Monday’s Link Attack: SKorean Credit Card Breach; LPGA Pro Called Jenner’s ‘Mystery Woman’; Pyongyang Marathon Hosts Foreign Tourists
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: April 14th, 2014
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Hurst laughs off being called Jenner ‘mystery woman’
NBC Golf Channel

LPGA pro Vicky Hurst unwittingly became “the mystery woman” hugging Bruce Jenner when paparazzi captured them outside a Chipotle restaurant Friday in Malibu, Calif.

The story ran under this headline in the British Daily Mail’s online edition: “Bruce Jenner wears wedding band on right hand embracing mystery woman in Malibu.”

Jenner, the decathlon gold medalist in the ’76 Olympics, is married to Kris Jenner, previously Kris Kardashian, mother to the Kardashian siblings of reality TV fame. Celebrity news sites have been abuzz over the separation and now reports of a possible reconciliation of the couple.

Citigroup Says Client Data Leaked at Korean Consumer Credit Unit

Bloomberg

Citigroup Inc. (C:US) and Industrial Bank of Korea (024110) said client information was leaked from their South Korean leasing and consumer credit units, the latest instances of data breaches at financial firms in the country.

Authorities found 17,000 instances of leaks of information including names and phone numbers, Citigroup Korea Inc. said in an e-mailed reply to Bloomberg News questions today. The company was informed of the breaches by the prosecutors’ office in February, it said. The same number of leaks occurred at Industrial Bank of Korea’s IBK Capital Corp., company official Shin Dong Min said by phone from Seoul, declining to elaborate

N. Korea blasts reunification offer as ‘psychopath’s daydream’
Yahoo

North Korea on Saturday blasted South Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s proposal on laying the groundwork for reunification through economic exchanges and humanitarian aid as the “daydream of a psychopath”.

The blistering attack from the North’s powerful National Defence Commission (NDC) was the first official reaction from Pyongyang to a proposal Park made in a speech last month in Dresden in the former East Germany.

North Korea Marathon Opens Pyongyang Streets to Foreign Tourists

NBC News

Pyongyang was filled with runners from all over the world on Sunday for the annual marathon, open to foreign amateurs for the first time.

Nancy Q: Wie finds way to make odd putting stroke work
The Tennessean

The putting stroke is the one skill that can take on a totally different look from one player to the next. That has never been more evident then when watching the putting style of LPGA Tour player Michelle Wie.

Two years ago I witnessed Wie putting at the Navistar Classic. I was very surprised at how “bent over” she was in her setup. So was every other golf instructor and golf critic in the country! In an interview that week, I heard her say she was the one who decided on that putting style, not David Leadbetter, her teacher of many years.

Learning in reverse brought Kogi chef Roy Choi to the top
LA Times

All roads lead back to the Kogi truck.
“It’s like my ‘Sweet Caroline’ and I’m Neil Diamond,” Roy Choi said. “I’ll never be able to outlive Kogi. Kogi is a beast.”
The chef was attempting to articulate what spawning that marvel of Korean barbecued ribs enveloped in tortillas has meant to him in front of a crowd at the 19th-annual L.A. Times Festival of Books. The sprawling two-day event at USC features readings, screenings, musical performances and cooking demonstrations.

The kimchi revolution: How Korean-American chefs are changing food culture
Salon

In a recent interview with food writer Michael Ruhlman, celebrity travel/food writer Anthony Bourdain said that “when you look at all the people who are sort of driving American cuisine right now, they’re all Korean American.” By “all,” he mostly meant “both,” since his list boiled down to two: David Chang and Roy Choi.

Roy Choi is best known as the L.A. Korean taco truck guy, and David Chang is the founder of the Momofuku restaurant group as well as the cult food publication “Lucky Peach.” Bourdain probably intended to mention Edward Lee in this interview as well, insofar as he’d praised Lee’s cookbook, “Smoke and Pickles,” by calling him one of “America’s most important young chefs.”

World Bank’s Kim urges SA to cut red tape around investment
Business Day

WORLD Bank president Jim Yong Kim says countries such as India, South Africa and others in Africa with massive infrastructure programmes should limit red tape to make it easier for investors to bring in the billions of dollars such large projects require.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meetings on Thursday.

The South African government plans to invest more than R800bn over the next three years on energy, road, rail, school and municipal infrastructure and has called on the private sector to participate. It has identified infrastructure development as one of the areas that can create jobs and provide skills for millions of unemployed people.

