If you’re still not convinced that the South Korean tourism industry takes a front seat on the Hallyu Wave, then check out the following TV spots advertising Seoul as a must-visit for Chinese and Japanese travelers.
How interesting is it that they’ve decided to use Super Junior (super popular in China) and TVXQ (super popular in Japan) as their selling points. As effective as it undoubtedly is, it’s also something worth questioning further.
First things first: why is oppa the reason you and I visit South Korea? Because national interests evidently underlie the Hallyu, namely political and financial:
Because the Korean Wave has inspired high domestic expectations for both commercial profit and national prestige, the Korean government and domestic corporations have been busy promoting its essence and developing strategies to sustain it. Governmental promotion has included introducing the Basic Law for Cultural Industry Promotion in 1999 (accompanied by a budget of $148.5 million) and establishing the Culture and Content Agency under the purview of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2001 (Shim 2006) [source].
In other words, you know you love oppa, the government knows you love oppa, the economy knows you love oppa, and whether you like it or not you will visit South Korea because of oppa. Yikes.
There’s this very thought-provoking paper written by Young-Han Cho about South Korean mass media and its interaction with the rest of East Asia which outlines three ways we can frame the discourse on the Hallyu Wave:
I just can’t when it comes to nationalism* — they’re waters I rather not tread; and as it is something deeply embedded in K-pop, it just makes mental shitstorms all the harder to avoid. Even during my weekly dinner dates with Screening Humanity, I’ve got KBS World stuffing 15-second spiels of spin* down my throat. Huge buzz kill.
*It’s not that I don’t care. I do, mainly because it is precisely these type of petty nationalist catfights that make the region a shitfest of social and political relations. (Oh, and the similar feud that has erupted between China and the Philippines does little to raise my hopes for a better Asia.)
*Has anyone else seen that Heritage Korea featurette, about Dokdo/Takeshima and how “the truth will never change”? Can’t find it anywhere online, unfortunately.
Of course, propaganda exists everywhere, but especially in Asia because Asia. And it brings us back once again to the implications of one’s role as a foreign consumer of South Korean cultural exports. How important are international cultural consumers to South Korean politics? Quite important, as implied earlier by Cho. What does it mean seeing ads for the ‘Dokdo cause’ on international Korean channels such as KBS World? Because Hallyu is partially (if not wholly) a showcase of South Korean nationalism. Moreover, if you buy Hallyu, are you buying South Korea (or vice versa)?
Seems like it.
Just by looking at this song’s title alone, “Skinny Baby,” it should be enough to understand why some fans are quite upset with this new release by BEAST and A Pink.
I myself am not too impressed with it either. So many wrongs with this track it’s not even funny. First and foremost, whose idea was it to auto-tune Yoseob’s voice?!
As irksome as that is, let us all try to brush it off our shoulders for now and focus on the most disturbing issue at hand: the implicit, or even subliminal message this sends to not only BEAST and A Pink fans, but the general consumer audience of Skoolooks, the brand that this video serves as a promotion for.
Asides being the name of the song, “Skinny Baby” is also the newest collection of school uniforms released by Skoolooks. Unlike in Western education systems, where school uniforms are usually given by the school, Korean students purchase their clothes from outside. The manufacturing and distribution of school uniforms is actually a business. All the schools do, in fact, is provide a checklist of what is required (ie. a gray vest, a black skirt/pants, and a white button-up), and it is up to the students to go out and purchase their uniforms from the many different competing brands that exist out there. As a result, students of the same school end up wearing different labels of uniforms, though I guess all standardized by color, pattern, etc. And of course, what better way to promote one’s brand than to have the nation’s biggest celebrities endorse for them? At the same time, it’s killing two birds with one stone — more popularity for the idols, and more greens for the label.
(An old advertisement for the brand Elite, with SNSD as their models [image src])
On a side note, what is strange is that there has been recent debate about ceasing the usage of star models for uniform brands, but evidently that decision was dropped (see The Grand Narrative for more information on this).
Going back to Skoolooks and Skinny Baby, it seems that what this whole promotion is implying (or being interpreted as, at least) is that: skinny people are hot (the chorus is a big giveaway), and if you purchase the Skoolooks line, you’ll look skinny, and therefore be the talk of the town (or the target of jealousy or admiration among your peers). Not saying that skinny people should not be seen as physically attractive, of course. They are, but just as long as we understand that the multitude of body types that exist out there are as well.
