We now have a group page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/236778466397430/. Check us out! :-D

Friday, December 7, 2007

Thanks to all who supported the
Holiday Fundraiser
to benefit the
Asian Pacific Women's Center
(http://www.apwcla.org/)
@ChimMaya

5283 East Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles
(http://www.chimmaya.com/)
Boutique & Gallery Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Thank you, ChimMaya, for sponsoring this event -
and for supporting the community and local artists!
We love you!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Writers' Strike: An Opportunity for Korean Dramas?

The WGA writers' strike, as important as it is for the fair distribution of revenues from new media, may also prove to be important as the open gate for Korean productions to enter the US mainstream. US networks may soon be beckoning the likes of "My Lovely SamSoon" and "Winter Sonata," calling out in broken Korean, "Tero o sayo!" ("Welcome! Come in!")

I believe that some network exec out there has a wife, a friend, a cousin hooked on Korean dramas shown on an Asian station. He will see the possibilities and start making the contacts to show the first Korean drama on American network television! Guess they have to contact YA Entertainment, which holds the US distribution license for all Korean dramas, right?

I trust the dramas - with the wonderfully talented and beautiful actors - will capture America's heart -- like they captured mine! People will be begging for more! Soon the average American viewer won't remember a time when subtitles felt weird or were frustrating, and that wise network exec will thank his lucky stars that he didn't try to come up with yet another reality show!

Well, we'll see if my predictions come true. Will Korean dramas finally be the "must see" shows that people are talking about? They deserve to be! I hope some smart exec grabs this chance!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Six Martyred Ministers": North/South Korea Co-Production

Did you know that "Six Martyred Ministers," now playing on KXLA, is a North Korea/South Korea co-production? Read more about "Sayuksin" in the article: "Koreas Produce Epic Drama on Royalty." The link to the article is: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/art/2007/08/201_7530.html). I haven't been watching this drama, but after reading more about it, I certainly want to check it out!

The article says that this drama was filmed in Pyongyang and other locations in North Korea. Also, according the article, "The drama, consisting of 24 episodes each of 70 minutes long, features more than 170 North Korean actors and actresses including North Korean dancer Cho Myong-ae. Cho is a well-known North Korean celebrity in South Korea as she co-starred with South Korean singer Lee Hyo-ri in Samsung mobile phone commercials a few years ago."

I thought it was interesting that KBS provided the technology to produce the drama, which includes live music production, featuring music from North Korea. The article states, "The drama has raised expectations as it is the first to be outsourced to North Korea by a South Korean broadcasting company. It is also the first North Korean drama made with the digital technology and equipment support of KBS. Another first for the drama is that it would be the North's first live recording in drama production.But the piece retains North Korean cultural characteristics as it carries more than 30 North Korean music pieces such as the background music and the main theme music."

Read more about "Sayuksin" at http://www.koreanwiz.org/at/drama-sayuksin.html.

Monday, November 5, 2007

YA Entertainment Essay: "What Impact Have Korean TV Dramas Had On Your Life? What impact hasn't it had?" - by Aryf Hussain

YA Entertainment, the main source to feed our Korean drama addiction, recently announced the winner of their essay contest, "What Impact Have Korean Dramas Had on your Life?" The winner is.....not one of us (boo-hoo!) The winner is Sosina Feinga, from Hawaii (http://yaentertainment.com/catalog/winner_sosina.htm). Aryf has given permission to post his entry here. (Thanks, Aryf! Great essay! You should have won!)

My name is Aryf Hussain. I was born in Korea but was adopted and grew up in Sweden. This background information plays a large part in why and how much Korean TV Dramas (K-Dramas) have impacted my life. Being ethnically Korean, for a long time I had had a mild interest in Korea and had made various half-hearted attempts to learn about Korean language, customs and such. All that changed in the Summer of 2006 when I browsed the DVD section of an LA Public Library branch.

