Korean Reunions Offer 92-Year-Old Man First Meeting With Son
For Kang Neung Hwan, a 92-year-old retired salesman from Seoul, the chance of seeing his son for the first time depends on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Kang is the oldest of 100 South Koreans chosen by lottery to see relatives left behind almost 61 years after the war cemented the division of the two countries. The reunions, last held in 2010, begin Feb. 20 if the North keeps its commitment.
“I can’t think of anything better that could happen in my life,” Kang said as he gazed at a basket of gifts -– vitamins, socks, underwear, toothpaste and cough medicine — he prepared for his 62–year-old son. He only learned the wife he left behind was pregnant when he applied last year for a slot in the reunions to see a sister who has since died.
Koreas end first high-level talks in seven years without progress
South and North Korea ended their first high-level talks in seven years without making any major progress, a Seoul official said Thursday.
The move illustrated the chasm that divides the rival Koreas on issues of mutual interest, though they have recently agreed to stage reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
The sides held the talks for more than three hours at the border village of Panmunjom on Wednesday. The crucial meeting was widely viewed as one that could set the tone for inter-Korean ties after months of tension.
‘China Wouldn’t Intervene in N.Korean Emergency’
Former senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and security Chun Young-woo on Tuesday dismissed fears that China would send troops into North Korea in the event of regime collapse or another emergency there.
Speaking in a seminar at the National Assembly, Chun said there is “no need to conclude that China would sacrifice everything to intervene” by military force in the event of an emergency in the North.
He said China would prefer to coexist with North Korea rather than see it fail, but having to spend money to prop it up while Chinese lives are at risk “is a different matter.”
Kerry to visit Seoul for talks on N. Korea
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Seoul this week for talks with his South Korean counterpart on such issues as North Korea and the political situation in Northeast Asia, the foreign ministry here said Wednesday.
Kerry will arrive in Seoul Thursday afternoon for a meeting with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, the ministry said. This will be their second face-to-face meeting this year following the first one held in Washington early last month.
Security issues involving North Korea are expected to be high on the agenda in the upcoming talks as North Korea is leading an unusual string of charm offensives toward Seoul and Washington.
Upon a proposal from Pyongyang, officials from the two Koreas met in the truce village of Panmunjom for a high-level inter-Korean contact earlier in the day, a result from the North’s recent reaching out to the South.
Former Japan Prime Minister Seeks Better Seoul Ties
Wall Street Journal
Just about the only issue that unites Korean politicians of all stripes, even those from North Korea and South Korea, is skepticism over former colonial master Japan.
The nationalist agenda of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has deepened that concern, particularly in the wake of his visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine and policy objectives seen in Seoul as inflaming long-running disputes tied to Japan’s 35-year occupation.
So the visit this week of a former senior Japanese politician seen as a driver for better ties has provided something of a break from the prevailing narrative of Japan’s dangerous right-wing lurch. Tomiichi Murayama arrived in Seoul on Tuesday for a three-day visit and is best known as the socialist prime minister who delivered an apology known as the “Murayama Statement” to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in 1995.
Twins Separated at Birth Find Each Other On Different Continents
ABC News via Yahoo News
Imagine growing up as an adopted child, and at age 25 getting at Facebook message from a stranger who looks exactly like you. That’s what happened to Samantha Futerman, an actress living in Los Angeles.
“On February 1st, 2013, I got message on Facebook from a girl in London,” Futerman said. “It said she had seen me in YouTube video, then after looking my name up online, saw that we were both adopted, and born on the same day, in the same city. When I saw her profile, it was crazy. She looked just like me.”
The girl who had sent the message was Anais Bordier, a French fashion designer in London. “When I looked at the video, I — it was, like, shocking …,” Bordier said, explaining her reaction to seeing Futerman’s YouTube video. “You can’t imagine that you might have a twin sister somewhere that you don’t know about.”
So she sent the Facebook message. Bordier and Futerman would discover that they were both born in Busan, South Korea. It begged the question: were they twins who were separated at birth?
K-pop idols Big Bang meet Hong Kong fans
South China Morning Post
This Saturday, May Leung will join hundreds of others at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, clutching in her hand a camera phone while jostling for a vantage point to glimpse three members of Korean boy band Big Bang.
