First a bit of old news (if by old news, you mean 5 days ago – in interweb time, that’s so last century): Koo Ja-Cheol was injured in a tackle by Cameroon’s Joel Matip in FC Augsburg’s 3-1 defeat to Shalke 04 last Saturday. The Bundesliga midfielder suffered torn ankle ligaments; filing this in the NOT A GOOD MANAGER category, FC Augsburg boss Markus Weinzierl kept Koo playing until the 58th minute -keep in mind, Koo was badly mauled in the 5th minute and thereafter not playing with the usual grit that was his trademark as captain of the bronze medal winning S. Korean olympic side last month. He will be out recovering for 6-8 weeks, possibly more, hopefully less.
Ja-Cheol will not be able to play for the Korean national team’s World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan next tuesday morning (wednesday night Korea time). Ah chaam!
Now on to other fun and heady stuff [sort of soccer related],
Again, late to the punch, I must be the last Korean American not to know about Gangnam Style by Psy [Park Jae-Sang]. It entered my radar this summer whilst browsing tweets about Korean soccer, and just recently I took it for a spin to see what the hell it was about. If you’re among the uninitiated, it’s wicked funny social satire, Korean quasi hip hop with infectious beats, but really it’s about the video and hilarious Monty Python-esque horse dancing. It’s been blowing up in epic proportions, first in Korea and apparently even here in the US [at this point it has 113 million views on youtube].
As for the heady stuff, I was intrigued to know that unlike most K Pop, Psy’s Gangnam Style is fantastically subversive, what with it’s critique of the 1% and the ridiculously lavish lifestyles that most Koreans are out of range from. Representing the 1% is Gangnam, the Beverly Hills of Seoul if you will. I was there in 2010, and let me tell you, there was some mad money floating around there. But enough of my take, there’s a plethora of fascinating articles on Psy and Gangnam. Save for the fact that non Koreans might not get the biting social commentary, this song/video could’ve been the Korean anthem for the Occupy movement, and a real dance-y one at that. Here’s your menu of choices:
From the Atlantic magazine
Below is a link to Jae Kim’s stellar blog, My Dear Korea. (name checked by the Atlantic’s article–and in badass fashion, she dares fact checking the Atlantic for inaccuracies). This also includes a neat video version of Gangnam Style with english translations posted.
I have a soft spot for public radio. PRI’s Marketplace breaks it down Gangnam Style and contextualizes it within the growing social and economic inequality in Korea. Aired 8/31/12, this is 2+ minutes long. Get yr radio fix on!
Al Jazeera’s The Stream broadcast this on the English version channel.
some interesting quotes on the Stream come from Sukjon Hong, a writer for Open City Magazine (which unfortunately is about to shutter it’s doors soon):
“I do feel people rarely see the kind of dark underbelly of all this rapid development…and what people are seeing over and over again in Gangnam is these incredibly well decked out & stylish K Pop stars. They reflect almost non of the actual Korean population and how they live…About 70% of Korea’s 20-30 year olds believe that without access to economic privilege, without access to wealth, you actually can’t go to an elite school or succeed in Korea. So that idea that anyone can make it is not really a part of South Korean culture.”
Power to the people Sukjon! Her twitter handle is at @hongriver
and to tie this all back to Korean soccer, I got this straight up from the BigSoccer Koreans Abroad forum. A BigSoccer forum member going by the handle KyopoOhNo posted this gem earlier this week.
Swansea’s Wayne Routledge’s tweet to Ki Sung Yeung
[**Fast forward to :50 seconds in. Presumably Ki took lessons from Koo Ja-Cheol]
Ki Sung Yeung’s response
Some heady stuff indeed. Lets chew this over with some soju and meet up again at the Tavern soon.