무키무키만만수 (Mukimukimanmansu) is a South Korean indie band that's gone mildly viral thanks to a thirty second clip from a television performance of their song Andromeda. The acoustic guitar and janggu drum duo released their first album 2012 in the eponymous year, and they played other songs off that album on television, which have been gathered into a handy playlist by YouTube user HachikoTanuki. Here are a few other videos: Studio versions of 내가 고백을 하면 깜짝 놀랄거야, 2008년 석관동, 너의 선물; television performances of 방화범 (with guests) and 투쟁과 다이어트; music video maker Vio Kim has recorded them many times, including up close at a concert last year (1, 2, 3, 4, 5); here they are performing with a jazz band earlier this year. And finally, here are demos they made in 2011.
Cousu Main (which starts here) is an adaptation of The Great British Sewing Bee, and the blog of one of the participants features significant spoilers for this season. Although it's in French, the show is not hard for an English speaker to follow, just as Project Runway Vietnam (2013: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8), Project Runway Korea (2009: 1 2 3 4 5 6 ...), and Projeto Fashion from Brazil--among others--make some sense to those familiar with the English-language series Project Runway Australia, Project Runway Canada, Project Runway Malaysia (2007 finale: 1-5 and 6), Project Runway Philippines (2008: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15), and Mission Catwalk from Jamaica.
HEAVEN'S COUNTRYLAND: your 8-bit animated guide to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. (MLYT) [more inside]
Baseball writer Rany Jazayerli tells us about his online acquaintance Sung Woo Lee, fan of the Kansas City Royals, who is having a good week. He's been a Royals fan since the 1990s and this week, he came to the US to see them play for the first time. KC rolled out the red carpet and the Royals are even winning. [more inside]
The Love App. Digital life and couples culture in South Korea.
Simon and Martina, of the joint blog Eat Your Kimchi, are a married Canadian couple that moved to South Korea in 2008. They have a YouTube series called "TL;DR" in which readers can submit questions about living in Korea, and they will answer them to the best of their ability. In short: "You ask questions. We make videos answering them!" Here's a couple: The Threat of North Korea, Korean Food Etiquette. [more inside]
Cracked interviews a NK escapee, an ambassador to NK's grandson, and a journalist covering NK. Want more, without any humor (Cracked is pretty restrained for their piece)? BBC on the people smuggling industry, Yeonmi Park on growing up in North Korea, the Guardian on an ordinary day in Pyongyang, Al-jazeera explains how the Kims rule with an iron fist and some recent photographs of ordinary people in North Korea.
Korean fashion and design is having a moment, but what is fueling it? It's complicated. Let's explore the K-wave. [more inside]
Squirrel and Hedgehog - Yes folks, this is a North Korean cartoon produced in house ... The animation is really good, (episode 24 and on is animated in Flash, while before it was all hand drawn) the story is pretty complicated sometimes, and the characters are cool. The only thing actually wrong with this show, other than it being blatant propaganda, is that the lipsync is awful. [more inside]
Korean grandmothers sell Bacchus drinks (energy drinks) and sex on the side. Once part of Korea's economic engine, older Korean women are turning to prostitution to pay for their living costs. The Bacchus women also work the hiking trails where they offer coffee and sex.
Ferry with 470 Passengers Sinks off Korea Scores still missing, many of them high school students on an excursion. According to comments on the Marmot's Hole Korea blog, passengers were told to wait in their cabins rather than gather on deck. Video from Japanese Fuji television.
The Second Act "Eight years after Seoul National University (SNU) dismissed him for his central role in one of history’s most notorious scientific frauds, Hwang, 61, is in a position many researchers would envy. He heads Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, a nonprofit institute with a staff of 40, a $4 million annual budget, and a new, well-equipped six-story building. His team publishes a steady stream of papers. Devoted dog owners from around the world, as well as the Korean police, seek their services. The institute is applying its cloning know-how to rescuing endangered species and improving livestock breeds, as well as to fundamental research in developmental biology." (previously on MeFi)
There's some confusion surrounding Dennis Rodman's most recent visit to North Korea and his espoused 'Basketball Diplomacy' mission. He sung Happy Birthday (potential auto-play sound) and bowed deeply to 'Dear Leader', before his team of ex-NBA players scored 39 points to 47 against the NK team. Rodman played only in the first half and then sat next to Kim during the second half. [more inside]
Japan and other Asian countries have moved from SMS to smart phone messaging apps, with great success for all.
