Archive for October, 2009

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Crime Seen

October 31, 2009

In a previous post on the use of the word “ketamine” I eventually had to confess that I had been watching the American crime drama Criminal Minds. Before this goes any further, let me just state that I suffer from the television viewing condition known as “everything is shite after The Wire“, meaning that, once one has viewed that spectacular and peerless show, they can never really enjoy any other television product as they had before. Suddenly The Sopranos, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Oz (or whatever your personal favourite was) are forced to occupy a lower tier under that superlative series. This is especially true of crime procedural drama, a glut of which has been prevalent on American television since the runaway success of C.S.I. nearly ten years ago. Naturally, an elitist snob like me would place mainstream American network shows a few tiers below the higher-quality HBO shows mentioned above and generally refrain from watching them. I must admit, however, that I’ve broken this longstanding habit of late and I’m finding Criminal Minds, and to a lesser extent another, similar show, something of a guilty pleasure.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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K-Pop Korner: Enter The Dragon

October 28, 2009

More K-Pop Kontroversy

G-Dragon

It seems the waif-like front man and “leader” of Big Bang has found himself in a spot of bother with his nascent, burgeoning solo career. Kwon Ji-yong, better known as G-Dragon, has been accused of plagiarism (or pyo-chul as its known in the local tongue) following the release of his debut solo single “Heartbreaker” on August 18th.

“Heartbreaker” is said to sound strikingly similar to the American single “Right Round” by hip-hop artist Flo Rida, a tune which itself heavily samples the classic British pop song “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” by Dead or Alive.

It seems these allegations first arose amongst Korea’s formidable netizens, the online community of avid young Koreans whose vigilance in these matters is matched only by their oft-hysterical passion. However, a few weeks after the controversy began Sony Music sent letters to YG Entertainment (the agency behind G-Dragon, Big Bang and other Korean pop artists) claiming that “Heartbreaker” and three other songs by different YG artists had “considerable similarities” to music under Sony copyright. YG Entertainment initially issued a public statement which categorically denied any plagiarism had occurred before issuing a further statement that was somewhat ambivalent, stating merely that many people were involved in the composition of “Heartbreaker”. This move was intended to take the heat off their star and with good reason. It’s not that G-Dragon has ripped off Flo Rida, it’s that possibly one or more of the several “composers” involved in writing a shitty pop song have ripped off part of it from another shitty pop song that was also thrown together by several people. This may explain why the issue doesn’t seem to have gone beyond the letters of protest sent by Sony (YG stated that they did not take the letters to constitute legal action). Nobody knows who ripped off what or from whom. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Meet the Mann

October 27, 2009

As you can see, the entry below is a guest post from my good friend Nick Mann, who also contributed this earlier post on Terminator: Salvation.

Nick expressed a desire to put together some pieces on Korean movies for this blog and, as I’m simply bursting with magnanimity like a piñata set upon by chubby Mexican children, I agreed. I jumped on the offer, ladies and gents, like those same chubby Mexican kids once the piñata has spilled its candy-guts on the lawn. Nick has seen a lot more Korean movies than I have and I am of the opinion that his contributions here can fill a gap in this blog, a gaping wound had have hitherto failed to attend to. I warmly welcome collaboration.

Nick is from the northern wonderland of Canadia but seems blissfully free of the tedious, twee patriotism that afflicts many of his compatriots. He worked as an ESL teacher in Korea for approximately 18 months.

 

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Korean Movies You Should Watch Before You Die #1

October 27, 2009

This is a guest post by Nick Mann

Haeundae

Over the approximate year and a half I lived and taught in Korea, I developed quite an affinity for films from that country. Unfortunately, since my return to Toronto I’ve had too few opportunities to watch any new or noteworthy Korean films.  Even video stores carry a scant, sad collection of Korean cinema.  That being the case, I made a special point of going to a matinee screening of a Korean film at the only theatre in the city (and I speculate one of only a few in the country) at which it was playing.  The Korean film I saw was Haeundae and though it wasn’t a great movie in itself it inspired what I hope will become a series on Korean film to be featured on this website approximately once a month.

The premise of Haeundae is simple enough: a huge tidal wave hits the most popular beach in Korea during peak season and pandemonium ensues. Despite being made in Korea, it is in many respects your typical disaster movie… I was telling my friend about it later and he was able, with seemingly uncanny accuracy, to predict story arcs. Things like the estranged husband and wife who, through the ensuing bedlam, reconcile; the scientist who predicted the whole thing; numerous martyrs who sacrifice themselves in order that others may be saved. The entire concept is such an easy target for mockery I will forgo the process altogether and simply provide a link that takes the piss out of disaster movies very effectively  (note that, though it was not written with Haeundae in mind, the observations apply in almost every case). Read the rest of this entry ?

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What’s the Beef?

October 16, 2009

When I started this blog a little over one year ago, I had some specific Korean events that I wanted to write about. One of them was the U.S. Beef Crisis in the summer of 2008. Alas, a wicked combo of procrastination and forgetfulness resulted in this intention completely vacating my mind until very recently.

Lee Myung-bak

Lee Myung-bak

On the 19th December 2007 a Korean man named Lee Myung Bak, who had been born exactly 66 years prior to that day, received a rather splendid birthday present; he was elected president of the Korean republic with 49% of the vote and won the largest ever margin over a rival candidate since proper elections began in Korea in 1987.  Oddly enough, I had been born exactly 28 years prior to that day myself and I was celebrating with a little party in my apartment, having been given a day off work due to the election. The victory for Mr. Lee marked the return to power of the conservative Grand National (Hannara) Party for the first time in 10 years and was declared a landslide. However, just two months after his inauguration his approval ratings plummeted to 28% and by June of 2008 they had fallen to 17%. That summer, the main streets of Korea’s capital filled with enraged, violent mobs that denounced the president and called for his impeachment. Their beef, it transpired, was beef itself. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Interview With The Ninja

October 8, 2009

Well, I’ve been tied up in revelry with my brother’s first visit to Korea and now have work commitments to consider for the forseeable future. Alas, site traffic is thoroughly in the gutter and I’m having to consider another hasty K-Pop entry to exploit the enthusiasm of the East-Asian teen demographic.

In the meantime, I bring some scintillating news from The Korea Times –

Lee Byung-hun

Lee Byung-hun

Korean actor Lee Byung-hun will appear on CNN’s “Talk Asia,” according to movie distributor K& Entertainment.

“Lee is likely to talk about his pride and philosophy as an actor. The interview, which will be aired to 220 million viewers worldwide, will be held during the Pusan (Busan) International Film Festival,” K& Entertainment said in a statement.

Lee, who played Storm Shadow in the Hollywood film “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” is back in town to promote his new film “I Come with the Rain,” opposite Josh Hartnett. Lee, Hartnett and Japanese co-star Kimura Takuya will appear together at the film festival held at the nation’s southern port city from Oct. 8 to 16.

This will only add fuel to the fire of my burning man-crush. It also appears that I may, in future, have to endure the labour of another Josh Hartnett film just to get a glimpse of the dishy Lee.

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Anniversary

October 1, 2009

This blog is one year old today or, at least, it should be. By my count it’s still September 30th but it may have “officially” ticked over to October 1st by the time I have gotten around to typing this. Add to that, there has been a 3 month hiatus, a period of complete inactivity, that really means I’ve only been blogging for 9 months. At any rate, at some arbitrary level that I at least honour and recognise, this day represents one year from whence it all began. So happy fucking birthday, blog! Here’s to more years and (hopefully) increased productivity.