[Podcast] Team Sejong Lesson Recap – October 23, 2013


Team Sejong

Vocabulary Words – Wednesday, October 23, 2013


결정하다 – to decide

오늘 결정할거야? – Will you decide today?

경우 – an occasion, case, circumstance or situation

어떤 경우가 있어요? – What is the situation?

생각 – thought

명심하다 – to keep in mind

결심 –  to set your mind; to resolve to do something

결과 – result; outcome

결과가 좋아요.  I like the result.

결론 – conclusion

결혼 – marriage

결혼식 – marriage ceremony

결말 – the ending of the story (or drama, movie…)

긴가민가해요 – Is it this or that?

헷갈리다 – confused

기가막혀 – “I’m speechless” “It’s so shocking (stupid).” Negative connotations

부정적 – negative

긍정적 – positive

편 – side

전반적으로 – generally

흘리다 – to spill

Friday Drama Review: “Jung-yi: Goddess of Fire”

jung yi 1

A beautiful historical drama filled with the majesty and drama we have come to expect from this genre, Jung-yi was an epic tale worth the re-telling.


Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 8/10

Set in the Joseon Dynasty, Jung-yi is based on the story of a real historical figure: Baek Pah-sun, the first woman to become a potter by trade. Although she was kidnapped during the war and taken to Japan, the drama deals with events leading up to the kidnapping. The story begins before Jung-yi’s birth and chronicles her struggles through young adulthood. She was much loved by the prince, Gwanghae. Palace politics abound as three brothers vie for the position of crown prince.


Script/Acting: My Rating 7/10

The pace was a little slower than other dramas, but that is often the case with sageuk (historical) dramas. A multigenerational story was being told, and many intriguing characters came into play.

jung yiIn the title role (Yoo Jung-yi) was Moon Geun-young (Cheongdam-dong Alice, Cinderella’s Sister). Born of parents who were gifted in the art of pottery and raised by a man who was treasured by the realm for his artistic porcelain creations, she grew into a young woman with exemplary talent. She had a birth secret, though: her real father was none other than the man she despised most – the man who had the father who raised her killed and who despised her temerity for aspiring to be a potter in a man’s world. Requiring a multitude of emotional changes, the part was well represented by Moon Geun-young who gave a very credible performance.

jung yi gwangLee Sang-yoon (Life Is Beautiful; I Love You, Don’t Cry) was prince Gwanghae, a scholarly and upright young man, but second son to the king. His suitability for the throne made him a constant target of conspiracies by his brothers. He spent his life in service to the king, which seemed to include the constant covering for mistakes made by his power-crazed and irresponsible brother, Prince Imhae. He met Jung-yi as a youth and kept a torch burning for her throughout his life. Lee Sang-yoon displayed the noble bearing necessary for the role and convincingly played “fall-guy” for his brother.

jing yi kim bumKim Bum (Boys Over Flowers, That Winter the Wind Blows) finally scored a role in a sageuk drama, and long, flowing hair seemed to suit him well. His role was that of Tae-do, a young man who grew up alongside Jung-yi in a brotherly fashion but who harbored a deep love for her. His was the Ji-hoo* role of he drama, following, protecting and loving Jung-yi, who saw him only as a brother. With a talent for martial arts, Tae-do assisted and was trusted by two Princes, Gwanhae and the youngest prince, Shinsung.

jung yi hwa ryungSeo Hyun-jin (The Peach Tree, Magic) was cast as the evil villainess of the story, Shim Hwa-ryung. Growing up as a friend and classmate to Jung-yi, the friendship dissolved into jealousy as she failed to win Tae-do’s heart. Aspiring to become a powerful merchant, she went to great (and disturbing) lengths to secure her own wealth and influence at the expense of everyone around her. Ms. Shim was quite convincing as a covetous and resentful woman.

jung yi fathrHer business dealings brought her to the unscrupulous Lee Gang-chun, Jung-yi’s biological father and head of Bunwon, the home of the Royal ceramists. His rivalry with Yoo Eul-dam, Jung-yi’s adoptive father, set in motion a chain of events that gave meat to the drama in the story. He acquired great wealth by illegally selling off Bunwon pottery and in doing so secured the sponsorship of Lady Kim, In Bin consort and mother to Prince Shinsung. The role was portrayed by Jun Kwang-ryul (I Miss You, Warrior Baek Dong Soo), a man with a gift for looking innocent while delivering bald-faced lies.

jung yi yook doLee Gang-chul’s main motivation is the success of his son, Yook-do, portrayed by Park Gun-hyung (I Do, I Do; Syndrome). This poor, hapless young man was unfortunate to have a  father, whom he idolized, who was an unprincipled crook. He also fell for the wiles of Shim Hwa-rung, who seduced him in order to win favor with Bunwon. This character ended up being one of the more complex of the series: initially a talented and principled young man, he entrapped himself by falling into his father’s deceitful ways. Yet he was an innocent, and in many respects, a pawn used by many others for their own purposes.

jung yi kingThe king was another interesting character. King Seonjo, as played by Jeong Bo-seok (Arang and the Magistrate, Can You Hear My Heart), was a weak ruler whose sole interest appeared to be looking good to the populace – and he had little tolerance for the truth, a trait that often put Prince Gwanghae at odds with his father.

jung yi moon


The kindly grandfather of the series was Byun Hee-bong (Glory Jane, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho) as Moon Sa-seung. A gifted potter and former head of Bunwon, he protected Jung-yi for the talent he saw in her. As a former friend to Yoo Eul-dam, he took on the role of Jung-yi’s caretaker after her adoptive father was killed.

jung yi imhaeLee Kwang-soo (Dating Agency: Cyrano; Innocent Man) played a role far from his usual. The unprincipled Prince Imhae was the source of many conspiracies in the drama. Although it seemed a stretch for him, the role suited him as there was a comical component to Prince Imhae’s often inept maneuverings.