"Here are some of the Korean dramas that I have watched and some were aired in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 or even older. Although some of them might be older than the others, they are still really good dramas which you will definitely enjoy watching. I am watching some of the newer ones which have just started airing a few weeks back and I will share my thoughts with you after I have finish watching them. :)"
This is The Big Picture, an official television report of the United States Army, produced for the armed forces and the American people. Now to show you part of The Big Picture here is Master Sargent Stuart Queen
The series consists of ~822 documentaries produced by the United States Army Signal Corps Army Pictorial Service from 1951 to 1971 to educate both soldiers in uniform and the American public about military concerns as well as things like historical battles, world geography, famous soldiers, the latest weapons, space exploration, strategic objectives, peaceful initiatives, and the life of a soldier. Being a product of the Federal Government it belongs to the the American people, and is thus freely available to all to copy and distribute. Most can now be viewed on archive.org[more inside]
Why Japanese Web Design Is So… Different... If you've ever visited a Japanese website, it's a little like time traveling back to 1998. Randomwire explains some of the reasons why.
The RAND Corporation's National Security Research Division has released a 297-page report on the likely consequences of a collapse of the North Korean regime, within the Korean Peninsula, as well as to China, Japan, the US and others (PDF).
As Harvey Weinstein decides American audiences aren't smart enough for Snowpiercer, Daily Grindhouse writer Ric Meyers takes a poke at The Weinstein Company's troubled history with Asian Cinema.
This past September, Jessica Ann Lum won a "Best Feature" award in the student-journalist category from the Online News Association, for her Master's project: "Slab City Stories." Less than four months later, on January 13, 2013, she passed away. She was 25. "Jessica loved to tell people’s stories. This is hers." [more inside]
North Korea has warned foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it cannot guarantee their safety from the threat of conflict after 10 April, and has advised them to consider pulling their staff out of the capital. This follows North Korea blocking South Korean Workers from the Kaesong industrial complex - a sign that this might be more material than the usual posturing, warning that a 'moment of explosion' is nearing and moving missiles with "considerable range" to its east coast. Though the US is playing down the threat and the UK and Russia have no plans of moving their diplomats the possibility of an accident or miscalculation leading to war looms. North Korea has earned the reprobation of Russia and Fidel Castro in recent days and even longtime supporter China is beginning to lose patience with it - something some say is not before time.
Awesome rendition of Jimi Hendrix' Voodoo Chile played on a gayageum, a Korean stringed instrument | Scuttle Buttin on the gayageum rocks as well | Joe Satriani's Starry Night, the gayageum version | Luna Lee's YouTube channel. A little about the gayageum.
How Americans live today. A video report describing the living conditions of modern Americans.
