Not Feeling the Love from the Korean Entertainment Industry

And don’t I deserve love? Really.


Korean dramas and Korean music are big business in Korea. Asian countries, especially Japan are bigger markets than the homeland. In fact, according to Bernie Cho, president of the DFSB Kollective, a Seoul-based agency specializing in the marketing and distribution of digital media, Korean artists can make as much money in Japan in one week as they make in a year in Korea.

Korean fan sites are currently geared for this audience as well, with translations in Japanese and Chinese and often entire sites dedicated to the fan-bases in those countries.

As the Hallyu wave sweeps the Americas, phenomena like the B.A.P. selling out their entire U.S. tour in an hour happen with increasing frequency. Interestingly, though, the Korean entertainment industry seems unprepared for the enthusiasm shown by English speaking fans. Although the Americas seem to be a market that interests them, not much effort seems to be given to catering to English speaking clientele, much less Spanish speakers. To be sure, K-pop groups tour the Americas with great success. But trying to join a fan club or view official websites is an exercise in frustration.

Logo_of_SM_EntertainmentSM Town’s website is notoriously difficult to navigate. Despite the enormous popularity of groups like Super Junior, Girl’s Generation, SHINee and EXO here in the US, there is no offer anywhere on their page to translate into English, nor is there an “official” place for English speaking fans to go, merely after-market fan-made sites.

**Update: Down at the bottom of the SM front page (right hand side) there is a small “English” box that will translate the site to English. It’s easy to miss, so look for it! Once clicked, much of the site is translated.

Want to join a fan club? Good luck. While English translations on that page may direct you to the fandom of choice, once you get there, you’re out of luck entirely.

Familiar with E.L.F.? The Super Junior fans? If you’re Korean, you can join E.L.F. for $15/year. If you’re American, you’re going to have to shell out $45/year. Why the discrepancy? Good question. It almost makes you wonder if SM is really interested in the American market after all. Or are they actively trying to discourage American fans?

Logo_of_YG_EntertainmentYG entertainment has recently added an English tab at the top of their website. There are some amusing translation errors, though, and no official fan club info, in case you were wondering how to join Big Bang’s VIP’s.

JYP_Entertainment_LogoJYP also has an English tab. Their website has much in English that’s translated pretty well. There are English profiles on the artists and overall, it’s relatively easy to navigate. The fact that the FanCafe is in Korean with no way to translate may be program related.

Cubeent Cube Entertainment’s Front page shows up in English but it’s a dangerous proposition clicking any further than that. Very little beyond that front page sport anything other than hangul.

FNC_ENTERTAINMENTFNC  Entertainment’s website does a lovely job of making life much easier for their American fans. Aside from a few side trips to google translate, I was able to sign up to join the CN Blue fan club (for free!) and enter the site. I took a look at the shopping area and while it’s not entirely translated, they did have a “Guide for Foreigner” tab that gave a step by step tutorial with screen shots, guiding the purchaser through the shopping and check-out process. Again, FanCafes, sadly, are not translated.

What about those networks that air all of those popular dramas?

kbs_rss_logoKBS World Website now allows you to select English as a language on the front page. Once you do, entire news world opens up to the English speaker. I highly recommend this website as they have a wide variety of informational areas as well as Korean Language learning pages. Everything is translated and translated well. Kudos to KBS for for their welcoming, informative and educational site. A full 10 soju shots awarded by the DramaQueen!

sbs_kr logo_mbcSBS and MBC, on the other hand, cater not at all to English speakers. Not at all. Nada. Nil. Opsoyo. Want to know more about your favorite SBS or MBC dramas direct from the source? Better learn Korean.

naverEven sites like Naver, the popular South Korean search portal, have made it pretty much impossible for an American to create an account. While difficult before, it is now appears impossible. However, Naver-Japan allows an American to easily sign up for a Naver account. Go figure.

So the question is why does much of the entertainment industry ignore (or in the case of SM – actively diss) English speaking clientele?

