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From Albania to Zaire, there's a whole world out there.
183

Your Impressions of Korean Cinema?
Topic by: markhl
Posted: March 3, 2004 - 7:44 PM PST
Last Reply: January 9, 2005 - 11:28 PM PST

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author topic: Your Impressions of Korean Cinema?
markhl
post #1  on March 3, 2004 - 7:44 PM PST  
SO.. it doesn't possess the stylistically weird creativity that many fans of japanese cinema love nor does it have the action/wire-fu that makes HK cinema stand out.. and you don't see many of even the really good ones readily available for viewing unless at international film festivals..

Having said all that, I know that the Greencine community are more knowledgeable about non-mainstream movies so I'm curious as to what korean movies that they've run across (esp. those not in the GC catalog) and what they thought about them. I can't help but wonder how some of the cultural differences (some of which play a strong part in the film - e.g. Friends) are coming across to the non-korean audience especially.

Fire away!
kamapuaa
post #2  on March 3, 2004 - 9:26 PM PST  
For me, there's not really a cultural element about it. A movie like "Guns and Talks" is an action movie, and the reason why I'd watch it (instead of, say, "Terminator 3") is it's better. The action is good, the jokes are funny, the set-up is amusing, I haven't quite seen the exact same story before, and it's well-made, with really good sound.

Perhaps I miss something by not understanding the culture perfectly. But I also think that you pick up what you need from watching. Besides, some of these movies are massively popular in China, so obviously they're not unidentifiably mixed in with Korean culture.

I don't think all Japanese cinema relies on being wildly inventive/weird. And I think Chinese wire-fu/kung-fu is passe, I prefer Johnny To or Wong Kar Wai.
hamano
post #3  on March 4, 2004 - 5:28 AM PST  
I'd like to see more Korean television... Probably if you lived in LA or NY this would be easy, but all they have around here are pirate tapes of Korean TV shows they rent at the local groceries, and these don't have subtitles. It's hard to get a sense of "Korea" from the few films I've seen because they seem to trying so hard to ape styles from Japan, Hong Kong and the US.

I did see one Korean kaiju film that was pretty entertaining... a wedding party with the bride, groom and in-laws all dressed in traditional Korean formal-wear was squished. I also once saw a pretty cool film about a Buddhist monk who was trying to find his true way, but this was more than fifteen years ago, I think.

There was a big promotional push a couple of years ago for the first full length Korean anime romance film, I think.... what happened to that?

I know a lot more Korean films are coming out now that sound interesting... some of them (from your list, among others...) are on my queue, but I haven't gotten to them. I've just seen Shiri and Tell me something. Are those characters like regular Koreans?

I spent a couple of days in Seoul once, but didn't get much of an impression of the city or people except that there were anti-aircraft guns on the tops of some of the big buildings. There was a guy who was selling dried giant bugs by the side of the road, for traditional medicines, I think.
markhl
post #4  on March 4, 2004 - 9:56 AM PST  
Oh right, I didn't mean to generalize ALL of japanese and chinese cinema in those ways. I think for novices in the US though, the first films that they would think of are those categories since they were brought over to the US more often and earlier on than some of the films that we have access to at Greencine and other sources nowadays. Many truly excellent films, regardless of where it's from, often bend or shatter previously well-defined categories and are beyond cultural differences. But below that, there are usually quite a few good movies that may be culture- or preference-specific so it's received quite differently depending on the audience. I looked through the Greencine catalog of korean films and I'd say most falls into this latter category so it made me wonder a bit how non-korean viewers are seeing these movies..

What interests me about korean cinema in particular is that the general US audience really haven't seen ANY films brought over until VERY recently (if they have yet that is) so the viewer is starting with a blank slate. Also, I was quite surprised a few years ago when I heard that korean films were starting to make it into the film festivals because for the longest time, all korean films had very low production budgets (compared to the US - and still do really) so they looked like indie movies compared to the big-budget hollywood movies. You look at the box-office sales in Korea and hollywood movies had been consistently dominating (hell, my childhood recollection of a theater experience is of Ben-Hur! no less). Korean TV programming was better than feature films in most cases. So, this is quite a transition for that industry.. and all within the last decade..

