K-POP Now!: The Korean Music Revolution Paperback – Apr 29 2014
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It's an enjoyable and informative read which strikes a good balance between out-and-out fandom and critique, and can be warmly recommended." - London Korean Links
"This book provides rare insights into the personalities and inner workings of the fascinating world of K-Pop. Mark Russell not only explores and explains this vibrant musical phenomenon-he provides a window onto a trend that is shaping popular youth culture throughout Asia and the world. K-Pop Now! is an essential read for everyone who wants to understand the evolving popular tastes in this vital part of the globe." - Gwen Robinson,Financial Times Southeast Asia correspondent
"Mark Russell understands popular Korean music as well as anyone, Korean or foreign, and his latest effort doesn't disappoint.K-Pop Now! gives an honest, fascinating account of the development of the K-pop machine, and is written with obvious enthusiasm for the subject. Mr Russell goes beyond the boy bands and girl groups, and is as comfortable discussing Cho Yong-pil as he is 2PM. Korea's star is rising, thanks in part to its music industry. If you want to know how that industry works, who the main players are, and what the future holds for them, look no further than this book." - Daniel Tudor, former Korea correspondent forThe Economist and author ofKorea: The Impossible Country
"With K-pop being the most talked-about product coming out of Korea today, Koreans and non-Koreans alike ask:So what is K-pop? Between the covers of this book, you will find the closest thing you can get to an answer. This is a comprehensive and timely guidebook on K-pop by someone who can describe and explain it better than any other I know, by a Western expert who has been following K-pop more closely and with more passion than Koreans." - Choe Sang-Hun,New York Times Korea Correspondent
"Mark Russell knows the South Korean entertainment industry inside and out. He writes about Korean pop with expertise, warmth and infectious enthusiasm. Russell gets both the trends and the context. He's a delight to read." - Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin, President and CEO, the Legatum Institute
"K-pop has breathed new life into global pop music, proving that catchy, hummable tunes never go out of style. And Mark Russell, with his long experience and in-depth knowledge of South Korea's music scene, has written an engaging and comprehensive account of how K-pop took over the world." - Steve McClure, formerBillboard magazine Asia Bureau Chief and publisher ofMcClure Music News
"The experience of looking at yourself with someone else's eyes always brings up special emotions. Sometimes it reveals the parts that you want to hide so bad that you forget about them. Sometimes another point of view creates an opportunity for positive discussion and a new interpretation. Mark has been watching and studying the changes to the Korean music scene, finding the exquisite spots where many boundaries-neither inside nor outside-cross, and moving from one such spot to another. His views are both systematic and professional, and yet he never loses balance or his sense of humor, always presenting stimulating points of view." - Cho TaeSang; Director ofByul.org
"Having written about Korean pop culture and lived in Korea for more than a decade, Mark Russell is uniquely qualified to talk about K-pop." - Shin Hyun-joon, research professor specializing in modern Korean music at Sungkonghoe University
From the Inside Flap
"Whether you're new to K-Pop and could use an easy yet thorough guidebook or you're a K-Pop veteran who needs help explaining to friends and family what K-Pop is and how awesome it is, K-Pop Now would be your go-t
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Okay, let's be real, the author did a great job talking about KPOP's cultural background, its roots, its history and how the KPOP revolution evolved over time. However, when it comes to the section about boy groups and girl groups, there needs to be major editing with information given due to the lack of information that was missing and incorrect information concerning dates and names.
The cover of the album is absolutely amazing, we have major KPOP groups like TVXQ!, Big Bang, EXO, SNSD, Wondergirls 2ne1- you get the gist- it's glossy and a beautiful finish from the front cover to the back cover of the book.
The first chapter, "The Land of KPOP", interesting and useful information covering the history and roots of where KPOP originates from and the kinds of things that you should at least know KPOP's background information in general.
The second chapter," What is KPOP?", the author interviews "Eat Your Kimchi", Kevin Kim from ZE:A and Brian Joo from Fly to the Sky. The interviews were short and had good information, but I felt like it lacked in detail and at times were a bit too short. I expected the author to interview other artists like Kevin from U-Kiss (Korean-American), Nickhun from 2pm (Thai-American) or even Amber from f(x) (Tawainese-American) about the diversity of KPOP, or even Jay Park just to read about their experiences in the KPOP industry and such. Don't get me wrong, it was great hearing from the Simon and Martina (but if you follow their youtube account, you already have the idea of who they are, what they do etc, so the information in the interview is not new, but old information for KPOP fans who already know who Simon and Martina are), it was refreshing to hear from Kevin Kim from ZE:A even though I don't listen to ZE:A as much-- it was nice to hear about what he had to say about KPOP and his experiences in the KPOP world and Brian Joo (been a fan of "Fly to Sky" from the beginning), it was great to read about his experiences in SM Entertainment and now. I didn't have a problem with the interviews, but it lacked information and I wished that the author had more interviews and maybe a fan interview from any of the big groups or solo artists in Korea.
Boy groups - If you're going to be covering boy groups, you need to get the dates and history right.
