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The Metropolitician
I am a researcher and photographer based in Seoul.
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Yes, I'm aware of that. As a black person from the US, I've heard of the relationship between chicken and watermelons.... Thanks for the history lesson, but one point -- this is Korea. I don't expect all koreans to know the details of racist American imagery.Just more basic stuff such as to not darken the skin to look "black." Expecting Koreans to tiptoe around my country's racial hangups isn't my expectation. So what? Yeah, if he opened that shop with that dish in the US, he'd get in trouble -- a lot. But this isn't the US.
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Completely agreed. And to take your argument even a bit further, I'll add that this code switching between Korean and English certainly does give the artist a certain additional cachet, which some people might call establishing one's “cultural capital." especially when it comes to hip-hop and rap in the Korean context, this is taken to the very Ebonicized way of pronouncing the Korean language itself in these rap songs, which is something I've been noticing for a while. Thank you for your comment and it's been good having this illuminating conversation with you.
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Soko, you misunderstood the post completely. I'm not really talking about korea, I'm talking about living here and NOT putting korea into a negative box. I'm talking about a constructive way to consider the place that can take its psychological toll on the outsider. Erm, read agin.
Toggle Commented Jan 17, 2013 on The Two Koreas at Scribblings of the Metropolitician
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Somehow, although I can't recall the interaction you're talking about, I highly doubt this. Anyone who knows a grad should who's been as conflicted with the dissertation as me, or knows me personally, knows that the last thing a guilt-ridden grad student or myself would go on talking incessantly about is their unfinished dissertation. It is, of course, if you happen to come in on the conversation after someone made faux paus of actually asking and insisting on knowing what the dissertation itself was about, at which point I probably would have tendered a fairly short and controlled response, usually be three or four sentences I have already prepared and have been delivering for the last decade to anyone who asks. I highly doubt that I was "going on and on" incessantly about my dissertation in some kind of navel-gazing, narcissistic fashion. And while I do sometimes carry my camera around outside of the bag, I highly doubt I was going on and on about how I couldn't talk about it to "mere mortals." Although I have gotten one major new camera body in the last several years, and I remember being very happy about getting it, if anything, I probably would've been going on about how cool it was and how happy that this or that function was there, as opposed to arrogantly turning down requests to explain it to those within earshot. Although one might think, if they didn't know me and if they somehow dislike me, that those are things I would go on and on about in person, anyone who knows me knows that those are subjects that I generally go into at all, let alone go on prattling about to the point of causing social discomfort.
Toggle Commented Dec 16, 2012 on Wish me luck! at Scribblings of the Metropolitician
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http://metropolitician.blogs.com/scribblings_of_the_metrop/2008/06/on-the-annivers.html I'm the last person in need of education about the accident, much less their names. I've was AT the protest in 2002 and 2003. , nearly all of 'em. I know the girls'names. I heard the speeches, even translated some of 'em for others who were there. You can get off your high horse now...
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Nothing in particular brings these things on. I just think that certain people get rubbed the wrong way by me, and I get these kind of random e-mails occasionally, out of sync with any particular posts, all the time. I just wanted to put a little post to share my latest piece of such mail,` since I want to show that apparently, there are still people out there who have problems with me even unrelated to anything I've posted in particular.
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It's funny how quickly people are like, "See, leave Korea!" if I have a frustrating experience here. Like I wouldn't meet tepid people or stupid patterns of thinking back in the US.
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You basically said what I did in the post, and you're right -- I'm old. But you basicaly echoed what I said in the post already, so not much to add here...
