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In response to questions about my earlier post from a C-EXOL in regards to Yixing (Lay) not being able to attend the upcoming Exordium in (insert country name) 2017 tour, I’m going to attempt to give a run down of what’s going on as I understand it. Any citizens of either country please correct me if there are any inaccuracies.
As of Today (yesterday for Korea) the South Korean court officially removed Park Geun-Hye as president…she gone. However, while she was in office (around summer time 2016), S. Korea and the U.S. of A came up with, agreed to creating and executed a THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) defense system to protect them against the missile threats that were coming from N. Korea. China was not a fan of the system for they believe “it will enable deep military surveillance that undermines Chinese and Russian security.”
Once S. Korea gave the thumbs up to execute the system, China began restricting all things Hallyu:
Some of the restrictions reportedly outlined in the prohibition are:
A ban on Korean organizations filming in Korea
A ban on investing in new Korean agencies
A ban on Korean idol concerts with over 10,000 audience members
A ban on Korean-Chinese collaborative projects
A ban on broadcasting dramas with Korean actors
These bans include satellite broadcasts and online video sites.
Remember when Uncontrollably Fond came out and Suzy and Kim Woo Bin were supposed to go over to China to promote the drama and do a fan meeting but it mysteriously got cancelled like the day before? yeah, this is why. Remember when EXO was supposed to do an Exordium in Shanghai and that abruptly got cancelled too? Yeah, this is why. Remember when Chou Tzu-yu from Twice waived a Taiwan flag on national television and some of y’all ripped her to shreds publicly causing the girl to have a mini nervous breakdown and Twice was banned from Chinese TV as a result!? yeah, China also opposes Taiwan’s independence. Remember when Yixing posted the Chinese flag on IG and dang near all of y’all ripped him to shreds too!?!? yeah….i’m gonna save that rant for another post.
So why are C-EXOLs asking for support for Yixing from international & K-EXOLs? because he is literally banned from any Korean activity!! our dear unicorn can’t be with EXO at this time because of political differences and this applies to any kpop group that has a Chinese member: F(X), Miss A, Super Junior, EXO, etc. etc. Yixing was the face for Lotte Duty free in Korea with EXO but all the Chinese uproar has cancelled that and he has been removed.
So there you have it folks. It’s always unfortunate and discouraging to read about these things not just in your own country but around the world. Politics is a beast and it feeds on greed, fear and corruption. It’s like Biff Tannen from Back to the Future, like Scar from The Lion King, like Sid from Toy Story. Hopefully you will keep the other innocent citizens of said countries who are now caught in this mess in your thoughts as well.
When you’re betting on Cannes it’s always best to bet against the women. That logic held up this year as the Cannes 2017 lineup was announced and the Competion titles i.e. the films that compete in the main program that are the most watched and are eligible or the main awards, and only 3 of the 18 films were directed by women. Since the 70s that’s been pretty much par for the course for Cannes when the number of films directed by women have hovered between 0 and 4 in any given year. Still it’s a huge disappointment given the amount of acclaimed women directors who have movies being released in 2017.
The three women who had films that made it into the main competition, Sofia Coppola, Naomi Kawase and Lynne Ramsay, are worthy additions to any festival line up and were expected to show up at Cannes having all had films that have competed for the Palme d’Or before as well as all having served as jury members in the past.
But Agnès Varda who is a French legend who last showed up at Cannes in 2015 to accept an Honorary Palme d’Or for her body of work, showed up Out of Competition, an especially bizarre choice given her long history with the festival and the fact that, at 88, this might be the last film she makes.
It’s also disappointing not to see Cannes adding any new female talent in their main competitive slot while making room for them in their less prestigious categories. Cannes is a festival that likes to keep it in the family, so to speak, by inviting back the same directors again and again. And when they keep passing over female talent that means that the problem Cannes has with women directors is one that’s going to keep continuing for decades.
