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Events - beyond SD Music and More

KCON Concert Review: A Lone Voice of Dissent – Is G Dragon Coasting on his Fame and Notoriety?

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To say I was underwhelmed is – well – an understatement.

I truly had great expectations from the top-billed artist at KCON 2103, the young man everyone was buzzing about. There were omens during KCON that might have foreshadowed a somewhat less-than-stellar performance: An artist engagement that was supposed to include an autograph session for VIP fans holding special tickets and hand-shakes or ‘high-fives’ with a few more VIP fans with tickets, that was reduced to a 20 minute canned Q & A session with such probing questions as “What is your favorite American food?” (In-N-Out burgers) and “What is your favorite Korean food?” (Mom’s cooking.) He also ditched the press conference held before the concert, (with no explanation) much to the surprise and discomfiture of the hostess managing the conference, who nearly misidentified the blond Henry of Super Junior as he stood behind the curtain.

But then, a big star like GD doesn’t really need to deal with a pesky old press conference anyway, right?

The press was mildly, but not overly surprised at his absence, especially given the debacle at the artist engagement. Most were looking forward to the promised epic performance with Missy Elliot, the much-tweeted-about, highly sensationalized collaboration that was sure to be a show stopper.

The concert opened with well-received opening acts followed by a parade of Korean celebrities, as every act in the star-studded line-up crossed the stage to wave to cheering fans. Except G Dragon and Missy Elliot. At which point I began to wonder if perhaps everything was a marketing ploy, tactics meant to build drama and increase the hype. In some respects, the maneuverings were having an effect, because I was definitely becoming anxious to see G Dragon and hear the music so highly anticipated by all.

IMG_0205So when the man himself was finally lowered, in all his glory, onto the stage amidst a dazzling light show, anticipation in the crowd had reached a fevered pitch. I waited hopefully as the first bars of the highly narcissistic “One of a Kind”1 resounded throughout the stadium. Although the song itself is fine, the choreography and showmanship was a definite step down from the previous acts. Dressed like a little-boy gangster, G Dragon strutted back and forth along the same few feet of stage using the same moves, occasionally jumping in to bust a move with his background dancers for a step or two, and then back to the strutting or standing. I guess if I was a hormonal teenager, madly in love with G Dragon, this might have been more interesting and exciting.

The song with Missy Elliot was equally disappointing, in my humble opinion. Lacking in originality and variety, it employed an uninspired rap rhythm and beat with no variation. If G Dragon and Missy Elliot had not performed it, I seriously doubt this song would be recorded, nor would it receive airtime.

But maybe I’m wrong? Perhaps someone can explain to me what I missed? But I challenge listeners to hear with with a critical ear and judge for yourself.

 

 

1 “One of a Kind”. I double-checked numerous translations to assure myself that I understood the Korean correctly. Egoism is taken to completely new levels in this piece of writing. A very appropriate song for G Dragon’s persona.

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Millie's Motoongee

All Things Korean for International Fans: Bekah’s Panel at K-Con 2013

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Bekah, the former After School member, was one of the many guest panelists for the weekend K-Pop Convention in L.A, K-Con 2013.

On August 24th, from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., she attended an interview (moderated by her close friend Ae-young), answered fan questions and signed autographs for the huge crowd that came to see her. I was lucky enough to be able to attend this panel, and with my press access, be closer to the stage. For those who weren’t able to attend, I’m here to re-tell Bekah’s experience as a K-pop Idol.

How Did You Become a K-pop Star?

Bekah told the audience the story of how she got scouted. She was playing at a Volleyball game, when afterwards an “unnie” came and asked her if she wanted to audition. Bekah was very excited for this opportunity; however, when she was told she would have to sing and dance at the audition, Bekah almost decided not to do it. She said she was confident in her dancing (since she was taking lessons and practicing at the time) but not singing. In the end, she did decide to go and audition, and sang a Christian song she knew from her childhood. “Most people don’t realize this since I was a rapper for After School, but I love to sing, a lot!”

