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.

THEN
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 err...got 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: yeri@leearts.com



NOW
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 thought...hmmm...is 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 it....it 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 rap..so 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.

HERE
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 soon...in 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
and
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


Off-note:
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!!!!!

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