The Wikipedia Project
Note 1: I have had no input on the Korean Wikipedia pages, but see a use in linking them here.
A little over nine years ago, shortly after Paul moved back to Korea, we were sitting around once, I think in 16mm, the same night that we came up with pen/nicknames for all the people around us. "We should start a zine," Paul told me.
Things took off from there. Determined to find a name with "ROK" in it, we considered RagnaROK (too metal), bROKen, and unbROKen, before finally settling on bROKe, which suited us fine as at the time we were both unemployed and living off of more stable women.
More recently, I was hanging out with Paul again, I think this time outside the Korea/Japan Punk Fest at his barbecue, when he tossed out another idea. "You should write Wikipedia pages for Korean punk bands," he told me.
I'd already dipped my toes in Wikipedia; way back in Broke 13, the one where I sold out the zine to win 2 million won in a food promotion contest. I also started a Wikipedia account under the name Jungang Hansik. I used it to improve Korean food articles, but it wasn't long before I set to work on other pages as well.
In the height of the Mannam/Shinchonji thing (see Broke 15), I took to adding some of the more credible English news sources tying Mannam Volunteer Organization to the Shinchonji Church of Some Ajosshi (or whatever it was called), so that Wiki pages on SCJ and their leader Lee Man-hee now spell out the cult background of Mannam. There was significant resistance, as the cultists actively monitor the page and tried hard to exclude certain facts linking everything together, but I added more and more sources until it was undeniably relevant. Today, the basic facts still stand, although other editors have removed a lot of the crazier parts, such as LMH claiming to have met Jesus, or the Universe completing its first orbit in 1984, both which I added to emphasise their insane beliefs.
Another place where I popped in, unwanted, was on the existing CNBLUE page. This was shortly after they'd been successfully sued (well not them, but their management) by Crying Nut for totally ripping off a Crying Nut song (they basically lip-synced to a Crying Nut recording at a "live" concert that was recorded and sold as a DVD, none of which Crying Nut had signed off on). Crying Nut gloated online about the victory, which caused CNBLUE to countersue them for defamation of "character," which is something CNBLUE's members allegedly claim to have. So, there's now a CNBLUE#Controversy section for all their fans to read and learn about what scumbags these people are, inserted right after their extensive list of awards and nominations (which has a page of its own) and right before the bit about their charity work opening "CNBLUE Schools."
So anyway, I decided that it was time to stop complaining that there was no Wikipedia page for, say, Rux, and write a damn Rux page myself. Fortunately, I had a friend, Charles Montgomery, who'd done a similar thing for Korean literature, his so-called Wikipedia Project done in cooperation with the Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI) to increase the amount of information about Korean authors and literature available online in English.
Starting off, I discovered that some page called Generasia already had a fairly extensive Wikipedia page including members and former members (but no Paul or Joey) as well as discography. It committed a lot of the usual sins of covering Korean punk, including claiming that it was members of Couch that got naked on Music Camp in 2005, rather than one member of Couch and one Spiky Brat.
So, I made a page that outright copied the discography as well as band members, took out a lot of the dead hypertext, and added in a big fat history section with information about Skunk Label, Skunk Hell, and the infamous Music Camp incident. Thanks to Music Camp, there were plenty of mainstream news stories about Rux, including one with Lee Myung-bak calling for a blacklist to censor live musicians. The page went up and very little work was ever needed to be done on it.
The next band I did was Galaxy Express, which likewise already had an existing wiki page, this one part of KoreanIndie.com, a project that they gave up on when it became apparent how labour-intensive it would be. Still, it had a lot of helpful information already laid out that I was able to incorporate into the Wikipedia page. I added information about the members' band history, which allowed me to link back to Rux, and I included information about their tours overseas, which have helped to raise the band's profile enough for their own Wikipedia entry. Yes, I included information on Juhyun's drug charges, as that's relevant information in this type of writing.
