K is for Kim Woo-Bin

This is going to be a short post because I am slightly ashamed of myself for doing this… but I couldn’t help it, look at him!!

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Because of this man I have come to the conclusion that I am a puddle… meaning I am just that shallow.

He is 24 years old and fairly new to the scene. He started as a model in 2009 and made his acting debut two years later. His standard role is the miss-understood bad boy. This is most likely because he has a really hot mean face. See…

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I was okay with having him be my bias in his previous dramas. In School 2013, at least he was trying to change his ways. In A Gentleman’s Dignity he was really only a bully to the guy that was a jerk first. But I have no excuse for myself when it comes to his role in Heirs… He literally makes small children cry and threatens the female lead and I didn’t care, I still liked him!

Do you have a celebrity crush that can do no wrong or is it just me?

Anybody?

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J is for JYJ

JYJ is kind of the black sheep of the Kpop family. They were originally called TVXQ (or DBSK depending on which country you live in) and were a five member group. TVXQ debuted in 2003 and were amazingly popular in both Korea and Japan winning multiple awards and topping many charts with over 20 singles. But six years after their debut three of the members sued their entertainment company, SM Entertainment, saying that the contract was too long and that the profit distribution was unfair. Considering that the contract was 13 years long and Kpop is slightly infamous for “slave contracts” their complaints were most likely completely fair. The three members (Junsu, Jejoong and Yuchun) broke from TVXQ and SM and formed their own group, JYJ.

They debuted as JYJ in 2010 and, in my opinion, are more talented than then what is left of TVXQ. SM, however, is one of the most powerful talent agencies in South Korea so JYJ faces a lot of issues. For one, they are basically banned from appearing on any music shows, like Inkigayo. They aren’t technically banned, but shows that rely on SM letting their very popular artist make appearances on them are less likely to let JYJ appear. They also have much less advertisement then they did back when part of SM Entertainment.

One of the reasons I respect them so much is because despite this they are still very successful, both as a group and by themselves. Their return album debuted as number one on the Oricon chart. They also released a English album with the title track being produced and featuring Kanye West, Ayy Girl. It is honestly not my favorite JYJ song but the video did produce the famous “rolling down your sexy windows” dance move. If you don’t know what I am talking about check out the EYK review of the video here. Their next album was my favorite spawning my favorite JYJ song, In Heaven.

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Junsu aka Xia is my favorite of the group and has a very successful solo career. Apart from their group world tour he has done one on his own as well as an Asia tour. He is actually one of the most sexual of the Kpop artists out there. Just watch Intoxication… If he had released that in Korea it would have been banned SO fast. He also plays a large role in composing and writing many of his songs. He is also the captain of the South Korean celebrity Soccer team FC MEN, and has been in multiple live musicals.

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Jae-Joong aka Hero is the second member and probably the prettiest man I have ever seen. And no, I don’t mean handsome, I mean pretty. When doing solo music he actually has a much more rock feel then pop, as demonstrated with his single Mine. He also plays a large role in composing and writing many of his songs. He acts sometimes and my favorite role of his was the as the second male lead of the drama Protect the Boss.

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Yoochun aka Micky doesn’t really do much solo music, what he does a lot of is acting. With his first Korean acting role back in 2010, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, he won the “Rookie of the Year award”, “Netizen Award”, and “Best Couple Award”. He has been in three Korean Dramas since and continues to rake in the awards.

 

I will continue to support these guys because they are pretty darn talented and it sucks that they are thought of as less by a lot of Korean mainstream because of the fight with SM. But I am not the only one supporting them. Whatever they may lack in Korean popularity they make up for, many times over, in international popularity.

I is for Inkigayo

Inkigayo is the Romanized version of 인기가요, which translates to The Music Trend. It is a music based TV show that debuted back in the 90s. It was originally a chart show where they would just play the songs that were topping the charts. It was revamped in 2003 and every week they would have 7 of the most popular Kpop Idols that have recently released songs come and perform. They would have people vote online for who was their favorite and would crown a winner each week.

They revamped the show again back in 2012. There are still popular Kpop idols performing each week and a winner is still voted each episode, but they have switched their attention from ranking the groups to focus more on the music and artists. They even recently began a segment called Inkigayo Showcase where they take indie and new artists with less exposure and give them a chance to be seen on TV. There is also a segment called Inkigayo Q where fans submit questions via a mobile app for the Kpop idols on the show that week.

