Korean American designer Richard Chai sent a revamped version of every homebody’s favorite garment, the bathrobe, down the runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, triggering an unexpected buzz.
The New Jersey native unveiled the Fall 2014 collection for his Richard Chai Love clothing line on Thursday. A writer on the fashion blog Pattern called the plaid bathrobe an “impressive surprise.”
“I couldn’t believe my eyes. I checked my Twitter feed. Yes, others had seen it, too. Then, the pictorial evidence started pouring in. In fact, no one was tweeting any of the other looks for a while,” wrote fashion photographer Charles I. Letbetter. “The audience was stunned with amazement. Richard Chai sent a bathrobe down the runway. And it was an immediate hit.” Continue Reading »
North Korea, Citing U.S. Bomber Training Run, May Cancel Reunions
New York Times
North Korea on Thursday threatened to cancel reunions of families separated by the Korean War, accusing the United States of flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers on a training mission over the Korean Peninsula.
North and South Korea agreed on Wednesday to hold the family reunions Feb. 20 to 25, when hundreds of elderly Koreans would be allowed to meet their relatives for the first time since the war ended in 1953.
The deal was widely seen as a sign that relations between the two countries may be warming after threats of war followed the North’s nuclear test early last year. The reunions would be the first since 2010, when the humanitarian program was halted amid souring relations.
Reunion Possible for Korean Families Long Separated by War
NBC Los Angeles
Sixty-five years have passed since Sunny Cho last saw his cousins, who were in grade school when his family fled North Korea. The war had just begun and Cho had been lucky enough to escape to Seoul. But his cousins – two girls and a boy – could not get out before the gate slammed shut.
The country became slip: repressive and closed to the north, democratic and open to the south. In the nearly seven decades that have passed, Cho has wondered how his loved ones are doing, what they’re like, and if they’re even still alive.
But now, in negotiated agreements with the government of Kim Jung Un, there is a ray of hope for Cho and many others like him.
U.S. hails inter-Korean deal on family reunions
The U.S. government expressed support Wednesday for an inter-Korean agreement to allow families separated by the Korean War to meet temporarily.
“We certainly welcome the decision by South Korea and North Korea to set a date for family reunions. As you know, we support improved inter-Korean relations, and that this is certainly an example of that,” Jen Psaki, the State Department’s spokeswoman, said at a press briefing.
After years of sharp military tensions, South and North Korea agreed Wednesday (local time) to resume the temporary reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 conflict.
Bear Bile-Extracting Farms Near Collapse in SKorea
AP via ABC News
Several bears lie on top of each other, as still as teddy bears, as they gaze out past rusty iron bars. Others pace restlessly. The ground below their metal cages is littered with feces, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, dog food and fruit. They’ve been kept in these dirty pens since birth, bred for a single purpose: to be killed for their bile.
But these bears aren’t dying. The industry is.
Though their bile has been used as medicine in Asia for thousands of years, cheaper foreign sources, growing skepticism over bear bile’s medicinal value and worries about international condemnation have led to a huge drop in South Korean demand. Kim KwangSoo, the owner of this farm in Dangjin, about 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) south of Seoul, said he hasn’t had a bear bile customer in five years.
South Korea woos rich Chinese ‘youke’ with VIP privileges
South China Morning Post
South Korea will issue VIP cards to rich Chinese tourists to lure more big-spending mainlanders to the country, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper has reported.
The South Korean embassy in China told the newspaper last week that about 20 million mainland Chinese residents could qualify for the card, which would be issued in March at the earliest.
Cardholders will receive five-year multiple-entry visas, use of exclusive automated immigration counters, personal shopper services and discounts at department stores and tax-free shops, and translation services at tourist attractions.
Singer’s Times Square Ad Funds Go Missing
[Kim Jang-hoon] had tapped into his pension fund to finance the ads and gave the money to Seo. The professor then handed the money to ISEA Communication, an ad agency in New York run by Korean American Cho Hyun-joon.
ISEA then signed an advertising contract with specialist firm City Outdoor and ran the ads for three months. But City Outdoor filed a lawsuit in a New York State court last June accusing ISEA of failing to pay two months’ worth of ad fees totaling $53,000 and is seeking around $70,000 including the money it cost to take the ads down.
Seo says he received the money from the singer and gave it to Cho, but Cho stopped answering phone calls and has dropped from the radar after allegedly confessing to Ahn that he did not pay City Outdoor for the ads.
‘The Attorney’ movie review: An earnest and instructive South Korean box-office hit
Two things seem obvious from watching the first few minutes of “The Attorney”: The movie is a comedy, and its protagonist is no hero.
The recent South Korean box-office hit observes the progress, beginning in 1978, of a lawyer with few credentials but much ambition. Song Woo-seok (Song Kang-ho) is snubbed by other lawyers because he passed the bar exam without attending law school, or even college. These cohorts are further scandalized when Song begins registering real-estate transactions, a task previously restricted to notaries.