The popular culture of China, Japan, and Korea are quite intermingled so they've been generally aware of each other's films for quite a long time (disclaimer: I'm not leaving out any other asian countries on purpose - I just don't know about them). Also there are quite a bit of similarity and overlap in cultures (or at least the way of thinking) so that they'd understand the subtleties and nuances of each other's films better.

SO.. what are the people in the US thinking I wonder? Are they even watching? :)
markhl
post #5  on March 4, 2004 - 11:04 AM PST  
Ahh.. hamano, you've hit the jackpot of the korean entertainment "industry" in the US, the "video store." Often disguised as a corner of a grocery store and sometimes stocked with the token old lady who still don't know what the letters D-V-D mean much less understand the concept of subtitles. From the korean TV industry perspective, I suppose that there is no real point in subtitling in english since the audience base is small and probably not worth the cost (this is also probably why they haven't done much about the renting of "pirated" TV programs). It's a shame though since there's quite a few great shows - even among the mere handful that I've watched. LA and NY are probably the only two cities with dedicated korean networks to my knowledge - this would be the only possible way that you'd see subtitled korean TV programming I figure...

A korean monster movie? how odd... I'd be curious to see that myself actually. Oh well. I'd been pretty oblivious of the korean animation industry until this point because the few that I had seen were either too Disney-esque in terms of the intended viewing audience or good-animation/uninteresting plot-character type of shows. I suspect that they'll become better on the whole but won't ever become japanese anime-level in my opinion.

> I know a lot more Korean films are coming out now that sound interesting... some of them (from your list, among others...) are on my queue, but I haven't gotten to them. I've just seen Shiri and Tell me something. Are those characters like regular Koreans?

The list was a bit difficult to make actually because of the limited GC selection (which is due to limited US availability I suspect as well). Shiri didn't appeal to me so much but it was REALLY popular in korea because there was an undertone of the North-South political climate that those audience would get more than moi living in the US only rather infrequently watching CNN.
I actually thought Tell Me Something wasn't half bad but as I mentioned in the list, Memories of Murder is really the best of that genre I think. It swept the Korean Film Awards in 2003 I think..

For "normal" korean people, I'd say the TV dramas are better way to gauge who the heck is occupying that little peninsula (with a grain of salt of course since it's a bit exaggerated). Movies probably have bits and pieces of it but moves along quicker than 100+ or even 10-episode TV programs so you'll get a distorted view. The closest thing to a "sense of korea," or at least the strength of the industry as I see it, is usually in the romance and romantic comedy I think. Often times, you get the most realistic portrayal of korean culture too so it'll feel different than similar films in the US, Japan, and China. So rather than watch movies like the two that you mentioned, try movies like Christmas in August or My Sassy Girl instead. THey might be closer to what you're looking for.

I think the film festival going GC members would probably prefer Oasis and Failan though. There aren't too many of those caliber though - it's a smaller industry people! be patient! :)
underdog
post #6  on March 4, 2004 - 3:35 PM PST  
I'm a bit curious about this one, at least based on the title. But seriously, Korean animation could be something we'll be talking about here more in coming years... if My Beautiful Girl, Mari is any indication.

By the way, the Korean section is here if you want a shortcut to it while participating in this discussion.
hamano
post #7  on March 4, 2004 - 4:01 PM PST  
> On March 4, 2004 - 9:56 AM PST markhl wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> The popular culture of China, Japan, and Korea are quite intermingled so they've been generally aware of each other's films for quite a long time (disclaimer: I'm not leaving out any other asian countries on purpose - I just don't know about them).
> ---------------------------------

I think Japan's entertainment industry is pretty monolithic... Tokyo is the Hollywood of Asia. Japan gets an influx of Korean or Chinese entertainment now and then, but these tend to be fads rather than a regular flow (hit songs in Korean during the Seoul Olympics, for example). Right now there's an influx of Chinese artists. I don't think the average Japanese is really aware of how much Japanese pop culture (like Doraemon, or J-Pop) is influencing surrounding Asian countries. Sometimes they become aware of a Korean influence on Japanese pop culture, but this primarily comes from revelations that a particular singer or actress thought to be Japanese turning out to be ethnic Korean (until very recently it was very difficult for "foreigners" to get Japanese citizenship even if they were born in Japan, a big obstacle for the sizable Korean population in Japan to get equal treatment... one way for a Korean kid to "make it" was to become a successful entertainer). That's why it's so exciting that a distinct "Korean" voice is emerging that is being recognized here in the West as unique from China and Japan... but there's still a long way to go....

