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February 28-Mar 6, 2014

Unfulfilled dreams Young Pakistanis caught in the vicious poverty cycle


Contents February 28-Mar 6, 2014

❖ Society

❖ Weekly Briefing

❖ Politics

Unfulfilled dreams

Asia this week

Skeletons in Masuzoe's closet

COVER IMAGE: AFP


Contents February 28-Mar 6, 2014

❖ Politics

❖ Lifestyle

❖ Business

❖ Entertainment

Queen of isolation

Decks how you do it

Is the shine gone from luxury goods?

'Chollywood' goes arty


Contents February 28-Mar 6, 2014

❖ Entertainment

❖ Entertainment

Japan's soft-power potential

The second Korean Wave

Datebook Happenings around Asia

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February 28-Mar 6, 2014

There was an uproar in South Korea when Kim Yuna, better known as “Queen Yuna� among her domestic fans, failed to defend her figureskating title at the recently concluded Winter Olympics in Russia. Kim lost to Russian Adelina Sotnikova, who scored higher technical marks to take first place on the medal podium. Koreans flooded the Internet with their disappointment and anger, with a petition challenging the result on Change.org gaining 700,000-plus signatures in just six hours. Most of the traffic came from South Korea, the site said. Many also voiced their sentiments on Twitter, including those who sent Kim words of consolation and thanked her for everything she has achieved for her country.

AFP

'Queen Yuna' dethroned

BRIEFING WEEKLYWEEKLY BRIEFING : SOCHI


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

BRIEFING WEEKLYWEEKLY BRIEFING : SOCHI AFP

Mao’s tears Japan’s Asada Mao broke into tears as she exited the rink at the Sochi Olympics on February 20 following a strong comeback in the free skate programme. She recorded a career best of 142.71. Alas, it was not enough to win a medal ending sixth place overall with a total of 198.22 points. A day earlier, Asada fell on her trademark triple axel to finish a disappointing 16th after the short programme. Despite earlier announcements that she will be retiring afterwards, Asada said there is a 50-50 chance she will continue skating after next month's world championships in Saitama, Japan.


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

WEEKLY BRIEFING AFP

South Korean President Park Geun-hye enters the second year of her five-year term with mixed evaluations on her state managementlargely positive for external relations and reform efforts, but negative for domestic politics. Over the last year, Park has restored ties with China and strengthened the country’s longstanding alliance with the US, while cementing its strategic partnership with Russia and maintaining peninsular security despite provocations from the North. Various polls showed her approval ratings rebounding to more than 55 per cent, with majority praising her North Korea policies but criticising her communication skills and personnel management style.—Cho Chung-un and Song Sang-ho/The Korea Herald

AFP

Park’s first year


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

The Philippines this week marked the 28th anniversary of the first Edsa revolution that saw the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled and plundered the country for 20 years. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, whose mother was catapulted to power in that revolution, recalled how Filipinos united and succeeded in staging a peaceful revolt. He also rallied Filipinos behind what he calls a new kind of solidarity: “Today, the challenge is different. It’s the challenge coming from nature, not men.” The Philippines was hit by a supertyphoon last year and experiences several storms in a year.

FILE PHOTO/AFP

Edsa, 28 years after

WEEKLY BRIEFING


POLITICS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

AFP

Tokyo’s New Governor and the skeletons in his closet

NEW TOKYO GOVERNOR YOICHI MASUZOE WAVES AS HE ARRIVES AT THE TOKYO METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT BUILDING ON FEB 12, 2014.


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

POLITICS

KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP

JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER AND RULING LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRESIDENT SHINZO ABE DELIVERING A SPEECH TO SUPPORT FORMER HEALTH MINISTER YOICHI MASUZOE DURING THE TOKYO GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION. MASUZOE WON THE ELECTIONS AND TOOK OVER AS TOKYO’S GOVERNOR ON FEBRUARY 12.


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

POLITICS

TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP

NEWLY ELECTED TOKYO GOVERNOR YOICHI MASUZOE AND HIS WIFE MASAMI RAISE THEIR ARMS IN "BANZAI" (EXPRESSION OF VICTORY) SHOUTS ALONG WITH SUPPORTERS AT HIS CAMPAIGN OFFICE IN TOKYO ON FEB 9, 2014. MASUZOE, THE GOVERNMENT-BACKED PRO-NUCLEAR FRONTRUNNER IN TOKYO'S GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION WON THE VOTE, MAJOR MEDIA REPORTED, WITH TWO ANTI-NUCLEAR CANDIDATES SECOND AND THIRD.


POLITICS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

KWAN WENG KIN The Straits Times TOKYO

N

ewly minted Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe faces not only the gargantuan task of getting the Japanese capital ready to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. But he is also likely to be busy fending off allegations against him, ranging from abuse of public funds to discrimination against women. At his first press conference as governor on February 12, the 64-year-old academic-turnedpolitician vowed to spearhead efforts to produce the best-ever Olympics in history. That would require revamping the city's ageing communications network. "Railways, subways and roads are not organically linked," he said, while pointing out the need to build bicycle tracks around the

athletes' village and to introduce electric vehicles to the city. On his first day at work, he was asked how it felt to sit in the governor's chair. "I will probably hardly have time to sit in this chair. I want to go down to the ground," he told reporters at his seventhfloor office in central Tokyo. He is fluent in English and French, and his first official outing was at the ongoing Sochi Winter Olympics where he got a first-hand feel of such international events and met with senior Olympic officials. The former health minister's experience in national politics is expected to stand him in good stead when having to negotiate with the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on how to share construction costs for Olympic facilities, including a new national stadium. The road to politics was a

circuitous one for Masuzoe. He had to work his way through school after his family fell on hard times—his father died while he was a teenager. He did well enough to get into Tokyo University, Japan's most prestigious college, and later embarked on a career teaching international politics. At the same time, he became a popular commentator on political talk shows on television. The outspoken Masuzoe eventually left teaching and became even more active on TV, appearing in variety shows as well. Seeking to field candidates well-known to voters, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) recruited him for the 2001 Upper House elections, which he successfully contested. But Masuzoe may not find it easy to deal with Abe, who was initially unhappy about his LDP


POLITICS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

backing the former minister in the gubernatorial election. Abe has not forgotten that Masuzoe was sacked by the LDP in 2010 for openly criticising the party leadership and wanting to form his own political group. After leaving the LDP, Masuzoe established and headed the New Renaissance Party (NRP). Apparently not thrilled at the idea of remaining an opposition politician, he decided not to run again for a seat in last year's Upper House election in July and left the NRP. He ran for the Tokyo post as an independent. But the week he was elected, he was repeatedly quizzed at his daily press conferences about the dubious finances of the NRP. He is alleged, while he was NRP leader, to have taken 250 million yen (US$2.4 million), received under a government scheme to subsidise the administrative costs of political parties, to pay back bank loans taken out by his party.

Masuzoe has denied any wrongdoing but his opponents are expected to pursue the allegations. Incidentally, his predecessor Naoki Inose was forced to quit after barely a year in office for taking 50 million yen in cash from a scandaltainted hospital operator. Meanwhile, a sexist remark that Masuzoe made in 1989 to a men's magazine has also come back to haunt him. He told the magazine that women could not assume high political office as they were "not normal when having a period" and therefore could not be trusted to make critical decisions like whether or not to go to war. A women's grassroots organisation that campaigned against his candidacy in the Tokyo election over that 1989 remark has said it will continue to stage protests against the governor.

Once a favourite for prime minister in public opinion polls, Masuzoe surprisingly has quite a few skeletons in his closet. He was known to have refused the request of Kitakyushu City, his birthplace, to contribute to the maintenance of his elder sister who was on government welfare. The new governor, who fathered three children with two lovers, is being sued for maintenance payments for one of the children who has a disability. He is on his third marriage —to a former secretary, with whom he has two children. His two earlier marriages, the first to a French woman he met while studying in France and the second to a civil servant who is now an Upper House lawmaker, ended in divorce. The second marriage broke down irretrievably after only three months. 


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

Koreans are finding similarities between their president, Park Geun-hye, and Frozen’s mysterious heroine Elsa

AFP

Queen of Isolation

POLITICS


POLITICS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

CHO CHUNG-UN The Korea Herald Seoul

A

princess lives in a secluded castle. She prefers not to interact directly with commoners, obsessively avoiding shaking their hands. Since her early childhood, the princess has been taught to conceal her emotions. After both of her parents are tragically killed, her selfimposed isolation deepens —after all, she’s the only person to lead the nation, now as queen. There’s no time for her to go chasing after her prince charming; no time for playing with her sister. She spends most

of her time alone in the deepest corner of the castle. Can you identify the lonely princess? Anyone who has watched Disney’s blockbuster animation Frozen—which has already drawn about 9 million Korean viewers— will identify her as Elsa. But for some South Koreans, the answer might involve a political figure far removed from the world of Disney: President Park Geun-hye. Social media users and TV channels have compared the dramatic story of Elsa, who isolates herself in a frozen castle, to Park’s solitary life at Cheong Wa Dae. The comparison naturally uses a fair bit of artistic license. However, the points they make keep circulating on social media, where a torrent of parodies and cover songs are being churned out. The first common trait

between Park and Elsa is their lack of communication. President Park, who entered her second year in office this month, has often been branded as a leader who lacks communication skills. Stressing that she has no children turn to, like England’s Queen Elizabeth I, Park promised that her life would be dedicated to the Korean people and to their happiness. The closeness she managed to build with the people during her presidential campaign, however, has begun to fall apart. In the event of social or political conflict, she refused to talk with opposition lawmakers or unionised labourers and maintained her attitude heavily based on “principle and law”. Her political foes have stepped up an offensive against her, saying she should talk first to narrow differences rather than make unbalanced


