Friday’s Link Attack: Heejun Han, Daniel Henney, Daniel Dae Kim
Author: Linda Son
Posted: February 10th, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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Twitter, Weibo Spread Rumors of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un’s Assassination

Did social media just prematurely kill off the leader of North Korea?

Rumors that Kim Jong-un, the country’s supreme leader, has been assassinated just months after he took power originated on Chinese microblogging service Weibo and have now spread all over Twitter.

Others are reporting that Jong-un, believed to be 28 years old, may be on the run rather than dead, but both reports claim that some kind of coup is taking place.

South Korea Lawmakers Make First Trip to Gaeseong Complex Since Kim Death

Eight lawmakers toured factories and met representatives of South Korean businesses in the Gaeseong Industrial Park six miles (10 kilometers) north of the border that opened in 2005. More than 50,000 North Koreans employed by 123 South Korean companies at the facility produced a record $400 million in goods last year, according to ministry figures.
Park Joo Sun, head of a parliamentary committee on inter- Korea relations, said after returning that business owners told the delegation the complex needs 23,000 additional North Korean workers to meet growing demand.
“We hope that our visit can be a catalyst for increased activity in Gaeseong,” Park said at a press conference in the South Korean border city of Paju.

Mobile phones in North Korea: Some North Koreans get better connected
The Economist

North Korean mobile-phone users spend an average of $13.90 a month on calls and text messages, and they tend to pay in hard currency. According to a foreign diplomat, many customers turn up at Koryolink shops with bundles of euro notes. There are even incentives for paying in euros, such as free off-peak calls. This provides foreign currency for a government that craves it.

Mobile-phone customers obtain the hard currency from the informal private trading on which many North Koreans depend. Such business is forbidden, but the government has failed to feed its people, forcing it to turn a blind eye to some capitalist practices. Many insiders benefit: Pyongyang’s “golden couples” consist of a government-official husband and an entrepreneur wife.

From Korea to Minnesota and back: Kelly Fern shares her remarkable double-adoption story
Twin Cities Daily Planet

The more you learn about Kelly Fern, the more you want to know. Not only does she tell a moving personal story of being adopted from Korea at age five, she reveals that on the flight to America, her identity was accidentally switched with that of another young adoptee—a circumstance that ultimately resulted in her family adopting three Korean girls, not just the two sisters they’d expected. Further, Fern herself had a child who she gave up for adoption. In the space of less than a year, Fern recently reconnected with both her biological family in Korea and her biological daughter in Minnesota.

For He Is the Lin Beneath Our Wings
Wall Street Journal

Jeremy Lin sort of makes me feel sorry for the New York Rangers. This is not a slight of Lin, a genuinely compelling story who has captivated this town. But the Rangers have spent not days or weeks but years assembling a talented hockey club, and are currently rocking the NHL’s Eastern Conference. They have a genuine shot to make a lot of noise in the postseason.

But all of a sudden, in the space of 72 hours or so, the Rangers have been ushered to sports Siberia by a previously little-known point guard who has started a total of two games for the Knicks. A former backup to the backup point guard whom the Knicks actually demoted to the D-league a few weeks ago. A point guard who plays for a team that is 11-15, just frightful percentage fragments ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Top Chef’s Ed: What’s the Point of Last Chance Kitchen?

Edward Lee would like to point out that he technically was in the final four of Top Chef — for a few hours. But then Beverly, having won Last Chance Kitchen, returned to the game and out-cooked him for a spot in the actual final four. “It is what it is. I don’t hold a grudge. She won fair and square,” Ed tells “I shouldn’t have used the smoked oysters, so it was all on me.” Still, the Louisville-based chef is none too pleased with the second-chance secret competition for eliminated cheftestants.

Korean American hopeful Heejun Han moves on to the next round of ‘American Idol’

The February 8th episode of ‘American Idol’ featured the contestants auditioning on ‘Hollywood Week’, and Han won the judges’ votes by singing Michael Bolton‘s “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You“.

Although he looked quite nervous to perform after the confident and suave Johnny Keyser who won the heart of judge Jennifer Lopez (J.Lo), Heejun shook off his jitters and started his song. He did gain some confidence after J.Lo whispered “I love him,” to Steven Tyler in the middle of his performance.

When he sang the lyrics, “When all that I’ve been livin’ for is gone,” he even mustered up the courage to point to J.Lo, who remarked that his performance brought her to tears.

