Jun 1, 2006

"What is Ki" by Fumi-san

From fumi-san's thread on JOB dated May 30,2006
Translated by flowerbossa

I would appreciate it if you would contact me if you wish to repost this information elsewhere.

Yong Joon mentioned that “I do not have ki, so there are times when I cannot get along well with the other actors”. “Ki” is a genuine Hangul word, and I will explain what it means. I recall writing about this 2 years ago, in the beginning part of my analysis series on YJ.

So, what is “ki”?

There is such a thing called “charumera” in Japan (flowerbossa’s note: the music you can hear from the rahmen vendors), and I heard that the origins can be traced back to the days of the Korean Correspondent Mission.

It is said that in those days, the delegates from Korea played music while they marched in the streets of Japan, and this came to be called “charumera” in Japan.

Apparently, when the people heard this “charumera” by the Korean delegates, they gathered to see them. From this tradition, the “charumera” is used in the present day Japan for the purpose of attracting customers. In both Koreas, too, this “charumera” is the music used to attract people.

In the old days of Korea, there were many acrobatic groups (as can be seen in the movie “The King’s Man") and these groups were called “tantara”.

“Tantara” is a word which expressed the actual sound of the charumera. In Korea, this music used by these acrobatic troupes to attract an audience was called “tantara”. Even today, entertainers in show business are called “tantara” -although it is a discriminatory word.

Traditionally, the acrobatic troupes (also called “kuande”) were also able to sing, dance and do a comic act. This is the characteristic of the acrobatic groups of the old times. In Korean, “acrobatic group” means “to have the ability to do anything to entertain people”, and the talent to be a member of the “kuande” is called “ki”. It is an old, genuine Hangul word (meaning there is no Chinese character for it).

In the present day Korea, artists in show business are still called “tantara”.
The society sees actors or “tantara”, as people having versatile talent to do anything to entertain the audience, and in fact it is a “must” for them.

Thus, we often say, artists must have “ki”.

Now, Yong Joon does not sing, nor does he dance, and he does not pull funny jokes – he seems like an artist that is not capable of doing the things the “tantara” in the past were expected to do. In such a case, we would say, “Yong Joon does not have the talent as a tantara” in other words, “he does not possess ki”, and I believe this lead him to make that comment admitting this.

This concept of “tantara” and “ki” has a significant influence in the show business of Korea today.


bb said...

hey, this is very interesting! i wondered about the exact meaning of 'ki'... i thought i'd an idea what it meant, but now i'm clear... thanks!

btw, here's the link to a related post.

bb said...

oopsies... forgot to say the 'ki' part is in part 5 of the linked page...

flowerbossa said...

Thanks bb for the link!

I have to confess that I haven't read fumi-san's old posting on this topic. Maybe it's about time he put all this info in a book. If it weren't for you, we wouldn't be able to find the old writings!

BTW, take it easy OK?
Hope we can sip tea in cafe-b sometime soon!

jaime said...

Thanks flowerbossa for the explanation.

Now I think I get a better understanding of 'ki'. I read about 'tantara' being a derogatory address to actors. When YJ said he does not have 'ki' : Did he mean "he does not know how to bend over backwards to attract other actors, therefore he does not have many friends in this field?" or "he does not spread his acts across singing, dancing etc. , so
his circle of friends is small?" OR am I totally missing the essence of the meaning again?
BTW, is there an equivalence of 'ki' in Japanese?

Anyway, very interesting and thanks for posting this!

flowerbossa said...

Hi Jaime,

Thank you for coming over.
Hm, difficult question.
I personally interpreted it as
YJ not having the innate talent as an actor, e.g. he is not a born dancer, singer etc. I think we all know that some people just can't sing well even if they practiced 8 hours a day.

I also feel that he may have some psychological inhibitions that some of the other actors may not have. Perhaps it is due to his upbringing - his parents seem like very proper people.

Yong Joon is Yong Joon, and perhaps he is "special" because he does not possess this "ki". I just wish he would not suffer from this.

If my understanding of the Korean "ki" is correct, I don't think there is an equivalent in Japanese.

This is an interesting topic, isn't it?!

bb said...

i kindda interpret 'ki' as an inherent ability to perform, ie having the desire to go out there and enjoy the limelight and bring joy to others.... kindda like the 'x' factor for actors, though it doesn't quite mean charisma, just a streak of something in a person that's quite commonly found in most performers... gosh, what on earth am i babbling about...? *bb confuses herself and decides to go away**

Addicted to BYJ said...

I believe "ki"is a personality trait that enjoys being in the limelight and performing in fornt of an audience. It does not have much to do with ability to sing,dance, and perform. "Tantara" is more less like gypsy who moves from place to place to perform. It is used in rather deragatory term but I don't think modern day entertainers are considered "Tantara"

The question on if BYJ has "Ki" is hard one. He does seems to be a bit on the shy side to have 'ki" but he has a killer aura or charisma which will last much longer than entertainers who have "ki." He is very unique in that perspective since his persona is more of a perfect man that all women crave than an actor or entertainer.

Peson with "ki" enjoy every minute of being a center of an attention. But I doubt BYJ does. As we have seen in his GQ interview, he feels uncomfortable and burdended by the attention. I think that is part of his charm because average person like me can relate.

bb said...

hey, addicted!
so i guess i might have gotten it right after all! thanks for clearing the air for me :)

flowerbossa said...

Hi bb and addicted,

Thank you for your enlightening comments! Yes, wuri YJ has too much charisma for his own good.

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