Here are the female directors and their films, announced for Cannes so far:
The Beguiled - Sofia Coppola Radiance - Naomi Kawase You Were Never Really Here - Lynne Ramsay
Out of Competition
Visages, Villages - Agnès Varda & JR
Un Certain Regard
Jeune Femme - Léonor Serraille Western - Valeska Grisebach After the War - Annarita Zambrano Beauty and the Dogs - Kaouther Ben Hania The Desert Bride - Cecilia Atan and Valeria Pivato
They - Anahita Ghazvinizadeh Sea Sorrow - Vanessa Redgrave
70th anniversary events
Top of the Lake: China Girl - Jane Campion & Ariel Kleiman Come Swim - Kristen Stewart
Short Films Grandpa Walrus - Lucrèce Andreae Across My Land - Fiona Godivier Push It - Julia Thelin
natgeotravel Video @bertiegregory. A group of friendly steller sea lions give me a starfish on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Whilst this seems like just fun and games, play is a crucial part of any young sea lion’s development. During play they can practice everything from bolting after a salmon to being chased by an orca. Shot by @becky_kagan_schott for an exciting new 360 experience for @natgeo coming first to China this summer. Stay tuned! Follow @bertiegregory for more wildlife adventures. #SalishSea#britshcolumbia“He brought me a starfish!”
I want to say that Power Rangers just got a bad release date. Like, you had Beauty and the Beast come out the week before, and Fate of the Furious came out like two weeks after it, so it didn’t get a lot of breathing room.
But I don’t know what month would’ve been better. They originally moved the release date from July 2016 to March 2017 so it would have room to grow, and it ended up running into the same problem. I don’t know, maybe September or October would’ve been better.
I’m just kind of ranting here, trying to figure out what went wrong. Power Rangers 2 isn’t dead yet, but it’s on life support. It didn’t bomb necessarily (it made it’s money back) but I don’t think Lionsgate wants to risk a sequel because they rarely perform better then the first one.
Maybe it’ll make more money in China overtime. And Japan can still come through, but at this point it might be too little too late.
for the love of god don’t ever use Chinese characters if u don’t appreciate our culture at all…. it’s so infuriating idc if u know what it means lol it doesn’t justify ur use of our language it doesn’t hide the fact tht u’re only using it because it looks Oriental And Cool™. nvr understood the whole yin yang trend and the shirts with chinese characters trend lol u white ppl and ur ugly trends. ur so-called knowledge of Chinese culture is probably just knowing who Bruce Lee n Jackie Chan are lmao,,,, and tht we eat rice as staple food n have strict parents n study everyday n have small eyes. yup dem basic stereotypes,, mhm
bet yall white people rushin to cover up ur western-centric views of us Chinese n deeming it as ur so-called knowledge of our culture,,, so u can proceed to use our culture as ur aesthetic haha
basically dont ever use another language as ur aesthetic without trying to appreciate their culture it is v demeaning and belittles their entire history. languages r integral to a race’s culture AND history, hence dont ever be insensitive abt it lol
My dad is Vietnamese, but his parents come from China. My mum is from China, but she moved with her family to Hong Kong from an early age. They speak Cantonese (or as you otherwise might know it, traditional Chinese) as a main language, although they can speak (simplified) Chinese too. I was born and raised in Australia so I identify as Australian as well as Chinese and Vietnamese.
My area has some Asians, but you can get other PoC showing up too and as a writer, I like to embrace that (that’s why this profile exists). However, most people here are non-PoC, Australia being a former British colony and whatnot.
Hand me downs. When your dad has 10 sibings and 2 of them are about an hour’s drive from your house, you can’t deny that’ll happen. However, I do get new clothes every now and again.
My family does have a habit of eating rice and/or different Chinese styles of noodles a lot for dinner, but we eat pasta and other cultural foods every now and then. A typical lunch is normally a sandwich or fast food, while breakfast can be anything from dim sims to toast to apple pie (I think the apple pie is just a scrounge-for-money excuse on my mum’s part though).
