Thursday, October 25, 2018

Standing Up for Abuse Victims...Three Things Literally Anyone Can Do.

I have been working with children and teenagers in some capacity for more than 20 years.  Though abuse in any form is horrifying, there is nothing, in my opinion, more vile that the abuse of a child.  I have worked with children from all kinds of abusive situations over the years and while the abuse affected each one somewhat differently, the one thing they all have in common is that they were forever changed by what happened to them.  They would never be able to go back to the way they looked at the world before.

Sadly no country is immune to this issue.  No culture has figured out how to eradicate this problem.  So, when we hear of abuse we want to stand up for those who can not stand up for themselves.  Here in the United States, if you have certain jobs (such as a teacher or pastor) you are what is called a "mandatory reporter" and if we even suspect that a child or teenager is being abused we are required to report our suspicions.  So we try very hard to watch out for those who are in our care.  But even so, the problem is still there and shows no signs of going away. It can feel like a losing battle. But then you hear a story that is so heinous that you simply can't look away from it and you realize that you MUST find a way to do something.  For me, the story of what has happened to The East Light was one of those moments.

If you are unfamiliar with The East Light, they are a Korean Pop Group that debuted in 2016.  The members currently range in age from 15-18.   Last week it came out that the group had been verbally and physically abused by their producer and CEO for nearly 4 years.  That means that when the abuse started the ages of the group ranged from around 11-14 years old.  They were children!  According to Korean culture you are not an adult until you are 20 so even now they are all STILL minors.  The leader of the group, Lee Seok Cheol (18 years old), held a press conference where he told in detail about some of the abuse they had received.  The video is hard to watch, but I urge you to watch it.  It has English subtitles and we need to hear his story.  Abuse victims feel they will not be heard or believed, this is one way we can show him that we hear him.  This young man is so brave in the face of what has to be overwhelming fear.  He talks about how he and the members were beaten with microphones, baseball bats and other things.  He personally had a guitar string wrapped around his neck for four hours and if he messed up, it would be pulled so as to strangle him.  They were threatened that they would be killed if they told their parents.  Remember this started 4 years ago when they were very young teens so it's no wonder they believed the threats.

Their company has denied the charges in some respects, but even in their denials they talk about how they knew that abuse had happened, so I'm not sure that can actually be called a denial. In their own words they found out about the abuse well over a year ago and yet the Producer in question was not fired.  He resigned recently (if I'm understanding the news correctly).  Fortunately The East Light members have photographic, audio, and text evidence of the abuse that happened.  Plus this video, which came out from The East Light themselves in 2017 is, in my opinion, video evidence as well. Starting at the 27 second mark, you can clearly hear one of the members being beaten in the background while he says (in Korean) "It was a mistake!" and "It hurts!" and you can hear him crying out in pain.  This is not something that can easily be swept under the rug.  Maybe more disturbing is that if you keep watching you see that this young man now has to join the rest of the group for the video and act as if nothing had happened.

So, you might be wondering why am I telling you this.  Many of you who will read this blog, don't listen to Korean Pop.  Here is why.  When we hear of abuse in the world, we MUST shine a light on it.  Evil thrives in darkness.  It's not about the fact that these are K-pop musicians.  It's the fact that they are children who have been abused brutally and their lives threatened.  And they are not the only ones.  This happens all over the world in all sorts of circumstances to people of all ages, races, and stages of life.  WE MUST STAND UP FOR THOSE WHO CAN'T STAND UP FOR THEMSELVES.

How?  I'm glad you asked.  Here are three things literally anyone can do.

1) Listen!  As I mentioned earlier, people who have been abused feel that they won't be heard and won't be believed.  We must listen to them.  If you are with a person who wants to share their story with you, Listen.  Don't judge.  Don't give advice.  Listen.  Those who have been abused MUST first be heard.  If you can listen in person, of course that is the best way.  But if that is not possible, if you can, find another way to listen.  For example, in The East Light situation, we can watch the press conference.  Seeing the number of views go up on YouTube would be encouraging to The East Light and frightening to the abusers. Even a small gesture like that shows that people cared enough to listen.

