Wonder Girls Disbanding  

The four-member girl group Wonder Girls announced they are going to split up after they release their final single. The K-pop sensation who rose to international fame with their hit single “Nobody” have decided to disband after 10 years in business.

The announcement comes after rumors of the group going on separate ways sparked by the members' contracts being about to expire. The news were confirmed by the South Korean company JYP Entertainment and said that the decision had come up after much discussion among the members and their agency.
But not all Wonder Girls members are leaving showbiz. According to JYP, the band members Yubin and Hyerim will stay with the agency and will still pursue their career in singing, acting and emceeing. The other members Yeeun and Sunmi, however, have decided to leave the company to start on a new path.
Although these are sad news for the world of K-pop, at least there is a final digital single to look forward to which marks the 10th anniversary of their debut in the industry. The statement affirmed the song is their way of thanking the fans who have supported them in the past decade.
The band made their debut back in 2007 and became one of the most popular K-pop groups in Korea. They had released a total of three studio albums, which are “The Wonder Years” (2007), “Wonder World” (2011) and “Reboot” (2015).
Since the announcement of their break up, Wonder Girls fans took to social media to express their love for the four-member group. The members of the band also left farewell messages for their fans in a video.
Some of the comments fans left for Wonder Girls in social media include:
“Because of ‘Nobody' now y'll know K-pop. Thank you Wonder Girls”
“Wonder Girls, 2Ne1, and Sistar were the groups that I knew before I even got into K-pop and this doesn't feel real.”
“Secret, Kara, Rainbow, 4minute, 2Ne1, IOI, the Ark, and now Wonder Girls. K-pop is over.”
“2Ne1 then Wonder Girls... This is really heartbreaking. They are the groups which songs were played in the radio internationally.”
The full statement from JYP Entertainment, is as follows:
“We are here to announce the disbandment of the group that has been always with us for the last ten years, Wonder Girls. The members have talked amongst themselves and with the company for a long time and the [girls] decided to disband. Yubin and Hyelim have renewed their contracts with JYP Entertainment and will continue their activities in music and acting as well as other fields. Yeeun and Sunmi have decided to pave a new path for themselves and have regretfully decided to leave the company. As a thanks to all the fans who have been with them for 10 years, they have decided to release their last digital single on their 10th year anniversary, February 10th. We would like to thank the fans of Wonder Girls all over the world who stuck by Wonder Girls in their 10 year-long journey, and promise to help and support both the members who are leaving and staying to help make their future better. Thank You.”

 

The novels of South Korean writer Han Kang  

South Korean writer Han Kang has become a sensation in South Korea with the publication of her books “The Vegetarian” and “Human Acts”. Published back in 2007, “The Vegetarian” is a slim novel that tells the story of a woman named Yeong-hye who suddenly stops eating meat. This act enrages her family and symbolizes Yeong-hye's renunciation of humanity itself, which she sees as essentially violent. As she dives deeper into her obssession with cleansing her body from meat, it becomes clear that she's trying to emulate the peaceful life of a tree; she literally transform herself into a tree. As it can be expected, this book has been compared to Kafka's Metamorphosis at many levels.

“The Vegetarian” has earned praise beyond the borders of South Korea and has own the Man Booker International Prize, awarded every other year to novels from any country published in English (as it has been translated by Deborah Smith).
After the success of “The Vegetarian”, Kang published another novel that also saw the light of day in English. The novel is “Human Acts” and is grounded more firmly in reality than “The Vegetarian” although it is just as inventive, intense and provocative.
“Human Acts” focuses on a tragic episode in South Korean history that saw student protesters being shot in the streets of the city of Gwangju in 1980, while others were captured and tortured by dictatorial government forces. Since the details of the tragedy were either censored or grievously downplayed by the government, many Koreans have only recently learned the full extent of the atrocities committed.
Considering the history of censorship, “Human Acts” is an outstanding work that requires considerable bravery. The subject matter is controversial in itself, and Kang's nonlinear, surrealistic treatment is a huge risk that ultimately gives the atrocities and the characters who endure them an emotional immediacy.
King's fascination with bodies is palpable from the beginning. A wretched 15-year-old boy named Dong-ho helps to wash and label fast-decomposing corpses in a municipal gymnasium in Gwangju. His main worry is his school friend, who we learn to be dead on the second chapter.
The following chapters skip forward to account for effects of the massacre on the survivors. The story also shows the perspective of a book editor who must contend with a government censor, as well as a former prisoner who is asked to reminiscence about his time in captivity, and lastly, a factory worker who lives with daily nightmares of her sufferings at the hands of Korean soldiers.
Kang's writing style serves to empower both stories. In “The Vegetarian,” Kang's talent for grotesque description served the novel's psychosexual suspense and perverse entertainment value. In “Human Acts,” it makes the atrocities of human-on-human violence extremely vivid.
But that's not the only bold narrative risk Kang takes. There's a chapter that is told from the point of view of a dead boy who body is trapped under a pile of other dead bodies: "When they threw a straw sack over the body of the man at the very top, the tower of bodies was transformed into the corpse of some enormous, fantastical beast, its dozens of legs splayed out beneath it." Thank goodness it's just her wild imagination a book.