We do eat Vietnamese food for dinner (a cold vermicelli dish with mint/lettuce, fish sauce and soft shell crab/spring rolls/cha lua/surimi scallops - or a combo of those - known verbally as something along the lines of “moong” to me, although I don’t know its proper name or spelling) or lunch (banh mi or pho), although the likelihood of having Vietnamese food for any given meal is significantly rarer than Western-style food/rice and normally it’s my dad who’ll eat pho.
We used to go out for yum cha for lunch (despite it being breakfast in most cases in Hong Kong) every now and again. When we’re in Hong Kong though, my maternal grandma makes us go to yum cha for breakfast and then to the same restaurant for dinner. There’s one dish I love from yum cha specifically (prawns in cheong fun with soya sauce) which is often on the menu and why I don’t mind yum cha in most cases.
My mum loves Japanese food, but my dad doesn’t like most raw things (I had a childhood friend whose mother used to work at a sushi shop, so we got lots of discounted food - it didn’t help my dad one bit) so me and my sisters have grown up eating sushi/okonomiyaki/sashimi and we’ll eat this stuff on birthdays or special occasions. That’s how we get into anime and learning Japanese at school.
My family is atheist, with a mild exception on my smallest sister’s part (she believed in the optional religious education classes a little too much, and so is a bit more insistent on Christianity). We normally go out to Chinese New Year celebrations in our vicinity (we normally buy the spiral potatoes on skewers and/or batter-coated octopus tentacles and eat them if not collecting freebies). We’ll eat mooncake, tang yuan or the like as a celebratory food around the relevant holidays, although we do sometimes eat them out of season if the food is around and cheap. We don’t take days off around Chinese New Year like Chinese are supposed to, but we do take breaks around Easter, Christmas etc. because schools, supermarkets etc. close on those days.
Red pockets (actually red envelopes, they have money in them) are a custom for birthdays, Christmas, New Year, weddings and Chinese New Year. If your birthday is close to one of the other listed holidays, you get one instead of two (see this profile for explanation). There is no set amount for the others, but normally for a 20-something-year old the cap is about AU $50 (we send the equivalent in American money to American relatives, but that’s less often than the ones we see in person and remember the birthdays for), and for weddings you should give more than that.
We take basically any excuse to get together with extended family and Asian family parties are never dull. The adults, especially, gossip long into the night and if they bust out the alcohol, they go home at midnight or 2 am because…obvious reasons.
I thought, when I was younger, my surname was Chinese, but it turned out to be Vietnamese put through American pronunciation. I told my friends…and they didn’t give any reaction. Either they took it in their stride or just continued to think I was Chinese/Chinese-Australian like them.
I’ve been to Vietnam and Hong Kong on family trips before and for some reason, even though Australia is “home” to me, when all the people look closer to what you do and experience life similar to what you do, you feel like you’re “at home” in a weird sense. Can’t speak a speck of Vietnamese and my Cantonese and Chinese have fallen out of good use though, so I’m just berated by older relatives (in Cantonese and most times to my parents’ faces) when I visit them and speak in English.
I’m a bit more tan than my sisters due to neglecting sunscreen on sunny days, but my dad used to joke to me and my sisters that I was Filipino/Indian and looking back on it, that was pretty toxic. (It was also kinda hypocritical because he’s tanner than me, but he never pointed that out.) Some other people may get offended at being called “banana” or “ABC” (Australian-born Chinese), but me and my sisters can take it as a joke.
Talking about the Vietnam War is kinda awkward for me, as my dad escaped from it in his youth. I learnt about the war while doing an international studies course and being to Vietnam - there was this aura of coldness around it all the while and I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it.
I was taught Cantonese from birth, but Australia being as it is means English is my default. I had to learn Chinese and Japanese from language schools and school courses.
Hong Kong was British up until 1997, so there’s lots of English (the language, the people aren’t that common there) around and it’s easier to get by there (for me) than Vietnam. Vietnam was French in the 1800s so my dad knows limited French, but I’ve never learnt French.
