In the year-end spirit of reviewing the highlights and lowlights of 2006, here are the winners of the first LKL Awards – a personal and unscientific selection. The awards are in the following categories:
- Man of the Year
- Woman of the Year
- Best cultural promotion: Briton in Korea
- Best cultural promotion: Korean in Britain
- Best cultural promotion: Non-Korean in Britain
- Best photo
- Best album
- Best book
- Best film
- London event of the year
- Headline of the year
- and some miscellaneous awards…
Man of the Year
I don’t think there’s any competition. Rain, Rain, Rain. Time’s most influential entertainer, Seoul’s tourism goodwill ambassador, a starring role in Park Chan-wook’s latest film, a sell-out concert in New York, a Christmas eve gig in Las Vegas, a good selling album (below). What have I missed? He hasn’t put a foot wrong.
Woman of the Year
There’s a lot of Lees in competition for this award. Soo-young, for being so totally wonderful (if a little flat) at the Fairfield Hall on Mayday; Hyolee for having the most photos on my website (but she’s disqualified for alleged plagiarism), Sabi for being the most searched-for Korean on the internet, despite having done nothing this year apart from making a diet video and re-adopting her birth name Lee Eon-jeong in order to take up acting, Young-ae for, well, I guess most of it was last year (Miss Geumja, Dae Jang Geum), but hey she’s still up there. But beating them all is an unexpected choice: Rowan Pease, for three (maybe more) hugely fun public lectures, with a baby born in between. The woman’s a human whirlwind.
Next, two awards, in the spirit of UK-Korea mutual visit year, for a national of one country living in or temporarily visiting the other. Criteria for winning are either being prominent or in some way successful in the other country, or promoting mutual understanding. And a third award for a non-Korean promoting Korean culture in the UK.
Runners up are David Kilburn for his campaign for the preservation of Kahoidong and Charlie Moores for his campaign for nature conservation in Saemangeum; but the winner is Paul Bateman, guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic for his May tour of Korea accompanying Vibe, Lee Soo Young and others. Despite being totally baffled by the performers at the Fairfield Hall concert there was a strange chemistry going on, which can only have grown in Korea.
Best cultural promotion: Korean in Britain
Where to start? With all those who tirelessly work to promote Korean culture in the UK? Oh Tae-min, Justina Jang? The Embassy and Cultural Centre staff? The performers themselves? The designers at Jackie Choi, for winning an enterprise award? Seol Ki-Hyeon for his sparkling performances at Reading? Kim Sun-wook for his at Leeds? There’s a long list.
OK. Runners up are Dulsori, for their energetic teaching at the SOAS Summer School and the way they work an audience at a public performance. And the winner is Lee Jiyoon, for curating the Asia House Through the Looking Glass exhibition and the Exposed show earlier in the year.
Best cultural promotion: Non-Korean in Britain
Joint winners are ukfan for his fun forum focused on cartoon strips related to Dae Jang Geum, but also with a more general Korean cultural remit, and Alice Bennell for her Show Dae Jang Geum on the BBC campaign. Sign it if you haven’t already.
Photo of the year
I want to make a special mention of Yeondoo Jung’s surreal “Wonderland” photographs, but they’re disqualified because they were created in 2004/5. Visit his website for examples. So here’s the winner: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, summing up the disappointment at Korea’s exit from the World Cup:
Album of the year
Provisionally awarded to Humming Urban Stereo‘s Monochrome. When I started writing this post just before Christmas I was going to refrain from announcing an album award because while I agreed with the Chosun that Vibe’s Re-feel was the best I’d heard up till then, it doesn’t merit an award. Since then I started listening to my December purchases, and Humming Urban Stereo’s Monochrome has rarely left the CD machine. It’s head and shoulders above the run-of-the-mill R&B fare that comes out of Korea, and Humming Girl has got to have the cutest voice in the business.
But I can’t confirm this album as my pick of 2006 until I’ve followed up on Anna’s recommendations.
