Posted in Korea, Portfolio, Uncategorized

Update: Racism in Korea

Well, I actually can’t believe how time flies. I was on facebook a few days ago and I got one of those reminders about what I was doing on that day in previous years. I came across a post that I had made 2 years ago! It shocked me because it felt as though I had only posted it a year ago. I have been in Korea for almost 3 years now! Crazy!
When I saw the post, I thought, I should probably make an update or an alternative version to it. So, if you haven’t already go and check out ‘Racism in Korea?’

Now, when I was reading over the blog post, I was thinking, I still agree with all of the points I made in that post, but I couldn’t decide if my view on racism in Korea has changed or not. Also, apart from an updated version, I thought that maybe I should make a post about size in Korea instead of Racism. So I will do both. This post will be an update on ‘Racism in Korea?’ and then I will make another post about size in Korea.

Racism in Korea – Update

So, I mentioned in my last post that people stare. They still stare. It’s not a big issue. I have actually started to notice it more but as I said in my first post, I don’t think they are staring at me because of my race. When I do notice them staring, it still doesn’t bother me.

I have actually had more people speaking to me! This kinds of proves that people aren’t as racist as you make them out to be. There are two ways people start speaking to me. The first one is just straight up talking to me, even before I have acknowledged them. The second is, they stare at me and I catch their eye and smile at them. If they are close enough and confident, they usually speak to me. Asking me where I am from, what I am doing in Korea, if I can speak Korean and so on.

Now, in my original post, I gave 4 main points that I hear people mentioning when they speak about racism here. I am going to speak about those 4 points again.

  1. Taxi drivers driving off –  Now, I am not going to lie, I have experienced taxi drivers driving past me. But I still do not put this down to racism. Yes, it is so frustrating when they drive off and I get angry too, but I thought to myself why are they doing this. I have noticed a few things when they drive off. First thing is that there is someone standing further down the road, maybe the taxi driver thinks they were waiting first. Second is that maybe the driver was going to fast to slow down safely. Everyone in Korea knows that the drivers, especially taxi and bus drivers, are crazy. They speed all the time.
  2. Taxi drivers refusing to take you – Another thing that has happened to me more. Now, the taxi driver has stopped. They have seen your skin colour and they stopped. You tell them a location. As I mentioned in my previous blog, people get in taxi’s without saying hello. They just say the place they want to go. I will defend taxi drivers in that case. But there have been times where I have said hello to the taxi driver, told him where I want to go, and he or she says no. Now, it is frustrating. Especially if you are in a rush. But again, I think their are reasons why they have refused, apart from your race.
    A. You are on the wrong side of the road.
    B. You have hailed down a taxi which is going to a different location. There are different kinds of taxi’s in Korea. There are some in Seoul which go towards Incheon or other surrounding cities. Generally if you get one that is going east, it will not go all the way across the city and take you west.
    C. You have asked them to take you somewhere really close. I understand that sometimes you just need a taxi to take you one subway stop away, but for them, they need to think about their income. They would rather wait and take someone who is going a bit further.
    D. You have asked them to take you somewhere too far. The opposite of my third point. Taxi’s usually have to think about your final destination. Will they be able to get another person easily from your final destination? Is it worth the money going across a motorway and having to drive back without a customer?
    There are many reasons apart from your race.
  3. Not respecting the countries culture – I obviously still agree with this point. I have learnt a lot about Korean culture being here and I have also improved my Korean speaking skills. So, generally, Koreans are very pleased and feel good about the fact that I understand their country and their language.
  4. Dress code – Now, this is one that I kind of have a different opinion about. Since I have been in Korea, cleavage, shoulders and backs have been put on show more. Before, it was all about covering your top and wearing a short skirt. But now, Korean women are also showing their chest, shoulders and backs.
    Working in a company with 90% women has showed me a lot. This one kind of leads into the next post that I will make about size in Korea. So I will try and keep it as related to race as possible. For some reason, it is fine for Korean teachers to wear short skirts and have their shoulders exposed without anyone batting an eye at them. But as soon as my skirt was ‘too short’ (still longer than the Korean teachers), It was an issue. Now, it is so hard for me to say that this is to do with race, and I actually don’t think it is. It is to do with size. And so I will leave this here!