Cinematography: My Rating 7/10

Gorgeous scenery and costuming was evident throughout the series. It was obvious that the actors had spent some time learning the basics of spinning a pottery wheel and the scenes were credible.


Music: My Rating 7/10

“Tears Are Also Love” Baek Ah Yeon  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m44ysL6460c

Great ballad: “Tears Flow” Noel  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_mXuV45reo

“Forever You” Bobby Kim  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWzfVvCnRt4

“I Love You” Park Ji Min of 15&  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jA9d5DoW5-c

“Though I Close My Eyes” Lush  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_nmIhM0S8k

“Monologue”  Kim Hyung Joong  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATuQCNBzAyY

Overall Charisma: My Rating 8/10

The slower pace of Jung-yi in no way detracted from the appeal of the drama. Character and story development progressed naturally, allowing viewers to follow the complex plots and sub-plots. If there were a criticism, it would be that, as in many dramas these days, the wind-down and conclusion appeared a bit rushed. It was, however, a beautiful story, a beautiful drama, and definitely worth the viewing time.


 Happy Drama Watching!

jung yi young couple

*Yoon Ji-hoo: A character from the drama series “Boys Before Flowers” that has come to represent a wonderfully sweet, attentive man who has an unrequited love for a girl and who becomes her friend and/or protector. He never gets the girl.  :-p


Hanja Time – Why Korea is called Korea

The name “Korea” comes from a building and some deer antlers.  It’s true, and in this article we are going to discover why.


Koreans call their country ‘Han Gook’ (한국 – 韓國) which means “Nation of Han people”, so why do we call it Korea?   Where does this word “Korea” come from anyways?


Korea has a long history that can be traced back thousands of years. Over the course of those millennia different kingdoms rose and fell. In 918 the Koryo (고려 – 高麗) dynasty (sometime spelled Goryeo) was established by King Taejo, and this dynasty lasted until 1392.   The name Koryo itself was derived from Koguryo (고구려 -高句麗), one of the ancient Three Kingoms of Korea.


The kingdom of Koryo 고려became known in the west as ‘Corea’, and eventually ‘Korea’.


The name 고려 is formed from two Han Chinese characters:

高 – – High, tall

麗 – –  Beautiful, elegant, fine


The influence of China on Korea was such that Korean clans adopted Chinese names (like “Kim” and “Lee”) and even the kingdoms of Korea were written with Chinese characters (this was before Korea had invented its own alphabet).


With than in mind, let’s take a closer look at the two characters behind the name ‘Korea’.


The idea of “high” or “tall”  was originally represented by the ancient Chinese by a carving a picture of a tall building.

It is still easy to imagine a tall building when you look at the character in its current form:


Now let’s take a look at some common vocabulary words that use this character for the meaning “high”:

고등학교 – 高等學校 (‘Go-deung Hak-gyo’): High School

고속 – 高速 (‘Go-sok’): High Speed

고급 – 高級 (‘Go-geup’): high rank, seniority, high level

고층 – 高層 (‘Go-cheung’): High Rise (building)

최고 – 最高 (‘Choi-go’): The Best


You can see how each of these words relates to something “high” in them, and each has the고 (‘go’) sound in them.


For what it’s worth, 고 -高is the 22nd most common last name in Korea (which isn’t saying much, but at least if you meet a Korean with the last name of고 or ‘Ko’ you will know what it means!)


So the ‘Ko’ in ‘Korea’ means ‘high’.  Now lets look at the ‘-rea’ part of ‘Korea’.

The ‘-rea’ part comes from 려- 麗which is actually pronounced something like “ryuh”.  It means ‘beautiful’, ‘fine’, and ‘elegant’.  This character evolved from ancient Chinese inscriptions of deer with beautiful antlers:

It’s a little hard to visualize, isn’t it? In each picture there are 2 deer, shown from the side, their legs pointing to the left.  Above the deer are the antlers. These carvings evolved over time to the modern form we use today:

Unlike 고 (高), the character for 려 (麗) isn’t used in very many common Korean words. The one you are most likely to encounter is:


화려(하다) – 華麗 (‘Hwa-ryuh Hada’): Fancy, showy, brilliant, colorful


There are less common words that use this character, and they all have similar meanings:


미려 – 美麗 (‘Mi-ryuh’): Beauty, elegance, gracefulness

수려(하다) – 秀麗 (‘Su-ryuh Hada’): graceful, beautiful, handsome.

장려(하다) – 壯麗 (‘Jang-ryuh’): splendid, magnificent, grand, imposing


So as it turns out, Korea really does come from a tall building and some deer antlers… in a manner of speaking anyways.


Hanja Time – The path to enlightenment

What do Taekwondo, Taoism, freeways, enlightenment, and the 8 provinces of Korea all have in common?


