show is a mainstay of SFW and not to be missed, if possible.

Lee Doii is a new media favorite here and in France, and has a trademark style that tends to go from colorful to gaudy, as she tried to convey a sense of girlishness and fun in her collections. Her show is also usually a sight to be seen.

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Ye Ranji is a western fashion media darling, because her stark-yet-feminine look is unique and truly artistic. Her brand and inspiration — the Centaur — brings together wearable fashion and “the Orient” in a really smart way. Her shows, ever since she gave her first major one 4 seasons ago, are known as ones not to be missed.

Personal favorites in the hanbok section are Jung Jun Hong and Lee Young Hee, the latter of whom is considered the greatest living hanbok designer. And her stuff is smoking, every season. It’s one of the classiest shows of the season, consistently. She really does hanboks like they should be done — who knew hanbok style was still evolving, and evolving quite stylishly? The former, designer Jung, has a more modern take on the hanboks and always has some of the most colorful shows out there.

Lee Young Hee @ Seoul Fashion Week S/S 2010

Other major designers of note/shows to see from the schedule (several of whom might even be preferred over the ones I’ve highlighted here, but this is all subjective, anyway) are Dominic’s Way, Beyond Closet, Andy&Debb, Fahrenheit Homme, IMseonoc, Steve & Yoni P., Lie Sang Bong, Kwak Hyun Joo, Miss Gee Collection.

Any of those mentioned should be good shows. Check out the schedule. There is not technically any special arrangements for foreigners to easily purchase tickets online (usually done through Interpark), but you can also get them the day of the show, or have your Korean friend do it for you. ‘Fraid the city hasn’t improved the usability of the ticket buying system.

We’ll be live blogging each and every show —  the entire event —  in Korean and English via Twitter. Follow the name “feetmanseoul” and you’ll get more information on Korean fashion than you ever thought you’d want!

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The glitz of a Miss Gee Collection show.

The Ultimate Guide to Chungmuro for Photographers

As a photographer, I get asked all the time about Chungmuro, the traditional photo center of Korea. I sometimes give walking tours of the area as part of my photo classes, but I still haven’t gotten to do that as much as I’d like. So I’ve decided to give you all a virtual version, a map of the places I most highly recommend, which are pretty much the best 0f what Korea has to offer in terms of equipment, as well as specialized black-and-white, slide, scanning, and printing services.

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Here’s how it works. The numbered red dots mark the specific landmarks referred to on the list below. The faint numbers are just block markers to use as reference, especially so one can refer to different parts of the streets and other specific places that weren’t given a red dot by me. So you can add your own favorite spots to the list! Click on the map to expand it to full size, then refer to the stuff below. Print it, save it in your iPod, whatever floats your boat.

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“Live from Korea”

Just got this from a tip in the Korean Media Watch mailbox. I tried to post the video here, but can’t do it, either directly, or adding through the “add video” function. Robert, if you could, please embed the video.

Interesting, no? Seems like foreigners are talking back in more ways than one. And I’m flattered in that the creator used two of my images in the movie. I’m happy to see some in the expat Korean blogosphere using their energy for something positive. I like the way the movie makes its final point, punctuated with an all-too-familiar shooter from Virginia Tech. Speaks in a direct way to the hypocrisy of vilifying “us,” since, on the cold-blooded murder front, Korea 32, USA 0. Not that I’d argue that the Koreans should be responsible for the shooter — in fact, I like the fact that the State Department turned down an official apology from the Korean government — but that doesn’t mean it’s still not an emotionally effective bomb to throw back in the other direction.

Developing Story: Foreigner Drugs and Gambling “Ring”

UPDATE: We got an audio interview with several of the main players, along with some pretty disturbing descriptions of police misconduct, coercion of testimony, and even alleged lying to the Canadian embassy when asked if media were present — the officer communicating said they weren’t, although the picture taken by one of the suspects shows a different story.

ORIGINAL STORY:
Expect some kind of story, with accompanying video, about a “ring” of foreigners involved in drugs and gambling, from tonight on the national news.

From a tip to Korean Media Watch, a group of Americans/Canadians were having a poker game that was raided. Apparently, someone called in a tip. There were 8 members at the raid, one of whom was female but was not asked to come down to the station to pose for the cameras today. 6 others NOT present at the poker game but had been players before were “asked to come down and make a statement” at which time they were told to take urine drug tests. The original 8 had already done so. Apparently, two of the original 8 tested positive, although no drugs were apparently found. This morning at the station, it was a press field day, with cameras called in and set up around a makeshift poker table IN the station. They were even asked by the Korean press to re-enact the game around the table for the cameras, which they refused to do. They also refused to grant any interviews.

