Sunday, 19 April 2009

Phoning it in. Cultural differences you cannot ignore

Whenever someone asks me what the differences between the UK and Korea/Asia are I try to take some time to think about it. I mention the food, the respect for older people, the education system, the bright neon lights and the poor beer. I usually tell them that there are so many cultural differences but we also have many things in common. After all, are we so different? Then I see things like this, exhibit A.

It hits me straight between the eyes and says Korea is very different from the UK and everywhere else. For good or for bad, for better or for worse. The above is a commercial for a mobile phone starring five pop stars who are the hottest thing in Korea right now. At some later point I may post about how celebrities all across the fame scale attach themselves to whatever product they can for money but for now I will just leave this - some Koreans like to make money and will do whatever they are told to do to a) put coin in their back pocket and b) stay in the public eye and conscience for as long as possible.

Onto exhibit B. Another commercial but for a different phone. Boy do Koreans love phones - possibly more than there children. If you think Koreans rest on their laurels think again. Those boys working so hard to sell those phones came up with something else more preposterous and have four new faces (a new girl group here) with them. I do not know what came first, the commercial or the phone. I'm lying, it must be the phone and the 'song' is a real song not a thirty second snippet. So essentially they wrote a song to promote a phone. Split the cash for this one nine ways and whatever they got can't be much especially when their agents take their piece of the pie.

The quality is poor for the above clip so just to reinforce the point click here to see what one of the singers is prepared to wear as long as you slip money into his pockets. I struggle to think of an amount of number someone would have to pay me to wear that. When questioning my students, adoring fans of the singers, they just say it's "Big Bang's style". God bless the girls in my classes who swim against the tide and say they don't like or understand the fashion of these Justin Timberlake wannabe's.

Korea's history is long and proud. 5,000 years of hard work, tradition and culture, pride and achievement, war and bloodshed has culminated in this! It's a free country these days here and people are allowed to make money, but when you do a commercial as this surely you have no artistic credibility left. There is nothing wrong at all with the clips, the people in it, or the culture/fashion etc etc. But right now it's a slice of Korea, like it or not and it's very different to Western culture.

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