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The Persecution of Daniel Lee

Photo credit: Timothy Archibald

The Trials of Daniel Lee

An internet smear campaign nearly destroyed the South Korean star, but he fought back with the only weapon he had: the truth.

by Joshua Davis

ON AUGUST 19, 2010, Dan Lee stood on the steps of Meyer Library and pointed to a nearby patch of grass.

“The Rodin statue,” he said nervously. “It was here.”

The Korean television crew following him noted that there was nothing there, just a well-mowed lawn. Students on bikes zipped past, paying no attention to the cameras or the skinny, dark-haired 30-year-old they were filming. In Seoul, it was hard for Lee to walk down the street without being mobbed. To Koreans, he was known as Tablo, a chart-topping rapper who was also married to one of the country’s most prominent movie stars. Until recently, he had been one of Korea’s biggest celebrities. Now his career was in tatters, he’d parted ways with his record label, and his family was receiving death threats.

The reason? Hundreds of thousands of Koreans refused to believe that Lee graduated from Stanford.

The cameraman for the television crew closed in on Lee as he looked at the empty lawn. They were here to document for Korean national TV whether or not Lee was a liar.

“It’s not here anymore,” Lee said, staring at the spot where he knew The Thinker had been. He rubbed his face and wondered if maybe he was going crazy.

When the program aired two months later in Korea, this was the opening moment.


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Official Audrey's Fashion Night Out 2011 Photos!

Dance troupe Kaba Modern on the red carpet

For those of you who missed last week’s Audrey’s Fashion Night Out 2011 event, click here to see the official photos from the event!

Every year, our sister publication Audrey, an Asian American women’s lifestyle publication, presents a fashion show and after party. This year the event took place at Exchange LA in downtown Los Angeles and featured celebrity guests, a hosted bar, and live performances by Kaba Modern and Blush.

New this year was a marketplace area featuring “pop-up shops” by Shocking Goat, Neoclassics, MYVL, Anh Volcek, Onanong Swimwear, My Ninja!, and the two charity partners Viva La Art and Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches (A3M). Featured designers on the runway were Anh Volcek, Eryn Brinie, Dalia MacPhee, Truth and Pride, Onanong Swimwear, SAJA and Blue Tassel.

Much thanks to the following sponsors that helped make it all possible: Ketel One Vodka, Toyota, Wi Spa, Myx TV, Miss Me Jeans, MM Couture, Kabuki Restaurants, Jellypop and hair/makeup sponsor Diana Lomelin.

Be sure to click the link below to see all the great photos from the event.


September Issue: Steve Park is Gone. Introducing Stephen Park.

The pioneering actor reflects on his life and career more than a decade after issuing a passionate “mission statement” that called for Hollywood to shape up.

by George Toshio Johnston

Actor Steve Park has always been a little bit ahead of the curve. Prior to his stint as a cast member of the Fox variety show In Living Color in 1991, he appeared in director Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing. He also had a small but memorable role as the hapless Mike Yanagita in the Coen brothers’ Fargo in 1996.

The best example of Steve Park being on the leading edge, however, was in the area of Internet activism, when in 1998, he wrote his “mission statement,” a cri de coeur inspired by his observation of the nonchalance attached to the undignified treatment of fellow Asian American actor James Hong on the set of NBC’s “Must See TV” cornerstone Friends.

For a short time, Steve Park’s mission statement put him in the spotlight, albeit one he was not used to, namely that of critic of the industry that employed him. His electronic epistle nevertheless spread like a computer virus passed on from reader to reader, touching everyone for its sincerity and thoughtfulness, with its invocations of the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela, and its cajoling of Hollywood to be more responsible in its treatment and depictions of people in general, and Asian Americans and Asians in particular.

Sincerity is one thing. Hollywood is another, and rarely do the twain meet. For someone not at the top of the Hollywood food chain, Steve Park’s mission statement might have been costly, career-wise—because once the hubbub died down, Steve Park was, seemingly, gone.

Unlike 1991, now you can Google him—but the top result finds you a Nascar driver, not the actor. So where the heck is Steve Park? Steve Park, sadly, is no more.

Stephen Park, however, is alive and well in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., a husband and the father of two young children. Having returned to his roots, he also decided to return to the name he went by in his pre-showbiz days, feeling it was more personal. Continue reading

Monday Giveaway: Skunk Juice Ear Buds

Hello readers! Today we have a nice giveaway courtesy of Skunk Juice! We are giving away two (2) pairs of their amazing ear buds which allow you to connect with up to four friends with their innovative magnetic snapping connectors. These ear buds are iPhone/iPod compatible.