The third band was always going to be the Geeks, who tend to be the first name in any discussion about the history of Korean hardcore music. I wrote this article with a focus on their early forays into overseas touring, as well as their take on straight edge and Kiseok's work with Open Your Eyes and Powwow.
The next page, for Kingston Rudieska, was delayed due to trouble with the Geeks page when someone nominated it for deletion, claiming there was no indication of how it might meet notability guidelines, saying that it lacks citations to significant coverage in reliable sources, as all but one reference were self-published. I was a bit unclear on what "self published" meant, whether it applied to primary sources released by the band and if I was being mistaken for a band member, or to DIY publishing, which was certainly the case with Broke as well as an interview on PunkNews.org and Invasion Magazine, but certainly not for my three Korea.net citations. This crippled my initiative to post more band articles, as DIY press was something I was heavily counting on. We managed to save it by adding citations from Yonhap, Maximum Rock n Roll, SXSW, and Vice Magazine. As well, Charles quickly wrote a "Critical Response" section which seems to have quelled any following issues.
Eventually, I made the Kingston Rudieska page. Significant due to their position at the apex of ska in Korea as well as their numerous collaborations, this page was a bit leaner on introducing concepts as in the previous three pages, following the promotional material a bit more closely and name-dropping everyone whose name could be dropped. I also was sure to add links to Kingston Rudieska on other pages, including Dr Ring Ding's Wikipedia page. As well, with a link to Skunk Hell (which redirects to the Rux page), I was creating the beginning of an ecosystem of pages.
I also updated pages such as "Korean rock" and "Music of South Korea" to include more links to the pages I was writing (and in fairness I filled it in, with info on heavy metal in the '80s and the Chosun Punk of the '90s). As well, there has been a lot of work to find more categories to stuff my pages in. With the exception of Kingston Rudieska, all pages are listed in "South Korean punk rock groups."
The Kingston Rudieska page hit a minor speedbump when someone added "Citation Needed" tags to a couple parts of the article, essentially asking me to prove that they are influenced by ska jazz and perform jazz-like solos live, as well as to back up the claim that they've opened for Chris Murray, the Slackers, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, and Dr. Ring-Ding. This was taken care of quite easily, adding in a bunch of new sources I didn't think were all that needed.
The nature of Wikipedia means I need to steer toward bands that are notable through evidence in enough reputable media sources. My future plans include making pages for Suck Stuff, Ska Sucks, Couch, Spiky Brats, Shorty Cat, ...Whatever That Means, and Things We Say, all of whom I'm confident I can find significant information on in a variety of publications. As well, I want to bring the Crying Nut and No Brain pages up to standard, especially now that there is significantly more English-language information out there about them now due to touring overseas and signing deals with foreign record companies. Plus, I would like to write pages on significant things that bridge the bands together, including Skunk Label, Skunk Hell, Drug, the We Are the Punx in Korea compilation, GMC and Townhall, and Our Nation (both the documentary and the compilation series).
Another direction in which to expand is in translating the articles into other languages. I solicited on the Korean Punk and Hardcore Facebook page and heard back from interested translators of German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Bulgarian, Finnish, Portuguese, and Polish. As of this moment, we've uploaded one German translation of Rux and one in Bulgarian thanks to the work of Susanne Gehlert and Elena Filipova. It's cool that we have that page up in German because that's a pretty major language, but I'm also highly impressed seeing the page translated into Bulgarian, partly due to the novelty but also partly because I think by focusing on less obvious avenues we often find surprisingly positive results, something anyone in the punk community can relate to.
What's next for the Wikipedia Project? We always need more skilled Wikipedia editors to defend the validity of pages and prevent them from disappearing or being improperly edited, and we always need more translators. So if you want to contribute to the spreading of Korean punk, get involved today.
Please remember that these photos are all copyrighted to me. If you want to use them in any way, there's a 90 per cent chance I'll give you my permission, and be able to give you a copy with a higher DPI.Copyright Daehanmindecline 2014