K-POP ACADEMY

As you all know  I’m attending the K-pop Academy in London. For me is a really nice experience. Here I’ve met wonderful people who share the same passion, Korean culture.

This 12 week program wants to show us different aspects of Korean culture as history, dramas, k-pop, food, etc

In the first week, we presented ourselves. For me it was really “scary”because I hate to present myself in front of  people. But in the end it was alright. After this, we had a quiz about Korea culture and k-pop. We were put in different teams. I was in the BIG BANG team..LUCKY…hahaha. Even though the questions were really hard, I had a lot of fun. PHOTOS ( FIRST WEEK) 20130223_120150 20130223_120205 20130223_141902

 

In the second week, we studied about Korean history and historical dramas. It was really interesting. After the lecture we had to draw Korean  flag, TAEGEUKGI. I’m really rubbish at drawing..PHOTOS(SECOND WEEK)

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Every week we have a homework. Last week homework was this857877_10200639955943934_894278013_o

So,if you’re interested, here is my homework:

 

Watch a historical Korean  film or drama and produce a review about what you have seen. Include your opinion on the film/drama and what you have learnt about Korean history from watching it.

 

Deep Rooted Tree

250px-TreewithDeepRoots

 

Deep Rooted Tree is a drama that combines the mystery with history.

I chose this subject because it’s relevant for Korean history. It’s about the creation of HANGUL. When I started to learn hangul, I never knew that to create a language implies sacrifices and dedication.

This drama takes its name from a poem called Youngbieocheonga[1]   that says that trees with deep roots do not sway.

The writer of this story is Lee Jeong-myeong. He wrote the novel Painter of the Wind, which was also turned into an important Korean sageuk[2] in 2008.

I was really impressed by the cast. In my opinion, the actors played their roles very good. I was immersed in the action and I even shed a tear when Kang Chae Yoon and So Yi died for their cause. I really loved the way Jang Hyuk portrayed his character ( Kang Chae Yoon) . He was passing from comedy to sadness. Also, Shin Se Kyung played very well her role. She had a really tough task to give the proper emotions without talking. And, there is the role of the King. In the first part of the drama, Song Joong Ki played the frail king-to-be, a person who couldn’t do anything to stop the murder of his in-laws. But after he met Ddol-Bok, the son of a slave, he started to change, becoming the King Sejong.  In the second part, Han Suk Kyu showed a king who wants to give more power to his people by creating a new alphabet.

Some historical facts about Hangul

This drama shows the creation of an alphabet. But it’s a fiction. What really happened in history?

Hangul was created in the mid 15th century under King Sejong. This new alphabet was seen as an alternative to the Sino-Korean Hanja.

Like in the drama, Hangul was denounced by the educated people as eonmun (vernacular[3] writing) and it only became the primary Korean script after the independence from Japan in the mid 20th century.

Hangul is an alphabet written in morpho-syllabic blocks, and it was designed for both the Korean and Chinese languages. Sejong’s scholarly institute, The Hall of Worthies, is often credited with the work, and at least one of its scholars was involved in its creation. But it was also a personal project of the King. It was completed in late 1443 or early 1444 and published in 1446 in a document titled Hunmin jeong-eum (“The proper sounds for the Education of the People”).

According to Sejong Silrok (The Annals of King Sejong), the alphabet was created by the King himself. This fact is backed up by a phrase at the end of the section for December 1443 or the 25th year of King Sejong’s reign. So, what was shown in the drama is also a reality:

By this month, the King finished the work of creating the 28-letter alphabet for the people of the country. The shape of each letter imitates olden-day Tenji (small seal style by brush). Each letter is composed of a leading consonant, a middle vowel and a trailing consonant. It can represent everything that can be written down, including unrefined terms. The letters look simple and terse, but can represent virtually all sounds. The alphabet was named Hunmin jeongeum[4].”

 

My personal opinion

I was captivated by this drama since I saw the first episode. It showed comedy, sadness, happiness and the struggle for a better life.  Also, it was a lesson on Korean history.  I have learnt that the creation of the alphabet was just the obvious fact. The other one is the Korean independence from the Chinese influence. China had a big cultural influence due to the language. The creation of a new alphabet was a way of getting the independence.

Another thing I’ve learnt is that the status of slaves was really low. They were persecuted and sold as the master ordered or just arrested because of their owner. This fact was because they were afraid to express themselves and to fight for their cause. The King gave them this possibility through the alphabet. Now, they could fight for themselves.

Even thought hangul was promulgated, there were obstacles. Like in the drama, there were factions that didn’t want this alphabet to be created. So, they fought to denigrate it.

For me, Deep Rooted Tree was a lesson. It showed me that the language is not a tool it’s the culture. The language is an important key in defining a culture so I have to study it properly. Also, I saw how important is to have people on your side to help in making something that at first sight might be crazy and out of the ordinary. Last, but not the least, the self sacrifice for a good cause. We, modern people, tend to forget about it and we stop doing it. So, it was a history and life lesson.

