I’m sad to announce that Something, the group I pegged to win Kpop Star 3, has been eliminated. I’m not so sad or surprised to announce that Nam Young Joo was also eliminated. I haven’t seen the performances yet, but had the top three in each episode been decided by the viewers, I doubt we would have seen this outcome. With both Sam Kim and Bernard, two of the most talented contestants being in the bottom two last episode, it would have been challenging for the bottom two from this episode to advance. I’m bummed that Something happened to be in the bottom, but also not too surprised since the judges have always been too critical of the group. The one silver lining in this scenario is that we don’t have to worry about Something selling their soul to some record label. At the same time, Something will most likely break up since they were not a group until they joined Kpop Star.
Two weeks after being gifted a 2004 Kia Sorento with over 130,000 miles, I began having difficulty steering. I took the car to a repair shop and it turned out I would need a new engine The cost of replacing the engine would have been a little under the KBB value of the car, so I decided to start searching for a quick way to sell the car and get some cash. The Kia’s exterior wasn’t in the best shape and considering it wasn’t even driveable in it’s current state, I opted to find a place to scrap my car.
After consulting google, I found Peddle.com which boasted that it was “the fastest, easiest way to sell your car.” I was a little skeptical at first, but I did some more research and the site seemed legit. After entering the year, make and model of the car and answering less than ten questions (i.e. does your car have any dents larger than a golf ball, is your car driveable) I had a quote for how much I would be given for the car. The amount was at least 200% more than what other scrap places were offering, so I decided to continue with Peddle.
At least in the Seattle area, Peddle uses a towing service called Road America to pick up the car and deliver the car owner a check. Now, this is where things get challenging. I was assured that I could schedule a time with Road America to get my car and drop off the check. This was not the case. I “scheduled” pick ups with various Road America associates five different times and no one ever came. I Facebook messaged Peddle and a customer service rep assisted in calling Road America in a three way call to pick up the car. We confirmed a good date and time for someone to retrieve the car and still no one came. Road America was so flaky about getting my car that the CEO of Peddle even called me to apologize.
After a lot of messaging and phone tag with Peddle and Road America, my car was towed at 4:30 on a Saturday, only six hours after the agreed upon time. The Road America driver who picked up the car explained that they didn’t know where the driver went who was supposed to pick up my car, but that they hoped he was OK. I handed over the keys to the driver and he handed me over the check. The car wasn’t inspected or anything. In less than five minutes, the car was gone.
I’m happy that I was able to get as much money as I did for my P.O.S. car, but it was definitely one of the most frustrating customer service experiences I’ve had. In Peddle’s defense, they did everything they could to help out and were great about touching base with me and responding to my concerns. However, they definitely need to reevaluate their relationship with Road America. Even though getting my car picked up was such a headache, I would still recommend Peddle if you have patience. (I’m hoping that my scenario isn’t how most transactions go). The paycheck that I received for the car outweighed the hassle of trying to get it towed.
I never fully understood how the voting process worked for the live round of Kpop Star. I remember watching the first live episode last season and getting lost while the MC went on and on about how to vote. If I recall correctly, viewers can vote via text message and online only while the singer is performing, which seems pretty wanky to me because viewers don’t have the option to hear all singers before making their decision. So, everyone just ends up voting for their favorites regardless of how their performance is for that night.
Everyone in the top ten is very talented, but this competition seems to be more about who is the most unique and whose back story has been featured most. With that being said, here is my prediction for the order in which the contestants will be eliminated:
- Bae Min Ah: I was very impressed with Bae Min Ah when she sang American pop songs, but she did not have a strong performance when she sang in Korean. Bae Min Ah would succeed in another singing competition, but I don’t think she’ll be able to advance far because she didn’t have a strong storyline during the previous rounds, likely limiting her fanbase.
- Nam Young Joo: Nam Young Joo impressed the judges in the beginning of the competition, but now I think people are getting bored of her performances. In addition, she just seems kind of whiny, at least to me.
- Jang Hanna: She’s definitely talented, but I’m not sure why the judges are so fascinated with her “natural groove” and sense of rhythm. When I first saw her sing I thought she sounded alright but I wasn’t blown away by her performance just because she could shimmy to the music.
- Heejun Han: If Heejun wasn’t a former American Idol contestant I doubt he would have made it this far. Of course he’s a talented singer, but I don’t think there’s a lot going on that makes him unique.
- Shorties: I’ve enjoyed each of the Shorties performances, and I honestly didn’t see anything wrong with their rendition of “Faith.” They definitely know a lot about music, particularly how to harmonize, but their style of music doesn’t come across as the type to win a pop star competition.
- Almeng: Since one of my favorite groups from Kpop Star 2 was Raccoon Boys, I was bummed that there were not more rappers this season. Throughout the whole audition process, Choi Ran from Alemng was the only rapper. If Choi Ran sticks to rapping and doesn’t try to sing I think Almeng has a shot at advancing to the top five.
