Saturday, August 24th

The summer heat is slowly dying and Saturday explorations are becoming viable again.  Jihye and I have plans for the evening, but lunch is a good start. So after a morning of selling myself for fun and profit, we venture out on a beautiful Saturday to find food. After some discussion we decide to waltz over to…

SALT

Cafe Gallery
https://www.facebook.com/CafeSalt7

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Salt is a lovely little café restaurant that serves a mean bibimbap. It’s a lovely little space tucked away in Jongno with a gallery and fresh food. A full review will probably appear eventually, but no promises.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they are not serving food when we arrive there.

Nooooooooo!

I hope you noticed I added a caption to an already captioned animated gif. Anyway, it’s possible they don’t serve food on Saturdays, which is unfortunate because that is when we visited.

I’ll still recommend the place and I’ll probably do a proper review of the place eventually. You can find it here:

Salt Cafe Gallery
Jongno-gu Jongno 16 gil 32-4 Dongsan Building
종로구 종로16길 32-4 동산빌딩

But we are still without food, so we decide to venture to Samcheong-dong. For my dear readers not in the Seoul area, Samcheong-dong is a fairly upscale district, with most buildings no more than two or three stories tall. It is a wonderfully up-kept place with both modern and traditional architecture, along with a more interesting variety of food than your average Seoul district. The day is getting hotter and to get to Samcheong-dong, we must walk through…

Insa-dong

Insa-dong is a happy mixture of art and touristy merchants. And occasionally they have live performances. Today we happened across one of those performances.

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Not a performance so much as posing…

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The temperature in the sun is uncomfortable, but these guys are able to just stand here! They’re demonstrating how  throws look in a live freeze-frame. I’m actually not sure which martial art they’re replicating, but it was pretty cool to see.

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They’re all wearing the famous Yangban mask from one of the traditional mask dances that have thus far eluded me. Interestingly enough, I find they evoke both old culture, but also anonymity and rebellion, much like the Guy Fawkes mask. If you want to see a good usage of the latter, I highly recommend checking out Yangbantal – a group that visits old abandoned or dangerous areas wearing these masks. Fun!

After the performers pack up, we continue north to Samcheong-dong. We wander around until we decide on…

Hit the Spot

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Hit the Spot is visually fun and cozy. The food is also quite fun! We shared the Mushroom Salad…

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and the Shrimp Pane Pasta!

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Gotta love bread bowls to sop up the delicious, delicious cream sauce. We’ll be coming back here to try their other dishes, but these definitely hit the spot!

Hit the Spot is across the street from the new Museum of Modern Art being constructed. I’m über excited about that!

If’n you want to find the place, you can find it here:

Hit the Spot

서울특별시 종로구 소격동 87

After a satiating dinner, we decide to hit the cafe next door and read. Just spending time together until it’s time to head to Jamsil to see…

Penguins!

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Penguins Penguins Penguins!

Penguins!

Oh, right, I guess we have something else on our agenda. What was it again? Oh, right!

Avenue Q!

At the Charlotte Theater, Jamsil. No Penguins though.

For those of you who don’t know, Avenue Q is basically… Sesame Street for adults. And adult topics. It’s the origin of the following song:

Oh, and probably NSFW.

Of course the theatre was properly decked out, including the urinals in the men’s bathroom.

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This is a fun one. Some Koreans have a… hard time coming close enough to the urinals, so this one plays on their potential shame… roughly translated it says “If you don’t come closer, I will tell everyone what you saw tonight.”

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And of course Trekkie Monster is a perv so… “I like seeing your ‘thing’ more than porn!”

Thanks Trekkie Monster. You saved the day.

The Korean version has been modified slightly, so many references were switched to famous Korean figures. For instance, ‘George Bush’ in the song For Now was switched to ‘Kim Jeong Un’. Speaking of For Now…

The closing number, For Now,  is reminiscent of Ecclesiastes 3 – to everything a season, and, at least for me, evokes the same existential sadness.

Anyway, we enjoyed the show. In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we’re going to see it again in two weeks time! But for now I’m finished writing. But only for now.

