Hey there Seoulbeaters! The year is ending, Christmas is here, and what better way to spend the New Year and the Holidays than to… sit at your computer and write long and thought provoking comments on Seoulbeats it seems. Not that we’re complaining, you guys gave us some great gems this week. From the shining SHINee to the tempting conflicting phenomenon of fandom shipping, it seems like there’s no topic that won’t get you guys going. But here are five of the best comments of the week that got us going!

LaurenLCD on SB Exchange #1: SHINee

… I think the problem with SHINee and other artists in SM is the interdependence they have on the company. I’m not saying they lack backbones and can’t think for themselves, but they rely on SM’s team to know what’s the right direction for them to go. All the artists in SM came in as fresh faced middle and high school students who just knew that they liked singing, dancing, and acting. They hadn’t figured out where their niches were and they were trained in everything and then given a role to fulfill, even if it wasn’t the best choice in the long run. Eventually after debut, they all started branching off and it was then that they discovered where their passions laid. Right now, the groups that have been around for more than a few years (SJ, SHINee, SNSD, TVX2, f(x) will join their ranks shortly) are all in a rut because they either know what they want to do now, or they’re in the process of figuring it out. But they need SM to figure it out as well.

The members of SNSD have stated that they find the songs they’re forced to sing nauseating. There are members who just aren’t cut out for singing and/or the style of music/choreography that SNSD is anchored to. Hyoyeon isn’t a singer. She’s a dancer, but the simplistic, dainty steps just doesn’t work for her. She’s like Jonghyun. She has to go all out and sometimes “all out” isn’t about being dainty. It’s about being rough and giving 110%. Taeyeon‘s had crying fits because some songs she’s been given, she hates. Then we wonder why for all the talent she can show, she sings like a robot. I think Jessica is regretting her life decisions thus far and is realizing that this career isn’t for her. The other members have different tolerance levels. Some of them can handle the fetish like way they’re presented, but some are conservative and feel out of place and uncomfortable with the way they’re marketed to dirty, old ajjusi fans who’ve been perving them since their barely legal days. They lack unity as a group, but they’re not allowed to agree to disagree and compromise with SM.

For SHINee, Jonghyun… that man has passion. Sometimes he loses his voice, he has so much of it. Songs like Lucifer, Please Don’t Go, Obsession, Hot Times, Nothing Better… he needs songs where he can let loose, but can also reign him in so that he doesn’t need surgery for nodules. Key can shine in the presentation department and put on a good show, but he needs more passionate involvement if he’s going to give 100%. I don’t know Key‘s vocal health, so I can’t call it lazy or a genuine issue that needs a throat specialist and vocal coach. If it is laziness, then it’s the same laziness that’s been plaguing SNSD. They’re bored of the puppet-on-a-string song and dance routine. They need to be given some area of control where they can feel proud of what they’re doing, knowing that the good results are their brain child(s) and not someone else’. Minho… they don’t know what to do with him. He’s competitive and he likes being able to prove himself capable. The problem with him is that he’s put into this brooding, silent persona and the rapper role as a way to reign that fire under his butt in. I guess they fear that if he gets too ambitious, he’ll pull a JYJ or will try to out sing Jonghyun and out dance Taemin? If they’d train him properly and let him sing more than that tiny little line in Hello, he could be a great asset to SHINee who’s full of Tenors and needs a manly little “umph” in the bass department. Onew has the same problem as Minho. The man’s serious and could have the potential to be a leader like G Dragon (The members of Big Bang are scared of him when they need to get down to business, but they respect him and he gets shit done when it needs to be.), but of course, SM doesn’t want ambition. They want docility and they don’t want Onew to be that intelligent. I’m willing to bet that if Jaejoong was the leader instead of Yunho, all 5 of DBSK could have been gone from SM. That’s the same vibe I feel at times with Onew. If he weren’t forced to be bubble brained, he could throw some kind of coup and raise hell if he desired. Taemin suffers what all stars and maknaes suffer. In Asian society, there’s a  detachment between members of each demographic and a lot of it has to do with the age differences. In groups, this is seen where the younger half of a group suffer most with depression and loneliness. They no longer have their friends to talk to. They don’t have their family. All they have are these older people who may only see them as coworkers (ahem, Key, ahem) or they’re afraid of being seen as annoying little brothers who are pests. Daesung and Seungri had the same problems. It’ll be scary as hell, but Taemin’s going to have to be the aggressive one if he wants to make more true friends. He needs to build his self esteem if he’s going to show his full potential.

