N. Korea fires short-range missiles, South says ‘provocative’
AFP via Yahoo News
North Korea fired short-range missiles into the sea off its eastern coast for the second time in a week Monday, prompting a warning from South Korea of “reckless provocation.”
The missile tests have clearly been timed to coincide with annual South Korea-US military exercises which kicked off a week ago and run until mid-April.
Two missiles were fired Monday and both flew around 500 kilometers (310 miles) into the Sea of Japan, according to South Korea’s Defence Ministry.
Four short-range Scud missiles were fired in similar fashion on Thursday.
South Korea proposes regular family reunions with North
South Korean President Park Geun-hye made a formal proposal to North Korea on Saturday to hold family reunions regularly, uniting families separated since the 1950-53 Korean war, a sign Seoul is seeking to improve relations with the North.
The reunions used to be held roughly annually, but until this February had not taken place since 2010 when tensions between the two Koreas spiraled after the South said the North sank one of its naval vessels.
The latest family reunion was held on February 20-25 at the Mount Kumgang resort just north of the border and a total of 813 family members met in tears and joy.
“I propose to North Korea to make family reunions regular in order to ease the deep sorrow of the separated families as soon as possible. North Korea too has separated families and I believe it also has to relieve their pain and agony,” said Park in a speech marking the March First Independence Movement Day.
N. Korea’s No. 2 man arrested
North Korean government may have locked behind bars the state’s second-in-command Choe Ryong-hae for not fulfilling his duties and other allegations deemed disloyal, Free North Korea Radio (FNKR) said Friday.
According to the media’s state correspondents, the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Chief was arrested at his home on Feb. 21 at around 6 a.m. Some 30 military guards detained Choe who at the time was getting ready to go to work.
The guards, after the arrest, confiscated all documents and appliances at his office in the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces.
Choe is known to have been serving his jail time in a cell located inside the State Security Department since then.
Park Geun-hye Asks Xi Jinping…
Exit Emperor Kim Jong-Il
SK President Park Geun-hye is said to have asked China’s President Xi Jinping whether there was a plan for China to annex North Korea as the 4th province of the Northeast (Dongbei) in the event that North Korea’s governance structure completely breaks down. Xi is said to have answered, no.
Presumably, the new leaders of the respective countries had vetted this question/answer prior to their summit (Beijing, June, 2013). Nevertheless, it is a loaded question, and it had to have caused stir among policy wonks in Beijing.
Park’s question goes directly to her initiative in unification of two Koreas under the leadership of South Korea. She sought consensus among neighboring countries, and appears to have persuaded Xi, Putin, and Obama that Korean unification under the South Korean leadership was good for the region.
Ex-Premier Murayama Expects Abe to Stick by Japan’s War Apologies
Wall Street Journal
Tomiichi Murayama, the former socialist leader of Japan who apologized for Japan’s wartime aggression, is the latest ex-premier to come out of retirement and make current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe uncomfortable.
Mr. Murayama, who is celebrating his 90th birthday Monday, said in a recent visit to South Korea that he expects Mr. Abe to stick by the 1995 “Murayama statement” that contained the apology. Mr. Murayama also wants Japan to uphold a 1993 statement apologizing over the “comfort women” issue, made by Yohei Kono, Japan’s then-chief government spokesman. The term comfort women refers to women and girls, many of them Korean, who were forced to sexually serve Japanese soldiers during World War II.
At a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, Mr. Murayama stepped up his criticism of those who want to revise the apologies, describing the recent controversy surrounding the Kono statement as “meaningless.”
South Korea Assails Japan on Wartime Brothels
New York Times
Unleashing fresh criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, President Park Geun-hye of South Korea on Saturday urged him to be honest and courageous enough to face his country’s history of aggression in the early 20th century, especially its enslavement of Asian women in Imperial Army brothels.
“True courage lies not in denying the past but in looking squarely at the history as it was and teaching growing generations the correct history,” Ms. Park said, referring to Japan’s often brutal colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945. “The more one denies the history of the past, the more wretched and more isolated one gets.”
Just a day earlier, Mr. Abe’s government said it would re-examine a landmark 1993 apology it made to the sex slaves, commonly known by the euphemism “comfort women.”
Former White House staffer Ronnie Cho ‘seriously considering’ Arizona congressional run
Former White House staffer Ronnie Cho is strongly considering a congressional run in Arizona, sources tell the Washington Examiner.
Cho, the former associate director for the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, has been taking calls encouraging him to run in Arizona since Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor announced Thursday he would retire after his current term.