  • Are they unaware that the market exists or that there is an interest? (Nope, this can’t be – I doubt anyone is unaware.)
  • Have they just not “gotten around to it?” (Possibly. Translating effectively takes time and money.)
  • Are they actively shunning English-speakers – in other words, are they entering the market somewhat reluctantly? (Although rumors exist that some anti-Americanism may exist, my guess would be $$$ trumps that – always.)

I am honestly perplexed at the lack of effort shown by the Korean entertainment industry in trying to gain (or actively block?) my internet attention. In this day and age of instant information, it is increasingly frustrating trying to access accurate content directly from the source when the source is hiding.

I am actively working to learn Korean, but it’s slow going. And I really hate the idea of having to wait for fluency before I ‘feel the love.’

Rant over.

The views expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of KKonnect, although anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot. 😉

Friday Drama Review – “That Winter, the Wind Blows”

winter1Classic Melodrama – Prepare to Cry.


High-tension melodrama may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but add a few gangsters, throw in a spunky, in-your-face wanna-be girlfriend, exploit great cinematography and put it together with fabulous music and you might even entice the most hard-core melo-haters. Superb performances by Song Hye Kyo and Jo In Sung were icing on the cake.

Here is a remarkably well-done trailer for your viewing pleasure:



Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 6/10

wintercoupleIt doesn’t get much more melodramatic than this: Oh Soo (Jo In Sung) grew up in an orphanage having been abandoned in the cold, hard winter by his mother. He leads the life of a playboy gambler with little self-esteem, but with great loyalty to his friends, Park Jin Sung (Kim Bum) and another friend coincidentally named Oh Soo (Lee Jae Woo). Oh Young (Song Hye Kyo) is an orphaned, wealthy heiress who was tragically left blind at an early age. Although Oh Soo (Lee Jae Woo) confides in in friends that he’s actually the only son of a chaebol (wealthy conglomerate) family, they don’t believe him until circumstances lead his sister, Oh Young to come find him. Brother Oh Soo is tragically killed just before meeting his long lost sister, but friend Oh Soo, hounded by death threats from debt collectors, steps in to try and fill his shoes, at least long enough to scam the blind sister. Tragically, he falls in love while attempting to implement his devious plan.

Script/Acting: My rating 7/10

Now while my synopsis may sound tongue-in-cheek, the writing for the script and acting were actually quite good. Jo In Sung, back from an extended hiatus, has proven that his absence did not in any way dull the edginess in his acting style. Voice and gestures carried details that made each scene dramatic and memorable. He cries very convincingly, too. Song Hye Kyo is one of my favorite actresses, even if I do question the mental stability of any woman breaking up with Hyun Bin, but that is another story.  I loved her in Full House. I loved her in Worlds Within. I also really liked her in this drama. I read an article where she talked about the challenges of playing a blind person, not being able to look Jo In Sung in the eye, having to watch scenes after they were shot to gauge their effectiveness. She was amazingly convincing as a blind person and amazingly convincing as cute couplethe emotionally closed, psychologically complex Oh Young. Kim Bum also did a decent job. His character was rather one-dimensional, although rather sweet and sometimes comical. Jung Eun Ji, on the other hand, is really beginning to come into herself as an actress. Moon Hee Sun was an intriguing, character with a mind of her own. Jung Eun Ji expressed her personality well and fashioned what could have been an antagonistic persona into a strong-willed character with whom we could empathize.

The script did have issues: hopelessly twisted character plots that were not successfully resolved, a weak ending, and characters that ended out of character. While redeeming individual people is standard fodder in melodrama, redeeming nearly everyone is verging on the ridiculous, not to mention the fact that it negates much of which happened previously. I can agree that the main character develops in such a way that redemption is inevitable, but trying to create happy endings all around, while viscerally satisfying to some, is completely disconcerting to me.

Drama clichés: Siblings in love, orphans (again), rain scene. I’m sure I forgot some. Help me out and post them in the comments!

 Cinematography: My rating 8/10

cottoncandykissThere were some really epic scenes. Love the snowy mountaintop with the windchime sound of the icicles in the trees. Love the, now somewhat iconic, ‘cotton-candy-kiss. Love the repetition of the bell that Oh Young cherishes and the tinkling of the bracelet Oh Soo wears. Love the masterful use of close-ups. Loved the wardrobe, by the way, but then this main foursome would probably look good in most anything. Overall, the general impression was impressive. Great shots, dramatic filming. In tribute to Siskel and Ebert, “Two thumbs up!”