2) Show your Support!  In all parts of the world there are ways to show support for abuse victims.  It could be taking part in a walk-a-thon.  It could be volunteering at a center that helps abuse victims.  It could be as simple as using a hashtag like the one for the situation above (#JusticefortheEastLight) to raise awareness or signing a petition in support of anti-abuse legislature.  In whatever part of the world you are in, find out how you are able to show support, and then show it.  You might feel uncomfortable, but this is not about our comfort.  This is bigger than that.  

3) Educate yourself!  Do you know that signs of abuse?  Do you know who to call if you see those signs?  Do you know the places near you that provide services for those who have been abused?  If you answered "No" to any of those questions, then you need to educate yourself.  Because if you don't know what to look for, you may be missing signs around you that someone NEEDS you to see.  It's not hard to find this information.  Literally type in "Signs of abuse" into any search engine and you will be given multiple resources.  Sit down and read some of them.  All it will cost you is a little time.  

These are just a few small things that anyone can easily do to help #EndViolence.  If one person does these three things, it is helpful.  However, if EVERYONE did just these three things, I believe we could make an immense and lasting impact.  Why?  Because can you imagine what would happen if everyone was showing their support for those who have been abused in some small way?  How much abuse would go unnoticed, if everyone knew the signs of abuse and were actively looking for them?  What change in society there would be if abuse victims felt they could share their stories because people were taking the time to actually listen?  If we each do our part, there is no way that the world doesn't change. #DO3THINGS  

Will you join me and #DO3THINGS?  Let's change the world! 

For the USA, the national domestic abuse hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Monday, October 8, 2018

Product Placement...Everywhere

One of the best parts about watching dramas and movies online is that, when you subscribe to a streaming service like Netflix, DramaFever, or Viki, you don't have to watch commercials.  HOWEVER, Asian Dramas are the kings of product placement so you see all sorts of commercials all the time without ever leaving the show.  Below are a few examples.

If you are watching a drama from the past 5 years, it is absolutely inevitable that at least two of the characters will have some sort of a meeting or date in either Subway or Dunkin' Donuts.  If they order pizza it will be from Dominoes and if chicken is on the menu, more than likely it is coming from Kentucky Fried Chicken (unless of course one of the characters owns a chicken restaurant).

Now don't get me wrong, I like the food from all of these establishments from time to time, however, if I were going to a big date, I'm not sure Subway would be my choice.  Nor would I probably choose Dunkin' Donuts as my venue of choice if I need to have a showdown with an evil mother-in-law.  Or maybe it would be...I mean you could throw donuts which would allow you to let off steam without actually hurting anyone.   Am I right?  (Side note, I'm not sure I have ever seen anyone in an Asian drama eat a donut in Dunkin' Donuts...just coffee.  Sad because their donuts are awesome!)

At any rate, these places show up ALL THE TIME and I am sure I have seen promos for them more frequently in the dramas I've watched than I ever saw through their commercials here in the States.  At least, I remember them more this way, so in that respect...I guess congratulations are deserved!

Bottled Water and Cans of Coffee
Since I don't live where I see these water bottles in real life, I generally don't recognize the brand (the exception being the Vitamin Water from the USA that is everywhere in "The Greatest Love"), but I feel pretty sure that if I ever saw them in real life I would recognize them.  Most dramas seem to have one beverage of choice that is drunk by EVERYONE.  So you see that bottle of water, or possibly can of coffee all over the place.  I will admit that I am super curious to try the cans of coffee that somehow are warm when you open them.  I've never seen any like that here.

Makeup and Skin Care Products
The final thing that you see a lot in Asian Drama is skin care and make up product placement.  The camera will have a close up of whatever product the character is using and make sure you see the name of it.  Sometimes that characters will even discuss the product with dialog along the lines of, "You're skin seems dry.  You should try this __________ lotion.  It's great. I've got an extra, just keep this one."  In the most recent version of Itazura Na Kiss called "Miss in Kiss" the skin care from Dr. Wu is practically a character in the fact, Dr. Wu is a very very very minor character.

