Saturday, February 26, 2011

  Before Japan's invasion in 1910, there was not much of Western culture influenced Korea. People wore traditional Korean outfits, ate Korean food, and lived in traditional Korean houses. Since it was not so long time ago when Koreans lived like "Koreans", there are many historical soap operas broad casted, which reflect Korean history and culture. Those historical shows can be widely divided into two groups. One is based on historical truth, usually about some important or famous historical figures. Since those shows should be based on truth, they usually have much more episodes -usually more than 150 episode-, and tend to be more boring, because there are fewer dramatic situations involved. Another type is the ones that use only historical backgrounds, such as time period, and make fictional stories.
Sungkyunkwan Scandal
  Of course the second type of historical soap operas are more popular, especially among teenagers and females in their early 20s. For instance, one of the most recent shows that were broad casted was Sungkyunkwan Scandal (성균관 스캔들), which was widely popular among Korean girls. It describes the life of a girl who has to pretend to be a guy to get into an old Korean elite school, which, surely, is a fictional story.
  Even though they are not so popular, it is true that the first type, which is based on the history, is more helpful for the young students in Korea. For instance, one of my friends could always get As for her Korean history class, based one her memory from watching those shows. As the nation becomes more and more Westernized, those historical shows can be helpful to acknowledge of the culture. If you are interested in these shows, you can watch some if you go to and type in Korean Drama on the search tab.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Musical "The Phantom of the Opera" Korean cast
  Recently, performing art's market in flourishing in Korea. The number of people who go to watch plays and concerts is increasing. However, more than anything, the popularity of the musical significantly increasing. Until less than a decade ago, there were not so many musicals performing, and most of those were Broadway musicals. People in the musical market tended to translate some of the world-wide popular musicals and perform that. On the other hand, there are more number of musicals created in Korea these days. Most of the time, the Broadway musicals performed in Korea is in large scales, and the actors and actresses are widely famous. On the contrary, the musicals created in Korea are performed in smaller theaters with fewer people, and most of time those actors and actresses are less famous.

"Spring Awakening" Korean cast

                       I love musicals, and I've watched number of musicals played in Korea. I've watched many of the Broadway musicals in Korea, including Hedwig, Dream girls, Grease, Chicago, Spring Awakening, and Broadway 42nd st.. Their stage is huge and I could say that they put a huge amount of money for the shows. On the other hand, the musicals with smaller scale usually doesn't have much of stage setting or famous actors or actresses. However, in some reasons, I liked those smaller scaled musicals more than the Broadway ones. When I watched the Broadway musicals in Korea, I felt somewhat awkward about the lyrics, since they are just translated from other languages, usually from English. Also, I cannot feel the communication between the actors and actresses and the audiences, which I could find from the musicals in smaller scales. Maybe these are the reasons why Korean musicals are so flourishing without fancy stage, large theater, or famous cast.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Indie Music

 While the teenagers are crazy for those idol groups as mentioned in the previous post, people in their 20s tend to pay their attention towards the indie bands. There would be several reasons for this phenomenon, but there are two notable aspects. Usually, those indie bands are not so famous, and thus do their performances in small theaters located near to some colleges in Seoul, the capital of Korea. Most of those theaters are located near Hong-Ik Art University, where many of the young people in Korea enjoy their youth. Thus, those young people easily go to see their performances pretty much whenever they want to. In addition, since most of the indie bands are consisted of the people in their twenties, their lyrics and other things tend to get more attention from 20s.
 The video is the performance of one of my favorite indie band, 10cm. They recorded this video in a running bus. Maybe their spirit of trying something new like this helped them to be so popular among the people in 20s. If you are interested in these kind of things, you can visit this website where I found this video, which has some videos of indie bands and artists from different countries are posted. And please don't worry. contents in this website are written in English :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TVXQ - Keep your head down

TVXQ is a group that is widely popular in Korea and China. This video is a music video for this group's newest song, "Keep your head down". Here's the translated version of lyrics for this song.

 Keep your head down U-Know time (Max)

You know what time it is?
This is return of the king
(Everything has ended) I didn’t even start yet
(We broke up) I haven’t even heard the reason yet
Everyone around me keeps asking me why I’m like this
Why are you like that, why are you like that? I’m already the bad guy
(If it’s a sin) If loving you was a sin
(If that was a shin) If being genuine is a sin
(I’ll keep it low, I’ll keep it low) I’ll hold it in and stand my ground
(Keep your head down)
You look pretty, but inside you’re so different, that’s what I’m afraid of
(Keep your head down)
I said I loved you but I’ll let you go
(Why?) Did you leave me so easily
(Why?) Did I look easy to you?
(Why?) My heart is ripping to shreds
(Why?) If every moment was a dream
(Why?) If only I had the time to set it right
(Why?) I prayed for your happiness
I was always satisfied with having you
I was happy to dream the same dream as you no matter what they said
I had to let you go, but I’m just walking my path anyway
Now I’m just chillin’, Feel like I’m healing
It’s too late, you said you can’t come back
You’ve always believed that I’d crumble without you
That’s a misunderstanding, why would I do that? why, why, I told you I wouldn’t
(Hey) I was really, really sad, because you were so immature
and I was afraid you’d meet someone bad (Why? baby)
(Keep your head down)
You’re really pretty, but that’s all there is to you, there’s nothing important inside of you
(Keep your head down)
A nail is driven into the heart that is holding in the pain of love
(Why?) Why
(Why?) You let go of our love so easily
(Why?) Did you ever think that someone would get worried?
(Why?) I don’t think you know yet
(Why?) Exactly just what you let go of
(Why?) Just remain there and watch me grow
Ha~ Don’t play with people like that
In front of me, all you do is speak of lies
You’re such a two-faced person
(Why why why) Since when did our crystal-like feelings become so opaque?
Our love has ended, I’ve let you go, and now my heart is empty
But my future is gesturing towards me to get up and smile
I’m letting you go, live happily (why why why)
One day far from now, far from now, I want to just smile comfortably
(Why?) Why
(Why?) You let go of our love so easily
(Why?) Did you ever think that someone would get worried?
(Why?) I don’t think you know yet
(Why?) Exactly just what you let go of
(Why?) Just remain there and watch me grow
(Keep your head down)
Erased, disappeared, you’ve burned to death in my heart
(Keep your head down)
Erased, disappeared, you’ve died in my heart and you no longer exist

