Monthly Archives: March 2015

The ninja release

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Taeil, as you probably know, has released a solo single. Being Taeil, he gave everybody three days’ notice, does not appear in the video, and will not be promoting on television. Still to be determined is if he will perform the song live only while wearing a bag over his head.

I, of course, am out of town, as is my wont whenever any significant news breaks on the Block B front. Indeed, I saw the Tweet about the release as I was waiting for my ride to the airport. I did bring my little travel notebook this time, but it turns out that between the hotel’s crappy Wi-Fi (I have yet to watch the video or hear the song in any proper fashion) and whatever software disagreement is going on between this machine and the Web hosting service, I can effectively update only BlockB.com’s Home and Schedule pages, not the more data-heavy Video and Albums pages.

I do feel badly about this. On the other hand, it does seem like what Taeil wants, right?

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There has been some idiocy about the title of Taeil’s solo–is it “Shaking” (an accurate translation) or “Inspiring” (a not-even translation)?

You will notice that BlockB.com uses “Inspiring.”

Does that mean I think it’s a better translation? Oh, fuck no!

The job of BlockB.com is to make it easy for English speakers to access Block B’s music. CJ E&M and iTunes have decided to use “Inspiring” as the “translation,” even though it makes no fucking sense. It’s not what the word means, it doesn’t fit the lyrics of the song–it’s like someone just picked a positive-sounding word out of a hat.

In the past, I’ve had some leeway on song titles because they were part of albums. So, for example, when iTunes decided to translate one of the songs on HER as “Dime Girl” I could just laugh and link to the album. Likewise the translation of the title of one Taeil’s earlier soft ballads as “Where You At?” (was “Show Yourself, Bitch!!!” too wordy?) was something I was free to ignore.

In this case, I feel that I have to use “Inspiring” even though I don’t want to because I can’t link to an album, and English speakers searching for the song will be better served by using that title.

The world is an unfair place.

Block B doesn’t typically do official translations of Korean song titles. It’s OK for people to use their discretion. BlockB.com is trying to make it easy for new fans to get into Block B. Block B International is trying to make it so that non-Korean speakers understand what it is that the members of Block B are actually saying (like when they’re making jokes about how Taeil is so nervous, he’s “Shaking”). Both missions are valid and worthwhile.

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They’re just trolling me, aren’t they?

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You have a short, lazy, single-source K-Pop story to write.

How do you manage to get your one outside fact wrong?

Maybe I’m happy they never delved into why Zico was in Paris. (“Zico recently moved to Paris and plans to assume French citizenship.” “Zico is representing Korea at the United Nations, which is headquartered in Paris.” “Having mastered the art of teleportation, Zico is visiting the world’s capitals.” I mean, hey, why not?)

Sourcing: What it is, and why you do it

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One of the (many, many) things that bothers me about the K-Pop press is their reliance on shit sources. Whether it’s lazy single-source reporting, or editing a bogus translation to make it appear more credible, the bar for sourcing is very low.

(Of course, sometimes the sourcing isn’t the exact problem: Witness this article from Singapore Yahoo! News. Entitled “America’s ‘Rolling Stone’ headline (sic) an article about BLOCK B’s Europe tour,” the article offers this as evidence:

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The article is in English. Singapore has a sizable English-speaking population. So does the United States of America. The fact that this edition of Rolling Stone is entirely in Italian might have clued someone in that it wasn’t America’s Rolling Stone–but I guess not.)

Among fans, I find that people are typically good about crediting (“I heard about this from X!”), but they don’t think about sourcing (X is just some bozo who makes stuff up). For example, when I do BlockB.com’s Schedule page, I’m often alerted to upcoming concerts because of a Tweet from a fan. But the source of that Tweet? Typically another fan. And then another fan. And then another fan.

Hopefully the name of the organizer is mentioned somewhere so that I can link to something official–I have to be careful because sometimes scam artists do make concerts up in hopes of ripping people off. And as people found out with Block B’s “promised” Japanese video, the fact that 80 million fans are saying something, all citing each other as sources, doesn’t mean much. (Indeed, the precise journalistic term for this is a circle jerk. Yes, journalists are vulgar–thank you for noticing!)

Obviously, official sources aren’t always right (it’s not like the K-Culture Festival in “Frankfurt” ever came off), but what you’re looking for in a source is someone who will pay a price for being wrong, especially for being wrong on purpose, a phenomenon better known as lying. To take an example familiar to business reporters: Enron Corp. lied to reporters. They also lied to investors. They also lied to federal regulators. Then the company went bankrupt, and Enron executives went to jail for lying.

The possibility of going to jail, or getting sued, or being forever blackballed within an industry will dissuade most potential liars from lying. Not all of them–nothing is 100% in this world–but you need to pay attention to who is being sourced, because if they will pay no price whatsoever for being wrong, then (human nature being what it is, let’s face it) they lack motivation to be right.

So, that’s the reason I caution people against believing every last fool thing they read on the Interwebs.

But let’s say you’re no mere fan. You run an English-language K-Pop news site based in the United States. You’re not paid, necessarily, but you’ve been hard at work every day spiffing up your site, putting together a (unpaid) staff, and telling readers that you want them to be informed!!!!

