Prosecutors in Maryland charged a high-ranking agent with the National Security Agency with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 3-year-old special needs toddler adopted from South Korea just months earlier, according to the Washington Post.
Brian O’Callaghan, 36, is accused of repeatedly striking Hyunsu O’Callaghan’s head, neck and back and inflicting damage which caused the boy’s death two days later, according to prosecutors.
“An absolutely horrific crime on an absolutely innocent young victim,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Donna Fenton, according to the Post. “Basically this child was beaten to death from head to toe.” Continue Reading »
Some big names in the K-pop world will be descending on Los Angeles for a free concert hosted by KBS America and the Korean American Federation of Los Angeles, according to news reports.
The concert, which will be held on Saturday, April 12 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, is called “Open Concert (L.A. K-Pop Festival)” and will celebrate the 111th anniversary of Koreans living in America.
The three-hour concert will reportedly feature performances by 2PM, SHINee, Sistar, CNBlue, Dynamic Duo, Girl’s Day, and Kim Taewoo with other acts to be announced. Continue Reading »
Before Korean family reunions, fears of false hope
AP via Salon.com
Kim Se-rin is sure he’ll recognize his sister when they reunite — if they reunite — in North Korea this week, more than 63 years after war drove them apart. And he knows what he’ll say.
“I will first hug her and tell her that I thank her for having lived so long,” the 84-year-old retired Seoul City official said. “Then, I will ask her when our father and mom passed away and when our sister and brother died.”
What Kim doesn’t know is what he’ll do if their reunion — one of hundreds planned Thursday through Tuesday between North and South Koreans — falls victim to the ever-volatile relations between the two countries. Kim, who has chronic heart problems, got sick after North Korea abruptly scrapped reunions in September, and he hasn’t slept well since.
“I think this will be my last chance,” Kim said during an interview at his home in Bucheon, just west of Seoul. “How much longer can I live?”
China Faults Report Blaming North Korean Leader for Atrocities
New York Times
Chinese officials on Tuesday criticized a United Nations report that served notice to Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, that he might be personally held liable in court for crimes against humanity committed by state institutions and officials under his direct control.
Hua Chunying, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, called the report “unreasonable criticism,” raising questions as to whether Beijing will use its United Nations Security Council veto power to block any action on the matter.
“We believe that politicizing human rights issues is not conducive toward improving a country’s human rights,” Ms. Hua said. “We believe that taking human rights issues to the International Criminal Court is not helpful to improving a country’s human rights situation.”
Inside North Korea Report, Chilling Details
Wall Street Journal
Late Monday in Geneva, the United Nations’ specially-convened Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea released a roughly 400-page, multi-part document, alleging widespread and systematic crimes against humanity, and recommending that Pyongyang’s leadership be brought before the International Criminal Court.
Below the headlines, there were plenty of first-hand testimonials and grisly details. Here are some of the most noteworthy of the commission’s detailed findings:
* North Korea refused to participate from the very beginning of the exercise, saying it would “totally reject and disregard” the U.N. resolution that created the commission of inquiry. “Regrettably, this stance has remained unchanged, despite numerous efforts by the Commission to engage the DPRK,” the report says (paragraph 21), citing an encounter with North Korean representatives at the United Nations in New York last October (paragraph 25). A full copy of the report was offered to North Korea before publication, inviting comments and factual corrections. A letter summarizing the most serious concerns was delivered to Kim Jong Un himself, with the same result: “there has been no response” (paragraph 27).
China tells N. Korea: ‘Will never allow war or chaos’ on Korean Peninsula
China’s vice foreign minister has told North Korea’s top diplomats that Beijing “will never allow war or chaos” on the Korean Peninsula, in a clear warning against Pyongyang’s defiant pursuit of its nuclear programs and provocations.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, who began a four-day visit to North Korea on Monday, made the remarks during a meeting with senior North Korean officials, including Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun, Liu’s ministry said in a statement.
The remarks by Liu were echoed by previous comments by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who made similar remarks during talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week, but it appears to be the first time that a Chinese official publicly relayed the view to North Korea.
Police start investigation into gym collapse
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
Police said Wednesday that they have launched an investigation into the collapse of a student-packed gymnasium in southeastern South Korea that killed 10 people and 105 others.
The roof of the gymnasium at a mountainside resort in Gyeongju, a tourist city 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, caved in Monday night when some 560 incoming freshmen from the Busan University of Foreign Studies were gathered inside it for a welcoming party.
Police, forensic experts and structural engineers have begun carrying out structural assessments of the building to determine what led to the collapse, officers said.
Chinese Overtake Americans as Top Medical Tourists in Korea
Wall Street Journal
The Chinese overtook Americans as the biggest group of medical tourists to South Korea in 2012 for the first time since the Korean government started compiling the data.
