Korean BBQ has gone upscale, and of course New York is the city to add a dazzling touch to a simple concept.
Kristalbelli, the highly buzzed about restaurant opened by J.Y. Park, the South Korean entertainer extraordinaire and producer of K-pop acts such as the Wonder Girls and 2PM, opened its doors to the anticipation of many.
Kristalbelli’s unique belly-shaped crystal grill (also where the restaurant gets its nom de guerre)
Inside the two story building is a restaurant and bar, but what’s really special about Kristalbelli are the belly-shaped crystal grills placed at each group table. Infrared heating fires up the grills, using traditional Korean cooking techniques that rely on infrared and crystal to efficiently cook meat. Kristalbelli is now be the first restaurant in the states to use infrared technology.
At the helm of operations is Korean American executive chef David Shim. He composed menus for a lounge, dinner, dessert, and wine. Each menu item represents his take on traditional Korean dishes.
Lounge Menu Samples
Bokbunja steak is a cut served with black raspberry reduction.
Kochi is pork belly served with shrimp and asparagus skewers.
Twigim is fried sweet potato and burdock.
Dinner Menu Samples
Gujeolpan is a “traditional emperor’s cuisine” of thinly sliced veggies and beef served with a crepe.
Haemul pajeon is a mixed seafood pancake.
Doenjang jjigae is a soybean paste stew with veggies and tofu.
Dia Frampton became a household name during her stint on the first season of NBC’s The Voice. Though she came in as runner-up, she has since moved onto bigger projects for her music career. Her debut solo album titled Red backs her folksy voice with indie pop tracks, but old-school fans will be happy to hear that her Meg & Dia bandmates are very much still in the picture.
As her tour with former Voice coach Blake Shelton comes to an end this month, we caught up with Dia to hear what she has to say about her Korean roots and recent success as as a solo artist.
Tell us three things that fans, both new and old, should know about you?
Hmmm. When I think of three things about me off the top of my head: I love to read. Whenever one of my teachers in high school would give us a book to read for the month, I would finish it in about three days. I always have a bunch of books with me when I’m touring as well. Some of my favorite authors are Ayn Rand and Charles Dickens. Secondly, I come from a large family of girls. I have five sisters. My older sister, Meg, plays guitar and piano for me in the band and also does backing vocals. And last but not least, I love dogs! I’m a big dog person and would love to get one when touring slows down a little bit!
How did you first get interested in music? How would you describe your musical style?
I first started singing around the age of 9. My dad brought home a Leann Rimes CD. She was only 14 years old at the time, and I remember thinking it was so cool that a little girl almost my age had a record contract! My musical style right now is very focused on lyrics. I like to write my own lyrics and absolutely love writing songs. I would describe myself as a singer/songwriter.
We read on your blog that you enjoy writing short stories. How is writing stories different from writing songs? And do you plan on publishing any of your stories in the near future?
I love to write. I’ve written a few novels too, ranging from around 200 to 300 pages. I feel like it’s really difficult to glue a novel together well while with a song it’s only three to four minutes long! I feel like I ramble a lot, and my mind tends to wander when I’m writing stories. My biggest challenge is to keep me focused on the task at hand. I would love to get a book published in the future.
How has the transition been from sharing the spotlight with your sister, Meg, when you were performing as Meg & Dia, to being in the spotlight as solo artist Dia Frampton?
It’s been a bit stressful having all of the attention suddenly focused on me. Now I’m doing all the press, and photo shoots, and video shoots, which is a lot to handle sometimes. Also, all the criticism, good and bad, falls directly on my name. However, at the same time, Meg is still playing in the band with me and even helped me write for my album Red. She even co-produced a couple of the songs. She still remains very present in my life and I am very grateful for that.
In your music video for “The Broken Ones,” we get to see Meg and your Meg & Dia bandmates, Jonathan, Nicholas, and Carlo, as well as some of your family members. What was it like on set of your music video? And what has it been like for the band since signing with Universal Records?
