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WTH is Aegyo?!

When I stepped into the world of Korean, Japanese and sometimes even Chinese TV shows, dramas and music groups there were many things I totally didn’t understand at first – and still don’t, sometimes. Things like the detailed Korean definition of being “pretty” or “ugly”; their honesty and the way they tease each other in front of the camera; words like “Flower Boy”, “S-Line” and “Aegyo”; things like the harsh Japanese humor and their indiscreet way of combining it with blood splashing horror; the way they make themselves into damn embarrassing fools while trying to win some kind of competition; and many other stuff.

Especially irritating seemed the Korean concept of “being aegyo” (with the Japanese equivalent called “kawaii”) : Of course I’ve never heard that term before let alone the confusing fact that there isn’t really a one-to-one translation or an explanation as to what exactly “aegyo” actually means. While I already knew that the Japanese word “kawaii” can be translated to “cute” or “adorable” I couldn’t get a grab on “aegyo” – since the Korean term for “cute” and/or “adorable” is “kyeopta”.

After watching tons of Korean variety shows, however, this word slowly started to explain itself even though I’m still not too sure about the sense of it.

It’s not like the word “aegyo” is something you can seize or be. Well… no, that’s not completely true because you can be “aegyo” but actually only then if you do something “aegyo”. Let me explain as follows:

“Aegyo” is something – whatever it may be – you do to look cute. It’s not about actually being cute but only looking like it. “Aegyo” describes actions like talking in a high pitched voice or making cute sounds, showing adorable baby faces, act like little kids or lovely animals and display ducky movements with your hands. You can be “aegyo” if you write childish and playful messages. Or if you flirt in a really cute manner. You can also be “aegyo” if you sulk in a way which makes your face look like that of a sad kitten. Or a little puppy.

Whatever it may be: “Aegyo” is supposed to provoke other peoples “OMG, you’re so freakin’ adorable!”-thought. Korean women like to use stuff like a high pitched voice or a cute sulking face to appeal to men because many guys in South Korea apparently like adorable little dolls… and I do understand that sometimes. ^^

In a lot of Korean variety shows idols, actors and actresses are often urged to present some kind of “personal aegyo” – so something they invented themselves (because they don’t want to think of something new every time they’re asked on TV) which led to the fact that they’re a TON of different “aegyo”s going around nowadays. While female idols try to be pretty and lovely but not too ducky because it could seem a little bit dumb is it quite the opposite with male idols: They can’t be ducky enough! The cuter the better! Make yourself look like a baby and your fans will go crazy. Trust me: Female Korean kpop-fans love adult baby boys! Oh yeah, and oversea fans do, too!

Examples:

Yang Yoseob is the main vocalist of Korean boy group BEAST and one of the so called “King of Aegyo”s. Guys like him are the perfect aegyo-people because they already have an adorable baby face and most of the times a tiny body. On top of that his freakin’ cute voice! >.< He’s calling his mum in the video below and  – obviously – using a baby voice to show some aegyo to his fans.

By the way: This show’s called “Gag Concert”.

2PM is a Korean boy group with six members: Jun.K, Nichkhun, Taecyeon, Wooyoung, Junho and Chansung (in the order of their age and beginning with the oldest). Even though everyone has their own charming “aegyo” is it really member Junho who’s the best at this because… gawww, just look at his face! Eye-smile-alert!! 😀 The video pretty much explains itself because it has English subtitles.

This show is called “Happy Clinic”.

Sooyoung is a member of Korean girl group GIRLS GENERATION (or SNSD) and doing the  – probably – most famous “aegyo” in the whole country: Gwiyomi. “Gwiyomi” is actually a song and the gestures kind of a choreography but they change from each person to another and many idols create their own Gwiyomi-Choreo after a while.

And if you wanna learn the gestures:

Actors and actresses on the other hand mostly try to appeal more serious because it might look a little bit unprofessional if you’re acting like a little child all the time. Their fan base is not as firm as the ones of idol groups (which even have names!) because their success depends on each and every performance anew – whether it’s a movie or drama – thanks to the fact that they try out new genres and characters many times within their careers and switch their target group of viewers pretty often. Maybe its because of that or thanks to the fact that many actors and actresses are actually older than most of the idols – only my guess – but I realized that they find it rather difficult to act cute and childish. When asked if they could please do something “aegyo” those actors and actresses sometimes play really hard to get and try to disentangle themselves out of this situation. And if they do act cute they’re embarrassed and ashamed afterwards. Which… makes them… even… more adorable… ?! Weird!! 😉

Example:

Lee Jong Suk is a South Korean model, actor, MC and entertainer. He’s one of the most flower-like Flower Boys in the whole country and even though he’s always asked to do his “special aegyo” (because it’s honestly really cute) he can’t help but feel embarrassed and shy about it. So adorable! >.< Lee Jong Suk is doing the so called “bbooing bbooing-aegyo” which is a little corny but loved by fans all over the world.

