Sunday, August 26, 2012

Does K-pop “Get” the World? - Reflecting on the Socio-cultural Significance of “Gangnam Style’s” Unlikely Global Success


“See, sometimes foreigners just do not ‘get’ Korean music.  They just don’t seem to understand it!”  As an avid follower of Korean pop music that has been all the rage across Asia in the past decade, I still frequently hear about such genuine anxieties in heated discussions with those with keen interest in continued global expansion of K-pop across the world.  They see a clear “glass ceiling” for just how much Korean pop music, and Asian pop music in general, to expand beyond Asia.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eid ul-Fitr, the Muslim Christmas?

Occasionally (perhaps a little misleadingly) abbreviated as “the Eid” and better known as the “Hari Raya” to Muslims in Southeast Asia, the three-day festival marking the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, is a time of, as much as it is possible in the Islamic world, gaudy commercialism.  With a four-day weekend, many jump on long-distance buses and reunite with their families in their hometowns and celebrate the end of fasting with a big family feast and many exchanges of gifts.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tourism, Sex Industry, and the Larger-than-Life Presence of "Farang" in Thailand

Language acquisition is about immersion in an environment where people constantly use common vocabulary from that particular language...yet, being in Thailand for little more than a day, and your foreign male tourist literally manage to pick up one single word...not "goodbye," not "hello," and not even "thank you" (tried and failed on that one).  Instead, it is a word that even short-term foreign expats in Thailand manage to pop into their conversation...in English.  The keyword of the day was "farang," a term for Caucasians derived (supposedly) from Arabic transliteration of "Franks."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Reflecting on the Meaning of "Mutual Respect" during Ramadan

In a society where a Muslim demographic majority and an economically (and somewhat demographically) significant non-Muslim minority coexist, the celebration of Ramadan is, not surprisingly, social contentious beneath a veil of obvious social harmony and mutual cultural respect.  Religious doctrine dictate that the Muslim not eat and drink from sunrise to sunset while toiling under the brutal hot weather of tropical Malaysia and going about their daily tasks of schooling and employment without any adjustments attributed to the fasting.