Wednesday’s Link Attack: Anti-Korean Graffiti in Tokyo; Hyuna Films ‘Funny or Die’ Sketch; Hyun-Jin Ryu
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: March 12th, 2014
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Japan’s Abe seeks trilateral summit with South Korea, U.S

Japan is trying to arrange a trilateral summit with South Korea and the United States for this month, a government official said on Wednesday, in a bid to thaw Tokyo’s frozen relations with Seoul.

Seoul appears cool to the idea of a meeting of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a global nuclear-security summit in the Hague, Netherlands, on March 24-25.

Japan hopes that with mutual ally Obama in the room, Park would be willing to sit down face-to-face with Abe, something the Japanese leader has sought unsuccessfully since he took office 15 months ago.

S. Korea open to closer security ties with Japan to counter N. Korea: JCS chief
Yonhap News

South Korea’s top military officer on Tuesday reaffirmed Seoul’s commitment to security cooperation with Tokyo, despite their drawn-out history of stand-offs, as he headed to the Pentagon for a meeting with his American counterpart.

Adm. Choi Yun-hee emphasized the need for a stronger trilateral partnership between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo on the security front.

“North Korea’s threats always exist and it’s hard to predict the timing and type of its provocations,” Choi told reporters after laying a wreath at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Graffiti in Tokyo reveals anti-Korean racism

Several months ago, the city of Tokyo witnessed racist protests that openly targeted Koreans.

Recently, far-right militants have been more discreet but they are still very active online and on the walls of Tokyo’s Korean neighbourhood where they scrawl racist messages.

“Go back to Korea” is essentially the message being conveyed by most of the racist graffiti on the facades of Shin Okubo, Tokyo’s Korean neighbourhood. The anti-racism organisation Norikonet counted 53 instances of anti-Korean graffiti in February. On March 2, about 50 volunteers scoured the streets with rags and solvent to erase the racist tags.

Former sex slave donates entire wealth
Korea Times

The late Hwang Geum-ja, a victim of Japanese sexual slavery, has had her inheritance donated to the Gangseo Scholarship Committee in accordance with her will.

Hwang, who died on Jan. 26 at age 91, had requested that all the money she saved during her lifetime be used to help students who are unable to continue their academic endeavors because of financial difficulties.

The donation amounts to 70 million won. She also had her house leasing deposit of two million won donated.

South Korean Politics Still a Man’s World
Wall Street Journal

The election in late 2012 of Park Geun-hye as South Korea’s first female president was heralded as a landmark moment for women in a country that remains highly patriarchal at many levels.

But data released on Tuesday by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and United Nations Women, the U.N. entity for gender equality, underscores how much ground women still have to make in South Korea’s political sphere.

The data show that South Korea ranked near the bottom among the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development when it comes to the number of women in cabinet-level positions as of January 2014.

Prosecutor Seeks Death Penalty in Ulsan Child Abuse Case
Wall Street Journal

In a rare move, the public prosecutor’s office in Ulsan is seeking the death penalty for a woman who is accused of beating her 7-year-old stepdaughter to death.

Chief Prosecutor Kim Hyung-jun said Tuesday that he is seeking the maximum penalty to raise awareness of child abuse and “stop such a tragedy from happening again.”

The death of the child in October caused an outcry in South Korea, where many people regard the issue of child discipline as a private matter.

Mr. Kim said Tuesday that the stepmother, over a three-year period, inflicted injuries on the girl that included burns and bone fractures. The woman beat the girl to death after she asked to go on a school picnic, the prosecutor said, adding that 16 of the girl’s ribs were broken.

HyunA to Collaborate with British singer Rita Ora for “Funny or Die”

Comedy website “Funny or Die” will be bringing us another K-pop collaboration!

According to news sources, 4Minute‘s HyunA was in Los Angeles on March 11 to film for “Funny or Die.” She shared several photos on her Instagram account, including those with British singer Rita Ora. After the photos were posted, Cube Entertainment confirmed that the two will be working on a video for “Funny or Die.”

Seoul’s Gangnam creates ‘K-Star Road’ for Korean pop culture
Yonhap News

The office of Seoul’s Gangnam District, most popularized by rapper Psy’s eponymous song, opened a street Wednesday featuring diverse stories of Korean pop stars, to promote culture and tourism in its posh neighborhood.

The “K-Star Road” is an around 1-kilometer-long street between Galleria Department Store and the country’s top entertainment agencies of SM Entertainment and Cube Entertainment in the Apgujeong area, southern Seoul.

It was redecorated as an urban version of a trekking course where visitors can visit various sites and enjoy interactive activities related to the so-called hallyu, or the worldwide popularity of Korean cultural contents, according to the office.