All these artists have some kind of talent somewhere, not always singing and dancing. The problem is in SM letting them grow and develop those talents and allowing them and the fans to transition in those directions in a way that’s not jarring. The groups were all marketed as pedo-bait and their intended audiences (sans SNSD) are too old to fall for that anymore. The audiences they have to cater to are around their age brackets and have grown with them. SHINee was going in the right direction at first, but it looks like SM is trying to recapture the first wave of audience members instead of capturing new ones. The same can be said for SNSD, Super Junior, etc. SM needs to help these artists in their transitions from being mere idols, because this generation of idols is moving on and becoming artists or are disappearing all  together if they just can’t move on from the manufactured boy band/girl group to the next Brown Eyed Girls, Epik High, Clazziqai, etc. If they can’t move on and grow, then their careers are done, unless they manage to leave when the contracts are up and go to a smaller company or go indie. I don’t like every group SM churns out, but I do hope that they manage to make their idols something more and let them be more genuine in what they think, feel, sing, etc. They’re not robots. Robots are expected to be mechanical. Not singers.

maldita on The Woes of Kim Hyoyeon:

SM could’ve put attention on Hyoyeon and groomed her as the female Eunhyuk or something. Eunhyuk is veeeeeeeery popular within his fandom and the general Korean public because he was promoted as the awesome dancer and the funny variety show guy. They’re both not as conventionally attractive as people like Siwon and Yoona. They’re also not remarkable in singing, but Eunhyuk almost always has his own time to shine in Super Junior songs compared to Hyoyeon’s limited solo time.

Melody29 on ALi and Nayoungee: A Faux Pas?:

If anyone has read books by Alice Sebold (Lovely Bones), I read her book (almost an autobiography) “Lucky” for one of my projects while in Nursing school. It is about her experience with being raped and how she coped with it (even testified against her attacker and helped convict him) and how it affected and shaped her life.

Reading about her ordeal was the most uncomfortable content I’ve read. Just the sheer brutality of the act was so apparent in the pages, that it was almost as if it was happening in front of me and I was so tempted to skip the pages just to escape the images, but I continued reading. Do I regret reading it? Absolutely not. It was one of those things that unless you were raped yourself, you’ll never understand the feeling, but reading about it made me reflect more about rape victims and how difficult it is for them to move on from that situation, how much strength it must have taken them, and still takes them, day to day to deal with what has been done to them. Perhaps for some of them, their lives were over the moment the crime was committed. I don’t know. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, nor would I accuse anyone of “asking for it”.

I understand the netizens’ comments about the lyrics possibly hurting “Nayoung” and her family, but I doubt their intentions were purely about the girl. It was probably a mixture of discomfort about the details of the case, the “Oh, give it a rest. The suspect has been convicted! This issue should be closed!”, and the reluctance of many people to confront sensitive topics like sexual abuse. These cases often tend to be swept under the rug . There are still many people who think that women are to blame for being raped. I’ve heard comments from, “Well, if she wasn’t rubbing up on any guy who would flirt with her, maybe this wouldn’t have happened to her.” to “She probably did something to deserve it.”

There are many people out there who still think that rape is preventable if women take enough precautions (don’t wear skimpy outfits, don’t walk in dark alleyways, don’t be so coy and flirty, and other misguided “tips”). There are many people who still think that a husband forcing his wife to have sex doesn’t constitute rape, but demanding his “rights as a husband”. There are many people who still don’t understand that rape is never about sex. It’s about power, violence, and control over someone.

However, I also don’t think that naming the song “Nayoungee” was appropriate. Yes, it was just an alias, but most people would connect the name to the rape case as well as the victim, and then assume immediately that it was about the victim and blame ALi for being insensitive and thoughtless.

ALi shouldn’t have to apologize for her ordeal as a rape victim, nor do I feel she needs to apologize for the song. I just wish that more consideration was given about the song title.

IMO if a comment was going to be made about “Nayoung”, it was NOT ALi’s right to do so. Her experience as a rape victim does not give her the right to speak for another victim. People cope with grief and pain in different ways. Her experience may be just as horrific, but it may not be the same as Nayoung’s, and Nayoung and her family probably have not healed and moved on yet, so perhaps the song didn’t offer the comfort and compassion as ALi had hoped, but more pain. ALi may have had the best intentions at heart and thought she was helping, but I think it was not a smart idea to name the song after another rape victim.

Her family speaking up about the song IF they get hurt about the song’s message is a moot point. They and Nayoung should never have been put in this position in the first place. The ball should have been left in their court: “Speak about the ordeal if you want to, only if you choose to”. And NOT “If you’re offended AFTER the song has been performed, then contact ALi and her company.”

It’s quite ridiculous from some comments below that people actually think Nayoung’s family should make any effort into “complaining” about the song if they want. They shouldn’t even deal with any part of this especially if this was foisted upon them and they most likely didn’t ask for any of this debacle to happen in the first place.

If anyone should speak about her experience, it should have been Nayoung. She was robbed of the right to talk about her experience on her own time, on her own choice. If Nayoung chooses never to talk about it, then it should have been her prerogative as well. If she didn’t want her experience to be talked about, then it should have been her choice. That was taken away from her.

Even ALi had to disclose her own experience as a rape victim, a survivor, on her own time and choice after she has written a song to express her feelings. Nobody else spoke for her. She gave herself the voice to speak about being a rape victim. I wish she could have given the same consideration to Nayoung.

