(LJ readers, pop on over to my site to read this post if the videos I embed beneath the cut aren’t working… LJ sometimes takes the videos in stride, and sometimes hates my embedding anything….)
At some point or other I stumbled onto the existence of a Korean by the name (or pseudonym?) of Yoon Sook Jin (usually written yoonsookjin) who achieved some degree of fame online doing those sing-along webcam type videos which, since the dawn of Youtube, have been competing with cat photographs for how much bandwidth can be, er, used up in unentertaining entertainment.
But you know, there is something unusual about Miss Yoon, and it’s not her lovely smile that you can see in the photo to the right, which is from what appears to be her blog, or the fact she looks a little like Björk. Those things aren’t the odd thing about her And the hair? I think that’s a wig. Nope, the interesting thing about her — well, the thing about her that interested a bunch of people in another country on the other side of the earth — is what kind of songs she performs on those webcam videos.
They’re so Turkish, in fact, that I don’t know if the titles of the tracks will work or break if I paste them into this rich-text editing window. “Yeşil Grena” is a bit of text that keeps showing up, enough that I have to wonder if that’s her Turkish name. A Google Search suggests that it is… which gives one pause: plenty of Koreans have “English names,” but a Turkish name?
She does quite a good job in some of them — not everything is stellar, but some are nicely edited and executed, and they have the look of a labour of love, not something slapped together — though I have no idea how authentic all the trappings are, like the belly-dancing, belly-dancing gear, the costumes, and so on. She does seem to know the language, or at least enough of it to lip-synch along well enough to fool me at times. I think in some of them, she’s actually singing, too. (And while it wouldn’t take much to impress me, some of the comments in Turkish that come up on the search linked above seem pretty positive, or pleased, too. I think I even found a (Turkish?) fan singing her a heartfelt birthday song — it looks like that from the text description of the video, anyway!)
This is one of those things that reminds me why, despite the frustrations I discuss here sometimes, and despite the way Korean manias sometimes end up making things difficult, I like this characteristic of Korean people a lot. There’s something about their odd fanaticisms that sometimes gets directed at the neatest, most interesting, surprising things. Things you’ve never met anyone else obsessed with before. You’ll meet Koreans who are crazy about Turkish popsongs, or French poetry, or flying model helicopters — whole groups of those, congregating t do it on weekends — or translating German opera librettos because all the extant translations suck, according to them. Yes, people essentially fansubbing Wagner. They’ll sometimes blow you away with how much they can pick up, even when they’re living in some podunk little town. Or maybe because they, more than anyone, need something to make life in the podunk town interesting.
Maybe, also, there’s something about living in a peripheral country (like Canada or Australia) that isn’t anglophone (unlike Canada or Australia, but more like say, Finland) that opens up the range of weird stuff people can just go crazy for. Yes, it’s true that it’s more uncommon for you to meet people with crazy, unusual passions here in Korea; but when you do, there’s a much wider range of things, it seems, for them to be head-over-heels passionate about, and to them, it’s not left-field at all. No more left field than their favorite movie being German — how is that weirder than it being Japanese or Hollywood or French? — or the place they dream of visiting being Ivory Coast or Titicaca?
So, a toast: to those odd and interesting Koreans we all meet if we’re lucky enough, and their unpredictable, refreshing passions!
Without further ado, if you care to read on, here are some of yoonsookjin’s videos, a couple before the cut and more after, for those who want more: