Generic Korean

Okay, so I decided to watch an entire episode of Top Gear Korea.  I couldn’t find Episode 1 so out of necessity, I’m starting off with Episode 2.  Top Gear Korea stars three well known Korean celebrities.  I suppose they were chosen not only for their star power but for their love of cars.

First off is Kim Kap Soo, the oldest of the bunch.  He currently stars in the daily Korean drama “All My Love” but he boasts a huge body of work.  I follow him on twitter and I always wondered what his fascination was with cars but I guess it comes in handy because you know, he’s on Top Gear.

Next is Kim Jin Pyo, a professional racer but is better known as the former member of Panic.  He raps and I love this song by him.  I knew that he had slowly transitioned into racing but like other celebs turned racers i.e. Ryu Shi Won, I didn’t think he had much talent.  If anything I just hoped he wouldn’t turn into Ryu and go kill someone on the streets.

Finally is Yoon Jung Hoon who starred in East of Eden with Song Seung Hoon as well as Sad Love Song with Kwon Sang Woo and Kim Hee Sun.  He’s also the dude who married actress Han Ga In.  There’s been rampant rumors of his infidelity and impending divorce but doesn’t every celebrity couple seem to fall into that category of rumors?  If anything once the two have a child, suddenly the press will say they love each other more than cake.  Anyways he’s supposedly trying to get his door into the pro circuit.

So there we have the three hosts.  In Episode 2, the crew introduces the Benz SLS AMG calling it light and sleek with a luxurious interior.  Whatever, it looks like a phallic symbol and I’ve seen my share of phallic symbols.  Wait…that came out wrong.

Yoon Jung Hoon complains that the gull wing doors are a bitch, that there’s no automatic controls and that its a bit uncomfortable…but its the speed that counts and he seems to have a spiritual moment as he surpasses the 300km/h mark.

The Stig gets behind the wheel of the Benz and ends up completing the track with a time of 1:36:16, just a few milliseconds faster than the Porsche Cayman S.

In the next segment Kim Jin Pyo introduces the German made sixth generation Volkswagon Golf GTI.  Kim takes it out to the track and gives it a go, seeing how different it is to the previous model.  Before stepping foot on the track Kim was concerned with the car’s understerring but ended up being impressed with how the car took the turns.  However Kim was disappointed with its engine but in a race between the new model and its predecessor, the new model won.

The Stig was then commanded to take the wheel of the GTI and of course the Stig was listening to the Korean brand of elevator music.  I was hoping he’d be listening to some Kpop.  The GTI came in at 1:43:10.

The celebrity portion of the show commenced with two members of the boy band 2AM.  I suppose they were invited because Jo Kwon (the leader of the group) currently stars with Kim Kap Soo in his daily Korean sitcom.  Jo Kwon is also known for his (how do I say this politically correctly?)…lets just say I have more testosterone in my third toe than he has in his entire body.  But he can sing like an angel~

On an interesting note, Seulong drives a Genesis Coupe while Jo Kwon drives a Golf GTI in real life.  But I guess driving the same car you’re going to be racing in doesn’t help because during the practice lap around the track Jo Kwon failed miserably by running off track at the 7th turn.  In their timed lap with the GTI’s, Seulong clocked in at 2:04:56 while Jo Kwon came in last at 2:08:36.  At least he didn’t run off the track this time.

Finally, in my favorite segment of this episode, Kim Kap Soo, Yoon Jung Hoon, and The Stig drove around Seoul in their own special “taxis.”  Kim drove around in a huge Hummer H2 or as I like to call it, the Douchebag Steamroller, Yoon took the Lamborghini Mercielago, and the Stig decided to take the Porsche 911.

As awestruck passengers in the H2 took in both the fact that they were in strange taxi driven by famous celebrities, the Lamborghini opted to pick up good looking girls in short skirts and a few celebrities including Kim Tae Woo and Jang Geun Suk.

The Stig opted to pick up a giggling school girl and an old grandma who kept yelling at him to slow down and talk to her.  HAHAHA.

