Category Archives: Korean MTV

Who says Korean guys look awkward when they sing R&B?

Oh yeah, me, right now.

I actually think the guy is pretty talented so I’m not exactly sure what it is.  Maybe it’s the flannel, or the shirt that reads “Wicked.”

Or maybe it’s just cause he’s whiter, skinnier and had more work done than Michael Jackson.  His eyebrows really creep me out.

Also, during the last 30 seconds or so when the girl is surrounded by all the backup dancers a word springs to my mind.  It starts with “B” and ends with “ukake.”

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Superficiality Matters #1: Korea is a goth kid

(This post is part of the “Looking Past Korea” series which is a run down of all things I think are superficially important, culturally important, and things foreigners think are important but I think are pretty over rated. This is the 5th of 5 posts about Superficial things that stand out to me.)

Superficiality: Really sad music videos

Why it happens:

After watching countless music videos that involve bright colors, candy, roller blades and Wonder Woman, I have to think that the sad music videos are reactions to the little kid “bubble gum” pop that dominates South Korean pop music.

It’s artists who, believing they have actual talent, want to differentiate themselves from the pre-packaged groups such as Wonder Girls, Jewelry or Super Junior.

In essence, it’s Koreans answer to early 90’s grunge music. Only if instead of not caring about life in general, grunge was really sad because their girlfriend was put in the hospital by a vicious street gang while she was babysitting your mentally challenged friend who you were ashamed to be friends with but finally came around to when you began to get repeated nose bleeds and realized the shortness and importance of life.

What it says about Korea:

The question really goes back to why it happens. There’s the obvious answer I discussed above, but why is sadness necessary at all to show artistic ability?

Supposedly, misery loves company. So I guess happiness loves…not company? I always founds this statement to be odd as happy people tend to have more friends. Maybe it was a Korean who originally coined the phrase.

Korea is a society that, at it’s core, is constantly on the defensive. After a history that has been spent warding off foreign invaders Korea has developed a very “us vs. the world” mentality.

So, just like in middle and high school when you secretly believed the world was out to get you this defensive mindset could make a person, or in this case an entire society, a tad depressing. Korea is a goth kid.

Visual Example:

Monday Kiz

This song gets me pretty excited when I here it while walking down the street. It feels like the video should be pretty happy, but then a little girl dies. Of course…why shouldn’t she?

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Superficiality Matters #3: I’m so sorry, but I can’t sing the rest of the song

(This post is part of the “Looking Past Korea” series which is a run down of all things I think are superficially important, culturally important, and things foreigners think are important but I think are pretty over rated.  This is the 3rd of 5 posts about Superficial things that stand out to me.)

Superficiality: Korean Songs, English Choruses

Why it happens:

I was sent a link the other day talking about how English, as it appears in Korean songs, is without meaning. Instead it is part of the musical backdrop, on par with the piano, guitar or other instrument.

At first I thought this was kind of silly until I remembered how often English songs do this. At this point, I don’t even think Timbaland could make a beat if it didn’t include some Indian girl singing in the background.

I also remember all those cool kids who got Chinese symbols tattooed on their back that they thought said “Unity,” but really said “I have sex with pigeons.” It is at this point I realize how much South Korea would culturally gain from the term “Douchebag.”

Oh well, at least when they wear shirts that say “Spoiled Brat” on them, they’re not purposefully making a statement about themselves.

What it tells us about Korea:

Who the hell knows.

I’m just upset that I can no longer use the phrase “Tell me,” “One more time,” or “Sorry,” in class ever again without starting a medley.

Also, I can’t get the words out of my head and it annoys me when I only know half the words to the songs.

Visual Example:

As if the music videos above weren’t enough. Here’s the infamous camera commercial where the singer sings “Let me taste, your banana.” Followed by her softly singing MMM, MMM, MMM accompanied by slurping sounds.

