Some of the many street entertainers you may stumble across when in Hongdae. More about this particular group later!
Though I shouldn’t even be online right now, my brain is literally about to melt and bleed out of the holes in my face thanks to this essay that just never seems to end. Figured it won’t hurt to procrastinate for a few hours. (It will.) Anyways, I’m in Hongdae right now; and given that I can’t even allow myself to think what I’m none the less thinking, I should just settle for the next best option and write. I’ll be window shopping and vicariously living the Friday Hongdae nightlife through this edition of AKF in Korea. Sad. So sad.
When I first visited the area the day I got off the plane, it was like love at first sight. Since then I’ve been going out of my way to make regular visits, whether it be on my own or with friends. But before I start raving, I should probably start with a brief introduction.
Just read a Seoul Beats article covering this latest development, whose writer Patricia interestingly mentions that “whenever a K-pop idol leaves for the army, it’s a huge reality check”:
Because let’s face it: for the most part, K-pop is the stuff of fantasy, and K-pop culture monopolizes on that fact: idols are molded to be as superhumanly perfect as possible, themes deemed too heavy for popular consumption are censored out, and things like love, sadness, and tragedy are trivialized.There’s a reason why you’ve got so many fans flocking to K-pop as a means of escape from the real world.
But the history and politics behind Korea’s mandatory military requirement is very, very real. Whenever another K-pop star heads to the army, it temporarily breaks the K-pop fantasy and serves as a reminder that beyond the wonderful, fanciful world of K-pop, these people whom we have deemed ‘idols’ live in a country with issues that transcend beyond the triviality of who-is-dating-who and who got cheated out of a music show award.
Korea is a lot bigger than just K-pop, and many fans who get caught up in K-pop idoldom (myself included) can sometimes forget that fact. In a way, Super Junior epitomizes all that is wonderful and fanciful about K-pop: the good-looking members, the infectiously catchy music, the shipping (the shipping!), and the legion of fans who have decidedly fallen in love with them. It’s really humbling to see this titan of K-pop fantasy begin to fall back to reality, one by one. We’ll miss them as they go, of course, but I think that seeing K-pop idols go off to the military is a good thing for both the idols and the fans. Like most Korean men who have served their time in the military, the idols return with new, matured perspectives on life and reality. Here’s hoping that the fans will do the same.
(Oh.. I just blockquoted like 75% of the article ^^)
When it comes to K-pop, for many it’s a hard fight against the inevitable descent towards the dark and lonely abyss of fandom. But you know you’ve crossed the line when you find yourself running away from home in hopes of meeting oppahr, blackmailing idols, or spamming them on Twitter. There’s no excuse to treat those we idolize like only non-reactive, non-human entities, nor as ‘entities’ we think we ‘unquestionably’ know inside-out and have complete control over… precisely the dangerous tendencies of those who’ve let themselves go a little too deep into the K-pop fantasy. And unfortunately, those tendencies don’t stop there. Take five minutes and browse through the posts of a site like Kpop Secrets and you’ll see what I mean. The world of fandom truly is an ugly one.
And it’s true what Patricia says: K-pop is NOT what Korea is all about. It never fails to leave me completely mindfacked whenever I hear fellow fans talk about the country as if the idols themselves were roaming the streets 24/7. Sure, K-pop can be seen as a force that serves a very important role for modern day Korea. But that doesn’t mean we should immediately associate aspects such as the Korean everyday life, Korean history, Korean food, Korean language — things that deserve to be appreciated on its own — to K-pop. True, understanding such aspects helps us foreign fans get a better grasp on the ongoings in the K-pop world, but to subject everything Korean to what you see in K-pop is not only ignorant, but disrespectful.
Anyways. Heechul will be officially enlisted September 1st, and instead of active duty he’ll be instead involved in public service duties due to a past leg injury. All the best to him!
Since my last post I’ve seen and heard excellent comments online and off on the topic of Sousuke Takaoka and his remarks about the Hallyu Wave in Japan. A notion that has come up more than once was that of K-pop’s “over-hype”, its ”aggressive marketing” and the potential “borderline nationalism” that underlies it; and the more people I talked to, the more mentally obsessed I became. In keeping up with my own thoughts I had to consume dozen amounts of sugar over the past few days (I’m looking forward to the imminent crash), but even as I write this post I’m on the fence with many issues (if not all); and I still have a lot of questions waiting to be answered.
(image source: kiseki.blog.onet.pl)
A few days ago, there was a very controversial matter reported by Allkpop that involved Japanese actor Sousuke Takaoka and his thoughts about the Hallyu Wave taking over Japan. On his Twitter he expressed the following (translated by Allkpop):
"I used to be indebted to Fuji TV in the past, but now I’m suspicious that they may actually be a Korean network”
“I’m questioning about what country I’m in as well”.
“It offends me”
“If anything related to Korea is on broadcast, I just turn the TV off”.
“It troubles me because I feel like I am being brainwashed”
“Since we’re in Japan, I would like to see Japanese programs. I get scared every time I hear the word, ‘Hallyu’”.
The article’s comment thread is completely saturated with enraged netizens, who accused Takaoka of being “xenophobic” against South Korea. Among them are individuals who on the other hand expressed their understanding of his thoughts and agreed with his points. In addition some insist that he isn’t being “xenophobic” and defend his ‘right to an opinion’.
I have to admit many commenters brought up very good points; however most of them failed to recognize the core issue here. Although freedom of speech; how, why, or whether it’s right that Hallyu is dominating Japan; and comparisons between K-dramas and J-dramas are somewhat related, such points are merely peripheral to the central question of whether or not Takaoka’s comments were bigoted against the Korean nationality and population. What we have to examine right now is the manner in which he expressed his thoughts, and that alone is what he needs to be called out for. It should not be mistaken as an attack to his right to speak his mind (because by all means, he can say whatever he wants. There are, however, the repercussions), nor is it a stance against (or for) the bigger-picture issue his words refer to.
(Done as a request by taezon. Sorry for the delay — my internet’s signal wasn’t very nice to me over the past few days T_T)
(Image source: Google)
It was only until after I read an article given to me by taezon a few days ago did it truly, truly dawn on me the extreme lengths fans (“fans”) are willing to go to achieve… well, I don’t know what ends exactly. Granted, I’ve commented here and there about delusional k-pop/k-entertainment maniacs, but the story of Epik High’s Daniel Lee (or known to the masses as Tablo) is unlike anything we’ve seen before. “The Persecution of Daniel Lee" illustrates the chilling reality of the impact netizens have, and how something seemingly harmless like a small online community can garner enough power to dominate national headlines and eventually destroy not only the lives of a celebrity and his loved ones, but anyone who chooses to put forward their support.
I told myself I’d wait at least 24 hours before writing up a post about the issue, just so there would be time for the release of several ‘official statements’… which in fact, is what fans need to also consider doing — giving time for the ‘facts’ to be announced before forming a judgment.
I know more statements are bound to be released over the next few days, but I figured there were enough sources right now to at least formulate the foundation for an opinion.