I had a lot of laughs watching this video of Conan O’Brien and The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun having their first Korean spa experience, so I thought I’d share it here:

This video reminded me that I haven’t blogged about one of the highlights of my latest trip to Korea: my own first experience with the jjimjilbang.

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I have never tried going full monty in the company of other people, much more total strangers, so I could totally relate to Conan’s reaction regarding having to go naked in front of other people. :hihihi: At first, we tried our best to “delay” the process by keeping our undies and towels on; but then, at some point, we had no choice but to let it go, so to speak. And that’s when we realized that, it’s totally OK because NOBODY CARES. Everyone else is naked, so who cares if we are, too? It actually attracts more attention to yourself if you’re in a public bath and your body is covered.

We didn’t experience having our body scrubbed, though. The spa that we went to offers full body massage for three hours – yep, you read that right – but it’s very VERY expensive. We’re fine with just the sauna and bath and having to take a nap wearing Princess Leia towels on our heads.

And speaking of the sauna, the spa’s main attraction according to Sookyoung 이모 is this oven-like thing:

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이모 went in first, followed by Charity and then me… and then Charity and I promptly went out as soon as we got in. It’s not oven-like, it IS an oven. :stretcher: When the hot air blew on my face I literally lost my breath and I felt like collapsing. So we transferred to the other oven which is a lot cooler: 42 degrees C, to be exact. Which is totally fine, because that’s the temperature in the Philippines for the most part of the year. I could lodge some pine tree branches on my window this summer and have a Korean jjimjilbang session every night.

So how was the experience, you may ask? Aside from being a relaxing experience after days of walking around Seoul, it was… liberating. It’s definitely the ultimate bonding experience if you’re doing it with a group of friends like we did. I’m just not sure if I’d be willing to do it again, but at least that’s one activity native to Korea that I can cross out on my bucket list.

I only have a few regrets in life, and one of them is this: I had the opportunity to see St. Pope John Paul II in Manila in 1995, but I botched that opportunity. Only because I was afraid that it might be difficult to catch a ride home once the crowds come in. :wall:

I went to claim my CPA license at PRC on the same day that St. John Paul II was to visit my alma mater University of Santo Tomas in conjunction with World Youth Day. I went to UST after claiming my license; it was still early morning at the time and there was practically no one at the university grounds and only a few people were waiting along España Avenue. I could’ve easily picked a spot where I could have a good view of the Pope. However, my impatience with waiting for a few hours (I wasn’t a Kpop fan then and had no previous experience on waiting for hours with no food and water) and my fear that I might be fighting tooth and nail for a ride home took over my desire to see the Pope. I just decided to go home.

Whenever I remember that stupid decision, I feel like hitting my head with a hammer. :bop: So when it was announced that Pope Francis will be visiting our country, I made sure that I will not make that same mistake again.
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…is about Korean entertainment. Some things never change. :glee:

Topic No. 1:

I saw this post at Netizenbuzz this morning and I just have to comment on it because it’s so close to home.

[Instiz] Why fans decide to turn against their bias

“When fans turn against their favorite celebrity, it’s not because they’re dating, or they disrupted society, or they had a long hiatus, or because they got married. It’s when fans realized that while all of the above was going on, they never once thought of or considered their fans in the process.

It’s indeed true that fans will do anything for their favorite artist and that their love is one-sided but interaction of some level is needed. Fans are not asking for each and every one of them to be recognized. Fans are merely asking for a basic sense of respect and gratitude towards the very people that gave them love and helped them get to where they are now.

People always ask fans “aren’t celebrities human too?” and fans have no problem with celebrities living their life how they choose to. It’s just that they need to have a sense of respect to the fans who laid down the foundation and all the pillars for their career without expecting anything in return. Fans aren’t asking for much.”

At first glance, the theme of the statement seems to be geared towards idols losing fans once they get involved in dating scandals as evidenced by the numerous comments from both K- and I-netizens who totally missed the point and lamented at how they have always thought that the love messages from their idols were for the fans but actually it’s for their girlfriends and the corresponding comments berating these lamentations as being “overly dramatic” and “feeling entitled”. But if you analyze it in a broader perspective, it’s really more than just the issue of betrayal of trust.

Having experienced this in the past, and no, I’m not just talking about Rain because – surprise! – I haven’t totally left the fandom yet (hey, I still have hope for this fellow, though admittedly, the hope is diminishing at a very alarming rate every day), I understand what this person meant by fans merely asking for a basic sense of respect and gratitude. It’s not just the constant “we love our fans” lip service from the idols because, let’s face it, at some point it’s really just that: lip service. The only thing that the idol owes the fans is the constant assurance that the next album, drama or movie is worth the fans’ money. A series of half-hearted performances, or a slew of consecutive projects that constantly suck? That’s not just disrespect towards the fans, that’s an insult. Treating us like dirt, or even like criminals, during public appearances while being *nice* to selected potential cash cows? Would you call that gratitude?