Dodgers’ Ryu embraces bigger role
Korea Times

After a successful rookie year with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ryu Hyun-jin is out to prove he has staying power.

The 26-year-old lefty, who went 14-8 with a 3.00 earned run average (ERA) in his first season out of the Korea Baseball Organization, is expected to take a bigger role this season with his club, regarded a World Series contender.

Ryu’s dazzling changeup and ability to throw different pitches for strikes made him one of the better starters in the National League last year. But hitters, armed with a full season of experience and scouting reports, may now have a better idea of how to attack him.

Talking to reporters after a spring training outing against the Oakland Athletics in Arizona on Tuesday, Ryu said he wasn’t concerned about the possibilities of a sophomore slump. It was a predictable response as his confidence and unflappability have always been as critical as assets to Ryu as his arm.

Choo out with sore elbow, hopes to play Wednesday

Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is the latest Rangers player to come down with one of those nagging Spring Training ailments.

Choo said he has been bothered by a sore left elbow and was out of the lineup Tuesday against the White Sox. He last played Saturday against the Dodgers and is hoping to be back in the lineup Wednesday, so the problem is not too serious.

“At the end of a season, when you stop throwing, your muscles shrink,” Choo said. “When you start throwing again, your muscles get extended and I get a little inflammation. I don’t want to play and make it worse. It’s feeling better today.”

Mysterious rocks could be first Korean meteorites in 70 years
Korea Herald

Interest is growing in the two mysterious black rocks found at Korean farms, with early analysis results indicating that at least one may be a meteorite.

On Wednesday, a second rock suspected of being a meteorite was found in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province.

The owner of the farm where the new rock was found, located 4 kilometers from the farm where a suspected meteorite was found on Monday, has requested that it be analyzed.

If scientists confirm that the stones are meteorites, they will become the fifth and sixth found in Korea. Previous finds were recorded in 1924, 1930, 1938 and 1943.

South Korea’s cheese binge is driving American milk prices to an all-time high

The biggest fans of US cheese by far are Mexico, South Korea and Japan. Mexico accounts for around one-quarter of US cheese exports, in part because of its free-trade agreement with the US, but also because Mexicans just love cheese (the country is the world’s biggest importer of Gouda). But despite having less than half Mexico’s population, South Korea is steadily gaining ground.

South Korea blew past Japan and Canada in 2008 to become the number two market for US cheese. Then in 2012, the US and South Korea inked a free-trade agreement (pdf) that made US dairy products more competitive there.

Perhaps the biggest reason, though, is simply that South Koreans are eating more and more cheese. The wild popularity of string cheese in convenience stores has something to do with that, though the bigger factor is probably pizza, which is huge in South Korea.

Designer Handbag Rentals Available in Korea
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: March 10th, 2014
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A new service in South Korea allows women to flash the latest high-end handbag without forking over a lot of dough.

MBC reports that a luxury goods rental service has customers depositing their own upscale handbag with a broker which then entitles them to pick out a handbag for a fee of about $20 to $30 per week. If the customer’s bag is rented by another customer, they get a percentage of the rental fees. If they don’t add a bag to the pool, they can still rent a bag for a higher fee of about $50.

Members are reportedly happy with the service. Continue Reading »

Chloe Kim Becomes Youngest World Snowboard Tour Overall Champion
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: March 10th, 2014
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Chloe Kim landed on the podium at the last major snowboarding event of the season, making her the youngest-ever World Snowboard Tour overall champion.

Chloe, 13, came in third at the Burton U.S. Open held in Vail, Colo., over the weekend, launching a huge switch method and a big switch frontside air during one of her three runs. Transworld Snowboarding said “Chloe put down one of the most original runs of the day,” on her way to bronze.

Recent Olympic bronze medalist Kelly Clark, who won the weekend’s event, had nothing but praise for her protege. Continue Reading »

SBS Pulls Plug On Dating Reality Show After Contestant’s Suicide
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: March 7th, 2014
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Amid fierce public criticism, South Korean broadcaster SBS announced it was canceling a reality dating show after one contestant recently took her own life.

The 29-year-old woman, surnamed Chun, apparently committed suicide the night before the last day of production of “Jjak” on the resort island of Jeju. Crew members found her in a locked bathroom with a hair dryer cord around her neck.

SBS, one of Korea’s three major networks, apologized to viewers in a statement and promised to take steps to prevent future incidents, according to AFP. Continue Reading »

Thursday’s Link Attack: East Sea Bill Passes in VA; Hope for Kenneth Bae; Obama Enjoys Korean Food
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: March 6th, 2014
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Passenger jet passed through trajectory of N. Korean rocket, South Korea says

A Chinese passenger jet with more than 200 people on board flew through the trajectory of a North Korean rocket that had been fired minutes earlier, the South Korean government said.

