Category Archives: K Pop

The sterling ethics of K-Pop journalism

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As you may have heard, CN Blue’s Jung Younghwa was investigated for supposedly getting into a doctoral program at a fancy university without interviewing or anything. Admission into fancy universities is incredibly competitive in Korea, so there’s a lot of sensitivity about whether or not those who get in deserve it (the trigger for the whole Choi/Park scandal was the admission of Choi’s daughter into a fancy university). Throw in the tantalizing possibility that Younghwa was hoping to use his admission Kyung Hee University to avoid military service, and we’ve got a bona fide shit show.

Note something about all this? It has nothing to do with Zico. It also has nothing to do with Kyuhyun, G-Dragon, Jun. K, or Daesung.

All of whom are arguably bigger names than Younghwa.

Obviously, if you didn’t know who this idol who supposedly got preferential treatment was, it would be a terrible thing to just list random big-name celebrities who more or less fit a vague profile–so that’s exactly what some Korean media outlets did.

Others, of course, did not. Other Korean media outlets have standards. They have journalistic ethics. So they printed stuff like this:

The second paragraph from the bottom reads, “Because netizens don’t know the identity of the idol admitted to Kyung Hee, they are speculating that the ‘famous idol’ is Super Junior’s Kyuhyun, Block B’s Zico, 2 PM’s Jun. K, BigBang’s G-Dragon or Daesung, or several other male idols.”

WOW that’s amazing! Definitely the best way to handle uninformed netizen speculation is to amplify it through “legitimate” media outlets! Especially because–and this is just the cherry on top–the article never actually exonerates any of those people. I mean, they couldn’t possibly just say that rumors are flying about other, unnamed idols who had nothing to do with Kyung Hee University–they had to name the idols and then not say that it wasn’t any of them.

Of course, in fairness (fairness? do I really have to be fair here? I’d be the only one) at this point the “journalists” passing along unsourced tittle-tattle didn’t know for a fact that any of these big, juicy, click-bait names had nothing to do with the Kyung Hee University scandal.

Once they did know….

A headline mentioning Kyuhyun, Zico, and the phrase “Kyung Hee idol.”

Headlines mentioning Kyuhyun, Zico, Jun. K, and (in the second) the phrase “Kyung Hee idol.”

Of course these headlines are utterly ethical in that they are bemoaning the sad, sad state of events that forced media outlets to produce story after story after story after story containing the search terms (deep breath): Kyunhyun + Zico + Jun. K + G Dragon + Daesung + Kyung Hee + idol. It is clearly a time for soul-searching by the Korean K-Pop media; this soul-searching will just so happen to produce many more stories containing the search terms (sing it!): Kyunhyun + Zico + Jun. K + G Dragon + Daesung + Kyung Hee + idol.

ETA: Just in case you think the problem is limited to these four stories or something, here is just a small portion of what you get when you put Zico (지코) and Kyung Hee University (경희대) into Google News.

These are all from the past couple of days, and keep in mind, there is absolutely no connection between Zico and this story.

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Props!

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Another fun fan meeting with props (via BB_GREENERY and theBlockBClub). First, Park Kyung shows everyone how to make a reflector out of Kleenex.

Then the Kleenex becomes face masks.

And then (of course) it all degenerates into violence and chaos.

This is from Music Bank, and maybe it’s mean of me to find this funny, but the girl group Blah Blah took a picture with Block B:

I find the contrast between B-Bomb and Zico’s expressions amusing–B-Bomb’s totally got this, “Hey, sexy ladies, lean on over here!” look to him, while Zico looks like he’s thinking, “Oh, God, not another dating scandal. Not another dating scandal. NOT ANOTHER DATING SCANDAL!”

Well, that’s going to free up some of my time

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Gaon has stopped publishing download numbers! They’re going for some kind of combined download/streaming overall magical digital number–I’m not sure why they can’t still do streaming and downloads separately, but apparently they’re not gonna.

It’s kind of annoying because Gaon’s always given a lot more data than other music charts, but I guess they’re looking at those charts and saying, “Why do we work so hard?” Oh well–a blow to nerds like me, but at least now I don’t have to update Wikipedia’s discography numbers every friggin’ week.

You guys know this is normal, right?

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So, yeah, “Don’t Leave” isn’t topping out on the charts, either, after “Shall We Dance” didn’t. Which means BLOCK B IS DOOMED!!! DOOOOOOOOOOMED!!!!!!