The ticket for the 90-minute show cost her HK$1,580 (top-priced ticket), but it gets her up close with G-Dragon, Seungri and Taeyang. For the 27-year-old, it’s worth every cent.
“Big Bang are energetic and dynamic on stage and their performances really distinguish themselves from other boy groups,” says Leung.
She has been following the band’s career since their 2006 debut, and is a HKVIP – the official name of a local Big Bang fan.
“When they came here two years ago, I arrived at the concert venue two days early to make sure I got the best position in the standing zone nearest to the stage.”
Leung is particularly eager to meet G-Dragon, the band’s leader, rapper and her favourite singer, at the upcoming fan meeting because she thinks he has a captivating stage presence and that he communicates directly with her through his singing.
YG Announces February 24 Comeback for 2NE1 with “CRUSH”
Yang Hyun Suk of YG Entertainment has officially announced the comeback date for 2NE1.
On February 13, YG Entertainment’s blog, YG Life posted, “The first YG runner of 2014 will be 2NE1.” The post revealed that 2NE1 will be returning with their second album titled “CRUSH” on February 28 through online music portals. Offline album sales will start in the first week of March. The album is planned to contain 10 tracks. With the exception of one track that was previously released in Japan, all other tracks will be brand new.
Yang Hyun Suk commented, “This is the first time 2NE1 is releasing a full-length album has mostly new songs since their debut six years ago. While 2NE1 did release a full-length album in 2010, the album contained many of the pre-released singles and did not have as many new tracks.”
Papa YG also revealed that the music video for 2NE1′s upcoming single will be the most expensive one as he commented, “There is a lot of CG work to be done so the teaser clip will be released on February 24 while the full single will be released on February 28.” He also announced that 2NE1′s first performance will be held at their Seoul concert on March 1 and 2.
Japan’s Asada and Korea’s Kim to face off in Sochi skating contest
In a sport famous for its all-consuming rivalries, and mirroring a historical conflict that has caused sporting enmity for decades, the figure skating matchup between Mao Asada of Japan and South Korea’s Kim Yu-Na is one of the most storied competitions in the sport’s history.
Sochi will likely host the final chapter in this legendary head-to-head, which has dominated figure skating since both skaters were juniors. Both Asada and Kim plan to retire following this year’s Winter Games.
It is also the Japanese skater’s last chance for Olympic gold. Asada finished up as runner-up to her nemesis the last time they met in Olympic competition, taking the silver while Kim grabbed the top podium spot. Asada, for her part, has won two world championships and the 2013 Grand Prix Final.
Mogul skier Choi becomes first Korean to make Olympic final
Freestyle skier Choi Jae-woo made history Monday night, securing a spot in the men’s moguls final at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, something a Korean skier has never done before.
Choi came slowly out of the gate at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, finishing 15th in the first qualification round with 20.56 points. But in the second qualification round, he finished second, only 0.48 points short of Patrick Deneen’s score of 22.38, and made it into the first final round.
Choi kept the momentum alive and finished 10th in the first round of the final with a score of 22.11, qualifying for the second round of the final. But after successfully landing a double pole, he swerved off the course and was disqualified.
Grueling training led to Lee’s Sochi gold
When Lee Sang-hwa claimed the gold medal in the women’s speed skating 500 meters, setting a new Olympic record in the process with a combined time of 74.70 seconds in her two races, the cheering was nearly universal – from her Canadian coach Kevin Crockett to fans at the Adler Arena to her family watching on television with neighbors in Dongdaemun, northeastern Seoul. But there was one notable exception – Lee herself.
Holding a Korean national flag in her hand, she skated around the rink with few tears in her eyes.
“All of a sudden, all the days of my last four years that I spent preparing for this Olympics flashed through my mind,” Lee told the Korean media in a post-race interview. “I know that people call me an ‘ice woman,’ because they think I don’t get nervous for big races like this. But I think that is just because it is the Olympics. It makes athletes recall their memories and that is what happened to me at that moment. The hours I spent riding a bike in the mountains and the times that I had to endure hardcore training all just popped into my head.”
