Today marks the one-year anniversary of Kim Jonghyun‘s passing. He is missed and I miss his creativity, kindness, and humility. You did well, Jonghyun.
End of a Day (written by Kim Jonghyun)
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Kim Jonghyun‘s passing. He is missed and I miss his creativity, kindness, and humility. You did well, Jonghyun.
End of a Day (written by Kim Jonghyun)
SHINee, “The Story of Light EP. 1: The 6th Album” (2018)
NOTE: This album is 1) is part of a three-CD release campaign in celebration of the group’s ten-year anniversary (May 25, 2008) and 2) the first release after the passing of group member/main vocal Jonghyun (Kim Jong-hyun; #고인의 명복을 빕니다). I was worried about if/how they would treat Jonghyun’s voice in these track/releases; so far it’s been appropriate considering the main audience is not Western. You can hear Jonghyun clearly playing his secondary role – ad-lib/sensuality King – in tracks 1 and 3. It’s simultaneously jolting, saddening, and comforting.
Ultimately, though, the SHINee sound is still intact and far from disappointing. In fact, I hear vocal ranges that we’ve never heard from Onew, Taemin, and Key, and Minho does more singing, which traditionally, he has done very little. I’m looking forward to EPs. 2 and 3 in the coming weeks.
“Together as four, we will move forward as five.” – Lee Jinki (Onew), SHINee Leader (May 2018)
Today (or, “yesterday” in Japan), SHINee performed their first concert without Jonghyun. It’s been less than two months since he passed away. The show began at 5:25 p.m. with a set-list of their most popular Korean and Japanese songs. The twenty-fifth song they performed was the Japanese version of their Korean debut song, “누나 너무 예뻐” (Nuna Neomu Yeppo/Older Lady, You’re So Pretty). The concert’s start time and the placing of this song is significant to members of SHINee and SHINee World.
It is highly unlikely SM Entertainment/SM Entertainment Japan will release this performance, even though social media footage seem to show that it was being taped. However, social media sites offer live-Tweets of the action, and fancams share performance clips. Fans get a sense of SHINee members understandably wavering at the beginning and quickly settling into their usual push towards excellence as the concert continues. They seem to gather strength from the fans (who, in turn, seem to be working diligently to give it to them).
“No one can replace Jonghyun hyung’s position. We want to let everyone know that SHINee’s stages in the future will always be together with Jonghyun.” – Choi Minho (January 8, 2018)
In most cases, song and choreography have been modified only where absolutely necessary. No back-up dancers cover for Jonghyun. Fan accounts state that the group performed “Everybody” – one of their most intricate choreographies requiring all five members – without an extra dancer.
In addition to “missing man” formations, the show is peppered with activities keeping the spirit of Jonghyun on stage: his singing parts play without edit; special “ments” (films/vignettes in show breaks) about Jonghyun; and the like. As a particular tribute, SHINee performed a new song that the group recorded before Jonghyun’s passing. The photo still in this post is from that portion of the show.
At the end of the concert, each member briefly shared particularly vulnerable thoughts about preparing for these shows, and discussed the role and memory of Jonghyun in their lives. Their comments also seem to reassure fans that the group plans to continue working together for the foreseeable future.
This concert makes plain that SHINee’s goal is not to prove that they can perform without Jonghyun. They are there to show that Jonghyun is still performing with them as far as they are concerned. They could have easily taken this tragedy to withdraw, to say “it’s all for naught.” They could have said, “it will be too hard to change the formations, to sing Jonghyun’s high notes, to perform the songs he wrote for us.” They could have decided, “it’s too hard to face the fans.” They did none of that.
In some clips, microexpressions show their sadness and the conflict they undoubtedly must feel performing on stage so soon after Jonghyun’s death. They are still very much grieving. However, they are feeling these feelings and are doing what they love – for whom they love – *anyway.*
This concert falls during a time that is very challenging and disappointing lately for me as a professional. In watching these images and performances, I am trying to re-center and re-evaluate many things. I am so, so, very, very thankful for SHINee’s selfless example of fortitude, and that’s just the way it is.
UPDATE: The concert footage will be released for purchase in late June 2018!