 

Bibliography:

  1. http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Tree_With_Deep_Roots_(2011)
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yongbieocheonga
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Rooted_Tree
  4. http://chunkeemonkeeato.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/review-tree-with-deep-roots-%EB%BF%8C%EB%A6%AC%EA%B9%8A%EC%9D%80-%EB%82%98%EB%AC%B4/
  5. http://10mag.com/tv-review-tree-with-deep-roots/
  6. http://www.han-style.com/english/hangeul/alphabet.jsp

 


[1] Literally means Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heave and it was the first work written in hangul.

[2] 사극- historical drama

[3] Using the native language of a region, especially as distinct from the literary language.

Arirang

Nothing says more about Korean society than Arirang.

Arirang is a famous Korean folk song about tragedy and separation. Director Kwon Oh-Sung of the Arirang Globalization Committee asserts that “Arirang has always been with the Korean people throughout their moments of happiness and sorrow. This Korean folk song not only reflects various feeling in daily lives but it also expresses the time we live in. It is the history of Korea and the intimate friend of the Korean people.”

What is a folk song?

A folk song covers a vast array of musical styles but is most commonly used to refer to a narrative song that uses traditional melodies  to speak on a particular topic. Topical folk songs address social and political issues such as work, war and popular opinion. Many folk songs have been around so long that nobody is sure who their composers were.

Meanings

There are different meanings for this song. One of them is that this song is seen like a symbol for Korean independence under Japanese occupation.

Another meaning is presented by the National Folk Museum of Korea: “Arirang represents all the joys and sorrow in the history and lives of Koreans. It is deeply rooted in Koreans’ emotions as the cultural DNA.

Many versions of the song open by describing the travails the subject of the song encounters while crossing a mountain pass. Arirang is one name for the pass and hence the title of the song.

There are a number of passes in Korea called “Arirang Pass”. One such is a pass among some hills in central- northeastern Seoul.  However, that Arirang pass was originally called Jeongneung Pass and it was renamed in 1926, to commemorate the release of the film Arirang.

What is Arirang pass? Arirang Pass is an imaginary rendezvous of lovers in the land of dreams. There is a real mountain pass, called, “Arirang Gogae”, outside the Small East Gate of Seoul. So, the heroine of this song is a fair maid of Miryang and she was killed by an unrequited lover.  As time went by, this tragic story changed in a lady-love story who complained of her unfeeling lover.

There are many variations of the song. They can be grouped into classes like based on lyrics, when the refrain is sung, the nature of the refrain, and so on.

01

The original form is Jeongseon Arirang, which has been sung for more than 600 years. The most famous version is Bonjo Arirang and it became famous when it was used like a theme song for the film Arirang.

There are other famous folk versions of Arirang like: Jeongseon Arirang( from Jeongseon County in Gagwon Province), Jindo Arirang (from Jindo County in South Jeolla Province) and Miryang Arirang( from Miryang in South Gyeongsang Province).

Lyrics

Korean original Romanization English translation
아리랑, 아리랑, 아라리요…아리랑 고개로 넘어간다.나를 버리고 가시는 님은십리도 못가서 발병난다. Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo…Arirang gogaero neomeoganda.Nareul beorigo gasineun nimeunSimnido motgaseo balbbyeongnanda. Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo..Crossing over Arirang Pass.Dear who abandoned me [here]Shall not walk even ten  before his/her feet hurt.
Korean original Romanization English translation
청천하늘엔 찬별도 많고우리네 가슴엔 희망도 많다 Cheongcheonghaneuren chanbyeoldo mankoUrine gaseumen huimangdo manta Just as there are many stars in the clear sky,There are also many dreams in our heart.
저기 저 산이 백두산이라지동지 섣달에도 꽃만 핀다 Jeogi jeo sani BaekdusanirajiDongji seotdaredo kkonman pinda There, over there that mountain is Baekdu MountainWhere, even in the middle of winter days, flowers bloom.

Refrain

Bonjo Arirang

  English translation
If you leave and forsake me, my own,Ere three miles you go, lame you’ll have grown.
Wondrous time, happy time—let us delay;Till night is over, go not away.
Arirang Mount is my Tear-Falling Hill,So seeking my love, I cannot stay still.
The brightest of stars stud the sky so blue;Deep in my bosom burns bitterest rue.
Man’s heart is like water streaming downhill;Woman’s heart is well water—so deep and still.
Young men’s love is like pinecones seeming sound,But when the wind blows, they fall to the ground.
Birds in the morning sing simply to eat;Birds in the evening sing for love sweet.
When man has attained to the age of a score,The mind of a woman should be his love.
The trees and the flowers will bloom for aye,But the glories of youth will soon fade away.

Miryang Arirang

  English translation
Look on me! Look on me! Look on me!In midwinter, when you see a flower, please think of me!Chorus: Ari-arirang! Ssuri-Ssurirang! Arariga nanne!O’er Arirang Pass I long to cross today.
Moonkyung Bird Pass has too many curvesWinding up, winding down, in tears I go.
Carry me, carry me, carry me and go!When flowers bloom in Hanyang, carry me and go.Gangwon Arirang

  English translation
Castor and camelia, bear no beans!Deep mountain fair maidens would go a-flirting.Chorus: Ari-Ari, Ssuri-Ssuri, Arariyo!Ari-Ari Pass I cross and go.
Though I pray, my soya field yet will bear no beans;Castor and camelia, why should you bear beans?
When I broke the hedge bush stem, you said you’d come away;At your doorway I stamp my feet, why do you delay?
Precious in the mountains are darae and moroo;Honey sweet to you and me would be our love so true.
Come to me! Come to me! Come and join me!In a castor and camelia garden we’ll meet, my love!

