One Asian World

Source: One Asian World, July 19, 2012
“K-Town” Episode 2, “K-Town Girl” & Upcoming Interview With Paul Kim
July 19, 2012 By Paulette

K-Town Episode 2 aired yesterday and I’m slowing getting into the show. The best parts of this week’s quickie episode (14 minutes) were the drinking game (“Ee-Cha” Round 2) and Seoul Train (fun times!). I gotta admit, Scarlet is already getting on my last nerves. What she did to ol’ dude at the bar (you gotta see the show) was messed up. At any rate, I’m hoping episode 3 will be even better.
Btw…LOUD included K-Town Girl by Breezy Lovejoy feat. Dumbfoundead in the show. Woot woot!!! Song is FIRE! Just in case you haven’t seen the MV…check it out below. 

Side note: Folks are leaving comments about the whereabouts of Jennifer Field (she was initially set to star in K-Town). I have no idea why she didn’t make it into the final cut of the webseries. I do know you can peep her out in Paul Kim‘s upcoming MV Outta My Head.
Side note 2: Yeah…I scored an interview with Paul. The article is coming soon so stay tuned!


Schema Magazine

Source: Schema Magazine, July 27, 2012


Joe K-Town Cha | 3 Tips on Sex & When to Fight
By Robert Paranguo

Swaggering in from the streets of K-Town, the perpetually topless Joe Cha has the body and confidence of Bruce Lee.
He's not just a pretty face, though.
Joe is co-founder and partner of a new company called Reflective Productions. On top of that, he has a fitness business on the side, helping clients feel good about their bodies.
Schema Magazine recently had the chance to ask Joe about the two things we know K-Town is all about: sex and fighting.

Joe "K-town" Cha on Sex:
Most under rated sex move: Elevated missionary. Think of the missionary position but in the air!
Most overrated sex position: Doggy style
Most underrated place to have sex: Movie theater
Most over rated place to have sex: Pool side
3 situations that can only be solved with a fight?

  1. You mess with my mom I'll kill you.

  2. You mess with my family I'll f*ck you up.

  3. You mess with my girl I'll f*ck you up.

At least there's no shortage of testosterone on this show.

Schema Magazine

Source: Schema Magazine, July 27, 2012


Jasmine Chang: K-Town's Funny Girl Fashionista

By Malissa Phung

Born and raised in K-Town, LA, Jasmine is the whole reality star package. An award-winning hairstylist, her own locks are always on point, her make-up is impeccable, and her clothes are sexy but classy.

She's not just another bodacious K-Town girl who knows how to party: Jasmine's got a quick tongue and she ain't afraid to use it. Here are some tips from a wisegirl with a whole lot of swagger.

Schema: K-Town's giving you your fair share of drama. What are your top 3 tips for dealing with alpha females (or males) in tense situations?
Jasmine: Dealing with alpha personalities is always tricky. There are 3 ways I would react:
Bark back.
Belittle them, using logic and sarcasm.
Or just agree and say sorry to anything and everything to shut them up!

How do you deal with drama? Think Jasmine's got the alpha-antidote down pat?

Schema Magazine

Source: Schema Magazine, July 27, 2012


Violet Kim: The Drama Queen of K-Town on Mixed-Race Dating

By Vinnie YuenBy throwing a drink at a girl, Violet Kim has proven she is the queen of drama in the latest episode of K-Town.
Earlier that night, Violet and Jowe steal a kiss in the hallway. In hindsight, Violet said it was the most stupid thing she has ever done.
When Jowe proceeds to flirt with multiple women throughout the night, that's when things get ugly. Violet throws her drink at one of the women Jowe is hitting on.
But Violet isn't all about drama. As a single mom who's still looking for love, Violet shares with Schema Magazine her dating experience and seduction tips.

Schema Magazine: Describe the best and worst mixed-race dating/hook-up experience you've had?
Violet Kim: I don't have a best because it usually doesn't go past the first date. I have many bad experiences but the one that stand out the most is when the brunch bill of $25 came out, we paid Dutch.
I don't know if that's necessarily a non-Asian thing or a gentleman thing, but it's a stereotype of American culture [to split the bill] so I'm going to go with that until I'm proven wrong.

More from Violet coming up soon!


The Hollywood Reporter

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, July 23, 2012

Industry Players Reveal Their Favorite Finds in L.A.'s Koreatown

From Seth MacFarlane's karaoke spot to Demi Lovato's spa refuge, the area west of downtown is suddenly a hot scene for food, nightlife and those chauffeurs who drive you home (seriously).

