Monthly Archives: November 2015

Again?

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B-Bomb sure has a thing for the local Whole Foods….

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The Thailand scandal (or really, any scandal you can think of), gatekeepers, and haters

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Kailani O posted an excellent question:

I’m a new fan to Block B, and I’m confused about the Thailand scandal. Correct me if I’m wrong but it wasn’t just foreigners who were upset about the interview, but many Koreans as well, right? But I keep reading that the whole scandal was caused by a mistranslation of what Kyung/Zico said to each other during the interview (what I keep seeing is basically – joking that Zico won’t give more than 7,000 won to disaster relief vs. joking that Zico only had 7,000 won to his name). If Korean fans were watching this, why would they be dealing with translations at all, because Kyung and Zico were speaking in Korean, not Thai? So why were they so offended by Block B’s interview then, if the offense lay in an incorrect translation they wouldn’t have seen? Was it not actually the translation issue that offended Korean fans/citizens, but actually something else? I’m sorry if I’m being dense about this, and it’s obviously old news so I don’t mean to drag up an old and clearly sensitive topic lightly, but I just really want to get accurate information about this and I cannot figure out where to ask.

This is a really complicated issue, so buckle up!

I’ll just start by saying that if you watch the interview, the mistranslation was just a part of the problem–the guys came across as VERY flip during a big disaster, and that was definitely a mistake. Block B fans can be a little disingenuous about this because what followed in Korea was so over-the-top and unfair, but I don’t think anyone who gave this kind of interview under these circumstances would not have rightly caught a serious load of flak. I’m glad they apologized for it, and I’m really glad they seem to have learned and have dealt much more sensitively with other tragedies.

That said, how did the specific rumor that Zico said he wouldn’t give more than 7,000 won to disaster relief come about, and why was it a big deal in Korea?

The remark was translated incorrectly into Thai, and the interview as a whole was very upsetting to many Thai people. As a result, there were definitely Korean people who felt that Block B had damaged the country’s image abroad. But it took about a month after the Thailand scandal hit the Thai press for it to become a story in Korea, and the 7,000 won remark was (and still is) a grievance in certain K-Pop circles in Korea–even though Koreans can easily discern for themselves that the translation was incorrect.

WHY?

The main issue with your eminently logical approach to this situation is that you are assuming the Koreans who made a big deal about the 7,000 won remark 1. had ready access to accurate information about the interview, and 2. cared about being accurate and fair.

Unfortunately, both assumptions are incorrect.

1. The remark was misreported in Korea. This is extremely common.

If you look through the Media tag on this blog, or you read Asian Junkie’s recent coverage of the current IU scandal, you will see that the quality of K-Pop coverage in Korea (and elsewhere) is just unbelievably poor. Scandals get clicks, so there’s no real motivation to take the time to figure out if some juicy allegation is real or invention, especially if it’s already getting a lot of views on Korean community boards.

From the Netizen Buzz FAQ (which is well worth a read):

I mentioned that journalists source from netizen run community boards[. . . . ] Once an issue becomes big enough on Pann or Telzone, journalists take it directly to the media, whether or not it’s true. This is EXACTLY what happened with every single one of Block B’s scandals.

So, you have somebody posting some crap (like a mistranslation) to a community board (think the Korean equivalent to Reddit or YouTube comments), and the next thing you know, it’s all over the Korean news sites and is a big story, even though it’s not true. Nobody fact-checks it, and nobody does any reporting. That happens all the time, and it’s why it pays to be extremely skeptical of K-Pop news, no matter where you read it. There is no such thing as a reputable K-Pop news site.

I personally think this is terrible, but the one thing that gives me hope is that, in general, the bulk of Koreans seem to be very adept at ignoring their own entertainment media. IU’s career, for example, doesn’t seem to be taking any sort of hit from the many, many stories out there accusing her of being a plagiarist who promotes pedophilia.

Some Koreans are not interested in ignoring it, however, which brings me to point #2.

2. Haters don’t care if it’s true.

Because Korean media is happy to rehash whatever baseless rumor comes up, and because this can sometimes lead to careers actually being destroyed (what fun!), you get in the K-Pop scene hard-core groups of haters who will say absolutely anything negative about a performer. They can be asshole fans of somebody else, or (and this is where things get really creepy) they can be people who find hating to be so gratifying that they are willing to go to jail for it.

(It can be especially difficult for an English speaker to figure out whether a reported controversy about a K-Pop group is a real controversy that is honestly pissing off large groups of Koreans or if it’s just crap generated by haters trying to be important, because once something has been translated into English, the English-language K-Pop sites treat it as if it is major news.)

