KoreAm Journal http://iamkoream.com Sat, 18 Apr 2015 00:34:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 KCON 2015 To Take Over Staples Center & L.A. Live http://iamkoream.com/kcon-2015-to-take-over-staples-center-l-a-live/ http://iamkoream.com/kcon-2015-to-take-over-staples-center-l-a-live/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 00:34:45 +0000 http://iamkoream.com/?p=76623 If you need any indication of the power of hallyu and Korean popular culture, look no further than how CJ E&M‘s KCON has grown since its launch in 2012.

KCON hosted over 42,000 attendees from around the world last summer at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, and this year, the convention is bringing its A game. From Friday, July 31 to Sunday, Aug. 2, fans can expect plenty of panels, workshops, food fashion and more at the L.A. LIVE plaza in Downtown L.A., punctuated by two concerts at the Staples Center on Saturday and Sunday.

Last year’s lineup included B1A4, BTS, CNBLUE, G-Dragon, Girl’s Generation, IU, Jung Joon Young, SPICA, TEEN TOP and VIXX. We’ll keep you updated on when this year’s artists are announced—KCON promises that the concerts will “Ignite Your Feelz.”

Check out KCON 2015 USA’s website for more information. You can watch a recap of last year’s KCON below.


Featured image courtesy of KCON

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Study: South Koreans Becoming More Open-Minded About LGBT Issues http://iamkoream.com/study-south-koreans-becoming-more-open-minded-about-lgbt-issues/ http://iamkoream.com/study-south-koreans-becoming-more-open-minded-about-lgbt-issues/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 23:20:39 +0000 http://iamkoream.com/?p=76595 by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

South Koreans are becoming more open-minded and adopting increasingly favorable attitudes regarding LGBT rights and issues, according to a recent study by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

The South Korea-based think tank conducted five annual surveys of South Koreans from 2010-2014, noting that the trend was most noticeable among respondents in their 20s. In 2010, 26.7 percent said they were open-minded about homosexuality. By 2014, the figure nearly doubled to 47.4 percent.

The numbers also doubled for South Koreans in their 20s and 30s who supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, going from 30.5 percent and 20.7 percent respectively in 2010 to 60.2 percent and 40.4 percent in 2014.

But while more South Koreans are indeed changing their attitudes towards LGBT issues and same-sex marriage, they still represented a minority. The overall numbers are a bit more tempered: Respondents who had no reservations of homosexuality increased from 15.8 percent in 2010 to 23.7 percent in 2014, while those who supported legalizing same-sex marriage went from 16.9 percent in 2010 to 28.5 percent in 2014.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 4.17.58 PMImage courtesy of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies


The numbers among South Koreans in their 50s and 60s remained relatively unchanged in the last five years. Among religious respondents, 70.6 percent of Protestants had reservations about LGBT issues, compared to 41.9 percent of Catholics.

Along political lines, progressives have a firmer stance on LGBT issues than moderates or conservatives. The majority of progressives supported LGBT rights and were quite open-minded about homosexuality: 83.6 percent said they would accept or at least make an effort to accept LGBT family members, compared to 60.9 percent of conservatives who answered the same.

When it came to actual political discussion, however, the Asan Institute projected that LGBT topics were still likely to be overshadowed by economic and national security concerns. Politicians, therefore, are unlikely to take up an active stance, especially when there are no voting blocs to pressure them. LGBT people in South Korea aren’t clustered and typically hide their identities, the study noted.

South Korea has supported international laws and norms, most recently joining an effort last year with the United Nations Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to adopt international human rights standards to protect LGBT individuals from torture, discrimination and violence. When it comes to domestic politics, however, LGBT topics are a “major deal breaker.”