At my institution, my library hosts a monthly Faculty Colloquium session during the academic year. In September 2015, I presented a talk on the methodology of phenomenology and how I’d applied it to research topics in LIS. By that time, I had completed two qualitative phenomenological studies:
My thirty-minute talk briefly outlined the different contexts of phenomenology, a term that is used to describe a discipline, a philosophical movement, and a rigorous research methodology focusing on intensive understanding of a lived experience of a particular event, situation, or state of being.
One of the things that I have really enjoyed about phenomenological methodology is that it is one that most fully supports my research motivation of finding out “what” and “why” answers. For instance, in my low-morale study, participants filled out a survey in which they were asked what their low-morale triggers were. Quantitatively, 70% of participants indicated “administrative or managerial incompetence” was a low-morale trigger. Trailing at 15 points (55%) – and a tie – was “bullying” and “personality conflicts.” However, qualitative data reveal that the participants’ experience of low-morale was overwhelmingly brought about by verbal abuse (coming in quantitatively at 50% in the survey), emotional abuse (45%), systemic abuse, and negligence (the latter items were not part of the survey choices).
Data-collection for phenomenological research is usually gathered during interviews; sometimes participants are asked to engage in visual or artistic exercises and asked to describe what they created. Either way, the resulting data is deep, rich, and complex.
Phenomenological data analysis is tedious and requires preparation from the researcher so they are able to approach the data while suspending their judgement about their views of the world. These exercises are called epoche (AKA bracketing or phenomenological reduction), and while there is some debate regarding its role in data analysis, I have found that approaching the data after lessening preconceptions of phenomena have been very helpful in getting as close as I can to what Cresswell calls “the universal essence” of an experience (2007, 58).
There is still a paucity of phenomenological research in the LIS field; but it is growing. Studies covering library use, social media use, and instruction, are just a few examples of its application in the field.
My 2015 talk, linked above, will summarize the methodology and themes of my first two studies and end with reading suggestions if you are interested in exploring or utilizing the phenomenological method.
Cresswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
While preparing for my first trip to South Korea, I reached out to Korean academic library colleagues and was able to set-up tours of two university libraries – Yonsei and Seoul National. Those library visits were focused on collections, space design, and how the students used spaces for academic and social purposes.
When I returned to Seoul in 2012 for a fall vacation, I continued my “library nerding,” snagging tours with Ewha Womens University and Korea University (Goryo University) libraries. By this time, I’d started thinking about academic library practice, and my Korea University guide took some time to sit with me and answer a few questions. During our talk, he mentioned “our jobs are the same.” But I really wondered, “Are they?” This question led to my first phenomenological study, which I implemented with a third visit to Seoul in 2013 and published in 2014.
Late last year, I attended a Korean webinar sponsored by ACRL International Perspectives and co-promoted by the Korean American Librarians & Information Professionals Association (KALIPA). Two Korean librarians working in Seoul (Yujin Hong, Kyung Hee University; Minsun Kim, Sogang University) and one Korean librarian working in the United States (Seangill Peter Bae, Princeton University) offered an update on the practice and development of Korean academic librarianship.
I wanted to know if anything had changed since I talked with my eleven research participants. In 2013, Korean academic librarians were very concerned about labor laws for temporary workers, which make it difficult to hire permanent librarians. In Korea, the current “Irregular Workers Law” dictates that a organization must make a temporary worker a permanent employee after two years – the law was created to stimulate growth, but de facto application has resulted in organizations letting temporary workers go after this two year period to avoid the expense of benefits, etc. This means high turnover in libraries.
UPDATE: One librarian noted that there are more temporary workers than permanent librarians at her workplace. Another noted continuing librarian attrition (e.g., when librarians leave, new people are not hired to replace them).
In 2013, Korean academic librarians were also concerned about library leadership. In Korea, the head of the library is often an administrator from another academic department. Imagine in the United States, if for two years, the head of the College of Business was the library director. Then after two years, it was the Dean of the Communications College…then two years after that, the Dean of the College of Science. How would the library (not) develop? Moreover, consider that Korean librarians face the same stereotypes of their western counterparts – specifically, no one really knows a) what librarians do, in application, b) how librarians do what they do and c) how these functions affect seriously issues of scholarship, student retention, and student success on campuses.
UPDATE: This structure is still in place, which means that librarians find it difficult to plan effectively and advocate for their profession and their users.