Music: My rating 7/10

The soundtrack and ballads were quite memorable.

“And One” Taeyeon (Girls’ Generation)

So sweet… “Snowflake” by Gummy –

“Tears Falling” Kim Boa

An outstanding ballad: “Gray Paper” Yesung (Super Junior)

One of the best ballads I’ve heard in a long time: “Winter Love” The One

 Overall Charisma: My rating 6/10

I give this drama high marks in acting, music and cinematography. I was pretty engrossed throughout the entire series, too, right up until the last episode. Unfortunately, last impressions are kind of important to me and if there is one area in which many Korean dramas fail, it is going to be the endings. Now a friend of mine and I will voice the same opinion with different reasons. She likes a happy ending, I need endings that make sense and are in keeping with the tenor of the drama in general. In “That Winter, the Wind Blows”, two things happened that didn’t work. (I’ll try hard to make my point without too many spoilers…) One – they tried too hard for a really dramatic twist at the end that would have been more in keeping with a dark drama, than the touching, sweet melodrama it had been until this point. Two – too many characters were wrested from the personas that had been developing throughout the drama and were taken in a totally different direction, purely for the sake a tidy ending. Ugh. So much potential…

Despite the poor ending the rest of the drama is definitely worth watching. Indulge in your fantasies and create your own ending if you, like me, find yourself dissatisfied after the final episode. Lets share notes later, shall we?

Happy Drama Watching!


Friday Drama Review: “Romance Town”

Bad Title for a Good Drama

330px-Romance_TownThis drama had been on my “To Be Watched” list for quite some time as I had seen it on a few ‘Must See’ lists, but I’d been postponing because the synopses I had read did not seem that intriguing and the title gave it more of an American soap-opera feeling than I was comfortable with. I definitely needed more to entice me. – is an excellent source of information for dramas, actors and actresses, etc. Their synopses, however, vary from extremely detailed to terse. For Romance Town, the drama was described as ‘The story of domestic help who work for rich households.’ The rest of the description said little more to lead me to believe this was anything more than a gossipy group of maids, one of which become involved with the son of the household.

This drama sat at the bottom of the pile for a while.

However, at some point I was in the mood for something light and entertaining, so I pulled this from the ‘Watch List’ and began; and learned once again that another person’s synopsis can be very deceiving.

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 8/10

‘Romance Town’ is the wrong title for this drama. While romance was part of the picture, it was not the main theme as the title would suggest. Interestingly, I thought perhaps the English title might be off the mark, but the actual title in Korean is the English words “Romance Town” spelled in Hangul! No help there!

romancetownep14previewphotoThe drama revolves around the lives and social issues of five housekeepers and one lottery ticket. A big one. A huge one, in fact. If you have ever wondered how your life might change, or how you might change if you were to suddenly become rich (or suddenly become poor), this is a drama that explores that very subject. All in all, a somewhat unique theme!

Script/Acting: My rating 6/10

The five housekeepers Sung Yu Ri, Min Hyo Rin, Park Ji Young, Lee Kyung Shil, and Kim Ye Won carried the show. The intense interactions between these characters and between the housekeepers and their employers are what made the drama come to life. Sung Yu Ri was No romance-town-33Soon Geum, the heroine of the story, was a believable and appealing character. She played the part of a kind, loyal and upright person faced with difficult moral dilemmas authentically. There were scenes where Lee Kyung Shil could be accused of over-acting the scene, but her character is written as being very high-strung. The interesting story of their friendship and how it evolves under the influences of peers, bosses and, ultimately, wealth is what makes the drama a success.

The men in the drama were somewhat weaker. This may have been partly due to the script, but the character of Kang Gung Woo played by Jung Gyu Woon seemed more pathetic than empathetic and his mood swings did not seem to make much sense. The character of Kim Young Hee (Kim Min Joon) was more consistent, but not terribly intriguing. The best written, best played male character was Hwang Yong played by Jo Sung Ha. Great part, great actor.