A 2007 anti-discrimination bill reinforcing basic human rights in South Korea ran into staunch conservative opposition due to sexual minorities being named as one of the principal beneficiaries. The bill was reintroduced in 2010 and again in 2013, but the National Assembly voted to repeal the legislation the last time. In October 2014, a bipartisan human rights education bill for government employees also met opposition from Christian and conservative groups who argued that the bill promoted homosexuality. The bill was repealed a month later.

LGBT issues perhaps garnered the most national attention in South Korea last year, when Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, a former human rights lawyer, said in an interview with the San Francisco Examiner that he “personally agree[d] with the rights of homosexuals” and hoped that Korea would be the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

His comments drew heavy controversy after South Korean media picked up on them, and conservative groups criticized the mayor of supporting homosexuality and only doing so to gain political favor. Park backtracked on his comments and one of his election pledges, the Seoul City Charter of Human Rights. The charter had included a clause that prohibited discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation and identity.

The Asan Institute noted that Mayor Park was the first prominent politician to bring LGBT issues to the forefront as a serious political and social issue. Although his backtracking may not serve as much confidence for future politicians to follow suit, the Asan Institute said LGBT activists can take over the conversation by “framing the issue within the universal context of anti-discrimination and human dignity” rather than “seeking privileges.” 

Park reportedly said something similar to the Examiner: “Protestant churches are very powerful in Korea [so] it isn’t easy for politicians [to endorse same-sex marriage]. It’s in the hands of activists to expand the universal concept of human rights to include homosexuals. Once they persuade the people, the politicians will follow. It’s in process now.”


Recommended Reading: 

Gay Rights Activists in Korea Step Up to Support LGBTQ Youth

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Foreign Spouses Must Pass a Korean Language Exam to Immigrate into South Korea http://iamkoream.com/foreign-spouses-must-pass-a-korean-language-exam-to-immigrate-into-south-korea/ http://iamkoream.com/foreign-spouses-must-pass-a-korean-language-exam-to-immigrate-into-south-korea/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 21:51:53 +0000 http://iamkoream.com/?p=76545 by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Last February, South Korea passed an amendment that requires foreign spouses of Korean nationals to have a basic proficiency in the Korean language as a condition of entry. However, the revised law has stirred much protest, as more than 1,000 foreign spouses have been barred from immigrating into the country because they are unable to pass the government-issued Korean language exam.

Since there is a scarcity of marriageable women in rural areas in Korea, the new immigration law mainly affects farmers who have enlisted the help of international marriage brokers to find brides from overseas, primarily from Southeast Asia.

On March 27, a Korean man in his 60s set a matchmaking agency on fire after his Vietnamese wife failed the basic Korean language test and was denied entry into South Korea. The fire killed one of the company’s representatives.

One farmer in his 40s, whose Cambodian wife failed the exam after the two had already married in her home country, told SBS, “It’s a difficult situation that you have to pass an exam in order to come into the country. My wife in Cambodia also feels this way and I miss her a lot.”

The South Korean government initially created the amendment in response to the high number of domestic violence cases involving international couples, many of which were a result of communication problems. The government also cited the high divorce rate of international marriages, which is now set at 10,000 divorces per year.

Matchmaking agencies have filed complaints to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. One agency spokesman said that the law is harmful as it forces husbands who have already registered their marriage to “give up their partnership with their wives.”

Among online comments, some have said that the amended law is fair, claiming that communication is key to a healthy marriage. Others expressed concerns over how spouses from western countries, such as the United States and England, would fare on the language exam.

One of the top comments on Naver read: “I agree with this law because a marriage isn’t a product to buy and sell. If foreign spouses enter Korea and do not have a basic understanding of the Korean language, it would be difficult for them to adapt to Korea. It would be good if Korean citizenship is given to them if they’ve lived in Korea for over five years.”

Another commenter wrote, “In America, foreign spouses must meet language proficiency requirements, and also understand basic American laws and history. Needless to say, this is the right policy.”

Meanwhile, the South Korean government has announced that it has no plans to revise the law.