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Penguin Small Penguin Penguin Coffee! Penguin Small Penguin!

‘The Star Wars That I Used To Know’ – a review of a parody?!?

Two years ago there was a fun, intelligent song called “Someone I Used to Know” by the group Gotye. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it. It’s great.

I particularly enjoy the fact that we hear two sides of this emotional train wreck. But I’m not going to review this song, you should just enjoy it.

Because the song was great and the music video unique, well, it became an easy targets for parodies. I love parodies mind you, I’m not here to complain about a parody being made. Nah, I’m here to complain that the makers of one parody didn’t try hard enough.

So now, for your delectation, I present “The Star Wars That I Used To Know”

 

First I will say it was really well made. They did a good job. Did you watch it yet? If you haven’t, watch it first, if you have, but haven’t seen it in a while, watch it again.

My problem is they didn’t even try to utilise the best part of the original song – the two sides. In the original we have two sides, and we can empathise with both! In the Star Wars version its basically the fans/Anakin asking why they don’t matter with Lucas telling them where to shove it. There isn’t any empathy for Lucas. Personally I don’t care if you don’t think he deserves any empathy, the song requires it to work properly. A perfectly good opportunity wasted for pure Lucas bashing.

But don’t get me wrong. Han shot first, Lucas really didn’t know what he was doing, etc etc. Yeah, I agree. But if the original song by Gotye tried the same thing it wouldn’t be half as good.

Some possible things the Lucas verses could have talked about:

I couldn’t make it the way I wanted
Other creators can make revisions, why must I be so restricted?
I thought you wanted more
I wanted to make more
I tried my best,
You’re too addicted to nostolgia
Wasn’t John Williams great though?
etc

Again, you don’t have to agree with these ideas, they might be excuses for not trusting the fans, but give us *something* other than just:

“Now and then I think of all the times I screwed fans over.”

*sigh*

The only thing missing was Lucas laughing maniacally and rolling in money.

“Mother Father Gentleman” – A Love hate relationship. Sans the love.

Okay, so you all remember the “Gangnam Style” craze. It was on the surface zany, slightly witty in presentation, and had a nice social critique hiding behind the awkward, yet oh so loveable dance. It was a perfect storm of music and video. But I’m not here to talk about “Gangnam Style”. Nah, I want to talk about Psy’s more recent attempt to make the world love him again. You might have missed it, you might have heard it once and it just kinda faded away.

There’s a reason for that.

My first impression left me a tad nauseous, a tad angry, but not entirely surprised. On the plus side, the tune is sickeningly catchy and fun to dance to, which mind you, is probably the main purpose. Yet the wild recognition and love for it’s predecessor was due in no small part to it’s playful music video. But “Mother Father Gentleman”? Well, let’s watch:

My initial reaction was of pure disgust. The sophomoric charm of GS is upgraded to sheer misogyny. My idea of entertainment is not watching some ass-hat treating people (mostly women) with disrespect while prancing around.

So we’re done here right? Nothing more to see, let’s dump this one in the toilet and flush it out if our life.

Ready to take your shit sir!

Well, hang on. Let’s wrestle a bit with this thing before dismissing it entirely. Because most of you probably don’t know Korean I’ll focus on the music video and the few English phrases, most notably the hook.

“I’m a mother father gentleman” is repeated ad nauseum as is the trend for any hook in contemporary dance music. While directly nonsensical, it makes more sense if you realize he’s probably talking about his family. An only child of rich parents. This reading is confirmed when watching the opening sequences as he is followed around by the help. Those guys remind me a bit of Alfred. So does that make Psy batman?

It’s all making sense now….

Social commentary: Only children, particularly sons, seem to be treated almost like gods, given whatever they want and not taught how to respect others. Especially among the rich who don’t want their children to go through the same level of want they had to endure. They grow up with the world as their party and while people are just toys for them to play with and break. Cross reference LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” where the world is a party, but it’s much more inclusive. Everyone is invited, everyone can dance. In “Mother Father Gentleman” only the rich and sexy need apply.

