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

South Korea Takes a Big Step [Podcast]

This month, I’m joined by regular QNA cohost Donovan Morgan Grant for a spoiler-filled and plot-summary-free discussion about recent Netflix release Love and Leashes, our own private movie event of the year. Which of us blinks first and discloses their sexual proclivities? Given that the shock of this movie is its novelty as K-drama, is it actually a major step forward for fictional women in the workplace/bedroom? And if so, can we say that it’s then a step forward for even non-fictional women? … More South Korea Takes a Big Step [Podcast]

Love and Leashes

Two office workers in South Korea enter a secret sadomasochistic relationship with the woman as the dominant and the man as the submissive. There’s a lot of intriguing words in this or any given logline for Love and Leashes, an ostensible romantic comedy clocking in at an epic two hours of whipping and bondage and the occasional hijink. What do you want from a movie like this? If you want a big, mainstream Korean movie about BDSM – in essence, The Korean BDSM Movie – it’s a no-brainer and you’ll likely be as satisfied as I was by the accordant trappings. If you want a solid rom-com with all those respective trappings, my recommendation will be longer and more convoluted. With the visual affect of a typical sun-drenched K-drama, shot with concern for beautiful faces and spurred by an eagerly open heart, Love and Leashes presents a strange case where everything absolutely works, except for the script – the bedrock. It’s beautiful and ambitious and something of a mess. Never frustrating, but imperfect nonetheless. … More Love and Leashes

Loves and Leashes Preview

So there’s two thoughts running concurrently when it comes to the upcoming Love and Leashes, that A) it’s probably not gonna check all the right boxes and B) but just enjoy it, please? No matter what happens, it doesn’t really matter, but it’s kind of like when whenever a new movie has a [minority identity] lead for the first time. I guess like Love, Simon, the all-too recent first Hollywood movie to be about a gay romance. Critics were bracing themselves, to the point where a common sentiment online was “let gay people have a crappy Hollywood romcom, too.” … More Loves and Leashes Preview

01/17/2022 – That’s Messed Up, Seohyun

Yeah, so this is a movie, and it’ll be out in a month. How I’ll be able to wait that long is anyone’s guess. I opened the Instagram app while the Yellowjackets season finale was paused and what was there to greet me? Seohyun’s latest post, this poster. It’s been over two hours now and I’m still shaking. That part at the end of the episode with Shauna and Jackie might be playing a part, also the incredible cold here in New England, but this is gonna distract me for a good long while. … More 01/17/2022 – That’s Messed Up, Seohyun

01/02/2022 – I Really Wanted to Love This

So, in the world of K-pop, SM Entertainment recently put together a supergroup made up of members of Girls’ Generation, Red Velvet, and Aespa, all led by the Queen of K-pop BoA (as if they weren’t busy enough?). With the rush of the holidays, I barely had time to even process this, because it’s an unreal lineup: you have the superstar vocals of Taeyeon and Wendy, the crazy dance talent of Hyoyeon and Seulgi. It’s also an opportunity to educate myself, as I’m not studied enough to be able to tell BoA from newcomer Winter. I know, it’s shameful, I’m sorry. Karina is easily identifiable because she’s the one who looks like Taeyeon. I mean, it’s uncanny. And the group is called Girls on Top, a BoA callback that’s only too appropriate given the star power. They debuted their first song at SM Town Live 2022 over New Years, and, uh, I don’t know. I don’t even want to say it for fear of turning into a pillar of salt, but it’s bad. … More 01/02/2022 – I Really Wanted to Love This

12/23/2021 – That’s Messed Up, Yuri

Unless you’re a stranger ’round this way, you know that we at With Eyes East are big fan of Yuri. I’d say “fans,” but that’s a half-hearted ruse I can’t sustain for even one sentence. Born Kwon Yu-ri and famous for her membership in Girls’ Generation, Yuri quickly became one of my favorite idols for her charm and friendly demeanor. Unfortunately, we’re all subject to the old maxim: never meet your heroes, or contemporarily, never scroll through headlines. Had you not, you might’ve dodged this winner: “Girls’ Generation’s Yuri Under Fire For Eliminating A Contestant On “My Teenage Girl” For Her Visuals” from Koreaboo, with the brilliantly deadpan subheading: “She was criticized.” … More 12/23/2021 – That’s Messed Up, Yuri

05/16/2021 – Wonderful Days

The last few posts here have been fluff, and that feels especially callous as so much tragedy is happening in the Asian world — Palestine, Myanmar, India, so many more. I’ll hopefully get back to more important business soon, but for now, I just want to record some recent thoughts. First up, I rewatched the original A Better Tomorrow on Friday in anticipation of a future QNA episode about the sequel. I hadn’t remembered much of the first, just that it isn’t as actiony as Woo’s other big movies, and that Chow Yun-Fat surprisingly dies at the end. Watching it this time, I was blown away. … More 05/16/2021 – Wonderful Days

Top 10 YouTube 2020

Well, it’s that time of year again, where we count down the best YouTube videos of the past 12 months (I’d already used “year” in this sentence, so I couldn’t use it twice). What do you mean “again” doesn’t apply in this case? Well, true enough this site and its correspondent YouTube channel launched this year — and what a year! So exciting, wow. Primarily, what helped me through was YouTube, and what a year! Seems like everyone, from Yoona and Yuri to Hayoung started up their channels, providing so much wonderful c-o-n-t-e-n-t to pick up and watch. … More Top 10 YouTube 2020

Top 5 K-Pop Songs

Yes, this is the absolutely definitive top five K-pop songs of all time, according to someone who’s been listening to K-pop for, like, a year. I trust that this list will evolve as I continue on in my Koreaboo journey, so maybe I’ll make it a recurring feature. There’s just something about this music that makes me want to surrender to hyperbole, to shout superlatives and classify things as number one best, not to evangelize but simply to accurately express my feelings. And this isn’t a one-way thing, man. I need to know your top K-pop songs, however you reach me. Email, Twitter, a thrown brick upon the temple, message wrapped around it. Two notes before we begin: first, I’m doing one song per group, so that this doesn’t become a Red Velvet show. And second, you may be frustrated to discover that all these songs are by girl groups. Whenever I say “K-pop,” you know, on the street, a brick in your hand, that’s pretty much what I’m talking about, though that obviously makes for somewhat serious omissions. Whatever! Everybody ready? … More Top 5 K-Pop Songs