Out of the blue
Economist

FORAGING in South Korea’s mountains may soon become more fruitful. Since a wild ginseng digger reported the wreckage of a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on April 3rd, the South’s ministry of defence has been ruminating on rewards for anyone who spots an enemy drone. The report followed the discovery of two other similar aircraft: on March 24th in Paju, a border city; and on March 31st on Baengnyeong island, near the disputed Northern Limit Line which demarcates the two Koreas’ maritime border. North Korean inscriptions on the planes’ batteries; an ongoing military investigation into their engines, fuel tanks and weight; and the sequence of the photographs found stored in one of the plane’s cameras suggest the drones were sent from North Korea. For others, their sky-blue camouflage paintwork, identical to that on larger drones paraded in the capital Pyongyang two years ago, was a giveaway.

Friday’s Link Attack: Shari Song Enters State Senate Race; Samsung Galaxy S5 Hits Shelves; In-bee Park Awarded Player of the Year
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: April 11th, 2014
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Shari Song to run for key state Senate seat
Seattle Times

Democrats have finally recruited a candidate for the key state Senate race in South King County’s 30th district — Shari Song, a real-estate agent who last year unsuccessfully challenged Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn.

Song, however, will have to combat carpetbagging charges as she is moving from Bellevue to Federal Way just in time for the race.

In a Thursday news release, Song stressed her ties to the district, noting that she previously lived there for years, founded the Federal Way Mission Church Preschool and served on the Federal Way Diversity Commission. She said she was moving back to be closer to husband’s elderly parents.

Korean-Born Woman Back in French Cabinet
Chosun Ilbo

Fleur Pellerin has been appointed to France’s top foreign trade post after the Korean-born woman stepped down as deputy minister for small business and digital economy.

Pellerin (41) was named state secretary for foreign trade, tourism on Wednesday in the roster of new ministers after a cabinet reshuffle last week.

Assemblyman Ron Kim slams Tiger Mom author Amy Chua for sending the wrong message
Daily News

Call him the Tiger Mom slayer.

Assemblyman Ron Kim, the first Korean-American elected to the state Legislature, slammed “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” author Amy Chua on Thursday, saying her latest tome about cultural distinctions “sends the wrong message.”

Just two days before the Flushing assemblyman is slated to speak at a conference for Asian-American students at SUNY Albany, Kim took a shot at the controversial author’s new book, “The Triple Package,” which hit bookshelves January.

Apple and Samsung trial judge orders court to turn phones off
Irish Independent

US District Judge Lucy Koh has become increasingly frustrated during the first few days of the trial of Apple versus Samsung as the many personal Wi-Fi signals interfere with a network the judge relies on for a real-time transcript of the proceedings.

The phones also ring, vibrate and can be used to take photos; a serious violation of court rules.

Park In-bee Collects Female Player of Year Award at Augusta
Chosun Ilbo

World No. 1 Park In-bee was officially named Female Player of the Year at the annual Golf Writers Association of America awards at Augusta, Georgia on Wednesday. She collected the gong one day before the Masters, the first major of the U.S. PGA season, got under way at Augusta National Golf Club in the city.

Park claimed six titles on the LPGA Tour last year, including a historic run that saw her win the first three majors of the season. This helped her garner an overwhelming majority of 91 percent when the association held its ballot in January to determine who should receive the award for 2013.

90% of Foreigners Would Date a Korean
Chosun Ilbo

Some 90 percent of foreigners would be happy to date a Korean, a straw poll by a dating site suggests.

Korea’s largest matchmaking company Duo and social media side Korspot in a survey asked 1,147 people in North America, Southeast Asia and Europe whether they would to date a Korean — 505 men and 642 women — and 90 percent said yes.

Can Samsung’s Galaxy S5 take on the next iPhone?
CNBC

Galaxy S5 boasts a variety of new features, but does it have what it takes to prevent users from jumping back on the Apple bandwagon when the next generation iPhone with a potentially larger-screen is launched?

The new flagship Android smartphone is being rolled out worldwide on Friday amid an increasingly tough environment for smartphone makers as the industry moves toward commoditization.

The phone’s stand-out features are its ability to survive when submerged in water, or to act as a heart-rate monitor for personal-fitness tracking. There is also a fingerprint scanner for biometric screen locking – a feature introduced by Apple in its iPhone 5S last year.

