Monday, 29 June 2009

so young and wild and free

Lonely synths lose their petals under beats clamping from the stands. They're drenched in an Aphex acid, and a pervading melancholy as she pledges devotion, nostalgic, genuine.

Yes, I'm talking about the rap coda to Wonder Girls' Nobody, basically Korea's new national anthem and cultural pop monolith of the 21st century. Now re-recorded for the American market in English, the above promo reminds me just how bravely this goodtime showtune actually ends its 3:38 run.

All K-pop songs feature a rap part, even though Nobody is hardly r 'n' b like older single So Hot was, or the hip dance-pop most of the country's acts turn out to usually excellent effect (most songs are very well made, on par with Timba beats and Westernelectro).

Like Ain't No Other Man, the Christina Aguilera song Nobody is 'sister' to, this is a showtune, built for stadium chants or reality winners. It's all about handclaps and the mightiest melody. But there are synths bubbling at work throughout, and to end the song, out she comes - the rapping wondergirl Yubin, who decently flows as always atop those lonely, lost chord pads which the video above spotlights/extends.

There is no fadeout or chord change. This is how the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper, a scatter of words in a world where rap is the new rock and music is the one language, a remaining currency.

Back to the days when we were so young and wild and free
모든게 너무나 꿈만 같았던 그때로 돌아가고 싶은데
왜 자꾸 나를 밀어내려 해 (*Nothing else matters other than you and me / So tell me why can’t it be? / Please let me live my life my way)
Why do you push me away?

I don't want nobody nobody
Nobody nobody but you.

And end. The blue chords patter out unresolved, lapping at waves in the night. But why? Why does it end this way? Is it because it's now up to the lover to decide now he's heard the case, because only he can resolve this present state?

Hehe. What does it matter? Because without this inspired touch, Nobody would be nothing, just another catchy tune, and yes a very good one at that, but without Yubin it would be all flash and nonsense, a showboat in gloss and makeup without any pop art painted on its side - her presence is now, the zeitgeist of scat, and it's at one with the cold alien synths, and not embarrassingly incongruous or churned out over generics imported from the US.

Here is the English version if you're curious. I doubt it'll break America - the translation's so bland (though I doubt the original was lyrically genius either). Nobody really needs the Korean novelty factor buffering round the English chorus. It's this tongue in cheek factor which originally appealed to outsiders. Otherwise, this is a song belonging to everyone, because anyone could have sung this originally. In English, Nobody loses all identity, no longer the queenly triumph of Korean wave. But hey, it still has those synths.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Genie / X-Ray Spex

Time for a roundup

Twitch reviews K action film Rough Cut. I'd like to see this.

Foreign/er: Voyage to the World of Illustration Exhibit

Two N Korea photo albums - one on Ghostreemedia, another on Flickr.

Korea Herald has an article on the Jecheon Music & Film Festival.

'No sex please, we're South Korean'.

The Korea Times: Man Nabbed for Selling Fake 'X-Ray Glasses'

TF in the SK made me laugh with a post on plastic surgery in Korea, and how one member of SNSD aka Girls Generation looked before & after the knife. Speaking of which, here is their disappointing follow-up single, Tell Me Your Wish. Also, a shame about the nazi insignia, and how badly they rip off Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Toy Kino

Orange line #3 - if you get off at Gyeongbokgung 경복궁, head your way to the National Folk Museum of Korea (photos above) and see the palace. Down the road, you can check out one of my favourite parts of Seoul, Samcheong-dong 삼청동. Part of Jongno, this obscure little area has a lovely European feel, recommended for its boutiques and cafes. There's even an owl museum. On Sunday I visited Toy Kino there, a very current toy museum when compared to the more famous Totoman in closeby Insadong. Photos above. I want to go back and explore more of the palace, and see Bukcheon.

Honey moon

Where I lived used to be all countryside just 4, 5 years ago. At the weekend I took photos of places left behind or preserved for heritage.

