Intelligence from North Korean Defectors Declines
Wall Street Journal
Intelligence gathered from North Korean defectors—a key source of information about the North—has deteriorated in recent years, according to an official South Korean government report.
The decline in both the quality and quantity of information, based on payments made by the South Korean government for the intelligence, comes amid an ongoing crackdown on escapees under current leader Kim Jong Un and illustrates the difficulties of obtaining information from the country.
Since 2008, the South Korean government has paid 166 defectors a total of 1.9 billion won, or $1.79 million, in return for classified intelligence that is “deemed to be valuable to national security,” according to data submitted by South Korea’s Unification Ministry to the National Assembly.
North Korea Accuses South Korean President Of ‘Moral Vulgarity’
AFP via Huffington Post
North Korea accused South Korean President Park Geun-Hye of “moral vulgarity” Wednesday after she suggested she was ready to hold a summit with its leader Kim Jong-Un at any time.
The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea accused Park of talking about a summit with Kim while making provocative remarks against Pyongyang.
“Park’s remark about ‘summit talks’ does not deserve even a passing note and is just a last resort to tide over the political crisis inside and outside,” the state body said in a statement.
Japan, South Korea concerned that China’s smog will affect them
South China Morning Post
South Korea and Japan have sounded the alarm about potentially hazardous air pollution from northern China, which is expected to worsen this winter.
In South Korea, local media have called recent smog an “air raid”, while in Japan, residents of Chiba prefecture have been told to stay inside as toxic fine-particle pollution blanketed parts of the region to the east of Tokyo.
The concern now is that the autumn westerly winds will once again bring elevated levels of particulate matter and pollution to Japanese and South Korean cities. And that will get worse when Chinese power plants start burning massive amounts of coal for heating during the winter months.
Cho makes political debut as Bainbridge fire commissioner
Bainbridge Island Review (Washington)
Long-time island resident and career firefighter YongSuk Cho successfully beat out opponent David H. Lynch for Position 2 on the board for the Bainbridge Island Fire Department.
Cho was leading in the first official vote count released by the Kitsap County Elections Division on Election Night.
Cho had 65 percent of the vote, while Lynch only had 34 percent.
Q&A With Roy Choi: L.A. Son, the Book Tour and Why People Call Him a Fake Gangster
Roy Choi’s memoir/cookbook, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food, was officially released yesterday. The Kogi/A-Frame/Chego chef, who is credited with beginning the food truck revolution and inventing the Korean taco, is now out on a book tour, which he says he’s fashioned much like a band tour.
We spoke to Choi last week about the book, about who he hopes it will reach, and about the difficulties and pleasures of being able to traverse different cultural worlds.
Squid Ink: So, you’re about to go out on book tour?
Roy Choi: I leave for New York on Monday. The tour’s gonna be the whole month of November. My life is really surrounded by a lot of people who aren’t in food. I have a lot of friends who are in music, so I really tried to channel their whole energy. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me. I kinda made it what I wanted it to be, so we tried to make it like a band tour — the dates, the immediacy, the venues, going to colleges. Having that feel, that energy. I thought it would be a fun way to present books to a young audience, instead of just doing it up at a Barnes & Noble with 20 people sitting on chairs. I thought — a lot of people I feed are people who go to shows, so I thought they’d get it and appreciate it. And it’s a chance for me to get books out there. Whether we want to believe it or not, a lot of people don’t read books anymore, so I was just trying to make it a little fresh.
Baltimore Chef Secrets: Sushi Master Jonah Kim on the City’s Best Food
Conde Nast Traveler
Chef Jonah Kim currently helms the acclaimed Michael Mina establishment PABU Izakaya, in Baltimore’s vibrant Harbor East neighborhood. His innovative small plates and robata-grilled items, in addition to the fresh seafood (there are more than 22 species of fish flown in daily from Japan’s Tsukiji Market), have left even the toughest of critics impressed. But Kim wasn’t always culinary royalty: He began his career washing rice at Tyson Cole’s Uchi in Austin. He eventually made his way to Manhattan, where he joined the kitchen of Michael Bao’s Saju, then headed West to helm DJT in Las Vegas, where he earned a Michelin star.
“There’s really a growing food scene here with some great places—it’s not just a blue collar city,” says Kim. “The community of chefs has become tighter, which every city needs. If you don’t have that, it’s just random restaurants with no connection.”
Margaret Cho returns to Portland, on her ‘Mother’ tour
Margaret Cho, who returns to Portland on Nov. 15 as part of her “Mother” comedy tour, has found all sorts of ways to entertain people since she first broke onto the national scene with her ABC sitcom, “All-American Girl,” in 1994. But as the fallout from what was supposed to be her breakthrough got complicated, Cho reacted not just by making audiences laugh, but by making them think.
