Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Korean kimchi amongst the English salad

Remember when I was blogging about Exporting Kimchi? Guess what? A few of these kimchi are ready to be sampled by the western world very soon. So will they retain their distictive taste or will they blend in to suit the local taste?

The movie, 'Speed Racer' is due for worldwide release on 9th May. Of course, the movie has already garnered much hype and publicity BECAUSE it is directed by the Wachowski brothers (who brought you The Matrix). Helmed by very respectable cast like Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Christina Ricci and Mathew Fox. Rain or Jung Ji Hoon (the name he prefers to use when he is not singing) shares the spotlight on the main website. Rain will act as Taejo Togokhan, a rival racer. I'm not sure exactly how much screen time he has as he is not the main lead in the movie. BUT, he is the main star in promoting the movie in Asia. Too bad, Singapore is not one of the stop in Asia.

As you would know by now, Speed Racer was originally a Japanese anime and Rain's character in the movie, a Japanese racer. In an attmept to make his charcter more Korean, he apparently requested that Korean words (or rather his charcter's name) be emblazed on his uniform. Quite nice, I must say.

What is really interesting to note is that Rain is not the only Korean in the movie. There is another Korean and a American-Korean in the movie as well.

Joon Park or Park Joon Hyung, a member of the immensly popular defunt group, G.O.D., was an idol before Rain was. But I guess the present belongs to Rain. Joon Park is going to be a racer in the movie.

The other one is American-Korean, Karl Yune. I thought the name sounded familiar so I did a little search and found out that he's the brother of Rick Yune (whom many may remember him as the baddie in the James Bond movie, 'Die Another Day'). Karl is Rain's head of security in the movie.

For more infor on the movie, you can refer to IMDB's site here.

There are at least 4 trailers, 2 with shots of Rain and 2 trailer without him. Click on the link below to watch.

Speed Racer trailer- wihtout Rain
Speed Racer trailer with Rain

I believe Rain's Singapore fanclub is block booking seats for the show though I'm not sure if it's for the charity premiere. But if you are really keen to catch the show and want to do your bit for charity, why not attend the 6th May charity premiere at GV Vivo City? Prized at S$25, it's in aid of the Singapore Disability Sports Council. Click here for more details.

The main action of the other exported kimchi movie is happenning right in Singapore- 'Dance of the Dragon'. Jang Hyuk, one of the main lead in the movie, stars as Tae, a Korean who has been fascinated by ballroom dancing since he was young. The other main lead is Jason Scott Lee, who has starred in numerous movies, including his signature, 'Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story'. And the lady in question is our very own, Fann Wong.

Compared to the others, Jang Hyuk has taken on a rather low-keyed movie as his first forey into the Hollywood movie/ English entertainment world. But it may not necessary be a bad thing. Look how well his low-keyed come-back drama, 'Thank You' did. And besides, he is one of the main lead in the movie.

Considering that STB is a major sponsor of the movie, I am expecting more hype hapenning in the next week or so. Slated for world release on 1st May (when they say world, it's really just Singapore as I don't think they are screening this movie simultaneously in any other countries), there are already posters and banners all over town, as captured by Fann's enthusiastic fans. And of course various promotions are on-going now...from radio, to ebay, to magazines and even the official hairstyling salon! The gala/ world premiere (invited guests only!) is on the 23rd May at The Cathay. Thereafter, there will be a post party at err...can't remember where obviously I'm not on the invited list. Will the cast be there that night? I'm sure they will be. Btw, if you want to be part of the action and maybe catch a glimpse of the stars, you can be a volunteer for that gala premiere night. Just email to this address here. But not sure how much you can 'see' these stars hor.

I must say that the official website isn't exactly the most informative, considering that there are only 2 still photos uploaded and both of them are of Jason Scott Lee. Hmm...Anyway, for more information, you can again go to IMDB's site here.

Dance of the Dragon trailer
Dance of the Dragon storyline

The last movie isn't officially out. It is slated as a summer release and stars Gianna Jun or Jeon Ji Hyun in the movie 'Blood: The Last Vampire'. This movie is also based on a Japanese anime and set in Japan. I'm not sure if she plays a Japanese vampire or a Korean vampire or an Asian vampire. Guess we will know more when the movie is nearer to release date. However, she is the main character and it would be interesting to see how she fares in the movie.

In the meantime, here are a couple of the official pics of her so far. Not sure where I got them, but it may be from twitch's site.

So will they still be Korean kimchi or will they become English salad in the Hollywood world? Or a little of both? I guess only time will tell as they prepare to take on the world.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Korean entertainment- then, now and here

Over the last few weeks, I attended 2 events that were 2 extreme ends of Korean entertainment and yet...still very much part of the Korean culture. As with any countries with a history, there is the past, the present and the future.

Korean tea ceremony is perhaps not as well known as the Japanese tea ceremony, at least here in Singapore anyway. But just like the Japanese tea ceremony, Korean tea ceremony is also influenced by Chinese tea ceremony, from where whence tea first came from.

With the coming of Spring, it seems appropriate to introduce this to the public here, especially as the best tea leaves are plucked during the Spring.

