Welcome to this week’s Comments of the Week!

This week in terms of idol and music news, we talked about Hangeng‘s “Clown Mask,” the discontinuation of Inkigayo‘s MutizenPSY‘s comeback album and MV, Kim Hyung-jun‘s “Escape,” Converse‘s #Peepshow, Nu’est‘s “Action,” Brown Eyed Girls‘ comeback MV, rolling changes in K-pop, Kangin’s quiet return to K-pop, and tiers of idoldom.

For fashion and film topics, we discussed Sungjong‘s fashion, cutesy girl fashion, Nana and Nara for InStyle, CN Blue’s Jonghyun for Elle, and a revisit to Whispering Corridors.

As for socio-cultural topics, we tackled K-pop fan tendencies, biscuits, and fancams.

As usual, while we had a lot to say, you guys had a lot to say as well!

Here are five of my favorite comments from articles this week:

Sabah on K-pop Shopping Guide: Cutesy Girl Fashion:

I remember a Korean lady telling me that modern day aegyo isn’t the original aegyo anymore.  Today it might be the commercialized candy floss version which is all form no substance but once upon a time, aegyo referred to that cuteness, that innocence, that selcouth manner that borders naivety and awe which was wholly sincere.   A natural consequence that is irrepressible and not something that can be ‘played’ on demand.

Thereby it was something attributable to all ages not just the young.  It wasn’t gender specific either, well not so much.  She stated that the forced and exaggerated aegyo of today which is reserved for the under 30’s has formed its own culture and dress code wouldn’t perturb her so much but if you look to its origins *cough*TV/media*cough* and the people it targeted and influenced, you begin to understand its aim *cough*money*coughcough*

Not to be puritanical or anything, but since that conversation, it is something that I always wondered about.  I don’t know how much is true, but the lady seemed very passionate and lamented much over the lost true aegyo of her heyday.  This ‘how to perfect your aegyo’ dress code guide just seemed to affirm her concerns.

Is the ‘real’ aegyo something that can be bought? Or is it something precious we all have within us, completely free of charge?

windchimehg on A Man of Many Masks: Hangeng’s “Clown Mask”:

It’s really great to see an article about Han Geng on this site. I’m one of the people you would probably categorize as a hardcore “gengfan”. To be completely honest, while I did know about kpop before Han Geng’s lawsuit in Dec 2009, I never really considered myself a fan of his (or super junior‘s for that matter, their songs with the exception of It’s You were just not my type. I did however had some passing interest in SJM) until after the lawsuit. I only started to really pay attention to him after he released “World Watches China” for the Shanghai expo, in which I first heard his vocal potential, especially in the high notes. His first album was also immensely beyond my expectations, I especially like “Say No” and “Holding an Umbrella“. His 2nd album so far has exceeded all my expectations, and I had high ones due to the 2 year wait (P.S. the official English name for it is “Hope in the Darkness“).

All the songs have been released now, despite the fact that his album doesn’t hit the shelves until the 29th (this boy is very confident I tell you, but consider that his first album is still ranked #2 on the dangdang monthly sales charts of June 2012, 2 years after its release, I guess he does have the right to be. Last I heard, Geng Xin is almost at the 900K mark in terms of sales). I really loved the variety of the music in the album, my favourite song is definitely 背叛灵魂 Betrayal of the Soul. The song really showed off the improvement in his vocals and the lyrics are just so raw and heart wrenching (and from description the MV concept seems very interesting. Han Geng will be filming the MV to show his life from his own eyes). I strongly suggest everyone to keep an eye out for it.

He mentioned in a interview, that the songs in this album is a way to express things that he wants to say, but can’t in real life, and l can really tell by listening to it. Most of the songs tries to tell a story or express some of his deepest feelings. I have to say in a pop music culture dominated by love songs of one sort or another it is so refreshing to see a work that isn’t about love or omg lets go on a date together or how dare you cheat on me or that sort (Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with those songs, but they are getting repetitive). I really hope that there would be more pop artists to take a risk like he did when it comes to song selection.

