On Kpop and Kdramas

While I’m waiting for the official photographs from our CCMA graduation, let me show you how much I love Kpop that I academically wrote about it in my En11 class last year. My zeal and love for it even managed to score me an A. I wanted to make it much longer but we had a page limit. There’s so much more to write about! Hope you guys like it.

“Rated K”

The television shows “Stairway to Heaven”, “Jumong”, “Full House”, “Princess Hours” and the latest phenomena “Boys Over Flowers” would ring a bell in anyone who has access to local television stations or just hear someone talk about it in the streets. The following are a few of the more successful Korean dramas or K-dramas that started the Korean fever here in the Philippines. It didn’t take long before Korean pop, more known as K-pop, became just as popular as Korean dramas. Admittedly, I was affected by the sudden wave of Korean influences and concluded that K-dramas and K-pop overshadow local telenovelas and music despite the difference in language and culture because of the former’s originality and over-all higher quality of work.

K-dramas live up to its title, it really is dramatic but it’s not all about the drama. K-dramas have moments wherein one will question why and how the show is classified as a drama and not a comedy. The use of non-dramatic elements actually highlights the drama that will follow, allowing the show to still be classified as a drama and not a comedy. This is one element local telenovelas lack. Local telenovelas are all about the drama and nothing but that. Hair-pulling, slapping, pushing, punching, screaming, kicking, sometimes even shooting are the staple dramatic moves seen in most telenovelas. The lack of variety in the telenovelas makes it repetitive and eventually predictable.

There are a lot of K-dramas that show current Korea but there were still a number of K-dramas that were based on historical Korea. Ballad of Suh Dong based on one of their oldest known folksongs, Chuno and Dong Yi that were both set in the Joseon dysnasty, and the popular K-drama that was aired here in the Philippines, Jumong are some examples of historical K-dramas. With a little research, I confirmed that there aren’t any historical telenovelas. In this aspect, K-dramas have the advantage in terms of variety in their kinds of dramas. K-dramas don’t cater only to those who enjoy mushy romantic dramas but also cater to those who like television shows with more background.

K-dramas don’t only concentrate on the content of their shows. Much like anything people see on television, K-dramas feature good-looking actors and actresses unlike local telenovelas that feature lead characters with physical defects like half-burnt faces, wart-filled faces, hunchbacks, or a combination of all defects. It’s not even just about the looks, in some cases. The way the characters with physical defects are treated in the shows can sometimes be so offensive that it borderlines on inhumane. Consider me shallow but I’d really much rather watch handsome guys fall in love with pretty girls than feel like a sadist watching people beaten up because of their disability.

I know for a fact that I am not the only who likes K-dramas more than local telenovelas. Even ABS-CBN and GMA Network noticed the Filipinos’ interest and affinity for K-dramas so much so that both networks buy rights to air the dramas, translate and then dub it in Filipino so that Filipino viewers would be able to enjoy it more. For the more popular and more loved K-dramas like Full House and Boys Over Flowers on GMA Network and ABS-CBN respectively, both shows even had reruns due to popular demand. Full House: Rewind even featured the leading man, Rain/Bi’s live performances because of his sudden popularity brought about by drama.

Rain/Bi isn’t only popular for his K-dramas but also for his activities in the Korean music industry, K-pop, the latest Korean fever to hit the Philippines. If with K-dramas, local broadcasting networks are responsible for making it popular, the same goes for K-pop. MYX, the local music channel in the Philippines, has been promoting K-pop through their weekly POP MYX K-pop specials, music charts and regular request shows. But how and why is K-pop popular like K-dramas if it isn’t dubbed and made understandable to Filipinos?

K-pop offers different genres of music. SHINee, one of the more popular K-pop groups in Korea, recreates different styles and genres of music and makes it their own to deliver fresh and new music to their listeners. In their latest album, they used 80’s electronica beats, Spanish guitars (rarely used in K-pop) infused with hip-hop beats, electric guitars, reggae rhythms and some classic ballads. The combination of different genres shows that K-pop artists’ versatility in singing and how K-pop isn’t limited to just acoustics, ballads, and synthesizers. Since K-pop covers a lot of different kinds of music, it caters to the different tastes of listeners as well.

