Monday, 27 April 2009

OK, Brian, I'll bite. Here's some Yuna for you. 김 연아

Since I'm apparently Brian in Jeollanamdo's main source for Kim Yu-na stuff, I'll give him what he's obviously looking for.

Kim Yu-na performed at the Festa on Ice here in Korea, to entertain her rabid Korean fans and get paid. The show was playing on a television in the restaurant where I had dinner with my buddy, and it was . . . quite a show. Three of the five cheesiest songs I know came on (fortunately, "You Lift Me Up" either didn't make it onto the card, or played while I was out of the room), but the goofiest point came when Kim Yuna did her solo ice dance, wearing a short, flappy skirt, and some dumb, besmitten cameraman did some of the worst camerawork I've seen in my life.

See, when watching figure skating, the long shot is important to see the full skating motion. This one goofball cameraman started perving on Yuna with his camera, aiming way-too-close shots right at her lady bits instead of panning out to actually show what she was doing, and leading to the low point of the night, the extreme close-up of the crotch-shot jump at 1.12. (And for the really pervy of you, in slow motion at 4.20 (heh heh. 4:20). He also can't keep her face in the frame at 3:30...I'm guessing he was operating the camera with one hand, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, there you go, Brian. Hope it was good for you; I prefer the competition stuff.

My buddy Charles was visiting from Canada, and he asked me if Koreans were fans of figure skating before Yuna came along, and whether Koreans were figure skating fans or just Yuna fans. I answered as honestly as I could, and said, "Really, Koreans are Korea fans, and any Korean who's doing well will find a fanbase here, and a bunch of sudden diehard fans of the sport." I have more to say about Korean sports nationalism, and sports nationalism in general, but Korea sports nationalism isn't much different in type than other countries...though it might be different in degree. Especially now that Koreans are doing well in various arenas, I'd say that if you wanted to imagine Korean sports nationalism when living in Korea, think (if you're a baseball fan) of living in an entire country of Boston Red Sox fans. The rabidness, the "we've been through hard times" narrative, exacerbated by the smugness of "look how well we're doing now!"

But good for Yuna. At this point, she could sell her bathwater as perfume in every boutique in Apgujeong, and rabid moms would make their daughters drink it in hopes that some of her star power would rub off on them before the exam.


Alexis Anderson Lee said...

Gotta give the public what they want ;)

Just stoppin' by to say "hey". I've been meaning to check out your blog ever since the Wolfhound roundtable, but alas, life has intervened. Hope to see you at the next one!

Juicy said...

I can't say I saw it the same way you did. Not that I'm a rabid watcher of figure skating, but I've seen a few and while the camerawork here seemed somewhat less than what you can expect from cameras during Olympics, for example, it wasn't bad. They cut away from some panty shots to wide shot, and really, if you're watching figures, you're going to see panty shots. It's just not polite to mention it.

On the recap though after the end of her program, I see more of what you're saying. Some of that seemed gratuitous fan service shots and much of fan reaction sounded like it was coming from female viewers. I'm sure some ajusshis got a little excited, but it wasn't much more than what you'd see normally in figures.

Roboseyo said...

I wouldn't have mentioned it if it wasn't pretty egregious, Juicy. If you look at the photos the chose of the event you'll see that they emphasize her womanly curves/s-line. I predict in the next year or so, Yuna will start to be marketed as a sex symbol rather than just as a cute wunderkind. (Predict? It's already happening).

Frankly, I'd rather they didn't. I prefer elegant and graceful to sexy, and I prefer long shots of somebody performing a difficult jump perfectly, over close ups of an s-line (that can be found on the internet any time I want it, while the skating skill Yuna has is truly unique)... but that seems to be the way the wind is blowing. (sigh)

yeah, during the performance, it was the females screaming, because they were watching it live, from a distance; in the houses, it was the ajussis getting worked up about the slo-mo replay. Yech.

elouise said...

The cameras weren't perving, they were merely inexperienced in filming figure skating.

