So far, 2010 has been unusually strong for Korean movies in the United States. Surprising, considering how poor the export market for films has been for quite a while. First MOTHER gets released (and has made over $100,000 in its first 10 days, on just a few screens). And now, Kim Jee-woon’s 2008 hit THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD is about to come to American theaters, too — you can see the pretty new trailer here.

In addition, there is a fun story in the Dallas Morning News about Paul Shin, a Korean-American who is bringing Korean films to AMC theaters in the United States — not just New York and LA, but Chicago, Long Island, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle and Dallas-Fort Worth.

I think this is yet another sign of broader changes happening to global culture. I can still remember the first time I went to a random multiplex just west of Toronto, and discovering two Indian movies playing there. I could not believe it, especially remembering the lack of diversity the Toronto suburbs had when I was growing up. But now, people take movies, restaurants, just about everything cultural for granted. They just accept it. It is normal now.

Which is one of the big points I was trying to get at in POP GOES KOREA. Yes, it is amazing how Korean culture has bounced back and become so influential, but this is about more than just Korea. It is a worldwide trend. Korea is in many ways leading this trend, but more and more we are going to see cultures from around the world claiming a space at the table.

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Music has long been one of my biggest interests. It comprises a good chunk of my book POP GOES KOREA, and another website of mine is the Korea Gig Guide (about live indie music in Korea).

So I have been poking around on the various live music websites that are scattered across the Internet. I had no idea there were so many these days. I had been struggling with near-useless, last-generation sites like Pollstar, so was amazed how much things have changed. Now there are a multitude of websites that are trying to combine social media, data harvesting, and whatever the media 2.0 flavor of the month.

These include:

  • Hearwhere – a gig listing site that is flashy but hard to use, and not good for Asia
  • Songkick – nice interface, but geared toward big shows, and very little information on Korea
  • Iggli – another attempt at media 2.0 and live music (and other live events). This site’s hook is the “invite” – it is all about people inviting each other to events; claims this is not social networking. Dubious. Not much on Asia.
  • Bands in Town – big artists, not for Asia
  • Jambase – ugly, just big Western acts, incomplete, basically another Pollstar
  • Madlounge – only the US
  • Superglued – social networking plus concerts; not sure how useful this could be if it takes off, but not much yet.
  • Gigzee – specializes in local music, but buggy, and nothing for Korea yet
  • Gig Junkie – not much in Asia, not very complete
  • Gig Listing – trying to be the Google for live music. Still in beta, and it shows
  • Gig Freaks – I think I like this one the best. Nothing for Korea yet, but its Japan and China listings show some promise. I like the interface (despite the big, ugly Google ad banner in the middle), which is easy to use and informative. Seems to be a one-man operation, though, so I am not sure how much it will develop in the future.

As you can see, I am biased toward sites that focus on local and indie music. Really, how much help do people need finding the next Lady Gaga concert? Hopefully these services will find a way to make it easier to find local and more unusual bands, all over the world. But honestly, I really prefer music websites that have more input from real, live human being — like you see on Barcelona Rocks, Tokyo Gig Guide, or, of course, the Korea Gig Guide.

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And now for something completely different. Pooh Bear vs. Aliens. What a great little comic.