South Korea asks for trust; North agrees, lets families have reunions
In stark contrast to the bellicose gesturing that has haunted relations in the recent past, North and South Korea took conciliatory steps in each other’s direction Friday.
Both sides will halt the harsh rhetoric, they agreed at a bilateral meeting on the heavily militarized border that divides them.
They hope that this and other agreements will serve to build trust between Pyongyang and Seoul, Kim Kyou-Hyun, a high South Korean security official, said after the meeting wrapped up.
Pyongyang has been particularly irked by joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, and would like them to cease.
Why was North Korea so quick to agree to family reunions?
Christian Science Monitor
South and North Korea agreed to allow reunions next week of nearly 100 families divided by the Korean War in a breakthrough agreement that appeared to signal Pyongyang’s deepened interest in easing tensions on the peninsula.
North Korea surprised South Korean negotiators Friday by completely dropping its demand that the United States and the South cancel military exercises set to begin during the reunions.
The North, analysts say, may be prioritizing smoother relations with its southern neighbor while it grapples with internal problems after the execution of long-time regent-mentor Jang Song-thaek and the purge of hundreds of his followers.
Kim Jong-un ‘Successfully Tightens Grip’
U.S. intelligence services believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has succeeded in tightening his grip on power through a generational shift in the party and the military.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that two years after he took power Kim has further consolidated its position as sole leader and final decision maker.
He has tightened controls and ensured loyalty through personnel reshuffles and purges, Clapper said.
North Korea Sent Kenneth Bae to Labor Camp to Protest B-52 Flights
Imprisoned American Kenneth Bae was sent to a North Korean labor camp in part due to the regime’s anger over supposed American B-52 bomber flight drills around the Korean Peninsula last week, officials told ABC News.
North Korean officials broke the news by telling Donald Gregg, a former ambassador to South Korea and an ABC News consultant who was on a rare visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
“Rhee Young-Ho, a first vice minister, said that the memory of the B29 air raids are in the [North Korean] DNA,” Gregg told ABC News today during a stopover at the Beijing International Airport while en route back to the U.S. “[Rhee said] to have the B52s which are nuclear capable fly over their air space is seen as a really terrible, terrible threat.”
The Pentagon has acknowledged the “rotational presence” of bombers in the region, but would not confirm the details of the mission that angered the North Koreans.
Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, U.N. Panel Finds
A U.N. Commission of Inquiry has found that crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea and recommends that its findings be referred to the International Criminal Court, two people familiar with the commission’s report have told The Associated Press.
The commission, which conducted a yearlong investigation, has found evidence of an array of such crimes, including “extermination,” crimes against humanity against starving populations and a widespread campaign of abductions of individuals in South Korea and Japan.
Its report, due for release Monday, does not examine in detail individual responsibility for the alleged crimes but recommends steps toward accountability.
Korean businesses booted from the Exchange Building
Northwest Asian Weekly
The line at The Original Deli in downtown Seattle is usually full of businessmen and women grabbing whatever lunch they can within the short break they have. The mom-and-pop delicatessen, tucked on the first floor of the Exchange Building on Marion St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue, has been a favorite to many over the years. Relationships and stories have emerged since its opening 44 years ago. But that’s all gone now.
The Original Deli went out of business on Feb. 7, after the owners were told to leave when the building began going under major renovations. Deli owner Un “Missy” Bang was heartbroken and clueless as to what the future might hold.
“This is everything we have,” Bang said.
Beacon Capital Partners bought the Exchange Building for $66 million last year and decided to remodel. In the process, it forced two Korean-owned businesses — The Original Deli and The Goodie Box — to close down. Other businesses in the building have not been affected.
Landlords are having to ditch a century-old rental system
MOST South Korean urbanites would leap at the chance to part with $150,000 to rent a smallish flat for three years in Seoul, the capital. These days, however, most Korean landlords would spurn such a measly deposit.
Korea’s unusual rental system, known as jeonse, does not involve monthly rental payments. Instead, tenants provide landlords with a deposit, typically between a quarter and half of the property’s value, to invest for the duration of the lease. Property owners keep the returns and then repay the lump sum at the end of the tenancy.