Korea Tourism Organisation in Singapore has been holding a series of tea ceremonies during lunch time since March. Conducted by Ms Oh Ye Ri (오예리), a air stewardess, with a passion and interest in this area, it can be an oasis from the hustle and bustle from the everyday life. It is something that cannot be rushed and you almost felt compelled to speak in low tones to be in tune with the whole atmosphere. Maybe KTO should add some flowers and music to go with the whole thing as well. Hehe! Cos it was a little disconcerting to hear Tae Wang Sa Shin Gi playing the background. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that they were playing the disc, but I had to fight the urge to get up and watch the drama. Wahaha!

Just like Chinese tea, the water for Korean tea should not be brought to a boiling point and you should smell the tea and appreciate it before drinking it. Ms Oh said that such tea get-togethers were normally for only about 3 to 4 people, so it's a cozy affair. Although men also have tea sessions, I guess the majority would be women and most of them would be the well-off or the nobles. Watching Ms Oh perform the tea ceremony, I feel like a big clumsy elephant...especially in my present stage. :(

There are a few famous tea plantation in Korea, but this is one of the most famous one. I was supposed to visit it last year. It was also one of the filming site for Tae Wang Sa Shin Gi. Unfortunately, didn't get a chance to...sigh.. Nice hor?

Boseung Tea Plantation. Credit: Korea Tourism Oraganisation

But personally, what I found really fascinating were the hand crafted tea pots, tea cups etc that she was using. They are really nice and I sorely tempted to get a piece myself.

Aren't the teacups exquisite? And omo...are these toothpicks? Hehe! Nope, they are for picking up little snacks that will go with the tea. If you look very closely, there's actually a small frog inside the log.

KTO will be having a few more tea ceremony sessions this month. You can refer to their website, here for more details. It's free but to go during lunchtime lor.

This is Ms Oh....예쁘죠? Pretty right? You can also contact her for more infor on tea ceremony as well as those beautifull handcrafted items. Her email:

Of a totally different kind of entertainment, but one which is really well known nowadays with the general public is Korean pop. Artistes like Shinhwa, TVSQ, Sung Si Kyung and Lee Sung Gi are familiar names to many of us.

On the 29th March, the Korean Society and Jurong Country Club held a 'Korean Night' at the club. There were various performances and one of them was by Lee An. And in case you've forgotten who he is or is unfamiliar with him. I blogged about him last year here and here. I commented that his voice is actually not too bad but maybe he needed a makeover. And then he disappeared for a long time and I that it? was he disappointed with the result and had given up his dream of being a singer? BUT, it seems it was a case of problem with agency though I don't know the details. Anyway, he's back with a vegence. Changed his dressing and had a haircut and look so much the better. The group of us who were there that night gave the thumbs up for the change. He's also looking more confident and I think happier...which is good.

He's going to launch his 2nd album this month and sang 2 of his new songs at the event that night. Both the songs contain a few sentences in Chinese. Initially, I thought it was strange. But thinking more about is common for Chinese pop songs to have phrases of English, Japanese and Korean in the lyrics. And many Korean songs contain English words, especially those why not Chinese? The 2 songs are rather catchy and fast and got many of the audience on their feet, so am now waiting to see what are the other songs like. I've recorded a short clip but the sound system was really bad that night and it's rather croaky.

And he sang a song from his first album too.

He's uploaded that part where he sang in Chinese on youtube. You can watch it here

Or go to his blog, Lee An to watch it and look at some photos taken that night. My photos turned out really bad. Anyway, watch out for his 2nd album launch this month.

Besides Lee An, who performed that night, ther were also the traditional performances like drums. Now, I normally like Korea drums but I do prefer them at a distance where I can enjoy them. The close distance was just a little too loud for comfort.. But what took the cake was the supposedly Korean fasshion show. Now on the poster, it said 'a parade of vibrant Korean outfits' and as Koreans do have a good fashion sense- just look at all those beautiful clothes worn in all the dramas (yes, even if you are very, very poor). It started off well..with this:

Ahhh... we said, hanboks. Great! We like.. but what followed was this:

And this was followed by another swimsuit and yet another one...just in different colors. Of course, there were wolf whistles and lots of clapping (from the men lah). No, it didn't get rowdy and in fact, after more and more rounds of swimsuits, even the wolf whistles and clapped died down somewhat. There is, afterall, only so many swimsuits one can stomach. And no, there were no eye candy for women audience.

We stayed behind, only because we were hoping to get the top prize- an air ticket to Korea. Of course none of us got it lah. So how was this Korean night? Let's just say it could have been much, much better.

Remember all my blogging about Jang Hyuk dancing in Singapore last year? It's almost 9 months since I first wrote about it. Guess what, the movie is going to air Singapore...I heard in May. ^^

Here's the official poster of 'Dance of the Dragon'.

Credit: Dance of the Dragon website

You can go to the official website- Dance of the Dragon movie for more infor and to watch the trailer. There's even an charity auction on-going for Fann Wong and Jang Hyuk's dance costume.

Or read about my blogging in the posts below:

Dance of the Dragon
Dancing with Jang Hyuk in Singapore
Dancing with Jason Scott Lee in Singapore

Am I keen to watch it? Yup, I really want to see if I can see my fat butt up close. Wahaha!

He looks quite good hor?

Credit: Dance of the Dragon website

I just met my friend today who had gone to Korea last weekend to attend Shinhwa's last concert. She said it was really, really good and in fact on the 2nd concert night, it lasted for 4 hours. *Sob!* *Sob!* *Wails!* I wish I could have been there! And she said Jun Jin was looking very good.

Tiffany wails even louder!!!!!