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From the station.

One reporter, who seemed a bit disappointed or confused about what was actually going down, informed a member of the group that they had been called by the police, who had claimed to have busted a “drugs and gambling ring.” This is apparently how the police want things to go appear, as this is the context under which the press was called. A few things seem obvious — that the police are primed to turn anything involving foreigners into a “big story” and are directly involved in calling the media down to the station, as well as spinning the story. No matter what particular trouble any members of the group might be in, it is certainly a stretch to call a poker game a drug and gambling “ring,” or to link this story to other “foreigners acting wild” yellow journalism already out there. Considering the pattern of media vilification of foreigners, expect lurid closeup shots of a poker table (provided by the police), exaggerated unnecessary implications about other crime “rings” being conducted by foreigners, and most importantly, linkage of this story to other bad journalism already out there.

We will do our best to get their side of the story out there, at least, and to keep things in context. However, it must be expected that the media will follow the general pattern: wildly exaggerate the facts of the story, generalize that story to the greater population, and pose this generalized population as a “threat” to the Korean public, especially to children.

In the beginning and end, all from a poker game. No drugs on the premises or the persons in question, no reasonable evidence for a gambling “ring.” But that’s how the police are spinning it.

One suggestion from this writer and others: watch your Facebook accounts and updates. There is a lot of suspicion that certain interested parties are now watching Facebook, for various reasons related to the specifics of how this and related events went down, and that calls are being made, tips being given, one suspects, from status updates and event announcements. From the appearance of this story, it seemed like an easy setup and tipoff, with the police ready and prepared to spin a finished story, poker table included.

This pattern of foriegner vilification has institutional momentum, from an over-eager police force ready to make a poker game into a criminal drug and gambling “ring,” to a media equally ready to run any lurid story involving foreigners, whether illegal acts are involved or not. With a police force working hand-in-hand with the media for “the next big scandal,” the results should not be surprising.

Photography Classes in English!

For those of you with DSLR’s that you’d like to take out of the green “Auto” mode, or perhaps simply make maximal use of its features — we’ve got a class just for you. I’ve been conducting photo classes and have been publishing a photo book for more than a year now, and finally took the plunge with a partner to move into a real studio dedicated to conducting classes, studio shoots, and events.

We offer several classes (most of which will start to fill up as more students graduate from our Basic Photo I and II courses) designed to simply show you how to use all the buttons and major functions on your camera, an extended basic course to continue applying your new skills, a Photoshop for photographers course, as well as course dedicated to action, studio, and documentary photography.

Courses last for one month (4 sessions at 3 hours each), are informative-yet-relaxed, and end up being quite social and fun. I won’t take up much of the Marmot’s space with unnecessary details, so if you’re interested, click on over to learn more and sign up.

LATE NOTICE: Deathproof and Planet Terror Double Feature for Free

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I just got word, so sorry for the late notice. It’s TONIGHT.

Go to the Sponge House중앙 (near the Myeongdong Cathedral) and Death Proof’s at 6:30 while Planet Terror’s at 8:30. There are 20 seats under my name, so you have to tell ‘em “the Metropolitician” sent you. Ask for Minjeong if you have any problems.

It’s so late notice, I myself might have trouble making them. But you can, so go get tix and have fun. They always want a lively audience for American films (like me!) but have trouble getting them. Help ‘em out and enjoy yourself!

They Even Ambushed DMC With Mad Cow!

At the press conference with DMC from RUN-DMC today, the Korean press corps asked about the mad cow issue, to which DMC, who had no idea what they were talking about, gave a very general and joking reply along the lines of “Well, I guess no one wants mad cow” and “Gotta protect the people, safety first.”

After the Korean press corps was not satisfied with the answer, they pressed for a “clearer” answer three more times, forcing another more coherent statement for soundbite purposes until a Korean publicist came over and saved him by whispering into his ear, at which point he jokingly exclaimed “I’ve got no beef with anybody!”

At that point, a Hard Rock representative came out and said that since DMC was obviously new to Korea and couldn’t be expected to know what hot issues the beef and FTA issues were, the question should be dropped. The Korean press corps had pushed for a re-answer three times. No one except for the Korea Herald reporter even asked any questions relevant to his actual music.

