Art Program to Help Adoptees Tell Their Stories
Author: James S. Kim
Posted: April 7th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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Image via Land of a Gazillion Adoptees.

Tens of thousands of adoptees call Minnesota home, and for those in their teens and college years, coming to understand their identity and being able to express themselves is an integral aspect of their lives. Unfortunately, resources designed specifically for individuals who identify as adoptees are not readily available, even for the Twin Cities state.

To provide that artistic medium, COMPAS, a St. Paul-based arts organization, Land of a Gazillion Adoptees (LGA), and spoken-word artist Kyle Tran Myhre, aka Guante, have teamed up to develop Creating Home, a program that looks to connect young adoptees with world-class artists through interactive workshops and even performance opportunities. The program’s Kickstarter, which has 24 days left to go, will go towards funding a three-month pilot project where teen and college age adoptee participants will have access to the tools and resources to tell their stories and express themselves through whatever artistic medium they choose. Continue Reading »

Tuesday’s Link Attack: Choco Pies on Black Market in NKorea; Adoptee’s Search for Birth Mother Stalls; Kim Yuna’s Good Draw
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: January 28th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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How Choco Pie infiltrated North Korea’s sweet tooth

The first time the South Korean factory owner watched his North Korean employees nibble on a Choco Pie, they appeared shocked — even overwhelmed.

He summed up their reaction to the South Korean snack in one word: “Ecstasy.”

Much like what Twinkies are to Americans, South Korea’s Choco Pies — two disc-shaped, chocolate-covered cakes, sandwiching a rubbery layer of marshmallow cream — are ubiquitous, cost less than 50 cents and are full of empty calories.

S. Korea holds live-fire drill despite North’s warning
Yonhap News

South Korea on Tuesday carried out a live-fire drill on its northwestern islands despite North Korea’s warning of “grave consequences,” but the closely-watched exercise ended without clashes with the communist state.

South Korea has carried out live-fire exercises on the frontline islands every two or three months to improve Marine Corps’ readiness. The drills have often been met by protest from Pyongyang.

Ahead of Tuesday’s exercise, the North’s National Defense Commission sent a fax through the western military hotline to National Security Office chief Kim Jang-soo urging President Park Geun-hye to cancel it, defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.

Korea slams Japan over Dokdo
Korea Times

South Korea Tuesday denounced Japan for Claiming Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo in its newly revised teaching manuals for Middle and high schools.

The denouncement follows the Japanese Education ministry’s Disclosure of new manuals stating that Dokdo is Japanese Territory, rejecting Seoul’s earlier Call to withdraw the Claim.

“Japan Will Face the consequences,” said Cho Tai-Young, a Spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Decision to keep U of I Urbana-Champaign campus open leads to twitter firestorm
Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Ill.)

No disciplinary action is planned against the students who sent racist, sexist and threatening tweets targeting University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise who declined to offer a day off due to the weather on Monday.

The tweets were sent after an email was delivered to all students in the Urbana-Champaign campus Sunday that advised them to bundle up and be careful Monday because of the extreme cold, said University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

Kaler said they notified university police, who determined there was no “threat.” The university is not planning any disciplinary action, characterizing it as “a free speech issue.’’

Sacramento-area woman’s quest for Korean birth mother stalls
Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

Fawn Press-Dawson’s quest to find her birth mother has stalled after two weeks in South Korea.

The 21-year-old from Gold River – whose well-chronicled search has drawn international attention – flew to Seoul with her adoptive mom, Andee Press-Dawson, on Jan. 10, armed with her adoption papers, her birth mother’s name and the knowledge that only a tiny number of Korean adoptees actually find their biological parents.

Last Thursday, Andee came home while Fawn moved into a guest house for Korean adoptees searching for their roots operated by South Korea’s Eastern Social Welfare Society.

Lawsuit filed in collapse of Rittenhouse fire escape
ABC Local

A civil lawsuit has been filed against the owner and landlord of a Center City apartment building where a fire escape collapsed, killing one man and seriously injuring two women.

The suit was filed on Monday on behalf of the families of 22-year-old Albert Suh and 24-year-old Laura O’Brien.

It was just before midnight on January 12th when Suh, O’Brien, and a thirdperson, identified as Nancy Chen, were standing on the fire escape outside their fourth floor apartment, located at 229 South 22nd Street in the city’s Rittenhouse section.

