Review: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

“That’s what I am: gum someone spat out.”

In 2019, the film “Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982” swept Korean cinemas to mixed reviews. Not surprisingly, this tale of an ordinary woman in her 30s polarized audiences among gender lines: the women loved it, and the men hated it. But why?

I have yet to see the movie, but I did pick up the ebook as soon as it was released. One of my Korean co-teachers, when I told her that I was reading it, commented that “Jiyoung” was a popular name for those born in the early 80s, making it similar to calling a girl from my generation “Sarah” or “Brittany.”

Beyond the plot line, this book is interesting for the facts that it weaves into the story, such as “women working in Korea earn only 63 percent of what men earn; the OECD average percentage is 84.13.”

I find that this article from the BBC does a good job reviewing the book and its importance. I do wish that more had been explored concerning “molka,” or the practice of secretly filming women and posting the videos online, as it’s become a huge issue in the last few years as part of the Burning Sun scandal. Sadly, as time goes on, there will only be more and more issues that women in South Korea will have to endure.

“Jiyoung became different people from time to time. Some of them were living, others were dead, all of them women she knew. No matter how you looked at it, it wasn’t a joke or a prank. Truly, flawlessly, completely, she became that person.

Kpop Music Monday #3: Orange Caramel, “Catallena”

Orange Caramel, a subgroup of After School, a Kpop group known for its unique “graduation” concept (where members, after a certain period of time, “graduate” from the group as new members are added), relies heavily on the quirky, cute, and colorful concept in all of their videos, but “Catallena” takes the cake. Or rather, the sushi.

The video features the three singers as unfortunate mermaids. A lot can be said here about feminism and what a woman’s actual worth is (as the girls’ literal price is reduced, then cut again), but the video plays it all with a light hand, including the somewhat disturbing ending.

The song talks about one woman’s admiration for another:

“Oh my, she’s so great, I’ve fallen for her
Even as a girl, I can see she’s so great
She’s temperamental but I want to see her
I want to know her, I want to dance with her”*

This admiration can be seen in the way the girls react to the octopus as she slides by with a much higher price.

The chorus’ refrain of “Jutti meri, oye hoi hoi! Paula mera, oye hoi hoi!” comes from a Punjabi wedding song, leading an interesting Bollywood flair to the song.

This is one of my top 3 favorite Kpop music videos. And now I want sushi.

*lyrics found here