ArticleLee Heewon, Seo Seongdeok (Music Critic), Jeong Seohui (Cinema Journalist)
Photo Credit[Kangnami] YouTube

Kangnami’s “Hanpanseungbu” (YouTube)
Lee Heewon: A new segment on the YouTube channel Kangnami, “Hanpanseungbu,” was created to prove the Korean language skills of Kangnam, who passed his naturalization test after three attempts. The segment invites Japanese celebrities who are active in the Korean entertainment industry to play Korean language games such as dictation and proverb guessing with Kangnam to record a “fair and objective Korean proficiency ranking.” The point is to sublimate the not-so-perfect Korean language skills into laughter, like confidently claiming to be right while providing wrong answers only or miswriting “꿩 대신 닭” as “꼰대신탈” and high-fiving, etc. Along the way, Kangnam, who has been in Korea for 13 years and is a senior idol who debuted in 2011 as a member of the quartet M.I.B, is embarrassed by the younger guests. “He speaks very well... but I think his writing needs some practice,” says Sakuya of NCT WISH, who has been in Korea for a year, appearing on the show one month after his debut. But Kangnam is serious about this Korean language competition. When he loses his competition against the first guest, TSUKI of Billlie, he suddenly shows up with his head shaved and says, “There were many reasons, but one was because I was embarrassed that I lost to TSUKI.”

As Kangnam did, “Hanpanseungbu” reveals what foreign idols had to go through to make it in a place with a different language and culture. “I didn't even communicate much with my parents at the beginning of my life in Korea to get used to the language,” says Billlie’s TSUKI. When Kangnam asks, “Did you really have to go that far?”, she answers, “I was so eager to improve quickly at that time.” MASHIRO of Kep1er explains how she was able to achieve a level six fluency on the TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) and says, “I first came to Korea when I was 17, and there were no other Japanese people around me, so I had no choice but to speak Korean.” Although Kangnam says he started the segment to prove how good his Korean is, he spares no effort in praising his juniors, by saying things like, “I don't think there's a foreigner who can beat MASHIRO,” or “Feel free to say you're better at Korean than Kangnam.” Kangnam's ability to give appropriate advice as a senior in life and to make the guests feel at ease with his playfulness as a host both stand out as well. In 2014, during the filming of I Live Alone, Kangnam made the person sitting next to him on the subway his “best friend” by chance, and now his friendliness has grown into the consideration of a cool senior.

Astral Escape (Apple Music)
Seo Seongdeok (Music Critic): In March 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple Music launched a playlist collection called Come Together. According to Apple, Come Together was designed to provide productivity and positivity boosts during home lockdowns with music as a source of escape and therapy. The collection included seven playlists relating to different situations like working from home and homeschooling, spanning genres like pop, hip-hop, and dance. Most of them are still available today and are being updated as well. This may imply that the way we live is still under the impact of the pandemic or that the playlists have taken on a life of their own and have become meaningful.

Astral Escape is a clear case of the latter. The playlist declares that there are many ways to travel, even if you're stuck at home, and that discovering new music is one of them. It captures some of the keenest tastes in indie, electronic, and R&B, but according to the playlist's raison d'être, it contains more or less familiar and tried-and-true tunes. As a result, Astral Escape has become one of the most eclectic and reliable playlists tagged “indie” on Apple Music in the last decade or so. From the far reaches of Björk to our own Yaeji and from the renowned artists at the forefront of black music and dance music like Flying Lotus and Oneohtrix Point Never to some of the most important bands of our time like Beach House and Big Thief, the 200+ song playlist is perfect for listeners who have diligently expanded their tastes over the past 20 years and explorers looking for new music alike. It’s not for nothing when a playlist is constantly updated.

Jeong Seohui (Cinema Journalist): If the film were called Mothers’ Instinct like its original title, it would have been sent on a road taken by many other stories. But by dropping “Instinct,” the film uses a clever omission to fuel the fire. It doesn't approach motherliness as an “innate” emotion for all women, a rehash of a tired trope, but as an observation of two different motherhoods of two different women. Celine (Anne Hathaway) and Alice (Jessica Chastain) are neighbors who share a house key. Between them, a fence is of no use. They are best friends, to put it mildly. And their common denominator of being the caretakers of a son the same age brought them closer. Celine, who is content with her life as a former nurse, is the only one who encourages Alice who misses the political reporter life she left behind to return to work. When Celine offers to babysit Alice's son, Theo (Eamon Patrick O'Connell), in support of Alice's return to work, it shows that they share a relationship of more than a mutual dependence, one in which they respect each other for who they are, with their differing desires. The sudden trigger comes when Celine's son Max (Baylen D. Bielitz) falls to his death from the second-floor balcony of Celine's house while she is preoccupied with cleaning. Celine's arrow of anguish is directed at herself, but it soon hits Alice, who was the first to spot Max while tending to her garden. Alice, who didn't scream loud enough, run fast enough, and failed to desperately stop the accident, is to blame. Alice's deep-seated issue that Celine embraced before Max's death, her anxiety that prevented her from holding the child she gave birth to for fear of dropping him, is now in Celine's crosshairs. A sharp mind that makes sound deductions from circumstantial evidence can easily become a megalomaniac, and playing the role of the firm, loving adult next door, as opposed to the often-arguing adults in the house, can easily lead to the psychological subordination of the child in the house. Celine, a “mother who lost her son,” creates Theo, a “son who lost his mother.” One day, she finds herself in an unexpected quagmire that she can't climb out of. She would rather dig a deeper hole and create a being of her kind to live in peace with. Despair is a run-up. It is only in the shadow she lands that she is “comforted.”

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