Average deposits have now risen for 76 consecutive weeks in Korea, the longest streak ever. Thousands of jeonse leases in the capital are now as high as 90% of the value of the house; they sometimes exceed it in areas where property prices have fallen since leases were agreed.
The dangerous myth of “The Triple Package”: What Amy Chua gets wrong about Asian-American communities
Here we go again. Tiger mom Amy Chua is back, reinforcing stereotypes and presenting glib solutions for attaining success. Her new book, “The Triple Package,” jointly authored with husband Jed Rubenfeld, argues that certain ethnic and religious groups — namely Jews, Indians, Chinese, Iranians, Lebanese, Nigerians, Cubans and Mormons – possess qualities that make them more likely to succeed in life. Chua and Rubenfeld claim that these groups have “three cultural forces” — a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control — that drive them to achieve.
Aside from the innately offensive nature of such stereotyping, reviews and commentary have already pointed out that the book props itself up with flimsy data and questionable evidence. It comes as little surprise that Chua’s newest publication is accompanied by skepticism and controversy. Her previous book, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” and its accompanying Wall Street Journal article made unfounded racial assertions and coined a parenting philosophy out of thin air. The terms “tiger mom” and “tiger parenting” entered our vocabulary, becoming shorthand for a strict, no-excuses style of parenting supposedly commonplace and traditional across Asian and Asian American households. This further reinforced the “model minority myth” of Asian American students as stellar accomplishers with an almost supernatural ability to overcome all odds and pull themselves up by their bootstraps to achieve the American dream. In reality, no one had heard of the tiger parenting philosophy before Chua wrote about it because, like the mythical “model minority,” it doesn’t exist.
Classically Trained, Unlikely Rockers
Wall Street Journal
Just months ago, Daniel Chae was working in finance. Now, he is staking his future on an alternative folk-rock band composed of six Korean-Americans. “We found the American dream in music,” says Mr. Chae, 25 years old, who quit a job at a large bond-trading firm in Los Angeles last summer to devote himself full-time to playing electric guitar and violin in the band Run River North.
Formed in 2011, the Los Angeles-based ensemble performs original compositions, many of them about the Korean immigrant experience. Its members are classically trained musicians, thanks to parents who goaded them to study piano and violin. One of them, violinist Jennifer Rim, was barely familiar with pop music until she joined the band.
Run River North is no K-Pop confection—its music will never be confused with flamboyant Korean pop like Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” The group’s soothing melodies are more in line with Simon and Garfunkel’s, and they appeal to a diverse audience. Last year, Run River North was signed by an indie label after appearing on ” Jimmy Kimmel Live” and playing to sold-out crowds at Los Angeles’s legendary Troubadour nightclub. The band’s self-titled debut album is set for release this month.
Karen O Performing ‘Her’ Song at Oscars
Karen O will perform “The Moon Song” from “Her” during the Oscars, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced Thursday.
“The Moon Song” was written by Karen O and “Her” director Spike Jonze and is a best original song nominee. The upcoming performance marks the first time the Yeah Yeah Yeahs front-woman will perform the track for a global television audience.
The three other Oscar-nominated songs in the original song category are “Let It Go” from Frozen, “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 and “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom — all of which are also set to be performed on the show.
Girls’ Generation mulls album release delay after losing video footage
Yonhap via GlobalPost
Girls’ Generation, one of the most popular South Korean pop groups, may postpone the release of its new album after footage for the video of the album’s title track was accidentally deleted, the group’s management agency said Friday.
The K-pop group originally planned to end a one-year hiatus with the release of its fourth mini-album titled “Mr.Mr.” on Feb. 24. Before the official release, the group was scheduled to release the title track “Mr. Mr.” on local online music services such as Melon, Naver Music and Genie on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the group was scheduled to resume local broadcasting activities on cable TV network Mnet’s music program, “M!Countdown.”
U-Kiss Is One Of The Most Popular K-Pop Groups In The World, So Why Aren’t They Huge In Korea?
In the lobby of New York’s Best Buy Theater on a night in mid-January, 100 fans are getting ready for some high fives from their favorite boy band. They’re there for a “high touch” session, a type of meet-and-greet popular in Asia where — in lieu of a standard autograph session common in the States — artists hold out their hands to give high fives to a passing line of stunned, crying superfans.
