Wednesday, 25 January 2012

KCC UK Muse Exhibition Review

So, a short while back I applied to the London KCC to take part in their Korean classes. Having been successfully picked, I popped down there last weekend for a placement test. After my exam, I figured I would make use of my trip and check out the (recently finished) art exhibition, the fourth of its kind, held at the KCC. 

The exhibition, titled "Muse London", was, in my opinion, really well set out, making fantastic use of the spacious exhibition area and including works from six different artists; E.E, Eemyun Kang, Seokyeong Kang, Kiwoun Shin, Wonwoo Lee and Sean Roh, who are all Korean artists living and working in London. 

The Director of the KCC UK, Yonggi Won, described the exhibition in the following way "concentrating on the developing genre of media art, Muse London brings together six artists who each specialise in this exciting exciting field. Inspired by their lives int he capital, Muse London celebrates the canvas that London offers each and every day. Specifically dveloped on video and film, the artworks deliver very personal stories, depicting an inner world of each artist. This adds to the attraction and excitement of the exhibition whilst also reflecting the overall picture of Korean artists' practice in London."

According to the; the artwork in the exhibition is meant to 'reflect their [the artists] personal experiences of being in London- more specifically dwelling on the "artist' interior world as seen through the lense of a foreign world city".' 

Here are some examples of the pieces in the exhibition;


The exhibition predominantly focused on videos (so unfortunately all these pictures don't really do the pieces justice - capturing only one of many slides) however it really was a very interesting presentation that gave of a particularly strong and edgy vibe. 

Despite being the daughter of an art teacher, I am far from being an art connoisseur and I have to admit I am sure many of the more subtle, technical points in the art flew right over my head. That said, I found it a really enjoyable experience and the symbolism was somewhat intriguing - it really started to make you think, even without necessarily knowing what the piece itself was about. 

The art ranged videos of a timed countdown (shown on the red wall of screens above) to interviews (as seen on the left below), focusing on themes from the normal to the utterly bizarre. My personal favourite was a rather peculiar video which followed a wine glass, through what seems to be a night in a bar. The changing light during the evening and variety and transition of colour was subtle but equally stunning and made a fascinating watch. 

I was sadly unable to make it but for those who were able to attend the final evening of the exhibit early last week, they were treated to a live performance by one of the artists. EE which can be seen below; 

 EE's art has been described as being " "perhaps the closest thing to clichéd expectations of video art from a technologically advanced place like Korea. But is is stranger than that, themes of life, death, birth and carnival abound, the work is macabre and brutish but very much mirros old rock and pop videos and the graphic imagery that they pioneered to illustrate and describe the modern world.".....exciting! 

I had a little look around the rest of the building before it was time to head home for lunch! 

Thank you to all the artists who participated and I look forwards to the next exhibition at the KCC UK. 

The centre itself~!

Our beloved Korean Cultural Centre~!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Skinny Baby...positive message much?

Now it's no secret in Korea that body size and weight are big issues but when I saw an MV titled "Skinny Baby" hit youtube in the last week of December I thought Korean pop music had really hit a new low. Having watched the video and been bombarded with lines such as "Skinny Skinny Boys Boys, Skinny Skinny Girls Girls....Skinny Baby hot hot, you know I can't stop" by the end of the video my appetite was gone and I felt the inclination to go munch on a carrot.

The production can be somewhat  excused by the fact that the song has actually been produced as a Cube artist collaboration to advertise for Korean clothing brand Skool Looks' new range, Skinny Baby. (Again, what a confidence inspiring name for a clothing brand - but we'll touch on that later) I will admit that while I'm not particularly fond of the song itself or the underlying is incredibly addictive. A striking intro sequence, powerful beats and the good voices of B2ST and APink make a not bad song that will leave you striding down the street like a wannabe catwalk model...or was that just me? 

I did find it slightly amusing that despite the fact that Skinny Baby is actually meant to be a uniform range...although our idols are seen strutting around sleek, stylish, monochrome attire in the music video. Apparently this is something to do with showing off the "unique sensibility of teenagers"...whatever that is supposed to mean. (Credit 

 At least in the advert itself, they are donning what I guess is supposed to be school uniform. I can only say, if I ever turned up at school in uniform looking like that (I'm talking about the girls' clothes here!) , I would probably be sent home to change. No lie. Could a school skirt get much shorter....probably not. 
Check out the advert for yourself:, would you get away with it? 

On a slightly wider scale, it's worth considering the underlying message of the song. Is Skinny Baby really an ideal name for a clothing range? While I've seen hundreds of people commenting "OMG B2ST are so fit" "OMG APink are soooo pretty!" has nobody (apart from me) actually stopped to think about the fact that this song is actually portraying a pretty negative message...whether it's aware of it or not. The wonderful entertainment industry combined with the media (I won't say Korean media because in this example, it is the same all around the world) have once again raised the bar for what young men and women should aspire to look like. For girls in particular, there are a number of alphabet inspired skinny body shapes to try and work towards (see below - can you tell the difference?!) and if that's not enough, it's not like you just have to dress in small sized you even have a new "Skinny Baby" clothing range to dress your skinny body in. Sad times but here to stay.

For those who are interested~ the following advertisements show wonderfully photoshopped  realistic photos illustrating the S and X lines~ 

The unachievable "X Line" exhibiting long legs and a very slim waist ...supposedly

The infamous S-line referring to the shape of the body  with ample breasts and a "good amount of junk in the trunk" (Thanks to Simon@Eat Your Kimchi for that one!) 

The notorious 2008 advertisement for Amore Pacific featuring Yoon Eun Hye ..well, that's her on the right anyway...I'm not quite  sure who's body they stole in order to create the monstrosity of the X-line advert on the left but it's definitely not Yoon Eun Hye! 

Credits : (CF credit) b2utygirls04 youtube channel 
(MV credit) APink's youtube channel 
Photo Credits : Adverts / Body Lines :

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year : Bring on 2012

or not quite yet if you're Korean! As many of us have gradually started to settle in to 2012, despite all the doom and gloom we're told it will bring, many Koreans are still yet to fully join in.

Most Koreans now follow and celebrate New Years Day according to the regular ('solar') calendar that we follow in the West, however, many more still choose to celebrate the traditional holiday of 설날 (Seol-nal), which marks the first day of the Lunar calendar. The celebrations for 설날 last for three days and serve as an opportunity for Koreans to return to their hometowns for family gatherings to perform ancestral rituals. Regarded as one of the most important holidays, 설날 provides a great opportunity to get together, get dressed up in Korean traditional clothing (a hanbok) and to eat yummy 떡국 (ddeok-guk - rice cake soup).

Many celebrities release pictures in traditional dress: here's 소녀시대  aka  Girls Generation in hanboks
And the male hanbok...kindly modelled by 샤이니 aka Shinee...

New Years is also a time for the expression of filial piety - or paying respects to your parents. In this time, while wearing the hanbok, children perform a deep bow to their elders and say 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (sae-hae bok man-i bad-eu-se-yo) which translates into something along the lines of "(I wish you) a happy new year".
In return, the children are given gifts, historically of fruit and rice cake but now, also of money and words of wisdom.

This year, 설날 will be falling on Monday 23rd of January giving you lots of time to prepare for the festivities! This Korean holiday is really all about getting together, eating well and celebrating the start of the New Year. As for me, I'll probably be back home for the weekend and I've decided to learn to make 떡국! How will you be celebrating?

Here's 떡국 : this is what I'm going to try and make!