The roommates were throwing a party, and had allegedly stepped out onto the fire escape when the collapse occurred, sending all three plummeting 40 feet to the ground below.

Vienna man sentenced in largest-ever bid-rigging scheme
Fairfax News

Oh Sung Kwon, 48, a Northern Virginia businessman, was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in prison on federal charges stemming from a bribery scheme in which he paid thousands of dollars to an Army official in return for government contracts, as well as a separate scheme involving fraudulent real estate sales and refinances.

Kwon, also known as Thomas Kwon, of Vienna, pled guilty in September 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count each of bribery, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and willful failure to file a tax return. He was sentenced by the Hon. Emmet G. Sullivan. Judge Sullivan also ordered Kwon to pay $1,188,500 in restitution and the same amount in a forfeiture money judgment. Upon completion of his prison term, Kwon will be placed on three years of supervised release.

Kwon was the co-founder and chief executive officer of Avenciatech Inc., a government contractor based in Annandale. He is among 17 people and one corporation that pled guilty to federal charges for their roles in the largest domestic bribery and bid-rigging scheme in the history of federal contracting. The investigation is continuing.

Internet Cafes Get a Makeover
Wall Street Journal

In South Korea, Internet cafes, known as PC Bangs, have long been places of refuge for hardcore video gamers battling it out in games like League of Legends.

But some now feel they’re under attack from a push to make PC Bangs more hygienic, including a complete smoking ban from this year. The core clientele of PC Bangs have long been predominantly male, many of whom enjoy a good smoke while gaming.

Some in the industry are scrambling to find ways to attract new clients by giving PC Bang interiors drastic makeovers and looking for alternative sources of revenue, such as by turning into hybrid restaurants. The changes aren’t being welcomed by regulars of these cafes.

The Bachelor’ week 4 recap: Juan Pablo takes ladies to South Korea

The fourth episode of this season’s “The Bachelor” saw Juan Pablo take the ladies outside of the country for the first time. JuanPabs and the ladies flew to Seoul, South Korea. There was a one-on-one date and two group dates.

Lots of kissing, flesh-eating fish, tears, a Korean pop group, eating octopus and, yes, more cattiness. Monday night’s episode had it all. When the episode finished, two more ladies were sent home and the plan to travel to Vietnam was revealed as the remaining ladies sipped champagne.

The group arrived in South Korea for a few days. Juan Pablo can’t even speak English all that well and now, going to Korea, he was forced to try his hand at another language.

The first date card arrived and read, “Pop!”

Korean SNL to meet original SNL
Korea Times

Hosts of the Korean version of Saturday Night Live (SNL) will fly to New York City this week to watch the live taping of an episode of the original SNL.

A spokesman for tvN, a cable channel that produces SNL Korea, said on Monday top comedian Shin Dong-yup and Yoo Se-yoon will depart for NYC on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, at the invitation of NBC, a major American broadcaster that created the widely beloved late-night live television sketch comedy show in 1975.

“The two will visit the live studio for SNL and meet with its directors,” tvN said in a statement. “They will discuss a variety of production issues with the directors. They also plan to participate in events promoting Korean culture.”

Kim Yu-na gets favorable draw
Korea Times

Figure-skating megastar Kim Yu-na is about as sure-fire a gold-medal candidate as there is among the athletes booked for the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Now, observers think her odds improved even further after she was placed in the fourth group of skaters competing in the women’s individual competition that begins on Feb. 20.

In the Olympics, athletes in figure-skating appear in reverse order of the world rankings.

While Kim, the reigning Olympic champion, is clearly the woman to beat at Sochi, her world ranking slipped to No. 15 as she missed several scheduled appearances during the 2013-14 season after suffering a foot injury in September.

On a sled and a prayer, Korea’s ‘Miracles on Asphalt’

For South Korea’s “Miracles on Asphalt” bobsleigh team, having ice on the track is a big problem.

Chilled to the bone by the biting cold of the Taebaek Mountain range, officials from the Korea Bobsleigh Skeleton Federation use shovels and mops to smash and sweep ice from the ‘push track’, which simulates the action at the start of a run.