I used to try and keep up with my parents’ standards of “play piano!”, “get good grades!” etc. etc. but as time wore on, I found I didn’t want to. In the end, I found they’re not too worried, so long as I do well in what I want to do and pass in what I need to do.
…I’m also a proud procrastinator, as bad as that is.
Notice how I’ve used “Cantonese” as a term for traditional Chinese, and “Chinese” for simplified? Cantonese and Chinese are completely different beasts. (I can get kinda picky about it, even though “Canton” is a somewhat whitewashed term and doesn’t refer to Hong Kong per se…I use the terms because I have no better way of distinguishing between the two.)
Tropes I’m tired of seeing
Kung fu Asians. Not all Asians are willing to whip your butt into shape with martial arts - most Asians wouldn’t know martial arts. For that matter, tai chi/taekwondo/karate/gong fu do not equal each other (yeah, Karate Kid with Jaden Smith is a misnomer).
Things I’d like to see more of
There’s one show I thought was fairly accurate in depicting a life like mine, and that’s The Family Law. Showing more family dynamics like that would be great.
I’d also like to see close siblings, regardless of genre, gender or race. (Not twins or OreImo, either - that’s a little too close.) I’m very close to my older sister, to the point where if we weren’t blood related, we’d be best friends.
It’s a weird demand, but regardless of where your story’s set or who it’s aimed at, I get kinda disappointed when people have an eating scene and they could check up some weird and wonderful food for it - for a workplace or school scene, a sandwich can make sense and it’s fine, but for one example, in fantasy feasts people eat “boar meat” and sometimes I wish they’d eat char siu instead of being so generic. Just do your research properly, spell the words properly and it’ll fit right in if it’s appropriate and/or relevant.
(I’m going to start with a random side note: If I ever get a book deal to write Japanese primer, I’m going to call it I Eat Cake Everyday: A Complete Guide to Japanese with Stupid Sentences.)
It’s been a while since we’ve just talked, so I wanted to just take a moment to do that.
I think every Japanese platform at one point write an article about “the deep truth” of learning Japanese, claiming to give you the golden key that you need to become fluent in only 6 months or 1 year or whatever.
The argument for those kinds of posts isn’t hard to understand: People are fundamentally similar. If people are fundamentally similar, it is very likely that works for me will will work for you. Thus, if this works for me, it will work for you. This does work for me. Therefore, it will work for you (most likely.)
This is why all articles start with something like, “I guarantee you that I’m no genius. [Insert daily task that the writer struggles with on a daily basis.] I’m just a regular person that tried out a few things until I found a winning formula.”
I, personally, want to do my own take on this kind of article. I won’t offer a golden key, but I’ll talk about learning Japanese.
1. Japanese is Coded in the Most Inefficient Writing System in the World
Kanji, the logographs that are the bane of all Japanese-learner’s existence, comes from China. Kanji itself, 漢字, means “Chinese characters.” Kanji were invented to suit the needs of the Chinese language (from way back when, before Mandarin/Standard Chinese was a thing.) Japanese, on the other hand, is a language isolate, and it is not related to Chinese. So the use of these Chinese characters has over time been used in different ways for different words and with different readings- for Kanji tend to have multiple readings, sometimes being just 2 and at other times 8.
In Eastern Asia, the use of Chinese characters was widespread. It was used in Korea, in Vietnam, in Japan, to some varying extent in Malaysia, and the territories these nations conquered.
Korea developed an ingenious writing system called Hangeul, which now has all but totally substituted Chinese characters. Vietnam adopted the Roman alphabet with many diacritics. Japanese, well, Japanese developed two writing systems based on morae. These two writing systems could be used to write out the entirety of Japanese. Kanji is not really necessary. Further, there is no evidence to suggest that there are so many homophones such that even with context one could not make head or tails out of what was being said.
So, Japanese does have a potential unique writing system that is easy to learn (it’s easier than Hangeul in my opinion), but it does not use it exclusively because of cultural reasons. Kanji is just hardwired into the culture.
