So, yesterday was one hell of a day for us. Not only did we celebrate our 100th Kpop Music Monday (and by celebrate, we mean “Make an Extra Video that’s over 18 minutes long“), and not only did we crash Groove Magazine’s site for their awesome article on us (Thanks Groove!) we also went on Al Jazeera live to talk about K-pop and Soft Power.

For starters, a few things may not be apparent in the video here:

1) This was 5AM for us! 5AM!! We woke up at around 11PM the day before and started working, right from the get-go, on Kpop Music Monday and our extra 100th Anniversary special video. Everything was published at around 3:30AM, and then we started prepping for the live stream. So, if we seem a bit ramble-ey or discombobulated, you’ll know why. No fair! Sukjong Hong (and the host), the two people in the studio giving all the stats, was fresh and awake! So…yeah. We felt like we would have done a better job with more sleepy-time in us. Staying awake for 18 hours…not great for intelligent conversation.

2) Interesting thing about the chat: it was via Skype, but it was done in an odd way. We couldn’t actually see the stream. We were just looking at a blank monitor, because they were not feeding video to us. That would take up bandwidth, which could potentially worsen the signal. So, we were a bit in the dark, which feels odd, because, well, looking at people’s faces and reading their reactions is important for conversation. You read their social cues and respond to their reactions, you know when to interrupt and you can see when a gap becomes available to join the conversation, but since we couldn’t see them, we felt that we might have awkwardly cut in sometimes. Who knew I’d miss seeing people so much?

3) We’re so intimidated by live events! Seriously! Thanks to the magic of editing and post production, we can transform ourselves from stammering dolts into semi-eloquent adults. Here, though, we couldn’t cut out our uuhmms and ahhhs, or get a re-do if we said something off. Yeah man. Live video: not as safe as edited video :D

Yeah! So, that’s some of the behind the scenes info on this live streaming event. We really enjoyed doing this but we didn’t really agree with everything that was said here. Maybe it’s just us, but this conversation seemed to paint Korea and Kpop in a negative light. Are we wrong here? For starters, we’re not really buying the idea of the Korean Government insidiously fuelling the Kpop industry as a form of soft power propaganda. Is the Korean government acknowledging that Kpop and K-dramas are becoming a source of revenue in the sense that more people are visiting Korea because of their interest in the Hallyu Wave? Absolutely! We don’t deny that the Korean government has seized the opportunity to create Kpop/K-drama tours for visitors, or that they’re using Kpop idols to promote visiting their country, but…I don’t really see what’s wrong with that. If this were my country, I’d do the same thing! “You like Kpop do, you? Want to spend money in my country because of it? Awesome! Here are some things you can do:”

I guess what we’re getting at is that to us it seems that Kpop and Kdrama came FIRST, and then the government saw the popularity, and is now trying to take advantage of people’s interest in the country. It’s not like the government created these bands, advertised them, and then people were like, “Oh, Kpop is cool! Let’s go to Korea,” all the while the government is tenting their fingers and mumbling “Good! Good! Excellent!” and stroking their hairless cats.

In fact, one of the points we raised and most fervently believe in is that, even if the Korean government paid buckets of money to have all the biggest Kpop bands play on the radio in North America, it wouldn’t mean that Kpop would catch on and be loved. The government can’t BUY soft power, and that’s what it felt like this discussion was suggesting. I think it’s a cart-before-the-horse kind of discussion.

I think we’re most adamant against this point, probably because we occasionally hear people accusing us of being government shills as well. Just because we’re semi-popular, and we paint a nice picture about Korea, then that means we MUST be owned by the government! We say nice things about YG: that means YG MUST secretly own our site! We didn’t believe in picking sides in the T-ara scandal based on rumors, so their company MUST have paid us off! Saying favourable things about something does not mean that you’re bought out. We feel the same about Kpop: just because it’s popular, and people are now fascinated with Korea as a result, it doesn’t mean that the government is controlling them. If they did, I’d like the government to explain WTF they meant by “Joom joom my heart like a locket”. Maybe something along the lines of “Excellent! We will confuse them into a state of loving our country!” What do you guise think?

Last thing is something we found hilarious: Esther (she lives in South Korea too), I’m not sure if you’re gonna read this, but we were talking about the insane work ethic of South Korea, and how people work absurd hours. I could be wrong but…weren’t you broadcasting live from your office…AT 5AM?!?!?! Did you even go home at night or did you just wake up early for this and head into work? I also hope you get to go home early today because I can’t imagine you staying at work all day after that.

Anyhow, you can read more about it on Al Jazeera’s site. Weird. I never thought we’d be talking on Al Jazeera.

  1. Hey Simon and Martina this is a bit late but I’d like to point out that the way you handled all the issues from the early time to the blank monitor very well. You also handled the skepticism of some of the comments gracefully, I respect you guys. I loved the opinions you out forth please continue to make awesome videos

  2. So, none of those are Koreans who lived in Korea for real. The Skype-girl lived for two years only. The in-studio guest is living in the US.
    Why not listening to a Korean citizens in Korea itself?

  3. S&M I LOVE YOU! 13:20 Awesome PWNAGE! I love KPop ’cause it feeds my imagination. We all sometimes escape to some imaginary land in our heads, and KPop helps build that happiness. We’re not disillusioned into thinking it’s a reality though. Especially since you guys are so UBER educational. You’re honest about this industry and help us enjoy it, but you don’t try and paint a wrong picture of it. We’re for the music, not the industry, just like you said about idol worship in the T-ARA scandal video. I also loved it when you spoke about how KPop is like a scene and how PSY doesn’t represent KPop but rather was his own agent making people aware of the Korean wave.
    Only your opinions matter ’cause only you know the true side, and want to promote a BALANCED view of KPop.
    (Now for some S&M worship)

  4. It is undeniable that the soft power that everyone’s talking about is actually working, to a great deal. I mean, not only adolescents in South Korea are looking at being an idol, people around me(I live outside of South Korea, but in the Asia region) are also joining various star hunting competitions to try to be part of that world because South Korea has this image of Asia’s Hollywood, where everyone in that place has the easiest access to stardom compared to anywhere else in the world.

  5. I want to support you guys, but this was hard for me to watch. I would love to take part in a discussion of the Korean culture in a more critical way, but I also think the show was incredibly unbalanced. By trying to present both sides of the issue, they ended up almost not presenting both sides. I enjoy K-pop because I enjoy the sound of the music. I enjoy K-dramas because they are unlike anything I would watch in Canada. But now it’s all about Korea trying to achieve soft power through my enjoyment of those things? It felt like it was vilifying the things I enjoy, which was not a super feeling.

    I understand from some of the comments here that these forms of media are being presented to possible immigrants without giving them the proper understanding that this is not a full picture of what it’s like in Korea. But the same thing can be said for the rural areas of northern Canada. They have to hunt for their food, they live in huts and tents, but they know who Justin Bieber is. Because I live in Canada, over 70% of my entertainment comes from the USA industry.
    From what I watched, it felt like this wasn’t a show so much about discussing K-pop, but discussing the influence of media on portraying an image of a country to outsiders. Because of that I felt it was unfair to not mention and compare the practices of Korea to that of other countries.

    I would love to see a video discussing some of the more serious political and social issues of Korea from Simon and Martina, but this one was just not for me.

  6. Oooh… soft burn to 소녀시대 martina, but i totally agree with u they just cant put them in the us and expect them to explode in the market.

  7. “the cheap produce we have at dinner is thanks to the hard work of abused migrant workers…”

    The cheap produce that my family – and millions of other families in America eat is grown in their backyard gardens.

  8. This is probably one of my favorite discussions ever. honestly I am a huge kpop fan and I really want to move to South Korea and be a teacher very soon, cause I love it that much. But I actually like that they just didn’t talk about how glamorous it is and how hard it is to work in the industry. and the expectations that korean culture has in terms or wealth and looks. In all honest, I think learning about the culture was a big thing for me. I think people are just upset because maybe they didnt know all the issues in korea, I mean yes, I know their are tons and tons of issues going on in America right now, especially when everything is being brought up into light with the 2012 elections coming up. But honestly I would rather be educated on both sides of the issue, instead of this whole thing being a one-sided discussion. I dont know if S&M just thought it was going to be just a kpop positive discussion and how fun it is to like kpop, I dont think kpop was painted in a negative light in this discussion, because they were speaking on how kpop can relate to different areas in the culture. because even though kpop is not named in the culture, it really does influence how people in the korean culture see themselves as a person. Again, I thought it was awesome, you can learn a lot from this discussion other than the glitz and glam of it all, cause it is hard, especially for korean idols, because people expect them to be perfect and nobody is perfect.

  9. This is probably one of my favorite discussions ever. honestly I am a huge kpop fan and I really want to move to South Korea and be a teacher very soon, cause I love it that much. But I actually like that they just didn’t talk about how glamorous it is and how hard it is to work in the industry. and the expectations that korean culture has in terms or wealth and looks. In all honest, I think learning about the culture was a big thing for me. I think people are just upset because maybe they didnt know all the issues in korea, I mean yes, I know their are tons and tons of issues going on in America right now, especially when everything is being brought up into light with the 2012 elections coming up. But honestly I would rather be educated on both sides of the issue, instead of this whole thing being a one-sided discussion. I dont know if S&M just thought it was going to be just a kpop positive discussion and how fun it is to like kpop, I dont think kpop was painted in a negative light in this discussion, because they were speaking on how kpop can relate to different areas in the culture. because even though kpop is not named in the culture, it really does influence how people in the korean culture see themselves as a person. Again, I thought it was awesome, you can learn a lot from this discussion other than the glitz and glam of it all, cause it is hard, especially for korean idols, because people expect them to be perfect and nobody is perfect.

  10. There are plenty of reasons of why I love kpop, maybe even more than what I dislike about kpop. It kind of does feel like an escape though, but I like it, and you can’t make a huge deal out of something being liked too much. If people like Kpop then let them enjoy what they like C: I personally, think that if I have to give my money to a celebrity, I would give it to someone hardworking and that I respect because of what they do, which are of course various kpop artists. Not saying that other musicians around the world aren’t hardworking, mainly because I don’t always listen to international music all the time, but I’m really fond of kpop. Anyways I don’t think it should be made into a big deal though, it kind of scares me how society seems to be lacking an open-mind lately. Anyways I don’t want to say much. *flies away* ._.

  11. It makes me angry that during the stream they said so many things about Kpop like it is shocking and horrible that they have fame and money…when in the US it is the same way. Popular music idols are “stars”, and children give up dreams of becoming doctors and lawyers for making it big as a musician even though it is just as selective as in Korea.

  12. KPOP idols must have a lot of nervous break downs.
    Look at joon from mblaq his insomnia came back and devolped bipolar disorder. Honstely a lot of kpop idols and korean actors have mental disorders but nobody actullay nobody takes the time to look at their mental or physical health much.

  13. I am sure that the Government in some way or another are capitalizing on Kpop. Agreeing 100 % on EYK expression cart-before-horse in that the Gov astutely acknowledged the influences of this entity of Kpop has had in the world in the last half a decade or so. I think this discussion was very smart. However I felt that in the root of the criticism was animosity. I was very rather disturbed. Because it turned the whole vibe to defensive. I admire the sleep deprived Simon and Martina Defending Kpop and their fans. THANKS!

