all-naked lady

Giving Harisu a run for her money in the Korean Trannie Superstars Awards, my favourite band of the moment, Lady are about to release a nude photo-album. They also have a website too, full of fashion and beauty secrets…

Countless female stars have taken it off for the camera, but this is the first time in Korea that a band of transssexuals will be appearing in what are no longer their birthday suits.

The photos were taken amid much secrecy in Thailand’s transsexual mecca Pattaya, home of an annual ladyboy beauty contest, between April 19 and April 23. By releasing a photo album focusing on an entirely different standard of sexiness than those of other celebrities, Lady hope to establish themselves as international models.

— Chosun

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changing the law to match your gender

It shits me so much that something so obvious has to become the province of the law and the courts to legislate on and even worse can’t make consistent decisions. Changing your gender on your birth certificate should be as easy as changing your name or applying for a passport (ok, maybe not a good example). It shouldn’t have to go to a court, which have much better things to do with their severely limited time. Legislation based on narrow and conservative definitions of gender is cowardly and ineffectual response to what should never have become a complex issue. And furthermore, it unequivocally should not be dependant on whether you’ve had sex-reassignment surgery – whatever the fuck that term is supposed to mean.

Koreans who have undergone surgery to change their gender are calling for standard procedures in courts to facilitate the process of changing their family records to reflect their altered sexuality.

Although the exact figure remains uncertain, there are reportedly between 4,000 and 10,000 transsexuals in Korea. According to the Department of Court Administration at the Supreme Court of Korea, 81 individuals have filed suit in regional courts to change their gender on their family records. Forty of the cases have been dismissed.

The department pointed out that the number of suits has increased dramatically since television star Ha Ri-su was permitted to register as a woman in 2002 following transgender surgery.

Transsexuals argue that without an established set of rules, whether they are allowed to alter their records depends too much on the discretion and personal values of judges who handle the cases. They point out that between 2000 and 2004, the Gwangju District Court ruled 9 of 11 such cases in favor of the transsexuals, while in the same period, 10 out of 13 cases were dismissed by the Busan District Court.

— JoonAng Daily

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dance sucker dance

It’s the start of summer, so that means every town and its dog has a dance festival for the next three months. I always love dance festivals. Amidst the walls of rubbish, there are always works of sublime genius that I’d never see if it wasn’t for being at the festival. Emio Greco, Mark Tompkins at ImPulsTanz, Jan Fabre at MIFA, and now Seoul is currently host to the 24th International Modern Dance Festival.

It’s totally unfair to compare it to the recent Guangzhou Dance Festival, but what the hell. Check it out. All the big monsters of contemporary dance are in the ring like a bunch of WWF Wrestlers. Jerome Bel, Damaged Goods, Dumb type, Ultima Vez, along with equal numbers of Korean companies. Even better, MODAFE has a blog: Modafe 2005 – 네이버::블로그.

Cunnilingus in North Korea

The empyre mailing list went spastic in the last couple of days with the pornographically titled Cunnilingus in North Korea. It all started with this email from Young-hae and Marc of YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES and pretty much went into the arse-licking gutter from there. One of the great moments in net-art for 2005.

We’re open to discuss anything with anybody — oh, except for sex, politics, money, ourselves, Internet technology, critical theory, including the global versus the local trans-anything, post-everything, deconstruction, nomadism, gender, C, C++, Maya, claymation, GATS, intellectual copyrights, and the latest North Korean test missile. Shoot.

— Young-hae and Marc

we are lady

Forget about Sylvester and Divine, and even Harisu, the new face of shemale pop is Korea’s own Lady. In the spirit of all good manufactured pop, Korea’s Airang TV are hyping the crap out of the group on the eve of their debut album release. Is the music any good? Who cares, they look spectacular. Even Getty Images has clogged their service with pictures.

Pretty pop princesses are a dime a dozen, but meet “Lady”, not your typical girly group. These four foxy sirens are creating media frenzy as they poise to take the entertainment industry by storm. Korea’s first transgender group is set to release its debut album in a Euro-dance style.

And its members — Sine, Sahara, Binu and Yoona — born as ‘he’s are now ‘she’s with looks that many natural-born women would kill for.

“We love chocolate, shopping and gossip. Mentally we were always women, the only difference being that we changed something physical, simply we are women with an extra scar,” said one group member.

— The Chosun Ilbo

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harisu in trembling heart

Keeping her acting career on the make, Korean transsexual model Hirasu is pretty much playing herself in a new tv show in Korea

Harisu will star in “Trembling Heart (Ttolinun Kasum)”, a 12-part miniseries to air on MBC beginning April 2.

The drama will tell six different stories revolving around one family. Harisu will star in one of the stories, according to the drama’s producers.

Harisu, who starred in the film “Yellow Hair 2” in 2001, has appeared in a television drama before, but this will be the first time for her to play a transsexual and a main character in a drama.