I picked up the K-Drama 'Hotelier' and although nothing was written about it on the box, decided to see what it was about. When I started watching it I was surprised at how absorbed and engrossed I became - even more so because I don't watch TV, being one of the few who think it's generally a waste of time. 'Hotelier' had such interesting characters and story. The plot twists, writing, pacing and format was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I immediately tried to write down who was who, in order to fully understand the plot. This led to learning to write and read the Korean 'alphabet' (known as HanGeul). 'Hotelier' was to be my first experience with not being able to wait to see the next episode after each cliffhanger ending. I would make the 45 minute drive just to go to that library every other day, since one can only borrow three DVDs at a time, thus burning through nine episodes every other day. I was born in Korea but abandoned at a n orphanage in Seoul and I guess that must have had something to do with how much of an impact the scene in which 'Frank' and 'Jenny' get reunited with their father, who gave them up as children, made on me. As I cried while watching this scene, I realized for the first time in my life that there may be some issues I still hadn't resolved with being abandoned.

As I jokingly say, "'Hotelier' got me into this whole mess to begin with," and in Fall 2006 I enrolled in Korean lessons at the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles (KCCLA). Growing up in Sweden, there were no Korean role-models or even Korean friends and so I always felt like I was never ethnically part of anything. Watching K-Dramas has played a huge part in enabling me to feel that I not only belong, but am genuinely happy to be part of this group we call 'Koreans'. I have met and continue to meet so many Koreans and Korean-Americans (KAs), many who share the same passion for K-Dramas, and for the first time feel like I actively belong to a group, rather than passively accept being Korean.

Also at KCCLA was a talk on K-Dramas with Tom Larsen of YA Entertainment as guest speaker. We all knew EXACTLY what he meant when he talked about how addictive these dramas are. Everyone laughed when he said something like, "We've all found ourselves awake, watching a K-Drama at 2 am on a work-night, but we think, 'if I only stay awake three more hours, I can find out how this whole thing ends'." I guess this is the K-Drama addict's version of someone who's drinking at a bar and as the morning approaches, convinces himself that he can get by on four, no three...or maybe just two hours of sleep. Myself, I've certainly rolled into work on barely two hours of sleep from having finished a K-Drama at 4 am that morning. When I bought 'All About Eve', I finally had to stop myself after viewing the first eight episodes non-stop.

This summer I participated in a Korean language speech contest at KCCLA. I mentioned how much of an impact food and eating together has on relationships, citing K-Dramas as a prime example where this could be seen. I won second prize, which was a study-trip to Korea. The media was there and there were articles on me and my story LA's two biggest Korean-language newspapers. As a result, people have contacted me about things ranging from finding my biological parents to wanting to set me up with their niece.

These dramas have helped me understand people a little more; that everyone has their problems and sources of suffering as well as joy. For example, how can one not feel sad for Choi Ji-Woo's character in 'Mr. Duke' as she struggles to drive on the freeway, trying to see Kim Seung-Woo's character, all the while aggravating the other drivers? Whenever I see someone drive erratically, instead of getting angry, I try to think of that scene and understand that there's probably a reason for it and that I don't know what they might be going through at that moment.

Even in real-life, the suicide of my favorite Korean actress, Jung Da-Bin (Rooftop Room Cat), hit me really hard. It surprised me how difficult her death was for me, to think that someone felt so worthless and could see no other solution but to kill themselves simply broke my heart. We all die - even when my own father died, I didn't feel the sadness I did with Da-Bin. This is not a terrible thing to say, as I know he had lived a full life and had accepted, even welcomed the need to 'move on'. With Da-Bin there's so much more she could have done, already having reached so many people. This is a testament to K-Dramas and their ability to move people all over the world despite language differences and being out of the Hollywood mainstream.

Even in conflicts with others, K-Dramas remind me that two adversaries don't need to kill each other. How many dramas have had rivals or enemies that can still sit down (over a bottle of soju...) and talk things through, even if things don't get solved overnight? Although it's fiction, this is something we see more in K-Dramas, whereas many Hollywood productions would have the same people just threatening each other.

