Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 The Year of the Tiger

The tiger may well be Korea's most beloved animal throughout its history. The country was once dubbed the "nation of tigers" as it has mountainous areas that provided them with a good habitat.

The animal has been a symbol of bravery, strength and dignity, and hence 2010, the Year of the Tiger, according to Chinese astrology, will be fervently hailed as a year of good fortune and vigor.

Tiger as Time, Space and Zodiac Sign

The tiger is the third sign in the Chinese zodiac of 12 animals. It is also represented by the month "inwol", the first month of the year; and the hour "insi", the 3rd in the 24 hour clock ― 03:00-5:00 a.m. in the lunar calendar. It also points to the bearing east-northeast. The white tiger is one of the four guardian gods ― three others are the blue dragon, the red bird and the black tortoise. They protect the four major directions with the tiger taking care of the west.

From Myth to Everyday Life

People's perception of tigers has changed over time ― in the past, they feared becoming prey to them, but nowadays they probably only see tigers in a zoo.

But the process of that change is interlaced with mysticism. The tiger, a vicious and ferocious beast, is also considered a mystical creature that keeps away evil spirits.

"In ancient times, the tiger was deemed a scary animal, but our ancestors weren't consumed by that fear. What is rather mystifying is that people also saw it as a guardian that drove away evil spirits, keeping peace and well-being in the village", Gu Mun-hoe, curator of the National Folk Museum of Korea, said.

Gu said that in their daily lives, warding off evil spirits was one of the major duties of the tiger. "It means the animal keeps away bad luck and evil spirits and draws in good luck. So our ancestors made talismans, using patterns shaped like a tiger".

The tiger and the falcon have three heads on talismans as defense against three years of misfortune and natural disasters caused by water, fire and wind. Also people sought protection from evil things using paraphernalia that had tiger patterns such as tiger skin on a bride's palanquin, tiger skin folding screens, tiger leg shapes for dining trays, and ornaments with tiger claw pendants.

"Also, we can see many stone tiger sculptures installed around royal tombs in the belief that they guarded the dead", said Gu.

He said that because of its strongly positive image, historical relics related to tigers have remained relatively large in number compared to others.

Presently, the tiger is favorably used as a model for commercial products. After the animal was symbolized as the cute and adorable "hodori", the mascot for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, the tiger has been used as an emblem and symbol of universities and at sports events.

Tiger in Folk Belief

In Korean fairy tales the image of the tiger traditionally symbolized the people's spirit. In folk stories, it appears as a sacry tiger, a tiger returning a favor, a foolish tiger and a violent tiger, having equally both, positive and negative sides to its character.

The beast is used in satire about the human world in the stories "A Tiger Repays Kindness", "A Filial Son", and "A Virtuous Woman Catches a Scary Tiger".

Having a tiger pattern on military uniform's chest insignia during the Joseon Kingdom symbolized wealth and fame.

A painting of a hunting scene "Horyeopdo" is one of the ways to express the bravery of the officers.

"Jakhodo", the painting of a magpie and a tiger, shows the joy of the New Year and the warding off evil spirits.

Also, in books on geomantic guidelines, the shape of a tiger lying down is one of the most fortunate places from a topographical point of view.

Exhibitions Featuring Year of Tiger

The National Folk Museum of Korea is holding a special exhibition titled "From Myth to Everyday Life" to showcase about 100 tiger-related relics through March 1.

The event looks into the transition of the tiger, as a symbol of Korean culture and history through the Year of the Tiger. "With this, we can find out how closely the images of the tiger are connected with us in everyday life", said Gu.

The exhibition displays various items related to the tiger such as "Eo", the tiger-shaped wooden percussion instrument, stamps as talismen and the bride's palanquin and blankets with tiger-patterned designs and folk paintings. For more information, call (02) 3704-3152.

Gallery I presents a special exhibition of tiger folk paintings by Nam Jung-ye through Jan. 12. The gallery showcases the artist's experimental works that blend traditional subjects with modern touches. Tigers are portrayed in diverse spectrums in the folk paintings. For more information, call (02) 733-3695.