I thought it would be a cool thing for my little sisters to get a “behind-the-scenes” look at what I do. I have made music videos before and would of course send them to my family, but all they would see was the 3 minute video. I took a lot of pleasure waking up my little sisters (ages 13, 15, and 15 – twins!) at 3:30 a.m. to head over to the set! Ha! That’s the evil older sister in me coming out. But I kind of wanted to show them that it’s not just all sparkles and fun all the time. Being a musician is hard work. We got to set around 4:30 in the “middle-of-nowhere” California and were in hair and make up chairs by 5 a.m. Then, we shot till about 1 or 2 in the morning, so it was a long day. I think they had a lot of fun though, and Misty (my youngest sister) got those same boots she was wearing for Christmas! Universal Records has been really awesome to work with and also really supportive and involved. It’s actually pretty rare to say amongst artists, but I love my record label!
You collaborated with a lot of different artists and penned many of the songs on your new album, Red. What was your creative process like while making and recording your first solo album?
It was writing every single day no matter what. Sometimes I would force myself to sit down with a guitar and just…try. Try anything, any idea. In my head I would think, “Come on. I’ve been writing all week…I don’t feel…inspired.” But oddly enough, sometimes when I would force myself to sit and mess around on a guitar, inspired or not inspired, some of my best work would come out. I remember my manager basically forced me to sit and write one day when my creative well was running dry, and all of a sudden, lyrics just poured out of me so organically. That’s how “Trapeze” was born.
“I Will,” your duet with Blake Shelton on the new album, really speaks to the friendship that you two have made since working together on The Voice. How has it been on tour with your former coach? And how has being under his guidance influenced you and your music style?
Blake is an amazing person and mentor. It has been amazing to perform with him on tour. We also get to open up the show, which has been a dream come true. Blake is someone that always gives. Not just to me, but to everyone. He tries to help everyone and doesn’t expect anything in return. Now that’s rare. I’m very grateful that I got him as my coach! Also, I love watching his show! It’s a great show, and he’s a great performer, not to mention his band! Every single musician that plays with him are out of this world! I have always loved country music too, so it’s been great to be around it. I think you can hear a bit of country in songs like “I Will, “Trapeze,” and ”Isabella.”
Have you been keeping up with the new season of The Voice? Which coach do you think is going to take it this year? Any favorite contestants?
I have been keeping up with it as much as possible. Although, it’s usually from clips on the internet since we’re usually playing a show when it’s airing! There are so many talented people on this year it’s hard to say who’s gonna take the crown this year. I’ve just been enjoying watching all of the unique voices come through. Some of those singers…I mean…wow… That’s all I can say. Wow.
If we were to browse your iPod right now, what artists or songs would we find?
Foster the People, Florence and the Machine, John Mayer, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty, and Modest Mouse. I really like some 2NE1 songs, too.
You’re half-Dutch and half-Korean. Did you have many Korean influences in your life growing up?
Yes. My mom spoke Korean a lot when I was younger. She moved over here from Seoul when she was 26 years old. Imagine moving from the big city of Seoul to little Logan, Utah. Let’s just say.. it’s a VERY tiny town. She didn’t know any English, so she spoke a lot of Korean when Meg and I were younger. Meg can understand Korean very well, but cannot speak it. I pick up on words here and there. My mom cooked a lot of Korean food when I was younger although it was hard to find in Utah at the time. I remember my mom telling me a story about how she missed kimchi. She was telling my dad’s dad about it, and he went out to the store and brought sauerkraut home! Haha. And he said, “This is pickled cabbage. Is this kind of like kimchi?” Ha! My mom ate it to be polite. I remember my mom always singing me kid songs in Korean when I would go to sleep. There was one about a bunny rabbit…I still remember it a little bit.
We hear you’re a huge fan of Korean food. So we have to ask, what’s your favorite Korean dish?
I really love kimchi, but that’s a given! (I can make my own kimchi now at home! My mom taught me!) I love, love, love bibimbap too and soondubu jjigae.
You recently posted a cover of “Nobody” by the Wonder Girls. Would you ever consider having a music career in South Korea?
Oh my goodness, YES! It is a huge dream of mine to be able to go over to Korea and perform! I would also love to collaborate with a Korean artist! That would be amazing!
