Welcome to July’s edition of Editor’s Picks, where I share some favorites (both old and new) that I think are worth checking out. My categories are slightly different than last month, and I anticipate these to fluctuate a bit each month. It’s my goal to branch out in as many directions as possible, so hopefully I can bring you some new ideas, or at least, remind you of what’s already out there.
1. Music - RED PLANET (album)
I just recently listened to this album by the duo Bolbbalgan4. Though I had heard of them, I had just never listened to them. If I’m totally honest, I don’t listen to many female singers (in any genre or language, that’s just how I’ve always been). However, when I’m at work and I need background noise, I’ll turn on various artists I don’t normally listen to in order to find new music. I turned this album on the other day and was surprised that I actually ended up replaying it—several times. While RED PLANET makes for easy-listening music for various backgrounds, it also deserves to be listened to more closely. The tracks flow together really well on this album; there aren’t any abrupt or odd shifts, and I found it really relaxing. Most of the tracks are soft pop songs, with a couple of ballads mixed in. The girls’ voices are sweet and more uncommon in sound than what I’m used to. Though I like all of the songs, I’m particularly fond of “우주를 줄게” and “You(=I).” I also really like the more acoustic-sound of “심술.”
2. Live Performance - KARD
My next pick is this live performance of KARD’s “Hola Hola.” I’ve liked KARD since they released “Oh NaNa,” though I’ll admit I didn’t (and still don’t) get the whole “this isn’t a debut” thing. Oh well, they’ve officially debuted now, and I’m really happy with their releases. It’s so rare to see a co-ed group in K-Pop too, so I find it very refreshing. I enjoyed this live—it was nice to actually see them performing a song instead of just watching a music video. I think they do really well with singing/rapping live while performing choreography that isn’t overly-simplified. I also appreciate the white-on-white outfits because, let’s face it, my aesthetics normally run in black, white, and shades of gray.
3. Game - Mystic Messenger
No, this isn’t new, by any stretch of the word. But I’m still playing it (after taking a huge break), partially because the developer, Cheritz, has released more content and also because of some theories I came across while browsing YouTube. I won’t go into too much detail here, because frankly I’m not sure what to make of it yet, what there’s evidence for, and what future content will lead to. However, there are definitely plenty of theories floating around on YouTube, Reddit, and Tumblr that there’s way more to this game than meets the eye. That I can definitely agree with. On the surface, Mystic Messenger is an otome game (or a game meant for young women). Otome games are usually pretty shallow, just visual novels with a gaggle of attractive suitors all vying for the player’s attention. While I find the phenomenon to be really interesting, I’m not really one for that type of game. However, when I first played Mystic Messenger, I was intrigued because of its plot that seems to go beyond the basic otome game. I’m interested in continuing to look more closely at this game, in conjunction with its two predecessors (yeah, there are actually predecessors. I didn’t realize that at first either). If you’re interested in learning more, give it another go and also try Dandelion - Wishes brought to you and Nameless ~ The one thing you must recall~, the two games that came before. I promise they’ll be worth it!
4. Language Learning - NAVER’s Dictionary App
I’ve been using NAVER’s dictionary ever since I started learning Korean. It’s one of the better options out there, and while their mobile app isn’t new, it was recently updated with a new version of the dictionary that caters to Korean learners specifically. Under this version of the app, you can get more examples, more audio pronunciations, and even grammar explanations. There’s also a feature that will show you when the word you have entered appeared in V LIVE videos—you can go right to the video and listen for the word to hear it used in context! Though that feature isn’t new, it’s useful and often overlooked. I’ve really enjoyed the new version of the app so far; hopefully it’s helpful to you too.
5. Poetry - “Rain upon the Plantain”
I’ve wanted to read more Korean poetry and literature, so I found this site that has lots of translations of Korean poems. If you go to this link specifically, there’s a long list of various translated short poems. I chose “Rain upon the Plantain” as a recommendation here because I love short poems that don’t use a bunch of fancy, unnecessary language. I’m also not too big on poetry that rhymes (although it’s unlikely translated poems could rhyme anyway). Give some of these a read if you’re into poetry! If you’re also learning Korean, you can try to look up the originals too, for a side-by-side comparison.