Oh 누나: Korean and East Asian Studies

"In dreams begin responsibilities." — W.B. Yeats

Welcome to the Dark Side of K-Pop

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There is always a dark side.  I have written two recent posts with videos of the growing soft power that is K-pop.  This over produced glam music has been seen simply as unoriginal in many eyes, but in this industry there is a dark side.  Al Jazeera’s program 101-East provides a 25 minute program that gives an inside glimpse of the Korean Pop Industry, with also little back of  Hallyu,한류) Pointing out how the dark side of the industry hurts young performers (over working them, lack of family and social life)  but also hurts other musical acts that could diversify the scene.

Written by bpeacoc1

February 8, 2012 at 4:52 am

Posted in Asian History

In Search of Non-Renewable Resources in the 21st century

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“I want to make very clear that the United States is going to remain a presence in the Pacific for a long time.”  “That means, just so you understand, that we are not anticipating any cutbacks in this region. If anything, we’re going to strengthen our presence in the Pacific.”  -Mr. Panetta to American allies in the Pacific region, The New York Times

President Obama is becoming the Pacific President.  The U.S. currently has 7 of its 11 aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines based in the region with 85,000 American Service members.  So why sustain such a massive force the area?  While the U.S. military says its to maintain stability in the region from threats like North Korean. One must look towards the largest economic power in the area, China.  So how is Chinese economy a threat to the America.  Its the consumption of resources.  America consumes 1/4 of the worlds oil.  Chinese has consumption of resources keeps growing.  Because non-renewable resources are limited, vanishing, nations will take many different actions to insure they get their share.  Even if it means an arms race, which both America and China can not really afford.

So I thought it was interesting to view China’s growth in engery consumption.

Here a May 2011 Profile by U.S. Energy Information Administration on China’s energy usage.

You can also read up on U.S. Energy Information on the same site.

Written by bpeacoc1

February 3, 2012 at 2:35 am

J-Pop and K-Pop in America

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Today as I was reading the typical everyday sites I enjoy.  I ran across an highlighted article in The Atlantic by Patrick St. Michel titled Does Korean Pop  Actually Have a Shot at Success in the U.S.?  Michel asks an important question in the wake of the latest K-Pop shot at the American market.  Will K-Pop gain the attention it has achieved in China, Japan, Thailand, France and other places.  Are American teens ready for the Korean wave.  To answer this Michel looks at past attempts by Japanese and Korean Pop-stars.  So I thought I would be fun to post up some videos of the artist he mentioned.

First up is Kyu Sakamoto with his international hit ‘Sukiyaki’ which reached Number one  in the United States Billboard Hot 100 in June 1963.

Kyu Sakamoto would the first and only Japanese to have a number one hit in America, but not the last to try.  Up comes the next contestant Pink Lady.

Pink Lady (a Japanese disco-duo) landed in America during the lost years of disco.  ‘Kiss In the Dark’ was their single that reached number 37 in America.

Pink Lady had a short lived variety show on NBC in 1980.  Also Pink Lady performed in Seoul, Korea in 1980 making the duo first ever Japanese act to do so.

With the out break of alternative and Hip-Hop scenes in the 1990’s American audience had little interest with Asian Pop.  With the noticeable exceptions of Japanese bands like Boredoms and Pizzicato Five which gain some mediocre success via college campuses.  Pizzicato Five went so far as to release a single in English, ‘Baby Love Child’ in 1994.

I personally like the lounge-Jazzy, 60’s retro dance sound of Pizzicato Five and would recommend for anyone interested.  But these acts were deemed weird and strange for the mainstream American audience.

Now into the 2000’s, here comes the Pop Queens.  First up would be Japanese Pop star Hikaru Utada.  She debuted in the late 90’s and entered the  international market in 2000’s with the help of Justin Timbaland.  Though even with the help of an American Pop star, she was unable to make a large dent in the U.S. market.  Utada is probably better known to gamers as the singer for the title track, ‘Simple and Clean,’ on Disney and Square’s hit game Kingdom Hearts.