They all contain a character this character (which we say as 도 in Korean):

way path


It means ‘way’ or ‘path’, both in the literal sense, and in the metaphysical sense. You may have heard of Taoism- Tao (or Dao) is how this character is said in Chinese.  It is the ‘way’ to enlightenment.


Let’s take a look at the use of this character in the literal sense of ‘path’.


The Korean word 도로 (doro) means ‘street’ or ‘road’ and is a combination of道and another character with a similar meaning:

道 –   (do) “way”

路 –  (ro) “Street, Road”


If you add the characters for ‘high’ and ‘speed’ you get the word for ‘freeway’ 고속도로 (Gosok doro):

高 – (go) “High”

速 – (sok) “Speed”

道 –   (do) “Way”

路 –  (ro) “Street, Road”


Here are some other common words that use this character in the literal sense of ‘path’:

複道         – 복도     (bokdo)  “Hallway”

地下道     – 지하도 (Jihado) “Underpass, Underground passage”

鐵道         – 철도     (Cheoldo) “Train track”

橫斷步道 – 횡단보도 (Hoingdanbodo) “Crosswalk”


Now let’s take a look at道 when it is used the more metaphysical sense of “way”.


The famous Korean martial art 태권도 (Taekwondo) literally means the ‘way of punching and kicking’.  Its name comes from these three characters:

跆 – (tae) “to kick or destroy with the foot”

拳 –   (kwon) “to punch with the fist”

道 –   (do) “way”


The uniform of the Taekwondo student is called 도복 (Dobok):

道 –   (do) “way”

服 – (bok) “Clothing” (The same as Hanbok, the Korean traditional dress)


A Taekwondo studio is called a 도장 (dojang):

道 –   (do) “way”

場 – (jang) “place”


합기도 (Hapkido), another Korean martial art also uses this character in the same way:

(Hap) “Join or combine”

(ki) “Energy, spirit, or strength”

(do) “The way”


Hapkido shares the exact same characters as the Japanese martial art ‘Aikido’, which is why they sound so similar.  (In case you were wondering, the “do” in the Japanese ‘Judo’ also uses this character (柔道  meaning “gentle way”).


In Korea filial piety, or devotion to one’s parents, is very important.  The Korean word for filial piety, 효도a (Hyodo), literally means “The way of filial piety”:

(hyo) – Filial piety

(do) – The way


In Korean, 道 (도) can also mean ‘province’.  South Korea is divided into 8 provinces, which are similar to states in the US.  The names of the provinces are:

강원도 (Gangwon-do)

경기도 (Gyeonggi-do)

경상남도  (Gyeongsangnam-do)

경상북도  (Gyeongsangbuk-do)

전라남도  (Jeollanam-do)

전라북도  (Jeollabuk-do)

충청남도  (Chungcheongnam-do)

충청북도  (Chungcheongbuk-do)



I mentioned in the beginning of this article that Tao means ‘enlightenment’.  도 can mean the same thing in Korean too.  To say you’ve achieved enlightenment you say:

도를 깨닫다 –    find enlightenment, achieve enlightenment


And with that in mind, I hope you have found this month’s edition of Hanja Time enlightening!


Hanja Time – Have a Ball

The Chinese character 球 (구 – “Gu”) means ‘ball’ or ‘sphere’.  Many Korean names for sports and games have this character in them.


야구 “Yagu” (野球) – Baseball

The first sound, 야 “Ya” means countryside, or field.  When 구 “Gu” is added it becomes “Field-ball”, or baseball.


탁구 “Tak-gu” (卓球) – Ping pong/ Table Tennis

The sound 탁 “Tak” comes from the Chinese character 卓 which means ‘table’.  So 탁구 “Tak-gu” literally means “Table-ball”.


축구 “Chuk-gu” (蹴球) – Soccer

The first sound here  축 “Chuk” comes from the Chinese character 蹴 which means “kick”.  So 축구 “Chuk-gu” literally means “Kick-ball”. American football is called 미식축구 “Mi-shik Chuk-gu”.  “Mi-shik” just means “American Style”.


농구 “Nong-gu” (籠球) – Basketball

The first sound 농 “Nong” comes from the Chinese character 籠 which means ‘cage’ or ‘basket’.  So 농구 “Nong-gu” literally means “Basket-ball”.


피구 “Pi-gu” (避球) – Dodgeball

The first sound “Pi” 피 comes from the Chinese character 避 which means ‘avoid’.  So 피구 “Pi-gu” means “Avoid-ball”.


배구 “Bae-gu” (排球) – Volleyball

The first sound 배 “Bae” comes from the Chinese character 排 which means “row, rank, line”, presumably because each team lines up in a row on either side of the net.  So 배구 “Bae-gu” means “row-ball”


The following are just romanizations of English:


Tennis is just 테니스 “Teh-ni-suh”

Handball is just  핸드볼 “Hen-duh-bol”

Badminton is just 배드민턴 “Bae-duh-min-ton”

And my favorite sport Air Hockey is just 에어 하키 “Ae-uh Ha-Ki”.


One other good word to know is the word for Earth.


지구 “Ji-gu” (地球) – Earth

The first sound  지 “Ji” comes from the Chinese character 地 which means “Earth, soil, ground”.  So 지구 “Ji-gu” means “Earth-ball” or “Soil-ball” (which is slightly better than ‘dirt-ball’ I guess!).


