Just because it’s not in English….


A few weeks ago (God, this is a timely blog) a hardworking BBC translated some Korean netizen comments onto OneHallyu, and one of OneHallyu’s patented anti-Block B fuckwits got annoyed by it. (Yes, because someone did a translation, which wasn’t the approved hate. I would like to take this moment to not only thank that BBC for her hard work, but also to commend her for her willingness to put up with the idiots on that site. She is a better person than I am.) Anyway, another BBC made an eminently logical reply, pointing out that a lot of positive news about Block B never makes it into English.

And that’s very true.

I don’t think that’s because all the English-language K-Pop sites have this terrible bias against Block B or anything–but that filter against translating positive stories does exist, and it exists all the time. Even if what’s going on isn’t egregious, in general the English-language K-Pop sites do focus on the negative, simply because they do fewer stories and tend to pick out the really juicy ones.

I think this creates the impression that the Korean K-Pop press is hugely focused on scandals–which it kind of isn’t, for reasons I’ll get to in a moment. And things can be really confusing for English-language observers, because it seems to us like one minute, say, IU is a vicious pedophile who everyone hates, and the next she’s a painted saint who everyone loves and who is being unfairly targeted by the evil LABOUM, who everyone hates. This time.

But that’s because we see only what comes through the filter.

What isn’t there?

A whole lotta stuff!

This is a screencap of the results of a Google News search for “피오”–these are most (not all) of the results from May 5, and these stories focus P.O’s appearance on the pilot of Secret Variety Institute.

Here’s the thing: Very few of these stories are what I’d consider actual news. A handful of them mention the show’s ratings (which were pretty good–yay!), but the vast majority of them are the Korean equivalent of those stories you see in American news outlets that say, “Saturday Night Live did a skit about Kellyanne Conway!” and then the story itself just tells you that…Saturday Night Live did a skit about Kellyanne Conway. Like, yeah, the skit was funny, and I don’t like the Trump administration any more than anybody else does, but writing a story about what was on television last night is not exactly what I consider serious reporting.

You can really see what I mean in this case because AllKpop actually did two English-language versions of these articles. Their titles are, “Block B’s P.O Confesses He Is Lonely These Days” and “Block B’s P.O Reveals Whom He Would Date on ‘Secret Variety Institute’.” Neither article tells you anything you wouldn’t learn by actually watching the show (which I totally recommend–I saw it here but there are also English subs here now), and both focus on P.O’s dating life (of course).

There were dozens of these kinds of articles in the Korean K-Pop press. Dozens! For just one day!

This is what English-speaking K-Pop fans don’t see, and this is what makes what might seem like a big scandal here just a blip in Korea. When P.O wore clothing with Japanese writing on it to a Korean Independence Day festival, those stories were promptly buried by stories about Zico appearing in a photograph with Hyorin (THEY MUST BE DATING!!!!) and Paloalto (…we’ll just crop him out). When Zico dissed his haters while he was dating Seolhyun, it got pretty much equal coverage with an Instagram photo Jun Hyun Moo posted of him standing with Zico and Park Kyung (…but are they dating?).

That was in the Korean K-Pop press.

The fact of the matter is that the Korean K-Pop press is massively lazy. (I know I keep saying that, but that’s because it’s always true.) The laziness makes it easy to plant negative stories, of course, but it also results in a ton of positive stories–if you’re going to just write about what you saw on television and on celebrities’ social media without doing any additional reporting, then of course you’re going to produce a huge number of stories that read, “P.O was so cute on that show! He smiled and laughed!” or “Zico looked so fashionable in that photograph! He wore a sweater!” Pretty much the only twist that you can put on these things is to speculate about dating, so that’s what they do. Hey, it beats reporting!

For the most part, the English-language sites don’t translate more than a fraction of these kinds of stories, and I don’t really blame them–these stories are so repetitive and so trivial, and there is just a blizzard of them. They are the reason why, years ago, I turned off my Google News alert for “블락비,” and I’ve never, ever been tempted to turn it back on.

But it also means that, yes, what you see in English isn’t truly representative of what’s appearing in the Korean press. It’s skewed towards the negative and away from the positive, most definitely. Likewise the volume of stories is far less. If all that truly bothers you, I’d suggest creating a Google News alert for “블락비” (or the Hangul name of any other Korean group or celebrity)–your desire for a flood of positive stories will soon be satiated.


