Even in KPop, All Good Things Must Come To An End

After my second child, Little Guy, was born about 3 years ago, a lot of things changed in my life, and a lot of hobbies and personal projects got put on hold for years, not just months.  This included my love of K-Pop music.

I got so out of touch that when I finally started delving back into K-Pop recently, I was kind of taken back by how much had changed.  Some of the bands I knew and liked had broken up, or had become totally defunct.  Just a few months ago, one of my favorite, 2NE1, had a final goodbye song before breaking up.¹

I am sure there’s lots of new and exciting groups too, but I am not really interested in starting over.  As the last groups I used to follow slowly decline and drop off the scene, there’s a certain Buddhist lesson to this all.

The entertainment industry probably exemplifies this more than anything else, but if you look around, you can see it everywhere.

P.S.  So long, 2NE1.  You were a lot of fun.  😥

¹ Bom was always my favorite member of 2NE1.  I hope she finds the happiness and healing she deserves.  🙂

A Brave New World

So, recently one night, I had a quiet moment in my life and spent some time reflecting back on the last six months, starting with the last weeks at my old temple, my resignation, and subsequent efforts to find a new path, new projects, etc.  It’s been a more difficult transition than I thought, and I was definitely burned out and exhausted going into the holidays, but now that a few months have passed I feel a lot better about my decision.

Years ago, I switched my job from a certain online company (starts with an “A”) where I had been for 9 years.  That job was a huge part of my life, and I had been there so long, that even though it was a toxic, stressful environment¹ it was familiar and I was hesitant to leave.  I wanted to make it still work somehow, but after 9 years, it was enough.

Changing my job to a new company (think talking mouse) was challenging at first.  I was unfamiliar with the environment, I had to relearn a lot of things, and had to start over from the bottom.  I felt really stupid sometimes.  But after a couple years, I am so glad I changed.  My stress is much less than before, and it’s rubbed off on my family who’s a lot happier.

In the same way, I feel that way about my path with Jodo Shinshu.  I liked many things about the temple community I was a part of, and even now I miss a lot of people there, but I also had lingering personal misgivings about Jodo Shinshu teachings for a long time. However, since I had already invested so much though, and I really wanted to have an opportunity to teach Buddhism in person, I still tried to make it work for a long time.  But all it did was stress me out further.

Now that I’ve finally made a break with that tradition, it’s taken a while to adjust to the change in my life.  After my post about the primacy of practicing Buddhism, I decided that the best way to find my path was not to read about Buddhist schools, but to try them out.  I started a 28-day practice where I did some kind of Buddhist practice (chanting, meditation, etc) for 10 minutes a day.²  Each day I could choose whatever I wanted, but I had to do something.  Within the first week, I quickly lost interest in certain practices and settled on a personal routine that worked well for me.  I am now on day 23, and have stuck with it much longer than I thought I would.

So, in the end, a change in environment was probably the right thing for me.

Losing my community and friends was difficult, rebuilding my blog was painful too, but as the dust has settled I feel I have stepped into a brave new world, and am looking forward to many more years of blogging, exploring the many facets of Buddhism, and sharing with readers and viewers on Youtube.  🙂

P.S.  Double-post today.  Haven’t one of those in a while.

¹ The fact that I started having gastritis attacks almost monthly was a symptom of that.  These days my attacks are much less frequent partly due to improved eating habits, but also probably due to decreased stress.

² My idea was based on Dogen’s advice that all other aspects of Buddhism (sutras, chanting, etc) should be guide to and support for your practice, not an end of themselves.  How I wish I had read this years ago.

Merry KPop Christmas

Earlier this month, I was going to write a blog post about how KPop in 2013 has been overall not very good and most big groups have had disappointing new songs, etc.1 Then, on that very same day, I found this song by the ladies of Secret:

I really liked their album Poison and “Talk That”, but since other groups had lackluster comebacks, I wasn’t expecting much. Personally though I thought this was a nice, sweet Christmas-themed song. It’s very aegyo (애교) which means “cutesy” (the closest Japanese word might be kawaii 可愛い) and I usually don’t like aegyo stuff, but this was a good song at a good time of year.

Also, on a serious note, it’s good to see the ladies of Secret have recovered after their car accident last year, especially Zinger (Hana, the girl in the black dress) who had been seriously injured. I wish them good health and safety this coming year.

And for you readers, I wish you all a Merry KPop Christmas. 🙂

As for me? I’m getting some rest and taking the week off and will be posting again after Christmas, so stay tuned!

P.S. Secret did have one other song/video this year (YooHoo), but I guess that one was a bit too aegyo for me.

1 I think Brown Eyed Girls is the only other KPop group this year to have had a good comeback. The rest? Meh.

Brown Eyed Girls PV: Kill Bill

I haven’t done one of these Kpop posts in a while, but I really thought this one was worth sharing. Recently, the group Brown Eyed Girls put out a new album. Their first video is a video called “Kill Bill”, like the movie of the same name. This is definitely not for kids, but it’s a brilliant parody of the movie:

I liked the fact that they put in the English subtitles too. The song is all about getting revenge on a lover that cheated on her, even if it’s self-destructive revenge. Similarly, the movie Kill Bill was about self-destructive revenge until the very end when the Bride meets her daughter. The other thing I like about this video is that it has a bit more of an asian or “Korean” feel than the movie. For example in the beginning, member Narsha is writing “Bill” in Hangeul: 빌.1 It’s interesting to see what Korean-style calligraphy looks like.

