Entertainment agency CEO charged for raping would-be singer

A 40-year-woman, who was a volunteer at a community cultural center to teach people how to sing, underwent an abortion after being forced to have sex with an entertainment agency CEO.

She had dreamed of becoming a singer when a popular “trot” singer called on her at the cultural center in February 2010, and introduced her to the CEO of the agency, identified as Ahn.

But the CEO extorted 200 million won from her up until June last year, saying that he would get her appearances on TV show, police said Tuesday.

Ahn, asking her to provide sexual services, hit her with his fist and kicked her, which left her with injuries requiring six weeks of medical treatment, according to a police officer.

She was allegedly raped by him in March 2010. He enticed her to a remote harbor in Weolgot, Gyeonggi Province. He drugged her with sleeping pills before assaulting her.

He took pictures of her naked and threatened to send them to her husband if she refused to meet his demands, the officer said.

The would-be singer, only identified by her family name Park, finally reported him to police in December last year. The man was arrested on Feb. 22 by detectives on a stakeout.


Credit: The Korea Times

Out of love of Korea: Lady Gaga to kick off world tour in Seoul

U.S. pop diva Lady Gaga has decided to kick off her 2012-13 world tour at Olympic Stadium in Seoul because she wants to interact with enthusiastic Korean fans, a tour promoter in Seoul said.

The world star unveiled the schedule of her tour via her Twitter on Wednesday, surprising her fans in Seoul with the announcement that it will kick off here on April 27.

An official of Live Nation Korea told The Korea Herald that Gaga will hold her Seoul concert at the Olympic Stadium, one of the biggest sports venues in Korea.

Live Nation is one of the largest entertainment companies in the world and is the international tour promoter for Lady Gaga’s worldwide concerts.

Lady Gaga. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

When asked why she chose Seoul as the first city of her upcoming world tour in Asia Pacific instead of Japan, Asia’s largest music market, the official said, “Lady Gaga said she just loves Korea.“

“She is looking forward to meeting her Korean fans who showed enormous passion and enthusiasm during her last showcase in Seoul (in 2009),” said the official who asked not to be identified.

The pop star believes that the Korean audience will interact with her shocking performance better than any others, he added.

The singer reportedly will visit Seoul a month prior to the concert to rehearse and hold the first press conference here. Live Nation Korea, however, said both plans are “not confirmed yet.”

Live Nation expects to draw at least 35,000 people to the April concert.

World pop star Michael Jackson performed for 65,000 Koreans at the venue in 1996.

Starting in Seoul, Gaga will then take her pop hits and eccentric costumes to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and perform six shows around Australia.

The 25-year-old pop artist is expected to hold 110 shows this year including the initial 11 concerts in Asia.

“Just saw first photos of the stage being built. Just peed all the way down to my Chanel shoes!!” Gaga wrote on Twitter last month.

All the stage settings are being built in the United States and will be transported here, Live Nation Korea said.

The pop superstar has already revealed the concept of her stage setting, a medieval castle, to her massive fanbase on Twitter ― just under 19 million followers.

Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, became famous with the hits songs “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face.”

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldm.com)


Credit: The Korea Herald

K-pop still targeting American market

Girls’ Generation, undisputably the hottest K-pop star now, will appear on the “Late Show with David Letterman” today (Korean Standard Time).

By Noh Hyun-gi

K-pop stars have proven their influence in Asia — most of them taking their first steps entering the Japanese pop music scene.

Encouraged by the success in the neighboring country, the agencies — SM, JYP, and YG — are looking to the United States. Or rather, the agencies are once again eying the American market.

Surely, there exists a teen-driven market for stars like Justin Bieber and Senela Gomez. Still, even that niche is difficult to crack into, as seen in the case of BoA of SM and Wonder Girls of JYP. Yet the failed attempts are not stopping the star makers who are preparing to play the American game once again this year.

BoA pioneered the exporting of home-bred artists in 2001 with the Japanese version of her debut album “ID Peace B.” It took her a while to become a star in the island nation -she spent most of her career in Japan much to the Korean fans’ despair. SM tried to make BoA a star in America in 2009 with the album “Eat You Up.” Though the press and the agency hyped things up for the album and the music video’s release, the talk died down quietly — whether BoA was even noticed is questionable.

SM recently flaunted that Girls’ Generation got on the plane Monday to meet with multiple press like the Associated Press and E in America.