Up-all-night, anything-goes Koreatown, where Los Angeles laws always seem a little looser, is ready for its zeitgeist-tapping close-up. On July 11, Electus chairman Ben Silverman’s just-launched YouTube channel Loud debuted K-Town, Jersey Shore-inspired series that follows a party-hardy group of eight Korean-Americans (yes, there’s drink-throwing) in the glitzy, sometimes-gritty neighborhood between Hancock Park and downtown. The show’s producers include former MTV executives Liz Gateley andTony DiSanto, as well as Tyrese Gibson. “It’s a really cool subculture that we haven’t seen in mainstream media,” says Silverman. Adds Gateley of the program, “Now you get to be a fly on the wall.”
The 24/7 sensory overload of today’s Koreatown -- from spas to clubs, barbecue to bibimbap -- has ramped up steadily during the past two decades, since the L.A. riots of 1992. But it began when South Koreans immigrated to the area in the 1970s during the reign of military strongman Park Chung-hee. The district, which now boasts the largest number of South Koreans outside of Seoul, originally was developed as a tony enclave for industrialists and entrepreneurs during the Roaring Twenties. Joseph Schenck, then-president of United Artists, lived in an Upper East Side-worthy 11-story apartment building on Wilshire Boulevard that he named The Talmadge after his actress wife, Norma Talmadge. Nearby Hollywood hangouts The Brown Derby and The Cocoanut Grove drew everyone from Mary Pickford and Rudolph Valentino to Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe.
These days, the industry is back, too, as The Hollywood Reporter learned when polling players -- including Fast Five director Justin LinTop Chef'Gail Simmons and Legendary Pictures’ Alex Garcia -- for their favorite Koreatown finds, which go far beyond go-to restaurants like ChoSun Galbee and Park’s. Since shooting his new show, that’s no surprise to Gibson: “Nobody watches Jersey Shore and says, ‘I want to go there.’ As soon as people see this, they’re going to say, ‘I have to check this out!’ ”
3881 Wilshire Blvd.
Partisans of this Korean franchise import know to ask for their pies “gold” — that is, made with Yukon Gold sweet potatoes stuffed into the crust. “I find myself craving it,” says Alex Garcia, senior vp creative affairs at Legendary Pictures.
3901 W. Olympic Blvd.
This Korean investigation into Northern Chinese cooking is famous for its spice rubs and meat skewered over charcoal. “They do bull penis and pig heart, but you can stick with chicken wings and quail and lamb,” says The Simpsons writer Matt Selman.
721 S. Western Ave.
Formerly Le Prive, where Nicolas Cage famously met his wife, Alice Kim. Still one of the top neighborhood “booking clubs,” popular in Korean culture, in which staffers act as aggressive wingmen by corralling patrons to talk to one another at tables they’ve purchased for the evening. “Always completely surreal,” says John Orlando, director of digital development at Crackle and Sony Pictures Television. “Expect to drop hundreds of dollars on bottles of Crown Royal and fruit plates.” Marvels Gibson, “I’ve never been exposed to this stuff before.”
3500 W. 6th St.
You’ll find Silverman belting out songs with friends in one of the many private rooms equipped with frenetic LED light displays.
3826 W. 6th St.
The cafe specializes in serious coffee (both Chemex and Syphon are available) as well as manifold iterations of shakes, juices and teas. “It’s somewhere you can take someone to have a long conversation in peace,” says Twilight saga actor Justin Chon.
621 S. Western Ave.
The ArcLight of Koreatown, it shows tentpoles like Prometheus in uncrowded opening-weekend luxury. “I think it’s one of the best theaters in L.A. — if you’re willing to put up with Korean subtitles,” says Langley Park Pictures creative executive Aaron Schmidt.
3440 Wilshire Blvd.
Famed for the unofficial residency of Seth MacFarlane, who has made it a second home for his standards-singing career, the karaoke spot also has drawn Ben StillerCourteney Cox and Gersh agent Steve Gersh.
3136 W. 8th St.
This cult-favorite Korean BBQ hole-in-the-wall is popular with everyone from Dylan McDermott toGail Simmons, who says, “It was introduced to me by James Oseland, my co-judge on Top Chef Masters, while shooting the second season of the show.” Advises Fast Five director Justin Lin, “Get ready to have your clothes soak in all the flavor because you will smell like your meal for the rest of the day.”
928 S. Western Ave.
Lin loves to hang out at the food court on the lower level of this mall because it has “the best steam buns and spicy shrimp dumplings.”
1001 S. Vermont Ave.
In the same strip mall as Hodori, this family-owned spot is venerated for its bibimbap, a Korean rice dish featuring a melange of sauteed vegetables, egg, meat and chili pepper paste. “Their version is their grandmother’s recipe, and it’s super-tasty,” says JoAnn Cianciulli, a producer on Top Chef Masters and MasterChef.
1001 S. Vermont Ave.
“It’s the place you go after the club to sober up before you go home,” says James “Prohgress” Roh, a member of hip-hop act Far East Movement, of this Korean greasy spoon.
3198 ½ W. 7th St.
Opened in the ’20s as The Windsor and still featuring the original red leather booths and gilt-framed paintings, this restaurant/bar has appeared in everything from Chinatown to Mad Men. Now it serves Korean fare with a rap soundtrack. Hipsters love the incongruity. “The staff can be legitimately rude to non-Koreans,” says The Office writer Daniel Chun. “But for some, that makes it even cooler.”
3240 Wilshire Blvd.
It boasts the standard array of massages and saunas, but Natura’s known for its notoriously hardcore skin-sloughing body scrub. Says Barnstorm Pictures president of production Elaine Chin, “They wouldn’t dare attack you that way in a Western spa!”
3317 W. 6th St.
Anthony Bourdain exposed this gem in the L.A. episode of his series The Layover that aired in January. “If you want to be adventuresome, Dan Sung Sa serves everything from chicken feet to beef intestines,” says CAA agent Lisa Shotland. It’s locally known for a unique art installation of locks hanging in front of a mural of James Dean and other icons.
3303 W. 6th St.
The centerpiece galbijjim, or steamed short-rib soup, draws serious devotees to this tiny home-style cooking haven. “The meat falls off the bone here,” says producer Dan Lin (Sherlock HolmesGangster Squad). Adds producer Roy Lee (The DepartedThe Ring): “It’s my favorite. Anyone who eats meat, I challenge them not to like it.”
2700 Wilshire Blvd.
Demi Lovato and Vanessa Hudgens -- as well as Johnny Depp and, yes, John Travolta -- elude the paparazzi and English-speaking fans alike at this highly under-the-radar spa complex at the far eastern edge of Koreatown.
PICKUP SERVICE: Feel free to drink and not worry about driving. The area is prized for its unique take on taxi service. The offer is just the driver: He meets you where you parked and shuttles you home in your own ride. (Someone then picks him up.) “I live on the Westside, and I use the service frequently,” says Ted Kim, president and CEO of Asian-American multimedia company Mnet. “Just ask the staff at most bars and karaoke places, and they’ll hook you up.”
PARTY MUSIC: K-pop music -- South Korea’s Internet-driven, hook-fueled melding of hip-hop, R&B, dance, techno and pop -- reached its U.S. crossover tipping point when one of the genre’s top acts, Girls’ Generation, performed its catchy English-language hit “The Boys” on Late Show With David Lettermanin January. Koreatown’s of-the-moment party soundtrack also includes K-pop singles by Super Junior (“Sexy, Free & Single’), 2NE1 (“I Love You”), Miss A (“Touch”) and Wonder Girls (“Like Money”).