So now my addiction that I spend too much time and money on is these dramas. Without owning (or borrowing) a series, I can only imagine the agony of having to wait another week for the next episode to be broadcast on 'regular TV'. As mentioned above, these dramas have had a profound impact in my life, but just as important is the simple, sheer joy of tuning in to these characters on the screen and finding out what will happen in their world, which has become ours.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Our Featured Artist: Young Summers!

Several from our group attended the opening of Young Summer's exhibit last Sunday. The opening was a great event with live music, a Korean tea ceremony and traditional singing.

The exhibit, a three-person show, runs through December 16th at the William Grant Still Cultural Art Center (2520 West View Street, Los Angeles, CA 90016). The gallery is open every day, even Sunday, 12:00 to 5:00.

Young said in an email, "I hope many more people will come to see the exhibit. On Tuesday, Donna Angers, another artist from the show, and I were on the radio interview, KPFK 90.7 FM at 2:00 PM live, with the hosts Bobbee Zeno and Donna Walker. It was very interesting. We talked about the show and ourselves as artists for 10 minutes. It will be archived for 2 1/2 months at their website, KPFK.com."

She added, "the exhibit was significant for the three of us because we are late bloomers as painters. I think art has always been an important part of our lives, even when in a dormant stage, till we came out in public. I believe in the hidden force that shapes who we are."

For more information, call (323) 734-1165 or go to the website: https://webmail.elac.edu/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.troubledisland.com/wgsartcenter/ .

Below is Young's "Artist's Statement" for the exhibit. In it she shares her favorite subjects to paint and her ingenious approach to entertain and delight the viewer.


"Artist's Statement"
by Young Summers

For my paintings I often find inspirations in nature (animals, trees, rocks, clouds and people). Human figures are my favorite subjects of all.

As a kid, I loved to draw people all the time, any place where there was a blank space. (Once I drew on a white wall in my relatives' new house to their chagrin.) In school, I would fill my notebooks with drawings of people (usually imaginary female figures, but sometimes teachers' faces). Occasionally, I got into trouble as a result. That youthful, unbridled urge to make pictures has taken a backseat over the years as adult responsibilities in life took over. Now and then, I reminisce about that time as the most creative period in my life.

Then, many moments along a circuitous path led me back to enjoying myself as a painter. One such moment occurred about three years ago when my son was well into his college life. I discovered a friend, with an extremely busy life, was painting. I was surprised and impressed by the fact that she managed to find time to paint at all! There was also my 80-year-old mother, who had taken up watercolor painting at 70, prodding me to get into painting. But finally, it was my own words that urged me forward - the mantra I’d repeated to my son while raising him, "Live up to your potential! Don't waste your talent!" Fortunately, my husband (another artist “on leave”) was there to understand my need to create art.

I am now happily applying myself to that goal - exercising my imagination to draw and paint my favorite things in life: human figures, things in nature, and anything that may trigger my senses toward a creative end.

I like to conjure up images of people, animals or some other creatures from such motionless things as trees, rocks or clouds, and infuse them with liveliness as if they are animate. I try to achieve that effect by using fluid curvy lines and focusing on their unique characteristics as in figure drawing.

Also I enjoy transforming creatures to be part of something else by embedding or hiding them in pictures, to further engage and entertain viewers. Hopefully, I want my paintings to have humor along with feelings of puzzlement or surprise.

One could say my paintings exhibit a sort of shamanistic spirit in a surrealistic manner.

Thank you,
Young

Saturday, October 6, 2007

More Korean Film Links

In checking out the websites listed in New Korean Cinema, edited by Chi-Yun Shin and Julian Stringer (New York University Press, 2005), I went to the Seoul Net and Film Festival (http://www.senef.net) , which was held in September 2007. NOTE: YOU CAN STILL GET FREE ON-LINE ACCESS TO SHORT FILMS AND WEB-ART UNTIL DEC. 31, 2007! YOU DON'T HAVE TO PAY OR REGISTER TO DOWNLOAD THESE INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES! VERY COOL!