Hanja Time – Stuck In The Middle

The Hanja character for ‘middle’ (중) is wonderfully simple – it is merely a box with a line drawn right down the middle:


It is easy to see how a box with a line down the middle could mean ‘middle’, but it wasn’t always this way. In ancient China it looked like this:

Some people think that these pictographs represented a pole with flags flapping, while others believe that it is some kind of arrow piercing the center of a target.   After a thousand years it had evolved to its modern, simple form.


In the east, China was considered the center of the world (it’s no wonder that so many Korean words derive from Chinese!).  This idea is reflected in China’s name:

中(Center- )


國 (Nation-)


中國 (China- 중국)


In Korean we pronounce these characters as “Joong Gook”, but in Mandarin Chinese they say ‘Jong Guo’, and in Japanese they say ‘Chugoku’.  As you can see, they are all very similar.


In English we say “China” which supposedly derives from the “Chin” dynasty, and this name was brought to the west by Marco Polo.


Unlike most Hanja characters which need to be combined with other characters to make words, 중 can be used as a word by itself.


The meaning of ‘middle’ can be stretched to mean ‘in the middle of something’ or ‘during’:

밤중 – In the middle of the night

식사중 – During a meal

수업중 – During class

운전 중 – While driving (‘during driving’)


It can be combined with verbs to mean ‘in the middle of doing something’ or ‘while’.

가는 중 – While going

일하는 중 – While working

먹는 중 – While eating

자는 중 – While sleeping


When you are specifying a particular person or thing from a group of things, you can use 중.  For example when you say “One of my friends” you are referring to a particular person from amongst your group of friends.  To do this in Korean we first need to identify the group:

My friends – 내 친구들


And then identify what we are specifying from this group:

One person – 한 사람이


When we add the 중 to the group like this it means “From among this group” like this:

내 친구들 중 – Among my friends (literally ‘in the middle of my friends’)


When you put it all together it looks like this:

내 친구들 중 한 사람이 – One of my friends


In the next example, we will make the sentence “One of the women was the first to speak.”  In this sentence the group is ‘women’, and the part is ‘one person’.


So the group is women:



And we are specifying on person:

한 사람이


When you put it together it looks like this:

여자들 중 한 사람이 처음으로 말했습니다.

One of the women was the first to speak.


In this sentence there is a group of something (women 여자들), and from inside that group (This is the 중 – the center) there is one person (한 사람). Here are a few more examples:


Which one is the faster of the two?

둘  중 어느 게 더 빨라요?


Of all our friends, he lives farthest away.

내 친구들 중에서, 그 애가 가장 멀리 산다.


Some of these cars are called hybrids.

이 차들 중 일부는 하이브리드 자동차로 불린다.


Here is a list of more words that use the character 中  (중) as you can see many of these words mean ‘central’:

중년 (中年): Mid-year
중반 (中盤): middle phase, middle stage
중부 (中部): central part[district], middle part
중세 (中世): the Middle Ages, medieval times
중심 (中心): center, the middle
중앙 (中央): center, the middle
중학교 (中學校): Middle school
집중 (集中): Concentration


Friday Drama Review: “Good Doctor”

Good-Doctor-04“A long time ago, my brother said, ‘No matter how scared you are, you have to accomplish what you want to. That the one who endures and gets past everything is the coolest person in the world.’ To me, people and the world are scary. I remember my brother’s words and I gain strength.”
— Park Si On | Good Doctor


Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 7/10

A brilliant, but socially awkward autistic man, Park Shi-on is allowed to be an intern at a university hospital with the help his lifelong friend and mentor, Doctor Choi Woo-suk. Despite Dr. Park Shi-on’s obviously superior medical skills, staff and patients alike have difficulty dealing with the social stigma attached to someone ‘different’.


Script/Acting: My Rating 7/10

Following the new paradigm in Korean drama formatting, early episodes had a stand-alone feel to them, with short stories told and guest actors inserted for an episode or two. The format evolved into a more standard drama style as the characters were developed and the main plot took over as the main component.

good doc joo wonFrom the very start the story seemed fresh and intriguing. Joo Won’s (Bridal Mask, 7th Grade Civil Servant) character, Dr. Park Shi-on, autistic savant, was compelling from episode one and his character became more appealing with each new installment.

The difficulty in playing an autistic person was accomplished with amazing perception and compassion. The character was quite convincing both in mannerisms and in the empathetic portrayal of the needs and dilemmas faced by people with handicaps of one sort or another. good doctor moonKudos to the scriptwriters for the educational and socially proactive components of this script!

Moon Chae-won (The Innocent Man, The Princess’ Man) also played an intriguing role. As one of the few empathetic doctors at the hospital, her character, Cha Yoon-seo, initially takes on the role of caretaker, or ‘big sister’ to Park Shi-on. The turbulent transition she makes as she begins to see Shi-on as a functioning adult (who is in love with her) is convincible and sweet.

good doc do hanThe head pediatric surgeon, Kim do-han, played by Joo Sang-wook (Feast of the Gods, Giant), was a much harder sell. Playing a hard-nosed surgeon with little patience for problems within his department, he initially insists that the Shi-on can never be a “good doctor”. A difficult love life, his passion for his job and his respect for Director Choi did much to soften the edges on what could have been a lifeless, plutocratic character.

good doctor kimKim Min-seo (7th Grade Civil Servant, Moon Embracing the Sun) as Yoo Chae-kyung was one of the weaker characters in the drama. Her conniving, backhanded manner of undermining those around her (even those she loved?) made her the ‘bad guy’, and the poor excuses offered for her behavior only made her appear petty and childish. The chemistry between her and Joo Sang-wook was unpersuasive. One saving grace for her character was the respectful way in which she interacted with Dr. Park.

good doctor banner1The university hospital officials sported a team of K-drama favorites: Chun Ho-jin as Director Choi Woo-suk, the man who rescued Park Shi-on as a boy and raised him to be a doctor in his own footsteps; Jo Hee-bong as Go Choong-Man, hapless manager of the pediatrics department, blown by the winds of politics, and who, with a great sense of comic timing, eventually falls under the spell of honest friendship offered by Dr. Park; Na Young-hee as Chief Director Lee Yeo-won; Jung Man-shik as Kim Jae-joon, control-hungry Chief of another department in the hospital.