The intention here is to ruin careers, not to tell the truth, so there’s a tendency to fall back onto propaganda techniques, one of which is to repeat a lie so often that it is eventually accepted as true. Korean haters know (or could easily determine) that Zico did not say he would give only 7,000 won to disaster relief, but if they repeat that allegation often enough, maybe a few years down the line people will forget that they know it’s not true, and finally Block B will, I dunno, disappear in a puff of smoke or something. Then these people will have, at long last, accomplished something with their lives.

This is why the rice-pizza scandal still has legs in Korean hater circles.

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They’re hoping that one fine day people will forget how unbelievably stupid this is, and it will gain traction. Likewise the categorization of Block B suing their label as a “scandal” that reflects badly on the group. (How?) It’s this layering on of vague negativity in hopes of (FINALLY!!!) making the general public feel badly about the group and stop buying their music.

Is that a completely unrealistic hope? I think it’s become more unrealistic these days because performers like Block B, Jay Park, Tablo, and apparently IU have weathered these hate campaigns and come out unscathed. But a few years ago the mentality was definitely, if there was hate around a performer, no matter the reason, the only suitable thing to do was to pull that performer out of the public eye for a long time–possibly forever. That’s why Tablo’s old label dumped him–it didn’t matter that the hate around him was 100% based on a lie (and in Block B’s case, they had actually done something wrong and genuinely upset many Thai people, so it wasn’t even 100% a lie).

Nowadays I think the K-Pop industry is realizing that the Korean music-buying public is much less likely to flip out than a few crazy haters. So, P.O screwed up by wearing Japanese text to a Korean Liberation Day celebration, issued an apology, and moved right along. But that was in 2015, not 2012, and a lot has changed in the Korean music industry in that time.

Questions I ask myself

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Do any of them even own underwear? Did Taeil just keep borrowing everyone’s underpants until they eventually gave up on wearing them and got comfortable going commando? Was the underwear that P.O pulled out during that 5 Minutes Before Chaos teaser a prop purchased especially for the occasion?

Assuming they go commando just for the stage: How did this decision come about? Whose idea was it? Why did everyone eventually agree to it? Was there a meeting? Did they vote? Did wardrobe have some sort of input, or was it the guys themselves?

Jaehyo is wearing underwear in the Blockbuster DVD–is he viewed as some kind of holdout, or is theirs a more live-and-let-approach?

How do they do quick changes backstage? Is there a screen, or do they just really trust their dressers?

The short report

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SO tired, but the concert was SO great. Same basic format as the SF one.

The line before they let us up the escalators; still more line….

The differences

  • Zico was blond
  • Taeil was in somewhat better voice
  • The upper screen tilted when they tried to raise it for the opening curtain, so they had to stop the show and fix it (which they did by fixing the screen–some of the images didn’t quite fit, but I don’t know that anyone who hadn’t seen one of the other shows would have noticed). If you’re curious–yes, that is very dangerous, it means the rigging is tangled or caught on something, which can all mean big heavy things falling on the performers below.
  • The English bits were much less scripted–P.O spent one of his sessions propositioning Taeil. (Taeil does love P.O, but Not Like That.)
  • U-Kwon had anime hair, and I have to say that I love the anime hair because it moves as he moves and makes his dancing that much more exciting.
  • When the confetti machine shot off, Jaehyo stuck his arms out so that they were completely covered.
  • At one point Park Kyung started waving at the balcony and grinning like crazy. And up there was a young woman in a (you guessed it) “PARK KYUNG” T-shirt,
  • At the high-touch, P.O and Zico were the first in line, and I tried telling them who I was again, but they were completely distracted and obviously tired, so it didn’t register. So I just told everyone else Thank You and Great Show.

“Blah-blah-blah”–God, more English!

In general the fans were good, although I did see some craziness when the guys threw roses (which seems to be a great strategy if you don’t want them to throw roses any more).

And I have to say that at both high-touches I was chided for delays caused because the person in front of me couldn’t seem to follow the rules. In one case, someone too cheap to pay for high-touch tried to sneak in anyway; in the other someone “had” to give the guys gifts, which they then had to get rid of.

So I’m just going to point out that other people pay the price for your misbehavior, and of course the delays these behaviors cause are one of the reasons they are not allowed. This is actually the second time I’ve been stuck behind someone who had to sneak the guys gifts–it happened last year, too. Honestly, if you could witness the expressions they make afterward (Oh shit, what am I supposed to do with this?) you would realize that you’re not really doing them any favors.

ETA: And I have to get this off my chest. During the concert, even though I was way in the back of the pit and had good sight lines, my view was partially blocked by someone further up who had this big sign that they held up waaaaaay overhead the entire concert. (If only someone had directly addressed this specific etiquette issue before the concert! Oh, wait, they did.)

