Monthly Archives: December 2014



P.O missed his cue in “Nalina,” a song he can probably do in his sleep at this point.

And everyone turns and looks at him, like, “Dude!”

ETA: U-Kwon, it’s only funny if someone forgets their line. Cease all further inhalation of pyrotechnic by-products, please.


Year’s end


I’m traveling for the holidays, and to my complete non-delight I realized that the new upgrade to the editing interface at means that I can no longer edit it on my phone, my nephew’s iPad, or any of my sister-in-laws three (THREE!) computers. (Irony alert! The upgrade was intended to make the sites work better on all the random devices people use nowadays. Like, yes, we do use these devices, for many purposes, perhaps you could enable that?)

I was finally able to update it thanks to a laptop I have only sporadic access to (thank you, laptop owner, for helping me with my strange compulsions). The main issue was the Videos page, because there have been some really fun Block B performances on the Korean year-end music shows, and I couldn’t update the page in a timely manner. (Yeah, yeah, once a reporter….)

Anyway, it’s all fixed now, and I decided to have a peek at the traffic stats while I was there. And lo and behold, there’s been a nice little bump in traffic since the 26th, and it’s mostly focused on the Members page. Although it’s hard to separate traffic by new fans from traffic by re-energized existing fans, I think it’s safe to assume that the Members page primarily attracts people new to the group.

And we’ve been having a series of bumps like that this month. I think some of it has to do with the activities in Japan–I would assume Japanese-speaking fans go to the official Japanese Web site, but I seem to get the traffic from nearby Asian countries where English is more commonly spoken.

But good TV performances that are watched by a broader Asian audiences clearly also have an effect–one notable bump in traffic started December 4th, the date of the MAMAs. (Seriously, don’t fret because Block B didn’t win a MAMA. That show was very good to them–and they to it–and that had an impact.)

I can’t do a screen cap right now for obvious reasons, but it’s been an uptick from about 70 viewers a day (which is kind of the normal traffic when nothing is going on) up to about 100 viewers a day–no new-album surge, but still pretty significant.

B1A4’s fans cleverly stop their group from making any money


So, Block B recently got picked up to endorse a video game called Tales Runner. This is clearly a largish campaign (the game has been popular in Asia forever), with a contest and videos. Tales Runner is this cute, girly game, and Block B being Block B, they’re just running with it.


It turns out that there was a vote to see which group would get to represent Tales Runner, and B1A4 looked like they were set to win, so a group of completely stupid B1A4 fans undertook a campaign to vote for the next-highest group (which happened to be Block B) in order to prevent B1A4 from winning this valuable endorsement. And they succeeded!

Why? Because they felt Tales Runner was too childish for B1A4’s hard-edged, adults-only image.

Wow. I’m sure the guys of B1A4 appreciate these efforts just as much as Mino appreciated his “fans” forcing Tablo to apologize.

God–OK, I’m going to try not to repeat myself about not shitting where entertainers eat, but…don’t.

Also, the market for children’s products is ENORMOUS. You’ve heard of Disney, right? You know that Frozen is the fifth-highest grossing movie of all time? Having a kiddie fan base is a good thing, and it gets really lucrative if you can appeal across generations. It’s quite hard to find things that a four-year-old likes that don’t also make the adult in their life want to hang themselves, and when an adult finds stuff like that, it’s pure gold. I was delighted when my niece fell in love with Taeil–it meant that there was more material out there that we could enjoy together, as opposed to me putting on Clifford and immediately fleeing to the far end of the house.

Ugh. I mean, good for Block B and all, but–ugh. Poor B1A4. Just–the idiotic snobbery. And it’s not even their snobbery!

ETA:  The Tales Runner endorsement has already led to this:

I did not have great expectations for ringtones, but I should have!

What’s the best Korean-English dictionary?


Since I’ve started translating, I’ve obviously had to use Korean-English dictionaries a LOT. While the Korean-English glossary that came with my Korean textbook has lots of useful words, like “pharmacy,”  “envelope,” and “pencil,” it is sadly lacking in terms like “strip club,” “fart,” and “a priest’s running wear.”

Because I am old, I bought a paper Korean-English dictionary when I first decided to learn Korean–the Hippocrene Standard Dictionary. There are a number of advantages to a good-quality paper dictionary: They are usually accurate, they give multiple definitions, and they help you learn root words, knowledge you can use to suss out the general meaning of other sentences. The disadvantage is that many words just don’t appear in paper dictionaries, especially not slang or casual terms.

Enter the on-line dictionaries: Lexilogos connects to several of greatly varying utility: ZKorean and Kordut have never given me anything of use, ever, and even the Korean dictionaries are surprisingly unhelpful and typically don’t have the word.