    Since I do not know completely where Sukjong Hong was coming from.However I can recognize why she was interjecting some serious issues. I so think that just as Kpop is representing the Arts and Images of Talented folks, that Also the everyday life and concerns should be known about S.Korea as I am curious to know about, and hope to contribute to a solution in any way I can just like we have that same situation here in the US. I was taken aback that She Assumed all the fans/admirers of Kpop are ignorant to the fact that idols/kdrama actors are well written Tales and well styled Singer/Dancers of many hardworking people (sadly with the exception of some emotionally broken persons-that are from ANY part of the world). It is escapism at is best, which is Entertainment. I am latina, I grew up watching telenovelas with Extremely rich blinged-out characters and dirt-poor characters. I KNEW and others knew that it was just a story.Granted we talked about it as if they were our own family dramas but there is a fine line that was understood. Because I saw with my own eyes, the not-so-fabulous and in the positive note the REAL people I cared for. I did also find it rather comical that Ester ( A Ent. Company rep) seemed to be bashing Kpop (isn’t she part of it?) is that what she wanted to convey?

    I am all about being critical of most things, because then it can only get better as long as the criticism is constructive.

    I do Hope Kpop and other beautiful Korean culture elements are shared around the globe. If Kpop or other mediums are the bridge to that, then I look forward to it.

  14. Very interesting show. I’m glad Simon and Martina were on there and brought out the points that they did. If they were not on there, I bet a lot of what they said would not have been brought up.

  15. http://www.cnngo.com/seoul/life/tell-me-about-it/k-pop-taking-over-world-dont-make-me-laugh–476482
    Hey…Please thumb up this comment, not because I’m lusting attention, but because I wanted to alert people of an article that was written by Esther Oh in the past and more importantly I wanted to bring it to Simon and Martina’s attention. I’m usually very discreet, but seeing Esther again, after once really getting really irked by her comments in this old article was too much. Looks like she’s quite the crusader. If you read the article you’ll see that Esther really minced her words in the show because her real thoughts are far more cynical and a lot of her matter is kinda baseless. She’s really mal-researched a lot of her material… Like I always say- if you pursue matters with a negative mind and Google negative material… you get negative results. She’s really done a good job of keeping the achievements out of her article. And apparently success now days means breaking into only the american market. Oh well the rest of the World might as well just give up trying because nowadays the World means america. I’m not anti any country, but you can really see what her priorities are and it’s annoying how millions of followers around the World are invalid just because one country hasn’t fully accepted it. That’s just wrong… And honestly the number of american fans on EYK itself are living proof that the Wave exists. Why does everything have to be government propaganda? Seriously! Even North Korea doesn’t get this much criticism for suppressing freedom. She’s acting like nobody has the right to promote something and speak of it’s achievements… and taking such few accounts into consideration is baseless and impractical to arriving upon a conclusion with reliable bases. She’s biased. It’s obvious. She’s made me laugh. (BTW, isn’t the title a little harsh?)

    • Take note -> Not only is this article stupid because it speaks of just one country and doesn’t consider successes in the World’s largest continent as an achievement but it also states that Jay Park isn’t a Korean star because of what his passport says. Take further note that although this sounds harsh- Jay Park’s controversy and 2pm really kicked him forward. True he is super popular and cool now and is great at what he does, I still can’t deny it. I’m not a Jaywalker, however I am a fan and I still acknowledge that had he started with a solo debut he’d be classified with the likes of Tiger JK and other admittedly less popular but still awesome artists who aren’t idols.. Apparently when KPOP stars do succeed abroad it’s invalid because their passport says so. Hard to please much? No matter what is done, it won’t be a success in her book. She also states that BoA’s, Se7en and Rain’s songs don’t count as Hallyu songs, so although because they failed conclusively Hallyu failed, they still weren’t really Hallyu after all. So does that mean Hallyu didn’t fail and america failed? Because under “misnomers” you yourself stated that the songs being produced by americans, don’t count as Hallyu at all! The point really is derailed. However one thing I do agree with is that once they try to adapt KPOP to another country’s environment and suppress what identifies it as a KPOP song, it does not stand out. PSY wasn’t aiming for the international market. It was a song for Koreans about Korean nuances, however it retained it’s cultural ties and did well. However I doubt people liked it for it’s strong relations to Korean society like everyone on that program seemed to think, I’m pretty sure it didn’t became viral because of it’s depthful symbolism, people liked it simply because it was funny. Here Esther Oh treats it like an unearthly tool to drill the truth of Korean society into our brains, however besides her and hard core KPOP fans who pretty much knew about it pre-PSY, to everyone else it’s “that funny song with the addictive dance and beat and a crazy awesome guy jumping about doing weird stuff and saying things we don’t get.” If you don’t believe me, check the Youtube comments under the video, there’s pretty much no mention of “Wow! I’m totally surprised at how delusional I’ve been all along! I had no idea Gangnam wasn’t paradise!”
      I on the other hand am surprised at how pointless this entire conversation was when it had so much potential to be more positive and stimulating and not just plain…..um….. unnecessary? Please don’t say I’m one of those fans who only wants to hear great things being said about KPOP … However true that may be (^.^)/ . I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear good things said about the things they love seriously? Anyone?
      I just think it’s a bit of an exaggeration to accuse something that was created purely for entertainment and positive purposes of intentionally trying to brainwash people into thinking “it’s all peachy here in glamorous Korea!!!” after all the purpose of any music industry for that matter isn’t to alert people of social evils right? Might as well invent singing newspapers then and ban all forms of entertainment if that’s your perception of music right? And the thing about the Samsung factory in the video….. um….. do you want them to start singing songs about it and actually expect people to take time off from their already exhausting lives only to remind themselves that it could get worse at any moment? A little harsh don’t you think? Also it’s annoying how people say artists have no voice of their own….. many didn’t. Nowadays most do, every album has at least one song completely written and composed by one or more members in a group. Perfect example of a group where a member participates in the creation of pretty much every song? The very mainstream rookie group B.A.P…!!! There are several more, reply underneath if you want more convincing and I’ll send you manymanymany instances. Please comment and send me your feedback. I’m pretty much open to support or criticism. (Although I’m slightly afraid of the second one, I’ll respect it.) Reply and like the main article so that Simon and Martina can see!!!

    • Hey, I don’t know who this Esther person is, nor do I want to know. I also don’t care what she thinks, and from the sound of it, neither should you.
      But I don’t think it’s necessary to randomly bring someone into a conversation just to hate on them. I was going to delete your comment, but I thought I’d tell you this: If you have negative sentiments towards someone, tell that person. Telling others in the attempt to get more people to hate that person achieves nothing of any worth.

      • I agree though roughly with your comment. However, I just assumed that I’d relate my thoughts on the situation. I didn’t mean to garner hate and throw it towards that one person. P.S Esther Oh, is relevant to the video because she’s in it, and I just thought people would want to see more of her work and thought I’d mention a bit of what parts I disagree with about the things she’s said. Not of her character in general. I by no means infer that the woman is a tyrant because she wrote bad things… however I really wanted people to know that she really wasn’t as professional and in the position to comment as she appeared in the video because her earlier works were kinda lacking actual factual back up or significant statistics. I guess it was just that raging need to defend that spurned me to make the article sound more accusatory than I actually intended it to be. Sorry, however please don’t delete the article never the less. My intentions aren’t so hateful I tell you!

        • Ah, righto. Was she the older Korean/American lady in the video? The one who flew from NYC (sorry I didn’t pay attention to their names). I apologise for dismissing your post like that, it had typical spammer characteristics like ‘like this so they can see’ – if you’ve been around here long enough, you’d realise that S&M read all the comments on their blog post regardless.
          Well, now that that’s settled, could you perhaps tone down your raging a little then? lol? You should be able to edit your comment (if Disqus isn’t stuffing up again :S)

        • Chang Waeilyn

          Hi. Sorry. Actually the first comment on another article had the same typical spammer signs and I thought it was okay because good enough it reached the top, so I thought that’s how it worked around here. I am by no means new to EYK though… I just tend to skim over the comments and this happens to be the first time I’ve commented on anything here so….. I’m kinda embarrassed that the newbie feel resonates so much that you actually picked up on it. Ouch! Actually Esther was the lady who was on Skype just like Simon and Martina but who had like completely conflicting views to theirs. (Which basically means non-awesome) However I don’t want people to hate on her. Nobody deserves that, I just wanted them to see the flaws in her points that are visible in her articles elsewhere. Oh! And please consider my rage officially toned down! Huhuhu. (*Insert sheepish face*) (;一_一)

        • Oh was that her? I was paying too much attention to her hair-flicking. She had a lot of make-up on. And was quite pretty. Though for the life of me I can’t remember anything she said. :S

          Btw yea, I saw it was your first comment which is why I thought I’d tell you the issue with it instead of outright deletion. Thanks for being so understanding!! I feel guilty everytime I pull someone up for this. ^^;

        • Chang Waeilyn

          Edited as much as my conscience would let me. I removed those spammer signs you spoke of. Thanks for educating me about how things work around in EYK, I’ll keep it in mind during future postings.

  16. Actually, I really liked this show. It was well documented and it changes positively from the usual shortcuts foreign media use. The only fact that they invited people who have different opinions, such as you guise, shows that they’re open minded. Of course they don’t fully agree with you, but that’s in part what makes it interesting.

  17. I just wanted to point out censorship in South Korea is a HUGE issue. I wish you had talked about it a bit more. It bleeds into Kpop as well but its very hypocritical. Through Kpop I feel like the government tries to change common perceptions about Koreans such as the heavy drinking that is part of Korean culture. Mentioning alcohol in a song will lead to the song being banned for anyone underage and cannot be shown before a certain hour. However, drinking is a huge problem in Korea including heavy drinking, DUIs and underage drinking. Girl groups have been banned from performing on music shows because they lift their shirt to reveal their bellybuttons during a dance and yet prostitution is also a huge part of Korean culture making an estimated 14 trillion won per year, nearly as much money as agriculture in the country. Kpop idols are also held to high moral standards and are often forced to withdraw from the industry following even minor scandals while politicians and rich and powerful CEO who are involved in embezzlement and other serious offenses don’t receive as much media coverage or reasonable punishment. The pure Kpop image that the government controls is very far removed from what is happening behind closed door in Korea society: money, sex and alcohol. I feel like South Korea tried to keep a sense of moral superiority compared to say, the USA and Kpop fans seem to enjoy the more clean cut aspect of Kpop but it isn’t a true reflection of Korea. Not to mention, also, that on several occasions it was been revealed that these pure and innocent idols and actresses are often forced into providing ‘sponsors’ with sexual favours and recently a CEO was charged with raping trainees in his company. The government does not want people to look at Korea and criticize it and if all they see is government controlled Kpop they may never realize anything is wrong, it has often taken the extreme measure of suicide for some in the entertainment industry to make their protests on the darker side of the industry known. Psy’s poke at Gangnam is a soft version of what Seo Tai Ji did a decade ago in terms of criticizing life in Korea and they both should be commended for doing it. As should Xia Junsu, who continues to be forcibly barred from promoting his music in South Korea individually as well as with his group JYJ because they dared to challenge the unfair clauses of their contracts, for his outspoken song ‘Tallantellegra’ which asks “what kind of music will you listen to?” I think that is something we all need to do.

