Wednesday’s Link Attack: Oregon Bus Crash; Rain’s Dating Scandal; Kim Yuna
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 2nd, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Survivors recall terror after a bus crash in Oregon’s Blue Mountain range kills 9
New York Daily News

A charter bus carrying 48 tourists, many of them South Korean nationals, crashed through a guadrail near a spot called Deadman’s Pass. Survivors remember the horror of seeing bodies in the snow.

5 Korean Victims of Oregon Bus Crash Identified
Chosun Ilbo

Nine people were killed when a tourist bus carrying 48 people plunged 30 m down a steep embankment from a highway in the U.S. state of Oregon on Monday.

The Foreign Ministry here said Tuesday that five of the victims have been identified as Korean, three others were Korean American and one has not been identified.

North Korean Defector Arrivals Plunge in South in 2012
Wall Street Journal

The number of North Koreans defecting to South Korea after fleeing their impoverished and oppressive homeland fell sharply in 2012, apparently due to tightened border control.

The Ministry of Unification said 1,508 North Korean defectors arrived in South Korea last year, a preliminary figure that may be revised by next month when final count is reached.

The number is about half the 2,706 North Koreans who arrived in South Korea in 2011. It’s also the first drop below the 2,000-level since 2006.

Focus on North Korea’s detention of Lynnwood man
Seattle Times [EDITORIAL]

Kenneth Bae, 44, of Lynnwood has been detained in North Korea since November. There’s hope for the tour operator’s release, but officials must deal with the situation diplomatically.

North Korea’s caste system faces power of wealth
AP via Google News

For more than a half-century, a mysterious caste system has shadowed the life of every North Korean. It can decide whether they will live in the gated compounds of the minuscule elite, or in mountain villages where farmers hack at rocky soil with handmade tools. It can help determine what hospital will take them if they fall sick, whether they go to college and, very often, whom they will marry.

It is called songbun. And officially, it does not exist at all.

The power of caste remains potent, exiles and scholars say, generations after it was permanently branded onto every family based on their supposed ideological purity. But today it is also quietly fraying, weakened by the growing importance of something that barely existed until recently in socialist North Korea: wealth.

Google’s executive chairman to visit final frontier of cyberspace: North Korea
AP via Minneapolis StarTribune

Google’s executive chairman is preparing to travel to one of the last frontiers of cyberspace: North Korea.

Sources tell The Associated Press that Eric Schmidt will be traveling to North Korea on a private trip led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that could take place as early as this month. The sources, two people familiar with the group’s plans, spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the visit hadn’t been made public.

Korean American soldier acquitted of rape in Seoul
Asian Correspondent

On the 1st the 27th criminal division (Judge Kim Hwan-su) of the Seoul Central District Courts acquitted 25-year old Korean-American soldier Mr. A of charges of sexually assaulting a woman he had met at a nightclub while she was intoxicated. He had been indicted on the charge of quasi-rape (준강간죄).

The court said that “it is difficult to see the situation in which the victim had sexual relations with Mr. A as one in which she was unable to resist or could not protest… simply because the victim does not remember what occured does not enable the court to determine her intention or judge her unable to have resisted.”

Bergen County municipal court judge Jae Y. Kim reappointed

County officials have announced the re-appointment of Central Municipal Court Judge Jae Y. Kim.

Kim, a Hackensack attorney, was first appointed by Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan in January of last year. He’ll be sworn in at a ceremony at the Bergen County Court House Wednesday afternoon.

Buck Gee and Vish Mishra: Silicon Valley and our Asian-American advantage
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.)

We believe that the key reason few Asian Americans become Silicon Valley executives is that many bring a cultural background and a focus on individual achievement that leaves blind spots in their understanding of organizational leadership, especially with soft skills and business vision. We have witnessed this in the reactions of participants in a unique advanced leadership program for Asian American executives at the Stanford Business School, a partnership with Ascend and Asia Society that we helped initiate three years ago. To paraphrase an Intel engineering director’s closing feedback last August, “unknowing to awareness in six days.”