In Korea, Changes in Society and Family Dynamics Drive Rise in Elderly Suicides - "The epidemic is the counterpoint to the nation's runaway economic success, which has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries." [more inside]
Around midnight local time (UTC +9) on 12 February the Democratic People's Republic of Korea detonated a 6-10 kiloton nuclear device at the Punggye-ri nuclear test facility. [more inside]
To the tinkly piano tune of "We are the world", a video released last weekend from Uriminzokkiri, North Korea's official website, shows a dream sequence involving various rockets, Korean unification, a sparkle-powered North Korean Space Shuttle, and the apparent missile-based destruction of Manhattan. [more inside]
The video for "Gangnam Style" is the first to reach one billion views (short scale) on YouTube. [more inside]
In May 16, 1961, Park Chung-hee ended the Second Republic of South Korea by military coup. On December 18, 2012, his daughter, Park Geun-hye, became South Korea's president by democratic election under the Saenuri party against human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in, of the DUP. [more inside]
Eat ramyun like a man (SLYT ramenblue)
"Q: What kind of comparisons can be drawn between Asia’s underground railroad and the one in pre-Civil War America? A: The way it’s set up is similar. The safe houses and transit routes are kept secret and vary a lot. There is another similarity in that many of the people who operate on the underground railroad are ethnically Korean, just as many of the operators on the original underground railroad were free blacks." -- an interview with Melanie Kirkpatrick, author of Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad
The crowdsourced film 26 Years opened in first place in Korean movie theaters this weekend. The movie languished in development for four years, before finally being completed by collecting donations online - when fundraising closed on October 20 this year, 21,233 contributors had kicked in 747,790,000 Won (about 690,000 USD). The contributors' names are listed in the movie's ending credits. The movie's controversial subject matter involves a plot to assassinate former S. Korean president Chun Doo-hwan, in reprisal of his role in the Gwangju Massacre of 1980. The movie is based on Korean comics artist 강풀 Kang Full's web comic 26 Years, serialized from April 2006 to October 2006. (Some links in Korean)
Kim Jong-un named Sexiest Man Alive for 2012. Link goes to Korea times.
Korean high school. What's life like for a Korean student? In one of the most competitive societies in the world, how does one find their place? What does it take to achieve your aspirations and goals? [more inside]
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
"You can cause a lot of discomfort and some people will talk but interrogation is not about talking. It’s about the search for the truth."
"But the technique that all of us in Aden listened to agape was a method that had been developed allegedly very recently, which was to suspend the prisoner in a tank of liquid gelatine which was at 94.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Naked. With your arms and legs tied and your head encased in a sort of diver’s helmet, through which you were breathing. You were hung into this tank, so all you could hear was the [breathing noise] of your own breath. And in theory you would go bonkers. Because you didn’t know which way was up, you had no sense." -Interview with British Interrogator #1 [more inside]
Kim Han Sol is the son of Kim Jong Nam, who is the eldest son of Kim Jong Il, the recently deceased North Korean dictator. In this English interview for Finnish TV with former United Nations Under-Secretary General Elisabeth Rehn, he talks about his life, refers to his uncle and current DPRK Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Eun, as a 'dictator,' and says he never met his grandfather. [Part 1 (interview begins at 1:35)] [Part 2]
"If you’re not getting it wrong really a lot when you’re creating imaginary futures, then you’re just not doing it enough."
Wired talks to William Gibson: on Why Sci-Fi Writers Are (Thankfully) Almost Always Wrong, on Twitter, Antique Watches and Internet Obsessions, and and on Punk Rock, Internet Memes, and ‘Gangnam Style’.
The Korean War is sometimes referred to as the "Forgotten War", overshadowed by the massive effort of WWII and the political contretemps of the Vietnam War. For a lot of Americans, our only frame of reference for the war is the TV series M*A*S*H, which itself lasted more than three times as long as the war itself. This set of over 60 color photographs taken by an American soldier who served in Korea during the war offer some compelling first-hand images of the daily activities of the troops (no combat photos) and of Koreans of that time. (via Reddit)
Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea's Music Video Sensation [more inside]
PSY (Park Jae Sang) is a Korean singer, previously graduating from Boston University and Berklee College of Music. His latest, Gangnam Style, parodies K-pop videos and features several singers from that genre, plus Korean tv stars. Gangnam itself is a wealthy region of Seoul. The lyrics are perhaps standard for pop songs, while reactions to the video       show that a visually engaging video and a catchy tune are often fun the world over, irrespective of the language.
Horse Riding Fitness Ace Power! [YouTube, NSFW] (maybe not safe for home either).
A few American students visited North Korea last month (SLYT) and took some amazing footage. While mostly within the confines of the official guided tour it still offers a fascinating glimpse of life in North Korea under Kim Jong Un. A "relentless stream of hyper-positive propaganda."