In general, my opinion is that Korea is still not as racist as people make it out to be. Race is such a touchy topic, especially now. So, it is important to just forget about your race. As I said before, even though someone is staring at you, it doesn’t mean that they are thinking racist thoughts. Be positive and give others the benefit of the doubt. Maybe then you will realise that their stares could be something positive. A compliment. You never know!

 

Posted in Korea, Portfolio, Reviews, Uncategorized

Hollywood Films, Korean Actors?

This post does not mean to offend or upset anyone who is reading. This post is solely my opinion.

koreanwave

With the growing success of the Korean Wave, Korean artists such as Psy and BigBang are gaining more coverage and popularity in Western countries. But during my research in to my dissertation, I realised that the Korean Wave has been around before most of our favourite K-Pop groups and artists. The Korean Wave initially started with Korean Cinema.

Korean films gained popularity in Western countries in the early 2000’s. This lead to the rise in Korean actors wanting to be casts for Hollywood Movies. The increase in interest in Korean films made it possible for Korean actors to succeed in getting roles in Hollywood films. However, are they gaining recognition as being Korean?

sung kang

Last week I watched Fast & Furious 6. at the end of the film, it occurred to me that Sung Kang (Han in the films) is Korean. To be exact he is American Korean but what made me think was, in Fast & Furious 6 he is in China and of course he was in Japan in Tokyo Drift, but his character has never been stated to be Korean. In Fast & Furious, he actually has two names, Han Lue & Han Seoul-Oh. Obviously the later is a Korean name, but as the film does not mention that he is Korean, many people believe his character is Japanese. This made me realise that many Korean actors are cast in American films, but the characters they are cast for are very rarely Korean.

Now I know this isn’t important but it cropped up in my research for my dissertation. My dissertation was about how the Korean Wave has influenced adopted Koreans to connect with Korean culture. As the topic is under researched and specific, I needed to conduct in-depth interviews with adopted Koreans. One person I interviewed mentioned Korean actors in American films and this was really important.

To prove my point, listed below are a few examples of Korean actors in Hollywood films, being cast as non-Korean characters.

ninja-assassin_l1

Sung Kang – The Fast & The Furious series – Korean name but thought to be Japanese or in The Fast & The Furious 6 – Chinese
Rain – Ninja Assassin – Japanese
Sung Kang again – Ninja Assassin – Japanese
Randall Duk Kim – Ninja Assassin – Japanese
Lee Byung Hun (eek) – G.I. Joe – Japanese
Jong Dong Gun – The Warrior’s Way – Character name Yang – used by American directors when they don’t want to define the origin of Asian characters.
Leonardo Nam – The Fast & The Furious – Tokyo Drift – Japanese
Rick Yune – The Fast & The Furious (2001) – Vietnamese
James Kyson – TV Series Heroes – Japanese
Ken Jeong – The Hangover – Chinese
Bae Doona – Cloud Atlas – portrayed as 3 different characters with 3 different  ethnicities – Korean, Mexican and White (or possibly Mixed Race White & Black)
And many more.

Although my last example of Cloud Atlas is a bit more confusing.

However, as previously mentioned this post is not intended to offend anyone . I am not saying that Korean actors should only play Korean characters in Movies and TV shows, I just hope that American movie and TV shows can start to acknowledge Korea more in their films. There are, of course, films and TV shows such as Lost (starring Daniel Dae Kim & Kim Yun Jin), The Walking Dead (Starring Steven Yeun) and Film Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (John Cho as leading character Harold). But, during research for my dissertation, I spoke to adopted Koreans who, in their childhood and teen years, looked for Korean role models in Hollywood films and TV Shows. One adopted Korean I interviewed stated that he:

‘looked for Korean role models but whenever I saw an Asian guy in a movie, he tended to be Japanese or Chinese. I knew I was Korean so finding a role model was important for me to feel connected to my culture. When I grew up, I realised that Rain from Ninja Assassin was actually Korean, but his character was Japanese. I feel like the younger generation of adopted Koreans are probably doing the same thing I did but are having no luck. It’s strange how there are a lot of Korean actors in American films, but they aren’t playing Korean characters’.

