I don’t actually like it, but this mess is catchy as hell.
Ok. So on my continued quest to learn Korean(Coréenne/한국어) I’ve been exploring new ways to acquire vocabulary and grammar skills naturally in addition to the normal lessons. When learning French fifteen years ago my tactic was to watch lots of Caillou and warp my little teenage heart with Jacques Prévert. Children’s programming works wonders at teaching the basics(colors, shapes, numbers etc.) and poetry gives a framework for how to speak about intangibles. However, for whatever reason, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of children’s programming or poetry easily accessible in Korean(or if there is, I can’t find it).
What there is, is pop music and soap operas.
More after the jump….
Let me quickly restate: I have no idea, really, why or how I’ve gotten so interested in learning Korean. God only knows why I’m interested in this. No, really.
In any case, I am not exactly into pop music or soap operas in English, so it’s a strange and unsettling surprise that I’m actually kind of digging some of the above in Korean. It’s *VERY* unsettling, actually…kind of like the effect that learning hangeul has had on my spelling. It’s like the entire language has lodged in some vital part of my brain and is conspiring to make me stupider.
I mean, what, pray tell, is THIS?
It’s dreadful. But I LIKE it. I mean, c’mon, it’s cute. They’re cute. Just…cute. Awful, but cute.
I can see my cynical, pseudo-intellectual snobby writer persona going right down the drain. Sorry, y’all
Now, to be fair, there are plenty of legitimate(read: far less embarrassing to admit that I like) Korean singers out there: Brown-Eyed Soul, Lee Sora, Big Mama, even the likes of Big Bang. Same goes for television dramas as well–I mean yeah, I’ve secretly watched Personal Taste and The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince which are both total mental junk food and kind of anti-homo-erotically weird, to boot. I’ve also watched (and LOVED) The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry and am halfway through Kyung Sook’s Father, which is genuinely brilliant. So it’s not all junk. But something in me is loving the junk. This is probably because I understand it a little better than the more sophisticated stuff(which is to say, not at all, really), but still…I am worried.
So, amidst all of the junk and non-junk and general mass of Korean pop culture that is accessible to aspiring polyglots out there…I come across JYJ…those guys up top. Actually, they were one of the first things to pop up when I typed “asian r&b pop soul” in the youtube search box. Aside from the inexplicably English lyrics and the pandering open-mic night style rap/poem/cameo at the beginning, nothing about the video really said “Korean r&b pop soul” to me.
But I was still humming the song two days later and working out what was wrong with it, what was right, etc. Something about the song really stuck to the inside of my head musically speaking.
So, I popped back onto google to do a little research. Just who were these guys? Why are they singing in English when it is obviously not their first language? What’s with the necklaces, eyeliner and the…um…man-cleavage?
And what I found…ok, look, I’m not going to tell you. Just go to google in another tab or window or whatever, type “DBSK”, hit search and see what you get. Go ahead, do it. I’ll wait…
Ok, you done? Did you see what I saw? I mean, DAMN. Like, ten million links of pictures and videos and totally irrelevant news stories and icky fan stalking blogs and ickier fan fiction and just…loads and loads of crazy dedicated fandom. And that’s only in English. If you do that on naver.com–South Korea’s most popular search engine–it’s even more overwhelming. Yikes.
You may also have noticed that DBSK is 5 guys and therefore not JYJ. Those three up top, JYJ, are some new spin-off group caused by all kinds of legal business shenanigans etc. which I’m not going to get into here because I don’t want any icky fangirlage seeping onto this blog and further ruining my former reputation. But I will say, WOW. That’s fame. What strikes me isn’t really the volume of internet stuff out there about this group and its former incarnations. That’s actually pretty normal. It’s the personal nature and all-around intensity of said stuff that gets me. I’m a little weirded out and oh so intrigued. Congrats, Korean music industry. You’ve just become my latest nerd obsession.
Speaking of intense personal intrigue, that brings me to my last point before I put this blog to bed. At heart, I’m really a xenophobic hag. No, really. I discover something new that I like, I immediately try and find the Black People Connection. Deep down, I believe that anything good enough for me to like must have a Black People Connection and *that’s* why I like it. So, I get up on the web again, wearing out my good friend google, and do a search for “black people kpop” and I found this…
…which is a k-pop song(of sorts) by Telisu. Telisu is a kpop artist. She’s also a Black. American. Woman.
You know that feeling you get when suddenly one of your self-interested culturalistic beliefs is vindicated? YEAH. That. Ha-ha-HA, y’all. Told y’all black women are the sh*t! We are everywhere and fabulous! HA!
That said, so far I’m not a Telisu fan, to be honest. The song is pretty meh, and the lyrics(inexplicably English) seem a little unusual for the genre. Oddly enough, the comments section under that video? Is NASTY. Intense, personal, often racist. Couldn’t figure out why. I mean, the song’s not great, but it doesn’t warrant all of that. A google search to get to the bottom of this turned up loads more nastiness and this:
…which is a picture of Telisu and Junsu Kim. Junsu Kim is one of the uber-famous guys from the video up top, in JYJ, formerly in DBSK, also apparently a solo artist, a stage actor, and a pretty good dancer. For those of you who haven’t noticed yet, he’s also extremely good-looking. As in EEOOOOWWW! good-looking, whereas his bandmates…um…not so much(I realize this is a matter of opinion, but hey. I am a connoisseur. I know a Bordeaux from a Zinfandel, ok? That man is fine.) Type his name into google and see what you get…I’m not waiting though. I ain’t got time for all that…there’s LOADS of stuff.
Suddenly the strange-seeming song lyrics make sense. As does the overblown fan hate. Apparently there’s still a pretty strong response to an essentially unknown sistah appearing a little too close to a fine famous unblack man. Especially a Korean man, since South Korea is not exactly known for its racial diversity and multiculturalism, from what I gather. Which has now unleashed a storm o’rubbish in the direction of one Telisha Shaw.
I’m speeding past all the details and whatnot because a)I don’t *really* get what the controversy is, b)understanding it thoroughly would require me to spend way too much time on fan pages when I have
dramas to watch music videos to dance to studying to do and c)really, it’s not all that interesting. Or at least it shouldn’t be. I mean, really? Breezing past the fact that the average age of a JYJ fan seems to be about 14(and we’re back to that embarrassing thing again), is this still where the world is? Nosy, predjudiced, and judgmental? The whole thing is weird. Not to mention that it may all be a big ploy for media attention and career-boosting buzz on her part…
Hmph. You know what? Telisu, girl, I don’t know you, I’m not crazy about your song, don’t really think any of this is all that important or even my business, but…I ain’t even mad. Go ‘head woman. Fine, famous, and talented? Whether or not you and Mr. Kim right here have anything going on…
I ain’t eeeeeeeeeeven mad. *whew*
*fyi: I had to run spellcheck twice on this one…it’s official. Hangeul has ruined my spelling.