All posts by Y. Peter Kang

Local LA News Anchor Dead in Apparent Suicide

The co-anchor of a popular Korean-language news program was found dead in her Los Angeles apartment on Monday in what police are calling a suicide, according to news reports.

A relative of Jean Yoo, 36, found her body on Monday night at her condo in Koreatown after co-workers asked the relative why Yoo did not show up to work that day. The relative then called the police, who made a preliminary ruling that it was a suicide by hanging but are continuing to investigate. The body was sent to the L.A. County Coroner’s office.

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Yoo served as a news anchor at Asian-language channel LA18, co-hosting the Prime News program, and previously worked at Korean-language channel tvK.

One of Yoo’s colleagues from LA18 told the Korea Times that there didn’t seem to be anything amiss with Yoo in recent weeks. A neighbor of Yoo’s told the paper she just moved in three weeks ago so they didn’t know her very well. Her immediate family lives in Korea, according to the Korea Times.

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Tuesday's Link Attack: Dia Frampton, Organic K-Pop, Korean Pitcher Joins Orioles

Catching Up With…Dia Frampton!
StarPulse

“I’m excited to start touring again. I’d just like to tour with as many great bands as possible,” she enthused. “I’d like to go worldwide. That’s a really big, big dream. I know that The Voice aired in a lot of different countries; I’ve got people on my Facebook page from [countries like] Singapore [and] Australia, and it just made me want to be able to tour in all these different places.”

Authentic: K-Pop Without Nips And Tucks
Wall Street Journal

Just when South Korea appeared ready to cement its position as one of the world’s capitals of plastic surgery, a backlash appears to be forming. Or at least a marketing opportunity.

YG Entertainment, one of the top music and entertainment producers in the country, is planning to launch a new girl group on to the K-pop scene with a twist – the members of the group will commit to not having any kind of plastic surgery.

YG said the group will debut next year and declined to announce its members except for one: Kim Eun-bi, a teenage singer who made it to one of the final rounds of the popular “Superstar K” audition-contest show last year.

Zakaria: Why all of South Korea went silent
CNN.com

Those of you who watched our recent education special saw the exhausting study habits of South Korean students. The culmination of that pressure was last week when almost 700,000 South Korean high school students took the test they had spent all those hours working toward.

It was a wild scene outside test centers as younger kids cheered on the heroic test-takers as they arrived. Police motorcycles even whisked the late ones to school.

But when it came time for the high schoolers to begin the grueling nine-hour exam, silence was the order.

40 Korean foods we can’t live without
CNNGo

Street food, comfort food, spicy stews for masochistic mouths: These 40 dishes are essential to the Korean heart, soul and digestive tract

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Single Women a Growing Problem
Chosun Ilbo

One in five women in Korea in her 30s is single, while in Seoul the ratio is one in three, according to Statistics Korea. Although there are no specific data on the total number of single women, experts believe around 40 percent of working women in their 30s are single, which is in line with what the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service estimates.

A report released on Wednesday by state-run Korea Development Institute on Korea’s low birthrate shows that Asian countries like Korea have a lot of women in their 30s who are single.

According to the KDI report, the six countries with the lowest birthrates among 222 countries are all in Asia, including Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Those countries saw more and more women enter the workforce since the 2000s and are seeing a surge in single women in their mid-30s. As of last year, 21.9 percent of women between 35 to 39 were single in Japan, 21 percent in Taiwan, 17 percent in Singapore and 12.6 percent in Korea. The problem is not only that many highly educated women are single, but they do not want to have children.

O’s nearing deal with Korean reliever Chong
MLB.com

The Orioles are closing in on signing right-handed reliever Tae-Hyon Chong out of South Korea as the two sides — which were involved in heavy negotiations on Monday — have agreed to terms, according to a baseball source.

The exact length of the deal and money involved was not immediately known, as exact details were still being hammered out in the preliminary agreement. With the deal not yet official, the Orioles had no comment on Chong, who would need to undergo a physical examination before anything can be made official.

A 33-year-old submarine-style pitcher, Chong closed out South Korea’s gold medal win over Cuba in the 2008 Summer Olympics, and his poise on the big stage was a major plus for the Orioles.

What a potential Chong signing really means
Baltimore Sun

The jury is out on whether Chong will be able to make it as a late-inning reliever in the big leagues. Some believe his unorthodox style will befuddle hitters no matter where he is pitching. And he has had plenty of success on the international level (he closed out both medal games in the 2008 Summer Olympics).