His most inexcusable offense? Song makes a lot of money while doing work other attorneys thought was beneath them.
Sistar, 2NE1, Girls’ Generation are hottest 3
Girls’ Generation or 2NE1?
A recent survey of entertainment industry experts showed that Girls’ Generation and 2NE1 are the two groups still at the top of K-pop, but are now sharing the turf with Sistar.
Five album directors, three promoters, two K-pop reporters, and two training managers were surveyed by the Sports Chosun, a daily specializing in entertainment and sports news. The girl groups were evaluated and ranked into six categories based on sales, popularity, impact on the K-pop scene and growth potential.
It found that the four-member Sistar has proven its star quality with such hits as “Give it to Me” last year, to make the top tier.
Kpop Groups Called “Too Sexy” for South Korea
Several of Korea’s hottest musical acts are coming under fire for sexually charged performances. And they’re essentially being told, hey, knock off the sexy!P
In particular, the groups Girl’s Day, AOA, and Rainbow Blaxxx (a sub-unit of the group Rainbow) are being singled out by the Korean media and commenters online for being “too sexy.”P
Here, on Korean morning show Morning Wide (via tipster Sang), you can see the brain waves of two young men being monitored as they watch a Kpop videos with sexy dances.
Jamie Chung: My Engagement Was a Total Surprise
Now that Jamie Chung has had some time to let her engagement sink in, she’s ready to start planning her nuptials – and talk about fiancé Bryan Greenberg’s proposal.
“It was a total surprise!” Chung, 30, told PEOPLE at Reebok’s ZQuick shoe launch in New York on Wednesday. Greenberg, 35, popped the question in Chung’s native San Francisco over the holidays.
The bride-to-be and her beau are looking forward to the months leading up to the wedding. “We just want to enjoy the year of being engaged,” she says.
Who Will Win for South Korea?
Wall Street Journal
South Korea has had more success at the Winter Olympics than any other Asian nation, winning a total of 45 medals since it first took part in the Games in 1948.
At the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, South Korea was the fifth-best nation in terms of gold medals won, with six, all of which came in skating. In Sochi, the country is confident it can finally land its first ever medal outside skating.
Here are some of South Korea’s top medal hopes for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Q&A: Roy Choi Talks POT, Inspiration, and His Return to Ktown
Los Angeles Magazine
Though The Line, the swanky new hotel from the guys behind New York’s NoMad, opened last month, its food and beverage operations are still mostly in development. Roy Choi is the main man behind the eats and drinks here, so expect the unexpected. The main restaurant is called POT. There’s POT bar (which is now open) and POT cafe (a mixture of Taiwanese bakeries, Seoul food markets, and Salvadorian panaderias) on the same level, near the restaurant’s main lounge and lobby. Drinks are served next to a bin of green army soldiers. Snacks include the same bags of popcorn you can get from street vendors outside. Room service is called delivery, because it’s going to be served delivery-style. For details on everything else, we had a drink with Choi at his new bar to talk about this project’s inception, evolution, present, and future.
How did you get this gig [doing food and beverage for The Line Hotel]?
It’s by the Sydell Group out of New York. They approached me, and I turned them down twice—so I guess the third time’s the charm. [Laughs] They came at me from all different angles. I used to work in hotels, so it was just like I wasn’t ready to come back home yet, you know? It wasn’t because it was Sydell. But then my core team said, ‘You know, you can do it your way. You can bring a new voice to the things you already know how to do.’ So, coming in as an owner of the F&B side is different. I am able to express myself. I’m back in Ktown making Korean food.
The reigning Olympic and world champion figure skater Yuna Kim is on the cusp of history. She is the favorite to win gold at Sochi later this month, which would make her only the third woman ever to repeat as Olympic champion.
Not so fast, says Kim’s former coach Brian Orser.
In an interview with a Japanese newspaper, Orser said Kim’s longtime rival Mao Asada is ripe to win gold because she is the only woman who can do a triple axel, the Chosun Ilbo reports.
Orser, himself a two-time Olympic silver medalist, coached Kim to the gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics before parting ways. Continue Reading »
Photo via Toronto Star.
A Korean Canadian university student who sued his school after failing a women’s studies course, citing discrimination, had his complaint denied by a provincial human rights commission, according to the Toronto Star.
The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal dismissed a complaint made by second-year University of Toronto student Wongene Daniel Kim, who said he was too shy to come to the women and gender studies class, being the only male.
