A potential candidate for prime minister of Japan and mayor of one of Japan’s largest cities drew the ire of many after he said women who were forced into sexual slavery in World War II served a vital role in helping the country’s war efforts.
The mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, made the controversial remarks on Monday speaking to a group of reporters, according to the New York Times.
“When soldiers are risking their lives by running through storms of bullets, and you want to give these emotionally charged soldiers a rest somewhere, it’s clear that you need a comfort women system,” he said, according to the New York Times.
When pressed later, he insisted that brothels “were necessary at the time to maintain discipline in the army.” Other countries’ militaries used prostitutes, too, he said, and added that in any case there was no proof that the Japanese authorities had forced women into servitude.
Instead, he put the women’s experiences down to “the tragedy of war,” and said surviving comfort women now deserved kindness from Japan.
South Korea Proposes Border Meeting With North
New York Times
South Korea proposed on Tuesday to hold a border meeting with North Korea to discuss bringing finished goods and raw materials from an industrial park that the two countries jointly operated until last month.
The Kaesong Industrial Complex has been idle since North Korea withdrew all its 53,000 workers, accusing the United States and South Korea of plotting to invade the North. South Korea pulled out the last of its citizens from Kaesong on May 3, severing the last economic ties between the Koreas.
Neither the North nor the South has officially closed the eight-year-old complex, the best-known symbol of inter-Korean cooperation. But its fate has become a test for inter-Korean relations.
Japanese Aide Visits North Korea
New York Times
A political aide to the prime minister of Japan made a sudden, rare visit to North Korea on Tuesday. Japanese officials refused to say what he was doing there.
Japan and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic ties. Talks between the two governments, which resumed last August after a four-year hiatus, were broken off again in December after North Korea tested a rocket.
Kyodo News, a Japanese news agency, reported that the adviser, Isao Iijima, was met at the airport at Pyongyang, the capital, by a North Korean official identified as Kim Chol-ho, a vice director in the Foreign Ministry. Such a reception would suggest that Mr. Iijima, who is a senior adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was there on official business.
Orphaned and homeless in North Korea
The first time Yoon Hee was abandoned, she was an infant.
She was born in a village near North Korea’s sacred Mount Baekdu, where the country’s lore claims its founder, Kim Il Sung, led the fight for independence and his oldest son, Kim Jong Il, was born.
But the similarities between Yoon Hee and her homeland’s rulers end there.
See the CD 13 Candidates Debate in the Elysian Valley
Patch.com (Los Angeles)
On Tuesday, voters will have what is likely a last chance to see the two candidates in the runoff election for the Los Angeles City Council District 13 seat together. John Choi and Mitch O’Farrell will face off at Dorris Place Elementary School at 6:30 p.m.
The 90-minute conversation will take place in the school’s auditorium at 2225 Dorris Place. Sponsored by the Elysian Valley-Riverside Neighborhood Council, the event will feature pre-prepared questions asked by community members.
According to organizer Jeff Klein, the event will be moderated by Tracy Stone and Steve Appleton of the EVRNC. Klein, who chairs the EVRNC’s Outreach Committee, told us in an email that candidates will have four minutes to answer each question, which will cover Metrolink, the Los Angeles River, business/economic development and other issues related to the Eastside and Los Angeles in general.
U.S. Firms See Opportunities in South Korea
Wall Street Journal
Just over one year on from the implementation of the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, American companies see plenty of opportunities for export growth in South Korea, U.S. Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez said.
In Seoul as part of a trade mission with U.S. companies and for meetings with South Korean government officials, Mr. Sanchez said the benefits of the FTA are being seen but it would take a few more years for the full impact to come through.
“There’s been nearly a 50% increase in U.S. auto sales here (since the FTA started in March 2012), orange juice is up 160%. I could name probably another four or five sectors that are doing well,” he said in an interview.
College Admissions and the Asian-American Parent
The Ivies, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Berkeley. Maybe Duke, if all else fails… maybe.
That’s the “List” — the typical college list for parents of high-achieving Asian-American students. With over four thousand colleges to choose from, why do so few make the cut?
As one guidance counselor lamented to me, Asian-American parents just don’t show up for information sessions featuring lesser known or liberal arts colleges, regardless of the quality of the school. Yet when it comes to the big name schools, you can’t find a seat. He asked me for advice. While not all Asian-Americans limit their college choices to the List, for those that do (and other parents as well), here is what I have to offer.
