January 17, 2013 § 2 Comments
One of the reasons that I haven’t been writing anything here for quite some time is that, well… I just moved to Tokyo, and am going to stay here until August at least.
While I am definitely physically closer to the kpop industry operations, as well as in a totally different way than in Sweden often encountering kpop and hallyu in my daily life, I am not mentally as close to it as I usually am. I am busy exploring a very new, very physical world, and I’m having, living, an adventure. My need for escapism looks different, and my head filled with too much other stuff to also harbor a lot of kpop love and worries.
In either case, I went to Shin-Okubo (Tokyo’s Koreatown) today to have lunch with a friend. The streets were filled with hangeul, and the to me so familiar faces of various kpop idols watched me as I passed. For lunch, I had dolsot bibimbap, a really really tasty one, and awesome banchan, and the background music included Dal Shabet’s “있기 없기” and Orange Caramel’s “Lipstick”, and I felt so homely, so familiar, and yet so far away.
January 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
SS501 was one of the first K-pop groups I got to know about a couple of years ago. Though the styling, plastic surgery (the evolution of their faces is worthy a blog of it’s own) and choice of songs have been highly questionable within this group I still really like them and they released a couple of amazing and funny tracks through their active days. They are almost old school by now and it seems like ages ago they went on to different companies.
Park(Pak) Jung Min is the one member of SS501 I have spent most time thinking about through the years. This is a result of a friend giving me a Taiwanese pop magazine a couple of years ago with a lot of pictures of SS501, the reason it was so intriguing was that Jung Mins pervious and terrible nose job had been slightly corrected and he looked more like a human being then like Michael Jackson. That is, his nose grew a size for their comeback. The entire group had rather bizarre facial plastic through the years but Jung Mins nose was the biggest catastrophy of them all. It’s been fascinating watching Jung Mins nose getting a litel bit bigger for every comeback and that is a relief. Jung Min is really trying it hard for his solo releases and I believe there is something genuinly nice with his efforts. For his first solo release, Not Alone he included both a couple dressed in punk outfits and a a transvestite, maybe it’s all about showmanship, but that is more then most idols would. He also did a photo spread in ANAN magazine in 2011 which is daring for any idol. He tries really hard to stand out from the crowd.
Unfortunately the quality of his solo releases so far has been poor in my eyes. But as he released Beautiful in the fall of 2012 it at least gave the feeling of him being as happy as I have ever seen him. The teaser promised a bit to much I’m afraid since the track is quite silly, but it really looks like he is having a lot of fun. And I can’t stop watching him with a newer and bigger nose that almost looks natural and a track that is almost a success but not quite there yet. Not cool and not good but…
Beautiful by Park(Pak) Jung Min is my obvious guilty pleasure of 2012. Not that good but ever so sweet.
The Future is Idol – L
December 31, 2012 § 3 Comments
The meaning of the term Live Performance should be understood for what it is. A live performance of course does not have to be something you have experienced live, but rather a recording of a live performance seen on YouTube. For most of the international K-pop fanbase it has up until quite recently been impossible (or almost, depending on if you have the guts or/and the money to travel to South Korea) to see your idols live. But as YouTube and internet have been exploding over the last few years, the South Korean music industry is not that far away, even if you live in the other side of the globe. Where I want to get with this is that this moment, live performance of 2012 just as well could have been something seen on YouTube, not experienced by me irl. It could have been something like this, Key of SHINee doing Lady Gaga songs Hair and Judas as his solo performances in Japan. One of the most epic live performances in every category 2012.
On the other hand, these last few years, perhaps the last two years, K-pop and Hallyu have spread enormously and now it’s not completely unusual for K-pop groups to actually hold concerts in Europe. And if they do come to Europe, Paris seems to be a popular goal, and so, that is were Super Junior held their European Super Show 4 concert.
I went to Paris with my friend Johanna, Paris is less then a two hour flight away from Stockholm so the journey itself is not that big a deal. We lived at a hostel very close to the concert arena and the weekend was a complete success with Super Show as the highlight of course. I remember how we were walking in the park area surrounding the arena the hours before the concert started and watching other fans as they were watching us while gathering to enter the arena. That evening, to see almost all of them so very close performing all of my favourite songs and running around the arena like the crazy people they are, I will never forget that evening.
Super Junior was the reason I got in to K-pop from the beginning and since then, the thought of once seeing them perform live have been present in my mind. While writing this evening I had to search the blog a bit and I ended up reading the posts I wrote about Paris and is still watching clips from Super Show and suddenly a few tears started dripping. So many emotions conserved from back then and from this years, for ever greatful for Johanna for going there with me that time. Thank you Johanna.
This was truly an epic moment in my fandom, more important then the music shows I saw while visiting Elin and Johanna in Seoul in the summer of 2011, even if that also was a dream coming true.
Live Performance of 2012 is Super Junior, Super Show 4 in Paris.
Check out the previous End of the year, K-pop 2012, The List. 80 tracks from 2012 that you have to have heard. All K-pop of course.