The pressure on Lee must have been indescribable. Korea did not win any medals in the first three days of the events, including in the men’s 1,500-meter short track and the men’s 500-meter speed skating, events in which it was expected to be competitive. So Lee, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics champion, had to stand on the starting line of the lonely rink by herself, waiting for the starter’s pistol, with a whole nation’s hopes for Sochi gold weighing on her shoulders.
Viktor Ahn Hails Support of Girlfriend After Pocketing Bronze
The first person that Russian short track skater Viktor Ahn, born Ahn Hyun-soo in Korea, shared his moment of triumph with after winning bronze in the 1,500 m on Monday was his Korean girlfriend Woo Na-ri.
After hanging the medal around Woo’s neck and taking a picture with her, he posted the image on his Instagram account.
Woo watched the race at the Iceberg Skating Palace with Team Korea’s female short tack skater Park Seung-hee, who is dating short track skater Lee Han-bin. Lee once shared a dorm with Ahn at Korea National Sport University.
Woo, who was reportedly once a member of Ahn’s official fan club, started dating the athlete in 2011.
Concept Korea Designers on Korean Fashion, K-Pop and NYFW
Wall Street Journal
48 looks. Four designers. One runway.
Concept Korea, a government-sponsored collaborative project to promote South Korean fashion designers in the U.S. market, showcased four designers at its ninth show at Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week on Tuesday.
Designer Lee Suk Tae, under his label, Kaal E. Suktae, presented modernized grunge-inspired pieces from the ’90s, including black leather jackets, fringe coats and wide-brim hats. Choi Bo Ko, whose collection is called “Fabricated Memory,” showcased various coats in white and multi-color prints. Menswear designer Ko Tae Yong of Beyond Closet, inspired by his time in the military, presented pieces such as bomber jackets, trench coats and navy double-breasted suits. Park Youn Soo, under his label Big Park, showed looks inspired by a family dinner table, including checkered print tops and wine-glass printed shirtdresses.
Seoul City’s New Promotional Video: Tough and Raw
Wall Street Journal
A bridge collapses; closed-circuit cameras monitor every nook and cranny of a street; a downtown demonstration turns violent; a national treasure gets destroyed by arson.
It’s not your average promotional movie about a city.
“Bitter, Sweet, Seoul,” a crowd-sourced film about Seoul supported by the city government was released on Tuesday and there are no polished images or preaching about the virtues of South Korea’s capital.
Daniel Chae, a singer for K-pop group DMTN, successfully appealed his one-year prison sentence for using and distributing marijuana, according to Sports Seoul.
The Seoul High Court judge gave him a three year suspended sentence with two years of probation. Chae will be required to do 120 hours of community service and 80 hours of substance abuse treatment and a fine of approximately $6,700.
When he first made his appeal last December, the 22-year-old singer asked for the court’s forgiveness saying, “I spent the last two months in a cold and scary place crying and thinking about my family. From now on, I will never break any laws and diligently live a life of faith. If you show me mercy, I will become a young man that is an asset to this country. Please forgive me.” Continue Reading »
Ending a three-year legal battle, Korean American Stephen Kim pled guilty of leaking confidential government information to a reporter.
Kim, a former senior adviser to the U.S. State Department, entered a guilty plea in federal court on Feb. 7. In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors requested a sentence of 13 months compared with the maximum penalty of 15 years.
Report Says North Korea Is Improving Missile Capabilities
New York Times
North Korea has made progress in expanding its main satellite launch site, apparently to accommodate larger rockets that outside analysts said the country was developing for its intercontinental ballistic missile program, an American research institute reported Thursday.
The U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies based its findings on an analysis of recent satellite imagery of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, where North Korea set off a long-range rocket into space in December 2012 in defiance of a United Nations ban on its use of ballistic missile technology.
In recent years, advances in commercial satellite imagery have allowed nongovernmental research organizations to monitor the North’s nuclear and rocket-launching operations and to provide regular updates on them.
Park urges N. Korea not to hurt separated families
South Korean President Park Geun-hye urged North Korea Friday not to hurt the feelings of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, after the communist country threatened to backtrack on its agreement to hold reunions later this month.
The two Koreas agreed Wednesday to stage a new round of reunions at Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort on North Korea’s east coast, from Feb. 20-25. A day later, however, North Korea demanded Seoul cancel its annual military drills with Washington, warning it may call off the planned reunions.
