Sunday, December 16, 2007

what Skippy thinks about Korea

Skippy's got it in his head that Koreans are passionate about belly dancing. Well, he might've gotten that at least partly wrong,* but the rest of his post on Korea is definitely worth a read.

*More likely, it's white men in the grip of the Yellow Fever who are obsessed with watching Korean women belly dance. That would be my guess, anyway.



Unknown said...

Uh Kev,

You have noticed that this broad had a belly dancing show in Korea, right?

Precisely how many belly dancing shows have you seen in North America? How many belly dancing superstars who do you think you can name?

Furthermore,she seems to have garmered a lot of attention from the Korean government than she did from anyone else.

Not that I'm denying the Yellow Fever part or anything.

Kevin Kim said...


Sorry, dude, but it's just not big news here. I've scanned the Korean-language sites, which is where you really need to go to see if something's of consequence to Koreans. English-language news sites do pick up big news on the peninsula, but they also cherry-pick those news items with an anglophone bias-- i.e., they look for things that might be interesting for anglophone Westerners. This doesn't provide non-Koreans with a true reflection of what's really going on in the Korean public consciousness. (It also doesn't help that many English-language articles are written in a hyperbolic style that can lead the reader to believe a certain bit of news is more significant than it really is.)

This might have been big news at another time, but the bigger news these days consists of (1) current parliamentary shenanigans, and (2) the coming week's presidential elections. The belly dancing "scandal" follows on the heels of a larger, months-long scandal-in-progress re: people of all stripes lying about their academic credentials, especially credentials relating to degrees supposedly obtained overseas. At this point, the public is pretty much saturated, because once the "outings" of actors, actresses, college professors, politicians, and businessmen began, just about everyone was coming out of the woodwork to confess (or to be forced to confess) that they had fudged their resumes. At this point, it's all old news, and the big Koreabloggers have blogged the larger scandal to death (check The Marmot's Hole and Lost Nomad if you're really looking for what's topical; both are on my sidebar).

As for having a TV show about belly dancing... it doesn't follow that this show is big on a national scale. Belly dancing is certainly not more than a minor fad (quite unlike jazz dance, which has had a hold on public consciousness for a couple years now), nor is it anything being chatted about among the Korean Netizenry.

The YouTube clip on your site seems to be a collection of instructional snippets. I'm assuming this lady's "show" is more of a series of "shows between shows" that play while the viewer takes a piss break-- more a hip-shaking series of commercials than a bona fide show devoted to the ancient art of Korean belly dancing. I could be wrong on this point, but I doubt it.

A Google search of Ahn Yu-jin in Korean gave me quite a few hits, the foremost of which is not the scandal, but a promotional website listing her resume (or "resume," I guess), and an English-language article describing the belly dancing "craze" she has supposedly brought to Korea from Down Under. She ain't rockin' no peninsula. Believe me; I'd have heard of this. At most, her scandal has produced some sighs: "Jesus-- another one?"

It wasn't until I reached the twentieth item in the Google search results that I found this article from November (!), in a rag called the Hankyung (not one of the bigger news sources), which talks about the "nightmare" Ms. Ahn was going through at the time. The article does claim that Ahn was called "Korea's Number One Belly Dance Instructor" and that she did garner a measure of fame, though I somehow doubt this means she had become a national treasure. More likely, she became famous among young women looking for new dance moves.


Kevin Kim said...

Just to be sure, I checked the archives of The Lost Nomad and The Marmot's Hole by typing "belly dancer" into their search engines. Zip from the Nomad, for whom the story apparently didn't even register, and only this from The Marmot's Hole, a quick ditty written up by one of the Marmot's several henchmen. (The Hole writers are all competent in Korean; they often search Korean-language as well as English-language sources for material to write about.)

Again, this was all back in November. I'm still sitting here going "Huh?" My students would have mentioned this scandal to me, had it been that important.


Unknown said...

Good points all. Actually, the story was part of a Toronto Star article about the faking of credentials in Korea about a week and a half ago. I think I may have linked it in my main post.

And I wouldn't call belly dancing an obsession. Lap dancing sure, but belly dancing is more of a hobby.

Jesus, you make a guy King of the Koreans and he gets so friggin' uptight.

Kevin Kim said...

Put forks up my nose and suddenly I'm drunk with power.