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

judgments whether they are wrong or not. Reminiscent of Elsa’s strange aloofness, Park seldom interacts directly with people, much less with reporters covering Cheong Wa Dae. She has held only one news conference during her tenure, and rarely meets with the press, unlike her predecessors Lee Myung-bak and Roh Moo-hyun, who enjoyed interacting with journalists, though not always amicably. In her New Year’s press conference Park said she had neither hobbies nor a private life, as she spends most of her spare time reading government reports and drafting new plans for the state. Then again, nowhere in Frozen is there a scene in which Elsa does something that can be called a hobby. Park’s secretive personnel

POLITICS

choices, as well as her top-down management style, have further magnified her isolated image. Despite the public’s demand for a transparent, open and participatory government, she has filled presidential and Cabinet posts with figures close to her. Rep. Lee Joo-young, the nominee for minister of ocean and fisheries is one example. The judge-turned-politician has no experience at all in maritime and fisheries issues. Park’s pick, unsurprisingly, sparked concerns, but no one knows her motive for making the appointment. Apart from his being a senior strategist in her presidential campaign team, his only obvious qualification for the post is that he was born near the sea. In Frozen, Elsa instantly dismisses her sister’s love interest because they just met that day, a top-down style that clearly pleased some


POLITICS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

AFP


POLITICS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

parents with daughters. Elsa and Park also share similar life paths. Elsa’s losing her parents in an unexpected accident resembles Park’s experience of having lost both her parents by assassination. Her mother, former first lady Yook Young-soo was assassinated by pro-North Korean Moon Sekwang in 1974. Park was only 21 then, and studying in France. The family tragedy didn’t end there. Park’s father, former President Park Chung-hee, was killed by his intelligence chief on Oct 27, 1979. Like Elsa, most of Park’s childhood memories are from her royal castle known as Cheong Wa Dae. She was only 12 when her father was named the fifth president in 1963 through a military coup d’etat. Park used to talk about how she loved playing with her siblings in the presidential house’s garden, evoking a scene in which Elsa plays with her sister Anna. Park left Cheong Wa Dae right after her father was assassinated.

But 33 years later, she made a dramatic return, not as a dictator’s daughter, but as the country’s elected leader. In the movie, Elsa is portrayed as a mysteriously estranged elder sister to Anna, an impulsive young woman. A similar sisterhood is found in the relations between Park and her younger sister Geun-ryeong. The two have drifted apart in recent years, particularly after they reportedly fought over the operational rights to the Yookyoung Foundation in the 1990s. Their relationship never improved. Just as Elsa forbids Anna and Hans, a prince from a neighbouring kingdom, from marrying in the movie, Park was opposed to Geun-ryeong’s marriage to Shin Dong-wook. She suspected Shin had ulterior motives for approaching her sister who is 14 years older than he. Neither Park nor

her younger brother Jie-man attended their wedding. But there’s a twist in the plot. While Elsa and Anna reunite out of pure love in Frozen, Park and her sister have never regained the closeness they shared in the garden of the Blue House. Elsa puts an end to her isolated life and brings summer back to her frozen kingdom; Park seems to have a long way to go to wash away her cold—though not yet completely frozen—public image. In Disney’s film inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen, Elsa the queen creates the most memorable scene by unleashing her hidden magical power spectacularly when she realises the problem lies in her own fears and learns to let it go. Perhaps Elsa’s South Korean counterpart, who for some reason continues to keep her distance from others, should take the same advice: Let it go. ¬


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

Poverty has kept many a young Pakistani from breaking out of the vicious cycle and fulfilling their ambitions

HASAN MANSOOR Dawn Islamabad A PAKISTANI FISHERMAN THROWS A NET IN THE RAVI RIVER ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF LAHORE. PAKISTANI GOVERNMENT STATISTICS ESTIMATE THE LITERACY RATE AT 58 PER CENT AND SAY 22 PER CENT OF THE POPULATION LIVE IN POVERTY, ALTHOUGH INDEPENDENT ECONOMISTS SAY THE FIGURE IS CLOSER TO 30 PER CENT.

ARIF ALI/AFP

Unfulfilled dreams

SOCIETY


SOCIETY

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

I

saw them anchoring a small boat away from the beach. The older fisherman expertly got hold of one of the many plastic bags floating on the

algae-green water, persistently disturbed by the frothing waves. The sun was going down and its silvery rays were turning violet. The fisherman

jumped into the water holding a bag with one hand and reaching out for another. He called out loudly to a younger man and shoved a bag towards the boat. RIZWANTABASSUM/AFP

PAKISTANI FISHERMEN UNLOAD UNDERSIZED (TRASH) FISH FROM A BOAT BEFORE SENDING IT TO THEIR BUYERS WHO USE IT AS POULTRY FEED IN KARACHI.

The younger man carefully passed a fraying wicker basket to his elder and went into the water. Taking hold of the basket together, they slowly waded their way to the shore. As they came closer, I was surprised to see that the young man was someone I recognised. His name was Sabir, and he had been featured in a documentary I had watched some time ago. He was older now, but there was no denying who it was. In the documentary, which highlighted illegal fishing methods, Sabir—only an eighth grader then (about 13-years-old)—had been featured saying that he did not want to become a fisherman like


SOCIETY

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

AFP

EMPTY FISHING BOATS DOCKED AT A PIER IN COASTAL PAKISTAN.


SOCIETY

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

his father and grandfather. Sabir wanted to grow up to be “literate and cultured”, and live in the big city of Karachi, just 30 kilometres away from his village. But now, one decade later, here was an adult Sabir coming out of a boat with who I later confirmed was his father, doing the very thing he said he did not want to do. Though he was patiently helping his father, I could not ignore the look of dissatisfaction in his eyes. As father and son reached the beach, I glanced at what was in the wicker basket they had brought to shore: their catch for the day: a distressingly small number of mackerels. I could not help myself, I reached out to Sabir. He looked at me surprised

and alarmed. Who was this complete stranger who had just touched him? “Do we know each other?” he asked cautiously, while handing the basket to his father. “You don’t know me,” I replied. “But I know you.” “How can you know me? I’m not Amitabh Bachan,” he responded, referring to the Bollywood film star whose fame is next to none in these coastal areas of Sindh, northeastern Pakistan. “I saw a documentary many years ago, and you were in it,” I said simply. Sabir fell silent and kept his eyes to the ground. I saw them fill up with tears as he slowly nodded, confirmed who I thought he was. When the documentary became famous back in

the day, Sabir had become something of a mini celebrity. But the celebrity status faded away as the documentary makers moved on toward other projects. “You told everyone that you did not want to be a fisherman,” I probed. “I tried,” he said softly. “I got into a matriculation course, and eventually got into college, but was unable to continue because my family was doing very badly financially. “ He even got a job in Karachi, Sabir said. But eventually he had to give up that dream and come home to help his struggling family. He did not want to talk about the filmmakers who had promised him a fortune when he had agreed to be a part of their production. But clearly, that promise has not amounted to much.

“God bless them,” was all he would say on the topic. Behind Sabir, a group of children— all barefooted and in rags—ran across the beach. They looked unkempt and had sand all over their bodies. They stopped at Sabir’s father’s wicker basket, curious to know what was inside. The old man shoved them and shouted at them to go away. “Don’t touch the fish, you damned children!” he said angrily. Turning to me, he explained, “The fish will lose its gloss and no one would want to buy it if it fell on the sand.” The children continued their game. The old man pulled Sabir’s arm, picked up the basket and strode away. ¬


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

ENTERTAINMENT LIFESTYLE

how you do it Superstar disc jockeys are the new rock stars. That is one reason there are more DJ-ing courses offered in Singapore now than in years past HAVING TAKEN UP DJ-ING LESSONS AS A HOBBY, TRAINEE LAWYER DANNI PEREIRA (RIGHT) WITH INSTRUCTOR BENNY YEO NOW HOPES TO TRY HER HAND AT A REAL DJ SESSION.

THE STRAITS TIMES

Decks


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

LIFESTYLE

THE STRAITS TIMES

CHRISTINA GAGNIER LEARNING DJ SKILLS FROM BRENDON P.


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

LIFESTYLE

THE STRAITS TIMES

HAVING TAKEN UP DJ-ING LESSONS AS A HOBBY, TRAINEE LAWYER DANNI PEREIRA (RIGHT) WITH INSTRUCTOR BENNY YEO NOW HOPES TO TRY HER HAND AT A REAL DJ SESSION.


LIFESTYLE

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

Singapore

S

tudent Lucas Lee, 15, signed up for discjockey (DJ) lessons last July at Pop Trash at Peninsula Shopping Centre, and attends a class once every couple of weeks. "I play the drums, keyboards, trumpet and guitar, and I've always liked music. One day, I walked by the school and decided to sign up. Right now, I'm experimenting with deep house and electronica music." Veteran DJ Ash Narayan, 43, who started DJ school Pop Trash in 2002, says: "It's a bit of a trend—being a DJ is like being the new rock star. I mean, you have people such as Grammywinning English music

DJ Hardwell and Swedish house wunderkind Avicii. There are now more than a dozen schools and instructors offering DJing and electronic music production courses to people who want to master the craft as a hobby or who have dreams of spinning to hundreds in a nightclub. It is a spin from just a decade ago, where there were only a couple of dedicated DJ schools 16-YEAR-OLD STUDENT LUCAS LEE EXPERIMENTS WITH DEEP helmed by veteran DJs. HOUSE AND ELECTRONICA MUSIC DURING HIS DJ LESSONS. Pop Trash was started more than 10 years ago to provide an avenue for aspiring producer Jamie XX and even DJs to learn how to do it properly, British rock band Radiohead's says one of its instructors Brendon Thom Yorke who are also DJ-ing." Pereira, who is resident DJ at With the rise of electronic dance Club Kyo in Cecil Street. music, a wave of aspiring DJs has "A lot of DJs back then hit the decks, hoping to follow in didn't even know how to set up the footsteps of popular DJs and their equipment. We wanted music producers such as French to make sure people knew the house DJ David Guetta, Dutch right things to do and to let THE STRAITS TIMES

