America and North Korea: Birthday blues
DEAD for 19 years, but president of North Korea for ever, Kim Il Sung marked his 101st birthday on April 15th in familiar style: with a national holiday, banners, flags and rations of cheap peanuts. One bang the party went without, however, was the launch of a Musudan missile, which would be yet another breach of UN Security Council resolutions, and which many observers had been expecting around the time of the festivities. This must have been a relief for John Kerry, America’s new secretary of state, who visited Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo from April 11th to 15th, warning on the way that the launch would be a “huge mistake”.
Nothing suggested, however, that Kim’s grandson, North Korea’s incumbent tyrant, Kim Jong Un, was listening to Mr Kerry. By the middle of the week, no launch had taken place. But officials in Japan and South Korea were still expecting it—imminently, though perhaps after an interval long enough that it would come as a surprise and reclaim the world’s attention. Nor has North Korea toned down its blood-curdling battle cries. Indeed, in response to protests in Seoul on the occasion of the holy birthday, at which Kim portraits were burned, it issued an “ultimatum” demanding an apology, and threatened “sledgehammer blows” in reprisal.
North Korea Sets Conditions for Return to Talks
New York Times
North Korea on Thursday demanded the lifting of United Nations sanctions and an end to joint American-South Korean military exercises as preconditions for starting dialogue to defuse tension on the Korean Peninsula.
By making demands that both the United States and South Korea had no intention of accepting, North Korea signaled that it would not stand down anytime soon from a military standoff that has lasted for weeks.
But the fact that North Korea has recently begun responding to American and South Korean offers for dialogue, even though they came with steep preconditions, has raised cautious hopes among South Korean analysts that the North might be ready to wind down weeks of hostile rhetoric that at times appeared to bring the peninsula close to a point of conflict.
Experts Urge Evacuation from Kaesong
North Korea experts say it is high time to evacuate some 200 South Korean staff who remain at the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex. The North on Wednesday refused to let in supplies of food and other necessities for the South Koreans.
Kim Hee-sang of the Korea Institute for National Security Affairs said, “It may be impossible for North Korea to seal off the complex completely, but it can really harass South Korean workers there.” He urged the government to evacuate the South Koreans there or risk them being taken hostage.
Kim said evacuating the remaining staff could lead to a quicker resolution to the crisis by showing the North that Seoul is not afraid to shut down the industrial park if necessary.
CHOI ENDORSED BY PEREZ, SOLIS
Los Angeles City Council candidate John Choi announced two major endorsements — from Assembly Speaker John Perez and former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis — last week.
“I am so proud to be receiving the backing of Speaker John Perez,” said Choi. “Speaker Perez has been a trailblazer and a longtime advocate on issues of equality, justice and economic fairness. As speaker and the one of the assemblymembers that represents the 13th District, I am proud to count him as a supporter.”
Another US city sets up a monument to Korean comfort women
“It is more distressing and upsetting to see it for myself. They [comfort women] were only young girls…I respect their bravery in enduring such difficult lives.”
Frank Quintero’s face twisted in dismay as he listened to the voice full of anger. The voice was of Kang Duk-Kyung, one of the former ‘comfort women’, and came from a video installed at War and Women’s Human Rights Museum in Seoul’s Seongsan neighborhood. Quintero, who carefully read the prisoner’s interrogation documents of the Allied Forces in the museum, is the former mayor of Glendale, California.
The former mayor visited Korea on Apr. 14, after passing the bill to establish a “peace monument” for comfort women in Glendale Central Park. The city’s new monument will be the first overseas “peace monument” that is identical to the one established in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. It will be funded by Korean Americans.
How Republicans Can Win Over Asian-Americans
I am the son of Taiwanese immigrants who came to the U.S. in the 1970s seeking opportunity for themselves and the chance for their children to grow up in a more prosperous society. My story is not unusual among Asian- Americans. It’s also a profile that is tailor-made for the Republican Party, which stands for enhancing opportunity. Yet Asian-Americans from my generation (and others) are finding less and less appeal in the Republican Party.
Education advocate Michelle Rhee fends off accusations
Los Angeles Times
Michelle Rhee, head of a group that advocates using student test scores to evaluate teachers, fends off accusations that she failed to pursue evidence of cheating when she ran the D.C. school system.
Ken Jeong revels in Pain & Gain
THERE’S A MOMENT during a news conference for the film Pain & Gain in which Ken Jeong is not the funniest person in the room. Asked a question about who inspires him in life, the actor, famous for wild comedic roles, gives an impassioned yet humorous speech about how his wife inspired the former doctor to quit his practice and jump into acting.
“The first movie I did was Knocked Up, and I was still working as a physician,” Jeong begins. “Even after that movie, I was really afraid to try and do acting full-time. I didn’t have the confidence. It was my wife that fully supported me to quit my job and be naked in movies like The Hangover.”
