As the writer, Marine Vidal says by way of introduction:
Back to school! Vacation time is over, but no need to depress; we can still travel the world through a good book. What better estrangement than to read about South Korea? A recommended pick isPop Goes Korea, by longtime Canadian expat journalist Mark Russell.
I think that article is the closest thing I have ever had to an actual profile. It is kind of an odd feeling, and I sympathize for all the people who have suffered through the same experience for one of my articles. But the reporter was very nice, the experience was mostly painless, and the story was quite complimentary, which is about all you can ask for.
Thanks to Matt at Gusts of Popular Feeling, I just discovered this old article from 1963 in Stars & Stripes about the godfather of Korean rock’n’roll, Shin Joong-hyun (refered to in the article by his stage name when he played for the US Army, Jackie Shin). It is a short article, but complementary, saying that Shin played “the meanest guitar in Korea.”
I am not sure how accurate all the details are in this story (for instance, I thought that Shin got started before 1962, and I think he was born before 1940), but it is interesting that Shin was getting noticed early in his career. I did not know about him winning the KBS jazz contest.
I have said many times before that one of my favorite websites in the world is ehistory.kr, a site full of thousands of old pictures and videos of Korea going back decades. I can waste spend hours there, just trying out the search function and seeing what I can find.
Recently, though, I hit the mother lode. While looking for video about music in the 1960s and 1970s, I stumbled across this wonderful video — an anti-pot PSA from November 1975. That is just days before the Korean government launched a big crackdown on marijuana usage that rounded up dozens of celebrities (including the great rock star Shin Joong-hyun) in December.
It is a great film, like all such marijuana-scare movies. You have general craziness, addiction, jumping off of great heights, death, depravity, and a stern doctor explaining how smoking pot will make your brain fall out. Sorry I do not have the time to subtitle it … but, really, I think you will get the gist pretty easily.
Young-hee and the Pullocho
Young-hee stumbles into a magical world, where the fairy stories of her childhood are real and all the frustrations of her everyday life fade away — until her little brother is kidnapped by a goblin. The only way Young-hee can save him is by finding a magical plant called a pullocho, but little does she realize the fate of a whole world hangs in the balance.
K-Pop Now! takes a fun look at Korea’s high-energy pop music, and is written for its growing legions of fans. It features all the famous groups and singers, and takes an insider’s look at how they have made it to the top.
Pop Goes Korea: Behind the Revolution in Movies, Music and Internet Culture is the only English-language book to examine the whole of Korea's entertainment industry and how it became such a powerhouse over the past 15 years. With profiles of many of Korea's top stars (including Lee Byung-hun and Rain), Pop Goes Korea features chapters on movies, music, television, comic books, the Internet, and more.