> Ahh.. hamano, you've hit the jackpot of the korean entertainment "industry" in the US, the "video store." Often disguised as a corner of a grocery store and sometimes stocked with the token old lady who still don't know what the letters D-V-D mean much less understand the concept of subtitles.

Japanese communities in large American cities are also well served by these "video libraries"... membership is cheap, but these are strictly grey market tapes, the native language equivalent of fansubs. The tapes are recorded right off the air, and includes commercials and earthquake/typhoon announcements. They have word-processed labels and the shows are arranged by series, with four episodes to a tape, usually. Actually, visits to Indian and Middle Eastern grocery stores often reveal the same kind of thing going on, but on a smaller scale. I often wonder if American ex-pats can find similar services overseas... Judging from what I know about Americans teaching English in Japan, the answer is NO.

When I was still living in New York and working on documentary programs with crews from Japan, I could often get a look at shows I worked on a few days after broadcast in Japan, while the official copy the director promised to send might arrive a month later...
kamapuaa
post #8  on March 4, 2004 - 4:21 PM PST  
> I often wonder if American ex-pats can find similar services overseas... Judging from what I know about Americans teaching English in Japan, the answer is NO.

No. But, there's no real need for it. American movies are everywhere, you can pick them up at a normal video store. Even English TV is pretty common in many places I've been.
markhl
post #9  on March 4, 2004 - 6:51 PM PST  
> On March 4, 2004 - 3:35 PM PST underdog wrote:
> I'm a bit curious about this one, at least based on the title. But seriously, Korean animation could be something we'll be talking about here more in coming years... if My Beautiful Girl, Mari is any indication.


Must be the common canine genetic heritage that peaks your interest superduperdog (or at least that's what rings in my head everytime I see your icon). Korean animation industry has been pretty far along techmologically since a lot of japanese animation went through korean studios as well. In fact, there's a hub of them in southeast Korea near Busan (or Pusan on the english maps :)) I think. The only thing missing is an identity of its own as it establishes itself. But much like korean cinema, it's going to take a while to develop since they don't generate as much volume.

So underdog, I've noticed My Sassy Girl has gone missing again. Que paso? I was hoping more people would be exposed to that one.. I'd send in more requests for korean movies but Christmas in August has been 'on request' for half a year I think.. guess there just isn't enough demand.. a shame though since it's better than most in the current catalog..
markhl
post #10  on March 4, 2004 - 7:18 PM PST  
> On March 4, 2004 - 4:01 PM PST hamano wrote:
> I think Japan's entertainment industry is pretty monolithic... Tokyo is the Hollywood of Asia.

I could never tell if this was due to the difference in volumes generated or some cultural phenomena. I'm sure there are some more salient historical arguments but growing up, I just simply assumed that it was due to Japan being isolated on a island. There's much more overlap between the chinese and korean cultures/language than japan - the level of cross-mojination (yeah baby!) still applies today I suppose in their respective entertainment industries I suppose. As an example of the latter, I hear there's a whole province in China in which the people and culture look just like Korea (there was a special name - I forget) and the language is even similar (this must've lingered from quite a while ago when the koguryuh kingdom extended quite far north into China). Go figure!

>revelations that a particular singer or actress thought to be Japanese turning out to be ethnic Korean

Wasn't it obvious from their appearance? I can usually tell the asian races apart - although I sometimes get confused at borderline korean and chinese populations. The population from the southern coast of Korea is a completemystery sometimes..

>until very recently it was very difficult for "foreigners" to get Japanese citizenship even if they were born in Japan, a big obstacle for the sizable Korean population in Japan to get equal treatment

How interesting. That's quite similar to how the chinese immigrant population in Korea has been treated historically . Still is discriminated somewhat from what I heard. Well, it sux to be the minority doesn't it?
hamano
post #11  on March 4, 2004 - 7:44 PM PST  
> On March 4, 2004 - 7:18 PM PST markhl wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> >revelations that a particular singer or actress thought to be Japanese turning out to be ethnic Korean
>
> Wasn't it obvious from their appearance? I can usually tell the asian races apart
> ---------------------------------

I guess the problem is that the Japanese are a big mixture of different Asian types... for all of their talk about racial purity when they were allied with the Axis powers, the Japanese seem to be the most "mongrel" Asian nation. There are Korean-looking Japanese, Chinese-looking Japanese, Southeast Asian-looking Japanese, and I suppose Japanese-looking Japanese (the Imperial family? that's a sorry looking bunch)... There are dark skinned Japanese and light skinned Japanese, curly hair and straight hair... So if you live in Japan, and you're looking at other people who live in Japan, it's hard to tell.