At the start of 21st century Korea enter the American market.  First up, BoA known as the Queen of Korean Pop Music, with dance moves and a voice that was inspired from by American Pop stars.  BoA’s debut single was “Eat You Up” which reach  #9 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart. (never heard of that chart)

But even the Queen of Korean Pop Music was deemed under par for the American market.  BoA has since returned to the Japanese and Korean market.   She has been a huge success in the Japanese market.  I guess there was just bad marketing for her debut in America.  Music producers speculated that if BoA was so success in the Korean and Japanese markets she would do well in America.

The Korean music industry had learned their lesson with BoA.  Now they are working hard to promote and introduce Korean groups to American Audiences.  The first group up is Wonder Girls.  The producers have been relentlessly attempting to push this group into the spot light.  Through TV specials and a tour in America with Jonas Brothers.  They even have a new English single out, “The D.J. is Mine’ along side American girl group The School Gyrls.

But for the award for being the first Korean act to have an appearance on Late Show with David Letterman will have to go to Girls’ Generation.  Girls’ Generation or 소녀시대 (Sonyeo Shidae or simply SNSD) will pursue an American TV audiences by going late night and mid-morning on Live with Kelly this week.  It’s arguable that Girls’ Generation is biggest band in Korea.  How will America accept the Korean Wave, I don’t know.  I do how ever believe the group 2ne1 with their ballads of strong women may resonant with American audience better.

So why am I writing about music that I don’t really listen to?  Well that is easy, the music industry in Korea is playing a key role with spread of a Korean identity in this growing global world.  Korea is a major contender.  The growth of Korean industry and growth of soft power (a sphere of Cultural influence) that is building interest in Korea go hand in hand.  The government sees the Korean Wave as a way to spread Korean industries and interest.  Korea worked diligently after the war to build up an economy and now the nation is spreading it’s cultural influence.  The Korean wave has been successful in many countries building interest in Korea and establishing an image of modern Korean country.  Many countries in Asia are looking towards Korea as an example.  Just has people who watched American movies and listened to American music wanted to reach an American status.  Now even as you watch American popular cultural TV you begin to see the reaches of this Korean influence.

I also wonder about American perceptions of these Asian acts.  Why are there not many successful Asian performers in the American market?  Is there a segregational tendency to sidelined Asian performers?

In the end it will be up to the American youth to decide whether they accept the Korea Wave that is knocking at its’ door.

Written by bpeacoc1

January 31, 2012 at 7:07 am


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I stumbled upon 2 documents today.

Number 1:

Department of Defense

In this chart the DoD has listed personnel strengths of all the U.S. armed forces around the around.  I’ll list a few here on the blog but check out the link for the full chart.

Active Duty Military Personnel Totals

United States and Territories:  Total  1,219,995(of each branch of the military)

  • Army:  497,595
  • Marines:  294,986
  • Navy:  151,806
  • Air Force:  275,608

Europe:  80,718

  • Germany:   53,766
  • Italy:   10,801
  • Belgium:  1,205
  • United Kingdom:  9,382

 East Asia and Pacific:  Total 55,671

  •  Afloat:  15,599
  •  Japan:  39,222
  • Korea, Republic of (figures not available)***

North Africa, Near East, and South Asia:  Total 6,270

  • Afloat: 2,265
  • Bahrain:  2,142

Sub-Saharan Africa:  654

Western Hemisphere: 1,965

  • Cuba (Guantanamo):  929
  • Canada:  130
  • Honduras:  354

***The ROK-US agreed force level is 28,500, which would make the number around the same or more than Europe.  The numbers of Active Duty personnel will also be changing as American foreign Policy shifts to East Asia and Pacific.

Military Bases Worldwide n 2010


Number 2:

(A Summary of DoD’s Real Property Inventory)

This nugget hold the DoD”s information on military bases around the world.  The interesting thing is there is NO mention of Afghanistan or Iraq. None!!

After reading through and looking at the data you first realize how truly massive the U.S. military is.  Second you think this efforts millions of people worldwide.  After that, I think how does U.S. Bases affect communities?  What affects do the bases cause environmental and socially.  Is this helping or destroying communities?  Is this suppressing governments and the people the governments represent.  Or the local governments suppressing the people communities around the bases?  So many questions arise.