I think the reason I find this show so fascinating is because we have nothing like it here in America… not that I would watch it if  we did because I don’t care about American pop that much. I do plan on moving to Korea someday, living there for at least a year, and I will go to at least one Inkigayo taping!! But first… to become fluent in Korean.

Do you have any shows like this where you live? Would, or do, you watch it?

H is for Hyuna

Some of you may recognize her from the Gangnam Style video but Hyuna is actually a pretty difficult topic for me to write about. I have nothing against her personally. In all the variety shows I have seen her in she seems like a really nice girl, and her songs are really catchy. But I also feel like she represents everything that is going wrong in Kpop.

I originally started listening to Kpop because it was catchy and the songs were way less dirty then our music here in the U.S. A. I stayed because the singers were talented and, still, the songs were catchy. I have a lot of respect for most Kpop Idols; they work really hard and are talented performers. But I feel like Hyuna’s talent is the fact that she is pretty. They market her as a rapper but she really can’t rap, her singing is mediocre and her dancing is barely better. The studio recorded versions of her songs are fine but I can’t deal with her live.

Not only that but over the past few years, ever since she started doing solo songs, they have been pushing a sexy image with her really hard. If it were a natural sexy I would have no problem with it, take Gain for example. She basically oozes sex appeal in her performances. With her it just feels like who she is and she is really good at it, but with Hyuna if feels really forced and awkward.

They took this girl…Image

and turned her into this…

 

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It is not just Hyuna though, I feel like a lot of Kpop feels more forced now a days. It’s like they take teenagers, caring less and less if they are talented and more and more if they are hot. Then they put them at a music video shot saying “The concept is, you are a gangster… GO.”  The concept can vary but the awkwardness remains. And because Kpop is becoming more popular small companies are popping out of the wood work shelling out Kpop group after Kpop group making the ones that are worth listening to hard to find.

Here is a link to one of her most popular solo singles, what do you think of her? Am I being too sensitive or does it feel off to you too?

 

G is for G Dragon

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You can’t have a theme of Kpop without talking about G-Dragon aka GD aka Kwon Ji Yong. He is basically the biggest thing in the Kpop world right now.

 

At 8 years old he was already under contract with an agency, SM Entertainment, he trained with them for 5 years as a dancer but left because he wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do. Soon afterwards he was introduced to the Wu-tang clan by a friend and soon became Korea’s youngest rapper at age 13 writing his own lyrics when he participated in the Flex album. He was soon signed to a different company, YG Entertainment, and I am sure that SM still cries about this. For the next six years GD was a trainee but made appearances in other artist’s albums and released a couple singles with another trainee under the group name GDYB.

In 2006 GD debuted officially as the leader of the group Big Bang. Their first album was fairly popular but it was actually a song composed by GD, Lies, that was their first number 1 hit. He continued to compose songs for his group and many were hits including Haru Haru and Last Farewell. He also helped his fellow Big Bang member Taeyang produce his first solo album.

GD’s first solo album, Heartbreaker, was released on his 21st (22nd in Korea) birthday in 2009. The album went on to win Album of the Year at the 2009 Mnet Asian Music Awards but also created a lot of controversy for GD. At first he was accused of plagiarism by Sony Music though the label that distributed one of the disputed songs said they heard no similarities. He was also accused of obscenity and suggestive content at his concert but was investigated by the government and found innocent. What really happened there is he dry humped a girl during one of his performances and some old ahjummas got their panties in a twist.

After all the controversy GD took a year long hiatus but came back strong with a collab album with the other rapper of Big Bang, T.O.P.,  titled GD and TOP. The entire album is pretty awesome but my personal favorite out of the album was Knockout. After that Big Bang continued its activities as a whole for a couple years. They had a world tour and released two more albums Alive and Tonight. They also created some of my personal favorite Kpop songs Fantastic Baby and Bad Boy.