Holt under inspection after adoptee’s death
Korea Times

Holt Children’s Service being inspected for its practice of sending adoptees in and outside of Korea, after a 3-year-old sent to the U.S. through the agency was allegedly beaten to death by his adoptive father.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Wednesday that it has been inspecting the adoption agency since Monday over its adoption procedures, and the commission fees it receives from foster parents for adoption.

Holt authorities said that inspectors were looking into its financial statements.

Survey shows the effects of smartphone addiction
Korea Joong Ang Daily

One out of every five students residing in Seoul is addicted to smartphones, the city government announced on Tuesday, a trend it claims has contributed to a rash of societal problems, such as cyberbullying.
The figure is part of the results of a survey of 4,998 students in the fourth through 11th grades across 75 schools in Seoul who were evaluated over two weeks last November on a diagnostic scale developed by the National Information Society Agency.

Yuna Kim to perform to ‘Frozen’ soundtrack in farewell ice shows
NBC Sports

Yuna Kim‘s program for her farewell ice shows next month will include music from the Disney animated film “Frozen,” according to Arirang News.

The 2010 Olympic champion and 2014 silver medalist will open her shows May 4-6 in Seoul by performing to the song “Let it Go” from the film. She will skate to other song medleys from “Frozen,” too, according to the report. Kim’s closing performance will be to Francesco Sartori‘s “Time to Say Goodbye.”

Ryu’s 7-Inning Shutout Not Enough To Spoil Padres Season Opener
Author: Steve Han
Posted: March 31st, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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Hyun-Jin Ryu blanked the San Diego Padres for seven innings, but the bullpen and defensive errors turned a one-run lead in the eighth inning to a 3-1 loss for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night at Petco Park.

Ryu showed no signs of the toenail injury he suffered in his first start of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia last week. The 26-year-old struck out seven batters and gave up no runs on only three hits and three walks through seven frames.

The Dodgers held a 1-0 lead when manager Don Mattingly replaced Ryu with Brian Wilson, who gave up three runs. Rene Rivera sparked the comeback for the Padres with a solo homer to start the inning, followed by an error on a bunt and a hit by Chris Denorfia for two more runs. Continue Reading »

Tuesday’s Link Attack: Korean Film About Teen Suicide a Surprise Hit; Linkin Park’s New Video
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: March 25th, 2014
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Obama Juggles Itinerary in Bid to Ease Tensions Between Two Asian Allies
New York Times

When President Obama brings together the estranged leaders of Japan and South Korea for a peacemaking session in The Hague on Tuesday evening, it will be the culmination of three months of intense behind-the-scenes American diplomacy.

The unusual effort included a phone call from Mr. Obama to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; a follow-up lunch that the American ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, had with Mr. Abe; a decision to put both Tokyo and Seoul on Mr. Obama’s itinerary when he visits Asia next month; and a plan to resolve this neighborhood quarrel on the ultimate neutral ground: a stately Dutch city accustomed to litigating international disputes.

“The diplomacy of northeast Asia is a little like junior prom: Cathy won’t sit with Jamie, but maybe she would if Sally comes over and sits with them,” said Michael J. Green, a senior adviser on Asia in the George W. Bush administration. “The U.S. can never solve these problems, but we can be quite effective in managing them.”

S. Korea urges N. Korea to stop provocations
Yonhap News

South Korea called on North Korea Tuesday to stop provocative remarks and actions, criticizing the communist country for tinkering with a nuclear card.

Seoul’s call came one day after Pyongyang’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ri Tong-il, warned that his country will take additional “nuclear measures,” slamming the United States for conducting annual military drills with the South.

The envoy said during a news conference that his country “is ready to take a series of additional nuclear measures to demonstrate the power of the self-defensive nuclear deterrent,” warning that whether it would take those measures is entirely “up to the U.S.’ attitude down the road.”

North Korea Urged U.S. Changes Citing Talks With South
Bloomberg

North Korea called on the U.S. to stop isolating it politically, militarily and economically, citing the totalitarian regime’s recent engagement with South Korea as proof of a commitment to relieving tensions.

In dealings with neighboring countries starting last month, North Korea participated in the first high-level talks with South Korea since 2007, allowed family reunions between the two Koreas and made plans to hold talks next week with Japan for the first time since November 2012.