“North Korea should not leave a large wound in the hearts of the separated families again,” Park said during a meeting at the presidential office with senior officials from across the government, military and civil society.
“Four Evils” to be covered by South Korean insurance
Social problems are now so prevalent in South Korea that, for the first time, an insurance company is set to offer cover for the victims of societal “evils.”
Dubbed “four evils” insurance, the new policy will compensate victims of the four biggest social problems of South Korean society today — bullying in school, low-quality or “adulterated” food products, domestic violence and rape — as defined by the Park Geun-hye government.
An independent panel, composed of different interested parties including women’s organizations and advocate groups, has been advising the insurance sector.
The country’s second largest non-life insurance company, Hyundai Marine & Fire, is currently ironing out the details of the new policy with the government, and will begin offering the product in March.
Working moms doubtful about gov’t help
As a working mother, Ahn Chae-ryang, 34, struggles to achieve a balance between raising her child in a loving environment and continuing her career.
Earlier this week, the government proposed measures to offer additional financial support to women like her, but these have been met with skepticism.
The current law grants working women 15 months of paid maternity leave. The first 90 days of this is on full pay, while the remainder is at 40 percent.
According to the new measures, a mother, who decides to work part-time after the initial 90 days, will be eligible for an additional 60-percent on top of her part-time monthly earnings.
Portland’s Korean adoptees help others uncover old roots and new
Hope Huynh thinks she’s 36, but she can’t be sure.
She was adopted from Korea in the 1970s. Since figuring out her birth documents were faked, she can only guess at her birth year.
“Supposedly 1976,” said Huynh.
Today Huynh is helping other Korean adoptees connect with their pasts and their heritage through the group she helped form, Adult Korean Adoptees of Portland.
The group celebrated the lunar new year Jan. 31 at Huynh’s Southeast Portland home near Powell Butte, where members feasted on traditional Korean foods such as dduk guk, a soup with rice cakes. They talked about traditions many Korean adoptees never learn growing up.
Kim pushes for job growth with new leader
Times Record (Illinois)
Steve Kim, candidate for Lieutenant Governor, was in Aledo Friday as part of a western Illinois tour that also touched Carthage and Moline.
Kim, an attorney from Northbrook is running with State Treasurer Dan Rutherford on the Republican ticket in an effort to displace current governor Pat Quinn.
Kim noted, “Our focus as governor and Lieutenant Governor is going to be job growth. Job creation and retention is our number one goal,” said Kim.
A Look at Korea’s Culture From the Bathhouse
New York Times
My friend Arcadia Kim has three children and a Harvard business degree, but when she tried to negotiate on our behalf with the lady in charge of exfoliation at the Dragonhill Spa in Seoul, she did not stand a chance.
We were standing in the heart of the jimjilbang, or Korean bathhouse, in a steaming, all-female bathing room where scrubs are administered (as they are across the land) by strict middle-aged women, more than a few of them with potbellies, who wear nothing but sexy black lace bras and underwear. Arcadia had whispered to me that the women were ajummas, which means “aunties” and connotes matronly, working-class women known for no-nonsense warmth and authority.
Our ajumma insisted we needed full-body scrubdowns. We only had so much time, Arcadia protested. The woman shook her head, unyielding. A moment later, we were lying on the slippery plastic tables, being subjected to what felt less like a spa treatment than some sort of primal tough-love routine. Our ajummas scoured us with rough yellow washcloths, walked on top of us, pummeled and slapped us, the popping noises bouncing off the wet tiles. At one point my ajumma shook me to open my eyes and pointed with apparent pride to gray lumps, bigger than rice grains, clinging to my arms. I wondered if they were one of the cutting-edge Korean skin care products I had heard so much about. No, they were clusters of my own dead skin cells. She finished by covering me in hot towels, leaving me feeling like a baby: I was completely and passively in the care of an older woman, my skin was soft and new, and I was surrounded by a world I was only beginning to understand.
Korean Air makes Houston its next U.S. city
Korean Air will make Houston its newest U.S. destination, adding nonstop flights to its Seoul hub starting May 2.
The carrier will use Boeing 777-200 jets for its four weekly flights between Houston Bush Intercontinental and the Incheon International Airport near Seoul.