The ones that I have found helpful are Google Translate, Bing, and Naver–but NONE of them are good enough to be used alone. Google Translate and Bing have weird gaps (they’ll just romanize the word for you–like, thanks buddy), and they tend to fall into the trap of wanting to give you just one definition for a word. (So, if they were translating from English, they would insist that the word “race” just means a bunch of people seeing who can run the fastest. It’s use as a verb or any other meanings as a noun or adjective simply don’t exist.) And they just flub strange things–I had Bing ignore the an- prefix one time, which is like leaving the word not out of a sentence.

Google Translate also relies a little too much on crowdsourcing or something–it will give you English that is somewhat inappropriate or implies things that aren’t implied by the Korean (like using “y’all” for the plural second person). I’ve had Google translate Korean words that were not bleeped as obscenities as “shit” and “bastard”–I went with “poop” and “jerk” instead. It also translated the verb for “pick up [someone]” as “get laid”–like, yes, that is pretty much the purpose of picking someone up, but those are two different activities, and after you pick someone up you might want to go somewhere else to get laid unless you enjoy getting arrested for public indecency.

Naver is quite different because in addition to giving you a definition, it pulls out examples of how the word is used in different Korean sentences it finds on-line. That can be really useful with slang or specialized terms. The problem is that if the word is kind of conceptual or used in a lot of expressions, you’ll get blizzard of confusing and even conflicting information. And even Naver doesn’t have everything and isn’t always right.

When all else fails, when the word is very slangy, or when what is being described is visual, plugging the word or expression straight into Google can save the day–I didn’t put 막장 연기 into Google Images just for fun, I put it in because I wanted to see what particular kind of bad acting was being described.

Can on-line dictionaries help you with grammar? Occasionally. The problem is that if you plug a sentence of any complexity into one of them, it is likely to get confused and spout out gibberish. I find it’s generally better to use the dictionaries to look up words, and then to figure out the grammar for myself, although if I’m unsure about something (is he saying, “I’ve done this before” or is he saying “Before I did this”?) I’ll put in a phrase or a sentence to see if I can get some guidance. Sometimes that works great, but sometimes it doesn’t work at all.

What else? You just have to kind of keep your eyes open to situations where a dictionary isn’t going to take you all the way. For example, in the GTA Gangnam skit when the guy was being a tout and passing out flyers, many of the terms used were Koreanized English. In general, when Koreans are being informal (because they’re relaxed, rude, or just too cool), they clip and shorten things, so it helps to have an idea of what verb ending should be used so that you notice when they aren’t. That’s also a situation where it helps to have a paper dictionary–if a word is being shortened (as was the case with what I translated as “Clicketty-click!” in the GTA Gangnam skit), you can find the proper word and take it from there instead of just getting zero results in an on-line dictionary.

ETA 1/28/18: This post seems to get perennial traffic, so I thought I’d do a little update, in part because GO! Billy Korean just did a great video on the limitations of machine translations:

Again, on-line dictionaries are just not great with Korean grammar.

One thing that I’ve noticed more recently with Google Translate (although all on-line dictionaries can do this to an extent) is that if you plug in an entire Korean sentence, it will leave out big hunks of the sentence when it translates it into English. I think the idea is, because Google Translate doesn’t handle complex sentences well, they figured they could “improve” it by having it automatically simplify the sentences first by removing clauses. You do get less straight-up gibberish that way, but of course, those clauses are usually there for a reason and can contain important information. And the result can be quite misleading, because of instead of getting something garbled that is obviously wrong, you get a sentence that looks like it could be right but is actually very wrong.

The sergeant hits a block!


The finale of GTA Army, with some very special guests….


PLAYER: I’m not being a private! I’ll try the sergeant in his last year.

VOICEOVER: Sergeant in last year. You may select the sergeant’s outfit.

PLAYER: I can change his clothes?

VOICEOVER: Activewear. A priest’s running wear. Satin jacket.* Satin jacket and pants. Nudity.

PLAYER: Agh! (and something not subtitled) Satin. It’s a good fit.

ON SCREEN (under weapons available): Fist

SERGEANT bullies other characters

PLAYER: As I suspected, with a sergeant you have total freedom.

ON SCREEN: Special guest Block B

VOICEOVER: New recruits have transferred in.

PLAYER: New recruits came?

SERGEANT hits recruits in stomach to make them speak

ZICO: Private Zico.

TAEIL: Private Taeil

PARK KYUNG: Private Park Kyung. (SERGEANT hits him again) Private Park- Private- Private Park Kyung.

P.O: Private P.O.

VOICOVER: Push the objects button to ride the private.

SERGEANT rides on ZICO’s back, ZICO dumps him.

PLAYER: That new X…. He bucked!

VOICEOVER: Catch him before he tells the executive officers.

SERGEANT is too late, ZICO hands note to officer.


Sergeant Kim Min-hyo makes me want to die.

