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Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Post-olympics celebrity and trivia round-up

celeb collage

It’s been so long since I did a round-up of celebrity news, and nowadays my knowledge of what’s hot in the celebrity world is derived from looking at my site’s statistics where I can identify the google search terms which have landing people on my blog.1 So here is a collection of random stories from the past few months

Korean singers bookend the Olympics

Jo Su-mi
Jo Su-mi

In what was claimed to be a last-minute invitation, opera diva Jo Su-mi performed the Olympic theme song “Under the Five Rings” along with several other singers to celebrate the opening of the games

I was staying at my home in Rome last Friday when I got an urgent phone call from the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee. They asked me to give a performance of the Beijing Olympics’ theme song in front of the Chinese president. I was surprised, because I was taking time to prepare for my performances in China scheduled for Aug. 11 and 14. But I took a plane immediately.

Rain at the Olympics, with Kelly Chen and Cecilia Han (source: Chosun Ilbo)
Rain at the Olympics, with Kelly Chen and Cecilia Han (source: Chosun Ilbo)

To close the games, another Korean singer had a lot more advance warning. According to the Chosun Ilbo, to secure the services of one of Korea’s most famous hallyu stars, the contract was signed three months in advance.

Note the traditional Chinese fiddles played by the obligatory pretty girls (have you noticed how the string players on stage on any western light entertainment show are always female?). Fusion music is getting everywhere. Sometimes it works.

Videos of Rain’s Olympic performance on YouTube are taken down just as fast as they are uploaded owing to rigorous copyright enforcement. You can purchase a DVD of the closing ceremony from YesAsia [update 1 Sept 2017: DVD no longer available]. Like the opening ceremony, it was orchestrated by Zhang Yimou, and includes mass dance and aerial performances around the “memory tower” (according to the blurb). Crucially, it includes Rain in the group performance of “Beijing, Beijing, I love Beijing”, as well as footage of the handover ceremony to London for the 2012 games. Probably David Beckham kicks a football as well.

Hallyu and Taekwondo in the Middle East

Hyun Bin
Hyun Bin

One of the many interesting stories from the Olympics was the success of the Iranian taekwondo practitioner Sara Khoshjamal Fekri, who narrowly missed a medal.

Another female taekwondo competitor was Sheikha Maitha Mohammed Rashed al-Maktoum, a royal from the UAE. She warmed up for the Beijing Olympics at Kyung Hee University. While she was at it, she sought the autograph of Hyun bin (right), star of TV dramas such as My Name is Kim Sam Soon.

Celebrity feet

Kang Sue-jin
Kang Sue-jin

Every now and then I note that people come to this site searching for “Celebrity Feet”. There was a flurry of traffic recently when Kang Sue-jin, prima ballerina at the Stuttgart ballet, celebrated 20 years at the company with a performance in Seoul and a regional tour with some of her distinguished colleagues. But she is known for her feet. According to KBS,

Her feet are being hailed as the most beautiful feet on earth, and an increasing number of people hope to kiss on her feet. This is because they are so much impressed by her painstaking efforts: she changes more than 1,000 pairs of toe shoes per year because she practices more than 10 hours per day.

But if you click on the above link to the KBS feature, the feet are assuredly not a pretty sight.

Lee Eon, RIP

Lee Eon, RIP
Lee Eon, RIP

On a much more serious note, the blogosphere has been very busy in lamenting the death of Lee Eon, star of Coffee Prince, in a motorcycle accident. Gong Yu got special leave from the military to attend the funeral, at which there were a number of well-known faces paying their respects.

Dramabeans has the full story here, here and here.

Hyori’s third

Hyorish was launched in July. According to YesAsia:

It’s Hyorish – album cover
If anyone deserves to have their own adjective, it’s probably Lee Hyori. Lee, who emerged as a Korean pop icon since turning solo in 2003, introduces “hyorish” to our urban dictionary through the release of her new album It’s Hyorish. Bringing the cute-sexy concept back to the stage, Lee teams up with some of the best talents in the business, namely producers Park Geun Tae and Kim Do Hyun, along with music video director Cha Eun Tek, to present what is expected to be one of the best-selling albums of 2008. A staggering 60,000 preorder copies were sold with ten days left before the official release, proving once again the massive appeal she brings to Korean pop culture.

Check out the incoherent video of one of the main hits from the album, “U-go girl”.

It’s not going to find its way into my own shopping basket any time soon. More worthy of attention is Seo Tai-ji’s come-back project, of which the first part hit the shops at the end of July.

  1. And why do they end up here? Because of my blogwatch pages which grab the headlines and opening paragraph of articles from other blogs more diligent than me in following the celebrity news. I win, because I see what’s interesting people, and the other bloggers win because I direct the traffic their way []

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