North Korea fired the rocket Tuesday at 4:17 p.m. without giving any navigational warning, Kim Min-Seok, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, said Wednesday.

Seven minutes later, a China Southern Airlines plane carrying 220 passengers from Japan’s Narita airport to Shenyang in China passed through the rocket’s trajectory, he said.

N. Korea snubs South’s offer of Red Cross talks
Yonhap News

North Korea on Thursday rejected South Korea’s proposal to hold Red Cross talks to discuss regular reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War as Seoul’s point man on Pyongyang called for the sides to build mutual trust.

The North’s Red Cross said in a message to its South Korean counterpart that an appropriate atmosphere has not been created for the proposed talks, according to the unification ministry.

The North did not elaborate on what it meant by atmosphere, though it may have referred to its displeasure with the ongoing joint military drills between South Korea and the United States.

The ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, expressed regret over the North’s rejection.

U.S. envoy still hopeful for missionary’s release from North Korea

The United States is still hopeful of securing the release of an American missionary being held in North Korea, the U.S. human rights envoy for the country said on Thursday, even though two trips he has had scheduled for the purpose have been canceled.

Ambassador Robert King said there had been no progress on the Kenneth Bae case since his last trip was called off in February.

“We are hopeful; we continue to press,” King told Reuters. “I have had two trips canceled, but we are hopeful that the right circumstances will occur and we will be able to do something.”

Australian Missionary Describes North Korea Detention
Wall Street Journal

John Short, the Australian missionary released by North Korea on Monday, has given his first public account of his detention. Compared with North Koreans caught practicing religion, he got off lightly.

In a statement released to the Australian Associated Press on Wednesday, Mr. Short said he was questioned daily for four hours over a 13-day investigation.

“There were two-hour sessions each morning, which were repeated again in the afternoons,” he said.

Mr. Short, 75, says he was kept in a room with a 24-hour guard and was told he could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Kennedy Urges Japan, South Korea to Resolve Diplomatic Tensions

Japan and South Korea should take the lead in improving relations and the U.S. will do whatever it can to help defuse tensions between its two main Asian allies, Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy said.

“The three countries can work together, will work together, and I think these good relations are in everyone’s interest,” Kennedy said in an interview aired yesterday by Japanese broadcaster NHK. “The two countries really should and will take the lead in this process and the United States, being a close ally of both of them, is happy to help.”

Relations between Japan and South Korea have soured since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in December 2012. Ill-will over a lingering territorial dispute has been aggravated by Abe’s visit to a Tokyo war shrine and comments by his administration about wartime sex slaves, reviving tensions over Japan’s militant past and 35-year occupation of Korea. Abe has not met with Korean President Park Geun Hye during his current term in office.

Va. bill on alternative Sea of Japan name in textbooks heads toward McAuliffe’s desk
Washington Post

Having survived weeks of behind-the-scenes scheming, an obscure textbook bill that elicited threats from Japan and drew busloads of Korean activists to the Capitol was headed Wednesday to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature.

McAuliffe (D) had promised on the campaign trail to support legislation requiring that any new Virginia textbooks note that the Sea of Japan is also known as the East Sea. It was a move meant to win voters in Northern Virginia’s large Korean American community, where “Sea of Japan” is considered a holdover from Japanese occupation.

The promise angered Japan, one of Virginia’s largest trading partners and biggest sources of foreign investment. The Japanese ambassador sent McAuliffe a letter suggesting that the legislation would damage trade relations. The embassy also hired a team of prominent Richmond lobbyists to try to thwart the legislation in the Capitol.

In battle for 6th District’s votes, Coffman, Romanoff target Koreans
Denver Post

Fifty-eight- year-old Alex Choe runs a dry cleaners in Firestone, doesn’t feel confident in his English skills and, until shaking GOP Rep. Mike Coffman’s hand last year, had never met an elected federal politician.

That Choe, who lives in Aurora, has emerged as an attractive person to glad-hand for Coffman and his Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff, reveals two important traits of their looming November battle: The 6th Congressional District race could be won in the thousands of votes, and Aurora’s diverse micro-ethnic populations suddenly matter.

“I am sure the Korean-American vote won’t be discounted this year because it’s such a close race,” Choe, president of the Korean Society of Denver, said in an interview through an interpreter. “I am undecided. … I don’t want to make hasty decisions.”

More Korean court translators needed
Korea Times US

California state court authorities are planning to carry out a policy to expand translation services for minorities, including Koreans.

During a public hearing this week, residents and court employees came out to discuss the Statewide Language Access Plan (LAP) for California Courts, which was launched last month by the state’s legislation and judiciary committee.

The LAP outlines the need for a more comprehensive translation service. The committee said its aim is to provide those who do not have English proficiency — currently 20 percent of Californians, or 7 million people — with services to break the language barrier.