The group will appear on the “Late Show with David Letterman” at 1:35 p.m. today (KST) as well as “LIVE! with Kelly” at 11 p.m.
Though Girls’ Generation has been successful at translating the catchiness of their songs in Japanese versions, the English versions of their songs are ambiguous like the line in their title track, “The Boys,” which goes “Call all emergency; I’m watching the phone ring.”

The album ranked 22nd out of 25 albums on the Heatseekers Album chart on Billboard.

JYP, led by singer-songwriter Park Jin-young, has been channeling its American dream into the five-member Wonder Girls. Yet, the group’s ability to succeed in America is still dubious. In November, the artists came back to Korea briefly to release their official second album “Wonder World.” On various talk shows, the members confessed difficulty in learning English.

But the group is knocking on the door of the U.S. market once again. The group’s made-for-TV movie “The Wonder Girls” will premier on Feb. 2 on Teen Nick, a channel for teens. The movie will star a local girl group School Gyrl who also debuted with a movie on Nickelodeon, a TV channel for children. Little is known about School Gyrl outside their appearance on Nickelodeon.

Popular culture critic and professor at Kyonggi University, Jin Jong-hoon, told The Korea Times that K-pop is neglecting great marketing channels — global firms like Samsung and Hyundai are ubiquitous in America.

“K-pop artists can act as the promotional faces for global firms to benefit from collaboration,” Jin said. “Many people are well-aware of the products of such companies but honestly some are still confused whether they are Korean or Japanese.” By featuring in advertisements or campaigns with corporations who already aggressively target the United States, Jin believes K-pop artists can effectively approach the American audience.

Jin admits that K-pop artists are not likely to join the mainstream U.S. music scene. However, he believes K-pop can appeal to specific listeners who are seeking for alternatives similar to their performance in Europe. “K-pop will most likely be received as a temporary uniqueness.” According to Jin, to influence a culture, a newcomer must present advanced content and whether K-pop can offer that to American culture is questionable

Jung Duk-hyun, a culture critic, thinks music agencies’ efforts to tackle the global market deserve credit. “J-pop quickly demised because its suppliers relied on the domestic market. Japan has a substantial market already that the producers only target Japan.
However, makers of K-pop, well aware of the limited domestic consumption, have their eyes on the international market when they produce the songs and choreograph the dances. ”

Jung, like Jin, doesn’t believe that K-pop will become the next big sensation in America. “The artists are particularly well received in Southeast Asia because they are considered cultural products from ‘more developed’ countries, but this will not be the reaction in America.”


Credit: The Korea Times

Ministry to expand hallyu to traditions

Choe Kwang-shik, minister of culture, sports and tourism, speaks during a press conference at his ministry’s building in Seoul, Monday. / Yonhap

By Do Je-hae

As a scholar of Korean history, Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik has been an ardent promoter of Korea’s traditional culture.

During his term, one of his main goals is to promote Korea’s traditional arts and challenge the perception some people have that “hallyu” is limited to K-pop and TV dramas.

“There is more interest in traditional Korean culture because of the spread of hallyu,” Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Choe said during a press conference Monday. “So far, the phenomenon has mostly revolved around Korea’s popular culture. Now we must think about what we can do to engage our traditional culture as a foundation for hallyu.”

An ad-hoc organization was launched Monday within the ministry to that purpose.

“The time has come for us to work toward a new wave of hallyu that spurs global interest in our traditional culture, arts, sports and literature,” Choe said. “We hope to gradually achieve this through more cultural exchanges with other countries.”

To step up efforts to promote Korean culture abroad, the ministry will also expand the number of Korean culture centers in foreign countries.

So far, the Korea Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) runs 21 centers but the number will expand to 24 by the end of 2012, in light of the growing popularity of Korea’s popular culture.

In the first half of 2012, Hungary, Mexico and India will open Korean cultural centers. There are plans to establish centers in Thailand, Belgium, Brazil and Egypt. Choe visit Hungary to open the facility there in February.

The ministry also announced a series of policy goals to promote hallyu, including the redecorating of public buildings and Korean diplomatic missions to give them a more traditional look and creating spaces within airports and major hotels to promote the nation’s traditional culture.

The ministry will also set up a new promotional center for “hanbok” (traditional Korean dress) and incorporate more classes on traditional arts in the school curriculum.


Credit: The Korea Times

Smartphones help directors look at films from new angles

Filmmaker Kang Dong-heon (center ) makes a film using two iPhones. (Kang Dong-heon)

Mobile gadgets become new source of experience for pro and amateur filmmakers

It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s accessible. Welcome to smartphone-filmmaking, which has become the new trend for both amateur and professional filmmakers in the past year.

