Happy V-day Kim Tae-hyung!

By Nadine Kam

Our birthday boy V, Kim Tae-hyung from BTS, turns 23 (24 in Korean culture) Dec. 30, so I made a video in appreciation of the person I consider to be one of two ultimate cute boys (BTS’s Jimin is the other).

It was hard to finish the video because there are so many photos and videos of him I would have loved to incorporate.

It’s easy to make fangirl videos of Tae because he works so hard at making people happy, and tends to be the one running around on stage doing aegyo and lots of crazy things to the point a lot of people call him weird or refer to him as “the dumb blond of BTS.”

Initially, I thought the same way, but I have since learned he acts that way to bring cheer to his fellow members and to fans because he considers it to be his job to be “on” whenever cameras are rolling. He has been through a lot with the loss of grandparents, including the grandmother who raised him, and untimely death of friends in the past couple of years, but K culture in general is one of steeliness, and K-pop stars are required to put up a smiley front even in light of tragedy in their personal lives.

He does have eccentricities that I now believe come from being very intelligent and artistic, who understands the nature of human desire and importance of symbolism.

BT21 Tata by V.

He developed the BT21 character Tata as an alien with a heart-shaped head, that he predicted would be successful, when other BTS members didn’t fully understand his concept. Their own characters were mostly rooted in familiar animals used frequently in the character/animation world.

He also coined the phrase “I purple you,” which caught on with millions of people after he defined it this way: “Purple is the last color of the rainbow colors so it means I will trust and love you for a long time.”

Over the past two years, Taehyung has topped several international lists
of the world’s most handsome men.

There is so much more to Tae than a pretty face, which makes him all the more fascinating to watch. To be honest, I didn’t take much interest in him when I first got into BTS. He was one of those people who are too good-looking. Subconsciously, and perhaps wrongly, I associate great beauty with such negative traits as shallowness and vanity, so I ignored him. I have since changed my mind, and consider him to be a person beautiful inside and out.

In the Western calendar, he is a hard-working, ambitious Capricorn. In the Chinese calendar, he was born in the Year of the Pig or Boar, like me, Both signs indicate a certain degree of stubbornness and waywardness, as people who just want to do what they want to do.

In the K-pop world, Tae is unusual because of his deep lyric baritone voice. K-pop favors tenors.

I see that in him. Recently, I had a reading that said I should not do stupid or wrong things this year because it is a year of self-punishment and self-sabotage. That is, if we do something as simple as eating lots of hamburgers, when we know it’s not good for our health, it will hurt us.

I hope Tae finds out and is good to himself this year. Because he is headstrong, I can see how he could get into trouble.

So Tae, you are such a wonderful person. Your health and happiness means everything to me and BTS ARMY. There will always be haters, but they don’t mean a thing when the rest of us purple 💜 you!

BT21: The children of BTS

By Nadine Kam

I was having breakfast with friends when one started talking about some cute character items she found that happened to be from Line Friend’s BT21 collection. She had no idea that the line was connected to BTS, and I thought that might be true of any non-K-popper who discovers the collection at random.

The collection of seven characters created by each BTS member—plus Van, created by Line Friends based on input by BTS to represent their fandom, Army—debuted Sept. 26, 2017 and became an instant hit.

There are 13 episodes in a video series that details the making of the BT21
Line Friends and BTS collaboration collection.

The launch marked the first time in the character industry that all members of a group actively participated in the entire process of creating unique characters. It was a detail brought up in the group’s initial meeting with Line Friends, when the group members were tasked with drawing the sketches that were eventually turned into the characters. Suga, who had difficulty drawing, mentioned that usually they are given shortcut templates or items to review.

Jin is often spotted traveling with his “son” RJ close at hand.

This time, BTS drew sketches and also came up with the distinct personalities, preferences and values of their characters. It’s the reason they think of their characters as their children and are very attached and protective of them.

The characters now grace all manner of merchandise, but when shown the various item ideas, BTS members were most excited about having pajamas imprinted with their characters!

Here are the characters and their characteristics:

BT21 characters, clockwise from top left: Tata, Chimmy, Mang, Van,
Koya, Shooky, Cooky and RJ.