Are there regional rivalries like Kanto (Tokyo) VS. Kansai (Osaka) in Korea (Seoul VS. Busan)? Are there regions whose denizens are always the butt of jokes (like the people of Newfoundland in the rest of Canada, or New Jerseyites in the rest of the US)?
markhl
post #12  on March 4, 2004 - 7:48 PM PST  
> On March 4, 2004 - 4:01 PM PST hamano wrote:
> Japanese communities in large American cities are also well served by these "video libraries"... membership is cheap, but these are strictly grey market tapes, the native language equivalent of fansubs. The tapes are recorded right off the air, and includes commercials and earthquake/typhoon announcements.

Ahh.. the video bangs.. where else can you get like 12 video tapes for a week for like $10. The korean shows are recorded right off satellite of course and have some commercials like the ones you mention. We don't get much earthquakes nor typhoons in Korea but get infrequent random news/announcement banners across the bottom of the screen at times. Variety & news shows are recorded separately too. The latter has all but disappeared nowadays since most large cities have an hour or two of korean news on their PBS stations.

(interesting little fact: commercials on korean TV run before and after the program rather than interrupting every 10-15 min. I found it rather polite but I can't imagine a similar system ever being in place in the US. can YOU? :))


>I often wonder if American ex-pats can find similar services overseas... Judging from what I know about Americans teaching English in Japan, the answer is NO.

Well, Korea has always had those american bases so it has a sizable ex-pat population. Here's a nice and interesting little article regarding this hamano. (see below)
IronS
post #13  on March 4, 2004 - 7:49 PM PST  
> On March 4, 2004 - 7:18 PM PST markhl wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Wasn't it obvious from their appearance? I can usually tell the asian races apart - although I sometimes get confused at borderline korean and chinese populations.
>

What do you mean by borderline? When my mother was in Seoul, Korea she was getting mistaken for Korean all the time. The more incredulous part was that the locals thought my father was Japanese and gave him dirty looks for being with a "Korean" woman. To me, my parents look Chinese. My Korean-American friends from college never thought my parents were anything but Chinese (of course, they did know that my parents were Chinese before they met them). I was mistaken for Korean once which I attributed to my resemblance to my mother.
markhl
post #14  on March 4, 2004 - 7:52 PM PST  
From HanCinema.net (very nice up-to-date english news site in my opinion) but originally from the Korea Herald.

--------

English subtitles bridge cultural gap... 2004/01/29
The experiment by Cinecore theater and Seoul Selection bookstore to regularly screen Korean films with English subtitles is turning out to be a success so far, feeding the hopes of expatriates that it may soon become an established practice.
It is also an indication that Korean films may be starting to play a role that Hollywood films have played for years: Not only entertaining audiences at home but also offering powerful glimpses of the nation's customs and values abroad.

"The best-selling DVD at Seoul Selection has been 'JSA' by far," says Hank Kim, owner of the bookstore that specializes in introducing Korean culture to expatriates. "I've sold over 300 so far, many of them to diplomats who wanted to watch the movie to understand the division of the Korean Peninsula from our perspective."

A scene from "Taegukgi"

As Korean cinema has experienced a boom in recent years, an increasing number of foreigners have developed an interest in Korean films as a cultural window, a pursuit that was often limited to the DVD screen due to the language barrier.

It is an obstacle that is slowly disappearing, however, as film companies are catching on to the idea of globalizing their products early. Cinecore theater kicked off a program to screen "Silmido" with English subtitles once a day on weekends and holidays from Dec. 24 to Jan. 11. It was then followed by "Once Upon a Time in High School" also with English subtitles.

Around 30 expatriates on average attended the screenings, the theater said, and the figure could have been higher as the showings were sold out, leaving both Koreans and foreigners who wanted to watch the movie unable to buy tickets.