The Seongnam Culture Foundation will hold an exhibition of "bokjumeoni", Korean traditional coin purses to represent good fortune, at the outdoor plaza of the Seongnam Art Center through Feb. 28. Visitors can also view installation artwork inspired by the animal and folktales. For more details, call (031) 783-8000.

The Lotte Department Store's Avenuel Gallery offers a tiger exhibition through Jan. 27. Renowned folk painter Suh Gong-im's works, including a painting of a tiger 530 centimeters wide, which was shown during the Beijing Olympic Games in China last year, are on display. For more information, call (02) 726-4428.

Famous Tiger People

Tigers are believed to be courageous, active and self-assured, optimistic, passionate and independent but sometimes they are rebellious, unpredictable and quick-tempered.

In the Korean traditional belief, people who were born in the year of the tiger are believed to have such traits.

Male idol stars are among the stars born in the Year of the Tiger: Micky, Hero, U-Know of the top idol group TVXQ, Kim Hyun-joong from SS501 were born in 1986, the year of the tiger.

Celebrities who turn 37 this year include actors Eom Tae-woong, Sin Ha-gyoon, Joo Jin-mo, Moon So-ri and Kim Ji-young, who were born in 1974.

Also, stars born in 1962, Choi Min-sik, Choi Min-soo, Choi Soo-jong, Choi Yang-rak and Choi Myeong-gil are tigers.

Top singer Cho Yong-pil was also born in the year of the tiger in 1950.

Source: Chung Ah-young,

Rain: 'Bbaek-ga Is a Strong Person and Will Overcome'

Actor and singer Rain expressed his concerned feelings regarding his close friend Bbaek-ga (real name: Baek Sung-hyun, 28) who has been suffering from a brain tumor, saying, "Bbaek-ga is a strong person and will overcome".

In a recent interview, Rain remarked about Bbaek-ga's fight against the disease. Rain said, "Since I met him when I was 15 years old, we danced together, and our relationship has been strong with trust for each other. These are not just comforting words. He will be fine just as before, because he is strong".

Bbaek-ga was diagnosed with a brain tumor during his service as a public servant at the Seoul Central District Court. He has been scheduled for tumor removal surgery on Jan. 22, 2010 at a general hospital located in Kangnam, Seoul.

A spokesperson for Bbaek-ga reported, "The size of the tumor is large, but fortunately it is not a malignant tumor. However, according to medical staff, the surgery will not be easy because it is in the cerebral meninges and the disease can come back".

The spokesperson added, "Bbaek-ga is receiving additional tests now before surgery, and he is being careful to think about positive thoughts. Meanwhile, Bbaek-ga left the message on his personal Cyworld homepage, 'My homepage was hacked by pornographic site ads after the news about my sickness and I did not want to deal with it', and he closed it".


Friday, November 13, 2009

Rain at the airport

He looks so hot even when he's wearing all black and is covering his face with a hoodie and sunglasses.

Rain is leaving for Washington for the "Ninja Assassin" promotion in the U.S.

The young hot star looks great even when he's trying to avoid all the attention.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rain Fueled by 'Fury' for 'Ninja Assassin'

For his first Hollywood lead role in "Ninja Assassin", Rain had to forget he was a pop star and trained alongside stuntmen for six hours a day, over six months ― all when he could have been comfortably playing sweet TV roles or dancing onstage for staunch Asian fans.

His secrets to achieving zero percent body fat? Anti-fans and mom, said the 27-year-old in a crowded press conference Monday in Seoul.

"There were many times when I wanted to return to Korea, where I could be busy giving concerts and starring in TV dramas and movies. I seriously contemplated it many times over the eight months (of shooting `Ninja Assassin'.)", said Rain, who showed off his build in a fitted double-breasted suit.

But he stayed because he had made a promise to fans, and also because of his pride.

His trainers, who are now like family, would provoke him, saying that Matt Damon or Brad Pitt outperformed him in lifting 100-kilogram weights.

"I would also wake up in the morning and flip through the `very nice' newspaper articles that criticized me and read negative comments from anti-fans", he said about feeling compelled to prove himself. "I thought I had to show that I can make a debut in the United States rather than just talk about it".

The modern martial arts flick is the South Korean superstar's second collaboration with the creators of "The Matrix" series. He made his Hollywood debut in "Speed Racer", which was directed by the Wachowski brothers, and assumes his first lead role in the upcoming film, which is produced by the talented brothers and directed by James McTeigue ("V for Vendetta").