Tata: From BT Planet, this heart-headed alien is very curious about everything. Created by V (Kim Tae-hyung).

Chimmy: Is the passionate puppy who tries hard at everything. Created by Park Ji-min.

Mang: Is the masked dancing pony with a heart-shaped nose, who brings hope into the BT21 universe. Created by J-Hope (Jung Ho-seok).

Van: The space robot, representative of the BTS Army, is the protector of BT21.

Koya: The smart, sleepy koala who is always thinking when awake. Created by Rapmon (Kim Nam-Soon).

Shooky: A mischievous cookie who is a close companion to Cooky, and scared of milk. Face by Suga (Min Yoon-gi).

Cooky: A cuddly pink bunny who dreams of being strong. Created by Jungkook (Jeon Jung-kook).

RJ: A kind and polite alpaca who wears a thick parka because he gets cold easily.

There’s no Line Friends store in Hawaii, but pockets of BT21 merch can be found at stores like Hot Topic, and above, N.Cat boutique at 735 Keeaumoku St. #112.
Recently, ABC Stores at Ala Moana Center introduced a line of Mediheal 5-point masks created with the BT21 characters. A box with four sheets of five spot masks 
like the Tata ones I’m wearing sells for $11.99.




Missing Jonghyun, 1 year on

By Nadine Kam

There was a time I was considered “normal,” that is, someone who wasn’t obsessed by K-pop. In fact, it was an irritant when the first pochas started popping up in Honolulu with their big screens and K-pop blaring throughout meal times, getting in the way of any meaningful conversation.

This year I started K-pop dance classes only because of a friend who wanted company during her lessons. I needed to start an exercise regimen anyway and it was amusing to go to class and witness the other students’ wild, unbridled enthusiasm for the music and groups they stan.

Whenever the teacher asked what bands and songs they liked and which dances they wanted to learn they could easily spill out dozens of songs. My stock answer was that I didn’t know any of the bands or songs and I was just there for exercise.

I made this video for Jonghyun, finding the lyrics to BTS V and R.M.’s song “4 o’clock,”
to be so fitting for our beautiful moon.

How things change, and for me they changed because of Kim Jong-hyun. I don’t think I would have fallen this deep into the rabbit hole if not for his existence.

It’s sad that I never knew of him before his suicide on Dec. 18, 2017. It took another four months before I was curious enough to try to learn more about him and when I did, I was devastated. I am not an emotional person at all, so it’s still shocking even to me, but after watching his funeral and reading his suicide note I must have cried about three hours a day for four months. The songs he wrote reflected emotional truths that continue resonate with the people who love him. 

To this day, I have trouble understanding why I feel so strongly about someone I never even met, but it was easy to get attached, not only due to his meaningful solo songs, fun songs with SHINee and colorful music videosbut also because of the many variety shows SHINee appeared in over a decade, from the time they were teens, that allowed me to get to know each of the members’ personalities and their eccentricities. I also love music, fashion, culture, art, beauty and storytelling and here were the six in one pretty, exhilarating package.

Watching “SHINee’s Yunhanam,” “Hello Baby” and “One Fine Day” in quick order, I watched them grow up overnight. Jonghyun, I thought, was the heart of SHINee, funny, bright, earnest and gregarious, but also somewhat awkward, giving him an approachable boy-next-door-quality. It saddened me to see him transition from a 14-year-old with self-doubt but big dreams, into a man with immense talent and intelligence, but as we learned, the same nagging self-doubts.

What hurt me the most in reading his suicide note was to know he had died thinking he was worthless and talentless, part of growing up in a competitive culture, that puts intense pressure on its youth who hear the message that they are not good enough. He made so many people around the world so happy with his music, for so long. He did not deserve to be so sad. I often wish I could go back in time to save him, but I cannot.

For the longest time, I would go to sleep crying, asking, “Why, Jjong?” I would wake up asking the same question.

This interview he gave when he left his “Blue Night” radio show on March 9, 2017, was revealing as to how he felt about this goodbye.

I think it was a matter of so many worrying thoughts spinning in his head. He spoke many times of his depression, and had been tired over the previous two years, but said he got through it due to the love he felt from fans during their concerts. 2018 was to have been a glorious year for them as they hit their milestone 10th anniversary in an industry in which few bands last more than five years. Maybe he couldn’t bear the thought of an even more hectic schedule going into their 10th anniversary activities.