I felt that this album of work really showed off his growth and wisdom, something perhaps we will never see had he not left SM. The rawness of the messages behind the songs are just so touching it creates a connection to everyone who has experienced the up and downs of life. It’s just so honest and raw and really really heartbreaking.

On a last note,  I really hope that other kpop artists, especially the older ones will gradually move to this type of songs, I mean, I can’t be the the only one who find people nearing 30 jumping around acting like teenagers quite disturbing, Right?

happy_slip on Inkigayo’s Mutizen Takes a Final Bow; Now What?:

From what I’ve heard, it’s one of Inkigayo‘s steps to somehow prevent their ratings from slipping further. Scrapping the award system imo does more good than bad so it’s definitely a welcome change to me, but I don’t think it would really save their ratings whatsoever. Music Core scrapped theirs years ago but they too are still suffering from bad ratings (Weekly music shows in Korea, from what I’ve read are all getting not so good numbers lately — apparently Inkigayo gets the highest among the 3). The problem goes back to the oversaturation of idols. I think everyone who had been listening to kpop these past 5-7 years could see the difference; nowadays you could barely see a solo act getting an equal spotlight in these shows; hell, even most of them are now subjected to at least adjusting their promotion dates so they wouldn’t have to collide with upper to mid-tier groups. What more for senior acts, OST singers and indie groups? These shows, for the most part, couldn’t even go beyond pop acts now.

Music awards in retrospect aren’t really a bad thing — Korea has been doing that for more than a decade now and in the past it wasn’t a big problem because idols, soloists and veteran acts get their fair share of awards then. The difference today however is that these shows have become so fan-driven to a point that a lot of companies (even the smaller, relatively newer ones) have started creating groups because debuting an act who doesn’t belong to a group wouldn’t encourage or attract fans dedicated enough to vote and buy albums for them. It’s an inevitable side-effect of the group (as well as fandom participation) boom a few years back I guess.

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with a fandom supporting their favorite group, be it through voting or buying albums (I’ve always felt that it’s their own time and money anyway). But of course…let’s use SME as an example (not to shade them or anything). It’s good, the supporting, but you know that it’s horribly imbalanced when you have say, f(x) coming back and getting awards for three weeks, followed by Super Junior who would do the same…and so on and so forth. There is a problem. Especially when you look at the charts and see an act like Busker Busker or an OST song dominating in them. Last year the weekly music awards didn’t even add up to the year end awards/charts. Roly Poly for one was the number 1 song of the year but from what I remember it didn’t even manage to get a triple crown. 2NE1 rarely promoted in music shows but IATB was in the top five songs of the year. It’s not the fandoms’ fault exactly because they will do what they can do, but perhaps it’s better if these music awards would base most of their criteria in the charts (since they already have a good set of criteria) and be done with the voting and other criteria they have. I wish they wouldn’t make so much categories too — I still can’t forget that shit KBS made up to keep Hyun Bin‘s OST single from winning when in fact, it was number one in most charts for that week.

Perhaps it’s difficult to make that kind of change now, so yeah, it’s better to scrap the whole thing. KBS should follow; that show has been changing their system for so many times and it’s getting really really shady. Mnet should consider as well; I mean, I think the MAMAs are enough. After this, I hope they can try to think of something that would make their shows have more variety in their acts so people (who aren’t into idols) can come back and watch their shows again.

Riley on Roundtable: Following Fancams:

I think the airport is fine, but the problem is that a lot of fans don’t know self-control. It’s unacceptable to have the situation at the airport like EXO-M where fans think it’s okay to push, touch, grope the band or like with TVXQ at the Suvarnabumi Airport (where the fancam of Yunho screaming came from) where fans in an attempt to see the idols, push and shove each other to the extent that fans get hurt (fan fell to the floor in that mob). I think the airport is okay, as long as its orderly (a thought I roll my eyes at). Is it necessary to scream and shove? When the previous things happen, then its not okay.