Schema Magazine

Source: Schema Magazine, July 19, 2012

Cammy Chung: Sweetheart of K-town | Part I
By Gayatri Bajpai

Cammy Chung is one of K-town's newest cast-members and made her first appearance on the show in the second episode, which released today. So far, Steve has told us that if you cross her or rub her the wrong way, she will break your face. But he beat Cammy at a drinking contest, and she didn't bat an eye. Read on to decide for yourself whether this K-town sweetheart has an inner beast.

Schema Magazine: What have you been up to before K-townand what attracted you to the show?
Cammy Chung:Before the show K-town I've been working at a bar as a waitress near my home. I had worked there a couple of years ago but quit because there was a lot going on in my life at that time but I've been back since September of 2011.

Joining the K-town cast was the last thing I thought I would be doing this year actually. It all happened so fast. I was getting ready for work on a Monday when I got a phone call from one of the producers and I only had about a day to think and decide before jumping on board.

I never watched a lot of reality shows so I'm a newbie to this reality world.

I just figured an opportunity came and I should get my feet wet and try it out and have some fun before making any judgement calls. If we want something in life we've never had then shouldn't we try something we've never done? 
That's how I see it.

Schema: If you could take the world by storm in just one avenue (besides reality tv), what would it be?
CC: Top worldwide Korean-American editorial fashion model like Kate Moss? (laughs) I'm embarrassed to say so but there's truth in it. What can I say? I'm a girl.