The trend ― which started about a year ago upon the domestic release of Apple’s iPhone 4 and its local carrier KT’s aggressive-creative promotion of the products ― is becoming even bigger as more capital and talents are getting involved.

In the beginning, everything started as a clever commercial strategy. KT Corp., which was the only local distributor of the product when iPhone 4 was released in Korea in September 2010, teamed up with “Old Boy” and “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” director Park Chan-wook for the promotion of the product.

Upon KT’s request, Park, along with his renowned media artist brother Park Chan-kyong, produced their famous short “Night Fishing.”

Entirely shot on the iPhone 4, the 150 million won ($133,000) budget movie won the top prize at the Berlinale in 2011. The movie was far from being low-budge production, however. The Park brothers used lighting facilities and extra DSLR lenses to secure its quality.

“I think this movie can be a successful example of what happens when art and a corporation that hadn’t done anything with filmmaking do something together,” Park had told reporters before the official release of the film last year.

Following KT’s “cinematic” marketing of the iPhone, Samsung Electronics this week unveiled their ambitious PPL-frequent-film project featuring Galaxy Note, their latest Tablet hybrid mobile.

Crew for Samsung Galaxy Note-made film project “Cine Note” pose for a photo during a press conference at CGV Cheongdam on Monday. (KPR)

Titled as “Cine Note,” the giant project comprises three shorts by today’s most celebrated directors: Kang Hyeong-cheol, who directed last year’s office hit-retro flick “Sunny,” Jang Hoon of “The Front Line” and E J-yong, who is known for his 2009 drama “Actresses” and the 2003 Bae Yong-joon-starring epic “Untold Scandal.”

Popular actor Ha Jeong-woo played the leading role for all the three of the films, while celebrated musician Lee Seung-cheol produced music using the device for the movie. The team also included noted webtoon artists Sohn Je-ho and Lee Gwang-soo, who created the film’s animated content.

Jang Hoon, who made last year’s war blockbuster “The Front Line,” revealed on Monday that he started the project with a bit of skepticism, yet ended up changing his mind.

“I was concerned about the picture quality while we were shooting,” he said.

“But the footage I saw during the post-production process surprised me. They were almost as good as the product of regular film cameras. I’d consider making movies with Galaxy Note again, as long as I get a full access to extra film accessories and equipment.”

Meanwhile, what surprisingly drew young people and amateurs into smartphone-filmmaking last year was arguably the first Olleh & Lotte Smartphone Film Festival, another iPhone-themed event hosted by KT in collaboration with Lotte Cinema.

Featuring celebrated director Lee Jun-ik as the jury chief, the last-year event received a total of 470 iPhone-made films and selected five for prizes.

Unlike the expensive “Night Fishing” and the latest “Cine Note” projects, however, the film fest produced opportunities for amateur and teen filmmakers who had been longing for access to easy and affordable movie-making.

For filmmaker Kang Dong-heon, 35, who won the third prize for his short “Love in Basket” at last year’s Olleh Festival, smartphone-filmmaking was the way to save some cash. He had been in the film industry for “quite a while,” and was in fact working on a project with regular film equipment before finding out about the film festival.

“It cost me 1.7 million won for ‘Love and Basket,’” Kang told The Korea Herald Wednesday. “If you were to use regular film equipment, it would cost 10 times more. It took me three days to shoot, and a month to complete the entire project.”

Yet just like Park Chan-wook, Kang did not make the film with a single iPhone in his hand. He rented out extra movie equipment, including DSLR lenses, to create depth of field and other cinematic effects for the movie.

“You know, now that I’m looking back, I don’t think I would’ve selected my work if I were one of the jury members,” Kang told The Korea Herald.

“I’d been too used to the traditional way of filmmaking. So I somehow made iPhone into something that is capable of what regular film cameras do. As a result, my film does not contain any characteristics that only iPhone-made movies have.”

According to Kang, the some of the best features of smartphones as a cinematic medium is their compact size and mobility.

“Its size makes a lot of things easy, really,” he said. “You don’t need any fancy equipment for underwater scenes if you have an iPhone. All you need to do is to put it in a transparent plastic bag, close it tight, and throw into the water. It’s that simple.”

Kang picked the second prize winner of last year’s festival, filmmaker Kwon Jin-hee’s “The Idea of Creation” as one of the best smartphone-made films. Filled with quirky humor and imagination, the film was shot from the point of view of a tiny bug. Kwon was invited to the Shanghai International Film Festival for the film.

“You can’t make such a film with a regular camera,” he said. “This is the kind of film that smartphone-film market should be aiming for.”