 

S-Korean Rapper San E Releases New Single  

South Korean rapper Jung San, known as San E, is not just any rapper. He is, indeed, the most successful solo rapper in South Korea's mainstream music. After securing a contract with Brand New Music, San E recently released a new single.

San E became famous back in 2008 when he released his first mix tapes, dubbed “Ready to be Signed” and “Ready to be Famous”. To attract attention to his music, he jokingly dissed one of the famous underground rappers Verbal Jint.
His diss on Verbal Jint achieved its purposed and raised the attention of South Korea's hip hop community and Verbal Jint - who, surprisingly, then invited San E to join Verbal Jint's hip hop crew, Overclass.
In 2010, San E won the Best Hip Hong Song Korea Music Awards for his song “Rap Genius.” Following that award, he became the first rapper that secured contract with JYP Entertainment, one of the big three labels in South Korea's k-pop industry.
Then San E released his first mini album dubbed “Everybody Ready?” in which San E collaborated with fellow JYP Entertainment artists Min, and Joo and Yeeun on the mini album.
San E then released his single “Tasty San”” that featured Min in the M Countdown music television show. A few months later, San E started another round of promotion for the single “LoveSick”, in which the video featured Sohee from Wonder Girls.
San E is not like any other rapper. He uses music as an outlet. He was born in South Korea but moved to Georgia, USA, when his parents were struggling due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. That is what gave him a closeness to this style of music and an international sense.
“I always wanted to let everybody know hip-hop is worldwide,” said the rapper.
He then announced his ambitious plan to release a charity single. The purpose of it all is to cross the barriers of race, culture, language and sex, alongside the collective known as Hip Hop for the World. He recorded a global anthem “HIPHOPISHIPHOP”.
Hip Hop for the World includes talented artists from four continents and is led by San E, famous for his K-Pop Hot 100 hits like “Break-Up Dinner,” “A Midsummer Night's Sweetness” and “Body Language.”
“HIPHOPISHIPHOP is my high school dream. As an immigrant, if I let my friends listen to Korean hip-hop music, they'd be like, ‘They can rap in Korea?' I always wanted to let everybody know hip-hop is worldwide; it can be rap in all different languages you never heard. It took awhile to make it really happen, now here it is.”
 
DISCOGRAPHY
2017 Jan 23 EP [Season of Suffering]
2015 Apr 23 Album [The Boy Who Cried Wolf]
2014 Aug 04 Digital Single 'Body Language'
2014 Jun 12 Project Single 'A Midsummer Night's Sweetness'
2013 Nov 21 2nd Mini Album ['Not' Based on the True Story]
2013 Nov 06 Digital Single 'Where Did You Sleep'
2013 Aug 02 Digital Single 'Story of Someone I Know'
2013 May 13 Digital Single 'Big Boy'
2011 Apr 26 Digital Single 'Don't Go'
2010 Nov 03 Digital Single 'LoveSick'
2010 Sep 13 1st Mini Album [Everybody Ready?]
(more details on his San E facebook page)
 
Goblin, a popular but controversial K-drama  

K-dramas are known for their near-perfect male leads: attractive, intelligent heirs to vast fortunes, among other positive qualities. The K-drama Goblin follows in that direction, except for that they take it to the next level; they conjure a knight in shining armor who is considered by television critics to be a god.