MP: Take him to the stockade. Your military term has been extended, congrats.

VOICEOVER: Stockade.

ON SCREEN: Military term + 1 month.

PLAYER: Spare the body and just do a quick discharge!


ON SCREEN (under weapons available): Weed whacker

PLAYER: Ugh, backbreaking!


ON SCREEN (under weapons available): Shovel

PLAYER: Game store owner…. Aigh, really!

SERGEANT approaches recruits

PLAYER: These boys again–why are they assembled?

VOICOVER: You have come upon a division commander inspecting the troops.

DIVISION COMMANDER comes out of car

PLAYER: Wow! A two-star general came! Two stars!

VOICEOVER: Move the mountain.

PLAYER: What? The mountain?

ON SCREEN: Division commander (two stars)

PLAYER: The game store owner?! (he decks DIVISION COMMANDER)

VOICEOVER: An enlisted man has committed violence against a two-star general.

MP: Lunatic. The X is….




* 깔깔이 means “georgette,” but because it’s used in Korean military clothing, it has these connotations of being tough outdoor gear that it doesn’t have in the U.S.


If you’d like read translated versions of the later GTA skits, they have been subtitled here by a fan of Hong Jin Ho, who took over as the game store owner in later skits. I would especially recommend GTA White Day. (And I should explain the one thing that translator doesn’t explain–Hong is rather infamous for poor diction.)

The “All Shook Up” schedule


So, it looks like they’ve got one up for the length of the run–obviously with some of the casting problems they’ve had, the schedule has had to be changed, so be aware that this one could change, too. Hopefully no one else will drop out at the last minute or bust a knee, but you know, that’s part of the excitement of live theater!


 Once again M = matinee; E = evening:

12/17 U-Kwon ( 유권)

12/18 M U-Kwon

12/18 E U-Kwon

12/19  Son Ho Young (손호영)

12/20 M  Dongjun (김동준)

12/20 E  Son Ho Young

12/21 M  Dongjun

12/21 E Dongjun

12/23 U-Kwon

12/24 M  Dongjun

12/24 E  Dongjun

12/25 M  Dongjun

12/25 E  U-Kwon

12/26  Son Ho Young

12/27 M  U-Kwon

12/27 E  Son Ho Young

12/28 M  Son Ho Young

12/28 E  Son Ho Young

12/30  Dongjun

12/31 M  Son Ho Young

12/31 E  Son Ho Young

1/1  Son Ho Young

1/2  U-Kwon

1/3 M  U-Kwon

1/3 E  Dongjun

1/4 M  U-Kwon  (final performance)

1/4 E  Son Ho Young

1/6  Sandeul (산들)

1/7 M  Sandeul

1/7 E  Son Ho Young

1/8  Sandeul

1/9  Son Ho Young

1/10 M  Dongjun

1/10 E  Son Ho Young

1/11 M  Son Ho Young

1/11 E  Son Ho Young

1/13  Sandeul

1/14 M  Son Ho Young

1/14 E  Son Ho Young

1/15  Son Ho Young

1/16  Dongjun

1/17 M  Sandeul

1/17 E  Sandeul

1/18 M  Sandeul

1/18 E  Sandeul

1/20 M  Sandeul

1/20 E  Sandeul

1/21  Son Ho Young

1/22  Son Ho Young

1/23  Son Ho Young

1/24 M  Son Ho Young

1/24 E  Son Ho Young

1/25 M  Son Ho Young

1/25 E  Son Ho Young

1/27  Dongjun

1/28 M  Sandeul

1/29 E  Sandeul

1/30  Dongjun (final performance)

1/31 M  Son Ho Young

1/31 E  Son Ho Young

2/1 M  Sandeul (final performance)

2/1 E  Son Ho Young (final performance)

Am I going to fit a random business-of-the-arts observation in here? You betcha! People were wondering why the show didn’t have an understudy for Megan Lee when a Broadway show would have. Basically unless you’re making a shit-ton of money, which Broadway shows do, or absolutely everyone is working for free, as was the case with your high-school’s theatrical productions, you don’t have understudies in theater. (Which is why I’ve gone to shows where one of the actors was a stage hand holding a script–it happens. If you’ve even been to a show that started 45 minutes late, now you know why–a cast member got stuck in traffic or something.)

Although the break-even point with Broadway productions varies a WHOLE lot, the general rule of thumb is that after a year, a Broadway show will be making a profit. All Shook Up is running for three months. Even if they sold out every single seat at full price, they would never make money with the same cost structure a typical Broadway show has. Remember, when you have an understudy in a musical, you don’t just pay for that person, you pay for the time they spend working with the director, the music director, the choreographer, and the other actors (plus possibly costumes and certain props). You have to be making a buttload of money for that to be worth it–you are actually better off canceling shows and eating the lost ticket sales than paying for all that.