 These days, this kind of "idol" groups are really popular, and there are huge number of groups out there. Typically, their songs are all about some meaningless stuffs, and songs themselves are resemble to each other, which sometimes make me hard to distinguish. However, most of the teenagers think it is really cool to like them because of their appearance and some cool dances, and as a consequence, people can't pay attention to  some really talented artists. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011


 Since the internet became available in Korea, numerous types of services were rapidly spread out. There are innumerable number of online games and different portal sites that provide different kinds of services. People can do everything on the internet, including listening to music, watching TV shows, listening to the internet radio, etc.. One of the most prominent services available on the internet is the blog. For several years, blogs became widely popular for everyone. Three major portal sites in Korea - Naver, Daum, and Nate - provide blogging service, which gave easier access to the blogging. There are many genres in blogs, but the most popular ones in Korea are blogs about baking and reviews of different products.
 Until 2000, home baking was very rare and limited to some rich family, because not many people had ovens in their homes. However, as people became more and more interested in home baking, people started to look for recipes on the internet. At the same time, blogging became widely popular, so many people started to post their recipes on their blogs. Not only people post recipes, but they also take pictures of every steps, which help people to visualize and easily follow step-by-step. Here is the link to the one of most popular blogs about home baking:
 People who does not have any special interest, but who want to blog, started to write reviews of different goods on their blogs. Since women in the age of 20s take overwhelming percentage of the whole population of people who blog, many of the reviews are about cosmetic goods. People write reviews about different cosmetics, show how to make up with them, and write their own opinions. The following address is the access to one of my favorite blogs about cosmetic reviews: Some other people write reviews about movies, books, and basically everything. Since American TV shows are widely popular in Korea, there are some bloggers who write review of some shows, too.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Social Network

 In every part of the world, websites that provide the social network service is widely popular. Just like Facebook or Twitter, there is a website providing the social network service in Korea. There are several websites for this, including Korean Twitters, but the most popular and famous one is the website called "Cyworld". Different from Facebook of Twitter, which simply let the users write their status on their pages, Cyworld gives the users their own home pages. However, this is different from other home pages, because there are only some simple functions available. The users can share their status by posting their pictures, songs, videos, or maybe some longer documents. Other users who are added as the owner of a home page can write some comments too.
 Since 2003, I've been using Cyworld, and I found it useful to contact some old friends. With some simple information about my previous school, I could easily find the home pages of some friends whom I could not see for a long time. With their pictures and diaries, I could see how they are doing these days and I felt so happy to see them doing great on their college applications and other stuffs. Maybe there are some differences among the websites that provide social network service, they share at least one common aspect, which is that they connect people.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy New Year!

   Last Thursday was the Korean new year's day. New year's day in many Asian countries is based on the lunar calender, which was used several hundreds years ago. People don't use this calender any more, but we still use it to count some holidays. There are various holidays in Korea, but new year's celebration is the most prominent one. All of the family members gather in the oldest son's house and spend one or two days together. In the morning, people have a special ceremony to show appreciation towards their ancestors. After the ceremony, they have lunch together. For the lunch, they have this special food, called Ddok-guk (떡국). This food is significant because our ancestors believed that people gets a year older after they eat this food. After the supper, a family have a special time. People dress up with the Korean traditional clothes, Han-bok (한복), and younger people in a family bow to the older ones, wishing their long, healthy lives. For the bows, the older ones "pay" some money for the younger people. After the bows, people spend time having some conversations, eat dinner, and play some traditional games.

  For me, the new year's day was always the most exiting day of a year. When I was little, I was exited about the fact that I am getting older by eating Ddok-guk, and as I know the value money, I was exited about the money for bows. However, since I missed this holiday for three years, staying in the states, I realized that the thing I miss the most about this holiday is the gathering of my family. Meeting grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in one place at the same time is impossible other than this big holiday. In my opinion, that is the reason why the New Year's Day is so significant in Korea.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Infinite Challenge

무한 도전(Muhan Dojeon), which means "infinite challenge", is a  TV show that is hugely popular especially among teenagers and young people in Korea. Since 2004, this show was broad casted every Saturday, and for me, watching this show is one of the reason why I love weekends. As the name of this show tells, people from this show challenges for various things "infinitely". At the beginning of the season, people challenged for all the stupid things (chasing a train with bare foot or washing a car faster than a machine, for examples), and everyone in this show was rather described as ugly. Therefore, no one thought that this will be so popular like now. However, the producer was replaced, and since then, the popularity increased more and more. These days, people in this "reality show" challenge for more thoughtful things, such as fundraising by creating and selling their own calender every year. (The following pictures are their calender I got for this year...)

 This show is one of the most hilarious shows I've ever watched, but that is not the only reason why it is so popular. In my opinion, their huge popularity is based on their acts of doing good for the society. For that, people in this show sacrifices themselves in many ways. For example, they have practiced wrestling for more than a year so that they can perform a professional wrestling for a fundraising. I watched the episodes that show their practice for the pro wrestling show, and I realized that they really give people impression that they are working so hard, not just to earn money, but to help others. I think that is the reason why I cannot stop watching this show even when I am busy working on something else.