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Welcome to Miss Strawberry's Cafe: KoreAm stands for Korean American :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

KoreAm stands for Korean American :)

Quick excited announcement: *My "Delicious Kpop Battle" video made it as one of the 10 semi-finalists for KoreAm Magazine's Krazy Kpop Video Contest!* If you like my video, please vote for me! You can vote once every 12 hours from now until Nov. 17th!


I wanted this post to be a recap of the scenes from my video and also have it dedicated to KoreAm Magazine, of which I am a personal fan.

KoreAm stands for "Korean American." I am KoreAm.

For a Korean American like me that was stripped from a community that I could identify with culturally, a magazine like KoreAm became a medium that's helped me reconnect to that community and quench my otherwise parched need for that connection.

I am all about diversity - it's one of the values my blog supports and promotes! At the same time, it's empowering to have friends and a support system of people who can understand the unique struggles and celebrations you experience that stem from your culture and ethnicity. Knowing that you can connect with someone who understands you without having to explain anything is what helps empower you through the building of community. These connections can be found in a variety of dimensions that transcend gender, ethnicity, age, etc., but I think we also need to recognize the fact that there's also special connections made when you share the same language, upbringing, and the cultural values associated with these.

To be brutally honest, even sharing a similar ethnic physical appearance can be meaningful, especially if you're a minority that's seen as the token (intentionally or unintentionally). I feel like by saying we can connect with people because we share a similar "face" can come off as bordering racism, but being frank, I can at least speak from my own experience from living in cities that have small representations of (engaged) Asians and Asian Americans, that when I do see other Asians and/or other Asian Americans in spheres where I normally don't see them, I get excited. And I hope that doesn't mean I'm racist. :P

"Secret Asian Man" is the first nationally syndicated comic strip that features an Asian American lead character.

Now, let me further explain what I mean by getting excited.

I get excited when I see Asian representation in social spheres where I normally don't see them, and part of that excitement comes from feeling like I am part of that representation (of course, I'm speaking of positive representation). For instance, I never had any teacher who was Asian or Asian American growing up until I saw one in middle school (and I grew up in Los Angeles). I remember when I did see that one Asian teacher as a kid, it was totally meaningful to me! I thought, "Wow, look it's an Asian teacher! I've never seen one before!" As a kid, you then also think, "Wow, maybe I can be a teacher too like her then!"

That's another reason why I appreciate KoreAm so much. It brings attention to not just Koreans and Korean Americans but Asian Americans in general who are engaged in their local communities. In very much the same way I was so inspired as a kid, I do feel the same type of inspiration when I see positive Asian and Asian American representation in our larger society, which is also what KoreAm Magazine promotes.

Visit Secret Asian Man's website for more
According to the 2000 Census, Asians make up a little over 4% of the population in the United States. We are minorities, and our struggles haven't come out as forward as other ethnic minority populations. But I see our community on the rise - what I mean by that is I see them slowly being further and not so stereotypically represented in popular media, and I see more and more actively engaged in a wide diversity of fields. I get excited not necessarily with a "Yah, go Asians!!" type of mentality. It has everything to do with being included in the portrait of the country that I live in and having our part of the portrait painted fairly.

Resources like KoreAm and a plethora of blogs on Asian and Asian American culture help build my own personal awareness of the larger Asian community that I feel pretty separated from living here in Pittsburgh. In essence, it broadens my world and scope outside of the physical boundaries of where I live.

You can tune into KoreAm through their website.

Media like KoreAm helps connect Asians and Asian Americans to one another, but more importantly, it also connects us to the greater social sphere.

Now, I do also want to further clarify that my excitement when I see Asians and Asian Americans being included and being positively represented in larger spheres for these reasons is very different from how I'll feel when I'm being subjected to people's Orientalist presumptions and generalizations.What I mean is:

Just because I am Asian does not mean I am timid.
Just because I am Asian does not mean I'll know how to read Japanese.
Just because I am Asian does not mean I look like Lucy Liu.
Just because I am Asian does not mean I understand the entire Asian struggle.