    • To be clear i don’t believe the government created Kpop for this reason but I think once they saw how big Kpop and Kdramas had become they decided they had to control the kind of content the Hallyu produced lest it paint Korea in a negative light. With people all over the world paying attention to Kpop I truly believe the government feels it is a reflection of Korea and as it is a culture where saving face is more important than nearly everything else I don’t think they could allow full artistic freedom. This new video rating system they are trying to implement is a perfect example because its the government trying to control not only what Koreans see but what Korean content foreigners see.

  18. Thought I would share this since this discussion is centered on how Gangnam style went viral and what it means. On my daily commute home in San Francisco Bay Area around 7:30 pm, I was listening to the one of the top radio pop stations, 99.7, to hear Gangnam Style played in its entirety. Afterward breifly discussed how Psy had signed with Justin Bieber’s label. It is not just a viral youtube video anymore it is getting radio airplay now…I provided a link of the playlist. I think this is both shocking and exciting….I have yet to hear even any kpop english pop songs (such as Wonder Girls “Like Money”) played on the radio. So to hear Gangnam Style on pop station that plays Carly Rae Jepsen “Call me maybe” every ten minutes was music to my ears! Fighting Psy!!! http://997now.cbslocal.com/playlist/

  19. Simon and Martina without a doubt know the most about kpop from the people who were involved in that studio conversation. It bothered me how the others couldn’t look at things from their perspective. How obvious was it that Hong didn’t agree with a thing they said! I was only able to watch the full thing because of them. They are around kpop fans. Their job is centered around kpop. They know what we are like and I agreed with everything they said.

    I remember Esther saying how kpop idols are molded. That is not exactly true. Western musicians don’t always write or compose their own music either. They get some say on what they will do and what genre of music they will make. They are not robots. Sure they have to handle more things they don’t want to, but it’s not an easy road for them. First of all, they have to audition for a company. Getting accepted into a company is not easy. They must have enough talent and confidence to grasp their attention. Then they must train for hours each day for years. Many even quit before debuting because they can’t handle the pressure. It’s not a business about glamor as much as it is about hard work and not giving up.

    Looking at their website (I never even heard of this company before), they are so biased and sick! They’re talking about a bunch of things that I can’t comprehend as an 18-year-old, and that have NOTHING to do with kpop! Their website states, “The clip below by MasaMixes does a mashup of several recent K-pop hits, showing how the manufactured hits all seem to mirror one another.”
    Wow. Seriously? REMIXES ARE NOT MADE TO SHOW PEOPLE HOW SONGS ARE SIMILAR TO ONE ANOTHER. They are made for entertainment. All genres make remixes of different songs. It’s nothing new. It’s not something people do to bash on kpop. Even if some songs sound alike, what’s to be done has already been done. There are only so many things that a person is yet to be the first to do. Such ignorance.

    When that lady brought up a chart of plastic surgery, that was a dead giveaway of their bashing the country. South Korea is not perfect, but why must they bash it so much? We still manage to love it past its imperfections. After all, no country is perfect. Not to mention how SK is not the only country where it’s seen as a norm.

    There’s just a lot that they talked about that when you look at it internationally, you see that many countries are on the same boat.

    • For gods sake, all of these comments against the show are the same. THE FOCUS IS ON KPOP, ON KOREAN CULTURE. This is not bashing, it is the truth. You cannot just love something blindly, it just digs you deeper into a hole of ignorance. Its incredibly hypocritical for you to say that they are biased when you are exactly that, not able to handle criticism because you’re deluded with your ‘blind love for South Korea’.

      • Oh wow, did you read all the comments? Even I didn’t. o.O
        I thought I’d just let you know that not everyone here disliked the show. I thought it was great, and I’ve always liked how Al Jazeera always looks at things from an interesting perspective. They’ve even been said to have more objectivity than many American/European news programs. I don’t know about it being ‘the truth’, but they did present many different points of view.

        However, regardless of how I personally felt about the show, or the comments on this page, I want people to be able to express their thoughts freely here – so long as they are respectful – without being marked as being blind, ignorant, or hypocritical. I mean, you could be right, but cut them some slack~ :p

        • Agreed! I believe there has been some very mature comments as well as very heated ones, as the one by the person you were replying to. Even the other interviewed guests commented and clarified their stand on the subjects discussed. As in any subject being criticized,it will be interpreted in a million ways. More of these conversations have to take place. Not only in Pop in Korean Culture but globally. Because it is in part of all the political, social, financial and emotional scope of the human community.
          I liked this video because It brought a new perspective, even though I was not in total agreement. I welcomed the point of views, as they very enlightening. Hopefully all that watched and read ALL the reviews are open and understand where they coming from, without judgement.

      • I’m sorry if my comment seemed like I was bashing the show. I actually quite enjoyed it and would watch it again if they talked about an interesting topic. That day I was just… really into it? But I’ll have you know that I do not love kpop blindly and I am NOT ignorant. I was just expressing my fresh emotions and your comment was quite rude. I’m sorry if I made myself seem like a deluded kpop fan, but I am not. I was just upset at the word choices that made kpop sound like a bad thing.

  20. I completely agree with S&M through out the video. Some of the things said in the video i don’t really like. . . it just doesn’t sit well with me. It seems like everyone works hard in Korea and i think thats a good thing to learn from. . you cant get any where with out hard work. No offence but look at us Americans, i mean we seem to get lazier and lazier each year and our schooling is a mess. . .
    and so what if Kids wanna dream to become Kpop Idols. . . When i was younger i wanted to be a Chef on the Moon. (it hasnt happened yet)
    Sooo yeah . . . (i hope no one takes this the wrong way.. maybe idk what I’m talking about)

  21. korea is a country,with ups and gowns, with good and bad things……. not paradiseland . I think people tend to forget that sometimes.

  22. I’m not sure if this is a closed view I have but I gotta say that it irks me when people who don’t know much about k-pop review it. It seems like they have a closed mind for it because they don’t really know much about it. I don’t think an opinion for k-pop as a whole should be made after watching a few videos. Simon and Martina actually live in Korea and are in contact with the culture everyday and love k-pop. Because they know so much about the Korean culture, they make awesome review. They also know how to have fun. It’s really annoying when someone who may know Korean Culture semi-well talks about it because they don’t think like most people. They can over analyze something to the point that it’s completely wrong. So when I see an American or British show reviewing one MV like Gangnam Style which, while awesome, can in no way depict all of Korea or k-pop or when some super serious person over analyses k-pop to be Korea’s governments way of having power or whatever, it bugs me. Idk. Just my opinion. Simon and Martina did an awesome job, especially at 5am looking at a blank screen. :)

  23. I also wanted to share the intent of going on the show. As the show introduced, I work on both labor and peace issues. By critiquing Korea, that does not mean I am trying to paint the country in a negative light. By being critical, it is with the hope of bringing about change. Many people in Korea are working on changing the conditions there, to see justice in all these spheres, and I work with some of them. I work on peace and justice issues in the US as well – so I do not deny that there is much work to be done on that front stateside. Obviously, with globalization, all these issues are interconnected. I enjoy Kpop very much, just like many of you, but culture is not just the product of artists and companies – it is what we make of it, how we talk about it, how it gets used, and it is very political. Power can show up in the use of force, or very subtly, in promoting certain values, images, and causing others to want to imitate you. The second is what soft power is, and what I think Al Jazeera was trying to get at.

    • I really liked your interventions on this show, especially the part about working conditions and human scandals within Samsung. It’s not talked about enough. YG has named Big Bang concert tour “Samsung Alive Tour” and, as much as I would like to attend, I don’t like the idea of being dragged in a giant advertisement for a company I don’t support.

      • i think it was the alive galaxy tour. but you do have a point there. except i would go to the concert anyway. with the intention of supporting my favorite band and YG themselves. and while i do realize some of my money goes to samsung, i can dust that off my hands because i came for bigbang and i support YG. whatever YG decides to do with their profit and however they managed to run their show is really none of my business. i can’t help who YG partners with anyway. =) just an opinion.

        • I’d like to go to this concert with a shirt saying “I support Big Bang not Samsung”! Unlike you I think where our money goes IS our business, companies would be nothing without public or consumers, so we have enough power to make things change. We just don’t realize it, or don’t want to.

        • well, see that’s where our perspectives differ. for me, once i give my money over to YG it’s no longer my money. it’s YG’s money and YG can spend it however they like. i would prefer to look for other alternatives to make a stand against samsung that directly affects them like, not buying any of their products.

          sure, companies would be nothing without consumers, but not going to the concert (where i can actually feel like i’m PHYSICALLY supporting them as opposed to buying albums and merch) just because they are affiliated to a company i don’t support seems so petty? (i dunno if that’s the word to describe it.) i would feel so mean because i’m blackmailing them and forcing them to do things our way when there are probably way more things that they have to consider to come to a huge decision like that. if there was an easy alternative then yes, i’m all for it. but if it would be an inconvenience to the company and group that i DO support then i mean, i would go with whatever they decide, i suppose.

          i do see your point though and i do agree. i just have a different perspective of it,

  24. funny, I really love kpop and tell people about it,but I was jealous about the popularity of Gangnam style. Iol didn’t realize how much I liked kpop

  25. Hi this is Sukjong Hong, one of the guests on the show. I agree with everyone here that while it may have been difficult for Martina and Simon to speak at 5am, it didn’t look that way at all. I also wanted to respond to some of the comments here. I think Al Jazeera tried to compose a show with different viewpoints, and Martina and Simon represented very well the views of kpop fans who know the industry well. I also know well that most Koreans aspiring to be kpop stars work for years and years, perhaps never to benefit – which is shown here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13759912 – But most people don’t know that. For example, I’ve lived in Vietnam and the Philippines, where people are indebting their entire families to get visas to work in South Korea or be married to South Korean men, and one of the main drivers of this desire is Korean dramas. They believe South Koreans live very well. And yet the treatment of Vietnamese women and Filipino migrant workers in Korea is terrible – so the image sold by kpop is very powerful. Perhaps people in industrialized nations are free to just consume the great videos, but not everyone is just doing that. I also don’t think any of us said that the Korean government creates Kpop. The concept of soft power is just that – that by promoting it, the government gains many other subtle benefits, from economic to poiltical. I think the show was trying to get at what lies behind the often extremely enjoyable videos and music. And I don’t think there was any element saying the US doesn’t do this – in fact, America is king of soft power through cultural exports – I can’t name a citizen of any country who has not at a certain time watched American movies or listened to music without thinking America the country or its products are very cool. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/06/04/winning-the-soft-power-war.html America is in fact still the undisputed leader of soft power via culture, and I hardly think Al Jazeera wanted to maintain America’s power in this – but rather, focus on what lies behind Korea’s pop industry and image. It’s true – no one can control how it will be received. But to spend public money on exporting and supporting korean pop stars definitely changes how widely it can be distributed and who will see it. I was in rural villages in Vietnam without water, but they had kpop. That does not happen by accident.

