Friday, June 18, 2010

SK Solidarity Trip Day 2: K-Pop and Computer Games

I asked a few people before I left Guam what, if anything, they would want me to try and get for them while I was in South Korea. Most people, thankfully said nothing, since I knew I wouldn't have alot of time for commercial exploring or shopping on this trip.

My brother Jeremy (Kuri), is helping my stubstitues with the AV equipment for my classes while I'm gone and so when he said that he didn't want anything from South Korea, I pushed him further to come up with something I could get for him, to pay him back for helping me out. Put i tiningo'-hu put i che'l-hu, ya hafa ya-na, siempre guaha minalago-na.

Last year in one of my Guam History classes a friend of my brothers outed him as a closet K-Pop fan. Apparently a few weeks before, a K-Pop group had been on island for a vacation, and so when Kuri and his friends heard about this and found out what hotel they were staying at, they rushed down their to try and meet them. As they wandered around the hotel, like all true-hardcore-gof kinene' na- fans, they discussed how they were going to be cool as cucumbers and smooth as silk when they eventually found the group. How they were not going to melt down, fall to pieces, or implode from coming too close with the object of their desire.


Eventually they did find members of the group, and while most of them remained in blissful shock, one of Kuri's friends went to screaming, OMG-OMG-OMG-OMG, K-Popmania pieces, and naturally making them all look like crazed, early 20-something boyfans. Quick awkward hellos were exchanged and just as quick-relieved-good-byes were exchanged soon after.

I had known that Kuri had taken a class at UOG about Korean classical music, and knew he was somewhat interested in that, but never knew that his affinity for K-things went beyond that. When I mentioned this embarassing story to him, he admited it was true and mentioned a couple of more Korean things he enjoys watching or following, such as Korean movies, dramas and Starcraft.


One of the things which is high up on my list of things to do when I have more time, is to watch a film that Kuri recommended and gave to me on my flashdrive, Sunflower. Kuri regularly gives me recommendations like this, but for some reason Sunflower is the only one whose story appealed to me.

So when I pushed Kuri to tell me something he'd want from South Korea, he said two possible things. The first was to get him a poster of the K-Pop Girls group T-Ara. I know absolutely nothing about K-Pop other than Uchan, or as he is known to everyone else except me and Sumahi, B-Rain. Despite not being able to speak, read or understand Korea I've decided that I will do my best to try and find Kuri this poster, or at least a CD of T-Ara. I am hoping and praying that they do actually exist and that Kuri is not simply making this up so I can run around Seoul trying to find a girl group which does not exist.


The other request dealt with the PC game Starcraft. Almost everyday Kuri can be seen watching videos of Starcraft matches from South Korea. Starcraft is a pretty old game, but is still incredibly popular, especially in South Korea. An entire pro-gaming industry has grown around it, where players can make quite a bit of money for winning tournaments. I enjoy playing video games, but watching some of these Starcraft matches with pro-players makes me feel like I'm insane. With the fast clicking and moving, the constant scuttling of small vehicles or humanoid forms on the screen and then the Korean commentary, which results in frenetic yelling every once in a while for reasons that I'm not sure of. Kuri told me that if I were to go to a live match while I'm in Seoul and make a sign signifying that I'm a foreigner and that I love Starcraft, they would definitely put a camera on me at sometime during the match.


I doubt I'll have time during my stay in South Korea to go to a match, especially since I have no idea where they play. Since I've been in South Korea I keep asking people I meet if they know where the matches are, or if they even play Starcraft. Most people I've met know about the game but I haven't found a single person who admits to playing it.


I asked one South Korean guy who was educated in the US (and could speak English so I didn't need an interpreter) if Starcraft really was that big in this country. He said, yeah it is really huge. I asked him then, do you play? He said, no, no way. I then asked, well, if it's so big, why haven't a met a single person so far who plays it or knows much about it? His reply was that, people who love Starcraft probably don't go outside very much.

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