The Korean Adele on K-Pop Star

Park Jimin, a cute 15-year-old in a fuzzy bowtie sweater, really threw K-Pop Star judges for a loop when she opened her mouth and out poured the voice of a plump, soulful white woman named Adele. The eye cuts of malice and looks of sheer terror on the other contestants’ faces at 0:40 is also quite priceless.

Now all Park Jimin needs is a Bumpit and some “glamour length” Lee Press-on Nails in Nude Mink Muff and she’s ready to roll.

via Buzzfeed

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Top Five Asian Hotties

Patrick and Stephen of The National Film Society made a noteworthy video last month paying tribute to their “Top 5 Asian Hotties”. And it’s not Grace Park, Olivia Munn, or Ling Valentine — but hottie Asian MENS!

WARNING: Contains shirtless Harry Shum Jr….gird your loins, people.

I appreciate the commentary here, especially the attention to details like tracksuit panache, bone structure, and…abs that could knock your teeth out. While Bruce Lee is a DUH and in my opinion should be “#1 Asian Hottie Supreme of the Galaxy For Ever and Ever Amen”, I like the inclusion of unusual suspects — like the manly, bellowing Toshiro Mifune. Again, great attention to detail, guys. Cheers and long live the hotness.

Bookish Bitchin: 1Q84

Its gonna be hard as hell to write a review of a book like this without spoilers. So let me just say this book has gently nestled its way into my Murakami top 3, just under Wind Up Bird Chronicles and barely inching above Norwegian Wood. This means a lot cause I’m a fanatic over his ish and spend way too much money on multiple copies of his books… If you’re a veteran Murakami reader, you’ll love how long this book is. More time before the Murakami-withdrawal hits. You’ll also like hearing from a female protagonist for the first time. If this is your first Murakami book, I’d read one of his books with less magical realism first, After Dark or Kafka on the Shore then move up to 1Q84 about 3-4 books later. Also, you might wanna buy the digital version (although the US hardcopy if a sight to behold) cause this book be phat!

BcB 2011 Holiday Gift Giving Guide

It’s the 2011 BcB Holiday Gift Guide! Cause we’re lazy-asses bleeding heart liberal non-profiteers (did I just offend everyone?) every year at BcB our Holiday Gift Guide provides you with a list of non-profits that do tireless work in Asian/Asian American communities and/or issue areas and are much respected by Cbruhs and AznHeartThrob. Without further ado, click on the links below to send over a dolla or $5000000+ to the following amazing orgs:

The Spot Oakland:

The mission of The Spot is to support the success of youth and young adults by fostering their emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual health through holistic, coordinated, youth-driven resources and opportunities. Our vision is for all youth and young adults to have: A safe and empowering environment to realize their full potential,  meaningful roles to experience and strengthen their communities and a culture of unity, diversity, and collaboration for social justice.

CAAAV:

CAAAV works to build grassroots community power across diverse poor and working class Asian immigrant and refugee communities in New York City. Through an organizing model constituted by five core elements: base-building, leadership development, campaigns, alliances, and organizational development- CAAAV organizes communities to fight for institutional change and participates in a broader movement towards racial, gender, and economic justice. This includes advocating for low-income tenants who are negatively impacted by the gentrification in NYC’s Chinatown (Chinatown Justice Project), and organizing Southeast Asian youth in the Bronx (Youth Leadership Project).

Legacies of War:

The mission of Legacies of War is to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos and advocate for the clearance of unexploded bombs, to provide space for healing the wounds of war, and to create greater hope for a future of peace. The organization uses art, culture, education, community organizing and dialogue to bring people together and create healing and transformation out of the wreckage of war.

Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (APICHA)

Gaysians living with AIDS/HIV are challenged with a lack of visibility and services…luckily orgs like APICHA provide crucial preventative and primary care for our communities.

APICHA’s mission is to improve the health of our community and to increase access to comprehensive primary care, preventive health services, mental health and supportive services. We are committed to excellence and to providing culturally competent services that enhance the quality of life. APICHA advocates for and provides a welcoming environment for underserved and vulnerable people, especially Asians and Pacific Islanders, the LGBT Community and individuals living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Asian Pacific Environmental Network:

APEN seeks to empower low-income API communities to achieve environmental and social justice. APEN believes that the environment includes everything around us: where we live, work and play. And we strive to build grassroots organizations that will improve the health, well-being and political strength of our communities.

Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF):

CACF believes that children of all backgrounds should have an equal opportunity to grow up healthy and safe and should live in a society free from discrimination and prejudice. CACF challenges stereotypes of Asian Pacific Americans as a “model minority” and advocates on behalf of under-served families in our community, especially immigrants struggling with poverty and limited English skills. CACF promotes better policies, funding, and services for East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander children, youth, and families.

Nomi Network:

Nomi Network seeks to increase the financial independence of women in Asia who are vulnerable to sex trafficking. Nomi uses a three-fold strategy that consists of developing talent and high-quality, profitable products, increasing capacity of employers to provide living wages and partnering with retailers and consumers to increase demand for their products.

Asian Community Leadership Foundation:

The Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation (ACLF) is a community-based, nonprofit organization that trains and supports the leadership of Asian Pacific Islanders with a commitment to social justice, community empowerment and public service. Our mission is to promote social, economic and political justice by training and supporting a strong, sustainable community of civically engaged leaders that reflects the diversity of local Asians & Pacific Islanders.

The Occupy Movement:

Despite the media hysteria that often attempts to discredit Occupy as a bunch of pot-smokin’, lazy, grungy hippies — the power of OWS to bring an economic justice agenda to the national stage and its potential to forge a broad-based, progressive, and long-term movement for change is undeniable. Support the NY arm or the local one in your city.

We Envision: [1] a truly free, democratic, and just society; [2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus; [3] where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making; [4] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others; [5] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments; [6] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few; [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings; [8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible; [9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

North Korean Labor Camps in Siberia

VICE, king of all things hipster, recently traveled into the wilds of Siberia to film and talk to North Koreans in labor camps.

Dissatisfied with a government-sponsored tour of North Korea aka The Hermit Kingdom aka “the most fucked up place on Earth” — where he wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone outside of the official tour — Shane Smith and a fellow journalist decided to take the trans-Siberian railroad into the Russian interior to find people in North Korean labor camps and “see how they live”. The trip is graced with local Russian mobsters, plenty of vodka, and — as to be expected — royally pissed off North Korean officials.

They find that most workers are sent to the camps as free labor for 10+ years to cut logs that will eventually be exported to England, and to earn revenue for resource-starved North Korea. They live in dilapidated campers and barracks and work throughout the brutal winter and summer seasons.  See what else transpires when a group of white dudes goes in search of shit they’re not supposed to see.

(watch the other installments here)

via Buzzfeed

Top 10 K-Pop Singles of the Year

Guest post by Cbruhs’ bestie, bandmate, and K-pop fanatic Reese Umbaugh

K-POP SET FOR GALACTIC TAKEOVER IN 2012!

2011 has been a globally momentous year for the once-obscure and uniquely futuristic genre of Korean pop music. Dominating the Top 40 charts of Korea, China, Vietnam, and Taiwan, K-pop has infiltrated the Japanese music industry, the world’s second largest, with a string of number one singles and sold-out tours from Korean boy bands, girl groups, and solo acts. Several artists have begun touring internationally and promoting in countries like France, Germany, Britain, and the US, where a showcase of artists signed to SM Entertainment — South Korea’s largest talent agency — sold out Madison Square Garden in October.

My fascination with K-pop stems from the glossy, flawless, and polished product that is the hallmark of the industry. Every artist, in every group, has impeccable stage presence and etiquette. Every beat is sonically infectious. Every dance move is synchronized to perfection and every vocal performance is flawless. In 2011, K-pop conquered the world, and if the trend continues — as these songs (all released in 2011) would indicate —  2012 will be the year of the K-pop intergalactic takeover. Without further ado, these are the 10 singles that prove K-pop will engulf the universe. Resistance is futile:

10. “Shake Ur Body” by Swincle:

This was a recent discovery for me from this group that debuted in March. One of 27 K-pop girl groups that formed in 2011, their track “Shake Ur Body” stands out to me, mostly because of the non-stop boom, boom, boom that is sure to get lodged in your brain all day. The video is fairly simple, with the girls depicted preparing a party for a guy — while being especially creepy in the video’s intro and sometimes becoming miniature versions of themselves. Ooo-kay. Also: lots of shaking they bodies.

9. “So Cool” by Sistar:

 

If any group can dance around in the shortest dresses around and manage to not reveal their lady parts, it’s Sistar! Plus, after watching the video, I’m convinced that the Olympics should absolutely replace the baton used in running events with a diamond clutch. WERK!