Schema: What high school clique did you belong to? Are you different now?
CC: I went to a few different high schools so I was changing cliques a lot but one thing always remained the same. The Koreans stuck with the Koreans. We always took up the shaded area too! We had a lot of fun though. Too many stories to tell ...
I don't think I'm that different from how I was back then. I kept to myself a lot and still do for the most part.

Schema: The K-town Facebook page warns not to take your sweetheart exterior at face value. What does it take for Cammy's claws to come out? Do you serve revenge up cold, or do you take drama head on?
CC: If it's unnecessary drama, I try my best to avoid it. And I don't know what badass side you're talking about.

More from Cammy coming up soon! In the meantime watch the next episode Wednesday on the LOUD Youtube channel.

Schema Magazine

Source: Schema Magazine, July 19, 2012

Steve Kim of K-Town: Top 3 Ways to Get Laid
By Kait Bolongaro
Photos from K-Town Reality Show, courtesy of LOUD

Steve Kim doesn't have any problems getting girls. He is suave, sexy and he knows it. The only cast member originally from K-town, Steve knows where all the hot parties are and the best places to meet people. A professed lifelong bachelor, he just wants to have fun with beautiful women. Steve givesSchema a few tips on how to get some action.

Schema: What are your top 3 tips on how to turn girl/guy drama into sex?
SK: 1. Scoop her up and toss her in bed.
2. Cover her mouth with mine. No more talking, only action from this point.
3. Jump on top of her and feel up on all her favorite spots.
Schema: What are the top three lies you've told to get laid?
SK: 1. "I'll be your man from this point on."
2. "I think you're the most special girl I've ever met."
3. "I think you're the one."
More pointers from Steve coming up soon! In the meantime watch the next episode Wednesday on the LOUD Youtube channel

The Hollywood Reporter

Source: THR, July 17, 2012

L.A.'S Koreatown Cool
2:00 AM PDT 7/17/2012 by Gary Baum

From Seth MacFarlane's karaoke spot to Demi Lovato's spa refuge, the area west of downtown is suddenly a hot scene for food, nightlife and those chauffeurs who drive you home (seriously).
Up-all-night, anything-goes Koreatown, where Los Angeles laws always seem a little looser, is ready for its zeitgeist-tapping close-up. On July 11, Electus chairman Ben Silverman's just-launched YouTube channel Loud debuted K-Town, a Jersey Shore-inspired series that follows a party-hardy group of eight Korean-Americans (yes, there's drink-throwing) in the glitzy, sometimes-gritty neighborhood between Hancock Park and downtown. The show's producers include former MTV executives Liz Gateley and Tony DiSanto, as well as Tyrese Gibson. "It's a really cool subculture that we haven't seen in mainstream media," says Silverman. Adds Gateley of the program, "Now you get to be a fly on the wall."

Giant Robot

Source: Giant Robot News, July 18, 2012

K-Town Episode 1

It’s been at least a couple years of talk about it, then it finally appears and we realize, these folks can’t be real average K-Town folks. Dudes are all buff and they appear to be all a bunch of actors. Either way, it’s here, it gives visibility to Asians of some sort.

The Huffington Post

Source: The Huffington Post, July 18, 2012

'K-Town' Reality Show: Korean-American 'Jersey Shore' Hits YouTube (VIDEO)

Back in 2010, "K-Town" was one of the hottest reality shows on the agenda. Described as a "Jersey Shore" spin-off for the Asian-American crowd, "K-Town" would follow the lives of eight twenty-somethings living in Los Angeles' Koreatown. Alas, negotiations fell through when the network that was set to broadcast "K-Town" went through a "regime change," according to the Wall Street Journal, and executives pulled in the reins on the producers' creative freedoms.
Fast forward two-and-a-half years and "K-Town" is finally here: Episode 1 of the series premiered on YouTube's LOUD channel on July 11.
“We wanted to show that there are lots of layers among Asian-Americans,” Executive Producer Eugene Choi told Voice of America. “I think that with a lot of Asian-Americans in TV and film it’s two dimensional. It’s either the violin playing nerd or the martial arts master. Once people watch people will see how different it really is. It’s not just 'Jersey Shore' with Asian people.”
The eight cast members include Young Lee, Jennifer Field, Joe Cha, Scarlet Chan, Violet Kim, Peter Le, Steve Kim, and Jasmine Chang, who have nicknames like "The Party Animal," "The Troublemaker," and "The Heartbreaker."
The show does have all the fixings of a stereotypical reality show: clubbing, drinking and big egos. But the producers nevertheless hope to offer viewers something more.
“Look, I consider us pioneers," Steve "Mohawk" Kim told the Wall Street Journal's Tao Jones. "We’re trying to change the game. Yes, there are haters. Yes, there are people saying ‘You can’t do this.’ But we’re trying to bring a new light to the Asian community -- showing a side of Asians that hasn’t been seen in the media. We don’t all just type at computers and wear glasses and go home and sip wine and listen to classical music. ”


