Friday, August 17, 2012

Korean Wave for Laladanilela

*reader discretion is advised*

This is another pointless post. Please don't take it too seriously.

Lately I've come to like Korean entertainments: variety show, dramas, and music. I used to watch these kind of show quite often, during junior high and undergrads. K-drama, Taiwanese drama, Japanese... Then for some reason I don't watch it as much anymore. 

I remember during undergrad I used to watch a variety show called Golden Bell. Watched it diligently every week on cable. It was a "cerdas cermat" kind of show. So Golden Bell team would go/invite a middle/high school, put 100 students on mat, give them 100 questions (if i remember correctly). The one student left have to answer the 100th question correctly under the golden bell, then he/she/the school would received a handsome prize. The show was impressive for me because the questions appear to be quite difficult, but the students can answer them well. And they'd do funny mini games should there were too few students left on the mat. Perhaps my memory of the game isn't quite accurate. But I do remember I like the show a lot. After the Golden Bell, there's a funny kids sitcom. I stopped watch the two shows because at one point there were no more subtitles.

Anyway. About a month ago, I was somehow in a very bad mood. I tried to watch the usual series that I love: modern family, friends, big bang theory, himym... But since I've watched all of the episodes over the years, I wasn't quite entertained. Then I remember some of my friends have recommended this Korean variety show titled "Running Man". So I tried search them on youtube. Then I watched it. What I found was: A HILARIOUS SHOW. I laughed so hard I cried. It is seriously so funny, I couldn't stop watching. One episode is quite long, about 85 mins. The show is so entertaining, with ridiculous yet very entertaining games. They put on different kinds of race and games every week, so we don't get bored watching it. There's one actor I like in particular, named Lee Kwang Soo. He always act so pitiful, but his counter attack is sharp. He spread ridiculous rumors and lately he easily betray people. I love it. I understand that he does those things for the sake of humor and damn it I'm entertained. Ok. Moving on.

After finished writing my dissertation, I decided to try watch some dramas my friends been telling me about. So I watched Love Rain and Rooftop Prince. As I've mentioned, I haven't watched k-dramas in a long time. I forget how cheesy and mushy they could be. Do you remember those old movies or serial cantik where the protagonists are shy, they can't express their feelings and all those kind of cheesy crap that we love during teenage years? Well, I do. And watching LR made me feel all nostalgic, as if I'm 13yo again with all the insecurities about romance. Not all the main characters in LR are shy and cheesy, so I think it kinda balances it. If you what I mean. Then I watched Rooftop Prince. Not as good, not that funny, but whatever it's ok. Oh. In addition, Love Rain have some serious soundtrack that makes you feel their pain. My goodness. I find the soundtrack lovely.

After I started get all excited about Running Man, I come to understand why many of my friends love k-pop idols. The likes of Super Junior, SNSD, and so on. I myself fell for Siwon SJ when I saw him on Running Man. Damn that guy is gorgeous. Anyway.

The Korean idol groups are trained for years before they make their debut. They spend those years in trained in all sorts of aspects, I assume. Singing, dancing, probably playing instruments and acting as well. Most of them are extremely good looking. That makes me think, damn it sounds like manufacturing! It seems like producing living barbie dolls. Get good looking young people, put them into years of training so they DO have singing dancing skill to some extent. Then exploit. Do massive marketing, put them in all sort of shows: variety, get them to play in dramas, and so on. Do you know you can get a HOLIDAY TOUR for concerts and drama locations? You know how people visit landmarks and museum on holiday tour. Well in Korea, you can add an idol group concert as part of your tour destination. I think that's awesome. That is utilization to the core. Add merchandising and advertising, I imagine it's worth serious money. According to wikipedia, the international activities of Korean Wave contribute billions to the South Korea economy. Again. UTILIZATION TO THE CORE.

I'm saying this with admiration. In UK they also utilize all sorts of pop culture. Beatles museums, Harry Potter studio tour, and so on. So adding concerts  famous drama location as tourist spots are not exactly an original idea. But who cares? People like it and they can get profit from it. Means more jobs for the koreans, more prosperity.

Now about the idols. Teaching people to be an idol may make it sounds...for the lack of better word, manufactured. They seem like a commodity. A group of people that have been trained massively trained to become an "artist". It somehow lost the dramatization of how "artists" "seniman" supposed to make their way to be known. You know, the typical story about friends get together and start their band... but hey!! Again, this system is not exactly original since there are so so many groups that were put together through auditions and competitions. In return of being exploited, they got money and fame. Not shabby at all. Some people might say that these idols are not real artists, they are auto-tuned and so on. But if their purpose is to entertain and people are in fact entertained, then what's the problem?

So what's the problem? There is no problem. I'm merely trying to put my thoughts out there now. 

But there are two things that bother me a bit. 

One. Browsing the net and findings these numerous fan-sites about these idols made me realize that the word idol suits very well. These people are greatly admired by a huge number of people. They are being idolized by their fans. Now let's try to think from the agency perspective. The agencies are the people who put together these idol groups, train them, and market them. Is it possible that the agencies look at the fans as target market? 

Let me paint a very exaggerated picture. So there is a huge market on "idol land", where market demands someone to be idolized. People that can be admired, to have crushed on, to be stalked upon, to be the very center of life itself! These agencies identify this opportunity, so they supply the market with the idol groups. But they want to ensure that their products, the idol groups, to have quality that can be justified. So the agency train and polish these idols-to-be. Turns out the product are hugely successful, so they exploit it more and more and more! In short, the thing that bothers me is the identification of idols demand... If these people are product of market demand, does it mean their works don't come from their heart? Hence their work isn't sincere?

Oh God. I admit, my observation of this phenomena is cynical. May be I'm too caught up with the romantic ways of "supposed artists". May be the "idol land" is the new innovative system. And I probably jumping to conclusion that their work isn't sincere. The people is the "idol land" work really really hard to make their music. But is hard work equal sincerity? I don't know. I'm not going to think about that now.

Two. My friend Kiki would tell me I'm being too serious, but it bothers me when people underestimate or even look down to korean wave. I personally think that the source of entertainment can come from anywhere. That not only Hollywood produce good quality entertainments, may it be movies, tv series, or music. I understand that many people label some countries to produce crappy music. For instance, Bollywood movies or dangdut songs. But I beg to differ. Bollywood made "3 Idiots", "Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gum" while "Kopi Dangdut" is amazing to dance to, especially in kareoke. Not only the western produce good music. And Hollywood and UK are not the only western countries, German Italy and so on also produce music and tv series and movies. Don't they? What I'm trying to say is, embrace what other countries offer for entertainment. This earth we live on is HUGE. Hence, there are millions of people try to make their movies, tv series, and music. They work hard to do so and countless of them do produce good entertainment. Including Korean drama and music. If you don't like the idol groups, well it's just a matter of taste. Doesn't mean there aren't any other type of music from Korea, does it?

I'm not imposing that everybody should like Korean wave.
If it's not too much to ask, please just don't look down to it.

Ah I've blabbered so much. Now these thoughts are out there, I don't have to think about it too much anymore. That's why I love blogging. It eases my mind off things by writing it out instead of just keeping it by myself. Don't get me wrong, though, i don't hate idol groups. I even like some of Wondergirls' songs despite how auto-tuned they sound. 

That's enough nyampah for today. Let me end this post by my most recent favorite song. Cheesy by Sweet Sorrow.

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