Mark James Russell

Books, blog and other blather

Month: September 2013 (page 1 of 2)

Monday morning links

  • On Busker Busker’s 2nd album being such a hit (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • Oh, and you can buy the new Busker Busker on iTunes.
  • A bit hard to read (dodgy translation and the English version is missing some information), but interesting interview with senior TV actors about Korean TV biz. Those interviewed include Lee Soon-jae, Choi Bool-am, and I think the Vice-Minister of Culture Ryu Jin-ryong.  (DongA Ilbo)
  • Revitalizing old roads, factories in Korea by turning them into cycling paths, museum (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • A look at the ugly culture of off-track gambling in Korea (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • Face Reader topped 8 million admissions yesterday. Our Sunhee topped 50,000 (KOBIS).


Busker Busker’s latest is number 1 number 1

Four days after Busker Busker’s second album was released, it is still dominating the local music charts. Pretty impressive, considering all the competition these days, from K-pop and whatnot.

Here is a screen capture of Busker Busker with all three top songs on the Melon real-time streaming chart. Certainly all the coffee shops in my neighborhood seem to be playing the album heavily.

Korean movie poster of the day

For no particular reason (other than I like old movie posters), here is the poster to the 1962 South Korean movie Bulgasari:


Wednesday morning links

A few links and notes today:

  • 77-year-old gayageum master Hwang Byung-gi (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • Another branch of Seoul Museum of Art has opened, this one in the north of the city, in Nowon District (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • T-Ara, Davichi and other K-pop acts went to Mongolia and played for nearly 20,000 people in Ulaanbaatar. That’s kind of amazing. (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • Face Reader had an awesome Chuseok, including a 900,000 admissions Saturday (nearly a record). After two weeks in theaters, Face Reader now has 7.1 million admissions, and has made 52 billion won ($47 million). (Numbers from KOBIS, of course).
  • From yesterday, here is my review of Andrei Lankov’s The Real North Korea. Excellent overview of North Korea. (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • I can’t get enough of stories piling on former dictator Chun Doo-hwan. Now he’s been forced to give back the medals he awarded himself in the 1980s. (Chosun Ilbo)
  • A Pyongyang amusement park has gotten a “4-D” movie theater. (Chosun Ilbo)

Wednesday Morning Links

Happy Chuseok, all — a holiday so big, even the news stops happening. No complaints from me, though, as I’ll enjoy a bit of free time. Anyhow, on with the morning links:

  • Han Jae-rim’s Face Reader is definitely the big film of Chuseok. After just one week, it has already pulled in 3.2 million admissions and made nearly 23 billion won ($21 million). Great cast, great-looking movie. (KOBIS)
  • Bored over Chuseok? Many of Korea’s best museums are open. Many of them for free. (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • Seopyeonje was one of Im Kwon-taek’s most famous and successful movies, about a family of traveling pansori singers. Before it was a movie, it was also a book. And since then it has been made into a musical. Now, famed theater director Yun Ho-jin has turned Seopyeonje into a changgeuk, or a traditional-style opera. Even more strangely, he’s gotten rid of the idea that the father blinded the daughter to teach her han and make her a better pansori singer; now there’s incest. The mind boggles. (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • A Q&A with leading liberal commentator (and art theory guy) Chin Jung-kwon (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • Does Chuseok feel less crazy than it used it? That’s because it is. Holiday travel down 19 percent over last 15 years. (Korea JoongAng Daily)

Regarding the de-crazification of Chuseok … You can totally feel the difference in Seoul. Chuseok used to turn the capital into a ghost town, but now it feels more like a quiet Sunday morning. It’s still a nice holiday, but not jaw-dropping. On the other hand, my newspaper isn’t publishing for  four days, so it’s obviously still a big deal (with the time off, I’m not complaining).

Oh, here are a couple more pics from Face Reader, which stars Song Kong-ho, Lee Jung-jae, Kim Hye-soo, Baek Yoon-shik:


Monday Morning Links

  • More than 100 years of “Arirang” recordings, on display until Feb. 28 at National Gugak Center (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • Terrible suggestion for fixing problem of lending Korea’s National Treasures — just lend replicas! (Korea JoongAng Ilbo)
  • At least one left-wing group wasn’t guilty of insurrection (Hankyoreh)
  • Not good — Hankyoreh claims evidence linking Blue House to resignation of Korea’s head prosecutor (and NIS foe). (Hankyoreh)
  • Fascinating look at the Korea Crime Victim Support Fund, a badly flawed (if well-intended) program (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • Has it really been 10 years since Daejanggeum? Lee Young-ae looks back on the pivotal drama and her career. (Chosun Ilbo)
  • As cool as it is that Drunken Tiger’s new release, The Cure, is doing so well, it feels more like a Yoon Mirae album than a Tiger one. Her vocals really define it, not just on “The Cure,” but also tracks like “Beautiful Life” and “Time Travel.” (Billboard) (Soompi‘s not bad either) Buy it on iTunes!