    • I agree with Sukjong, because it is a reality that you can use entertainment as a form of control. The reality is not very simple, and as a k-pop fan I believe that you can see the message that k-pop sends in other ways than strugling artists trying to reach the fame… I believe , as said above, that USA are famous with the use of soft power, and as a south american I can feel that, because we receive the message of perfection of that country (I recall the great amount of illegal immigrants that try to go to USA thinking that they will succeed)… Therefore, I believe that the use of soft power and the disparity of social economics between countrys are a problem around the world, but I don’t believe that k-pop being in a rural vilage in Vietnam is that horrible, first I think about the politics in Vietnam that still keep their people in a subhuman condition… I don’t blame USA for their big amounth of immigrants, I blame the country that let’s their people be used by the “strongest” country….
      I believe that the message sent will be receive by those that want (or can’t avoid) to receive it (thinking of social and educational quality). I won’t think that Korea is perfect, or USA are perfect because of their Music Videos or movies, although I belive few people will believe in this information (dream). As I said, Korea and USA are free to spread the message they want, the important thing is if people will believe it or not.

    • “I was in rural villages in Vietnam without water, but they had kpop.” I totally feel that. I’ve been to a migrant school at the Thai-Burmese border, the kids lacked everything, they had to hunt their food, they couldn’t access regular school or even leave their village, but they knew K-Pop and K-dramas, and their biggest dream was to fly to Korea…

    • Thank you Ms. Hong for sharing this insight and the articles. It was one I felt was missing from the program overall, especially how the US is the main abuser of soft power through entertainment. However, after reading this comment I can understand why the US’s role in soft power through entertainment was not discussed during the program since it is outside the scope of the topic at hand: Kpop. When one speaks about Kpop, it should be discussed how its impacts Korea and the world…not the issues of the overall pop industry throughout the world. It was greatly appreciated to hear all the varying opinions on the subject. I feel everyone in Al Jeezra’s program did excellent job commenting on the nuances of kpop…including discussing on the program the difficult road to becoming an idol and the harsh conditions while even being idol. It is not a job I envy by any means and would never wish my children to aspire to be an idol because I acknowledge the horrendous working conditions (do those kids ever get a vacation or chance to see their families…sometimes it is years at a time) and vary narrow payout. I’ll admit I was not aware of Kpop’s influence on Vietnam and the Philippines…but it is not surprising. This is very similar to the issue with Mexico and the US, as well as many other minority groups in the US. As people of privilege we need reminders of the cost of our mass consumption: our I-phones/Laptops and other electronic gadgets are fueling the ongoing civil wars in the Congo over rare earth metals used in thin film coating , the cheap produce we have at dinner is thanks to the hard work of abused migrant workers….I can see you are devoted to issues such as these which is quite admirable. I think everyone enjoyed the program and everyone’s contribution. Thank you again for sharing your after thoughts!!!

      • “the cheap produce we have at dinner is thanks to the hard work of abused migrant workers…”

        The cheap produce that my family – and millions of other families in America eat – is grown in their backyard gardens.

  26. Infinite the chaser!!! I love that song

  27. I can’t believe I watched the whole thing, but everything for you guys! I agree with what you wrote in your post, that they were quite negative sometimes.
    Personally, I think you guys rocked. And (I hope I don’t offend someone, but I don’t think the others on the show would be reading my comment anyway <-<'') it's now I realize how incredibly boring normal grown-ups are! :o I was comparing you to them all the time, and oh ma gaaad you guys are so much.. I don't know how to describe it.. You are a bit more childish (in a good way of course), and you don't have those boring monotone voices that I hate! You're just.. just.. PLAIN AWESOME!

  28. i missed the girls name but, i live in canada, and i know that idols work there butts off, as well as other members of the Korean society. It was kinda unnerving that she grouped international kpop fans as basically ignorant to anything in Korea.

  29. Wow…you guys did amazing! Love you guys ^^

  30. that was seriously interesting. i have a lot of thoughts about the show, but the only comment i would like to make is…. the 2 times the town Charlotte is mentioned, i heard the CH sound and not the SH sound. i know there is a CH there but it shocked me to hear it… that is all

  31. but al-jazeera is semi anti-kpop/anti-korea right? no? just me? ooooh, y u so biased al-jazeera? LOL.

  32. Hi Simon and Martina, You guys did so well even though you were doing at 5am with no video feedback. I think you and Esther brought a good balance to the discussion. Majority of Westerners have a very stereotypical view of Asians in general and what life is like in Korea and the other Asian countries. I admit i was also like that until i seriously started getting into Japanese anime, manga and music and from there I came into Kpop. One of the great things is that its widened my world and I am learning many new things (and I love it when I learn new stuff!). It also puts alot of stuff into a perspective – a good perspective :)
    As a psychology student i will say that its normal that fans don’t want Kpop to become American mainstream and that they hated it when Psy went viral. As humans we want things to stay small and set within the way we like it, and what we originally liked to stay forever in its originality (if that makes sense). But nothing stays the same forever. Culture is very fluid concept and is constantly changing. Kpop is a cultural concept and as a cultural concept its not exempt from this. At some point It will have to change and evolve whether you want it to or not. Unfortunately there is nothing humans hate more than change (even when we know its necessary or inevitable).
    I have to say I actually enjoy the manufacturedness of Kpop. I find it oddly refreshing!?! But I think thats only cos american pop music isn’t very good, australia doesn’t really have a very big pop music culture and the culture i come from all its contemporary music is based on reggae (which i’m not a huge fan of). So I’ve ended up listening to alot of british and australian indie music (which i do love) but Kpop feels that lonely little pop void that I’ve had for sometime. Now all i need is for something to fill the R&B void. *sigh*
    Well that was my aussie five cents worth of oppinion. Anyway I’m loving what you guise are doing and so glad i found your vblog XD

  33. To be honest i don’t really care about it being a soft power because i listen to k-pop because of the music

  34. hi simon and martina… i love the answers you gave and am glad you were also able to broadcast the not-so-glamorous rookie days where the idols slog their ass off… to get to where they are.. yes.. Big Bang lived in rat infested apartments during their training days… not many know those things… am a VIP and i have a lot of respect for all five who went through a lot to get to where they are today! so kudos to you two for giving them that side of the story too!

  35. I couldn’t help but feel that Simon&Martinas comments passed by the rest (in the studio) sometimes . . . Also, that they gave more negatve comments rather than positive ( tho the plastic surgery thing is ture and all; the other people not S&M) . . .

    Anyways, I do agree with Simon& Martina on what they said (everything). It also made me remember ( when Martina mentioned kpop fans being a small group like the groups of people who like rock/pop/etc. ) that I felt that way too back when I was younger…and even now.

    In my country (when you count all kpop fans *whispers* not that hard XD ) kpop fans really are like a small group which is different from others.

  36. lol to the paragraph about Esther in her office :D

  37. kawaii_candie

    yaaay! well done, you guise!

    of course, as your totally biased fan, i agree with you and will support you against others, but it did seem a bit like sometimes they were kinda dismissing what you guys were saying and going “well according to my statistics here…” and that was a bit lame. i mean, i would tend to trust you more just you guys are the ones living in korea, you have worked there in the schools and interacted with the younger generations, and you have worked with some of the k-pop idols as well so you would really know, but they were just kinda like “yeah yeah, not important”. so as a “Nastie” (hihihi), that offended me.
    but it wasn’t a bad interview persay. i’m kinda happy k-pop and korea is being discussed more and more because of PSY. i just think it’s cool.

  38. I’m not sure how many times I’ve typed away irked and wanting to convey my thoughts about this subject. I re-read my angry mess of words and tried to get past my inability to agree with you guys in a somewhat intelligent and proof-backed manner but I seem to lack the capability now. So let me just be sarcastic for a moment~


    Look all you that think this Hallyu Wave is some conspiracy by the government to use KPOP as makeup to cover up a mess of pimples; Did you have the same feeling when you found out that people from distant lands thought the USA was a land of cowboys just because wild west TV shows started airing in those places? No? Then why are you complaining now? If people will eventually learn more and more about S Korea and eventually stumble upon the knowledge of ‘Oh, SK isn’t full of wealthy godlike creatures?’. My response to their epiphany? “YUP! And Californians don’t all surf, Canadians don’t all play hokey every week and just because someone’s Middle Easterner doesn’t mean they’re a terrorist!”

    In the end, each country has its problems but just cause the media focuses on those things doesn’t mean that place has suddenly become the most horrific place to be and the evil government *evil laughter in the background* is doing its best to avoid the light of holy truth. Cause’ the media hazith teh holy lite an’ ish ALWAYS right…

    I’m sorry for the rant but I was inexplicably bothered by some of the comments in this video
    I am not trying to be racist in anyway

  39. Hey. I really love how you did during this interview. I was just wondering why, the other host was saying so many negative stuff about Korea when she was in fact Korean, or is it because she lived outside Korea.

    I’m a fan of Korea. The culture itself and the music. Everyone, even outside Korea knows how every artist there works hard as the professionals do. (Imagine throwing everything you have to do something you like. And uneven sure if you could debut) And I just don’t get it why she kept zoning out international fans who have been fans or appreciating Korea for a long time.
    I don’t see what’s wrong using artists in promoting a country. It brings money. Same way that every merchandise sold of who ever, uses artists to sell their goods to get a higher income.
    Every single government of any country in the world, uses something to get higher profit, such as athletes, actors, musicians, and alike to promote tourist spots and their products to tourists and locals alike.

    Korea is just lucky enough that K-Pop and K-Drama is a big hit right now. And fans wants to get to know more the artist they idolize. I even think that if the S.Korean government would not take notice, it would a big loss.

    Lastly, people have different taste. So no matter what people plays in their radios if the listener don’t like it. It’s not a problem. And I still want K-Pop to be liked by small number of people. So I agree with you S&M that K-Pop fans is like an indie group.

  40. Simon and Martina, you both did great as well as Esther! I agree with you guys that saying how Kpop is a form of soft power of the Korean government is erroneous…since Kpop evolved on its own and government is now promoting it since it does bring in revenue. What country doesn’t do this? In the US there are tourism dedicated to seeing the lavish houses and studios in Hollywood, or see Graceland where Elvis Presley lived, and our entire entertainment system is used to sell that the West is best…its why we even make the comparison of Kpop to Western pop because that is our frame of mind, we assume West is best. Kpop has honestly got me thinking why it seems natural that world should except western music, but we cannot except pop music from around the world..not just Korea (but thats whole different topic…I digress).

