Lady Gaga wears outfit with hangul on it in Tokyo. Japanese netizens go ape sh*t

On her Instagram account Lady Gaga posted a few pictures of her walking around Tokyo with an outfit that had, gasp, hangul written on it- 컬러.  Evidently it’s Konglish for “color” (kol-lo), a play on the style of her outfit.

Why Lady Gaga's Outfit Upsets Some People in Japan

(Image from

Reported by the Asian pop blog Kotaku, evidently the fine folks at 2ch, wasted no time in getting a lively thread started to display their shock and aghast.  Some of the more interesting comments?

“She thinks South Korea and Japan are the same.”

“Wearing clothes with Korean characters and sauntering about Roppongi is giving hate to Japan.”

“Get outta here, you shitty white person.”

“Yep, just a dumb American.”

“Certainly looks like between Japan and South Korea, Gaga likes Korea more.”

There appears to be two schools of thought here.  One is that Lady Gaga is an ignorant American who doesn’t know the difference between hangul and hiragana and this is just a dumb mistake.  The other view (from the more paranoid 2ch members) is that Gaga knows full well that hangul is Korean and is taking Korea’s side on historical issues!  Her parading around Roppongi in a hangul suit is her way of thumbing her nose at Japan!

Personally, I don’t really know what Lady Gaga is trying to do, but I kind of think that she would know the difference between the two writing styles.  Crayon Pop did give her an outfit with her name stenciled in hangul on it:

(Image from Lady Gaga’s Twitter)

For those of you who may not know, it says Leh-yi-dee Ga-ga, in Konglish.

Now, in all fairness to 2ch commenters, if Lady Gaga was running around the streets of Seoul and taking pictures of herself with an outfit that had hiragana characters on it and prominently posted the pictures on the internet, then I would say that Korean netizens would react with similar butthurt and aghast.

Birds of A Feather – The NIS & CIA Have Issues to Tend To

You may remember the sordid tale of South Korea’s NIS Scandal, where the Korea spy agency spent some effort to influence and interfering in a presidential election.  Now Diane Feinstein, The chairwoman of the American Senate intelligence committee accused the Central Intelligence Agency of improperly removing documents from computers that committee staff members had been using to complete a report on the agency’s detention program. (cite)
Per Feinstein’s comments:

. . . I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution. (cite)

The director of the CIA, John Brennan has denied culpability on the CIAs part and claims the agencies’ affairs have been handled in an appropriate manner.  All this after press reports that the CIA had searched Congressional computers used by Representative Feinstein’s staff. (cite)

Though senior Saenuri Dang members and the last president of South Korea could possibly be held responsible for the deeds of the NIS, one can not solely blame the CIA since it has been enabled by the American Congress for some time.  As said by one commentor on the NY Times article “Welcome to the National Security State, Sen. Feinstein. The one you helped create.” or “So Senator Feinstein is upset that she’s being spied on? The irony certainly isn’t lost on me! This is the same woman that has repeatedly defended the NSA’s right to spy on American citizens”

Meanwhile, members of Saenuri Dang are in a panic over the current NIS foulup over fabricated evidence:

It’s not a matter that [the NIS] can simply brush off by making an apology, . . . Nam should judge on his own whether his decision would harm the president. Can the problem be patched up without him voluntarily stepping down? . . . When I think of the fabrication scandal, my flesh trembles, . . . What if this incident deals a colossal damage to us in the elections? (Kim Yong-tae, Saenuri legislator)

or this quote:

. . . the very fact that the NIS has been the center of media reports for over a year and a half is evidence the agency has failed to truthfully fulfill its duty. (Choung Byoung-gug, Saenuri Dang legislator) (link)

I guess the reform promised for the NIS is still en route to us.


If you’re the sort who enjoys racial flame wars, I bring you:

– “Racism paints K-pop into corner” in the Korea Times. I found Tiger JKs contribution to the discussion interesting, because it’s not like he hasn’t had to deal with accusations of racism before (albeit directed at melanin deficient people, which I suppose makes it OK in this day and age).

– Katy Perry. Jesus. Anyway, Tao Jones has a good post on why this was wrong on several levels at the WSJ, with a shot at Samsung as an added bonus:

As part of a marketing partnership, the AMAs and Samsung Mobile tweeted this exclusive picture of Katy Perry backstage, prior to her geisha-a-go-go performance, scrawled with the line “I THINK I’M TURNING AMA” — a reference to the British band The Vapors’ 1980 song “Turning Japanese.” Do the AMAs and Samsung not realize that some people view the subject of that song as a racist metaphor for masturbation?

