Wednesday, March 16, 2005

K-Pop, The Series

The sickness is better, but that could just be the long sleeping and the ibuprofen. I cooked some food I found in the fridge for dinner, and I think that may have made me feel a little better, too. Some frozen meat, rice, and kimchi.

Well, I have been sitting on some good photos that can't be posted without the proper background, so let's get started. Topic - Korean Pop music, or K-Pop for short. I should start by saying that except for singers and groups from the 60's, 70's and some in the 80's, my knowledge of modern American Pop music is VERY limited. I only know well one modern singer, and that is Norah Jones. Early last year, to my surprise, I got hooked on K-Pop music. It started with me watching the various K-Pop music channels at the hotel room, and has progressed to me being as extra in a current hit K-Pop song! But let's not get ahead of the story.

The first half of 2004 I was content to watch music video (MV) channels when I could, and also began a collection of CD's and MV files. Then in the summer a remarkable thing happened. I was drinking one Sunday evening at our favorite bar, and it was very crowded that evening. I was talking with the bartender asking about a new singer I had seen that week on TV, and nobody I asked seemed to have ever heard of her (Hanna). Just then, a group of men came in, and all but one sat down together. The one odd man out had no choice but to sit next to me, the only chair available. We introduced ourselves, and I got out my notepad to write my name and his name down. On the paper, was the name "Hanna" I had earlier written. He saw it, and asked why I had that name written. I explained that I was a K-Pop fan, and was asking about this new singer Hanna. To my surprise, he (CT) says to me, "Yes, I know her. She was on my TV show this very afternoon!"

Needless to say, we had a long discussion, and I learned that he was the producer (they call it PD) for a weekly live K-Pop show. My ignorance of American Pop music was emphasized that night, when he explained that he often had Western singers on the show. For example, he told me, we just had Usher on the show a few weeks ago. I stared at him with a blank face - I had no idea who Usher was. He said, ask your daughter, she will explain. CT has a very interesting professional background, and is truly a very nice man. He invited me and my friends to come to the show the following weekend. We went, and had a fabulous time. Over the rest of 2004, I ended up attending 4 performances, one of which I will elaborate on in another episode.

I should point out that I REALLY stand out in the studio at this show, far more than I normally would in other settings around Seoul. The show seems to be targeted at young teenage girls, I would guess middle school aged. You see school kids on the street, and they seem a little reserved and timid. But they leave any shyness at the studio door, let me tell you. When some of these pop-stars came on stage, the roar and shaking of the seats was downright unsettling. One time I remember this singer named Se7en (the 7 is silent, and you insert the "v" sound) came on the stage. I thought the row of chairs was going to tip over, there was such a commotion. All the girls were standing on their chairs, jumping up and down, shouting "SE7EN, I LOVE YOU" over and over again. Such screaming was not reserved for the stars onstage, either. If the door to the waiting room cracked open enough to identify some star, the crowd would similarly go wild. Also, these kids carry "sign cards". I don't know exactly what they say, but think of a football fan in USA holding up a sign cheering for his team. The only difference is that these signs are incredibly well made. We walk through a nearby food court between the parking lot and the studio, and see all these kids diligently working on their signs for the show. Amazing. And before anyone asks, NO, I have not made or carried any signs to the show. I did not stand in my chair and yell. I enjoyed the programs like the mature, sensible adult that I am.

I will end this installment in the K-Pop story with a strange coincidence that happened the first time I went to see this show. The day before the show, one of my Korean friend's and his girlfriend took me to lunch. As we were eating, a large group arrived and sat down at the table behind me. I noticed that my friend kept looking and talking to his girlfriend about the people who just arrived - it turns out that the lady was a well known actress, Chae Shi Rah (채시라). The following day, these same two friends take me to the music show. One of the featured singers was Kim Tae Wook (김태욱), who is the husband of the actress from the day before! While I haven't seen any of Mrs. Chae's performances, Mr. Kim is one of favorite K-Pop singers. With credit to Mr. Kim's website (, here is a photo of the couple.

The First and Only Star Couple I Have "Met" Posted by Hello


Alex said...

Hi, it was an interesting story. But one thing about the singer Kim Tae Wook you met. His Korean name is actually 김태욱, not 김탱욱. ;)
btw, I'm Alex, a Korean in Seoul, happened to visit your blog and I gotta tell you, You have a lovely family.

Chris said...

Oops, Alex, you are of course correct about the spelling. I will fix it now.