Critics argue that is one of they main reasons why the show has boasted record-breaking viewership since its premiere on South Korean cable channel tvN with production by Studio Dragon.
“We've evolved past god-like men to actual gods, who have the appearance of good-looking men,” said culture critic Jung Duk Hyun. “Now, their abilities surpass the realm of human strength.”
In the past few years, popular dramas have seen a surge in male leads who are gifted with supernatural powers.The male protagonist in 2013's I Hear Your Voice can read people's minds. The following year, My Love From the Star featured an extraterrestrial with superhuman powers of sight, hearing and speed as its romantic lead. The year after, in Another Miss Oh the male love interest was able to see the future.
And now it's Goblin's turn. Based on Korean folklore about dokkaebi, a higher spiritual being who is roughly equivalent to a goblin, Goblin stars Gong Yoo as Kim Shin, a warrior who was impaled on a sword centuries ago and transformed into an immortal with endless wealth.
Goblin has scored ratings as high as 12.7 % in 2016 and many critics attribute this popularity to female viewers' yearning for all-powerful make figures who can solve the problems of modern women with stressful lives. The final episode in Jan 2017 recorded an 18.7% nationwide audience making it the second highest rated drama in Korean cable television history.
“The realistic ideal is that two people complement each other in a relationship,” said Choi Ji Sun, 28, a lawyer who has watched every episode of the show.
“But it's easy to escape to a world where someone will come to my side at the drop of a hat, no questions asked, and provide everything. Of course, I would never expect that of my real life partner.”
In the show, the protagonist Ji Eun Tak, played by Kim Go Eun, is able to summon Kim Shin by just blowing out a flame.
The female lead is surrounded by problems, living with relatives who scorn her after the death of her mother. Kim Shin comes to her rescue to provide for her and shelter her. Although he is her knight in shining armor, she is no damsel in distress. Instead, she is strong and strives to provide for herself.
“But it's a shame she is unable to escape the Cinderella stereotype, especially when her make partner is so almighty,” says drama critic Kim Sun Young.
Their age difference has done nothing but spark the controversy as Ji is portrayed as a high school student while Kim is said to be 39 years old with the appearance of a thirty-something man.
The system of fantasy blocks any guilt and allows viewers to accept, without being repulsed, the romance between a young woman and an older man, TV critic Hwang Jin Mi. “But the image of a young girl... hanging onto a rich, thirty-something man... lingers.”
Descendants of the Sun: Korean drama in India  

Like the rest of most of the world, Television viewers in India are majorly exposed to content from American and British TV shows. The only platform that offers material other than British and American to viewers in India is Zindagi, the number 1 Premium Entertainment Channel.

With a selection of the best shows worldwide, Zindagi offers viewers a glimpse into new cultural settings while broadcasting universal emotions.
Zindagi has launched shows from Turkey and Ukraine before, but recently it has taken a new step and introduced the blockbuster South Korean drama “Descendants of the Sun” for the first time on Indian television. The touching drama tells the love story of Special Force Officer (Song Joong Ki) and a surgeon (Song Hye Kyo) whose fates intermingle.
The TV show was not only a blockbuster hit in South Korea but it also took Asia by storm, garnering immense popularity and top-ratings across the continent.
The selection of actors had already paved the way for the finite series to succeed. The Korean heartthrob Song Joong Ki, who plays the role of a Special Force Officer, is considered to be one of Korea's hottest actors with a huge fan following across South East Asia. His choice seems ideal as the actor served in the Korean Military for two years before bagging the role in the show.
Although Song Joong Ki was already popular in the country, the show catapulted his fame making him one of the highest paid South Korean actors.
“Descendants of the Sun” is the story of Special Force Officer and a surgeon who fall in love at first sight. Despite their instant congeniality, they are taken aback by their contrasting ideologies and values (one kills to protect lives and the other saves lives).
Destiny unites them again after almost a year of separation whey they meet at a war zone “Uruk”, a land far from Seoul. The new circumstances force them to work closely together.
The story will tell if their love will blossom in a strange land and an extreme environment. The audience is yet to find out if they will be able fight or succumb to destiny.
Some of the sweetest quotes from Descendants of the Sun include:
“I hope you don't think my kiss is bad. I did it after thinking a thousand times.”
“You are already beautiful.” (Yoo Si-jin speaks to Kang Mo-yeon, who is reluctant to make eye contact because she is not wearing any make-up).
“You have so many men to worry about. Just worry about me from now on.”
“Regarding the kiss, what should I do? Should I apologize for that? Should I confess my feelings to you?”
“Yes... you know, I have (been bewitched by something).” (When Kang Mo-yeon and Yoo Si-jin look at the wrecked ship, Kang asks him: “Have you ever been bewitched by something?”)
“Because it is far away... I want to spend more time with you.” (When Yoo Si-jin and Kang Mo-yeon got to a beach, Kang says to Yoo: “Didn't you say the beach is far from here?”)

