Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Dark Side of Korea Exposed?

I have never heard of this website before seeing this article.  I think it is too soon to tell if this will become a controversial site.  I like the idea, but not necessarily the result.  The fact that it exists is something that the English-speakers-in-Korea-blogosphere should be aware of.

koreaBANG knows what Korea is talking about and apparently it is drunken women on the subway, tweeting politicians and how much they hate Japan. 
koreaBANG is a new website that translates the most discussed news stories in Korea and their highest rated comments into English. Stories range from a Korean politician's drunken tweets to a cafe owner who secretly filmed over 900 women in his toilets, as well as Korean reaction to international news, such as the Korean-American school shooter. 
As the Korean wave sweeps over Asia and the rest of the world, there is a growing audience for all things Korean. There are already dozens of K-pop sites, allkpop has 75 million views a month, but koreaBANG has a harder news edge.
Holy cow... that website is a gold mine.  I really should post more kpop gossip stories...
The site was founded by two British students of Korean. Cambridge University student James Pearson said koreaBANG's sister site, chinaSMACK, was his first port of call while a student in Beijing, but he was hard-pressed to find a Korean equivalent. He approached chinaSMACK with the idea of a Korean version and launched koreaBANG in January with his co-editor and Korea University student, Raphael Rashid. 
The site now has four regular contributors, half Korean and half non-Korean, and attracts just under 3500 daily visitors from 154 countries. Bang (방) means room in Korean and refers to the PC bangs (internet cafes) where millions of young Koreans while away their time. Some have even died of exhaustion in them and one woman even gave birth in one. 
I am guessing they will start attracting more daily visitors if English speaking blogs about Korea repost their translated stories... like I am doing now...
Raphael said Western media tends to focus on North Korea, not what the Korean man in the street, or on the internet, is talking about. For example, Western media gave extensive coverage to last week's Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Seoul, but Koreans themselves were not that interested - it was not even in the top 10 stories that week. Instead, they were talking about beer woman, a drunken woman filmed drinking and smoking on the Seoul subway. Beer woman made it onto koreaBANG, the NSS did not. 
Raphael said Korea is trying to brand itself "under a flawless veneer". The government has even founded a Presidential Council on Nation Branding and pays bloggers to upload thousands of photos of the country. Korean dramas give a distorted image of the country to their fans around the world, an image doctored nearly as much as their stars' faces. 
What country in the world promotes an honest reflection of their nation?  Everything a government does is always pro-national propaganda.   I do not see why anyone has to pretend like there is a conspiracy going on here.
While well aware not all Koreans want their dirty laundry aired in public, Raphael said they were sincere in "presenting an otherwise unreported world in all its raw unedited glory".
Whether or not they have Korea's blessing, koreaBANG is making waves. Ripples compared to the Korean wave, which is now more a tsunami, but the site is blowing up. BANG! 
"If Koreans are talking about it, so are we," said James. "If it's popular, we choose it, regardless of how off-the-wall it may seem to a non-Korean audience. Same goes for many of the comments, we tend to take the top 20 or so rated comments from each article and translate those." 
"Korean dramas and celebrity culture convey a somewhat fairy tale-like image of Korea, where everyone is tall and handsome," said Raphael. "Disillusioned tourists come in their masses to live the Korean Dream, but find themselves confronted with a reality that is not too dissimilar to their own."
It really does not matter what website you go on.  If you read the comments, they are mostly vapid or vulgar dribble by simple minds.  There is a reason why mostly trained professionals do the writing/reporting and the ignorant masses do the reading.  This website is trying to flip that around and claim that what the loudest trolls on the internet have to spam comment sections about are the accurate or honest reflections of the people of Korea.

I will admit that Korean netizens do jump on absurd stories and are really quick to condemn others.  They are especially pious and judgmental and willing to go to war over anything seen as an attack on Korean cultural supremacy.  But are they much different than any other group of people in the world?  Maybe not, but they all have computers with high-speed internet connections and that gives them a big megaphone where I am sure they will continue to blast the internet on issues concerning the absurd and salacious.


S said...

Thanks so much for posting this - I often read Asian Correspondent's top view Naver headlines (ie, but they don't generally translate whole articles and so I never actually get to find out what these things are about!

jjj_alltheway said...

Well, the Korean Internet police is out if full force. They have already banned one site it appears? You can see the story on the maid website but clicking on it will lead you nowhere.

Girlyngdicky SuckerGoogy said...

Having Sex Is Good for Your Health. Lets Talk About Sex.

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