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Monsters, Netizens and Jabba the Hutt

I’ve only recently found myself getting into JYP Entertainment R&B boyband 2PM. 2PM was originally part of the 11 member group One Day, but in the end JYP split them into two: the seven member R&B/dance focused 2PM, and the four member ballad focused 2AM.

2PM is made of 재범 (Jaebum, also known as Jay), 준수 (Junsu), half-Thai half-Chinese 닉쿤 (Nichkhun), 택연 (Taecyeon), 우영 (Wooyoung), 준호 (Junho), and 찬성 (Chansung).

Their debut single was 10점 만점에 10점, released in September last year, and although it was a decent enough song it wasn’t until earlier this year and the release of their second mini album, 2:00 PM Time For Change, that their popularity really took off. Again & Again was a definite hit, snagging the group their first Mutizen Song awards on music shows.

I found Again & Again much better than their earlier songs, but it wasn’t until they started promoting 니가 밉다 that my attention was caught.

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My friend soon got me watching MBC’s Idol Show with her, where 2PM were hosts for the third season, and that was pretty much what sealed the deal for me. 2PM were fun, crazy, and their personalities were everything that I look for when I want to watch something entertaining. And omg don’t even get me started on the lolz that was Wild Bunny.

But it looks like I might have found a love a little too late.

The beginning of this month brought about two things: the first anniversary of 2PM, and the revealing of some comments that Seattle-born leader 재범 made on myspace in 2005, when he was still a trainee. The comments were made to friends when he was 17/18 years old, and said he hated Korea, and that he wanted to come back home – which isn’t all that surprising if you consider the fact he had only just gone to Korea, and had left behind everything and everyone he knew in order to pursue his dream of being a singer.

When the comments were revealed, 재범 issued an apology, explaining why he said those things but also taking responsibility for his actions. Netizens clamoured for 재범 to be removed from 2PM, but JYP issued a statement that he would not be taking 재범 out from the group.

To the surprise and shock of many 2PM fans, 재범 announced the following day that he would be leaving the group. As of right now there’s still a lot of question marks about what’s going on. Has he left 2PM for good? Is he just taking a break? He has said that he is returning to America to study music, but there hasn’t yet been any word on what he’ll be doing after that.

Fans of 2PM, known as Hottests, have been doing all they can to show their support for 재범 and their understanding.

But this brings me to what I really wanted to talk about: Netizens.

If there is one thing about Korea’s entertainment industry that I hate, it’s the netizens. Netizens exist in all cultures, for sure, but it seems that their voice is perhaps loudest in Korea. So many things are dictated by what the netizens are saying. Netizens see everything, hear everything. They are everywhere, and there is no tiny detail that escapes their notice.

Netizens scare me (and BaekGa of Koyote feels the same way). I honestly feel sorry for anyone who is famous in Korea, who has to deal with such a vindictive bunch of people who have seemingly nothing better to do than hide behind their PC screens and pick at anyone and anything. And they get vicious, fast.

Netizens have driven people to suicide before with their comments and accusations and rumours. They have no boundaries at all. This time around, they created suicide petitions against 재범, saying that he should kill himself because of things he had said.

Seriously, who does that?

And who digs through 4+ years of myspace comments just to find some dirt?

The sad thing is that I’ve been into the Korean entertainment scene for long enough that I’m no longer even surprised by what the netizens do or say anymore. The disgust hasn’t yet worn off, but the surprise certainly has. And I wonder, sometimes, about the people behind the hateful comments. How old are they? What do they do? Why do they spend so much time on criticising people who work harder than they probably ever will in their life? Is it jealousy that drives them to it? Boredom? Are they too young to know any better, or bitter because they are too old to be able to turn their lives upside down and go chase a dream, too weighted down by regrets of missed opportunities?

It is sad that such a vibrant and entertaining part of modern Korean culture can have such a dark side to it.

On a much lighter note, hiphop trio Epik High (에픽하이) will soon be releasing their sixth album! [e] is going to be as much an overdose of awesome as their fourth album Remapping the Human Soul was, with 2 CDs packed full of 30 tracks. I am so excited.

And look at this funny teaser they’ve done for it:

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Anyone else seen the Korean monster movie The Host? XD