Monday, October 29, 2012

Music Monday #21

I have posted a few Music Mondays about punk in Korea, this week I thought I would show that Ska is also alive and well and here in Korea.  Ska is one of those love it/hate it genres - especially in the punk culture.  Many punks feel it's boring or lame for various reasons, there is also many who associate 'selling out' with ska - such bands as Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger often have the finger pointed at them for this. There is also a lot of kidding around between bands, Propaghandi produced a song called 'Ska Sucks' and NOFX have one called 'We don't play Ska anymore' which goes on to say "because it sucks". None of which should be taken too seriously.

FYI - Ska if you don't know is a music style that has it's basis in Reggie and Jazz.  It's know for it's fast up-beat tempo.  Ska punk is just that fast, furious and fun, they usually have some kind of brass instrument in the band, commonly a trumpet.

I really like Ska punk, I'm a big fan on Less than Jake and Mad Caddies.  I always think of summer, the beach and having a fun time when I listen to it.

One Korean band that I have heard talked about on some other websites and that I found on YouTube is called - Skasucks - I am guessing it's tongue-in-cheek as they seem to be one of the leading ska bands on the Korean scene. They have been around for over five years now, they do a lot of covers and apparently a really great high energy live show.  I have not seen them live, but if I get the chance I think it would be a great one to go to.

Skasucks - Swimming in the Dream

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More V Energy Drink in Korea

Another update post - this one is about V Energy Drink.  I posted a while ago when V made its debut here in South Korea.  You can now find the 250ml cans at some of the GS25 convenience stores, which is great news.

I wanted to do a quick follow up to say that you can also get the new V flavour 'V Blue' here too. I just saw it come to my local store in the past week or so

I'm not such a fan of this one, I tried it in New Zealand when I was home a few months ago and thought it was OK.  I also just tried it again, they currently have a 1 + 1 special here in Korea (this just means two for one), but at the store that I usually go to they only have one line in the fridge for V - they had one green one left and then had filled up the rest with the blue ones. So I got one green and one blue - I have to say I prefer the original one.

More Whittaker's Chocolate in Korea

I did a post earlier this month about finding some blocks of Whittaker's Chocolate in the Galleria Department Store in Ingye-Dong Suwon.

Just a quick update to say that they have two more new flavours available  - Berry & Biscuit and Dark Almond.

It's still expensive at 11,000 won for a block, but sometimes you are willing to pay that extra for a bit of home.  I took some into work and it went down really well.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Music Monday #20

No Brain is one of the most famous indie rock bands in Korea, they are often described as Punk but they are more diverse than that - they have many influences and are probably better described as 'Alternative' if you want to put a label on it.  Their roots are in punk however, playing in small clubs in Hongdae, contributing to various punk compilations albums and covering Sex Pistols songs for one album.

They have been around since 1996 and have put out six albums, as they have grown in popularity and their line up has changed the music has inevitably changed too - it's become more mainstream with influences from Reggie to Country.  They even did a song with K-pop band Big Bang and they have made songs for the Korean teams in the Soccer World Cup over the years. The members have also appeared on a few TV shows in acting and hosting jobs.

So here is one song I have picked to showcase off YouTube, it was a bit of a random selection but there are many others so if you are interested check them out. You can also find the band on Facebook and their official site.

No Brain - 넌 내게 반했어

info from Wikipedia

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Touch of Culture - The Ballet

On Saturday I attended my first ever ballet.  I saw 'Swan Lake' performed by the Korean National Ballet Company. A friend of mine likes this sort of thing and invited me, I was not sure if I would like it but I figured you have to try everything once.

It actually was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, it kept my interest most of the way through. There was a bit in the second act where all the swans were dancing to some very soothing music that I found my eyelids drooping a bit.  After talking with the rest of the group afterwards however, I found I was not the only one - even the more enthusiastic ballet watchers had thought that part was very lulling.

I also thought the end was a bit weird as I was under the impression that the main characters die. It did not seem like that unless I was misinterpreting (which could easily be that case as its all interpretation) - it just seemed a lot happier at the end than I was expecting. Not a bad thing but when it ended I was a bit confused.

It was nice to get out and do something a bit different, I don't think it's something I would do on a regular basis but I would be open to seeing something like 'The Nutcracker' perhaps at another time.

The ballet was in the Opera House of the Seongnam Arts Center which was very easy to get to for me.  From Ingye-dong in Suwon you can take the red 4000 bus.  This bus takes you right to the Arts Center and it only took about an hour to get there.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Website Highlight #4 - KikinitinKorea

A really fun website that has been steadily gaining popularity recently is #KikinitinKorea. 