“I felt anxiety; I didn’t expect it would be all women and it was a small classroom and about 40 women were sort of sitting in a semicircle and the thought of spending two hours every week sitting there for the next four months was overwhelming,” Kim, 20, told the Toronto Star. Continue Reading »
Fear turns to fury for new breed of North Korean defectors
The Nation (Thailand)
Clara Park makes her living introducing her homeland to tourists from around the world. But instead of trumpeting its attractions like an ambassador, the wife of a former North Korean party cadre shares what it is like to live on food waste and work for no pay in the reclusive state.
The 48-year-old is one of four defectors now working for Panmunjom Travel Centre, the only agency that offers tourists a meeting with a North Korean defector on a visit to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). The Q&A session takes place at Odusan Unification Observatory, which overlooks Imjingang, the river that flows along the tense border. Tourists are seated on child-sized furniture in a mock classroom adorned with portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, as a defector fields questions from the curious.
This job earns defectors like Park an average of US$2,000 (about Bt65,500) a month – a good supplement to the generous benefits they already receive from the South Korean government.
Four U.S. members of Congress ask North Korea to release Kenneth Bae
Reuters via Chicago Tribune
Four U.S. members of Congress have sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un urging him to release imprisoned American missionary Kenneth Bae.
“You have done the right thing by releasing a fellow Korean War veteran, Merrill E. Newman, to return home, you would be making further progress on the humanitarian front by freeing Kenneth Bae to reunite with his family,” stated a copy of the letter obtained by Reuters.
The four U.S. representatives are the last surviving members of Congress to have served in the Korean War.
Reunification Is Becoming a Palpable Prospect
It has been years since any change in China’s perspective on Korean reunification, but now Beijing is making official comments on the issue that were unimaginable in the past.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in a report late last year analyzed the development of the Asia-Pacific region and forecast three possible scenarios: Korean reunification, maintaining the status quo, or military confrontation. The academy said Korean reunification would become the focus of cross-border relations in the future and stressed the need to quell concerns that China would continue to support North Korea under any circumstances.
The academy is the country’s biggest think tank which is under the direct control of the State Council of China. The gist of the report is that if necessary, Beijing can and will distance itself from North Korea. This is simply astounding. North Korea has been among China’s closest allies and the two fought against the U.S. and South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War.
New ‘Social Ills’ Insurance to Cover Bullying, Abuse, Rape, Food Poisoning
Wall Street Journal
South Korea will soon have a new insurance policy: one that covers damages from school bullying, domestic abuse, rape and food poisoning.
Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance Co.001450.SE +1.16% said that it plans to start selling a policy that covers the psychological and physical damages from the so-called four social ills outlined by President Park Geun-hye during her 2012 election campaign.
While domestic and sexual violence, as well as school bullying have been recognized as problems in South Korea, critics have questioned the inclusion of food poisoning.
Report shows that Philadelphia’s Asian Americans defy stereotypes
Often highly skilled and high-achieving, Asian immigrants are frequently portrayed as America’s “model minorities” – cliched as hardworking green grocers, or math-whiz entrepreneurs from the Far East.
But a new report on Asian Americans in Philadelphia released Wednesday challenges the stereotypes with a complex portrait of a community composed of more than two dozen countries of origin and mixed levels of attainment.
Disaggregating Asians by their ethnicities, the report finds pockets of poverty, gaps in education, trouble securing affordable housing and other critical needs.
It also finds the potential for growing electoral power as the advocates for Asians in Philadelphia focus on raising their rates of naturalized citizenship, voter registration and participation in elections.
De Blasio’s New Year shout out to the Chinese community rankles some Korean leaders
New York Daily News
Lunar New Year isn’t just for the Chinese.
That was the message to Mayor de Blasio by some Korean civic leaders who were miffed the holiday greeting that he sent out Friday singled out the Chinese-American community.
“[The] Lunar New Year is not a Chinese holiday — it’s the celebration of many Asians including Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese,” said Yoonhee Choi of the Korean American Parents Association of Greater New York, who fired off a letter to de Blasio and his staff Monday morning.
Strangely, Korea has a kimchi deficit and it’s getting worse
Strange but true. South Korea runs a kimchi deficit. And it’s getting bigger.
South Korean exports of the pungent cabbage dish fell 16.3% in 2013 to $89.2 million. (The weaker yen, which makes Korean kimchi more expensive in Japan was to blame.) And imports, fueled by cheap Chinese kimchi, rose 5.9% to $117.4 million. The result? A culinary cabbage shortfall of $28.1 million.
In fact—with the exception of 2009—Korea has been in the red on kimchi every year since 2006. If you want to, you can see this as bad news, another sign that global trade spats are rising rapidly, exacerbating traditionally difficult relations between neighbors in east Asia.
“Running Man” Is Going to Australia!
SBS’ popular variety program, “Running Man” will be going to Australia.
Multiple broadcast officials on confirmed on February 5 that “Running Man” will be departing for Australia sometime in February. The production staff has already finished planning for the recording to take place in Australia and is currently in the final process of working out the scheduling with the cast.
