Monday, January 02, 2012

2011: Another Year of Blogoseyo

Happy New Year, folks. It's time to look back a little at 2011, for the year it was.

But first: North Korea wishes you a Happy New Year: (seriously: video uploaded January 1) From twitter account @PourMeCoffee

Anybody willing to post the lyrics in the comments?
Do you know any other countries that still use images of factories to project the image of a powerful, wealthy nation?

Back to the retrospective:

(aliens day out also has a 2011 best-of post)

It was an awesome year personally -

Highlights included a trip to the south sea, around Yeosu, with my wife and parents in-law in the spring, a one-year anniversary party in Niagara Falls, to celebrate our wedding with my Korean and Canadian families together, and, you know, baby. Who's laughing now. If you make motorboat sounds.

Among other things going on, in November I started going on air at TBS radio in the morning, and on Friday I did a year-end look back at 2011 in blogs. It's only from where I stand, but here are the blog topics and trends that caught my attention:

Cribbed from my notes for the TBS Radio segment (which can be found here - the 11/12/30 episode), though live radio never goes exactly according to script then, and thanks to the facebook ant twitter friends who reminded me of some of these stories:

Biggest Blog Stories in 2011
Not necessarily the biggest news stories, because I'm sure news websites are covering that... here are the blog stories that have caught my attention, and the attention of the other bloggers I've been reading:

Kim Jong Il's Death
The no-brainer. Of course, how this plays out will continue to be discussed over the course of 2012.

Itaewon FreedomThis video, featuring JYP, the creative force behind The Wondergirls and Rain, probably made the biggest K-blog splash of any musical video since "Kickin' It In GeumCheon"

(runner-up Korea-themed Youtube song: P00lman's "The Subway Song"
darn impressive for a one-person show.

Blackout Korea

The discovery of the "Blackout Korea" blog by Korean Netizens, followed by the opening of a "anti-Blackout" blog and enough angry comments at Blackout Korea to prompt the writer to take it offline, led to some interesting discussions. Interestingly: Blackout Korea is back online. With some rules for how things'll be run 'round here.

I wrote about Blackout Korea here, here. On Bloggers getting bullied into silence:

A post I liked about the issue of anonymity and blogs catching static, was written by The Bobster, about "Jake" the writer of Expat Hell. A blog that's had its own trouble with defensive nationalists (who don't actually live in Korea)

Kpop invades the “other” blogs.
For a long time, Kpop blogs have been their own ecosystem that don't cross over into the "other" k-blogs much. This year, with shows liek "Superstar K" and "I am a Singer" I've been following, and interested, in Kpop more than ever before, and some very cool blogs I like have been responding to what they're reading on the K-pop blogs, with some neat discussions. Do these count as Kpop? Maybe not... but the expat bloggers I follow have been taking more interest in Korean music (other than to scoff at plagiarism scandals) this year.
“See these rocks”
You know what I'm talking about. This was also my most commented blog post of the year. That post has links to most of the other blogs who wrote about the topic.

Tee hee.

SMOE cutting budget
-Because a lot of bloggers are English teachers, English teaching topics always attract a lot of talk.

It's hard to tag "newcomers" in a blog discussion, because the year a blog gains attention is usually not the same year it started posting, so I'm using "newcomers" in a very loose fashion, as you'll see. The three new(er) sites that have probably added most to the discussions I follow are The Three Wise Monkeys, who have run pieces by the former British Ambassador to Korea, Martin Uden (who has a blog himself), top North Korea expert Andrei Lankov, and ran an expose of a crooked travel agent that led to an arrest. I also featured them as Korea Blog of the Month at 10 Magazine this month (January 2010). 

[A small parenthetical: Why Roboseyo Probably Shouldn't Write Angry:Many of my readers will remember that in the spring, I lashed out pretty angrily at 3WM over the series they wrote about ATEK (culminating in this one). I'll be honest: after that series, I was well prepared to thoroughly hate 3WM and everything they did. Hell, I wanted to... but what they did was turn out interesting and generally well-written pieces from a variety of voices that often don't get play in the English media about Korea, and I'd be foolish to deny that. I'm still not wild about the ATEK piece, especially since ATEK has been pretty much silent since then, and I haven't seen anything rise to prominence that (attempts to) perform similar services for English teachers. However, since that series, 3WM has done good work - its best work we've seen so far, in my opinion, so, good job on them.
And if adding a new, interesting voice to the English expat Korea media happened every time I ate my words, I'd do it more often... but this time, I was incorrect in my dismissal of that site, and I'm happy to say so.
(a previous instance when I wrote while angrily also led to an apology post this year.)]

CNNGo has been running travel-tip and hot-spot-type pieces that have sometimes led to good info, and have at other times caused frustrated backlashes from bloggers who thought their advice was off the mark. 

My other favorite newish blog is “I’m No Picasso,” who’s not completely new, but who continues to write interesting things as a public school teacher with a really thoughtful and wise approach to life in Korea, and cultural issues. 