Their lives were also about to change in a big way with the eldest, Onew, joining the military this year. Jjong would have followed in 2019. Maybe his self-doubt left him worried that he would not have a career to come back to after his two years of service was complete. Or maybe it was the pressure of seeing their contract coming to an end and perhaps letting down his bandmates by not wanting to renew. I don’t know, but I think it was a possibility given his feelings about his celebrity status. (The others resigned with SM in May in the midst of their 10th anniversary promotions.)

SHINee’s “Get the Treasure.”

Although the loss of Jjong left SHINee’s comeback with a melancholy tone, I feel like seeing the boys coming together, reconnecting and reminiscing, and seeing the love and support of their Shawol fandom, would have reenergized Jjong, and would have given him the strength to continue. 

At this point, all the dreams they had as boys have come true. But for Jjong, the celebrity, accolades, riches and love of family and friends didn’t give him any reason to continue living. It’s why I still cry when I listen to “Our Page,” written in SHINee’s words, about still being those five hope-filled boys of May 2008 and being together on a difficult journey until the last page of their story is written.

Jjong’s last page came way too soon.

Many of us still miss him deeply, but it is of no help to wallow in sadness and despair. He would not have wanted that. We learned so much from him about integrity and giving this life meaning. We are his legacy now and if he can’t be here all we can do is try to do our best to honor his memory by living our lives in his spirit, full of love, caring and creativity, treating each other with kindness and being the light for those who cannot find their way out of darkness. I think he has become our Batman, a symbol of light for all who appreciate qualities of beauty, intelligence, sincerity and humility. It hurts to lose such a rare individual because I find it’s easier to admire such a person from afar than to remake myself in his image.

Jonghyun is a Batman, a symbol of talent, grace, beauty and intelligence for those searching for someone to believe in. To lose such a soul has been painful.
Jonghyun performs “1000” from his solo album, “The Collection Story Op. 2,”
at one of his intimate “Blue Night” concerts.
Wisdom of Jonghyun, shared with listeners of “Blue Night.”



Eat, drink like EXO and BTS

By Nadine Kam

I’m not one who needs a pop-culture reference to spark a culinary expedition, but I understand the impulse. Films like “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and “Eat Drink Man Woman” each left me hungry for nigiri sushi and Chinese food, respectively. Alas, in those cases, similar cuisine was nowhere to be found on Oahu at that time. (Great sushi bars have since materialized.)

When traveling, K-pop stars inevitably start missing a taste of home, and that’s how I ended up following in their footsteps to a couple of restaurants in town for some “When Harry Met Sally”-style, “I’ll have what he’s having moment.”  

That’s how I ended up at Seoul Jung restaurant, not exactly a top-of-mind Korean restaurant for locals because of its hidden status, tucked away on the second floor of the Waikiki Resort Hotel, and at New Shilawon Korean restaurant, where I was also eager to try a holiday special of $9.99 samgyetang, kalbi soup or kalbi and vegetable soup.

BTS was here on the Big Island and Oahu in spring 2017 for the season 2 filming of their annual summer vacation package “Bon Voyage.” Some places they showed up included Ken’s House of Pancakes in Hilo, and Teddy’s Bigger Burgers in Haleiwa.

Fans pay tribute to BTS with their artwork at Mikawon Korean restaurant.

They split up three ways for dinner one night, but two of the groups including R.M. (Kim Nam-joon), J-Hope (Jung Ho-seok), Park Jimin, Jeon Jung-kook and Jin (Kim Seok-jin) ended up at Mikawon, where one wall has become a shrine to BTS, with guests adding their artwork memorializing their visit to the restaurant.

Meanwhile, Sugar (Min Yoon-gi) and V (Kim Tae-hyung) ended up at Seoul Jung, where I was able to sample the mul naengmyeon (cold noodle soup) and doenjang jigae (soy bean paste stew) that nearly drove them to tears after being away from Korean food for two weeks.

 BTS’s V and Suga enjoyed a quiet dinner at Seoul Jung restaurant in Waikiki.