Bekah passed and got accepted to be a trainee. However, she didn’t start her training until a couple years later. “I didn’t want to go to Korea until I finished high school; that’s where all your memories are at. I didn’t want to miss that kind of experience”. When she did begin her training in Seoul, Bekah was only a trainee for six months before she debuted with the K-pop girl group, After School, in January 2009.

 The Good and the Bad of being a K-pop Idol:

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When asked to share her experience of being an idol, Bekah quickly said that it was a lot of hard work. They would have long practices, sometimes going as often as nine hours straight with little breaks. She herself didn’t mind the practices, because she enjoyed dancing and singing so much. She often got advice from her close friend, and fellow After School graduate, Kahi on how to handle the intense practices, “We work this hard, and this long for those five minutes on stage. Those five minutes on stage are what makes all of this worth it”.

Bekah’s least favorite part of being an idol was the lack of sleep. “Often we would get last minute events that were only a day or two away. So after our schedules, let’s say a schedule ended at 10 p.m., we would go straight to the practice room and rehearse until 5 or 6 in the morning. Sleep for an hour or two, and then wake up to go to the following day’s schedule. One time I got as little as 30 minutes of sleep. Enjoy your sleep while you can!”

Her favorite part of being an idol was the fans. “You guys are what make it worth it!” Moderator Ae-young asked if fans ever got too personal, and invaded her privacy. Bekah answered that luckily she has had very kind and polite fans over the years. If they ever see her in a restaurant, they would wait until after she was done eating to go up and ask to take pictures or sign something. She says that she treasures all the gifts she receives from fans, keeping them in boxes so they stay safe.

 Korea vs. America

Bekah expressed her move to Korea as a “culture shock”. Despite being full Korean, Bekah was born in Hawaii and was raised very much “American”. She claimed she never had the typical Asian parents who wanted her to be a doctor, but that they were (and still are) very supportive of her Artistic passions. Going to Korea however, helped Bekah become fluent in Korean and she got to know more about her own culture. She claimed that what she was going to miss most about Korea was the food; not only was it good but it was also cheap, and she loved the delivery service they had in Korea.

Dating and Friendship in the K-pop world:

Bekah (1)Fans were very curious if Bekah was close to any other K-pop idols during her time in After School. Bekah admitted that in the beginning she didn’t have any friends other than her members, and that it took her awhile before she got close to other idols. She stated her first friend (and who she is still close to even to this day) was Shinee’s Key. “We still text, but since he is so busy it often takes several days before I get a response”. Over the years she also became close to f(x)’s Amber, SNSD’s Sooyoung, and U-Kiss’s Kevin. When it comes to the After School members, Bekah stated that she was extremely close with Kahi and still keeps in close contact with her and some of the other members.

Fans were also curious, and very persistent, on trying to find out if Bekah dated any idol, and if she knew of any other K-pop idols that were dating during her time as an After School member. About herself, Bekah stated that she never dated another idol, “I was too busy practicing and working to date”. On the topic of other idols dating, she politely responded “All I have to say are that idols are humans too; if idols were dating each other then they really kept it secret because I never knew much about that stuff, but no, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. As I said, idols are humans too”.

She was asked then which idol she would personally date. Bekah took a moment to think before declaring U-Kiss’s Kevin. Fans quickly started shouting “Woo-young [2pm]”, surprising Bekah. When she asked fans why him, they reminded her of the 2pm episode of “Idol Army” when After School came in as guests. In that episode, Bekah chose Woo-young and the two became partners for that episode’s couple games. Bekah laughed and was surprised that fans remembered that. “Well Woo-young…yeah I could date him; he is very handsome and a good dancer”.

 Graduating After School, What Next?