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I hate people who pun the words Seoul and Soul

I haven’t been posting as much lately, sorry I guess. It’s a combination of nicer weather making me want to be outside, a preference to studying Korean rather than writing and an aversion to just posting for the sake of posting. Also, any idea I’ve had lately seems to fit into a series of posts I’ll probably start posting in the next two weeks Except for one that I’ll hopefully be able to get up tomorrow before I leave for China for a few days.

That said, a few random thoughts

– The other day I saw a man pissing on the street. Not a side alley way, not a darkened corner, but a street with traffic and people walking up and down it. I guess it says something about me that I didn’t even find this behavior abnormal. I actually thought the man had balls. I would have shook his hand had it not been otherwise busy.

– People who pun on the word Seoul and Soul bother me.

– Why do foreigners always stare at each other like we’re marking our territory?

– Myths about Koreans we can officially discard: they are efficient and they can’t hold their liquor. They do however study lots.

– Again, Seoul – Soul? Do you really think you are being clever?

– The other day was teachers day here in Seoul. This meant I received 30 cards with messages like this

From the philosophy 101 class:

Dear Teacher. Today is teachers day. You are teacher. Today is you.

From Paul, future hairdresser:

Hi Matthew Teacher. My English name Paul. Very very very thank you. I love you.

Some try to say more than they are able to:

Hi Methu. My name is UnJohng, Methu, very, thank you, teacher, health, please, bye bye

Some just need to be posted so everybody can enjoy:

Today is teachers day. Do you know? So…teacher!

And some seem to overestimate their place in my student – teacher letter hierarchy:

Dear teacher, I love you. How are you? I’m good because UMMMM….Not think! haha. And please my letter is NOT TRASH!

To Shellina

From teacher

That last one was my personal favorite. At first I thought it was to me, but then I realized it was From me and I was supposed to give it back to Shellina, so I sent it to myself…and then I got bored…

I really did appreciate the letters though, I’m glad they can write anything in English. Furthermore, considering Rachel can’t stop laughing anytime I write in Korean I guess that makes my students and I just about square.

– 45 rpm is making me rethink lots of my previously held notions about Korean music…are they an anomaly of creativity or is this the future? I have my own theories, but like every other topic I have in my head it’s being added to my upcoming series of posts.

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It’s like looking for a needle in a needle stack

That’s what it’s like to look for racist undertones in this music video.

Breaking down the unintended messages of this video:

Lee Hyori dances to impress white people.  Runs away from black people.

I’m not saying Lee Hyori hates black people, just that she probably locks her car doors when they walk by on the street.

Actually, Lee Hyori probably had no choice in this video whatsoever.  I assume Hannah Montana has more creative control in her work than Lee Hyori does.

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I wish my grass was Korean, because then it would cut itself

Note: I really have no idea the statistics or popularity of self mutilation among Koreans. I imagine it’s relatively low.

But either way, Korea seems to have finally discovered Emo Music.

True, South Korea has been churning out incredibly sad love ballads and their videos since the Wondergirls were using children’s chopsticks, but this is the first time I’ve seen anything that I would classify as Emo. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m probably wrong. eh…

Also, you could argue that any music that is “emotional” could be considered Emo, but that’s like using a chainsaw when you’re only trying to slit your wrists enough to get attention from your parents. Like fake high noses and foreigners who only came to Korea to pick up Korean girls, I know Emo when I see it.

The music thus far has been tolerable. I only watch what Korean MTV spoon feeds me though, so my expertise is limited.

Anyways, here’s Nell – Walk along memories time (or some variation, it doesn’t translate perfectly)

And this song reminds me of Dido, kind of.

In case you were wondering, the original joke that I took the title from was “I wish my grass was EMO, because then it would cut itself.”

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Maybe Korea Doesn’t Need Acid

The video reminds me of Hunter S. taking a novels worth of mescaline to Vegas. While it made for an interesting read I always thought that it was a terrible decision. Vegas is screwed up enough.

Lord knows there’s enough fluorescent lights here in Seoul.

This video is also pretty fun.

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Filed under Korean MTV, Things to Entertain You, Videos