This Week in Kpop: January 10-16, 2016

This Week in Kpop is a cause for concern. We're feeling shades of 2014 creep in - with scandals, rumors, and apologies taking up the conversation. It's only been a few weeks now, but 2016 is getting off to a rocky start. Where do we even begin?

Tzuyu Apologizes

Probably the biggest "scandal" of the year has to be the controversy surrounding rumors of Tzuyu's support of an independent Taiwan. These "allegations" erupted after Chinese singer, Huang An, blasted her on social media with examples of her pro-independence stance. You know the story by now (we'll be talking about this further in next week's podcast). 

But for now, we just want to talk about this sad apology that Tzuyu posted. After playing damage control all week, it looks as though JYP has had to cave here, removing Tzuyu from Chinese promotions and releasing this grainy video. 

There's so much to talk about, but let's just talk about the video for now. It's only a minute and a half long, 240p. Tzuyu is wearing all black, the video quality, or the dull background, or the fact that Tzuyu is exhausted, makes her look pale. All of this contributes to the sorrow of the proceedings. If there's one thing that Kpop prepares idols for, it's apologies. Take, for example, when Girl's Day had to apologize for appearing rude on a AfreecaTV? And how long has T-ara been apologizing for their scandal years before? But this is a bit different here - the stakes have been raised with nations involved, a sixteen year old girl caught in the middle.

Tzuyu speaks in Mandarin, and, among other statements, she apologizes for not apologizing earlier, and she apologizes for causing pain and she says that she's feeling guilt. She says she'll stop participating in promotions in China. While she starts speaking to the camera, she reads most of her statement directly from a paper, one that was probably painstakingly constructed to alleviate as much damage as possible. Tzuyu says that there is only one China, and then she bows. She bows so low that even her back is barely in view anymore. It's like she's bowing into the earth.

When Tzuyu returns from her final bow, you can see, for a fraction of a second: she almost smiles. Tzuyu has practiced for years to be amiable and pleasant on-camera. It should be expected, because could she really have prepared herself for something like this? With this level of scrutiny?

Could any of us?

Kara Disbands

And the hits keep on coming! Too bad they're not pop hits though. Kara's Hara, Gyuri, and Seungyeon have terminated their contracts with DSP which means, unless Youngji wants to change her name to Kara, Kara has ended with their departure. This is not unexpected news necessarily - many have expected this for a while now, and rumors have circulated and intensified over the week.

But you can still feel sadness, friends. This is, after all, an end of an era. For many of us, Kara was one of the first Kpop groups we've listened to - to many of us, here at Critical Kpop even, they were our fist biases. It's always sad to say goodbye, isn't it?

Zander and Tim chart their rise and fall, and fall, in this week's Critical Kpop Podcast. You can listen to that here, friends.

Can Stellar Save Us All?

With all the controversy this week, it's easy to forget that Kpop is really a genre of pop music. But Stellar hasn't forgotten, friends. 

We were big fans of last year's "Vibrato," which you should watch if you never have (but maybe not at work). And while they have a reputation of being salacious, they're also taking the initiative here too, by asking their fans for funding so they can afford to make their new release, via a platform called "Makestar," (which, we assume, is like Kickstarter), with a campaign that has been enormously successful. Observe:

Could this be the future for Kpop groups in struggling agencies? It's possible, friends. In any case, we're expecting big things from Stellar in 2016!

Review: Don't Count on Anda's "Taxi" to Jump-Start 2016

Still waiting for that first big release to jump-start the year? Well, you may have to wait a bit longer. While we've loved a lot of Anda's releases, we're not so sure about "Taxi," friends. Want to know why? Read on, right here!

January 10-16, 2016

And that was This Week in Kpop! And boy, this week was a bummer. We're hoping that Stellar and Winner can lift our spirits in the next coming weeks, and hopefully this overblown "scandal" with Tzuyu will pass soon. It needs to pass already, right? Well, if it does or not, we'll still be here. Until next week, have fun and be safe!


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