After School is a K-pop girl group that has the “graduating” system; in which “senior” members rotate out, and new members comes into the rotation naturally. Bekah was the first girl to officially “graduate” from After School on July 1, 2011 and has been living back in her home town in Honolulu, Hawaii with her family. There she started her own online store, “I Crave You”, on October 26th, 2012, where she sells her handmade jewelry (a portion of the profits get donated to charity).

A fan asked Bekah the question that had been on most people’s minds, “Did you regret leaving After School?” Bekah was very quick and confident to answer “No, not at all. I thought about it for a long time, and I made sure to leave with no regrets. I was at a crossroad; at that time After School was getting ready to debut in Japan. And I thought to myself, if I don’t leave now then I’ll never be able to leave. I thought it was a good time when I left, and it also was a good time for the other girls to start over in Japan”.

But Bekah reassured her fans that leaving After School wasn’t the end of her singing career. Bekah is planning on a making an American debut! So far she cannot confirm any details of when she will be making her debut, but she hopes her fans will be patient and wait for her.

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 Next there was a transition to the Question Portion of the panel, where the audience could ask Bekah any questions about her life as a K-pop star, and any other miscellaneous inquires. Many of the questions became requests to see female idol sing or rap her part in an After School song, dance, perform “aegyo”, and even twerk! Bekah promised that she would sing, rap and dance properly when she came back to meet her fans in L.A. However, fans were able to coax out a small rap from Bekah and she even stood and performed the first thirty seconds of “Bang” (which she also stated was her favorite After School title track).

Bekah stayed another full hour for the autograph session before she left for the day. However, on Day 2 of K-Con she reappeared to film for “Danny from LA” live first episode of the second season, along with other panelist guests (including Super Junior M’s Henry!).

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You can relive the magic this week when M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA is televised in the U.S. by Mnet America on air and online at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT on Thursday, August 29.  

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Events - beyond SD

One Day Down, One to Go #KCON2013

San Diego KPop Flash Mob members receive top honors in Dance contest!

 

what winners look like
What winners look like

 

 

San Diego’s very own KPop Flash mob members took top honors at the dance contest held on the outdoor stage at KCON today.

 

 

 

The day was hot, but tempers were not. The local constabulary assured me that KPOP events were by far their favorites. Fans may be a little crazy, but they are definitely polite.

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Hello from KCON 2013!

While there was a constant buzz of activity and noise, there was also a lad back feel to the atmosphere. Fans moseyed from booth, from event to event, occasionally stopping for a bite to eat, or to lounge in a shady spot for a while.

 

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Learning to GROWL!

The Dance-all-day stage was a popular gathering spot: Free dance classes were held throughout the day by professional choreographers. Music played in between classes that had KCON-ers showing off their moves.

 

Yu Seung Woo
Yu Seung Woo

Plenty of celebrities were on hand, performing on the outdoor stage and speaking in the various forums.

Adorable youngster, Yu Seung Woo addressed a panel discussion (he told the crowd they put him on a diet!), performed with his guitar and then sat down at the MNet booth to sign autographs for happy fans.

Top acts began their “Artist Engagement” sessions: lucky fans were given an autograph opportunity (official merchandise only – no body parts, please), a “hi-touch” (high-five your favorite star) opportunity or a close encounter as one of a small select crowd there to witness the event. Tickets were in high demand and much bartering was occurring throughout the day as fans attempted to procure an opportunity to see their favorites up close. On today’s menu: 2AM was available at 2:30pm, G-Dragon at 4:30pm and Dynamic Duo at 6:00pm. On the docket for tomorrow: f(x) at 11:00am, Teen Top at 12:30pm, EXO at 2:00pm and surprise addition Crayon Pop at 3:30pm.

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Chances of seeing 2AM from this vantage point = 0.

 

Unfortunately, even access for press was limited.

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the day, everyone is a bit worn out, but ready to return tomorrow!

good looking
Sometimes you just gotta grab the cute guy and snap a photo with him. 😉
Categories
Events - beyond SD

KCON2013 Photo update

IMG_8171 IMG_8166 IMG_8156 IMG_8148 IMG_8145 IMG_8140 IMG_8138 IMG_8119 IMG_8115 IMG_8096 IMG_8092#KCON2013 is the hot trend…

The weather’s a little warm, too!

