All posts by Elizabeth Eun

June Issue: John J. Kim Talks About His Pulitzer-Prize Winning Photos

Courtesy of John J. Kim


2011 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting spells victory for long-form journalism and Chicago Sun-Times Photographer John J. Kim

by Elizabeth Eun

IT WAS A MONDAY, and John J. Kim was taking a much-needed vacation from his job as a photographer with the Chicago Sun-Times. He spent the morning taking care of such mundane tasks as dropping his car off at the shop to get a wobbly wheel fixed. When he got around to checking his cell phone, he noticed he had 17 messages, including several from the newsroom.

“That’s why I thought maybe something bad happened,” recalled Kim, 36, who had not even checked his email yet that day and feared he might be getting laid off.

He was even a little peeved. “I was like, ‘Wait, I’m on vacation. Gosh, at least leave me alone until I get back to work or something.’ I finally ended up checking email and found out this happened.”

By “this,” Kim meant he, along with Sun-Times reporters Frank Main and Mark Konkol, had won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. The jury for Columbia University’s annual honors recognized the three journalists for a riveting series documenting violence in Chicago neighborhoods that ran in 2010. Their work was the result of a year-long, immersive project that looked specifically at murders plaguing Chicago’s Northwest Side, the resulting community devastation and the Chicago Police Department’s homicide detectives charged with solving the crimes.

For four months, Kim and Main, a beat reporter, shadowed detectives Tony Noradin and Don Falk of the department’s Area 5 Homicide unit, meeting with and following them from pre-roll call hours to crime scenes in the middle of the night.

Eerie and insightful, the resulting chronicles are an unflinching look into a world that might be taken for granted, but isn’t readily talked about.

“The reporters did a lot of work beforehand—a lot of meetings, everyone from the superintendent of the police had to sign off on the project,” Kim said. “It wasn’t your everyday thing. In general, you wouldn’t be allowed to do what we got to do.

“We had to sign papers saying the cops aren’t responsible if we get shot.”

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Welcome to Pyongyang

Just came across this lovely collection of photographs via Photojojo today.

A few years ago, Charlie Crane, a UK-based photographer, was lucky enough to get permission to take his camera into North Korea. While the communist nation still placed restrictions on the photos Crane could take,  the photographer managed to capture some very different images from the ones normally seen by the outside public.

Apparently, Crane’s logic was that “if there is no possibility of getting underneath the surface then the answer was to photograph the surface itself.”

The results were compiled and published in the book, Welcome to Pyongyang, which was produced in conjunction with Nicholas Bonner of Koryo Tours. While the photos may not necessarily be representative of the average North Korean, they’re pretty impressive, and strangely enough, a little provocative.

Check out a selection of the photos below, or see more here.

Bibimbap Burger: The Greatest

The office just had McDonald’s yesterday, which sparked a discussion about the best burgers in the area. (McDonald’s did not win, by the way.) But, oh how we wish we were in New York, so we could try Social EatzBibimbap Burger.

Eater recently held a competition to find the Greatest Burger in America in honor of Eater’s first annual Burger Week and the Bibimbap Burger took the coveted top prize.


Made by Angelo Sosa (of Top Chef All-Stars fame), the burger features a beef patty cooked in sweet and savory sauce, topped with slaw, picked carrots, cucumbers and a slow cooked egg. The Bibimbap Burger isn’t the only item on Sosa’s menu that takes inspiration from Korean cuisine – his menu also features a Bulgogi Burger, shik-hae (rice drink) and Korean beef tacos.

To celebrate the victory, Social Eatz is giving away a free cocktail with each Bibimbap Burger during the entire month of May. New Yorkers – let us know how it is!


NK Women Favor Skinny Jeans & Surgery

The already pretty North Korean women in 2005. (Reuters)

We all know that South Korean women are fans of cosmetic surgery, but the North Koreans?

But apparently, the quest for beauty is universal. The Daily NK, a North Korea-specific Internet newspaper recently reported that surgeons are performing cosmetic surgeries in exchange for bribes. The procedures of choice? Face lifts, permanent makeup, and ssangapool (double-eyelid) surgery.

Doctors typically receive only 2,000-3,000 North Korean won (approx, 14-21 U.S. dollars) for the eyelid surgery, while the same procedure might cost several hundred dollars in South Korea.

“Many women want plastic surgeries regardless of deprivation and food shortages,” a source from Pyongyang told the Daily NK. To put things in perspective, 2,000 North Korean won can buy one kilo of rice – a significant amount for the famine-stricken nation.

Also surprising is the shift in fashion – while the communist nation once banned women from wearing jeans and mini skirts, under Kim Jong-eun, heir apparent of Kim Jong-il, restrictions have been relaxed.

Upper-class women in Pyongyang have been sighted in skinny jeans and flashy jewelry, a big departure from the typically drab, uniform-like clothes North Korean women are most often seen wearing.

Perhaps it’s a sign that things are getting better, but we’d be happier if we heard that North Korean women were going on diets to maintain their slender figures – but we doubt it that will happen anytime soon.


The Hangover II

KoreAm & Audrey are hosting a special advance screening of The Hangover Part II for the Asian American community.

We invite you to join us at this star-studded event – this night of entertainment is one you won’t want to miss! Celeb guests, a free pre-screening, free hors d’œuvres and an open bar!

Register on our websites ( and for a chance to win!

Winners will be randomly picked daily, from May 10th till May 20th. Subscribers will get an extra entry in the raffle. The FREE pair of tickets will grant the winner + a guest access to both the screening and the after party.

Registrants MUST be 18+ to attend the screening and 21+ to attend the after party.

Date: Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Registration/Cocktail Reception: 5:30 PM (Doors to the screening will CLOSE at 6:50 PM)
Screening: 7PM -8:45 PM @ CGV
After Party: 9PM – Midnight @ Madang

[contact-form 7 “Register For A Chance To Win Tickets to Hangover II!”]

Hyphen "The Bittersweet Issue" Teaser Party

Hyphen magazine is hosting a party to present its “Bittersweet Issue.”

The teaser party, which is in partnership with Asian American Literary Review & The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, will be Hyphen’s very first Los Angeles party, and will celebrate its 23rd issue!

There will be live performances from spoken word artist Beau Sia, musicians Dawen, Jane Lui, Sam Kang + Band, and SKIM as well as live art from A’misa Chiu, Yumi Sakugawa. DJ Ab-loon, DJ Concise, and DJ Eri will be spinning for the rest of the night!

The first 50 paid attendees will win a free prize and there will be no cover for LAAPFF badgeholders.

Saturday, May 7th 2011
9:30 pm – 2 am | 21+ | $10 cover

Chop Suey Cafe & Lounge
347 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Official event page:
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Strangers, Again

The creative masters behind Wong Fu Productions are back with a short that has not only been making the rounds, but is touching everyone’s hearts along the way.

Strangers, Again follows the relationship of Josh (Philip Wang) and Marissa (Cathy Nguyen), from the beginning to the end. Throughout, Josh reveals his thoughts and perspective on what he views as the “stages of every relationship” – from strangers, to strangers again.

“Every relationship goes through stages. Where and how each stage develops is ultimately up to each person. While we always hope for the best, we often can’t avoid the inevitable.”