TVXQ! - The author gave information that covered only two members (Yunho and Changmin), but what about the other three members (Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu) who debuted with Yunho and Changmin in 2003. For new fans that are reading this book or are planning to buy this book, let's get things straight. TVXQ! debuted with 5 members not 2 in 2003, and the author failed to mention the splitting of the group. The former members of TVXQ!; Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu left SM and became known as JYJ while TVXQ! became a duo with Yunho and Changmin. Another thing, MIROTIC was released in 2008 not 2006. 2006 was TVXQ! 's "O" era. If the author can mention Jay Park leaving 2pm in the book and have Jay Park under the Past Members of 2pm, I'm sure we all expect to see Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu under the Past Members as well (however, the author fails to include JYJ in this book) which disappointed me in the most part. The author did mention JYJ in the beginning about KPOP groups having concerts outside of Korea, but doesn't bother to clarify who JYJ is.
Super Junior- Last I remember, Super Junior debuted with 13 members not 11. The author failed to mention Hangeng or Kibum, and even failed to mention them as "Past Members".
EXO- EXO has two leaders, EXO-K (SUHO) and EXO-M (KRIS), however only Kris was labeled as the leader. Last I check when EXO debuted, they had two leaders.
Many of the pictures were of great quality, others looked blurry and not as appeasing to its fans. No offense, but even fans can take better pictures than what what published in the book. For example, 2pm's picture was blurry compared to other groups, it might seem like a big deal for other fans, but you kind of want to know what they look like as well. Not to mention, Super Juniors' pictures.
I'm surprised that SS501 wasn't mentioned in this book, they were just as great as TVXQ! and had many accomplishments as well.
In the girl group, AFTERSCHOOL, the former leader's name is not RAHI, it's KAHI.
The picture quality for girl groups, many of them were great some were somewhat just blurry and low quality like F(x).
I give the author props for having a solo artist section and also mentioning Yoo- Mi Rae.
The information was basic and had decent information, but I wish there was more information about the KPOP groups since many of them had only 2 pages worth of information.
I also wished that there a section for FANCLUBS who also played a huge role in the KPOP community and the many ways that they show support to their favorite artists and groups.
I understand that talking about KPOP alone and condensing into one book is a difficult thing to do, and I give props to the author for writing the book and trying to put enough information in the book as possible, but the information itself wasn't all correct, lacked information needed and made me question about other things that the author should've included.
My advice for older KPOP fans, SAVE YOUR MONEY and for New KPOP fans, give the book a try and read it, but you might need to use your own KPOP sources to go back on the missing information that the author failed to give and that I've listed.
In short this publication, full of glossy photos, seemed like a blatant attempt to make money off international fascination with K-pop and is only potentially useful as a bare introduction to someone who knows nothing of K-pop already, isn't able to use Wikipedia to get the background on artists, and wants to give money to Russell and his publisher.
One can catch a glimpse of Russell's perspective in his second book, K-Pop Now. The book begins with a brief introduction of Korea as a country, then provides several interviews with K-pop artists (Kevin Kim from Ze:A and Brian Joo from Fly to the Sky) as well as K-pop "distributors" (Simon and Martina Stawski from Eat Your Kimchi). Then the book devotes its remaining pages to brief introduction of more than 30 major K-pop acts such as Big Bang and Girls' Generation.
K-Pop Now is not a treatise of everything there is to know about Korean pop music. Like the stars it covers, the book is glossy, thin and image-heavy. Russell's insight is more readily available in the introductory passages, as the later parts of the book are not much more than a series of quick presentations about K-pop artists. None of this is meant as a criticism. The book is properly understood as a breezy introduction to a slice of Korean pop music scene, which is hardly a reason to complain: everyone needs an introduction to a given topic before they explore further.
As someone who writes frequently about K-pop, I do have a couple of quibbles with this book. First, although Russell tips his hat toward the rich tradition of Korean pop music that dates back to the 1920s, the actual coverage of the book is almost entirely limited to what is more properly characterized as "idol pop" than "K-pop." Plainly, the word "K-pop" means "Korean pop music," and Russell agrees with this definition. But even as Russell states that "the term stands for much more than that," reading K-Pop Now leaves the impression that "K-pop" means much less than "Korean pop music." Although Korean pop music encompasses much more than the manufactured idol pop music, the book only covers three artists who are not peddlers of idol pop. Given this, the book's inclusion of CN Blue--a corporate band that was engineered to look like a faux indie act--is borderline insulting. Why not cover one more real Korean indie band in its stead?
Second, where is Lee Hyo-ri? Even one stays within the narrow definition of K-pop, the omission of the reigning queen of Korean pop music and one of the most influential female artists in the history of Korean pop music is a major oversight.
But again, there is no need to put too fine a point on these quibbles. As long as one understands K-Pop Now is an introduction and not the entire universe, it will be worth the reader's time.
The Bottom Line: Read this book if you would like to learn more about the current state of K-pop, without losing sight of the fact that there is more to Korean pop music than idol pop music.
Reading Korea (readingkorea.blogspot.com)
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