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Events - beyond SD

Korean Wave Roars in the City of Angels! North America’s Largest K-Culture Festival

GDragon_4039x5526August 24-25, 2013

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena

 

Exclusive special events for Hallyu(Korean Wave) fans in North America!!

Marking a turning point as new wave worldwide beyond Asia!!

 

 

2AM_5616x3744CJ E&M presents various special booths for Korean music, food, and fashion!!

K-POP fans are growing rapidly interested in <M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA> featuring fantastic lineup!!

 

 

Launched in 2012, CJ E&M’s first ever large-scale K-Culture convention ‘KCON’ (Official Homepage http://www.kconusa.com) is to mark a turning point as new Korean wave around the world beyond Asia.

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Organized by Asia’s leading entertainment content company CJ E&M, KCON is North America’s first and largest Korean pop culture convention to take place on August 24 and 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California. It is an exclusive event for fans who are interested in Korean pop culture in North America. Combining convention and concert, KCON presents various cultural events where the fans can experience current K-POP trends as well as K-Culture itself. Most notably, the concert will also be the first ever U.S. taping of the #1 K-Pop countdown show, ‘M COUNTDOWN.’ Numerous cultural contents of recent Korean culture such as music, film, food, fashion, and beauty will be shown to the audience. It is going to be assorted gift sets for Hallyu that expands the opportunities for fans participating and seeing their K-Pop heartthrobs in person.

fx_2000x2000At the numerous booths around the arena, there are going to be various Hallyu events for two whole days including <M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA> on August 25, 19:00(PDT). <M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA> featuring fantastic lineup such as worldly famed rapper Missy Elliott, G-Dragon, 2AM, f(x), Dynamic Duo, EXO, TEEN TOP, Yu Seung Woo, and DJ KOO is to rock the city of angels.

The United States has traditionally been referred to as a “melting pot,” welcoming people from many different countries, races, and religions. As many people witnessed Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ syndrome worldwide, the U.S. has been a major window to stardom as the center of global pop culture. With a strategy that incorporates active interaction between fans and artists and customized cultural events exclusively for fans in North America, <KCON 2013> achieved substantial growth as a larger scale convention with diverse events compared to last year.

Henry_2059x3089Kim Hyun-soo, General Manager of CJ E&M’s Global Festive Business, notes, “Starting with Korean dramas, Korean wave (Hallyu) gradually moves to K-pop in recent years. Now, K-Culture is rapidly growing as the new global trend in culture.” He said, “This time around, KCON is expected to play an important role in expanding Hallyu content and business worldwide.

 

KCON as a new bridgehead to lead the creative business and exports of K-Content

 

EXO_3500x2461Empowered by CJ E&M and produced by Mnet America, KCON is the first ever large-scale convention dedicated to ‘All Things Hallyu.’ The convention was launched in October 2012 to establish an annual flagship event that will improve the American K-Pop and Hallyu fan experience by providing a way for fans to connect with each other as well as artists and professionals in the K-pop industry. KCON 2012 surpassed expectations in all aspects including the achievement of over 10,000 fans attending the convention, 6.5 million people reached on Facebook, and ranking in the top 10 Twitter trending topics worldwide. The number of non-Korean audience was almost 70 percent of the total visitors, meaning it had become a stepping stone for Hallyu to expand worldwide beyond Asia. KCON got much spotlight from hundreds of major media outlets such as CNN, Billboard, and Insider.

DJ KooExperts note such high interest in KCON explains Korean wave (Hallyu) for music and drama in the past gradually spread overall Korean culture that fans can see, hear, and feel in person whereas they had no choice but to watch it on TV or via Internet before.