These are some some versions of Arirang

Interesting facts

While I was searching about the meaning of Arirang I found something very interesting about this song.

According to Kim Young-Woon in The Beginning of Arirang, the repetition of “Arirang” or “arari” in the refrain distinguishes Arirang from other songs. So, what makes an Arirang song is not the musical elements but the lyrics.

According to Kim Young-Woon, the following shows the importance of the refrain components of Arirang songs:

[Type A]

arirang arirang arariyo, arirang gogaero nareul neomgyeojuge.—“Jeongseon Arirang, regional folk song”

(Please pass me over to the Arirang bridge)

arirang arirang arariyo, arirang gogaero nareul neomgyeojuo.—–“Seoul-je Jeongseon Arirang”

(Please pass me over to the Arirang bridge)

arirang arirang arariyo, arirang gogaero neommeoganda.—“Bonjo Arirang” “Gujo Arirang”

arirang arirang

(I am passing over the Arirang bridge)

[Type B]

ariari sseurisseuri arariyo ariari gogaero neomeoganga——“Gangwondo Arirang”

( I am passing over the Arirang bridge)

ariarirang ssrissrirang arariga nanne, arirang gogaereul neomeoganda—“Miryang Arirang”

(I am passing over the Arirang bridge)

ariarirang sseurisseurirang arariga nanne, arirang eungeungeun arariga nanne—“Jindo Arirang”

[Type C]

ariari eollssu arariyo, arirang eolssigu noda gase….”Haeju Arirang”

arirang arirang arariroguryo, arirang arieolssu arariroguryo…”Gin Arirang”

ariari eolssu arariyo, arirang eolssigu nolda gase….”Gangwondo Arirang”

Taking this pattern as a reference, scholars have attempted to discover the meanings of these words by tracing the origin of the Arirang songs. There are two theories:

1. Arirang was formed in the era of the Three Kingdoms

2. it was formed in the late 19 th century, when Gyeongbok Palace was being reconstructed by Daewongun( Great Prince Lee Ha-Eung)

According to the first theory, Arirang was formed during the era of the Three Kingdoms relates this song with Queen Aryeong, the wife of King Park Heonkgeose. According to Samgukyusa ( Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) and Samguksagi( Historical Record of the Three Kingdoms), the Queen was born from a dragon’s side in a well called “Aryeong Jeong“( well). The queen accompanied the king on his royal tour to encourage the people who were working in farming and silkworm cultivation. Along the way, people sang a song to praise Queen Aryeong.

The second theory focuses on the recording of the word “arirang“or “arari” in Chinese characters. This fact leads the scholars to believe that Arirang was formed when The Gyeongbok Palace  was reconstructed by Daewongun . He began the reconstruction  in 1865 but, because of some financial problems, Daewongun issued a new currency with a face value of 500 times greater than the existing currency. This fact forced the rich to make contributions in his project and mobilized people. It is said that the rich used to sing “airong” in a wish that they would rather not hear anything.( “arirong”means  “I wish I were deaf”) . Also, a lot of families  were separated and they were pressed into slavery. They sang “arirang” which means “I am parted with my family”. Another theory is that “arari” is a variant of the word “analli“, meaning “it is difficult for  me to live apart from my family.”

Bibliography:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arirang

http://blog.korea.net/?p=6720

http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=100861

http://gipsyexperia.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/korean-folk-song-arirang/

http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=99813

http://yunaforum.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=2330

Kim Young- Woon- The Beginning of Arirang

Interesting/funny facts about South Korea

A few days ago, I was thinking about a new subject to write for this blog. I’ve tried to search for interesting  things. But I couldn’t find something really worthy. Until,I have found a blog about 10 interesting facts about South Korea. So, this time I’m gonna make a short list about these interesting/funny facts. Some of them are really funny .hahaha

  • The first thing is that South Koreans love to shop.  South Korea boasts of some of the biggest shopping malls in the world. Some of the malls are bigger than a European town.

 

asian-girl-shopping-bags-smile

  • A fact that I never knew is that taxis are colored coded. Hail a grey or white taxi and you get a basic car with a less experienced but still fully qualified driver. If you chose a black cab, you will get  more luxury and an experienced driver. It’s a little  expensive.

 

korea-taxi

  • A traditional Korean roof curves up with a smile. So, if you see a traditional Asian building, check the roof. The Korean one has a roof with curves at the corners.

 

KoreanBuilding

  • Fruit is a luxury item, especially watermelons. This fruit costs like 30 $ or something like that.

watermelon-wedges

  • Drinking in public is 100% legal. You can sit in the park, by the river or in a University campus and just have a drink with your friends.

drinking-in-public-570x404

  • Number 4 is extremely unlucky. An interesting fact is that most buildings in South Korea don’t have a 4th floor

4

  • Avoid using red ink. Red means death. So you should avoid using red ink to write a note or a letter because it doesn’t send a friendly attitude.

red-41426_640

  • A fact that I never knew about it is that in the first night of the New Year everybody hides their shoes. This is because there is a belief that a ghost will come down and try on everyone’s shoes. If the ghost like a pair of shoes will take it. It is thought that the owner of the shoes will have bad luck for the whole year.

shoes

  • Seoul is the second largest city in the world. According to the World Atlas, Seoul has a population of 20,550,000, making it the world’s second largest city behind Tokyo.