Music: My Rating 8/10

A nice collection of ballads, including two sung by Joo Won:

“Miracle” Lee Young-hyun  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BTavs7ufK4

“I Am in Love” 2BiC  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unftZ0HhG6Q

“I’m Crying” Baek Ji-young  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj6OzNpr9I8

“Looks Good” Ha Dong-kyun  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6Ox4LWLjxo

“How Come You Don’t Know?” Kim Jong-kook  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_8wiMEJZqs

“Love Medicine” Joo Won  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tdbo0__GGBU

“If I Were” Joo Won  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBDdVkrwig0

“Can You See?” Eye to Eye  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPcXTZr6Zpc

Overall Charisma: My Rating 7/10

The recent spate of exemplary dramas that have weak endings is becoming a serious issue. For many of the recent dramas, Good Doctor included, the general feel is that the story progresses smoothly and then, suddenly, a wrap-up episode concludes everything. The natural story-telling progression is disrupted and fails with a poorly thought out climax and resolution.

The frustration for me, as a drama aficionado, is that while the bulk of the drama was immensely engaging and enjoyable, the lack of a suitable conclusion was a huge letdown. The ending was not wrong, or bad, but abrupt and weak.

Overall, the drama is a worthwhile watch. The characters are compelling and the stories intriguing. Wonderful child actors fill the screen with aegyo and appeal. Episode after episode held my attention and left me anxiously awaiting the next installment.


 Happy Drama Watching!

 good couple


Director: Ki Min-soo, Kim Jin-woo
Screenwriter: Park Jae-bum



Millie’s Top Ten August K-Pop Music Videos

Millie’s Top Ten August K-Pop Music Videos 

More fun summer tracks, with the return of the solo artists! SME, JYP and YG have recently focused on the debut of the solo artists, and I can’t decide which is my favorite, they are all good. Henry came with his follow-up track “143”, Kang Seung Yoon made a 180 degree change from his rocker image with “Stealer” and Sun-mi made her return to the K-pop scene as a solo artist with the captivating “24 Hours”.

10. Ladies’ Code – Hate You

Ladies Code - Hate You

Ladies’ Code debuted earlier this year, but this girl group caught my attention with their second single “Hate You”. As titled, this song is about hating the one who broke your heart, but at the same time, hating yourself for still being in love with them. This theme is clearly represented with the creepily artistic music video. Ladies’ Code is dressed up as dolls, and they are surrounded by dolls that inspired their “looks” for the music video. In the dark and gloomy background settings, the girls are destroying the dolls (in a similar fashion as how little boys destroy their sister’s dolls, by burning them or pulling them apart); but everything that they do to their dolls happen to them.

9. M.Pire – Can’t Be Friends with You

M.Pire - Can't Be Friends With You

Six-member, rookie boy group M.Pire (pronounced “Empire”) debuted with “Can’t Be Friends with You” on August 1, a debut song that is worth a listen to. The music video has a vampire theme – with props and costumes inspired by the gothic elements of the undead; a dark setting to match the angry message of the song. Finding out that the girl they are dating has been using them as a “safe” option while they flirt and date other guys. They scoff at the girl’s request to stay friends because they know it’s just another web of lies.

8. Kim Hyung Joon and Kota [Sunny Hill] – Always Love You

Always Love you

This collaboration was done well; nothing necessarily original with the whole “summer love” theme of cute and cheesy dating scenes (ie. Sharing ice cream, camping with friends, water fights). But still, the voices are beautiful, the lyrics are pure and whole-hearted, and this song is just a simple (but great) addition to any K-pop summer mix.

7. Nu’est – Sleep Talking

Nu'est-Sleep Talking

Nu’est came back with “Sleep Talking” – a colorful new look from their more mature songs and videos. In the video all the boys are sleep in what seems to be some type of experiment and are all experiencing similar dreams – chasing this beautiful girl that always seems to be getting away and disappearing. She is the optimal dream girl that vanishes when they wake up. The choreography for this video is fun and matches the sleep theme perfectly – from the back-up dancers forming a make-shift bed, to the alarm, nodding off and yawning dance moves, this dance becomes a literal translation to the phrase “sleep walking”.

6. Lunafly – Hey Fox


K-pop artists often go on location to shoot their music videos. Lunafly was not so different, except they went to a unique vacation spot; Tunisia, Africa. And to add to the unusualness, they talk about a different kind of love. They are in love with a bad girl, a girl with a prickly attitude. He knows he shouldn’t love her, but he can’t help but be attracted. As beautiful as the music video was filmed, it matched the feel of the song but not the meaning behind it.