But he’d be the first person ever to leap from Korea’s baseball league to the majors and some believe that’s way too much of a jump. That he’ll be a Double-A level reliever, nothing more.

Whether he makes it is only part of the plot here. The fact is the Orioles are the team that is on him. And Dan Duquette is the one with the major connection to South Korea. He had connections there when he was in Montreal and Boston and now his first noteworthy signing will be a guy from South Korea.

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Yeonpyeong Remains Rattled a Year After Attack
Wall Street Journal (subscription req’d)

A year after North Korea attacked this South Korean island, most of the destroyed homes and buildings have been rebuilt and the rhythms of daily life restored. But an enormous amount of anxiety and tension remains under the surface.

Residents become anxious and even frightened by loud sounds such as the hammering at houses being rebuilt, but especially when the small military post on the island tests its artillery guns every few months.

Monday's Link Attack: Mary Hayashi, David Oh, Hee Young Park

Hayashi’s political career, legacy in jeopardy with charges looming
San Jose Mercury News

State Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi entered the political world as a survivor of a tormented childhood, losing an older sister at 17 to suicide and watching as her disgraced parents burned her sister’s clothes, cut her out of photos and never mentioned her name again.

Yet Hayashi quickly built a name for herself at the Capitol after becoming the first Korean-American woman to serve in the Legislature. She became part of the inner circles of two Assembly speakers. A magazine named her one of the 100 most influential Asian-Americans of the past decade.

Now, a new and puzzling source of shame is threatening to ground this once-rising East Bay Democrat and dash her plans to run for the state Senate: a bizarre grand theft charge that accuses her of shoplifting nearly $2,500 of clothes at San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus on Oct. 25.

While the case has embarrassed fellow lawmakers and could make Hayashi the first California lawmaker in 18 years to be ousted because of a felony conviction, it has focused new attention on what legislative staffers call Hayashi’s overly ambitious and sometimes erratic behavior.

Her criminal case has caused tongues to wag at the Capitol and jolted the tight-knit Korean-American community, where many view her as a role model.

“I’m saddened because she’s somebody that many in the Korean-American community have looked up to,” said Jiyon Yun, a Walnut Creek attorney. “She’s had so many accomplishments and contributed so much to so many efforts and projects, I hope this doesn’t take away from what she’s been working on.”

David Oh takes the cake in at-large Council race
Philadelphia Daily News

There will be no repeat of the nightmare four years ago, when attorney David Oh was ahead on election night for one of two City Council at-large seats set aside for the minority political party but lost after absentee ballots were tallied.

Oh today finally bested Al Taubenberger in last week’s election, after absentee, military and provisional ballots were counted. In the final tally, Oh led by 166 votes from election day ballots and absentee ballots. A count today of 755 provisional ballots, used on election day when there are questions about a voter’s registration, did not put Taubenberger ahead.

Oh said he was not surprised by the narrow margin, though he said it was unclear what impact a barrage of negative mailings, radio ads and robo-calls in the closing week of the campaign had on his campaign. That effort was run by a political action committee controlled by Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which supported another Republican in the race.

Hee Young Park wins LPGA finale
USA Today

Holding off some of the biggest names in women’s golf, unheralded Hee Young Park won the CME Group Titleholders on Sunday for her first career LPGA title.

Park, with a closing 70, finished at 9-under-par 279 to beat Paula Creamer and Sandra Gal by two shots at sun-splashed Grand Cypress Resort to win the LPGA tour’s season-ending event. Another shot back were Na Yeon Choi and world No. 2 Suzann Pettersen. Michelle Wie, world No. 3 Cristie Kerr and world No. 1 Yani Tseng, trying to win for the 12th time this season, made brief runs at the championship before finishing in a tie for sixth, seven shots behind.

Korean Tacos Bounce From LA to Seoul
Wall Street Journal

In an alley just off Garosoo-gil, the tree-lined street in Gangnam that has taken over from Apgujeong as the coolest place to be seen on weekends, is the three-month-old Grill5taco restaurant that has created its own version of Kogi’s fusion of Korean and Mexican foods.

Grill5taco was started by Ban Joo-hyung and Kim Hyun-chul and their original thought was to sell their tacos from trucks just like Kogi does. So they brought one over from the U.S. and hit the streets for a short time last year.

But the police kept slapping them with fines. Apparently, it’s OK to sell food from tents and from trucks that have permission to work in certain spots. But it’s against the law to just drive around wherever you want and sell food.