But in the end, I am proud of all of the actors and actresses listed above and others who are breaking into Hollywood films. They are truly great actors and I wish them success in the rest of their careers. Hopefully with the growth of the Korean Wave, more Hollywood films and TV series will include Koreans as Koreans and acknowledge Korea more.

BACK ROW: ELIZABETH MITCHELL, DANIEL DAE KIM, DOMINIC MONAGHAN, JORGE GARCIA, MICHAEL EMERSON, HENRY IAN CUSICK, EMILIE DE RAVIN; FRONT ROW: YUNJIN KIM, MATTHEW FOX, JACK BENDER, CARLTON CUSE, DAMON LINDELOF, EVANGELINE LILLY, JOSH HOLLOWAY

Posted in Korea, Portfolio, Reviews

Review: The Virus

250px-The_Virus_-_Korean_Drama-p1

As mentioned in my comeback post, I have been watching dramas since I handed in my dissertation. Although this isn’t the first drama I have watched in May, I have the urge to write about it as I have just finished the series.

The Virus (더 바이러스) is a drama which aired in April & May 2013 and consisted of 10 episodes, making it the shortest Korean drama I have ever watched. I am critical about this drama because, although the story and ending of the drama was amazing, there was something missing for me.

The lighting and acting for the drama was perfect as it corresponds with the dark and cold story. However, I felt like these 10 episodes dragged on and did not grab my attention, apart from of course the extremely handsome Lee Ki-Woo (이기우)! Also more importantly, Uhm Ki-Joon (엄기준) shows amazing acting skills in this drama. Although I found it hard to connect with any of the characters, his acting was outstanding in a few scenes!

For such a smart and unique story, I feel this drama could have been slightly longer and focused more on the characters personalities or development of things (I don’t want to give the story line away!!). However, having said that, as mentioned before the drama dragged on, but I think allowing the viewers to connect with the characters would have added more of a kick to the story line.

I found it interesting that this drama had a lot of English in it! And not from Koreans but from non-Korean actors. However, one flaw was that the non-Korea characters all understood Korean 100% but were unable to talk in Korean…

Of course, the final episode was a bit rushed, but the writer, Lee Myung-Sook (이명숙) came up with a story line that really made me think! Of course the show is about viruses but the way in which Lee Myung-Sook connected the spread of virus with the competitive world and economy was truly amazing!

Although this drama isn’t as exciting as I would have liked, I would recommend watching The Virus for it’s story line. It is a short drama anyway so my fellow Korean drama lovers could finish it in a few days!

I give this drama a 3 out of 5, but the story deserves a 4.5 out of 5.

Posted in Korea, Portfolio, Uncategorized

Korea in the Metro?!

Although Korea is a popular topic in the media at the moment due to high tension between South and North Korea, today I opened up a copy of Metro and on one of the first pages, I stumbled across this article:

20130410_183710

What is it? It’s 해장국 (Haejangguk) also known as 술국 (Sulguk)!
Well… that’s the original hangover soup but American soldiers in Korea decided to alter the dish a bit. I was really shocked to see that the writer and editor at Metro decided to mention that this is a dish founded in Korea.

However, you may have your facts wrong Metro.

해장국 (Haejangguk)/ 술국 (Sulguk)
해장국 (Haejangguk)/ 술국 (Sulguk)

The original Korean Hangover soup (pictured above) is called, as mentioned above, 해장국 (Haejangguk) also known as 술국 (Sulguk). Although Americans altered this dish, the name ‘Yaka Mein’ is a Chinese dish. It is also a noodle soup but it is not Korean.

YaKa Mein

There are two points of view on the origins of Yaka Mein. One is that it originated in New Orleans when Chinese immigrants created a Chinatown (which no longer exists).

The other is that Yaka Mein was introduced to the US by African American troops who fought in the Korean War. Is the confusion caused by Americans changing the name of 술국 (Sulguk) to Yaka Mein?

Regardless, I am glad Korea was featured in a British newspaper for reasons other than tension between the South and North or Psy.