Once the fan realizes that she is simply being treated as a living, breathing ATM machine by her idol, that’s the time when she would seriously consider leaving the fandom. The decision hastens when she realizes that there are other artists out there who gives his/her supporters the respect and gratitude that they deserve.

This was the exact reason why I ceased becoming a bandstalker. This would also be the exact reason why I would leave my current fandom. Contrary to what some people think, ie., that the reason why I’m “bashing” him is because of his personal choices. :rolleyes: Excuse me, I’ve been “bashing” him since 2005, which is the year that I became a Cloud. I have this entire blog as my evidence.

At first I thought this is something that every fan would know by default. But seeing that it still has to be explained and the explanation was still met by comments that missed the point entirely, I guess I was wrong.

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Topic No. 2:

One of the current big issues among K-pop circles is about K-pop boy group B1A4 being accused of “sexually harassing” a fan during their fanmeet in Malaysia. Basically, the incident in question is basic skinship between idol and fan, ie., a simple hug and a kiss on the cheek (on the shawl, actually).

An outsider, that is, someone who (1) is not Malaysian; and (2) is not a Moslem, would find it really weird that it has become a big issue. It’s just a simple hug, a friendly kiss. Yet the idol was accused of sexual harassment, and the fan was being called names that she won’t be able to swallow.

My friend Bambiina, a Malaysian and a Moslem and a big fan of Korean entertainment, has put it all in a proper perspective though a post on Facebook regarding the issue. If you’re puzzled about the big hoo-ha regarding the incident, you may want to check out her musings to get a clearer view on the topic.

I do want to raise a few points regarding the issue:

1. Was the management of B1A4 properly informed about the rules in Malaysia? Reports say that B1A4’s agency claims that the fan gave her consent, that’s why the artist did it. However, if the artist is fully aware of the rules, he wouldn’t even dare ask the fan for consent; he would simply not do it even if the event MC coaxed him. If the artist is clever enough, he would find a way to give some cute fan service that’s within the rules. That’s just the right thing to do, especially if you’re a guest at a foreign country.

In Rain’s World Tour, Malaysia was the only stop wherein he did not take off his shirt during his Nan number. That was because they were informed beforehand that it was prohibited in Malaysia. I think, every responsible person who visits a foreign country should be aware of the rules before even stepping onto that country. Was B1A4’s management responsible enough to know that?

2. A few accounts say that the activity or game in itself was pretty bad that the audience already knew at some point that it would come down to this. Therefore, it was the organizer who should be at fault for even including it at the fanmeet. But aren’t the organizers Malaysian? Don’t they know their own rules? :shrug:

3. What I find amusing is that Korean entertainers and their agencies are pretty well-known to be ‘stubborn’ when it comes to their own rules. That is, even if they are outside their own country, it should be their way or the highway. They will not bend down to the requirements of their host country.

Everyone knows that ‘skinship’ is a no-no between Korean stars and their fans. A customary handshake or a light hug (sometimes using floating hands) is more than enough. Kissing, even if it’s just a light beso on the cheek, is a definite NO. Do any of that to your idol during a public appearance and expect to witness a Korean road manager seething with rage.

Therefore, isn’t it amusing that an incident like this had to happen in a country like Malaysia which has rules against public skinship among unmarried couples, and the “culprit” is a Korean star who has its own rules against skinship between idols and fans?

And just like that, we’ve ushered in another new year.

2014 was not perfect, but we can’t say that it’s boring. In fact, it was super-eventful. Personally, my 2014 was full of many wonderful surprises that I can truthfully say that while it was not perfect, it was certainly one of the best years of my life. :smile: And I am so thankful for that.

As for the future of this blog… I am entering a new phase in my day-job and as you can see, it has somewhat affected this blog’s activities. (That, or my regular readers have been severely lessened after I stopped bitching about Rain, or Korean entertainment, in general. There, I said it.)

To all my readers who are still here, thank you for sticking it out. I can’t promise that this blog will go back to how it used to be, but as long as time and energy permits and inspiration still hits, I will certainly try to write more.

I wish you all a wonderful, or at least a better, year ahead.

As an active participant of the South Korea thread topics at Pinoy Exchange, I always encounter questions regarding shopping in Seoul. The usual Pinoy tourist would point at the default shopping places, ie., Myeongdong, Dongdaemun and Namdaemun (and some won’t even get over Myeongdong, as in they would stay, shop, eat, tour, etc only in Myeongdong – Why? :shrug: ).

I’m not a shopaholic, therefore shopping is not on the top of my list of things to do while traveling. However, I always travel with shopaholics, so I can say that I am heavily acquainted with the places to burn money at in Seoul. My constant Googling of everything related to Korea also gave me some not-so-useless information regarding what to- and where to- buy in Seoul.

Here’s my Quick Guide to Shopping in Seoul, from a non-shopper’s point of view.
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