The Alpensia Ski Resort in Pyeongchang, which is to host the 2018 Winter Games, has no proper ice track and athletes have to push their sleds on rails to practice the all-important start.

Despite the inadequate facilities, South Korea will compete in the skeleton at the February 7-23 Sochi Games, as well as sending two teams in both the men’s two- and four-man bobsleigh events and a two-woman bobsleigh team.

Lydia Ko’s profile expected to soar in the USA
Stuff (New Zealand)

Lydia Ko is already a huge name in golf, but one of the world’s leading golf writers predicts she could follow the likes of Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie and have an appeal that transcends the sport.

Two months after turning professional, 16-year-old Ko is the talk of the US golf scene as she heads to Christchurch to defend her New Zealand Women’s Open title at Clearwater, starting on Friday.

The start of her rookie season at the Bahamas Classic this week when she finished seventh equal made headlines as did her switch from Kiwi coach of 11 years Guy Wilson to David Leadbetter, the self-proclaimed “world’s leading golf instructor”.

Tuesday’s Link Attack: NKorea’s ‘Reign of Terror’; Rev Sun Myung Moon’s ‘Love Child’; G-Dragon Tour Video
Author: James S. Kim
Posted: December 10th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Public Ouster in North Korea Unsettles China
New York Times

North Koreans had long known Jang Song-thaek as the No. 2 figure in their country, the revered uncle and mentor of Kim Jong-un, the paramount leader. Then on Monday state-run television showed two green-uniformed guards clutching a glum-looking Mr. Jang by the armpits and pulling him from a meeting of the ruling party after he was denounced for faction-building, womanizing, gambling and other acts as dozens of former comrades watched.

The spectacle of Mr. Jang’s humiliating dismissal and arrest was a highly unusual glimpse of a power struggle unfolding inside the nuclear-armed country. But the major impact may be outside, and nowhere is the downfall more unnerving than in China.

North Korea’s ‘reign of terror’ worries South’s leader

North Korea is engaged in a purge amounting to a “reign of terror” that has claimed the scalp of the country’s second most powerful man and risks further damaging relations with the South, President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday.

Park took office in Seoul earlier this year as North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, enraging world public opinion, and threatened to engulf its southern neighbour and its ally, the United States, in a war. The isolated state shelled a South Korean island in 2010 and is widely believed to have sunk a South Korean naval vessel in the same year.

“North Korea is currently carrying out a reign of terror, undertaking a large-scale purge in order to strengthen Kim Jong Un’s power,” Park told a cabinet meeting, part of which was broadcast on television.

Kim Jong Un Dismisses Uncle From Defense Post On State Television

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has dismissed his uncle — who was considered the number two power in the country — from a key defense post. Jang Song Thaek was accused of a long list of criminal and counter-revolutionary acts. He was stripped of all power, and was seen on state television being forcibly removed from a party meeting.

Melissa Block talks with Korea-watcher Victor Cha, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

NTSB to hold investigative hearing on Asiana crash
Yonhap News

Five months into a probe into the cause of Asiana Airlines flight 214′s crash landing in San Francisco, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Monday it will hold an investigative hearing this week expected to provide the public with comprehensive information on the incident.

The two-day event beginning Tuesday will be led by NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman at the NTSB’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“We are in a fact-gathering phase,” a senior NTSB official said in a roundtable meeting with Korean reporters here.

How U.S. Veteran Got Into Hot Water in North Korea
Wall Street Journal

In late October, 85-year-old U.S. citizen and Korean War veteran Merrill Newman boarded a Beijing-bound flight in Pyongyang. His journey didn’t go according to plan.

Mr. Newman’s second attempt, made with the blessing of North Korean authorities, went more smoothly. The Palo Alto, Calif. retiree, after spurning a ride home with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Air Force Two, landed back in California on Saturday.

And now he’s putting an end to the speculation about what got him in trouble in the first place. Put simply: Mr. Newman says he had no idea that the Korean War was still such a big deal to the North Korean regime.

The New Yorker

Somewhere inside the walls of the Old Cemetery in the central Slovakian city of Žilina lies the grave of a United States Army corporal named John Roedel Dunn. This may seem unremarkable: more than a hundred thousand American soldiers are buried in European cemeteries, on ground considered, by convention, to be American soil. But Dunn’s plot isn’t a war grave, exactly, and the conflict that put him there was fought five thousand miles away. Corporal Dunn was the last Korean War prisoner who never came home.