Source: Jezebel, July, 18, 2012

Asian-American Jersey Shore Finally Airs - But Not on TV
Doug Barry

Remember K-Town, the reality show set in the club scene of Los Angeles' Koreatown? With a guy called the Situ-Asian? Back in 2010, TV execs were salivating over its sizzle reel, and the self-described "Jersey Shore-type show" was on the verge of unleashing yet-to-be-cast Korean Jersey Shore doppelgangers on the unsuspecting American public. K-Town received mentions in the New York Post and the New York Times, as well as some shout-outs from Chelsea Handler and SNL's Weekend Update. Then, all of a sudden, the network that K-Town's producers nested at underwent a regime change, and, before anyone had time to mourn its debut on the stage of American culture, the show was put on extended hiatus.

After two and a half years of hiatus, K-Town aired its first episode last Wednesday on LOUD, a new YouTube channel from a studio startup called Electus. Executive Producer Mike Le, who developed the concept for the show with producers Eddie Kim and Eugene Choi, says that producing the show online has given him more freedom to make the show that he first envisioned (a creative independence K-Town's previous network seemed eager to stymie). The Wall Street Journal's Tao Jones writes that Electus, founded in part by NBC's Ben Silverman, is looking to create just the right amalgamation of traditional TV and YouTube qualities, and, in the effort to produce "high-impact" and "buzz-worthy" content, it has made K-Town one of its tentpole productions.
Preening with the tagline "the reality show no TV network could show you," K-Town, according to Jones, offers all the sleaze and drama we've come to hope for from quality reality TV.
The show's teaser trailer features epileptic flashes of castmembers bootyshaking in their lingerie, licking liquor off one anothers' bodies, tongue-tangling and pelvis-grinding in various gender combinations and drunkenly punching each other senseless - in short, engaging in activities that are not commonly associated with Asian Americans in mainstream media.
For Mike Le, the show's stereotype-shattering quality is precisely what will make it so appealing to viewers who think that all Asians are just "ninjas or dragon ladies or asexual IT guys."
Yes, the interest in the show is Asians going wild - you better believe that when we took it around to the networks, the old white execs we showed it to were popping their eyes out. But in reality, K-Town's about the fact that all the stereotypes, good or bad, don't fit when you're talking about real people. Our cast doesn't represent all Asians. They simply represent themselves.
Or they represent the stereotypical reality show 20-something that incubated in Real World houses for years before it got an immigrant-group makeover when the Jersey Shore decided to exploit all the reigning stereotypes about Italian Americans. Whatever stereotype-busting the show's producers think it's capable of, the fact is that K-Town exists at least in part to shock and awe its audience. "You mean to say Asian-Americans drink, have sex, and punch each other in the face the same way all those shifty Italians do? Get outta here!" That initial bemusement is something that Le and the other producers are counting on — it will draw viewers in much the same way that Jersey Shore seemingly validates all our ickiest thoughts about New Jersey and the spray-tanned cretins that inhabit it.
By the time that initial fascination wears off (if it even takes hold), characters like Steve "Mohawk" Kim (Party Animal) and Violet Kim (Drama Queen) will have either endeared themselves to YouTubers or the show will fizzle. In the meantime, we all get to watch as a yet another ethnic group in America gets to exhibit its finest party-goers. What about if, instead of shows like K-Town, someone did a reality show about kids' birthday parties? Kids could snark on each other's venues and get all crazy sugar-drunk on orange soda. It'd be wild.


Voice of America

Source: VOA, July 17, 2012

Youtube Reality Show Spotlights Korean-Americans
Matthew Hilburn

Americans love reality television shows. Since their initial mass popularity in the late '90s and early 2000s, there has been an  explosion of formats depicting nearly every facet of American life, including pawn shop owners, hoarders and drug addicts.

A more recent arrival to the reality show universe are the ethnically-based shows that include the very popular “Jersey Shore,” which focuses on Italian-Americans in the state of New Jersey, and “Shahs of Sunset,” which focuses on Persian-Americans in Los Angeles, also known as Tehrangeles because of the number of Persians living there.

