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

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What Dramas are YOU Watching Now?

There have been soooo many good Korean dramas lately! I've really become a couch "kamja"!!

Now I'm watching "Coffee House" and "Definitely Neighbors" in addition to the daily drama, "A Good Day for the Wind to Blow." I have not gotten too involved in "Cinderella's Stepsister" or "Prosecutor Princess" -- will catch those later! I've also gotten behind on "Becoming a Billionaire" and "Great Merchant Man-deok." Then, on http://www.dramafever.com/, I was watching "You're Beautiful." (Somehow that attracted me before "Iris.") Anyway, it's almost too much of a good thing!!

All this spring, I was watching "Jejoongwon" and "Chuno/Slave Hunter" -- wanted them never to end! Also, online I was watching "Personal Taste/Personal Preference." Loved it!!

The only American TV shows I've watched in the last two weeks were "Memphis Beat," starring Jason Lee, -- liked that! -- and "Hot in Cleveland," starring Betty White and the girls -- want to like that, but...not sure yet. How can South Korea come up with such intriguing stories with characters that you love to love and love to hate? Even though I've watched so many at this point, they still get me hooked!!

Well, leave a comment about any dramas you're watching these days, OK?
Have a happy and safe 4th of July week-end!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Remembering Jeff Rosenberg...

June 23rd is Jeff's birthday, so it's a good time to remember our wonderful friend, who left us way too soon! Feel free to leave a comment here if you'd like to share a memory about Jeff, OK?

Jeff was always making everyone in Korean Beginning B and C and Intermediate A laugh! I still sing "Annyong Haseyo-o-o-0" to myself as I walk to Korean class from the parking structure. That was our class song for the December karaoke contest in Intermediate A. He'd asked me to sing with him in the competition -- of course, he was being generous since he'd never heard me sing!! I've always regretted not doing that! He would have made it fun -- and would have carried off our performance in fine style! Lesson learned -- Just do it! You might not have another chance!

Again, if you'd like, share a memory of Jeff in a comment to this blog. Thanks!

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Tears of the Amazon" --MBC's Powerful Statement on the Destruction of the River, the Rainforest, and Indigenous Tribes

To a packed house on two consecutive nights this week, the Korean Cultural Center, LA, screened all three episodes of the documentary, "Tears of the Amazon." I'd wanted to see it, thinking I'd learn something different, from a "Korean perspective," on what's happening in the Amazonas rainforest, and, hey, I'm not that much of a Lakers fan that I'd have to stay home and watch the game!

Anyway, both evenings proved enlightening. Wednesday evening, with episodes 1 and 2, the documentary drew the viewers into the dangerous beauty of the river and the surrounding rainforest -- 35 times the size of the Korean peninsula! (I think I got that right!) Spectacular scenes of monkeys, sloths, prehistoric fish, aramadillos, and crocodiles came alive in the high quality HD production. Co-existing along the river banks were various tribes of indigenous peoples. True to the approach of Korean dramas that made Korean culture, history, and family life and relationships a part of my anglo-in-LA life, "Tears of the Amazon" captured story lines from the intimate lives of indigenous people. We shared the joy of a celebration, including one tribe's festival that excluded the women -- until the women took revenge! Hilarious!! There were the joys of hunting and fishing to provide for one's family, the pregnant woman awaiting her first baby, the woman who made it to the finals in a wrestling competition though her husband hadn't made it that far in the men's competition, and even the adolescent girl who was advised by her mom to tell her if she slept with a boy. Most touching of all the human scenes that first evening was the story of an 8-year-old girl who was totally on her own, tagging along and helping where she could just to survive. Her mom had died, and her dad had abandoned her to go to the city. She still had an uncle whose only contribution to her livelihood was not to help her so that she would continue to develop the skills she needed to survive.

