For the Love of the Game
Paul Lee and Ji-Seoung You have regular day jobs as a newspaper sportswriter and radio reporter, respectively, but admit their side gig as Lakers commentators is a dream job come true.
by STEVE HAN
photos by KYUSUNG GONG
IF YOU’RE A FAN of the Los Angeles Lakers, walking into Time Warner Cable SportsNet headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., may actually be just as thrilling as going to the Staples Center, about 15 miles further northeast, in downtown L.A., to watch a game. Around every corner of the lobby is a large flat-screen TV showing various Lakers-related videos in high definition, and you’re left wondering which screen you should be watching.
Then, peering downward, you’ll notice the floor you’re standing on resembles a basketball court, and it’s actually the same hardwood graced upon—and sweated on—by Kobe Bryant. The relatively new regional sports network, which delivers Southern California viewers a host of live sports events, brought the floor from Staples Center after last season to adorn its newly-built, state-of-the-art facility.
It’s no wonder, then, that, although Lakers announcers Paul Lee and Ji-Seoung You call games from a small room here, and not at Staples, it’s still easy for them to get caught up in the L.A. team fervor. Continue Reading »
A journalist incarcerated in China for almost four months says he still has no regrets about his risky work reporting news about North Korea.
by JOHN CHA
illustration by INKI CHO
THE LAST THING Lee Sang-yong wanted to do in his life was to spend 114 days in jail. A Chinese jail, no less. He was ready to head home to Seoul on March 29, 2012, following a three-year stint as a correspondent for an Internet newspaper, the Daily NK, when Chinese intelligence agents nabbed him in Dalian, a port city at the tip of Tsingtao peninsula, about 200 miles west of Dandong.
“I’d just gotten off the bus from Dandong on my way to see my colleagues there. Four plain clothes men came up to me and handcuffed me, my hands behind my back,” Lee, 28, described, during an interview in Seoul. “The handcuffs were so tight. It hurt so bad, I couldn’t think of anything else.”
He had no idea what the gruff Chinese intelligence agents wanted and wondered if they had made a mistake in identity. He would later find out that they knew exactly who he was and that he was a journalist from South Korea. They drove him back to Dandong and put him in a small cell with 20 or so people in it. It was so crowded, he had to sleep sitting up. For meals he was given a Chinese bun and a bowl of clear broth three times a day. Continue Reading »
From Jobless Slacker to Respected Film Director
South Korean director Kim Jee-woon makes his Hollywood debut with a film that also marks Arnold Schwarzenegger’s post-gubernatorial comeback.
by STEVE HAN
In 1983, Kim Jee-woon became a college dropout after failing to show up to a class that was required for graduation from Seoul Institute of the Arts. “I had to watch a baseball game,” Kim said. “Hey, I was a big fan of the LG Twins.”
Over a game of baseball, Kim left school for good and became jobless for the next 14 years. He’s not ashamed to admit that he usually got out of bed in time to greet his mother when she came home from work. In fact, Kim said he thoroughly enjoyed bumming around for over a decade.
“Even when I was jobless, I really had no desire to work anytime soon,” Kim told KoreAm Journal, while shaking his head with a smirk on his face. “I’m the type of person who just wants to get by. I did realize that if I ever do start working one day, the precious time of being free would never return, so I wanted to read books, watch films and listen to music as much as I can. That was my way of investing in myself.”
However, Kim’s nonchalant life was turned upside down when he caused a car accident 14 years into his joblessness. He needed money badly for the first time in his life. Continue Reading »
The Standing Room, operated out of the back of a Southern California liquor store, serves up Korean-Hawai’ian-American fusion that is as maximalist as it sounds.
story by EUGENE YI
photographs by INKI CHO
What is it that drives a man to want more than he can take? Exhibit A: well, me, choosing to have a Napoleon burger from The Standing Room, in Redondo Beach, Calif. The ingredients: half-pound patty (juiced with short rib trimmings), bacon, smoked gouda, cheddar, caramelized onion, spring mix topped with braised short rib, fried egg, and truffle parmesan fries. The thing is taller than it is wide. A skewer stabbed through, top-down, is the only thing that keeps it from collapsing into its constituent parts. The meal boasts enough height to resemble the complex (and the man) it’s named for, all intentional connotations.
“The inspiration behind the Napoleon was actually a joke,” said Lowell Bakke III, the man in the chef’s coat here. “We thought it would be funny to put a really big burger on the menu, and for some reason, it worked.”
That the Napoleon burger emerges from an anomalously modern kitchen in the back of a very regular-looking liquor store in Southern California is, of course, part of the charm and part of what makes people grin and announce, “That’s so L.A.” Which, typically, means it was started by someone who is not from L.A. Continue Reading »
Justin Chon, Unleashed
The actor of Twilight fame is starring in 21 and Over, a new film that may ruffle some feathers. But that’s just fine with Chon, who says it’s time to push boundaries.
story by OLIVER SARIA
photographs by ERIC SILVERBERG | styling by KAYLA MCGEE | grooming by KELSEY DEENIHAN/Exclusive Artists Management
When Justin Chon entered the boisterous eatery, Bottega Louie, in downtown Los Angeles, I almost didn’t recognize him. He melted into the crowd of lunchtime refugees from the nearby Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. His hair was neatly trimmed, and he wore skinny slacks and a red cardigan over a powder blue knit shirt buttoned to the top. Overall, a more conservative look than I had expected, save for one bold fashion choice. Slung over his shoulder, tucked underneath his armpit, he was rocking a Gucci murse—perhaps the most polarizing accessory ever invented. It takes a certain amount of guts to sport one, and I would soon find out Chon is anything but fearful.
“I think we need some rebels,” he declares. “Not everyone has to be the good little subservient Asian boy that does exactly what everybody wants them to do. This is the biggest thing that Asians need to understand: We need to accept that it’s OK to be different. And I try to push the boundaries,” he says, an air of mischief in his eyes.
It would seem that, after five years of being associated with the Twilight franchise, playing Eric Yorkie, one of Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) mortal friends, he’s grown accustomed to strong opinions, and he’s perfectly fine with that.
“As small as my part was, I was a part of something. Whether you like it or not, it’s made a mark in cinema history. It’s like ‘Star Wars for girls,’” he says, crediting Bobby Kim, cofounder of the Hundreds clothing brand, for coining that label. “And to be a part of that is an honor. Nobody can take that away from me. However sh-tty you think the movie is, I was a part of that. Not many films in history have reached that level.” Continue Reading »