Other interesting websites from New Korean Cinema (p. 228):

Asian-Pacific Media Center: http://www.asianfilms.org/
Korean Film Archive: http://www.koreanfilm.or.kr/
Korean Film Page: http://www.koreanfilm.org/

Film festival websites (with dates of latest film festival):

Pusan International Film Festival (just finished - October 07) http://www.piff.org
Jeonju International Film Festival (April-May 2007): http://www.jiff.or.kr/
Kwangju International Film Festival (December 2006): http://www.giff.or.kr/
Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival (May 2007): http://www.sicaf.or.kr/
Women's Film Festival in Seoul (English option in renewal - under construction): http://www.wiffis.or.kr/

Archival websites (not updated recently, but interesting info):

Asian Cinema Weekly (2004): http://www.kinoasia.com/
CineKorea (2004): http://www.cinekorea.com/


Other Korean film websites (couldn't find English option/Hangeul only):

The House of Kim Ki-Young: http://www.knua.ac.kr/cinema
Korea Foundation: http://wwww.kofo.or.kr/koreana
Korean Independent Film and Videomaker's Forum (Indieforum): http://www.indieforum.org/

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"D-War" Links/Commentary

Hi All, Eric gave permission to post this message. (Thanks, Eric!) It has great links, but if I post it as a regular comment, the links aren't active, meaning you have to copy/paste to the address line. So, for now, I thought I could post it this way so you can easily access these great resources. --Sharon

Eric wrote.....

Hmmm..., these numbers don't add up. I'm not reading these numbers correctly. Based on these numbers, "D-War" only made $24 milUS for foreign box office. http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/series/SouthKorea.php

But in this web page (I would go by these results more than the previous) based on korean box office returns around 7.8 million koreans saw d-wars - wow! And ticket prices are around $5US which is around $39 million US. ("The Host" in boxofficemojo quotes $64milUS for box office returns in South Korea and Wiki quotes 13mil screeenings http://koreapopwars.blogspot.com/2007_08_01_archive.html
Based on this report and "thenumbers", it would seem that total costs would be around $75milUS with a production cost of $33milUS. http://hkfilmnews.blogspot.com/2007/08/d-wars-makes-ton-of-money-yes-thats.html

"The Host" production budget is estimated at $10milUS - the highest before "D-War". http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/2007/THOST.php Looks like "The Host" made a profit in South Korea and the world. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=host.htm

I don't think "D-War" is going to make as much money worldwide as "The Host". Although "D-War" is the highest grossing Korean film in the US????? It looks like from the wiki page on "The Host", the Korean movies are hurt more by the fact that there is no dvd market - due to piracy - yikes! BTW, looks like there are more movie goers in Korea than US, just no DVD market :-) 15mil screenings for weekend - out of 49mil population = 30%
$120milUS(highest grossing Memorial day weekend 2006) = 18.3mil screening - out of 300mil population = 6% http://www.moviecitynews.com/columnists/klady/2006/060529.html https://webmail.elac.edu/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.natoonline.org/statisticstickets.htm (US ticket average at $6.55) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Host_(film)

Amazing web site - Would like to spend more time reading it to learn about korean cinema. http://koreapopwars.blogspot.com/2006_12_01_archive.html

Look at what you can find with google - pretty cool report. Based on this - home video in South Korea is 50% of box office totals and most of home video is VHS - huh?>http://www.unescobeijing.org/download/TRENDS%20IN%20AUDIOVISUAL%20MARKETS%20CHINA,%20MONGOLIA%20&%20SOUTH%20KOREA.pdf
Media markets are quite interesting.
Cheers, Eric

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Recommended Restaurants, Cafes, Tea Houses, Clubs

Anyeong! What places do you recommend? What are your favorite places for Korean BBQ? Coffee or Tea? Sweets? We can discuss places to go here, but there is a list of restaurants, etc., below. Scroll down to view recommended Korean restaurants and sweet spots!

Korean Dramas -- Discussion and Resources

Anyeong Haseyo! Please comment on what you're watching, what you've heard about, and resources related Korean Dramas!