Personally, I can’t finish any stalker fancams. It feels so wrong. Off-limits I think are in the plane, following them in downtime, houses (obviously), close-proximation, and secret fancams. (There are probably other places that I can’t think of.) It’s awful because fandom tends to encourage stalking. (It’s stalking, no excuses.) I’m pretty sure we all know stalking is bad (more than bad honestly), but K-Pop kind of allows it, with very little consequence. What idol is going to reprimand a fan in chance they ruin their image? At the airport with EXO-M, Lu Han was groped and pushed so much, yet he kept smiling. Even if the idols looks angry, the fans still give little second-thought, if at all, and just keep pushing. It’s oppa after all.

Another absolutely awful thing is that a lot of fans don’t think it’s wrong. They say why not? Using the EXO-K example in London, fans reprimanded the ones that stalked them around London. And what did some of them say in return? That they weren’t sorry. That since fans do it in Korea, why can’t they do it? They didn’t understand that it was wrong, that it was okay to stalk a complete stranger in close-ass distance from. (People were posting how they were going to “hunt” for EXO. There were fanaccounts of how they smell. Not cool.) It was disgusting to read that they weren’t sorry. International fans tend to filter info (they’re ninjas seriously) and the ones in London just heard of sasaeng fans and thought well if they can do it, I can too. When in actuality sasaeng are looked down upon by Korean fans. And Korean fans (Japanese fans too) actually have a sort of set rules for recording and following. What they did in London and at Disneyland = no-no.

I remember reading recently a thread about EXO-K sasaengs and people were like “why not? they’re idols. it comes with the job” and said well by another person on the same thread was that “just because they’re famous they don’t garner respect and personal space?” K-Pop tends to make the idols “untouchable”/”god” and this seems to give people free reign. They’re not seen as people and that is so very very sad.

On a happy note, fancams can be seriously awesome. Variety ones are always welcomed. (Idol olympics/sports championships are pretty much made for fancams.) And the one with Yunho above… I practically died when the LQ before that one came out. Fancams aren’t all bad. How else would I have seen Changmin‘s ‘Big Time‘?

I think most of us just needs to get over the fact that pop music is pretty much superficial in both the “eastern” and “western” hemisphere, we all objectify, just depending on the degree.

Seriously; biscuits, booty, s-line, honey thighs, junk in the trunk, it’s all pretty much the same. The only difference is in context and cultural references. That said, I don’t find what Snoop Dogg said at all offensive; everybody has preferences. Compared to what could be said about SNSD‘s body, biscuits is actually pretty damn tame.

Is he sexist?  Some women and girls I know prefer SHINEE‘s more effeminate members over 2pm‘s beastly idols, and often comment on MBLAQ‘s Lee Joon‘s chocolate abs and laugh about SuJu being vertically challenged. Do I think they’re sexist pedo-noonas? All of us have different taste.

Personally I’m feeling that the big hooha really isn’t about objectifying SNSD. I think it’s mostly the fact that some rabid fans (SONEs and/or of Kpop) are upset that their beauties’ milkshake doesn’t bring all the boys to the yard. This is probably a surprise because the kpop media machine prides the SNSD ladies as the ideal Korean beauty.

Though I must reiterate, this is just my personal opinion. In no way am I dissing the ladies of SNSD- I think Hyo Yeon is pretty awesome. Nor am I laughing at Korean beauty standards; I think Song Ji Hyo is the sexiest, most awesome bad ass chick ever, but that girl is as flat as a board.

What Snoop Dogg said, is probably one of the milder comments one can expect from trying to penetrate the Trans-Atlantic music market. This is tamer than even the comments from Kids React to K-pop. If fans really want their favourites to break into the market, stop cocooning them, develop a thicker skin, if not their fandom will be viewed not unlike those of Beliebers and Twihards, and this will reflect badly on the artists.

Thanks for tuning in, and as always, feel free to share additional comments below!

(Images via Men’s Health Magazine, SM Entertainment, CeCi Magazine, W Magazine, High Cut Magazine, Numero Magazine)