Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tabloids Being Unfair To Keiko

It seems Keiko Kitagawa (Sailor Mars in PGSM) has been the subject of many tabloids' fodder lately. The first one came a little over a week ago, where she was compared to Aya Ueto. Aya Ueto is an idol who has a nickname in the Japanese press, she is known as the "low-ratings idol" since she mostly appears in magazine, commercials, and low-rated dramas. According to this article, Aya has some competition with her "low-ratings" crown in the form of Keiko Kitagawa, who over the last nine months has been seen in the same sorts of things that Aya used to conquer! The article goes on to say that Aya has had a 10-year career, while Keiko has only been on the scene for 6 years. But it makes light of dramas which they starred in and their dwindling ratings. There's an error in this article, as he calls Keiko only an actress and Aya an actress and a singer. Keiko has sung songs for PGSM which we're pretty sure were well loved (at least it wasn't Miyuu Sawaii's singing). The writer of this article, at the end shows a shred of humanity saying that he doesn't want fans to be angry with his decision about who the new low-ratings idol is. He ends saying Keiko is winning against Aya right now, but has more faith in Keiko having a better career in the future. He also notes that it is hard for many idols to achieve a lot of popularity. Aya is pictured here ->.

Yes, we know this article was garbage, but we really don't think that this was fair to even put her in that category! Sure her latest dramas haven't had wide appeal (Homeroom on the Beachside lost ratings steadily), however she is one of the few stars of PGSM who is steadily working hard towards stardom (even though she is not as successful as others)! Plus, she is featured frequently on commercials for cosmetics giant Kanebo (as is Aya). We remember reading in an interview a long time ago that she didn't feel like she was worthy enough to be with all the other, more beautiful, idols that were in the commercials. To us, Keiko seems willing to try different things to put herself out there, and we know that she will never be a low-ratings queen to us!

We also came across this scan of Keiko's various romantic interests and other men she has starred in movies and dramas with. We can't name any of them unfortunately - if any of you know who they are, please tell us! Miyuu Sawai and Ayaka Komatsu are only in there to connect to her debut work, PGSM.

And thirdly, it seems that Keiko was involved in yet another scandalous mishap! Last week, she appeared on Tunnels: Food Prejudice King, a variety show in Japan. Tunnels features a campy quiz show for the first 20 minutes, and then the other 40 are devoted to celebrity food tasting, and then everyone has to guess the food that the other one hated. Alongside Keiko was a South Korean actor named Jung Woo-sung. Unfortunately, at the end of the show, he spelled Kimchi wrong (writing Kimuchi instead of Kimchi), and many South Koreans got offended. This led him to issue a huge apology out to his fans. We have a couple clips from the show for you all!

First: The Introductions, and Wine Tasting! Keiko doesn't like the wine and seems a little shy...

Second: Kimchi/Kimuchi confusion! Keiko finds Kimchi spicy!

For those of you who want to know about Korean romanization and why "Kimuchi" causes a bit of an uproar, hit the jump for a very special explanation from our seasonal writer, Starcat!

Here's Starcat's explanation!

(please note that for this article I don't use a standard romanization system -- I simply write out how I think things are best phonetically pronounced to American English speakers, with hyphens to indicate between syllables. If you are from another country or have another accent you might not sound "Korean" when you pronounce things this way, but I think it works the best to my eyes and ears! I'm also calling it the "English" alphabet rather than Latin because romanization tends to follow the English way of pronouncing each letter.)

The Korean language, 한국어 (han-guk-oh), and Korean alphabet, 한글 (han-guhl), don't really match the typical sounds given to English letters, so there can be a lot of variation for one word. It can get somewhat closer to most English words than Japanese due to the use of final consonants other than n (as in kim-bap, kal-bi, ta-sot, and an-nyohng--yes, the ng is one letter in Korean!) Some words are really easy to romanize into English -- kimchi is written very much as it is in Hangul: ㄱㅣ ㅁ (김) ㅊ ㅣ (치), 김치. it can be spelt gimchi as well (and some people/places write kimchee or other variations on the same pronunciation) because the first consonant, ㄱ, falls slightly between these two English letters. (There are two more variations on this letter that produce a more distinct k-sound or a short gg/kk sound, as well, further complicating romanization into English, but since we're only concerned with a simple word, kimchi, it's not our problem.) The -chi part is slightly less complicated, because the ch, ㅊ, is already what's called an "aspirated" consonant, which means it's pronounced almost exactly like "ch" is in English. The letter it's based on, ㅈ, is more of a j/ch combination--again, causing romanization problems in a different way.

Japanese, though, does not have these ending consonants. To write "kimchi" in Japanese, you must write ki-mu-chi, or キムチ. The u sound is usually dropped or only briefly pronounced so it ends up sounding very close to kimchi in Korean. It's not a problem, right?

Well, to the Korean people, it is. The Japanese occupied Korea for a long time, and there is still a bit of jealousy and tension between the two countries. Japan has tried to get Korea's national dish standardized in English as "kimuchi". While I am not a Korean national or even Korean by heritage, my guess is that this misspelling was so offensive because of two reasons: for one, it's the Japanese way, not the Korean way; for two, an unknowing English speaker would pronounce kimuchi different than kimchi. In short, the romanization directly from Korean is the best way and to do it otherwise is weird and insulting, particularly for such a high-profile dish! Even though this K-Pop star was in Japan, he should have been representing Korea and spelling it the Korean way.

I'm still a learning Korean student--if anyone knows if "kimuchi" is a real word in Korean (the basic hangul spellings I tried in Google Translate produced nothing) please write in and let us know!


For more information on how to pronounce Korean consonants:

The English article about this scandal from All

More on kimchi as a food:

1 comment:

azn069 said...

How dare they even say that about Keiko. He can go die for that. Keiko is very hard working and has a passion other than money in the business she's in. She'll never be a low ratings actress and everybody knows that. Don't listen to this fool, Keiko-chan.

Oh and happy birthday to Keiko!