This past week, a very talented young man named 크리스 (Chris) auditioned for SuperStarK season 3, Korea’s version of American Idol. Here’s the link to his performance.
Besides having written several songs for current Kpop stars under his belt and a great mastery of R&B influenced pop, the judges required him to be able to sing in Korean, which he pulled off to perfection. Of course, they had to dwell on the fact that he grew up an orphan…
What the clip above doesn’t show (because they cut it, though it’s on the t.v. episode) is one of the judges actually verbalized the reasons for his hesitation to approve him, ostensibly to do him a favor, anticipating that the Korean people would be reluctant to let him win over a Korean. Now that it’s an identified issue, will that increase his chances because he’s been identified as an underdog? Now that it’s an identified issue, will his talent be eclipsed by the potential for racism controversy?
Will 윤미래, a.k.a. Tasha, Korea’s half-black female rapper who sings about racism, and one of the judges, keep it real? Or will his successes be written off as being her being unfairly partial?
Interestingly, in Korea’s Top Model, one of the competitors was a gyopo (recently eliminated), and another is half Russian, has modeled some in Russia, and drops English with ease. 이제니 (Lee, Jenny) has even made it to the top 4, though it already seems clear the judge’s favorite is more classic-looking. Will her use of English work against her? Will her not-as-fluent Korean work against her? I find her mannerisms very Western, and to add to her looks she is very healthy, glowing, and enthusiastic. I’m reading that it’s being interpreted as too aggressive!
All of Cheongpyeong’s sidewalks ugly typical Korean red and green masonry sidewalks are being replaced with a more tasteful white with gray accents. The designer in me is doing a happy dance! My Seoul friend who was here for Chuseok tells me these beautification projects are happening all over Korea, and that citizens are pissed over the Presidents priorities. I wonder out loud how Korea can sustain all the changes it wants/needs with a 6% tax base.
Anyway, things are changing a lot in Korea. I like it.
But not enough to stay. Because this new world is a world for young people…And it’s not Korea’s growing pains which bother me, (I actually find that interesting and sometimes exciting) but being sucked in to adoptee drama/politics/issues.
But for me, it’s only twenty more years to retirement…I keep daydreaming about that third place, where I am visibly an expat, without native expectations of cultural understanding. Since I’m only emerging out of my slumber now, I’m realizing I better start taking care of myself so I can enjoy a couple of those years.