469x264

  • A really funny fact is that South Korean think that there is a “Fan Death”. So, they think that if an electric fan is running overnight, it’s going to kill the persons who are sleeping in the fan’s breeze.

Fan+Death

  • The last one, which is the funnies, is the lack of good English translation on  T-shirts., company slogans, etc. A few examples:
  1. a T-shirt advertising “Monkey Wax-use it to wax your monkey”,
  2. a guy who was wearing a T-shirt that said: “It’s not PMS…I’m just a bitch”
  3. a pregnant woman with a T-shirt that said: “I’d trade my wife for a beer”
  4. a warning on a pair of scissors: “Don’t stick scissors into children

Here are some more LINK

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So these are some funny and interesting things I found on internet about Korean culture. If you know other things like these, please share it..

 

Bibliography:

http://www.taekwondo-information.org/interesting-facts-about-south-korea.html

http://maplesyrupandkimchi.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/10-fun-facts-south-korea/

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/facts-about-south-korea.html

http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/facts-about-south-korea-1921.html

http://listverse.com/2011/12/20/top-10-misconceptions-about-south-korea/

http://blog.aclipse.net/teach-in-Korea/bid/81932/Interesting-Facts-about-Korea

http://www.snopes.com/medical/freakish/fandeath.asp

http://www.travelingeast.com/asia/south-korea/ten-interesting-facts-about-south-korea/

http://www.squidoo.com/10thingsyouneedtodoinsouthkorea

http://www.traveladvisortips.com/top-10-interesting-south-korea-facts/

http://journals.worldnomads.com/jubaloo/story/16307/South-Korea/Funny-things-about-Korea-Not-for-innocent-eyes

 

 

South Korean fashion

I like fashion. However I’m not a fashionista. I like to observe the trends rather than wearing them. I think that you need to find your own style and stick with it till you realize that that’s not you anymore. Well, at least this is what I do.

I love to observe the new shapes and colors. It’s like my imagination is „on fire”. I can see who should wear those kind of clothes. For example, the youngsters or a pair-shaped persons, or a really wacky person. Its quite easy. This „imagination”came after I watched for a long time GOK (I loved his show and his attitude in “How to look good naked”) and other shows like this.

Anyway, after I discovered k-pop and Korean culture, I’ve started to see what is the fashion trend there. These are a few things  that I discovered during my research and my opinions regarding South Korean fashion and its designers.

Fashion: an overview

          Wikipedia says that fashion design is the art of the application of design and aesthetics or natural beauty to clothing and accessories. The fashion industry is based around firms and fashion houses run by individuals, usually male designers. This industry was born in 19 th century when Charles Frederick Worth (1826-1895) made his own label. His name was sewn into the garments that he created.

Before the former draper set up his maison de couture in Paris, clothing design and creation was handled by largely anonymous tailors and seamstresses and high fashion descended from styles worn at royal courts.

So, Worth’s success was linked to the reason that he was able to dictate to his customers what they should wear, concludes Wikipedia. If you want to know more .. LINK

These three paragraphs define what fashion is and who the first who made its own label. But, fashion is much more complex than a simple definition.

Fashion is seen in many ways:

-as a non verbal communication. It indicates the occupation, the rank, gender, sexual availability, locality, class, wealth and group affiliation.

– as sign system. It means that is a form of iconography to express individual identity.

-as a barometer of cultural changes. How we perceive the beauty or ugliness of our bodies is dependent on our cultural attitudes to physiognomy. For example, the accepted beautiful female that Rubens painted is not desirable nowadays.

–  as the desire to strive for differentiation

-as a role. Sociologists borrowed this term of “role” from theaters because, we, like the actors, play many parts during our lives.

These characteristics can go on and on. So, you can notice that fashion is so complex. At first, I thought that wearing some clothes is something you need to do, because you cannot go naked on the street. In your house, you can do that (hahah). But, after my readings and observing the trends, I can see that is so much more beneath it.

South Korean Fashion

According to Madame Nora Noh, who is the first Korean fashion designer, the first fashion show took place in 1954 in Chosun Hotel. From 1961-1987 fashion shows are seen as “archetypical luxury” and it became impossible to stage. This happened because there were several political incidents. In 1987, the fashion shows could be held again and its culture started to develop rapidly. In the 90s, the country is opened for regular fashion shows, mostly in Seoul. These fashion shows are trying to nurture the local talents.

Regarding the tastes, I read that the Korean type of fashion is linked with the Japanese fashion styles, but this is slowly changing. One important factor is Korean wave. The Hallyu stars are bringing a new trend in South Korea. And even better, this trend is well promoted abroad through dramas, k-pop idols and a very powerful online fashion business

Here are some street styles:

  • Guys in skinny jeans
  • Girls in heels
  • Lacy/frilly/poofy tops
  • Drirts
  • Suits
  • Long skirts
  • Short on the bottom, covered up on top
  • Guys in uniform/half-uniform
  • Man purses/guys holding girlfriend’s purse

For more LINK and here LINK

Korean fashion designers

These are some fashion designers. You can find out more here  HERE

Lee Young Hee

She is a Hanbok designer of fame. She has worked and designed beautiful Korea traditional clothes.

