8Tracks Review: “Longing (Someday)” Video by Luke McQueen

Our history can complete

Luke McQueen’s website says he was adopted from South Korea at the age of five to Longmont, Colorado. Around the age of ten, he won a local talent competition with an original composition. Throughout grade school and college, music remained a hobby. At the University of Colorado, McQueen studied the safe path of engineering. However, it was also at the university where he accepted the opportunity to be a vocalist in a production of Westside Story. Nevertheless, after graduation, the safety of a corporate gig—ultimately fear—won out.

In late 2013, the realization of being unfulfilled in his job and life, combined with the decision to visit Korea, was the impetus for McQueen to move to Korea, search for his birth family, and change his career to music. There he has been training, songwriting, producing and performing ever since. He performs as a solo artist in and around Seoul.

What a story, right?  I am a sucker for identity issues, and this one stabs me right in the heart.  Personal identity, cultural identity, familial identity, and career identity?  Sign me up for all of that.

I send this message out

McQueen says this is his first music video, and it’s a strong effort.  I’m sucked in from the beginning, as the story plays out in heartstring-tugging symbolism.  However, around the 1:30 mark, where our Korean American girl is bullied, it gets heavy-handed, and that hand gets heavier as the video progresses.  I don’t mind the Korean and American flags or people’s attempts to drape them over the young woman, and while I found the cross bits kind of shocking, they work for me.  The “gook” labeling and the actual, audible scream of our protagonist kind of send the whole thing over the top, though, and I can’t decide how I feel about all those faces singing the lyrics at the end.

I realize my criticisms aren’t very nice, and part of me wants to apologize for them—not for my opinions, but because it’s obvious that this is a very personal song and video, and sometimes a full-on evaluative critique isn’t the most appropriate approach.  I’m receiving the video not merely as personal expression, but as a work of art that demands a response, and this is mine.  If McQueen and I were acquainted, my reception would almost surely be different.

The video makes me appreciate the song more than when I was just hearing the audio via Spotify.  It’s a pretty good song and it’s not a bad video, but I like the first half more than the second!

Credits:

Director – Sunah Kim
Director of Photography – Ziggy Chicano
Editor – Ewen Tse
Producer – Luke McQueen
Associate Producer – Junon Kim

Still on this path

I meant to review all the singles available on Spotify, but I had to get up in the middle of the night to release a rat I caught in a live trap in my house.  I don’t have wheels right now, so it took a couple of hours out of my early early morning.  This set off a chain of sad events leading to my sleeping through my alarm this morning, which means I have to save my review of the rest of McQueen’s work for some other time.  I’d encouage you to check it out, though.  Start with “I’ll Give You Vertigo,” a nice, funky urban number with a mid-Eighties disco vibe and some sweet guitar fills.  It’s my favorite of his songs.

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North Virginia Courts the Asian American Vote

NPR reports yet another state courting the Asian American vote. As the fastest growing minority in the state, Asian Americans are now 5% of the state and make up significant voting blocks in certain communities. The two ads here are in Korean, airing on Korean language channels in the state.

Domestic Violence and Korean American Churches

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Christian churches are strange, complicated gatherings of people where the tension between acknowledging brokenness and appearing virtuous is constantly present. Growing up in a Korean American church I always felt this awkward back and forth. People interacted with each other in superficial ways and no one spoke of their problems or struggles unless in hushed voices during some moment of juicy gossip. But, actually I guess that hasn’t changed too much even now. And, in my experience as clergy it certainly isn’t limited to just Asian churches.

I had originally thought I was done with this article, and wasn’t going to go further, that it would be short, simple, and sweet, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt and still feel really pissed off about the way women are treated these days.

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The Oikos University Shooting: Mental Health and Korean American Community

There have been a number of school shootings in the news lately, with the most recent including an elementary school in the Pacific Northwest and a middle school in in Texas in 2012. I can think of few things more heartbreaking, particularly because of my work with youth, I feel deeply invested in the mental and spiritual health of young people.

When it hits close to “home,” for instance, with Korean American Seung-Hui Cho and the massacre at Virginia Tech, I can’t help but feel it cut much deeper. That could have been a brother or a cousin, or someone I knew from church. The most pressing issue to me is the lack of mental health support and resources, and the continued stigma of mental health problems among Asian Americans, and I’d say particularly for Korean Americans.

And now another shooting within the Korean American community by a Korean American has happened this week:

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POP 88 #42 – The House of Suh

While there were a lot of really fascinating documentaries shown at this year’s Hot Docs World Documentary Festival in Toronto this past week, one of the more stand out ones was “The House of Suh”. Directed by Iris Shim, the documentary shows the rise and demise of a Korean-American family that was so intriguing, it was made into a TV film called, “Bad To the Bone” in 1997 starring Kristy Swanson and Jeremy London.

I was able to sit down with Iris on the last day of the festival on Mother’s Day where we chatted over coffee about her film, identity and the state of the Asian American film industry in general. The podcast focuses just on the House of Suh but I’m thinking of releasing other parts of the conversation in my next podcast since we spoke for over an hour.

If you like what you hear, please show your support by supporting the artists and buy their CDs and DVDs using the links provided on this site. Most will soon be available on iTunes, so please support them there as well!

For any requests, comments, suggests, dedications or feedback, feel free to leave a comment at Popcast88.com or send an email to christine [at] popcast88.com.

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