That was the first night, which intimately engaged the viewer in the world of the rainforest. Then - SLAM! The next night was filled with destruction all around us! The trees came crashing down -- monkeys and sloth families holding on for dear life! Each tree, according to the beliefs of one tribe, has a soul. Viewing the high-def crash of the trees was as much like witnessing a murder as was viewing dozens of carcasses of enormous prehistoric fish that had been caught illegally despite the Brazilian government's efforts to avoid overfishing through tagging. In fact, sincere efforts made by the Brazilian government to manage the Amazon and the rainforest have proved overwhelmingly ineffective. The ranchers and goldminers continue their slash and burn techniques to clear the land. Clearing the rainforest just to provide barren land where cattle graze? Flushing out gaping holes in the land and using mercury just to find particles of gold for those addicted to a get-rich-quick gamble? What about the massacre of whole tribes of indigenous people -- men, women, and children? Survivors of these attacks have nowhere to go; they don't fit into the tempting city life, but are no longer able to survive on their native lands.

The third episode, while most disturbing, was the most powerful in showing how human greed and irresponsibility are killing the Amazon and its rainforest: the fish are gone, alligators are few and very small, lack of food forces changes in tribal life, like people no longer sharing their catch with the whole tribe and families deciding to move to the city, which has incomprehensible rules and whose luxuries require money that indigenous people don't have. In fact, one scene showed older people attending literacy classes, not to learn to read but to get the free meals that were also provided.

Suddenly, the documentary was over: a eulogy to what was without a trace of hope for the future. Though no glib answers or easy solutions were provided, the experience created by the documentary leaves the viewer caring deeply and feeling responsible. Having viewed this MBC production, I realized it was not at all a matter of a "Korean perspective" on what's going on, this minute, in the Amazon. "Tears of the Amazon" convinces viewers that this is a global catastrophe and that we are all responsible for finding ways to make crucial changes - as soon as possible!

If you get a chance, do see this documentary! "Tears of the Amazon" will be available in retail video stores on line at www.dramafever.com (with minimal commercial interruptions).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

School Food (Revised)

Hi Everyone,
I just tried making a shorter version of the School Food video using my Flip camera's Magic Movie software - hope you enjoy it! In any case, you should visit Ma Dang, located at 621 Western Avenue in LA. What a great space they've created! Catch the latest Korean or Hollywood film at CGV Cinemas -- and stop at School Food afterwards to talk about the film! Don't forget --free parking on that same level in the parking structure!
video

Gotta Check Out Ma Dang on Western! School Food and CGV Cinemas Await YOU!

video

School Food has a fun atmosphere and delicious food! After you eat, walk across the courtyard to see a film at CGV Cinemas! Free parking on the 4th floor! 621 Western Ave., LA. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ma Dang is Great! Loved School Food and CGV Cinemas! You Gotta Go!

Hi Everyone!

I couldn't resist any longer -- had to stop by the new Ma Dang Courtyard and check out CGV Cinemas and School Food at 621 Western. Ma Dang is a great place! I love the idea that it's a hidden away courtyard - and the parking is free!! (Parking for the Cinemas and School Food is on the 4th floor.)

CGV Cinemas looks great, and the staff were very welcoming! Unfortunately, I didn't have time to see a film - had to get to Korean class at the Korean Cultural Center! (It was the last class for the session. Online registration for summer session starts June 22, I believe.)

School Food is on the same floor as the cinemas, near the Western Ave. side. What a fun and relaxed place!! We've gotta go there, you guys!! I did take some video clips and will try to edit them and post them tomorrow! I hope they show what a comfortable, light, friendly place it is -- even though I don't know much about the traditional "school food."

I did have a great dish of crunchy rice and sweet potatoes and rice cake in a sweet sauce -- delicious! Talked to a young couple who had the same thing, only the spicy version. People there were asking to see the menu again and ordering more! Definitely lots of great dishes to try!

More soon! I promise I'll post the video in a day or two, OK? Anyway, check it out!! Madang is a great space -- can't wait to see "Blades of Blood" at CGV and go back to eat at School Food!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lunar New Year at Korean Cultural Center LA --2010

videoThe court dancers represent different elements and their dancing brings the viewer (the king) good health! This clip also includes brief views of the traditional games that students in the King Sejong Korean Language Program enjoyed that evening -- not to mention the wonderful feast!!