(f(x)’s Victoria’s “S-line”, accentuated by SMART’s uniform, brings all the SHINee boys to the yard [image src])
A pretty twisted way to reel in attention (and money) from the youth of a society that emphasizes a uniform (no pun intended) ideal in physique, isn’t it? As if students don’t have other things to worry about — they have to keep their grades up and their waistlines small as well. It’s quite ironic when you think about it, because the Korean secondary education system pretty much guarantees the nonexistence of one’s social life. Or is it a way of compensating for it? Anyways. ”Real Skinny Look,” as their official blog places it. And the fact that two of the most loved K-pop idol groups are strutting around over-glamorizing slim bodies doesn’t make things any better. Corporate advertising is indeed very ugly.
(Image source: Google)
Ladies and gentlemen, we are back with yet another round of
ridiculous bans. This time it’s the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family taking action against songs that are thought to “[contain] content that’s harmful to the youth.”
Below is a list of songs and its artists that have been issued bans (which means the following: they “cannot be sold to minors under the age of 19 and cannot be aired before 10 PM KST through radio or television”):
This is what I think: the government has the right intentions, but they’re achieving it with the wrong means. I’m all up for educating our youth with the right morals and lessening social disruption, but banning songs and music videos is not the way to go.
Hmmm, well to be honest, being the BEAST stan that I am, my automatic response was ~*RAVING JEALOUSY*~ (because I mean, who wouldn’t want to be hugged by Junhyung like that?! lol), but the comments on the video are completely uncalled for. The thought of idols and coordinoonas being extremely close should come as no surprise, and seriously, whatever happens between them is none of our business. If they’re best friends, good for them. If they’re dating, good for them. The most we can do is be supportive of idols’ personal decisions, and being fans absolutely does not make us the puppetmasters of their personal lives. If the comments made were based on that video alone and in the heat of the moment, then we have some really disgusting B2UTies in our fandom. Jealousy is an ugly, ugly thing.
On a side note, this video alone and the interaction between Junhyung and the coordionator is honest to god not enough to draw conclusions from. Seriously, it’s just a playful hug or skinship or whatever you want to call it. Again, if people claim they’re doing it behind closed doors by the mere sight of this, and without the knowledge of any facts, then they’re messed up in the head.
However, there apparently is more to this than just this video. Browsing through posts under my tracked tag, I came across a couple of posts that provide supposed backstories about this particular coordinoona:
(full credits go to these Tumblrs for the sources — for anyone reading this post, please like the above posts to give the OP notes)
As of now, there is no way to ensure that these are legit. Whether or not one believes these things is up to them. I don’t know if I believe them myself. You have to decide for yourself whether or not K-B2UTies have a reason to make up lies (but considering that these may be the same K-B2UTies that attacked Yoseob during the whole “girlfriend rumor” ordeal thing, something tells me that I should stay critical).
But say these things were true. If they were, the biggest problem would definitely be the maltreatment of both fans and idols. This coordinator has no right whatsoever to treat idols and fans like shit — in truth, she has no power over anything. The anger of B2UTies would be quite justified — we are the ones buying the albums and busting our asses to show up to fanmeets. But when it comes down to it, it’s all about respect between individuals, regardless of your position. Just because you hang out with idols 24/7 doesn’t make you all the more ‘special’. And it definitely doesn’t give you the right to smack them around.
I seriously think that if these rumors were indeed true, K-B2UTies should find a legitimate way to sack this coordinator for good (by going to the agency and reporting abuses, sigining petitions, etc); and intl B2UTies should indeed participate. Nevertheless, before all this needs to happen, we need to be sure these rumors are true. For all we know, this could simply be a fictitious story concocted by a bunch of jealous B2UTies trying to find an excuse to win points from the boys. I’m not trying to make matters worse by bringing this up, and I’m not attempting to point fingers at anyone specifically, but in a fandom, anything is possible. And every story has two sides.
I’m curious to know whether the rest of the coordi crew and the idols themselves are aware of her inappropriate behavior (again, assuming that this is all true), and whether someone in the higher ranks have actually raised to voice against this woman. Because seriously, such behavior shouldn’t have gone completely unnoticed.