The taxi stunt over, the hosts regrouped at base camp and did some math.  They figured out how much the initial fare would be for each car if it were an actual taxi.  In general, most taxis in Korea are the Kia K5 and after calculating the cost of the car, gas for 100km and other math related things, the initial fare would be 2,400 Won which is about $2 Dollars.  Next was the H2 and based on their calculations, the initial fee, the fee for putting your butt on the leather, would be 84,000 Won which is about $79.  Finally the Murceilago:  approximately 30 times more expensive than the Kia K5, the initial cost of using a Murcielago Taxi would be 499,200 Won or $467 dollars.

What about The Stig and the Porsche 911?  If a Porsche 911 taxi stops and you get in only to see it being driven by the Stig, I’m pretty sure the cost of the ride would be priceless.  People wonder if the same guy who plays the Stig on the BBC show is the one in the Korean show.  I can definitely say its not.  Its a Korean dude.  I can totally see it from his mannerisms.

The next season of the show is airing next week!  And with all new judges.  I’m disappointed that they changed the judges.  Bang Shi Hyuk and Kim Tae Won MADE that show.  The other three were good but these two really stood out.  So here are the new judges:

Singer Lena Park
Singer Lee Sun Hee
Singer Lee Seung Hwan
Music Professor Yoon Sang
Composer Yoon Il Sang

I’m not familiar with Yoon Il Sang and Yoon Sang’s personalities but for the other three, I’ve never known them to be very opinionated.  It seems to be a totally different feel from the first season’s judges.

Interestingly, its going to be in competition against SuperStar K.  while Superstar K has the advantage of being more popular, Birth of a Great Star has the advantage of being on MBC.  AND, this season of Superstar K has been lackluster to say the least.

In Korea, most television shows air without commercial breaks.  Instead the commercials are shown before and after the show airs.  So how do the advertisers keeps a viewer’s butt on the couch during the 15 minutes of adverts?  Put a lot of celebrities in them.  Unlike America, a celebrity hocking goods is a sign of prestige- the more “cf” contracts you have, the more popular you are.  It can also jump start an unknown actor’s career.  Remember Lee Jia and Bae Yong Jun’s cf?  Or that CF with Seo Woo dancing for some ice cream?

Recently, Korean cable shows have been interrupting their programming with commercials, just like the Americans and I can’t stress how awful this is.  Soon, these hour long shows will be 35 minutes long with 25 minutes of commercials.  One of the worst offenders of this has to be the Oprah show back when she was on national television.  By the last half of each show, there would be three minutes of content before cutting to two minutes of commercials and back and forth until I’d quit watching and turn the channel to something worth my time.

There is a lot of things that Oprah is good for but this is not one of those my friend.

Korea’s Next Top Model is in its second season and in the third episode (its on its eighth right now), the girls had to transform into video girls, or video vixens as they say in the rap game.  The girls were going to be in Tiger JK’s video for Doo Wop and I almost died from second hand embarrassment.  I mean if I were in the same position, I”d probably make a fool out of myself too but I’m not, so I’m just going to point and laugh.  The video stuff starts around the 23:00 minute mark

Its hard being a video vixen.  I read “Confessions of a Video Vixen” and the girl was basically sleeping with every rapper in town during her heyday including Jay Z, Diddy, Usher, etc.  Of course she totally backtracked but I dunno, they didn’t call her super head for nothing.  That doesn’t even make sense.  I’m just being provocative for no reason.

If you don’t know what Top Gear is, you can wiki it but basically its a British television show about cars and one of the most popular shows on the BBC.  Its also one of the most downloaded torrents online and basically, everyone loves it.  I love it, many of my friends love it and I guess a lot of Koreans love it because Top Gear Korea was introduced in August of this year.

What makes Top Gear (the British version) so awesome is its three hosts that make the show like some frat boy show down.  The humor they bring mixed with informational car stuff and the Stig make for a great, entertaining show.  In Korea, the hosts are Kim Kap Soo (a veteran actor and known car lover), Kim Jin Pyo (a old school rapper and known car enthusiast) and Yeon Jung Hoon (actor married to Han GaIn).

