The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Tag: Korean Wave

Spit-take No. 2 – The Korean Make-over


This Brazilian fellow has reportedly had ten surgeries so that he might look Korean and he plans on moving to South Korea as soon as reasonable.  I think maybe he looks a bit better than this Chinese man, whose small son decided that his dad’s passport photo needed a make-over, thus leaving father stranded in South Korea:


However, some people have tried Korean cosmetics with better results by following a Korean 12-step skin care regime (twice a day!).

K-pop: A horror show for masochists?

While Michael Hurt argues there is no Korean Wave, John Lui at the Straits Times seems to think it does exist, and it’s not a very nice thing (HT to Aaron):

Do you like being treated like rubbish? Do you enjoy having your warmth and kisses rewarded with a fist to the face and a vacuum cleaner nozzle down your wallet? Do you sometimes find normal pop artists simply too talented, or just too nice?

If you said yes to any of the above, you will just love K-pop, that sugary, neon-coloured funtime that combines the best of a plastic surgery trade show and a mugging in a dark alley.

Don’t hold back, John. Let us know how you really feel.

I have no desire to enter this conversation, really. Sure, K-pop’s not my thing, but I suppose I’d enjoy watching “cleavage-and-legs music videos” than Miley Cyrus twerking. And I know absolutely nothing about Singapore’s pop culture industry, which may be telling.

Not everybody likes the Korean Wave, apparently

At least not in Cambodia:

At a nearby café, a Chinese-Cambodian businesswoman said she was saving money to get cosmetic surgery in Gangnam, the glamorous Beverly Hills of Seoul that Psy raps about in his global hit.

But the lure of plastic surgery in Korea – a trendy item for Asian women who want the pointy nose and larger eyes they consider beautiful – is apparently wearing off too.

“I should be careful. I don’t want to look like those K-pop girls. Too fake,” she said. “And those K-drama men, ugh, they look girly. Too much make-up.”

Don’t read too much into this, though:

Opposition to Korean Wave usually rides on other frictions, and doesn’t always come down to acceptance or rejection of Korean pop culture itself. “As political issues rise and fall, culture can get sucked in. But so do cars, appliances, and whatever else,” said Mark Russell, author of Pop Goes Korea: Behind the Revolution in Movies, Music and Internet Culture.
“Girls Generation’s ‘Gee’ has 95 million YouTube hits,” Russell said. “Frank Ocean doesn’t have more than 12 million for a song.”

I’ll say this—a lot of the traffic at my Tumblr photoblog comes from “foreign” teenage K-pop and K-drama fans, of which there appears to be legions. At least on Tumblr.

Gangnam Style: Americans just late to the party

In Foreign Policy, Mark Russell notes what while Americans might be learning about K-pop for the first time, Korean pop culture has been a big deal in Asia and elsewhere for quite a while:

Korean pop culture may not (yet) turn heads in Los Angeles or London, but its impact — economic as well as cultural — across the developing world is startling. First taking off in China and Southeast Asia in the late 1990s, but really spiking after 2002, Korean TV dramas and pop music have since moved to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and now even parts of South America. “Gangnam Style,” a music video by the rapper/satirist PSY, has been viewed 292 million times since it was released in July. Since then he’s been welcomed with open arms, and has been spotted teaching several celebrities his iconic “horsey dance.”

Indeed, the rise of K-Pop is the bellwether of a variety of trends that are changing the global economy (and emerging markets in particular) in fundamental ways. Its success as a product – but, more importantly, as a cultural brand promoting Korean exports ranging from soft drinks to cosmetics to consumer electronics — suggests that Western countries aren’t likely to have a lock on the hearts and wallets of developing countries for long. More generally, it illustrates the new reality that the North-South pattern of trade and cultural exchange that has dominated the world since the ascendance of European colonialism is giving way and making room for unexpected soft power.

Read the rest on your own.

N. Koreans really like those S. Korean dramas

The JoongAng Ilbo, citing materials prepared by a Saenuri Party lawmaker, reports that South Korean dramas are really, really popular in North Korea.

So popular they are, in fact, that if you don’t want’em, you’ve got nothing to talk about at the water cooler.

Apparently, episodes of Korean dramas reach North Korea within a week of their original broadcast—not as good as Pirate Bay, but still pretty impressive. Even the military and security forces watch them.

South Korean dramas and movies are reportedly costly, too. A popular South Korean video will cost about half the average North Korean worker’s wage. Adult material costs more than the average monthly wage (Marmot’s Note: Paying for Korean ero films—that’s the kind of economic decision-making that made North Korea the industrial titan it is today). Party figures and security personnel apparently watch the backs of merchants trading in these goods, receiving bribes in return. Some even get their friends and family members involved.

Distribution is moving from tapes, CDs and DVDs to USBs and external hard drives. The content, too, is diversifying, with Korean dramas, TV shows and adult films joined recently by American dramas like “Sex and the City” and “Desperate Housewives.”

Marmot’s Note: Assuming his mysterious lady friend is force-feeding him episodes of “Sex and the City” and “Desperate Housewives,” it’s amazing Kim Jong-un looks so chipper. And can only hope for the sake of his mental health that they’re also sneaking in episodes of “Person of Interest,” too. “Falling Skies,” too, since the second season seems much improved.

‘Most Ridiculous Anti-Hallyu Movements in Japan’

For your reading enjoyment

Japanese rightists angry about Korean men stealin’ their women

So, the Japanese magazine SPA!—which I am to understand is a men’s weekly attached to the Sankei Shimbun—has run in its latest issue a special that good-looking but low-grade Korean men were latching on to the Korean Wave to, horror of horrors, make sport of Japanese women.