Monday, 22 June 2009


제천 Jecheon will be hosting its own music & film festival this August 13th. Having quickly skimmed the .zip schedule on the event website, it's good to see they're showing the wonderful La Antena, or The Aerial, a 2007 ode to B&W silent movies and German expressionism, set in a future where no-one has a voice, speech taken by dictatorship.

The Buyeo Seodong Lotus Festival (July 10th - July 19th) seems worth a trip before then, along with the previously mentioned Pucheon Film Festival.

Saturday, 20 June 2009


Heads up - UNKLE are DJing at Club M2 in Hongdae on June 27th.

Unkle + Thom Yorke. What else was I going to post?


The Korea Times has a nice article on things to do in Seoul.

Here's a nice blog on manwha - Korean comics - + animation > dokebi club


An elementary pupil really hates me. Her name is 'Rose', and she's always had some unidentified problem with me, climaxing in April when I asked her to re-write a short essay (as required by the curriculum). Leaving the classroom to - ugh - photocopy, I heard her yell out in anger


I headed back in the classroom knowing full well who it was but being fair, I asked for the culprit to confess, pretending not to know. When this didn't work, I took Rose out of the room and calmly asked her to just admit what she did so we could call it quits. She lied and began to sob so I let it go, reporting the incident to the head of elementary (more tears).

Since then her mother has complained to the school, asking for me to be 'nicer' to the girl, which I was doing anyway, despite how now she haughtily sits in every lesson and bellows a YES/NO to anything I say, giving me the most evil eyes! She even refuses to write in English sometimes...I say nothing because the school desperately wants to hang on to its current pupils.

Anyway, yesterday I'm happily teaching her class before I leave the room to - ugh- photocopy when behind me I hear once again a nice loud


I head back in and see Rose cupping her mouth and pointing to the saintly girl sat next to her in blame. I just laugh, because what's the point?

Thursday, 18 June 2009


Updated yesterday's post on the Puchon Film festival.

News of interest -

Hundreds seek to wed rich Korean

North Korea qualify for World Cup

There's a chance to see controversial Korean classic Madame Freedom in Hongdae this Sunday 21st. Check Double Bill for details.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

13th Puchon Film Festival

This tempts me - via Twitch I learnt of July's Puchon Film Festival, a two week event held in Bucheon 부천 from the 16th to the 26th.

On the weekend of the 18th there's another chance to see Thirst 박쥐 with English subtitles, and a quaint looking Czech film entitled Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians. Also offered - the premieres of Good Night Sleep for the Bad, Bloody Shake, Today and the Other Days and Norwegian Woods, sidled with older Korean fare A Triangular Trap & The Flower at the Equator. There's new horror with Malaysia's Susuk, Macabre from Indonesia and the Thai Meat Grinder. Japanese films include MW, Ain't No Tomorrows and Yamagata Scream (fascinatingly awful judging by this trailer), and from China The Equation of Love and Death + HK's True Women for Sale. Most films at the festival are on show in Korea for the first time.

All these films also look very interesting:

Eroticscape : 1980's Korean Urban Erotica

UPDATE: the festival's various themed schedules

World Fantastic Cinema

Strange Hommage

Off the Fantastic

Forbidden Zone

Current Korean cinema is also represented by showings of Handphone, Missing and the entire Whispering Corridors series.

Monday, 15 June 2009

The prince in the rice box

Photos from Suwon. And photos here of a different sort.

The prince in the rice box. Speaking of rice, had a marvellous dish of bulgogi 불고기 there. Cheers Jenny.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

smart as a new pin

My new briefs are Vobil 'total underwear', meaning they 'be as smart as a new pin'. I'm a lucky hunk.

This also made me chuckle - Not Exactly Barney...


Photos from the Totoman toy museum in Insadong 인사동


Photos from the American Comics store in Jukjeon 죽전