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I feel your comment and do see your points. Totally. My thing is just that I never thought there was much of a "Wave" to begin with -- and I guess I am still sensitive to any nationalist pride creating the idea that there is a phenomenon -- but my theory, one I actually teach in my media classes, is that cultural products move across borders and waters in much the same way that trade does, or immigration patterns, because of push and pull factors. And there are many actors who try to push particular wares, or gain benefits, or what-have-you. A trader might want to push his glossy red beads, or an individual might want to move his family into better economic conditions, or a company might want to promote its singers. As the Korean cultural industries improve and expand their wares, more of them will be of the quality -- and find the right circumstances, depending on what they are and timing and whatnot -- to find purchase in the larger markets, on an international level. So, I never really saw a "Korean wave" as such, but just that certain Korean cultural products had finally find a place in the larger market, people who want to consume them. When Korean TV and film was censored and existing within a closed and controlled dictatorship, they were frankly, shitty. As the 90's were ending out, those conditions had drastically changed, and really high quality stuff started floating to the top, the world started taking notice, Korean things were starting to get attention COMMENSURATE with the quality of its offerings. My whole thing about SNSD is that I just don't think they'll go that far with a lack of virtuosity, with the way that performance went down. Many people seem to think that I am calling the "failure of the Korean Wave" or that "Americans will never take to Korean stuff" or things of that nature. But I've actually stepped out of the "Wave" paradigm altogether -- I don't see an overall pattern of Korean stuff being liked -- or disliked -- because of it being Korean. With that assumption, even if SNSD rocked the house, I don't necessarily see a huge rise in interest in general Korean stuff, even Korean music. Perhaps if there were lots of acts suddenly killing it, left and right, up and down the American music charts -- that'd be different. But that's not what I'm seeing now, or in the near future. I saw a particular act that I felt didn't come off that hot, and according to what I've said about reception and culture codes and whatever, would be likely to not be taken seriously. And I put up red flags about "the success of the Korean Wave" or even talk of a discrete phenomenon at all. And I think you can agree with me when you've seen other new trends and "waves" come and go, Korean and otherwise. Again, it's the Samsung-monitor-in-a-movie problem. To the extent that Samsung monitors end up in random Hollywood movies, accidentally or not, it's a sign of Samsung's success. And that's it. With enough product placements and great reviews and recommendations, some people might even go out and buy a Samsung monitor in the US. But what Koreans see is a pattern, one that's being projected onto unlinked data. "Korean stuff is getting global!" or "recognized!" or "Samsung is leading the way for Korean blah blah!" --- and none of this is true. Samsung is just Samsung (or even a Japanese brand) to most American consumers. What that means to "Korea" is diddly-squat. That's the basic point here -- on the level of a performance, I felt it bit. And not much else can be taken from that -- and if we had some hard-hitting, varied, honest aspects to most Korean journalism covering such matters, we might get some different views on it, perhaps evaluating it based on what the American audience might see, how their impact might be different in the American market, the point-of-view, whether popular or not, that they might have given "the wrong impression" with their writhing on the floor (aimed at the teen market?) or perhaps the fact that many people might even confuse this as being a group from North Korea, or that yes, the average high school cheerleading squad in the US could dance at least as well as that, whereas Korean kids don't generally have the chance to see such things, which is maybe why they're popular in the first place here. My point is that everything is one-sided, and the nationalism continues to place a pattern atop of unrelated data points, individual experiences -- is drawing conclusions about "the growing success of K-pop" or whatever WAY too soon, based more on the understandable pride of seeing one's countrywomen on a major American television show. But like I said, that's really like calling the game in the 2nd inning. It's funny you said "entertainers" because I am considering writing another post about culture codes -- a subject that has always fascinated me, even since I learned about Rapaille's work, since they are broad generalizations, yet some of them are so undeniably a part of a mass social psychology that they can't be ignored. Especially when talking about social conditioning and constructed/imagined communities, even more so when linked to advertising, such generalizations can be really, really useful. I wanted to say that the cultural code for "singer" in the US is "virtuoso." The cultural code for the same in Korea is "entertainer." I've been chewing on this, running it through observed behavior, history, knowledge of cultural patterns that go back a long time before now. And I totally agree with you: In the US, singing in public is next to fear of public speaking, death, and taxes. It might even trump them all, as singing in public is likely considered a more torturous form of public speaking. American in a karaoke bar on the average college campus gather around the mic in a large group, passing the mic as far away as possible or only singing into it with like 3-4 other people. There hasn't been as much fear and loathing directed at an "entertainer" class of people, as has been true in Korea, and it feels like anyone who dare sing had BETTER DAMN WELL be of the caliber to sing. It's not done for the purpose of socializing, as in much of East Asia, and one shouldn't forget that karaoke only entered Korea in like 1990 or so (foggy) and that before that, Koreans would force each other to sing, both singly and in unison -- NOT to hear high-quality music, but to socialize. Also, the professional