Jo Hyo Jin, the producer of the show revealed to a Korean media outlet, “We are planning for our filming in Australia. The specific date has not been decided yet, but we are in discussion.”
South Korea’s Curling Hopes at Sochi Winter Olympics
Wall Street Journal
Can South Korea succeed outside the skating rink?
After a best-ever fifth spot on the medals table at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, South Korea has set a modest goal of a top 10 finish in Sochi. But it’s also confident that it can finally land its first ever medal outside of skating.
The coach of the women’s curling team says that may have something to do with tombstones.
South Korea is Asia’s most successful nation in the winter games, winning 45 medals since the newly created country first took part in 1948. All of those medals have been in three events: short-track speed skating, speed skating and figure skating.
N. Korea to miss first Winter Games in 12-years
North Korea will miss the Winter Olympic Games for the first time in 12 years.
An official with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday that no North Korean has qualified for the Feb. 7-23 Sochi Winter Games in Russia. North Korean athletes also failed to earn special “wild cards” for the Olympics as granted by international sports federations, the official added.
The Sochi Winter Olympics’ website lists North Korea as a participating country but doesn’t display any athlete.
Roy Choi’s Taste of South Korea
New York Times
Roy Choi grew up navigating the back streets and alleyways of a dozen Los Angeles neighborhoods. After immigrating from Seoul with his parents at age 2, his childhood was spent exploring South Central, Crenshaw and West Hollywood with a house key tied around his neck, while his parents tried to establish a business.
Buckets of his mom’s homemade kimchi were the constant, he recalls in his memoir cum cookbook, “L.A. Son.” Chili spaghetti from Bob’s Big Boy and carne asada, grilled in parking lots by his street crew, helped round out his story, which, after several twists and turns, landed him in Kogi, the city’s hottest food truck, selling his now classic Korean taco.
His latest project — Pot, a veritable Korean market, at the Line hotel in Los Angeles’s Koreatown — has sent him tromping through his deepest roots in Seoul and other parts of South Korea to find the best hot pot or red bean bun. In a recent phone conversation, he talked about opening his heart to the country’s flavors, leading hotel executives through Seoul and his advice on how to feel at home in the country’s restaurants. Below are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Patbingsoo: Koreatown’s Must-Try Dessert
If you have the sort of sweet tooth that compels you to seek out some sort of dessert after every meal, you could do worse than to be dropped in the middle of Koreatown, where you’ll find sweets pretty much everywhere: There are cinnamon-dusted pancakes called hotteoks served cartside at Gook Hwa House, and pastries at Paris Baguette.
But one of the most popular, and certainly the most fun, desserts in the neighborhood is patbingsoo, a Korean take on shaved ice that’s topped with the type of sweets and savories you’d find at Yogurtland (usually fruit, red beans and condensed milk; occasionally, Fruity Pebbles and Cap’n Crunch), plus a scoop of ice cream and maybe a garnish of whipped cream. The toppings will be neatly arranged around the ice cream on a bed of shaved ice; you are to mix everything together as you would a bowl of bibimbap, which, depending on where you fall on the scale of preferring order to chaos, you will do with great reluctance or with great glee.
The kids these days seem to be most excited about the patbingsoo at Miss Coffee, where the dessert arrives in a huge Pyrex measuring cup, topped with a seemingly endless amount of syrup, strawberries, bananas, kiwis and bits of mochi. Purists, introverts and minimalists, however, likely would much prefer the version at Hwa Sun Ji Tea House.
Kathleen Kye on KYE Fall/Winter 2014 at New York Fashion Week
Hailing from South Korea, KYE started to gain international traction after joining Concept Korea, a small collective of Korean designers who showcase their collections together during New York Fashion Week. KYE’s successive lineup of strong garments placed themselves on our list of top Korean brands to know and they have since graduated from Concept Korea to produce their own standalone fashion show (the brand is now stocked in over 40 retailers globally). We took a quick moment with Kathleen Kye, Designer and Creative Director of KYE, to get her own words on what her Fall/Winter 2014 collection is about.
How do you feel about having your first runway in New York?
I was nervous because I don’t live here and I didn’t know how many people will turn up or how the New York crowd would like my stuff. But I think it turned out pretty well.
What to Expect From Samsung’s Next Galaxy Smartphone
Wall Street Journal
This week, Samsung Electronics made it official that its new flagship product – most likely the successor to its Galaxy S4 smartphone – will be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in February.
The launch comes as the company tries to jumpstart its mobile business which has been suffering from tepid sales due to stiff competition. How the new smartphone is taken by the market will be key for Samsung’s future earnings growth as the majority of its profits today come from selling mobile devices.
While Samsung has officially declined to comment on upcoming products, here’s a roundup of what to expect and what may not be in the new device.