What’s up Seoulbeaters! Another week, and another round of comments. We had some good debates going this week, from everyone’s favourite girl group SNSD, to everyone’s least favourite bills, ACTA/SOPA. So without further ado, here’s the five comments which stood out the most this week!
Kandykane on Tu Es Sexy! SNSD in Paris:
the thing is jessica went to korea when she was eleven, thus her english speaking (and writing) skills are that of an elementary student’s. even when i see her speaking english in interviews, she’s not eloquent and her vocabulary is very very limited. she can’t organize her thoughts and string together the english words as eloquently as tiffany does–jess simply sounds really awkward and speaks english as if it were her 2nd language. yes, she went to an international high school and learned english, but to be honest, a trainee would not focus on her schooling as much. (international schools also aren’t equivalent to that of american high schools.) furthermore, her pronounciation, in my opinion, is mediocre considering she LIVED in the states for 11 years. heck, seohyun’s pronunciation is on par with her’s.
tiffany, on the other hand, moved to korea when she was in high school. thus, her english speaking skills are of a high schooler’s. she’s fairly eloquent (compared to jessica) and i don’t find her english cringeworthy as i do with jessica’s. also, you may hate tiffany’s socal accent but i personally find it perfectly fine.
there’s a reason why tiffany takes the lead with these english interviews. she is more natural, eloquent, and charismatic. jessica has problems being clear in her interviews, and i think it’s really obvious if you watch her speaking english.
Chanting on K-pop and Consumer Nationalism:
It wasn’t until I did a research on the KPOP audience for one of my assignments in university that I came to understand the political and economical motives behind the success of my favorite KPOP stars. I completely agree with the writer that KPOP/Hallyu does have other motives outside the interests of the music or the idols at hand. And I’m not sure how I want to feel about that yet.
On the one hand, it’s very easy to see that ‘Hallyu’ is a label, exaggerated and branded onto stars who have reached ‘international’ success – case in point – Rain, and the often ‘butthurt’ or delusional fans that I often see spamming the youtube comments section. No doubt that Rain ventured into le-USA and starred in a Hollywood movie. But if you think about that success in terms of how the movie, and Rain – is received in the US rather than Korea – there’s a big gap…What do these fans, outside Korea, view him as? It’s quite different, and probably less nationalist compared to Korea and the Cloud fans themselves. On the other hand, these idols and KPOP itself, is so carefully manufactured that, unless you are critical and not as receptive to what the media, and in this case – KPOP churns out – you rarely would be able to know what KPOP is trying to make people feel.
It’s not just influencing local KPOP fans, but international KPOP fans too – otherwise why would there be such an outburst from fans at the kids in “Kids React to KPOP” video? As international fans, we only relate to idols through the Internet, a completely mediated experience, but we feel like we understand the idols as much as local Korean fans do – that we (ok, maybe not we, but some) feel we need to defend our bias, and scoff at people who do not appreciate KPOP for its uniqueness.
Isn’t that reaction similar to what KPOP is doing for the local fans? It is not only to make local fans feel proud of their KPOP idols’ achievements, it is also to draw foreigners’ attention to the country known as Korea – even if it is through the likes of nine pretty girls on David Letterman’s show, or the five girls that starred in a Nickelodeon movie – regardless of the reactions – SNSD and Wonder Girls are putting not just their names, but also the country they’re from – out there – and that’s enough for Korea to brag and feel proud about, that’s just how KPOP works to create consumer nationalism, which lead to many other profits – tourism – there’s an rising interest in flying to Korea now thanks to all the KPOP idols we see on Youtube.
Conversation on SOPA/ACTA and the Future of K-pop:
While there are inherent problems with SOPA and ACTA, I think the mass anger and rejection of these bills are not quite justifiable. I think most people know the bill through the internet blackouts, which offers a rather biased and one-sided perspective. I, personally, do not agree with Wikipedia’s blackout at all, because the site was supposed to be under a doctrine of neutrality in politics, which it clearly violates here. I think the word “censorship” is also blindly being thrown around here as well.
As Cary H. Sherman writes in her recent New York Times op-ed article:
“Since when is it censorship to shut down an operation that an American court, upon a thorough review of evidence, has determined to be illegal? When the police close down a store fencing stolen goods, it isn’t censorship, but when those stolen goods are fenced online, it is?”