Where watching commercials can often be boring, it's rather fun to look for the product placements in dramas.  Sometimes it's even humorous to see how the products are put into the show.  If you haven't noticed before, I hope you'll enjoy seeing them from now on.  

Until next time!  

Monday, October 1, 2018

Let's talk about Podcasts...

I tend to have to travel quite a bit as a part of my job.  There are often errands that need to be run that may include spending a few hours on the road.  I'm not a big fan of listening to the radio, but I love listening to podcasts.  And when I find one that is centered around K-Drama and K-Pop, I have found my happy place indeed.  There are basically three things I look for when I listen to a podcast:

1: The hosts are enjoying doing the podcast.  
When I find a podcast where it sounds like the hosts are laughing, having a good time and it seems like they have simply let us in on the conversation that they would have had even without the podcast, those are the best.

2: I can listen even if kids are in the room.
Anyone who has known me for very long would tell you that I am really not a fan of swearing.  It's something that makes me uncomfortable and really just bugs me.  So, the podcasts I enjoy the most are the ones that choose to be profanity least for the most part. 

3: The Audio sounds good. 
Here's the thing, I have been involved with music my entire life, and was even a Music Business major in college.  I have used all sorts of microphones and recorded in studios.  That being said, there is nothing more annoying to me than someone who is talking (or singing) on a microphone and you can hear all the "popping" from their mouths or the audio is ringing because it's too loud or not mixed quite right.  I know that those might seem like little things, but I have turned off more than one podcast because I simply couldn't concentrate for all the "extra" noises like that heard through the microphone.  

Knowing that those are my three biggest draws for a podcast, here are a couple that I have been really enjoying as of late.  

Dramas Over Flowers - This podcast was until recently called "Stars in my Pocket" and is hosted by three women, Anisa, Saya, and Paroma, who are living in different parts of the world and come together to chat together during the show about all manner of things involving K-Drama and Korean Entertainment news. Sometimes when one of the hosts is "calling in" from somewhere outside the studio where the podcast is being recorded it can be difficult to understand all that is being said, but this podcast does a good job of making each person heard well.  These hosts don't focus solely on Korean drama though, they also discuss dramas from other countries. Since I am a fan of dramas and movies from China, Japan, and Taiwan as well as Korea, I enjoy hearing their thoughts on those shows as well.  These ladies are great fun to listen to and because they don't always have the same opinion of things, you get to hear different perspectives on shows and music. And it can be fun to hear them justify why one likes a drama the others don't or hear the parts of shows that they found especially good or bad. 

Noona Ya Business - First of all, I absolutely LOVE the play on words in the name of this podcast. The word "Noona" is a word in Korean that means older sister and would be used by a younger male. The hosts, Megan and Becca, are two women in their 30's and it is so much fun to listen to them talk to each other about K-Pop and K-Drama.  They crack each other up (often to the point of tears) and you can't help laughing along with them.  When I listen, I often feel like I am sitting with "my people" because I have a very similar sense of humor to these women.  It feels like we are friends even though we have never met...except through email.  They get excited about getting to see concerts and fangirl over all the things I would probably fangirl over if I had the opportunity.  And I get a kick out of the games they play on the show too.  Often times they involve the members of Got7 or BTS and they never fail to make me smile.  Games like "Got7 as days of the week" where they match up each member of the group with the day of the week they most remind them of.  If you are not a fan of the group, it probably doesn't sound funny, but trust me...these two women had me in stitches as they placed Mark on Sunday, Jinyoung is Monday, and so on. 

Information, Laughter, Friendships, K-Drama, K-Pop...these podcasts provide all that and more. in fact, with both of these podcasts I find myself watching for new episodes and looking forward to what they might say.  Listening to their discussions make my time spent traveling much more enjoyable and bring me many many smiles along the way.   You should check them out and let me know what you think!  

Until next time! 

Korean Food: How it helped me lose 100 lbs.

Stir fried kimchi (left) and my favorite ramen I started on my current weight loss journey in about 2019.  Something that has always been a ...