6 Lessons From “Guts and Glory”: Anthony Bourdain and Roy Choi on Paula Deen, The Taste + Authentic Food
Anthony Bourdain greeted a packed house at the Pantages last night. The Los Angeles installment of Bourdain’s “Guts and Glory” tour took place in the opulent 1930 theatre with a crowd that was more academic than hip, and fiercely local as demonstrated by any reference to L.A. — and especially during the introduction of Bourdain’s co-host, Roy Choi.
The chefs opened with questions for each other, standing for a verbal tennis match, then sat and cracked beers for a more fluid dialogue, finally ending with questions from the audience. Bourdain was ruthless as ever, even mocking the audience for spending hard earned money on the tickets. But his charisma and tendency toward self-deprecation won the crowd over — and made it clear why he’s such a compelling player on the food world stage.
8 things to know about L.A.’s Koreatown
“Have you been to Koreatown yet?” my friend asked eagerly over the phone. It was my third week as a resident of Los Angeles, and I could no longer claim the pure shock of moving to a city so sprawling, so overwhelming, as the reason I had yet to explore its most interesting neighborhoods.
But I had to answer “no.” In a city as vast as Los Angeles, Koreatown seemed especially impenetrable, a huge warren of restaurants, markets, strip malls and residences. As much as I knew that it held a treasure trove of food, culture and nightlife, I was intimidated to even get started.
Now, almost a year later, Koreatown is one of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles. It’s like having an entire other city within a city, a gloriously foreign one at that. There are places in Koreatown where you look around and swear you are in Asia. And yet, it’s also 100% Los Angeles: a strange, sprawling melting pot full of hidden delights.
Psy’s ‘Gentleman’ Nears 125 Million Views, But Can It Match ‘Gangnam Style’?
Can lightning strike twice? We may soon find out thanks to Psy’s new song, “Gentleman.”
While the South Korean rapper’s original world-beating hit, “Gangnam Style” had a slow, then meteoric rise to YouTube dominance last year on its way to an unprecedented 1.5 billion views, in its first five days “Gentleman” is actually outpacing “Style” by a mile. (It took “Gangnam” more than a month to reach 100 million views.)
At press time, “Gentleman” was about to blow by the 125 million mark in YouTube views after tallying more than 20 million in its first 24 hours, easily beating the previous record set by Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend,” which attracted eight million views on its first day.
THR’s ‘Top Chef’ Cruise Diary: Culinary Rock Stars Take to the Open Seas
Approximately 3 a.m. — Success. The recently named chef de cuisine at Boston’s Menton, having made her way into the galley to make a grilled cheese sandwich, intercepts a room service call from a cruiser. Kristen cooks the order and delivers it to their cabin door.
11:50 a.m. — Alone in an empty dining room, Kristen is deftly tinkering away on a grand piano for what seems to be her own satisfaction. Presumably, she’s slept at some point.
Korean ice skating champion on why he became Russian
Russia Beyond the Headlines
Victor Ahn is a Russian Short track speed skating athlete from South Korea. One of the most accomplished Short Track Speed Skaters of all time, Ahn gave an exclusive interview to RBTH.
Victor Ahn (Ahn Hyun-Soo) won three gold medals and a bronze medal in 2006 Winter Olympics held in Turin, Italy, becoming the most successful athlete there. Ahn is the only male short track skater to have won at least three consecutive world championships. Two years ago Victor has received Russian citizenship to compete for Russia in the 2014 Olympics.
U.S. Pressing Its Crackdown Against Leaks
New York Times
The U.S. government charged Stephen J. Kim with unauthorized disclosure of national defense information earlier this year. They claim he divulged classified information to a journalist in 2009.
Kim, an arms expert who immigrated from South Korea as a child, spent a decade briefing top government officials on the dangers posed by North Korea. Then last August he was charged with violating the Espionage Act — not by aiding some foreign adversary, but by revealing classified information to a Fox News reporter
Photo via NY Times
Alleged N. Korean police document reports case of cannibalism
Anecdotal evidence of cannibalism in famine-stricken areas emerged during the food shortages of the mid 1990s. I guess it’s back.
In one account, a male guard who could not bear his hunger killed his colleague using an ax, ate some of the human flesh and sold the remainder in the market by disguising it as mutton, the report said, without giving any further details such as when the alleged crime occurred.
South Korean pastor tends an unwanted flock
Los Angeles Times
In a country that prizes physical perfection, Pastor Lee Jong-rak, his eyes opened after caring for his own disabled son, has been taking in unwanted infants, who if not for his drop box would be left in the street.
Photo via LA Times
Couple found dead on Clinton Ave. identified
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester [N.Y.] police today released the names of a couple found dead in their southeast Rochester apartment over the weekend.