Incheon Airport slips to No. 2; American airports still suck

Skytrax’s 2013 rankings put Singapore Changi Airport at the top of the world. Incheon International Airport, last year’s No. 1, dropped to No. 2.

Boo! Boo!

Not surprisingly, there were no American airports in the Top 10. In fact, there were none in the Top 20. America’s top ranked airport was Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Intl Airport, which came in at #30:

American airports are generally fairly awful, so their poor performance in this survey is no great surprise. But it is also worth a response. Airports are gateways to cities and regions, and it’s striking that the infrastructure of the world’s lone superpower lags so far behind that of the rest of the world. The mood in Washington right now is one of austerity, so any near-term improvements to the country’s airports will have to come from state or local authorities—or, ideally, from the private sector. But some of the worst problems can only be solved with federal help. Lengthy delays have a lot to do with America’s outdated air-traffic control system, which Washington is trying to fix, but which cannot be upgraded without lots of money. And the lack of good transport links at some of the most important airports (here’s looking at you, LaGuardia) is probably only rectifiable with federal money.

Another Korean, another offensive coffee receipt

Or, as The Gothamist put it:

Another day, another racist receipt: A NJ woman is suing CVS, accusing a worker of changing her name to say “Ching Chong Lee” on her receipt.

Hyun Lee, who is Korean, says that she ordered photographs from CVS online and when she went to pick them up from the Egg Harbor City branch, the receipt said, “Lee, Ching Chong.” She emailed CVS, saying, “Do you think it’s funny? It’s very disturbing to me!!!!… why doesn’t he just call me Chink! It has the same derogatory meaning!!!!!”

How’s your knowledge of famous Asians?

There’s another one of those videos featuring knowledge-rich Americans wrongly responding to questions –not of the world this time, but mostly pop culture. One of course wonders: were the participants all random picks or did the author edit in the biggest knuckleheads? (Kim Jong-il, Japanese? Come on, really?)

Koreans should be pleased with the results –the country brand is strong enough that other ethnicities get credit for being Korean when they’re not.

At least he has the one pair of sharp guys that nail every question –even the one about Mr. Miayge.



Six Degrees of Separation – An Honorary Counsel of South Korea and Naughty Affairs?

It almost seems nowadays that anything involving ethics and sex can be connected to Korea within a few steps – even if things Korean are not implicated in any wrong-doing:

Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite connected to ISAF Commander John Allen and former CIA Director David Petraeus, is an “honorary consul” of South Korea, a diplomatic official with direct knowledge of the arrangement told The Cable.

“She is an ‘honorary consul’ of the Republic of Korea,” the official said. “She assumed this position last August thanks to her good connections and network”. . . “She does not work as a real consul. They play a role to improve the relationship between the ROK and the U.S.,” . . . “Jill Kelley helped to get support for [the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement] and she arranged meetings between the ROK Ambassador to Washington and local businessmen when the ROK Ambassador visited the Tampa area.” . . . her work on behalf of the South Koreans may explain some of the 20,000 to 30,000 pages of e-mails between her and Allen that the Defense Department’s Inspector General’s office is investigating now.

Bizarre . . . and now, per the NY Times:

Ms. Kelley, whose house has been besieged by reporters and television crews, has called 911 several times to complain about snooping reporters, according to tapes and transcripts of the calls posted on the Web. In at least one call, she asked for “diplomatic protection,” saying she is an “honorary consul general,” a designation she reportedly received from South Korean diplomats.

So Korean diplomats are now involved.

Arirang TV interview on Korea’s mountains and their spirits

Just to let you all know, i will be the guest on the 1-hour “Heart to Heart” interview-show of Arirang TV tomorrow (Monday 22nd), broadcast at 9am, 3pm & 9pm (and once more at 3am Tuesday — all are Korea time zone of course). It’s a wide-ranging discussion of my research on the Sanshin Mountain-spirits, the sacred mountains of Korea, my advocacy of UNESCO designation of them as World Heritage Sites, and the improved promotion of Korean Tourism — and a little personal stuff. See this page of their site.

If you miss those broadcasts and still want to see it, or if you want to show it to somebody else, a few days later it will be in their VOD service (video-on-demand archives) in the Heart to Heart section. You can watch it anytime there; have to register but that’s free.

Maybe, this bit of publicity will help me get a new full-time job :-)

What happens when you mix white boys and K-pop?

You get this disaster.  Wow, it sounds like what pouring spaghetti sauce over japchae would taste like.

The lead singer here is Chad Future, a.k.a. Detroit native David Lehre.  Listen, I like K-pop as much as the next guy, and I also like tastefully done fusion of ideas, art, food and culture, but I just don’t know what to call Chad’s attempt to “fuse” K-pop other than bad.  Real bad.  It’s like cooked sashimi, a white girl calling me “oppah,” or chemically fermented and nasty “kimuchi.”