- Kwon Jin Ah: Jin Ah is definitely one of my favorites. While I don’t think she’ll win the competition, I hope she continues to make music independently. Hopefully she’ll become one of those stars like Kina Grannis or David Choi that does their own thing without the influence of a big record label.
- Sam Kim: Kim is also one of my favorites, and it’s partly because he’s repping Seattle. He’s a natural when it comes to the guitar and it’s exciting to think that he’s only 15. Like Jin Ah, I hope Kim continues to do his own thing without being controlled by a big label.
- Bernard Park: I think Bernard will go far because he’s very well liked by the judges and viewers. Of course, he has a great voice too.
- Something: Something has come very close to being eliminated several times because the judges don’t like their songs. Fortunately, the viewers do. (I love Something’s self-composed songs and I think the judges are off in their criticisms.) Both members of Something have an interesting back story and they’re so darn cute together. While Something is my favorite group, I’m conflicted with whether I want them to win this competition. I’m afraid that if they do win, one of the big labels will force them to crank out bad pop songs and drain them of their originality and indie charm. On the flip side, I want them to win so that they’ll remain a duo and continue to make music together. Hopefully, even if they lose, they’ll be able to continue to work together and create more songs.
The top ten contestants of Kpop Star 3 were revealed on Sunday’s episode. Unfortunately, everyone here in the states will have to wait another couple of days before the episode is translated and uploaded to Hulu. Overall, I’m not too surprised with the outcome of the final ten. Although, I would have predicted that Lee Chae would have advanced since the judges seemed so impressed with her improvement over the first time she auditioned for Kpop Star. I also wasn’t expecting Bae Min Ah to go on to the live show. My favorite contestants are all from Antenna, so I would be happy if Something, Kwon Jin Ah or Sam Kim won the competition.
The ten to advance to the live show are as follows:
Bae Min Ah
Nam Young Joo
Kwon Jin Ah
I was rooting for Yuna Kim to take home a gold medal at Sochi. After watching Kim’s short program, I quickly became enamored with her ballerina-like abilities on ice. She made a difficult routine look easy. When I read online that after the free skate competition Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova won the coveted gold medal by more than five points I was pretty surprised.
However, after watching both performances and reading commentaries that analyzed the routines, I understand why Sotnikova won gold. Kim’s performance was beautiful and well-executed. It was a captivating performance that highlighted Kim’s gracefulness and skill. Sotnikova’s routine, while not nearly as artistic, was slightly more difficult, more athletic than Kim’s which explains why she went home with the top prize. While Sotnikova did bobble after a jump, her program was so complex that she could afford that small error. Had Kim done one or two more triple jumps, the results of this competition would have been different.
Mark Sappenfield from The Christian Science Monitor breaks the scores down:
Sotnikova blew Kim away with her combinations. Sotnikova’s three combination jumps added up to 27.48 points, with Kim’s adding up to 22.64 points – a massive 4.84 point gap…
Sotnikova built such high scores on her combination jumps in two ways. First, she did harder ones. And second, skaters get bonus points for every jump made after the halfway point in the program – an acknowledgment that the same jump with tired legs is more impressive than with fresh legs.
Sotnikova put two of her combination jumps after the two-minute mark. Kim did only one… All of these points are not “judged,” per se. If you execute the element, you get the score. Sotnikova’s “base technical score” – the cumulative mark for all the elements she executed, with no “judging” involved – was 61.43 points. Kim’s was 57.49.
On paper, from a technical standpoint, it’s clear why Sotnikova won. Nevertheless, Kim’s fans who expected Kim to walk away with a gold medal believe that she was robbed. An online petition demanding an investigation into the judge’s decision has already amassed nearly two million supporters. Now, did Sotnikova deserve a score a whopping 5.48 points above Kim? That’s definitely debatable. While I think it’s clearly plausible that Sotnikova be awarded a gold medal for her performance, I’m uncertain if she was worthy of that high of a score. After all, Kim’s components score (judged on choreography, interpretation, skating skills, etc.) was 74.5 whereas Sotnikova’s was 74.41 which seems a little suspicious.
But, just because no one really expected Sotnikova to win doesn’t mean that she didn’t deserve to win. Kim’s piece was beautiful and she will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the world’s best figure skaters. However, on this particular night her performance came up a little short. Sotnikova skated a complex, nearly flawless routine and while the win will always be controversial, it was certainly justified.
I’ve managed to recount my whole Korea trip over the span of three months when I was actually only in Korea for two weeks. Although I was there for a short period of time, I feel like it was the right amount of time to see all the main sites in Seoul. Of course, there’s plenty of more things to do in the city, but I’ve at least developed a good sense of where I would like to revisit and explore more.