Here is her fashion show Fall/Winter  2012/2013  LINK

Jae Hyun Kim designer for Jardin de Chouette LINK

 Seung Gun Park designer for The Pushbutton LINK

Ji Choi designer for Johnny Hates Jazz LINK

Here are some videos from Seoul Fashion Week. I hope you will find some inspiration for your style.

Conclusions

This article is more about visual than writing. Why? Because you can understand more if you watch it than if you read it. Fashion is highly subjective. It always depends on your personal tastes. For example, I might like a design but for others is totally wrong or they can hate it. So, I hope you will tell me your favorite fashion shows and why.

 

Bibliography:

http://www.refinery29.com/seoul-style

http://nattiejayne.info/2012/06/22/south-korean-fashion-a-k-a-natalie-is-a-creeper/

http://www.style.com/stylefile/2011/04/in-south-korea-a-touch-of-kink/

http://nymag.com/thecut/2012/11/street-style-south-korea-loves-statement-bags.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/southkorea/9591332/South-Korea-a-rough-guide-to-Gangnam-style.html

http://www.zimbio.com/Fashion+News+Daily/articles/vHD7l4TmSNK/Korean+Fashion+Styles+2013+Korean+Girls+Fashion

http://www.hancinema.net/south-korean-fashion-kpopsicle-the-rise-of-k-pop-and-tokyo-fashion-36436.html

http://www.wwd.com/eye/fashion/they-are-wearing-seoul-south-korea-5885340

http://www.asiafja.com/en/IndustryNews/5301/South_Korea_a_rising_star_in_fashion_retailing.html

http://www.fashion-era.com/sociology_semiotics.htm

http://travel.cnn.com/seoul/shop/best-modern-korean-fashion-859615

http://www.feetmanseoul.com/

Korean indie music

I’m a k-pop fan, not a hardcore one, but most of the time I listen to k-pop music. My favorite band is Big Bang but I listen to other band as well, like CN Blue, FT Island, 2NE1, Epik High, etc.

I’m a k-pop drama addicted too. And sometimes I find some cool OST’s. Recently, I’ve started to watch Cheongdam-dong Alice. One of the OST’s is played by Every Single Day, Every Single Day is an indie band. I listened their songs and I find them really refreshing; it’s something different from k-pop.

That’s why I want to write this article. This band made me so curious about indie music and what this genre promotes.

And now, the question is what indie music is anyway?

What is indie music?

tumblr_lza38pDUPD1qfig19

It is said that music is fluid, flexible and is gradually altering over time as fashion and politics. It can create indelible imprints onto our every day listening habits.

Indie music comes from independent music. This kind of genre is produced independently from major commercial record labels or their subsidiaries. It’s a process that includes an autonomous, Do-It-Yourself approach to recording and publishing. Also, it is a term that describes a genre, such as indie rock, indie pop. Indie artists do not fall into a single, defined musical style or genre and usually they create music that can be categorized into other genres.

Robert Helbig in the article “The History of indie music” asserts that this kind of music is really hard to define because it has no clear reference or outline. Indie music, Helbig continues, has spilled over musical boundaries and seeped into almost every genre avaible.

This genre appeared for the first time in 1950’s and 1960’s and it was seen as a back-street rebellion.  This kind of music is really confusing. It has no specific characteristics. For example the term indie music is interchangeable with terms such as “alternative rock” and “underground”.

I think this kind of music is trying to have an arty-fartzy feeling, because indie music always has been near to the cinematographic and art “world”. So, this music wants to have an original style. It’s always changing. It doesn’t want to get commercial.

The first famous indie musician was Captain Beefheart with his album called”Trout Mask Replica” (1969). This album is describing indie music. It brings together pop, jazz, blues, poetry and rock “to create a collage of surreal fantasy that has inspired dozens of musicians, including The Beatles.”(Robert Helbig).

dvv

In conclusion, indie music is trying to put on the stage something else. It’s trying to bring always something new by putting together different kinds of music, like Captain Beefheart did. That’s why even now his legacy is intact through his followers.

I cannot say I’m a big fan of indie music, but I think this music is bringing something new. So, if you’re tired of same lyrics, same MV’s, same music, try some indie music. It’s refreshing, trust me.

 The history of indie music in South Korea

How about in South Korea? When did indie music start to be played?

Before indie, the most popular genre was rock. So, we are talking about the 1970’s. Then, the government started to censor and to change the musical tastes of Koreans. This way,  rock music almost disappeared. The mainstream music was mostly soft pop and teuroteu ( “trot”) and just a little bit of rock.

In the mid 1990’s, throughout South Korea, there was a cultural renaissance, like new magazines and books about music, new movies and other cultural products. This revival was taking place around Hongik University (Hongdae), this place being the main arena for live music clubs.