Featured image via chrissantosra.wordpress.com

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South Korea Has the Second Most Powerful Passport in the World http://iamkoream.com/south-korea-has-the-second-most-powerful-passport-in-the-world/ http://iamkoream.com/south-korea-has-the-second-most-powerful-passport-in-the-world/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19:22:32 +0000 http://iamkoream.com/?p=76583 by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Better hang onto your South Korean passport because it wields a lot of travel power.

Financial advisory firm Arton Capital recently created a passport index that ranks all the world’s passports based on how many countries the passport holder can visit without an advance visa, or by purchasing a visa on arrival.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 11.51.03 AM

Alongside France and Germany, South Korea was ranked to have the second most powerful passport, granting access to 145 countries without an advanced visas. Meanwhile, the United States and the United Kingdom topped the ranking, with access to 147 countries.

Italy and Sweden tied for third, with access to 144 countries. Denmark, Singapore, Finland, Japan, Luxembourg and the Netherlands took fourth place. Switzerland ranked fifth.

Countries that wield the least amount of travel power included Solomon Islands, Myanmar, South Sudan, Sao Tome and Principe and the Palestinian Territories. Ranking in 80th place, these nations each granted access to only 28 countries without an advanced nation.

The index also allows the viewer to sort passports by location and color. From a glance, it looks like red is the most popular color for passports.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 12.12.27 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 12.12.40 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 12.12.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-17 at 12.13.05 PM



You can view the full list of passports here.


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PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics to Open a Figure-Eight Shaped Hotel http://iamkoream.com/pyeongchang-2018-winter-olympics-to-open-a-figure-eight-shaped-hotel/ http://iamkoream.com/pyeongchang-2018-winter-olympics-to-open-a-figure-eight-shaped-hotel/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 18:17:22 +0000 http://iamkoream.com/?p=76283 by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Seoul-based architecture firm Planning Korea recently unveiled their design for a beachfront resort hotel that will host visitors during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Shaped like a giant infinity sign (or the “ecological structure of a plankton,” according to the firm), the futuristic hotel offers 946 rooms and sprawls across a 29,493-square-meter site in the city of Gangeung.


Tourists will be able to enjoy seaside activities on one side of the hotel and mountain activities on the other, according to Arch Daily. Rooftop gardens line the slopes of the building and opens up to an outdoor swimming pool suspended in a “belt” linking the building’s dual core.

figure eight aerial


On the ground level, Planning Korea plans to intersperse restaurants and shops in order to create a village atmosphere. The resort will also be situated just 3 miles away from the Olympic stadiums and facilities. How South Korea plans to complete construction of the gigantic hotel before 2018 is a mystery.



The PyeongChang Winter Olympics is scheduled to take place from Feb. 9 through Feb. 25, 2018. This will be the first Winter Olympic Games to be hosted by South Korea.


All images via Planning Korea

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Exclusive Interviews with the Director and Cast of ‘Seoul Searching’ http://iamkoream.com/exclusive-interviews-with-the-director-and-cast-of-seoul-searching/ http://iamkoream.com/exclusive-interviews-with-the-director-and-cast-of-seoul-searching/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 17:17:19 +0000 http://iamkoream.com/?p=76507  

Director: Benson Lee


KoreAm’s February/March Cover Story: Benson Lee Goes Seoul Searching With Latest Indie Feature





Here are some exclusive interviews with the cast of Seoul Searching


Justin Chon as Sid Park, a punk who has problems with authority. He doesn’t want to be in Korea that summer, and his perpetual scowl shows it. But while Sid’s clothes and sneer signal “tough guy,” they serve to cover up his own insecurities and yearning for his father’s acceptance back home.