Mr. Kim said that’s when they decided to open the restaurant. “Garosoo-gil was the only neighborhood we considered,” he said.

Korea Still Sends Hundreds of Babies Abroad for Adoption
Chosun Ilbo

Korea is still the largest exporter of babies for adoption to the U.S., highlighting the need to strengthen child protection in the country. According to the 2011 Annual Adoption Report to Congress released Friday, out of the total of 2,047 foreign-born children adopted by U.S. families from October 2010 to September 2011, 734 or 36 percent were from Korea.

The Philippines was a distant second with 216, Uganda third with 196, India fourth with 168, and Ethiopia fifth with 126. Korea last topped the list in 2003 and since then it ranked fourth or fifth until it reclaimed first place this year.

Suspected N.Korean Spy Arrested After Posing as Defector
Chosun Ilbo

An alleged North Korean spy has been arrested after arriving in the country posing as a refugee.

The government said Saturday that a routine background check on the individual revealed he had been assigned by the North to conduct espionage activities in the South.

Authorities said the man entered Korea in April after traveling through China and Southeast Asian countries including Laos, Vietnam and Thailand in a bid to legitimately build his cover story as a defector.

A New Voice Grips South Korea With Plain Talk About Inequality and Justice
New York Times

Two days before Seoul elected a mayor last month, an unassuming man slipped into the campaign headquarters of Park Won-soon, an independent candidate. Amid flashing cameras, the man, Ahn Cheol-soo, a soft-spoken university dean who had earlier been seen as a contender for mayor himself, affirmed his support for Mr. Park, entrusted him with a written statement and then left.

“When we participate in an election, we citizens can become our own masters, principle can defeat irregularity and privilege, and common sense can drive out absurdity,” said Mr. Ahn’s statement, an open appeal to voters that quickly spread by way of Twitter and other social networks. “I’m going to the voting station early in the morning. Please join me.”

It was a pivotal moment in an election whose outcome has rocked South Korea. In a country where resentment of social and economic inequality is on the rise, and where many believe that their government serves the privileged rather than the common good, Mr. Ahn’s words — “participate,” “principle,” “common sense” — propelled younger voters to throw their support overwhelmingly behind Mr. Park, the first independent candidate to win South Korea’s second-most-influential elected office.

Korean-American businesses donate 600 turkeys
WNEM.com (Flint, Mich.)

Detroit police Chief Ralph Godbee says Korean-American businesses are donating 600 turkeys for distribution to the city’s needy.

Godbee says the 27th Korean-American Share Day is being marked with an event at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the department’s 12th Precinct station.

A Korean teacher cycling across the country stops in East Texas
KTRE ABC (Lufkin, Tex.)

It was a request like no other for the First Assembly of God. A 21-year old teacher from Korea cycled up to the church last Thursday, asking to spend the night in the front yard.

“He asked if he could put his tent up and stay the night to get some rest because he felt more safe staying at churches than he did just anywhere,” said First Assembly of God member, Lesa Rodgers.

“They told him yes he can camp here. So then, I come up. It was cold. So I said look just come on in the church. We weren’t going to leave him there,” said First Assembly of God pastor, Kenneth Reynolds.

Tungin Byun saved up money over the past year. Now, he’s using it to cycle around the US, stopping at churches for rest along the way.

North Korean celebrities are struggling because of the Hallyu Wave
allkpop

North Korean celebrities are suffering significantly due to the Hallyu Wave, mainly because South Korean celebrities are gaining much popularity, while North Korean celebrities are becoming forgotten. Multiple insiders state, “People related to the North Korean entertainment business ignore the demands of the people and solely focus on Kim Jong Il‘s propaganda. People can expect to see the end of North Korea’s entertainment industry“.

North Korean youths who defected from the country were able to name several South Korean films including ‘Stairway to Heaven‘ and ‘Scent of a Man‘, while they were unable to recall any names of actors/actresses from a particular North Korean film.

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N. Korea crowned world champs – unofficially
AFP via Google News

North Korea’s 1-0 win over Japan last week was not only a famous victory over their bitter rivals — it also made them the Unofficial Football World Champions, according to a tongue-in-cheek website.

The www.ufwc.co.uk site contends that the world title won by Spain in 2010 passed unofficially to Argentina after a friendly win, and then to Japan after the Blue Samurai beat Lionel Messi’s men in October last year.

