Archive for September, 2010


K-Pop Korner: 2NE1 – Follow Me (날 따라해봐요)

September 30, 2010

Just as my neglect of the Korner threatened to continue, the kooky khaos of K-Pop managed to pique my interest once again. I’ve stated before that it’s too easy to simply hate on this stuff, folks, and now, without shame, I’m about ready to go further and declare that 2NE1 are legitimately kind of awesome. Their second album was released earlier this month and takes its title from the play on the pronounciation of the group’s name, “To Anyone”. Three singles have been simultaneously released from this album and my students brought them to my attention when requesting music videos to watch during the last five minutes of classes just this week. And damn me, in the very literal sense, damn me for sincerely enjoying them.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Brillant Comrade is in the House!

September 30, 2010

Kim Jong-un

Let the party begin.

As expected, a rare meeting in Pyongyang, a conference for the North Korean Workers Party, announced the “reelection” of Kim Jong-il in his position of Secretary General of the party and also revealed the appointment of his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, to two senior positions in the party, essentially cementing his status as heir apparent to his father.

North Korean leader’s son given key party posts

The youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been appointed to two key party posts, in a move widely seen as part of a gradual transfer of power.

State media said Kim Jong-un was named vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party, which is holding a rare meeting.

He was also appointed to the party’s central committee. Earlier, the younger Mr Kim was made a four-star general.

You’ve got to hand it to the kid, only days ago his hard work paid off when he was promoted to a four-star general in the DPRK’s military and now he’s managed to become an extraordinarily powerful statesman as well. This swift hat-trick of promotions and appointments also comes with the new title of “Brilliant Comrade”. All this and he’s not yet thirty-years-old! Read the rest of this entry ?


Korea Kranks: Cheonan Conspiracy

September 28, 2010

I have developed a relationship with conspiracy theories analogous to that which thoroughly successful ex-smokers enjoy with the act of smoking i.e. a passionate antipathy based on being embarrassed about prior first-hand participation in activity now found shameful. I used to be a credulous fool when it came to conspiracy theories, I used to love ’em. I told people I truly believed that Lady Di was assassinated by the British government and the Royal Family in order to prevent her giving birth to a half-Arab child by Dodi Fayed that would then be a blood relation to the heir to the British throne. That shit just made so much sense at the time (royalty having a history of killing their own family members for far less). It was a credulous, childish indulgence, to be sure. I gleefully read up on many conspiracy theories without the slightest care that the “alternative” histories on offer might even be overlapping and contradicting one another. Today, I can’t precisely pinpoint an event or moment when I properly turned my back on them; it was more a gradual realization that, when it comes to conspiracy theories, real life just isn’t that sexy. I wasn’t even a bit-player in the psychedelic, sci-fi adventure story that I wished reality was. Another way to define all this would be to simply say I grew up.

It’s now with a mixture of nauseated fascination and weary annoyance that I turn my attention to Korea’s own home-grown “troofer” movement; those that refuse to believe that North Korea was responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan. Just as the infamous events of 9/11 in the United States caused the emergence of so many armchair structural engineers and amateur metallurgists in their mother’s basements, springing to life and bravely telling the world that something was amiss with the official story there, so too has the Cheonan sinking brought forth an alarming number of Koreans (and foreign observers) who have magically become experts in naval engineering, forensics, ballistics, etc. to declare that a North Korean torpedo could not possibly have had anything to do with the sinking of the Cheonan on March 26th this year.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Korean Movies You Should Watch Before You Die #9

September 19, 2010

This is a guest post by Nick Mann

Memories of Murder

Open letter to Janus Films

Re: Criterion Collection

To begin with I would like to say thank you for your ongoing efforts to preserve and distribute important films from all over the world and throughout the entire history of cinema. A generation and more of cinephiles are indebted to you for making some of the most influential films of all time widely available.

Of course some bias is inevitable in the selection process, however in your selections of important works I feel that certain countries and filmmakers are over-represented while others are completely overlooked. It is this issue that has motivated me to write today, specifically in regards to Korean film.

Read the rest of this entry ?


The Way of the Centipede

September 17, 2010

It’s a frightening thing to acknowledge but The Human Centipede has been wriggling around in the back-brains of many people lately and my efforts to evangelize the ridiculous movie have had unexpected consequences. I regularly take part in a weekly pub quiz at a foreign-owned, western-styled bar in Seoul and, as part of a throwaway joke a few months ago, my team decided to change our name to ‘The Human Centipede’, in recognition of the hideous cultural phenomenon I had introduced to my friends here. Since we have adopted this name we have started winning, a lot.

We’ve been enjoying an unprecedented run of success recently, at times completely unexpectedly. Others are keeping a more fastidious record than I am but I believe it’s something in the region of four wins in the last seven times we have attended (with more before then). We simply did not perform like that for the first year when we were regularly taking part under different team names. The same people, normally three different men with slightly different styles, have been making the quizzes in all this time and there has been no significant variation in our team members or in opposing teams (consisting of the same regulars who used to trounce us). I personally have reached the point where I’m getting a little spooked. Our success is down to the Way of the Centipede!

Read the rest of this entry ?


Foucault’s Frenulum

September 15, 2010

It’s caption-competition time here at the Gibberonica and our inaugural image is this rather splendid photograph of celebrated French philosopher Michel Foucault clutching his wonderfully smooth, shorn cranium in his hands. Provide a caption to this image and you could win a prize!

What is he thinking, dear readers?

Read the rest of this entry ?


A Serbian Film

September 8, 2010

Further to the extended intro here.

Let me start this off by stating that I am not recommending this film to anyone. I want that known straight away. I will happily urge you to watch films where people have their mouths sewn to each other’s arseholes, or where crazy couples mutilate their own genitals in spooky forests, but I will not urge anyone to watch A Serbian Film. Of course, anyone who wishes to view this flick themselves can do so but, whereas I am happy to write about it or discuss it, I don’t ever want it said that someone watched it because of me. My sense of mischief only goes so far.

The film marks the directorial debut of one Srđan Spasojević, who co-wrote the screenplay with Serbian film critic Aleksandar Radivojević, and stars actors whom a cursory bit of research suggests are amongst some of the most popular and respected performers in their native Serbia. A Serbian Film debuted at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, this March and reports tell of an initial audience reaction of stunned silence. Recently, it was due to be shown at Film Four Frightfest in London on August 29th but was eventually pulled after the BBFC demanded 49 cuts totalling 4 minutes of footage. The filmmakers boast that it was entirely independently financed, without any state-funding, and that Serbian distributors are currently uncertain as to what to do with it.

Read the rest of this entry ?