At best “Mother Father Gentleman” is a social commentary on Korea’s elite and their objectification of not just women but society in general. At worst, it’s a celebration of that lifestyle, a mockery of the regular folk who pay (directly or indirectly)  to dance to a good beat. And to be honest, even with putting the best construction on it, much of it’s just unpleasant to watch. Ah well, can’t all be winners, no?

“Love Love Love” A Look at Three Songs

Over the last few years I noticed a few of the songs i listen to actually had the same name. Most notably “Love, Love, Love”. I discovered that there are a myriad of songs sharing this title. I won’t be delving into all of those here. Rather, I’ll be focusing just three, two from The K-Pop scene and one more from one of my favorite American bands. Each song has a drastically different tone and outlook on the subject, and deserve a look.

If you decide to join me on this venture, please listen to each song two or three times, both for the feel of the music but also the usage of lyrics and – for the k-pop songs – visuals in conjunction with the music. For the Korean songs, I’ve added English translations I’ve found online for your convenience. I’ll add a few of my feelings after each song if you’d rather just read that first as well.

Love, Love, Love
The Sunset Tree (2005)
The Mountain Goats

King Saul fell on his sword
When it all went wrong
And Joseph’s brother sold him down the river for a song
And Sonny Liston rubbed some tiger balm into his glove
Some things you do for money
And some you do for love love love

Ras Kolnikov felt sick
And he couldn’t say why
When he saw his face reflected
In his victim’s twinkling eye
Some things you’ll do for money
Some you’ll do for fun
But the things you do for love are gonna come back to you One by one

Love love is gonna lead you be the hand
Into a white and soundless place
Now we see things
As in a mirror dimly
Then we shall see each other
Face
To face

And way out in Seattle,
Young Kirk Cobain
Snuck out to the greenhouse
And put a bullet in his brain
Snakes in the grass beneath our feet
Rain in the clouds above
Some moments last forever
But some flair out
With love love love

Probably the most philosophical of the three songs, I find it also the most atmospheric and calm, though that adds to the disturbing factor. The instrumental part of this piece is reminiscent of a rainy day, perhaps one where you would sit with a cup of coffee or hot cocoa listening to the drops on the roof. The kind of day that feels like we can reflect on the beauty and terror of this world. There is no urgency; we can’t change what has already happened, and all we can do now is reflect.

And perhaps that’s how I would sum up my feelings of this song: relflective melancholy.

The melancholy of the song is reinforced by the lyrics, which are sung almost like a lullaby. The juxtaposition of tragic and desperate actions with sayings that are usually used to extol the concept of love is jarring. But dig deeper, these aren’t just non-sequiturs. Feel free to share your thoughts on the relations, I think I’ll let the poetry speak for itself.

O———-O

 

Love Love Love
Remapping the Human Soul (2007)
Epik High

It’s Midnight, your tired drunk voice
2:00 a.m., the abruptly ended phone call
Nobody knows how I feel
I can’t stop
Love love love

Though it hurts, I keep on repeating
I can’t stop
Love love love

Have you ever been in love before?
Falling at first sight, like in the movies?
Spent the entire night talking on the phone?
Bragged to the entire world?
Waited in the pouring rain?
Run like crazy to the one you love?
Secretly guarded?
Gone crazy?
Pretended not to see when you really did?

I’m sure you have been in love
Spent all your money on your anniversary
Apologized even when you didn’t do anything wrong
Spent entire days writing love letters
Pushed back promises with your family
Prayed to God for that persons health
Ignored your friends
Missed them
Guarded their leaving figure

Can’t stop love
Why? I loved you like crazy
Why? I treated you so well
I gave you everything
You got me going crazy
Why? I loved you with all my life.
I gave you my body and soul
I lost everything for you
How could you?
Nobody knows how I feel
I can’t stop
Love love love

Though it hurts, I keep on repeating
I can’t stop
Love love love

 

Have you ever had your heart broken?
Had your makeup wash off in the pouring rain?
Cut your long hair?
Started smoking again?
Avoided areas where they might be?
Wrote letters you know you would never send?
Called them while you were drunk?

(Hello?)