The latest entry to that genre is “K-Town,” which follows a group of young Korean-Americans in the predominantly Korean area of Los Angeles known also as K-Town. Unlike “Jersey Shore” and “Shahs of Sunset,” “K-Town” will be shown on YouTube, which has become a trendy outlet for Asian-American performers of all ilks.

When development of the show was announced two years ago, the media immediately dubbed it Jersey Shore for Asians.

It was something executive producer Eugene Choi both embraced and shunned.

“We wanted to show that there are lots of layers among Asian-Americans,” he said. “I think that with a lot of Asian-Americans in TV and film it’s two dimensional. It’s either the violin playing nerd or the martial arts master. Once people watch people will see how different it really is. It’s not just “Jersey Shore” with Asian people.”

But there are certainly some similarities.

“K-Town” features eight young Korean-Americans and contains many of the same ingredients as its reality show predecessors: drama, silliness, romance, scandal and skin, all of it often ratcheted up by alcohol. Choi does concede that there isn’t as much bad behavior in “K-Town” as there is in “Jersey Shore.”

Choi said the show will also shed light on some lesser known aspects of Korean-American culture. One example he gave was the Korean nightclub scene where customers, in order to get in, must know the cell phone number of one of the waiters. The waiter, in turn, will make a reservation for a group of men or a group of women.

“Once you get in, the waiter has guy tables and girl tables and plays matchmaker,” he said. “That whole practice came from Korea where it’s socially taboo just to go up to a woman. K-Town is the intersection of Korea and the U.S.”

Choi said he pitched the show to some cable channels and even got some offers, but at the end of the day, YouTube's LOUD channel made the most sense.

“I think it is a pretty good medium for Asian-Americans,” he said. “I think a lot of people think it’s a setback, but I’m really excited about being a part of YouTube. I really believe YouTube is the next cable TV.”

Alexander Cho, a PhD in Media Studies at the University of Texas Department of Radio-Television-Film said shows like “K-Town” combat stereotypes by offering multiple representations of a group by showing people who are totally contradictory to the stereotype or challenge it.

He said the trick will be representing diverse images of the Korean-American community without making it look horrible the way many Italian-Americans felt Jersey Shore did to them.

“I’m not sure how great it would be to have a Korean-American Snooki,” said Cho, referring to the most famous cast member of Jersey Shore who developed a reputation as an airheaded partier and is possibly most well-known for getting punched on TV. 

Cho said he’s not surprised “K-Town” is on YouTube.

“It’s a place where people who don’t fit the traditional mold of what a leading man should look like and and what a pop star should look like can find a place,” he said.

Based on YouTube comments, it would appear the reception for K-Town is mixed. One commenter called the show “embarrassing” to Asian-Americans, while another wrote they were glad to see a portrayal of Asian-Americans that was not as a “a social hermit” who studies all day and night and plays computer games.”

Choi says reaction in the Korean-American community has been “very mixed, and very extreme.”

“Now that the first episode is out I think the reaction has generally been a little bit more positive,” he said.”Before the negative comments were them being afraid it'd be too wild, and now some of the negative comments have been episode one hasn't been wild enough. I guess you just can't win sometimes!”


The Wall Street Journal

Source: The Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2012

Tough Times for Tiger Moms as Asian-America Meets ‘Jersey Shore’