Sources close to Cho, a Phoenix native and Arizona State University alumnus, said he is seriously thinking of throwing his hat into the ring in Arizona’s 7th Congressional District. If successful, he would be the first Korean-American Democrat elected to Congress.
Cho also has been an editor at Newsweek/Daily Beast and worked at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as associate director in the Office of Legislative Affairs.
Gourmet Heaven owner charged with discrimination, wage theft
Providence Journal (Rhode Island)
Gourmet Heaven owner Chung Cho was arrested Monday on five charges of discrimination against workers and five violations of failure to keep wage records at its Connecticut stores, according to Connecticut court records.
Four days earlier, on Feb. 20, New Haven police arrested Chung on 21 felony counts of wage theft and 20 misdemeanor charges of defrauding immigrant workers, according to the court records.
Gourmet Heaven has two locations in Connecticut and two in Providence, one on Weybosset Street downtown and the other, more recently opened, on Meeting Street on College Hill.
The Providence stores are not under investigation, according to Nicole Armstrong, program coordinator for the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.
Oscars: Karen O Performs Ethereal ‘Moon Song’ With Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig
Karen O took the Academy Awards stage Sunday with special guest Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig accompanying on guitar for their performance of Oscar-nominated original song from Her, “The Moon Song.”
Dressed in a deep-V red gown, a seated Karen O brought an ethereal mood to the Dolby Theatre with Koenig’s help on supporting vocals. The performance was in stark contrast to Pharrell Williams’ show-stealing performance of Despicable Me’s “Happy” minutes before, with dozens of dancers amping up the star-filled crowd. An image of a moon rose as Karen O and Koenig crooned “The Moon Song” with the rest of the stage in black.
The two teamed up for a new version of “The Moon Song,” which was co-written by Karen O and Her director Spike Jonze, as part of a three-song EP released on iTunes. Karen O also recorded a solo version.
2NE1 Vs. Girls’ Generation: K-Pop Girl Group Battle Raging on the Charts
As two of K-pop’s biggest international acts, Girls’ Generation and 2NE1 dropping albums within days of each other was sure to stir up a competitive chart battle in both their native South Korea and abroad. According to early chart forecasts, both Korean releases should be making exciting chart moves.
Industry forecasters suggest that 2NE1′s new album “Crush” might sell around 4,000 copies by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, March 2. Meanwhile, Girls Generation’s “Mr.Mr.” EP could sell 3,000.
If 2NE1′s latest effort sells 4,000, it would easily mark the act’s best sales week; the group’s previous high came when “2NE1 2nd Mini Album” EP sold 1,000 in its first week in 2011.
‘Frozen’ Crosses $75 Million in South Korea, Breaks Local Records
Frozen broke several South Korean box office records over the weekend as it became Sunday the first animated feature and the second imported film to cross 10 million admissions here.
As of Monday, according to the Korean Film Council, the Oscar-winning film has grossed $75.48 million (80.45 billion won), making Korea the most successful market for the Disney animation outside of the U.S.
The film’s directors, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, expressed thanks to Korean fans with a hand-drawn picture of the character Olaf and the message, “Thank you Korea for loving me so much! I want to give you all a warm hug!!”
The Chinese obsession with Korean dramas is making bad Chinese TV look bad
Days after a woman suffered a heart attack after staying up late to watch the hit Korean drama “My Love From the Star” (来自星星的你), Xu Qinsong, a Guangdong delegate to the CPPCC (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference), stood up for the poor souls working in the lackluster Chinese domestic television industry by saying enough is enough with China’s Korean drama craze.
In a recent interview, the venerable Mr. Xu lamented how the Korean Drama obsession is hurting China’s “cultural self-esteem.” And the truth is, he does kind of have a point.
“My Love From the Star,” which recently concluded its first season on February 27, weaves a deeply complex and nuanced tale of a young, beautiful Korean actress (played by the young and beautiful Jun Ji-Hyun) who falls in love with her young and beautiful alien boyfriend (played by the young and beautiful Kim Soo-hyun). The show has been broadcasted on China’s video platform sites LeTv.Com and iQiyi, where it has reportedly been watched 14.5 billion times on the latter site alone. Damn. On February 14th, over 100 fans took out a full-page advertisement in the Beijing News to wish male star Kim both a happy Valentine’s Day and happy birthday on February 16th.
Korea’s indie rock music survives in shadow of K-Pop
South China Morning Post
It’s Saturday night in Hongdae, one of Seoul’s best-known entertainment districts. Alleyways that are quiet by day have transformed into bustling passageways lined with busy bars and restaurants; street food vendors have pitched tents to serve soju and fried seafood; and young men and women prowl the streets in their nightclub finery.