Maj. Kurt Chew-een Lee, Asian-American Marines trailblazer dies at 88

Maj. Kurt Chew-Een Lee, the first Asian-American U.S. Marine Corps officer, rose through the ranks beginning his career from World War II to the Vietnam War.

During the Korean War, he became commander of a machine gun platoon, to the shock of his men who had never before seen a person of Chinese ancestry. Some even questioned his loyalty as U.S. forces were battling Chinese forces, which had joined the conflict on the side of North Koreans.

In a November 1950 clash, Lee and his men were outnumbered in a surprise attack by Chinese forces. His actions there and in another clash would earn him a bevy of military honors, including the second highest military decoration, the Navy Cross.

Is This Pickup Artist Actually… Helping People?
The Awl

“Once you go Asian, you can’t go Caucasian. Once you go yellow—hello!” JT Tran told his audience of hopeful men.

This was in a Manhattan conference room on Valentine’s Day, and JT was running a weekend-long bootcamp with a simple mission: to help Asian men get some skin in the dating game, and maybe even get laid.

The class’s methods and language were taken straight from the pickup artists’ world. And yet, the course also resembled a rollicking post-grad symposium on race. Yellow fever. That infamous OKCupid survey that showed Asian women overwhelmingly preferred white men. The culture clash between an Asian upbringing and a Western world that has different expectations for success. And the ease with which people speak racistly of Asian men—like the way Lorde and her Asian boyfriend were recently torn into on Twitter.

Laboring in a dating world that seems stacked against his kind, JT, whose name is Jerry and who bills himself as a transformational figure in the Asian community, is a man on a mission to transform the Western image of Asian men from asexual nerds into shagworthy dating material—all through the science and/or art of picking up women.

South Korea Sets World Cup Wheels in Motion
Wall Street Journal

The lost man of South Korean soccer returned to the national side on Wednesday to help fire the team to a 2-0 win over Greece in Athens and rekindle optimism over the upcoming World Cup.

Park Chu-young, who hadn’t played for the national team for more than a year, latched on to a lob over the Greek backline to volley South Korea ahead on 18 minutes. Park joined English Premier League side Arsenal in 2011 but had almost zero game time before a recent loan move to second tier team Watford.

Greece hit the goal frame three times in the first half but conceded a second goal from Son Heung-min 10 minutes into the second half and never mounted a sustained fightback.

Women Everywhere in Food Empires But No Head Chefs

Over the past decade, David Chang has built Momofuku from a small ramen bar in Manhattan’s East Village to an eight-restaurant empire with roughly 500 staffers in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Here’s what else he’s done:

He’s earned two Michelin stars and four James Beard Awards. He’s accrued nearly 100,000 Twitter followers. He’s disrupted the French-Italian pastry monopoly by starting, with Christina Tosi, a chain of Milk Bar bakeries that tout haute junk food over croissants and cannolis. And he co-founded a quarterly food magazine called Lucky Peach, one of whose publications was titled “The Gender Issue.”

Now here’s what Chang hasn’t done: Tapped a woman to lead one of his restaurants as chef de cuisine or higher. It is a peculiar omission, given the diversity of his staff, even at upper echelons of his company.

Obama enjoys Korean food
Korea Times

U.S. ambassador to Korea Sung Kim said U.S. President Barack Obama likes Korean food very much.

Appearing on a morning show “Good Morning” of SBS, the envoy said, “President Obama enjoys Korean food so much that he voluntarily orders the food himself. I don’t feel the need to recommend Korean food for him.”

“When President Obama visited Korea in 2012, he knew that the hotel where he stayed was offering Korean food as room service. At that time, he (Obama) told me that he would eat “bulgogi” for dinner.

Korean poet Kim Hyesoon is poking American art’s holes

In the introduction to Kim Hyesoon’s All The Garbage of the World, Unite!, translator Don Mee Choi recounts a great example of the type of problem translated works often run into. An American literary journal, after showing interest in one of Choi’s Korean-to-English translations of a Kim poem, requested that the word “hole” be replaced with something else, on the grounds that “hole has negative connotations in our culture.” Choi had used the word in reminding her reader that, during the Korean War, 250,000 pounds of napalm were dropped by the American military each day, turning her country into a mass of holes where once there had been houses, mountains, rice fields. She told the magazine she “didn’t have time to think about it.”

Kim is no stranger to stodgy literary types. At the time she began writing, classical forms in the hands of aristocratic men had long dominated Korean poetry. “I often felt as if my tongue were paralyzed,” Kim has said. “For me the vast open field of the unknown and the prison existed simultaneously.” Over time, poetry in her country has slowly opened up with the rise of free verse, feminism, and activism.

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