 

K-pop star Rain Marriage  

The Catholic wedding recently took place in Gahoe-dong cathedral in Jongno, Seoul but lets take a look back at the events leading up to the surprisingly modest wedding. 

In a hand-written letter to fans, South Korean pop icon Rain announced his engagement to top actress Kim Tae-Hee. However, unlike most fans would have expected, the letter said that their wedding would be low-key given the country's economic and political woes.
“I am going to be a good husband and man as a head of a family,” said the singer in the letter, posted on his Instagram feed.
“She has always been by my side through the hard times and the good times,” he said, referring to the actress who is two years older than him and is popular across Asia.
The couple first met while shooting a TV commercial in 2011 but they didn't start dating until 2012.
The wedding attracted the attention of the media and fans as Rain - whose real name is Jung Ji-Hoon - is one of the biggest names in the world of K-pop. This genre of music amasses a huge amount of followers not only in South Korea but across Asia and beyond.
Even though Rain is mainly known as a K-pop icon, he has also starred in numerous South Korean TV dramas and Hollywood action pictures including the Wachowski brothers‘ “Ninja Assassin” and “Speed Racer”.
“Regarding the time and the wedding ceremony, we plan to keep it as quiet and holy as possible during the current unstable national mood and economically difficult times,” he said.
The wedding is going to take place at a Catholic church in Seoul with family members.
Rain is also known for being confined to barracks for a week back in January 2013 for sneaking out to meet Kim while performing his mandatory military service.
Rain was Time magazine's 2007 most influential person in the world. Stephen Colbert was second. In 2008, Stephen Colbert jokingly challenged Rain to a dance off with words like “Hey Rain, let's see if Korea will lift the embargo on balls”. Colbert even did a Korean kind of music video, jokingly mocking Rain.
Rain comes from a humble background which is one of the reasons he puts so much effort into everything he does. Either dancing, singing or acting, Rain always works hard to deliver the best result yet. That is why he is also famous for his statement: “If you were to ask me the reason I tried so hard, there is no reason. Trying as hard as possible is everyone's duty in life.”
All about Park Bo-gum  

Park Bo Gumchas is a whole Korean legend. This artist from Seoul has appeared in a range of roles in both television and film. His popularity sparked among the young crowd due to his tenure as a co-host on popular music program “Music Bank” which turned him into the cool kid from the blow. But his popularity is not limited to youngsters. Park Bo is also beloved by women who have supposed his roles in K-drama.
Some of his most important appearances include his role as a psychopathic lawyer in Hello Monster (2015), a genius Go player in Reply 1988 (2015), and a Joseon Crown Prince in Love in the Moonlight (2016).
The actor has received numerous awards and nominations including winning “Top Excellence in Acting” at KBS Drama Awards. He broke a record in 2016 when he was named “Actor of the Year” by Gallup Korea, becoming the youngest actor to rank first in the survey's history.
Here are some of his quotes which have been treasure by his fans:
“My father told me to ‘Always live truthfully'. And he also told me that ‘You have to live while staying truthful to your original intention'. ‘You have to go with what you first believed in, in order to have no regrets.' He also told me that ‘Even if you fail while living like that, it will all just be an experience and if you succeed then it'll be a memory.”
“I don't take back words that I have spoken; I take responsibility for them.”
Many fans treasure his words in Moonlight Drawn by Clouds: “Do not forget. If I only had one person in the world that I could trust, it would still be you.”
“If you ever need to let go of something in the middle of a tough situation, can you promise me that it won't be me?”
“When I see you, I get angry. But that won't do, because I don't see you, I get even angrier. Like I'll go crazy. So, stay by my side.”
“Even if we were spun in circles, we were fated to meet each other.”
“Thank you for teaching me that the sincerity of love can create miracles.”
“Maybe I push you away to see if you care enough to pull me back...”
When Park Bo Gum was asked a question during the 2016 Style Icon Awards, he replied “if it's someone that I love, I think she'll look pretty no matter what she wears.”
“When you open up a path, you must also open the gate at the end of the path.”
“There's no need to ask me for favors, since I would do anything for you.”
“If there's someone you miss, you have to meet that person.”
“Do you know how worried I was that when I opened my eyes, the person in front of me wouldn't be you? When I held on to you, I hesitated for so long, in case it wasn't you.”
Running Man star wins award  