2011 Blog Trends

2011 was, I think, marked by the rise of Korea multimedia. Youtube channels like Eat Your Kimchi, who blazed the trail... but also Steve the Qi ranger, Poolman, also known as Michael (whose subway video linked above went modestly viral in the Korean language internet), and a bunch of photography blogs, my favorite being DayvMattt [spelling corrected] and Hermit Hideaways, and the photo blog run by RJ Koehler - webmaster of The Marmot’s Hole, have come onto the radar this year.

I feel like I'm missing at least four or six important or awesome photography blogs about Korea, so if you know one, please please link it in the comments.

The SeoulPodcast was somewhat active, 10 Magazine started a podcast, and Korean Kontext - - has scored some really great guests, though it hasn't gotten much attention yet.

Rise of the tumblr blogs 

The number and variety of Tumblr blogs has really exploded in 2011 - Tumblr’s a kind of different format, that makes it really conversation-intensive but a little harder to follow if you’re not used to it, but there are tons of discussions there that are really interesting, along with pictures of Kpop stars.

It’s harder these days to point to a handful of blogs and say they’ve the “major” ones who totally dominate the discussions - which was possible in 2006 and probably in 2009. These days, not so much.

We’ve seen a diversification in the people blogging - it used to be mostly english teachers or people working in the English language media here - newspapers and magazines - and the types of blogs are becoming more varied. Newer blogs are giving me views into Korean corporate culture and other areas.  I hope to hear more from them.

2012 Forecast
I foresee more multimedia - there’s a gap in podcasts, with only a handful making much noise. I predict more will come along.

Even more diversity Domination of blogs by (male, Seoul-based) English teachers will come to an end. This year, I hope to see student, office worker, and other blogs catch more attention. My dream? Some interesting blogs from Korea residents who originate in non-first-world countries writing interesting blogs in English - I’d love to see blogs from people living here from India, the Philippines or Malaysia, for example.

This restrospective is by no means definitive... but here are some ways to look back at the year of Blogoseyo:

Roboseyo's most visited (new) blog posts of 2011 (this will of course favor early posts which have had longer to accumulate pageviews). My "Best of Blogoseyo" one got the most non-home-page hits. Individual posts:
1. Nice Galaxy Tab Ad
2. Slutwalk
3. How to Avoid Getting Forced to Drink in Korea
4. Hyun Bin Psy, and why you can't skip your military service.
5. The "Ni-ga/See These Rocks" post.
6. I am A Singer
7. 12 Actually Useful Tips for Live in Korea
8. Nobody Owns Arirang (related: Who owns a culture)
9. On Netizens Finding Blackout Korea
10. Ten Things about The Last Godfather

All of my top five most commented pieces are also on the top ten most viewed list, except this one: (sexism in the K-blogosphere) so I'm not going to bother with a separate list.

Most interesting observation: none of my writings about English education and English teachers made the list, and almost all of them were analytical pieces on current news stories, or living in Korea tips. So... more of them, I suppose.

Other notable non-2011 posts getting a lot of views
Corporal punishment in Korea's schools
My review of "My Sassy Girl" (hated it)
and most of the pieces linked on the "best of blogoseyo" page. Which I'll need to update with pieces from 2011.

So... what top stories, awesome new photography blogs, podcasts, or general blogs, did I miss, readers?


graciegirl said...

*waves hand* Student blogger over here!
I'm studying abroad at Sogang University in the Spring, and I've begun a blog to document my experience for future students. Hopefully, it will prove helpful.

chiam said...

Thanks for the photo blog plug, but there are three t's in mattt. :)

I hope you and your famz had a happy NYE.

Be cool

Roboseyo said...

chiam: thanks for the correction. I have amended the original post.

Happy New Year.

Robert Koehler said...

Thanks for mentioning my photoblog, Rob.

And keep up the great blogging in 2012!

Mbear said...

re: blackout Korea

despite their claim that people in public are fair game, if they want to do business in a country they have to play by their laws and currently privacy is a pretty big trump card in Korea. Netizens get wind of it again, and if the owner is Korea, he may find himself in very hot water.

Re: Simon and Martina I've never really enjoyed them, was fairly indifferent to them, but lately I've lost a lot of respect for them.

Re: 3WM well, they seem to be currently wrapped up in some kind of Andre Fisher-a-thon and appear to have been caught providing false information in the name of the crusade.

Some of the "big" names in the K-blog world seem to be going down hill, over time I guess that is to be expected

Roboseyo said...


It's getting harder and harder to talk about "big" names in the Korea blogosphere... and I think that's a good thing... but if I've learned one thing in my time blogging, it's that from one year to the next, the landscape usually changes completely.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it hurts to have some big names in the k-blogosphere. Otherwise we just have a bunch of people writing from the periphery. We need some of those to become big names get access and generate genuinely interesting and unique content and not just throwing out editorials on stuff we've already seen.

Those should be places which are actually professional and not just some random English teacher who thought he should take some pictures of his kimchi

The issue we have now with some of the "big" sites is that they really don't seem that professional, and I'm not just talking about some flashy graphics.