Introducing the podcast and Episode 0 – BTS World and Contract disputes in K-pop, Gray and Motte

Hello! We’ve started a Hello Hallyu podcast bringing you bi-weekly episodes on everything Hallyu and its fandom. Hosts Rimi and Sadhana alternate between talking about news that caught their attention and in-depth explorations of a particular topic.

This is the transcript of the first episode, which we’ve titled Episode 0 as we’re still figuring out podcasting, and as Sadhana tries not to be awkward. Think of this as the beta episode. But please let us know your thoughts!

(Transcript slightly edited and condensed for clarity)

[Intro] Hello and welcome to episode 1 of the Hello Hallyu podcast bringing you insightful views, news, and reviews on everything Hallyu and its fandom! We’re your hosts

R: I’m Rimi, a practicing lawyer and K-pop and K-drama fan.

S: and I’m Sadhana, I work in tech and I’m a freelance writer. I’m interested in K-pop, K-dramas and the business of Hallyu.

R: We plan to alternate between general newsy episodes and more specific themed episodes. This is a general newsy episode where we highlight a couple of things over the past few weeks that caught our attention. 

S: We’ll also introduce you to songs that caught our fancy because Rimi and I listen to different types of music. I think apart from BTS we don’t really like any of the same bands or groups. It should be interesting.

R: That is true. So first we’ll play a little clip from a song that I recently heard and I absolutely love! It came out on 30 April 2019. It’s TMI by Gray and it opens with a lovely little guitar that I absolutely adore.

R: That’s a short clip of Gray’s TMI. It’s such a lovely song. Gray is a music producer who has worked with a number of K-pop artists he doesn’t really release a lot of his own songs, so this is a beautiful, beautiful, rare gem. In this song titled TMI, gray gives you some TMI about himself The lyrics are about he woke up this morning, he wanted to go out but the weather was bad, he decided to stay in, he had bread and eggs for breakfast and he calls it TMI. But that’s not really TMI is it? That’s really quite literal. He’s not really telling us the colour of his underwear or anything. 

S: I think the use of TMI is interesting because I think they use it a bit differently in South Korea. (I think) they use it in the place of trivia. When we hear TMI we expect to hear underwear-y type of stuff. So I think when you mention trivial things about your day, like you mentioned eggs, or what he ate. So..

R: Right, there’s also that interview where (BTS) Namjoon says something  very trivial about himself and he calls it TMI. 

So I really recommend this song, check it out. Read the lyrics, they’re great. They’re funny, Gray is witty! So moving on. 

Things that caught your attention over the past few weeks Sadhana? 

S: Yup. So the news that caught my attention is the announcement of Bighit’s game. Bighit and Netmarble’s game where a user essentially manages BTS. You play as a manager of BTS and you get to see them through from their debut to where they are now.

And I saw a few people speculating whether this would have a romance aspect, whether as a manager you would fall into a romance line with one of the members. Personally, I don’t think that will happen but why people are talking about it is there are strong precedents and very popular games that do this. It’s a genre called Otome games and it started in Japan primarily for young women. You know how men have harem manga or anime where there’s one guy and there are six women and they’re all trying to vie for his attention. This is the opposite of that. You play as a character who has five or six different men of different types – you have the tsundere guy, the rich guy- and all these different types of guys vying for you. 

And like with visual novels, which are a kind of an interactive text novel with some gameplay elements – you have a few ways in which the story can progress based on your choices. Taking that a little further you have the same story-based game where you have mini-games where maybe a guy will fall for you only if you have a certain IQ or you have certain attributes.

Sorry, Why I’m saying all this is there is this very popular South Korean game that’s in this dating sim genre where it syncs to your phone and it actually sends (push notification) messages to you. Let’s say I start playing the game today and I get a message at 1 in the night from one of the characters in the game saying hey it’s late at night, I need this, can you do this? So you actually have to go into the game and play it as if it’s real. I’m wondering if BTS would some of those elements 

R: That would be a totally forbidden romance! A manager dating an idol 

S: Right! So imagine getting a text on your phone from Jin or Jimin

R: When it’s 3 or 4 a.m.