It's a series of pictures (with captions) that capture some of the highs, the lows and the things in between that living in Korea offers. It has also just been opened up so that you can submit your own pictures now too.

Check it out for a quick laugh.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Music Monday #19

I'm sorry to say I have been a bit slack with the posts lately, basically just a matter of finding the time and inspiration. Lucky that I have this Music Monday segment as it makes me post something each week at least. Because I have not posted a lot I am trying to keep to the Korean theme - this blog is supposed to be about living in Korea and all.

This week is another one I spotted on the bus - they run a lot of clips on the TVs in the buses here in Korea.  I did a post a while ago on the cartoon 'Larva' that you can see, they also have clips from Korean variety shows and various other things.  It does not have sound so I had to go and listen to this group on YouTube - I was curious to what they sounded like as the thing that I first noticed about them was that they were playing their own instruments.  Not a big deal in western music but for Korean music, dominated by K-pop groups, it's a bit of a novelty.

So another thing I noticed apart from the instruments was I thought it was cool they had a girl in their group.  There are not many mixed groups in Korea - they are either boy groups or girl groups.  I don't think I've seen any that are mixed that I can recall. After googling them yesterday however one of the first things to come up was talking about the new 'all boy group' - whoops.  You can't really blame me however - he's really pretty and has long hair he wears in a ponytail. I'm sure I'm not the only one to make that mistake.

The band is called Lunafly (루나플라이) and is most definitely k-pop but a bit different because as I said they play instruments and apparently do some of their own composing and song writing, they seem to be going for a more authentic 'band' feel.  They are a new group too so only have a few songs out and I think they have a 'mini' album, the videos that I have seen are simpler just them singing and playing instruments for example.  They don't do all the crazy outfits and dancing that is the signature of most k-pop. That being said their looks are all k-pop, and I read online that a lot of money and effort has gone into the look and style of them and their album.

They all seem to be pretty good at English, one of them is actually British-Korean so his native language is English rather than Korean.  This means that they are releasing music in both languages so I'm posting two videos today - they have released two songs to the same music.  One song is in Korean and the other in English - the music and the videos are the same but the songs have different names and different lyrics - it does not look like one is just the translation of the other.

So again not really my type of music but better than a lot of the usual k-pop.  At least they are doing some of their own work on the songs and playing their own instruments. It's a step in the right direction.

Lunafly - How Nice Would It Be? (얼마나 좋을까)

Lunafly - Super Hero

Monday, October 8, 2012

Music Monday #18

This Music Monday is a Korean offering, again it's a very popular one.  G-Dragon is one of the members of the hit Korean Group 'Big Bang', he also has what looks like a lucrative career in endorsements and a burgeoning solo career too.

He recently released an EP called 'One of a Kind' where one of the songs was called 'Crayon'.  Apparently this is short for 'Crazy+On' or a combination of 'Crazy+G-Dragon'.  The music video is being played on the buses at the moment which is where I saw a clip of it and thought I would show it here.  It certainly is crazy, but it seems like that was the idea for the video. It's bright and colorful and very silly.

Like his group 'Big Bang's' music, G-Dragon's sound is not really considered K-pop as such.  In Korea it is what passes as Hip Hop.  It does have a different beat to it than the more traditional K-pop sound. Anyway here for your interest or amusement - whatever the case may be is the latest music video from G-Dragon.

G-Dragon - Crayon

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Whittaker's Chocolate in Korea

I have heard that Whittaker's chocolate sometimes appears in random shops here in Korea, someone I was talking to said they found some in Paris Baguette once for example.  I have been here about 19 months now and have never seen it - until now.
I just happened to be wandering around the small grocery shop in the bottom of the Galleria in Ingye-dong today.  I don't really shop there as its a bit more expensive and the selection is smaller than the nearby Homeplus so I don't usually bother.  I was down there to get some fast food - the American chain 'Popeyes' has a branch in the food court there.  I thought I would have a look around while I was there and see what they had, sometimes they have things that you can't get at the bigger supermarket chains.

So this is where I found some Whittaker's chocolate - they have three of the 250g slabs available - Fruit & Nut, Creamy Milk and Almond Gold.  The kicker is that unless you are really craving it or are a die hard fan you probably won't want to pay the price.  One slab cost 11,000 won, they didn't have a price on them so I didn't find this out until I got to the counter.  I thought it would be a nice gift to take in to work after the holiday - I hope they appreciate it.