In the Hongdae area, classic rock bars appeared and of course indie bars too. The goal was to reconnect the youth with Korea’s forgotten past. The most important live clubs were Blue Devil and Drug Club. Drug Club is known for its punk music. Many people associate this club with the revival of modern rock in South Korea. The other club, Blue Devil, moved to Cheongdam-dong, where it created the “Cheongdam sound” (which evolved into the Fluxus Records sound, with bands like Rollercoater, Clazziquai, and Loveholic).

In the late 90’s, the indie music scene was really thriving and even worse, when the Asian economic crisis came, indie music was in collapse.

In the mid 2000’s another wave  of indie music appeared. Pastel and Happy Robot were two successful indie labels but the biggest was Boongaboonga( BGBG) Records, which put on the market really good songs.

In conclusion, Korean indie music is like a rollercoster, with ups and downs. After this small history of indie music, I can say that, k-indie is getting more popular nowadays than before. Why? Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Youtube. These social networks promote the indie bands. When I was  researching for this subject, I found so many good bands. I hope you will start to get more interested in them too. Nice music, nice feeling. So if your favourite band is going through a hiatus and you don’t know what to listen to, I recommend that you to give k-indie a try. It’s really nice.

Indie music in contemporary South Korean society

Right now, the Korean music sphere is dominated by idols produced by big entertainment companies. I listen to these  idols. But, for indie artists, life is hard. They can barely earn enough for their every day life necesities.They usually take part-time jobs because the earnings from live performances are really low.

In Hongdae area are almost 500 indie bands and around 100 are able to play in rock festivals and to have a secured place in Hongdae clubs.

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Korean indie music agencies have said ‘Clubs are looking for an audience of 5-30 people on weekdays and 70-100 on the weekend, this is not easy and every club has the same requirements.’ adding ‘Club management won’t see profit from ticket sales and whilst they make a little money on selling booze, recently the sums haven’t added up at closing time.’

So, the life of a Korean indie artist is really hard. However, its really important for Korean music. Cultural critic, Jeong Teokhyeon asserts: “The world of indie plays an important role in nourishing Korean music” and “This market needs help if it is to develop. Band must be increasingly and regularly on shows such as “I’m a singer”( KBS) and “Immortal classic”( MBC)”

So the exposure of these bands is really low. For example, when I wanted to listen to k-indie, I couldn’t find so much about them. And I really want to see them on shows where they can show how good they are.

Lee Hyun-Song (The Knoxx) says” There are some shows on cable that introduce indie bands, but I think the position of indie in TV is generally very low” and „I think the problem is that all Korean media are simply dominated by K-pop and idols.

The cultural critic, Mark Russell agrees: „I think the big difference in Korea (compared with other music markets) is the huge emphasis on teen pop music. Not everyone likes pop, and not everyone is a teenager, which means there are several large music markets that are basically untapped” and „Korea has a huge amount of creativity and energy in its music scene. The problem is that the whole structure is undernourished.”

This article is about  the lack of divergency in Korea’s music industry LINK

Also, this is an article written by a CNN reporter about the best 5 Korean indie bands you need to know about LINK and a glimpse into the South Korean Indie Music Scene LINK

 

Conclusions

Here are some of my favourite indie songs:

Also, you can check Simon and Martina’s indie playlist. I check it every week. There are so many good songs that need to be promoted.

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There are so many things to say about Korean music. I think I’ll need to write a book about all of this. But, if you’re interested in k-indie music, this article is a start.  I hope you’ll go and explore some more. It’s such an interesting field of study and there are so many peculiarities  that you will never find it in European or American music.

Bibliography:

  1. http://www.koreabang.com/2012/stories/south-korean-indie-music-vs-k-pop-its-all-about-the-money.html
  2. http://www.koreanindie.com/
  3. http://www.newrockstarphilosophy.com/2010/10/a-glimpse-into-the-south-korean-indie-music-scene/
  4. http://travel.cnn.com/seoul/play/5-best-indie-rock-bands-hongdae-149011
  5. http://crossculture2012.wordpress.com/music/korean-indie-music/
  6. http://www.koreanindie.com/2012/06/25/what-constitutes-korean-indie-music/
  7. http://www.squidoo.com/korean-indie
  8. http://www.wnol.info/korean-indie-music-the-koxx/
  9. http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/n_feature/2010/12/02/44/4901000000AEN20101202008800315F.HTML
  10. http://seoulbeats.com/2012/03/k-pop-indie-gem-mate/
  11. http://seoulbeats.com/2012/04/exploring-the-lack-of-divergency-in-koreas-music-industry/

Korean contemporary art

How many of you have you ever been in a contemporary art museum or at least at a gallery? I went. It was amazing. Well, it was a long time ago. I like talking about art. It’s a unique experience. The way I see it, a work of art is like a piece of the artist’s thoughts and also a piece of this world.

The second question: How many of you have you ever  heard about Shin Yun-Bok? If you saw the drama; Painter of the Wind, you  probably know something about him. How about Kim Dong-Ho, Jeong Seon or Choi Buk? The answer is: They were painters, Korean painters.

Maybe the ones who are interested in Korean culture know more about it. If not, I strongly recommend you search their lives and works. Their works of art are really nice and  there is a lot of  information about Korean lifestyle and society.

In this article I don’t want to focus on pre-Joseon or Joseon art. I would like to show you some of contemporary Korean artist.

First of all, what is the meaning of contemporary art?