The ordeal of Merrill Newman, an eighty-five-year-old American veteran who was detained while visiting North Korea in October, provided yet another reminder that the armistice agreement that stopped the fighting did not end the war. The reasons for Newman’s arrest onboard a plane leaving Pyongyang have not been made clear, but the fact that he worked during the war with a unit of anti-Communist guerrillas in the North seems to have been a factor. Before he was released from North Korea and sent home on Saturday, he was dragged before cameras to recite an awkward, forced apology, in which he confessed to “indelible offensive acts against the Korean people.”

EXCLUSIVE: Meet the Love Child Rev. Sun Myung Moon Desperately Tried to Hide
Mother Jones

When the Washington Times threw its 20th anniversary gala in 2002, conservative luminaries lined up to pay tribute, including Ronald Reagan, who addressed the packed ballroom via video. Afterward, the paper’s enigmatic founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, took the podium. “Even before the term ‘family value’ became a popular phrase, every day of the week the Times was publishing articles highlighting the breakdown in values and what must be done to return to a good, moral society,” he said, through a translator. “Today, family values have become an essential piece of the social fabric in America, even becoming part of the political landscape. We can be proud of the Washington Times’ contribution that promoted and elevated family values to an essential part of society in America and the world!”

Moon, the founder of the South Korea-based Unification Church, which had hundreds of thousands of adherents at its peak, claimed to be on a divine mission to salvage humanity by rebuilding the traditional family. Before his death last year at age 92, the self-proclaimed messiah—who was known for marrying off his followers in mass weddings—presided over a multibillion-dollar business empire. And he plowed huge sums of money into politics, launching a vast network of media outlets and front groups that promoted conservative family values and left a lasting mark on the modern-day GOP.

Korean Consul General’s Open House
Korea Times

The Korean Consul General’s official residence in Los Angeles will open its doors to the public for the very first time.

The Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles on Monday revealed its plans to host an open house event around the 20th of this month.

The Consul General’s official residence in Los Angeles was purchased back in 1972, and has been remodeled over the past 11-months at a cost of 2.7 million dollars.

Eugene adoption executive named South Korean consul
The Register-Guard (Oregon)

When Susan Soonkeum Cox first found out that the South Korean govern­ment chose her to represent Korean interests in the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon, she felt she had come full circle with her native country.

Cox left South Korea in 1956 and arrived in the United States as a 4-year-old orphan. She grew up about 30 miles north of Eugene in Brownsville and has worked for 30 years at Holt International Children’s Services in Eugene, helping to match foreign orphaned children — many from South Korea — with adoptive parents.

“Now, for the government of Korea to appoint me as an honorary consul, it’s very satisfying,” the 61-year-old Eugene resident said Monday.

G-Dragon’s Tour Video Sates K-Pop Fans
Jakarta Globe

K-Pop lovers in the country have been waiting for December, not because it’s Christmas, but for the screening this month of the “One of a Kind 3D: G-Dragon 2013 First World Tour” at Blitzmegaplex movie theaters in Indonesia.

G-Dragon, born Kwon Ji-yong, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, dancer and fashion icon. The leader of the world-famous South Korean boy band Big Bang, G-Dragon also makes solo appearances and records his own solo albums.

The 25-year-old has released three solo albums: “Heartbreaker” (2009), “One of a Kind” (2012) and “Coup d’Etat” (2013).

Boasting a strong fan base in Asia, G-Dragon undertook an extensive tour from March to September 2013, reaching out to audiences across eight Asian countries, including Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia. His concerts in Indonesia, on June 15 and 16, were packed with hundreds of thousands of young fans.

Tap-Dancing North Korean Soldiers? Yes.

Today’s video postcard from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea features three excerpts from state television broadcast. The TV in our tourist-accessible hotel received 10 channels, only one of which was an official North Korean channel. Presumably there are other channels broadcasting a more diverse range of programming, but our state media network transmitted a nearly continuous stream of patriotic music videos. The subject matter of these dated, grainy, over-acted videos invariably involved soldiers, monuments, or crashing waves.