As a Korean-American woman who grew up in the progressive world of San Francisco, Cho had her own identity and views. She was anything but a generic, blandly likable sitcom leading lady. Before long, she encountered pressure to make the show — and herself — less specific, less ethnic, less pointed.
There is no Korean wave [OPINION]
Korea Times US
In recent years, Korean pundits and other interested parties have tried to explain the phenomenon of the so-called “Korean wave.”
However, in my time as a member of the Presidential Council on Nation Branding under the Lee Myung-bak administration, along with my years of producing content about Korean culture through blogs, podcasts, and photography, I have come to realize that the worst people whom you can ask to explain Korean culture to the outside world are actually Koreans.
Hindered by nationalist blinders, and often more interested in or fascinated by the idea that any non-Koreans are “recognizing” Korean culture or even giving a nod in the direction of the Korean Peninsula, some boosters of the idea that there is a “Korean wave” have given a name to a phenomenon that is easily explainable in terms of Korean national development and structural changes in Korean society. Indeed, now there are large government and private monied interests that are very caught up in the project of defining, packaging, exporting, and otherwise selling aspects of Korean culture. But few realize that there is actually no “wave” to speak of at all, not to mention the fact that the metaphor itself is pretty faulty, since even if there were a discernible Korean “wave,” one must remember that every so-called “wave” — to extend the metaphor — must inevitably ebb, recede, and give way to other waves that will continue to come and go in time.
Nosaj Thing on tour w/ James Blake
Since we last spoke, LA producer Nosaj Thing was added to the tour, including both NYC shows. Nosaj Thing released his newest album, Home earlier this year, and like James Blake, he collaborated with Chance the Rapper.
K-pop artists to hold joint concert in Australia
K-pop artists such as Mblaq and Ailee will stage a joint government-sponsored concert in Australia this month, organizers said Wednesday.
The concert titled “2K13 Feel Korea at Korea Week in Perth” will be held at Challenge Stadium in Perth, Western Australia, on Nov. 30, according to the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange, one of the co-hosts of the event. It was sponsored by South Korea’s culture ministry, foreign ministry and the Korea Tourism Organization.
The show will feature K-pop artists such as Mblaq, a five-member boy band that is gaining popularity in Asia; diva Ailee, who has recently advanced into the Japanese music market; singer Wheesung, who recently was discharged from the military; and Alexander, a former member of the K-pop group U-Kiss.
The K-Indie Scene
Harvard Crimson (Harvard Univ.)
Some people are still arguing over whether “indie” constitutes a real genre on its own, but for the sake of clarity, K-indie can be understood as an umbrella term for certain subculture music genres of South Korea—whether hip-hop, R&B, alternative rock, or another genre in nature. K-indie music is produced by artists who work independent of the major producers and entertainment corporations on the scene in Seoul, such as the “Big 3” companies: SM, YG, and JYP Entertainment. Admittedly, some of these artists attain fame or popularity on par with artists from these three major labels, as evidenced by indie rock band Busker Busker and their takeover of the Korean music charts—the Gaon, MelOn, Bugs, and Mnet charts just to name a few—with the release of their sophomore album in September. However, indie groups are often unknown by outside audiences. Here are some underrated K-indie artists worth exploring, especially those who offer a break from the upbeat, flashier K-pop tunes that are constantly churned out.
Strathmore, Horman Violin Studio to host Gaga violinist Judy Kang
The Gazette (Maryland)
The story behind how a small Washington, D.C., violin studio landed a classical music star is truly one for the modern age. Horman Violin Studio founder Amy Beth Horman was checking her Twitter account one evening when she noticed she had a new follower.
“I was kind of new to Twitter and I had a new follower, Judy Kang,” Horman remembered. “And my brain went, ‘Oh My Gosh, that’s Judy Kang. Isn’t that Lady Gaga’s violinist?’”
Now based in New York city, Kang is a Canadian violinist and the youngest person ever accepted to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She was just 11 years old when she was accepted. Kang, who would not reveal her age, graduated at 17 with a bachelor’s degree in music and at 19 was granted the Lily Foldes Scholarship for the Juilliard School where she earned a master’s degree.
Ice Queen Yuna returns with a Golden Spin
Reuters via Chicago Tribune
Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yuna will make her return to competition at the Golden Spin event in Zagreb next month after her preparations for the Sochi Games were interrupted by a foot injury.