MELISSA KOK The Straits Times


LIFESTYLE

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

them know that DJ-ing is more than putting your hands up in the air and getting chicks." He adds of the current popularity of DJ-ing: "I didn't expect it to take off. But I've always said it is a skill... and that you need to learn it properly." Narayan says he is seeing a "definite increase" in the number of people interested in taking up courses. The school has two to three new students signing up each month on average, with six to seven students signing up in peak months. Those who sign up for such classes come from all walks of life, from students as young as nine or 10 to working professionals in their 30s and 40s. "I think there is just more awareness about DJs and there is now easy access to the equipment and software to DJ and produce music," says Stephanie Choo, coowner of DJ school E-TracX, on the growing popularity of DJ courses. E-TracX DJ Skool, which was

started in 2003, currently has 30 students enrolled—the majority of them sign up for DJ-ing and turntablism courses, where they can learn how to sample and scratch vinyl, and remix music. Co-founder Edwin Lum, 39, estimates that the school used to get five people signing up for classes in a good month when it started. These days, the school has up to 15 to 20 people signing up in a good month. Speaking on behalf of the collective behind all-girl FFF DJ Bootcamp, co-founder and DJ Debbie Chia, 33, says: "We think DJ-ing has hit the mainstream with superstar DJs and electronic dance music taking over the commercial clubs. So naturally, the youth see people such as Guetta or Paris Hilton DJ-ing and want to be like them. Technology has also lowered the entry barrier." These days, one does not need to learn how to spin with vinyl to be a DJ, and it is easy to acquire equipment to help you transition between songs on cue.

The FFF DJ Bootcamp was an initiative started in 2008 by veteran female DJs Chia, Cherry Chan, Natalie Tan (Natalie PixieDub) and Pamm Hong to educate women about electronic music production and DJ-ing and encourage a growing community of active Singaporean female DJs. Although it is taking a hiatus from running the annual bootcamp, its founders note that interest has grown eight-fold since it started. "We began just barely covering the required intake of 12 applicants to start a class. Five years later, in 2012, we received 100 applications, but we narrowed our selection to just eight," says Chia. Fees for DJ lessons can vary, from S$350 (US$278) for five to six group classes, or between S$500 and S$960 for a handful of one-on-one sessions with a veteran instructor. But DJ-ing is not for everyone, notes instructors. "Out of 20, one or two probably can't make it," says veteran DJ KoFlow,


LIFESTYLE

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

32, who teaches DJ-ing and turntablism at E-TracX. "But we try to be very encouraging." But the DJ, whose real name is Wayne Liu, notes that some of the school's former students have gone on to compete in DJ and turntablist competitions, and secured residencies at popular clubs here, including iconic club Zouk. Calvin Yang, 38, who goes by the name of DJ Headline, of DJ Live Music Academy, says: "I often get asked, 'By the sixth lesson, will I be able to play in a club?' But it's like driving— some people can learn it in one day, others take much longer." The DJ school, set up in 2010, has 10 students currently, and gets two to three inquiries each week. Pereira says the "majority of students can string two songs together after five to six lessons, but being a master at the art of DJ-ing, that takes a lifetime". The full-time DJ and instructor

searches for new music online daily and practises DJ-ing about six hours a day. Masterful DJs have the ability to read the crowd and keep them entertained for an entire set of about two hours, he adds. Tattoo artist Victoria Woon, 26, who signed up for DJ lessons as a hobby and has attended three sessions at E-TracX, discovered that it was tougher than she imagined. "People say being a DJ is easy, but I now see why not everyone can be a DJ. Apart from knowing how to drop a track... there are so many buttons and knobs—I haven't figured out 75 per cent of it. There's a lot of stuff to learn... but I like the challenge." Instructors go beyond teaching students how to spin. They help them score live gigs at clubs and events, which is key in helping students hone their skills and learn how to engage the crowd with their music. They also invite the students to their

own shows to shadow them and observe how they go about setting up for a live show. But it is also why schools such as Pop Trash discourage taking students younger than age 15 as the legal age to enter a club is 18. Pereira explains: "If they are young and they want to come out and play, we have to explain the technicalities of the law. Then we will have to tell them to go to YouTube and watch how DJs do it." Other DJ students, such as Kelvin Chan, 39, are doing it purely as a hobby and not too hung up if they do not get to DJ at live events. The production specialist in a chemical industry, who is taking lessons at E-TracX, says: "DJ-ing has always been a childhood dream of mine. It's also a stress-relief from work... Everyone at the school is nice and friendly, I feel really comfortable here." ¬


BUSINESS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

LIU LUAN China Daily Shanghai

I

t's the largest consumer market in the world and potentially the largest market for luxury goods. But 2013 was a tough sell for many luxury retailers in China, the world's second-largest economy. After a 7 per cent rise in 2012, the luxury goods market declined to about 2 per cent growth, with expectations

Sales of high-end items from foreign retailers in China slowed dramatically last year, necessitating new strategies of similarly slow growth in 2014, Bain & Co found in a recent study. Despite the general slowdown, Chinese shoppers are the biggest buyers of luxury goods when they go abroad, according to the Bain study.

AFP

Is the shine gone from luxury goods?

For foreign retailers selling luxury goods in the world's most populous country or considering setting up shop in it, it may be decision time: Stay and reduce operations? Or stay out until there is a rebound? "I don't think brands are going to pull out or that new brands will stop investing in China," said Gregory J. Furman, founder and chairman of the Luxury Marketing Council. "But I don't think brands are going to invest as aggressively in retail as they did before."


BUSINESS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP

A WOMAN LOOKS ON IN FRONT OF A LUXURY SHOP IN HONG KONG.

"Most people who have been following the news should be getting the sense of potential in the long term, which is always the Chinese strategy. Any luxury brand that looks for the long term is not going to be daunted

or discouraged by a momentary setback," said Furman. Last year, more than half of major international retailers in China missed their target numbers for store openings, according to Knight Frank Research.

The property consultancy said that more than 60 per cent of the 45 international retailers it surveyed missed their targets due to a range of factors, including difficulty in finding good sites and a slowdown in expansion


BUSINESS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

AFP

A WOMAN LOOKS AT A PIECE OF JEWELLERY AT THE CHINA INTERNATIONAL JEWELLERY SHOW IN BEIJING.


BUSINESS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

plans as the government put the brakes on wasteful spending and corruption, which curbed a general demand for gifts. Louis Vuitton, with 47 stores in China, exceeded its target for adding stores in 2013, but it announced last March it would curb expansion in China's second- and third-tier cities. Since President Xi Jinping took office in November 2012, the anti-corruption drive has sent chills through China's luxury market. The average spending of China's high-net-worth individuals decreased by 15 per cent in 2013, and spending on gift-giving plunged 25 per cent, according to a Chinese luxury consumer survey released in January by the Hurun Report. But last week, French retailer Hermes reported record fourthquarter sales in China, and CEO Alex Dumas dismissed the effect of the corruption crackdown on its sales.

"We have not been affected by that movement," he said in reporting that sales in the Chinese mainland rose 19 per cent last year at constant exchange rates and 17 per cent in the fourth quarter alone. "There has been a very rapid evolution of Chinese customers' tastes, which means they increasingly look for discrete products, and this has played in our favour," Dumas told Reuters in an interview. Shirley Young, president of Shirley Young Associates, and governor and ex-chairman of the Committee of 100, said the government's austerity programme will cut into luxury purchases in the short term. "You'll have the whole trend of the country when 300 million people come to the cities, like a whole United States moving in, which will happen in five years or so," she said. "You'll have a much bigger urban population that has

much more access to purchasing." "It's part of human aspiration as they rise up in society that they will look beyond basic needs, which is luxury," she added. "The long-term trend is positive." "The (luxury) market is like the stock market that rises and falls," said Furman. "In a down market, the realtors, the shopping malls and the government would want to encourage brands to come in by offering better deals. From a business standpoint, a new brand can grow as the market comes back."

More exposure

Sun Baohong, the dean's distinguished chair professor of marketing at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, said new luxury brands are building flagship stores in Shanghai and Beijing. "The bigger, the more flamboyant and the more


BUSINESS

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

luxurious they look, the better," said Sun. "It showcases the brand's status." In early January, L'Oreal decided to end sales of its Garnier-branded products in China, a week after New Yorkbased competitor Revlon pulled out of the Chinese market. "Revlon's exit is due to their marketing failure in the midpriced cosmetics segment," said Ann Lee, author of What the US Can Learn from China and a senior fellow at British think tank Demos. "The Chinese consumer market is highly competitive, and Revlon just didn't have the right strategy, as opposed to the Chinese being anti-foreign." "Regarding Garnier and others, their exits are simply that there are always going to be winners and losers in a competitive market. China's market is even more competitive than that in the US," she said. According to Sun, emphasising

the foreign origin of a company might have helped international brands capture Chinese consumers in the early years when the Chinese market opened up. But, he said, "Chinese consumers have become more sophisticated over the years. As the quality gap between foreign brands and local brands has gradually narrowed, if a foreign brand does not pay attention to Chinese consumer habits and offer unique features of its products, it's only a matter of time before it is dismissed by the market." Young recalled a time in the 1980s, when she was involved in development of General Motors' $1.5 billion joint venture in Shanghai. "We had a smart financial idea, which is that we could sell the Chinese an existing product and appliance. It would be at very low cost, very safe and well-tested and ahead of the China market by 10 years. But the Chinese

did not want that. They said then we will always be behind. "You have to understand that part of the Chinese mentality. If they are going to pay, they want the best," said Young. "If they buy a Cadillac, a high-end car, it's obviously more than functions they are paying for. They need to feel it is technologically the best in every way, and that's how the brand is going to project itself." Many luxury brands in China are still sales-oriented and profit-driven in terms of brand building, marketing strategies and customer service, Sun said. "What they should be doing, however, is careful planning, including understanding what Chinese customers want, cultivating purchasing habits, educating on brand heritage and offering customised services." Sun's observations were echoed in the 2014 China Luxury Forecast conducted by Ruder Finn Public Relations and Ipsos Group.


