Fan Commentary: Yoon Mi Rae and Sony Pictures

Fan Commentary: Yoon Mi Rae and Sony Pictures
Yoon Mi Rae (Tasha)

The recent legal entanglement between Yoon Mi Rae (also known as Tasha) and Sony Pictures prompted K-pop fans to express their opinions about copyright, permission and global corporations.

In “Yoon Mi Rae to Take Legal Action Against Sony Pictures for Using Her Song in ‘The Interview’ Without Permission,” Soompi writer kiddy_days writes that Yoon, legendary singer and rapper in Korean popular music who is also married to veteran rapper Tiger JK, intends to sue Sony Pictures. The story reveals that Yoon’s agency, Feel Ghood Music, began talks to include Yoon’s track, “Pay Day” in the film, but Yoon contends that those talks ended with no resolution.

Comments following the story reveal that fans are concerned with issues of copyright. They also critique globalization which makes the use of copyright material easier. As of January 11, 2015, 182 comments were posted to the story.

Commenters raise the lawsuit to the level of South Korean-US dynamics. Some, like Tricia Powrie, believe that Sony’s behavior mirrors the behavior of South Korean entertainment agencies in the unauthorized use of copyrighted material:

Gross this is upsetting to hear. How much does asia and Korea included steal Americas stuff without a care in the world for copyright? This is rediculous [sp]. I hope she loses. She defenitly [sp] will lose fans or could be fans from America.

Others, like Ann Marie Hake Hughes, question the assumption that Korean agencies do not pay to use American material:

What makes you think the k dramas don’t have the rights to the songs? If they didn’t, Netflix, drama fever and Hulu would be in trouble for airing them. That’s actually something that keeps movies and old TV shows from airing on those services — lack of rights for the music. Whatever your assumptions are about Korea, broadcasting in the USA is a whole different ballgame and the big players wouldn’t stream anything without it being legal.

Other commenters focus on Yoon’s status and motives as an artist. In another comment, Powrie suggests that Yoon is an unknown artist looking to benefit from her lawsuit:

Barely anyone even knows her name and Now shes going to sue. Hah. Its just rediculous [sp] Shes just doing it to get her name out and its sickening.

However, commenters like Ryan Seo, seek to provide some context for Yoon’s motives:

For somebody who hasnt heard about her, she was selected the 12th best new female emcees dominating mics worldwide by MTV Iggy in 2011. She is worldwide female hip hop singer. For somebody who is bitching about her suing Sony, talking about free publicity or whatever, educate your dumb self. She doesnt need any publicity.

Other commenters question the legality of Yoon’s own song. Xslol suggests that Yoon used someone else’s material for “Pay Day”:

Uh so what if her song was actually taken from someone else who took the song from somewhere else? How can she sue if she’s not even the original and also did not ask permission ?

In response, commenters like Lawyerfor13Years parse the difference between sampling, plagiarism and copyright infringement:

Using someone elses copyrighted song without a legal contract is against the law and sony knows it.  “Sampling” in music is not considered copyright infringment [sp] if the sample is under 20 seconds. Most rap artists use samples in songs. Many will pay the original artist a small fee to be able to use the sample. So it doesnt matter if her song had a sample of someone elses song in it. If its under 20 seconds or she paid the original artist, it can become a part of her song legally. Sony using her song for 2+ minutes in the movie does not constitute use of a sample, and I am positive she will win a large settlement in court.

These commenters represent a variety of opinions over the matter. The issue of how Korean agencies use copyrighted material quickly enters the discourse, and questions are raised as to how the average foreign consumer of Korean popular culture would know if such copyright is not being recognized. For example, permissions are usually acknowledged in the credits that run after a program, but such credits are often edited out for foreign consumers.  Yoon’s place in Korean music also affects how her lawsuit is perceived. For those who do not know here, she may be perceived as someone mere seeking attention using a nuisance suit. However, those who are aware of her long career see her legal response as more legitimate.