K-pop isn’t limited to just making good music. One crucial component to a good K-pop song is the choreography the singers, or “idols” as they call them in Korea, dance as they perform their songs live. It’s so crucial that some K-pop companies hire only the best choreographers like Shaun Evaristo, Lyle Beniga, Rino Nakasone, Jae Woo and Nick Bass. All K-pop idol groups have choreographies for their most popular songs and there are some dance steps that have become trademark K-pop moves. One of the most popular trademark moves is Super Junior’s Sorry Sorry hand-rubbing gesture, which expresses a person asking for forgiveness. Based on experience, I found out that even people who aren’t interested in K-pop know about this dance step and nothing more than that. SHINee’s s-line hand gesture for their song Juliette and side hip thrust for Ring Ding Dong, SNSD’s (Girl’s Generation) kicks for their song Genie and KARA’s “butt dance” for their song Mister are just some more examples of trademark dance moves. Eye-catching choreography combined with an LSS-inducing song always makes for a good performance.

K-pop is not just a showcase of good music and choreography, it’s serious business. K-pop idol groups have to be able to sing and dance to their songs flawlessly every time they get on stage in front of an audience. To be able to dance and sing at the same time with great energy and charisma would require a lot of practice and training which is why entertainment companies in Korea train their idols for at least 3 years. There are some K-pop idols that train for 6 years before they debut with the K-pop idol groups like SNSD’s (Girl’s Generation) Jessica Jung and her sister Krystal Jung of another idol group f(x). This is to ensure that they will be prepared to handle the busy schedules and the pressures of being an idol while performing well and earning money.

K-pop’s appeal doesn’t end with its synthesis of choreography, music and training. Since Korea is more advanced in technology than most Asian countries, K-pop uses that to their advantage in their live performances. Broadcasting stations in Korea such as MBC, MNet, KBS and SBS have one music show devoted to live K-pop performances. These broadcasting stations change the backdrop for each performer according to the performer’s theme or concept. SBS’s music show Inkigayo is known to be the best stage because of its backdrops that changes drastically for each performer. One example is when SHINee performed with a backdrop filled with geometric lines of white light then for the next performer, Taeyang, it became a city sky-line with complete with stars and a moon.

On top of all that singing, dancing, training and technology, there’s fashion. K-pop fashion is literally head-to-toe since transformations start from their hair until the style and colors of their shoes. K-pop idols are known for having eccentric hairstyles like SHINee’s Key’s rainbow highlight bangs, 2NE1’s Sandara Park’s towering hair, BIGBANG’s G-Dragon’s platinum blonde hair and f(x)’s Victoria’s red-tipped hair. Some of them are known for wearing suits like DBSK, patterned leggings and colorful shirts like f(x), sailor outfits like SNSD (Girl’s Generation), or not wearing much at all like 2PM.

K-pop covers singing, dancing, technology and fashion whereas local music only covers singing. Yes, we have amazing singers like Regine Velasquez and our superstar Charice but we don’t have the rest of the package. Being able to sing and dance to a wonderful backdrop in nice clothes and hairstyles would really make any artist stand out which makes K-pop more popular and appealing and relatively more successful in Asia.  Recently, however, due to the sudden popularity of K-pop in the Philipines, the local music companies have decided to start their own version: P-pop. It’s still nowhere near K-pop standards but it’s a start. Maybe if they followed the 3-year training aspect of K-pop, local music might just be at par with K-pop.

Sometimes, I don’t wonder why the weather here in the Philippines just keeps getting hotter, what with all these Korean exports coming our way. Kidding aside, it seems that the Filipinos’ interest in K-dramas and K-pop is only getting bigger so I guess it’s safe to say that these Korean exports are here to stay for quite a while.

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One Response to On Kpop and Kdramas

  1. Pingback: Korean Pop Ballad

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