A small garden party in the suburbs of Richmond gave Steve Kim his start in the hot sauce business.
The year was 2010 and Kim, a failed restaurateur, served his modest dinner party his favorite Korean foods, including a home-made ssamjang, or hot sauce to accompany ssam lettuce wraps. A photo spread of the party appeared in a local magazine and included the hot sauce. Friends requested samples from Kim and demand grew and eventually spawned a small business, according to the Washington Post.
Now, the KimKim Korean hot sauce is an award-winning regional favorite and is found in many hipster cafes and some select Whole Foods stores in the greater Washington, D.C., area. Continue Reading »
A recent survey showed that a large number of Chinese tourists felt slighted by South Korean people during their visit to the country, according to news reports.
“My trip to South Korea was my first and also the last time,” one tourist said, according to the Want China Times.
About one-quarter of respondents to a poll conducted by South Korean business newspaper AJU Business Daily said that they had a bad impression of Korea after visiting and 37 percent said they felt looked down upon during their stay.
They said they could feel hostility from Koreans in their manner of speech, as well as facial expressions and body language. Continue Reading »
After Missiles, Seoul Seeks More Reunions
Wall Street Journal
When South Korea told North Korea that it shouldn’t link military exercises and family reunions, it meant drills now ongoing in the South.
Clearly it also means military activity in the North.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry has responded to North Korea’s series of missile launches over the last few days with harsh words about “provocations,” but over at the Unification Ministry there’s a new move for more meetings between families torn apart by the Korean War and North Korean abductions.
The ministry, which coordinates inter-Korean affairs, said Wednesday it had sent a proposal for working-level talks to take place in a week.
The North Korean defectors who want to return home
In the past two decades thousands of North Koreans have fled their homeland, seeking refuge in the South. So why are some now deciding to return?
Kim Hyung-deok met his wife at South Korea’s top university, has two children and a successful career. He has a house in the countryside outside Seoul and a taste for sharp suits.
Hyung-deok was born in North Korea, but about 20 years ago escaped to the South. He is one of about 25,000 to do so in the past two decades.
It is a long and dangerous journey, but once defectors arrive South Korean citizenship is guaranteed.
U.S. calls for ‘urgent’ restraint to ease Japan, South Korea tensions
The United States appealed to Japan and South Korea on Tuesday to work urgently to reduce the tensions between them, saying its two main allies in Asia could not afford to let their troubled history interfere with ensuring regional security.
“There is an urgent need to show prudence and restraint in dealing with difficult historical issues. It is important to handle them in a way that promotes healing,” Washington’s top diplomat for the East Asian region, Daniel Russel, said in prepared testimony for a U.S. Senate hearing.
Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said strategic cooperation between the United States, Japan and South Korea was essential for future security in Northeast Asia, given the threat posed by North Korea and other “regional uncertainties,” a reference to concerns about an increasingly assertive China.
Korea raises sex slavery issue at UN
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se urged Japan, Wednesday, to take responsibility for forcing Korean women into sexual slavery during World War II and make sincere efforts to resolve the matter.
In a keynote speech to the 25th regular session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, Yun denounced Tokyo’s recent move to revise its 1993 apology over “comfort women,” a Japanese euphemism for sex slaves, calling it “contrary to the U.N.’s repeated recommendation to resolve the issue.”
This was the first time since 2006 that the nation’s top diplomat attended the UNHRC session, and also marked the first time for a Korean foreign minister to make a speech there on the issue of women who suffered sexual enslavement by the Japanese imperial army.
Remembering Ahn’s Assassination – In Model Form
Wall Street Journal
In his latest China’s World column, WSJ’s Andrew Browne explores the significance of China’s move to set up a museum commemorating Ahn Jung-geun, the Korean assassin of the first Japanese resident-governor of Korea in 1909.
The move has delighted South Koreans, who see Mr. Ahn as one of the heroes of Korean history.
Mr. Ahn is also celebrated at a memorial hall at the foot of the Mt. Nam in central Seoul. Erected by the Park Chung-hee government in 1970 and partially funded through donations from the public, it was renovated in 2010 to commemorate the 101st anniversary the assassination in Harbin, China of Hirobumi Ito. There’s a 3m-high statue of Mr. Ahn in front of the hall.
South Korea’s Sexist Military [OPINION]
New York Times
The Korea Air Force Academy recently decided that it would grant its highest academic award for graduating seniors, the presidential prize, not to the valedictorian but to the salutatorian. Traditionally the prize is given to the student with the highest grade-point average, but the administrators said they chose the runner-up this year because he had performed better than the valedictorian in nonacademic areas like physical fitness and leadership, and in military studies.
But to many South Koreans, the real reason for the choice was obvious: The valedictorian was a woman and the salutatorian a man.
South Korea first allowed women into the military in 1950 during the Korean War. Back then, female soldiers mainly held administrative and support positions. Women began to take on combat roles in the 1990s when the three military academies, exclusive to men, began accepting women. In 2013, female soldiers numbered more than 8,200 in a total military force of 639,000 soldiers.
Running mate adds business focus to Rutherford bid for governor
As an immigrant from South Korea, Steve Kim was introduced to American culture through childhood conversations about politics with his father over the daily newspaper. But it would take several years and a college internship before Kim realized his personal politics were decidedly Republican.
While doing research for a Democratic congressman in Ohio, Kim found himself in disagreement with the party’s plans to tax and regulate businesses. Kim’s mom owned a dry cleaner in Skokie, and to him, lower taxes and less government involvement just made sense.
It’s a stance Kim has continued to champion as a candidate for lieutenant governor and running mate to Treasurer Dan Rutherford in the GOP primary for governor. He argues that Republicans for too long have ceded the support of immigrant communities to Democrats.
