April 4, 2010

Baek JiYoung (백지영)

In the fall of 2008 I began to explore Gwangju alone. I did not enjoy the foreigner hangouts and began to randomly enter bars with the hope that something interesting would occur. One night I entered a basement bar where a kind and beautiful woman was working and talking to a man from Seoul. He spoke English and we drank a few beers and had a good time. A week later I returned. The bartender ushered me into a small room where I met several local doctors (I have retained a strong friendship with one of them). These small rooms also had kareoke facilities. Many nights I had dinner with my friend and we would end up back at the bar singing songs and consuming vast amounts of alcohol. The bartender became my friend and often sang songs as well. This was my first introduction to the wondergirl Baek JiYoung.

Our hostess all too frequently drank too much whiskey and would grab the microphone and belt out 사랑안해 (I Won't Love). I became enamoured with the song and to this day it is my favorite. I then began to hear her 2008 single 총맞은것처럼 (Like Being Shot by a Bullet) everywhere. Her voice was so deliciously sultry. The emotion was thick in every lick she sang. Natives here would often ask me what I liked about Korea and my answer would be Baek JiYoung. The strange thing was the responses. Many if not most would respond negatively; claiming that they did not like her. However, her music was everywhere. How could this be so?

Scandal! A few years ago her ex-boyfriend released a sex tape of the couple. Even though she was unknowingly filmed her image was severely tarnished. This is the oddest part of Korea to me. Women here have to maintain an impeccable reputation. One false move and society scorns them. This is not just true for celebrities but for any given woman. The fact that Baek JiYoung has resurfaced and that her popularity is growing should give hope to the females here. Korea is slowly shedding its conservative restraints.

A few months later I noticed a truly sexy poster advertising soju in my neighborhood market. I was friendly with the owner and asked him if he could help me acquire one. He asked me if I liked Baek Ji Young. Yes - very much - oh my god is that her?? - holy crap - she is a knockout!!! I had been in love with her voice for some time and somehow the magic of life now presented me with such a tremendous image to go along with it. A few days later he gave me about a dozen of the posters as well as pens which bear the same image. What luck!
In August of 2009 I noticed a concert poster. Baek JiYoung was coming to Gwangju! Oh my, now I could die complete with the memory of her serenade performed at an intimate show just for me. She must have been waiting a long time to meet me. I was absolutely stoked!! I looked forward to the concert for a couple of weeks. Finally, the magical day came...

She would perform at a popular and fairly exclusive night club. I had already been in this club thanks to the aforementioned doctor group I befriended. So here we go -- Showtime!! I arrived at the club with a few friends dressed in my best duds. I was going to have the night of my life. I approached the door and was told to go away. No foreigners allowed. What?? No way. This can't be. I tried again and was told my shoes were ugly. My scheming mind beleived if I could make friends with some of the locals milling about maybe I could sit at their table. I schmoozed my way into a group which accepted me and after hearing my plea invited me to join them. OK, one more try. The doorman refused me again. The natives put up merely a mild protest and I was left dejected. I really do hope I find another opportunity to go to a show. I am not obsessed. Nope. No zealous mania here.

Anyhow I am back for another year and her success has continued. Hits like 내 귀에 캔디 (Ear Candy) permeate the soundscape here for me. Maybe, just maybe, someone will pass along my story to her and she will agree to have my children.


Torey Downing said...

Sucks you couldn't get into see her.

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