News / Arts & Entertainment

Youtube Reality Show Spotlights Korean-Americans

The new reality show 'K-Town' follows the drama of eight, young Korean-Americans living in Los AngelesThe new reality show 'K-Town' follows the drama of eight, young Korean-Americans living in Los Angeles
x
The new reality show 'K-Town' follows the drama of eight, young Korean-Americans living in Los Angeles
The new reality show 'K-Town' follows the drama of eight, young Korean-Americans living in Los Angeles
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!”

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ok from: Los Angeles
July 23, 2012 4:10 PM
Not all of the cast are Korean American. Jasmine is Chinese American.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."