But we worry that there is a different narrative in the community. In a 2009 survey, 71 percent of Asian Americans polled felt that they were disadvantaged in workplace promotions. This has not significantly changed since 1993, when another study found that 80 percent of Asian Americans in Silicon Valley thought that a glass ceiling existed.

Military issues cloud singer Rain’s love life
AFP via Google News

South Korean pop icon Rain has come under fire after reports revealing his relationship with a top TV actress suggested he might be flouting the terms of his compulsory military service.

Rain’s relationship with Kim Tae-Hee, a major TV drama star with a massive following in Japan, was first reported Tuesday by a tabloid magazine, sparking a fan frenzy on entertainment websites and social networks.

The magazine published photos showing Kim, 32, wearing a cap and surgical mask, getting into a car driven by the singer, who is halfway through the two-year military service that is mandatory for Korean men.

Kim Yu-na to skate in S. Korean figure championships this weekend
Yonhap News

Figure skating star Kim Yu-na will compete in the South Korean national championships this weekend, her first appearance at the tournament in seven years, as she tries to qualify for the world championships this spring.

The Korea Skating Union (KSU) said Wednesday Kim will take part in the 2013 Korea Figure Skating Championships at Mokdong Ice Rink in western Seoul. The ladies’ short program is set for Saturday and free skating is on Sunday.

Footballer Ji Dong-won moves from England to Germany on loan
Yonhap News

South Korean footballer Ji Dong-won, once confined to the bench in the English Premier League, has joined a first-division German club on loan, officials said Wednesday.

Ji’s new team, FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga, and his English side, Sunderland, both announced early Wednesday, Korean time, that Ji is moving to Germany on a loan deal. The transaction ended months of speculation on the future of the 21-year-old, who had not played a game for Sunderland in the ongoing season.

Top 10 Most Popular Stories of 2012
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: December 31st, 2012
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Another year has gone by and it seemed like just yesterday when we here at KoreAm were scrambling just prior to the January 2012 issue’s deadline to include special coverage of Kim Jong-il’s death. While we offer a lot of news on North Korea, it seems like the reclusive country garners lukewarm interest among our readers.

Alas, stories about plastic surgery, Miss Korea, or Miss Korea getting plastic surgery were the hot topics.

However, we took comfort in the fact that a handful of serious stories made it into the Top 10, including Eugene Yi’s riveting oral history of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. So as we head into 2013 knowing that the world is not coming to an end, we will continue to mix business with pleasure, the serious and the silly. Here’s to another year in the books.

Happy New Year!

10. ‘Gangnam Style’ Flash Mob Hits Los Angeles (Aug. 20) Continue Reading »

Chicago Man Found Not Guilty of Killing Son
Author: KoreAm
Posted: December 31st, 2012
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Three years after being accused of stabbing his son to death, a Chicago area man was found not guilty of first-degree murder, according to news reports.

Following a 13-day trial, Hyungseok Koh was acquitted of murdering his son, Paul Koh, at the Skokie Courthouse on Dec. 17, the Chicago Tribune reported. He was found innocent of all charges against him during a jury trial before Circuit Court Judge Garrett Howard.

“He’s extraordinarily happy,” defense attorney Terri L. Mascherin told the newspaper. “He’s very relieved and very excited to be going back home.” Continue Reading »

Monday’s Link Attack: Korea Snubs Japan’s Dokdo Protest; K-pop; Yahoo Leaves Korea
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: December 31st, 2012
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S. Korea snubs Japan’s protest over Dokdo
Yonhap News

South Korea has rejected a protest by Japan over Seoul’s annual defense report that reaffirms its bid to protect the easternmost islets of Dokdo, a senior official said Monday.

Japan recently sent the South Korean government an official letter protesting the defense white paper that made clear Seoul’s sovereignty over Dokdo, which Tokyo has also claimed as its own.