Of course, that’s how NoCut News reported it, and took his quote completely out of context, with a headline that read: “DMC says ‘In the importation of American beef…the safety of the people is most important.'” Grrrr. They treated it as if he had just offered a comment on it of his own volition, and hadn’t been ambushed into an answer that was far more political than he could have been reasonably expected to know.

I have the entire press conference on tape and will post it after tonight’s concert, which you should really attend. Regina Walton, a.k.a ExpatJane, also did a couple of extensive interviews, one of which was published in the Herald, the other other of which I taped yesterday and will also go up in its entirety later.

Tonight, the Dynamic Duo and DMC will perform “Walk This Way”, with the Aerosmith part being done in Korean, and DMC doing the other end. That should be cool.

Don’t miss it if you can help it.

More Mad Cow Conversation Fodder

For all you folks debating mad cow with Korean friends, relatives, and colleagues, we may just have something for you.

Bomb English (a little project that mixes the Korean drive to learn English with the need to get a different POV out there) is on its 16th episode and is straight-talking about the politics of the crazy cows.

While the opinions in the podcast aren’t exactly new to the average expat, our quickly-growing Korean audience is very much into hearing other points of view than in their dominant media.

The episode is good conversation fodder in general, while also being great ESL “real conversation” material for Koreans, since all episodes come with a full transcript. Listen — and we hope you might find it useful, especially if you’re in need of more materials to support this “teachable moment” and you’re sick of being the only one on your side of the fence in the classroom, the office, or your group of friends.

As much as we lament the apparent illogic of “Korean netizens,” the response to all of our episodes from our predominantly Korean listeners has been overwhelmingly positive, as we try to create a space for open debate, even as we make no bones about our opinions. It seems as if there are indeed some Koreans out there who both appreciate and can get into that.

Soyeon Yi, “CF Queen”

Since the launch, things are really heating up down here on Earth. I’ve been getting extremely positive responses from non-Koreans to the Yi Soyeon videos, and I generally think the reaction amongst many Korean women is positive. My Ewha FLHS girls, for example, are enamored of her.

However, certain Korean netizens are forming an attack army of nasty comments, mostly talking about how “ugly” she is, how this is a waste of tax money, and finally, since the publication of a misleading DongA.com article about her, how she is really a “CF Queen” (commercial queen), gone to space to get rich.

What the article did was lift quotes from the first video — which was shot 2 years prior and when she had only made the final 30 — without actually linking to or even attributing it properly so that people could see it for themselves. Then the article led with the quote “I’m going to buy an apartment for my mother as a present!” ( “ 벌어 엄마한테 아파트 선물”) upon becoming famous. She also said she’d donate money to her school and foundations for scientific research, but those key points were left out.

Also left out was the fact that she also jokingly said that she would promote my web sites and podcasts when she got famous. I didn’t get the sense that her main goal in going into the program was to promote SeoulGlow.com, nor did I hear her plugging the web site in any ISS communications. It’s about as ridiculous to say she went into this program to buy her mom a house as it would be to say she did it as a publicity stunt for some foreigner’s online video magazine. But leave it to the Korean media to omit, distort, and fail to properly attribute to the point of completely misrepresenting the truth.

What the article did was 1) misleadingly lead any reader to believe that the interviews were conducted recently, after she had become the final candidate, 2) actually misquote her, since some of what is in quotes is not what she said, and 3) by not attributing the source so people could see for themselves that they were misquotes taken completely out of context and actually 2 years ago, make people completely unable, unless they are one of the few thousand who’ve actually seen the videos themselves, to see that the article is full of horse doody. Of course, the twisting of truth going on in that article seems to depend on not having actually seen the source material, but…

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SeoulGlow #10 – Dinner With Soyeon (Part 3)

It’s done. Now you can see the much-promised, much-delayed, final interview with Soyeon. I think that when you watch it, you might be able to see why I held onto it for so long — one reason was that I thought it would be most relevant around the time she went up, and the other reason was because I didn’t want to help publicly pigeonhole her into being the backup astronaut well before the decision was made.

[Grr. WordPress 2.5 is stripping out the embed code. I got it to post on my own Typepad site. Sorry!]

For a long time, the video seemed particularly fitting because she indeed became the backup; now that she’s sitting in the first chair, it’s even more interesting. Enjoy, Marmot’s Holers… I posted it here first. I haven’t even upped it to YouTube yet, and KBS is coming to my house to interview me and get the original DV files of the vids for broadcast in 40 minutes. But I wanted you guys to get it first. I’ll wax wordy and wise about all this on my own blog later.

Enjoy!

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