S: Maybe you have to set an alarm and take them to practice when it’s  5 a.m.! 

R: Of course we’re speculating that this will be the nature of the game. It may just be simple managerial duties. But even so, a game that’s sending you a text at 3 a.m. I mean this kind of stuff it sounds a little bit… To me, I don’t play games at all so it sounds like it’s taking it a little too far… almost unhealthy dangerous obsession

S: You’re thinking it’s speculation but why I went down this road is if you go to the website, there’s an intro screen and if you go to another page there’s a mockup of a phone and they ask you for access to your laptop’s camera and when you give them the access, your live cam is in that little box in the phone and the screen is like you’re getting a call from BTS. The first part is like you’re getting a call from Jimin and J-Hope and they’re saying “Manager-nim where are you?”

R: OMG, this really sounds…. The K-pop fandom sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly, get accused of being obsessive.. All fandoms in fact can be guilty of this.. But this is actively creating that kind of unhealthy obsession 

S: Exactly. That’s why I’m interested in how far they’ll take this. But that’s not even the worst part for me. For me the worst part is, so the video stops after the first three seconds and it says “To view more of the video share this on Twitter, Line, something else” So if you share it on twitter you get a few more seconds of the video. If you share it on something else, a few more seconds. If just the preview, before the game is even released is like this, you can imagine the kind of marketing or promo that will go in the actual game .

R: Wow, I shudder. I mean the game frankly, it’s not a bad idea. Then one has to wonder whether or not Netmarble and Bighit are treating this responsibly. Are they taking it too far? Which is a good question. That we will know when the game is out. 

S: I’m  saying this as somebody who actually plays these games. I wanted to say “used to” but if I’m being honest I still play these management-sim type games from time to time. And they’re great fun. Because you get to see what goes on. That’s one of the things I was curious about regarding the game… 

Because is it just going to be you’ll have these choices ready made for you and you’ll do A, B, C, D to get to the end point. Or will this game actually help Armys get an idea of the kind of management choices that made BTS who they are. In a sim game like this, if you take the wrong choice you lose some points or something negative happens or you go back to a certain way. Seeing how Bighit handles that as well, seeing as there are a lot of people who read too much into it or they don’t want to see any of that. So I’m curious as to whether we’ll see any of that. 

R: That’s really fascinating!

S: I think it would be a great game if they did that. But I’m not sure. 

R: Yeah we’ll know soon enough. 

R: The news that caught my eye is the news about Kang Daniel’s contract dispute with LM Entertainment. So LM Entertainment is an agency formed solely to manage Kang Daniel and Yoon Jisung after their contracts with Wanna One expired and LM Entertainment manages only these two artists and they have somehow managed to do them both horribly wrong. 

With regard to Yoon Jijsung they have requested for a trademark to his name. That’s the name he promotes with Jisung. You know this is a really restrictive thing they have done.

IF the trademark request is granted it would severely restrict should he want to leave LM Entertainment he will not be able to promote under his own name. The brand that he built under Yoon Jisung. For example Beast had to adopt a new name Highlight when they left Cube because the name Beast was trademarked by Cube Entertainment. So unless LM gives Yoon Jisung the rights or he buys them from LM Entertainment he’s not able to promote under his own name which is really, really restrictive.

With regard to Kang Daniel it seems that they created a contract with a third party and they handed over a lot of the rights to the third party and it seems Kang Daniel was not consulted. Therefore he approached the courts and the courts have now suspended his exclusive contract with LM Entertainment. Which is great.

Kang Daniel is a very valuable asset for any agencies. I’m sorry, I don’t intend to speak of an idol or a person as an asset to think that he was held back since January to now we are in May because of his agency is  very sad. He’s very young, he’s got a promising career. So I’m glad Kang Daniel is free of LM Entertainment for now

S: It’s surprising right? To think that they’re managing just two artists and they’ve managed to botch both of their careers.

R: I’m guessing that because these two guys are coming from Wanna One and Kang Daniel is the biggest name even from Wanna One so I’m guessing the agency just got too greedy.