I just watched this clip of 2AM being interviewed on the show.  While the entire format of the show replicates the BBC counterpart, something is missing and I’m thinking its the hosts.  I mean everything seems so stiff and uncomfortable.  I’m going to say it’s because they have just gotten their feet wet but I doubt its going to get any better.  I guess this is what happens when you try to emulate something as good as the original.  There’s nowhere to go but down.

—-EDIT—-

I take it back.  After watching a few more clips, its not as bad as I first thought.

Its been a while since I’ve seen an American action movie that I’ve enjoyed as much as the Korean kind.  (Of course watching a movie in Korea is approximately ten times as awesome because I get to eat butter cuttlefish.)  Some of the best fight scenes I’ve encountered have been in Korean movies.  Why?  Because of the utter lack of guns.  Gun scenes can be awesome too;  See Equilibrium, but for the most part, you just see people holding guns and running.  Hand to hand action is where its at.

In Korea, guns are hard to come by.  Shoot even the cops have to have a high rank to holster a weapon.  As necessity goes, when you don’t got guns, you go to the next best thing:  the sashimi knife.  And if you don’t have a sashimi knife, you just pick up something heavy and or pointy.  As the Korean movie industry churns out more and more movies, they need to come up with some interesting fight moves so here’s some of my favorite, not in any relevant manner.

Man from Nowhere (Ahjusshi):  I watched this on the big screen and while its one of the most realistic scenes in recent memory, I started getting dizzy when they cut to the main character’s point of view shot.  It might have also been the fact that I had drank a butt load before watching it and had snuck in a huge bottle of beer into the theater.

Old Boy:  This scene was great just because it was done in one shot.  Choi Min Sik is an awesome actor and you can tell he is wholly devoted to his role.  I heard they had to shoot this in one shot because of budget restrictions.  I’m cool with that.  Plus he’s down with the kpop.  While shooting “I Saw The Devil” where he plays a psychotic killer, he took some time to watch “Genie” by Girl’s Generation and comments that its his favorite.  LOL.

Once Upon a Time in High School:  This movie starred Hallyu star Kwon Sang Woo who played a disgruntled high school student.  He learns to defend himself against the bullies in his school and in a rooftop battle ends up beating the crap out of all the bullies with his nun-chucks.  Great scene but I really had trouble figuring out who was who because everyone looked the same.  One of those times I can definitely say that without being racist.

Friend:  Loosely based on the director’s real life, the story revolves around a group of friends in the 70’s that end up becoming mortal enemies.  The fight scene is so bad ass simply because of the odds.  Four against like 100.

Of course there are great American fight scenes but hardly memorable.  Maybe the fight scene in Bourne Identity but its hard to watch because like many action movies, the director shoots too close and the editor cuts to different angles too often.  Last time I was in a fight was over the phone and I hung up on the bastard.

If you don’t know the history of Drunken Tiger, I suggest you wiki it.  Anyways, the more famous of the two, Tiger JK, still performs with Bizzy who basically took over the wheel for DJ Shine.  I can’t help but think that we as consumers got the short end of the stick here.  Bizzy is just so plain.  Plainer than vanilla….like if there was a ice cream flavor that was more generic than vanilla, Bizzy would be ordering that.

I once had a conversation about Korean hip hop with some friends and we all agreed that Bizzy ruins every song he’s on with his horrible rapping.  If he’s writing his own lyrics I’d suggest he stop because his lyrics are just as bad.  For example, here is “Run” featuring several of The Movement’s members including Bizzy.

If you listen to the song you will definitely know when Bizzy begins to rap because it gets boring RIGHT when he starts and it doesn’t get better until Yang Dong Geun comes back in.  And Yang Dong Geun basically says two sentences through the entire thing and he still rocked it better than Bizzy.

Maybe Tiger JK keeps him on the payroll as the “face” of Jungle Entertainment.  Bizzy definitely does look like Gong Yoo…like a shorter plainer version of Gong Yoo.

Maybe Bizzy was supposed to be just the hype man?  But you know what they say about hypemen: they start off just saying “take that take that” on the background of a classic rap song and by the time you know it, they think they can rap too.  You know who you are!