 5. Seungri – Gotta Talk To You

Seungri - Gotta Talk To You

Making his long awaited comeback, Seungri returned with his album “Let’s Talk about Love” that already received a lot of love from his dedicated fans. His title track, “Gotta Talk to You”, fits with his past songs and style of music, which was a pleasant surprise for me because I rather like his style. Darkly lit, with blurred scenes and blinding lights, Seungri gives the opposite of summer with this sexual (creeper?) song (he IS watching a girl though a glass box insisting on talking to her).

4. Sunmi – 24 hours

Sunmi-24 hours

Former member of Wonder Girls, Sunmi made her debut as a solo artist this month with her single “24 Hours”. Sunmi has made a strong first impression; not only is “24 hours” a great song but it has a wonderful music video, with a sexy provocative feel I’ve only seen present in BEG’s music videos. The song expresses the frustration of their only being 24 hours a day she can spend with the man she loves. The symbol of time is shown with the cinematography of the video, as some moments speed up while others slow down, all of sensual and romantic scenes of Sunmi and the lead male actor. Another aspect that makes this debut unique is that the performance is done barefoot.

3. N.CA – My Student Teacher

N.CA- My Student Teacher

The drama version of “My Student Teacher” stars Girl’s Day Hyeri as the love-struck high school girl who is in infatuated with her English student teacher. She sits back quietly with her puppy-dog love, taking pictures of him during their lectures secretly and trying to do anything to get this attention, from changing her appearance to studying harder to ace her tests. Nothing works until another student comes across her cell phone and shows everyone, including the student teacher, all the pictures she had taken of him. Mortified, she runs off crying and the music video ends with a surprising futuristic plot twist.

2. Kang Seung Yoon – Stealer

Kang Seung Yoon - Stealer

YG Solo artist Kang Seung Yoon debuted this summer with “Wild & Young”, but the soft and mellow “Stealer” is what won my heart over. A Romantic fantasy video with the giddy sensations of a love returned. Fields of flowers and computer added effects of love make this video an artistic pleasure to watch, and a cute creative take on a popular theme. Kang Seung Yoon calls his girl a “heart stealer” – because she has won him over completely.

1. Henry – 143


A cute follow up song by SME’s new solo artist –Henry’s “143” is a song that manages to capture the feel of summer by being light-hearted and danceable. “143” expresses the modern day way of communication: texting. And as accommodating as this method is for the dating world, it also causes a lot of confusion and miscommunication with the vague interpretation that come from the simple worded messages. Confused as to what the girl is trying to tell him (via text messaging), he reverts back to the “old school” method of pagers and their teenage terminology, finally sending the message “143” meaning “I love you”.

Maknae Millie’s Interview with Dance Winners of “K-Con Got Talent”

K-Con 2013 hosted their very own dance competition, “K-Con Got Talent” where fans could sing or dance as a solo, pair or group to their favorite K-pop songs and show off their idol moves. This year’s competition was heated – not just because of the suffocating weather- but with amazing talent and unique performances. San Diego represented with two groups placing in the Top 3 of the dance section. SDKFM (San Diego K-Pop Flash Mob) sent out a representative group of seven dancers who performed a dance cover to rookie boy group BTS. The “Bangtan Boys”, 21-year-old Karl Baclea-an [Ji Min], 17-year-old Maisia Fang [Jung Kook], 20-year-old Natalie Cisneros [Rap Monster], 18-year-old Jenna Bloomquist [Suga] and 21-year-old Sam Vongsay [J-Hope] were excited to share their experience.

what winners look like

Millie: Why did you (the group) decide to pick “We Are Bulletproof” by BTS as your dance cover?

 Sam: Personally, I chose to participate in the cover of “We Are Bulletproof pt. 2” because their choreography is very powerful. I think we all had a desire to participate in a cover of the dance the first time we saw it.

Maisia: We decided to pick “W.A.B” because it was a powerful song with choreography of the same intensity. We also saw it as a challenge that we wanted to overcome. We thought “if we could learn this, we could learn anything!”

Karl: We chose “We are Bulletproof” as our cover because it’s a powerful dance with super-fast and visually appealing dance moves. We figured that we would be the only group who would perform it at K-Con because of its level of difficulty.

Jenna: We all really enjoyed the song and were entranced by the complex choreography. We all really wanted a challenge, and that’s what this song was.

Natalie: Their style of choreography is the kind I’ve always enjoyed learning in hip hop classes so I was very attracted to this new group. I’m always up for doing dance covers, so when I saw all my friends crowding around watching the dance practice video and choosing a member to learn from, I immediately went over to be included in the cover. It kind of just happened spontaneously one day after a rehearsal with SDKFM.


Millie: How long did you practice for this competition? And did you guys do anything else that was special to prepare?

Sam: We decided to do this a month before K-Con 2013, but got to physically practicing about 3 weeks prior. Since we didn’t plan this cover to take place in the K-Con 2013 competition, we had to match the dance to the time limit between 2 to 3 minutes long. Sadly, we could not incorporate the whole dance, but I hope everyone enjoyed it regardless.

Maisia: We practiced really hard for about a month and a half. We held several rehearsals every week. Something special we did was practicing our facials! Our teacher/instructor/manager (as we call him) made us go through the song over and over again until we were able to correctly display the right facials that were needed to complete the choreography.