singer plays the role, as you mentioned, of ENTERTAINER, almost like a replaceable court jester or other performer, in Korean culture. And one can't forget that such entertainers and artisans were looked down up by much of the caste levels above them -- and music for the masses was considered something to pass the time or vulgarly "entertain." One can't really understand this, I think, unless you listen to the many midday radio stations in Korea that have callers sing ENTIRE songs over the phone -- daily -- with the announcers and guest clapping along. We're not talking excerpts -- the entire songs. It's fun, cute, and social. Everyone feigns embarrassment, but a Korean will put their all into it once being asked or "forced" to sing. In fact, being "forced" is a great excuse to allow people to act out in what is a very reserved (but I would never say "conservative") culture. So, the "entertainer" in Korea is replaceable, and is often mixed in with other very consumable culture codes and identities, so it's no wonder that scantily-clad girls, wild styles, or crazy dances have been popular at various time, but in the backdrop of a very reserved culture. "It's OK, because that's what ENTERTAINERS do." It's funny to me, as an American, that it took years before the negative reactions to underaged girls shaking their stuff onstage even started to garner larger-scale negative reactions here in Korea, in a country that is supposedly "conservative." It's because THAT'S what ENTERTAINERS do -- it doesn't "mean" anything, I was always told by Koreans. Don't read into it. Implied is the statement, "Because that's just THEM." But the "virtuoso" in American culture isn't as replaceable. Of course, I am speaking in generalizations, but bear with me. The very idea of Uhm Jung Hwa continuing to try to be a diva turned so many older women's stomachs here that ajummas protested her shows because she was seen as an embarrassment, but more importantly, a BAD EXAMPLE of what a woman should be, especially at her age -- it contradicts with her expected social role of MOTHER or AJUMMA and a whole lot of gendered things. Na Hoona can withstand sex scandals, and even offer to take down his pants in a press conference and whip it out -- and he is thought of as cool. And he's older than dirt. But he's a man, of course. One has to think about the fact that the culture code for ENTERTAINER is inevitably linked with AGASSI, a code/character that I won't even go into right now. Let's just say that the actual job of the Korean "doumi" (narrator-model) is pretty much what SNSD actually does, except on a much larger scale. In Korea, women's bodies are definitely free to be ACTUALLY consumed, as well as just visually -- in the industry, airplay-for-play is more than just expected -- it just goes together. The association of "ENTERTAINER" and singing and dancing and -- other stuff -- is just too strong in Korea to be forgotten about when considering the explosion of popularity of these oversexed-in-a-supposedly-conservative-society girl groups, combined with the fact you see a doumi in front of every new bakery, hair salon, or shopping mall that opens, with 3-4 girls whipping their hair, shaking their asses, and performing; that you can go be entertained by singing and dancing girls on nearly any block of any major Korean neighborhood with bright lights, and there is an actual cultural template of the "kisaeng" in the culture, in which a young woman "entertains," including in terms of sex. For that and other more concrete reasons, you get the low bar for talent of such young girls-as-singers, you get the lower bar for talent for singers IN GENERAL here. For these and other reasons, you get high expectations placed on the virtuoso in American culture, they are begrudgingly recognized but rather, feted as cult figures, and the talent of the virtuoso can transcend other petty notions of identity -- Aretha Franklin can go on being the ultimate diva, or grandma Madonna, or black singers in the 1950's were able to become cults of personality for white kids even when blacks were a lower social caste, etc. The "ENTERTAINER" who fulfull so many other requirements and roles in Korea, and hence become starts there, I think will have trouble fulfilling the requirement of being a "VIRTUOSO" in the US. And you break down the SNSD performance, that's what I saw as a major barrier. To the K-pop fan, one might see their country's most famous group showing the world just how good they are at rocking the house, that Korea is cool and hip and on the map, that we're in the big boy's clubhouse now. The Korean discourse in the development period is pretty much this way, all the time. To the average, non-Korea-connected American, one might see a cheerleading squad that happens to be Korean, doing moves one generally sees in a strip club (come on, did you see that floor routine?!), all in hot pants and "fuck me" boots. Where did I leave that pack of dollar bills at? Not matter how you cut it, I felt their performance just looked...cheap. Sorry. Not arty-sexy, or edgy-sexy, or even "shock me-sexy" -- it just looked a bit tawdry. It didn't feel as much like a SHOW, as when Britney pulled off her tux to reveal a near S/M outfit at the Grammy's, but like a REVUE, like a step down from the Rockettes. That's the nature of the subjective here, but art is subjective, and I think the cultural code/aesthetic analysis is useful here. Because that's what happens in people's heads when artists get bit. For all the machinations of the number crunchers, few bands in the US can get far without actually being GOOD. Like the genre or not, NKoTB, New Edition, the Backstreet Boys -- they were good. They had a sound, or they were really catchy, or what have you. Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey could all blow your hair off. Even Michael Bolton or Kenny G are talented, even if only thought to be by white people. ^^ But you see the point? Coming from a crassly commercialistic time in a system that sees the ENTERTAINER in lower esteem, anyway -- sending a group into the grinder of a VIRTUOSO-oriented society means you have to bring your A-game, if you're going to see things in a national spotlight, if you assume THEY in the US will even SEE this single group in terms of any larger identity. SNSD wasn't it. And they don't portend any developments about Korea's overall image, either, even if they HAD been good, or on-code.
