Saturday, December 09, 2006

Random Notes and Whatnot 3

Because I am apparently unable to get my act together, here are some random entertainment notes....

I should have mentioned earlier, but Korea's greatest rock star Shin Joong-hyun is having his "last" concert on Dec. 17. (I use the quotes because who knows if "last" really means last, or if it is a Babs Streisand-esque last, to be followed by 20 years of encores).

Shin is often called the "godfather" of Korean rock. He certainly was one of the most important people in Korea's music history. Born in 1936, Shin grew up in Korea and Manchuria (and, according to at least one Japanese press version, Kyushu). He was orphaned during the Korean War, but managed to get by over the next few years thanks to friends of the family.

Some time in the 1950s, he got himself a guitar and learned how to play it. Soon he was giving lessons in Jongno (downtown Seoul), and by 1957 he was playing for the US 8th Army (using the name Jackie Shin).

Things were going well enough, if unspectacularly, and from 1957 for the next decade, he played and recorded and did okay. But in 1968 everything changed -- two high school girls (The Pearl Sisters) asked him to write some music for them. The resulting album was a HUGE hit.

From then on, SJH was a big star. He started recording under his own name and writing songs for others. Kim Jung-mi sat in his office for weeks until he agreed to let her sing. Kim Chu-ja, Lee Hwa-jung and so many others. The Shin Joong-hyun "Family" recorded dozens of brilliant albums.

Then in 1972, Shin was asked to write some songs glorifying the Park Chung Hee regime. When Shin refused, life started going badly. He was increasingly censored and harrassed. Then in 1975, Shin was one of the first of nearly 60 celebrities rounded up in a huge marijuana bust. When he finally got out of prison, he found his music was banned. And, worse, tastes had changed and left him behind.

For the last 25 years or so, Shin has owned and operated a couple of clubs in Seoul, jamming with friends and playing.

So, Dec. 17 is the last chance to catch this icon of Korea music. He is playing in Jamsil. If you are in the country, you must see this show.

Wow... that was a lot longer than I intended.

Other stuff going on this weekend... Saturday at 4pm, this indie drama is screening at Strange Fruit, in Hongdae...

Other random notes... NO REGRETS, a highly regarded gay drama, has topped 35,000 admissions in less than two weeks. And that is on only 6 screens. Very impressive.

On the other hand, AD-LIB NIGHT, the latest film by Lee Yoon-ki ("This Charming Girl"), is not doing nearly as well. It sold 816 tickets in its first three days last weekend. Still, some say it is well worth checking out.

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