“The DPRK did not hesitate to accept the request from South Korean authorities on holding the separated families’ reunion,” even though “in view of the harsh conditions of the political environment,” the situation “was not mature yet,” Ri Tong Il, a top North Korean diplomat at the United Nations, told reporters yesterday in New York. He referred to his country by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Court Ruling on Korean Tycoon Sparks Media Criticism
Wall Street Journal

South Korean media are abuzz over a four-year-old court ruling that allows a convicted tycoon to pay off a $23 million fine with just a month-and-a-half of prison labor, questioning the fairness of a decision that values his daily work behind bars 10,000 times higher than that of a regular convict.

The controversy erupted again when Huh Jae-ho, 71, the former chairman of now-defunct Daeju Group, returned home over the weekend to be taken to a prison labor facility after four years of living overseas to avoid paying the fine for tax evasion and embezzlement.

Handing down a suspended jail term against Mr. Huh, a local court in 2010 ordered him to pay the 25.4 billion won ($23 million) fine or do prison labor for 50 days–which valued his daily labor at 500 million won, compared with the usual 50,000 won a day for ordinary convicts.

Feds: Leaker’s plea spares secrets
Politico

Arguing that the move will prevent further damage to national security, prosecutors are urging a federal judge to approve a 13-month sentence for a former State Department contractor who has admitted leaking the contents of a highly-classified report on North Korea to Fox News.

In a filing Monday, the Justice Department urged U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to accept the sentence the prosecution and lawyer for defendant Stephen Kim agreed on prior to his surprise guilty plea last month to a felony charge of disclosing closely-held national security information. Prosecutors also said the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies “concurred” in the plea deal and proposed 13-month sentence.

“The agreement reflects a fair resolution of the defendant’s criminal culpability especially when balanced against the further harm to the national security that would likely result from a trial,” prosecutors wrote in a 13-page memo.

Chinese Records Shed More Light on Sex Slaves
Chosun Ilbo

China’s state archives in Jilin Province on Monday added to a wealth of proof on Monday that the Japanese Imperial Army forced Asian women to serve as sex slaves during World War II.

Among newly revealed documents is a letter written by a Japanese citizen who lived in China’s Heilongjiang Province in 1941 to a friend in Japan. “Some 20 Korean women were brought here forcibly under the national mobilization law to serve at a ‘comfort station’ in the Japanese army compound,” he wrote.

The 1938 law put the country’s economy on a wartime footing after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

A spokesman for the archives said the specific reference to the “national mobilization law” clearly shows responsibility by the Japanese government.

Suicide Drama ‘Thread of Lies’ a Surprise Hit at South Korean Box Office
Hollywood Reporter

Thread of Lies, a local drama about a 14-year-old girl’s suicide, grossed more than $8 million at the South Korean box office, maintaining a stronghold in spite of competition from Noah, 300: Rise of an Empire and other imported films.

The small-budget film ($1.96 million, or 2.1 billion won) debuted first place over its opening weekend of March 14-16. Though it ceded the top spot to Noah over the past weekend, online reservation rates for the film remain strong according to its distributor, Movie Collage.

Korean offices use admissions as their main box office count, and more than a million people had seen the film as of Tuesday, according to the Korean Film Council.

Scalpers cash in on fans of TV star Kim
Eastday.com

TICKETS for a meet-and-greet event hosted by Kim Soo-hyun in Shanghai yesterday changed hands for up to 25,000 yuan (US$4,015) as scalpers sought to cash in on fans’passion for the South Korean TV star.

The face value of the best tickets for the show at the Shanghai Grand Stage was just 1,280 yuan.

Scalpers began congregating outside the venue early yesterday morning. One of them, who declined to give his name, said he’s been working as a scalper for 10 years and never has a problem getting hold of tickets for the big events.

He said he was offering seats in the first 10 rows for between 15,000 and 25,000 yuan.

Linkin Park’s New Video is a Game: Exclusive Inside Look at ‘Guilty All the Same’
Billboard

It’s a music video. It’s a game. It’s Linkin Park’s latest play on technology — a six-minute video game debuting on Tuesday (March 25) that’s based on the band’s latest single, “Guilty All the Same,” featuring Rakim.