Why should you pay attention to sourcing? Obviously no one in the professional Asian K-Pop press does!

Well, guess what? Remember how I said that the First Amendment does have very real limitations? Remember how I said that all that work that goes into making you credible also makes you more likely to get sued?

Remember how…oh, never mind, I haven’t said this yet, but here’s the news: You are responsible for the reliability of your source material.

Yeah! It’s true! Sorry about that!

Let’s say you quote Crazy Louie, the unmedicated paranoid who lives in a box down the street. Crazy Louie tells you that the store owner who won’t sell liquor to him any more is a member of Al Qaeda. And fucks goats.

You put all this on your site.

The store owner doesn’t sue Crazy Louie–Crazy Louie has no money, and nobody (who isn’t a fucking idiot, as you apparently are) believes him, anyway.

The store owner sues you.

And he can! Remember that a lot of defamation law focuses on how credible the source of the information injurious to reputation is. Crazy Louie has zero credibility. But you, my dear site runner with your professional layout and large audience, have much more–and perhaps more money, too. (Although if you don’t, that’s OK–the store owner can ruin you and feel better. Crazy Louie got ruined long ago–there’s no vengeance to be had there.)

Oh, and what if you…am I reaching here?…massage Crazy Louie’s defamatory statements to make them seem more credible? That, my foolhardy friend, is evidence that the plaintiffs lawyer’s will pounce upon to prove that you didn’t believe Crazy Louie either. It is evidence that you know that what you wrote is a lie.

Which is a dinner bell for lawyers, just in case you missed where I was going here.

Nice catch!

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If you didn’t know, Zico up and Supermanned his ass right off the stage in Milan.

It’s harder to see here, but the expression on his face afterwards is just priceless.

It reminds me of that time he took a nice, relaxing lie-down on the crowd.

Although to be honest, my very favorite thing was that Park Kyung was just like, “At last–he’s defenseless! WATER ATTACK NOW! NOW!”

Seriously, this kind of thing wouldn’t really be of note in any musical genre other than K-Pop, but I’m so glad Zico can trust fans not to 1. tear him into little pieces so that they always have a bit of oppa with them, or 2. tear each other into little pieces trying to touch him.

ETA: I finally found a clear, close fan cam of it.

It looks like he just jumped down into the pit, instead of flinging himself onto the audience. Probably safer….

The power of a line

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One of the things I noticed about the Washington D.C. concert was that, since (unlike the New York concert) it was in the middle of an urban area, the line got a lot of attention from passers-by.

Paris definitely had quite a line, and the K-Pop press there noticed.

Helsinki’s line resulted in the small Metro piece that was heard ’round the world.

I saw a couple of fan cams of Warsaw’s line.

And just thought, “Oh, how fun!”

Buuuuut–lookie here! It’s a story in the Warsaw edition of Nasze Miasto (Our Town) complete with a 32-photo slideshow of…the line!

Awesome!

The line REALLY paid off in Milan, where it not only attracted Corriere TV but also got a story in the Italian edition of Rolling Stone

Both stories were really nice, I thought, because they’re multifaceted–I don’t understand Italian that well, but Corriere interviewed fans who talked about how funny and playful the group is, plus there was concert and interview footage. The Rolling Stone piece was a proper story–it doesn’t just talk about the line, but about what Block B is (factory music, like all Korean music must be!–ah, well, no coverage is perfect) and how the concert was (you know the verdict: lots of fun, but light on the music).

Makes me happy!

ETA: Oh, hey, Affaritalini really loved the show–excellent!

Mini-media update

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So far, Block B is doing a little better getting mainstream coverage in Europe than they did when they were in the United States–and keep in mind that it’s way easier for me to find English-language stories written for U.S. publications than non-English stories in European ones, so there may be more that I don’t know about.

I didn’t see anything outside the K-Pop press for Paris, but in Finland we got a short piece in the Helsinki edition of Metro (look on page 7), which is a free daily paper, and a concert review in the on-line arts & entertainment magazine Iltamakasiinini. (The verdict? Their performances were good, but the concert was short and more like a fan meeting. Sound familiar?) The fabulous Milan organizer fabulously got pre-concert pieces into MTV Italy and Milano Today. (The theme? Block B is fabulous!)

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The Metro piece was Tweeted by a fan, and then Park Kyung put it on his Instagram, so then the Korean-language K-Pop news picked it up.

Yes, it was on frickin’ television.

So then the English-language K-Pop news picked it up. Because, I swear to God, K-Pop coverage is just the laziest shit ever.

I mean, that one’s not quite so terrible, but before that, Zico Tweeted this picture of himself:

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And an Osen reporter literally looked at the picture, looked at the responses on Twitter, and wrote a story. That’s it. That was the entirety of the journalistic process here. The story reads: There’s a picture. It’s Zico. He’s in Paris, and he’s dressed well but is standing funny. Netizens like his clothes. The end. Koreaboo picked it up and added not one single, solitary jot of pertinent information.

Why is Zico is Paris? Where is the rest of Block B? Please don’t ask–they don’t know. And they don’t understand how they could ever find out.