Enhancing national prestige

Interesting article from the NYT about compulsory military service in South Korea and how athletes may be exempted but K-pop stars aren’t — yet.

As South Korean Athletes Avoid the Draft, Some Ask: Why Not K-Pop Stars?

South Korean men are required to serve in the military for at least 21 months. But if they “enhance national prestige” they can

BTS is certainly enhancing national prestige.

They’re huge in the US now, gave a speech at the UN, and recently made the rounds of the late night talk shows in the US and the UK. I watched them on Jimmy Fallon and Graham Norton, and the fans in the audience were deafening.

 

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The voice of “smileville”

When I was in high school, I was on a study abroad program in a Spanish-speaking country, and I remember watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie dubbed in Spanish. The Spanish speaking actor’s voice was considerably deeper than Schwarzenegger’s and had a very different tone, and I remember thinking how “off” it sounded.

Many of my students will be familiar with some of the characters in this video clip of a voice actor and his various roles. One project you could try is to find the Japanese voice actors for these roles (or other movies or animated series you’re interested in) and compare them. While you’re at it, compare the content, too. Are the English and Japanese very different?

Another project you could try is to find out why China apparently bans anything related to Winnie-the-Pooh…

(Almost) all of Japanese culture in 6 minutes

This short film has just about everything about Japanese culture in one cute story: “yuru-kyara” mascots, seemingly fragile yet quite strong old ladies, very funny inefficiences within an efficient society, conformity, earthquakes, elevator girls, technology, traditional bento shops, modern shopping malls, very helpful people (or at least they’re trying to be) working together to overcome difficulties.

The title is Gokurōsama, which is hard to translate but means something like “good job!” and it’s the graduation project from a group of students at a French computer graphics animation school.

Faux-lidays

Today is 7/10 — which can be read as “natto” so it has become natto day, one of the “faux-lidays” Japan is so famous for.

Others: 11/11 is Pocky Day and here’s something about Meat Day and Cat Day, and here’s a list of many more. The humor is something akin to Star Wars Day (“May the 4th be with you.”)

Natto is inexpensive and healthy, but it’s definitely an acquired taste. And if you’re not a fan, maybe try something more palatable like natto spring rolls. Here’s a recipe.

What’s your favorite way to eat natto?

What other “faux-lidays” do you know about?