The objective of the bill was to help enforce US copyright laws, which had been made more difficult by the fact that most piracy sites operate overseas, where US courts cannot reach. I have not actually read either bills, and I do not profess to being an expert at law either, but the opinions I have read online (from the New York Times, which I admit, I am an avid reader of, and therefore am very exposed to their liberal slant) do not make the bills out to be as negative as public opinion seems to view it as.
To those who do not see the harm in piracy, also according to Sherman’s article, ever since file-sharing sites have emerged, music sales and employment in the music industry has halved.
The points that David Pogue’s blog on the New York Times make are:
1. Yes, there are large language problems in the bill, such as possible abuses and the need for a guarantee of due process, etc., which the government is working on, but the language the opposition is using (“censorship” which instantly makes Americans wary of their First Amendment rights) are also wrong, because the point is to crack down on piracy.
2. The opposition actually is split between those who are against the language of the law and those who believe that piracy is okay, which are two separate arguments. Right now, however, piracy is illegal in the US, so the government should try to enforce their laws. I personally agree with Pogue’s opinion:
“Yes, it’s a quirk of the Internet that you can duplicate something infinitely and distribute it at no cost. But that does not make it O.K. to shoplift, especially when the stolen goods are for sale at a reasonable price from legitimate sources. Yes, even if the company you are robbing is huge, profitable and led by idiots.”
There is actually a third article that I have read, but I agree with its points less:
As for how this would affect my relationship with Kpop, I don’t think it would too much for me. Every drama I’ve watched has been available for me on hulu (which is legit right?) and I think they have A LOT of shows, subbed. Most Korean entertainment companies (if not all) post their music videos on youtube, so you can hear/watch. When you’re trying to buy, they offer you a sample first. If I like the music, I buy it. You can watch subbed Music Core on dramafever (that is also legit rite?), or the original thing, which MBC has posted on youtube. For variety, you might luck out, I know hulu only gives you a link to another site for subbed Strong Heart right now, but I don’t watch variety much, so it hasn’t quite affected me. I’m sure if there’s enough demand, it will happen, because the companies want to make money.
Wow this is long, and I only got an hour worth’s of sleep, so I apologize for any mistakes!
The trouble with SOPA and PIPA specifically wasn’t just the content of the bill. I watched’s C-SPAN’s coverage of a news conference round table discussing the bills, in which representatives from actual Silicon Valley technology and entertainment were also against SOPA and PIPA. They said that upon poring over the text of the bill itself with lawyers months ago, (October or even earlier, I believe) they had contacted their government representatives with their concerns about handing the big corporations too much power and impeding economic recovery. The government staff had told them that they were addressing those problems and would personally work with them to address those problems. That never happened, and come December/January the text was virtually unchanged, with all of those problems still present, with no contact from the government regarding those problems, and the bill was poised to be rushed through votes to get passed, with little to no feedback from the general populace or the majority of Silicon Valley businesses.
That’s why the backlash was so great. From the fact that they were trying to pass the bill right under our noses, having ignored our concerns, shows that although the original intent was to combat piracy, the loopholes in its execution were seen by the large corporations and they were chomping at the bit to exploit them. At that point, good intent is not only not enough, but down right dangerous.
As I said in my response to Guest below, one of the problems is that a lot of harmless activities are being grouped under the “illegal” tag unnecessarily, a problem that needs to be addressed before penalties are laid down. Just because something is illegal does not mean that it is wrong, so the “what’s wrong with enforcing the law?” argument is a sketchy one at best.
That Sherman article has a lot of problems with it. This comment it too long already without going through them. The Pogue article has a point, but I would rather the country tread carefully and err on the side of leniency on this issue than risk a heavy-handed law that easily degenerates into actual censorship. After all, the issue is one giant First World Problem and probably not as critical to solve as, say, poverty.
But DramaFever wouldn’t have come into being if it weren’t for demand growing out of people becoming fans watching illegal media. Initially there wasn’t any money in it, and I bet they’ll only continue to license programs they believe will be popular. This leaves fans of less popular things left in the lurch, without a good legal alternative. Not to mention the illegal fansubbing alternatives often seem to be much faster and higher quality for their passion for the fandom, as well as covering old material that definitely won’t get a new release. You’re very lucky that so far your fandom has been mostly available legally. This may make me seem like I’m in the “piracy good!” camp, but what I’m saying is that copyright law should take these kind of things into account in the first place, (with the Swiss government having found that a certain amount of file sharing is actually beneficial) and modify itself accordingly, limiting the number of innocents caught in the crossfire in the fight against actual piracy.
