Links of note, including MUST READ story on the K-pop machine

– MUST READ: Stephanie Wood penned a wonderful story on the great K-pop machine. Here’s just a sample:

American-born Nathan McMurray, 37, a long-term Seoul resident and lawyer who has a Korean wife and who blogs about Korean culture, remembers a time when things were different. “What we have today is not what existed 10 years ago in Korea,” he says. “When I first came to Korea, we had independent acts that worked their way up … just like any other music scene. Older Korean music was subversive, it had challenging messages … and it was moving.” Does K-pop last? No, says McMurray. “It’s confectionery. It’s candy. It’s something that tastes good for two seconds, then you’re sorry you ate it.”

SBS PopAsia host Jamaica dela Cruz might choose to pick a fight with naysayers like McMurray. For her, there’s nothing wrong with the manufactured nature of K-pop. “It’s showbiz, babe,” says dela Cruz. “Dress up for me, give me costumes and she-bam! It’s entertainment, so entertain!”

– If you haven’t already seen them, check out these photos of Seoul in the Guardian by Mike Beech, one of the guys who runs online magazine Chincha.

– Dennis Rodman apparently thought Kim Jong-un was a swell guy. UPDATE: This is the best commentary on the Rodman visit I’ve read:

In the 30s, serious intellectuals traveled to the Soviet Union to hail it as the future of humanity. In the 60s and 70s, writers, actors & other assorted glitterati went to Cuba to be schmoozed by El Jefe. And now North Korea has hauled in…a retired basketball player with a penchant for shock publicity. The quality of useful idiots is on a definite downward trajectory.

– The wife and I went to Bukhansan National Park this weekend. Oh, and we took in yesterday’s sunrise from Mt. Ansan, too. See the Tumblr.