In a rebuttal letter to Japan, South Korea reiterated that, “Dokdo is an integral part of Korean territory historically, geographically, and under international law,” the foreign ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

Drones for South Korea [EDITORIAL]
New York Times

Less than a month after North Korea’s latest missile test, the Obama administration has offered to sell South Korea advanced spy drones so it can keep a closer eye on its northern adversary. The decision raises some concerns, and Congress would be wise to ask a lot of questions before going along, including whether the deal is part of a comprehensive strategy or just a way to penalize North Korea.

The proposed $1.2 billion sale of four Global Hawks made by Northrop Grumman was first requested by South Korea several years ago. The drones, remotely piloted aircraft with enhanced surveillance technology, would expand South Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities when it takes over wartime control of its troops from the United States in 2015, as previously agreed. The United States has held wartime command since the Korean War; the Seoul government regained peacetime control of its military in 1994.

2013: Asia’s Time?

The most consequential developments will take place in China. Xi Jinping will assume the presidency in March. But as the Communist Party’s leader, he is already the most powerful person in the country. How will he lead? The early signs are promising. After his election, Xi’s first official visit outside Beijing took him to Shenzhen. It was a carefully considered choice. Shenzhen is a “special economic zone” – a poster child for China’s economic reforms. While there, Xi made a point of laying a wreath at a bronze statue of Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s fiscal reforms in the 1980s. The symbolism was clear: it is time once again for a bend in the road.

Yahoo exits S. Korea, halts service
Yonhap News

U.S. Internet company Yahoo Inc. on Monday halted its South Korean service, pulling out of one of the world’s most wired countries after 15 years.

Yahoo will halt all products, services and content of Yahoo Korea starting Dec. 31 in addition to ending customer support in Korea on the same day, the company wrote on its Korean Web site.

In October, Yahoo announced a plan to pull out of South Korea as chief executive officer Marissa Mayer focuses more on stronger markets.

State Senate chooses Donna Kim as new president
Honolulu Star-Advertiser

The state Senate has reorganized behind Sen. Donna Mercado Kim as the new Senate president.

Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa) succeeds Shan Tsutsui, who accepted the post as lieutenant governor on Thursday.

“We are solidified in dealing with the pressing issues facing our state,” Kim said in a statement. “The Senate continues to be organized in a cooperative and focused manner. I’m humbled to receive the confidence and support of my colleagues.”

Person of the Year: Chubby You-Know-Who
Wall Street Journal

On New Year’s Eve 2011, Park Jae-sang probably shared a bottle—or seven—of soju with friends while celebrating his 35th birthday (he was born on Dec. 31, 1977).

This year, he’ll be one of the headline acts performing in New York’s Times Square.

What a year it’s been for Mr. Park, aka Psy, the undisputed person of the year in a poll of the staff of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones in Seoul.

Year in Ideas: What a Korean rapper taught us about pop culture today
National Post (Canada)

The video for Gangnam Style, the unlikely hit from South Korean rapper/fancy dresser Psy, has been viewed on YouTube more than one billion times since June. Of these, half a billion involved people watching it so they could memorize the moves for their own Gangnam Style parody and a quarter billion that involved curious watchers who, at the end of four minutes and 13 seconds, were left baffled as to how that song became the most-watched internet video of all time. (These are estimates only.)

But aside from the fact that people still seem to get a kick out of bow ties, the Gangnam phenomenon says something about how we experience culture in an internet world. Just don’t expect Psy to be a big deal in 2013, too.

Korea Counts Down Not Just To New Year, But to New Girls’ Album
Wall Street Journal

There have been so many countdowns in South Korea over the past couple months that hardly a day went by without the “D-some number” in the corner of a TV screen. There was the annual countdown to the college entrance exam in November, then came the one for the presidential election, the end of civilization under the Mayan calendar and the end of 2012.