As the group enters the room, the screaming starts. The thought of hand-to-hand contact with six pristinely made-up, extremely attractive young guys sends the fans into overdrive; the noise level skyrockets.
These are KissMes — fans of U-Kiss, a K-pop boy band in town for their first-ever concert in New York City, the start to a short three-city U.S. tour. The fans’ moniker is a spin on the group’s name, which is an acronym for Ubiquitous Korean International Idol Super Star. U-Kiss debuted in South Korea in 2008 and are known for their English-speaking members, as well as their catchy mix of tunes that perfectly encapsulate both Korean ballad pop sounds and equally slick American R&B. Like other group acts in Korea, U-Kiss incorporate visually compelling dance moves and aim to please with their fan service — little gestures and interactions that get fans squealing.
Olympic champion Yuna Kim takes Lipnitskaia mania in stride
The defending Olympic champion in women’s figure skating is not concerned by the rapid emergence of Russian teenage sensation Julia Lipnitskaia.
Yuna Kim was considered an overwhelming favorite to win a second straight gold after her triumph at the 2010 Vancouver Games, but her apparent stranglehold on the Olympic title has been thrown into some doubt by the performance of Lipnitskaia, who dazzled last week in helping Russia win gold in the team competition.
The South Korean arrived in Russia on Thursday and has already practiced twice ahead of the ladies’ short program starting on Wednesday.
“It will be a great opportunity for her as the Olympics are taking place in her home country,” Kim told reporters. “Thinking about who may or may not do well won’t help me at all. What’s important is I do everything I’ve been preparing so hard to do.”
Lonely at the top for South Korea’s Lee
Yahoo Eurosport UK
Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa cut a lonely figure on Friday as the Olympic 500 metres champion reflected on South Korea’s struggles at the Sochi Winter Games.
The top speed skating nation at the 2010 Vancouver Games with three gold and two silver medals, South Korea have endured a Games to forget on the ice so far in Russia with Lee’s victory on Monday the Asian nation’s only medal in the sport in Sochi.
Four years ago, ‘Empress Lee’ was joined by all the Korean medallists to address the media.
On Friday she sat alone.
“In Vancouver, I was with my fellows skaters seated side by side in the news conference, but here I’m alone today and that makes me feel sorry,” Lee told reporters in Sochi.
Korean curling team hits Great Wall
Korea’s female curlers lost to China 11-3 after their worst performance at the Ice Cube Curling Center, Friday (KST), moving further away from their hope of reaching the semifinals on their first Olympic appearance.
Buoyed by a win over Russia hours earlier, Korea looked to establish a bridgehead to the semifinal over China but failed to beat the world No. 5 due to a lack of strategy and too many mistakes.
China went ahead in the second end, where it scored three, after giving up the first end without any points. Korea, the world No. 10, cut the deficit to 3-2 in the second end, but the tension didn’t last long.
In the fifth end, China added three points as Korea started to lose its concentration and determination to win. After scoring just one more point in the next end, Korea fell to 11-3, the biggest loss so far at the Sochi Games.
Park Ji-sung won’t return for World Cup
Park Ji-sung, former captain of the South Korean men’s national football team, won’t return for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the team’s head coach said Friday.
Hong Myung-bo, who will lead South Korea to its eighth consecutive trip to the World Cup this summer, said Park told him he will not come out of international retirement for one last hurrah. “I had a heart-to-heart with Park Ji-sung,” Hong told reporters at Incheon International Airport upon returning from his trip to the Netherlands. Park is currently playing for PSV Eindhoven in the top Dutch league. “He said his knees are worse than he’d feared and that will prevent him from playing for the national team,” Hong said of the veteran with a history of knee injuries. “And I decided to respect his decision.”
Park’s status for the big tournament has been a hot potato in South Korean football so far this year. The 32-year-old said he would no longer play for the national team in January 2011 and has repeatedly said he won’t change his mind.
12 Things Never to Say to an Asian Woman
1. Where are you from?
This is usually followed by an intense stare as the person, most likely a dude, is trying to figure out if I’m Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, or something else “exotic.” When I say New Jersey (the most exotic of the states), this leads to question #2.
2. No, really where are you from?
Let’s get to the point. You want to know where my family is from. Taiwan. Are you happy now? Where are you from? Because I’d really like to know so I can avoid going there.