So when Pak Nam Chol buried his 50th-minute header at Pyongyang’s bitterly cold Kim Il Sung Stadium last Tuesday, prompting rapturous celebrations, it was a goal that also put the secretive state unofficially on top of the world.

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Thursday's Link Attack: Kissing Leaders, Roy Choi, Violinist Jennifer Choi

Benetton’s lip-locked leader ads: bad taste?
The Globe and Mail (Canada)

Shocking photos of various world leaders in lip-lock circulated on the Internet today, stirring up a flurry of reaction.

U.S. President Barack Obama puckering up with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas giving each other a friendly peck on the kisser. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak letting bygones be bygones with a stiff smooch.

The provocative images are part of clothing brand Benetton’s new advertising campaign, unveiled on Wednesday.

The campaign – the brand’s first major campaign in a decade of largely forgettable ads – is touted as “Unhate.”

F&W Exclusive Preview: Roy Choi’s Sunny Spot
Food and Wine

What can possibly beat a sweet trip to the Caribbean? Well, this: chef Roy Choi’s version of the Caribbean. The creator of L.A.’s life-changing Kogi Korean BBQ taco trucks (and F&W Best New Chef 2010) is opening Sunny Spot on November 18 in Venice, California. “At Sunny Spot, you’re going to feel like you just washed up on your beach,” says Choi. “If I was on my beach in Jamaica, this is what I’d be making.”

Violinist Jennifer Choi on the Ethel string quartet’s ‘modern classical’
The Pitch (Kansas City, Mo.)

“Postclassical string quartet” Ethel , which focuses on works by modern composers, brings its show to the Lied Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 19. The performance features Philip Glass’ score to The Hours, as well as pieces by other modern composers. We recently spoke by phone with the group’s violinist, Jennifer Choi, about her experiences with Ethel and the group’s approach to music. In addition to being a successful solo artist, Choi is the newest addition to the quartet, replacing Mary Rowell, who had been with the group since its inception in the mid-’90s.

What’s it like joining a group with such a lengthy history, especially replacing a member who’d been with the group for 15 years?

Since the beginning, yeah. Well, I had known about the group for a long time. When I came to New York in ’98, that’s pretty much when they formed, as well. And I was pretty much doing the same kind of music — new music — and that kind of became my focus after a while. So I guess the transition felt pretty normal for me, and it seemed like the right thing to do. I worked with Neil — Corneilius Duffalo, the other violinist — as well as Ralph Farris, the violist, in other situations, ’cause you tend to bump into each other in New York City. So it just felt pretty good to be able to join a group like that. And it just feels really nice, because they have their repertoire and they’re really solid players, so it’s like playing tennis with a really great tennis player. You just sort of fit right in.

Lottery agency tries to recover $12.5M insider win
CBC News (Canada)

More than seven years after a Toronto-area woman cashed in a stolen $12.5-million Lotto Super 7 ticket, Ontario’s lottery corporation is trying to recoup the money, but the lengthy wait may have cost the Crown agency.

CBC News has learned that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) filed a lawsuit in March against the woman who claimed the ticket, Kathleen Chung, and her family and associated companies for “deliberately deceiving” the corporation.

Police allege that Chung’s father and brother stole the free play ticket in 2003 from its rightful owners who validated the ticket at the Chung-managed Variety Plus store in Burlington, Ont. The duo then allegedly gave the ticket to Kathleen to claim in an attempt to cover their tracks.

The Chungs were charged in September 2010. Kathleen Chung, 30, faces charges of fraud, possession of property obtained by crime and laundering proceeds of crime. Her brother, Kenneth Chung, 28, and their father, Jun-Chul Chung, 62, were each charged with several counts of theft, possession of property obtained by crime and laundering proceeds of crime.

Bible Study Teacher Pleads Not Guilty To Sexual Assault
Patch.com (Northbrook, Ill.)

A Northbrook woman accused of criminal sexual assault in the case of a 15-year-old boy pled not guilty in Cook County Circuit Court in Skokie Tuesday.

Na Choi, 24, is also charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

County Man Charged With Fraudulent Business Practices
Fairfax News (Virginia)

A 50-year-old Great Falls man has been charged with obtaining money by defrauding a business investor.

According to police, the 37-year-old victim entered into a business contract in April with Hong Ku Kim of 746 Ellsworth Avenue in which she invested $200,000 into Kim’s company, Greentopia-Timonium.