With so much action going on, it’s easy to miss the entrance to Club Freebird, an obscure but influential music venue in the area. Inside the bar, surrounded by the blue haze of stage lights, a small crowd sways to Led Zeppelin-inspired guitars and the siren-like vocals of a singer in black eyeliner, fishnet tights and shorts.
Apart from the cheap drinks, every member of the audience is here to enjoy something that South Korea isn’t known for: indie music.
Yoo Jae Suk Gifts University Students Who Appeared on “Running Man”
Comedian Yoo Jae Suk gave gifts to the guest university students who participated in the March 2 broadcast of SBS’ “Running Man.”
According to a “Running Man” representative on March 3, “Yoo Jae Suk gave iPads as gifts to the university students who participated in the ‘Running Man 2014 University War’ special.”
The rep explained, “Yoo Jae Suk wanted to express his gratitude toward all of the university students who actively participated on the show. He was too shy to give the gifts in person, so he asked the production team to give out the gifts on his behalf. He wanted to let this pass quietly, but people found out.”
Nike yoga master trainer Leah Kim: I felt out of place in an office
Leah Kim, 34, was an unsporty child destined for a ‘proper’ job. Somehow, she became Nike’s global yoga master trainer.
Growing up in California, it was the norm to be health-conscious and yoga was around my entire life. But it wasn’t until I was at college at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles] that I walked into class with the teacher who would become my mentor, and yoga became a huge part of my life. During that first class, I started experiencing the aspects of yoga that go beyond the physical, that ask you to look within. It seemed like there was so much to learn and I just wanted more.
I was definitely not sporty at school – not in the slightest. Sometimes it feels like a fluke that I’m now a ‘Nike athlete’ but I stepped into my body’s potential when I stepped on to the yoga mat. I’d gone to UCLA to study economics but I wasn’t passionate about it. Growing up, there was an inherent expectation that I would get a ‘proper’ job in some sort of business capacity. But once I got into my cubicle at my first job out of college, I felt out of place and uninspired. I found I was so much more contented at the yoga studio than anywhere else and wished I could spend all day long there. Then one day I had the realisation – well, maybe I can…
North Korea released John Short after detaining the 75-year-old Australian missionary last month on a charge that he spread Bible tracts in Pyongyang, according to CNN.com.
The Australian government said North Korea recently notified it of Short’s release. Short’s wife, Karen, also confirmed that she had been told that her husband is now in Beijing after the North deported him.
“The relevant organ decided to expel him from the territory of the DPRK, thanks to the tolerance of the law of the DPRK and in full consideration of his age,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Monday. Continue Reading »
Nike and the Korea Football Association revealed the team uniform for the Korean national soccer team when it takes the field in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup this summer.
The outfit features a default red shirt with a blue line around the shoulder area, blue shorts and red socks. The new uniform will make its debut in a friendly with Greece on March 6.
“Looking at the new jerseys, I can now feel that we’re really close to the World Cup,” said Korea’s head coach Hong Myung-bo. “I like it, because I can easily spot the tiger emblem [on the chest], which symbolizes Korean football.” Continue Reading »
A screenshot from “My Korean Husband“
A recent poll revealed that South Koreans are expressing a less than welcoming attitude towards mixed-race families.
The survey, conducted by Korean think-tank Asan Institute for Policy Studies in September 2013, found that a growing minority of Koreans harbor negative attitudes towards marriages between South Korean and their foreign partners.
Although 80 percent of the 1,500 people surveyed expressed no aversion to non-Koreans in particular, 32.5 percent claimed that families of mixed nationalities interfere with the “betterment of social cohesion,” up from 29.9 percent in 2012 and 25.8 percent in 2011. Continue Reading »
Less than two days after the two Koreas held reunions for families divided since the Korean War, North Korea launched a series of short-range missiles and confirmed the arrest of a South Korean Baptist missionary for committing “anti-state crime.”
The North blasted the missiles from its Gitdaeryeong base on the eastern coast on Thursday afternoon amid military exercises being conducted jointly by South Korea and the United States. The four short-range missiles flew over 120 miles and landed in between the Korean peninsula and Japan, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.
On the same day, Kim Jong-uk, a 50-year-old South Korean missionary appeared at a government-arranged news conference and said he built underground churches in North Korea with a plan to overthrow its government. Kim apologized for his “criminal acts” and said the South Korean National Intelligence Service instructed him to commit the crime. Continue Reading »