Karl: It took us a good month before K-Con for us to practice. We would learn the dance on our own at first then we had one of our friends, who knew the dance, teach us the moves and at the same time show us formations. Something special we did to perform was mostly performing it in front of our friends to help us perform in front of an audience and the occasional trip to Tapioca Express for a “good job” boba. When the workers asked for our names, we would use our BTS names and wait for them to call them out loud.

Jenna: We practiced for about 3 weeks to a month, usually two days a week for 4-5 hours each. (But it varied!) We spent a long time trying to get expressions down, since they’re vital to the performance. But that comes with every dance! Faces are part of the performance.

Natalie: For about 3 weeks we had multiple practices whenever all seven of us were available. We not only concentrated on getting the choreography down, but with the help our friend who is an experienced dancer, he taught us the importance of having good facials while performing. Especially in this powerful dance I think it’s essential to have a lot of energy. After each practice I felt like we were becoming more and more like the BTS members!


Millie: How was the dynamic of the group?

Sam: We are all weird, borderline crazy. I’m surprised we actually got things done.

Maisia: Our group worked well together. We helped each other whenever there was a problem with learning a specific part of the choreography. Everyone was always very enthusiastic!

Karl: We had really good group dynamics with each other since we have performed with each other before. We all performed as the San Diego K-Pop Flash Mob but this was the first time that certain people had to perform together as a group that we were not as familiar with.

Jenna: All of us get along really well. For the most part, we were having so much fun during practice that it almost didn’t seem like a practice.

Natalie: Since we’re all a part of SDKFM, we’re used to the process of learning and practicing dances in a group so we had that advantage. Although this dance is literally the hardest I have ever learned with its precise and quick movements, we all enjoyed practices and had a lot of fun together.


Millie: What were the advantages and disadvantages of entering in as a group instead of a solo act?

Sam: Advantages is that we have our moral support right there on stage. Disadvantage was that fitting seven people on a stage felt somewhat cramped.

Maisia: One advantage of entering as a group was that we filled up the stage, making it look fuller and better. However, more people means less room on the stage to dance, and that stage was pretty small!

Karl: I feel that some advantages performing as a group would be the visual aspect of an entire group performing in unity would just wow the crowd. Another advantage would be feeling the good vibes from your dance members and having that nervousness disappear because you know they are up on that stage with you. At the same time, that could be a disadvantage if you prefer to dance solo. You can practice by yourself so hard until you reach perfection, but when you have to perform with others who are not as par with knowing the moves or having the conviction in the moves, it could be frustrating.

Jenna: Entering as a 7 member group act meant that we had to work 7 times as hard as the next solo act. Messing up on your own can be played off easily but when synchronization is a key to the performance, there is no room for error. But entering as a group made it seem even more impressive! Our amount of effort clearly shows when we’re on stage performing for the judges. They really take into consideration that we had to practice together.

Natalie: All our members have completely different levels of dance experience so making sure we are all in sync is a challenge. There is always room for improvement, but I think despite that we had a lot of energy and stage presence going up as a group. People really enjoy seeing group covers with all the members so because of that we stood out.


Millie: How did you feel right before it was your turn to go up on stage? And how did you feel after when SDKFM placed in the Top 3?

Sam: Tired. I had to drive all the way from San Diego to L.A when I had little sleep from all the excitement that was going to happen the next day was mentally and physically draining. When we were chosen as the top three, I was in a shock of disbelief. It took me awhile to realize, but snapped out of it as soon as I saw members of the SDKFM walk up to the stage again.

Maisia: Right before it was our turn to go up on stage, my heart was racing. I felt like my life flashed to the future and I saw myself dancing up on stage. I ran through all of the moves in my head and took a deep breath. I told myself that we would do great, and we did~

Karl: Right before we went on stage, I was very nervous. I’ve performed on stage before in front of numerous people, but regardless of how many times I’ve done that, I still get very nervous and jittery. Although once I went up on stage with my friends, I calmed down and was ready to perform my all. When they were announcing the winners, I got nervous because of the way they announced them. When the first name was called I was thinking “Don’t worry, we still have a chance”. Then when Ryan Hsu was called I jokingly said “AH Ryan!” Of course, we can’t beat him.” Finally when SDKFM was called, I was completely ecstatic. I felt so proud that my friends and I had our hard pay off in the end. What I thought in the end was “Is the shirt the only thing we get?”

Jenna: I thought I was calm and collected, but when I stood on that stage, I could feel my heart racing and my thoughts leaving my mind. I felt as if I was going to forget the entire dance…haha. But being called back up there for top 3 blew my mind. There were so many amazing performers that day that anyone could have been in those top 3.

Natalie: No matter how many times in my life I have performed, I will never get over that indescribable feeling when you’re about to go up on stage. My body turned to jello, but when I got up there and felt the crowd’s enthusiasm I felt motivated to do my best! Since many people weren’t able to enter this contest, I felt appreciative to just perform in front of everyone and was especially grateful to make the Top 3.


Millie: Were you surprised by the crowd’s reaction? Did you gain any fans?

Sam: I was completely caught off guard by the cheering from the crowd. I want to express my gratitude to the crowd and all of those who supported us. I think there might be some fans, but we aren’t as good as the original BTS.

Maisia: I actually was surprised! It was surprising to know that crowd knew about BTS. I really didn’t expect it since BTS is a new group. But it was nice hearing the crowd screaming and singing along to “We Are Bulletproof”. We did gain fans as well. After we got off stage, many fans came up to us and asked for pictures. To be honest, I was actually quite overwhelmed! I didn’t expect anyone to come up to us to ask for pictures~ I really felt like a K-pop idol! It was a great experience!

