Time and the Future

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.


What truly matters

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.


Obsessions, now and then

October 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I get too tired from worrying about idols, about their psychological and physiological health, about their love lives, about how they feel about what they do, about their economy, about their integrity, about the “race” dynamics between my (Caucasian) way of looking and theirs, about their attitude towards gender and sexuality, about their body image and their views on other bodies than their own, about what would happen if I actually met them, about what will happen if I never meet them, about their view on fans, about their popularity; in short, about idols in general, I sometimes really miss the days when I was just a bored, sad fifteen-year old virgin fangirl with idle hands and a huge obsession with Harry Potter.

No real people. None of the never-ending grown-up reflections that block my way today. Just me and my fiction, fanon and canon.

The following conversation just happened:

Me: Sometimes I wish being a fifteen-year old Harry Potter obsessed. It was so much less complicated.

Lars: You can never have that back.

Me: No. Never.


Footnote: BUT I WOULD NEVER EVER GO BACK IN TIME. NEVER. EVER. WOULD I GO BACK THERE AGAIN. NEVER. Because it sucked. But I can still romanticize it afterwards.

Orange Caramel – Bubble Bath

October 21, 2012 § 3 Comments

It’s not always the best songs on an albums that get promoted, which means that they are often missed out by casual listeners. One of these songs is, in my opinion, “Bubble Bath” from Orange Caramel’s first album “Lipstick” that was released about a month ago. This has been one of my most listened songs these past weeks. (Just sit through the first 30 seconds; for some reason the intro isn’t much to write home about.)

~*han bangul han bangul*~~hehe


An Old Favorite: After School – Because of You

October 2, 2012 § 3 Comments

I started on this long post about To the Beautiful You and letting idols act as a support from the other side of the world. I sometimes tell people that I needed enough time to really immearse in it to get into kpop, but to be quite honest, I also think that I fell so much in love with it because I needed to, during some pretty dark times for me personally.

I have never really gotten that into After School as persons, so I won’t say that they helped me as idols. But one of the first kpop songs that got to me was an After School song. It was winter. On my ipod I had downloaded a bunch of random kpop songs I had found through some compilation I have no idea what it came from; I think I had pretty much just searched for “kpop” on isohunt and downloaded whatever working torrent I found. The buses didn’t run and it was too snowy to ride my bike, so I was walking to school with my heavy bags, running late but too tired to care.

And then this song came on:

As I didn’t yet know any Korean at all, I had a very vague idea of what the song was about. I realized that it was probably a sad song. But it didn’t matter. Because just at that moment,  the sun rose over the treetops. It shone on the completely snow-covered landscape, and into my eyes, and it blinded me.


Kim Heechul, my hero (alt. title: Kim Heechul and Hero)

August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I came home last night, I had decided to refrain from turning on my computer and just check my phone before going to bed. However, when I did so, I found that Elin over at Dancing on Our Own had sent a link to this tumblr post, asking Lars and me if we knew anything more about the photo.

Yes. That is Kim Heechul of Super Junior, a band under SM Entertainment, and Kim “Hero” Jaejoong of JYJ, currently in conflict with said company.

Naturally, I had to turn on the computer to go online and do some investigation work, and before long, I found this post saying it’s real and recent, taken sometime during the last year. I almost started crying.

I was already beyond thrilled when Heechul and Jaejoong started following each other on Twitter in April, and I wondered a lot about what was going on, why they could do this, how it had happened. I imagined them bumping into each other at some bar, slightly drunk, and just laughing at it all and deciding to follow each other on Twitter, starting right there on the spot. I have no idea if this is actually what happened, but what is Fandom if not daydreams and fantasies? In any case it reminded me of why Heechul is my original (though not at the moment most prominent) bias: The prettiness might have drawn me in, but what made me stay was his originality and courage beyond words, the personality that always keeps me guessing. Yes, the courage. How he continued to support Hangeng even after he left SME, and now appearently Jaejoong, even though Heechul himself has stayed in the company and even renewed his contract not that long ago. (And considering the well-known close friendship between Heechul and Yunho of DBSK, I can’t even begin to think about how this may affect all the YunJae shippers out there…)

I think what these kinds of acts and pictures do to me is that they give me hope that the idols actually are more than what they are made into, and that they can to a certain extent escape the hands of their companies. And if someone is to go against his company, it’s Kim Heechul.

I wonder if I’ll ever get wtf is going on in the Idol World. I don’t think so. But maybe some day it will become at least a little clearer to us at least what happened just now. Until then: Heechul and Jaejoong, stay strong!


Answer Me, 1997 – Thoughts after episodes 1-4

August 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

I had been wanting to watch the new Korean drama 응답하라 1997, translated to respectively “Answer Me, 1997”, “Reply 1997” or “Answer to 1997” (sigh), for a couple of weeks before I actually found subtitles for it. The first four episodes are subbed and can be streamed from KimchiDramas as well as DramaCrazy and since I’ve caught a cold, I don’t feel the least guilty about having stayed home watching them instead of being out in the nice summer weather. Actually, that’s rather fortunate for me, because this far it’s a great drama that I have enjoyed a lot, even though I realize that it probably would have appealed to me even more and in other ways if I’d had a different upbringing.