Contemporary art

Contemporary art means the art produced at the present point in time. Also, it’s a similar term to Modern art and Postmodern art.

Modern art means the artistic work produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860’s to the 1970’s, and denotes the style and philosophy of art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in the spirit of experimentation.

Postmodern art is a body of artistic movements that sought to contradict some aspects of modernism or to have emerged or developed in its aftermath. These movements are: Intermedia, Installations art, Conceptual art and Multimedia, particulary those involving video are described as postmodernism.

These definitions are hard to”digest”, aren’t they? I think the same. However, for understanding a work of art you need to know what that means, what is the definition. I think this is a necessary evil (hahaha).

While I was reading for this article, I found a really good question: What is the difference between culture and identity?  In the book  The Korean Eye, I found the answer: “Culture is only possible when it is shared by at least two people, an identity is only visible when one person is differentiated from another. Despite their inherent differences, culture and identity are inseparable in contemporary art.(Lee Dae Hyun) The reason is that  contemporary art wants to be different but, in the same time, wants to communicate with the people. Well, the art is made by the people for people.

I think, nowadays, there is that strong feeling to express ourselves in every kind of way: through pictures, through paintings, through writing. We want to escape from our stressful existence so, we like to make our world and we invite other to join in, by posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or for really talented people, on expositions in art galleries.

 

           The Korean aesthetics

Through this small research I found a really interesting word: KOREANESS.

Lee Dae Hyun explains this word as a signature that departs strongly from the traits of the past. So Korean contemporary art is still framed within the range of traditional art and is stuck within the boundaries of specific topics and conventional formalities. ”Imagine the fruit( the contemporary) without the root( the past) or vice versa.”( Lee Dae Hyun)

Korean aesthetics is seen as “the aesthetics of the curvy line”.  It’s different from the Chinese, where the form is emphasized or the Japanese, where the color is the key. So, Korean art is very different from other East Asian countries.

Ko Yu Seop asserts that the Korean aesthetics is centered on ideas of imagination and conception to overcome the limit of formal aesthetics.

Kim Won Ryong argues that the root of Korean art is the harmony between the art of nature and the man-made and it depicts the ordinary and features of traditional art.

In conclusion, the contemporary Korean art is still linked with the past.

So, the Korean contemporary art is not bound by the differences as form, color, size, texture and material. Beyond this are the culture shifts that are taking place there.

Opinions

There are a lot of opinions regarding the Korean contemporary art. It’s seen as vibrant and full of energy, these characteristics recommend Korean contemporary art as being associated with emerging art arenas. Also, it is seen as diverse, very different from Chinese art. As for the money, Korean works of art are seen as a bargain on the art markets: high quality and reasonable prices.

The art curator Tobias Berger asserts that Korean art has always been in the shadows of Japanese and Chinese art. This is because there are few local magazines, catalogues and other art texts on Korean contemporary art are available in English. Here is the full interview LINK.

I would like to show you some works of art that I really liked.

Bae Joonsung .arte_facto hereges perversões 02KoreanEye2012_page17_image1 KoreanEye2012_page19_image1

Bae Joonsung- The costume of Painter

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Cho Duck Hyun-The Nora Collection

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Choe Uram- Varietal Urbanus Female

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Hong Seung Hee-Der Zwang zur Tiefe

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Je Baak-The structure

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Koo Sungsoo- From the Series Magical Reality

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Lee Gilwoo- Dancer in Nature and Irrelevant Answer

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Shin Meekyoung-Translation-vase series

Here is an article  on ten contemporary Korean artists you should know about. LINK

If you have the chance go and see the exposition.I will.

Conclusions

Even though this subject is really hard to “digest”, I think this is a good way to understand the modern Korean society. I mean, we know only some fragments of its history and traditions, but we really don’t know very much about the modern society. Culture is like the language… is always changing. So, take your time to get to know it.

Bibliography:

1. http://londonkoreanlinks.net/2008/05/09/contemporary-korean-art-comes-of-age/

2. http://artradarjournal.com/2010/09/20/curator-tobias-berger-talks-about-korean-contemporary-art-scene-in-4-questions/

3. http://www.modernedition.com/art-articles/korean-contemporary-art/contemporary-art-korea.html

4. http://www.koreaneye.org/

5. Korean Eye, 2012

Korean Beauty

“Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?” This is the question that everyone is asking. To be beautiful or handsome has become a very important aspect of our lives. The cosmetic industry and plastic surgeons try to satisfy our need to be beautiful.

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In my opinion, to be beautiful means to be accepted by others. I mean, if you want to have a social life, you need to look accordingly.

Living in UK, I realized how important it is to look good. Even though I was taking care of my looks when I was in Romania, coming here was a new experience in what it means to look good.

But  this article is not about  my makeover.It’s about what means to be beautiful in South Korean society.

Like any other Asian societies, perfection is important. And here it’s about the perfection of the body.

 

What means to be beautiful in South Korea?

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While I was doing my research for this article, I found really interesting things about beauty standards in South Korea. For them, to be beautiful means to look almost like a Westerner: for example, white skin, big eyes and most importantly is having the fold or the crease in their eyelids( sang-koh-pul). This kind of beauty is advertised by non-Korean models in commercials, TV programs and magazines. So women try their best to look accordingly  to the pattern.