Girls’ Generation & BIGBANG Top, PSY Tumbles Down Forbes Korea’s Celebrity List
Is Girls’ Generation made up of nine Oprah Winfreys? According to Forbes, that may be true. The full list for Forbes Korea’s “2014 Power Celebrity 40″ shows the nine-member girl group reclaiming the No. 1 slot from PSY, who topped last year. The “Gentleman” rapper falls to No. 13 this year.
The Forbes Korea list is created based on exposure, professionalism and domestic and overseas earnings. The ranking methodology is similar to the U.S. Forbes “Celebrity 100″ list that Oprah topped last year with Lady Gaga in the runner-up position.
Girls’ Generation tops the chart after an exciting 2013 that saw its Korean-language album “I Got a Boy” released — with its title track earning a two-week K-Pop Hot 100 No. 1 — plus Japanese album “Love & Peace,” the group’s first Chinese-language single and a big international spotlight after winning the YouTube Music Awards’ maiden video of the year honor.
‘Frozen’-Crazy South Korea Spawns Countless K-Pop Covers of ‘Let It Go’ (Video)
Disney’s Oscar-winning animation Frozen has become nothing short of a phenomenon in South Korea. Since its local release on Jan. 15, the film has grossed more than $75 million here, making South Korea the movie’s most successful market outside the U.S.
It has also sold more than 10 million tickets — a record for an animated film in the country — meaning approximately one in five South Koreans have watched Anna on her adventure to break the wintery spell.
“I believe the film’s Broadway musical appeal attracted audiences,” said prominent local film critic Jeong Ji-ouk, noting the popularity of live musicals in Korea.
UC Berkeley plans to hold K-pop conference
Korea Times US
An in-school club at UC Berkeley will hold a two-day convention on the colorful and diverse aspects of the K-pop community. Under the theme “[Be] CHROMATIC,” KPOPCON will be held on March 8 and 9, in and around the university campus in Northern California.
“KPOPCON strives to gather fans from all backgrounds to celebrate the continuously evolving K-pop community in a social, creative, and academic setting,” said its organizer K-Popular. “While enjoying the hallyu content provided during the workshops, we hope fans will find their creativity and dreams.”
Since the student club launched the K-pop event in 2012, it has been providing a platform for studying the phenomenon academically as well as organizing dance competitions and fan meet-ups.
Opportunistic S. Korea beats Greece in pre-World Cup friendly
Opportunistic on offense and fortunate on defense, South Korea defeated Greece 2-0 in their pre-World Cup friendly match on Wednesday.
South Korea solved the usually stingy Greek defense once in each half, as forward Park Chu-young scored his first international goal in more than two years, and winger Son Heung-min added insurance later at Karaiskakis Stadium. The 61st-ranked South Korea improved to three wins and a draw all-time against the No. 12 Greece.
2014 Is the Year of the Night Market
The decades-old tradition of the night market (covered last year in Transpacific Routes) — the evening outdoor marketplace events in Asian cities known worldwide for their array of street food and haggle-happy merchandise vendor stalls — is still a nascent concept on this side of the ocean, but it’s already quickly writing its own history here.
After the initial 626 Night Market hit the streets of Pasadena in April 2012 — an event that was as heavily criticized as it was attended — the organizers worked out the logistical kinks with a larger location at the Pasadena civic center, before settling at their current home at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia last year. In June 2013, summer weekend Little Saigon Night Market premiered, as well as the inaugural San Diego Night Market in that city’s pan-Asian Convoy District.
Now, in 2014, even more night market events are setting up in the Southland, with the recent announcement of the KTown Night Market coming to L.A.’s Koreatown in April and the now-experienced 626 Night Market operators taking their show to the 714 (949, technically) and the 213 with events at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa in May and the Staples Center parking lot in Downtown Los Angeles in June. Later this summer, Asian American arts and entertainment organization Kollaboration and the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce are planning to bring the night market experience to that city as well.
Early Korean Literature Goes Digital and Free
The Korea Times reports that the Literature Translation Institute (LTI) of Korea, to ensure that Korean modern literature is available to every “digital person” in the world, has placed 20 works of early-modern Korean fiction online, which can be accessed either as PDF files or through apps for smart phones, tablets, and other mobile Internet devices.
Charles Montgomery writes that “These twenty works are the equivalent of a free collection of modern colonial fiction of Korean that can give an overseas reader a snapshot of the first ‘modern’ Korean literature and its styles, themes, and discontents.”
LTI Korea President Kim Seong-Kon told Montgomery that, “The authors were chosen carefully to include all aspects of Korean life at the time, from the lives of peasants in villages, to the lives of stifled intellectuals in cities, the stories of the men and women who lived through the colonial era and in the industrialization era.”
A cast member of a South Korean blind-date reality show was found dead of what appears to be suicide on Wednesday as the show was being shot on Jeju Island, according to the Korea Times.
The 29-year-old office worker, surnamed Jeon, was found dead in a bathroom of her room at a bed-and-breakfast inn. The show’s crew reportedly forced their way into the locked bathroom after a fellow cast member became concerned.
Police found a note next to her body which stated, “I am very sorry to my mom and dad. I don’t want to live anymore because life is too tough.” Continue Reading »
As the Korean economy has grown over the last few decades, so has the number of obese and highly obese people, which experts say is correlated to income levels, the JoongAng Daily reports.
In the last 15 years, the percentage of people with “extreme obesity” — defined by a body-mass index above 30 — has more than doubled to 5 percent of adults, while those considered just obese — with a BMI above 25 — rose to 32 percent, up from 26 percent in 1998, according to a study released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Experts found that poor people were more likely to be obese. About 34 percent of people at the lowest income level were considered obese in 2012, compared with 29.5 percent of above-average income individuals. Continue Reading »