Image: “Yoon Mi Rae (Tasha), Promo (Korea Fans),” Hallyu Harmony, accessed January 11, 2015,

Source: “Yoon Mi Rae to Take Legal Action against Sony Pictures for Using Her Song in “The Interview” without Permission.” Soompi. 26 Dec 2014. Web. 11 Jan 2015.

Creative Commons License
Fan Commentary: Yoon Mi Rae and Sony Pictures by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Really Useful Links!

Hey everyone! I’m sure that one of the things you’re all constantly on the search for is a good site for Kpop – info (like this site! :D), shopping, music, general news, places online to learn how to read and speak Korean, etc. So, below you’ll find a list of useful sites that WE like, and a little description to go with it. It’s broken up into categories to be a little easier. Enjoy!

General Kpop Sites

  1. MTV Korea: This is MTV’s official website for K-Pop! That’s pretty self-explanatory, they have a little of everything including things like “Cutest Thing Ever!” editorials, exclusive interviews, etc.
  2. All Kpop: A general Kpop site, good for news stories that you may not find on the other sites.
  3. Kpop Live: Again, another general site. It’s good to get your stuff from a variety of places because you never know who’s going to have what.
  4. GoKpop: This is a general Kpop site that has a little bit of everything – group and individual profiles, up-to-date news stories, a chat and community for those who want a social aspect. Honestly, this is one of the sites that we visit the most for our own Kpop stuff. It also has discographies, videos, lyrics in hangeul/romanization/English (sometimes, and for some songs – no one’s perfect!) and links to idols’ official pages, Facebook pages, and Twitters, when available.
  5. Hello Kpop: This is a newer site, but the layout is great, they’re putting out interesting stories that are a bit more selective than GoKpop (no random stories about someone dying their hair, sorry!), great information, and they have A STORE and AN ONLINE RADIO STATION! Highly recommend this site especially for the radio, and the news stories and give-aways are pretty great, too!
  6. Welcome KPOP Enthusiasts: This handy little site has profiles on all of the popular and up-and-coming idol groups. It offers histories of the groups, as well as information on individual members of (most) groups, stuff on solo artists, and the odd but relevant news stories related to the groups (like when so-and-so leaves a group, etc.). The information is good, if a little sparse in some areas, but if you want an overview of the history and members of some of the more popular idols, check it out!
  7. Soompi: This site has fan cafes and forums plus news bits, for K Dramas, movies, and Kpop.
  8. Korea Boo: This site has different sections for it’s news stories: Rumors, Gossip, Music, Movies, Comeback, Drama, Shows (like game shows), and Editorial. It has a little bit of everything and it seems pretty lighthearted when it comes to its stories.
  9. This seems to be a site dedicated to Korean Culture in general. Of course they have Kpop, TV, Movies, and fan cafes and forums, but they also have info on technology, health and beauty, and more!
  10. JPop Asia: This site is like Go Kpop, except it has info on both Kpop AND Jpop, so those of you who like both (or who want to see another side of pop in Asia) can satisfy your music needs.
  11. Seoulbeats:  Acccording to their site, is “interested in not only the news, but what the news implicates about the culture.” It represents  “an ongoing project of discussion and dissection.”


  1. DVD Heaven: Don’t let the site fool you – it is totally legitimate! They have a little bit of EVERYTHING, from Kpop and Kdramas and Kmovies and almost any fan item you can think of from your favorite bands. Bonus? While the goods ship from Korea, this site has some of the lowest prices on some of the best stuff! SUPER BONUS? If you order your CDs through this site, it counts as a record sale in Korea and allows you to up your idol’s numbers on the music charts. Michelle recently bought some SHINee earrings and some SS501 earrings, and they came within a week and a half, were in pristine condition, and were really reasonably priced. Thanks to Summer for this one! 🙂
  2. YesAsia: Now, why have this link in here? Doesn’t everyone know about YesAsia? And didn’t you just say that DVD Heaven has better prices? Well, yes to all of that, BUT YesAsia may be a service some prefer over DVD Heaven, and you never know if they’re going to have something that other sites don’t have.

