Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

Want Lists are located here. NPB Baseball Want List is located here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

One Last Korean Find: K-Pop Music Cards

Korean music in general doesn't interest me. There's nothing wrong with it, really, it's just not my style. If you like it, though, there are plenty of dealers at the permanent flea markets with stacks of CDs, DVDs, VHS, and cassette tapes. Yes, VHS and cassette tapes are still available in South Korea. Now, the music video above is labeled as being North Korean, but the general concept of 1980s and 1990s style South Korean pop music is pretty similar.
T-ara's "Roly Poly" music video - this clocks in at over 12 minutes, but you can skip ahead to the music.

But modern K-Pop has... more pop. Synchronized dance moves, good catchy rhythms, and pretty women make for a nice show. I don't really have a favorite group, though since coming to Japan I've been introduced to plenty of K-Pop girl groups that have songs I like: Kara, T-ara, and Girls Generation come to mind.
Kara's "Go Go Summer" with a shorter opening skit.
I've mentioned before that Korean consumers aren't that into merchandising, except for some very important exceptions. But K-Pop is popular in Japan, too, and many groups go on tour here. And to go with the tastes and wallets of Japanese fans, there are some souvenirs produced for many of the groups.
SNSD/Girls Generation's "Gee"

It's my coworker who really introduced me to Girls Generation, singing the above song several times. And it's probably my new favorite. Pop music from Korea is just so peppy that you have to be happy. Or you should stop trying so hard not to be happy. I've only seen stores selling K-Pop goods in tourist locations, such as Itaewon and the tourist goods sections of shopping malls. There are keychains, buttons, posters, calendars, notepads, cloth photo banners, name tags, magnets, and a whole ton of other stuff. I found some business card-sized cards (they probably were printed on business cards) in a store in Japan, each with a different photo, with a set featuring dozens of photos of one band. Those would be the most interesting to me, but Korea didn't have those. I found a pack of postcards for just a couple bucks, though, and Girls Generation seemed to be the group to get.
 The front of each card has a different color photo. You'll see them all below.
 The backs have the same image and are designed to be used as post cards. I get the feeling that these, like all the goods at these shops, are unlicensed. But they're still overpriced.
 Many of the photos are of just one girl each.
 They look decent, and (good or bad) all the images come from the same photo shoot.
 These cards have nurse-themed photos, which I didn't notice until I got home. I think there was only one type of postcard set for Girls Generation, though some groups had different sets.
 "You can take my blood pressure any time." Or something corny like that.
 In addition to the ten postcards above, there were two sticker sheets (below).
 One of them had this image which looks like it came right from the CD. Mr. Mr. is one of their songs, and after watching the video and doing a little research, it's obvious all these images are from the video. Actually, they're from some teaser photos released for the music video.
Here's the other sticker sheet. And below is the music video:
The girls perform open heart surgery on a man. I guess. And dance a lot. I gather that K-Pop is as much about looking sexy in front of the camera as it is producing catchy pop tunes. But then, so is J-Pop (see: AKB48), and American Pop (see: NSync, Britney Spears, NKOTB...). And while I focused on the girl groups here, the boy groups seem to be even more popular, given the amount of merchandise I see and my students' discussions.

Since these don't carry manufacturer's details, copyrights, or anything else like that, I'm not sure how "collectible" they are, but I like finding pop culture goods like these.


  1. Very interesting. I have a handful of students who are big K-Pop and J-Pop fans. I'm pretty sure I had never listened to it before clicking on these vids. And I probably won't do it again anytime soon.

  2. It's an acquired taste, usually. But I enjoy some of it, in moderation at least!