October 29, 2009

On the cover page

Korean stars seem to be the flavour of the month for some of the local magazines. Yoon Eun Hye and Song Seung Heon have both appeared on the front cover of Nuyou and August respectively. Check out the photos I took of the magazines below.

My Girlfriend is an Agent @ Level 7 Bureaucrat

En garde! Kim and Kang sparring in a scene from the movie.

A gala premiere of the My Girlfriend is an Agent, also know as Level 7 Bureaucrat, was held at the Cathay cinema last night. Both the leads, Kim Ha Neul (of On Air fame) and Kang Ji Hwan were both in Singapore for this event.

There's going to be another publicity event for the movie at the Heeren this evening at 6.30pm. Pity that I am most likely still stuck in the office. for fans of Korean dramas and movies, Heeren is the place to be this evening. Get your cameras ready as both Kim and Kang will be at the event.

We at HelloHallyu can't wait to catch it on the big-screens when the movie starts its run from 5 Nov!

October 22, 2009


Without a doubt soju one of the cultural icons of Korea. It helps when almost all dramas include a scene, or many, showing Koreans toasting each other with a shot of this iconic drink poured from the by now classic green bottle from Jinro, if the brand can be seen in the first place.

While I am not much of a wine/liquor connoisseur, I know that soju holds a special place in the Korean society. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when I happened to catch a short clip on Singapore's Channelnewsasia showing the other Korean drink - makkoli.

Makkoli - Korean Rice Wine

Distinctly different from the soju, makkoli is a cloudy white rice wine which was commonly consumed by Korean farmers after a hard day's labour. This drink is apparently good for the health and is gaining popularity amongst Koreans and further afield in Japan.

Although I have this large unopened bottle of Jinro's soju in my larder, courtesy of my recent trip to Korea, I am more than game to head down to the supermarket to get myself, a 'packet' of makkoli off the shelves. Yep, it comes in packets!

Will post about my experience with makkoli once I try it, provided that I stay sober enough to put up a post. :)

October 16, 2009

Track from Flowers for My Life - Wasted on the Way

The unheralded Flowers for My Life constinues to be one of the best Korean dramas I have seen so far. It's soundtrack, although not commercially available, is also great. Was tuning in to the evergreen channel, Gold 90.5FM when they played Graham Nash's Wasted on the Way. This song was widely played in Flowers for My Life.

I just had to share the lyrics of the song with you as it struck a chord deep within me. Sometimes we can only understand the meaning behind certain songs after having travelled some distance in life's journey. You caa also listen to the song via the embedded Imeem widget on the sidebar. Enjoy!

Look around me, I can see my life before me
Running rings around the way it used to be
I am older now, I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started long before I did

And there's so much time to make up
Everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way
So much water moving
Underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

Oh when you were young, did you question all the answers
Did you envy all the dancers who had all the nerve
Look around you now, you must go for what you wanted
Look at all my friends who did and got what they deserved

And there's so much love to make up
Everywhere you turn
Love we have wasted on the way
So much water moving
Underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away
Let the water come and carry us away

October 15, 2009

First take on My Fair Lady

Due to our work and personal commitments, My Fair Lady has been the only Korean drama for us at HelloHallyu since it debuted on KBS’ World some weeks back. With all the hype surrounding Yoon Eun Hye’s return to the small-screen following her 2 year ‘sabbatical’ after Coffee Prince, and the expected quality performance from YEH, we were expecting a hit drama.

However, the first few episodes of My Fair Lady failed to live up to its initial hype. Granted that the sets and costumes showed that money and effort have been poured into the production, what the drama sorely lacked was originality and script.

The storyline of a poor bloke, butler Seo Dong Chan, winning the heart of a cold-hearted heiress, YEH's Kang Hye Na, is a story well told in various other dramas and movies. One would expect the scriptwriters to smash the stereotypical characters and add some twist to the story. We have not seen a hint of this after watching the first 5 to 6 episodes. True to form, the storyline followed the classic, albeit predictable, route of the pauper-princess story.

To be honest, it was kind of a drag having to go through the thin plot served to us. YEH’s well known acting capabilities were not only not put to the test. In fact, the script seems so unchallenging that YEH’s only expressions alternated between a perpetual constipated scowl and a doe-eyed teenage girl. It’s really sad since we know what she’s really capable of.

The somewhat outlandish costumes that YEH had to don, with or without her approval, can be both hilarious and appalling at the same time. Check out the chocolate inspired 'jacket' and you know what I mean.

My Fair Lady

YEH looking sweet in her chocloate whatever and feisty in her tigress suit

My Fair Lady

Doubt this new cycling attired will take off

While it is still too early to give a fair rating to this drama, our initial reactions ain’t that fantastic. That said, we sense some sort of a pick up in the plot as we near the middle portion of the drama. The only positive takeaway here is that the ‘yawn’ factor, which used to be quite high, is getting stifled.

Being fans of YEH since her Princess Hours days, we hope that My Fair Lady will turn the proverbial corner and surprise us with a great second half to the drama. So stay tuned for the final HelloHallyu review.

Website Update

If you hadn't noticed, HelloHallyu has heard your comments about our ‘old’ website. Although we loved the look and feel of the template used previously, loading times for the website was terrible. Yup, even we felt that it took too long to load!

Taking heed of the feedback, Yupgi has gamely taken on the task of revamping the website. What you see now is the fruit of her labor. Don't you think the new template is great? Most importantly, we wanted to retain the ‘feel’ of our site, where readers instinctively know they have arrived at the site they have been visiting.

There are still some kinks to be ironed out. But we believe the new template will ensure a more pleasant experience for our readers. :)

October 6, 2009

Stop abusing our Korean female artistes!

The unsavoury, and downright repulsive, facet of the Korean entertainment scene has once again made headlines. On 5 Oct, The Straits Times, Singapore's leading newspaper, reported on the abuse that Korean female artistes continue to be subjected to in the entertainment industry.

Jang Ja Yeon

Jang Ja yeon - A victim of the industry.

The recent demise of Jang Ja Yeon seemed to have little to no effect on such abhorent practices. I really hope that it doesn't take more innocent lives of young potential stars before Korean, as a society, decides that enough is enough. Till then, we can only hope that unscrupulous agents and managers will be given their just punishments and be kept out of the industry for good.

The drama On Air is perhaps the best work out there that shows how dark the entertainment industry in Korea can be. Check out HelloHallyu's synopsis on the drama here.

You can read the full Straits Times article below.

S.Korean actresses face abuse

FOUR in 10 female entertainers in South Korea face unwanted sexual pressure, Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.

A parlimantary survey revealed that 25 per cent of them experienced unwanted physical contact, while 12.5 per cent said they had been forced or asked to perform sexual favours in return for money or a role in a TV show or film.

Earlier this year actress Jang Ja Yeon hanged herself, leaving behind a letter that claimed she was forced to perform sexual favours for powerful figures, including a TV producer and executives at Korea's top entertainment firm.

Police chose not to press charges, citing lack of evidence, but the case drew an uproar as it was not the first time such suspicions had been raised concerning the local entertainment industry.

In more extreme cases, the reputations of several female celebrities were tarnished after videos of them having sex appeared on the Internet, downloaded by millions.

Agents and managers often pressure actresses to have sex with them while being videotaped, later using it as blackmail to prevent the starlets from skipping to bigger firms offering more money after they become famous.

October 5, 2009

A Surprise from the Korean Tourism Organization

Yesterday was like any typical Sunday for me. It was a languid day when I usually take my time, at a languid pace, to start my biological engines, i.e. waking up after a good Saturday's night slumber. While still trying to rouse myself awake, I heard someone knocking on my door. Peering through the peephole, I see this guy standing outside my home. "Must be the newspaper agent collecting the fees again", I thought to myself.

Opening the door, I was surprised to see that it was a DHL delivery man. The fact that it is not 'business as usual' woke me up somewhat. After signing for the delivery, which is packed in a rather large nonedescript box, I quickly told my wife that I received a delivery from DHL. This is sometime of a big deal for us since we don't normally received stuff via courier services.

Yeah, we lead normal boring lives heh.

KTO Prize

Anyway, what piqued my curiosity is that fact that the delivery originated from KOREA! Yep, you are reading it right. At this point in time, my brain is really working overtime. My wife and I were wondering if our credit cards had been skimmed during our recent holiday there. We were both debating on whether to open up the box or check our credit card details online, when we noticed the sender is one "KTO, Seoul, Korea".

That's when everything clicked.

I have WON a prize in Korea Tourism Organisation's Blog Korea! Visit Korea! Blog Competition. To be honest, I can't even remember what the prizes were, but I remembered taking part in it since I wrote a post or two on my recent trip there. The nice folks at KTO must have overlooked my numerous typos and decided to award, yours sincerely, a prize.


KTO Website

Check out their website for the official award notice. HelloHallyu is listed at #61. Yup, we won a snazzy MP3 player.

Here's the very beautiful and generous prize from KTO. And yes, it's from Disney. :)

KTO Prize

KTO Prize

I have decided to store all my Korean drama OSTs and music in this very special gift from Korea. This just makes me feel like flying off for another holiday there. Perhaps I will net myself a netbook the next time. :D