But anyone recently looking at South Korean entertainment news – online, on the air or in print – knows that one countdown has been dominating the scene for the few weeks: the one for the new album from Girls’ Generation.

Seoul searching: on the trail of the K-pop phenomenon
The Guardian (U.K.)

The K-pop phenomenon, spearheaded by that song, has put South Korea’s capital, Seoul, in the spotlight. We visit Gangnam to find out what all the fuss is about

The Color of K-Pop: HyunA, Yo Seob and K-Pop All-Stars Unite for Charity Singles

The holiday season in the K-pop world signifies the coming of the SBS Gayo Daejun — the end-of-year broadcast special in South Korea where celebrities come together for special performances and collaborations.

2012 marks a particularly special year as members from some of K-pop’s biggest groups will create four super idol groups, record a new single, and perform it together at SBS Gayo Daejeon. All the better, all the proceeds will go to children of low-income families through the charity Dream Orchestra.

Nebraska OL Choi draws inspiration from Hines Ward
Athens Banner-Herald (Ga.)

There would typically be no reason for a starting offensive lineman for Nebraska to feel a connection to a player who finished his college career at Georgia 15 years ago.

Seung Hoon Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea, like former Bulldogs star Hines Ward. Choi didn’t know about Ward, the now retired Super Bowl MVP receiver, until Choi began playing football as a sophomore at Christian High School in Lincoln.

“I followed him,” said Choi, a senior who started all 13 games at left guard this year. “He’s a big-timer in Seoul. I followed him quite a bit. I heard he was thinking about going to Nebraska, too.”

Young Male Skater Hopes to Follow in Kim Yu-na’s Tracks
Chosun Ilbo

Olympic champion Kim Yu-na’s rise to the pinnacle of world figure skating has spawned a generation of talented young skaters with stars in their eyes.

Kim Hae-jin and Park So-youn have both started making it onto the podium at international competitions as they aspire to become the next Kim Yu-na.

And now the country has a promising young male skater in the form of 16-year-old Kim Jin-seo, who won a bronze medal at the International Skating Union-sanctioned Junior Grand Prix in Austria in September.

Kwon Receives All-County and All-State Honors (subscription req’d)

Andy Kwon, a senior offensive lineman at North Gwinnett High School (GA), wraps up his high school career on Saturday as an All-State selection in Columbus. Kwon discusses his accomplishments and his commitment to Georgia Southern.

Singer Lee So-eun Passes U.S. Bar Exam
Chosun Ilbo

Singer Lee So-eun recently passed the U.S. bar exam, offering an alternative role model for Korean youngsters who regard becoming a celebrity as the be-all and end-all of existence.

For Lee, going to law school was not an escape from a flagging musical career. She has released four albums since debuting in 1998, when she was just in high school. Lee spent her childhood in the U.S. and had difficulty adjusting to school back to Korea. Then she happened to hear about an audition on education broadcaster EBS and entered it. She made it to the finals with a piece she composed by herself.

Korean-American novelist uses Macalester as backdrop for ‘The Collective’
Minnesota Public Radio

The Korean-American novelist Don Lee’s latest book “The Collective” uses Macalester College in St. Paul as a launching point for a tale about the Asian-American experience. Lee said of his four books so far, “The Collective” is his most personal.

“The Collective” begins with the suicide of Joshua Yoon, a young writer on the verge of making it big. The news leaves his once-close group of college friends reeling.

Korean Tour Bus Crash in Oregon Kills Nine
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: December 31st, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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Nine people were killed and at least 20 more injured on Sunday when a Korean Canadian tour bus crashed down an icy embankment in Oregon, according to news reports.

The accident occurred at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Sunway on the ice-covered roads of Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon. The tour bus, owned by Mi Joo Travel of Vancouver, British Columbia, apparently lost control on the icy road and careened through a guardrail, and tumbled down a 100-foot embankment, according to The Oregonian newspaper. After flipping at least three times, the bus came to a stop with its roof partially sheared off.

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