Running Man star Lee Kwang Soo won a top prize at SBS Entertainment Awards amidst controversy about the show. He accepted the Top Excellence Award for his performance on popular variety program Running Man, which has been involved in controversy lately over the apparent dismissal of two of its cast members, Song Ji Hyo and Kim Jong Cook.
After the controversy sparked, the production team announced that the two cast members would stay on until the show's finale. Despite rumors, all six cast members of the show were at the awards ceremony.
Running Man star Lee Kwang Soo gave a touching acceptance speech in which he thanked those who “worked hard to defend Running Man.” "To Ji Suk Jin, who taught me about life and entertainment, to Yoo Jae Seok, who made me the person I am today, to Kim Jong Gook, my mentor, to Haha, whom I love like family, to Song Ji Hyo, who is like my real sister, and to Gary, Song Joong Ki and Lizzy. I love you all so much," Lee said, mentioning each of his team members.
After the ceremony, fans expressed disappointment in the fact that Running Man, a show that has been airing on SBS for almost seven years, only took one prize home.
In response to the fans, SBS released a statement on Instagram explaining that the Running Man cast has asked not to be given any prizes as they wanted to keep a low profile during the awards show.
“For this reason, Running Man was only given one award,” the statement concluded.
It was the comedian-TV host Shing Dong Yup the one who took the Grand Prize home for his work on Mom's Diary - My Ugly Duckling, a reality show spotlighting celebrities and their mothers. The show, launched in July, boasted a viewership of over 10 per cent on Friday nights.
Some of the most memorable quotes of the show are:
“Kim Jong Kook talks a lot. I'm glad he's not my mother in law.” - Jae Suk to Jong Kook at epsode 98
“When Jong Kook screams, he has no charisma at all.” - Yoo Jae Suk
“Lee Kwang Soo said that he was a burden to Yoo Jae Suk.” - Yoo Jae Suk answered that he was not a burden to him but he is a burden himself.
TV shows Influence North   

Since the division of the historical state of Korea into two distinct sovereign states - North Korea and South Korea - in 1945, the cultural gap between the two states that once formed a sole nation have done nothing but become wider with the passage of time. Despite them being neighboring countries, the estrangement between the two nations was due to the cultural isolation of North Korea and both countries' ideological discrepancies.
Recently, however, mass media has been bridging the cultural gap between the two countries. In particular, South Korean TV shows are having a strong influence on North Korean society, according to a high-ranking North Korean official.
Once the number 2 official at Pyongyang's embassy in London Thae Yong-ho met with South Korean reporters for the first time in 2016 and stated that how the North Korean people are stuck on the Korean Wave.
“Every North Korean I know has watched South Korean shows,” Thae said and then he confessed he himself is a fan of period flicks, “Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-shi,” “Jeong Do-jeon” and “Six Flying Dragons.” The audience was amazed at the North Korean official's capacity to name the South Korean TV shows from the top of his head.
Apart from the South Korean TV shows, other TV dramas that gained popularity among the general North Korean crowd, according to Thae, included romance works “Autumn in my Heart,” “Winter Sonata” and “Full House.”
Surprisingly, a few dramas that discuss North Korean defectors‘ assimilation stories in the South - namely, “Blow Breeze,” - were especially favourites in the North.
The influence South Korean mass media is having on its neighbouring country is such that its TV shows are changing the way North Koreans converse. According to Thae, the South Korean shows have influenced younger North Koreans to adopt South Korean terminology in their everyday lives.
“They way they call each other when they date, ‘Jagi-ya' and ‘Oppa-ya,' did not exist in North Korea prior to the influx of South Korean entertainment contents,” Thae said, referring to South Korean terms of endearments.
“The two things the regime is failing to control are drugs and South Korean dramas,” Thae said.
Accordingly, North Korean diplomats destined abroad check the South Korean press every morning for news regarding North Korea.
“The North Korean system can only last as long as it can completely block off all information from the outside world,” Thae admitted. “When the day comes when people have access to the information that has been censored, North Korea will come crumbling down like an earthen wall soaking wet.”
The reason why South Korean TV shows are so popular among its neighbouring country is the little diversity on North Korean TV and extensive repetition - most of the movies are re-runs. This is because national TV can only show programs that adhere to Pyeongyang's ideology. In fact, most of the programming is impregnated with national propaganda, but even propaganda has to be entertaining in order to be effective.
With North Korean TV state programming being so repetitive, propagandistic, uniform, restricted and dull, it is no surprise ordinary North Koreans opt to watching South Korean dramas despite harsh penalties if they are caught.