Now for the Korean War epic "Taegukgi" set to be released Feb. 6, the theater has decided to expand the program to every screening every day, beginning Feb 8. Other theaters are getting into the act as well. CGV Myeongdong, Megabox COEX and Zooooz Cinema in Gangnam have also announced plans to screen "Taegukgi" with English subtitles.

There had been concerns that the theaters would lose more Korean viewers than gain foreign viewers if they initiated screenings with English subtitles, which may be seen as annoying to people who do not need them. Such concerns are unfounded, according to Kim, and there have been no complaints from Korean viewers so far.

"Koreans are used to seeing subtitles because of Hollywood films. They don't have the antipathy toward reading subtitles that many Americans in the United States are known to have," Kim says. "In fact, some Koreans may even appreciate the subtitles as a way to learn English."

The current trend is a far cry from the situation just a few years ago when English subtitles were not among the main concerns of film companies. They were often never created unless the movie was sold overseas. Even then, ones featured on some older Korean films were horrible to the point of being comical.

"Film companies would pay someone about 1 million won to finish the whole thing as a part-time job. It should be done by professionals with a lot more care and expertise," Kim says.

Screening Korean films with English subtitles may also serve as a preliminary test to gauge the possibility of venturing overseas. Kim points out the case of Dooly the Dinosaur as an instance when such an early response could have been useful.

Dooly the Dinosaur is often beaten by the father of his human friend, which was taken to be funny by Korean audiences. When the popular animation was exported to Germany, local audiences were appalled by the physical violence that Dooly the Dinosaur had to endure on a daily basis.

Bridging such a cultural gap is a role that films can play better than any other cultural product, according to Kim. "'JSA' was able to commercialize the DMZ in a positive way. It offered deep insights about the Korean Peninsula according to our perspective. As Korean cinema continues to grow, we should take the initiative in forming cultural discourse about us and present it to the world."

By Kim Jin

http://www.koreaherald.co.kr
markhl
post #15  on March 4, 2004 - 8:12 PM PST  
> On March 4, 2004 - 7:44 PM PST hamano wrote:
> Are there regional rivalries like Kanto (Tokyo) VS. Kansai (Osaka) in Korea (Seoul VS. Busan)? Are there regions whose denizens are always the butt of jokes (like the people of Newfoundland in the rest of Canada, or New Jerseyites in the rest of the US)?

Well actually yes :) I'm not a direct authority but I've had many "korean-korean" friends with whom I've inquired about similar curiosities. I wouldn't say it's a Seoul vs. Busan thing but rather a northern vs. the southern thing to simplify. From a friend who came from the south, apparently, there's a southwest vs. the southeast region thing too. (Having heard that the southern part of japan is picked on a bit somewhere & knowing how the South is picked on in the US as well, I was starting to think that this is a global phenomena :) - maybe I can throw Italy too since I recall hearing something similar from an international italian friend)

In terms of language, the south is DEFINITELY different and sometimes incomprehensible :) It won't come across to the non-korean speaking audience but the dialect spoken in Friends - which is based in historical Busan or somewhere very near it - is something quite interesting to hear. Also there are other films like Surabuhl (which is a political satire/dark comedy type of film set in a historical setting - although with modern comedy) in which they make fun of the southern dialect/mannerisms. I can't even "get" a large portion of the subtle comedy in that one but to think that one of the korean kingdoms (the movie is set in the three kingdom phase - goguryo, shila & baekjae) were calling the others and the Tang Dynasty (China) the "axis of evil" (yes, it's picking on one of Bush's favorite sayings) was quite amusing.

Oh yeah, please note that all these regional things are within SOUTH Korea. The north is a whole different beast of its own. You can hear some of these dialects in Shiri if I recall correctly and other movies which feature north korean characters (not played by them obviously but there's a fairly well established/recognized dialect). It sounds so familiar but the rhythm is like.. off.. kinda like some of the more subtle southern regional dialects.
markhl
post #16  on March 4, 2004 - 8:26 PM PST  
> On March 4, 2004 - 7:49 PM PST IronS wrote:
> What do you mean by borderline? When my mother was in Seoul, Korea she was getting mistaken for Korean all the time. The more incredulous part was that the locals thought my father was Japanese and gave him dirty looks for being with a "Korean" woman. To me, my parents look Chinese. My Korean-American friends from college never thought my parents were anything but Chinese (of course, they did know that my parents were Chinese before they met them). I was mistaken for Korean once which I attributed to my resemblance to my mother.