According to the contract, the victim’s money was to be placed in escrow so she could obtain her E2 Visa. This Visa allows a national of a treaty country — a nation with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with — to be admitted into the U.S. when investing a substantial amount of capital in an American business.

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Korean-American leader blasts opposition party over FTA row
Dong-A Ilbo

The head of a Korean-American association based in Atlanta has criticized leading members of Korea’s main opposition Democratic Party for shifting their position on the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement.

“Under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, supreme council party member Chung Dong-young and chairman Sohn Hak-kyu came to the U.S. and asked leaders of Korean-American groups to support the Korea-U.S. FTA,” said Yoo Jin-cheol, president of the Federation of Korean Associations, USA., in a phone interview with the Dong-A Ilbo.

Dia Frampton Releases Video For New Single 'Broken Ones'

by Y. Peter Kang

Dia Frampton, champion of the disenfranchised, is occupying the meadow in a new video for her debut solo album.

The singer and runner-up on reality singing contest “The Voice” will be releasing her album “Red” on Dec. 6. The first single is “The Broken Ones” and the video features Frampton’s sister Meg and other members from the sisters’ band Meg & Dia. In addition, three of Frampton’s little sisters (it’s a family of six girls!) also served as extras in the video, playing “broken” people.

“They needed girls so I told them to let my little sisters do it,” Frampton told iamKoreAm.com in a phone interview.

David McClister, who directed the video, told The Hollywood Reporter that the video is a cross between “‘Where the Wild Things Are,” “Lord of the Flies” and the lost boys from “Peter Pan.”

In the video, Frampton sings and plays piano in a woodland hideaway for a bunch of orphan-looking teenagers. They are invaded by some woodland toughs and after a furious battle (spoiler alert!), emerge victorious.

Frampton said she wanted to show her family some of the behind-the-scenes aspects to her job.

“I’ve been doing this thing for awhile I feel like it’s one of those jobs that you can talk about it but nobody understands what it means,” Frampton said. “They got to see what goes on with a video shoot and see how I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and be ready to shoot at 6 a.m. to get the good light. We were there for 16 hours and they got to see what I do.”

Frampton will be the opening act for her “The Voice” mentor, country star Blake Shelton, whose 26-date tour is set to kick off in January. Shelton, known for his somewhat brash demeanor, tweeted earlier today: “If you haven’t downloaded Dia Frampton’s ‘The Broken Ones’ there’s a real good chance you’re not getting laid this weekend…”

“The Broken Ones” was released on iTunes on Nov. 15.

Dia and her sisters and mother (far right) on the set of “The Broken Ones.”

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Wednesday's Link Attack: Roy Choi, Margaret Cho, Anthony Kim

Roy Choi to open Sunny Spot next week
Los Angeles Times

Roy Choi of Kogi, Chego and A-Frame says he’ll be opening new restaurant Sunny Spot on Nov. 18 in Venice in the former Beechwood space — “think roadside cookshop, where every day’s a holiday.”

Inspired by the cuisine of the West Indies, Sunny Spot’s menu runs the gamut from double-fried jerk chicken and rum-glazed prawns to slow-roasted whole goat and papaya-guava honey pot salad with crushed cashews, red onion, lime and tarragon (pictured).

N.Korean Elite Sniper Defects
Chosun Ilbo

An ex-member of an elite North Korean special warfare unit defected across the West Sea on Oct. 30. He crossed the sea on a raft made of tires, it emerged on Tuesday.

Under questioning by the National Intelligence Service, the military and police, the man, who is in his early 30s, said he had been discharged from the marine sniper brigade five years ago and then worked as a civilian member in a military unit.

Watch Margaret Cho Invade Bonnaroo, Accost Indie Rockers
Spin.com

Last week, we watched Das Racist drag their parents to Bumbershoot. Today, to herald the release of Margaret Cho’s stand-up concert film, Cho Dependent — and say farewell to SPIN’s first-ever “Funny” Issue — we have footage of the comic and friend-of-indie-rockers everywhere bugging the shit out of everyone backstage at the 2010 Bonnaroo festival to the sounds of her “Baby I’m With the Band” (featuring Brendan Benson). Watch carefully to see who embraces the Cho, and who eyes her warily (the list of guest stars includes Conan O’Brien, Reggie Watts, Doug Benson, The Flaming Lips, Weezer, OK Go, the Gossip, The Punch Brothers, and GWAR).