    I also found it interesting how much they focused on how Kpop seems to fail at highlightling the actual economic disparity in Korea….how is that different from western videos? Indeed, Psy broke the cultural norm of Korea by having such a satirical song….but not much of pop in the west does the same…and when it does it is just as successful as Psy was…look at Green Day’s American Idiot album…it made them into bigger stars than even their Dookie days. Essentially all the rap, pop, and rock in the West is dedicated to showing an extravagant and lavish lifestyle that most cannot obtain..only the 1%. I think why Gangnam style has caught on (not just because it was hilarious video) in most of the world, not just Korea, is because the whole world is experiencing a great disparity between the upper and lower classes and realizing the middle class is disappearing. Its why America had the 99% and Occupy movements. Bollywood is prime example of not conveying properly a very much alive caste system and extereme economic disparity in India. Entertainment is meant to be an escape from these woes…not constant reminder. On the otherhand, entertainment is a powerful tool to showcase issues that no one seems to want to discuss and try to get people talking about whatever social issue they are highlighting. Psy did excellent job of that…which everyone on the show seemed to agree.

    Sorry that was long post and possibly repetitive. Simon and martina you guys rocked and I felt gave excellent responses that were not so extreme, but recognized the positives and negatives of Kpop…or any pop industry for that matter.

  41. I think the government is doing soft power propaganda! That does not mean the government is creating the pop artists. Soft power propaganda is very subtle and people are not going to think about it or understand it even. Its kind of funny how this year they put out guidelines into Music Videos and have to be reviewed first before release. But get this…Kpop is a very secretive and big deal to NORTH KOREAN youth. KDrama, Kpop Videos and Songs are secretly shared via USB drives/CD’s ect. ect. (since they have filtered internet / or no interent at all). How do you think it will affect North Korean’s view and feelings. If North Koreans are being exposed to South Korea as a cute, peaceful land full of Happiness, Luxury and Beauty, I wonder what North Koreans will think when they live in a land of sorrow, hunger, and labor camps. If South Korea could use Kpop as propaganda … would they? . . .

    • It is interesting how you point out how Kpop is being secretly listened to in North Korea and may impact their opinions on their government, regardless if South Korea wants to inculde propaganada or not. This very event occurred with Czech Republic population from late 60′s- late 80′s when they finally gained independence from the oppressive communist rule in Czechoslovakia. I met with a couple who grew up in the communist environment and how sneaking western music, such as Beatles was their initial silent rebellion (before it culminated into an actual rebellion) and access to what “the free world” could be. some of the youth even tagged a famous wall near a bridge in Prague with John Lennon’s message “Imagine” at the center…and it is still there today along with other tagging. It will be interesting if the same effect will happen in North Korea.

  42. I’m currently somewhere near the 15min mark and I totally see the different views re: KPop. Ms. Hong (correct me if I’m wrong ‘coz I have trouble remembering names) voices the typical view of people looking from the outside looking in, seeing the glitz and the glamour and from what I gather, she doesn’t like what she’s seeing esp. since she has knowledge of the more political angle. The two of you, on the other hand, know KPop from the ‘KPop fan’ perspective. Somewhere between the ‘alternate world’ that is KPop and the real world, these two perspectives blur out but hopefully it’ll create a more culturally tolerant and appreciative society whatever the political effect it produces.

  43. You guys did great! i feel its very weird because of this one song, my white friends (I’m white too but asianified,i speak chinese fluently and have loved anime and kpop for a while) that used to make fun of my kpop now walk around singing Gangnam style repeatedly and its kinda akward. Some of them dont even realize its Korean at first because they heard it on the radio, and they only know this one song. I want to show them more songs so we can talk about it , what do you suggest i show them?

  44. Congrats and excellent job S & M. If you hadn’t said that you were up at 5 AM, I wouldn’t have known. The points everyone made (except for some of the internet/twitter comments the correspondent inputted) were well thought-out, logical, and contributed well to the discussion. Also, the EYK community here I think is doing a great job keeping the discussion going.

    I am just wondering, S & M, what is the k-netizen reaction to this program? Positive? Negative? Defensive? etc.

  45. I love how Martina brought up the example of “There are are different groups of people. The ones who like hip hop, the ones that like rock, then there are the ones that like Kpop.” I was actually thinking about that the morning before because I always talk to my friend who loves Kpop like I do, and I tell her I’m afraid Kpop might become mainstream in America. For me that feeling was coming true. First Girl’s Generation debuting in America, second Gangnam Style being liked by even hip hop artist, and the 2NE1 having an Adidas commercial with Niki Minaj and Jeremy Scott, but I feel that Jeremy Scott is more relevant because he’s been with 2NE1 for a long while.
    I also say that the special-ness of being a non-Korean Kpop fan is that no one can get the inside jokes. A skit that you guys used before was the “Sexyhae” when reaching into your back pocket, I love that a non-Kpop fan wouldn’t get what Kpop fans would be cracking up about.
    One last thought is, I think though there are a lot of Kpop fans in America (and all over the world) doesn’t mean America is ready for Kpop. I would hate to see so much of a change happen in Kpop just so they can be accepted as a mainstream worthy material. There are groups that I’ve “dropped” because they were becoming too close to mainstream.I even took a break from Big Bang and am taking a break from 2NE1 right now.

  46. Also, am going to have to say that Martina and Simon spoke really good! and i am proud of them:) keep doing your thing u guys .. i’ve been watching your videos from the beginning and i’ve always liked it .. and i hope i win one of your T-shirts it would be awesome! i can wear it proudly on my campus.. and i think people would stop me to ask what does your shirt say or mean? ehehe ;)

  47. that lady kept on focusing on the plastic surgeries that some k-pop idols get instead of talking more about k-pop music… and am sure that graph is some what wrong because i know that plastic surgeries are done more in other countries as well.

  48. Every time you two spoke, I muttered THANK you, because I know you know what you’re talking about whereas people that live in America or people that aren’t exactly fans of Kpop can only speculate. Because yes, we as fans know the hardships Kpop idols go through in the beginning. For example, Infinite and their original dorm that was falling apart around them, leaking, and right on the street.

  49. damn, esther was the best at giving quick,concise,well thought out and explained opinions(of the other ppl i mean), love it!

  50. Haha, you guys kinda looked annoyed with some of these questions at some points

  51. I feel so awkward every time the word “glamorous” was used to describe music videos because I’m such a fan of BAP that glamorous videos don’t come to mind? Other than them, I also had Infinite’s BTD, B2ST’s Fiction, and other similar videos come to mind.
    Excellent job on the live stream. Golly, 5am? I wouldve passed out in the middle of the stream :P

  52. YOU TELL Them Simon and Martina!! You guys were great and im so glad that you actually understand real k-pop fans. THANK YOU for saying how there is a difference between those who want to understand Korea and its culture and those who see K-pop as a trend, in my opinion you said what many of us k-pop fans feel :D

  53. great representation Simon and Martina. You hit home with me when you mentioned kpop being a form of indie music.With that in mind, I found myself frustrated recently when a coworker approach me asking if i have head of gangnam style. I am still an avid psy fan, but the idea of someone calling his music their find makes me feel hostile. I would love for my friends to understand my love of kpop or watch kdramas with me, but the individuality i feel among my friends (minus my one korean friend who is a guy and doesn’t care for kdramas) is something i take a lot of pride in. It is childish, but i think ignorant Americans could ruin what kpop is and turn it into the trash of what most american music has become.
    love your blog.
    (btw I came across you guys a year and a half ago when I was looking up what korean apartments looked like since my husband is army, and he put in to be stationed there next spring. Because of you two I will be happy (might piss myself with joy) if our request is accepted)

  54. This was really interesting watch. I totally agree with you about “cart before horse” argument…I would say big corporation/goverment are are jumping on the wagon of Korean entertaiment culture’s sucess outside S. Korea. But this kind of coopting is nothing new. Any kind of art, when it is sucessful, has always been coopted by powerful & weathy because it has power to mobilize masses. I just hope Korean media don’t exaggerate or misinform the reasons for Kpop’s success abroad. Because I don’t think kpop isn’t just about escapeism/image. I think Korean singers, just like any musicians has something special to offer outside “Kpop” mould. And creativity SHOULD be encouraged even if you’re not a “Kpop” idol.

  55. it angers me, how they keep on brushing over what simon & martina say like its nothing because they raise really import points!!!!!
    And I totally agree that they keep on making kpop sound like a negative thing, like its some kind of mind control that the government is using against the world.
    By the way Simon & Martina you guys rock!!!!!

  56. Well in Canada we KNOW our government feeds our music industry lol. It’s called Can-con requirements. But what’s wrong with our government supporting domestic talent? If Korea wants to do that too what is wrong with that? However, I do acknowledge the criticism of the ‘packaged product’ feel to some k-pop.

  57. i totally agree with you guys…psy became popular here in america because of his music and the humor of it…not because of the goverment. Also, i started to like kpop because i was SO FREAKIN tired of the american music and i think the ladies in the show were a little bit on the side of the american goverment, saying that it was really hard to get in the us marketing(yeah sure, specially for their “good” music) and that korea was only making music to get more tourist…so lame what they were saying….i support you guys and you really did a good job here protecting kpop!!

  58. In looking for the negatives to present in their story, I think that the others on the show skipped over the positives that kpop has. I loved what Simon and Martina were saying because they were bringing opimism to what was made to be a very gloomy subject.

  59. If Korean government owned Super Junior, then is US government behind Lady Gaga? That’s a scary thought

  60. I thought overall this was an excellent and enlightening discussion, and for being up at 5AM you guys did a bang-up job on the spot.

    I’m a little perplexed by some of the negativity in the comments section however, as the video was pointed certainly but I think touched on important social and political issues that come with substantive coverage of Korea and contemporary Korean culture.

    For example, many of the comments seem to chastise the commentators for remarking that K-pop sells a materialist fantasy of Korea by stating that much of American popular culture does the same. This critique is not relevant as the commentators never say that it isn’t the case elsewhere, just that it is also an element of the Korean experience.

    Indeed, a great of the criticism tends toward “X country does this too”, just because that’s the case does it not warrant examination in the Korean case? Are developments such as these, no matter the locale, such as the sale of a fantasy lifestyle in a period of recession and growing income inequality inherently good things. I agreed a great deal with the one commentator and you two as well, who posited that although K-pop contains many elements designed to appeal to a domestic audience, in some ways it’s largely an amalgamation of international styles, a true product of a globalized world and the information age.

    As for the soft power element, I don’t think anyone is saying that the Korean government created and is peddling K-pop, but that they are utilizing its popularity as a means of soft power is definitely true. As the United States has learned, culture even sometimes above military force or traditional trade, can be immensely influential in exporting a country’s “brand” and vision to the world. It’s not insidious, it’s just a fact of international politics.

    And, while your point about K-pop’s popularity only being possible through organic growth is absolutely spot on, don’t underestimate the will of people to try and force it! Record companies try to foist a certain artist into the spotlight with no avail all the time, it always fails if there isn’t real enthusiasm but boy do they try.

    As the main commentator said, South Korea is often painted as an unequivocal success story, and for good reason there’s an amazing amount for Koreans to be proud of about the progress of their country, but I think a bit of critical self-assessment is almost always a positive undertaking. No one in this discussion was anti-Korea, anything but, they just want to see serious issues in Korea addressed for the better. I get that no one likes to see their country maligned, but some of the responses here seem a little nationalistically defensive.

  61. I discovered you guys about a week ago, and, oh my giznit… You’re fantastic. My husband always looks at me funny when I throw some K-dramas on the Netflix queue or blast my (tiny) collection of Indie and K-pop.