The romantic side stories between characters were really just that: side stories that gave the drama a little depth and breadth to fill in the edges around the main theme. But note there were interpersonal side stories that did not involve romance as well, adding extra dimension to the drama.

Cinematography: My rating 6/10

While there was nothing spectacular about the cinematography, there was nothing distracting, either. The sets were nice, but virtually everything was filmed in a very limited number of locations. The island scenes were nice – not exotic, but a refreshing change of scenery. The editing was good. There was not a lot of boring fluff added, no endless flashbacks to kill time.

Music: My rating 8/10

M favorite song from the drama is “Smile Goodbye” by Alex. (Note that it goes by a number of similarly translated names…)  It is a  fabulous song and is played in a number of versions throughout the drama. This is my ‘go-to’ happy song:

“Because Tears are Overflowing” is an beautiful ballad sung by Jessica of SNSD:

“It’s Only You” by Tei is the theme song:

“Only You Look” by HowL

The soundtrack/OST is difficult to find, but 4 songs above are currently available on iTunes.

Overall Charisma: My rating 7/10

The tension between the maids, the families and the ‘couples’ all served to keep this drama lively and interesting. It’s unfortunate that the chemistry between the main couple was not as believable as it should have been. I believe the problem was that pinning down the actual character qualities for Gun Woo seemed to be an impossible task.  Because his demeanor shifted and changed so frequently, he always seemed ‘out of character’. Other than that, the drama was unexpected enjoyable and I watched it straight through, forgoing my other dramas!

On a side note, before I end: One of the households on the block was a man with his wife and mistress all living together as man, wife and second wife. Now, this is something I haven’t seen before, except, of course, in historical dramas. To an American viewer it seemed extremely odd that while the maids resented dealing with two bossy women, it didn’t seem that weird to anyone – at least, no one seemed be bothered much. Passing this kind of situation off as conventional in an American movie or drama would seem absurd, at best. Am I missing something? Comments, please!

 Happy Drama Watching!

RomanceTownred shoe

Friday Drama Review – “Hong Gil Dong”: Nearly Caused My Demise

HongGilDong 셰릴씨의 ‘드라마가좋다’ – ‘홍길동’

그녀가 최고로 꼽는 사극 중 하나인 ‘홍길동’의 평을 들어보자

Quite some time ago now, I had decided it was time to conquer a new genre of Korean drama and, never having seen a historical drama, I set about reading synopses. Hong Gil Dong looked to fit the bill — a Korean Robin Hood? Perfect. Our Robin Hood stories are fun and adventurous so this was sure to be great fun. Yeah. :-/

I will begin by telling you that this is, to date, one of my favorite historical dramas. However, I also experienced at least three days post—drama trauma, being reduced to a sobbing, blubbering mess. OK, I may be a little emotional.

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 8/10

Hong Gil Dong is a mythical figure is Korea as well known as Robin Hood or King Arthur is to English speaking people. Understanding his story and myth was one of the reasons I wanted to watch this drama as references are made to this character as colloquially as we do with our mythical figures.

The story in set in Joseon times and revolves around a man born illegitimately to a high-ranking official with mad skills in the martial arts. Although initially a happy—go—lucky drifter, he is inspired to fight for justice for the common people. While the Hong Gil Dong is indeed a Robin Hood sort of figure, the character quickly evolves, and the story becomes something more along the lines of “Braveheart”, than the lighthearted Robin Hood adventure tale the synopses led me to believe.

Script/Acting: My rating 8/10

Kang Ji Hwan stars as Hong Gil Dong and Jang Geun Suk as Prince Lee Chang Hui, a young man with the best of ambitions, wanting to protect his people well and seeing the value of Hong Gil Dong. Sung Yu Ri is Heo Yi Nok, a sweet, innocent, but not terribly bright young woman loved by both men. The trio creates a dynamic connection with each other Hisand with the viewers. Jang Geun Suk’s performance was stellar and, in my opinion, one of his finest performances. Kang Ji Hwan also shone, but I have yet to see anything of his I have not liked (yet?) There were a fleet of fabulous, extremely well-written and well-acted characters aside from the main three as well: a mad king played by Jo Hee Bong, Choi Ran as Lady Noh, the ever-present guardian to the prince, as well as the many wonderful oddballs in Hong Gil Dong’s tribe of misfits.