Hines Ward: ‘It’s about the team’
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Hines Ward did not start in Cincinnati, and he played a limited number of snaps in the Steelers’ 24-17 win over the Bengals. If the Steelers’ all-time leading receiver has been demoted he is taking it in stride.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the team,” Ward said. “We won the game that’s the bottom line.”

Ward said his health wasn’t an issue, and that the coaches didn’t tell him before the Bengals game that his playing time would be diminished.

North Korea’s unusual experiment in tourism [SLIDESHOW]
Washington Post

The normally closed, secretive country is trying to open its doors a crack to foreign tourists, particularly from China, as a way of earning hard currency.

[In the photo above,] Chinese tourists converge on the house where the late Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s “Great Leader,” was said to be born.

Anthony Kim – The future’s bright
Sky Sports

Anthony Kim has endured plenty of lows over the past 12 months, but feels he’s now on course to hit new highs.

The Language of Many: ‘The Language Archive’ at East West Players [REVIEW]
Hyphen

During the LA premiere of The Language Archive at East West Players, the scent of warm bread wafted through the theater. There’s nuance to smells, I’m told, a layering that is discernible to even the most indiscriminate noses. The same could be said of language and of theatrical plays that go beyond just the black and white categorization of “good” and “bad.”

As with my nose, there’s a certain level of layering that I’m oblivious and, like the bread smell, there was something comfortable and familiar with the The Language Archive. I spent the evening trying to figure out where I’ve seen this story before.

Sarah Cho of Torrey Pines wins CIF state girls golf title
ESPN.com

Sarah Cho of Torrey Pines won the CIF state girls golf championship in a two-hole playoff over Cha Cha Wilhoite of Palm Desert at the Poppy Hills Golf Course at Pebble Beach on Tuesday.

Cho and Wilhoite were the only two golfers to shoot under par in the tournament. Both were 1-under, 71, after 18 holes.

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S. Korean football fans demand coach’s ouster
AFP via Google News

Angry fans called Wednesday for the resignation of coach Cho Kwang-Rae after South Korea suffered a stunning 1-2 defeat to underdogs Lebanon in the third round of regional World Cup qualification.

The official website of the Korea Football Association (KFA) was flooded with critical postings, with one suggesting a petition campaign to press the KFA to dismiss Cho.

Newspapers also lambasted South Korea for playing what Chosun Ilbo daily called a “game of sleepwalkers”.

Asian women struggle to make films
City Times (San Diego)

For many filmmakers, the festival serves as an opportunity to create change in the industry through gaining exposure and connecting with people.

“Support from groups like this has been invaluable in helping further my career,” said Mina T. Son, a Korean American filmmaker who screened her short, “Making Noise in Silence,” at the festival. The the short follows the lives of two Korean-American students at the California School for the Deaf. Son returned to the festival to receive an award for Best Short Documentary for the second year in a row.

Derek Kirk Kim Completes Season 1 of ‘Mythomania’ Live-Action Web Series [Video]
Comics Alliance

The Eisner and Harvey-winning cartoonist behind such works as Same Difference and Other Stories, The Eternal Smile (with Gene Luen Yang) and Good As Lily (with Jesse Hamm), Derek Kirk Kim has completed the first season of his live-action Web series Mythomania. Written and directed by Kim, the show follows aspiring cartoonist Andy Go as he navigates the joys, challenges, sacrifices, screw-overs and other assorted indignities suffered by those who seek their fortunes in the comic book book business. The show is an honest and personal (perhaps too personal, in the case of episode seven) into what life can be like for cartoonists, and how easy it can be to face not only rejection but also opportunity.

Serial Smacker Hits Seoul’s New Mayor
Wall Street Journal

There’s a new addition to the diverse and colorful ranks of South Korean protesters: a woman who is a serial head-smacker.

The 62-year-old woman has only been publicly identified by her last name, Park. She has been going around for the past few months hitting left-wing politicians on the head.

On Tuesday, she walked into an event in a subway station where Seoul’s new mayor, Park Won-soon, was speaking, got right up behind him, then hit him on the head and called him a “communist.”

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Tuesday's Link Attack: Sung Kim, SNSD, SK Soccer Team Loses

Foreign minister meets new U.S. ambassador
Yonhap News

The new top U.S. envoy to South Korea, Sung Kim, paid his first visit to Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan Tuesday after taking office as Washington’s first Korean-American ambassador to Seoul.