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Yeah, really -- Green Day. Might've heard of them? The Beatles on Ed Sullivan? Just because an example is historical doesn't mean it's invalid. I'm not comparing the musical acts THEMSELVES, but the examples of premieres that led to large careers. In short, I don't think that the GG debut was all that spectacular -- AS A MUSICAL ACT. My age aside, it was weak sauce. Sorry. Second argument is that I KNOW whom they're aiming at -- my point is that with their relative lack of real talent, the fact that they're a bit strange to anyone BUT a properly inclined middle schooler -- their popularity is going to be limited to just about where it is in the FIRST place, where it already is. I do know that K-pop is popular -- mostly in Asia -- so, take your YouTube hits for whatever you want. I still think 1) Asian groups in GENERAL will find little attraction outside of a niche market in the US, and 2) it won't happen with a group that doesn't have much talent, but rather a GIMMICK. That doesn't go far even in the US, where one-hit wonders abound. What I'm about is the Korean media being realistic about this -- I've heard the prognostications for the last several years -- "Korea is finally being recognized as an international powerhouse/hub of cinema" or "Korean dramas are sweeping across America!" or "Rain and other Korean stars are nearly ubiquitous in America!" to the point that Rain's people believed their own press and started blaming the promoters for essentially no one showing up for his LA show and not the fact that either 1) not enough people knew who he was, or 2) those that did weren't going to pay $100+ for a seat. Same in the Korean fashion industry, where if a couple prominent journalists show up (usually with flight and accommodations provided by Seoul City), the newspapers write about how "Korean designers are receiving the recognition of the world" and blah blah -- which blow things out of proportion and masks the real problems that have yet to be solved in the industry, especially as they have to do with international exposure. And look at where we are now, with this season's Seoul Fashion Week being in question, since the SBA, the body tasked with running it, has been accused of corruption and dissolved by the Ministry of Tourism. Ooops. At least one of these orgs got caught this time, as they had done other concrete things wrong -- but the point is that all this national pride and bragging and exaggeration doesn't do anyone any good, and can only work to harm the situation. Hey, JYP said the same thing at a conference on the "Korean Wave" at Harvard a few years ago -- this isn't new information to anyone but teeny bopper boosters or flag wavers, or the dudes in suits who call all the shots, but don't really read the sittation well enough to not waste everyone's time and money. And I called the same bullshit when all were saying the Wonder Girls were "sweeping American pop culture" -- and hey, it's great they got some exposure as a novelty group and a few people know about them. Cool. But I just call 'em as I see 'em, and give specific reasons WHY. To dismiss them because I seem like an old geezer -- well, that seems a bit unfair. My track record of calling trends has been pretty good -- from predicting iPods would conquer the market when the Nano was introduced (back when iPods were 2% market share here and people still bought iRivers), or that Facebook would knock Cyworld out (talked about that 3 years ago, when Koreans were rolling their eyes and swearing THAT would never happen), and was the first to write about the idea problem in Korean IT, right before a major article on OhMyNews wrote about the exact same thing and used the same examples, in the same order, which causes me to suspect a teeny weeny bit that I was plagiarized, or saying a couple years ago that Naver's days are numbered, bcs of smartphones. Oh, I was so out-of-touch with the Korean market, since I was a foreigner and fanboy biased towards Apple, since the Korean market which would never take to iPhones and Koreans "just don't like to use" Google. I don't think it's hard to read these trends, actually, if people would just think about WHY they believe or want certain things -- and frankly, I find my argument, filled with examples to ground my assertions, more solid than people who just oh, so want the groups to succeed, BECAUSE they're Korean, because of pride at seeing them on Letterman, oh, people will want to know more about Korea, oh, because we are finally getting recognized, etc., ad nauseum. For Korean cultural products to find purchase over THERE, wherever that is, they have to match the cultural codes, the circulstances, the market needs of OVER THERE. Like immigration, it's not just PUSH, but also PULL. The reason Korean fried chicken chains are getting popular isn't just because Korean chicken tastes good -- it DOES taste good, mind you -- it's because the market for fried chicken for adults is DEAD in the US. Fried chicken in the US has become either a fast-food, or is a down-home dinner food. The only place to buy it is in a KFC or a soul food restaurant, neither of which places you can do what you want to do with chicken -- DRINK BEER and socialize. The Korean places are ones where you socialize, eat chicken, and drink beer -- AND SMOKE, since Koreans don't follow the law in Koreatowns -- which is why Korean chicken is all the rage, and I hear you have to make RESERVATIONS in them now because of the wait. It's not just the product, people. We can debate all day about the actual talent of GG (it would help a lot of they HAD any, to be sure), but the real conversation is about the cultural codes of the receiving culture, what the market needs/holes are -- not just hoping they'll become popular