But here’s where my personal opinion and advice come in: If you have to choose between loving Kanji and hating it, hate it. Don’t romanticize it. Don’t go “above and beyond” what you have to know because of your love for Kanji. Just learn what you have to learn, and leave it at that.
“How many Kanji must someone learn?” The official common use Kanji list (the Jōyō Kanji) lists 2,136 Kanji. How many readings are among these Kanji? Somewhere around 3,869. There are also some variations on Kanji that one should keep in mind and some Kanji that one sees only in names, so add around 400 Kanji to the official list and about 400 new readings.
“How many Kanji must I learn for my first year of Japanese?” All of them. That’s my honest advice. Don’t aim to learn only a few Kanji. If you’re going to learn Kanji, learn them all. Think in that mindset. As soon as you decide you want to learn Japanese, work on Kanji. Before you enter a classroom and learn your first few greetings and whatnot, make sure you know all the common use Kanji, or at least that you’re well on your way to knowing all the Kanji.
2. Language Learning is an Intensive Process
Learning a language is a process that scientists haven’t quite been able to describe accurately. We do know, nevertheless, that it’s a heck of a lot different from learning chemistry or carpentry or bicycling.
In the Western world, there is this idea that one can learn a language in a classroom, normally as a subject period, with periods lasting somewhere from 50 to 70 minutes. Here’s the truth: it doesn’t work very well. (There are historic reasons for this way of learning a language, but we can talk about that some other time.) The success rates of language acquisition in classrooms is ridiculously low. This does not mean that language classes are bad: but it means that it just isn’t enough.
There are many reasons why learning a language in and of itself may be hard. It’d take forever to talk about all of them.
But let’s talk a bit about lexicons. A lexicon, here, refers to the dictionary in your brain where you store the words you know. If you’re monolingual- you have a standard dictionary in your brain with a word and definitions. If you were raised bilingual, then you have one lexicon with two words and definitions. That is to say, if you’re an English-Spanish speaker, then you have “cat” and “gato” in the same space in your brain and you know that what applies to one applies to the other. Then, depending on your fluency and use, you may have two supplementary dictionaries where you store all the information about words that don’t exist in the other language and idioms and expressions and things like that.
Now, if you’re an English speaker and, say, you want to learn German, part of what you’ll learn to do is to process your English lexicon entries into German. What that means is that you learn to engineer English words into German. “Father” turns into “Vater,” “to drink” turns into “trinken,” “Love” turns into “Liebe,” etc. So the words that have no relation with English (the non-cognates), turn into a supplementary lexicon and everything else is put through a mental processor.
Because the brain can do this is the reason why many people in Europe can speak many languages. The fact that someone can speak Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian, and French is not terribly impressive. The overlap in words (and in grammar) is so immense that what you’re doing is processing one language into another and you’re guaranteed an astonishing success rate.
Japanese, however, is different because it’s a language isolate. You can’t process one language into another. You have to learn words one by one. That takes time. It takes repetition. Memorization is as much an active process as it is a subconscious process. When people talk about the benefits of “immersion,” what they’re talking about most of the time is putting your brain into survival mode, i.e. either you learn all these words (and grammar stuff) or else you will not be able to survive and thus you will die. That is one way of doing it, and if you do not choose this path you have to commit some serious time to this. I believe that if one knows around 5,000 of the most frequently used words in any given language, one is guaranteed to know at least 95% of all the words one will hear/read in a day (given that one doesn’t go read a super technical manual on how to calibrate a nuclear reactor or something like that.) So, the question becomes how will you memorize 5,000 words? How long will that take? If one learns 10 a day, then it’s 500 days, and if one learns 50 a day, it’s 100 days.
The tradeoff when it comes to speed is that the faster you learn something, the faster you forget. (When you relearn something, it should be faster nevertheless.) So how much time will you commit to learning a language? How will you follow that up? These are important questions.
3. Japanese Media is Considerably Insular
Japan isn’t like the United States. The United States wants every nation to know what music it likes, what fashion it wears, what it believes ideologically and socially, etc. The U.S. is everywhere.