To learn more on the topic.  A good place to start is with Catherine Lutz.  She is an anthropologist at Brown University, who has been researching the history of U.S. bases and their effects on communities.  She has two articles on Bases that can be found japanfocus.org that are a good introduction on the topic.

US Military Bases on Guam in Global Perspective by Catherine Lutz

US Bases and Empire: Global Perspectives on the Asia Pacific by Catherine Lutz

Hallyu in America: Girls’ Generation on American TV

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On Wednesday SM Entertainment announced that Korean Pop group 소녀시대 [Girls Generation] will appear on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ Tuesday January 31st. The group also appear Wednesday morning on ‘Live! with Kelly’.

This is an interesting time for the Korean Wave [soft power] referred to as Hallyu [한류] in Korea. Hallyu was original coined by Chinese Journalist do to interesting popular of Korean media in China.  So far Korea has been extremely successful with popularizing Korean dramas, movies, and Pop music throughout Asia.

I remember, in Beijing, talking with two workers at a souvenir shop. When they learned that I worked in Korea, they became ecstatic. They began expressing how much they loved Korean dramas.  They believed Koreans to be smart and beautiful.

South Korea continues to globalize it’s economic and soft power in the form of Hallyu has helped to inspire interest in Korean culture, especially in China.  I hope this trend will continue to help Korea.  The next step will be in other cultural arts and foods.  For example, Korea has a great wealth of literature.  Many scholars have been working on translations.  Anyway, despite critics, the Korean wave continues to expand its’ market.

We’ll have to see how well the late night American audience appreciates Hallyu.

Source:  KoreaTimes


Written by bpeacoc1

January 26, 2012 at 4:07 am

Romance in Korea

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Short clip from Al Jazeera on marriage in South Korea.

Written by bpeacoc1

January 11, 2012 at 11:20 am

Posted in Asian History

America Unviles New Military Strategy

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January 5, President Obama, along with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey, talked with the Media at the Pentagon over America’s 21st defense strategies.

The Obama administration’s new strategy was set forth in the document titled Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership:  Priorities for 21st Century Defense.   The proposed plan is a continuation of Secretary of State Clinton’s announcement of America’s Pacific Century (refer back to my previous entry New Policies or Just old Policies Renewed), during the fall issuing a foreign policy shift back to the Asia-Pacific region.  In November, America already moved military forces into Australia for counter purposes against China’s growing naval presents in the South China Sea.

Now that, America’s main forces have left Iraq (leaving behind the largest American Embassy in the world and large Private military and security contractors) and are winding down in Afghanistan.  The Department of Defense has decided that a new strategy, without prolonged and large land forces, is to be used.  A strategy of using a leaner and more agile Joint Forces will serve ever changing challenges better.  The President called for a continuation of getting rid of,

“outdated Cold War-era systems so that we can invest in the capabilities we need for the future, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; counter terrorism; countering weapons of mass destruction; and the ability to operate in environments where adversaries try to deny us access.”

After a major conflict America has always cut back its military.  Though this time, America will be maintaining it’s military in a different fashion, but mostly be the same.  Yonhap News reported, “U.S. present in Korea will remain unchanged” keeping around 28,000 soldiers.  America place more focus on air force (unmanned drones, missiles, etc.) and navy.  America will want to maintain its status has the largest navy force.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry has prepared a policy of a stable Korean peninsula as first priority for 2012.  Though the fact of the matter is the U.S., China, Russia and South Korea have elections this year; this may cause miscommunication within the region.  Also the Seoul Nuclear Summit over denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be held in March which may add more flair in an already complicated region.  And let’s not forget the regime change in North Korea.

Subsequently, America will not go back into isolation after the Iraq War and will reorganization its military in order to project its power against Iran, China and North Korea.  America will be moving into an even more active presence in the Asian-Pacific region.  This will bring America and China into more conflict as protection of shipping lines carrying vital resources continue to be disputed.  (Check out U.S.-China spat over South China Sea military exercises were China actually called America out last summer)  The two Korea’s will remain in the world’s attention.

I’ll end this little entry with a short video.

Written by bpeacoc1

January 6, 2012 at 4:27 am


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