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The study revealed that Chinese consumers primarily attributed their decisions to shop overseas to experiencing poor customer service and staff knowledge in their home country. Dissatisfaction with brands' services at home was reported by 92 per cent of consumers from China, according to the study. "Five years ago, you'd see people lined up in front of the Louis Vuitton store at Plaza 66 in Shanghai. Today, it's no longer the case," said Jessica Tu, chairman and CEO of the Luxury Marketing Council China. "The taste of Chinese luxury consumers is gaining sophistication with remarkable speed, but the luxury retailers seem slower in catching up," said Tu. "For example, customerservice policies in China are not equivalent to those in the US. Some boutique stores in China do not accept returns,

citing reasons such as for fear of receiving counterfeit returned items, which will most certainly discourage luxury buyers." According to a 2012 survey of Chinese luxury customers conducted by McKinsey & Co, two-thirds of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they prefer luxury items that are "low-key and understated," up from 50 per cent two years ago.

Low-key preferred

"Bottega Veneta handbags are getting very popular in China as they are more understated than some other brands with logos all over, and yet the woven strips of soft leather are instantly recognisable. So are Hermes, Ferragamo and MaxMara," Tu noted. Furman said that American Express has done research on stages of consumption of luxury products and services by nationality.

"What they discovered, which is true universally in the US, Japan, the UK and Europe, are four stages of luxury consumption: acquisitive, inquisitive, authoritative and meditative," said Furman. "Acquisitive means the bigger the brand, the bigger the logo, the more they can boast about it, the happier they are. That's where China was, and that's where Russia is and moving out of, and was the US in the 1970s," he said. "Inquisitive is a wake-up call. The customers want to understand the price and value equation," said Furman, "why this is valued at $12,000 and why great things command a premium price. China is moving toward that stage very quickly, much more quickly than any other nation. "In China, more and more people are moving into the authoritative phrase. They can tell experts what their opinion


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is and start feeling comfortably knowing what luxury means. "Meditative is about the experience, the memory of a great product or a service story—the intelligence of being able to say I am in the know, I understand what luxury is. And it's a reward to oneself for having achieved the ability to understand what luxury is and share it with one's family. "It took the US from the late '70s till the '90s to get to this meditative stage. China is going to be there in the next five to 10 years. The mainland consumers are moving at a record pace that more and more people will get more and more sophisticated faster and faster. "It's a good sign for luxury products and services. Because if people understand the inherent value of the craft, the thought and the imagination that have gone into a product or a service, if they understand that truly, then price does not matter. They will pay anything," Furman said.

Luxury brands need to have a fundamental understanding of Chinese customers' likes and dislikes, Sun said. "Some argue that it's a buying pattern that Chinese like to show off with logos, but I don't think it's unique to China." "It's a process by which people move up the food chain in terms of how they view the luxury product and services and how much they are willing to pay for it," Furman agreed. "It's a learning curve." The question is: Where is that education going to take place? "I think the retail experience is probably the primary experience of luxury in China because it's the easiest way with properly trained staff, which is a big issue, by the way, to educate the highly sophisticated consumers—the Chinese mainland consumers, the aspirational consumers who want to move up the food chain and spend money on luxury

goods. It's the most direct way to educate the population what luxury is," said Furman. In the West, luxury education often is done by newspapers, magazines, radio and TV. "But in China, the media structure has not evolved to the same level yet. Retail is probably the most important and the most powerful way customers experience the brand," he said. "The Chinese are a bit touchy-feely," said Sun. "They like to feel and touch an item before they bring it home." "That's why a lot of brands invested early on aggressively because they realise that the presence is as much 'advertising' as it was a retail business," said Furman. "Many brands were willing to invest even the metrics, meaning the number of the retail performances, was not equivalent to what one would experience in the West. But it's better than advertising." ÂŹ


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

BUSINESS

Rise of the ‘swag fake’ More Koreans flirt with imitations that promise to be cheap, practical and fun

Seoul

T

he fashion industry has long been dominated by a blackand-white theory that only genuine articles from classic designer brands have value. Anything that’s a knockoff—a “fake”—was immediately dismissed as low-class. This obsession with authentic designer products, however, was accompanied by a sense of snobbery, and those who found this repellent have gone the other way to advocate fakes and copycats. The popularity of imitation brands in Korea has become such that people no longer seem to be shy or ashamed of wearing or carrying knockoffs.

GRAPHICS BY NAM KYUNG-DON

BAE HYUN-JUNG The Korea Herald


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This is the so-called “swag” trend. Trendsetters are strutting the hippest neighbourhoods in the country with canvas bags that are knockoffs of Hermes’ Birkin Bag, topped off with T-shirts or baseball caps that choose to spell Chanel as “Channel”. Even the celebrities have joined in on the fun, as seen in G-Dragon’s fake Givenchy brand, “Giyongchy.” And faux fur has gained renewed popularity as fashion houses are rushing to roll out fake fur clothes and accessories, claiming that it’s not just about the price, but about protecting the rights of animals.

'Swag-fake' not 'just fake'

There has always been imitation, but the recent swag trend contains an additional factor— knockoffs are now considered an independent fashion style. “Swag” is a slang term that originally meant “stolen goods” but can refer to showy accessories in modern colloquial English.

Kim Nan-do, professor at Seoul National University and author of “Trend Korea 2014”, presented “swag” as one of the top 10 influential keywords in domestic consumer trends this year. “The younger generation seem to favour swag, and think that the better-known designer brands go against the so-called swag spirit,” Kim said in his book. “The swag phenomenon is about clinging to one’s original style and refusing to endorse conventional luxuries.” Some designers and trendsetters have taken the further step of satirising designer brands and their followers. Among them is Brian Lichtenberg, a contemporary fashion designer who came up with a series of mock luxury brands such as Homies for Hermes, Ballin for Balmain, Bucci for Gucci, and Feline for Celine. As his works gained fame, secondary copycats started

to appear in the market and authorised distributors stressed the “genuineness” of their “swag goods".

Fun a key factor

There may be disputes about the authenticity of these mock luxury goods but one thing is for sure—that fun is a key factor of swag, or “fake fashion”. This is demonstrated by Ginger, a casual bag and accessory brand which kicked off in Hong Kong back in 2007, specialising in 3-D printed nylon bags. The Ginger Bag is widely known for its original series which, at a distance, look like the high-priced Birkin Bag by Hermes but are, in fact, nylon bags with realistic 3-D prints. Unlike the source of their inspiration, however, these deceptive bags are mostly priced under 300,000 won (US$282), which is an attractive factor for young consumers or those seeking a reasonably priced bag. “The fun of it is that these bags


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do not pretend to be Hermes or whatever other models they may resemble,” said an official of Suwa United, the official importer of Ginger in Korea. “Just like Andy Warhol’s Pop Art paintings, they describe a representative image, a classic leather bag in this case, but reproduce them in a fun way, instead of photocopying every detail.” This is why those behind the Ginger Bag resent its nickname “fake Hermes", saying that the bag is not about copying or mocking a specific brand or item. “Our identity is in the advanced 3-D printing technology, which depicts objects in 3-D to make them appear real on a flat surface,” the Suwa official said. She added that the bag has several features—embossed leather, square shapes and solid buckles — that embody the essential factors of a classic bag. This may be why it has reminded consumers of the prestigious Birkin Bag.

Refusing to stop with the nylon Birkins, Ginger moved on to launch animal-shaped bags and beach bags with 3-D prints. All of these bags are made out of cheap and practical materials such as nylon or fabric.

Practicality as luxury

The rise of fake fashion is also attributable to the changing consumer trends that prioritise practicality over prestige. This is how a novice bag brand named Jury came to rule in the affluent Gangnam and Bundang neighbourhoods. The Jury Bag, characterised by its large size, diverse colours, and synthetic leather, first kicked off in 2011 as a fashionable diaper bag, under the slogan “For Gorgeous Mama”. It first gained recognition as a cheap alternative to costly bags but soon built up a reputation of its own, creating a “Jury Bag syndrome,” especially among mothers in their 30s and 40s.

Its top-selling models, too, look much like the representative models of Hermes or Louis Vuitton but the owner denied the copycat allegations. “It is true that the design of the Jury Bag resembles those of the suggested luxurious brands but is not entirely the same,” said designer and CEO Jo Jury in an interview. “My idea was not to imitate the luxury bags but to offer stylish but practical bags for mothers who find it difficult to carry around heavy or small-storage bags.” The rise of practicality also benefited specialty retailers of private label apparel such as H&M, Zara and Uniqlo. In an aim to lower costs, expand circulation and respond to fastchanging consumer trends, these SPA brands often display fake-fur materials or fun-design items, including pythonpatterned nylon shoes or fake collars. The appreciation for artificial material was further boosted by the eco-friendly fashion movement, led by renowned designers like Stella McCartney, who has refused to use animal fur in her clothes since 2007. ¬


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'Chollywood' goes arty RAYMOND ZHOU China Daily Beijing

T (L-R) CHINESE ACTORS WANG JINGCHUN, YU AILEI, WANG XUEBING, DIRECTOR DIAO YINAN, ACTRESS GWEI LUN MEI, ACTOR WANG XUEBING AND ACTRESS NI JINGYANG POSE AT A PHOTOCALL FOR THE FILM 'BAI RI YAN HUO' (BLACK COAL, THIN ICE) PRESENTED IN THE BERLINALE COMPETITION OF THE 64TH BERLINALE FILM FESTIVAL IN BERLIN, ON FEB 12, 2014.

he re-emergence of Chinese films on festival circuits may point to parallel growth of art-house cinema along with China's booming film industry The winning of the top prize at a prestigious international film festival by a Chinese submission may speak as much about the state of Chinese cinema as the international perception of a certain body of Chinese work. The surprise ending of Black Coal, Thin Ice, a yet-to-be released


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film by a little-known Chinese auteur, taking home the coveted Golden Bear at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival has filled the home audience with more perplexity than euphoria. Of the three movies selected for the

main competition of the festival, No Man's Land by Ning Hao has already become a critical and commercial darling in its home market, and Blind Massage, though not yet released, is adapted from an awardwinning best-seller. To

most Chinese, Black Coal, Thin Ice had been an unknown quantity heavily discounted in crystal-ball gazing for award results. Yet, it has now been revealed that this film, among all three Chinese contenders, was the first picked by the festival curators, and just to show the keenness of their foresight, was the favourite of the jury as soon as they watched it. It was the frontrunner all along even though it had eluded prognosticators who use name recognition as a major yardstick. Since deliberations by the jury were not available to the public, what follows is one man's educated conjecture on what might have swayed the jurors.


