Mark James Russell

Books, blog and other blather

Month: October 2014

Book party pics

My publisher was nice enough to send me a few photos from the book launch party on Tuesday — not a lot, but hopefully it gives you a taste of the evening.

Here I am talking to Eric Oey, the publisher of Tuttle:


(Honestly, it was fairly crowded at the event. More than it looks in these photos).

You can’t have a book event without signing some copies:


Here I am with Brad Moore of Busker Busker, apparently having a smirking contest:


Both Daniel Tudor and I have new books on the way from Tuttle, coming in January:



Book launch party

Tuesday night was the official launch party for K-POP NOW! and for Daniel Tudor’s new book A GEEK IN KOREA. And I think it was fairly successfully — we had a good turnout of book store reps, journalists and friends, and people seemed to have a good time.

Unfortunately, things were busy enough that I did not get a chance to take many photos. Hopefully some of the other people who took pictures will send me some to share soon. So for now, all I have is this one picture from before the event started.



Honestly, this photo is from before the event. We really did have a good turnout. I swear.

Thanks to all who came. I really appreciated it and had a great time.

Pupils dilated, non-responsive…

Okay, so I decided to get with the time and finally try out a responsive design for this blog. I’m not entirely sure how this tech works, so please let me know if it does not show up properly on your browser.

It’s still a bit ugly. I guess I’ll have to refine things over the next few weeks. But I do like having my books up there in the header. Or perhaps I’ll rotate images or something like that…

A Late Book Launch

Tomorrow evening there’s going to be a book launch party for K-POP NOW, together with Daniel Tudor’s new book, A GEEK IN KOREA. It’s my first time having an event like this, so I hope it goes well. I’m sure it will be fine — especially with such a strong partner as Tudor and his new book — but one still gets a bit nervous about these things.

Still, it will be interesting who turns up. Hopefully I’ll have some fun photos to post.

Sundown (You Better Take Care)

Okay, no Gordon Lightfoot here, but I still quite liked the sundown this evening.

The end of K-pop?

So, Jessica is out of Girls’ Generation. That makes three major SM Entertainment artists to leave their groups this year, along with Kris leaving Exo and Sulli taking a “haitus” from f(x), not to mention Sunye leaving Wondergirls and other high-profile shakeups.

Now, any pop music industry is going to be inherently volatile — fans and artists are young, careers are short — but the increasing troubles that K-pop seems to be going through has me wondering if we could be seeing the beginning of the end of K-pop.

As with so many things about Korean pop music, Motown is in interesting comparison. It had a very similar business model as K-pop and it did very well for a number of years before eventually burning out in the early 1970s. What led to the end of Motown?

  • The biggest issue was probably control, as artists got tired of being completely controlled by management.
  • Money was also a big (and related) issue, as artists and songwriters felt like they were not getting their fair share.
  • Tastes were changing.
  • The creators of Motown wanted to do other things (like Berry Gordy moving to Los Angeles).

I think it is pretty clear that several of those issue apply to K-pop. Management companies that are the most controlling over their artists are also having the most problems these days, while Jay Park and Drunken Tiger and the like are enjoying their independence.

Are tastes changing? I’m not a teenager, so it is a bit hard for me to talk to that point. However, when I take a look at the Melon charts, “idol K-pop” certainly does not dominate. I see a lot of ballads, hip hop and other genres. Maybe those genres don’t sell themselves or their singers as well as K-pop does, but clearly the music people enjoy in Korea is much more diverse than most music websites would have you believe.

Of course, the end of idol K-pop would not mean the end of Korean popular music. Korea had a thriving music scene long before Seo Taiji and Boys or H.O.T came along. YG Entertainment snapping up Akdong Musicians or CJ signing Busker Busker are signs that the music industry knows tastes are going to keep changing. So I’m not worried about the long-term success of Korean music. But it is very possible that the structure of it and the types of music we hear about could be changing.

I do wonder, though, if I’m going to have to change the title of K-POP NOW to K-POP THEN.

(Btw, I quite like this Soompi article for insights about what happened to Jessica. There’s a good post in the comments translating the latest by Dispatch).


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