As always, BEG raises the bar on music and creativity. Once again, they did not disappoint. 🙂

As for the movie Kill Bill, I thought it was a great movie until I saw real samurai movies. Then I realized that it wasn’t really that original, and had that annoying “oriental fantasy” feel you sometimes find in Hollywood movies.

Anyhow, enjoy!

P.S. This article makes a good point that Brown Eyed Girls are a lot more sexy and talented that other groups, despite showing less skin, being 10 years older on average than other KPop stars, and not following the standard “mold”.

1 Actually the ㅂ (pieut) in Korean is a “P” sound at the beginning of words, and “B” in the middle. So if you read it literally, it sounds like “Pill”, not “Bill” in this case. It might have been more correct to write 삘 instead, but that’s not 100% accurate either. Ah, foreign languages are challenging but so interesting. 🙂

Japanese Language In Hangeul

Sandara Park Typing Japanese In Hangeul

I follow the ladies of 2NE1 on Twitter and I saw this post by member Sandara Park. She’s very friendly and likes to post on Twitter often, though I can’t always read them. This one caught my attention because it seemed different somehow.

The text is (with Romanization):

5가쯔노 오사카와 아쯔이데스까?

5 gajjeuno osakawa ajjeuideseukka?

This made no sense until I read it out loud. She was typing Japanese using Hangeul. It reads in Japanese: 5月の大阪は暑いですか? (go gatsu no ōsaka wa atsui desu ka? Is Osaka in May hot?)

It’s interesting how Japanese sounds get expressed in Korean Hangeul:

  • Japanese つ (tsu) doesn’t exist in Korean. At all. The closest sound is 즈, 주 or 쯔 (jeu, ju or jjeu). In a Japanese-language book on Korean that I read, it said that “tsu” is the hardest sound for Koreans to pronounce. Me too. ;-p
  • Japanese か (ka) is expressed not as 가 but as 카. This is important because Korean letters have sound-shifts but they don’t on Japanese. 오사가 would sound like “Osaga”, but 카 has no sound shift so it is closer to Japanese “ka”.
  • Unlike Japanese,1 Korean uses spaces between words. The particles の (no) and は (wa) appear at the end of the word but before the spaces.

Anyway, interesting stuff. 🙂

P.S. Have a great weekend everyone!

1 In Japanese, the kanji help determine where one word ends and another begins.

KPop Saturdays: CNBlue’s “I’m Sorry”

This post is dedicated to my wife and her best friend “S-chan”, who are both fans of CNBlue:

This is their latest hit, and is filmed in London (my wife and I recognized Westminster Abbey and I’m pretty sure I saw Picadilly Circus too), which is another example of KPop groups filming on location.1 I think it’s great as it really brings out the videos more than just dancing in rooms all the time.

CNBlue is also pretty noteworthy because they’re genuine musicians and play their own instruments, while most KPop groups sing and dance exclusively. The lead singer, Jeong Yong-hwa, is quite a handsome guy and also stars in certain well-known K-dramas too.

As for me, I think this song and video are great. It’s gritty, and they really project the “rocker image”, which is ironic because of London’s “mod” culture and such.

Enjoy!

P.S. If you like this, I also highly recommend their song “Lovegirl“.

1 Block-B’s “Nillili Mambo” in Vietnam, Sistar’s “Loving U” in Hawaii or “Alone” in Las Vegas.

KPop Saturdays: Block B’s “Nillili Mambo”

Block B is a group I haven’t featured on KPop Saturday’s so far, but this video has a nice tie-in to a couple subjects here, and it’s a pretty fun video to watch:

The video was filmed in Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City. I studied abroad in Hanoi, which is a little more conservative, and has less foreign-influence, but watching the opening scene with Zico was really nostalgic for me because I use to sit at outdoor stands and get a straight-razor shave like that.1 It was first time I ever had straight-razor shaves like that (pretty scary at first), but it still takes me back. Plus, I appreciate the fact that is has English subtitles for the lyrics, which KPop groups are doing more and more. 🙂

This video starts out serious like a gangster video, but it’s actually gets pretty silly toward the end, and please be assured that they’re actually very nice boys in real life, and had very nice things to say about Vietnam (click on ‘CC’ for English captions):

Anyhow, the song was fun and catchy and the first Block B song I really liked, plus it was fun being reminded of Vietnam. I thought they were great. Very animated, hilarious, and each showing their personality (or idealized personality). Their sound is consistent, but full of energy and talent. If you agree, show them some love. 🙂

P.S. This video came out in December I think, but scheduling got crazy in late December and early January, so I’m just catching up on things now.

1 The fellow who used to shave me was one of the local neighborhood kids trying to earn some money. I always tried to give him a good tip, even though tipping is unusual in Vietnam. I figured that tipping is a show of appreciation for good service, and I thought he did a great job, so why not?