“As a Korean American, you really had to have a definitive identity. Otherwise, you kind of get lost from the pack. There was more of an innocence in the ’80s among second-generation Koreans,” Justin Chon tells KoreAm



Jessika Van as Grace Park, whose provocative style of dress and come-hither look draw every guy’s attention, and she doesn’t hold back when it comes to toying with their emotions. The teenage boys at the Seoul summer camp—in particular, Sid—don’t stand a chance against Grace, who channels an ’80s Madonna at the height of her sexual prowess.

“When I read the script, I could really relate to Grace because I feel like I grew up maybe not dissimilar to other Asian girls in America, or even in Asia. There’s a lot going on underneath that we feel we need to cover to stay safe, because we’ve grown up in families where showing pain or vulnerability or showing weakness isn’t thought of as a good quality,” says Jessika Van. 



Esteban Ahn a.k.a SanchoBeatz, as Sergio Kim, a fun-loving party-boy from Mexico, who attends summer camp for the beautiful girls and booze, and he does his best to get his roommates—the sour-faced Sid and the solemn Klaus—to follow along on his adventures.

“Even though I’m Korean, in Korea, people treat me like a foreigner, and in Spain, they also treat me like a foreigner. I don’t have a proper identity. Those kinds of themes really touched me a lot in the movie because as you can see in the movie, we are all Koreans. We come to Korea, and we are like foreigners,” Estaban Ahn tells KoreAm. 



Teo Yoo as Klaus Kim, a Korean German who arrives at camp with other things on his mindnamely his girlfriend back in Germany and future career. His parents own a small business back home and want their son to take it over, but he has his sights on bigger dreams.

“All of the characters have their unique struggles. They are kind of symbolic for situations that I have been through in my life—not to that extreme extent, but certain situations that gyopos can relate to, especially [those concerning] father issues, simply because of the generational changes and the diversity of the next generation,” Teo Yoo says. 



Byul Kang as Sue-Jin Kim, one of the toughest students at camp–she’s not afraid to talk back or throw a kick at any guy who messes with her.

“She brought a whole new dynamic to the female cast,” Benson Lee says of actress Byul Kang. 



Albert Kong as Mike Lee, the surly, mean, bullying, racist military student.

“Time period-wise, it’s set in the ’80s, but it’s a high school class. I think everyone remembers, especially in high school, college and even as a young adult, trying to find that sense of who you areyour place in the world. I think that’s what resonated with me the most because you see all the insecurity,” says Albert Kong. 



Rosalina Leigh as Kris Schultz, an adoptee who comes to the summer camp with a larger purpose than to just learn about Korean culture.

“She had never acted before in her life,” Benson Lee tells KoreAm. “But she just had an inkling for acting. When I saw her audition tape, I was blown away. She was as good in the audition as she is in the movie. I was like, wow, this girl’s a natural actor.”


Cha In-Pyo Headshot

Cha In-Pyo as the no-nonsense Mr. Kim, the head counselor of the summer camp.

“When I went to college in New Jersey, which was about 25 years ago, I had Korean American friends who had the same problems as the characters have in the movie. Seeing them not being able to communicate with their parents, I remember I felt compassion for my friends,” Cha In-pyo tells KoreAm


News & Reviews

Los Angeles Film Festival to Hold Gala Screening for Seoul Searching

REVIEW: Justin Chang, Variety
“A unique portrait of the Korean immigrant experience distinguishes writer-director Benson Lee’s messy but endearing ’80s-set comedy.”

REVIEW: Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter
“Powered by an instantly recognizable, dance-happy soundtrack and a charismatic cast turned out in memorable period costuming, Lee’s most accessible film yet looks poised to capitalize on enduring 80s nostalgia and a refreshingly appealing premise that could see the film crossing over from niche bookings to much broader appeal.”

Wired interviews the director and cast of Seoul Searching
“I have a large ensemble cast and there’s not too many Asian-American actors out there compared to other groups,” Benson Lee tells Wired. “I decided I could probably open up my choices if I did it online. So I thought of the most popular online platform, which is Facebook.”