8. “Loverboy” by Apeace:

 

Apeace automatically make this list simply by being a 21-member group. Let me say that again: A 21-MEMBER GROUP! Imagine them all in a recording studio! Or in the green room of a venue! Or anywhere else! 21 MEMBERS! This shit would only fly in K-pop, people!

7. “Mirror Mirror” by 4MINUTE:

While “Mirror Mirror” didn’t light the charts on fire, it did cause controversy for the group performing a “spread leg dance” that was deemed too provocative and overtly sexual for television. To the sadness of every single person in the world: the dance was later banned by Korean music shows. A single tear falls.

6. “Pop Pop Pop” by Rania:

I was hooked on “Pop Pop Pop” once I heard the plinking synth noises that accompany the track during the intro and chorus. So good! And they have light-up wands. Also good! Rania is another new group, gathering attention partly because producer Teddy Riley, who has produced hits for Michael Jackson, produced some of Rania’s debut.

5. “Be My Baby” by Wonder Girls:

Up until this year, Wonder Girls were probably the only K-pop group destined for an American crossover. They toured the US and Canada, including a stint opening for The Jonas Brothers(!) and Justin Bieber(!!), and performed live on So You Think You Can Dance. Their English-language single “Nobody” hit #76 on the Billboard Hot 100, making the Wonder Girls the first South Korean group to enter the chart. The girls made a Korean comeback this year and are setting their sights on US promotion in 2012.

4. “Mr. Simple” by Super Junior:

Super Junior rightfully deserves a spot here. Despite being plagued with various issues in 2011: Disputes with management! Scheduling conflicts! Line-up changes! Mandatory military service! Su Ju has become Korea’s supreme boy band and further propelled their international success with the release of their 3rd album Mr. Simple and the SuperShow4 tour, which was recently announced for an American leg in 2012. Plus, they are International Sex Symbols. Except for the chubby one with the weird haircut. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.

3. “I Am The Best” by 2NE1:

I appreciate 2NE1 for a lot of reasons. For one, “I Am The Best” is an absolutely killer track. Second, 2NE1 has an image that’s more “edgy” in K-pop, with baggy hip-hop pants and studded jewelry, while other Korean girl groups emphasize sex and mini-skirts. They describe themselves as “hip-hop warriors” — which is awesome —  and they want to portray themselves as strong women. Bottom line: These chicks will kill you.

2. “Roly Poly” by T-ara:

2011 was a great year for T-ara (sometimes stylized as T♔ARA, which instantly makes them my favorite band name ever). The group hit #1 on Japan’s Oricon weekly charts, the first for a foreign group and international female artist ever in history. All in all, T-ara released two Korean EP’s (and a re-packaged edition) and two Japanese singles, all commercially acclaimed, and also had time to release a few different videos for the song showcased here, “Roly Poly”. To all you Bay Area readers, T-ara will be headlining the K-Pop Power & Beauty Concert (best tour name ever) in San Francisco on January 13th. Best start learning the “Roly Poly” choreography!

1. “Mr. Taxi” by Girls’ Generation:

Alright, I know that this song is actually in Japanese, BUT the Korean version (which is their new single) of the video has not yet been released (but you can listen to it here). Anyway, what is there to say about Girls’ Generation, other than they are the best of the best in the K-pop universe. The girls released singles in Korean, Japanese, and English this year, headlined a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden in New York, and broke too many records and had too many international chart debuts to even list. When the nine members are not recording, touring, and promoting, they are starring in Korean dramas and reality shows, endorsing brands and products (I’ve also attached their advertisement for Intel at the bottom of this post because it too is perfection), and donating their time and money to philanthropic causes. In short, they are global superstars who are the best bet in bringing the “Hallyu wave” (the spread of South Korean culture) to worldwide audiences. GG, thank you for the amazing pop music. Here’s to 2012!

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Reese Umbaugh is the Licensing & Podcast Coordinator at KEXP 90.3FM radio in Seattle, as well as a contributor to the KEXP Blog. When he’s not obsessing over the latest in K-pop music news, he’s playing synths in electro-pop band Noddy, watching subtitled anime, and reading DC comics. In short, he’s a nerd.

Reese is also producing and DJing a J-pop and K-pop Dance Party on January 19th in Seattle (flyer below). Don’t miss it!