Also, Asian beauty is seen as inferior of Western beauty. Think about the Miss contests. The winners are from Western countries  So, to look like a Westerner is really important. Not only for a high self esteem but for a better job or marriage prospects.

Another interesting characteristic I found about Korean beauty is that, during Japanese occupation, Koreans wanted to escape from Japanese cultural patterns and to find something that will make them different from  the Japanese. One of these things is the way they looked

The Koreans is of medium to tall height, among many races  of the world. The neck is thin and long, and because of the superior development of the Korean’s body and muscular structure, the posture is straight and erect. The calf is long, and since every part of the body’s measurements are very even, the Koreans resemble the well-proportioned stature of the Europeans and Americans [rather than the Japanese]…The face is elongated, unlike the characteristic wide-faced features of the Mongols races…The cranial capacity is on the large side, and the  brain weight is also heavy.”

So, even in 1964, when this paragraph was written by the Korean anthropologist Na Se-Jin, Koreans loved to resemble the Westerners rather than the Chinese or the Japanese.

Another important aspect of Korean society regarding beauty is the physiognomy. If you watched Korean dramas, especially sageuk dramas, you know that the future of one person is written on his/her face. One interesting story is the case of President Chun Doo Hwan     (1980-1988). The story says that the President’s mother prayed for 100 days for a son before conceiving. Then she met a wandering monk who told her she had the face of a mother who would give birth to a successful son. The only thing that is stopping her from having it is her  teeth. To give birth to a son she needs less protruding teeth. So she smashed her teeth out with a rock and later on her son became President.

From this story you can imagine how important  the face of a person in South Korea is.

This subject is a really complex one. An English teacher in Korea made a study among he students about what means to be beautiful. Here is the link

 

Beauty industry in South Korea

Yes, Koreans are obsessed about beauty. Michael Breen, a British journalist and Chairman of Insight Communication asserts in his book  The Koreans :”Koreans generally are not shy about commenting on appearance and judgments on hiring and so it can be based on superficial criteria, so people are very, very conscious about of how they look.”

So everybody wants to be beautiful! Everybody does, trust me!

Korean women spend as much money on cosmetics and skin care as do French and Japanese women, around USD 130/person. In my opinion  is quite a lot. According to Korea Pharmaceutical Trader Association(KTPA).

-money-spending

This market is dominated by domestic products, the biggest cosmetic producer being AmorePacific. The company estimates that sales will hit a value of $6.74 billion. Now the company wants to expand into Chinese market.

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The foreign brands have only 15% of the total market value. This value is attributed to EU companies and the US companies. The most important foreign brands are Estee  Lauder, Clinique, Lancome and La Prairie.

Why are so few foreign  brands in South Korea? Sarah Chung, partner and co-founder of Luxe Brand Advisors gives the  answer. She asserts that Korean cosmetics and care market is extremely sophisticated. The consumers want highly functional and effective products.

Another reason is that foreign brands are seen as quasi-drugs products and the import of these products requires different procedures.

However, the prospects are good. The patterns of spending are changing, especially those of the youth.

The most important products for Korean cosmetic consumers are the products which help whiten the skin tone, minimize the appearance of wrinkles, protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays and products that stop hair loss.

 

Plastic surgery

 

Trends- men cosmetics

In Western countries men are supposed to look..manly, like tough, macho and other qualities that will put in front the…men characteristics.

But in South Korea the trend is the effeminate male.

Euromonitor International statistics says that South Korean men spend $ 495.5 million/year on cosmetics(Wooowww!!!) Well, if you see all the advertisements from South Korea you will understand why. Flower boys are the trend. Right now k-pop and k-dramas are putting in the market the pretty boy image so Korean men feel pressured to look good just like the actors.

Personally, I never liked the macho kind of man. So when I first discovered k-dramas and k-pop it was a relief to see my kind of a man. Wearing make-up and using cosmetics is not a bad thing. They show that they care about how they look and take care of themselves.

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So, Korean men are the world’s vainest men. Like an example, in USA there are 155 million men and in South Korea are 12 millions, yet South Korea is the first country in the world in men’s care.

Most of you think that the men in their 20’s or 30’s use cosmetics. WRONG. Market research indicates that the best customers are the middle-aged businessmen who are trying to compete. Most politicians over 50 dye their hair. The President Roh Moo Hyun and his predecessor  Kin Dae Jung, are distinguished by heads of jet-black hair.

The most important make-up and care products are those which minimize pores and the whitening products.

 

The end

So , as you can see, cosmetics play an important role in our society. It ca help boost the self esteem, can bring a better job or a good husband/wife.

I think when people say that they don’t care how they look like, they lie. Everybody wants to look good. The only thing that is unique is the attitude toward style. We are so different in every kind of ways, so the styles are as complex as we are.

Bibliography:

1. http://www.cosmeticsdesign-asia.com

2. http://www.academia.edu/726850/Gender_Globalization_and_Cosmetic_Surgey_in_South_Korea

3. http://theculturemuncher.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/teacher-small-face-on-beauty-in-south-korea/

 

Thank you for reading this article.

What is your opinion about this matter? Leave your comments below.

If you have questions or different opinions, leave a comment.