We all fall prey to the lure of brands from time to time, and education is no exception. It seems that for many Asian-American parents, only the luxury brands of higher education will do. It would serve us well to stop and think about the purpose of brands, the calculated effort to promote group think and distort reality (as a trademark attorney by training, I have seen this up close). These two goals are out of place, but persist, in the education world.
The Fast and the Furious stars to walk on the red carpet in Seoul
BNT News via Yahoo Philippines
On May 13th at Time square CGV in Seoul, the red carpet event for upcoming movie \’The Fast and the Furious 6, 2013\’ was held with main actors in it. Korean-American star Sung Kang is walking on the red carpet.
Psy to perform in final round of ‘American Idol’
South Korean rapper Psy will perform during the final round of “American Idol Season 12″ this week, his local management agency said Tuesday.
Psy will perform his new hit single “Gentleman” as a special guest on the American reality singing competition being aired Thursday (American Pacific time) on Fox TV live across the United States from Los Angeles, YG Entertainment said.
Interview: Korean American Comedian Danny Cho Tells it Like it is
Growing up in L.A., comedian Danny Cho is fluent in Spanish, Korean, English and most importantly, comedy. The Korean-American funny guy returns to Korea this weekend for a show in Seoul on the 17th and then another in Busan on the 18th. In an exclusive interview, Haps talks with Cho about comedy, Spam, Jean Claude Van Damme’s masterpiece, and Gwenyth Paltrow’s imminent demise.
Ken Jeong jokes about screen rants
Xpose Entertainment (Ireland)
Ken Jeong never feels “comfortable” recording his rude quotes for The Hangover fans in case they play them to their young children.
Ken Jeong has joked he doesn’t mind his young twin daughters watching his foul-mouthed on-screen rants because “they’re jerks”.
The comedy actor is famed for his role as flamboyant Chinese gangster Leslie Chow in The Hangover films. His character is famed for his funny one-liners and Ken is often asked to record voicemail messages by enthusiastic fans, although he doesn’t always feel comfortable doing it.
Macy’s San Francisco Union Square: Far East Movement – Interview & Concert
As you may or may not have heard, as part of the celebration for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Macy’s announced the hosting of Far East Movement (“FM”) for a series of performances and appearances across the country “geared toward highlighting and celebrating the unique influence of Asian-Pacific Americans on American culture and pop music.”
I had the great pleasure of dropping by Far East Movement’s Macy’s San Francisco Union Square performance on Saturday, May 11th. Prior to their performance, Nicki Sun (who also previously help host a Verizon-sponsored Lunar New Year Union Square performance back in February) asked the members of Far East Movement (FM) about how they got started and other interesting questions.
What in the world is a Refsnyder?
If you haven’t been following along with Tanya’s daily Baby Bomber Recap, and I think that you should, a man named Rob Refsnyder has come out of nowhere to be the organization’s best hitter by a large margin. He has been phenomenal this season so far and is currently hitting .382/.486/.504 across two levels.
He started his professional career at Low-A Charleston and hit a moderately underwhelming .241/.319/.364 as a 21-year-old. He repeated the level this season, but soon rocketed himself to High-A Tampa after only 13 games. Refsnyder has taken his .370/.452/.481 batting line in Charleston and has actually hit better since his promotion; he has a .391/.512/.522 line in 18 games for Tampa. So far this season he has had an 18-game hitting streak, accumulated five three-hit games and currently has four consecutive two-hit games.
Check out our profile of Rob Refsnyder from the August 2012 issue of KoreAm:
August Issue: Baseball Star Robert Refsnyder Transitions From World Series Hero to Pro Player
Pen pals from 50 years ago meet for first time
Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
Teenage pen pals a half century ago, a South Korean man and a Japanese woman never forgot each other and their postal friendship that developed at a time their two nations were enduring tense relations.
Kim Joong-suck, 66, who lives in Seoul, and Sumiyo Endo, 65, who resides in Shimizu Ward of Shizuoka city, met for the first time on May 13 when relations are again rocky between their two nations. But when the two finally greeted each other in front of JR Shimizu Station, there were only smiles. Kim showed Endo photos of a grandchild in elementary school. Endo told Kim that her first grandchild was born in November.
She was eager to meet Kim because she had been concerned about the awkward way their pen pal relationship ended.
“I thought she would be an active person based on her letters,” Kim said. “I am so glad to see that she has not changed.”
A young Korean Canadian man was arrested on Monday at Incheon International Airport for sexually assaulting a female passenger, according to news reports.