Now that you’ve released your first solo album, what’s next for Dia Frampton?
I am hoping to tour internationally sometime this year. My plans this year are just to be on the road playing shows. I’m ready to work hard and promote my album!
“Gee, gee, gee, gee, babe, babe, babe, babe.” What does it sound like?
It is a “hook” by an idol girl group who fascinated more than 65 million viewers on YouTube. And the list goes on. There are many other Korean pop groups who have millions of followers or fans around the world: Girls’ Generation, Wonder Girls, KARA, TVXQ, 2NE1, SHINee, 2PM, you just name it.
American pop music industry, beware! Like a pied piper, these idol groups from Korea are captivating fans in North America. For the sold-out concert at the Madison Square Garden in NYC, tens of thousands of star-struck teenybopper-comrades across the country — even from Canada and Mexico — to be mesmerized by the glittering and flashy idol bands from Korea.
Paige from Detroit burst into tears as one boy band was going to the army. Monica came from Mexico, making her friends jealous. You think that’s hardcore? Two brothers from Canada drove non-stop for 36 hours. Dora from Colorado missed two days of school, one to buy the ticket online, and the other for the concert. From Asia to NYC, to flash-mobs in Paris and Istanbul, global K-Pop seems to be afoot.
The International Business Times on February 4, 2012, states, “The catchy and energetic songs are making inroads in the United States… ” like the recent performances on American television (such as CBS’ Letterman Show and ABC’s Live! With Kelly) and Billboards launching a top 100 chart for Korean Pop… also, Turkish tweeters dwarfed Katy Perry by overwhelmingly demanding ‘Turkey Wants KPop.’
As America has been the leader of the world, its pop music industry has held its kingship in the global entertainment industry. Iconic stars like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and many others thrilled audiences in the world throughout the past decades. Again Madonna’s performance as a Pharaoh at the Super Bowl XLVI evidences how American pop stands out in the world as an empire. Back then, school boys in Korea, like me, had to remember constantly the changing names on America’s Billboard Hot 100.
And now, what is happening? The Wall Street Journal recently posted an article about the Korean pop saying that these groups “aren’t just a random act of globalization. They are the secret weapon in Korea’s next push for worldwide youth-culture domination.”
Are these Korean pop groups really Korea’s secret weapon?
The U.S. has long believed that it would lead the world, partly thanks to its overwhelming “soft power,” probably with pop culture at its forefront.
However, as the world becomes more and more “flat,” per se, exchanges and communications become astonishingly bidirectional. And hybrid products are born through this bidirectional “flattening,” process as you easily find in all manufactured and cultural products.
Case in point, great successes and recognitions built on the world stage by Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang of Chinese descent, Japan’s Seiji Ozawa and Kyung Wha Chung of South Korea demonstrates how classical musicians from Asia have been transcending nationalities, through a blend of Western tradition, Asian talents and their own investments.
Let us examine this unfolding new environment: the new generation of the globe equipped with new outlets of technologies is exposed to millions of choices in the sea of web. They can freely select their menus from the vast global resources, and their appetites cannot be fixed. So too are the global availabilities of resources from the producers’ point of view. The sensational surge of K-pop is another product of phenomenal application of interface and interfusion, making “Certificate of Origin Criteria” difficult.
As universal sources come into play in making Apple iPhones or Samsung products, Korean entertainment producers are smart enough to know how to blend ingredients for universal attraction. Best and innovative choreographers, song writers, and skilled musicians from the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world join the production, highlighting the talents and beauties of artists. Even some artists are recruited from the U.S., China, Thailand and elsewhere.
And, within a single song, the singers easily switch from using Korean and English — back and forth, even in mid-sentence — so that English speaking listeners, too, quickly share the same feelings. K-pop artists are extraordinarily good at presenting a mix of music and exhilarating dance in multiple languages wherever they go; thus, inviting fans to get excited and react.
Yes, we should admit that the appetites of the new generations across the globe are transient, unreliable and even capricious. But, what is truer is that they are more ready to interface with each other. Therefore, pop culture is speedily eroding boundaries of nations, as any multinational companies do.
