Monday, January 30, 2012

Today, TK Learned:

. . .that sooner or later, big law firms will get their revenge for allowing their associates to have a Christmas break, and a super-sized linkage post will have to suffice when one has to justify one's salary.
  • So THIS is how you mummify Kim Jong-Il. [New York Times]
  • And THESE are the kinds of people who will bow before Kim Jong-Il. [Time]
  • Good overview of the recently deceased Kim Geun-Tae, arguably the most respected among all of Korea's democratization activists. [Busan Haps]
  • The answer: I hope to God they do not. The question: Will Girls' Generation succeed in America? [The Atlantic]
  • New Jersey Supreme Court now has a Korean American justice. []
  • There are now two Korean American generals in the U.S. military. [Korea Herald]
  • The reason why the idea that Groupon was a multi-billion dollar company was stupid. [Bloomberg]
  • "I'm not a racist. I eat tacos!" [The Atlantic]
  • La mere tigre. [The Economist]
  • Having harsh immigration law in your state = arrest Mercedes-Benz executive who was visiting your state to inspect his company's factory in your state. [NPR]
  • Study shows class sizes do not matter for achievements. They could have saved money and simply look at Korea's public schooling system, which crushes international exams while having 40 to 50 students in a class. [Washington Post]
  • For the first time, Korea's two largest parties have women chiefs. [The Peninsula]
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. Crushing multiple-choice exams, sure sure. How about teaching students to write? Or how to debtate, discuss, refute, defend ideas? How much writing can a teacher of class(es) of 50 or 60 students assign, and resonably be expected to reply to, with detailed, careful feedback? I know teachers at big public schools with crushing student loads who simply never assign ANY essay writing beyond short paragraphs. They just don't have the time to correct 'em.

  2. . . . and the study cites "frequen teacher feedback" as one of the proven factors that increase success.

  3. @feld_dog - Thanks for your comment! It's great to hear a different point of view from somebody who actually KNOWS something about education:)

  4. It's very sad to hear Geun-Tae hyung(형) passed away.

    Rest in peace.

  5. Girls' Generation did really well. Too bad it was on David Letterman's show - he is such a loser. I hope they make it big! Go, Kpop!

  6. TK - I can understand why you don't want Girls' Generation to succeed here in the US, but is it really that bad of a thing? Okay, it might be a little annoying to have them as the "face" of the Korean music industry, but don't you think it might ultimately lead to others being interested in Korean artists aside from Girls' Generation? It's true that there are so many more talented musicians in Korea who are terribly underexposed, but I feel that Kpop has actually brought more attention to K-indie and other non-pop music in Korea from Western audiences. I have met a few people who originally started off listening to groups like Big Bang who actually know more about Korean rock groups, r&b singers, etc. than I do (me being a Korean American).

    There was an interesting video on Al Jazeera about the Kpop machine, and it questioned the sustainability of the current Kpop boom. One of the main points from a Korean music/culture critic was that if the industry doesn't diversify it WILL collapse. So in a sense I guess you don't really need to worry too much about K-idols taking over the American music industry any time soon.

    Okay that being said - I'm all for more Asians and Asian Americans breaking into the mainstream entertainment industry here in the US. Right now we don't really have the luxury of being able to be choosey about who "represents" us here. We first and foremost need more EXPOSURE. People need to get used to seeing our faces as part of the mainstream. Sooner or later we'll eventually get to the point where Asians won't be viewed as "the other".

  7. To all people who criticize Kpop artists and think of them as shallow (or whatever) I have a couple of questions:

    1. Are you as beautiful as them (even if they did have plastic surgery - who cares, the final result, literally, is in your face) - well, are you? Beauty always shows good genes, so are you genetically superior than, let's say, Yoona? If you are, I would like to see your picture because you must be Miss/Mr Universe then.
    2. Do you have a figure as beautiful and slimming as one of the members? Did you achieve this figure by dieting and participating in daily vigorous exercise?
    2. Can you move and dance as well as them? No?
    3. Can you spend 12 hours (or more) per day rehearsing and practicing dance moves while being on a diet and while working on your vocals, then performing in front of a large screaming audience and dealing with all kinds of sexual harassment and anti-fans? No, can you? Physically?