Sung Kim, a career diplomat with expertise on the North Korean nuclear issue, arrived in Seoul last week as Washington’s top envoy to Seoul, becoming the first Korean-American to take the job since the two nations established diplomatic relations 129 years ago.

“I’m sure that your presence in Seoul will be a kind of symbol of the close relationship between our two countries,” the foreign minister told the ambassador.

Interview: Girls Generation Talk Fame, K-Pop, and World Domination
Complex.com

KoreAm contributor Jaeki Cho penned this lengthy Q&A with K-pop megagroup SNSD, a.k.a. Girls Generation.

Complex: I’ve noticed from footages that almost all the performances are done with heels on. How are your feet?

Sooyoung: We’re dying in pain! After a concert, our feet are literally burning.

Seohyun: A lot of calluses.

Yuri: Our feet are in bad shape.

Taeyeon: We take care of them, but they get messed up so easily.

Yuri: We’ve been wearing heels for so long, we’ve gotten so used to them that we feel more comfortable wearing them when we’re going up on stage. It straightens our postures; it makes us feel more confident. It’s not comfortable, but we’re so adjusted now that it feels weird without them.

K-pop: Soft Power for the Global Cool
Huffington Post

In recent years, even I have noticed the increasing amount of strangers I meet (both Asian and non-Asian) who become keenly interested in me once they confirm my Korean background: What is Seoul like? Do I watch Korean movies? What are my favorite Korean foods? Who are my favorite music groups, and have I met any of them? (Quite a big change from my early childhood in the suburban Midwest where many people would take the liberty of assuming I was Chinese!)

As an avid cultural traveler, I truly appreciate these conversations with so many individuals who are utterly fascinated with Korean culture. While I do not believe that this is the sole result of K-pop music’s popularity, the initial platform of these early dialogues are usually based upon either Korean pop music or Korean films (quickly followed up by Korean food, education, and plastic surgery).

Undoubtedly there are skeptics of K-pop’s global influence and utility as a soft power tool — but I find such hesitation towards this cultural explosion to often: a) stem from a limited racial approach to the subject, and b) originate from taste levels so mainstream that there is little chance for awareness of trends and cultural currents not yet adopted by big corporations and media.

N.Korea Joins Twitter Era
Chosun Ilbo

The North Korean propaganda website “Uriminzokkiri” on Monday joined the global craze for social networking sites by adding Twitter and Facebook tags.

That makes it even easier for North Korean propaganda to reach South Korea unfiltered, since content can now be shared with the click of a mouse. The “share” function is limited to posts denouncing South Korea.

North Korean websites like Uriminzokkiri are blocked in South Korea but can easily be accessed overseas, and can then be shared by overseas Koreans to reach South Korean users.

Will the North Koreans rise up?
CNN

What we can say for sure is that the North Korean press has simply not reported on any of the popular uprisings of 2011, obviously for fear of sparking protests within North Korea. In fact, Pyongyang issued a statement in March simply saying Libya’s dismantling of its nuclear weapons program made it more vulnerable to western intervention. In other words, ‘We, the North Koreans, will keep our nukes as our insurance policy against regime change.’ So don’t expect Pyongyang to disarm anytime soon. The regime interprets the fall of Gadhafi as a cautionary tale. Don’t disarm; don’t try to talk to the west; don’t open up.

Meanwhile, the suffering of the North Korean people continues. Just last week, UNICEF reported that millions of children there are at risk of being severely malnourished. These children will be more vulnerable to disease and stunted growth. And there’s little hope that the government has the ability to help even if it wanted to.

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[Korean] Bloggers Penalized For False Review
Wall Street Journal

Bloggers trying to profit from their daily activities are nothing new. But the government decided over the weekend that some South Korean bloggers have crossed a line.

On Sunday, the Fair Trade Commission sanctioned 47 bloggers and Internet café owners for “deceitful behavior” that helped them to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The antitrust watchdog levied a total of 20 million won ( $18,000) in fines on four influential bloggers – known in Korea as “power bloggers” — for not telling readers that they received a commission in return for writing favorable reviews of products and organizing group purchases. The fees ranged from 2% to 10% of the total sales.

Lebanon shocks South Korea in World Cup qualifying
AP via Globe and Mail

Lebanon pulled off an astonishing 2-1 win over South Korea in the Asian qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Beirut on Tuesday to stay firmly on course for a place in the fourth round.