Kim, who became the first South Korean to win an Olympic figure skating gold medal when she took blew away the competition in Vancouver, suffered a foot injury in September and has been working to regain her strength and fitness.
The 23-year-old, dubbed the ‘Figure Skating Queen’ in Korea, had said last week her fitness was at about “70 percent” and that she was doing jumps and honing her programs for the February 6-23 Olympics in Russia.
Klutches & K-Pop: Kyle Anderson on What the Coolest Girls Carry (VIDEO)
Pairing this season’s hottest clutches with K-Pop, Marie Claire’s accessories director Kyle Anderson and fashion journalist David Yi deliver both shopping tips and lyrics that you won’t soon forget.
K-pop label YG Entertainment announced it will host a hologram concert in London next week which will feature giant 3-D images of Psy and popular girl group 2NE1.
It will be the first hologram performance outside of Korea and will be put on at the Korea Brand and Entertainment Expo 2013 from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6, and will have 45-foot projections of the singers performing their hits. 2NE1 will make an in-person appearance to promote the event although Psy is not scheduled to show up in the flesh.
YG has already implemented Psy’s hologram concert at the Everland amusement park in Seoul, where the show goes on every day of the year. It is described by the park as a concert that is “more realistic than the actual concert and beyond your imagination.” Continue Reading »
The Kate Middleton of North Korea: Meet Kim Jong Un’s wife
In American and South Korean tabloids, the wife of the North Korean dictator has achieved an unusual degree of celebrity.
She is, in a sense, the Kate Middleton of North Korea, and perhaps the nation’s second most iconic millennial-generation member, behind her husband, Kim Jong Un.
For months, publications have been quick to release “details” of the singer’s supposed home-made pornography. According to unproven reports, Kim Jong Un ordered the execution of nine members of her former orchestra, the Unhasu Orchestra, for similarly making and selling sex videos.
North Koreans Tell of Deprivation as Leader Kim Touts Prosperity
North Korean defectors gave graphic testimony about deprivation and violence, in contrast to the image of socialist prosperity promoted by dictator Kim Jong Un at recent banquets celebrating a new ski resort and water parks.
Jo Jin Hye, 26, cried yesterday as she told United Nations human rights investigators in Washington about her father’s death en route to a gulag, a sister abducted while searching for food and forced into sex slavery in China and a newborn brother who died for lack of milk.
Jo’s testimony opened two days of public hearings in Washington before a UN Human Rights Council panel conducting the world body’s first investigation into human rights in North Korea. Academics and analysts will testify today on the country’s network of political prisons and lingering food shortages. The panel has already collected more than 200 testimonials, some at previous hearings in Seoul, London and Tokyo.
Preparing for a North Korean Collapse
A report by Bruce Bennett and the RAND Corporation has brought attention to one of the most important issues for international politics. Ironically, despite being a region of vital interest within American foreign policy, there has been very little public discussion of what to do in the event of government collapse in North Korea. Bennett’s timely report provides a series of vital contributions to the discussion and further outlines the lack of preparation in political, social, economic and military terms.
Yet beyond the critical end game for the Korean peninsula are deeper questions concerning how any international force might respond. Specifically, how can the U.S. and Republic of Korea effectively mobilize regional powers with their differing security and development goals?
S. Korea denies report of possible military intelligence sharing with Japan
South Korea is not pushing to sign a controversial military pact on information sharing with Japan, the defense ministry here said Thursday, refuting media speculation that the agenda will be included in the upcoming vice defense ministerial talk.
Japanese broadcaster NHK on Wednesday reported that the two Asian neighbors are preparing to discuss the military pact, which is designed to boost exchange of military intelligence on North Korea, during the planned Seoul Defense Dialogue slated for Nov. 11-13.
Seoul’s defense ministry, however, said there has been no bilateral discussion of resuming the process to sign the controversial military agreement.
Korean language schools in Japan hang on by a thread
The Chosun schools of Yokohama have been providing education to Korean-Japanese children for nearly 70 years since 1946. But now they are in serious danger of disappearing.
Last February, in the wake of North Korea’s third nuclear test, the Kanagawa prefectural government and Yokohama city government decided to cut off the subsidies they had been paying for more than three decades since 1982. Kanagawa’s five Chosun schools lost 63.74 million yen (US$649,000) in subsidies from the prefecture and 2.54 million yen (US$26,000) from the city.
This comes after the city amended its guidelines for private international school subsidies last October to deny them to any schools that were deemed “an inappropriate market in light of the international situation.”
In other words, the schools are bearing the brunt of political concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program and missile launches.