OK.. this is exhausting (although fun) so a short last post. I'll borrow a phrase.. Whatchu talkin' about IronS? Sure there's more variety of appearances (and shades!) but I can at least make a pretty good guess about people on the street, etc. I start having more problems as I run into people from southeast asian countries and southern China.

And hamano.. where are the pockets of japanese americans in New York? I run into so many chinese and korean but I see so few japanese? are y'all hiding somewhere? :) (in San Fran, it was pretty obvious even during the short visit) How is the population in Baltimore? I don't know of any pockets in Philly at least...
hamano
post #17  on March 4, 2004 - 10:10 PM PST  
> On March 4, 2004 - 8:26 PM PST markhl wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Sure there's more variety of appearances (and shades!) but I can at least make a pretty good guess about people on the street, etc. I start having more problems as I run into people from southeast asian countries and southern China.

Hey, since the war, we're all the same...

> And hamano.. where are the pockets of japanese americans in New York? I run into so many chinese and korean but I see so few japanese? are y'all hiding somewhere? :) (in San Fran, it was pretty obvious even during the short visit) How is the population in Baltimore? I don't know of any pockets in Philly at least...

Well, the immigration pattern is very different for the Japanese. Most Japanese in the US didn't come here for economic reasons.... they were sent here by their companies. There is a small population of immigrant Japanese, but they came over before WW2 and were concentrated mostly in Hawaii and California. The Hawaiian population has pretty much integrated into the Asian and Polynesian melting pot there. The CA population was interned in camps during WW2, lost their property, and scattered after the war, mostly integrating into mainstream neighborhoods.

The post-war Japanese population (like my family) come over for 3 to 10 years usually, sent by their companies to run subsidiaries and branch sales offices and such over here. They aren't coming to grow rice or run mom&pop corner groceries or open a restaurant. They are mostly college educated elite white-collar employees who are life-time employees of multi-national banks, trade companies, manufacturing companies, etc. These Japanese rent houses or apartments in middle-class to upper-class white neighborhoods, and commute to work like their American counterparts. So you won't find Japanese "communities" in the US, nowadays. They overlap the white communities, and you'll only see them if you go to a weekend Japanese language school (where kids study the language and culture for their eventual return and re-integration back into Japanese society) or a "development" created to serve the Japanese with retail needs (a branch of a major fancy Japanese department store, if you're in NYC, or shopping centers with various types of stores - food, books, electronics, etc. if you live in CA, TX, NJ, and some other areas with high concentrations of Japanese industries).

The Japanese DO look for areas with good schools, which means that in the NY area they concentrate in mostly Jewish neighborhoods in Westchester and Long Island if they have kids. My mother-in-law used to teach elementary school in Great Neck, Long Island, and they always had a few Japanese kids there at her school. The commuting train going from Grand Central Station to the Scarsdale area of Westchester was called the "J.J. Express" for Japanese and Jews.

In secondary cities like Philly and Baltimore, there are much fewer Japanese. Those that exist are usually attached to universities or hospitals (grad students, doctors). For example, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has a big concentration of Japanese doctors, because they are interested in organ transplantation. Pittsburgh has a very highly regarded transplant program, and Japan doesn't recognize brain death so medical researchers interested in this field have to go abroad to study and gain experience. I've met some Japanese in Baltimore, most of whom are working/studying at Johns Hopkins.

So we're nowhere and everywhere, so maybe that's what makes us hard to find. There are places like Little Tokyo in L.A. and Japantown in San Francisco, but no one really LIVES there... Today they've largely become tourist traps or retail "theme parks". You'll probably find more Japanese staying in first class hotels and riding the cable cars up and down than you'd ever find in Japantown in San Francisco.

> Screening Korean films with English subtitles may also serve as a preliminary test to gauge the possibility of venturing overseas. Kim points out the case of Dooly the Dinosaur as an instance when such an early response could have been useful.

About 20 years ago, there was a brand of deodorant/anti-perspirant in the US that successfully promoted itself with a feminine cartoon octopus. Back then, censors would not allow female armpits to be seen on American television. The clever ad agents for Soft & Dry came up with the perfect solution... a purple lady octopus would demonstrate the sleek round-headed roll-on bottle and talk about the product with a sexy voice. She would lift one or two of her "arms" and rub-rub the product on her "armpits". This campaign was so successful that American executives from Gillette took the same ad to the subsidiary in Japan, so the Japanese could market their version of the same product with the same ad. All they had to do was dub the cartoon with a Japanese voice! Easy, right?

