Monday, January 21, 2008

Korea Music Awards and other things that stink

I watched the 'golden disk' awards a few weeks back to celebrate another fine year of Korean pop music. With very few exceptions, all the performers who showed up were under the age of 20, making the whole affair look more like a Nickelodeon production.

It all starts with the red carpet, of course (where did they get that idea from?). Of note, a new record was set for the shortest miniskirt by Han Hyo-ju. She wore this outfit on the red carpet despite freezing temperatures.


It's nice to see female entertainers returning to their kisaeng roots. They obviously don't become famous around here for having any measurable talent, so younger, prettier and sluttier every year, I says.

The highlight of the show was when they had members of the ROK army, the police force and some Tae Kwon Do group, all in their usual uniforms, get on stage and show their mastery of the 'Tell Me' dance.

So am I to understand that all these 'men' decided to do this on their own? There were some Korean soldiers sitting around the barracks one day, saw the Wondergirls perform on TV, and then decided that they would learn the dance as a group? Perhaps the conversation went like this:

Sergeant Lee: Hey men, whaddaya say we spend all of our precious off time learning that little girlie dance? Wouldn't that be something to show the other troops?

Private Kim: Oh, can we sarge? That would be so super if we could learn the Wonder Girls dance!

Private Choi: Don't you mean that would be so 'wonder'ful to learn the Wonder Girls dance?

[Everyone laughs]

Private Kim: Oh Private Choi. You're so witty; you should be on Gag Concert for sure!

Sergeant Lee: That's enough messing around boys, now everyone strip down to your underwear and let's start dancing!


Is this what happens to the men an entire country when they entrust their national defense to a foreign power for more than half of a century?

So after these supposed men showed off their little girl dance moves at the awards ceremony, the Wonder Girls themselves came out to show us how it's done. Check out the above clip to see it all.

They sang live. It was not pretty, but at least the girl who holds out the final note on the last line of the song was only slightly off key (someone's been practicing!).

Noticeably absent at the ceremony was Rain, who was dumped by producer Park Jin Young just before Park's Wonder Girls hit it big. Rain reportedly spent the evening at home drinking Wineaid and alternating between screaming at the TV and sobbing into his Hello Kitty pillows.


There has been some controversy over the Wonder Girls and how they are marketed. The chestless one on the far right is only 15 and seems to be the new heartthrob of the 30-40 year old pedophile market. But the only thing thing really noteworthy here to me is that such a talentless act with such a mediocre song could garner so much attention. Park Jin Young may not have much talent in developing good performers, but he certainly knows how to work the media hype machine.

Speaking of hype, I read somewhat that D-Wars was voted the biggest Korean movie of 2007. How a smelly turd like D-War could possibly be considered a good movie is testament to how far the average Korean's ability to reason will drop once Korean Pride enters the equation.

So to recap Korean exports in the entertainment industry in 2007, we have D-War as the only movie to go abroad (excluding the few Korean movies that end up in international film festivals), H.O.T. clone 'boy' bands like Super Junior and Dong Bang Shin Gi, and the usual cookie cutter Korean dramas that haven't had a new idea in 20 years ('What? Your mother is opposing our marriage because I come from humble circumstances AND you've also developed leukemia? Oh gloom, despair and agony on us!).

I humbly submit that the "Korean Wave" should now officially be known as the Korean Backed-up Toilet.

OK, I'm going to float out a theory here. During any other year, crap like D-War and the Wondergirls wouldn't have gained much attention at all. What we saw in 2007 is the resulting desperation of an entire country that realizes their brief time in the entertainment spotlight more or less ended 2-3 years ago.

American movies were dominating the Korean boxoffice with hits like Transformers and Spiderman 3 last summer(two movies I just can't summon up the energy to want to see, by the way) and Koreans were just hoping for any Korean movie to come along to restore the myth they named the Korean Wave. Director Shim Hyung Rae played the nationalism card like a pro and suddenly it became the patriotic duty of every Korean to support the movie. Critics who spoke out against the movie were cyber-terrorized and the next thing you know it became the highest grossing domestic movie of all time in Korea. Online forums and polls in the States became targets for Koreans to bombard with praise for the film. It was like the collective conscience of an entire nation believed that through blind patriotic faith and willpower alone they could make this movie into something it was not. The movie flopped in the States despite opening on a large number of screens, though you wouldn't have known it from the Korean media that played along with the charade. Unless the Wikipedia entry on Dragon Wars is wrong (as if it could be!), the movie lost 20 million dollars overall, yet ask the average Korean about the movie and they'll say it succeeded in every possible way.

As for music, 2007 was not such a good year for the Korean Wave. Rain's world tour could not have died more miserably with concert after concert being cancelled for various excuses. Korean music was dominated by increasingly ridiculous teen bands that made music for pre-teens (or those of a similar mentality). No new BoAs were coming out to 'conquer' Asia. So a band like the Wondergirls has a semi-catchy hit performed by girls whose only talent is being very young and suddenly every media outlet is scrambling to promote it.

An entire society has allowed itself to be puffed up by a media that has told them again and again for the past 7 years that the world cannot get enough of Korean 'talent', which of course really meant the superior Korean culture. Now with the passing of the Wave all this feel-good propaganda is coming back to bite them in the ass. If you define the worth of your culture by how successfully it can be exported abroad, then what does it mean when no one wants it?

It's a sad spectacle.

I look forward to even more in 2008.


Anonymous said...

땡큐베리 감사합니다.

Nomad said...

Excellent :)

Is it me, or have you put up more posts in January than you did in all of 2007?

partypooper said...

You are probably correct.

By the way, I'm getting a psychic reading that you will be back to blogging in about 7 weeks. Just thought you might want to know.

Looking forward to it.