    Anyway, he got SCHOOLED. He still rolls his eyes, though.
    Rock on! :D

  62. Hareem Siddiqi

    Wow! you guyz brought up some really good points. i especially agreed on how you guyz explained that people who listen to kpop seperate themselves from those who don’t, and that psy wasn’t really part of the hallyu wave (btw congrats psy, 100 mil!? damn!) and i could’ve killed the woman when she said psy is not like those other guyz who are just teenagers in skinny jeans o_0

  63. Sorry I love you SimonandMartina, but I just cannot watch this at the moment. I’ll watch it once I am done with my sociology degree. I wonder what Psy thinks about this. :)

  64. sarah bielec

    I agree on simon and martina on the idols image. I mean once you become a fan of kpop you realize what goes into these videos. Especially for rookie groups. When i see the videos you see all the hard work that people put in.


  66. Martina and Simon I think your have such amazing though and I know if they pass more the question , you have talk more about it in a positive way, I’m sad that your where caught in such a bad interview, full of all negative propaganda not only for the kpop also for South Korea government, I hate when Sukjong Hong dare to say that she disagreed with Martina that Kpop outside fans can’t really see the real face and the hardwork of South Korean, that is not true I know there maybe a huge of Kpop fans that don’t care about learn about the South Korea culture but I do say not all of us are like that I love to learn to know about their culture and their cuisine there so much to learn and I will keep learning, not because of Kpop because South Korean has grow on me, just like Japan ( I’m also Anime, Manga , Martial Arts and Jpop fan) you did your best guys, by the way congrats! on the Groove Magazine article !

  67. That is what I post in my twitter account I do feel like it was more negative than positive, What I didn’t like they didn’t pass the question and that is why you have to me constancy interrupting when you talk. Sukjong Hong by the look on her face, HATE every time you two talk defending the Kpop maybe I’m wrong but to me she looks like a hater. And yes Esther was working lol while she was doing the interview shame on her!

  68. Both of you two represented yourselves very well in this interview; I’ve been following you since very near beginning of your videos and was very proud how you were up front about your opinions but not confrontational . As a couple living in Korea-but not born in it- you have a very unique position and point of view that I can really appreciate.

  69. I just realized, how “not kpop fans” can’t understand Korean culture (I mean this kpop goverment problem …bla, bla …).
    Or, how me (kpop fan) see Korea differently than them. If they were interested in this, they would saw it the same eyes like me. And why always people try to find some blemishes on kpop?
    (and I don’t wanna say that who isn’t kpop fans does not understand Korean culture :D, I just trying to be empathetic and look how Korea feel about this)

  70. your growing success makes me happy simon and martina :D keep up the good work we will always support you guys .. love from saudi arabia <3

  71. I see no problem with Korea using soft power as a way to promote itself. However, I wonder if those same Koreans who are so enthusiastic about Hallyu are ready to have Koreas dirty laundry aired for everyone to see it. Although it will cause many people to love Korea, it will also cause people outside of Korea to discuss Korea’s problems more in depth than in the past. Undoubtedly, some of these discussions will be much more negative than this one. I personally thought that this was a reasonable discussion, especially considering the fact that Al Jazeera’s programs like this are usually very cynical. I do wish they had had a chance to talk more about the issue that I stated above though.

  72. i guess that the show was trying to showcase kpop in a different light, but it definitely came off to me as more negative. but it was a great and informative show and you guys did a fantastic job of putting in some points that would otherwise not have been brought up, especially about the whole government propaganda idea, so good job guys! and i wouldn’t have known you guys were up so early if you didn’t say so; so again, good job^^

  73. great job, you two. sukjong in particular had very insightful things to say (and a pretty awesome resume – peace activist? working for protecting korean workers’ rights? cool), but she definitely missed your point that kpop artists, under the “perfect” facades, work incredibly hard and keep long hours, like tons of other south koreans. her observation that she and her friends use kpop as a form of escapism keeps her, i think, from seeing that point. and good on you for pointing out that kpop has been around much longer as an entertainment form than it could have been as a tool for government propaganda. overall an informative show – good job, guise!

    • I was a little confused when sukjong started talking about kpop expressing glamour after simon and martina talked about the reality behind kpop and how they work so hard. Her disagreement was a little detached from the point they were trying to make.

      This discussion would have gone a lot better if everyone in the show had seen what Simon and Martina have seen of the Kpop world. They’ve actually talked to some of them. I don’t even follow kpop groups — though I will get songs stuck in my head for days on end, courtesy of eatyourkimchi music mondays — and I at least know that being a kpop idol isn’t really like how they were trying to spin it on this show.

  74. Dear Simon and Martina, Congrats! it’s good to see you consulted as experts in kpop, but you are right they did seem a little (a lot) harsh about how the government in Korea. What they didn’t admit is that even those of us who like kpop bands know that they train for years to become idols and they rarely have a break. a you are right you can critic your insane work hours if you are in your office alone at 5 am.
    God bless you and congrats again in your 100 anniversary in the Music Mondays

  75. You know, I don’t really watch bloggers, TV, or a lot of news (I enjoy the BBC)… There will be a few here and there that are interesting, but watching this show was really hard. The biggest reason for this is because no one is really quick at delivering their information. There wasn’t a lot of information in this video, it was more of small snippets of info that took a half an hour to deliver. The conversation also felt incredibly disjointed, because at times the guests would say interesting things, but then that would be completely dismissed because it wasn’t on the schedule…I would have liked to see a real discussion about K-pop that went somewhere. THIS DID NOT….

    S&M, I wonder if you could do a TLDR that went into some of the things you might have wanted to say but didn’t get the chance too…

  76. The first ten minutes does give a negative feel towards Kpop. I totally agree with you guise about everything above. Psy is not a part of the hallyu wave and I think his success was due to the fact that he’s not a typical kpop artist, because most people either don’t like how kpop stars look, especially the guys. They look too feminine to them and the style is just different. However, Psy, used humor, which is universal, so that is why he was able to get popular because. Kpop fans watched it and showed it to other people and so on and so forth and it was funny to them. I think it would have had a different effect if it would’ve been a pretty boy band or sexy guy. Psy isn’t handsome or skinny so those that like sexy girls/boys or pretty boys got into the video simply because of it’s humor.

  77. Hmm. . . eh, have I ever told you guys I really love your Twitter picture?
    It’s quite the cutest family picture ever. Add Meemers though :l

  78. I totally agree with what you said about the government things.
    the comentaters on the show underestimated kpop’s and its fan’s spontaneity and history.
    Im a korean who have witnessed And loved kpop for 30years. its not a creation of the government, it has its own history and sphears. The entertainment in korea has survived from scoffs and suppressions in conservative south korean society. there were scoffs of “non creativity and non nationality like an imitation.” we know kpop sometimes seems ridicurous and superficial ,though,we find Out there some hiden but indegenous originality. this can be an alternative to western culture and korean goverment’s recomended outdated educational contents. It might be a kinda counteraction to korean goverment and western culture by our own way. We enjoy it not because being brainwashed and a korean made product but it is entertaining as a music like Samba and hollywood movies

    Lastly i appreciate simon and martina for good contents.
    Living in korea is Sometimes very stressful. But i hope you see it as a color of the world that sometimes not so pleasurable. And l’ll pray for you That whereve you go, there be a fresh discovery and joyment

  79. Wow, thanks for working so hard you guise! I’m sure all the nasties appreciate it a lot, I know I do! Just don’t overwork yourselves! Much Love <3

  80. I don’t know if this has been mentioned or not (and I might be getting too theoretical for a kpop conversation) but while the conversation with al jazeera uses the idea of ‘soft power’ as an absolute, in reality it’s only an idea/theory that falls under a very specific view of the world (and a very Bush/American perspective created by Nye). When it was theorized, soft power was defined as being something you can’t control but becomes part of the power of persuasion. Nevertheless, most other theories don’t even believe that ‘soft power’ has any place in real political life.

    So KPOP =/= Korean Political Power.
    And that’s my educational tidbit for the day (I won’t bore everyone with more :P)

  81. The korean in the AJ studio (sorry, I didn’t quite get her name) is mainly focusing with the Gangnam song and its symbolism that’s why she didn’t get Martina’s point when martina said that the image kpop shows, to the real kpop enthusiasts, is hard work and not just glamour. True kpop fans knows how their idols worked their asses out to get where they are now.

  82. Jonathan Jiménez Arguedas

    “Sorry, if I could just start” That felt so rude to me! I wonder why this kind of people defend their points of view so bad that they get upset with whoever say something different, even if partially… This woman was surely not comfy with S&M’s opinion.

  83. you guys did pretty well on the stream!

  84. XD you guys are so famous

  85. To add to the discussion, I sometimes feel that when people try to approach a subject from an academic angle they tend to be overly critical about it. As if they feel that praising it would mean that they were gullible suckers who fell for some sort of trick. I think you did a good job of bringing in a different perspective to the conversation. You guys came across as having a more nuanced understanding of the Kpop industry and you were able to look at it critically without being overly critical. At least that’s how it felt to me. This was an interesting discussion, though, and I definitely learned a few things :)

  86. You guys were awesome on the livestream! You raised such goods points and really held your own. I’m so proud! (Is that weird? haha) And don’t worry, I don’t think you sounded ramble-ey. You were much more eloquent than a lot of people I see guesting on new shows lol.

  87. wow……….this was………like………SO negative. I mean this was not a DISCUSSION but rather ACTING as if they are discussing just like what we see in ads. They are painting S.Korea as this big bad wolf out to eat the little red riding hood. Yes I know that S.Korea has a lot of problems, but which country doesn’t? And what has ANY of this got to do with K-pop?! K-pop is just music which now has gone viral cause of the the internet! The government just jumped on board and said “yay! a chance for making S.Korea known!” but what’s wrong with that? Like S&M said, if I had a country, I would do the same! And ALL the countries do that! And those who are not just haven’t found something to promote! But seriously, the biggest flaw was that they were putting all the blame on K-pop. Guys grow up. Its just music. It does NOT represent the S.Korean culture. Just a while ago, a girl group by the name of New.F.O or something released an MV in which they crash landed on Earth from a distant planet. Are you going to tell me that they really are aliens? People seriously? S&M I loved you in this entire interview. You guys were the only ones who were thinking neutrally and you did not wait for the reporter to ask you questions or get scared of voicing your opinions and actually DISAGREEING with the reporters. YOU GUYS ROCK!! :D

    • I totally agree…it was like they were trying to impress “smart, informed people” and not actually have a discussion about the reaches of kpop. Yes a lot of the bands are formed by companies rather than garage bands raising to fame….but these people made it sound like PSY would come and suck out your soul if you watched too long…

  88. i was so happy,surprised and shocked that Al jazeera were taking about kpop especially since it’s an Arab channel but that made me really proud that Al Jazeera were talking about it since i’m Qatari and also one hell of a kpopper !!