As soon as I was seated at Seoul Jung, I asked the wait staff if they remembered BTS, and they did! From there I had 100 questions like, “Were they cute? Were they funny? Did you talk to them?” Only to find Suga and V left no strong impression. I was told they were quiet and polite, sitting in the very back of the restaurant in a room with more privacy than in the main dining room.

People are not usually seated there unless the main dining room is full. That’s when I was told about Japanese visitors who show up with screenshots in hand and, matching up the artwork on the walls, beg to sit in the same seats Suga and V occupied. I was fine with sitting in one of the booths outside that room.

The restaurant caters to the Korean palate, with flavors lighter and more refined than local-style Korean. In fact, throughout their visit and sampling local food, the BTS members’ reaction to most local food was that it is extremely salty.

Their dinner included a refreshing bowl of mul naengmyeon.

In contrast, Suga said Seoul Jung’s food “hit the spot,” and the soy bean stew ($16.95) reminded him of his mom’s cooking. Their smiles, tears and quiet reverie as they emptied their bowls said a lot.

The mul naengmyeon ($15.50), or cold noodle soup, was refreshing. The buckwheat noodles were topped with slices of apple and half a boiled egg, in a broth of beef and vegetables, brightened with vinegar and clear soda. It’s served with extra vinegar for those who crave more of the sourness associated with authentic Korean fare.

I could taste why Suga appreciated the doenjang jigae ($16.95). It had the flavor of home, mild and comforting, a simple soybean paste, tofu, beef and vegetable stew that one could eat every day without tiring of it.

Because no Korean meal feels complete without meat, I added on the L.A.-style grilled, sliced kalbi ($28.95), so succulent and tender it was easily the highlight of the meal. Wang-style kalbi on the bone ($28.95) is also available, but I was in a lazy, no-fuss mood, so having the shortribs finished and cut in the kitchen was fine with me. Both arrive on a sizzling platter.
If you’re the grill-it-yourself type, you can always order assorted meats for a customized yakiniku experience. Selections range from kalbi and sirloin ($26.75 each), to black pork belly ($23.95), beef tongue ($24.75) and beef tripe ($25.95).

At New Shilawon Korean restaurant, I’m in the seat that was occupied by Exo’s Chen, at front left. My friend Ritsuko Kukonu is in the center seat that was occupied by D.O., and next to her, Lindsey Muraoka is in Baekhyun’s seat.

EXO also showed up Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, 2018 for filming and photo shoots, and in addition to being spotted at Champs Sports Bar in Kaimuki and the Haleiwa McDonald’s, showed up for dinner their last night in town at New Shilawon restaurant, where they enjoyed kalbi jjim ($26.95), kim chee jeon ($16.99), fish roe stew ($19.95) and yakiniku.

A few weeks later I was there to try the restaurant’s lunch special (through Dec. 22) of ginseng chicken soup, but yakiniku sounds good to me, so as a meat eater, I’ll probably revisit soon. The banchan and food are great here, and so is the staff.

The yakiniku is $29.95 or $34.95 per person (minimum two people) for all-you-can-eat, lunch or dinner. For $29.95 15.99 for children ages 5 to 10), meat options are pork belly, beef brisket, BBQ chicken, bulgogi and spicy pork. For $34.95 the selectors is greater: ribeye, beef tongue, beef brisket, cubed beef flank, pork belly, kalbi, bulgogi, BBQ chicken and spicy pork. Typical all-you-can eat rules are in effect, like a two-hour time limit, $3 per plate fee for leftovers and no take-out.

Couldn’t leave without checking out Kai, Suho, Xiumin and Chanyeol’s signatures on the wall at the front of the restaurant.

IF YOU WANT TO GO:

Mikawon Korean Restaurant: 2310 Kuhio Ave. Call 808.924.3277
New Shilawon Korean Restaurant: 747 Amana St. Call 808.944.8700
Seoul Jung: Waikiki Resort Hotel, 2460 Koa Ave. Call 808.921.8620

EXO in Hawaii: social style

By Nadine Kam  I  The arrival of EXO in Hawaii for filming and photo shoots Nov. 27 through Dec. 1 had local EXO-Ls scouring social media to find them, but they were a moving target showing up in some unlikely places, like filming at a gas station, a sports bar and McDonald’s.

