January Issue: Author Nami Mun Draws on Runaway Past in ‘Miles From Nowhere’
KoreAm
Author: KoreAm
Posted: January 9th, 2013
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , January 2013
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‘I Am What I Write’

With the success of her bestselling novel, Miles from Nowhere, author Nami Mun draws from a past that reflects the will of the human spirit.

by SUEVON LEE
photograph by VIVIAN LEE

As a 13-year-old, Nami Mun ran away from the Bronx apartment she shared with her Korean immigrant parents. Unlike scores of other teen runaways in the U.S., however, Mun never returned.

She roughed it on the streets, scraping by with an assortment of jobs. Rather than school dances and slumber parties, drug buys under the freeway and temporary shelter stays defined her teenage years.

It’s this kaleidoscopic past that has shaped Mun’s evocative first novel, Miles from Nowhere, told in the voice of a 13-year-old Korean American runaway in 1980s New York.

The 286-page novel was shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers and the Asian American Literary Award, and debuted in 2009 to wide critical praise. “Smartly observed and quietly insightful,” commended the Portland Mercury. “Brutal yet infused with occasional tenderness and hallucinatory beauty,” raved the Austin Chronicle. Continue Reading »

Wednesday’s Link Attack: Pressuring North Korea; Tom Cruise is Korean; Psy’s Super Bowl Ad
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 9th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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New Mexico Ex-Gov. Richardson Pressing North Korean Test Ban
AP via TIME

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Wednesday that his delegation is pressing North Korea to put a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests and to allow more cell phones and an open Internet for its citizens.

Richardson told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview in Pyongyang that the group is also asking for fair and humane treatment for an American citizen detained in North Korea.

“The citizens of the DPRK (North Korea) will be better off with more cell phones and an active Internet. Those are the three messages we’ve given to a variety of foreign policy officials, scientists” and government officials, Richardson said.

S. Korea, Japan to hold first high-level talks since Abe’s inauguration
Yonhap News

Senior diplomats from South Korea and Japan will meet in Tokyo this week to discuss bilateral issues, marking their first meeting since the conservative government of Japan’s Shinzo Abe was launched, Seoul officials said.

The one-day Vice-Ministerial Strategic Dialogue meeting, set for Thursday in Tokyo, will be led by South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young and his Japanese counterpart Chikao Kawai, ministry officials said.

Abe sent his special envoy to speak with South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye last week in an effort to mend strained relations between the two nations. Park is set to take office next month.

Upstate New York man arrested in brutal beating of Queens cabbie
New York Daily News

An upstate New York man has been arrested for the brutal beating of a Queens cabbie in the early hours of New Year’s Day after a dispute over the fare, police said Friday.

Andrew Mcelroy, 28, of Buffalo, allegedly punched yellow cab driver Kichun Kim, 53, “numerous times in the face and head with a closed fist,” a police source told the Daily News.

Kim, who lives in Bayside, was still in a coma Friday at Kings County Hospital Center, sources said. Kim is a member of a literary club run by a local Korean-language newspaper and is a published poet, sources said.

Hundreds of Copycats Follow Celebrity Suicides
Chosun Ilbo

Korea has the highest suicide rate among the OECD countries. According to estimates by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 15,000 people kill themselves every year, and about 100,000 are admitted to emergency rooms following a suicide attempt.

But the number of suicides increases 30 percent over the two months after a celebrity commits suicide, according to a study.

Ha Kyoo-seob of the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention on Tuesday said analysis of suicide data for a period after 2005 released by Statistics Korea shows that an average of 2,632 people killed themselves in the two months after five celebrities took their own lives over the period. That is an increase of 607 suicides, or 30 percent, from the average of 2,025 at normal times.

Samsung’s Dominance Is Worrying for Korea
Chosun Ilbo

Samsung Electronics achieved staggering earnings in 2012 with sales totaling W201 trillion and operating profit of W29 trillion (US$1=W1,063). Sales were up a 21.9 percent and operating profit a massive 85.8 percent compared to 2011.

Samsung managed to rise to the top of the global mobile phone market by rolling out hit products despite a global slump and a nasty patent dispute with Apple.

But the bumper earnings also fuel concerns about the increasing imbalance in Korea’s economy and industry. Last year, six of the top 10 listed Korean companies saw their operating profits shrink. Samsung Electronics’ net profit last year accounted for an estimated 30 percent of the combined net profits of the top 30 businesses in Korea.

