Thursday, June 26, 2008
How Korean B-Boys Took Over The World

Rivers Crew in the flow.
Photo by the incomparable magnificent Joe Conzo. Biters will be beheaded.


My piece on R16 and the evolution of Korean b-boying is finally done and up. Big big big up to the super-supreme Joy Yoon, the R16 lifers in Seoul and New York (you know who you is), my patient fixers/translators James, Erica, Anna, and Joe and all of the dancers, producers, and rappers, whom I met but couldn't include, especially Sean II Slow who hosted us for an evening at his studio in Hongdae.

A teaser here:

This summer, the United States is reaching new heights of dance fever as TV shows like Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" and MTV's "Randy Jackson Presents: America's Top Dance Crew" have returned to the airwaves. MTV's runaway hit is considered especially cutting edge, showcasing hip-hop dance groups from across America. But if MTV really wants the best dance crew, it should be looking in South Korea.

"Of the top six or seven crews in the world, I'd say half of them are from Korea," says Christopher "Cros One" Wright, 33, an American dance promoter and b-boy who was recently in Suwon, South Korea, to judge the second annual global invitational hip-hop dance competition, called R16, that was held at the end of May.

The development of South Koreans' hip-hop dancing could be seen a cultural parallel to their sharp global ascendance in electronics and automaking. A decade ago, Koreans were struggling to imitate the Bronx-style b-boy and West Coast funk styles that are the backbone of the genre. Now, a handful of these crews are the safest bets to win any competition anywhere.

Certainly no country takes its hip-hop dance more seriously. The Korean government -- through its tourism board and the city of Suwon -- invested nearly $2 million in this year's competition. Two of the most successful teams, Gamblers and Rivers, have been designated official ambassadors of Korean culture. Once considered outcasts, the b-boys now seem to embody precisely the kind of dynamic, dexterous and youthful excellence that the government wants to project.

Although hip-hop dance goes back at least 35 years, the top Korean b-boys trace their histories back just 11 years, to 1997, the Year Zero of Korean breaking. By 2001, the first year that a Korean crew entered the Battle of the Year -- the world's biggest b-boy contest -- they won "best show" honors and a fourth-place trophy. Every year since, a Korean crew has placed first or second. Says Battle of the Year founder Thomas Hergenrother, "Korea is on a different planet at the moment."

...

The full thang is here. If ya dig, then Digg. If ya buzz, then Buzz.


BTW here's my earlier wrap-up on R16 and direct links to the semis and finals videos.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:23 AM   3 comments links to this post

3 Comments:

At 6/26/08, 3:37 PM, Anonymous dachiworld.com said...

What NK did not divulge today is that SK bboys replaced plutonium in 1997.

 
At 7/2/08, 7:19 AM, Blogger Cacy Forgenie AKA BOUDICON Desu said...

Peace, Jeff!

I just read your Korean B-Boy article on Salon via Racialicious.com. Reading you gave me chills. You're a fantastic writer and journalist.

Best,

Cacy Forgenie

 
At 9/1/08, 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow i randomly was searching and found this picture and i read your entire article. THANK YOU!!! Best article ive read all summer-mainly because not much is written about the korean bboy crews. sure i can find videos on youtube, but you are one of the first to actually make a great article about it. hope to see more from you :D keep up the great work!

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

 

Previous posts
Is The Republican Party Dead?
Breakin' The Vote! :: The Best PrObama Video Yet
Muslims, Obama, And The Potential Perils of Victor...
The Politics of Identity Politics
Marc Bamuthi Joseph's "the break/s" Opens In The B...
2G2K Circus Returns! :: Talking Michelle + Affirma...
Does McCain Have A Chance?
"Baby Mama" Drama For Michelle Obama
Idle Hands :: Why The Candidates Must Focus On Ame...
More Beef Protests In Korea


select * from pages where handle = "BlogLinks" #content#

Archives
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
 

Email list

Add me to the Can't Stop Won't Stop email list, an irregular update of what's new in our world:

Submit