It was funny how other international EXO-Ls warned Hawaii fans to lay off the boys and give them space. Haha. If they appeared in their towns, they would probably be the ones giving chase. And besides, they don’t know Hawaii very well. Like anybody else, we like to gawk at celebs, but we’re laidback enough to give them their space and not get in their face. That would be rude in our dominant Asian culture.

Anyway, here’s how their week took shape:

Tuesday, Nov. 27: Arrived at Daniel K. Inouye airport. Appeared at Safeway Kapahulu and in the evening at Champs Sports Bar & Grill on Waialae Avenue. 

Wednesday, Nov. 28: Three Tables Beach and Haleiwa McDonalds. 

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Chanyeol’s version of the butterfly stroke while in Hawaii.

Thursday, Nov. 28: Shell Gas station McCully, Wet N’ Wild Hawaii water park Kapolei, Ka Makana Ali’i shopping center.

Friday, Nov. 30: Kualoa Ranch. Dinner at New Shilawon Korean Restaurant.

Saturday, Dec. 1: Fly back to South Korea.

While sleuthing around, trying to find their whereabouts, I wondered whether their Instagram feeds would be of any help. They were fun to look at, but I got the best leads from people with ties to the Korean community. 

Here’s a look at their IG styles. Note that missing in action are Chen and D.O. Chen is one of my biases, so I wish he would get with the program, but I know he’s just not the type because he probably doesn’t deem it useful or worth the effort. I was hopeful when his so-called “wife”f Xiumin came online in September, and again when Suho joined on Dec. 5. One by one, they’re coming ’round!

Kai (Kim Jong-in)
On location, Kai is your best bet for giving away their whereabouts because he seems to love a view, including finding beauty in the manmade environment of Wet N’ Wild Hawaii water park, left. The shy one of the group, you could expect him to connect more with nature than with people. On IG since June 5, 2018, @zkdlin. Follows no one.

Baekhyun (Byun Baek-hyun)
He tends to shoot lonely solo photos, but while in Hawaii posted the image at the top of this page, plus a square of perfect blue sky. Somehow I thought he would be the least likely in EXO to be on IG, but he seems to crave attention. On IG since May 7, 2014, @baekhyunee_exo.

Chanyeol (Park Chanyeol)
By the look of his IG feed, Chanyeol’s life can be summed up as work and promotion, interspersed with a few moody street shots. In Hawaii, he gave away the group’s location while hanging off this street sign on Kapahulu Avenue. On IG since May 6, 2014, @real_pcy. He is fairly active on IG.

Sehun (Oh Se-hun)
The maknae of the group has an interesting feed, most notably because it’s full of selfies sans his handsome face. He’s often hiding it behind a camera flash or some other object, giving us only a partial view. He also shows himself from a distance, or as a blur or shadow. He also gave us the image from Kualoa Ranch at the bottom of this page. On IG since May 6, 2014, @oohsehun. He doesn’t follow anyone, not even his fellow EXO members!

Xiumin (Kim Min-seok)
A relative newcomer to IG, he has posted a handful of selfies and portraits. The only time he branched out was when he posted a couple of photos of his cat, Tan. He hasn’t posted since Nov. 2 because he has been rumored to have lost his password. It will be moot when he joins the military soon, when he won’t be able to post anything. On IG since Sept. 9, 2018, @e_xiu_min.

Suho (Kim Jun-myeon)
Having only recently joined IG, it’s too early to tell how his feed will shape up. Even so, it seems like he has found an outlet and has been prolific at posting selfies and other self images, as well as live stories. His first images were candid shots, but he’s started to add on glossy studio portraits. On IG since Dec. 5, 2018, @kimjuncotton. Hasn’t started following anyone.

Lay (Zhang Yixing)
EXO’s last remaining Chinese member rarely appears with the rest of the group while promoting solo projects in China and abroad. He didn’t come to Hawaii, but during a recent Billboard interview said he would love to come to the islands. He’s another of my biases so of course I follow his IG account. Like Chanyeol, he is all about work and promoting. He shows a lot of studio work shots and often posts videos addressing fans with gratitude and in hope that we might take a look at his recent work. Although most of EXO are men of few words or just a single word in their posts, Lay tends to be the most verbally inclined. The image from Paris on the right was accompanied by the caption, “Sometimes you need to take a moment and appreciate the view.” The one on the left read, “Only by going through the forest can I see the light. #nature #thought” On IG since May 8, 2014, @zyxzjs.