I honesly don’t know that much about how any of the Korean countries were during the 90’s. For example: since I have read a little about Confucianism and its influence on Korea, I could guess why girls and boys had separate classrooms even during the same class at the same school, with the teacher going back and forth between the classrooms, but I absolutely had no idea that it was still like that back in 1997. Same goes for how the teenagers in the drama speak in hushed voices about things imported from Japan – I did know that Japanese-Korean relations were even frostier back then, but it’s one thing to know it and a whole other thing to see it played out in a drama.

I also don’t really have that much knowledge of 90’s Korean idol bands (it would feel strange calling them kpop idols, considering how kpop hadn’t been coined as a term back then) beside some basic knowledge gathered mostly as a consequence, and I have never been a teenage boyband fan.

But I can still relate to the show. Because more than anything, this is a show about being a teenager, with all the pains and troubles that holds. Even though my pains as a teenager weren’t exactly the same as the characters’ of this show, I can still relate to them.


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Xia Junsu interview

July 24, 2012 § 1 Comment

I just finished reading this interview with Xia(h) Junsu and honestly, everybody who has ever been interested in a) the idolverse, b) the concept of “image” or c) questioning gender should read it. Which hopefully means everybody who has ever visited this blog. This man may have an image quite far from the brooding type, but he obviously has a lot going on in his head, and I am so happy that he is able to express it better these days. Read it!


junsu is my religion

Another teaser: T-ara – Day by Day

June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

I know the big fuzz right now is about the SuJu teaser, and of course Kangin. But even though Super Junior was one of the groups that got me into kpop, I am honestly more giddy about the new T-ara video:

Seriously. I don’t know about the song, but if the concept for the video is postapocalyptic Xena the Warrior Princess, I’m definitely game. Also, T-ara has kind of went down in my book as the bringer of lesbian subtext in music videos. CAN’T WAIT.


More on kpop, gender, desire, rules, confusion etc…

June 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

When discussing The Gayness in South Korea, the trouble distinguishing gays from straights often come up. To put it simply: The rules on who is considered gay-looking isn’t exactly the same all over the world. I brought an American friend to a mixed bar here in Stockholm, and she kept asking me who were gay or straight, a question that was even more complicated to answer because of how a lot of the people at that bar, including me, don’t identify as either. In any case, even the men that I do know identify as heterosexual seemed pretty gay (or at least “metrosexual”) to her because of how they dress, wear their hair, drink wine and giggle. Oh, also hug each other. On the other hand, the American men I have met have many of them struck me (yes, I actually noticed) as very dressed down. So the gap is less between the infamously gaydar-eluding Korean men’s style and Swedes than Americans, in general.

As mentioned in many previous blog posts, “Shinee Key gay” is a pretty common search term around here. And I’ve encountered many, many discussions on whether or not certain kpop celebs are non-straight, mostly based on their appearence and/or interests. Commonly mentioned in these discussions is “cultural” differences in sexual coding as mentioned above. Another argument might be the argumentors’ own experiences with flamboyant friends who are indeed gay, or who isn’t, thus proving you can be a male Gaga-loving fashionista and still be sexually and/or romantically interested exclusively in girls. (I am not even going into the complications of fan service here, ughh.)

But. While I am obviously aware of the differences above, and definitely personally wishing that the world was a complete gender anarchy where people frequently combined any interest with any gender expressions etc., heterosexuality usually does reward following the rules of gender conformity more than same-sex sexuality does. I know this because I myself have sometimes pulled my hair in frustration of how to avoid signaling monosexuality of any kind and exclude any of my target audiences, attraction-wise (usually resulting in confusion for everyone, to be honest). What I’m saying is this: to a certain extent we do choose what to signal, although this might be mighty tricky. And especially in the case of kpop-celebs who are also familiar with more “Western” kinds of thinking, I sometimes suspect that they consciously signal to their international audience what might pass the eyes of your average Korean. Someone who has a big interest in the “Western” world and is well-versed in English would have a bigger capability of telling that in some parts of the world, their way of acting or dressing would be interpreted as non-straight, while it is just seen as sexy, fashionable or humorous among most Koreans. Especially since a lot of at least the Western kpop fans do seem to have some sort of queerness going on in their lives. Whether or not this means that the rumoured-gay kpop celebs are actually expressing non-heterosexuality or if wearing a confusing “BORN THIS WAY”-tisha is just a very complicated kind of fanservice directed towards a tumblr-oriented international fandom… Who can tell? But I do know, that even if I’m personally not convinced that, say, tomboy-concept Amber of SME girlgroup f(x) is into girls, I am definitely convinced that she does know the question or whether or not she is, is discussed in the English speaking fandom. This applies to lots of Korean celebrities.

On the other hand, it could also work the other way around: A Korean-speaking, girly but girl-loving boy living in the US could maybe have a better chance with the ladies in a country where his love for wearing drag and dancing girl-group dances wouldn’t be immediately connected to homosexuality?

Yeah. Well. I wonder if we’ll ever know. And I’m actually not sure that I want to.

/Mis (who’s had such a long hiatus – I’m so sorry!)

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