 

A year of festivals in South Korea  
South Korean's love to kick up their heels and celebrate, so it's little surprise that the country has full yearly calendar of festivals and events. This guide will take you through all the biggest, brightest and best South Korean festivals, offering you (almost!) one for each month of the year.
Inje Icefish Festival (January)
Ice Fishing has been a popular Korean past-time for centuries and there is no better place to learn all about it than the Inje Icefish Festival, which runs from late January to early February each year. As well as actually doing a bit of fishing yourself, you can also learn how best to prepare, cook and serve your catches. There's plenty of other activities on offer too, including ice soccer and sledding and a generally upbeat, fun atmosphere pervades.
Seollal (February)
This three day celebration marks the first day of the first lunar month every year in South Korea. The theme of the festival is that everybody in the country is now one year older and so a group celebration is in order. Most South Koreans like to spend this time with their families, and food is very much at the centre of the celebration. The most important dish of all is ‘birthday soup'.
The Cherry Blossom Festivals (March and April)
OK, we're cheating a little, as we're covering two months with the same festival, but bear with us a moment. You see when the countryside's trees bloom pink with cherry blossom, Koreans take it as a signal to start a party, with carnivals and fireworks aplenty. The thing is, the time this occurs will differ depending on where you are in Korea, though mostly it happens between these two months.
Lantern Festival (May)
Unsurprisingly, given the size of its Buddhist population, Buddha's birthday is celebrated every year in Korea with the Lantern Festival. A beguiling lantern parade usually takes place on the Sunday preceding the day itself, while people mark the actual date by visiting their local temple with a homemade lantern.
Firefly Festival (June)
This is one for all the eco-warriors out there, or, perhaps, just for anybody with an interest in green energy. Taking place in Muju each year, it is a celebration of all things natural, with attendees gathering to watch the fireflies, let off fireworks and discuss environmental issues.
Mud Festival (July)
One of the most attractive and popular Korean festivals for tourists is the Mud festival, held in Boryeong. During this rather raucous few days, the idyllic local beaches are turned to mud, and all manner of mud-related madness ensues, including mud wrestling, mud sliding and a Mud King contest.
Chuseok (August)
Chuseok is the time of year for all Koreans to celebrate their roots and give thanks for another good harvest. It takes place around midway through August each year, with huge feasts and celebrations across the nation. It is preceded by the Ginseng Festival, which takes place 10 days earlier. During this time, doctors from around the country advise citizens of all the various uses and benefits of ginseng.
Busan International Film Festival (October)
For culture vultures, the Busan Film Festival will be well worth marking in your calendar. Every year, many of Asian cinema's biggest and brightest flock to the city, where hundreds of movies are screened.
The Apple Festival (November)
The town of Yesan is well known for producing the tastiest apples Korea has to offer and, each year, it celebrates its most famous export with a one day festival. Events involve eating contests, picking contests and peeling contests, plus an Apple Queen Beauty Pageant.
  
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