Ali Al-Saadi gave Lebanon a shock 1-0 lead in the fifth minute but then cancelled out his earlier effort by conceding a penalty, converted by South Korea’s Koo Ja Cheol in the 20th. Abbas Atwi restored Lebanon’s lead from the penalty spot at the half-hour mark and his side held on to seal a priceless victory.

Group B leader South Korea has 10 points, the same as Lebanon, which trails on goal difference after five games. Third-place Kuwait has eight points, while United Arab Emirates has zero.

North Korea upsets Japan as tensions boiled in World Cup qualifier
AP via Herald Sun

Playing before a capacity crowd at Kim Il Sung Stadium, Pak gave North Korea a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute with an angled header beyond the reach of Japan goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa.

The match had no bearing on the outcome of the group – Japan has already qualified for the next stage while North Korea can not make it – but there is always tension in this fixture between two nations that do not have diplomatic ties.

This was the first time the Japanese men’s team had played on North Korean soil since 1989.

That tension bubbled over at times, with several shoving skirmishes breaking out. North Korea had Jong Il Gwan sent off in the 77th minute for an aggressive tackle on Atsuto Uchida.

Koreans to Benefit from Automated Immigration Checks in U.S.
Chosun Ilbo

Most Korean travelers can soon enter the U.S. without face-to-face interviews with immigration officers at the airport. Seoul and Washington in a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Hawaii on Sunday agreed in principle to put them through electronic immigration gates instead.

Once the new program is in place, Korean visitors to the U.S. can avoid long immigration queues by putting their e-passports to the screen of an automated counter.

To benefit, travelers have to register with a smart entry system Korea implements to get approval from both governments as “trusted travelers.” “Trusted travelers” are those whose biometric information, including fingerprints and photos, is registered with the government, and who are deemed to present no risk.

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U.S. soldier allegedly set fire to bar
Yonhap

A U.S. soldier in Korea will be questioned by South Korean police on charges of setting fire to a bar in Seoul, investigators said Tuesday, amid growing public outrage after series of rape cases by American soldiers.

The private first class, whose name was withheld, from the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) was suspected of setting fire to a pub in Itaewon, an area popular with foreigners in Seoul, at 2:30 a.m. by pouring oil on a stove, according to Yongsan Police Station which controls the area.

The Country That Loves PC Gaming So Damn Much
Kotaku

Unlike Japan, South Korea has been predominately a PC gaming country. One of the major reasons for the lack of game console penetration was due to protectionism that made it difficult, if not impossible for Japanese companies to sell their wares in Korea—and vice versa.

The cultures are changing. Japan is opening itself up to Korean products, slowly. Ditto for South Korea. Nintendo now releases localized versions of games and hardware. However, the relationship that Korean gamers traditionally have with gaming is through the PC. And the game of choice is traditionally StarCraft.

The crazy wonderland of Seoul’s party motels
CNNGo

They used to be called “love motels,” for obvious (and optimistic) reasons.

Heavily stigmatized, Seoul’s love motels were long regarded as nothing more than glorified DVD rooms, with decor straight out of adult movies. Horrified parents would hold public protests if any were built in their neighborhood.

In recent years, however, a new generation of Seoul’s boutique motels have started styling themselves as “theme motels” and “party motels,” and have made much headway in making motels become socially acceptable, and even sought after — day or night.

LAPD To Jindo K-9 Cadets: You're Fired

The Los Angeles Police Department pulled the plug on a months-long project to train two Jindo dogs from South Korea to add to their K-9 unit, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Police officials said the Jindos were loyal but were prone to get distracted, not exactly a desired trait for a police dog being counted on to control a crowd or sniff out drugs or weapons.

“We worked hard with the dogs to develop their skills of sniffing out the odor of guns for detective work,” said Sgt. Doug Roller, chief trainer for the K-9 platoon of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Division, according to the L.A. Times. “They pretty much mastered the task, but once they got out of the training environment, they got distracted in the real world…. A leaf would blow, and they’d go chase it.”

The Jindos — named Daehan and Mingook, which together translate as “Republic of Korea” — have been placed in private homes after trainers determined they lacked sufficient focus and consistency.

Those skeptical of Jindos as police dogs, including many owners, say such behavior is common in the breed, which they say is prone to roam and bolt. Many say the affectionate dogs, though they are good household pets, are often overly independent and therefore difficult to train. They also tend to be dominant with other dogs.

In other words, many say, they’re not exactly the team players needed for police work.

However, we at KoreAm did some digging and it appears that not all sides of the story are being reported. Keep an eye out for our story in the upcoming December issue.

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