Needless to say, this has Japanese right-wing, anti-Korean netizens gnashing their teeth as if Korean men were stealing their own girlfriends. Or so reports the Gukmin Ilbo.

The magazine recounted the evil deeds done by Korean men, including those done by a 24-year-old Korean exchange student identified as Mr. Im (fake name), who said he worked in a “‘flower men’ Korean Wave cafe” in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo, which apparently is being reborn as a Korean Wave street.

Im, who reportedly looks like Gwon Sang-woo, practically ran away to Japan as a student after failing to get a job in Korea. Learning that Japanese women would dig him just by telling them he was Korean, he now went around messing around with Japanese women into the Korean Wave.

Im even told the magazine his method. He would hand the women a memo or business card with his cell number and email address.

No, seriously, that’s it.

According to the magazine, many women even gave him financial support when he gave them the puppy dog look and told them his life was hard.

And I thought Newt Gingrich had game.

The magazine introduced another case, a 37-year-old man by the name of Choe (fake name), who claimed he hooked up with 12 women a week—one in the morning, one in the afternoon. He said even if he had several bodies, it wouldn’t be enough.

The magazine also went to a “Korean Wave Boys Bar” in Shin-Okubo. Japanese women pack the place out when “K,” a boy-band who doubles as the bartenders, do their live show. Singing shirtless, they do a bit of bump and grind with the customers and even kiss the regulars. Some regulars even form “deep relationships” with the members they like.

The article finishes by warning that “the lewd acts of Korean men who have jumped on the bandwagon of the empty fad of the Korean Wave do not stop.”

This had the magazine’s male readers throwing their manga at their computer monitors, with angry otaku leaving comments like “Korea exports not only female prostitutes, but male ones, too,” “You’d never contact a Korean man if you had any sense,” and “It’s extremely unpleasant seeing pure Japanese women being used by beastly Korean men.”

By the way, don’t laugh about the “pure Japanese women” line—sadly, many in fact may be.

Other commenters criticized the magazine, with one Japanese netizen saying SPA! was famous for ordinarily running deluded and perverted stories.

Those Choco Heim are tasty…

Saw while I was at Youtube. Her Korean is quite good.

And if you need more ‘SNSD on Letterman’ commentary…

I direct you to Mike’s post at Scribblings of the Metropolitician.

Here’s what I’ll say about K-pop. As with most pop music, I hate it—a lot of it is manufactured bubble-gum crap. On the plus side, though, unlike with American pop music, I’ve never dispaired for the future of civilization after listening to a K-pop song. In that regard, I wish it luck in the States, “codes” or no “codes.”

I’m going to listen to some Kim Kwang-seok now…

What was that? Where’s the video for SNSD on Letterman?

Why, here it is:

So, what DO young Europeans think of first when they think of Korea?

Sadly, according to a poll by KOTRA, it’s not K-pop or kimchi.

It’s North Korea.

Which brings us to something Tweeted by friend and former collegue Elizabeth Shim:

So where’s South Korea in the Top 10 Amazon bestsellers in the Korea category? All about N Korea and the Korean War: link

As I’ve said (and Tweeted) 1,000 times, one of the reasons I hate North Korea most is that it has stolen attention away from the Korea that did everything (mostly) right. Seoul engineers one of the greatest socio-economic miracles of the 20th century, and the media focuses its attention on the auto-genocidal douchebags on the other side of the DMZ.

First protesting K-dramas. Now this.

When will Japanese insults against Korean pop culture stop?

The humanity!

Korean Cultural Invasion of Nagaland?

Where the hell is Nagaland, you ask? Well, it’s a hilly state in the far northeast of India, bordering on Burma. It is inhabited by 14 tribes who speak about a variety of languages belonging to the Sino-Tibetan language group. The good people of Nagaland apparently really love Jesus: some 90% of its nearly 2 million inhabitants are Christian, the majority of them Baptists.

There’s something else the people of Nagaland really love: Korean culture. This is causing concern in some quarters, however, that the Naga might be losing their own culture:

Naga youth have now started to adapt Korean culture. Korean television channels, programs, movies, and clothes are popular among Naga youth. Korean companies are looking into investing in Nagaland. The Nagaland State Government has even taken steps to embrace Korean culture: it hosts an annual Indian-Korean cultural festival.

However, this wave of Korean culture threatens traditional Naga customs. Elder Nagas fear the gradual disappearance of Naga customs in the face of globalization. As young people turn toward foreign cultural products and entertainment produced in other languages, this threat becomes ever real.

Somehow, I don’t think Lisa Kelley ever expected to show up on Youtube as the face of Korean cultural imperialism.

On a serious note, though, Arirang TV is reportedly the most watched TV channel in Nagaland:

The most watched TV channel in the state is the Korean channel Arirang TV, the DVD and CD shops are bursting with Korean films, the hottest hair-dos offered by salons are the ones flaunted by popular Korean actors and actresses, shops are selling street fashion that are currently in vogue in Korea, cultural events in the state has special ‘Korean songs’ contests, sport events now have categories like ‘Korean wrestling” and if these are not enough, the entire media is so quiet on this whole issue, as though this wave of Korean culture is the most natural phenomenon to have happened.

Of course, when they’re ready to be truly Korean, they’ll ditch Arirang TV in favor of NCIS and CSI: Miami.

I know nothing about Nagaland, of course, but since ignorance is never a reason not to express an opinion on the Internet, the first thing that pops into mind is that — in addition to the Jesus thing — the Naga might find Korean pop culture attractive because unlike Bollywood, the people in Korean TV shows and movies kinda, sorta look like them?

Kimchi — It’ll Get You Laid

From here.

(HT to Scott)

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