The New York Daily News on October 23, 2011, asserted that Korean pop music “has become an alternative for audiences bored with the current top-100 charts.” It further added by quoting MTV World’s general manager, Nusrat Durrani, “Look at American Pop music today — it’s great, it’s very high-quality, but there is a sameness to it. The visual vocabulary of [Korean] music is completely different…This is, wow, David Bowie in the Ziggy Stardust period — but South Korean. Why should pop music be only American-dominated?”
The newly bred pop music that Korea presents can no longer be a secret weapon, anyway; it is too well-known now. But, can anyone complain about a chef who provides a fancy-looking hybrid menu?
Written by Young-mok Kim. This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post and was republished with the author’s permission.
Since August 2010, Ambassador Young-mok Kim has been serving as the Consul General of the Republic of Korea in New York. As Consul General, Kim seeks to promote trade and investment between Korea and the United States, spearhead activities for the Korean American community, and position New York City as a spring board for the Korean Wave.
Nine-member K-pop group, Girls’ Generation made their U.S network TV debut by performing their hot single, “The Boys,” on The Late Show with David Letterman last night (Jan. 31).
One of the most watched late-night shows, The Late Show is famous for its celebrity guests, from politicians to Hollywood actors and actresses. This is a breakthrough for K-pop because this is the first time Korean singers have been invited as the musical act.
After their stellar debut last night, Girls’ Generation performed “The Boys” again on Live! With Kelly today to a cheering crowd and taught some of their dance moves to host Kelly Ripa and guest co-host Howie Mandel.
While Girls’ Generation has started to accumulate a worldwide audience, K-pop is also rising in popularity with other leading K-pop groups such as theWonder Girls, who made their U.S. TV debut on The Wendy Williams Show in 2009 and is considered GG’s biggest rivals. The Wonder Girls are set to screen their TV movie, a cross between Fame, Step Up, and Bring It On, on TeenNick tomorrow, February 2 at 5PM pst/ 8PM est. To watch the movie trailer, click here.
Watch Girls’ Generation perform on The Late Show with David Letterman:
Here’s a clip of their performance and short interview on Live! With Kelly:
The Korean Wave (also known as “Hallyu“), an international spread of South Korean culture, is now reaching audiences in North America following successful campaigns across Asia and Europe. The musical aspect, known commonly as K-Pop, is bringing forth frenzied reactions in New York City, another city being hit by this rhythmical tsunami, reports the NY Daily News. And, according to Billboard.com, the SM Town Live New York concert held at Madison Square Garden yesterday night proved to be an example of Hallyu making a triumphant wave in the city with a sold-out audience of screaming fans.
Exactly what causes K-Pop to have such a large and diverse following is not clearly known. Is it the catchy, bubblegum tunes? The carefully synchronized dance moves? The near-perfect faces of some of these K-pop artists? Nusrat Durrani, general manager at MTV World likens the lure of K-pop with David Bowie in the Ziggy Stardust period and fans missing the bubblegum pop era of the 90s with old Britney, *NSYNC, and the Backstreet Boys:
I think it reflects a certain innocence and naivete missing from the American pop-culture scene. This is pop idols as they used to be, with a certain innocence about them that I think the audience misses.
Durrani also told the Daily Newsthat the key factor that makes the K-pop formula unstoppable is “because it comes from a place of great discipline”:
A lot of these acts have been professionally trained for years and years. A lot of K-Pop acts actually have gone through very rigorous training, gone through a lot of discipline and have worked extremely hard. So the quality you see in K-Pop is quite extraordinary.
This wave does not seem to be a “one and done” deal. Girls’ Generation, the nine-member girl group managed by SM Entertainment—one of the biggest star-making record labels in South Kore—released their first international single, “The Boys,” and has confirmed a November mini-album release under Interscope Records, which houses artists like Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas. Their track, ‘The Boys” (which has been dominating music charts in Korea and was one of the most-watched music videos on YouTube last week, prompting YouTube to promote and feature GG’s music videos on the homepage), was produced by Teddy Riley, who has worked withAmerie, Lady Gaga, and the late Michael Jackson.
