청담동 살아요 They are from the outskirts of Seoul, coincidentally found a hiatus in Chungdam dong, Upper East Side or Soho in NY context. They find roommates and extended family, a beautiful mix of randomness: self claimed cartoonist, a doctor who is paying for children to study in the US, over qualified but under appreciated waitress at high end restaurant, once famous celebrity now divorced and forgotten and impeccable Kim Hye Ja plays wishful middle aged women with love of poetry and wealthy friends. They are hypocritical and senseless but at least they are honest for what they want. Based in real life neighborhood, the characters are exaxerated portrayal of typical S.Korean stereotypes. While most TV sitcoms continue with glamorization of JaeBul, conglomerates, (like 샐러리맨 조한지 Salaryman Cho Han Ji which even celebrates working class rebellion toward JaeBul with, of course, a twist of love interest) this one takes a poke at the 1% and asks ‘it is okay to not have what you want’. I live in Chung Dam dong. A clip.
인수대비 Insoodaebi, the notorious queen of Chosun Dynasty has been a popular material for Korean dramas. This one is no different from previous ones, but the timeliness of Park Geun Hye preparing to run for the presidency and restructuring of the conservative party: Han Nara Dang into Saenuri Dang, and the final days of the president Lee Myung Bak, seems to resonate with this troubling time depicted with personal greed for power, guilt and hatred among family members and the impossibility of maintaning a civil and (some what democratic) society. The story seems to stress how certain characters end up becoming larger than life with above mentioned desires through a course of their given life. Can this complex narrative lead to an explanation of why the conservative politicians are (pretending to) support for Park Geun Hye? a daughter of Park Chung Hee, the Father of Modernization and/or violent dictator who gained power through a militant coup and maintained state of emergency through his presidency. Her political life is very obscure, she has always been political, although she never made a clear political statement or contribution. How can someone be so involved in the politics and build a symbolic power, while not really doing much of politic activity at all? Maybe because she is not doing any real world politics, that she is the politics in her body, and especially in her hair style that a lot of older folks recall her mother’s image. The Chosun dynasty’s tragedy seems to answer it all. See a clip.
파국의 지형학 (문강형준) I ran into this book that seems to answer all the questions one might have about K Pop, Neo liberalism, end of the world and why things are falling into pieces in the way they do now. It’s a very interesting read, casually mixing anything from Zizek, Deleuze, Korean novels and Internet memes, too bad it’s only in Korean. Bio tells he is finishing ph.d at US university, so I hope to see his dissertation on “Geomorphology of Catastrophe” sometime in next few years. Book can be bought here His blog is here, all in Korean http://blog.naver.com/caujun.do