Can ‘Korean Wave[Hallyu]’ let Soo-Man LEE get away with Slave Contract?, JUNE 21, 2011
It’s Korean Wave[Hallyu] everywhere. Korean contemporary culture that has been spread across the world through dramas in the late 1990s still seems to be going strong.
Currently Korean idol singers are expanding their territory to Western Europe with the help of developing internet media. Since there have been a lot of reports about this,
I would like to go through the subject without any further explanation.
In short, they say that European customers have started to respond to the musical products made by Soo-Man LEE, who is the largest shareholder and the pioneer of the idol business in Korea.
Hallyu in European countries, how astonishing!
Hallyu in European has become such a special issue that even prime time TV news would report this in Korea.
‘Wow, we became really fabulous!’
This kind of self-esteem is not only prevalent in SM Town but also in Korea, even all over the globe. As I see this situation, it seems as if I have been separated by an age.
It’s way overdue in from different perspective. There often have been internationally recognized sports stars such as Yu-Na Kim, Tae Hwan Park, Ji Sung Park, Chan Ho Park, Hyun Hee Nam and Seri Park who showed outstanding abilities at international matches.
It’s a little bit different context, but film directors such as Chan-Wook Park, Joon-Ho Bong, Chang- Dong Lee and Ki-Duk Kim also brought elevated the status of Korean films along with film professionals’ pride. Well, even the U.N. Secretary General is a Korean.
K-Pop Going Backwards, Stigma of a Parrot
In comparison to this, the ‘fuss’ of Hallyu and K-pop did not give much impression of its true value across the world compared to the big economic outcome. The influence could not reach out of Asia, and it was a dominant opinion that Asian popular culture is not mainstream. It could be a prejudice, but Korean music was relatively lagged behind compared with many other fields, while music from some countries we thought were economically and culturally behind us was enjoyed across the world.
Moreover, K-pop has been branded as a ‘parrot’ for a long time. It is not just because it had full of history that everyone -from trot to rock and hip hop- only followed western style of music. Everyone wears jeans and suits. It’s because K-pop was so busy copying western music rather than making it its own. What is worse, K-Pop could eliminate its negative image as plagiarism scandals constantly continued.
Many people have pointed out idols, dancers and lip-synchers as the biggest original source of ‘fake-music-world’ so far. Especially when there have been huge controversies about MP3 downloads, idol music was no better than ‘trash’ in one word or ‘trash except the title song’ in other words to many critical netizens.
Excitement from the mainland, an unfamiliar spectacle
In these situations, the impact of the scene where the foreigners from western world who have made us feel small as the genuine music fans compared to the fake ones going wild for K-Pop was rather strong. It was such a spectacle that we cannot compare it with a documentary of a poor teenager became the owner of first-class restaurant after the hard time as a delivery boy. Besides, the hero of this drama was neither the best rocker nor maestro of music – the hero was idols, dancers and lip-synchers who once were treated as the origin of fake-music-world. Could there be more thrilling reversal than this?
Most media including primetime news are full of praise for this Hallyu from Europe.
There are some critical reports in domestic and foreign papers but their voices cannot draw much attention. Going along with this flow, people suddenly change their attitude and start praising for Soo-Man Lee who is both the leader of the Korean Wave from Europe and the master of the ‘idol, dancer, lip-syncher system’. It seems that there are even people who try to re-evaluate him as an innovative enterpriser.
Soo-Man Lee in the limelight, the Age of Futility
But ‘re-evaluation’ cannot be done for anybody. It’s for people who lived in infamy and had to play the villain because of limits of the era but now can greet the bright future after a long time of suffering. For the case of Soo-Man Lee, he certainly lived in infamy but he is way too far from having to be the villain to be overcome during the dark ages. He played the bad guy only for his own money and honor, and the net effect is K-Pop in the 21 Century ruled by idols, dancers and lip-synchers via entertainment programs and TV.
Soo-Man Lee is the most famous for establishing the ‘Slave Contract’ in music industry by abusing teenagers following their dreams. His star groups such as TVXQ, H.O.T and many other artists all fought with him in the court, and his way of breaking up with his artists has always been dirty. When the court ordered their breakup by the law, there was no ordinary way to say goodbye. He used every possible way to destroy them[artists left SM], just like low level gangsters would do.
People still remember his past well because such things were so serious that it hit the headlines in papers more than once or twice.
Then, how come we accept this atmosphere, as if everything he did wrong is cleared because he made contribution to country’s exports?
I cannot help myself feeling as if I were living in a different world.
Original Link: http://www.mediatoday.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=95937
Translation Credit: Mission4JYJ