S: We hear a lot about how terrible the big three, the bigger agencies are but it looks like even the smaller agencies don’t escape that.

R: Right.

S:  Maybe there’s even more pressure on them since they have fewer artists to bank on…

R: I think so. You can really see the ways in which the industry exploits its idols in this setup. So even Bighit has trademarked the name BTS and the name Army that means if the BTS members leave Bighit all in one go then like Highlight they’ll be forced to change their name. I mean a group is one thing, but to trademark an individual’s name the way they have done with Yoon Jisung, that doesn’t fit quite well. 

S: Is that his real name though? 

R: Yeah, apparently that’s his real name.

S: That’s worse. If he by any chance, leaves his agency he has to adopt a new name because he can’t use his real name.

R: Not to promote commercially, yes. But that trademark request has not yet been granted. We don’t know what will happen. This, as far as I can tell, is the first time that an individual’s given name is sought to be trademarked by an agency. So we’ll see how that pans out. 

S: I wonder how many other trademarks are there. Do all the agencies trademark their artist and fandom names? Is that why people come up with weird fandom names?

R: I don’t think a lot of fandom names are trademarked. For instance, you know how Bighit’s new group TXT, their fandom name was announced to be Young Ones and that very quickly ran into trouble because Tiffany Young was also using Young Ones but she was using it informally, she hadn’t trademarked it or anything.

Bighit, in the checks that they conducted, they didn’t catch on to the fact that Tiffany Young was using this as well for her fans and I think they probably missed it because she has not trademarked it. They must have run through all the legal checks. Anyway TXT are changing their fandom name but yeah.

S: I can’t think of them as T “by” T, I just read it as T(e)XT.

R: Yeah! I’m trying really hard to say T”by”T and not TXT! 

S: T”by”T sounds like a new group. Who’s this group? I don’t know this group.

R: I try very hard to say TXT and not TXT.

S: No, they’re T(e)XT. Their fandom name should be Messages.

R: Haha, I agree, but that’s *laughs*

R: So then, is there a song that you recommend? 

S: Yep. There is. So I came across this song on bandcamp. I was listening to songs from this indie record label called Ruby Records and this is by one of their artists called Motte. But I can’t find any information on her. I searched on Google, on Naver, I just found out she was born in 1996. I can’t even find her real name. This song I’m playing is called A Day Alone.

I quite like the Korean title better which translates to “Comfortably Alone” and I think you can sense from the song without knowing the lyrics that it’s about this laidback day that this person’s having and it’s interesting that you chose Gray’s song which is about a similar kind of day. So she’s singing about how she woke up at 3 in the afternoon, she’s got nothing to do, she’s got no new messages, she doesn’t want to watch a movie or go out but that she’s happy staying in, and she’s happy to have that alone time for herself. 

R: That’s really nice! 

S: I think the music reflects that very well. I can picture myself sitting, lazing around and having given up on doing anything in the day but it’s a comfortable kind of giving up, it’s a very content kind of giving up where you’re like okay, yes I have this time to myself and as an introvert I find that very necessary to function so hearing a song about that kind of experience was actually very interesting and she has a very unique voice which I liked a lot and was what attracted me to her music. And there’s one line, a very poignant line where she says “Like the moon in a midday sky, I want to hang around faintly.” 

R: That’s beautiful!

S: Yeah! Who hasn’t felt that from time to time? But that expression, it’s something that struck me quite deeply. 

R: It evokes quite a beautiful imagery, the moon in the midday sky. That’s very beautiful. Did you find a translated version of the lyrics on the music video?

S: No it’s not on the video, but someone’s done it on their blog. You’ll also find her on Spotify. She’s also recently done a few OSTs one for Romance is a Bonus Book and one for My Strange Hero so I think we’ll be hearing more from her soon. 

R: That’s really nice. I look forward to it. 

S: Me too. So that’s my choice for today.

R: So that’s episode 0. We’ll be back soon! 

Published by Sadhana C

I'm interested in technology, culture, and the business of Hallyu. I currently work full time in tech and have previously reported on start-ups. In my free time I like to read fiction and learn languages.

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