The couple’s adult son found his mother, Yonhwa Kim, 47, who had been fatally stabbed in her torso, in the living room of the upstairs apartment, said Rochester Police Officer Stephen Scott.
Wonkyung Seo, 53, was found dead in the attic, according to police. He had apparently hanged himself, Scott said.
The couple was revealed to be North Korean refugees who moved to upstate New York about a year-and-a-half ago, according to local ABC affiliate WHAM.
Mr. Seo attended Rochester Onnuri Church and according to Pastor Jin Kyu Kim, Mr. Seo’s two sons, both in their twenties, escaped to China first. Mr. Seo and his wife followed soon after. The family reunited and was able to get refugee status and move to the United States.
South Korean military apologizes for firing at commercial jet
The South Korean military apologized Monday for shooting at a commercial airplane carrying 119 passengers and crew.
The Asiana Airlines flight was preparing to land Friday morning at Incheon International Airport, 70 kilometers (43 miles) west of Seoul, when two soldiers fired at the aircraft after mistaking it for a North Korean military jet.
New legislation for dual citizenship signals a new era for Korean adoptees
Kim Yoo-shin regained his Korean citizenship in April, 36 years after he was adopted by a family in the United States when he was one year old. He is one of the first adoptees to benefit from a new Korean law that allows dual nationality.
In other words, Kim is a Korean-American — and vice versa.
“It means that the Korean government is trying to improve its relationship with overseas Korean adoptees,” Kim said in a recent interview, adding that obtaining dual citizenship means regaining part of his identity while still being able to retain his American heritage.
A PAPER-THIN ROAR
Another controversial mainstream piece on Asian Americans—this time in New York magazine (yes, tigers are involved again)—sets off a firestorm of reaction. This writer imagines “Paper Tigers” author Wesley Yang is loving every minute of it.
by Eugene Yi
A FRIEND OF MINE once took a class on the art of magazine writing. The instructor on the first day divulged her secret to a long career writing columns for a variety of nationwide glossies: Turn yourself into a stereotype. If you’re Jewish (as she was), make your mother a Yente and your father Zero Mostel, Mel Brooks and/or Woody Allen. If you’re Chinese? Well, Yale law professor and author Amy Chua has done pretty well for herself as the “Tiger Mom,” despite her exhortations that the nuances of her memoir have been glossed over by a mainstream media obsessed with stories of denied pee breaks pending commitment of the intricacies of the minuet to muscle memory.
And if you’re Korean? Well, you can take Wesley Yang’s very long, very strange, and almost embarrassingly personal account of his life experiences as an Asian American in New York magazine . The story, published last month, has sent an Asian American community already on the defensive from accusations of heartless tigerism into a tizzy of even further pawwringing. Are we really like that? Most responses have ranged from no, to fuck no, to fuck you.
I would argue, though, that Yang very self-consciously embraces a deeply stereotyped posture that he knew would raise his Q score through the stratosphere. He became the Self-Hating Asian. By turns self-effacing and self-aggrandizing, he invokes as much ethnic studies fodder as he could trace back to his own experiences: Emasculation of the Asian male! The bamboo ceiling! The model minority myth! Exotification of Asian women—actually, not so much on this last account, perhaps from his acknowledged lack of experience with them. (He has, despite the knee-jerk reactions of so many website commenters, disavowed and acknowledged to supply sufficient rearguard).
Ever wonder who the happiest man in America is? No? Gallup’s figured it out for you anyway.
Gallup came up with this: a tall, Asian American, observant Jew, who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and earns more than $120,000 a year.
And yes. He exists.
Alvin Wong is a 5-foot-10, 69-year-old, Chinese American Jew, who’s married with children. He runs his own health care management business in Honolulu and earns more than $120,000 a year.
Wong told The Times that he may be the happiest man in America because “my life philosophy is, if you can’t laugh at yourself, life is going to be pretty terrible for you.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but my theory is that he’s the happiest man in America because he’s probably the ONLY PERSON WHO FITS THOSE REQUIREMENTS.
But that could be my bitterness talking, since you know, I’m short, Christian, 20-something, unmarried female who lives in California and I earn a meager salary (cough, cough). But hey, at least I’m Asian American.
It’s a big month for Asian Americans in politics – especially up in Northern California.
Jean Quan became the first Asian American female mayor of Oakland, as well as the first Asian American female mayor of any major U.S. city, upon her inauguration on Jan. 3rd, while Ed Lee was sworn in as interim mayor of San Francisco on Jan. 11th.
Quan, who was previously on the Oakland School Board for 12 years, has stated that “crime, jobs and young people” are her priority.
Lee was voted in unanimously by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and promised to be “a mayor who tackles things head on, and moves the bar forward.”
Congratulations to both Lee and Quan!