  89. Oh Simon and Martina, I can only agree with you on everything you have said and written. I think its obvious that korea advertises itsselve through KPOP but what country does not? Here in germany soccer players advertise for tourism but this doesn´t mean that all people in germany re soccer players. Its the same with KPOP. It shows a different universe and people who are interested in KPOP and in korean culture know that live is nothing like what the artists show us in their music videos and performences. The whole time I had the feeling that Al Jazeera tried to make KPOP look bad but KPOP is korean pop music. American pop music is not very different from that because it does not show the reality too. And I think its hilerious to think that the korean government trys to take over the world with the hallyu wave or something. I am shure the government invests in the “right advertising” of South Korea but all countries do that. Who would show the slums and dirty places of a country? If you want tourists to come you have to give them a reason.

  90. I also thought the one guest in studio was really painting a really negative view of kpop and korea. Also, regarding jpop and kpop, I first came across jpop culture as a kid but I know so much more about kpop now because of it accessibility. I think that is why it is so popular. It is so easy to access. My Japanese is slowly falling apart and I am really trying to learn the learn but know korean is starting to stick because I watch more kdramas, variety shows and movies. Listen to music. Why is USA pop culture so popular worldwide, accessibility!

    • That’s so true, I also started out being more fascinated with Japanese pop culture, but since Korean dramas and K-pop are so much more accessible I am more up-to-date with Korean pop culture now.

    • the same as me….

    • I’m the same way as well! I was always into Japanese culture which caused me to accidentally stumble upon a Kpop video and now that I watch it so much, I feel Korean is staying in my mind more than Japanese.

    • A few years ago I had never seen or listened to any kpop. I was studying Japan/Japanese in college so I watched a lot of Japanese dramas. One of the jdoramas I watched had a really good theme song so I looked it up, and guess what? The band that sang it was actually Big Bang! And thus began my conversion to kpop. (For anyone interested, the song was Koe wo Kikasete, or Let Me Hear Your Voice.) Now I watch so many more Korean shows than Japanese ones that Korean is starting to overtake Japanese in my brain.

    • Same here. I was very much into J-Pop. It even took time before I discovered that BoA was actually Korean. Then I tried to listen to Korean music. And I got hooked. I agree that accessibility is the key.

  91. First of all, liked this video, gave me a lot of new thoughts about K-pop and Korea in general.
    I did think this video focused more on the negative and perhaps the panel underestimates the knowledge that K-pop fans have about Korean culture. Many K-pop fans actually do know that not everything in Korea is sugarcoated and they don’t take K-pop videos and K-dramas as a fair representation of the actual life in Korea. I think the increasing popularity is more about the fact that people are tired of American music and TV want something different, and K-pop and K-dramas offer just that. And I think it’s okay that Korea has found something that only they can offer to the world. Yes, they make money from it, but there isn’t a government conspiracy behind this. K-pop is popular because it’s new and different, not because the Korean government decided one day “hey, let’s create the Hallyu Wave”.
    But I am also so glad that you guys didn’t let your views get lost in the discussion and I agree with everything you said. I think you voice the opinions of millions of K-pop fans. Thank you for that, and keep on staying true to yourself despite all the criticism.

  92. You guys looked perfect! Articulate, composed, (handsome/pretty:D) LIKE A… PRO!

  93. Considering how exhausted the two of you must have been, you both spoke eloquently and presented some very sound arguments. I really enjoyed this video. Good work guys!

  94. Even thought I don’t understand exactly, this discussion is definitely useful for me who is really interested in view of the other nationality person

    Especially, connection between k-pop and general Korean environment such as being idol instead of normal student

  95. Aside from Simon and Martina, it almost felt to me like all of them were trying to make sure that the biggest ‘entertainment’ country wouldn’t shift from the U.S. to South-Korea. Obviously South-Korea is still a long way from being that, but everything was so one-sided. And for almost everything they mentioned about SK, I feel the same about the US. The government might be using it to promote the country (nothing wrong with that and actually a very good move) but the US is doing that just as much. Maybe people from around there don’t see that, but the only reason young people (in the Netherlands, my only experience so I can’t speak for other countries) adore the US so much, is because of famous people and that is where, in they’re eyes, the only acceptable music comes from.

    These people might need to realise that other people have different cultures. Just judging them like this is completely useless.

    • I don’t really agree that the U.S. government tries to use American culture to promote the U.S., . i have heard many people from other countries say this, but I think companies and hollywood are capitalizing on the U.S.’s position as a superpower and creating “cultural imperialism”, not the other way around. You would be suprised at how little the average American cares about whether South Korea, or any other country, drinks coke and listens to Lady Gaga. To many Americans, the U.S. is the center of the world, and nowhere else matters. As for the gov., most foreign relations they deal with involves military force, not soft power.

    • As @lemon224 stated, people here are quite self-centered. You will always find weirdos at schools that are into manga and Japan though, but being into Korea and kpop is something we keep to ourselves. People don’t really talk about music here so much. It is not a base of discussion as I have seen it to be in videos I’ve seen of a Korean classroom. Mainly people just listen to whatever they want to and talk badly about artists such as Justin Bieber. Here in the US, love for the entertainment industry and wanting to be part of it is something we tend to keep to ourselves.

      As for the government using pop music to their advantage, I don’t think they do that. American musicians might be invited to a governmental event or express their opinions on something political, but they really don’t promote the government very much. They act more individually than as a team. Keeping an image is not so important here. If it were, the people that are popular now would never have even made it to the business. It’s just a completely different business here from in South Korea, and quite frankly I prefer Korea’s.

  96. I need to watch this again, but it certainly felt somehow unfair to Korea.

    I don’t think it’s different than the treatment Japan had in the 90s and
    still has now, or Bollywood just a couple years ago. Anything that
    shines must be marred by links to phenomena it has nothing to do with.

    Kpop and related Idol Kdrama is an industry, it has nothing to do with
    the government, and it has no moral vocation. It’s given more power and
    credit than it deserves, and more criticism than it deserves as well.
    Kpop is only a facet of the spectrum of Art-entertainment in Korea, and
    in it self is really diverse, as diverse as the people who make it. It’s
    also not devoid of social satire, commentary and irony, it’s rife with
    it, but maybe not to the extent of girls in panties (and I am not
    complaining). To link anything and everything that’s “wrong” (but who’s
    to say) in Korea to Kpop as the source or the driver is simply stupid,
    and many do just that.

    Kpop is not going to revolutionise Korean society, it will simply follow
    the movement on the ground and if anything might lag behind. That’s for
    Art to do, and no one has been saying that Kpop is Art.

    Sorry if this is rambling, I just wanted to get it out of my chest.

    Good Job though Simon and Martina, and you looked smashing ^^

  97. Simon and martina! your continuous and growing success makes me happy! hwaiting!

  98. i just really don’t understand why they wanna bring the government into this whole hallyu wave thing. i absolutely agree with s&m in that i don’t think the government one day up and decided lets make kpop a thing and that way we can move up in the world and kpop is our soft power. i think that notion is pretty silly? i dunno. they’re trying to make this whole thing so political when i really don’t think it is. at least not to the extent that this “discussion” is making it out to be.

  99. It felt VERY negative, like woah, so negative!

    My thoughts on this are definitely similar to yours; I feel as though the Korean government have probably jumped on board of the idea of promoting it, living in Australia I have seen advertisements promoting Korea and guess what, there’s JYP idols in every one of them. But I don’t think this has been happening for ages, I feel this jumping on board is only recent, since the hallyu wave began, possibly since it began in Japan maybe but I can’t be sure. I don’t feel that it’s possible for the plan to come before the success of k-pop, you can’t plan such success like the hallyu wave.

    Also, as you mentioned, and it links with what I was saying above, you can’t just throw a Korean group on the radio and expect it to be popular. Even with advertisements, as you said, you can’t buy success. Look at SNSD for example, yes they got a little more popular from their release in the US, and appearing on TV shows, but they haven’t gained what Psy did, and Psy didn’t even intend for this to be viral … or if he did, brilliant work.

    But yeah, this sure was interesting. c:

  100. I thought y’all did great and you were not interrupting. I really enjoyed the insight to korean culture I learned form this video. 41% of harvards freshman class is from gangnam thats amazing. I didnt realize that the disparity between the haves and have nots was so wide in south korea. I really thought y’all did a great job of explaining what attracts many north americans to a music genre that for the most part many of us cant even understand what they are saying without the aide of google translate. For myself personally the more I learn about korean culture the deeper I want to explore. Great interview yall!!!! Get some rest and take care of yourselves.

    Much love from texas

  101. I thought you guys did really well and didn’t look nearly as exhausted as you must have been.
    One of the arguments of J-Pop vs. K-Pop I hear here (in Japan) quite often is that the Japanese girls in girl bands are made to look cute, act cute, maybe even a bit stupid, and be very naive. Plus, as for the latest bands, the girls might be cute, but they’re very very normal. It seems in K-Pop the women are stronger, more mature, sexier and dance a lot better than their Japanese counterparts. Plus, they all have beautiful bodies, actually the comment I hear most often about the PVs is “Their legs are so long”.
    So I think their images are just very different, and maybe Japan needed a break from the bubbly cute.

  102. California does it by putting hollywood stars and famous people in their commercial trying to get people to come with fancy beach scenes and it’s not as fabulous as they paint it to be. I mean, who doesn’t do this?

    • I completely agree…I mean think about the idea that many K-pop stars have about America. I’ve noticed that when asked many people in Korea would love to visit America and especially LA over other far more beautiful places in the world; and they do so because to them America is the “it” place to be. Countries everywhere all attempt to paint exaggerated pictures of their country because that is the best way to promote them and although Korea is no exception to this, no other country is either. In regards to K-pop, it is the one thing in Korea that happened to become widely popular over seas and due to its increasing popularity, people seem to think that it promotes and distinguishes Korean culture; but all it really does it give people over seas a different and yet similar type of pop music to enjoy. Korea itself should not and can not be defined by what is seen in K-pop music video.

      • I myself have worked with and been friends with Filipino people, who go to the US because in their country, the idea that it is the “promise land” is extremely real, and in most cases very true in a sense. In the US, or Canada for that matter, they can make more money than anywhere in their own country, but what most people don’t here is when they come in country they work their butts off to care for the 24 or so people who rely on them because they are “rich” now. It’s a different country, but the same feeling of North America being the “it” country to be in is probably there for SK as well.

  103. Every country can only promote the more glamorous side of their country if they want! It’s bizarre that Korea gets this type of criticism. Tourism ads and promotion of Australia always show beautiful beaches and landscapes and sunny days. Not all of Australia is like that- the same way obviously not all of Korea is the way it’s portrayed in the hallyu wave.
    Australian music is often quite popular around the word- Gotye being the most recent. No one is crying out that Australia government is fueling it with some ulterior motive or that bloggers that blog about Australia MUST be paid by the government. So yeah, I find it weird that such criticism is directed at Korea when technically the same could be said about many countries…. and actually promoting music and aspects of your country is not a bad thing.

