The novels of South Korean writer Han Kang

The novels of South Korean writer Han Kang

South Korean writer Han Kang has become a sensation in South Korea with the publication of her books "The Vegetarian" and "Human Acts". Published back in 2007, "The Vegetarian" is a slim novel that tells the story of a woman named Yeong-hye who suddenly stops eating meat. This act enrages her family and symbolizes Yeong-hye's renunciation of humanity itself, which she sees as essentially violent. As she dives deeper into her obssession with cleansing her body from meat, it becomes clear that she's trying to emulate the peaceful life of a tree; she literally transform herself into a tree. As it can be expected, this book has been compared to Kafka's Metamorphosis at many levels.

"The Vegetarian" has earned praise beyond the borders of South Korea and has own the Man Booker International Prize, awarded every other year to novels from any country published in English (as it has been translated by Deborah Smith).

After the success of "The Vegetarian", Kang published another novel that also saw the light of day in English. The novel is "Human Acts" and is grounded more firmly in reality than "The Vegetarian" although it is just as inventive, intense and provocative.

"Human Acts" focuses on a tragic episode in South Korean history that saw student protesters being shot in the streets of the city of Gwangju in 1980, while others were captured and tortured by dictatorial government forces. Since the details of the tragedy were either censored or grievously downplayed by the government, many Koreans have only recently learned the full extent of the atrocities committed.

Considering the history of censorship, "Human Acts" is an outstanding work that requires considerable bravery. The subject matter is controversial in itself, and Kang's nonlinear, surrealistic treatment is a huge risk that ultimately gives the atrocities and the characters who endure them an emotional immediacy.

King's fascination with bodies is palpable from the beginning. A wretched 15-year-old boy named Dong-ho helps to wash and label fast-decomposing corpses in a municipal gymnasium in Gwangju. His main worry is his school friend, who we learn to be dead on the second chapter.

The following chapters skip forward to account for effects of the massacre on the survivors. The story also shows the perspective of a book editor who must contend with a government censor, as well as a former prisoner who is asked to reminiscence about his time in captivity, and lastly, a factory worker who lives with daily nightmares of her sufferings at the hands of Korean soldiers.

Kang's writing style serves to empower both stories. In "The Vegetarian," Kang's talent for grotesque description served the novel's psychosexual suspense and perverse entertainment value. In "Human Acts," it makes the atrocities of human-on-human violence extremely vivid.

But that's not the only bold narrative risk Kang takes. There's a chapter that is told from the point of view of a dead boy who body is trapped under a pile of other dead bodies: "When they threw a straw sack over the body of the man at the very top, the tower of bodies was transformed into the corpse of some enormous, fantastical beast, its dozens of legs splayed out beneath it." Thank goodness it's just her wild imagination a book.

S-Korean Rapper San E Releases New Single

S-Korean Rapper San E Releases New Single

South Korean rapper Jung San, known as San E, is not just any rapper. He is, indeed, the most successful solo rapper in South Korea's mainstream music. After securing a contract with Brand New Music, San E recently released a new single.

San E became famous back in 2008 when he released his first mix tapes, dubbed "Ready to be Signed" and "Ready to be Famous". To attract attention to his music, he jokingly dissed one of the famous underground rappers Verbal Jint.

His diss on Verbal Jint achieved its purposed and raised the attention of South Korea's hip hop community and Verbal Jint - who, surprisingly, then invited San E to join Verbal Jint's hip hop crew, Overclass.

In 2010, San E won the Best Hip Hong Song Korea Music Awards for his song "Rap Genius." Following that award, he became the first rapper that secured contract with JYP Entertainment, one of the big three labels in South Korea's k-pop industry.

Then San E released his first mini album dubbed "Everybody Ready?" in which San E collaborated with fellow JYP Entertainment artists Min, and Joo and Yeeun on the mini album.

San E then released his single "Tasty San"" that featured Min in the M Countdown music television show. A few months later, San E started another round of promotion for the single "LoveSick", in which the video featured Sohee from Wonder Girls.

San E is not like any other rapper. He uses music as an outlet. He was born in South Korea but moved to Georgia, USA, when his parents were struggling due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. That is what gave him a closeness to this style of music and an international sense.

"I always wanted to let everybody know hip-hop is worldwide," said the rapper.

He then announced his ambitious plan to release a charity single. The purpose of it all is to cross the barriers of race, culture, language and sex, alongside the collective known as Hip Hop for the World. He recorded a global anthem "HIPHOPISHIPHOP".

Hip Hop for the World includes talented artists from four continents and is led by San E, famous for his K-Pop Hot 100 hits like "Break-Up Dinner," "A Midsummer Night's Sweetness" and "Body Language."

"HIPHOPISHIPHOP is my high school dream. As an immigrant, if I let my friends listen to Korean hip-hop music, they'd be like, ‘They can rap in Korea?' I always wanted to let everybody know hip-hop is worldwide; it can be rap in all different languages you never heard. It took awhile to make it really happen, now here it is."