This is also the first time a local star is playing the title role in a major Hollywood franchise.

He said he pulled off 90 percent of the stunt roles, using minimal wire support. He was hurt on many occasions, and though he didn't break any bones he bears "many scars of honor".

Thinking about his late mother, however, fueled his "passion" for the project.

"My mother used to wake up at 5 a.m. every day and would work all day, come home at midnight and go to sleep at 1 or 2 in the morning. She did this for many years to support me and my sister. I thought if I can't survive this I can't do anything. This is the beginning of a new stage in my life and I cannot afford to be lazy", he said.

"I heard people get three chances in life, and I've had my three: first when I met (music producer JYP or Park) Jin-young, second when I met the Wachowski brothers through `Speed Racer' and third, when they offered me the part for `Ninja Assassin"', he said.

"I'd be lying if I didn't wish the movie to be a box office success, because everyone worked so hard. But regardless of the results this has opened a lot of doors for me, and I hope it will also open more opportunities for Asian actors, and particularly Korean actors", he said, since Asians still have "a low success rate" in Tinseltown.

In addition to Rain, the movie stars Korean-American actors Randall Duk Kim and Rick Yune.

Rain plays the role of Raizo, an orphan who is trained by a secret ninja clan to become a deadly killer. But when Raizo witnesses the murder of his good friend, he turns his back on his clan and plots revenge. When asked if he could relate to his character, he said he hopes he has nothing in common with such an introverted, violent persona but hopes fans will discover a new side to his conventional image.

Rain will continue his promotional tour Nov. 11 to 22 across the U.S., including New York and Los Angeles. He will then visit Hong Kong Nov. 28 and 29, Jakarta, Indonesia on Dec. 3 and finally Shanghai through the following week of December.

Meanwhile, the pop singer will hold concerts in the U.S. for the first time in three years next month, Dec. 24 and 25 at Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas.

The movie, rated 18 and over, will open in theaters Nov. 26. 98 minutes. Distributed by Warner Brothers Korea.


H1N1 Influenza A Claims Lee Kwang-gi's Only Son

Lee Kwang-gi's only son died from H1N1 influenza A, according to the actor's agent, Sunday.

The seven-year-old had suffered from a long-standing cough and was taken to hospital Friday evening, but died Sunday morning.

There was confusion over the cause of death ― the agent first said that the child died of pneumonia and that his influenza A test was negative.

But, hours later, they said that Lee's son had tested positive, as the result came belatedly.

As with many flu cases, the child seemed to be recovering after being hospitalized but his condition grew worse Sunday morning. His time of death was around 10 a.m.

The news of Lee's death brought sorrow to friends and fans, as the elder Lee had been living as "goose father" for the past two years, while his wife took their son to the Philippines to help him learn English. They returned recently, not fulfilling their original plan of a five-year stay, mostly because Lee missed his son, according to reports.

Starting as a child actor, Lee is having his personal renaissance as a comedian, enjoying popularity for the dramas and movies he has appeared in. The 40-year-old also dabbled with a singing career, releasing his first single "Smile Smile" early this year.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rain, Park JS to be Introduced on CNN

South Korean singer Rain and professional soccer player Park Ji-sung will be aired on a special program series by U.S. cable network CNN.

CNN will broadcast "Eye on South Korea" from Monday through Friday to highlight various aspects of the East Asian nation, including its ongoing efforts to overcome the global financial crisis.

Rain and Park will be introduced in the "Talk Asia" section, which will be aired to some 250 million households around the world.

Park's interview will be aired on Wednesday, while Rain's interview is on October 28th.


Kang In turns himself in for hit and run

Kang In had been arrested for violence and this time he hit a car and ran off only to turn himself in after 6 hours.

The star was drunk on the night of 15th and ran into a taxi driving his vehicle.

At the time, taxi driver who was 54 years old was in the car with 2 passengers but luckily no one was hurt.

After the hit and run, he went to a police station on his own in the morning.

He has the low alcohol level of 0.081% which is less than 0.116%, the limit of alcohol to be persecuted at the time. However, because he hit a car and ran off, he must face legal consequences.