16 responses »

  1. I mainly use akp & soompi as an alert that something actually exists,ex:P.O has another vs,Zico got a beer ad,etc.Sometimes the live interviews are more worth hunting down.I just found one w/Zico today w/Dingo done around the time he released She’s A Baby where he tells them if they want more info about his personal life maybe they should do a reality show about him (pleeeze,Dingo,pleeeze!) I was a bit nervous on May 3rd because Z & Kyung both posted selfies on Ig that they took w/Wiz Khalifa. Wiz is holding a blunt,as usual,& Zico took his pic down only a few minutes later,but Kyung has left his up.I was waiting for it to be made into an issue but….nothing…yet. The smirk on Kyung’s face delights me no end…So sometimes no news is good news & bless the laziness of the Korean pop culture press.

    • It’s funny–today I was watching this:

      And when asked what they think of when they think of pot, a lot of people said “Wiz Khalifa!”
      I feel like the attitude is a little schizophrenic, because it seems like well-known Western musicians just get a pass, while at the same time the laws are very strict and appear to be seriously enforced. So I think that creates some wiggle room for Kyung, especially because he doesn’t pretend to be good and pure.

      • Love Danny & David! I thought of G-Dragon right away when I first saw Kyung’s picture & the whole Someone-handed-it-to-me-at-a-party-I-didn’t-know-what-it-was “defense”.Plus I think that happened in Japan.Frankly I get more upset when I see my faves smoking cigarettes.I follow Wiz too & I’m so used to seeing him w/a joint in his hand that tbh I didn’t even notice in the Zico selfie..I had to screen shot that one coz it couldn’t be copied & the joint got cut out because I was just interested in having a pic of those 2 together. Then I started reading the comments & I was like,Wait -what ? Maybe Zico figured better safe than sorry for any messes that might result. The G-D incident isn’t even recent but I see it still being brought up so I can’t blame him if he’s being cautious.

    • The other thing that’s funny to me about the laziness was that, back when every story about Zico was about how HE MUST BE DATING, they never mentioned any of the other members–even when Jaehyo was sad-posting about what sounded an awful lot like a breakup and P.O was dining out with a guy in drag. But now P.O is starting to get the DATING focus, so I guess he’s moving up in the world….

      • They are no doubt fortunate to be flying under the radar. I know Nb only translates the worst of the worst but when you see the vitriol spewed at people like Sulli & G-Dragon I’d hate to see P.O or the others be constantly abused that way.Nb is only one niche in one little corner but it’s still out there & toxins tend to seep into other areas. Right now U-Kwon has his hair in blonde braids,he looks very Taeyang-esque so there’s another possible opportunity for ppl to get their panties in a twist.

        • Yeah, I have my fingers crossed that P.O will be able to handle the inevitable “HE’S HORRIBLE!” I think that’s the downside of the whole “Nation’s Little Brother” thing he’s got going on right now–it’s a pedestal, and I think he’s just too honest.

          Did you see this? We’re supposed to hate U-Kwon because he has a girlfriend and doesn’t look like a “normal” idol, not because of his hair–come on, now.

          • Yes,I did see that & the remarks about his looks,which I don’t get-I’ve always thought he was kind of cute.(Otoh,a good friend of mine informed me years ago “You like all the ugly guys” so there’s that..) I think someone even brought up the bracelet incident which should be ancient history by now.I hope they can all do their best to be true to themselves & still manage to do well in their careers.It’s a hell of a thing to have to rely on the whims of the public.Big Bang managed to survive some pretty major scandals & rumor mongering so that’s probably another reason they’re looked up to,they’re survivors.I see Block B as survivors too & I was very happy to see more than one member say they want to be like Shinhwa,because they’ve been together a looong time.

            • I’ve never understood the homogenous, “THIS IS HANDSOMENESS” standard. (And U-Kwon is prettier than a girl!) It seems like it’s mostly just something for the haters to latch on to–if U-Kwon looked more like something from the SM product line, they’d be like, “He’s just a pretty boy!” None of that seems to affect Block B’s sales any, so those folks can cram it into their irrelevant orifices!

              • I don’t get it either.Sure some people are more obviously attractive by the accepted norm but thankfully everyone has their own tastes.No one can see someone’s face w/their ears anyway so if you like the music how relevant are their looks? Also,Pretty is as pretty does.

                  • True that.And it will keep on moving just as it always has so everyone is best off just liking what their eyes appreciate & not worry about the tastes of others! When I saw the remarks about U-Kwon I just thought to myself,yeah that’s why he keeps getting these photo shoots coz he looks so awful…Anyway,SulliBuzz is back so maybe she can keep him from getting too much hate about his hair.

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