Band members Joe Hahn and Mike Shinoda say they want their fans to literally play with their music. Fans can take it apart and remix both the song and the game any way they want, using the tools provided in “Project Spark,” a free software platform created by Microsoft Corp. that lets players make their own video games on Xbox One and Windows 8 computers.

In Linkin Park’s version of the game, the protagonist is a character haunted by guilt. The player navigates the character through a dark, slightly sinister environment that threatens to devour him as he tries to flee from the forces of his own guilt. The level resembles a mashup between the racing mechanic of “Temple Run” and the noir art style of “Badland.” The better the player performs, the richer the soundtrack for the song.

Is ‘Avengers’ shoot worth such a super hassle?
Korea JoongAng Daily

When Disney’s Marvel Studios decided to shoot part of the upcoming “Avengers” sequel in Seoul, the city government and state-run film agencies welcomed the decision with fanfare – and with rosy estimates about potential benefits from the elevation of Seoul’s image and the boost it will give to tourism.

But in the face of unprecedented traffic control on some of the city’s busiest districts for more than 10 days, some are questioning whether the government is offering too much support to the filming of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” at the expense of citizens’ convenience.

The areas that will be blocked off will include major bridges on the Han River such as Cheongdam and Mapo bridges, and important arteries near Gangnam subway station and Digital Media City (DMC) in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, starting from March 30 through April 13.

‘Professional’ Yoon Suk-min adjusting well to life with Baltimore Orioles: interpreter
Yonhap News

Justin Yoo, a Korean-American interpreter for the Baltimore Orioles’ South Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min, has had a front-row seat on the player’s new life in the United States.

After nine mostly successful seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Yoon signed a three-year deal for US$5.575 million with the Orioles last month. Yoon was rushed to the team’s spring training, which had already been underway by the time he inked his contract, and he had to travel to Canada for a few days to receive his work permit before he was able to pitch in games.

Whether due to his lack of preparation or to the stiff competition for a spot on the big league club’s staff, Yoon was optioned to the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tide, after making his second preseason appearance last week.

S. Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong released by Chicago Cubs
GlobalPost

South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong has been released by the Chicago Cubs, the Major League Baseball (MLB) team announced Tuesday, possibly opening the door for his return to the native land.

The Cubs’ official website stated that Lim was “granted his unconditional release” on Monday local time. The 37-year-old is now a free agent.

The right-hander with a sidearm delivery made his MLB debut last September, after a call-up from the minors. He had Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his pitching elbow in July 2012 and spent the first half of 2013 in rehab, before making his first minor league appearance in July.

Texas Rangers offer “Korean Discount”
Korea Times

The Texas Rangers, whose outfielder Choo Shin-soo is one of Korea’s biggest sports stars, will offer a heavy ticket discount for the approximately 85,000 Korean Americans residing in Dallas and Fort Worth.

The team has offered a 41 percent discount to Koreans for its monthly home games held at Arlington’s Globe Life Park, according to the Korean Society of Dallas on Monday.

Choo is expected to be a left-fielder for the Rangers, and the club will reserve 500 seats near the third base.

They provided tickets to the organization for the April 1 game at $30, which is 41 percent off the regular price of $51.

Monday’s Link Attack: SKorea’s Spy Scandal; Korea to File Complaint for Yuna Kim; Top Football Prospect Eyes Auburn
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: March 24th, 2014
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S. Korea keeps wary eye on talks between N. Korea, Japan
Yonhap News

South Korea has been keeping a wary eye on upcoming government-level talks between North Korea and Japan amid concerns that the diplomatic re-engagement between Pyongyang and Tokyo comes without any progress in efforts to denuclearize the North, two South Korean diplomats said Monday.

North Korea and Japan will reopen government-level talks in Beijing on Sunday for the first time in more than a year for discussions on a range of issues, including the North’s abduction of more than a dozen Japanese citizens decades ago.

The move comes as unpredictable North Korea is making a hawkish-dovish approach to the outside the world, while pushing ahead with nuclear and missile programs despite international sanctions.

Suicide Attempt Adds Another Twist to Korea Spy Scandal
Wall Street Journal

A South Korean intelligence officer attempted suicide on Saturday, marking another twist in the escalating spy scandal that has gripped the country in recent months.

The agent, identified only by his surname Kwon, was found unconscious in his car in a Seoul suburb, according to a fire department official, whose team first reached the site. Coal ash was found inside the car, in what appeared to be an attempt at carbon monoxide poisoning.