In 2012, 32,503 Chinese tourists came to South Korea for medical services, says a recent report by the Korea Health Industry Development Institute. That represents 20.4% of all medical tourists.
Americans made up 19.2%, with 30,582 visitors in 2012, the institute said. Japan, Russia and Mongolia followed with a weight of 12.4%, 10.3%, and 5.3%, respectively.
Dodgers LHP Ryu aware of sophomore slump talk
AP via Yahoo Sports
Hyun-Jin Ryu begins his second season with the Los Angeles Dodgers confronted by a question that is inevitable for any pitcher coming off a good rookie year.
As in, can the left-hander avoid the so-called sophomore slump?
Excuse Ryu if he doesn’t sound too worried. Slumps are possible anywhere.
“There is a sophomore slump in Korea, too,” Ryu said Tuesday through an interpreter after throwing batting practice for the first time in camp.
Yoon formally introduced, ready to get to work
The first thing that comes to South Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon’s mind when you bring up the Baltimore Orioles is Cal Ripken, Jr.’s famous consecutive-games-played streak. Yoon, who was officially unveiled in a news conference Tuesday afternoon, has watched a lot of Major League baseball games.
Now, finally — two years after he could have been posted — the right-hander turned down more money to return to the Korean Baseball Organization in order to make his Major League dream a reality.
“Obviously, I liked the terms of the contract,” Yoon said through his interpreter, agent Tad Hun Yo of the Boras Corporation, of the three-year, $5.75 million pact. “Dan [Duquette] was very gracious with the terms. And secondarily, the opportunity to start and try to compete for a starting position here with the Orioles.”
Koreans Await Kim Yu-na, or is it Yuna Kim?
Wall Street Journal
With memories still vivid of her spectacular performance in Vancouver four years ago, reigning Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na takes to the ice on Wednesday to begin the defense of her title.
Aside from the question of whether she can see off rising Russian star Julia Lipnitskaia and long-time rival Mao Asada of Japan, there’s another burning issue for international media: how to write Ms. Kim’s name.
The Wall Street Journal uses Kim Yu-na, in line with the paper’s style book. That requires, for South Korean names, a family name first, followed by a given name connected with a hyphen. (For North Koreans all given names are capitalized without a hyphen, e.g. Kim Jong Un.)
Naturalized Korean Wins Gold in Sochi
Kong Sang-jung has become the first naturalized Korean to win an Olympic gold medal.
Along with Cho Ha-ri, Park Seung-hi, Kim A-lang and Shim Suk-hee, the short track skater won a team gold medal in the women’s 3,000-m relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia on Tuesday.
Although she did not take part in the finals, Kong was the third skater in the relay in the quarterfinals and helped the team advance to the finals.
Dang Ye-seo, who gained Korean citizenship in 2007, won a bronze medal in the table tennis team event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but Kong is the first naturalized gold medalist.
Kristen Kish on Her Post-Menton Plans
Yesterday, Top Chef alum Kristen Kish announced that she will be leaving her post as chef de cuisine at Menton, where she started working in June. Her last day is March 8th, and Scott Jones, currently chef de cuisine at No. 9 Park, will take her place in April. Eater caught up with Kish yesterday afternoon to chat about what comes next.
So, exciting day for you?
Exciting and stressful and nerve-wracking. Everything wrapped up into one little neat package. [Laughs.]
What can you tell us at this point about what’s coming next?
If I had anything very specific, I’d be happy to tell anybody, but I keep calling it my self-exploration time. I was at Stir, and then I went right into Top Chef, and then the whirlwind started, and then I came right to Menton. There just hasn’t been that moment of “Ok, this is what I want to do.” I’m taking the time to figure it out. Eventually I want something of my own, and for me, in order to get to that point, I have to go explore different things, different experiences.
Kerry says North Korea should not link family reunions with exercises
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday military exercises with South Korea this month will be the same as drills that have been held over the years and North Korea should not link them with reunions of separated Korean families.
North Korea, which says the exercises are a rehearsal for war, demanded in rare talks with South Korean officials on Wednesday that the drills be postponed so that they do not overlap with the planned reunion of families separated since the 1950-53 Korean War.
“The United States doesn’t believe it is appropriate to link humanitarian issues such as (family) reunification to any other issues,” Kerry told a news conference with his South Korean counterpart when asked about the North’s demand on the drills.
S. Korea to send advance team to North for reunions
South Korea plans to send a team to the venue for scheduled reunions of separated families in North Korea this week amid growing uncertainty over the meetings, Seoul’s unification minister said Thursday.
South and North Korea recently agreed to hold the reunions of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War at Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort on the North’s east coast, from Feb. 20 to 25.