 

Seeing last year’s successful hit, Korean media and companies looking to expand its global business in America show high interest in KCON 2013. KCON has become a new platform to lead global creative business and exports of K-Contents worldwide.

A two-day festival filled with various special events for fan engagement

Compared to last year, KCON 2013 expanded one more day with numerous special events where fans can get their moment with high-profile Korean artists and experience K-Culture in various ways. Distinguished from any other previous Hallyu events, KCON 2013 continues to win fans with a festival focusing on fan engagement activities.

Renowned 1st generation of Hallyu star DJ KOO is to perform at <M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA> as well as to show up at “DANCE ALL DAY” to testify all things about K-Pop dance. At “Vintage K-POP” he and 1TYM’s Danny are going to talk about K-Pop in the 90s to those who are not familiar with the origin of K-Pop. Big Bang, 2NE1 choreographer Aimee Lee Lucas will also appear at KCON 2013 following last year.

YuSeungWoo_3193x4789<American Idol> season 11 constant Heejun Han shows up with Yu Seung Woo who appeared on the fourth season of the famed Korean television talent show series <Superstar K4>. At “Audition Star,” they are going to share stories of their personal experiences while they were filming the show in the U.S. and Korea respectively.

Local R&B singer-songwriter Jeff Bernat is also to perform and speak at KCON 2013. He will talk about success stories of Asian American stars on YouTube. Jeff Bernat released his first album “The Gentleman Approach” online and within hours his album was in the high ranks of various online music charts. He has become famous on YouTube and SNS ever since. He is expected to perform at KCON 2013 as well.

Meanwhile, at the booth for CJ O Shopping, worldly renowned fashion designers like Choi Bumsuk and Ko Tae Yong talk about K-Fashion. They will tell current trends in K-Fashion and the prospects of the next season. Korea’s top-notch makeup artist Woo Hyun Jeung is to teach cover makeup for K-Pop artists at ‘Get It Beauty’ booth. In addition, various cultural events are set up such as cooking class for ‘Bibimbap,’ K-Pop composing sessions and more.

Kim Hyun-soo, General Manager of CJ E&M’s Global Festive Business, notes “KCON 2013 is assorted gift sets for K-Culture, so to speak. It would be a best chance for the audience to see, hear, and feel the full spectrum of Korean pop culture which they were vaguely familiar with in the past.”

The first ever U.S. taping of the #1 K-Pop countdown show, M COUNTDOWN! Headlining acts include Missy Elliott, GD, 2AM, f(x), and EXO and more!

Korea’s renowned music chart show Mnet <M COUNTDOWN> visits LA for the first time to present <M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA> on August 25, 19:00(PDT), the second day of KCON. K-Pop fans are growing rapidly interested in <M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA> featuring fantastic lineup that has led K-Pop wave worldwide, to enchant the convention crowd. The lineup includes G-Dragon, EXO, f(x), 2AM, Dynamic Duo, TEEN TOP, Yu Seung Woo, and DJ KOO.

Korea’s renowned music channel Mnet introduces global tour of M COUNTDOWN since last year featuring outstanding lineup. It has become one of the most anticipated music festivals for a long time among those music fans throughout Asia for its advanced skills in stage and production management. Harmonizing both Korean and American pop culture, <M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA> is expected to show a music extravaganza with tremendously popular artists worldwide and their special performances in LA, the heart of the global entertainment industry.

 

Yoon Shin Hye, Chief Producer of <M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA> notes, “My team is very excited and awaited for this M COUNTDOWN since it is the first time visiting the US. With Mnet’s exceptional skills in stage, production management, and unique collaboration performances, we are planning to make <M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA> as a global music extravaganza for all music fans around the world.”

Categories
Events - San Diego

KCON Set to begin!