2017 Jan 23 EP [Season of Suffering]

2015 Apr 23 Album [The Boy Who Cried Wolf]

2014 Aug 04 Digital Single 'Body Language'

2014 Jun 12 Project Single 'A Midsummer Night's Sweetness'

2013 Nov 21 2nd Mini Album ['Not' Based on the True Story]

2013 Nov 06 Digital Single 'Where Did You Sleep'

2013 Aug 02 Digital Single 'Story of Someone I Know'

2013 May 13 Digital Single 'Big Boy'

2011 Apr 26 Digital Single 'Don't Go'

2010 Nov 03 Digital Single 'LoveSick'

2010 Sep 13 1st Mini Album [Everybody Ready?]

(more details on his San E facebook page)

Goblin, a popular but controversial K-drama

Goblin, a popular but controversial K-drama

K-dramas are known for their near-perfect male leads: attractive, intelligent heirs to vast fortunes, among other positive qualities. The K-drama Goblin follows in that direction, except for that they take it to the next level; they conjure a knight in shining armor who is considered by television critics to be a god.

Critics argue that is one of they main reasons why the show has boasted record-breaking viewership since its premiere on South Korean cable channel TVN ith production by Studio Dragon.

"We've evolved past god-like men to actual gods, who have the appearance of good-looking men," said culture critic Jung Duk Hyun. "Now, their abilities surpass the realm of human strength."

In the past few years, popular dramas have seen a surge in male leads who are gifted with supernatural powers.The male protagonist in 2013's I Hear Your Voice can read people's minds. The following year, My Love From the Star featured an extraterrestrial with superhuman powers of sight, hearing and speed as its romantic lead. The year after, in Another Miss Oh the male love interest was able to see the future.

And now it's Goblin's turn. Based on Korean folklore about dokkaebi, a higher spiritual being who is roughly equivalent to a goblin, Goblin stars Gong Yoo as Kim Shin, a warrior who was impaled on a sword centuries ago and transformed into an immortal with endless wealth.

Goblin has scored ratings as high as 12.7 % in 2016 and many critics attribute this popularity to female viewers' yearning for all-powerful make figures who can solve the problems of modern women with stressful lives. The final episode in Jan 2017 recorded an 18.7% nationwide audience making it the second highest rated drama in Korean cable television history.

"The realistic ideal is that two people complement each other in a relationship," said Choi Ji Sun, 28, a lawyer who has watched every episode of the show.

"But it's easy to escape to a world where someone will come to my side at the drop of a hat, no questions asked, and provide everything. Of course, I would never expect that of my real life partner."

In the show, the protagonist Ji Eun Tak, played by Kim Go Eun, is able to summon Kim Shin by just blowing out a flame.

The female lead is surrounded by problems, living with relatives who scorn her after the death of her mother. Kim Shin comes to her rescue to provide for her and shelter her. Although he is her knight in shining armor, she is no damsel in distress. Instead, she is strong and strives to provide for herself.

"But it's a shame she is unable to escape the Cinderella stereotype, especially when her make partner is so almighty," says drama critic Kim Sun Young.

Their age difference has done nothing but spark the controversy as Ji is portrayed as a high school student while Kim is said to be 39 years old with the appearance of a thirty-something man.

The system of fantasy blocks any guilt and allows viewers to accept, without being repulsed, the romance between a young woman and an older man, TV critic Hwang Jin Mi. "But the image of a young girl... hanging onto a rich, thirty-something man... lingers."

Descendants of the Sun: Korean drama in India

Descendants of the Sun: Korean drama in India

Like the rest of most of the world, Television viewers in India are majorly exposed to content from American and British TV shows. The only platform that offers material other than British and American to viewers in India is Zindagi, the number 1 Premium Entertainment Channel.

With a selection of the best shows worldwide, Zindagi offers viewers a glimpse into new cultural settings while broadcasting universal emotions.

Zindagi has launched shows from Turkey and Ukraine before, but recently it has taken a new step and introduced the blockbuster South Korean drama "Descendants of the Sun" for the first time on Indian television. The touching drama tells the love story of Special Force Officer (Song Joong Ki) and a surgeon (Song Hye Kyo) whose fates intermingle.

The TV show was not only a blockbuster hit in South Korea but it also took Asia by storm, garnering immense popularity and top-ratings across the continent.

The selection of actors had already paved the way for the finite series to succeed. The Korean heartthrob Song Joong Ki, who plays the role of a Special Force Officer, is considered to be one of Korea's hottest actors with a huge fan following across South East Asia. His choice seems ideal as the actor served in the Korean Military for two years before bagging the role in the show.

Although Song Joong Ki was already popular in the country, the show catapulted his fame making him one of the highest paid South Korean actors.

"Descendants of the Sun" is the story of Special Force Officer and a surgeon who fall in love at first sight. Despite their instant congeniality, they are taken aback by their contrasting ideologies and values (one kills to protect lives and the other saves lives).

Destiny unites them again after almost a year of separation whey they meet at a war zone "Uruk", a land far from Seoul. The new circumstances force them to work closely together.

The story will tell if their love will blossom in a strange land and an extreme environment. The audience is yet to find out if they will be able fight or succumb to destiny.

Some of the sweetest quotes from Descendants of the Sun include:

"I hope you don't think my kiss is bad. I did it after thinking a thousand times."

"You are already beautiful." (Yoo Si-jin speaks to Kang Mo-yeon, who is reluctant to make eye contact because she is not wearing any make-up).

"You have so many men to worry about. Just worry about me from now on."

"Regarding the kiss, what should I do? Should I apologize for that? Should I confess my feelings to you?"

"Yes... you know, I have (been bewitched by something)." (When Kang Mo-yeon and Yoo Si-jin look at the wrecked ship, Kang asks him: "Have you ever been bewitched by something?")

"Because it is far away... I want to spend more time with you." (When Yoo Si-jin and Kang Mo-yeon got to a beach, Kang says to Yoo: "Didn't you say the beach is far from here?")