Perhaps some things shouldn’t be attempted, like a sequel to “Gone With the Wind,” remake of Oldboy, a Nixon second term, etc.  We should be left with the positive impressions of the originals and not have the bad taste in one’s mouth of the attempted repeats.  A frame by frame and beat by beat overlay of K-pop with white people just ain’t gonna hunt.

Japanese and Korean airport security?

Say what you will about LA Airport (I really hate flying through there) and its airport staff but at least they found this nutcase who somehow Japanese and Korean airport authorities missed.  This is just scary on all levels:

What alerted agents to check his suitcase?  It might have been the bullet-proof vest or the flame-retardant pants that he was wearing under his trench coat.

According to ICE, a search of his checked bag turned up the smoke grenade as well as “three leather-coated billy clubs, a collapsible baton, a full-face respirator, various knives, a hatchet, body bags, a biohazard suit, handcuffs, leg irons, and a device to repel dogs.”

Wonder what the excuses are going to be?


It appears that he was checked in Incheon but still managed to slip through.  According to the AP (Via Lubbock Online):

South Korean security officials screened a man with a bulletproof vest before he got on a flight to Los Angeles, but they never detected a banned smoke grenade in his checked luggage with a cache of knives, handcuffs, a gas mask and other weapons, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

It goes on to state that the U.S. could take strong measures against Incheon Airport such as banning flights from that airport but most likely won’t because it was just a slip up.

“This clearly looks like an error. Something slipped through that should not have slipped through,” Blank said of the grenade.

Many of the other belongings authorities say they found in Harris’ luggage — including the hatchet and knives — wouldn’t violate TSA guidelines for property in checked luggage. Also, bulletproof vests and flame-resistant pants like the ones Harris was wearing aren’t listed among prohibited items aboard flights.

I liked these two paragraphs:

An intrusive pat-down by security or the discovery of a too-big bottle of tanning lotion can leave a passenger feeling violated, while Harris, outfitted in a bulletproof vest, flame-retardant pants and knee pads underneath a trenchcoat, with an arsenal in his luggage, appears to have triggered no suspicion before arriving in Los Angeles.

“The one thing that concerns me is he was able to board a plane internationally with all these weapons and whatnot, and nobody in Japan, nobody in Korea, bothered to find these things until he got to America,” said Gadisa Goso, 29, a school administrator and neighbor of Harris’ mother in Boston. “That’s a big concern for, like, for the U.S.”

Needless to say, Harris is not cooperating with the authorities and will not explain what he was doing with all the material.  He recently started working in Japan – wonder what his occupation was?

Trailer to ‘Red Dawn’ remake

Looks OK, I guess, but I liked it better when I played it as “Homefront.”

In case you forgot how the Chinese got switched for the North Koreans:

People close to the picture said the changes will cost less than $1 million and involve changing an opening sequence summarizing the story’s fictional backdrop, re-editing two scenes and using digital technology to transform many Chinese symbols to Korean. It’s impossible to eliminate all references to China, the people said, though the changes will give North Korea a much larger role in the coalition that invades the U.S.

“We were initially very reluctant to make any changes,” said Tripp Vinson, one of the movie’s producers. “But after careful consideration we constructed a way to make a scarier, smarter and more dangerous ‘Red Dawn’ that we believe improves the movie.”

Yes, scarier, smarter and more dangerous. I’m sure that’s what it was.

At least “Tomorrow, When the War Began” had Australia getting invaded by unnamed Asian folk you could pretend were Chinese.

Harlem charter school draws inspiration from Korean schools

Seth Andrew, the founder of Democracy Prepatory Charter School in Harlem, has been in the news a lot recently. It’s easy to see why:

Andrews, 31, founded Democracy Prep which now operates six campuses in Harlem that has used the Korean model of education to boost the achievements of students in one of New York’s poorest neighborhoods. Democracy Prep, which uses a lottery-based admission system and offers free tuition, gets over 5,000 applications each year.

“The belief that you can do better” is the philosophy that drives Andrews’ school. But the inspiration to follow the Korean model came from the respect he felt after spending a half year teaching English a decade ago at Dong-sung Middle School in rural Cheonan in South Chungcheong province. The attitude he observed in the principal and faculty of that school left a deep impression on Andrews.

Personally, I’m a bit skeptical about the potential of the Korean educational system to change American schools.

Not because I lack faith in the Korean educational system, mind you.

I just lack faith in American students.

Still, Mr. Andrew’s school seems to be doing well, and I wish him the best of luck.

Check out the videos here and here.

(HT to reader)