Tiger Roars

I should have added this to my links, but somehow forgot — because Tiger JK is back. The lead single is “The Cure,” and it is a nice little tune, with plenty of Yoon Mirae on it, too.

Several of the songs you probably already known, like “Get It In” and “Sweet Dream” But they’re good songs, so no complaints there.

You can buy it on iTunes or Google Play (well, if you are not in Korea).

Yoon Mirae is on quite a roll at the moment. Her drama soundtrack song “Touch Love” have been sitting at the top of the charts since it came out, despite some tough competition. The video is a pretty good way to learn Korean, too.

Friday Morning Links

  • Wash, rinse, repeat … NK nuclear-style. (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • An interview with young singer Lim Kim. (Korea JoongAng Daily). She has an interesting voice, and her music is that light, soft-pop style that seemed to be more common a couple of years ago. Videos posted below, too.
  • Those odd artificial “Floating Islands” in the Han River that have been sitting idle for last 2 years? Finally going to open. (Korea JoongAng Daily)
  • Great. I spent 3 months living in the Anguk-dong area, and as soon as I leave, the Pak No-su Museum and Brew 3.14 open (the Marmot’s Instagram).

This is Lim Kim’s “Colorring” (sic), which I rather liked:

This was her biggest hit, “All Right.” A million Youtube hits in just three months for a newbie isn’t bad:

And “Rain,” which is rather appropriate for this soggy day:

Speaking of rain, here’s a photo of Hongdae in the rain:


Exploring Hongdae 1

Against my better judgment, I descended into the heart of Hongdae last Saturday evening. I mean, I like the Hongik University area a lot, but Saturday night the center of that neighborhood can get a bit out of control.

But Saturday, the Sangsang Madang arts space was holding a screening of the short films by Namkoong Sun, a talented young filmmaker, so I decided to check it out. You might know her music videos for (“Pacific” and “Secret Stories Told by a Girl in an Opium Den”), as well as Neon Bunny and others. The screening was good fun, and several actors from her shorts showed up.

The after party was evidently going to go a lot later than I had the energy for, so I excused myself around 11 and took a walk through Hongdae, just to check out the neighborhood and see what it is like these days. No surprise, things were pretty crazy. Can you believe that, way back in the late 1990s, you could hit most of the Hongdae bars in an evening (well, at least the good ones)? But somehow the neighborhood keeps growing.

The park was, as usual, full of people and music. Perhaps this sign is as good a metaphor for Hongdae as anything:

It reads, “So not to inconvenience local residents, please no more live music in the park after sunset.” This photo was taken about 11:30pm, as yet another band started a set.

Anyhow, what I was there, a group called Monster People were playing. They are quite good — kind of an Interpol-like modern rock sound — so if you have the chance to catch them, I quite recommend it. Here’s some of their music over on Soundcloud:

The vibes were all pretty good that evening, at least while I was there. People were pretty blitzed, but I guess drunks don’t get belligerent and start fights until after midnight.

Looking at all the changes to Hongdae, the explosion of restaurants and cool things, I think I might start blogging about the neighborhood with some regularity. Every time I walk down an alley, I’m amazed by what I’m finding (in a good way, mostly). It’s fun to be back.

Truth is stranger than science-fiction

I was reading a random collection of old science fiction stories recently, when I came across “The Fate of the Poseidonia,” a short story by Clare Winger Harris. It was third-prize in a 1927 issue of Amazing Stories.

But what I found most amazing about the story was this little blurb that accompanied it.

In case you cannot read that, it says “as a rule, women do not make good scientifiction writers, because their education and general tendencies on scientific matters are usually limited.” Nice.

Okay, maybe not “amazing” — it is no surprise how brazen gender discrimination was in the past. But I still found it pretty funny.

Also: “scientifiction.” Heh.

Here’s an image of the whole page:

I like how magazines would just publish someone’s home address back in the day. But the NSA snooping is somehow going to get us…

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