Category Archives: media

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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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.]

Here’s something U.S. fans can do….

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I was noticing that “Shall We Dance” is still at #2 on the U.S. iTunes K-Pop list, second only behind “DNA” by BTS, which of course is currently being promoted in this country. That to me suggests that it’s a song the U.S. market is responding to, and of course attention for BTS can easily translate into attention for other K-Pop acts, including Block B.

And I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal about U.S. streaming services and the individuals who curate very influential playlists for them. (And if you think I’m old and curmudgeonly, you should check out the hilarious comments on that article, which can be summed up as: GET OFF MY LAWN!)

Which makes me think that we may have an opportunity here to push “Shall We Dance” to these guys (obviously given the kind of song it is, I’d suggest focusing on the hip-hop and Latin music people). From these Billboard articles on Busa and Chery, it seems like:

  1. They give suggestions more weight if they come from people who are actually on the streaming service they work for.
  2. If you’re on a streaming service, you should definitely be using your playlist and social tools to promote the song.
  3. More weight is given if the suggestions appear to be organic and spontaneous; i.e., no form letters, just tell them in your own words why you think “Shall We Dance” kicks ass.

So, here’s the WSJ‘s list:

TUMA BASA
Age: 42
Title: Global head of hip-hop, Spotify
Influential because: Curates RapCaviar, considered the most powerful playlist today

CARL CHERY
Age: 38
Title: Head of artist curation, Apple Music [Note: worked for XXL, has a hip-hop background]

ALLISON HAGENDORF
Age: 37
Title: Global head of rock, Spotify

MIKE BIGGANE
Age: 39
Title: Head of pop, Spotify
Influential because: Oversees “Today’s Top Hits,” which has 18 million followers, among other playlists….

ALEX LUKE
Age: 49
Title: Global head of programming and content strategy, Amazon Music

Five more leading playlist professionals to know:
Rocío Guerrero (Latin and global music, Spotify), whose Baila Reggaeton playlist has over 6 million followers and helped the Spanish-language song “Despacito” hit No. 1
Elliott Wilson (hip-hop, Tidal)
Arjan Timmermans (pop, Apple Music)
Tony Gervino (Tidal)
Jerry Pullés (Latin, Apple Music)

ETA: There’s this chart about Block B’s current performance on Spotify, if you think you’d find that helpful. While I think it’s probably best to focus on the new release, there’s nothing inherently wrong with also giving “Toy” or one of the other songs a nudge to the people who might not be such a good fit for “Shall We Dance.”

Yes, these dumb campaigns affect real people

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So, the model whose butt got cut from the teaser posted about her experience, and a fan translated it. (Thank you!)

I’m really glad that the model was so honest about it–I was worried enough that she might have been cut from the whole thing that, when the video came out, I figured out from her tattoo which model she was just to reassure myself that she was still in it.

We were sort of blathering on earlier about socialist and material feminism in the comments, but this is why I prefer that to the kind of feminism that is all focused on pictures in magazines and hoochies in videos and whatnot. This is this woman’s job–as it was, she worked very hard for something that got cut, and if she’d been a bit less fortunate, she would have undergone all of that (plus the time spent getting made up and ready for filming) and not even had a clip for her lookbook to show prospective employers.

It’s about having empathy for other people and understanding that everyone has the right to make a living. This is what I don’t like about this K-Pop fandom culture that’s all about believing that your every last fantasy should be made true, because you are the center of the universe. (And you’re not being utterly selfish, you’re being “feminist,” or “empowered,” or otherwise “political“!) I’m all for approaching media critically, but if you’re saying that another woman should be shafted just so you can more easily fantasize about a K-Pop group, that is not feminism.

Cognitive…dissonance…overload….

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From Netizenbuzz:

Also from Netizenbuzz:

Be sure to read those comments–no misogyny there, no way!

From Asian Junkie:

Also from Asian Junkie (no link, because it’s EVERYWHERE):

What I can see as a legitimate complaint about iKon’s behavior is that the audience probably included many young people, so stuff like grinding was not really appropriate. I’m still not sure why men in drag lifting each other’s skirts constitutes harassment of women, unless one of the members of iKon has a REAL surprise in store. And Asian Junkie saying stuff like “[iKon’s behavior] does kinda put everything in a less joking tone and more just disrespectful manner”–honestly, the only way to top that is going to be if Anti KPop-Fangirl stops drawing dicks on women’s pictures long enough to condemn iKon as well.

ETA: And the concert was from last year–hahahahaha. Yeah, everyone there was so upset that it took a year for some hater to dig up the clips.