REVIEW: Josh Terry, Deseret News
The Sundance press guide paints ‘Seoul Searching’ as a loving tribute to ’80s pop culture and the films of John Hughes, and that affection is obvious. But the final product is far too flawed to do its inspiration justice.”

REVIEW: William Bibbiani, Crave Online
“Benson Lee’s Korean homage to John Hughes movies is ‘the sort of film we come to Sundance to discover.”


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Korean College Students to Cycle Across North America Over 90-Day Period http://iamkoream.com/korean-college-students-to-cycle-across-north-america-over-90-day-period/ http://iamkoream.com/korean-college-students-to-cycle-across-north-america-over-90-day-period/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 23:28:31 +0000 http://iamkoream.com/?p=76520 by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Two Korean university students will be embarking on a Forrest Gump-like adventure to cycle across the North American continent in a span of 90 days, without spending a single penny, according to Korea Bizwire.

Starting from New York, Yi Woo-chan and Jung Jun-ho, 26-year-old students majoring in international trade at Chonbuk National University, will be bicycling 6,000 kilometers to Los Angeles over seven weeks.

To prepare for this ambitious journey, the two students sought help from tour agencies, magazine publishers and cyclist communities. In addition to two sponsorships, Yi and Jung secured airline tickets from a Korean tour agency, bikes from a bicycle magazine and food and other accommodations from an international traveler community.

While they do not plan to spend a single cent during their trip, the two will be carrying 1 million won (US $918) as a safety precaution.

According to Korea Bizwire, Yi and Jung decided to embark on this quest to inspire their peers that there is more to life than having a high-paying job and studying to get good grades.

Although Yi and Jung are not trained cyclists, they have both completed equally ambitious challenges in the past. While Yi has once crossed South Korea on foot, Jung climbed to the summit of Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South Asia.

The two have been training every day and are making final adjustments to their schedule before flying to the States.


Featured image via Yonhap

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PIC OF THE DAY: The Avengers Receive a Hero’s Welcome in South Korea http://iamkoream.com/pic-of-the-day-the-avengers-receive-heros-welcome-in-south-korea/ http://iamkoream.com/pic-of-the-day-the-avengers-receive-heros-welcome-in-south-korea/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 22:35:08 +0000 http://iamkoream.com/?p=76510 by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

The Avengers are in South Korea!

On Thursday, Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon and actors Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo landed in Gimpo International Airport and were greeted by a swarm of Korean fans with what Downey calls “civilized enthusiasm.”

Their arrival to South Korea comes three days after Age of Ultron‘s worldwide premiere in Los Angeles. Whedon, Downey, Evans and Ruffalo are expected to attend a press conference at a Seoul theater to promote the blockbuster sequel during their visit.


Civilized enthusiasm take 2 … #avengers #ageofultron #marvel #presstour

A video posted by Robert Downey, Jr. (@robertdowneyjr) on

Civilized enthusiasm cures jet-lag… We love our Korean fans… #avengers #ageofultron #presstour #marvel A photo posted by Robert Downey, Jr. (@robertdowneyjr) on

Age of Ultron has drawn much attention in South Korea as some of its climactic scenes were filmed in Seoul last April. Not to mention, Korean actress Kim Soohyun, or Claudia Kim, plays the substantial supporting role of “Dr. Helen Cho” in the highly anticipated sequel.

South Korean multiplex cinema chains, such as CGV, Lotte Cinema and Megabox, have already received more than 170,000 ticket reservations ahead of Age of Ultron‘s domestic theatrical release on April 23.

The first Avengers film was a smashing box office hit in South Korea, grossing more than $50 million domestically. Korean film industry officials expect the sequel to sweep local theaters as there is no competition being released on its opening day, according to the Korea Herald.

This is Downey and Evans’ third visit to South Korea while it is the first for Ruffalo. Evans first visited the country as a cast member of Bong Joon-ho’s dystopian action flick Snowpiercer.


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