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

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]

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

01/18/2022 – Naeun’s Turn

I don’t know when you can consider yourself a fan of something, especially for things with prominent fan culture, like K-pop. For some, I imagine, being a fan is like taking on an identity. I certainly remember what it was like being a groupie, following the cast of a TV show around Hollywood for events and shows and things. It was pretty weird. I made some good friends, though. One of them so good, that when I was leaving Los Angeles last summer, he suggested we hang out and do a double feature of The Raid 2 and The Night Comes for Us, rather than go out to a bar — which I hate doing. Not a socialite, but I did sense that I was developing as a social creature with this new group, because barring my fellow Indonesian kung fu enthusiast, it was made up entirely of women. I’d had a single woman friend before – a token, but for a time she was also my only friend – but this was a new experience. Essentially, I had to learn how to talk to them, to make sure I was doing my part to maintain a good space. The show we were fans of was all about a diverse, inclusive world, so it would have been weird to not replicate it ourselves. For the most part, there was no drama, nothing weird happened, and unlike all my prior friend groups, there was no competition of any sort. No rivalries, no gatekeeping. … More 01/18/2022 – Naeun’s Turn

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