because...oh, we want them to be. My point is that K-Pop is going to be as popular as it will be, with or without GG's appearance, because their performance was so-so and their appearance wasn't virtuoso enough to jostle anyone out of the boxes they tend to be in, i.e. those who care already know about Letterman, and those who don't already know are going to be totally unaffected by their performance. Know why I mentioned Green Day in 1994? Because I am NOT a fan of punk or pop punk or whatever you call their sound -- it was NEW to me when I heard them (on Saturday Night Live, actually) and I went out and bought their album. I SEARCHED for it. It was new, different, at least to the Joe Schmoe like me. Same with Portishead in 1995. I never heard of these people. I didn't get into skinny, trippy British people singing whiny wails. But I heard "Nobody Loves Me" and sought them out. I liked their new sound, new to ME. Same with Ed Sullivan and the Beatles in 1963, Sharon Jones in 2006, and her group is bumpin' off a huge boost from appearing on SNL on 2010, when a lot more folks were jostled out of their seats -- and normal genre consumption patterns -- after a single exposure to her VIRTUOSITY. And like I said, even though people freaked out after Ricky Martin's 1998 Grammy performance and literally thrust him into forefront of national consciousness -- GREAT for him! -- it just meant just that, that people were buying Ricky Martin albums. I don't know what that necessarily did for an interest in Spanish-language music from a mainstream point--of-view. I'm just saying is that people are getting 2-3 steps WAY ahead of themselves with this GG appearance, not being quite honest about the important fact that they weren't that good, and not thinking at all about the PULL side of this PUSH of GG into American living rooms. In all facets of Korean content production and promotion abroad, this is a huge blind spot, and it's really annoying that people aren't thinking about it, still doing the national pride thing, like when you used to watch a Hollywood movie and see a Samsung logo on a TV in a passing scene, and hear a huge "Ooooh" from the Korean audience. I would roll my eyes, while those in the audience linked it to some greater sense of Koreanness spreading across the world. While more people than not still think Samsung is a Japanese company. This was actually a part of Samsung's marketing strategy, to maintain that vagueness, since getting the collateral radiance of Japan's positive brand image is beneficial to the company. "Made in Korea" still doesn't sound all that great. Samsung commercials make a point of never referencing Korea, even as they wrap themselves in the flag and brag about themselves all the live long day in domestic marketing. Samsung's figured it out. But few others have. Because they don't let the national pride continue to function as blinders.
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Yo, Schmoe. I'm from Ohio, Dayton to be exact. I'm not making fun of Ohioans. I'm one! I'm using Ohio to stand for middle America, saying that I don't think the average person in the States, who isn't connected to Korea and doesn't live near a large Korean community like a K-town, hasn't heard of these trends. The Korean media would have you believe that Korean acts are sweeping the culture and are household names, but I'm saying they misrepresent the situation. When the kids of my friends in Ohio start talking Korean music, or a Korean film reaches the Dayton Mall, I'll be impressed. That's my point.
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Here is my basic point. I think the whole hype about the so-called "Korean wave" is out-of-sync with reality on a lot of levels, the biggest of which is even the assumption that there is even any discrete "wave" to begin with. To the extent that Korean culture industries have matured to level of international quality, it should go without saying that certain artists or even genres will start to get picked up internationally. For example, production values reach a certain level in Korean cinema by the 1990's, censorship is mostly lifted in the late 1990's, and the advent of Internet makes media move faster. -- you get Old Boy getting attention, and more attention to Korean film begins, against a backdrop of there having been almost NO attention paid to it before. But I wouldn't describe it as a discrete "wave" any more than there is one in relation to electronics being sold abroad. In recent surveys, most Americans still don't even know Samsung is a Korean company. In the video of kids circulating the webs now, all but one of the kids, even aft having been introduced to and watched 3 famous Korean groups perform, thought they were Japanese or Chinese. Point is, there isn't some inexplicable demand for Korean things BCS they are Korean -- like a nice TV or bulgogi burritos, if the quality of the product becomes apparent, the market will consume it. The only people making the connection that these things are in demand BCS they are Korean are...well, Koreans. I'm simply giving reasons why I think GG won't be a hit with that song, based on that performance, I think their type of style is off-code for anyone but a niche group of Asian music enthusiasts or heritage communities. I postulated that maybe if a Korean music market could produce and nurture a super-diva like Pak Mi Kyung (I didn't mean to say THAT video from 1995 would succeed AS IS in 2012, but imagined if someone with that much talent and potential back then had been allowed to mature for all these years, which is the point of the thought experiment), someone like THAT performing on stage, with a virtuoso song to blow them away, might get somewhere, much as Sharon Jones DID become a sensation, get on ALL the late shows, book