BTS: Forever Miss Congeniality at U.S. music award shows?

By Nadine Kam  I  

BTS members often joke that whatever rapper Suga wants, Suga gets because of his privilege as a strong song writer and music producer. So when the group appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon on Sept. 26 and Suga said his next goal was to go to the Grammys, I considered it a done deal.

Given the global record-breaking successes of the group’s two albums this year, “Love Yourself: Tear” and “Love Yourself: Answer,” it could be considered a natural followup to this year’s Billboard and American Music Award wins as Top Social Artist and Favorite Social Artist, respectively, plus 37 awards in Korea (to date, the awards season continues into 2019), and 38 other American and international awards.

BTS performance of “Idol” at South Korea’s Melon Music Awards show Dec. 1 opened with a nod to traditional Korean dance.

So, yes, news of their Grammy nomination broke … but instead of a nomination for music, it was one for packaging. That’s sort of the equivalent to the Miss Congeniality award at beauty pageants. It’s nice to be recognized, but it’s far from being deemed the total package. Many of the awards they received outside of Korea were of this nature: Fandom of the Year at the MTV Millenial Awards, Choice Fandom at the Teen Choice Awards, Fan Fave Duo or Group at the iHeartRadio Awards. Only at the E! People’s Choice Awards did they win Group of the Year, and Song and Video of the Year for “Idol,” but that was due to their powerful, millions-strong voting Army.

I have noted before that part of the reason I started this blog was because of the xenophobic reaction of many Americans while BTS toured this country. It seems it’s not enough to make great artistic and popular music if you’re not from here. While garden-variety xenophobes might be expected to criticize BTS for not singing in English, that sentiment also came from well-meaning fans who asked them when we might expect an English album from them, without understanding the racist implication of suggesting we are the dominant culture that requires those from other nations to bow down to our needs and desires.

That is so ridiculous. Do they think that when American musicians perform in South Korea that it’s OK for Koreans to ask them when are they going to start singing in Korean?

It wouldn’t happen because there, it’s understood that language is the essence of their being and artistry, in which they are able to express their deepest thoughts.

If you have some time, this video shows their full performance at Melon, which included “Fake Love” and “Airplane Pt. 2.”

In light of the offense taken by fans on behalf of BTS—who understand their position as groundbreakers and have the fortitude to take the long view—Billboard wrote that it is indeed an honor to be considered for any Grammy at all. From this small step, a full nomination may come in years ahead. Certainly, BTS is on every conscious person’s radar and it showed that the nominating Recording Academy is aware of the group’s many record-breaking accomplishments this year.

But the problem of nomination comes from the whole caterogization of K-pop itself. To lump all South Korean groups together is easier than separating them into various genres, but what started as an identifier for the Korean music industry and culture now has become something of a liability. It has become a ghetto of a label for musicians who would otherwise be categorized as rap, hip-hop, pop, R&B or EDM artists.
BTS might be considered all of the above, which makes it difficult for old-school Grammy committees accustomed to checking off one genre per artist. Looking at the categories available at this moment the one that they would fit most easily is that of World Music. But though they sing in the Korean language, the music itself a thoroughly Westernized amalgam of the genres I mentioned above. 

Because of K-pop bands large number of members, they have expertise in many styles, making their music extremely sophisticated, diverse and hard to confine to any one particular genre. And, it would be impossible to add K-pop as a genre in itself without opening an international can of worms because every country has its own music style. People would start asking, how about J-pop or C-pop. Even as Americans, it’s been difficult to keep Hawaiian music as a genre.

As much as I would have loved to see BTS pick up a music nomination, they are breaking ground against some serious odds in a nation divided between the welcoming and the close-minded. If not today, maybe tomorrow will bring enlightenment.