The 19-year-old-man, identified only by his last name Park, is accused of fondling a 20-year-old woman’s breasts on two separate occasions during the Korean Air flight from New York to Incheon. The woman — a Korean international student studying in Canada — informed a flight attendant who later confronted Park.
Initially, the Canadian denied the claim and said he thought it was someone he knew. Later, he confessed and apologized to the victim. Continue Reading »
North Korean academic says detained American called family and asked US to push for amnesty
AP via Washington Post
A North Korean academic says an American sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor has called his family and urged Washington to push for his amnesty.
Ri Gyong Chol, section chief of the North Korean Academy of Social Sciences’ Institution of Law, also told The Associated Press Sunday that Kenneth Bae informed his family on Friday that he couldn’t appeal his April 30 sentence.
Ri’s information came from authorities in charge of Bae’s case. Washington has called for Bae’s release.
N. Korea in dangerous nuclear showdown: US envoy
AFP via Google News
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is playing a dangerous game in his nuclear showdown with the international community, the US envoy seeking to tempt the isolated state back into talks said Thursday.
Glyn Davies said ahead of a tour of South Korea, China and Japan that it was becoming clear that the young Kim is the master dictating policy, including sanctions-busting nuclear bomb and long-range missile tests.
Juliana Redding Murder Update: Kelly Soo Park’s defense claims Redding’s boyfriend could be killer
In a key pre-trial hearing days before Kelly Soo Park stands trial for the 2008 murder of 21-year-old aspiring model Juliana Redding, the prosecution and defense effectively switched roles as Park’s attorneys sought to point to what they say is another possible murder suspect — Redding’s boyfriend.
The defense team is attempting to establish that former Santa Monica resident and surfer John Gilmore could very well have been the killer, instead of Park. Meanwhile, prosecutor Stacy Okun-Wiese voiced her intention to demonstrate Gilmore’s “innocence,” insisting Park is indeed the killer.
Park is accused of beating and strangling Redding, whose body was found in March 2008 in Redding’s Santa Monica, Calif. condo. Redding had moved to Santa Monica from Arizona in order to pursue a career in modeling and acting. She had been featured in Maxim magazine, where she won a “Hometown Hotties” contest.
District Attorney investigates complaint in Hollywood area council race
Southern California Public Radio
The District Attorney’s Office is investigating a complaint that campaign workers in a Hollywood area city council race illegally filled out ballots for voters.
The complaint was filed by the John Choi campaign against his opponent Mitch O’Farrell. According to the campaign, the O’Farrell camp mishandled ballots and outright voted on behalf of constituents in the Little Armenia neighborhood. The O’Farrell campaign denies all the allegations.
“This is the most blatant and widespread case of voter fraud I’ve seen in 20 years of political campaigns,” said Mike Shimpock of the Choi campaign. “They are literally stealing this election. This needs to be stopped.”
LA Catholic Archiocese grooming next generation of elementary school leaders
Southern California Public Radio
Tech-savvy and a skilled fundraiser, Jae Kim is exactly the type of leader the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles wants for its schools.
Last July, Kim became the first person other than a nun to be principal of St. John Chrysostom School in Inglewood. He’s outfitted the 85-year-old school with Wi-Fi, developed a financial plan that includes a rainy day fund and instructed teachers to post grades online.
Kim is part of a new generation of leaders whom the archdiocese is grooming. They’re being cultivated at a critical time for a Church eager to attract and hold onto the next generation.
Crazy, Stupid, Korean Love: On David Choe, Han, and “Unmarriageable” Koreans
I asked a few Korean Americans to elaborate on their “unmarriageable” status as professed by Choe. Aside from a universal sense of self-deprecation and wryness at an all too familiar topic, some responses specifically alluded to the personalities and relationships of their parents’ generation:
“It feels great because now I can tell my mom that it’s not my fault after all! It’s just because I’m Korean American. So, it’s your fault, mom. Your fault.” –C.K.
“My Korean father refused to marry my Korean mother, and abandoned her, pregnant and alone. I was sent away from the motherland, to be raised strangers abroad. But yeah, sure. That sounds great. It’s not like I’ve spent my entire life trying to prove I’m unmarriageable and unloveable.” –K.D.
“If I’m anything like my mother, I completely understand why a man would hesitate to marry me.” –V.L.
South Korean Men Cosmetics-Crazed
Their catchy tunes and sleek moves have helped sell billions of records.