The lines started early, early and KCON hasn’t even opened yet!

waitingKKonnect will be bringing you updates non-stop throughout the day. 🙂

old friend

Categories
Asian Market Chronicles

The Waeguk-Saram’s Guide to Korean Products

 

The Asian Market Chronicles Presents:

A Waeguk-Saram’s Guide to Korean Products at your local Korean Market

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Minute Curry

You want great food quick? Impossible, there is no such thing as this you indolent person (that means lazy for those too lazy to pick up a dictionary). But Minute Curry is a decent option on a late work night. Experience two servings of Korean Culture for under $2.00. Add some steamed rice, maybe an egg or some tater tots , and you have some proper bachelor/bachelorette chow. Mmm simple single life…

 Hongcho

Pomegranate Vinegar

Ah yes, Pomegranate Vinegar, the staple beverage served at any sampling station in a Korean Market. The nice lady selling the vinegar approached me claiming, “it will make you more handsome, it is healthy, and it tastes good”.

Will it make me more handsome? Probably not, I have seen no studies quantifying the effects of drinking vinegar to increasing handsomeness.  Besides that, you can’t mess with success. hehe

Is it healthy? Sure, multiple reports have shown the health benefits of vinegar. It has anti-ahterosclerotic properties which could lower blood pressure, its rich in flavonoids to boost memory and mood

Does it taste good? No.  Unless, of course you are a flavor sensory masochist, to which I say “drink up”.

The lesson here, not everything that is good for you tastes good. Suck it up, take a drink, and be healthy.

 Hyuna

The KPop CD

Listen to music “performed” by pretty young people with styled hair, BB Cream porcelain skin, and either toned abs or shaved legs, all for a stunning deal of $24.00 for six songs (two of which were hits, and four of which are “meh”, so you’re effectively  paying $12.00 per song).

If you buy a KPop CD, you will be able to go to sleep knowing you supported an artist, a card with an invitation to join a fanclub, get an ornate CD case, a book with lyrics, and most likely get a poster of a pretty young person with styled hair. But when those two songs you like come on, pump up the volume  and scream those few English lyrics.

Plum Juice

Plum Juice

I had my doubts before purchasing this product. The dark swampy green color, the bottle shaped like a household drain cleaner, and be it plum juice, it would most likely be drain cleaner for my digestive system. Nevertheless, a few elderly Korean folk advised me to try a bottle and placed one in my basket, so as a respectful gentleman, I obliged and bought a bottle. Much to my surprise, the Plum Juice was actually pretty good.  A light sweetness, undertones of grape flavor with none of the tartness, a rich fragrance, an overall delightful experience.

The lesson here,  take a swig of some Plum Juice, don’t judge a book by its cover, and listen to Korean elderly folk.

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Oh wait don’t forget…

Gangnam Style Toothbrush

The Gangnam Style Singing Toothbrush

Tired of brushing your teeth to the sound of birds chirping or even more boring, blissful silence.  Tired of being teased in class for having a regular toothbrush and not one with a Korean animated character like all the popular kids?  Tired of the persistent pain of lugging your enormous MP3 player every time you go to the bathroom? Behold, the revolutionary Gangnam Style Toothbrush!  The party only ends when the batteries die! No more

In all seriousness, thank you  PSY for giving all adults the opportunity to ride the imaginary horse they forgot about in Preschool, and those without rhythm a  new move in their repertoire after “YMCA” and “The Macarena.

Asian Market Chronicles (2)

Categories
Events - San Diego Webmaster Announcement

Korean film “The Terror, Live” to play at AMC Fashion Valley

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 11.15.08 PM

Click here for showtimes

Friday, Aug 23:

“The Terror, Live” (더 테러 라이브) is a Korean action, crime and thriller film that will play at AMC Fashion Valley starting on Friday, August 23. Directed by Kim Byung-woo, this movie runs at 97 minutes and will be played with English Subtitles. It stars Ha Jung-woo and Lee Kyoung-young.

