Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I see I'm not the only hater

(image found here)

The illustrious Joe McPherson may be friends with them, but I can't fucking stand the awful, Korean-impaired Canadian couple who runs the famous (or is it infamous?) "Eat Your Kimchi" show. I'd say more, but the writer BlackinAsia, in a recent post on "2013's Most Racist Moments in K-Pop," says it better than I can (slightly edited for style):

If you somehow have no idea what EYK is, count yourself lucky. They are a white married couple who has been living in Seoul for the past 5 years and have a YouTube channel that has tens of millions of views where they review K-pop music and talk about aspects of Korean culture… you know, since they’re experts on Korea, even though they can’t speak a lick of Korean. They frame themselves as “not being experts” at the beginning of their videos, but then go on to give authoritative-sounding descriptions of issues from “Teenage Pregnancy” to “Plastic Surgery” and standards of beauty in Korea. Why don’t they at least have a Korean person in their videos with them as part of the conversation when they talk about aspects of Korean culture? Isn’t that a reasonable thing to ask, especially when you’re foreigners who don’t speak the language? Theirs is a subtle racism born from unchecked white & English-speaking privilege and internalized orientalist attitudes about their country of residence. Why are they even popular in the first place? Would a black couple in Korea doing the exact same work be even half as popular as they are or have nearly as many sponsors?

In 2013, despite repeated criticism, EYK continued to rate the English of K-pop singers in the videos they reviewed. All of this even as they can’t even pronounce the stars’ names properly in Korean and can barely speak any Korean after over 5 years there. Their excuses for not improving their Korean are pretty laughable and are a byproduct of their white and English-speaking privilege, which doesn’t necessitate that they learn it in any meaningful way, allowing them to rest on their laurels. They also released a video this year in which they knowingly put on blackface and laugh about it and, thanks to a ton of other bullshit, find themselves at #5 on this year’s list.

Why are they even popular in the first place? I'll tell you why. Because they pander to the most cloyingly disgusting aspects of modern Korean pop culture, that's why. And what are those aspects? A love of aegyo is one. Aegyo involves making cutesy, lovey-dovey facial expressions that look like a treacle orgasm. Aping the style of Korean variety shows is another: surround the foreground subject with cartoonish thought bubbles and Comic Sans captions while adding dinging and poinging sound effects to punctuate dialogue that has been drained of all subtlety and nuance. A deliberate avoidance of profundity is a third pernicious aspect of Korean pop culture: it's all about emotions and images, not about actual brains.

Canadian author Doug Coupland warned Americans about this assault of cuteness in his semi-classic novel Generation X: he dubbed it the "Hello-Kittification" of culture, i.e., the burial of everything deep and serious and noble under a mountain of candy-coated elephant shit. It's revolting, insulting, and infantilizing, and Oh So East Asian. Such Hello-Kittification strikes me almost as a sort of rebellion against the dour, super-industrious worldview of previous, war-torn generations, an attempt at exorcising all memories of strife and bitterness through wave after wave of anesthetizing banality. And once the pussification of South Korea is complete, the skeletal troops of the ravenous North, already resigned to a life of cannibalism, will pour across the DMZ. Startled southerners will utter a collective, high-pitched, girlish scream, run straight to Haeundae Beach, and dive into the tempest-tossed waters, seeking safety among the squid.

That's what "Eat Your Kimchi" represents to me: the erosion of all that is good and wise and powerful in Korean culture. Although BlackinAsia is on the other side of the ideological aisle from yours truly, I'm reassured that s/he shares my intense dislike for these smarmy poseurs.



ZenKimchi said...

Thanks for the mention.

Charles said...

I have yet to see a single EYK video. There may not be many things I am proud of, but that is one of them.

Kevin Kim said...


Sorry to mention you in this context.


As BlackinAsia says, consider yourself lucky.

Sperwer said...

I don't know who these clowns are and after reading the opening bits I don;t care to find out. But I won;t be looking for anything more from BlackinAsia, either - who needs more bogus incantations of racism as an epithet of taste instead of analysis

Kevin Kim said...


Agreed. I see all the code words for that ideology: "orientalist," "microaggressions," "privilege," etc.

John from Daejeon said...

I can't stand them either, but maybe some of their detractors are a bit jealous that they didn't get to go on a "sort of popular" European tour like these two "high on life buffoons."