Other continuing concerns included:
Korean librarians are intent on showing value on their campuses, and I really enjoyed hearing from our South Korean colleagues’ continuing efforts to professionalize the field and meet their users’ needs in what is an extremely dynamic culture and nation.
If you’d like to see photos of my Korean academic library visits, click the following links.
We. Are. SHINee.
Three weeks after Kim Jong-hyun’s passing, SHINee members have elected to continue with preparations for their February 2018 Japanese concert series, which was (and will be) called “SHINee World The Best 2018 ~From Now On.“
Their hand-written letters to fans detailing the reasons for their decision to continue are here (English translations included).
Amazing fight towards resilience.
There was no post yesterday because of horrible news.
In an earlier post I mentioned that I’m a SHINee fan. Yesterday, my group lost a member – the main vocal, Kim Jong-hyun (known simply as Jonghyun, aka BlingBling, aka Puppy, aka Dino, aka Jjong) – to suicide. In the horrific onslaught of talented people leaving our sides, 2017 continues to do its best to outdo itself to the very end. I debated whether I should write something here, and I decided I should because 1) authenticity matters to me 2) this blog covers inspiration, which SHINee – and Jonghyun – are to me and 3) I hope respect is recognizable and honorable to anyone reading this, in any case.
Kim Jong-hyun will remain:
It’s hard to be an American fan of Korean popular music. It’s harder still to be an African-American fan of Korean popular music. It’s even harder still to be a Woman-of-a-Certain-Age African-American fan of Korean popular music. From an external perspective, I *think* I’m *supposed* to like Beyoncè and/or Rihanna. Erykah Badu?Maybe I should be listening to Chris Brown? I *think* trap music? I can’t- I don’t even know who’s “in” right now in American popular music. If I’m feeling nostalgic, I presume Keith Sweat, LeVert, New Edition (& Company) are on the approved list for someone who “looks” like me and is my age. But I don’t listen to them. I just don’t. For lots of reasons (By the way, I *do* love Maxwell, Prince, and, of course, creative respect to Michael Jackson; and I also would be remiss if I didn’t state that most of the artists I’ve mentioned here are/were influences of Jonghyun’s work).
It’s hard because if something/ when something happened to those people, the onslaught of community support materializes – and quickly. For me, I have no one to talk to. I get instead, bewilderment, impatience, feigned concern, and worst of all, silence – all things that marginalize my current state and deem it “less-than.” People who have responded overlook that Jonghyun didn’t die in a plane crash, or as a result of an unintentional drug overdose, or similar. I also get to read sensationalized Western news reports contextualizing the Korean entertainment industry as somehow *more* “evil” than the Western one (Um, Mariah’s first husband? Whitney’s former manager? Beyoncè’s Dad? NSYNC’s manager? #CmonSon). Writers rehash old articles instead of learning about individuals or international issues. They don’t know that Jonghyun suffered with depression and anxiety for most of his private and public life – so it *must* be the industry. They don’t know – or ignore – that South Korea, in general, has one of the highest suicide rates in developed countries – so it *must* be the industry.
I found SHINee soon after I began learning about Korean language and culture. Since 2011, they have given me the sound of my past with the creativity of the contemporary. Their positive outlook has impacted me in numerous ways – becoming a fan of a “boy group” (men, really) is different when you’re an adult than it is when you’re a teenager. Within the context of my life experiences, they were very refreshing and rejuvenating to my own outlook and have continued to be so.
I recently started my two week end-of-year holiday with the goal to read, rest, and catch up on my SHINee-centric television shows and concerts (and binge-watch Season 2 of The Crown). For quite some time, SHINee has been the only bright spot in my entertainment life – a wonderful alternative to the Western televised world of flying weaves, rising bleep levels, faux luxury, and in more serious matters, the ongoing documentary of my country’s slow, apathetic erosion of democratic government. Now, I don’t even have SHINee. Jonghyun’s voice is on every single song and thus, he is part of every single stage presentation. I don’t know when I’ll be able to listen or watch again.
That being said, I remain a Shawol (the SHINee fangroup – an amalgam of SHINee World). I am thankful I got to see the entire group perform three times: twice in the States (NYC – 2011 and Dallas – 2017), and once in Seoul (2013). There are very few American Shawols who have been lucky in this regard.