This video compiles three short clips. The first is a live performance of dancers in soldier attire; the second demonstrates the requisite patriotic fervor and leads into a newscast; the third goes for the heartstrings, showing a wounded soldier, supported by his regiment. And there are even helpful subtitles (in Korean) if you’d like to sing along…

Samsung’s Curved Phone Offered On Discount in Korea
Wall Street Journal

Samsung Electronics Co.005930.SE -0.96% is getting help from South Korea’s largest carrier to drum up sales of the Galaxy Round, the company’s curved-screen smartphone, amid reports of weak demand.

Samsung and SK Telecom Co.017670.SE +0.88% on Tuesday declined to comment on the Galaxy Round’s sales since its launch in October. Samsung has so far been low-key in its efforts to sell the phone and hasn’t disclosed plans to sell it overseas. In contrast, a rival model from LG Electronics Inc.066570.SE +2.27%, called G Flex, is available for pre-orders in Singapore and will go on sale in Hong Kong later this week.

SK Telecom, the only carrier selling the Galaxy Round in Korea, is offering a discount of approximately 100,000 won ($95) to 150,000 won ($142) to anyone buying the phone together with Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, a company spokeswoman said. The Round comes with a price tag of 1,089,000 won and the Gear sells for 396,000 won without a contract.

November Issue: Faces of Adoption, a Photo Essay
Author: KoreAm
Posted: November 26th, 2013
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , FEATURED ARTICLE , November 2013
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This picture shows South Korean babies given up for adoption. Between delivery and placing them with a foster family, these infants usually spend their first few weeks in the adoption agency’s nursery, where a handful of caregivers look after them.

Faces of Adoption

A photojournalist, herself a Korean adoptee, presents the very intimate moments shared with her by birth mothers, adoptive parents and adoptees.

story and photographs by JEANNE MODDERMAN

It was clear when I started this project on Korean adoption that I could not be an objective photographer. That didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try. As a Korean adoptee trying to tell this story, I wrestled with how I could document all perspectives. I wanted to portray the facts, but also capture the humanity of this sensitive topic. I admit my adoptee status granted me special privileges in photographing this project. I was able to gain access to very personal and intimate moments because the subjects took comfort in the fact that I had some understanding of the situation. Still, I was unprepared for much of what I witnessed.

I’m not sure you can ever prepare yourself to watch a mother give away her 5-day old infant and the absolute despair that ensues, or see an adoptive family meet their daughter for the first time, or witness an adoptee reunite with her birth mother after searching for seven years. These experiences directly affected my own adoption story. After meeting one of the birth mothers, she made me promise to search for my own mother. It’s what she hoped her own child would do.

I wanted to cover the longing of many adoptees to return to their birth country and the result of some making their lives there. There is a large community of Korean adoptees from all over living in South Korea. As one who lived there for over a year, I can attest that it’s a time filled with complex feelings and emotions, often a struggle to decide how you fit in, but also a security in being with people like you. Working on this project opened my eyes to the many faces of adoption and allowed me to see it from new points of view. From the birth mothers, to the foster mothers, to the adoptive parents and, of course, the adoptees, there are so many stories out there waiting to be told. Continue Reading »

November Issue: Inspired Korean Adoptee Starts Mentorship Program for Adopted Youth
Author: Young Rae Kim
Posted: November 22nd, 2013
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , FEATURED ARTICLE , November 2013
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Brian Conyer. Photo by Manuel Umo/

Lean on Me

Inspired by the influence of his older adoptee sisters, Brian Conyer starts a mentorship program for adopted youth.


Brian Conyer, adopted from Korea at age 1, grew up in a blue-collar family in Detroit. His father worked as a truck driver, and his mother juggled working part-time at an adoption agency and going back to school. Although money was tight, his parents, who are white, did all that they could to provide for him and his two older sisters, also adopted from Korea. They even uprooted the family from a tough neighborhood of Detroit to North Carolina in order to provide more opportunities for their children.

“As a child I didn’t have a better understanding of money and how much things cost. I wanted to play all these sports and all these different activities,” said Conyer. “And they never said no; they always said yes.”

In high school, when Conyer was unhappy in the area’s public school, he asked his parents if he could attend a private school. Without hesitation, his parents took out loans to send him to one of the most expensive private schools in that area. Continue Reading »

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