nationwide concert tours, and become a staple in a certain indie music circuit. She WAS a sensation -- I heard about her all the way over here in South Korea, completely by catching word of her on NPR, DIGG.com, coming across her on Letterman, hearing buzz about her on Facebook, etc. was she a sensation to 15-year-olds? Probably not. But she came from being NOBODY to a mainstay in the music scene based on her single appearances and virtuosity. She commands you to remember who she is -- my point is that GG lacks that, and if these groups are getting more attention -- no, I'm not out of touch -- it is commensurate with their relative fame in Korea, the power of heritage communities and the niche Kpop market that has grown, but I don't see any sudden recognition nor demand for Korean singers BECAUSE they are Korean. That's the conceit that the Korean end propagates, and is the grounding assumption that there is a "wave." And ESP using what definition, I think there is such a demand for cool Korean things in Asia, by virtue of them being Korean -- China, Taiwan, the Phillipines, and Japan are testament to that. But I don't see that in the US, where the culture codes are too different. Ricky Martin's breakout performance actually caused my friend to get up out of her seat and go to Tower Records, where the store had unfortunately closed for the evening. But she didn't suddenly get into Spanish-language music. To the extent that shifting demographics had brought a lot more Spanish-speaking performers to the fore, resulting in my friend seeing him on the Grammy's, the changing cultural landscape was exposing more of such singers. But I would hardly call this a "wave." And GG, as at said, frankly looked like a confusing gaggle of girls doing a go-go show in hooker boots. I didn't know whether to hit record -- oh, I don't own a VCR anymore -- or pull out some dollar bills to stick in their hot pants. Maybe I AM too old, and that's what divides me from the target demographic in the US -- being above the age of 18 means I'm of age to know a stripper pole routine when I see one. These kiddies are just living in blissful, youthful innocence, I guess. ;-)
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To Morgy -- Yahae's fine. We've worked on getting a physical studio and office space to handle the interns we need to keep it going. Yeah, we've slowed over the last couple months because of these issues, but we'll be back and doing what we need to do to succeed at being a real magazine. Now, if that somehow angers you, you need to a) stop being a hata, and b) get over what I do or don't do. You're a weird dude, by definition, Morgan Tepsic. Kushibo -- Thanks for the defense, I think. Funny thing is, I'm gonna talk and reason the same whether I have letters behind my name or not. Actually, you should ride me if I DID talk "as if I had a Ph.D." even if I DO. Never understood why my academic background rankles you people so much. I mention I went to a school, because I did and it's part of my background and who I am, and people get all pissed off. Or, I get credentialistic with a couple of letters aimed at Koreans, people say I'm an asshole. Never understood the oversensitivity. Attack the argument, not my (non-existent) elitism. Yeah, I'm a Ph.D. candidate. That doesn't make what I say any less valid. And me being a Ph.D. LATER won't make what I say automatically right, either.
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Wow -- your stupidity speaks for itself.
Toggle Commented Dec 12, 2011 on "Be White" at Scribblings of the Metropolitician
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Exactly. It's an outlier data point, not a trend. Sorry, Charlie, but the actual cases of US soldiers raping Korean nationals is countable on two hands, over the course of 20 years. Not to mention that official Korean government records and police reports clearly corroborate the fact that the rate of rape by all foreigners, including the subset of GI's, is far lower than the Korean population. So, actually, by for some reason wanting to take these statistical outliers and use them to represent them as a trend, YOU'RE the cherrypicker, actually. Just saying.
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No, it's not "cultural imperialism," which is a term too-oft pulled out every time there is a disagreement about an outsider chiding those on the in. Korea is a country that has, for better or worse, come to call itself a democracy, purports to have an ideology of freedom and egalitarianism, that has chosen to write it into its own constitution. On the ground, Korean citizens demand these rights, bristle and fight against injustice and inequality, share the same basic concept of "fair" and go to war over even the slightest differences in access to education, fair housing, etc. They've gone as far as to call themselves a "multicultural society" as of late, and represent the nation, both internally and to the outside, as "modern" and "just" and above the days of arbitrary power wielded by the landed yangban class, or those who simply have more than others. That's how societal resources USED to be divvied up, but that's not the way it is now. And those expectations are held high -- unless you're black or brown, a non-citizen, or otherwise different. No one's asking Koreans to hold themselves up to American or "Western" standards, but simply to hold themselves up to their OWN. That's as simple as my demands are, as my disappointment is: - stop physically attacking me in public - stop verbally attacking me in public - stop racial discriminating against me in employment - stop harrassing me when I'm with a Korean woman Not "imperialism," BRUV. I'm not asking for any treatment the AVERAGE KOREAN wouldn't expect to be given. You got it, "bruv?"