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Contrast of light and shadows

Diao Yinan, writerdirector for Black Coal, Thin Ice, has a fascination with film noir, that special genre of crime thrillers popular in 1940-'50s Hollywood. He made a meticulous study of classics like The Third Man and even recreated a scene on top of a Ferris wheel, albeit in a completely different dramatic situation. That kind of homage was sure to bring a smile to jury members who grew up on such cultural exposure. Film noir, in general, is for the sophisticated in taste. It has since become a source of inspiration for younger generations of filmmakers. Diao did

not imitate the style, though. He came up with his own version. While traditional noir uses black-and-white images and often sets the story in cities like Los Angeles, Diao uses the wintry landscape of suburban China as a sort of nondescript locale, creating moods that are distinctly Chinese and turning the ordinary into the slightly surreal. Streets with remnants of ice and snow, under dimly lit lamps, are totally devoid of dramatic tension in real life, yet exude an eeriness commensurate with the gruesome murders and the secrets behind each character. The sporadic and garish sources of light, such as neon on

top of a building or arrays of bulks blinking in an amusement park, tend to contrast and accentuate the darkness in a way rarely seen in noir classics. The story of Black Coal, Thin Ice takes place in contemporary China, but it is not social realism in the conventional sense. It does not tackle the wealth gap or any of the social ills of the era. The plot revolves around a trio of characters, each with a shady past. Zhang Zili is a policeman with a broken marriage and an equally derailed career. His pursuit of those behind the murders is personal and relentless, to the point that it may mirror the mentality of the criminal.

Liao Fan, who won the Silver Bear for best actor in Berlin, is nothing like Humphrey Bogart, the typical hard-boiled detective. He has an edginess all his own. In many of his roles, he displays an ability to cross over to the grey area of his characters' moral boundary and psychological health. It is a fascinating area for an actor and a small breakthrough in Chinese cinema with its rigid codes for certain types of roles. Gwei Lun-mei also has a meaty role. It is not a femme fatale, but a woman of mystery nonetheless. The Taiwan actress plays a woman of few words, thus circumventing the pitfall of the telltale


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accent. As more of her secret is revealed, the role takes on more substance and Gwei embodies her complexity with authenticity in movements and postures. Wang Xuebing, an erstwhile heartthrob, plays a supporting role crucial to the plot. While he cannot hold a candle to Orson Welles in The Third Man, he conveys a lot of background information not as much by acting as by his enfant terrible disposition.

Festival games

The festival circuit is a game with its own rules. Generally speaking, you have to present quality films, but that does not mean all good films have

equal chances. There is decidedly an art-house sensibility to it, which varies slightly from festival to festival and from section to section. By sheer gravitas, the top three festivals in Europe (Cannes, Berlin and Venice) wield enormous influence in the rest of the world, especially the Chinesespeaking world, and selections and winners are endlessly parsed for clues about elements that may click with curators and juries. When Zhang Yimou's Red Sorghum won the first Golden Bear for a Chinese film, it marked the opening shot of the Fifth Generation on the world stage (even though a couple of other films such as

The Yellow Earth had already made waves domestically). Because international festivals can bypass China's normal selection process, they have an advantage in spotting new talents and new trends. Filmmakers like Jia Zhangke and Wang Quan'an are beneficiaries of this outside force. However, international recognition can also have the adverse impact of diverting attention and resources from areas of interest for mainstream Chinese audiences. When award winners eventually fail to find a reasonable audience at home, the awards themselves are increasingly seen

as a stamp of elitist alienation from popular taste. This was especially poignant in Taiwan where festival favourites like Tsai Ming-liang have spawned imitators whose sole purpose is to win more awards and ignore the home market, thus losing it to foreign competition without even putting up a fight. The emergence of local hits, including Cape No. 7, Monga and You Are the Apple of My Eye, none of which were made with any award hopes, is seen as a much needed correction. The most abundant crop of global winners for the Chinese mainland appeared in the late 1980s and early 1990s, coinciding with


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the sharpest decline of Chinese cinema in attendance and box-office revenue. Though there was no causal effect in this case, it helped cement the public perception about the irrelevance of film festivals outside China in shaping the Chinese market. The fast expansion of this market in recent years, with a palpable absence of strong Chinese contenders on the festival circuit, serves to send a subtle message to film investors that you don't have to kowtow to "the 18 guys named Dieter in black turtlenecks" (in the words of Kaiser Kuo, founder and host of the Sinica podcast) to find

success in the exploding China market. The ripple effect of the win of Diao's film will be more accurately measured when it premieres domestically. How much of a box-office boost will be made as a result of the prestige and all the publicity that accompanies it? Will it attract a much larger audience than it otherwise would? Will it make the money back for its investors—maybe several times over? This will be scrutinised by many in the industry. To take a step back into the realm of critical reception, will it receive rave reviews from domestic cinephiles a la Red Sorghum or

lukewarm ones like Tuya's Marriage, another Chinese work that nabbed the Golden Bear? Assuming a reasonable turnout at the box office, Black Coal, Thin Ice may help highlight the diversity of Chinese cinema. Yes, the market is surging and genre movies are all the rage, but there is another front that focuses on artistic innovation. An individual filmmaker may choose one path, but a healthy film industry needs to develop in all directions. Without movies of mass appeal, winning kudos is just like the tip of the iceberg but with no

iceberg underwater; and without artistic excellence, which festivals tend to endorse, the industry will be seen as nouveaux riche with no culture. Hopefully, from now on Chinese cinema will not sacrifice one for the other, but rather, have the two complement each other. ÂŹ


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February 28-Mar 6, 2014

Potential soft-power superpower The Yomiuri Shimbun Tokyo

W

hen One Ok Rock, a four-member Japanese rock band, made their entrance onto an openair stage in the suburbs of Jakarta, close to 3,000 excited fans cheered so wildly the ground shook.

One 26-year-old office worker, wearing a Muslim head covering, threw both of her hands in the air, saying, "How wonderful to be able to listen to the band live." A Malaysian man who flew in on a budget airline using

money he had saved working part-time, also said excitedly: "They're cool in a different way from Western bands." Tickets to the concert in November cost 450,000 rupiah (about US$40), one-fifth of


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PHOTO BY LYN RADAZA


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THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN

NANA MIZUKI ARRIVES IN TAIWAN.


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of 2.2 million rupiah. Put in terms of Japanese prices, they would run about 20,000 yen. "I'd say it's still cheap for One Ok Rock concert," said a 20-year-old female student. The band sings mostly in English, which allows many people to understand the lyrics. The group set out on their first international tour last year, playing in 11 cities in Europe and Asia between October and December. "The response has gone way beyond our expectations. They'll certainly do well in the global market," said Tatsuro Hatanaka, president of Amuse Inc., the band's agency. Just as the American-dream lifestyle portrayed in Hollywood movies enraptured consumers worldwide and helped promote exports of US cars, a country's soft power, including music and other pop culture, helps

strengthen the "national brand power" for the entire country, a potential economic boon. But a country's soft power is often hard for those living in the country to recognise.

'Welcome to Taiwan!'

In November, around 500 people gathered at Taipei airport to welcome popular Japanese voice actor and singer Nana Mizuki. Mizuki was visiting Taiwan to hold her first ever overseas concert. He Zheng Li, a 22-year-old accountant who had travelled to Taiwan from Hong Kong to see Mizuki, is a dedicated fan. He also made the trek to Osaka to see Mizuki's show there. "I began studying Japanese because I like Nana Mizuki," he said. Japan's entertainment world has long focused on the

domestic market, unwilling to branch into overseas markets. With the domestic market gradually shrinking due to the aging population and low birthrate, however, Japan’s show business has also begun to pay more attention to the overseas market, especially Asia, in an effort to broaden fan bases. Japanese food has long since established its popularity overseas, but sushi and tempura are no longer the only globally recognised items on the menu; its fame is rapidly expanding overseas. "This soup tastes so good. Such a complicated taste, and it's only $14," said a 23-yearold fashion model at Hakata Ippudo's ramen restaurant in New York. He is a real devotee of Ippudo's tonkotsu ramen, or ramen with pork bone-based soup. Ippudo now operates two ramen shops in New York.


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Diners usually have to wait for one to two hours on weekdays to enter the restaurants. On weekends the wait is even longer, often three to four hours. At their New York branches, Ippudo serves not only ramen, but also wine, sake and grilled fish. People spend about $38 for an average dinner visit, but some spend more than $100 a head, for example by trying to impress a date. Some services are normal to a Japanese, but look new in the eyes of people overseas. The surprisingly accurate "time designation" service offered by some parcel delivery firms is one such example. Yuki Lau, operator of an electronics sales firm in Singapore, is one of many who appreciate the service. He said his firm receives fewer complaints from customers since they started using Yamato Transport Co.'s service to ship the firm's products to clients. "Thanks to quick and accurate deliveries, the number of

complaints declined," said Lau, 33. Yamato currently operates in five countries and territories in Asia.