A spokesman for the National Intelligence Service on Monday confirmed Mr. Kwon’s suicide attempt and his hospitalization.

N.Korean Propaganda Against the South Is Failing
Chosun Ilbo

North Korean textbooks describe South Korea as a “fascist, military dictatorship” filled with “poverty and starvation,” but fewer and fewer North Koreans are buying the propaganda.

◆ “Living Hell”

North Korean textbooks teach that South Korea is dominated by “foreign powers” that trample on the Korean people and “taint” its history, language and way of life. A book of writings purportedly by former leader Kim Jong-il describes the South as a “living hell” dominated by the “terror and repression” of the U.S.

The North also teaches students that the U.S. must be driven out and South Korea liberated. Textbooks say U.S. soldiers stationed in South Korea “fire guns in broad daylight, plunder homes and rape women.” There are also rumors that North Korean defectors have their “eyes gouged out and limbs severed” if they go to South Korea.

‘I’d Been Brainwashed’: The North Korean Defector Living In London
Vice News

Kim Joo Il, 39, served eight years in the North Korean army. In 2005, after realizing his country wasn’t quite the paradise he’d been led to believe it was, he escaped the Hermit Kingdom by swimming to China. He now lives in London, where he’s the vice president of the Association of Korean Residents in Europe, works with North Korean refugees, and raises awareness about the North Korean regime’s human-rights violations. I recently caught up with him, and this is what he told me about life in his native country.

When I heard Kim Il-sung had died, I was near the 38th parallel [the DMZ between North and South Korea]. There was no electricity in North Korea that day, but I was so near the South Korean border that I heard them announce his death over the loudspeakers. I thought to myself, That’s bullshit—he’s not dead. How can the Great Leader be dead? He’s immortal.

It was impossible to imagine. I cried. We all did. Every morning, soldiers would line up to put flowers on his memorial, and we were all crying, crying, crying. Everyone was saying, “How can we survive, how will we live, what’s our destiny, now that our leader has gone?” If you’re brainwashed, that’s how you think.

Obamacare: Asian-Americans sign up in droves; Latinos disproportionately stay away
San Jose Mercury News

You’ve heard about the achievement gap, the wide disparity in educational performance between disadvantaged minorities and the rest of the student population.

Now comes the insurance gap, and in California it’s playing out most notably in the number of Latinos and Asian-Americans signing up for private health plans under the new health care law.

Of the nearly 700,000 people who enrolled in a health plan as of Feb. 28 through the Covered California health insurance exchange and identified their ethnicity, 23.1 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander. Twenty-two percent were Latino.

But the statistics are startling when you consider that Latinos make up 38.2 percent of California’s population and Asians just 13.7 percent.

Groupon therapy
The Economist

GROUPON seems to be confused. The American e-commerce company, best known for its “flash sales”, recently announced it would soon shutter its Korean subsidiary. Despite vigorous marketing since it entered South Korea’s thriving e-commerce market in 2011, Groupon Korea has remained a laggard behind the three big domestic rivals: TicketMonster—Korea’s first “social” e-commerce provider, launched in 2010—Coupang and WeMakePrice.

The decision to close its Korean subsidiary comes only a couple of months after Groupon bought TicketMonster (known locally as T-Mon, pictured) for $260m—making South Korea Groupon’s second-largest market outside America. Yet the two moves have a common root: the withdrawal is proof of how hard it is to crack the Korean e-commerce market—and the acquisition shows the best way how to go about it.

Groupon is not the only Western internet firm that has lost out to local champions and given up in recent years. In 2012 Yahoo stopped producing content for the Korean market, after years of trailing behind Naver and Daum, two home-bred search engines. Google accounts for a measly 4% of searches there. Auction, Gmarket and 11st Street, Korean hybrids of Amazon and eBay, do far better than its Western models. EBay was the first to take radical action: in 2009 it bought Gmarket for $1.2 billion. Groupon, too, plans to learn from T-Mon, its South Korean acquisition.

South Korea Will Finally File a Complaint About Kim Yu-Na’s Silver Medal
The Wire

With World Championships of figure skating beginning on Monday, South Korean Olympic Committee has said that it will file a complaint to the International Skating Union about an alleged breach of the code of ethics during the ladies competition at the Sochi Olympics. It’s a complaint the Koreans are afraid they’ll be punished for.