What I would do differently
- Get a direct flight: I bought my tickets in June, four months before departure. From Seattle to Seoul with a layover my flight round trip was a little less than $900. On my next trip I’m going to search for a direct flight which will probably add at least $200 to my bill. I’m a thrifty person, but I think the additional cost is worth it because I lost about half a day from having layovers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to sleep on the flight so I watched movies to keep entertained. I remember looking at my phone and thinking, Wow, it’s already been three hours, oh wait, I still have sixteen hours until I get to Seoul.
- Experience Seoul nightlife: It took about a week for my body to adjust to being in Seoul. For the first part of the trip I would get sleepy around 8:30 and wake up at 7:00. The next time I go to Korea, I’m going to try to force myself to stay up later so that I can adjust to the time difference quicker. Since I was always tired early on, I missed out on experiencing Seoul nightlife (clubs, bars, dorebang, etc.)
- Go to more cat cafes: I had so much fun at the cat cafe we went to and since the admission was only a little more than what a drink would cost at a normal cafe, why not go someplace where I can enjoy a drink with some feline companions?
- Visit Namsan Tower: We tried visiting the tower but it started pouring rain as we began our trek so we decided to turn around.
- Visit Jeju Island: I really liked going outside of Seoul for a weekend getaway. Next time, instead of Busan, I’d like to see Jeju Island, which I’ve heard is like the Hawaii of Korea.
- Try more foods: I wasn’t very adventurous when it came to food this trip. On my next visit I will force myself to try new foods that I wouldn’t be able to get at a Korean restaurant in the states.
All in all, this was a great first trip to Korea and Asia. I’m glad I got a glimpse of what Korea is like during the two weeks that I spent there. I’ve been back in Seattle for several months now and I definitely miss certain aspects of Korean life (i.e. how easy it is to get around on public transportation, cheap, readily available food). I will probably return next October, as fall is really the best season to visit and because airfare is reasonable during that time as well. Until then, I’ll have to stick to watching Kpop Star 3 and dramas on hulu to get my Korea fix. Paiting!
It took us forever to find this Hello Kitty cafe in Hongdae. Gun was literally the only guy there.
A lot of people have asked what my favorite thing about Seoul was and I’ve always responded the public transportation. Here in Seattle, I rarely take the bus and unfortunately mostly get around by driving. Sure, I could take the bus but it doesn’t go everywhere and I wouldn’t necessarily feel safe riding the bus at certain hours and through certain neighborhoods by myself. And, while not good for the environment, driving is typically less expensive than taking the bus which is generally $5 round trip.
On the flip side, in Seoul everyone takes the bus or subway; it’s a convenient, efficient and inexpensive way to get around. Getting on the bus is as easy as flashing a credit card (doesn’t need to be a special bus card) across a sensor. I could get from one neighborhood to another for a buck without having to fight traffic. Riding the subway, I never had to worry about trying to find parking, paying to park or being in the right state of mind to drive. Furthermore, I always felt safe riding the public transportation. Not having a car was quite liberating.
I think it would be manageable for a foreigner to get around town on the subway. Since I had Gun I never really had to struggle to communicate or get around because I had my own personal translator and tour guide. Without Gun, I definitely would have had to do some research to figure out how to get from point A to point B. However, when on the subway or bus, the next stop was always announced in English, so it was at least easy to figure out when to get off. There were also maps on the subway showing the English name of each stop.
If the bus or subway didn’t quite get us to within comfortable walking distance to our destination, we would take a cab. Taxis were very reasonable compared to the rates in the states. I would estimate that the rate is about half of what it is in the Seattle, plus, tipping is unnecessary.
I’m not sure how many families actually own cars, but taking public transportation appears to be sufficient for most everyday tasks. The roads are crowded with cars. Pedestrians and drivers don’t always obey traffic laws so I could imagine that it would be very frustrating trying to drive. Fortunately, as a tourist, you don’t need to.
Since I liked all the street art in Insadong so much, Gun took me to Ehwadong, a neighborhood with much more art. Apparently this spot is pretty popular among tourists because it’s featured in many K-dramas.
Upon seeing Noryangjin Fish Market I began to wonder how any of the vendors got any business. Before me were probably hundreds of vendors all selling a similar product– how could anyone stand out? What I didn’t realize until later was that the market was mainly for wholesale customers, so vendors already had a list of loyal customers.
Walking down the aisles, I felt like I was in my own aquarium. There were so many fish, shellfish and octopus in a myriad of tanks. However, I didn’t stare too long as I didn’t want the vendors to get the impression that I was actually interested in buying. Today was just a day for browsing. What I found peculiar were the obviously dead fish floating upside down in a handful of tanks. Personally, I would be less likely to buy from a vendor with dead fish in the tank, but perhaps it doesn’t make a difference to a vendor’s main clients. Who knows.
I’m not too familiar with what else there is to do in this neighborhood, but the fish market is definitely worth checking out. It’s cheap entertainment, and if you’re actually interested in some fresh fish Gun said that you could pick out your fish and have it cooked or filleted for you at the market. Sashimi doesn’t going to get any fresher than this!