Learning Korean

  1. Talk to Me in Korean: There is a LOT to love about this site! There are all types of lessons, beginner to advanced, in a whole bunch of different styles. It teaches you grammar, cultural behaviors, polite language v. informal language, vocabulary…basically, it’s like taking an online Korean language class. Except fun! They have PDFs of all of their recordings, they have a Podcast on iTunes that will download everything for you (including the PDFs), and they are seriously a lot of fun. Native speakers teach these lessons, but it’s clear and they are also really funny which makes learning a lot more entertaining. Michelle’s trying to learn Korean completely through them (when she has time!) and so far it’s going pretty well 🙂 The lessons are mostly in English, but there have been a few that have had versions in Spanish and one in French!
  2. Learn Hangeul on KoreanWikiProject: This site is associated with TTMIK (above) and is also highly recommended! This teaches you step-by-step how to read Hangeul. It also has audio examples of all the hangeul, vocabulary, and a few quizzes to test your skills. There are also some help pages on the more difficult to distinguish hangeul (like ㄱ /ㅋ/ ㄲ). While the site is still developing more intermediate and advanced lessons, it’s really useful to use in tandem to TTMIK because, as they say themselves, learning Korean from English romanization of the words is the most difficult thing to do, simply because there are sounds in Korean that do not exist in English. Remember that hangeul from above? Well, if you were to write it in the official romanization, it’d look like “g/k/k” when phoenetically, it’s more like “sound in between a ‘g’ and a ‘k’ that sometimes changes to a ‘g’ in the middle of a word/k/g” – CONFUSING! So, knowing hangeul helps you learn Korean. And you can finally read all those words that get thrown up on shows like Star Golden Bell!


  1. Viki: This one is all thanks to our ‘makbaenim’ K! It’s an online video subbing community that subs as many videos as they can in as many languages as they can and keeps them all in one place! It’s also literally a community, you can join in as one of their subbers. Viki was founded as a graduate school project between Harvard and Stanford, so the translations are solid and trustworthy.
  2. DramaFever: This is a site that’s like Hulu, but for K Dramas. You can go and find lots of K Dramas and watch them for free, legally (with commercials, sadly), and you can even find episodes of Music Core here.
  3. Crunchy Roll: This site a little bit of everything (anime, music, forums, fanclubs) but it’s especially good for K Dramas.


  1. Hello Kpop Radio: This is connected to Hello Kpop, and it’s great if you want to stream Kpop and find some new Kpop to love. This online radio station also has a chat that you can enter in while you listen (if you want), and they have shows set up, like the Shake the Kimchi radio program they have.
  2. Soribada (English): YES! An online mp3 store JUST for Kpop, JUST for English speakers! This site is AWESOME. You can join as a subscriber and download 40 or 150 songs a month (kind of like Rhapsody?). You can log in with a Google account and they’re trying to add on Twitter and Facebook. It’s great – a legal way to get high-quality Kpop mp3s and support your idols! There are two drawbacks, however: #1, the artists are often listen under their officially romanized names. For example, SS501 member Park Jung Min has his stuff on there, but it’s listed under “Park Jeong Min.” Here’s drawback #2: You may not be able to get ALL your Kpop from the English Soribada site. Going back to Jung Min, you can SEE that his music is on Soribada, but there’s a little bar at the top that says “Licensing restricts distribution of this to your country.” WHAT?! There are reasons for this – you may have to check iTunes to see if they’ve decided to sell on there instead, or you may simply have to go to…Korean Soribada. NOTE: You’ll need a PayPal account.
  3. Soribada (Korean): Let’s go back to our lovely man Jung Min. While you cannot download his songs through your subscription to the English version of Soribada, you CAN download his stuff through the Korean version of Soribada. The difference? You can watch MUSIC VIDEOS! Oh, and a much more complicated process. DO. NOT. WORRY. We are also including our own personal tutorial of how you, an English speaker (or general non-speaker of Korean) can navigate this site, get the things you want, and not have to freak out about how to do it. Go check our tutorial here. And yes, you’ll still need a PayPal account.