“YOON Young-hwa, once a top, national news anchor, gets demoted to radio news. One day, a call comes in during his radio show threatening to blow up Mapo Bridge. While it is brushed off as a prank call, the bridge ends up getting blown to pieces just 10 minutes later. To get his career back on track, YOON tries to grab an exclusive live broadcast. The terrorist demands a hefty sum in exchange and the exclusive gets aired. The terrorist reveals he is one of the construction workers of Mapo Bridge and demands the President’s apology for his coworkers who died on the job. However, the government dismisses the demands, and the terrorist strikes again. While efforts to convince both the government and the terrorist go awry, YOON realizes there is a bomb rigged on him and falls in sheer terror”.

Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_FSvAQMGNc

For More Information: http://cj-entertainment.com/movies/130731-001/the-terror-live

Categories
Uncategorized

[Now Listening] KARA- Way

kara-pandora-03

[Now Listening] KARA- Way

Pandora suggested me this song as part of my “Kyary Pamyu Pamyu” J-Pop station. This KKonnect writer enjoys the relaxing and smooth melodies, high tempo and violin interludes.  Good song for a nice midnight drive on Convoy Street.

 In other news…I may have found the first “Rated G” Kara Youtube video. 😀

-Mr.Mutjinsaram

Categories
Drama and Movie Reviews Soju DramaQueen

Friday Drama Review: “Shark”

shark01

Hae-woo: What do you like most in the world?

Yi-soo: Sharks. Sharks don’t have swim bladders.

Hae-woo: Then how do they live?

Yi-soo: To live, they must swim endlessly since if they stop swimming, they die. Even when they sleep, they must keep moving.

Hae-woo: They lead very tiresome lives.

Yi-soo: Still, sharks are the the strongest in the ocean.

Hae-woo: So is that why you like sharks? Because they are strong?

Yi-soo: No, I pity them. No one likes them.

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 6/10

A darkish melodrama focused on revenge, Shark is the story of Han Yi-soo, a boy whose father is murdered by a powerful, wealthy man with secrets to keep.

Despite old ties with the family, Jo Sang-deuk turns against his longtime confidant and retainer, Han Young-man, and has him killed when Young-man, ridden with past guilt, decides to turn himself in and tell all. The young Yi-soo, who shares a mutual attraction and affection with Sang-deuk’s granddaughter, is an unfortunate witness to his father’s murder and becomes a target as well.

The plot, however, is secretly foiled with the assistance of an equally powerful man set on his own revenge against the murdering magnate. Yi-soo is rescued and brought up in Japan as the adoptive son of Junichuro Yoshimira. Eventually, he returns to Korea as a powerful businessman with a need for revenge against the family that destroyed his own.

 

Script/Acting: My Rating 7/10

There are places where the story bogs down a bit, but overall, the general flow is pretty good. The story itself is not particularly unique, but the execution is authentic and engaging.

The story begins with the main characters in their youth. While the young actors are good, the back story, in retrospect, is not entirely necessary and probably could have been accomplished in less time with retrospective scenes. The time spent in the past is not entirely wasted, but does add length to a drama that already feels a bit longer than necessary.

shark1Kim Nam-gil (Bad Guy, Queen Seondeok) is well suited to the dark, tragic nature of this drama. The character of Yi-soo, however, lacks a certain credibility with respect to his feelings for Hae-woo. The dark side of his nature is believable to the extreme, but the tender side feels implausible.

shark2However, the difficulties in Nam-gil’s character made the role of Hae-woo all the more plausible in her empathy and unquestioning compassion for the broken Yi-soo. Son Ye-jin (Personal Taste, Summer Scent) is ideally cast opposite the stoic Nam-gil. Her anguished tug-of-war between loyalty to her husband and her need to ‘save’ Yi-soo is one of the major emotional elements in the drama. The other is her struggle to choose between family and justice. Both are interesting difficulties that the actress handles with passion and depth.