    If you think their life is a picnic, think again. They are like the industry slaves, destroying their health in the process. I just pray the God they will be able to recuperate from this all. I always wondered why we have not heard much of those K idols taking drugs or becoming alcoholics - they ought to.

    If you answered "yes" to all four questions - please, go ahead and tell us all how horrible they are and how they cannot possibly be the cultural ambassadors of Korea.
    If you answered "no", (which will be the only honest answer) - be quiet and stop being critical of them.

    They are more beautiful than you. They are more sexually appealing than you. THEY ARE GENETICALLY BETTER THAN YOU. Deal with it.

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  9. vb - This has nothing to do with thinking their life is a picnic. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's at least 10 times more stressful than mine. And they're not horrible people either. In fact, I think the worst people of the bunch are actually their producers. And I'm not just jealous that they are so goddamn beautiful, cause hey, I like looking at them.

    It's not the K-pop artists themselves who are shallow. It is popular culture in general that is shallow when a person or group can become not only a pop music icon, but the NUMBER ONE MUSIC BAND simply by being beautiful and having sex appeal. My problem in particular with Girls' Generation is that as far as I can tell, this group is not a group of musicians, it is a front for pretty girls who just want to be celebrities. How can you call yourself a serious musician when you sing two bars of a song because you have to share time with 9 other members? If they were just honest about it, I don't think I would mind so much. I'm sure in a few years, they'll all go on to acting or become washed-up stars appearing on lame reality TV shows, and then after that they'll probably move on to drugs or alcohol.

  10. 1. When did they ever call themselves serious musicians? I would like to see this interview. Do they have to sing Rachmaninov's "Vespers"? Play Chopin? They are out there to entertain, just like Madonna, Britney Spears and (God save us all) Justin Bieber. And I would rather listen to the sounds of nails on a chack board than Justin Bieber, but I do admit that he is appealing to teenage girls. Kpop idols are doing a dam good job, compared to entertainers in many other countries. And, if we compare their dancing - they beat Rihanna and M&M by a landslide. Their songs are catchy and they have a nice beat. The best thing about their songs - the lyrics are clean.

    2. Yes, they are pretty girls that just want to be celebrities. And yes, you are jealous, because putting down others is a form of raising self-esteem, just as bullying. Can you be as pretty as them? By the way, beauty is a universal sign of good genetic material. So we are not talking music, we are talking BIOLOGY and GENETICS. And I bet they dance better than you. If you can dance better - please let me know.

    3. All pop music is about being attractive and having sex appeal. You don't even have to have a voice - a computer can enhance any sound nowadays (and Justin Bieber is a living proof). As a matter of fact, modeling, fashion, and many other sides of human culture are just about having sex appeal because we are programmed to reproduce and we are willing to go to great lengths to ensure the survival of the most adapted. EVERYTHING humans do is in order to get ahead in the game of survival and reproduction. Literature, art, music, sports - EVERYTHING.

    You don't have to like them. You don't have to like popular culture. It is shallow and it is supposed to be. Don't look for poetry in a porn movie - it is just not there. Could Beethoven dance as well as Girls Generation?
    But to dismiss Kpop and to say that is it bad - hey, if has millions of followers - admit it, there is something about it, something, that you just cannot understand.

  11. Eugene, do us all a favor and DO NOT ENGAGE FANGIRLS. Their blind adoration makes them incapable and being reasoned with. Teenaged fangirls are annoying, but ajumma fangirls are pathetic.

  12. The question that keeps coming to mind is: Does the Korean obsession with having a kpop group/artist succeed in the US have more to do with potential increased profits or with the idea that if the West (read Europeans & white North Americans) accepts them, then they will have made it? I'm hoping it's the former, because if it's the latter, that means that Koreans have a sadly warped sense of self-worth.


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