Then the young lady responsible for blocking my (and many other people’s) view the entire concert posted a fan account, in which she details how she built the sign (with lots of lights, so that it would be really visible in the dark or if you held it at chest level, like you’re supposed to, Missy) and snuck it past security (they exist only to spoil her fun). But you know, it wasn’t that great a concert for her, because she was surrounded by the rudest! and most!! disrespectful!!! people!!!!

Ahem.

Dear Young Lady Who Blocked My View With Her Sign The Entire Concert,

I’m sure you are a lovely young lady with many fine qualities; however, if I had been blessed with telekinetic powers, your arms would have been violently severed from your body halfway through the second song. Sometimes when everyone is treating you with hostility, it is because you are doing something really obnoxious.

Signed,

Everyone Behind You (Yes, We Exist)

Concert report: I’m not even going to try sleeping first this time

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My feet are sore, but I am happy!

I got there about two-and-half hours before the doors were supposed to open (so about 3:30), and I was number 101 in line. It turned out that that didn’t really matter because the Warfield is set up so that pretty much anywhere in the pit is very close.

The fans were great–no hassles that I saw, everyone was really friendly, no fighting or bullshit. Once again I managed to clip someone (two people, actually: one in line and one in the pit), so yeah–once again I was the bad apple.

There was some drama, however, caused by the camera policy, which people should know is EXTREMELY uptight–basically zero tolerance, even for camera phones. Camera (and gifts!) were not allowed in at all (they searched bags). People caught using their phones as cameras had to delete their photos/video; those caught twice were ejected. (I didn’t see that, but someone else told me she saw two people actually thrown out.) You’re obviously not going to see a lot of fan cams of these concerts, and I really recommend you not try to get one. (ETA: But you might want to look here, lalalala….)

The shows were a little over two hours long and basically all music, minus a little time for videos (i.e. costume changes) and for trying to speak English. (Park Kyung actually got kind of annoyed that people were laughing at the other members’ English.) It was really awesome–Jaehyo sat out the dances and Taeil was not in good voice, but it was still great. (Jaehyo belted it from the chair, and Taeil on a bad day is still really fucking good.)

Then I picked up my sweatshirt, which is smaller than I expected–I’d say it’s a women’s XL not a unisex XL. I can still wear it, though.

Then we did the high-touch, which was quick like always. I was like, “BlockB.comIdoBlockB.comIdoBlockB.com,” which earned me looks of complete bafflement from the members we’re not supposed to make fun of and an “Oh-HO!” from P.O.

Looking at Park Kyung here, I’m not surprised it didn’t register–Christ, he’s tired.

And I was off to my hotel–a walk that is considerably less, uh, invigorating at 10pm than at midnight.

Whoo!!!

A quick note about the Warfield

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10am this morning–yes those are BBCs!

I was among those who lined up last night to not get wristbands–not a big deal, except that, yes, the neighborhood is VERY sketchy (that’s a strip club next door). I typically find reports of urban sketchiness to be greatly exaggerated, but not in this case. Keep in mind that the demographic mix between Block B fans (young, female, and of course uniformly gorgeous!) and the late-night Market Street crowd (male, wasted, desperate) is not a great one. Please make your safety a priority, especially as you leave the venue later this evening. (I realize people sometimes like to hang around after the show to see the group leave–I would be very cautious about doing that in this case.)

Oh, and if you’re looking to pick up your merch, the guy at the door told me it won’t be available until the doors open for the concert.

Sometimes it takes me a minute

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There’s been this odd uptick in traffic at BlockB.com starting November 4th–ups and downs are normal, but this happened after “Boys and Girls” was released, and there’s been a plateau afterward.

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You expect a bump with a release, but one starting two days later…?

I was kind of laughing to myself about that Le Petit Journal piece, plus there’ve been a slew of other funny stories in the French media about the Hollande/Royal meeting with Block B.

(The theme to Jeopardy! is playing in your head about now, isn’t it?)

Many people are really amused at how Hollande didn’t seem to know who Block B was when they’re so famous in Korea and Royal seemed so excited to meet them.

(The song keeps playing….)

The pictures of them all together have apparently gone viral in France.

(Do-dee-do-dee-Doup! Dee-do-dee-do-dee….)

Oh, hey, why I don’t I check the stat details so I see if there’s some sort of uptick in visitors from France? What, you say there is one, it’s a fairly large one, and maybe I should have realized that something like that was going to happen?

Uhhh…. Bienvenue! If you’re here, check out these guys!