By Jeff Yang
Jowe Lee of “K-Town.”
Back in 2010, when word first leaked that someone was planning a reality show set against the non-stop, over-the-top party landscape of Los Angeles’s Koreatown, the gossip rags snickered — Soon-Yi meets Snooki! — and the greybeards of the Korean America shuddered — This show will make us look like a community of drunken meatheads and dimwitted tramps!
“And this was before anyone had even seenanything,” says executive producer Mike Le, who developed the “K-Town“  concept with producers Eddie Kim and Eugene Choi. “We put out a Craigslist call saying we were looking for interesting Asian Americans for a Jersey Shore-type reality show, and within 48 hours, the story had been picked up by the Los Angeles Times and the New York Post, and Chelsea Handler mentioned it on ‘Chelsea Lately.’ That Saturday, SNL worked it into Weekend Update.”
In short, the buzz on “K-Town” was building before a single castmember had been selected, before the first stunt or catty blindside had been captured on tape — and before it was revealed that the production company behind “K-Town” was Tyrese Gibson’s production company HQ Productions, where Le is vice president, making the project rather more credible than a random Craigslist ad might entail.
“Once we shot our sizzle reel, things got even crazier,” says Le. “TMZ started following the cast on Facebook. We were written up in The New Yorker and OK magazine. We started to think we really had something.”
So did Hollywood. “Once we started shopping it around town, we got interest everywhere we went. There was a bidding war between two networks, and we went with one of them.”
And then? “And then things didn’t work out.”
According to Le, a combination of “regime change” and a refusal by the net’s new guard to let the producers make the show they’d had in mind led to the show going on an extended hiatus — one that as of last Wednesday, had lasted almost two and a half years. That’s when the first episode of the new, no-holds-barred online edition of K-Town was unveiled, as the tentpole property of LOUD, a newly launched YouTube channel from equally newstartup Electus.
The studio, founded by NBC wunderkind Ben Silverman in partnership with Barry Diller’s digital powerhouse IAC, is the latest attempt to blur the lines between traditional television content and web video. “We want to create programming that users will want to spend more time with, and we’re doing it by making each show have creative elements from both TV and YouTube: High-impact, buzz-worthy content that will get people talking,” says Drew Buckley, Electus’s COO.
“High-impact” and “buzz-worthy” seem like apt terms to describe K-Town — now dubbed “the reality show no TV network could show you.” The show’s teaser trailer features epileptic flashes of castmembers bootyshaking in their lingerie, licking liquor off one anothers’ bodies, tongue-tangling and pelvis-grinding in various gender combinations and drunkenly punching each other senseless — in short, engaging in activities that are not commonly associated with Asian Americans in mainstream media.
And that, says Mike Le, is the point.
“I think we as Asians have a tendency to embrace our own ‘model minority’ hype,” he says. “To me, that one-dimensional, positive stereotype is as bad as the images in the mass media that depict us only as ninjas or dragon ladies or asexual IT guys. Yes, the interest in the show is Asians going wild — you better believe that when we took it around to the networks, the old white execs we showed it to were popping their eyes out. But in reality, K-Town’s about the fact that all the stereotypes, good or bad, don’t fit when you’re talking about real people. Our cast doesn’t represent all Asians. They simply represent themselves.”
Of course, the selves they represent on the show aren’t “real people” in their full, nuanced complexity either; it wouldn’t be “reality TV” otherwise. So the castmembers have their respective labels — for example, the two who seem poised to dominate the show’s action early on, Steve “Mohawk” Kim and Violet Kim, are dubbed “The Party Animal” and “The Drama Queen” respectively.
From the teaser, both look set to live up to their taglines, with Steve thrashing around half-naked and drinking bottomless quantities of soju, the sneaky distilled liquor that serves as Koreatown’s party fuel, and Violet…well, let’s just say Violet does everything else. (She has the trailer’s one spoken line, which involves her declaring, point blank while holding up a Korean rice noodle, “if it fits in my mouth, then it’s too small.” Most probably, she’s not referring to the rice noodle.)
But Violet is quick to assert that there’s more to her than what the teaser and first episode reveal, and that much of it will come out over the course of the full season.
“Drama queen? I mean, yeah, that’s appropriate!” she laughs. “But not all of the time. They plaster these titles on us, and that’s what you expect of each character, but that’s just a part of our identities. There are other aspects to us, and you will get to see those.”
A former beauty pageant contestant and a single mom — she married at age 21 and had her son Tyler a year later — Violet says she was pulled into the Koreatown scene early. “I was one of Junior Miss Korea’s youngest contestants, and I made friends with a lot of the older girls — I’d call them unni, ‘big sister,’” she says. “So by age 14, I was going out and clubbing with people in their late teens.”
It was on the club circuit that she met her ex-husband, who’s nine years older than her — “We didn’t start dating until I was 18!” she asserts.
Marriage and motherhood pulled her out of the party crowd, but conflicts with her in-laws and disagreements with her husband over her career goals led to a breakup when her son was about a year old. Violet moved back home, only to watch as her mother and father filed for divorce themselves a few months later. “When I moved in, my dad moved out,” she says.