South Korea, recently, is everywhere. K-Pop, K-Dramas, K-SNL, K-Beauty. If you want to know what Korea is up to, it’s pretty easy to find out. They want you know!
Japan… eh. Japan is pretty good at making anime available globally. People know about Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon and the Mighty Atom and all that. When it comes to dramas and movies and tv shows, they’re not quite interested in that. Ages ago I wrote a post on the misconception of “Whacky Japanese Game Shows,” where I basically explained that most of those shows aren’t game shows but segments on variety shows, the only person in my mind having totally insane game shows being Beat Takeshi.
Okay, fine, what does this mean? This means two important things. First, one’s expose to the language outside of going to Japan or talking to Japanese people will be based highly on anime, which is fine but there are other styles of expressing oneself. One needs a bit of variety. If one goes the information/news route, then one is exposing oneself to something very formal and literary, but dull. Second, it means that when people teach Japanese, they’re going to assume that one wants to speak Japanese for business purposes. This sounds strange to say, but let me put it like this: Japanese is an important part of the world economy and STEM and anime, on the other hand, is not a sufficiently large part of Japanese culture so that the Japanese can figure you want to learn Japanese for that sole purpose. If you want to speak Japanese, then it must be for business purposes (and we’ll consider academics to be within business.) So you learn Japanese through the perspective of honorific and respectful language. This isn’t a bad thing either, but the desire to make you sound nice will often lead to lies about how Japanese actually works at a grammatical level.
(On the other hand, in South Korea the K-Pop/K-Drama boom is such a big deal that people around the world start learning Korean in hopes of auditioning for the big production companies in hopes of becoming actors, singers, dancers, and hosts.)
So here’s my advice: Once you have your feet wet with Japanese, once you know your Kanji and you know how to analyze a sentence (even if the lexicon isn’t all there yet), look at something that isn’t anime. I recommend movies, a lot of which are quite nice. Okuribito (Departures) was a great movie. An (Red Bean Paste) is a more recent film that was wonderful. Look up some movies. Sit down, and watch them. Watch it with subtitles, so you know what the movie’s about. But watch it a second time and a third time without subtitles. Try to see if you can make out a few sentences, read a few signs that appear in the background, take note of expressions or words you keep hearing. No, you won’t be able to understand the whole film all of a sudden, but it’s something new and something good and the more Japanese you learn, the more you will be able to return to the film and make out. Eventually, you will be able to listen to a sentence, pause the film, and look up the words you don’t know.
4. Learning Japanese Doesn’t Happen with One Method Alone
This is rather obvious, but it’s worth finishing this off with. There is an abundance of book series, CDs, cassettes, and even online resources (our own included.)
A language is greater than any method, than any curriculum, than any teacher. No one source has all the answers. One has to be encouraged from day one to look at many resources.
A library is a language learner’s best friend. Why? Because books can be expensive, and you will probably not need all the resources you dabble into for a long time. So, when you begin learning Japanese, look at the entire Japanese section, order a few famous books through InterLibrary Loan, if you have access to that, and sit down and just read the books, as if they were novels. Don’t memorize a thing. Don’t do the exercises. Just figure out their style, their aims, their perspective. Do read the footnotes! The more footnotes a book has, the more useful it tends to be in the long run. Information that isn’t relevant in Lesson 1 may be absolutely vital in Lesson 10.
Check out some old books if you can. The way people learn a language today is not the same way they learned it 50 or 100 years ago. The most useful Italian grammar book I ever read was written in the 1800′s. Japanese books published before World War II may have some slightly outdated things, such as the /we/ and /wi/ morae, but they will be good for most of everything else. I’m personally dying to get library privileges again somewhere to be able to look into these, so if I find some good book titles I’ll let you know.
Because a lot of language instruction was, until recently, modeled after the way Greek and Latin was taught, reading some of our own material gets you familiar with the lingo, should you heed my advice. So people like to talk about cases and declensions and conjugations and moods and all that. The works of William George Aston are some of the most important books on Japanese historically. So, if you can find originals of those, please do read them.