With the current K-Pop fans being more accepting of idol relationships I could definitely see the PD’s and companies being involved in this and turning it into a marketing thing. With a relationship in between two idols it is a possibility that they will share 50-50 of their fan base when the relationship is announced. Think about it. You want to be happy that your idol is in a healthy and happy relationship so you end up supporting their significant other. I that way, two fan bases are shared. But it is a double-edged sword, meaning that I can see this going both ways. If the couple were to break up, certain fans would be bitter if not handled properly.
However, I don’t think that the number of idol relationships have gone up. It’s just that idols are more open with them now, without fear of retaliation. It used to be in the old days that if you were an idol in a relationship fans would feel betrayed and turn their backs against you. A prime example would be Se7en and Park Han Byul. Se7en lost a significant amount of his fan base when the relationship was announced. You can also hear the older idols on variety shows sharing their stories of much they had to sneak around to be together. But that’s not really the case now so idols feel slightly more comfortable coming out.
The Junhyung and Hara relationship was strange to say the least. Just the brevity of it. It didn’t seem as though they were actually dating. I’m not suspecting PD’s were involved (because it’s far too early for that) but still… something bugs me about it.
Black_Plague on IU Reaches out to Korea’s Bullied Teens:
I believe the article is somewhat a bit under-informed, as I’m a Korean who also attended middle school and high school in Korea (senior in MS and freshman in HS, from 2008 to the end of 2009).
At the city I lived, Icheon (not confused with Incheon), the schools were quite rather lackluster with their students – at the MS I went, most students hardly paid attention in class, others slept, some talked out loud about other things etc. behavior was quite lowly but for any 15yr old, it would have been a ‘fun’ experience. At my class in MS, out of 40 students (myself included), just 1/4, maybe even less, studied 6 days a week or had the typical cram school and tutoring lessons. Some families even provide such things for their children simply so they’re perceived as ‘normal’ and changing cram schools often is quite common. For the bullying, every grade had at least 2-3 students who were bullied – they frequently had their pocket money stolen, got beaten occasionally, verbally abused etc. – however, anyone that stands up for them are also automatically targetted as well and this is one of the reasons why bullying in Korea is a difficult issue to tackle (which further goes, the other kids treat the victim like an alien, myself having done the same thing, admittedly). This also goes to say, that even the average kids get somewhat bullied by the more rough kids – maybe not getting beaten up or being verbally abused like hell but having a portion of their money taken is common. As far as it goes, grades and such isn’t the most prominent reason why bullying is a serious issue in Korea.
HS was entirely different, but that’s probably because I went to a vocational school with only what, 200 students? And 70% of them were from other cities (yes, a school with dormitories). Bullying was almost non-existent, except for the freshmans – one guy was frequently subject to getting beaten and abused in a lot of ways (but at the same time, he wasn’t really much of a nice guy to get along with, in my opinion seeing as he was an awfully unreliable as a witness to get one particular bully expelled). Even though the bullying stopped, he was treated like an outsider.
I don’t know about IU‘s experiences in bullying but wouldn’t it be better if an idol who has gone through the actual experience a better choice? T-ara‘s Soyeon actually confessed some weeks ago on TV that from elementary school to high school (or was it middle school?), she had been both a bully and a victim of it – which further goes, she has first-hand experience in it in detail as she didn’t debut until 2009, some years after graduating HS (while IU’s been around the music industry since she was 15 and she’s turning 19 this year).
And that’s a wrap for this week! It seems like there’s no topic that you guys don’t have an opinion on!
(Bonus) Conversation on The Perfect Idol Group: Results:
… I was going to say this some other time, but what I love about Seoulbeats is more than the OP-EDs, I love how there seems to be an intimacy between the readers and the authors. One thing that really separated SB from all the other K-Pop sites for me, is the fact you guys post by your first names — I think that was a great idea and it’s really one of the main appeals of the site for me. If you’re a regular you know to recognise an author by their opinion/style, and the site actually does feel like a family of writers. Sort of like you guys are an idol group, in the whole personality sense, and I think most readers have their own biases/favourite-writers on the site, just like an idol group! Haha, keep up the good work.
You can also ship the writers together, Amy/Subi = OTP4lyfe.
Oh, boy. Lets just say… that just opens up a whole new can of worms.