You know, just as they have been since Day 1. Dooooooooooooooooooooooooomed. (Because cursed!)

Or maybe ups and downs are a normal thing in a music career? Hence the value of persistence?

It’s honestly kind of funny to me to see the black-and-white thinking kick into gear. Block B has two stadium shows in Korea at the end of this month, and six concerts in Japan after that. “Artist” is still–still–on Gaon (passed 1 million downloads!). I think funeral rites are a tad premature.

And it’s not like other artists don’t deal with this. Taeyang‘s “Eyes Nose Lips” sold 2.3 million downloads; his next single, “Darling,” sold a little more than a tenth of that.

This is what happens. It’s not because the public gives a fuck about some fandom drama or because the exact same company that was in charge when the hits were released suddenly ran out of mojo.

It is normal for this industry. Hits are very unpredictable (I know some musicians who had a song become a hit entirely by accident). Whenever people ask, “Why isn’t this a hit?” I wonder just how many hit songs they themselves have produced–it’s kind of like asking why someone hasn’t been struck by lightning, or thinking that people can win the lottery just by, you know, wanting to.

Needless to say, the unpredictability of hits is and always has been a serious challenge to everyone in the industry. Music labels diversify in order to even out that revenue flow. That’s why, even though Block B has got a comeback and a concert going on, B-Bomb’s doing a play, Park Kyung is plugging away on Problematic Men, and U-Kwon’s doing a Japanese/Korean TV show.

Because Block B is more diversified, that actually takes the pressure off for each and every music release to be some monster hit. They’re established now–it’s not like when they released “Nalina” or even “Very Good.” And while I realize that it’s not uncommon for K-Pop groups to get neglected by their label if things slow down, turning a lull into a career-killer, that’s just very unlikely to happen to Block B–especially now.

In other words–I don’t think this is worth getting weepy about. Just enjoy the music–it’s good, and it’s going to keep on happening.

Just a little perspective here

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I came across these today:

Now, Junoflo is a guy who has, what, 9,000 followers on Twitter? No serious following on OneHallyu, no music-show trophies, no major hits, no screaming hordes of fans lashing out angrily at anyone they perceive as getting in his way.

It doesn’t matter. Dude’s happy to be making a living doing what he loves. This contentment–this internal and personal emotional state, which so rewarding that people who could make more money in another field will work in the arts instead just to get it–is what gets lost in all the bean-counting and horse-racing and chart-ranking and fan-warring that goes on out in public.

And this isn’t just something that happens in K-Pop by any means. The whole thing where people who aren’t players sit on the sidelines and try to judge who is hot or not happens all the time, and for artists it is exactly like when a bunch of dumb frat boys hold up signs with numbers on them to rank the disinterested women who pass them by on their way to doing something far more interesting with people who aren’t a complete waste of space.

It’s not about whether a bunch of idiots think you’re cool–it’s about what you’re doing with your life. And there’s something profoundly gratifying about working in the arts, whether or not you are fulfilling somebody’s else notion of success.

Take a break with Puppy Post #3,457,565

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꼼지락꼼지락 ㅋㅋ 🐶❤️

A post shared by @ b_dd_p_k on

[Just a note: Sometimes when there’s been a significant tragedy, people feel like they shouldn’t take time to do enjoyable things, because it feels disrespectful. Take the break. Immersing yourself in bad news is quite damaging psychologically, so if you don’t have to, don’t. There is good research behind this (yes, it’s a big issue for journalists), and it helps no one if you start to spiral down yourself.]

This is why I can’t get upset

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Oh, nooooo, Block B failed to win their…um…gotta look this up…their ninth music-show trophy! Instead it went to That Jooheon Kid and the rest of Monsta X!

How awful. Monsta X got their first win, which made them super happy so that they cried and cried (and cried!), and Block B ran right over and hugged them and were grinning and the tension was just so awful, because Block B was obviously super upset not to get their…well, if you count Zico and Park Kyung’s wins, then it would have been their twelfth trophy. Instead they had to watch those Monsta X kids have a day they’ll never forget, which I’m sure was especially awful for Block B because it would remind them of their first win and how much it meant to them.

Of course, it was nowhere near as horrible for Block B than the day Winner beat them out to get their first win.

Lo, the anger and resentment!