It wasn’t until 2012 that GD released another solo album, this one titled One of a Kind. The title song of this album earned him two “Best Hip Hop/Rap Song of the Year” awards. Though I personally prefer the song That XX. This album broke the previous record for highest selling solo album, which had been set by GD back in 2009. That year he was also named “Best Male Solo Artist” and won “Record of the Year”

This year he released another solo album last year in September titled Coup D’etat. It featured many artists but the most notable was Missy Elliot. She even performed it live with him at the Kpop Convention KCON in LA. He won a total of 4 awards with that album: “Best Male Solo Artist” “Best Music Video” “Best Dance Performance” and “Artist of the Year” Through all of this he has continued to play a huge part in composing and producing not on his solo stuff but also the group songs as well as the other members solo activites and other members of YG Entertainment. So… basically he rocks.

Alright… so this is a day late, H is for Hyuna will be out soon! Sorry for the delay!

F is for F(x)

F(x) is a girl group with 5 members and is definitely one of my top 5 favorite Kpop groups. My favorite song that they have ever done is Electric Shock. It is so catchy!!

In my previous posts about Kpop Idols I have mostly pointed out ones that differ from most of the Kpop mainstream but these girls are pretty typical of Kpop. One thing that does set them apart is how multicultural their members are. One is Chinese, two are American while the other two are Korean.

 

 

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Victoria is the leader of the group and also the Chinese member, at 27 she is     also the oldest. She started studying dancing at a very young age and was actually scouted at a Beijing dance competition. She trained for 2 years with SM and was a model before she debuted as the leader of F(x). She was also one half of my favorite couple on We Got Married, Khuntoria, with Nickhun from 2pm. We Got Married is a Korean show where they take famous people and have them live like they are married to each other. I know the whole show is scripted but I don’t even care, it is so cute!!


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Amber is one of the American members of the girl group and is the “tomboy”. She does most of the rapping in the group and is a pretty great dancer. I feel like she gets less credit then she deserves because she isn’t the “pretty one”. But she is, in my opinion, the funniest of the group and my favorite to see in the variety shows.

 

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Krystal is the other American member of the group, at 19 she is also the youngest. She and her sister Jessica were both scouted at a very young age by SM entertainment. Her older sister debuted first as part of Girls Generation, arguably the most successful female Kpop group… ever. In my opinion Krystal doesn’t stand out too much in F(x) but she shines in her acting. She was recently in the drama Heirs and was my second favorite character. The only one I liked better was Kim Woo Bin, but that was more because he had the whole hot bad boy thing going on.

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Sulli is one of the Korean members of the group. She is the also the “visual” of the group meaning they market her as the prettiest of all the members. She was actually an actress long before she was a singer having her first acting gig at age 11. She was in one of my favorite dramas To the Beautiful You where she cross-dressed as a boy so that she could go to an all boy High School to help her role model out of rut. My first thought when watching this show was “How could anyone think that she was a boy?!?” That thought continued throughout the show but it was still a lot of fun.

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Luna is the other Korean member of the group and is the lead dancer and vocalist. I will be honest, she does have a pretty voice, but she is really my least favorite member of the group so I don’t know a whole lot about her.

 

 

 

Here is a link to their most recent music video, which member is your favorite?

E is for Eye Smile

Before I became enamored with Korean pop culture I never really thought much about the differences in culture between different countries. When I did happen to think about it I would really only consider the big things like religion and government. But after watching countless dramas and reality shows and reading a bit about Korean culture I realize how deep the differences can go. Including what is considered attractive. This brings me to the word of the day, which is Eye Smile.

If you had asked me 6 years ago what an eye smile was I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Now I can tell you an eye smile is when someone smiles and it makes their eyes smaller creating another smile. Like this:

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I completely agree that is pretty darn cute. But it isn’t something that we would normally think about here in America. Much less think about it enough to have a specific name for it. But this isn’t the only difference in what is considered attractive.

I have watched quite a few videos of foreigners who live in South Korea, mostly English teachers. One said that a student who was trying to compliment her held up a fist and said “Teacher, your face is like this!” Now I don’t know how it would be in other countries but in America that would almost sound like a threat. Apparently what the kid was trying to say was that her teacher’s face was small, about the size of a fist. In South Korea it is a really good thing to have a small face. Again, not something I ever really thought about before. But people in Korea often make peace signs near their face or hold balled fists on either side of their face when taking pictures in an attempt to make their faces look smaller.

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There are many many more differences but I would probably have to write a 10 page paper to explain them all. I think you get the idea. I am sure if I looked into any other country I would find just as many differences.

Have you ever looked into other cultures before? What surprised you?