The script itself is a delightful mix of fantasy, comedy and ultimately heartrending, gut—wrenching drama. The characters are built and developed thoughtfully throughout. Although set in the Joseon period, period language is not used, but modern day language, including modern slang.

Cinematography: My rating 8/10

Fun special effects, silly props and great sets made for seriously good viewing. Hilarious costuming that literally looks like badly patched bathrobes alongside spectacular period costumes constantly tweaked the viewers’ sense of propriety. Somewhat distracting are the odd sounds not filtered in many quiet indoor scenes. The following scene is Yi Nok and Hong Gil Dong’s first comical encounter:

Music: My rating 8/10

I think it must be mentioned that only now, over a year later, can I finally listen to Park Wan Kyu’s “Fate” without weeping. Lovely sad songs abound, and the vast majority of the music is more than worthy of listening to more than once. Track lists are available online although not as popular on American music venues.  ”Yun“ is a haunting tune, ”Alone“, heartbreaking, ”Back To You My Tears“ evokes a sense of yearning, ”What If“ beautifully romantic (and sung by Tae Yeon of SNSD).

The real fun, however is the wild mix-ups thrown in here and there. For example, the opening scenes feature a Lord’s extravagant party complete with entertainment that suddenly becomes break-dancing to a thoroughly modern R & B track. One would have thought Shinee and the Wonder Girls dropped in. Moments later it’s a fast-paced fantasy martial arts extravaganza. The music throughout is a wild mixture of modern and period.

Overall Charisma: My rating 9/10

Again, for a drama where to American sensibilities, everything’s is just totally messed up at the end, it was in fact, refreshingly honest, humorous, dreadful, and real. The fact that it evoked such strong emotions is evidence in and of itself that it was drama at its’ finest.

I was intrigued that despite the fact that everything went horribly wrong in the end and my mind was screaming that it was just NOT HOW THINGS SHOULD GO, surprisingly, it all made perfect sense. The final decisions, while sad, we’re inevitable and correct. In an American drama, something ridiculous probably would have happened to make everything turn out all right, but not so in a Korean drama. The fact that it all ended horribly was — well — OK. In fact, it was really the perfect ending for the story. A happy ending would have nullified everything that happened before.

So much more like real life, don’t you think? Dang. That’s kind of depressing. Better go watch something happy now.

Happy Drama Watching!

jang geunsuk

[Now Listening] I’m a Diamond- Girls Generation


It appears as though Korean Air Hostesses are going through a wardrobe change.  Colors are a bit aggressive, and the skirts are a bit north of the knee, they must spend a fortune on leg shaving products…One wonders what the dudes have to wear?:O

 Below is a sample of the song “I’m a Diamond” from Girls Generation. Not my cup of Sujeonggwa, but the hook is decent.

Girls Generation have come out with their second Japanese album “Girls’ Generation II ~Girls & Peace~”.

[KKonnect Lost Article] The 2012 SBS KPOP SUPER CONCERT in America: What Popped and Did Not Pop

The 2012 SBS KPOP SUPER CONCERT in America: What Popped and Did Not Pop


The opinions written in this article may not represent the views of KKonnect or most of the world.

-November 10th,2012

It is 11:00 PM on an unusually chilly Southern California night. Tired,bemused, ears ringing from hysterical women screaming at possibly every musician on stage,  and nestled in a warm blanket burrito (blanket burrito: being double wrapped in a blanket from your toes to your head), I shall try to comment on the SBS KPop Super Concert in Irvine.