Japan failing to capitalise

Yet, even though the country's music, food and service are highly appreciated on an individual basis overseas, Japan still fails to leverage multiplier effects to raise the country's brand power as a whole. South Korea has a lead on Japan in terms of soft power strategy. The country exports TV drama contents to other Asian countries, and leading actors and actresses from the programmes appear in commercials for cosmetics and various other products, aiding South Korean manufacturers in developing markets. Shawn Chin, president of a Singapore event company, points out a difference between the two countries. "In Japan's case, individual companies and singers work

independently, while in South Korea, the public and private sectors join hands to penetrate overseas markets," Chin said. According to estimates by Nomura Research Institute, Japan's combined market scale of "soft power" industries, including music, fashion, food and tourism, is worth about 64 trillion yen ($625 billion), larger even than the market size of Japan's auto industry. Yet, exports of these goods and services are estimated to stand at just 1.5 trillion yen ($15 billion), posting trade deficits of 3.5 trillion yen ($34 billion) in these same domains. The market scale of such soft power industries is projected to grow to around 932 trillion yen ($9 trillion) in 2020, doubling its 2009 scale, according to the major consulting firm A.T. Kearney, Inc. This is an opportunity for Japan to change its inwardlooking attitude to further boost the country's strength. ÂŹ


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February 28-Mar 6, 2014

The second Korean Wave

Actors Kim Soo-hyun and Lee Min-ho are the newest idols to capture the heart of the Chinese

XIAO LIXIN China Daily Beijing

A

Korean wave is sweeping across China, with many Chinese women worshipping South Korean actors Kim Soo-hyun and Lee Min-ho as demigods. Chinese netizens have always been divided over South Korean TV dramas, but there is no doubt that programmes from the neighbouring country are now enjoying a new round of popularity in China. And a big part of the credit for that goes to You Who Came From The Star, the

LEE MIN-HO

South Korean TV series which ended this week. Top South Korean actors Jun Ji-hyun and Kim Soo-hyun recently earned a popularity rating of 24.8 per cent in their country, considered strong by Nielsen Korea. You Who Came From The Star and The Heirs have been subjects of hot online discussions throughout Asia. Besides, the book, "The Miraculous Journey of


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LEE MIN-HO


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Edward Tulane", read by the hero in You Who Came From The Star was a hard-to-get item on Amazon for a while. The two TV programmes have several common elements: a tall, handsome, and rich hero who loves the heroine blindly and always protects her, and an equally handsome man madly in love with the same woman. Both programmes portray the purity of love, which is expressed through a kiss or a warm hug. Perhaps that's the secret of their success; perhaps people are still fascinated by Cinderella-type stories. The widening wealth gap is a matter of social concern both in South Korea and China, and the challenges that young people face in their quest for a better life might have prompted many ordinary girls to dream of marrying rich, caring men.

This is precisely what the popular South Korean TV dramas portray. In fact, South Korean TV dramas are tailored to meet the market's demands. In contrast, Chinese TV screens are flooded by knockoff and/or poorly made soap operas. Most of the Chinese TV dramas either distort the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, which is a distortion of history, or blindly copy foreign programmes. The lack of good stories has of late resulted in loads of TV series on time travel or fights in the harems of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors. These, in short, are the bane of Chinese TV productions. In contrast, South Korean TV dramas have re-invented themselves. In fact, 2013 could be said to be the year of rebirth of South Korean TV dramas. Shortly after the enormous craze generated by

Great Jang-Geum (Jewel in the Palace) in 2003, South Korean dramas lost much of their popularity in other Asian countries thanks partly to better produced works from the United States and the United Kingdom. Many netizens even said at the time that South Korean TV dramas had become passe because of their stereotyped themes: traffic accidents, and cancer and other incurable diseases. But all that has changed with the success of You Who Came From The Star and The Heirs, which Chinese directors can use as examples, as well as inspiration, to improve their productions. The resurgence of South Korean TV dramas can be attributed to the joint efforts of the country's government and TV series makers. The South Korean government


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implemented a policy to help TV productions back in the late 1990s, when the first wave of popular dramas emerged from the country to capture the imagination of the people in the rest of Asia. Just before the turn of the millennium, the South Korean government issued regulations saying at least 80 per cent of the TV programmes had to be domestically produced. It also fixed the minimum number of homemade TV series to be broadcast in the country. That not only helped South Korean TV productions gain a firm foothold in the domestic market, but also laid the foundation for their successful foray into overseas markets. Recent years have seen great innovations in South Korean TV productions in terms of themes and narrative patterns. Take You Who Came From The Star as an example. Although

aliens visiting Earth is an oftused theme, You Who Came From The Star's script remains logical and fast-paced. It mixes the plot with romance and murder and keeps the audience guessing about how the story will unfold. When it comes to love stories, the new South Korean teleplays no longer use the distress card; instead, they intersperse them with whimsy and romantic punch lines. The three TV stations, SBS, KBS and MBC, control the majority of South Korean TV market, each specialising in a different area and catering to people of different ages. The productions are sleek and use advanced technologies such as high-speed photography and computergenerated effects, creating a real-life visual impact. Moreover, the shooting for South Korean productions generally starts when the

scripts are just one-third ready. Many popular productions have their own websites, where scriptwriters post part of the finished scripts, inviting viewers to leave messages, discuss the plot and come up with suggestions for future episodes. This not only keeps viewers' interest in the TV dramas alive, but also helps scriptwriters and directors make changes to the storylines to suit the audience's demand. Hopefully, the innovationinduced success of South Korean TV programmes will prompt Chinese TV drama makers to think up new ideas and abandon their bad practice of copying foreign productions in order to attract more viewers at home, and possibly abroad. ÂŹ


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Selling the drama

WANG ZHUOQIONG China Daily Beijing

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Chinese girls and their grandmothers are gushing over Korean TV dramas SBS PHOTOS

YOU WHO CAME FROM THE STAR

hen Lin Bing showed up late to her grandmother's 88th birthday banquet, the old woman's first words to her were: "Tell me Lee Min-ho didn't get plastic surgery. He must be naturally handsome." Lee Min-ho is a 27-yearold South Korean actor who stars in the hit Korean TV drama The Heirs. The show that appeared on South Korean television in October, and is also available on Chinese video websites, attracted sudden attention from different age groups in China. Entertainment research company EntGroup confirms the craze. It has discovered Chinese viewers' average age has been increasing.


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KIM SOO-HYUN/YOU WHO CAME FROM THE STAR

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JUN JI-HYUN/YOU WHO CAME FROM THE STAR


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ENTERTAINMENT

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

South Korean TV series account for about a third of many leading Chinese video websites' broadcasting volume of foreign TV series. The rest is dominated by US and UK productions. EntGroup has found Chinese viewers are conspicuously shifting from Western shows toward those produced on the nearby peninsula. But the research also discovered those watching Western productions are better educated than those watching South Korean ones. Liu Yun is among many Chinese followers of US TV series, such as Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory. The 30-year-old rarely watched South Korean television series before last month, when a close friend recommended she watch the Korean TV drama You Who Came From The Star. She became addicted. Liu downloads new episodes with Chinese subtitles once they go online and watches

THE HEIRS

them while commuting to work. She spends the rest of the week discussing the latest developments on online forums. Liu believes compelling storytelling, A-list actors and the proper mix of comedy and thrills set the programme apart from other Korean series.

The plot focuses on an alien who landed on Earth 400 years ago and falls in love with a Korean film star. He uses his superpowers to protect her from villains trying to murder her. "The story seems crazy but is refreshing," Liu believes. "Some might argue there are loopholes in its logic. But you believe it when you watch it. It tells a love story that makes you laugh and cry." The show's popularity has produced a "star phenomenon" online. Even China's top actors and actresses leave admiring social media posts. Gao Yuanyuan, a leading actress from the hit TV drama Let's Get Married, posted on her Sina Weibo micro blog: "First snow in the winter, let's have fried chicken and beer." "Fried chicken and beer" is a new term coined to refer to the favourite meal of the heroine from You


ENTERTAINMENT

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

Who Came From The Star. Fried chicken restaurants in China have enjoyed a business boost with a frenzy of female viewers asking their boyfriends to bring them fried chicken and beer at night to emulate the show. A woman from Liaoning province's Tieling city was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis because she ate too much fried chicken and drank cold beer in the winter, Huashang Morning Post reports. Typing "fried chicken and beer" in Chinese in the popular smartphone instant messenger application WeChat causes animated snowflakes to fall across the screen. Avid fans bought a fullpage ad in a Beijing newspaper to celebrate Kim Soo-hyun's birthday on February 16. You Who Came From The Star has so far been viewed 500 million times on Iqiyi.com but has broadcast only half its total

episodes, breaking the record for foreign TV series views. The search volume for the show on the country's biggest search engine has surpassed 2 million, Iqiyi.com reports. Last year, Iqiyi purchased the online screening rights for the show in China. The price was lower than many domestic productions, the website's business development department senior executive Zhang Yuxin says. "It was a great deal," she says. "We knew the show would be good. But we didn't know it would be such a big hit." Zhang explains it's natural for South Korea to create one or two hit dramas a year given the sheer

volume it produces and the vast investment per series. Novelty generates much of their appeal for Chinese. Time travellers or aliens living on Earth for centuries are mind-blowing concepts for Chinese viewers, EntGroup's analysis points out. South Korean TV dramas often blend genres to broaden their appeal. The brand names that appear in the dramas also appeal to Chinese. Product placement slots sell out quickly. But while the idealised fantasies presented by Korean TV captivate many Chinese, they turn others off. Wang Lin believes single women will never meet Mr Right if they watch such "illusionary" love stories. "The hero is perfect. The heroine does nothing but get rescued," the 28-year-old says. "You won't find such things in real life. ÂŹ