Had your lips freeze up
I’m sure you’ve had a broken heart
Hated them as much as you loved them
Ripped up letters you didn’t read
Deleted the phone number you will never forget
Celebrated anniversaries by yourself
Burned all the photographs
Thought every song about heartbreak in the world was yours
Can’t stop love

Why? I loved you like crazy
Why? I treated you so well
I gave you everything
You got me going crazy
Why? I loved you with all my life.

I gave you my body and soul
I lost everything for you
How could you?
Nobody knows my heart
I can’t stop
Love love love

Though it hurts, I keep on repeating
I can’t stop
Love love love

Cry like an idiot
Get drunk again
Hold on to your friend
And curse that person
Time passes
Get drunk again
Grab the phone
Say love!

Nobody knows my heart
I can’t stop
Love love love

Though it hurts, I keep on repeating
I can’t stop
Love love love
Nobody knows my heart
In reality, only you don’t know
Though it hurts, I keep on repeating

As I live my life, I’m sure I’ll see you again

Translation from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/e/epik_high/

While the Mountain Goats had a ruminating effect, Epic High’s song is much more an expression of the craziness of still being in love despite a break up or fight. The catchy hook is both really effective at conveying this madness of late night drunken confusion and making sure the song became popular in Korea. The visuals are straightforward, a person alone in her head going over memories, torn, reconstituted and completely befuddled. I personally like the lack of emotion and blank stare the singer gives – a comatose observation of the memories playing through her head, that only seem to multiply despite attempts to destroy and clear them away. For me the music video really strengthens the song as the lyrics are relatively prosaic while the video is much more… lyrical.

O———-O

Love Love Love

Beautiful Journey (2010)

FT Island

My heart stops. My breath stops. You are leaving me
I only loved you until my heart ached. I was happy
Born as your man, i loved you indefinitely
That’s enough. I’ll try to hold back my tears

Rain soaks my whole body
I struggle to lift my head again and look at the sky
Tain drops getting into my eyes replace the tears
That i’ve been holding back again and again
Thinking of you

I was so happy because i loved you like crazy
I let go of you, who gave me memory of love.
Good bye, my love love love

Fare well, my love love love
Even though my filling up tears soak my whole body,
Now good bye good bye good bye
Please be happy after leaving me
Step by step, you are getting far away from me

I silently pour myself a glass
Struggling to hold it up, i let out a sigh
I take the glass
Together, i swallow the tears that

I’ve been holding back again and again

Thinking of you

I was so happy because i loved you like crazy

I let go of you, who gave me memory of love.

Good bye, my love love love
Fare well, my love love love
Even though my filling up tears soak my whole body,
Now good bye good bye good bye
Please be happy after leaving me
Step by step, you are getting far away from me

I didn’t know love because my heart is cold
But thank you so much. I know now. That love is like this.
My heart stops. My breath stops. You are leaving me.

Good bye, my love love love
Fare well, my love love love
Even though my filling up tears soak my whole body,

Now good bye good bye good bye
Please be happy after leaving me
Step by step, you are getting far away from me

Rain soaks my entire body. I look at the sky.
Even though my filling up tears soak my whole body,

Now good bye good bye good bye
Please be happy after leaving me
Step by step, you are getting far away from me

Translation from: http://southkoreaaddict.blogspot.kr/2011/11/love-love-love-ft-island-lyric.html

If the Mountain Goats’ song is a rainy day contemplation and Epic High’s song is late night self-loathing, then FT Island’s song is a drunken cry against cruel fate. The imagery of destiny is clear in the music video, with both a marionette motif and the ‘red string of fate‘ making an appearance. The song is, what’s the right word? Emo? Probably too much for some, but I know I likes me some emo on occasion. The music complements this by starting off slow, again reminiscent of a light rain, and building up to torrents of sorrow as the song goes on.

And there you have it, three songs I like connected by title. What are you thoughts on these songs? Which ones did you like or not like? I’m curious to know why!

O———–O

Post Script:

I’m not particularly happy with the translations I found, but they will have to suffice. If I ever get around to doing my own translations, I’ll update them here as well as give them their own post. If you see any glaring errors, let me know and I’ll correct them!