What I can do also is share SHINee’s direct role in improving my skillset as a contemporary information professional. As a member of KPK: K Pop Kollective, I worked to create and curate digital exhibits for Korean popular music artists. While planning the project metadata and display – which is housed and archived in Omeka, I volunteered – very quickly – to create SHINee’s exhibit. While the project is no longer updated, enjoy the link. You can view how learning Omeka’s platform was eventually applied to my LIS work at my campus.
While working with KPK, I also created a running visual archive of artist websites produced by the Korean record label SM Entertainment (SMEnt). SHINee is managed by SMEnt, and every time they dropped an album in Korea or Japan, a new website was created to assist with promotion efforts. I called my recordings the Digital Documentation project. Enjoy SHINee’s Korean and Japanese digidocs.
I sign off this post with a notice and reminder: Depression is real. It is tangible. It is devastating. Keep in mind that mental health remains stigmatized in our country, too. Keep in mind that mental health services are not as accessible as they should be. Keep in mind that we should be doing what we can to increase awareness and access. You can begin to access and research mental health services here.
Standing Egg, “Young.” (2015)
Why is there a statue of an Asian man in my rotating blog header? I know you’re wondering about it. Even if you aren’t, I’d like you to know who he is and where he fits in my career. First, a quick share of one of my interests: Korean popular culture.
In August 2009, I moved to my first smaller campus library. During the interview visit for that position, a friend of mine traveled with me. As we explored a neighboring city, he took notice of a script on a building and asked me, “How do you know that’s not Chinese or Japanese?” I said, “I don’t know, I just know they are more complicated than what I’m seeing here.” He said, “None of the other scripts have an “O” character…” I said “ah, perhaps!” Eventually I would come to know that the script was Hangul – the written representation for Korean phonics.
Do you know who created this writing system? I’ll reveal it in a moment.
From there, I began watching Korean television shows and listening to Korean music (my favorite popular music group is SHINee; I also like chill Standing Egg and soulful Park Hyo Shin). My interest in Korean music and my LIS skillsets led me to work with a digital humanities group called the Kpop Kollective, and after visiting Korea twice (in 2011 and 2012), I applied for and earned a grant to return to Seoul, Korea in 2013 and study Korean academic librarianship. That study was published in 2014.
“My people cannot write characters even though they have hands, and cannot read characters even though they have eyes. Joseon needs new characters that are suitable for the people.” – King Sejong/Sejong the Great
King Sejong (세종대왕/Sejong Daewang/Sejong the Great) was a Joseon (alt: Choson) dynasty leader who was concerned that his people could not read or write. In his time (13th century), only the upper classes were literate; moreover, those who could write used Chinese characters for Korean phonics. In response, 세종대왕 commissioned an academic/research library called the Hall of Worthies (집현전/Jiphyeonjeon). He staffed it with scholars to lead various research projects – the most notable being the development of the Hangul script. Originally the system (or declaration and explanation of the system’s adoption) was called Hunminjeongum (훈민정음/”The Correct Sounds to Teach the People”). It’s underlying philosophy – along with its consonants, vowels, and block-writing sequence – make it one of the most efficient and scientific language writing systems in the world. And you can rest assured that during its development, nobles were not pleased. A great (and high production value) show of the intrigue 세종대왕 and his scholars may have faced is played out in the 2012 Korean drama “Tree with Deep Roots.”
What’s the result (even after Japanese occupation and the Korean War – the latter of which is still in play)? According to the World Data Bank, South Korea’s adult literacy rate is around 98%. Every October, modern Koreans celebrate Hangul Day.
The statue shown in my blog header photo sits in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square between Gyeonbokgong Palace (where Jiphyeonjeon originally stood) and a towering statue of Admiral Yi, one of Korea’s legendary military leaders. Under 세종대왕’s statue is a permanent exhibition documenting his other inventions along with the Hangul script. Here’s a video I took of the Hangul Creation installation during my 2013 visit to Seoul:
And of course, it has a library 🙂
Learn more about King Sejong and how his work links to modern academic libraries in Korea (See Also, Jongyeonggak (Sungkyukwan University); See Also Keijō Imperial University/Seoul National University)