Yoon Jong-seok, filmmaker and one of the jury members of the second edition of the Olleh & Lotte Smartphone Film Festival ― which kicks off on March 9 with a top prize of 20 million won ― said something along similar lines.

“We changed our program this year,” he told reporters during a press conference on Thursday.

“We have two categories for submissions. One is for the experienced filmmakers, while the other is for people who have absolutely no experience. But what I am interested in all of the submissions, regardless which of the two categories they belong to, is how different they are from the films made of regular cameras.”

Director Lee Jun-ik, who serves as the director of this year’s edition, said smartphones brought “democratization of filmmaking.”

“Everyone has a smartphone,” he said on Thursday. “In the past, the world of filmmaking was dominated by a small number of people, and the rest had no choice but consume the provided content at theaters. Yet anyone can make films thanks to smartphones, and this has brought the most democratized climate for filmmaking.

“It has brought a new era for it, and our film fest hopes to continue that.”

For high school student Kim Da-eun, who is currently working on her submission for the upcoming film fest, the lack of extra equipment is not a problem. She started making films when she was in middle school, using her DSLR camera complimented with video functions. She says using her smartphone makes everything much more fun.

“The DSLR camera is too big to carry, and people started staring whenever I tried to shoot outdoor,” Kim told The Korea Herald after her smartphone-filmmaking class at the Olleh Media Studio in Mok-dong, Seoul, Wednesday.

“But using a smartphone gives me better access to the subjects that I’d like to film. It gives me both anonymity and mobility. I’m thinking of making a film without any extra equipment, for sake of originality. Oh, I might make little handgrips myself using small pieces of clay. It’d be fun.”

“Cine Note” opens in theaters on Jan. 25, while the Olleh Smartphone Film Festival will run from March 19―21. It currently accepts submissions and the deadline is Feb. 12. All submissions must be less than 10 minutes long. For more information about the event and the selecting process, visit http://www.ollehfilmfestival.com.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldm.com)


Credit: The Korea Herald

“TEEN TOP’s ‘Going Crazy’ most downloaded ringtone on Nate”


TEEN TOP‘s “Going Crazy” is currently the #1 most downloaded ringtone in Korea.

On January 20th, the weekly mobile ringtone chart on major Korean portal site Nate.com revealed that TEEN TOP’s “Going Crazy” triumphed T-ara‘s “Lovey Dovey” to secure the #1 spot.

After TEEN TOP made their fierce comeback on the 5th, the song stayed steady within the top 5 on the list, and also placed high on the ‘playback ringtone’ charts as well.

Meanwhile, the boys ranked 3rd on January 19th’s Mnet M! Countdown and have also impressed on SBS Inkigayo on the 18th.

Source & Image: OSEN + chunjismile

Jang Keun Suk Documentary to Air in Korea and Japan

There’ve been a lot of Korea-Japan movies, dramas and concerts, but the ‘Prince of Asia’ will now be plowing out a new road: Korea-Japan star documentaries.

Jang will be meeting viewers in Korea and Japan with documentaries that closely cover two months of his life.

The project was co-planned by Korea’s KBS and Japan’s Fuji TV. KBS2 aired the documentary as a new New Year’s special titled The Center of Hallyu, I Am Jang Keun Suk on New Year’s Day, while Fuji TV will follow up the broadcast with its own on January 13. Although co-planned and co-produced, the documentaries to be aired in each country will contain different content.
The broadcasts will train the spotlight on his status in Japan and the reasons behind his popularity by covering Jang’s arena tours in Nagoya, Osaka and Saitama, which sold out about 60,000 seats in just five minutes, the concert he held in Tokyo Dome with a full 45,000 member audience, a dream come true for Japanese singers, and backstage episodes.

Jang will also be showcasing an even more professional image by showing how he takes over all activities related to his career, despite his busy schedule with advertisement shoots in China and Japan and duet work with his Tokyo Dome guest singer Joosuc, as a content developer who continuously builds new roads for the Korean wave.

The documentaries will, of course, include more recent information, such as his work on the upcoming drama Love Rain, the most anticipated drama of 2012, and information that Jang has never revealed before in his 20 year career, such as stories about his school life and a tour of his home.

Jang said about the project, “I’m happy to be greeting [my Korean viewers] with a documentary on the first day of 2012, the year of the black dragon. I’m also much honored as an actor that a documentary about me will be aired in both Korea and Japan. Two months went by so fast, but I worked hard to show myself in a more honest light. You can look forward to it.”

Credit: CJ E&M enewsWorld + ParkHyunMin + treej
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