The complaint named judges Alla Shekhovtseva of Russia and Yuri Balkov of Ukraine. Shekhovtseva is married to the head of the Russian figure skating organization and was the judge seen hugging gold medal winner Adelina Sotnikova moments after the competition, and Balkov, who allegedly has ties to Moscow, was suspended for trying to fix a result during the 1998 Olympics. Both judges scored the ladies free skating competition, which saw Sotnikova receive the highest scores of her life and Kim Yu-na a silver medal free skate that many experts say was underscored.

The KOC and Korean Skating Union are asking for a thorough investigation of the judging composition and whether it was biased toward Sotnikova. And they filed the complaint knowing that it might result in retaliation. “We had to be very careful since an appeal or a complaint could strain relationships with international judges and bring disadvantages to our players in international games,” a KOC official said on Friday.

‘Auburn is my No. 1,’ says 4-star offensive lineman Kaleb Kim
AL.com

Offensive lineman Kaleb Kim of Hoschton, Ga., named Auburn his favorite school on Saturday and hopes to make his commitment when spring practices end in May, reports 247Sports.

“Auburn is my No. 1,” Kim said after watching practice during his third visit to Auburn Saturday. “I liked what Coach (J.B.) Grimes is doing, and his intensity. I was standing by him the whole time. He gets after it. He’s intense. Face to face, he’s the nicest guy, but on the field it’s all business and he’ll get after you and I like that.”

The 6-foot-4, 280-pounder added Georgia is his second favorite school. He also holds offers from Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida State and Ohio State, among others.

Liverpool and Chelsea battle to land Barca wonderkid striker
Daily Star (U.K.)

Reports in Spain claim that both title chasing teams want to sign the young striker to his first professional contract.

Both clubs have been successful in snaffling up other promising cadets from the Nou Camp, but will have to move fast if they want to do the same with Woo Lee.

The youngster is understood to be close to completing a deal with Barcelona, who has also been offered bumper deals from the English teams.

Barcelona are known to have lost several of their most promising stars to their European rivals in recent years, with Julio Pleguezuelo, Josimar and Canos leaving Spain to join Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool respectively.

Seoul Restaurants’ Missing Ingredient: Chefs
Wall Street Journal

Korean cuisine arouses so much national pride that some South Koreans reach into their own pockets to advertise a single dish on major U.S. newspapers. So why are South Korean restaurants often ignored by food critics?

Hooni Kim, owner and chef of New York’s Danji restaurant–one of the few Michelin-starred Korean restaurants–says Seoul’s food scene lacks a key ingredient: chef-owned Korean restaurants.

Many of South Korea’s family-owned, down-to-earth restaurants specialize in a single dish that are based on recipes laid down by family matriarchs, but don’t have chefs who create their own sauce base, according to Mr. Kim.

Crisis in Korea as younger generation abandons kimchi
The Guardian

Its unmistakable smell permeates Seoul subway carriages during the rush hour, and aficionados claim it is the healthiest food on the planet.

Once valued as a source of vitamin C before the arrival of refrigerators, kimchi now crops up on menus far from its birthplace on the Korean peninsula. The spicy, garlicky cabbage dish is to be found as a pizza topping and taco filling in the UK, Australia and the US, where the Obamas are said to be converts. Kimjang, the traditionally communal act of making kimchi, was recently awarded world cultural heritage status by Unesco.

But despite its growing popularity in restaurants from Los Angeles to London, South Korea’s national dish is in crisis in its country of origin. To kimchi’s basic ingredients of napa cabbage, garlic, seasoning and copious amounts of chili powder, we can now add a trade war with China and fears of lasting damage to Korean cultural identity.

Inside South Korea’s Coolest Military Theme Park
Kotaku

This is the Wanju Military Theme Park in South Korea. If only more video game first-person shooters were this colorful!P

The self-described “military theme park” is an airsoft pellet gun map that uses the GunPower system. According to YouTube user Ds4odk, this system employs wireless BB detectors—one on the front, one on the back, one of the helmet, and one on the face goggles. Hits are signaled by LED light and electronic sound feedback, and kills are then registered on a central computer, and this particular map has closed circuit cameras.P

Do note that the “SF Special Force” logos throughout might be nod to online shooter Special Force, which is, as tipster Sang points out, called Soldier Front in the States.

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