From Engadget:

You know when you’re rocking out, earbuds nestled in your canals just so, and then the cord catches on something and it feels like your brain is getting sucked out through your ear holes? That very situation could be avoided if only you were wearing Skunk Juice earbuds. They feature a magnetic ZZYZX SnapJack connectors, not unlike those found in Belkin’s BreakFree guitar cable, providing a failure point somewhere south of your fragile head internals.

To win, just leave a comment below by Friday, Sept. 23 at 5pm PST. Retweet our tweet for an extra entry. Continental U.S. addresses only, please. Good luck!


September Issue: A Case For Humanitarian Aid To North Korea

In this photo, taken this past February, several malnourished 1-year-olds at an orphanage in North Pyongan Province are being hydrated intravenously, but with only a saline solution, as “there was no glucose solution or other therapeutic food to treat malnutrition,” according to Mercy Corps’ David Austin. Saline—which will keep an individual hydrated, but provides no nutritional value—was all that was available at this orphanage, outside of the World Food Program and UNICEF catchment area. Photo by David Austin.

When Apples Fall Far From The Tree

A case for humanitarian aid to North Korea

by Christine Hong

Humanitarian relief efforts have faced doubts about whether they are actually reaching the people of North Korea who need them most. The difficulties are tied to political debate, in the United States and South Korea, and the wariness of philanthropic interests to contribute money or resources to any effort that can be exploited by the North Korean regime.

David Austin is a program director for Mercy Corps, which has provided food assistance, agricultural development, medical relief and cultural exchanges for more than 12 years in North Korea. The agency’s core projects and relationships stem from apple orchards planted in Gwail County, South Hwanghae Province. Having worked with the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture and with the U.S. Department of State Interfaith Cooperative Initiative, Austin brings to bear experience that demonstrates how humanitarian efforts are reaching their mark in North Korea, that is, connecting aid with individuals and communities, and addressing the causes of suffering.

Christine Hong: Tell me about the work of Mercy Corps in North Korea. 

David Austin: Mercy Corps, like other U.S. NGOs such as World Vision or Samaritan’s Purse, does humanitarian assistance. We mostly stay away from development work. There are some strict guidelines on doing work in North Korea that are set up by the Department of Commerce. We focus on humanitarian work around food security and medical relief, and we’ve been working on apple orchards for about 10 years. We first got involved in North Korea back in the late ’90s. As an organization, we’ve been going back two or three times a year. We’ve brought in a lot of medical equipment in hospitals. We helped five hospitals in South Hwanghae Province, in Haeju City, and in Gwail County, with X-ray machines, ultrasound equipment, patient monitors, and medicine on various occasions. It depends on what the need is.

CH: Can you speak about some of the challenges of arguing for humanitarian food aid for the people of a country with which the U.S. has been at war for 61 years? Continue reading

September Issue: Samuel Park's 'This Burns My Heart' Hits Close To Home

Photo by Ryan Bakerink

by Eugene Yi

Author Samuel Park is a “man vs. society” type of writer; his first book dealt with a young closeted scholar in 1940s New England struggling with his sexuality. His newly released book, This Burns My Heart (Simon & Schuster), follows the story of a young Korean woman named Soo-ja as she struggles to escape the prescribed destiny of her gender during the 1960s, a time of political unrest, economic instability and cultural upheaval. It’s a tale inspired by his own mother and her vivid recollection of a handsome suitor who asked her out the day before her wedding to Park’s father.

KoreAm’s Eugene Yi caught up with the 35-year-old author (and former KoreAm contributor) while he was promoting his book in Los Angeles last month. Park revealed that he learned some surprising things in talking to other Koreans about the novel’s plot. Continue reading

Korilla BBQ Booted From 'The Great Food Truck Race'

by David “Rek” Lee

If you’ve been following Korilla BBQ on the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” these past few weeks, you saw them kicking ass and taking orders. Whatever the challenge, they exceeded expectations by utilizing community partnerships, out-of-the-box thinking, and plain good ol’ barbecue. While other teams struggled to stay in the competition, our guys always placed in the top three. It seemed like only a matter of time before host Tyler Florence handed them their oversized check and they brought the food truck crown back to NY.

And then it was over. Continue reading

Monday Giveaway: Ani's Raw Food Asia

Hello readers! We’re giving away two (2) copies of a great book!

Here’s your chance to win a free copy of Ani’s Raw Food Asia: Easy East-West Fusion Recipes the Raw Food Way by eco-stylist Ani Phyo. Check out the September 2011 KoreAm article on Phyo here.

To enter, just leave a comment by 5 p.m. PST on Friday, Sept. 16. Link to the giveaway on Twitter for an extra entry. (Make sure to leave another comment with your Twitter status.) Two entries max per person. (U.S. Entries Only). We will pick two winners at the end of the week.

If you don’t win, buy the book at Amazon! Continue reading