ENTERTAINMENT

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

THE HEIRS


ENTERTAINMENT

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

THE HEIRS


ENTERTAINMENT

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

THE HEIRS


ENTERTAINMENT

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

Brainwashed by soaps TV is presenting an idealised caricature of South Korean males as Prince Charmings to the Middle Kingdom's maidens

MATT HODGES China Daily Beijing KIM SOO-HYUN

P

oor old Psy: He's got the most-viewed video on YouTube, but no one's talking about how hot he is—at least not in my office. However, he's still enjoying an advantage over the rest of us, because, as imported TV soaps keep proving to women across China, South Korean guys are the hottest thing since sliced bread. Just ask my boss, my colleague, my ayi (cleaner)—hell, even I'm considering dating a South Korean guy now, and I'm straight. Put simply, no one can compare to South Korean guys nowadays, not since the advent of soaps like A Gentleman's Dignity, starring heartthrob Jang Dong-gun; last year's The Heirs, about a group of fu'erdai (second-generation rich) at an elite Korean school; and You Who Came From The Star, starring Kim Soohyun as—wait for it—an alien. No one even comes close. Not Japanese men (too effeminate, pasty-


ENTERTAINMENT

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

looking and short). Not Southeast Asians (too many tattoos). And definitely not Caucasian expats (too hairy, and too likely to ditch you and go back to their own country). Well, you get the picture. South Korean guys, in contrast, will carry your handbag for you, throw their Armani jacket in a puddle of mud so you don't dirty your Gucci heels, open the door of your taxi and generally act with the kind of suave and debonair demeanour you would expect from your paramour. They have big hearts, and they often wear lots of makeup, even off-screen. They are all slim and ripped, with chiseled abs, perfect features and glossy spiked-up hair. No wonder huge swaths of the female population in Shanghai are

going gaga, doolally and misty-eyed over them. It's gotten to the point where I can't even get a date in this city unless I end every sentence in "hamnida" and promise we'll be having barbecued meat for dinner, or perhaps chicken and beer (affectionately known as chi-maek in South Korea, this is the latest food craze to take off in China after viewers— mostly women aged 20-50— began idolising and emulating everything they see on their favourite South Korean soap). The brainwashing effect of these TV dramas is colossal in scale, and it's doing wonders for sales of South Korean smartphones, cosmetics, handbags and other products. One of my Shanghainese colleagues is now desperate to purchase a pink Galaxy Note 3, mainly because the female

protagonist of her favourite soap acts as a cheerleader for this piece of eye candy. Another keeps telling me how lucky I was to have spent several years in South Korea, and how it's such a shame that I can speak some of the language but don't have the DNA. I mean, seriously, once upon a time all you had to do to find a woman in this city was be white and turn up at a bar. Then times changed, and you had to be a local guy driving a purple Lamborghini with an AMEX card. Nowadays you need a Korean passport and eyeliner (South Korea is one of the world's biggest markets for male cosmetics). Living in China these days reminds me of that Wet Wet Wet song, "Love is All Around"—except replace the word "love" with "Korea".


ENTERTAINMENT

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

As the lyrics go: "It's written on the wind. It's everywhere I go." Not that I am anti-Korean, by any means. I love the place and the people. I'm just not buying all the TV hype about Korean guys being saints, despite their dandified onscreen personas. The Korean Wave has been washing through Asia for the past decade in ebbs and flows, but now China is awash with Korea love, from K-pop and endless re-runs of "Gangnam Style" to my colleagues setting up desktop shrines in honour of Lee Min-ho. Lee plays the role of Kim Tan in The Heirs, the hot-headed future heir to the Jeguk (Empire) Group. For the record, this guy is not handsome. From his face to his fashion sense, it's just all wrong. And Chinese women can't get enough of him.

According to a press release issued by Ctrip on February 10, South Korea has been the No. 1 destination for outbound travellers from Shanghai for the past three months. No one knows how many of these were "medical tourists", but Chinese immigration officers are apparently having a harder time matching returnees' faces to their passport photos. I can't even head to Family Mart anymore for some respite from this Korea worship because the stores have all transformed into overseas colonies of Korea: soju, prawn crackers, seaweed, banana milk, yakult, fried kimchi, melon soy milk. The fact that I like and buy most of these products is beside the point. What was the point? Oh yeah. Korean guys: They're not perfect.

I mean, admittedly, Rain was pretty cool in Ninja Assassin (partly because he had zero dialogue). Choi Min-sik also killed it—and everyone else—in Oldboy. And come to think of it, Lee Byung-hun was excellent in A Bittersweet Life, even if his face looks more plastic than my credit card. I also used to have a platonic man crush on Jung Woo-sung. So I guess the point is: Korean guys are pretty badass in movies, but who wants to live in a world where women worship the way they're presented in TV soaps, which is to say, as androgynous robotic vampires? It's also worth remembering that Psy's stage name is short for Psycho. Now what does that say about Korean guys? ¬


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

¬ Kuala Lumpur

Future Music Festival Asia 2014 (FMFA 2014)

Organised by Future Music Australia and Livescape Asia, this three-day event is promoted as Southeast Asia’s largest music festival. This year it will feature an electrifying lineup headlined by Deadmau 5, Paul Van Dyk, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon of Wu Tang Clan, Baauer, Eric Prydz and Armin Van Buuren. The theme for this year's festival is "safari".

Where: Mines Wonderland, Mines Resort City, Kuala Lumpur When: March 13-15 Info: www.futuremusicfestival.asia

DATEBOOK


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

ÂŹ Kuala Lumpur

F1 Malaysian Grand Prix 2014

The Formula Grand Prix comes back to Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit and watch the nail-biting event as world-famous drivers like Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton race through the 5.543km track that packs in 15 turns and eight straights. The race weekend will start with practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday and the big race on Sunday.

Where: Sepang International Circuit When: March 28-30 Info: www.grandprixevents.com

DATEBOOK

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DATEBOOK

February 28-Mar 6, 2014

¬ Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Film Festival

¬ Hong Kong One of Asia's oldest film festivals, screening a wide variety of films from indie budget movies to multi-million dollar productions, focusing largely on local talent. This year's festival will see over 330 titles from more than 50 countries screened at 12 major cinemas around Hong Kong. Other exciting events include seminars featuring international filmmakers, exhibitions and parties.

Where: Major cinemas in Hong Kong When: March 24-April 7 Info: www.hkiff.org.hk

Hong Kong Arts Festival 2014

Held every year since 1973, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is one of Asia’s premier cultural events featuring a wide range of performing arts from Asia’s top talents and a long list of leading international artists. This year will see appearance from the likes of Geurzehich Orchestra Cologne, London Symphony Orchestra, II Giardino Armonico, Yulianna Avdeeva Piano Recital, Trisha Brown Dance Company,

Scottish Ballet, Gregory Porter, and Madeleine Peyroux. Participants can also get closer to the artists through activities such as lectures, demonstrations, workshops, meet-the-artist sessions, play-reading and guided tours.

Where: Various venues, Hong Kong When: Until March 22 Info: www.hk.artsfestival.org.


February 28-Mar 6, 2014

ÂŹ Singapore

Mosaic Music Festival

One of Singapore's largest music festival, it is the place to be, especially for jazz and world music enthusiasts. This year's 10-day lineup will feature notable names in the industry such as Alpine, Kurt Rosen, The Cat Empire, Young Dreams, Charlie Lim, and The Big Pink.

Where: The Esplanade/ Mosaic Studio/ Mosaic Club, Singapore When: March 7-16 Info: mosaicmusicfestival.com/2014

DATEBOOK

√


ASIAN CITY GUIDE Asia News Network

A guide to leading cities in Asia

THIS WEEK IN

Hong Kong What's on

BEIJING BANGKOK MANILA HONG KOKG SEOUL TOKYO SAPPORO TAIPEI SHANGHAI

HIGHLIGHTS

Shopping

Eateries


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

What’s on

¬ A Symphony of Lights Where: Tsim Sha Tsui water waterfront, Wainchai promenade What: This nightly light and sound show combines interactive lights of 45 buildings on both sides of the Victoria Harbour accompanied by music. Held every night at 8pm.

¬ Hong Kong Fringe Club Where: 2 Lower Albert Road, Central What: Try catching a current show, including art exhibitions, live performances or comedy nights by local emerging artists at the centrally located Fringe Club, where the commercial city’s culturally minded converge.


ASIAN CITY GUIDE

What’s on

HONGKONG


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

What’s on

¬ Dialogue in the Dark

¬ Feng Shui class Where: The Household Centre, Mei Foo What: In this specially constructed pitchblack exhibition, visually impaired guides lead the sighted to discover various parts of Hong Kong via hearing, touch, smell and taste. Tours offered in English, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Where: Flat B and C, 14/F Golden Hill Commercial Building, 39-41 Argyle Street, Mongkok What: Attend a free Feng Shui class by master Alex Yu, who teaches how a basic knowledge of feng shui (the ancient practice of positioning objects and buildings in harmony with nature) can benefit you at work and at home.


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

What’s on

¬ Cantonese opera class

¬ Tea class Where: Lock Cha Tea Shop, G/F KS Lo Gallery, Hong Kong Park, Admiralty What: Join this tasty and relaxing journey into the traditional culture of Chinese teadrinking. You’ll be introduced to the varieties of tea, drinking etiquette and a collection of rare teapots. Held 4pm to 5pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Registration required.

Where: Lobby of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Shatin What: This free appreciation class opens your eyes to this unique and colloquial art form that blends Chinese legend, music and drama. Not only will you be able to view the colourful costumes worn by performers, you will also attend a live opera by a local troupe.