Harisu will appear in the third and fourth episodes of “Trembling Heart” as Park Man-ho, a man who experiences sexual confusion throughout his early life. After leaving his family for two years, he returns at the age of 30 as a woman named Park Hye-un.

— The Korea Times

조승우 cho seung-woo plays hedwig

Korean actor 조승우 Cho Seung-Woo, fresh off the musical Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the film Marathon is about to get back on stage in the off-Broadway musical of the movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

In “Hedwig”, Cho will play an East German man who undergoes a sex change operation in order to marry an American soldier but is abandoned by him and becomes a rock singer.

—The Korean Times

harisu at the berlin film festival

The Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian Film Festival came and went last month and I didn’t even notice. oops. But over the other side of the world at the Berlin Film Festival, Hong Kong filmmaker Yonfan is about to see Cherry Blossoms premiere in the Panorama section. Korean transsexual Harisu is playing Madame Umeki. If Haruki Murakami’s novel Kafka on the Shore ever gets made into a film maybe she will play Oshima, the librarian’s impressively literate, transsexual assistant.

Last month the Hong Kong Film Critics Society named “Colour Blossoms” one of nine “recommended films” of 2004 – others were Wong Kar-Wai’s moody drama “2046” and Stephen Chow’s comedy “Kungfu Hustle” – and Berlin is an affirmation for the complex filmmaker and for the kind of original storytelling that he has devoted his life to.

When “Colour Blossoms” opened in Hong Kong in the autumn, it had very modest box office results, making nothing like the $2 million (of his own money) that it had cost.

The less-than-warm reception was in no small part because Hong Kong’s powerful tabloid media laid on the negative publicity in the months leading up to its premiereThe papers criticized the film for its supposed pornography, and slammed its star, a once-much-loved socialite now fallen from grace named Teresa Cheung.

— International Herald Tribune

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kwangju biennale

The 5th Kwangju Biennale, A Grain of Dust, A drop of Water opened a couple of weeks ago, and like so much asian art at the moment, is full of the kind of weird stuff that is devoid of the ironic self-absorption and personal iconography that has spread like a plague across the western world since the mediocrity of Cool-Britannia. The Korean Times gets in on the act with the narcolepsy-inducing ‘art-as-science’ one-line gag that is currently usurping the ‘art-as-critical-theory’, but the artists get on with what they do best, and there are some treats out there.

The Kingpins, a Sydney-based group of gender-bending gals, produced a video with commentary on inherited modern cultures, with rock star culture, boy bands and blonde-haired and mustached clones, who “aerobersized” their way through a local Gwangju Starbucks. Their mentor of a viewer-participant, Craig Judd suggested they try some local relevance; luckily the international coffee chain was as common to Gwangju as it was Sydney.


Fernando Perez, a filmmaker from Cuba, suggested a trumpet be attached to the exhaust pipe of a motorcycle in “Returning a Sound” with artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s film work commenting on military experimentation.


France’s Lucy Orta gains the crossover to real world functionality with her “M.I.U VII-Mobile Intervention Lab”, a vehicle that is designed to operate in war or crisis situations as an ambulance, equipped with survival and communication ability.

Forward-looking Orta can be contrasted with U.S.’s Jim Sanborn’s nuclear installation, “The Critical Assembly, as again art and science may overlap.

asian horror in hollywood

When it comes to really disturbing horror films, with the exception of visceral nightmares like The Shining and The Exorcist, Hollywood really doesn’t know how to traumatise its audience enough to need counseling, confusing screaming Boo! in the audience’s collective ear with instilling a bodily revulsion. Along with masterpieces of body-horror like Cronenburg’s early films, Shivers and Rabid, the last few years have seen some truly upsetting and revolting works to come out of asia. The Age looks at this new wave of asian horror, which like the early 90s genius of Hong Kong martial arts and action films are currently fueling Hollywoods rapacious and creatively vacuous and desperate remake industry.

The key success factor is the creep factor of the films themselves. Creepy and successful enough, in fact, that many Hollywood studios are now buying up remake rights of the hits. Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake of Nakata’s Ring grossed more than $US128 million. A sequel is already on the way. (It’s an interesting point that, aside from the classic trilogy that includes Nakata’s original film and sequel, there is – at least – a Korean remake of the original titled Ring Virus, and Rasen: The Spiral, the original sequel that debuted in Japan with the first of Nakata’s films.)

Expect to also see a Dreamworks remake of Korean ghost movie A Tale of Two Sisters; a remake of The Eye from Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner’s production house; the Disney-linked Pandemonium Films’ remake of Nakata’s Dark Water; and Wes Craven’s take on Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse.

Other films may also be on their way. The rights to Nakata’s Don’t Look Up were bought by South African producer Anant Singh, and United Artists is in talks to acquire the remake rights to Kurosawa’s Cure, to be produced by Michael Stipe and Sandy Stern’s Single Cell Productions.

Ju-on: The Grudge is also being remade, although this film in particular seems to be sticking to its Asian beginnings, with the original director and at least two of its stars on board.