SBS is the station which has been showing all of Kim Yuna's competitions. This ice show was the first time MBC filmed anything related to figure skating and their inexperience showed. Netizens and viewers were angry with the horrible camerawork and filed tons of complaints against MBC.

As for the pictures, they're only depicting what was right in front of them. You can't cover up her "womanly figures" and you can't make her pose less sexy. That blog only put up pictures from one of her performances. If you look at other Korean news sites, there were plenty of pictures of her other performances where she was more "elegant and graceful".

Kim Yuna can be sexy, but she's not being marketed as a sex symbol. Koreans treasure her too much to ruin her image like that. They would rather say, "look, she can be sexy" but they wouldn't call her a sex symbol. Sex symbols are talentless and are only sexy. Kim Yuna fits neither of those qualities.

Roboseyo said...

thanks for the information Elouise.

I'll only take issue with one of your points: sex symbols are not always untalented hacks who only have their looks. Audrey Hepburn was a top sex symbol, and she also won a best actress award for Roman Holiday, and even Angelina Jolie has a Best Supporting Actress award, and she's as sex-symbol as you can get. Katharina Witt, the figure skater, was a sex symbol and she also won two Olympic golds.

elouise said...

Oh, I meant sex symbols in Korea. I think most of them are talentless and only famous for their looks. That sums up about 85% of the celebrities in Korea. They're all really not that good at acting or singing and yet, they're all famous because they're good looking.

Roboseyo said...

OK. This isn't my area of specialty... anybody care to weigh in and name some Korean sex symbols who have the talent to justify their popularity?

I'll submit Rain as one of the better dancers I've seen from any country. Who else goes on the list?

ROK Hound said...

Depends what you think is "sexy" and how far back you want to go.

김혜수 (although her dramatic acting is not so great)

elouise said...

On that list, I consider only Kim Hye Su as a sex symbol. I would maybe add Hwang Shin Hye as well. It's been so long since she's done anything significant, so I don't really know her status.

Sex symbols in Korea are the people who are declared sexy before their name, like Sexy Actress Kim Hye Su or Sexy Singer Lee Hyo Ri.

Korean media doesn't label Boa a Sexy Singer every time an article is written about her. Instead, they call her World Star Boa. She's not regarded as a sex symbol, but a world star. (not that I agree with the title of World Star, but that's what they call her and how they regard her)

Song Hye Gyo, Song Yoon Ah, Lee Mi Yeon, Jang Jin Young can be sexy, but they aren't known for being the epitome of being sexy or a symbol of it. They're more known for their beauty, which is different from being sexy.

Jun Do Yeon is regarded as an acting queen, not a sex symbol.

IMO, the biggest example of a sex symbol without much talent is Lee Hyo Ri. She has about the same level of vocal capabilities as an average person off the street, yet she's a million times more famous than Plain Jane because she's sexy.

Roboseyo said...

ah, but now, elouise, we're talking about the definitions of talented and sexy... I've even heard conductor Myung-Whun Chung described by a friend as sexy because of his accomplishments. I think it's a bit dismissive to 1. write off accomplished people as un-sexy, and 2. dismiss the talents of some of these sex-symbols: hyori may not have the vocal chops (though sexy Baek Ji-young does), but she's a hell of a dancer, she's charming, charismatic, and has a real comic touch: those are talents too, and she wouldn't be so popular without them. As one of my friends commented: of all the K-pop stars out there, she's the only one who seems like she's actually having fun when she dances, rather than going through the motions.

Honestly, my example of a sex symbol without talent is Kim Tae-hee. She's not a great dancer, her modeling is hit and miss, and her acting is just about non-existent... but the fact remains, two years ago, pictures of Kim Yu-na focused on her cute, awkward metal-mouth braces smile, while these gala photos emphasized her curves. (see the brian in JND link in my previous comment).

Anyway, that's all I have to say about that. Thanks for stopping by, Elouise, and have a great day!

strayblog said...

Along with 99.5% of other Canadians, I couldn't tell you who our top figure skater is. Although we have a world-renowned talent in "that girl", for me, that particular fact can't make up for the other fact that I really don't care about figure skating.