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Wait. There are idiots on the Internet, amongst fans in the stands? Show me evidence of the racist scapegoating in the media. Show me the hate crimes. Show me the racist coverage in the news media. The reaction was controlled and responsible. You're calling the actions if the usual idiots something tantamount to an overall racist backlash, both on the streets and in the media? You obviously don't know what that kind of backlash really is, what it HAS been in US history. What planet am *I* from? the one where Americans used to hang Chinese "coolies" by their topbraids and lynch "niggers" on a regular basis. The reaction on the part if the media was, overall, responsible and measured. Get a fucking clue. >
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OK. But what does this have to do with my topic? >
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Dude, that's nice theory, and I will follow that for all the time I've been here. But there's a problematic assumption here: that I'm a guest, and outsider, somebody who has to represent an outsiders group. What we're talking about is not being presented with a plate of kimchi and turning up our nose, or not accepting other differences that we are forced to accept as people coming in from another place. What I'm talking about is the fact that Korea is trying to represent itself as a multicultural, inclusive society. So if you're talking about and ethnic studies, cultural contact, and other sociological theories, then you're talking what I'm talking about. I'm talking about Korea having to also meet its new members halfway. And I'm not even talking about meeting us halfway by even adapting to our ways, like some kind of "salad bowl" theory or even the melting pot model. What I'm talking about is simply addressing a problem on the level of verbally and physically assaulting its outsiders, and the people who threaten the status quo. I've read Confucius and Mencius and know exactly what you're talking about when it comes to cultural encounters and the need to be sensitive, and I find it interesting that most people seem to think that I'm some kind of cultural brute or or haven't worked very hard to understand this culture. How do you think I have been able to not only survive here, but do pretty well here, including working with all kinds of organizations and groups chock full of Koreans and run by Koreans. Eat you and I are talking about different things. You're talking about some foreigner or ugly American who shows up and wants to sh*t all over the place and not accept the things he or she doesn't like. I'm talking about me being an insider, who pays taxes and rent at lives and works among and with Koreans, and also is working within a shared set of values. The things that I rail against and fight against our things that are also what many Koreans fight against. Some might disagree, and this is fine in the democratic society. I am a person who is an insider, who happens to have some particular perspectives to bring to the table from being having been an outsider. Some of what I say isn't comfortable to hear, or is a little prickly, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't be listened to. I've done my time and due diligence, and I am fighting against things such as a broken education system, corruption, biased history, and being assaulted constantly in public places, which I consider to be a huge problem in a growing multicultural society. Some people think that being angry at something in society means that you hate the society. People of United States during the civil rights movement were called Communist sympathizers and all other kinds of anti-American. But the funny thing here is that Koreans have all kinds of spirited and lively and heated debates about aspects of their society, but the line in the sand is ethnic/racial. In terms of the subjects I touch on on, were I Korean, people might disagree with me, but they wouldn't call me a trader or nation hater. Koreans are allowed to make all kinds of arguments about the education system, or criticize the teaching culture that discourages critical thinking, or the Korean Internet, or Korean ethnocentrism, or even Koreans harassing foreigners in the streets at higher levels than before. But if I do it, for some reason I "hate" Kheria. What's the only difference here? Why are people constantly attacking my right or ability to criticize Kheria itself, rather than dealing with the content of what I'm saying? I am constantly getting attacked for not being culturally sensitive, but is this really the case? What am I exactly not being culturally insensitive about? My arguments are detailed and I often offer solutions to the very problems I pose, whether or not one believes them to be valid. I identify problems in society that have specific origins, such as certain kind of pedagogy in the school systems, or city funding, or civil servants Ronnie and cultural industries, which would be a bad idea. Anyway, or specific laws and practices that lead to a closed off Internet. I don't see how any of this makes me culturally insensitive. And ask to talking about my feelings as a black man living in Korea, who is constantly harassed on public transportation, and simply pointing out that the urge to sensationalize and paste another bad behavior badge on the media construction of the evil foreigner is something that shouldn't happen with this isolated incident and a few others like it, while we should be thinking about the fact that the true patterns of interaction you can find in subways and buses and trains these days are ones of Koreans harassing foreigners, in my personal experience and also observations with being involved with many organizations that continuously bring foreigners here. And my observation regarding the seemingly higher numbers of attacks on women in public places, which I've been talking about for more than five years, have actually been born out in statistics with the Korean Metropolitan police, which has started tracking just such incidents. I really wonder if the police started tracking such incidents regarding foreigners here, whether I would not be completely vindicated in my bringing this to public attention. But for some reason, certain people seem to be p*ssed that I even bring the subject up. Well, to those people, who think I should just shut up and take it, who don't think it's legitimate to consider myself an insider and member of the society, one who thinks that there are some unhealthy patterns of behavior here that bowed not so well for the future of a Korean multiculturalism, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. You apparently considered foreigners here guests and permanent outsiders. That's your choice. I consider myself a person who has become an insider, and earned the right to say something. This is a democratic society, and a self-described multicultural one. Of course, it hasn't gotten to that goal yet. But a lot of Koreans welcome my participation. I get just as much mail and comments from Koreans saying they appreciate me making the effort. I also get a lot of of mail calling me all kinds of racist names and telling me to go the f*ck home. Sorry, but I'm going to put my hat in with the Koreans who seem more reasonable, with the side seems to appreciate legitimate criticism. Most of the people on the other side are too busy yelling epithets and telling me to get out for me to want to decide with that. Sorry for offending your sense of who has a legitimate right to speak out, but I'm going to continue doing it. >