Provisionally awarded to Keith Howard for his book on K-pop. It’s been a strong field this year, with a couple of art books, literature in translation, a fascinating compilation of foreign correspondents’ output, a more heavyweight book on Korean music (again by Keith Howard) and the graphic novel on Pyongyang. But I think Keith Pratt’s Everlasting Flower: A History of Korea could also be a strong contender for book of the year, and I haven’t had a chance to read that one yet.
The turkey of the year is the appreciation of Kim Ki-duk published in France by Dis Voir. A huge disappointment which tells you virtually nothing and gives you no desire to explore the films further.
Film of the year
It’s got to be Bong Joon-ho’s The Host. Quirky, inventive, funny, maybe a little bit scary at times, a bit political. And just plain enjoyable.
For connoisseurs, Darcy’s provisional top five of the year also includes Hong Sang-soo’s Woman on the Beach, Kim Tae-yong’s Family Ties, Lee Yoon-ki’s Ad Lib Night and Min Boung-hun’s Pruning the Grapevine.
London event of the year
It’s a hard decision. Two film festivals, dance events, music, art exhibitions, plays. We’ve been really spoilt.
- In joint third place: Crying Nut at the London Korean Festival and Jump at the Peacock. Equally exhilerating.
- In second place, a magical Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Barbican
- In first place, Ahn Eun Mi’s Chunhyang (below), again at the Peacock. Two nights only. It was worth a much longer run.
Headline of the year
- Runners up: Eric promotes Spam and Kim Ki-duk mistaken for a tramp (disqualified because they’re my own headlines)
- Winner: The Chosun for Korean protests baffle Belgians
And the miscellaneous awards
- Expected failure of the year: It’s a three-way tie between the six-party talks, the US-Korea free trade agreement talks, and the Korean soccer team. (And just to show I’m not biased, the English soccer team were an expected failure as well). Let’s hope the first two make more progress in 2007.
- Unexpected failure of the year: Hwang woo-suk (the news broke in 2005, but it was still going in 2006)
- Expected success of the year: The most eagerly awaited film since Lady Vengeance, and it surpassed all expectations and box office records. Bong Joon-ho’s The Host, of course.
- Unexpected success of the year: Ban Ki-moon. Maybe I’m a cynic, but I put all the early press coverage of his prospects for the secretary-generalship of the UN in the same category as all the wishful thinking about the Red Devils. I was wrong.
- Special award for grit, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness: The KEB investigators. You screwed those pesky Americans in the end.
- Company of the year: Samsung. They put some of their past behind them, Chelsea is unstoppable, they paid for Crying Nut to perform in London, and they just won a contract to supply the Queen with flat screen TVs. Can I have one please, or one of your nice phones (hand-delivered by Hyolee if that’s not too much trouble)?
- Special award for broad-minded challenging of national stereotypes. Not. …goes to an incisive and probing review of The Host by the Daily Mirror’s David Edwards.
- The award for the piece of journalism most likely to take a few cheap shots about Korean dog-eating but which in fact came out remarkably balanced: Cooking in the Danger Zone.
- Lee Young-ae / JSA award for the most diabolical attempt to speak a foreign language: Jonathan Ross, for his efforts to speak a word or two of Korean in his Asian Invasion episode on Korean film.
- Awards for loyal readership: Well, you all deserve an award, but especially those who leave comments (relevant comments, that is, not the ones which contain links to porn sites) or send me emails. Special mentions go to Max and daeguowl, with Anna and Jase not far behind.
- Guest contributor of the year: Beccy Kennedy, for her visual arts coverage. I’m hoping for more from her next year. I would also like her to have some more vigorous competition. I know one or two of you out there have ideas for an article, and I look forward to seeing those come to fruition.
- Special thanks award: To my wife Louise, for putting up with my little hobby, and even fuelling it with an occasional clipping from the Law Society Gazette.
A happy new year to all our readers. Thanks for visiting.