South Korean netizens fume over president’s footwear faux pas
South Korean netizens are apparently up in arms over their president’s choice of shoes that she wore when throwing the opening pitch of the third game of the Korean Series baseball tournament in Seoul on October 27. Her fashion crime? President Park Guen Hye had the “audacity” to show up wearing a Japanese brand of sneakers!
The shoes marred President Park’s surprise appearance at the match between the Samsung Lions and the Doosan Bears because they are made by the Japanese athletic brand Asics. The company is on an unofficial South Korean netizen list of “right-wing” Japanese companies because they feel it supports Tokyo’s position of ownership over a group of jointly-claimed islands, called Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean.
Lessons from South Korea
Al Arabiya (Middle East)
Having just returned from Seoul, where I attended the 10th annual Korea-Middle East Cooperation Forum, I am more convinced than ever that the way forward for us as Arabs lies in contemplating the success story happening in the East rather than the West.
I say this not out of spite for Western countries, which I greatly admire and respect, particularly in terms of their achievements in human rights, democratic values and freedom of expression. However, there is no question that the ‘Arab street’ and many Arab leaders remain disappointed with the fact that the West has constantly failed them when it comes to foreign policy (most recently and notably, regarding the Syrian crisis).
This is why I say that Arabs can – and should – relate more to a country such as South Korea. After all, we share a very similar history, and possibly a very similar position on several current issues.
Give us this day our daily date: Korean matchmaking app goes global
Tech in Asia
The South Korean startup that made IUM, a popular Korean dating app with over a million users, is now taking its match-making skills global. The team has launched Hey on Android and iPhone hoping to help find love for its new users around the world.
Steven Baek, the startup’s head of global business, says that the new app – which runs in English, Japanese, and Chinese – shares a similar matching algorithm, business model, and overall DNA with IUM. The team is targeting Hey initially at smartphone owners in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Internet Games Prove Challenging for South Korea
Wall Street Journal
South Korea’s government may find it difficult to stake out a winning position regarding online games if victory means coordination between the appendages of two arms of government.
On one hand, ruling-party lawmakers are calling for measures to curb the playing of online games, citing antisocial side effects, while on the other, a ministry says the industry is an important cog in a strategy of vouchsafing the country’s economic success in creative industries.
Golf A Family Game For Paeks
Journal Online (Suburban Chicago)
Jeff Paek is a teacher at Glenbrook South and is freshman/sophomore boys golf coach at the school.
Jeff had been out of coaching for four years and this year made his return.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Jason is a senior and this was his last season with the Titan club. Kevin reached varsity as a freshman as the stars aligned and made room for three Paek’s in the school’s boys golf program.
Hyundai Design Guru Invokes Spirit of Jimi Hendrix
Wall Street Journal
Quick, what’s Kia’s brand image? Hyundai’s? If you didn’t get past “Korean” or “relatively inexpensive,” you’ll probably see why Hyundai Motor Group’s Chairman Chung Mong-koo says the company needs to urgently build up car buyers’ awareness of its two brands.
The chief designer for both Kia and Hyundai, Peter Shreyer, understands his boss’s urgency, but his approach is anything but hasty.
“We need to develop our brand piece by piece,” he said at a lecture on car culture and brand building at the Hyundai Card Design Library in Seoul on Wednesday. “We need to allow a little bit of patience. You cannot go into Formula 1 this year and win the championship next year. That’s impossible.”
North Korean Camo Actually Isn’t That Awful
Wow, the North Korean troops in the above image sure stick out! If anything, their camouflage uniforms make it easier to spot them. Camo isn’t supposed to do that. Good camo, anyway.P
The above image recently appeared on 2ch, Japan’s largest web forum, in a thread titled “The North Korean Army’s Camouflage Uniforms Are Terrible.” The photo is now being disseminated through Japanese cyberspace for giggles.P
There are other examples of North Korean camo that don’t exactly seem to conceal, such as the “house plant camouflage” that appeared in a propaganda clip earlier this year.
The Korean alumni of Lost are doing well for themselves.
Just a week after it was announced that Yunjin Kim is helping to bring a popular time-traveling Korean drama to ABC, news broke that Daniel Dae Kim was not to be left out of the developmental bonanza. The Hollywood Reporter said the Hawaii Five-0 star has inked a two-year development deal with CBS Television Studios.
Kim and his newly formed production company 3AD will develop and produce projects for both network and cable TV. He will serve as a producer on all potential shows and he is currently looking for development executive to manage his company, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Continue Reading »
A video about black market cooking oil in China will have you thinking twice before having a snack at a Shanghai street stall. Continue Reading »