The Future is Idol – L
November 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’m currently taking three courses at my university:
One of them is the Japanese language class I’m taking in preparation for going abroad in January. I have spent some time during the last weeks preparing for the kanji test I have tomorrow. Among the kanji ideograms I have to write is the sign 年, toshi or nen, meaning “year”.
One of them is called Future Studies and Forecasts. I have spent most of the weekend trying to analyze future scenarios, the idea of futures, utopias etc. Today I finally got started on the paper we’ll be handing in next week.
One of them is called Theory of Science and Research Methods. I should probably get started on the final examination part of this, but I haven’t yet.
Today two videos that I have looked forward to were released. One is called 1000年、ずっとそばにいて・・・:
One is called Humanoids, but the lyrics are about the future:
What song will I get for when I start writing the final part for the methods course?
(Also, here I am writing on a blog called The Future is Idol!)
Honestly, I’m a little creeped out by these coincidences.
November 19, 2012 § 2 Comments
Kpop has given me a lot of things. It has helped me through recovery from eating disorders. It has given me new, awesome friends. It has provided me with role-models when I have needed to push myself through heavy workloads in school. It has given me incentives to learn not one, but two new languages. It has given me friends all over the world and made me travel far away on my own in a way that I could never previously have imagined. All in all, it has given me a more beautiful outer world. But that is not why I’m in it.
Let me explain.
A common way of defending young nerds’ interest in low-status hobbies is saying that it will lead to something with higher status. Computer games will improve your English and problem solving skills. Manga will let you know “Asia”, which appearantly is the World of the Future. Vampires will give you a sense of community, although this might also be seen as something destructive. Technology will eventuelly make you rich – just look at Bill Gates!
I guess all of this might seem the only way to defend these things against sceptical parents and teachers and classmates, and to encourage children who are ashamed of liking them and feel that they should spend more time on sports, gossiping, or whatever is considered more appropriate for their gender and age. But even so, it is beside the point.
As for me, the indirect effects of kpop are doubtlessly nice to think about when I spend yet another evening doing seemingly pointless things. Scrolling through Tumblr instead of studying. Reading kceleb gossip instead of going out with friends. Missing Girls or whatever show that apparantly is currently what you’re supposed to watch because I’m busy watching kdrama. Especially as I haven’t had a real relationship in years, as that seems to be the true stamp of approval from Life Agency.
But seriously, that is not what matters. I have said this before, but I’ll say it again – if not else but because I have to remind myself of this every day. The true value is no language skill, no networking, no cross-cultural know-how or future work prospects. The true value cannot be described with terms as achievements or benefits. The point of it all is how it feels. It is about being instantly cheered up from playing that certain song and imagining the awesome video. It is, also, about losing breath and crumbling to pieces over an animated gif. About the excitement of finding the fancam for a performance you have been jealous of. About giving the pillow a beating to let out your embarressment. About getting all giggly just thinking about a certain idol. About the feeling of intense interest talking about them. About crying. It is about worries and joy and love. The other stuff is just there for us to point out when we are questioned.
September 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
The other night, I had a dream about YunJae (they were taking care of a troubled child). I’m not really an active YunJae shipper – I definitely recognize them as a pairing, and I think that they were, in some way, “real”, but I have never spent days and nights reading fanfiction about them. And tonight, tumblr was flooded with HunHan stuff, making me start wondering at what point Sehun and Luhan became aware of themselves as a ship (or a “couple”) and started acting with that in mind. I don’t really believe that entertainment companies make ships up and force them on their idols. Everyone who has ever watched a TV show or a drama where the main actors have zero chemistry would know that to be something you can’t really fake extensively. But I do believe that idols are sometimes asked to play it up a bit extra, or to “remember” to be affectionate even when they aren’t relaxed, which at least I need to be to act affectionate towards others.
This sort of subtle fanservice is interesting in other ways than the one sometimes displayed on stage. I personally have never really dreamed about standing on a stage, but for those who love it I imagine it to sometime be almost intoxicating: doing what you love in front of a crowd, having everyone look at you, want you in some way or another, admire you and scream your name from the top of their lungs. I find it stranger when that kind of raw energy and charisma boost don’t spill over onto fellow group members on stage.But, for the sake of fans, being very obvious with having some sort of special bond with or warm feelings for someone? I bet it can sometimes be strange, like selling something intimate, but sometimes perhaps sort of fun or maybe even liberating, allowing expressions of friendship of love to a further extent than normal. If it later results in smut, well… That’s another problem. If it is a problem.
(I sometimes wonder whom I would be shipped with, were I and everyone around me idols.)
August 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
Last week I was on a holiday with my family, eight people all in all to one of the big islands off the swedish coast.
Since we had two cars and me and my mother started off and ended our journey at the same place we traveled in the same car. The thing is, that my mother had arm-surgery this summer so she can’t drive at the moment. Therefore this was on my duty, single turn 730 kilometers… As I was the driver I got to choose music for most of the ride, I choose K-pop. These two tracks are the ones my mother really liked out of the mix I played.
“when music is good, it’s just good”
My mother has really great taste don’t you think?
/The Future is Idol