September Round-Up: A Sudden Attack

I feel like I wait months for any sort of news, or spend years buoyed by rumors and fan hopes (“Bring back Level Up Project!”), so when the big announcements come, I’m caught completely off-guard. In short, 2022 keeps on giving. … More September Round-Up: A Sudden Attack

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

Queendom of the Gods

First and foremost, congratulations to WJSN for winning Queendom 2, though the real winner of course was Taeyeon, filling in for Lee Da-hee. I got into Girls’ Generation a bit sideways, so I’m only now reconciling with the scope of Taeyeon’s celebrity. For anyone else who doesn’t fully understand, Taeyeon is an idol for idols. I’ve seen a number of other idols talk about how cool it would be to one day meet Taeyeon, and I saw Bomi all nervous before being in the same room with her. That’s one thing I’d love to really get, the X factor of knowledge that might come from growing up with all that pop culture. The implicit things like Taeyeon’s godliness or what do Koreans reference in their day-to-day? I’ve picked up on some of it, like references to White Tower or The World of the Married? Anyway, speaking of K-dramas, what was interesting about Queendom 2 for me was Bona’s return of the king, where she joined her group after having missed more than half the show due to Twenty-Five Twenty-One. … More Queendom of the Gods

Mid-Year Report 2022

You guessed it! Time for lil’ ol’ me to give a tally on the year so far, in the form of a Top 5 and Worst 3, anticipating our annual QNA Year End Review. How much will things change before we hit December? And of course, these are not all 2022 releases, just things I’ve seen this year. We’ll have more later, but a listen-back to “Twenty-Five Twenty-One” by Jaurim calls me here. That song obliterates me. … More Mid-Year Report 2022

My Red Velvet Spotify Playlist [Podcast]

Well, everyone, it finally happened. A friend of mine said to me, “I’m trying to get into Red Velvet. What do you recommend?” Those are the most beautiful words under Heaven. It more than made my day; it answered with the sweep of catharsis a long-running anxiety I’ve had about the art of recommendation itself, that it’s been lost, that people don’t really mean it when they ask anymore because criticism and curation have been so thoroughly decentralized, but here she is: “What do you recommend?” … More My Red Velvet Spotify Playlist [Podcast]

There Are No Female Jedi

I’m currently embroiled in one of those arguments where the stakes are not even and things could get messy. Podcast guest host Stella took exception to a recent comment I made on QNA about the venerable Star Wars series, how I was uncomfortable as a kid watching the Prequel Trilogy because so many of the Jedi were men. It was only with Rey in The Force Awakens that I felt “Maybe this could be a universe for me, too.” Stella, a far more ardent Star Wars ardherent, with a trove-like knowledge of the Expanded Universe beyond my reckoning and a more intense investment in female representation in fiction (as a female in non-fiction), countered that there are, in fact, Jedi who are non-men. … More There Are No Female Jedi

Underworld Politics

By happenstance, I waited more than a year to revisit the world of Johnnie To’s Election, finally sitting down to watch Election 2 (A.K.A. Triad Election) kind of on a lark. I was all geared up for Reign of Assassins while the world is in Yeoh mode, but then a flip switched in my head. I liked the first Election well enough, despite that its depiction of gangsters took me by surprise. They were always getting hit by cars or eating plates or never, ever firing a gun. I also struggled to keep up with the story, thrown immediately into the deep end with way too many characters all talking about many other characters. But by the end, it weirdly clicked. Oh, shit, that’s a hell of an ending. Now that I kind of understand, I’m wondering if the second and final Election movie will be clearer to start out. Nope! But what is clearer is that it’s phenomenal. … More Underworld Politics

speechless.

By the third viewing, I’m beginning to see what they’re doing with “Feel My Rhythm” and perhaps The ReVe Festival 2022 altogether, as this video feels like a spiritual remix of the three lead singles from the Festival trilogy, “Umpah Umpah,” “Psycho,” and maybe especially “Zimzalabim.” I’m seeing some of the key dance moves, the costumes, similar camera work and visual motifs. … More speechless.

Kamjagiya

I can’t focus, so let me share something real quick. There are certain Korean words I’ve picked up listening to K-pop, watching K-dramas, and mostly, watching and rewatching the same Red Velvet videos (Level Up Project, behind-the-scenes, V-Lives, fan edits, you name it), and while it isn’t enough to call a starting point, I’m surprised every time I recognize anything. Some words are so specific to the people who said them that they’re indelible, like how Seulgi says “Bashta” about a beer, or Eunji with (I think) “그래” in a scene from Cheer Up, and Yeri the same in a V-Live. Wendy says “Yorubun” a very particular way at some point, but I don’t remember the context. … More Kamjagiya

K-Pop 2021: Top 3

May this come in a little late but find you, nevertheless, well. Only appropriate; this could be the first year I’ve been current with K-pop groups enough that a ranking is even possible. I’m still digging through the archives, but 2021 was a big year for comebacks. Strangely, none of these entries are group efforts. I guess that while the industry is recovering still, they’ve found that solo outings are more manageable? Either way, I heard some great stuff. What were your picks? … More K-Pop 2021: Top 3