“We’re very bullish on the Americas,” John Jackson, Korean Air’s VP of marketing for North and South America, says in a statement. “Houston is the fifth largest metro area in the U.S. with a very strong travel market to Asia. We’ve decided to earn our fair share of the market with a highly competitive product and service that’s hard to beat.”
Jeon Ji-hyun Boosts Fashion Sales
The Yves Saint Laurent cosmetics store in the Gangnam branch of Shinsegae Department Store was baffled recently when it ran out of a line of lipstick costing a cool W40,000 (US$1=W1,078).
The store brought in another 1,400 sticks of No. 52 just before the Lunar New Year holidays last week, but even those supplies were snapped up by customers who had ordered in advance.
Altogether the one store sold 2,577 No. 52 lipsticks, generating W100.3 million in sales. A Shinsegae spokesman called the earnings “unprecedented.”
Bong Joon-ho’s film Snowpiercer – all of it – inches closer to our cinemas, enfin!
Montreal Gazette (Canada)
Powerful distributor Harvey Weinstein has kept Bong Joon-ho’s film Snowpiercer, which was released in South Korea back in August, 2013, from the English-speaking world up until now, because he seems to think that the plot is too complicated for our easily distracted brains. It’s said that he wanted to chop 20 to 30 minutes from it and turn in into an actioneer only – never mind what prompted the rather violent action in the first place. Begone, politics, class struggle, philosophy! And since he had bought the distribution rights for the U.S, U.K., Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, (before the film was even finished) enraged film fans were left simmering in their juices.
Now word has come that Weinstein has backed down and abandoned his scissors. (Or his machete?) The full film will be released, though bit by bit and not in one huge North-America wide opening. Good box office sales and favourable word-of-mouth will lead to more screens. Sounds much better than the alternative, if you ask me!
Snowpiercer is a Korean sci-fi film, based on the French bande dessinée Le Transperceneige which was shot in the Czech Republic with an international cast.
A South Korean shares her love for everything Pinoy
Business Mirror (Philippines)
Filipino food is matamis,” observes Britney Kang, our resident South Korean kitchen expert. “All Korean food is maanghang. Korean food is not matamis.” As if to emphasize a point, when we accompanied her to go shopping in a South Korean grocery store, she holds up two jars of galbi jim marinade. “This one’s spicy,” she says, pointing to one jar, and then points to the other bottle. “This is more spicy.” The galbi jim, which she’s cooking, a dish most Filipinos are familiar with, has a sweetish sauce, however. “People think sugar is added to this, but the sweetness comes from the juice of Korean pears,” explains Britney. The pear is a specific variety that you can get at South Korean grocery stores. Britney demonstrates that the pear is peeled, sliced and then crushed in a mortar and pestle before it is added to the short rib stew.
The galbi jim is her favorite South Korean dish, she says. She only started to learn how to cook when she first landed here in Manila to study English at De La Salle University eight years ago.
“Everyone was K-pop, K-pop, and they kept asking me what the food tastes like, so I learned…from the Internet,” she says matter-of-factly. I’m pretty certain the next generation of cooks and chefs will also credit YouTube as their first teacher. “But you can’t learn everything from the Internet,” she qualifies. Her mother didn’t really allow her in the kitchen when she was growing up. “Only mommy in the kitchen, not Britney.” Knowing South Korean standards for academic achievement, Kang probably just wanted Britney to study more.
Abu Dhabi gets taste of Korean cuisine
Abu Dhabi: Chef Edward Kwon is the guest chef at Park Rotana during Gourmet Abu Dhabi, preparing a four-course meal of Korean classics made simple.
The former head chef of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, who now runs two restaurants in South Korea, shares his philosophy of introducing his nation’s cuisine to those who may not be familiar with the likes of kimchi and galbi.
Photo via ABC SF
A Northern California pastor was charged with unlawful sex with a 17-year-old girl who was one of two teenage runaways hiding at his home, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Prosecutors in Contra Costa County charged Hyo Bin Im, also known as Pastor John, with felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a juvenile, child concealment and animal cruelty, the latter in connection with a badly injured dog that was found in his home on Jan. 29.
Im, a 33-year-old graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, was an English ministry pastor at Contra Costa Korean Presbyterian Church in San Ramon, a middle-class suburb in the East Bay. Continue Reading »