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

Favorite Restaurants (mostly Korean)

Just adding now: Tender Greens (9523 Culver Blvd., Culver City): http://www.tendergreensfood.com/

Banchan a la Carte (141 N. Western, LA): http://losangeles.citysearch.com/profile/45654877/?brand=smx_restaurant-nc Enjoyed their delicious chap chae with grilled veggies!

San Ya (2897 W. Olympic Bl. between Normandie and Vermont - exact cross street is Fedora): They have an 'unlimited' special for $14 right now.



***ChoSun Galbee Korean BBQ : http://www.chosungalbee.com/



***BCD Tofu House:

http://www.bcdtofu.com/

http://local.yahoo.com/details?id=20356598&stx=bcd+tofu+house&csz=Los+Angeles+CA&ed=UFP_y6160Sx1inwP2dQ8W6ZGaFQ8Mk4mhSG6pxsXess8XIZH2cLNGMbsASrAarFdzdqex9XZwMNS8Q--



***Dong Il Jang Restaurant (3455 W. 8th St., LA): http://la.foodblogging.com/2006/01/21/korean-bbq/



***Bon Juk Porridge Shop: near Kingsley and Wilshire



***Mu Dung San Restaurant: http://www.ktownsearch.net/details.asp?id=230



***Cafe MAK: See link below in "Sweet Spots"



Recommended Sweet Spots:



***Union Bakery in South Pasadena (1138 Fair Oaks at Monterey Road): http://www.insiderpages.com/b/3711088944



***Bulgarini Gelato in Altadena: http://www.bulgarinigelato.com/



***Vanille in San Marino: http://www.insiderpages.com/b/3710358077



***Perfectly Sweet in Alhambra: http://www.cityofalhambra.org/about/dining/Sweet.html



***Cafe MAK in LA: http://losangeles.citysearch.com/profile/42539398/?brand=smx_restaurant-nc



***Jin Patisserie in Venice (recommended-can't wait to go there!):http://www.jinpatisserie.com/

A Persistent Passion: Episode Two

By Sharon Allerson

Episode One (Re-Cap):


Two summers ago, our heroine found “My Lovely Sam-Soon” while channel-surfing, and “tiny” Korea jumped off the map and into her life! From “Sam-Soon,” she went on to “Winter Sonata,” and moved from awareness and fascination to…..love, not just for Bae Yong Jun, but for Korea itself! During that year, she watched dozens of Korean dramas, sharing her newfound love with her family and friends. Most got hooked, staying up till 4 or 5 a.m. to watch DVDs she lent them. (You’re reading this, so you understand!)



She made new friends, too: Choonhee, the librarian at her college, and June and Wally (aka Yun-Suk), owners of a neighborhood bakery. They tried to teach her to say “Anyeong Haseyo” and “Gamsahamnida,” but her tongue tripped badly on the new sounds. Given our heroine’s bigger, better world view, she wanted to learn more. When Choonhee recommended the Korean classes at the Los Angeles Korean Cultural Center (KCC), our heroine’s addiction was about to lead her way beyond her TV……


Episode Two: Close-up of our heroine, during break at Korean language class, awkwardly picking up kimbap with chopsticks.



“But how did you become so interested in Korean dramas, Sharon?” That was Jenny, a communications major from Singapore, just finishing her degree in L.A.



“I don’t know. I just started watching and knew,” I replied as I grabbed a napkin, “knew that true love still exists somewhere in Korea.”



“Oh, Sharon,” she said, evidently concerned about my delusional state. I shrugged, smiled, and we both laughed.



They say that something is love made visible. I don’t remember. Maybe it’s Korean dramas. I do remember another thing people say about love - that it isn’t just a feeling; it’s an action. This past year, I know I moved past the feeling part of loving Korea to the action. As I summarize all of these changes, I will probably amaze myself!