The commercial was screened for the Japanese executives, and it was met with stunned silence. The atmosphere was very awkward and puzzling for the Americans. Finally, someone explained to them that in Japan, an octopus has "legs" not "arms"... They were watching a lady octopus lift her "legs" to rub herself with a very phallic shaped object.....

hamano
post #18  on March 5, 2004 - 5:50 AM PST  
>> So we're nowhere and everywhere, so maybe that's what makes us hard to find. There are places like Little Tokyo in L.A. and Japantown in San Francisco, but no one really LIVES there...

> Interesting post, my mind boggles how you know all these crazy things. But, while SF's Japantown obviously isn't full-on Japanese, I'd say the apartments nearby (not the projects) are more Japanese than not. And I wouldn't go so far as to call Japantown a theme park, the way SF's downtown Chinatown district can be. Sure there's a bookstore and a few restaurants where people from all over the city go, but there's also churches, shops, and so forth, that are essentially Japanese-language-only. I'm no expert, but I have some ex-pat friends who live there, so I hang out in the neighborhood some.


You're right... I'm only talking in a very broad sense (these are posts, not sociology journal articles). I mean, the California Nisei and Sansei (2nd&3rd generation Japanese Americans) population didn't just disappear, which is what one might think from what I wrote... there are enclaves here and there. There are also recent immigrants who aren't working for big multinational Japanese companies, and their families.... They come over to be students, and to work in service industries that serve the corporate population (Japanese restaurant workers, Japanese school teachers, etc.) But on the whole, on a national scale, what I wrote applies... Outside of Brazil, Hawaii, and bits of California and maybe British Columbia, you're not gonna find concentrated communities of ex-pat Japanese or Japanese Americans. This is similar to the experience of European immigrants from the 19th and early 20th centuries. At first a city like New York had clear neighborhoods settled by primarily one ethnic or national group. Now there are vestiges of Little Italy and Little Athens (Astoria) but today they are largely mixed population, with only some restaurants and stores that remain open to give the old feeling of an ethnic neighborhood. Pockets of German, Irish and Polish populations have dissipated. Maybe only recent immigrants typically need to stick together in enclaves... Today there are fair-sized Russian communities in areas of NY like Flatbush, and there are fairly concentrated communities of Persians and Vietnamese from the last 40 years or so in places like L.A. Houston and Arlington, VA. These come from political upheavals (the fall of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Shah, and the Vietnam War).

I don't have proof, but my feeling is that the Chinese are atypical in that they seem to be able to keep their community together in a foreign country over multiple generations. I worked with one Chinese American who was born and raised in NY, and he still had a thick accent. Maybe it's because they've been able to keep up a steady stream of fresh immigrants from the home country (Astoria, the Greektown in Queens, NY, also had a vibrant population of recent Greek immigrants...)

But even with Chinese populations, haven't the old Chinatowns become less mono-cultural and more touristy, while the main immigrant population moved elsewhere? I'm thinking of Flushing, Queens for NY, and the area along Judah St. south of the park in San Francisco...

Anyway, this is all just based on personal experience... the purpose of these boards is for people with different perspectives to chime in, so let us know if I seem to be driving with blinders on.
hamano
post #19  on March 5, 2004 - 6:22 AM PST  
Anyway, getting back on topic, I bring you...Taekoesu Yongkari!!!

Or is it Dae Koesu Yongary??? I've seen it both ways....This is an excellent and thorough review, and I don't know if you can hurt Yongray with spoilers... he's practically invincible!

They updated him in 1999/2000, just like the Japanese did with Godzilla and Gamera! Rumor is that Alpha is releasing this on DVD, so send in a request, markhl, if you wanna see it!

I'm guessing that Dae Koesu/Taekoesu is the Korean equivalent of Dai Kaiju (Great Monster)... Is that right?
hamano
post #20  on March 5, 2004 - 6:32 AM PST  
Hell, why put in a request and wait for months for the film to work its way up the queue when you can have your your own copy for just 7 bucks! You'd have to buy 4 copies to get free shipping, though. It's coming out later this month! March 23rd!
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