Stop Bad Hollywood Films Before They Are Conceived

I guess there’s something called The Black List? It rates all the best scripts just optioned by studios to be green lit into Hollywood shit movies.  Why am I talking about this? Cause I think Asian America wasn’t able to react to the Last Samurais and Avatars fast enough to kill the eggs before the chicken hatched (or is it the other way around??). So I propose we start with the scripts! Right when they’re bought by the major Hollywood studios and churned into The Hangover 2. Where to begin… in no particular order, from the 2011 Black List of scripts coming to a big screen near you:

“The Outsider” by Andrew Baldwin

In post-World War II Japan, an American former prisoner of war rises in the yakuza.

(Agency: Creative Artists Agency — Jay Baker, John Garvey, Manager: Anonymous Content — Bard Dorros, David Kanter, Producers: Linson Entertainment for Warner Bros.)

Seriously? Is this going to happen? First it was Dances with Wolves, then it was Last Samurai and then Avatar. And now this? When will Hollywood stop with A-White-Guy-can-do-anything-a-person-of-color-can-do-better story line. I get it. The White man can kill ninjas and mate with their tails better than a yellow/brown/blue person can. But seriously? A P.O.W. becomes a Yakuza? Its even hard for a JAPANESE person to get into the Yakuza. You think the “American” former prisoner is going to be an ABC or a Filipino guy? HELL NO. He’ll be Ryan Gosling. PLUS, I guess this movie has already been made with that dude from The Road.

“Bad Words” by Andrew Dodge

The bastard child of the organizer of the national spelling bee gets his revenge by finding a loophole and attempting to win the bee as an adult, only to find friendship in a young Indian contestant.

(Agency: UTA — Carolyn Sivitz, Manager: Fourth Floor Productions — Jeff Silver, Producers: MXN and Darko Productions)

Can we see our South Asian folks as anything other than spelling bee champs or telecom workers from Outsourced or Outsourced (and how did they make a show AND a movie with the same title and same plot?!). There’s no way this can be better than Rocket Science. Only more racist. Don’t try it. UNLESS the lead character is Chinese or Pakistani. But then Middle American heads will exploded.

“Home by Christmas — Bob Hope in Korea” by Ben Schwartz

Young Larry Gelbart goes on tour with his idol Bob Hope in the middle of the Korean War and learns the true price of heroism.

(Agency: The Nethercott Agency — Gayla Nethercott, Producer: Jon Shestack Productions)

I just want to be an extra in this movie cause somewhere in the San Gabriel Mountains or Temecula will be used as a stand-in for Korea and I want to be there with a bunch of KAs from LA in war uniforms going through bootcamp. Who am I kidding, they’ll be using Filipino and Vietnamese extras too. Watch out for Ryan Gosling in make-up as Bob Hope. Or he can play Larry Gelbert. Or a Korean drill sergeant. Or anything he damn well pleases to play!

“Django Unchained” by Quentin Tarantino

A freed slave named Django is trained as a bounty hunter by a German dentist named Schultz, and the two men set out to find Django’s enslaved wife.

(Agency: WME — Mike Simpson, Producers: Weinstein Co. producing for a co-release between Weinstein and Sony Pictures)

If there’s two things I’ve learned from Quentin Tarantino from everything he’s done lately, its that he likes to exploit Black folks (its OK cause there’s a cool film noir word for these types of movies: Blaxploitation) and he likes killing Germans on screen. As long as he stays away from David Carradine as a karate master and Lucy Liu as a Japanese geisha/ninja, I’m cool with it. Sorry everyone else! Every race of itself!

I’m such a hater. I know. So what movies AM I looking forward to? Peep the following movies. I purposely didn’t include ALL the zombie movies I wanna see cause that’s a whole other post and would be a never-ending blog post.

“Maggie” by John Scott 3

As a “walking dead” virus spreads across the country, a farm family helps their eldest daughter come to terms with her infection as she slowly becomes a flesh-eating zombie.

(Agency: Creative Artists Agency: Billy Hawkins, Dan Rabinow, Manager: Trevor Kaufman, Producer: Pierre-Ange Le Pogam)

One word: Zombies. They’re the new hipster rom-dramedy.

“Flarsky” by Daniel Sterling

A political journalist courts his old babysitter, who is now the secretary of State.

(Agency: UTA — Julien Thuan, Producers: Point Grey Pictures)

What? I just wanna see this cause in 13 words the writer set up a crazy ass plot. Peep Ryan Gosling as the political journalist. With Ashley Judd as the Secretary of State. Or the other way around if you apply the right make-up.

So what have we learned from all this? Hollywood is racist and Ryan Gosling can play anyone anywhere. If he puts his mind into it.