From the Grammy website, here’s some information about their nominating and voting processes in the words of the Recording Academy:

Screening
Reviewing sessions by more than 350 experts in various fields are held to ensure that entered recordings meet specific qualifications and have been placed in appropriate fields such as Rock, R&B, Jazz, Country, Gospel, New Age, Rap, Classical and Latin, among others. The purpose of screenings is not to make artistic or technical judgments about the recordings, but rather to make sure that each entry is eligible and placed in its proper category.

Nominating
First-round ballots are sent to voting members in good dues standing. To help ensure the quality of the voting, members are directed to vote only in their areas of expertise; they may vote in up to 15 categories in the genre fields plus the four categories of the General Field (Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist.) 

Special Nominating Committees
In craft and other specialized categories, final nominations are determined by national nomination review committees comprised of voting members from all of The Academy’s Chapter cities.

Final Voting
Final-round ballots are sent to voting members in good dues standing. The finalists determined by the special nominating committees are also included in this ballot. In this final round, Recording Academy members may vote in up to 15 categories in the genre fields plus the four categories of the General Field (Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist.) 

BTS milestones 2018: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrolli/2018/05/31/bts-love-yourself-tear-10-records/#1f5fb7ddcd46

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/k-town/8473971/bts-most-simultaneous-hits-world-digital-song-sales

Series peeks into YG Treasure Box

By Nadine Kam I YG Entertainment, one of the big three K-pop star makers opens the doors to its brutal training program via its reality survival series “YG Treasure Box,” which has racked up 25 million international views in its third week.

The series shows YG CEO/producer Yang Hyun Suk going through the process of selecting members for YG’s first new boy group in four years, from the company’s so-called “Treasure Box” of 29 promising trainees. From this field, only five to seven will make the final cut.


Treasure Box A’s performance of Wanna One’s “Energetic.”

Each trainee is already assigned to a group. Group A comprises long-term trainees. Singer Bang Ye Dam and Kim Seung Hun have the dubious distinction of being YG trainees the longest, at six and nine years, respectively. At that point, with advancing age, there must be the worrisome doubt as to whether one will ever debut.

Group B consists of relative newcomers to the company, with the least amount of experience. They reflect the company’s new initiative in putting a focus on beauty first, with Yang saying that YG had passed on too many success stories such as Rain, by focusing first on ability over looks.

Group C are the youngest and most uninhibited, at ages 14 and 15.

Group J was a surprise hidden team, arriving from Japan.

YG Treasure Box
YG photos
Only about five to seven of 29 hopefuls will be selected for YG’s next boy band.

The series shows the company’s grueling assessment sessions in which each member performs before a panel of judges and their fellow trainees. It often pits trainee against trainee in categories of voice, rap and dance. It’s impossible to not feel for the trainees who often lose confidence in light of the competition for a limited number of debut spots.

When they fail to meet expectations, they can be brutally dismissed from the company, walking out the door on the spot after perhaps years of training. One member—though a talented vocalist—felt the pressure and chose to leave after spending 2-1/2 years in the trainee program. I can only hope some other company might reach out to him, because he is certainly deserving of the spotlight.

It must be so frustrating to be in that type of situation. It was the type of circumstance that pitted BTS’s Kim Taehyung and Park Jimin against each other for so long and had them depressed because neither was certain he would debut. Tae was said to be a secret member, though fans are uncertain whether that meant he was kept under wraps because of extraordinary beauty that would wow the industry when he first showed his face, or whether that meant producers were unsure he would make the cut. His lyric baritone voice is certainly unusual in K-pop, which favors tenors. That made him a bit of a risk to cast, but certainly rewarding to Big Hit Entertainment in the long run.

Bang Ye Dam
Bang Ye Dam has waited six years to debut.

As expected, group A put on the best live performance for the judges. They are so polished, I thought they are all so deserving and could easily debut as a group right now. But they could not escape the vagaries of the company’s producers. It broke my heart to see them split apart when they are already a pretty tight family.

At the end of the third episode, two trainees each were selected from groups B and J for Team Treasure. Three more were selected from both groups A and C.

Watch to see what happens next. YG artist BlackPink will appear in the next episode to offer input. Episodes air 10 p.m. Friday nights (KST) on Naver’s V Live, and again two hours later at midnight on YouTube.