Tag Archives: Korean media

Monkey See

monkey

So what’s on television?

Korean television is 40 percent people eating/cooking, 30 percent dramas, and 30 percent celebrities talking or singing, or being in any format where they’d end up just chatting or singing. That breakdown is a tad unscientific, but it’s basically all that I see whenever my wife channel surfs. Lately, there have been a couple of trends: having foreigners who speak Korean on television, and having celebrities’ children go about their everyday life. All in all, there’s nothing too compelling.

Some people say that Japanese television is also the same, just people eating or watching celebrities react to different topics. But I don’t really watch too much Japanese television.

There are foreign channels here but they are simply awful. There’s Discovery Channel, National Geo, and TLC. So if you want to learn about panning for gold, ghost hunting, or baking cupcakes, you got your channels. Local stations would show different CSIs, NCIS, and other network dramas, but not so much of the amazing Renaissance television has been experiencing on cable.

For years, all of my viewing entertainment has been on the Internet. I’ve become one of those people that would just watch whole seasons of shows within a week. Thank you, Internet. I’ve gotten access to long dead shows and movies that people don’t really hear too much about. These shows probably wouldn’t have been broadcast in Korean television. But then again, they probably wouldn’t have been broadcast in Canadian television either. Do they still show reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm? Last time I was in Canada, I wasn’t too impressed with what my sister had on television. She was watching OWN.

Speaking of sister, she was watching a lot of Filipino television as well. The shows seem to be very celebrity driven as opposed to being about good writing. There’s a lot of melodrama and schlock. Like everything, it could be good in small doses, but I’m not sure about a steady diet.

I also stayed with my best friend while in Canada and she’s content with just having Netflix. I guess much like me, she prefers to watch seasons of shows or have a movie playing. She’s not much for keeping up with what’s on on television either. I guess it’s not just me being here in South Korea that’s driven my viewing to the Internet. I guess it’s the future of the media.

In any case, if you’re in Korea, the Internet is vital. Otherwise, you’d either be watching a lot of Koreans eating things or you’ll simply be getting a lot more reading done.

I recently saw the latest Planet of the Apes film. I really like where they’re going with this franchise.

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They don’t do humans.

Korean_drama

I don’t watch Korean dramas. Despite their global popularity and despite me being in the country, it’s just not my thing. My wife however often follows one or two dramas. I don’t really pay attention, but sometimes she’ll explain things to me or I’ll just absorb it through osmosis. One particular drama though has me seeing red. My wife stopped following it but will occasionally watch it or read what’s going on online. Now, I don’t know much about Korean dramas, but whoever’s writing “Princess Aurora” is a cynical, creatively bankrupt writer who has no concept of how human beings function in real life.

Here are some points (You don’t have to know the plot).

1. The male lead basically stalked the female lead and later won her affections. Not only does this encourage stalking, but is akin to my experience with Korean women and their stalker exes. “She will come back to me once she dumps him!”

2. The weaksauce male lead’s life is controlled by his three older spinster sisters. The writer must have a thing for weak men.

3. The female lead dumps the male lead, starts dating some sucker, then later dumps him and marries the lead. This sucker later ends up getting cancer, so the female lead gets a divorce and marries him.

4. The sucker who got cancer asks the male lead to help him recover because he’s the only man he trusts with his wife. Did I say he was a sucker? The two later become friends.

5. The sucker also chooses not to treat his cancer because he considers it a living being and a part of nature. The sucker however has no qualms about eating bacon. Heck, even a plant is more sentient than cancer!

6. The cancer spontaneously goes into remission. I suppose that happens SOMETIMES, but the writer basically took a shit on everyone who lost a loved one to cancer despite aggressive treatment. Maybe the cancer responded to idiocy.

7. My wife first got interested in the show because one of the side characters is bisexual and is involved in a love triangle between his gay live-in boyfriend and another girl, the writer’s niece. My wife thought it was interesting that a major Korean show is tackling gay issues on primetime. Although I pointed out that if she knew Korean women, not one of them would ever be with a gay man if they had a visual of what gay sex involves. (But then again, a lot of men in K-Pop look really gay to me.)

8. The gay character tried teaching his boyfriend’s mother how to “go-go dance.” He teaches her “the hustle” instead. What kind of homosexual doesn’t know the difference between “go-go dance” and “the hustle?”

9. This gay character decides to go to a temple, bow a thousand times everyday in front of Buddha, and becomes straight. The show basically says you can pray the gay away. So much for tackling gay issues. The writer just took a shit on gay people.

10. Come to think of it, the writer took a shit on human sexuality in general. Does this mean I can bow a thousand times everyday and become gay as well? Can I pray the straight away?

11. The formerly gay character is now dating one of the spinster sisters.

There are so many other hackneyed points in the show but this list would get too long. The writer is basically just writing the show in order to create buzz among Korean netizens. It is cynically manipulative. It’s like she’s going through a list of what would get the Internet talking about the show? What next? A tragic death? AIDS? Twerking?

My wife says most people realize this, but it’s like watching a really bad car accident. Now, I don’t mind watching garbage television and bad writing. I used to watch Sons of Anarchy before I realized it featured the most inept motorcycle gang in history. But it really gets my gourd when writing gets ridiculously bad and spreads misinformation about how human beings work. The thing about the gay character I feel was the worst. “Let’s all use a gay character to drive up ratings then basically say that being gay is an evil that can be cured with a bit of religion.” This is especially troubling since Koreans are still pretty much in the dark ages when it comes to certain aspects of human sexuality. This is a country where many claim “there are no gays,” AIDS is a foreign disease, and adultery is punishable by jail time.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But with Korean dramas being very popular, I hope they’re all not as bad and as hollow as this garbage.

Here’s some art so this post is not solely about Korean dramas!

The_Hunt

The Hunt!

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Hound

doberman

I’ve been really productive since I got back from Canada. Art, art, make art. Get it done, Joseph. Draw, sculp, do anything! I’d better go nuts on art now before I get all lazy again.

The problem with us people who don’t make art for a living is that neglecting art or being “lazy” involves the business of living in the real world: working, working extra jobs, working out, working on my relationship, working on the hidden dungeon on a Playstation game, working, working, working!!! It take a special kind of dedication and inspiration to stop “working” and start making art. So I guess I should make art while I’m still inspired.   Epiphany, most television is vapid and uninspired. I realize that’s not the most insightful of revelations, but it truly dawned on me yesterday when I was having lunch with my wife while she channel surfed through Korean shows and commercials. They all feature the same celebrities (I see less than twenty people on Korean TV ALL of the time!), the same annoying music, and the same canned sounds of oohs, ahhs, and laughter. I was a bit annoyed at how she can’t just stick to one channel and how it’s a tad inconsiderate of her to just mindlessly surf through shows which I mostly A. don’t understand and B. don’t really care to understand at all. Watching Korean dramas doesn’t really inspire me to learn Korean at all. I don’t care who is pregnant, who is dating who, and what taboo is being broken for ratings this month.

But then it dawned on me, is western television really any better? Granted, there are great shows on television right now, with TV enjoying a great renaissance in terms of inspired writing, but a lot of it is also mindless, boring entertainment. From the pseudo-inspirational OWN and the dumbed-down Discovery Channel, to the commercialism of MTV, I just come out feeling dumb and bored.

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