North Korean Ex-Propagandist Song Byeok To Show New Satirical Artwork In U.S. (PHOTOS)
Huffington Post

Byeok’s world changed completely in the late 1990s when famine struck North Korea, killing his father, mother, and sister. He wandered alone and hungry through a country he once loved, and was later tortured by the government he once idolized. At this point, he began a journey to discover a life outside of DPRK. Byeok, now in his 40s, has devoted his life to using his artistic skills to promote freedom through satirizing Kim Jong Il and the legacy of his reign.

Matthew Morrison, Daniel Dae Kim to guest co-host ‘Live! with Kelly’
Digital Spy

Hawaii Five-O and former Lost star Dae Kim will join Ripa to interview Two and a Half Men actor Jon Cryer and Dancing with the Stars professional Derek Hough on the February 20 episode.

Daniel Henney in ‘Shanghai Calling’ Trailer
Angry Asian Man

Here’s the freshly dropped new trailer for Shanghai Calling, the upcoming indie feature film debut from writer/director Daniel Hsia. It’s a romantic comedy, starring Daniel Henney, about American “expats” living and working in Shanghai. I think it looks pretty promising. Check it out: here.

North Korea’s super-size hotel is set to open — 23 years behind schedule
The Washington Post

“It was the hotel with the iconic crane,” said Simon Cockerell, an executive at Beijing-based Koryo Tours, which leads tourist trips to North Korea. “It dominated the skyline.”

Sometime this spring, though, according to the Yonhap news agency in Seoul, the Ryugyong Hotel will partially open — 23 years behind schedule. Initially, it might serve as an office complex, not a hotel, but eventually, travel agents say, the Ryugyong will open for tourists.

Krys Lee on Drifting House

Krys Lee talks about her collection of short stories, Drifting House. Her stories illuminate the Korean immigrant experience—from children escaping famine in North Korea to recent arrivals in America, whose lives play out in cramped apartments and Koreatown strip malls.

As Buzz Fades, Singing Show Winds Down
The Wall Street Journal

One of South Korea’s biggest TV shows, “I Am a Singer,” comes to the end of an 11-month run this week, partly because its buzz has faded and viewing rates are sluggish.

For those who aren’t familiar with the program, here’s how it works: Seven professional singers perform and are ranked by an audience of 500. The singer with the lowest combined score after two rounds is replaced by a new contestant. And those who survive seven rounds – 14 contests in all – exit the show and are called “honorary graduates.”

Roving Robotic Scarecrows Battle Airport Birds

“They were originally commissioned by the military to prevent bird strikes at military airports,” said Yi Jongmin, head of public relations at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI).

The robotics lab at KAERI spearheaded the development — officially dubbed “Airport Birdstrike Prevention System” — in conjunction with weapons manufacturer LIG Nex1.

Bird strikes remain one of the top problems for airlines and airports around the world.

American Musician with a Passion for Korean
Chosun Ilbo

Michael Elliott was a composition student at California Institute of the Arts when he first came into contact with Koreans. He collaborated with several Korean animators, producing scores for their short films. Since he had been interested in languages from a young age, largely due to the influence of his grandfather, who is fluent in Spanish, he had dreamed of learning a new language but was too wrapped up in his music to do much of anything else. Working with the Koreans at CalArts, however, he started to learn a few phrases and this quickly blossomed into a hobby and then an obsession.

A Korean reporter’s perspective on the Orioles and Kim Seong-Min (update)
Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN)

One thing Kim believes is unlikely to happen is the Orioles signing of the pitcher to be overturned or voided in any way. He fully expects the left-hander to be an Oriole when this flap is over.

“I think the contract will go through. I believe the player already left the country and for now, I think it’s safe to say that Kim will be the property of the Orioles’ organization,” Kim said.

Kim feels what is at issue here is that the Orioles, reportedly according to the KBO, failed to first contact MLB, which was then to contact the KBO commissioner to get clearance for Baltimore to negotiate with the player. According to KBO rules, once MLB makes the contact, the KBO must respond within four business days.

“That is a process that all transactions must go through,” Kim said. “The Orioles, for whatever reason, they did not go through the steps. They contacted and signed the player directly. That seems to be the main issue with KBO. I think KBO feels somewhat disrespected.”

Korean baseball’s governing body bans Orioles scouts in wake of Kim signing
Baltimore Sun

This week, the Korean Baseball Association, the nation’s governing body for baseball, banned Orioles scouts from KBA-sanctioned games, which include the national high school and college tournaments that serve as a treasure trove for scouts seeking the country’s top players. The KBA added that the same penalty will fall on major league teams that contact amateur players before their senior seasons.

The KBA also suspended Kim from playing and coaching in Korea indefinitely for making contact with a pro team before his final year of high school.

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