  • What Did Not Pop:
    • Multiple delays of concert dates
    • Lack of advertising.
    • Pricing of tickets ($400.00 for premium seating)
    • Not having any Korean food available at a KPOP concert
    • The dismay of audience members who purchased orchestra seating when crowds of people who paid for $60.00 lawn seats were able to sit next to them
  • What Popped:
    • Organizing a stellar marquis of artists including: SISTAR,4MINUTE, BEAST, KARA, CNBLUE, 2NE1, GIRLS GENERATION
    • Addition of KARMIN who performed respectable covers of American Pop Songs with passion and enthusiasm.
    • Choosing a venue that is fair for both Los Angeles and San Diegan fans (Yes, I too can be biased), and located next to the large Irvine Spectrum Center Mall.
    • The ebullience of audience members who had lawn seats and were given the opportunity to sit in $400.00 orchestra level seats.


  • What Did not Pop:
    • Poor emceeing.  Conversations between artists in Korean left much of the audience perplexed.  Californian Native Tiffany from SNSD was neither charismatic nor creative in emceeing the event with her colleagues, obviously reading from a script throughout the event.
  • What Popped:
    • Electric and flawless performances from all artists, truly displaying why they are the apex artists and consummate professionals in the KPop Genre. Each were excellent, but a few stood out:
    • BEAST:
      • Not my cup of tea in terms of artists, but no other group received more adulation from the audience than this group. Lady folk apparently have an affinity towards boy bands for some reason.
    • 2NE1:
      • 2NE1 were master class in their performance, orchestrating fan interaction during songs, had backup dancers,  showed unique dance moves, and did a shout-out to the audience.

It’s 11:45 now, Cartoon Network is transitioning from Adult Swim to Toonami, SNL is ending on NBC, and the temperature of the blanket burrito is just right…strained eyes shutting uncontrollably… time to go to sleep… entering dreamland…zzz

(Next Article “A Journey through Dreamland”….just kiddnig)

The Asian Market Chronicles: Super Music Mix Vol.1

How I love the Asian Music Scene. Half the fun of visiting an ethnic super market  is grooving to the upbeat catchy tunes while pushing your cart through the aisles with a melodic strut (not a Gangnam Style Strut but a humbler strut). Below are a few of the songs I’ve heard on my recent trips to San Diego Asian Markets. Adult Contemporary and Top 40 can take a backseat to these artists.

Girls Generation- Into the New World Remix (K-Pop)

Perfume- Spring of Life (J-Pop/Electropop)

-Fateh K

9 Girls, 9 Dates, In Less Than 5 Minutes

 Let’s keep this post rather short and sweet.

At Four Minutes and Forty-Seven Seconds…

Guys, try not to blush, and if you do so, blush in a manly manner and do some pushups afterwards to toughen back up.

 Ladies, take notes because it’s time for Charm School.

Say hello to Girls Generation when they were your nine girls next door.

[Now Listening] Girls Generation- Day By Day (In High Definition)

-Fateh K.

Lyrics below extracted  from

SNSD – Day by Day Lyrics (English Translation)

When I open my eyes, there’s sweet sunshine

With the fresh aroma of fruits all around

With a full cup of mocha latte, I sit on this small terrace

And when I think of you

I start to smile unknowingly

It feels like only good things are going to happen

My day’s excitement that no one else can bother

I can feel it

We haven’t asked each other if this is possible

If we can love like this

But, but who cares, like magic

I can’t hide this feeling like I’m about to fly

Oh, day by day, day by day, my heart

I’ll fill it with love, like your heart too

Like a soft cream, let’s look upon each other

Please think only of the good things

Even if at times, some things

May hurt my heart

If I just think of those wonderful memories of you

I can be happy

With a dark square pencil

Are you writing my name?

Your burning eyes that seem like it’ll melt me

Comes to my mind

We haven’t asked each other if this is possible

If we can love like this

But, but who cares, like magic

I can’t hide this feeling like I’m about to fly

Oh, day by day, day by day, my heart

I’ll fill it with love, like your heart too

Like a soft cream, let’s look upon each other

Please think only of the good things

SBS KPop Super Concert: New Seats Available!


New value seats available for the SBS K-Pop Super Concert on Friday August 10th. Seats now available as low as $25.50!

The event is scheduled to run from 8:00-11:00 pm at the Home Depot Center. Tiffany and Seohyun of Girls Generation are scheduled to be honorary emcees.

Considering a Girls Generation CD goes for about $30.00, this KKonnect Writer is ebullient.