ASIAN CITY GUIDE

What’s on

HONGKONG


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

What’s on

¬ Kung Fu corner Where: Sculpture Walk, Kowloon Park, 22 Austin Road, Kowloon Park What: This free event held 2:30 pm4:30pm every Sunday offers a variety of traditional kung fu demonstrations and cultural performances, from drumming to dragon dances. Audiences are invited to try out their skills.

¬ Duk Ling ride ¬ Hong Kong Story Where: G/F Hong Kong Museum of History, 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui What: How did Hong Kong become the international city it is today? Visit this multimedia exhibition that takes you back in time. Expect to discover the city through artifacts and mockup scenes of an ancient village temple or a typical Hong Kong home in the 1930s.

Where: Kowloon public pier, Tsim Sha Tsui (disembarks at Hong Kong Island) What: Sail on a Duk Ling, an authentic Chinese junk originally manned by Chinese fisherman, for a 360-degree view of the city’s magnificent skyline and harbour. It costs HK$100 per person.


ASIAN CITY GUIDE

What’s on

HONGKONG


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Shopping

¬ Sin Tat Plaza (先達廣場) A well known bustling cellphone and electronics plaza in the heart of Kowloon. Not only will you be able to find the latest and used phones, but also cool gadgets from cameras, PDAs to accessories. You might see plenty of big phone companies on the ground floor, but the real bargains are on the first and second floors.

¬ Argyle Centre (旺角中心)] For a colourful range of cheap fashion and accessories, climb the overcrowded stairs of the multiple-level shopping mall featuring a maze of microscopic shops selling the hottest trends from South Korea, Japan and Taiwan at excellent prices (better than Causeway Bay and even the street markets nearby). Don’t forget to bargain.

Address: Argyle Center, 688 Nathan Rd., Mong Kok 旺角彌敦道688號

Address: 83 Argyle Street, Mongkok

旺角亞皆老街83號


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Shopping

¬ The Landmark

(置地廣場)

Situated in the heart of the city’s central business district, this exclusive luxury mall is known for its 200 international designer brands including Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Vivienne Tam, as well as fine dining options and prestigious Michelin-starred restaurants. The airy Café Landmark is a favourite hangout for local celebrities. Don’t be surprised to see paparazzi milling around. Address: 15 Queen’s Rd, Central, Central

中環皇后大道中15號

¬ Cat Street (古董街) Nicknamed Thieves’ Market, Cat Street is famous for its fantastic collection of antique merchants and art galleries selling a motley collection of Chinese knick-knacks: from Ming dynasty furniture to propaganda poster from Chairman

Mao’s era. Bargains can also be found in jade, porcelain, silk and wooden handicrafts.

Address: 上環荷里活道及摩

羅上街


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Shopping

¬ K11 K11 doubles as an art gallery and shopping mall. It not only features a broad selection of fashion, electronics and beauty products but also art exhibitions and cool masterpieces by local artists all year round. Visitors with overseas passports can claim a coupon booklet with discount offers from the concierge.

Address: 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙咀河內道18號

¬ Island Beverly

(金百利商場)

The multi-floored mall might not catch your eye amid the city’s skyscrapers, but it’s a hidden gem for fashion gurus. Expect to find hundreds of boutiques no bigger than a hundred square feet selling South Korean and Japanese chic fashion, hair accessories and shoes popular with the young crowd. The shops open around 1pm and close at 10pm.

Address: 81 Great George Street, Causeway Bay

銅鑼灣記利佐治街81號


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Shopping

¬ Stanley Market (赤柱市集) Shopping at this seaside village on Hong Kong Island’s south side is a temporary escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Check out the international cuisines, watering holes and the popular market for local handicrafts, souvenirs and fashion. Ocean breeze and sea views for free.

Address: Stanley New Street and Stanley Market Road, Stanley赤柱新街及赤柱市場道

¬ Harbour City (海港城) How can you visit the shoppers’ paradise without dropping by the largest shopping mall around town? The megamall has three malls in one: Ocean Terminal, Ocean Centre and Gateway Arcade — allowing shoppers a choice of more than 50 restaurants, two cinemas and 450 outlets selling sportswear, kids’ items, cosmetics and gadgets.

Address: 3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙咀廣東道3號


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Shopping

¬ Hysan Place (希慎廣場) This brand-new shopping mall is a new landmark in the heart of Causeway Bay. Boasting stylish contemporary interiors, the chic mall features 120 international brand boutiques spread over 17 floors. Check out the Eslite bookstore from Taiwan. US fashion brand Hollister California and a second Apple Store are rumoured to open soon.

Address: 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay 銅鑼灣

軒尼詩道500號

¬ Citygate Outlets (東薈城名店倉) Probably the only outlet mall in Hong Kong, this spacious mall houses over 80 international brands that offer yearly discounts of at least 30 to 70 per cent on fashion, kids’ wear, beauty and sportswear. The airport is just 10 minutes away by local transport. An ideal spot for some last-minute shopping.

Address: 20 Tat Tung Road, Tung Chung 東涌達東路20號


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Eateries

¬ Typhoon shelter seafood Here’s how it works: a sampan picks you up at the pier ferry and takes you to a floating restaurant that offers its signature dishes: typhoon shelter crabs with chilli and garlic, and stir-fried clams in aromatic black bean sauce.

Recommended Restaurant : Sun Kee Typhoon Shelter Seafood

¬ Barbecued pork It’s a sight, these juicy roasted meats or siu mei–including pork, chicken and goose–roasted over an open fire on forks and hung in high-end restaurants and fast-food chains around town. Ubiquitous yet delicious.

信記避風塘海鮮美食

Recommended Restaurant: Yung Kee Restaurant 鏞記酒家 Address: 32-40 Wellington Street, Central 中環威靈頓街 32 號 Telephone: 2522 1624

Address: Typhoon Shelter, Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay 銅鑼灣告士打道避風塘 Telephone: 8112 0075


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Eateries

¬ Silk stocking milk tea

¬ Claypot rice If you’re visiting Hong Kong in winter, there’s nothing better than the popular chewy claypot rice with a choice of toppings from tender chicken to pork ribs with soy sauce. Cooked in a traditional charcoal claypot, the dish boasts a layer of crispy rice you can peel off from the bottom of the pot.

Don’t get it wrong. The popular drink, black tea sweetened with evaporated milk, isn’t made from a silk stocking. The tea and milk are strained through a very fine cloth (that resembles a stocking) many times to produce its velvet texture. Hong Kongers consume up to 900 million cups of milk tea a year!

Recommended Restaurant: Lan Fong Yuen 蘭芳園 Address: 2 Gage Street, Central 中環結志街2號 Telephone: 2544 3895 / 2854 0731

Recommended Restaurant: Hing Kee Restaurant 興記菜館 Address: G/F, 15-19 Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei

油麻地廟街15-19號地下 Telephone: 2384 3647


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Eateries

¬ Egg tart

¬ Stinky tofu If you have the guts, try this—one of the weirdest streetfood you will find here. Hong Kongers love it although it smells as bad as durian. The overpowering ammonia is the result of fermentation of the tofu, which is deep fried. Mostly available from street vendors.

Recommended Place: Delicious Food 美味食店 Address: Shop 10, G/F, 30-32 Nullah Road, Prince Edward 太子水渠道 30-32

號A美星樓地下10號舖 Telephone: 2142 7468

Egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery in Central used to be Hong Kong ex-governor Chris Patten’s favourite. Served lukewarm, this popular snack is a buttery and crunchy pastry crust filled with egg custard. Cheap and makes a tasty afternoon snack.

Recommended Bakery: Tai Cheong Bakery 泰昌餅家 Address: Various locations, including G/F, 35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central 中環

擺花街35號地下 Telephone: 2544 3475


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Eateries

¬ Walled-village cuisine

¬ Wonton noodles

For an exotic yet authentic taste of Hong Kong, don’t miss this. The cuisine, originating from the city’s early inhabitants from walled-villages, is savoured till today. Its signature dish, the “big bowl feast”, has food piled up in 12 layers, containing abalone, shrimp, chicken, tofu and radish, and can feed a group of 10. Other popular dishes include the Malay sponge cake and white rice with lard and soy sauce.

This simple dish is nothing more than dumplings made with shrimps held together by thin flour wrappers and elastic egg noodles served in a fragrant broth—sometimes made from shark bones. But be prepared to wait for a table at crowded places for a bite of the city’s favourite.

Recommended Restaurant: Tai Wing Wah Restaurant 大榮華酒樓 Address: 2/F, Koon Wong Mansion, 2-6 On Ning Road, Yuen Long 元朗安寧路2-6號2樓 Telephone: 2476-9888

Recommended Restaurant: Wing Wah Noodle Shop

永華麵家 Address: 89 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai 灣仔軒尼詩道89號 Telephone: 2527 7476


HONGKONG

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Eateries

¬ Dim sum The term “dim sum” can be hard to define. Literally meaning “touch your heart”, it’s a basket of delicate dumplings and snacks served in bamboo containers with as many as 150 items on a menu. Here are some of the classics: shrimp dumpling, shao mai (ground pork and mushroom wrapped in thin dough), barbecued pork bun and deep-fried spring rolls.

Recommended Restaurant: U-Banquet 譽宴 Address: 1F, Pioneer Centre, 750 Nathan Road, Prince Edward

太子彌敦道 750 號始創中心1樓 Telephone: 2811 1983

¬ Swiss wings These yummy sweet soy sauce-flavoured chicken wings have nothing to do with Switzerland. The urban legend goes that when a waiter served the dish “sweet wings” to a foreigner, it was misinterpreted as “Swiss wings”. Perfect to serve with steaming hot white rice.

Recommended Restaurant: Tai Ping Koon Restaurant 太平館 Address: 6 Pak Sha Road, Causeway Bay

銅鑼灣白沙道6號 Telephone: 2576-9161



Asianews February28- March 6,2014