Aside from Girls’ Generation, the Daily News reports that producer and rapper will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas will be producing 2NE1‘s first all-English album, and the Wonder Girls—who have been struggling stateside for the last few years—are also set to star in a TeenNick-produced movie in 2012.
To read more about the K-pop, Hallyu, and the artists to watch out for, go to nydailynews.com.
Check out Girls’ Generation music video for “The Boys” (in English):
KAs@Work is a new series that profiles Korean Americans and their jobs. Want to share what you do, or know of people with interesting jobs? Get in touch.
Fresh isn’t his middle name, but it is his last! Mikey Fresh (a.k.a Michael J. Yi), a connoisseur of hip-hop culture, takes time from his hectic schedule to talk to us about his hard work ethic and passion for everything hip-hip.
What do you do? And how did you get your nickname, “Mikey Fresh”?
I’m a full time music journalist. Currently, I work as the online music editor for VIBE Magazine (VIBE.com). I also hold a position as producer/content manager for Miss Info‘s blog MissInfo.TV. Believe it or not, I got my nickname from a college friend. I was like a walking billboard for a Jay-Z music video back then. Oh Lord.
When and how did you get interested in hip-hop?
I got really interested in hip-hop when I was in the 5th grade. Music videos on MTV and skateboard videos from the mid to late 90s were a big influence on me. It just felt right to me, when a lot of other things didn’t.
Mikey (white shirt) with Miss Info, Illmind, Tiger JK, Tasha, and Roscoe Umali
Honestly, I just feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Info. I started interning for her about 3 years ago, and in that time I’ve learned so much about the music industry and been privy to so much invaluable advice I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pay her back. But it’s been both an incredible challenge and priceless experience filled with incredible memories already.
Through all of your well-written pieces pertaining to hip hop and rap, it is evident you clearly have a lot of heart for the game. Besides writing, do you do anything else with the genre? (i.e. write lyrics, produce, etc.)
I’m not involved in creating music but I would definitely like to give a shot at A&R-ing, writing television/movies and different aspects of entertainment. But right now aside from just writing; producing (web video), photography and videography are things I dabble in thanks to the blogworld.
You’ve interviewed many high-profile artists in the past like DMX, Drake and Nelly, among others. Who has been the most memorable interviewee?
I would say DMX and that was pretty recent actually. He was still in jail at the time and really had a lot to get off his chest. You could hear the pain and struggle inside him. Almost like there was 2 men: Earl and DMX.
Tyler, the Creator recently won the VMA for ‘Best New Artist’ with his darker style of rapping, superstars Kanye West and Jay-Z put out a well-received album sampling older music, and Lil’ Wayne clearly is still at the top of his game selling more than one million copies of his newest album in one week. Where do you see rap going with all these different unique styles of rap battling it out for the top spot?
Well in terms of sales, music charts and in in terms of units sold, it’ll remain in a similar state as it is in now. Artists like Kanye and Wayne will be able to sell millions and the rest will be happy to push a few hundred thousand. But really I think sales are meaning less and less a main factor when you want gauge a rapper’s talent and value. The top spot is open to anyone from the veteran to the rookie these days. All you need is good music and the ability to perform. And if you can’t put on a live show people want to see, music will always be just a “passion” for you.
Currently, Korean presence in the mainstream American hip-hop and rap scene is virtually non-existent. What aspects of hip hop and rap popular in Korea do you believe hinder a smooth transition to the American audience? Do you see any Korean Americans breaking out in the near future?
If you are talking about artists from Korea like Se7en and the Wonder Girls, who have attempted to crossover, it still feels like a language issue and an issue of authenticity. I hope I don’t sound too harsh, but to my ears none of the groups who tried to make it here sounded “American” enough. American people want to hear American music that sounds 100% American. I definitely think Korean artists are talented enough but they just need to be a bit more assimilated with American culture. I sound crazy but drop the Wonder Girls off at the Jersey Shore house for a summer and then they’ll be ready to take over America. Asian Americans are all over behind the scenes and even in front of the camera just below the mainstream in hip-hop right now, so it’s just a matter of time. Far East Movement having huge mainstream hits with “Girls On The Dance Floor” and “Like A G6” is great look for Asian-Americans in hip-hop and will help continue to kick in the door for more to follow.