The first show is a sitcom called “High Kick 3” and the second one is a variety show with the name “Strong Heart”.

As for other actors and actresses… I am sorry but it’s really hard to find videos with an acceptable quality so the one above must do. But instead I’ll show you a video by “eatyourkimchi” about being “aegyo” in South Korea. What’s “eatyourkimchi”? Well, in short: A married American couple named Martina and Simon living in SK and making videos about it; KPop-fans, crazy, cool, hilarious and just likable. 🙂 Enjoy!

Sooo~ that’s it for today’s “Let’s talk about”. Thanks for reading and visiting my Blog and I’d be really happy if some of you may join the conversation and just write about what they think of the whole “aegyo”- and “I’m so cute”-stuff. I wish everyone a great new year and hope aaall your dreams will come true. ^^ ❤

Idol-Actors

What’s the saying? “Masters don’t just fall from the sky.” Meaning that one can’t expect others and oneself to be perfect at something from the get-go. Well, that’s certainly true; most definitely when it comes to acting.

Idol-Actors are surely a manifested part of the South Korean drama industry. Professionals in singing, dancing, occasionally rapping and fan service are those people also trained in acting, the general effect of our body language on others and melodic talking. The way they behave in variety shows, talking shows or during interviews is mostly a rehearsed act of politeness, smiles and just the right amount of weirdness, polished and perfected over years and years of practice. If you think about it that way, they seem to have the best requirements for being comparatively good actors – since it’s all they do whenever they’re in front of a camera.

Park Hyung Sik. Drama: Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

It is, however, a completely different thing to act as a, let’s say, polished edition of oneself on a daily basis or an absolutely non-related character in a drama or movie. So here’s the thing: I appreciate and understand that Idols, especially when they’re getting older, have their debut in the acting industry. It is a good way to secure ones future while still doing what they like because, let’s face it, Idols do have an expiration date. Actors, on the other hand, are still needed when they’re old and grey. Sure, they probably won’t play the lead characters anymore since these spots are usually reserved for the younger generation but they sure as hell can play other important roles.

So do I like Idol-Actors? Well, that depends on their acting talent and diligence. The biggest problem is usually either the intention of the on-set director who decided to let them participate in the drama or the company behind the Idol. Was the Idol properly cast and chosen because they delivered a promising audition or did they get the spot to earn their fans as loyal viewers? (You can mostly tell which one it was by comparing the proportion between lines and face time – if the Idol has more close-ups and camera moments than actual script, you can be almost 100% sure that they were cast for the ‘face’ and viewer ratings.) Is the Idol motivated by itself or rather urged to be motivated by their company? (Yes, that is a thing, although it doesn’t happen that often. Sometimes though, you can tell that the Idol feels extremely burdened and queasy in front of the camera – as if to run away as soon as the opportunity arises.)

Lee Joon. Drama: Gab Dong. Creepy Mr. McCreep-Creep, everyone. >.<

The thing about main spots: As much as I appreciate new faces and talents though, here’s my complaint: If you cast an Idol for your drama or movie and if said Idol is acting for the first time in its career, why would you give that Idol a lead role?  I understand that viewer ratings are important. I understand that Idol-fans are a great way to achieve high numbers. I understand that certain faces have a certain value. What I don’t understand, however, is how some on-set directors can so bravely ignore the fact that a pretty face does not make up for a bad acting performance! I like eye candies as much as every other person but I’m not watching my dramas just for the pure pleasure of gazing at those peoples beauty! It’s about the plot (at least mostly) and its thrill; about the characters and their developments and  relationships; about the story line and the costumes and the background music and whatnot. A good drama is a consistent and creamy mix out of all those details combined. One pretty face that cannot act, however, is like a sip of too much milk: Everything gets watered down.

L (Kim Myung Soo). Drama: Ruler – Master of the Mask

Don’t underestimate the power of supportive characters – key word being the ‘Second-somewhat-syndrome’! I’m not saying there aren’t Idols who didn’t deserve their lead roles when they got them, oh no! I’m all open and happy to be impressed when it’s called for. Of course I’ve seen Idols which’s first performances in a drama/movie where so amazing that I wondered why they didn’t pursue an acting career to begin with. (One that comes to mind is Park Yoo Chun, member of Korean boy band JYJ, former TVXQ. His first drama character ever was the lead guy in “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” and dammit if I wasn’t impressed! Even though I’m not even his or his groups fan.) BUT, and let me repeat myself here, don’t underestimate the power of supportive characters. They are what makes the story whole, diverse and more realistic. They are, sometimes, more relatable than the protagonists ever could be because they’re not “special” in that dramatic and exaggerated kind of way but humane and down to earth and just real. They’re funny and cute and, oftentimes, awesome friends with a consistent and reliable shoulder to cry and lean on.