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, 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.

Posted in K-Pop, Korea, Portfolio, Uncategorized

K-Pop success in Western Countries?

Recently I have been reading blog posts which discuss K-Pop & Western success. The main thing I noticed was that there are a lot of people who think K-Pop Artists need to release songs in English, in order to get successful in Western Countries. This blog post is going to be about why I think this shouldn’t happen.

The band I am going to use as my main example is… 빅 뱅 (BigBang)!

So BigBang were in America recently and there were many blog posts about BigBang becoming successful in Western Countries. While I was glad to read about BigBangs success, I had a problem, every blog post that I read suggested that BigBang should have an English album. Now, I must state that this is purely my opinion, and I am sure people will disagree. I think, if BigBang or any other K-Pop band started singing in English rather than Korean, it would be a disaster.

I think that K-pop works so well because it is sang in Korean! There is something enticing ad attractive about listening to people talking Korean and I believe that K-Pop is the best way to show how interesting, beautiful & sexy Korean Language is! Singing or Rapping in Korean is what sets K-Pop apart from mainstream music in Western countries. I completely understand that some people won’t listen to K-Pop because it is in Korean, but people who appreciate well made music that is catchy, will listen to any kind of music, regardless what language it is sang in.

Being someone who hangs around with a lot of people who don’t listen to K-Pop, I realised that they tend to think that K-Pop is cheesy and sounds like the type of songs you hear when you play dancing stage in an arcade. So when I showed them songs such as G-Dragons ‘One of a kind’ and a few songs by Jay Park, they were shocked that they sound like songs they would hear in western countries. Some of them even liked the songs so much that they downloaded a few! The point I’m getting to here is that, if K-Pop had more coverage in the press, people will know that it does not sound like the music you hear on Dance Dance Revolution! And they might be more open to listening to K-Pop.

Recently, Psy (Park Jae-sang) has had a lot of media coverage, but as a comical music act, he does not and cannot represent the whole of Korean music. It’s like saying that Taylor Swift can represent western music as a whole. There are several different genres within Korean music, as there is in western music. There is Hip-Hop, Indie, Rock, Pop, R’n’B & Jazz to name a few, the only difference is that they are sang in Korean, by Korean artists!

Now, I was originally going to make one big blog post about K-Pop, but it might not be easy on the eyes! This post is already a bit long so I am going to do a small series of follow up blog posts. The next one is going to be posted today.

Please stay tuned for ‘Why I listen to K-Pop’…

featuring BigBang!