Korean Pop Star Psy To Appear In Super Bowl Ad
NPR

Psy took YouTube by storm with the viral sensation “Gangnam Style.” He will appear in a Super Bowl ad for Wonderful Pistachios — one of the biggest processors of the nuts. The commercial will include an alternate version of Psy’s hit song.

Tom Cruise to Receive Honorary Busan Citizenship
Hollywood Reporter

Tom Cruise will become an honorary citizen of Busan, officials of the South Korean city announced Tuesday.

The actor will receive honorary citizenship when he visits the southern port city this week to promote Jack Reacher. Busan Mayor and Busan Film Festival chairman Hur Nam-sik will present special citizenship certificates to Cruise as well as the film’s director, Christopher McQuarrie, and its lead actress, Rosamund Pike. The ceremony will be held Thursday at the Busan Cinema Center, the main venue of the Busan Film Festival.

Choi Min-sik And Hwang Jung-min Star In Korean Thriller NEW WORLD
Twitch Film

What’s this? An upcoming Korean thriller featuring a pair of the country’s most talentable and reliable performers in the lead? Yes, please.

Choi Min-sik, the star of Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, should need no introduction around these parts as is work has won him acclaim both at home and around the globe for years now. And while Hwang Jung-min may lack the name recognition of Choi his body of work is very nearly as impressive, the brooding star of Ryoo Seung-wan’s The Unjust having compiled an impressive resume over the past decade or so.

Record earnings for South Korean league
Reuters

South Korean baseball underlined its continuing growth by posting a record $33 million in revenue last year, local media reported on Wednesday.

Winning gold at the Beijing Olympics and finishing runners-up at the 2009 World Baseball Classic boosted baseball’s popularity and attendances crossed the 7 million-mark for the first time last year, Yonhap News agency reported.

The league pocketed 35 billion won ($32.9 million) in 2012, bettering the 34 billion it earned a year earlier, the report said citing figures from the marketing wing of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).

 

‘K-Town’ Reality Show Season 2: Season Finale Recap
Author: Crystal Kim
Posted: January 9th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Season 2 of “K-Town” comes to an end with Young and So-young’s long-awaited wedding. A slight cake debacle is nothing next to Steve’s disastrous best man’s speech — and yes, it is as bad as it looked on the previews. It’s definitely in my Top 5 cringeworthy moments, to say the least. You might have to follow Steve’s steps and have a bottle of something strong on hand just to get through the speech. You’ve been warned.

Joe and Jowe try to nip the speech in the bud, resulting in one angry mohawked fellow. When Joe surprises Jessica with a promise ring and Steve ruins the moment, drama ensues. The funny thing out of all of this is that Jessica’s reaction to Joe’s news appears pretty lukewarm. What a gal. To top off the craziness, Scarlet somehow manages to temporarily save the wedding while Joe and Steve have a heart-to-heart. Continue Reading »

Rain Receives Slap on Wrist for Dating Scandal
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 8th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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The South Korean Defense Ministry handed down the lightest possible punishment to pop star Rain after it was discovered he was dating an actress while on military duty, according to news reports.

A military disciplinary committee said it ordered Rain to not leave his unit for one week, after the singer was spotted with Kim Tae-hee last month, Yonhap News reported.

The disciplinary committee said it has made the decision as Corporal Jung “breached instructions,” which prevent soldiers from making private contact with civilians while on duty. Continue Reading »

January Issue: Not Your Cookie-Cutter Bakery
KoreAm
Author: KoreAm
Posted: January 8th, 2013
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , January 2013
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Christina Ha, head baker and co-founder of Macaron Parlour in New York City, is putting a fun, modern spin on the traditional French cookie.

story by MICHELLE LEE
photographs by VICTOR CHU

In New York City’s East Village, Christina Ha’s candied bacon and maple macarons are enjoying something of a cult following. As head baker at Macaron Parlour, a patisserie that she co-owns with husband Simon Tung, Ha is bringing bold American flavors and unique twists to the classic French cookies.

Typically composed of two almond meringue shells coating a tasty buttercream or ganache, macarons (not to be mistaken with macaroons) are colorful, bite-sized cookies that have only recently become popular in the States.

And while standard flavors and fillings like pistachio and lemon are among Macaron Parlour’s offerings, the more daring might try Ha’s honey and cognac macaron, the peanut butter and caramelized banana rendition affectionately named the “Elvis,” or the store’s sweet-and-salty top seller: the candied bacon macaron with maple cream cheese filling (yes, with real bacon).

“Our macarons are traditional in technique, but nontraditional in flavor,” said Ha. “We have a lot of fun in the [kitchen], and we want to bring that sort of experience.” Continue Reading »

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