Mikey Fresh interviewing Drake
Finally, besides hard work, what steps did you take to get to where you are today? And any advice for those interested in going into journalism and/or the music industry?
You really have to be proactive and willing to do what the “normal” intern isn’t. Don’t be normal, be the kid your superiors want to talk about… in a good way. I worked for free for years before making any real money. As an intern at The Source I was willing to interview anyone and take on as many tasks as possible. I’d take buses into Jersey and hit 3 boroughs in 1 day to get the job done. I think I knew early on that it would take years and something extra to establish myself in the music industry so I was willing to start from the very bottom. You might have a 9-5 internship but honestly this is a career path that doesn’t ever let up. There are opportunities everywhere especially in New York but if you don’t put in the extra effort to pursue them the next kid will. You should know from the jump the music industry is 90% smoke and mirrors but from my personal experience thus far, the successful people in this business embody hard work, integrity and relentless drive.
Follow Mikey Fresh on Twitter and make sure to check out VIBE and Miss Info for the his latest updates on the hip-hop world.
Also, if you’re headed to see Kollaboration NY 6 next Thursday (Sept. 29), don’t be surprised to see Mikey, as he will be one of the judges this year!
According to a glossy two-page spread entitled “It’s All About Seoul” in the June/July issue of Nylon, K-pop’s increasing global popularity is a quickly spreading phenomenon.
K-pop culture is wildly popular in East and Southeast Asia (even Europe!), so it’s only a matter of time before the heavily idolized pop groups make their debut in the U.S. Nylon’s Rebecca Willa Davis points out that K-pop groups like Wonder Girlsand JYJ are already making headway stateside by appearing as opening acts, and collaborating with American artists.
People who have listened to K-pop either love it or hate it; but either way, it has a tendency to get stuck in your head. Davis cleverly attributes this to its “undeniable catchiness,” which also “allows K-pop to succeed where other international music movements have failed.”
Davis explains another reason why it’s so successful:
Also on K-pop’s side is social networking, which has already played a major part in the genre’s popularity. Between YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, and message boards, the globalization of music is inevitable; it’s easy to hear a new band, watch their videos, buy their music, translate their lyrics, and connect with other fans, without ever actually visiting Korea.
Pop phenomenon Wonder Girls have made it into the Billboard charts once again with mini-album “2 Different Tears” released in mid-June ranked 21st on the Heatseekers Albums chart.
The Heatseekers chart ranks top-selling albums “by new or developing acts, defined as those who have never been appeared on the top 100 of the Billboard 200″ or the top 10 of other genre albums.
Ye-eun, a member of the Wonder Girls, wrote on her Twitter, “Did you know that we are in the Heatseekers Albums chart? Nobody took four months to get to the Billboard, and this time it took two months less. Thank you everybody.”
Wonder Girls’ U.S. debut song “Nobody” was ranked 76th in the Billboard Chart Hot 100 in October last year. The group is currently on a nationwide concert tour of the U.S.
Our friends over at MTV Iggy have been covering the Wonder Girls and they’ve got some good material for all you Wonder Girls fans. Do you know what diet Yubin is on? Want to see some good video clips of their latest concerts? And of course some good one on one interviews. Check it all out at MTV Iggy.
According to the New York Times, the South Korean government is considering using the voices of Kpop girl bands to broadcast propaganda at the North Koreans. This is for real.
In response to the sinking of one of its ships, South Korea recently erected speakers along its demilitarized zone with North Korea — to be used for propaganda broadcasts. A South Korean newspaper reports that the government is also considering using “songs and music videos by manufactured girl bands such as Girls’ Generation, Wonder Girls, After School, Kara and 4minute in so-called psychological warfare against North Korea.” Wonder if they’ve considered Barry Manilow?