Diversity is something that not only pertains to different races; there's immense diversity within the multitude of different Asian and Asian American communities too that also needs to be recognized and celebrated. At least from several of the experiences I've had living in cities where there aren't many Asians, I feel I've been more regularly subject to these stereotypes without the perpetrators even realizing at all what they're really saying to me.

Part of Wayne Chan's Soy Sauce Series

In one of my classes yesterday, somehow my professor looked over the fact that I was Asian and said we had all white students and only 1 black student. I said,  "What about me?"

KoreAm helps answer that question.


Onto my "Delicious Kpop Battle"!

2PM action sequence

When I initially had this idea, I had complete confidence in the creativity and originality of the work it would take to make it happen, not so confident.

I knew it would take me tedious planning, because the only way I knew how to make dancing and lipsyncing cookies was through stop motion, and that also meant I'd have to make a cookie for each action motion I wanted to display.

2PM "Again and Again" MV screenshot I used to create my cookie sequence

I also knew that no matter what, my video would also take it back to the early days of Kpop. When I think of Kpop, I think of Seotaiji & the Boys. Seotaiji and his group are considered as the Michael Jackson(s) of Korea who really started off the whole Kpop era and would continue to take it to different levels. When KoreAm said Kpop "Battle," I thought...yes, between the 90s and today.

You can see I messed up

I piped and iced everything freehand, and since you can't really "erase" piping or icing, all I could really do was scrape off any mistakes with a toothpick. Fortunately, the shots in the video are all relatively quick so you don't really catch the errors.

The easiest cookies to do for me were the H.O.T. and the Turbo cookies. Easy meaning, they were easier to draw. Turbo was relatively time-consuming because of all the different actions I had to make of them.

I was a diehard fan of H.O.T. in middle school, so I got in a lot of practice drawing them since childhood lol.

H.O.T.'s "Candy" MV screenshot (but I knew the dance from middle/early highschool too haha)

I knew a "Candy" scene would be incomplete without HeeJun's signature butt hopping move.

Turbo's "Love is" song performance screenshot; visit my YouTube Channel to view the full video.

Fun Fact: Turbo's first album was the first CD I ever had!

The more difficult cookies to make were pretty much all the girl group cookies. For the 2NE1 group members, I wanted to make sure I captured their wild costumes, which totally distinguishes them from the other girl group cookies:

Even as a 90s Kpop fan, I still love the newer stuff too, and I especially love 2NE1!

2NE1's "Fire" MV screenshot, which I used for inspiration.

The Wonder Girls cookies took me FOREVER. Consequently, their "Nobody" sequence in my video is my personal fave. :)

Wonder Girls "Nobody" MV screenshot

I want nobody, nobody, but you~~

The S.E.S. cookies actually drove me insane. Since their outfits are pretty much completely white, I wanted to use black icing to outline them, and that ended up taking me almost as long as the Wonder Girls cookies but was a more painful experience.

S.E.S.'s "Cause I'm Your Girl" live performance screen shot

And finally, the Kpop kings who reign supreme: Seotaiji & The Boys:

I remember completely wigging out as a kid when I first saw them do these robot dance moves.

Seotaiji & The Boys "환상속에 그대" ("Hwan Sang Sok Ae Geu Dae") live performance screenshot

This group always bounced back with hit songs and dance moves that would end up revolutionizing and directing the subsequent changes in Kpop music. Their "Come Back Home" song even made snowboarding winter gear fashionable.

I drew these scenes with a black edible marker on white fondant that I rolled and cut out.

I knew this signature "Come Back Home" dance sequence also had to be included in my video. You can watch their actual live performance here to see what I based these off of:


Phew! So yes, all in all, this project WAS a lot of work.

I almost abandoned the idea altogether at first, because it just seemed like too much work! I ended up taking on the project, because after sharing the idea with a couple friends, I ended up convicing myself that it was still worth taking it up as a personal challenge. I wanted to carry out and accomplish a creative idea that I had in my mind into reality, and in this respect, I guess I have already won. :)

But I'd still appreciate your votes!! *wink wink*


Please do join up on my Facebook fan page, as I will post up these and more photos that I don't include in this post. Also, subscribe to my YouTube, because I'll be making more videos too! Thanks everyone!

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