As for now, however, we shouldn’t let this bother us too much. Considering the fact that we’re international fans especially, we have way less power than K-B2UTies to do anything… the most we can do is passively rely on news that gets sent to us from the SK fans. They know way more about the truth of these rumors, and we need to have faith in the
less delusional fans to sort things out the right way. That’s the biggest disadvantage of being an intl fan, unfortunately — not having access to the whole range of sources that could be used when it comes to issues like this.
But again, if one thing matters the most, it’s the truth to these rumors. Lies spread like wildfire. So someone with the power to do so need to take responsibility and check the facts before any action is taken. Maltreatment of fans AND of idols is a serious thing… and god knows that the last thing we need is more forms of violence in this fandoms.
Thank you so much for this tip, and I hope I addressed it adequately :] drop by my ask if you need anything else!
According to reports, a woman had visited the Cube Entertainment office looking for her daughter, who had run away from home with hopes of meeting Yoseob.
Because she did not return home the previous night, the mom felt she had no choice but to come to the company office. After hearing her story, staff members began searching the area around B2ST’s dorm and were eventually able to find her daughter, who had stood outside waiting the entire night.
Representatives said, “Yoseob met with the fan and told her that she could come meet B2ST whenever she wanted to, as long as she never ran away from home again. The fan listened and returned home.”
They continued, “We are thankful for fans expressing their love for B2ST, but please remember that you are also a member of society and need to act accordingly. Running away from home to meet your favorite artist is not a proper expression of your love for them.”
Wow, just another example of the lengths fans would go to express their love for their idols…
…please remember that you are also a member of society and need to act accordingly. Running away from home to meet your favorite artist is not a proper expression of your love for them.
^ THIS FOREVER. The outcomes of unconventional expressions of love barely work in real life, ESPECIALLY when it’s for a celebrity… it’s not the movies, people.
And I’m seriously super curious about what exactly compels fans to pursue this type of behavior… celebrity-worship syndrome?
Moreover, a big, fat KUDOS to Yoseob for being the ideal ‘idol’… this isn’t the first time he’s gone out of his way to correct fan behavior (see here and here). In my eyes, he sets the standards of what a true ‘idol’ is suppose to be (that is, if we are obliged to keep calling them that). Yes, it’s sad we’ve got celebrities now policing their fans, but this is what has become as the reality of these fandoms. I guess it’s a place to start. As tiring as it is, keep up the good work, Yangyo.
But anyways, as dangerous as this was, I couldn’t help but simply think, “she eventually met Yoseob, didn’t she?” Haha. Ahh, the wonders of unintended (or intended) consequences. But NEVERTHELESS, doing stuff like this probably isn’t worth it in the long run. I’m especially talking about the possible domino effect… I wouldn’t be surprised if over the next few days we see reports of other fans attempting to the do same thing, with the same hopes to meeting their idol face-to-face. Ugh, DNW.
BRB while I finish packing my stowaway bag.
Junhyung, Youngwon, wait for me…
It PISSES ME OFF.
I don’t understand why I see nasty posts whenever I click one of my tracked kpop tags — I mean, what, haters actually tag their posts? It’s obvious they’re looking for a fight.
Which, I’m sorry to say, is just quite sad. It’s SAD. Mindless hating for the mere sake of provoking fans is sad.
And I’m not just talking about antis of my favorite performers — I’m talking about antis of any performer.
I’ll admit, there are some I’m not very fond of. I don’t talk about it, but if I really have to, I’ll rant about them in my blog. But I’m not gonna spit out insults that have no substance other than spite, and I’m especially not going to tag these posts and expect fans to just scroll past them and leave me alone.
BTW, tagging asks… you literally have to publish your response, and then go back to it under “Edit” to actually add tags… so when I see these things among the live results… jeez. Like, haters actually invest effort to hate. SMH seriously.
Again, there is a significant difference between hating and criticizing.
Control yourselves, please. Is it that hard to be respectful of others?
Anyways, like they all say, haters will hate. And the right way to handle them is to NOT spam their asks, because you’re just giving them the attention they want. The worst you can do cross-examine them via their ask, because they’re just gonna throw stupid remarks back at you and make you angrier than you need to be.
As hard as it is, don’t get yourselves so worked up. It’s hard to get at these haters and their thick heads. I know, it pisses you off that there are people out there with the nerves to not only think this way, but to express it out loud shamelessly. But that’s the reality — the world is full of idiots. It always was, and it always will be.
Do what I do and either unfollow them silently, or block them. Out of sight, out of mind. They’re not worth your time.