    • I think it draws criticism because it’s been capsulated into this whole “Hallyu Wave” thing. With cultural exports in Australia we don’t go “that’s the power of the Aussie Wave” because Australian culture is too vast to be conceptualised. Not to mention our government doesn’t really pay much attention to soft power (it seems).
      I guess my main point is that it’s a concept people can easily argue over (which can be rather unfortunate u.u;)

      • It is unfortunate. The USA has had the most soft power for a very long time so one could argue, what is wrong with Korea having it? Either way the actual effectiveness of soft power is still something that is debated by academics. There just seems to be too much criticism leveled at Korea. Sure some criticism is good for a healthy debate but sometimes it goes too far and is based on too little.

        • In Asia you hear criticisms about Western culture “invading” Asian culture so I guess it goes both ways, but do agree with your last sentiment.
          Truth is, anything in this world that has somewhat of an impact is gonna be subject to criticism, which in the most unacademic way I can think of; sucks.

    • Does the aussie government own all the tv networks?

  104. It was “Zoom zoom my heart like a rocket”. Not the most poetic of phrasings, but understandable, I think.

  105. What the **** is this interview about? The interviewer is taking this whole thing out of context. Can we just enjoy the music and KPop!!!! Why is this Korean female (in the panel) so negative about the success of KPop and PSY??? Sounds like a North Korean!!! But great responses from the Simon and Martina…you guys hit it on the nose!

  106. I love kpop and to me I respect them more than other say English/American artists because I know how hard they work. I feel like, were as I will go to uni and study to get the job I want, they are training everyday also…they didn’t just get signed randomly.And on the whole school aspect, I mean, I think thats the same for anywhere you go really nowadays. teens and youngsters want to be an idol more than a doctor. Its just the celebrity culture we have these days, I know there is a underbelly of Kpop, but that could be said to be true about most things.
    And come on why wouldn’t the government want to capitalise on something thats bring money into their country, with like the package deals for travel and such, thats just they same as anywhere “hey come see Disney, come see Buckingham palace, come see the Pyramids” It might not be the ‘right’ thing to do but most countries do.
    To me, I think its because S.Korea hasn’t really had much exposure in the entertainment media really and thats why people are jumping on them, If PSY was from the UK and did a song about it, I think people would just maybe enjoy the song and not look for the ‘hidden meanings’ or try to decipher the context and symbolism.
    Thats just my opinion though :) Kpop4life!! hahaa

  107. Well it seemed like this wasn’t really a discussion but rather a bunch of individual opinions mashed together. After starting one topic they switched to another one. Quite disturbing. But well it could be because of the time shortage.
    I liked how you guys didn’t always wait for the moderator to ask you questions but rather spoke up, when you had something to say, a discussion should be like this.
    And well.. what’s up with bringing up the Korean government and its so-called propaganda schemes? .. i mean, aren’t all countries trying to win markets through their money bringing/popular “products”? Every country has its own selling points and in Korea it’s not just the Idols.. the country should really not be reduced to their idols..

    And seriously.. bringing up Rain in terms of plastic surgery..?!? Has she ever seen him..?? He is perfect like he is.. *thefangirlawakes* hahaha

  108. Well, thank your for defending Kpop about all this conspiracy theory… I was pretty disturbed about how they seems to be so much about “kpop is a PROPAGANDA” “KOREA IS GOING TO REIGN OVER THE US baaaaah” thingy.
    I’m upset about how the US is always pretending to be the top country.
    I do fear on how the French Medias (I’m French btw) how they will depict kpop and the whole gangnam style meme. I think they’ll present it as a “japanese influence of doing crazy stuff” and we’ll show kpop as a attempt of making US-like music…
    Anyway, thanks guys for the 100th Kpop Music monday (so many good moments haha) and congrats for the article in groove !

    [edit] AND SLEEP WELL !

    • Yeah, I agree. It seems like the USA went paranoid again. THE EAST IS BAAD. The people here might not have done this on purpose, but it felt like they were trying to say that Kpop is the invisibilty cloak for South Korean propaganda.

      I guess some people in the USA are afraid that something ‘new’ (at least to them) showed up the US music scene. I agree with Martina that Kpop is more like a indie genre in other countries, and I don’t believe that Kpop will ever break the walls of this genre, mostly because a lot of Kpop fans don’t want it to be popular.

      I’m curious if the Gangnam wave will reach Germany. I haven’t heard it here yet. Wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t hit us, but maybe it already reached us, and I just don’t know. I don’t really watch TV, and I haven’t seen it on the regular news yet.

      • Living as a student in the US, I may not be connected to what is going on in the media here, but I can tell you, Gangnam Style really didn’t go all that viral. I’m positive it’s not because it has been summer, but no one new knows about kpop or Psy here.

        Sometimes I worry that kpop will become globally loved and no longer “ours,” but that will never happen in the US. Some people here will like it, but not enough to make a difference and go mainstream. People tend to be closed-minded to other cultures. Girls groups apparently is something that existed here in the ’90s until the early 2000′s. Since I’ve been exposed to kpop for a long time, I can’t tell you why, but generally, people won’t like it or even care to know what it is.

        It truly is like an idie thing here.

  109. I agree with you guys, it felt like they were trying to look at Kpop in a critical way, but in trying to be critical and “educational”, I think they intentionally cast a negative light on the whole thing. I myself have a lot of negative things to say about Korean culture and society, and I agree with a lot of what they said about the education system, the working class, and society in general.. BUTTT, they made it seem like ALL teenagers are gloomy, ALL middle-class workers are overworked and miserable, and unless you have a lot of money, the majority of society can’t truly happy. Yes Korea has a HUGE wealthy-lower class gap, higher rates of suicide, people working longer hours for less, etc, but Kpop isn’t there to intentionally cover that all up. Korea isn’t a third world country trying to look more first-world-like by the use of Kpop. :S America has a bad poverty gap and America’s government+corporate world has a whole set problems of its own, but nobody talks about that when they watch a Lady Gaga or LMFAO video…

    • uhhh that should read ” I think they unintentionally cast a negative light..”

    • Very true. I’m not living in Korea right now but I’m very much involved in Korean culture. A lot of the problems Korea has are similar to problems the US have, yet as you pointed out- people aren’t analyzing them because they watched a Lady Gaga video. South Korea is not some dreary country completely over run by problems and trying to promote a completely fake image. There are so many wonderful things about the country, the culture and the people… and the idea that South Korean people are all miserable unless they are super rich is stupid.

    • Totally Agree with you, They were looking at the whole situation and using “Gagnam Style,” so critical and negative about Korean society, and how the fans are “blinded by kpop,” but we know (like how Simon and Martina said) that we know they work really hard and it not all rainbows and lollipops. That Korean American lady was just too critical about the whole thing..it was the one on the table..too critical.

  110. I really liked this video, really informative.
    I can understand where the hosts and guests were coming from as the Hallyu wave is definitely not a fair representation of Korean culture. Its goal is not to show the inequality of society, however as PSY has shown, there is still the potential for K-Pop and Dramas to be used as such a medium.
    The issue I have with it is the expectation of glamour and such that despite the working conditions, sexual favours and even suicides, there is no push to make the industry better. The industry and government are reluctant to do so because this could result in a financial loss for them. Sure, they’ve tried to create a database for legitimate entertainment companies, but that doesn’t change the behaviour of the ones that are already well established. Evens fans have resigned themselves into accepting this as a reality that all idols must train extremely hard first before debuting.
    The controlled nature of Hallyu Wave is something I’ve always found intimidating, but that’s just me. It’s true that it won’t be accepted simply if the government tried to paid it to be, but when it is, yea, the almost religious nature of it is just…whoa.
    As for people’s treatment of you guys, it’s a shame that critics attack you in this way, god forbid you have an opinion different from theirs ==; Just keep doing what you guys do, cause it’s awesome ^^

  111. wow!! nice article on Groove Magazine!!!! how could I get a copy?
    Im from Italy o.o

  112. And now because of PSY K-pop is gaining more and more attention worldwide – great! Good job PSY :) But most of the people don’t look beneath that wow-kpop-idols-are-so-perfect layer, and not knowing the backgrund of label companies and the industry itself may lead to looking at k-pop as something totally shallow and plastic. As you’ve said, peole are working crazy in Korea, not only in ‘regular’ jobs, but in music industry as well.
    Anyways, this whole idea of government’s ‘soft tool’ is just hillarious. Pop is pop, it has to entertain, right?
    PS Congratz on Al Jazeera appearance :D

  113. fantastic analysis of the wave and PSY’s complete outsideness.

  114. Woah~ you guys are the best I agreed in everything you said :D

  115. Kpop is full of teeny boppers? No way. Shit, my favorite singer is Krystal and she’s not 18. Ugh.

  116. You guys are now officially legit, your on AJ! lol Jokes, you guys did great, was coherent, eloquent and passionate. Love it. New fan here and will come back many times to support you guys and have a good time watching your videos.

  117. i do agree with you… at one point i feel that they trying to give negative view about K-pop just because the wave is getting bigger…

  118. Hi Simon and Martina, I’m part of Al Jazeera’s The Stream staff, and I’m sure many of us said it to you before, but it was wonderful having the two of you on. For 5 a.m., you guys were as energetic as anyone else would be at 5 p.m. And Martina I just gotta say I loved those glasses you had. Also appreciate this post-show reflection. Speaking for myself, and not on behalf of the other staff or guests, I largely agree with what you wrote. Kpop in itself is not negative (although I have some friends who would argue that point with me), but through this show we wanted to explore the angles of Kpop that aren’t usually discussed, as well as aspects of Korean society that may not be so kosher. I’m a second-generation Korean American and I still value my Korean roots and have so much fondness and respect for Korean culture. With that being said, thanks again for coming on–you guys were fantabulous, and you just found another fan of your site in me! Ps, thanks for making me laugh out loud with the “Joom joom my heart like a locket” bit, and I’m wondering the same thing with Esther.

  119. But I disagree with what they were saying here about kpop giving off the wrong impression of Korean people. The glamour and beauty of the kpop industry…’cmon anyonr above the age of twelve would see that thats not what korea is about.

  120. tiinah.rules

    i totally agree after Gangnam style, everyone started liking kpop ~! But when i asked them what fandom they were from they were like what o.O – Baby <3

  121. I think the whole point of this show was the negative aspects of gangnam and the Korean governement so thats why they were focusing on the negatives more than the positives. To keep the conversation going. If you’ve ever watched an episodr of Ajstream before, this is the way they do things. It’s a show and they bring up topics to ‘discuss’ but really, I always find myself thinking that I dont agree with their opinion or I DO agree with their opinion and then I think…what? They shouldnt have an opinion. They should be objective! Not trying to criticise AJstream because i actually like that show.

    Anyway, I agree with everything you said here. If the givernemnt noticed how useful it was, it’s not wrong for them to use it to their advantage. If my country had anything like this going for them it would be awesome.

  122. Yeah, I’ve heard rumors that the South Korean government had planned all this hype about Kpop from about 20 or 30 years ago.

    My only question is, how the Hades can you plan something like this? Maybe I’m not intelligent enough to find out. Just… how?

  123. Wow. You were on Al Jazeera?! That’s crazy.

  124. AL-JAZEERA it’s an arab chanel in english (^_^) so that shows how much kpop is very famous in arab world :D !!!!! *proud*
    i’m Tunisian kpoper :)

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