By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Korean American comedian dominates throughout May
May was a big month for Korean American comedian Ken Jeong.
Jeong, who currently plays the egotistical Ben Chang on the ABC sitcom “Community,” recently hosted the 2011 Billboard Music Awards (BMAs) in Las Vegas, an awards show honoring musicians across all genres who have racked in the most in sales, downloads, and airplay, according to data compiled from Billboard magazine and Nielsen ratings.
In addition to drawing laughs from the BMAs audience, Jeong also made waves at the movies this month, reprising his role as the flamboyant international gangster Leslie Chow in the “The Hangover Part II.”
The movie is the second installment in the raunchy comedy franchise that follows three men as they uncover the mystery behind their drunk shenanigans from the previous night. If you want to see all of Jeong — and I mean literally all of him — be sure to catch him in theaters. Korean American actress Jamie Chung, who starred in the fantasy action flick “Sucker Punch” earlier this year, plays a supporting role in the film.
Movie premieres and film shootings for Asian actors
The computer animated action comedy film “Kung Fu Panda 2” recently opened in theaters, featuring numerous Asian actors reprising their characters from the 2008 film “Kung Fu Panda.” The feature follows a kung fu savvy panda, who teams up with a group of kung fu masters to take down an old adversary.
Hong Kong martial artist Jackie Chan, Chinese American actors Lucy Liu and James Hong, and Hong Kong-based Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh are in the film … or their voices are, anyway.
Actor John Cho recently started shooting “Total Recall” — a Sony Pictures remake of the 1990 science fiction action film that originally starred former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cho, who is Korean American, is best known to audiences for his role in the comedy “Harold & Kumar” and the most recent installment of the science fiction action franchise “Star Trek.”
Wins and losses for Asians on television
In the world of TV, there were highs and lows for Asians all around.
On the ABC reality show “Dancing with the Stars,” Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward won the competition during the show’s 12th season. The popular show pairs celebrity contestants with professional dancers. The pairs perform choreographed dances in front of a panel of judges and a live audience.
Half Korean Hines beat out fellow celebrities, such as actress Kirstie Alley and reality television star Kendra Wilkinson, for the winner’s spot. It just goes to show that football players can be light on their feet, too!
Meanwhile, the NBC sitcom “Outsourced,” about an American running an Indian call center in Mumbai, got the ax after airing for only one season. Although the show fueled criticism for its low-brow, seemingly racist jokes, it was the first of its kind in recent memory, featuring many Indian actors with top billing on a mainstream network. I hope the actors find new work soon — there’s a lot of comedic talent going to waste with the end of the show.
Saying goodbye to a Korean anchor
Korea mourned the loss of MBC Plus Sports anchor Song Ji-sun after she recently committed suicide by jumping from her 19th floor apartment in Seoul. According to an article from Yahoo! News–Malaysia, many speculate that her recent love scandal with South Korean baseball player, Im Tae-hoon, sparked Song’s death. Song had recently announced that she had been dating the athlete for the past year and six months, but Im denied being with her.
Before her death, Song took to her blog and social media to express her growing depression over Im’s refusal to acknowledge their relationship. Her last blog post on May 21 read, “I am steering clear of the Internet lately. My words… I am so sorry. I’m not that good with computers, so I don’t know how to delete my account. I’d first like to tweet my apology. I’m so sorry, but really, my Cyworld (a popular Korean blog website) isn’t the truth. I’ll reveal the truth soon.”
Sadly, a suicide like this among media personalities and celebrities is not uncommon in Korean society. Many are driven to take their lives due to the severe judgment society passes on them, as well as the demanding pressure of being in the spotlight constantly.
“Our society has once again pushed another person off of a cliff,” said one Korean netizen about Song’s passing, according to the Korean pop culture website, allkpop.com. Perhaps Song’s death will serve as a powerful reminder for all to be cautious of what they say about others, whether it is done verbally or through cyberspace.
May Song rest in peace. ♦
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.