shark3And yes, here again there was a “Ji-Hoo” character, but with a twist: Ha Seok-jin (Standby, If Tomorrow Comes) was Oh Joon-young, childhood friend of Yi-soo and Hae-woo, the ‘oppa’ who stands by, protects, and loves Hae-woo through the difficult years when Yi-soo is presumed dead, and who finally marries the woman he so loves. And Hae-woo loves him too. But it gets very complicated when Han Yi-soo returns as if from the dead. How is a best friend supposed to react? Especially when it is also his wife’s first love? Ha Seok-jin is brilliantly spot-on emotionally throughout the drama. The script is well-written as well, credibly reflecting how a man of integrity might react in such a situation. His character is, by far, the most emotionally engaging of the entire cast.

grandpaUnlike most dramas, especially darker ones, there is no outrageously despicably evil villain. There is a main villain, to be sure, but he is disguised behind the benign, benevolent mask of the family patriarch, Jo Sang-deuk, embodied by Lee Jung-gil (IRIS II, The Chaser). His character morphs amazingly from gentle grandpa to scheming villain in moments. The transformations are remarkably and frighteningly real.

Many of the other ‘villains’ are either characters for whom we can easily empathize (or come to empathize at some point) or minor thugs and greedy political schemers.

There is a nice selection of side characters that drew my attention as well:

  • shark5Park Won-sang (Nine Times Time Travel, Warrior Baek Dong Soo) is Detective Byun Bang-jin, one of the few men of integrity in the early days when Jo Sang-deuk’s large wallet controlled the justice department. When the father is murdered and Yisoo is presumed dead, he also adopts Yi-soo’s little sister. His performance iss perfect.
  • Nam Bo-ra (Moon Embracing the Sun, Glory Jane) is Yi-Soo’s little sister Han Yu-ri. She is a sweet, innocent and rather dimensionless character, but lovable nonetheless. I would love to see this actress in a more challenging role.
  • Lee Ha-nui (Miss Universe 2007, Pasta, To the Beautiful You) is Jang Young-hee, Yi-soo’s personal secretary and ‘undercover’ spy for Yi-soo’s adoptive father who trusts no one, not even his son. The role calls for a sweet, soft-spoken woman suffering a one-sided love for her boss, but with a family debt owed to the father of the boss. The role is, at best, a sweet distraction, but engaging nonetheless.
  • shark4Lee Soo-hyuk (Vampire Idol, What’s Up) is the prosecutor’s investigator Kim Soo-hyun. He grew up very close to Yi-soo as a little brother, rescued from the streets. His family is also intricately tied into the murder plots, and as such, has a revenge agenda of his own. His love interest lies in the sweet-natured Han Yu-ri.
  • junichiroLee Jae-gu (War of the Arrows, I Am the King) plays Junichiro Yoshimura. A veteran of the big screen but new to the small screen, Lee Jae-gu portrays the adoptive father of Han Yi-soo. As an ex-Japanese mobster, he displays a refined tough-guy persona that fits him well.

 

Cinematography: My Rating 7/10

The cinematography does a lot to set the mood of the drama. The general feeling of darkness in many of the images imbues a feel of misery and hopelessness. Retrospectively, the feel of the drama is well served by great lighting and imagery.

 

Music: My Rating 6/10

“Between Heaven and Hell” BoA  http://youtu.be/mhrNZsfrFhQ

Excellent, sad ballad: “Sad Story” Chung Dong-ah of Boohwal  http://youtu.be/LyCopOH5c04

Another really nice ballad: “Countless Days” Na Yoon-kwan  http://youtu.be/dhADnT5Tqj4

“Poison Love” Lim Jeong-hee  http://youtu.be/KL2jaBldfMw

 

Overall Charisma: My Rating 6/10

“Shark” is a drama that I had no difficulty watching from beginning to end. While there does not seem to be anything truly outstanding about the series, it is nonetheless engaging, and some of the characters are truly interesting. If the pace lagged a bit a times, it still piqued my curiosity enough to keep me coming back for the next episode.

 

 

Happy Drama Watching!

 

young couple

Director: Park Chan Hong, Cha Young-hoon
Screenwriter: Kim Ji-woo