Friday, January 29, 2010

The Mangaka Review: Yoshizumi Wataru

The mangaka herself.
Yoshizumi Wataru's mangas hold a special place in my heart. While I had seen and read manga for many years, her works were the first I bought in earnest, back when the manga in bookstores did not occupy five bookcases. Marmalade Boy was not truly a standout manga in any sense, but for my impressionable, naive, eleven-year-old mind, she was a genius.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Mistakes a Pepper Makes

Look! Bloopers!

And if you're confused, please refer to this post.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Intensive Korean Study: Week 3

Late, late, late! The theme of my week. I kept thinking I would get to this weekly blog at least by Monday, Tuesday at absolutely latest, but now it's Wednesday and too late to even be vaguely considered on time. Oh well.

I made more progress on the Korean and all, but am, of course, behind schedule. I'm halfway through the book! Yeah! But I also only have a week left. No!!

I blame it on the knitting. I've been knitting like crazy this past month, to the point of pure addiction. I know I should stop... I see the textbook glaring at me from across the table, the neglected schedule on my computer slouching in rejection, and the piles of knitted garments, symbols of the hours of life spent clicking two bamboo needles together.

I'm not a huge fashionista or anything, but when you see a mega awesome cute overpriced Anthropologie sweater selling for $200+, and you know you could possibly, just maybe knock it off in your size for a fraction of the price...

But enough, on to the updates.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Intensive Korean Study: Week 2

Another week! I was able to focus a lot more than last week, but it was still a struggle trying to catch up. I'm starting to think I might be trying to tackle too much; the textbook has been taking a lot more time than I expected, as is the Chunhyang side project.

Anyways, on to the progress report...

Chunhyangdyun Returns!: The Analysis

I admit that my review of Chunhyangdyun might have been skewed by the Chunhyang story itself. After all, it was a little hard for me to like the folktale considering the incredibly antifeminist message of the story. Many fairytales and folktales include those elements, but I guess what disturbs me more is that Chunhyang herself is meant to represent the ideal Korean woman.

There are a few details in the movie that initially suggest a break from the mold. When Mongryong first sees Chunhyang, his servant Pangja tells him that Chunhyang is not too easy to woo; although she is a courtesan’s daughter, she is “well read, and writes poems.” While the subtitles also note that she is “arrogant,” you could also interpret it to mean that she is headstrong compared to other women of the time.

Awesome! An educated, self-assured heroine. What’s not to love?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I got nothing: A Chunhyangdyun Review

Pretty poster, boring movie.
People can usually appreciate a respectable work of art. I’m no aficionado, but it usually doesn’t take a scholar to recognize beauty.

No matter how beautiful, however, no matter how original, without depth or meaning a piece of art is useless. I like a good still-life, but see if I’ll sit around and stare at it for two hours.

This is the sentiment I had while watching the 2000 movie Chunhyangdyun. Directed by Kwon-taek Im, the movie adapts the old Korean folktale of the same name. The general story is that Chunhyang, a young courtesan’s (kisaeng) daughter, marries Mongryong, a governor’s son, in secret. Mongryong soon after follows his father to Seoul to complete a government exam, but Chunhyang cannot follow him; if their marriage is found out, Mongryong will be banned from taking the exam and also be disowned by his father. After Mongryong leaves, the replacement governor, Hakdo, makes advances on Chunhyang. She rejects him, remaining loyal to Mongryong, and is beaten and eventually sentenced to death for her disobedience. In the end, however, Mongryong comes back and saves Chunhyang.

For the Love of Peppers

Here's a quick post before the long Chunhyangdyun movie review coming up.

We here at Manga Meditation love K and J dramas almost as much as we love manga. And true to MM form, we also (lovingly) criticize those very dramas for their sometimes-more-than-campy qualities. It's part of their charm, after all!

The following video is a great K-drama parody titled Gochu (or "pepper" in Korean) by Unit 5 Films, submitted for a contest held by the magazine KoreAm. Think of this post as Manga Meditation's introduction to future K-drama critique. Enjoy!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Intensive Korean Study: Week 1

And so ends my first week of intensive Korean study! Sort of. I only started Wednesday, and the whole process is taking a lot longer than I expected. Also, I just got the textbook’s accompanying workbook in the mail Thursday or Friday, so I haven’t gotten a good look at it yet.

Before I start my review of this week's progress, though, I should probably describe my previous experience with Korean. As a kid I was taken to Korean school to learn the basics of the language. To be honest, the only information I really retained was the reading and writing aspect which, if you know anything about Korean, is not that difficult in the first place. Basically, a dedicated person can learn Han’gul in a week. The rest of Korean that I know is thanks to the Korean I heard as a kid. Even though I don’t understand a lot of it or the actual grammar, it doesn’t sound unfamiliar to me, and I already understand sentence structure.

Anyway, this is what I've been up to...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wearing the Hyphen

Growing up as a "hyphenated" American is a unique experience, and one that can cause one to constantly feel that they are living at the margins of society. As a Korean-American, I had trouble reconciling both labels of my identity as something singular rather than as separate parts. There was the Korean side of me, which consisted of my family and the celebration of special traditions that I assumed other people would not understand or accept. The other half of my identity, however, constantly yearned to be accepted as not the "other," but someone as legitimate as anyone else in the United States.

Though I wanted to feel "American" in my own right, whatever that meant, the racial stereotypes in the media, the blatant stares, the simple tugging at the eyes, told me that I would always be different. Of course, as a child I didn't think of it in articulate terms.

It has only been recently, however, that I've begun to accept my identity as a combination of two elements. I realized that there were people outside of my family that were like me, and in that way I felt less isolated in my experience. But in trying to shape my identity as an American, my "outer" identity, the one I felt I had to exclusively wear, I neglected to also fully develop that related to my ancestry, the "inner" Korean identity that I used to think I could only show to my family. One might even say that I, myself, marginalized my own Korean half.