The light at the end of the clip is that first full moon!

Friday, February 12, 2010

KOFFLA 2010: The Korean Film Festival in LA, March 4-7

Here's the magic link to Koffla2010! The schedule includes many films I hope to see! Also, the events should be pretty cool! The closing ceremony takes place just before this year's Academy Awards -- great timing! More info to follow SOON!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Japan Korea Festival in Little Tokyo: An Important Cross-Cultural Experience for All!

Today's celebration of Korean and Japanese culture was a wonderful event! Despite the threat of more rain, there was a fantastic turn-out. In fact, the rains subsided so that everyone could enjoy the festivities, including films and performances.

MC'ed by stars from Heroes, the program started with the film Rough Cut. I loved it! I particularly loved how the main characters, a rough actor and a gangster who'd dreamed of being an actor, evolved into each other. The actor became more of a gangster; the gangster got kudos from the director -- he was good. The two had started out as clear-cut good guy and bad guy, dressed in white and black. By the end, when they fight in the mud, they are both the same, indistinguishable, covered in mud, really fighting as the camera rolls. What was real and what was performance also became indistinguishable -- at least the boundaries were pushed within the context of this explosive, yet poignant, film, with believable transformations occurring in both the actor and the gangster. (I'll post more info on the film.)

The documentary about evolving and improving relationships between Japanese and Korean residents in Little Tokyo was well-done and an important record of how people with a difficult history have become close during just the past five to six years.

Lunch from Banchan a la Carte and (?) was great! Oishii! Mashisoyo! The rains waited -- people enjoyed the food and the performances.

Sanjuro, a remake of Kurasawa's 1962 film, was a great way to end the event. I wouldn't dare to comment on the quality of the remake vis-a-vis the original; however, I enjoyed the performances, the intracasies of the plot, and the humor intermixed with samurai fighting! The gentle women, whom the crafty ronin and small band of rebels rescued, reinterpreted for all -- including the ronin -- how much violence was actually needed, especially noted in the scene when, after a slaughter of some 30 warriors, the ronin slapped the rebels with him, saying that their errors had turned him into a butcher.

Below is a clip of the performances that preceded lunch -- enjoy! (More details to follow....)

video

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tomorrow Jan. 17: Day 3 of Jeon Soo-il Retrospective at UCLA Film and Television Archive

Friday saw the trek to Nepal made by recently divorced Choi (Choi Min-sik) in Jeon Soo-il's Himalaya, Where the Wind Dwells (2008). Also on Friday, Time between Dog and Wolf (2005), a man's search for the familiar in his hometown after being away for 25 years.

In tonight's film, With a Girl of Black Soil (2007), Director Jeon took the audience to a coal-mining village in Kangwon province, near his hometown of Sokcho, close to North Korea. In the Q&A that followed, Director Jeon explained that he structured his films with a sense of perspective, that is, where to take the audience. In With a Girl of Black Soil, he said he took a middle ground, not too detached (objective), nor too intimate (getting inside the character's head). It was this middle ground, he said, that prevented a negative reaction from society and led to the film being better received.

Tomorrow's film is My Right to Ravage Myself (2003). Based on Kim Yeong-Ha's novel, I Have the Right to Ravage Myself, the film moves from a bloody re-creation of birthing to "aesthetic" suicides, designed by "S." Provocative? Disturbing? Maybe see you tomorrow night at 7pm at the Billy Wilder Theater?

The last night of the series is next Sunday, January 24th. The 7pm screening of The Bird Who Stops in the Air (1999) will be followed by Wind Echoing in my Being (1997).

Note: Check back later for a more detailed account of tonight's Q&A with Director Jeon.

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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/

YA Entertainment's Essay Contest Winner Announced

I received Aryf's email with his entry and agreed with him -- he should have won! (I could have borrowed the DVDs he would have won!) His entry is posted above. I thought I'd also post mine. I have to admit that, even though I didn't win, it was a lot of fun to write!

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”……