During high-level inter-Korean talks on Wednesday, however, Pyongyang demanded Seoul to delay joint military exercises with the United States until after the humanitarian event, casting doubt on whether the reunions will take place as scheduled.
Vowing “utmost efforts to smoothly stage the reunions the two sides already agreed upon,” Minister of Unification Ryoo Kihl-jae said the government “will send the advance team to the Mount Kumgang region within this week.”
Officials from North, South Korea to meet again Friday
AP via Fox News
Senior officials from the rival Koreas will meet Friday for a second time this week after their earlier talks ended with little progress because of North Korea’s demand that Washington and Seoul delay annual military drills this month, South Korean officials said Thursday.
North Korea has been pushing for better ties with Seoul after raising tensions last year with repeated threats to launch nuclear war and efforts to restart production of nuclear fuel. Analysts say the impoverished North needs good relations with Seoul to win outside investment and aid. The talks come as the Koreas try to finalize arrangements for their first reunions of Korean War-divided families since late 2010. The emotional reunions are set to start next week.
At North Korea’s request, senior officials from the Koreas met at a border village on Wednesday in their highest-level talks in years. It was seen as another sign that the North wants a quick improvement of ties and the resumption of lucrative cooperation projects with Seoul.
Obama to visit S. Korea in April
U.S. President Barack Obama plans to visit South Korea in April for talks with President Park Geun-hye about the alliance between the two countries, North Korea’s nuclear program and other issues, the White House said Wednesday.
The visit is part of a four-nation trip that also includes stops in Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines, the White House said in a statement. With the full itinerary yet to be announced, he is expected to stay in South Korea for two days from April 23 following his trip to Japan, according to diplomatic sources in Washington.
While in South Korea, Obama “will meet with President Park to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to a strong alliance, review recent developments in North Korea and our combined efforts to promote denuclearization, and discuss our ongoing implementation of the Korea-United States FTA,” the White House said in a press release.
Super Bowl sex ring suspect nabbed at Vancouver airport
Canadian Press via Vancouver Sun
A South Korean woman wanted in the United States for her alleged involvement in a crime ring that sold drugs and prostitutes in New York City prior to the Super Bowl weekend was in detention after she was arrested at Vancouver’s airport, border officials confirmed Wednesday.
The Canada Border Services Agency confirmed officers arrested 44-year-old Kyong Bin (Jackie) Cho at Vancouver’s airport this past weekend. She was expected to be deported, though the exact timing of her removal wasn’t clear.
News of Cho’s arrest comes almost two weeks after U.S. authorities charged 18 people for allegedly running a crime ring that involved selling so-called party packs of cocaine and prostitutes to people coming to New York City for the Super Bowl.
I Am Not a Model Minority
Harvard Crimson (Harvard Univ.)
I am a third generation Asian-American woman at Harvard, and I despise living under the impression that I belong to the “model minority.” For a label that sounds so positive in tone, living under this stereotype has been anything but ideal.
In high school and at Harvard, I have encountered the consequences of living under the model minority myth constantly. My personal and academic achievements are the result of simply “being Asian.” My interests in biology and physics in high school were “typical,” and being stereotyped as “too smart” garnered unwarranted envy and competition from classmates and friends. My achievements weren’t considered the byproduct of hard work; they were simply expected and representative of the Asian-American model minority stereotype.
Many believe that the model minority label allows me to ride on the coattails of my ethnicity, giving me a “one-up boost” ahead of others. Yet to me, the model minority myth has done nothing but strip me of my humanity.
Richard Jung brings new perspective to county commissioner race, gathers student support
The Horn (Univ. of Texas at Austin)
Richard Jung, a Korean American lawyer based in Austin, Texas, is vying for a seat in the Texas Commissioner’s Court for Precinct 2, an area that encompasses The University of Texas at Austin campus.
Jung, a Democratic candidate who is running for Travis County Commissioner for Precinct 2, said that if elected he will create a student liaison position in his office in order to increase college student participation in local politics.
“Young people, students, the future of our country need to be treated properly,” Jung said. “We need to look at the problems that families and young people face, and we need to deal with them head-on.”
Randall and Jae Suh Park: Baby Makes Three
Spending an afternoon with Korean-American actors Randall Park and Jae Suh Park in their San Fernando Valley home means falling in love with the new ruler of their household: 21-month-old Ruby. Dressed in a pastel pink-and-white striped jumpsuit, she quietly leads the pair from the family room (where she flips through her picture books), to her playroom (where she rocks the keyboard while using her drum as a stool), and finally to the master bedroom, where, snuggled in between two pillows twice the size of her body, she entertains herself by clicking through YouTube videos on Jae’s tablet. (“She once flagged a kid’s video for adult content,” Jae says.)