A year ago, when I started studying Korean at KCC, people asked, even KCC asked on the application, why I wanted to learn Korean. All I could say was that I wanted to know more, to understand. In just a few weeks, I was amazed - I could read! I went from not knowing if a storefront sign was in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, to knowing it was hangeul, and I was able to sound it out. I didn’t know what it meant – but I could read! Now I have some basic conversation skills and am building my vocabulary. I can say: Hangook drama-reul sarang hamnida! (I love Korean dramas!)



Korean language classes were just the start! This spring, I attended KCC’s Korean Entertainment lecture series and learned more about Korean dramas, film, and animation. At the last lecture, I got the names and contact info of people who wanted to keep meeting to discuss Korean films and dramas and to explore other avenues of Korean culture – especially those avenues in nearby Koreatown! I’ve organized several gatherings for the “Hallyu Surfers” to have dinner, see films and attend cultural events – surfing the Korean Wave together! I now have my favorite Korean food – bibimbap – and favorite places to go – Chosun Galbee and CafĂ© MAK, where Elisa helps me with Korean! This new leadership role has been good for me – and so much fun! I’ve made some wonderful friends! I’ve also delved deeper into Korean film, doing some research to help prepare for a possible lecture series, even contacting scholars about participating and being delighted by their positive response! Perhaps they, too, crave more opportunities to talk about Korea!



I’ve attended KCC’s art exhibit openings, tea ceremonies, and musical performances. Images related to my experiences with Korean culture now appear in my writing. I hadn’t realized that the connection being formed was so deep. Several poems later, I was writing one screenplay about a kidnapping in Korea and another about a young woman who leaves Jeju Island in the 50s for Seoul and meets a young American soldier – someone like my dad, who actually served in Japan. That story, entwined with my own family’s history, further deepens the connection with Korea.



As I’ve continued to learn more, I’ve gained the wisdom to know that this “Persistent Passion” is not a five-episode drama, like “Freeze.” It’s an epic, like “Dae Jang Geum,” that will have more twists and turns than I can imagine. In fact, just this week I started my first blog, where I share some of my Korean-inspired poetry. I foresee a serious addiction to managing the online discussion on all things Korean!



Back when I was just “in love,” not actively loving and courting Korea, I had this fantasy: Bae Yong Jun would thank me for writing such a great screenplay for him, and I would – oh so eloquently thank him for touching my heart in “Winter Sonata.” Adapting that drama’s metaphor of finding your home in the heart of your true love, I would say something like, “Invisible walls were knocked down as I watched ‘Winter Sonata,’ and my heart grew and grew! Now my heart isn’t just your house, it’s your summer palace, big enough to hold all of Korea – North and South! – and even most of Asia! You can come visit whenever Seoul gets too darn hot!”



Since that fantasy, when an eager fan waited in a breezy, elegant, empty palace for her Yonsama, things have changed. As you can see, I have less time for all my dramas – though I still watch them and continue to get my friends addicted! Now I am busy with a real connection to Korea, one that started out in stories about love, loss, family and friendship in a culture I knew so little about. Once I watched, however, I understood, and it became a part of me. I am so thankful. I wasn’t bad before, but now I am so much better! And if Bae Yong Jun comes to visit his summer palace, he will have to wander the crowded hallways to find me among all the people I’ve come to know and love. When he finds me, of course, I will give him a big hug – one of those “Korean hugs,” when usually the guy pulls the girl close to him, and suddenly they know how much they mean to each other. Then, I’ll say “gamsahamnida, oppa!” - - and let him go....



Bae Yong Jun watches as our heroine walks over to the TV in the palace living room and turns it off so her friends can talk. He is suddenly grabbed by Auntie Lourdes, who looks like she’s going to faint! “When I watched you in ‘Untold Scandal,’ I – I – can’t breathe!” She collapses in his arms! A beautiful young Asian woman, Michelle, rushes over to help. Bae Yong Jun looks on as Michelle revives the older woman. Michelle looks up, and Bae Yong Jun gives a start as he gazes into her eyes. A look of recognition? His long lost sister? A reunion of souls destined to meet? Be sure to watch Episode Three of “A Persistent Passion”……