The London Korean Links Awards 2010

LKL’s fifth unscientific selection of people and events who have made 2010.

Personality of the Year

Kim Yu-na
Olympic figure-skating champion Kim Yu-na

No question about this: Kim Yu-na. Olympic champion, 5th-highest earning female sportsperson globally, ambassador for everything from the G20 to the Catholic Church. I’m sure if she ran for president she’d get elected.

Albums of the Year

Albums by 3rd Line Butterfly, Epik High and Apollo 18
Albums by 3rd Line Butterfly, Epik High and Apollo 18

Four LKL music watchers made their choices here, of which the picks are:

  • 3rd Line Butterfly Nine Days or a Million: this band celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, and celebrated with a batch of reissues and a new album. The band made it into the top picks of two of LKL’s contributors.
  • Apollo 18 got their Red Album into Anna’s top 5 two years running by virtue of re-recording it and adding a few songs. “The result: my most favourite release ever,” says Anna who runs Indieful ROK. Got to be worth a listen.
  • And from Saharial’s choices I select Epik High’s Epilogue. Amazing that the band keeps going with one of their members (DJ Tukutz) in the army and another (Tablo) fighting against a vicious netizen campaign claiming that he never got his Stanford degree.

Commerical K-pop band of the year

Yes, maybe we have enough commercial boy and girl bands, but for the moment no-one’s complaining too hard. Girls Generation are tops according to Gallup, and they’ve certainly had a prominent year. But the most cleverly marketed band is Kara. They started the year by getting noticed by the British tabloid press when someone subtitled their hit “Mister” with words not very flattering to Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard. Those who took the trouble to track them down will have loved their butt dance for the same single (above). Continuing the football theme, they brought out a catchy World Cup cheering song, and in a year in which complaints about sexuality in K-pop got ever louder, Kara managed to get their mildly racy outfits for “Jumping” banned from TV. With their own TV show coming to Japan soon, full marks go to Kara.

Film of the Year

Green Days
Green Days, aka Dinosaur and I, directed by Han Hye-jin and An Jae-hoon

The most discussed film of the year? Kim Ji-woon’s I Saw the Devil. At LKL we hated it, but it has stuck in the mind, and it’s the film that everyone’s twittering about. To be honest, I haven’t seen a film that’s bowled me over this year. I slept through HaHaHa like I usually do with Hong Sang-soo’s films; I cheered through The Man from Nowhere, but now can’t remember much about it. Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry is just too bleak to put at the top of the list, but after all the bad press it received I enjoyed Housemaid much more than I was expecting. Secret Reunion was fun, too. I wish I’d been able to see Bedevilled, Moss, The Servant and 71 Into the Fire at the London Korean Film Festival, but they screened either too early or too late in the evening. But the slow-burn film I’ll want to see again when it is released next year is the gentle, warm animation Green Days.

Cultural Event of the Year – London

More detailed thoughts on the variety of cultural events are in my post here. It has been a good year.

Runner-up: Present from the Past

Present from the Past flyer
Present from the Past: 40 newly commissioned works in aid of British War veterans

A number of events this year were prompted by the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. The most high-profile was the KCC’s Present from the Past exhibition – which caught the attention of the BBC’s Michelle Hussain – in which 40 young Korean artists presented newly commissioned works inspired by themes related to the war. The works were later auctioned in aid of British veterans from the war.

Winner: Won Il and Baramgot at the South Bank

Baramgot's leader, Won Il
Baramgot's leader, Won Il

As part of the Thames Festival Won Il brought his band of traditional musicians to London. Performing on the open air stage under the London Eye rather too close to a hip-hop venue was probably not the ideal circumstances to hear their unique blend of traditional and contemporary, but fortunately they had a more conventional performance in the Purcell Room immediately after the festival.

Cultural event of the year – Korea

Runner-up: the re-opening of the Gwanghwamun

The Gwanghwamun reopening ceremony
The Gwanghwamun reopening ceremony (Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul)

After being under wraps for nearly four years, newly restored great gate to the Gyeongbokgung was reopened on liberation day, 15 August 2010. Restored to its original position, in alignment with the palace, the gate now commands the Gwanghwamun plaza.

Winner: the Philharmonia in Sorok-do

The audience at the Philharmonia's concert in Sorok-do
The audience at the Philharmonia's concert in Sorok-do (Korea Times photo)

A couple of years ago the eyes of the world were focused on the New York Philharmonic with Lorin Maazel in Pyongyang. A fat lot of good that bit of musical diplomacy did. This year, much less heralded, was London’s Philharmonia with Vladimir Ashkenazy and Cho Yong-pil in Sorok-do for an audience of sufferers of Hansen’s disease, sponsored by Lady Rothermere’s foundation.

Book of the Year

LKL Books of the year
LKL Books of the Year

Joint winners this year. In the non-fiction category, Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy. There are too many books about North Korea in the shops, but this is one that should be on everyone’s shelves. Within fiction, it’s Kim Young-ha’s Your Republic is Calling You. A fresh, approachable read.

Photo of the Year

The underwater fashion show of hanbok by Park Sul-nyeo gave rise to some lovely photos which did the rounds of the international press. Here’s a sample below:

Park Sul-nyeo underwater fashion show
Park Sul-nyeo underwater fashion show at the opening of a Lotte department store. Photo: Yonhap / Reuters.

6 thoughts on “The London Korean Links Awards 2010

  1. I probably would have voted for Apollo 18’s Red too, had I actually heard the rerelease, as the original release was definitely one of my favorites from 2009. Nine Days or a Million certainly was as well.

  2. Glad we’re all agreed!

    I’m hoping to get permission to print Mark Russell’s choices for 2010 as well. There will be some overlap, and some interesting new albums as well.

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