Ruby recently starred as a crime-fighting baby alongside her parents in the comedy web series Baby Mentalist, written by her dad as the Parks were first emerging from the daze of new parenthood. Produced for Channel 101, a monthly shorts festival at the Downtown Independent where a live audience votes for popular pilots to continue, Baby Mentalist was voted forward for six months straight, capturing Ruby’s progression from smiley baby to walking toddler.
Randall and Jae are both professional working actors – a Culver City native, he’s known as Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ political nemesis on Veep, while his Korean-born, Lodi-raised wife has won guest spots on everything from NCIS: Los Angeles to How I Met Your Mother. They also create their own material, both as regulars at Channel 101 and as members of various Asian-American theater groups.
Television art contest stirs up controversy
Koreans love reality competition shows. While this is true for many countries, there’s a palpable verve here for watching contestants sing, dance or cook their way into the hearts of the judges and nation.
Like them or not, such programs are a major launching pad for the careers of talented individuals or groups. A perfect example is Busker Busker, the troubadours who won fame when they came in runner-ups on on the show “Superstar K.”
But what happens when you introduce massive public scrutiny and competition to the world of fine art?
An upcoming reality show, “Art Star Korea,” is stirring debate because it will pit painters, sculptors and other artists against each other in competition. While the creators believe it will bring more attention to artists, critics fear it may impose an overly commercial element in the artistic community.
‘Queen Yuna’ confident after first practice
Walking toward the Iceberg Skating Palace, I saw a skater with a Korea jacket about 50 yards ahead of me. It looked like Yuna Kim.
But could it really be the reigning Olympic figure skating champion, a national icon in her homeland whose every move attracts the South Korean media, walking a half-mile unnoticed and undisturbed?
The context seemed wrong, but the face was unmistakable. It was the woman her fans call Queen Yuna, walking between two men who each were pulling a rolling suitcase as they headed toward the training rink late Thursday afternoon for Kim’s first practice after her 11:55 p.m. arrival Wednesday.
When she reached the entrance, so did the Korean media. There eventually would be 10 TV crews waiting at rink side to capture her brief comments after she finished skating.
No Mo medals
Speed skater Mo Tae-bum rounded off his second Olympic appearance with a disappointing 12th in the men’s 1,000-meter event, which showed only how difficult and unpredictable the sport can be.
After settling for fourth place in the 500-meter, in which he snagged the gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games, Mo had resolved to redeem himself in the 1,000-meter on Wednesday (KST). No doubt, he was well prepared, having won the silver at the Vancouver Games and the gold at the World Cup in Berlin.
The 25-year-old’s plan had been to sprint the first 200 meters with maximum speed, and maintain that speed for the next 400 meters. And sprint he did. Mo clocked 16.42 seconds in the first 200 meters, the fastest of any speed skater in the race.
Lee Sang-hwa’s Flamboyant Style Draws Attention
Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa drew attention with her eye-catching nails when she raised her hand in joy after winning the gold medal in the women’s 500 m on Tuesday at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
In fact, Lee’s frank and candid style has captured the attention of her fans. In spite of her ceaseless efforts to shave hundredths of a second off of her latest lap time, Lee is not shy about displaying her style off the rink.
The athlete says she enjoys dressing up and shows this by painting her nails in flamboyant colors during her races. When she’s away from the rink, she’s been spotted carrying gold handbags, earrings bearing her initials and green headphones.
South Korean becomes first foreign female Shikoku pilgrimage guide
A South Korean living in Seoul has become the first non-Japanese woman to qualify as a guide for the 88-temple pilgrimage course in Shikoku.
Choi Sang-hee, 38, who received her license in December, hopes to see more of her compatriots make the pilgrimage, believing it would help transform relations between her country and Japan.
“South Koreans will change their impressions of Japan” if they walk the course, she said.
She is the first foreign woman among some 15,000 registered guides, called “sendatsu,” since the Showa Era (1926-1989), according to an association that issues sendatsu certificates. She is the first South Korean and the fifth non-Japanese to be given the certificate. The 88 temples are all associated with the Buddhist monk Kukai, posthumously known as Kobo Daishi.
The reigning women’s Olympic figure skating champion arrived in Sochi, Russia, on Wednesday but Yuna Kim told reporters before she left that she is not worrying about teen skating prodigy Yulia Lipnitskaya of Russia.
Heading into the final competition of her career, “Queen Yuna” said that rather than worrying about Lipnitskaya, who delivered a breathtaking program in the team figure skating competition eventually won by Russia, she will focus solely on her own performance.
“No one skater can perform well every time, and judging standards may also change. I can’t control them,” Kim told reporters at Incheon International Airport, according to Yonhap. “I have to skate the best I can and accept the result. It’s obviously not going to help me to worry about how others do. The key is to try to do the best I can.” Continue Reading »