Now, K-pop’s biggest stars are helping cosmetics firms sell makeup – to men.
Eager to achieve their pretty-boy looks and smooth complexion, South Korean men are increasingly turning to BB cream foundation and anti-aging products to achieve K-Pop perfection, spending $900 million a year on cosmetics, according to research firm Euromonitor.
South Korea is by far the largest in a growing global market for men’s cosmetics, accounting for nearly a quarter of sales in the skin care market.
Japanese First Lady in Korean Musical Furor
Akie Abe, the wife of rightwing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, came in for a storm of criticism when she said on Facebook that she went to see a Korean musical.
Last Wednesday night, Akie posted the seemingly uncontroversial comment, “I had an enjoyable time watching Korean musical ‘Caffeine’ currently on stage in Tokyo,” with a photo showing her in front of the poster. “Caffeine” has been running since April 25 at the Amuse Musical Theater in Roppongi, Tokyo, which is dedicated to Korean musicals.
But Japanese patriots were incensed by her “careless” conduct as the wife of the prime minister at this “sensitive time.”
Los Angeles Dodgers Rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu Consistently Good in First Eight Starts
Yahoo Sports [Contributor Network]
The Los Angeles Dodgers spent a lot of money on Korean import Hyun-Jin Ryu this winter. So far, he’s making them look awfully smart.
The initial scouting reports weren’t exactly impressive: an average fastball, an average slider and a potentially plus changeup. The reports almost didn’t warrant a six-year, $36 million deal and a $25.7 posting fee. He was nearly a $62 million commitment before even throwing a pitch in the majors. That’s what former No. 1 overall draft picks in the NFL used to get. In a league where contracts are guaranteed, the Dodgers were taking a considerable risk, no matter how deep their pockets are these days.
Hank Conger’s mother marvels at son’s MLB dream
Eun, born and raised in South Korea until immigrating to the U.S. in 1986, came from a culture that preaches studying hard, going to college, obtaining a degree and ultimately working a normal 9-to-5 job.
Draft night brought mixed emotions.
“It was half and half,” Eun said of how she felt to watch her son get selected in the first round. “I was happy, but then another side was like, ‘Aw, he should go to school.’”
But Eun can laugh about all this now. Her 25-year-old son is living out his dream in the Major Leagues, while serving as a backup catcher on the Angels and doing what only one percent of those who aspire to take on his profession actually accomplish. Better yet, he’s playing for a team whose home ballpark resides in Anaheim, a half-hour drive from the Huntington Beach area where Conger grew up.
Margaret Cho: I’d like to be a role model for minority women
From your early days, you often use your family as material in your stand-up — and your mother was the “headliner” in your latest tour. How did your parents and your cultural upbringing influence your career path?
Yes I think so, but what was remarkable was how much it really informed me as a person. I don’t know how Confucian I actually am consciously, but it seems to really have affected me because of my upbringing. I’m very drawn to Korean culture and food now that I’m older and have a more secure sense of my Americanness. There was a period where I wanted to avoid Korean things because they felt so close to home, but now I miss my home so much!
Asian American Literary Pioneers
May is Asian American History Month. As a recent U.S. Census report revealed, Asian Americans are the largest group immigrating to America in the last decade. It goes without saying that Los Angeles and Southern California is central to this, like it is with the Latino population. L.A. Letters celebrates all histories every month but nonetheless this week will focus on a few forgotten early Asian American pioneering poets that paved the way for the stellar contemporary writers mentioned previously in this column, like Sesshu Foster, Amy Uyematsu, Chiwan Choi, Traci Kato-Kiriyama, Edren Sumagaysay, Cathy Park Hong, and musicians and artists like Tracy Wannomae, Alan Nakagawa, DJ Rhettmatic, Prach Ly, and Yayoi Kusama, among countless others.
Attention, ramen lovers, your dreams are now a reality.
Japanese Korean fast food chain Lotteria is teaming up with a famous Japanese noodle restaurant, Menya Musashi, and will finally do what we should’ve thought of years ago: throwing ramen noodles on a grill and putting it between bread. Wait, what?
Yes, the burger joint is offering a ramen burger on their menu for a limited time, the company announced.
The noodles are seasoned, grilled and somehow shaped into patty form. They are then topped with the same kind of pork used in authentic bowls of ramen and carefully inserted between two mayonaise-covered burger buns. Broth is served on the side (possibly with a smack of ham) and additional noodles, in patty form, can be had for 100 yen (~$1). Continue Reading »