Tag Archives: tv

Ok ok I admit it, I caught the K-Pop bug.

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(picture of K-Pop group 2NE1 from http://www.mcmbuzz.com)

Go ahead, try and move to Korea and remain completely untouched by K-Pop. Good luck.

K-Pop is an abbreviation for Korean pop or Korean popular music. It is a genre consisting of dance, electronic, electropop, hip hop and R&B (wikipedia.org) and unless you never leave your apartment you will experience K-Pop in Korea. K-Pop will become the soundtrack of your life, whether you like it or not. The K-Pop culture has expanded far beyond Ipods and music videos, the fans have created a culture of their own and it feeds daily into Korean fashion, advertisement and conversation. I have no intention of pronouncing myself a K-Pop fanatic or expert, but I feel I must admit I caught the K-Pop bug this past weekend. It wasn’t an all-consuming bite, but it’s there, I can feel it.

Jeff Benjamin wrote earlier this year in Rollingstone, “K-Pop is a mixture of trendy Western music and high-energy Japanese pop, which preys on listeners’ heads with repeated hooks, sometimes in English. It embraces genre fusion with both singing and rap, and emphasizes performance and strong visuals.” If you’re not in Korea at the moment do not panic. K-Pop has already gone global. I remember when I was busy packing for my year abroad and educating myself about Korea (basically Googling my heart out), my research was bombarded with K-Pop news of upcoming US tour dates. Benjamin’s Rollingstone pieces is appropriately titled ‘The 10 K-Pop Groups Most Likely To Break in America’ and Vampire Diaries stars Nina Dobrev and Kat Graham tweeted obsessively about their love for the K-Pop group 2NE1 back in 2011 (http://www.mcmbuzz.com).

I was invited by a fellow friend to ‘some sort of K-Pop show’ (that’s what I got from the conversation) in Seoul on Sunday. He possessed 5 exclusive tickets to the show and if I knew anything about K-Pop I would have realized just how amazing this invitation was. I did not have Sunday plans and was excited to spend time with my friends doing something ‘free’ in Seoul, so I accepted the offer and skipped my usual Sunday sleep-in session and opted instead for a day of K-Pop education.

As we made our way into Seoul I was briefed on the upcoming event. We were headed to a taping of the Korean show, Inkigayo, produced by the SBS network and broadcast in the SBS Open Hall in Seoul. The show airs live every Sunday and presents viewers with many of the most recent and popular artists making appearances and usually performing their newest singles. We arrived at the SBS building long after hundreds of K-Pop fans had set up camp in line hoping to gain access inside to watch the show. I felt like a celebrity pushing my way past the crowds up to the front where we were ushered inside. My mother never let me skip school to carpool with friends to NYC with glitter banners and homemade t-shirts to scream outside the MTV studios in hopes of being part of the taping of TRL (Total Request Live), but I can imagine it would be a similar experience.

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(sorry, no photos were allowed inside, but this was outside in front of a truck advertising for the K-Pop group Super Junior)

The show started soon after we took our seats up front. The production team scrambled to make sure the stage, lighting and sound were set to go and they began the show with an introduction of the hosts, similar to TRL. The entertainment moved at a quick pace and I was impressed with how many live performances Inkigayo packed into the show. I was star-struck even though I really could not distinguish one group from another. I sensed from the crowd’s reaction how famous each group was. I did recognize many of the songs from my everyday life activities of grocery shopping, watching commercials and interacting with my students. The dance moves were impressive, the lyrics catchy and easy to remember, the fashion over-the-top and the fans endearingly loyal and on cue with their group chants and cheers. I left the SBS building feeling like I understood Korea a bit more, like I had been let in on some big secret. Later that night I went to dinner with a few friends back in Uijeongbu far away from the pop stars and cameras. At one point I found myself singing along to a song playing quietly in the corner of the restaurant. Yeah, I caught the bug, have you?

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running, reading & really bad tv

Hi all! I should be out at the moment (it is 11pm on a Friday night – whomp whomp – go ahead and judge me) but I have to work in the morning. Hopefully it is the last working Saturday I have for awhile. I just finished my 2nd week of teaching, well almost, I won’t consider it complete until tomorrow. I am adjusting to my new work schedule, although I have been staying up super late and sleeping in a bit too much. I don’t have to be at work until 1:30 or 2:30 each day, so it is easy to hit snooze for hours and hours. I need to motivate myself to get to bed earlier so I can have productive mornings. I will work on that next week. Can I still use jet-lag as a sleep-in excuse?

Anyway, I am loving my classes. The kids are so eager to learn and I am amazed at their focus even after being in regular school all day. I had to be firm with a few of my classes this week. They are now getting used to me and they tend to be very loud and can not sit still. I have many methods to encourage good behavior. Each student has a sticker page on the board in the classroom where they can showcase their earned stickers – they LOVE stickers! Also, I bought some cheap candy from Homeplus (like Walmart) and I entice them throughout the class: “Do you want candy at the end of the lesson or not??” Chungdahm has a points system where I can give students 10, 30 or 50 points for fantastic behavior. Students can use their points to “buy” prizes offered by Chungdahm. And of course there’s always ME. A few of the young students are always asking me: “Teacher happy??” They look so concerned and I tend to answer: “Of course I am!” I don’t even want to consider what they would say/do if I answered differently.

My students had the most trouble this week with our creative thinking project. I assumed it would be a breeze and they would love it. During this part of class students work in groups and focus on a small project that involves illustration and creative writing. Most of the students were so confused, they didn’t understand the concept of group work and kept looking for/asking me for the answers. I tried to explain that there were no right answers, that they could use their imaginations to make whatever they wanted. Still confused… Hopefully as the weeks progress they will learn to love this and have fun with it.

My free time this week was consumed with running, reading and really bad TV…I am proud of 2 of the 3. I am excited that I live so close to the river and I can feel safe running there day and night. I hope to make running part of my daily routine, or at least a habit that I stick to 4-5 times a week. I have made it through 2 books in the past week and am so happy I brought my Ipad with me to Korea. Any reading recommendations are appreciated. I have also gotten sucked into some pretty crappy TV. My internet isn’t working that well so I am unable to watch preferred movies/TV on it. I do have a TV in my room but the 3 English channels are strictly cheesy cop shows and bad action movies. Of course I love myself an old SVU marathon every now and then, but I hope to get my internet fixed soon and catch up on my favorite current shows that I have missed in the last month.

I look forward to spending more time with my co-workers in the coming weeks. This week I had dinner with one of them and another took us new teachers to set up bank accounts. I don’t see many of the teachers while I am at school because I work with the young kids 2-8pm and they work 4-10pm but I look forward to getting to know them outside of school.

Tomorrow afternoon I am headed into Seoul to meet up with people from training week. I do not know our exact plans, but I am sure it will be fun! I am a bit nervous to travel by myself from my city into Seoul. I am sure I will eventually make it there, it might just take me awhile and maybe include some helpless/confused hand-gestures. I look forward to seeing familiar faces – it should be a blast!! I went out in Seoul a bit during training week and if that was any indication of the rest of my nights in Seoul I am so ready! (see the Noise Basement photo – I stole it from a friend – thanks Simon)

Lastly, I have included a hilarious video of a baby eating kimchi and LOVING it. If you have tasted kimchi (a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings) you will understand. I have not learned to love kimchi yet, the taste is a bit much for me. I have yet to master chopsticks also. So this baby just makes me look bad.

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