Karl: I was very surprised with the crowd’s reaction. When the very beginning of the song started to play, the crowd was already cheering, which pumped me up the most. At the same time I half expected the crowd to have a positive reaction since we all put so much time and effort to make the dance look amazing. I was thinking “They better cheer!” We did gain some fans right after we performed. We took so many pictures and had an interview with MNet America’s “Danny from LA” . I think the person who had the most fans would have to be J-Hope (Sam) since he was the most recognizable. We made jokes saying it was only because of the bandana. If he hadn’t been wearing that bandana, he would be just like us.

Jenna: The cheers were super loud! So many people in the crowd were singing along. It was really invigorating. We also gained a bunch of fans. I don’t think any of us expected to be asked for pictures throughout the day! After all, we were just normal people who did a dance.

Natalie: We practiced for only a couple weeks before KCON and easily put together BTS style outfits so I was really surprised at the amount of fans we gained. They were all really supportive and asked for many pictures with us. My favorite moment was when the whole crowd yelled Rap Monster’s “RAH!” and sang along during our performance. I was just glad to see so many fellow fans, but it was also nice to get SDKFM’s name out!


Millie: Are the seven of you planning on making more dance covers in the future? If so, which song(s) would you personally pick?

Sam: We are for sure, planning on doing more dance covers. Whether they are individually or as a group, we will continue to do so since we are a part of the San Diego Korean Flash Mob and dancing to K-pop is our passion. Personally, I plan to do Teen Top’s “(Rocking) 장난아냐” and BTS’ intro song Big Hit Entertainment released in concept trailer for their comeback.

Maisia: If the seven of us were to make more dance covers in the future, we would definitely choose to do BTS’s new song “N.O”. The choreography is amazing! Even though it looks a lot harder than “We Are Bulletproof” I believe that we can pull through. We’re bulletproof, right?!

Karl: We’re not too sure if we were to do more covers together in the future but that doesn’t mean we’re not. Going with the BTS theme going, I would want to perform they’re new song “N.O”

Jenna: Of course! We haven’t discussed much, but BTS just released a new song called “N.O” with some really nice choreography. Personally, I’d like to do it! Haha…

Natalie: As of right now we still have to film an official cover of “Bulletproof”, but I’d love to do another cover because they’re always a lot of fun, although time consuming. BTS just released another song so I’ll definitely be learning that. I’ve never done a girl group cover though so I would be interested in doing a popular song like Crayon Pop’s “Bar Bar Bar”. Look forward to our future covers!


Our other San Diego winner was 18-year-old Ryan Hsu who had a solo performance of Exo’s “Mama” and “History”

Millie: Which dance covers did you perform at KCON13 and at the KCON Got Talent competition? And why did you choose those songs/groups to perform too?

Ryan: At KCON 2013 I performed several dance covers including, One Shot (B.A.P), Warrior (B.A.P.), MAMA (EXO), History (EXO), Wolf (EXO), Growl (EXO), Bulletproof pt. 2 (BTS), No More Dream (BTS), Lucifer (SHINee), Before the Dawn (Infinite), and many more. I chose to perform on the KCON’s Got Talent stage with MAMA and History by EXO because I love the emotions that those songs bring forth while I dance. EXO is one of my favorite groups of all time and it is an honor to be able to perform their dances on stage.

Millie: How long did you practice for this event?

Ryan: I have been practicing for my dance performance at KCON since the moment that KCON 2012 was over. I wish that I could have participated in a group, but many of my friends were busy working on other covers at the time. I tried my best and my efforts pulled through in the end. I worked tirelessly; day and night.

Millie: Why did you choose to perform as a solo act for this competition? What are the advantages and disadvantages of performing as a solo act vs. being in a group?

Ryan: I felt like there was a lot more pressure on me since I didn’t have other members to draw attention away from me. The only advantage is that I didn’t have to worry about being in sync with anyone or cleaning up choreography.

Millie: How did it feel like performing for the second time at K-Con? Was there more pressure or did you feel more comfortable?

Ryan: My first dance experience at KCON was an amazing experience for me. After seeing my performance, I made a promised myself that I would become a better dancer/performer. By the time that I had performed on stage at KCON 2013, I had become more comfortable with dancing in for larger crowds. Despite my experience, I was still extremely nervous.

Millie: How did you feel right before you went up on stage? And how did you feel after you found out you placed in the Top 3?

Ryan: Despite my experience, I was still extremely nervous. I felt very discouraged after seeing how talented the competition was. I was surprised at myself when I made it into the top 3. I was definitely not expecting it. I was also very surprised at the amount of support that I had from the exotics at KCON.

Millie: How were the fans this year?

Ryan: I love meeting fans and talking to them. K-Pop fans are always such amazing people and I wish I could be best friends with every single one of them. Personally, I don’t see them as fans. I see them as more than the average fan or admirer.

Millie: What dance covers do you plan on doing in the future?

Ryan: I have been working as hard as I can on dance so that I won’t disappoint my viewers. I love all of EXO’s choreography. I am going to try and learn all of their dances. I am also working on dance covers for BTS, B.A.P., SHINee, and Teen Top.

 ***Picture Credit goes to SDKFM member Catherine Joyce Spence***