Happy Birthday 2022

It’s extraordinary, how quickly one ages. My appreciation of time itself has been warped lately, but think about it. We’ve decided that “your prime” is your 20s. If you’re fortunate (or bamboozled) enough to go to college, you graduate at, what, 21? A little delayed, time to celebrate? No, time to get a job. I hope you majored in web programming or graphic design, or have the connections to try business or law or film. You have four years to figure it out. … More Happy Birthday 2022

Koreatown NYC 2022

I recently visited New York City, and by “recently” I mean, like, three months ago. I was typing up this post as a kind of travelogue because it’s a special occasion — I really don’t travel anywhere — and then forgot about it. Apparently, I need to set the record straight, after Stella’s account of events, which make me out to be quite the fool! … More Koreatown NYC 2022

The Return to Planet X

Long, long before The Battle Beyond Planet X met its frothing, pitiable demise, I had in mind the title for its sequel: Return to Planet X. Sounds more like a command than a title, but it was never implemented regardless. The Battle Beyond Planet X is a podcast I did about science-fiction movies, and because it was just me, it became uncomfortably autobiographical and later, aged. … More The Return to Planet X

American Kung Fu Primer [PODCAST]

This month, Donovan Morgan Grant returns to provide an overview of the American kung fu movie, which is also the story of the evolution of the action scene and the United States’ cultural perception of China, Hong Kong, and Japan. We start at prehistory, before the advent of martial arts styles, and move through the watershed year of 1973 — challenge the conventional wisdom that that was the beginning — and continue onto the Golden Age and the resulting Doldrums, both pivoting around the rise and fall of The Matrix. Throughout, we introduce the careers of the action icons like Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme, and whittle down a list of recommendations. … More American Kung Fu Primer [PODCAST]

The Barber of Jeonju

You’ve read right! The most precious duo in K-pop debuted as a unit yesterday, and props for taking on the fandom name. I can’t explain “Iseul” for Irene and Seulgi, who have been known in English-speaking circles as “Seulrene” forever, other than Irene is the senior and her name must come first. The music video for Chobom’s song “Copycat” is live, and it’s delightful. It’s more bubblegum than Apink’s been trending lately, with an easygoing style. I was wondering how this subunit would work musically, given how Apink music usually works, where Bomi plays off of Eunji and Namjoo, I feel like. … More The Barber of Jeonju

Emmys 2022

For the most part, I think it was a pretty crowd-pleasing Emmy nomination announcement today, between Abbott Elementary, Yellowjackets, and of course, Squid Game. Does the first-ever nominated Korean show have a chance to repeat the success of Parasite three years ago? Seems unlikely. I have to agree with the Washington Post assessment, because between perennial favorite Succession and two big departures, the smart pick here is Better Call Saul. I’m pretty sure Breaking Bad won only one Outstanding Drama award, and that was for its last season. The Academy, or whatever it is, sure loves pulling that stunt. … More Emmys 2022

K-Drama Report: Inspector Koo

Little by little, I’m getting a sense for the geography of South Korea. Of course, there’s metropolitan Seoul and Busan. You land in Incheon, a major city to the east. Jeju is a popular vacation spot. Irene and her accent come from Daegu. Now we have the setting for K-drama Inspector Koo, Tongyeong, a destination on the southern coast which CNN praises for its “fresh seafood, picturesque seascapes and quaint fishing village charm.” After only two episodes, I desperately wanted to visit. Who knew a murder mystery could be so flattering for a city, but every chase scene, every surveillance detail is another opportunity for a wide shot or roving camera showcasing the mountains or festivals or public gardens. This is a regular feature of the genre as I’ve witnessed it, that K-dramas are always selling something, and in total present the shiny artifice of a country at its best. How is it that every male lead is at least six feet tall and every female lead is five-foot four? And take a look at this black bean noodle – doesn’t sound appetizing, but it looks amazing. How about that sunset on the skyline? There’s a beach in everyone’s backyard here, but you fall in love on the bridge over the river. … More K-Drama Report: Inspector Koo

Gianna Jun | The Last Vampire vs. Ashin of the North

Like all those books with straightforward titles like How to Learn JavaScript, I’ll note in this introduction that “This is not a book on how to learn JavaScript,” and in this case, I won’t be summarizing Gianna Jun’s career between the films Blood: The Last Vampire and Kingdom: Ashin of the North — not exactly. But I chose these two movies because together, they suggest something about how stars are made. … More Gianna Jun | The Last Vampire vs. Ashin of the North

Zombie Mad Scientist [PODCAST]

With Netflix K-shows being renewed left and right, what better a time to talk about Kingdom than this tense moment before season three gets the green light, too? In other words, I couldn’t wait. How could I resist Gianna, focus of this month’s discussion? For whatever reason, when Kingdom: Ashin of the North was released, my first thought was Blood: The Last Vampire, and together, they may say something about international star-making. … More Zombie Mad Scientist [PODCAST]