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Dude. What are you rambling on about? I said none of those things you seem to think I said. I simply pointed out that it's funny the Korean media is so quick to report on the single random acts of a few foreigner dummies, but not on the everyday reality of the situation. For example, that I get harassed so regularly by drunk ajussis that I don't even TAKE the subway. And I get the same shit every time I take the bus. In my experience, I have been frankly tempted to lose it myself, after countless verbal and even a few physical encounters with ajussis who seem to have a chip on their shoulders. So, instead of pointing out the few small exceptions of foreigners in such videos AS such, they represent it as normal, they simply spread fear and hatred. If you have a problem with that, that's on you. That's my experience, and it's true. Don't believe it, go screw yourself. I didn't say or even imply any of the bullshit you ranted about in your comment. You're just making up shit in your head to be ranting about. >
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Get off your high horse. I'm black. I'm part of this this group, defined in law and social rules by white folks, defined as social reality by white folks, and I feel something for the brotha. And that's the way I see fellow black folk. You don't like it, go fuck yourself. Have a nice one. >
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No - you're a newbie to the issue, and obviously didn't do the 20 seconds of Googling it would take to see who's been tlking about this, all the writing and research by me and other foreigners who give a shit about this place, who are teachers, professors, lawyers, writers, businesspeople, etc. Blogging has been done, ample stats from the Korean government and police have been published (which the newspapers and politicians never cite in their stories), a report related to such issues has been filed with the Hman Rights Commission of Korea to address this problemtatic problem with the media, one American lawyer has filed a claim on behalf of a teacher who actually decided to stand up for herself and refuse an HIV test, which has come to be contested as a pretty flagrant violation of even KOREAN law on the matter (and when it came up in the papers here, even Ban Ki Moon chimed in and criticized the policy as not both immoral and illegal) - people is doing a lot of shit to respond to this problem, to try to participate in this society and leave the world they live in a better place than how they found it. You don't agree with the techniques, the strategy? Then get on board and help. You think we're outsiders, who aren't really a part of this society, or who shouldn't care, should just get the fuck out if they don't like things exactly as they are, who have no right to say something or consider oneself an actualy member of this society to say something - then we are never going to disagree, so you should just fuck off and move on. We've nothing useful to discuss.
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Aother person who is obviously new to me and this blog. I don't erase comments because people disagree with me. I get this reputation because impatient idiots come here, their post doesn't go up instantaneously, then talk about how they were "censored" and how I apparently can't take criticism - because their single comment wasn't approved. If you had eveer read around the blog, or a post besides the one you probably came into from Google or some other link, from which you've formed an impression about me and my entire 8 years spent blogging, and might know that I have a vary of opinions, style of posts, and whatnot here - you'd know that I approve comments (as many blogs that deal with touchy topics and have trolls do) before letting them go up. As long as it isn't a crazy person yelling a string of expletives or the idiot from white supremacist organizations (you should SEE the crazy emails and comments I get in my inbox) or just plain really smart spam - I publish ALL comments that actually contain some content in them. I generally get to them within a day or so. Sometimes I get busy. The most I can be accused of is getting busy and sometimes neglecting my blog for a few days. But check around, read a post or two, stop being such a whiny little diva yourself - before accusing me of censoring you and calling me a "crybaby" and whatnot. I mean sheesh - how mature are YOU? Get over yourself. I have a life. I'm sorry I didn't address YOUR needs to see your comment go up as fast as you can press the RETURN key.
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I'm not making th meta-claims abut "who has it better" or comparing these things. It's simple - I'm sick of getting harassed in public. I'm sick of it happening to my foreign friends. I see it as a pattern getting worse and worse. If it were Korea 20 years ago, I wouldn't give a fuck and I'd take my licks and leave. But Korea is a country trying tomdo something better with itself, is trying, by it's own words and policies, to become a multicultural society. It's words and actions don't match, and I actually GIVE a shit, which is why I care, why I actually get angry when I see this bullshit, whyi continue to try to get my points out, even as petty commenters try to nitpick at minutiae, make false comparisons I don't actually make, call names, and generally engage in haterism. I get fucked with all the time because ofbeing a foreigner, and I feel its getting worse, I identify specific reasons it is (namely an irresponsible, sensationalist, yellow media that engages in race-baiting and outright lies), and I want to bring light to the actual situation. All e other bullshit about who makes what, the various ways you can define who has it "better," and whatever - that's not even my conversation.
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Sorry - had a brainfart. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Binghamton obviously ain't there. Was a conference on Korean education put on by Korean anthropology professor Nancy Abelmann, for those who might doubt and make up stuff from this flub. Anyone can always drop her an email to confirm the conference and my attendance. I leave this flub in, let people accuse me of "covering my tracks" or making changes, bring shady, etc. You'd be surprised at what netizens get in their heads.
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