Violet still lives with her mother — “We help each other out, we share everything” — splits custody of her son with her ex, is attending classes to finish her degree while working for an apparel company in social media marketing, and aspires to a career in entertainment. It’s the latter that led her to K-Town.
“I don’t know where this is taking me, but I’m happy to go along for the ride,” she says. “It’s been surreal. Butsoooo much fun.”
Steve Kim also came to the show looking for a way to break into showbiz. But while he joined the cast with Hollywood hopes, his heart belongs to Koreatown. A promoter for the nabe’s hub club The Belasco, Steve proudly asserts his Koreatown 24-7 status: “I don’t just party there, I live there.” For him, the place, the community and the culture represent something that he feels has the potential for mass appeal. “Koreatown has a crazy style you’re not going to find anywhere else,” he says. “It’s an awesome, awesome place. Once it gets dark, it’s three miles of insanity.”
Asian ethnic enclaves tend to be seen by outsiders as insular, enigmatic, eat-and-run tourist traps. That’s true of Koreatown as well — for now. But it’s Steve’s goal to bring the whole world to his three-mile island. “These days, it’s not just Koreans who are coming to Koreatown, it’s all Asians,” he says. “And it’s not just Asians, it’s people of every race and ethnicity. Because you just don’t get K-town partying unless you come see it for yourself. When Tyrese was hanging with us at the K-clubs, he kept looking around and saying to us, ‘This can’t be legal — how can this be legal?’ But it is, and it’s amazing.”
That’s the kind of talk that gets the elders of the community shaking their heads. The last thing they want is for Koreatown, where many of them make their homes and most of them make their money, to be seen as the staging ground for bacchanalian revels by waeguk-in (e.g., foreigners).
“Look, I consider us pioneers. We’re trying to change the game,” says Steve. “Yes, there are haters. Yes, there are people saying ‘You can’t do this.’ But we’re trying to bring a new light to the Asian community — showing a side of Asians that hasn’t been seen in the media. We don’t all just type at computers and wear glasses and go home and sip wine and listen to classical music. ”
It’s bound to be an eye-opener not just for non-Asians, but for many Asians as well. In fact, it’s fair to say that the subtitle for K-Town could easily be “Bite Me, Tiger Mom“  — as producer Mike Le says, “The first episode, we spent quite a bit of time just setting up the players, but beginning with the next episode on, you better hold onto your seats, because we’re going from 60 m.p.h. to 250. All the Asian Americans out there who are afraid this show is going to be too wild, well, their fears are justified.”
Violet confirms Le’s promise. “Look, we’re crazy, and you’ll see that,” she says. “But this is entertainment. We want people to watch with open eyes and an open mind. The people who are casting judgments on us, I think they’re really judging themselves — because they feel guilty about having the same crazy side and not being willing to show it. If you’re reading this and you don’t like what you see, here’s my advice: Don’t take this too seriously. Lifeisn’t that serious.”
The Tao Jones Index: Post-San Diego Comic-Con Edition
Must-click quick-hits from across Asia and Asian America
In the spirit of the nation’s biggest gathering of nerdfolk and geeklings, this installment of Tao Jones Index is all-comic-book themed…with a special announcement!
Awesome Asian Bad Guys: The Webseries (hopefully)Our pals from the National Film Society announce a new project — a webisodic focused on, you know, awesome Asian bad guys. Which sounds awesome. And baaaad. And by baaad, I mean good.
Indian Spider-Man: The best thing about Indian Spider-Man? There really is an Indian Spider-Man. That is, Marvel licensed their signature hero out to Gotham Entertainment (founded by Deepak Chopra’s son, Gotham Chopra) to create an India-market-focused version of the classic webcrawler.  This video has nothing to do with that. But it’s pretty hilarious.
SHATTERED, The Sequel to Secret Identities Is Coming! Finally!: Boom. So, back in 2009, I, Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Ma co-edited Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology — the first collection of original stories about Asian American caped crusaders and masked vigilantes. We’ve been working on the followup to SI ever since. And we’re delighted to let you know that as of today, our publishers, The New Press, have the completed manuscript for SHATTERED: The Asian American Comics Anthology in their (metaphorical) hot little hands. While Secret Identities focused on the conventions of superhero comics, SHATTERED expands the horizon to include edgier genres, from hard-boiled pulp to horror, adventure, fantasy and science fiction…and, using this darker range of hues, seeks to subvert — to shatter — the hidebound stereotypes that have obscured the Asian image since the earliest days of immigration: the stoic brute, the prodigious brain, the exotic temptress, the inscrutable alien, the devious manipulator. Creators included in our lineup include leading Asian American comics creators like Gene Yang (National Book Award finalist for American Born Chinese), GB Tran(Vietnamerica), Christine Norrie (Hopeless Savages), Sonny Liew (Malinky Robot), Larry Hama (G.I. Joe), Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman), Bernard Chang (Supergirl), Sean Chen (Iron Man), Greg Pak (The Hulk), andTakeshi Miyazawa (Runaways), as well as film and literary standouts such as Jamie Ford (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet), Michael Kang (The Motel) and Tanuj Chopra (Punching at the Sun). The original graphic short stories they’ve crafted cover topics from ethnic kiddie shows to China’s AIDS policy to air flight security procedures; from the untold backstory of Flash Gordon’s nemesis Ming the Merciless, to the gritty reality of a day in the life of a young Koreatown gangster. Look for it this fall!