There have been many songs named for victims of abuse, murder, hate crimes, etc. But I don’t think the artists who wrote and sang those songs just went and composed it without asking for permission from the right people. If ALi couldn’t contact the victim or her family, then give the song a title that won’t be assumed to be related to a specific rape victim. Something like, “Survivor”, “Stay Strong”, “You’re Not Alone”, “I’m here for you”, could have worked the same, could have brought the topic of rape and rape victims to the fore without the potential inflammatory effect on some people.

That was ALi’s mistake. She was a rape victim, and she was probably ready to open up about her ordeal through a song. But she didn’t have to name it after another rape victim no matter that it was just an alias.

ALi having a song talking about her feelings as a rape victim and talking about another rape victim doesn’t mean, however, that Nayoung was ready to do it herself, or that she wanted the whole issue of her ordeal to be brought up again and have someone else, a stranger no matter that ALi is another rape victim, speak up for her or her supposed feelings.

straighttohelvetica on SM Global Auditions: Only Asians Need Apply?:

If a horde of international fans aren’t going to be realistic about their chances of success in the k-pop industry, then the company has to be. Unless someone has some sort of connection to Korea–lived there as a child, has family there, knows the language, yada yada–I don’t understand why they think they can just swoop in and become a k-pop idol. The sacrifices are HUGE and the pay off is not that great.

I don’t think it’s impossible for a non-Asian to join to become a pop idol; it’s just the requirements for that to happen have to be very particular. And they also have to accept they’ll face a lot of hate. Netizens are pretty harsh; they insulted the toddler biracial son of Tasha and Drunken Tiger. What do you think they’re gonna do to you?

Plover; on Your OTP is Not Real: Why Idol “Shipping” Has No Place In K-Pop:

…Hardcore, delusional shipping is potentially harmful, both within any fan community (fanwars, pushing down other opinions, and so forth) and possibly tactless to idols themselves (the shoving-in-idols’-face thing, etc). This is pretty much a widely established opinion.

Casual shipping in itself can be fine and tolerable, though. Of course, I’m nowhere near informed enough to explain the phenomenon of how popular male homosexual pairings are among female fans. But casual shipping is not necessarily as harmful as certain segments of extremists. Shipping is pretty much prominent in most fandoms, fictional (from Japanese to American fandoms, anime, manga, television, film, novel, and so forth), to real people. But there’s a difference between shipping fictional characters and shipping real people (which was a very noticeable change for me, when I moved from shipping circles in fictional fandoms – video games, books, anime, etc – to shipping circles in non-fictional fandoms – actors/actresses, k-pop, etc).


I think that when people ship fictional characters, to a certain level, you’re also projecting your interpretation of that fictional character, and so forth, to your ship. Or you’re adjusting it to whatever fic you’re reading, and so on. Or you’re taking one characteristic of one character, and exaggerating it so that it fits your view of a pairing, story, etc etc. (Also backed up by the multiple interpretations within a fandom of one character, for example. And why, for example, in some anime/manga/Japanese fandoms, a character can be interpreted as both a ‘seme’ or ‘uke’, in seme/uke shipping.) Of course, this isn’t particularly harmful in fictional shipping, because, well, they’re…fictional characters.
But when it comes to the projection of this interpretation (or a facet of ‘objectification’, if you want to call it that) onto real life people, it’s a bit of a slippery slope. I think that there are multiple strands of what happens. 1) You start to ship ‘characters’ – almost fictional – based on these real life people. They’re interpretations you ship, but interpretations you keep separate from the real life people. Almost like shipping two characters in a film but not the actors behind them. 2) You don’t separate the ‘fictional ship’/interpretation from the real life people and potentially (though not always, you can be casual) you become a hardcore/’delusional’ shipper. 3) A combination of 1 and 2, to varying degrees. Interpretations, after all, are likely to be based on some truth. This is pretty much the way fandom works. Even if you ignore shipping, and just look at fans’ biases, or ideal artists – don’t they also like who/what they /believe/ their idol to be? The large majority of fans don’t, and won’t, most likely, ever know their idols well and truly. In the end, as stated, it comes down to general objectification and idol culture, particularly through the lens of real person shipping.

And this is slightly left-field, but another factor which adds to this mix of shipping meta is the fact that statistically, and realistically, there /are/ going to be homosexual idols out there. Which affects 1, 2, 3 (above) and so on and so forth.

TL;DR Hardcore shipping is bad! Casual shipping not so much. I could talk a lot more about fandom but I’ll just leave it here.

One thing I would like to have seen more in this article is the discussion of heterosexual shipping, though. What is the psychology behind that? And would heterosexual shipping bother idols more than homosexual, given that with the larger prevalence of homophobia in South Korea (on a comparative scale), homosexual shipping might be laughed off as delusional or funny or silly (this sort of resonates with your recent article on crossdressing), or something not to be, in seriousness, bothered by (look at the phenomenon of fanservice) – whereas heterosexual shipping might be actually taken more seriously? Shipping, after all, is not solely comprised of male/male pairs.

And that’s a wrap for the last ‘Comments of the Week’ for 2011! I hope you guys have a great Christmas and New Years. And I certainly hope you have plans that involve activities outside of the internet, if not then… join the club. And stay tuned for another five comments next week!