South Korea asks for trust; North agrees, lets families have reunions
In stark contrast to the bellicose gesturing that has haunted relations in the recent past, North and South Korea took conciliatory steps in each other’s direction Friday.
Both sides will halt the harsh rhetoric, they agreed at a bilateral meeting on the heavily militarized border that divides them.
They hope that this and other agreements will serve to build trust between Pyongyang and Seoul, Kim Kyou-Hyun, a high South Korean security official, said after the meeting wrapped up.
Pyongyang has been particularly irked by joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, and would like them to cease.
Why was North Korea so quick to agree to family reunions?
Christian Science Monitor
South and North Korea agreed to allow reunions next week of nearly 100 families divided by the Korean War in a breakthrough agreement that appeared to signal Pyongyang’s deepened interest in easing tensions on the peninsula.
North Korea surprised South Korean negotiators Friday by completely dropping its demand that the United States and the South cancel military exercises set to begin during the reunions.
The North, analysts say, may be prioritizing smoother relations with its southern neighbor while it grapples with internal problems after the execution of long-time regent-mentor Jang Song-thaek and the purge of hundreds of his followers.
Kim Jong-un ‘Successfully Tightens Grip’
U.S. intelligence services believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has succeeded in tightening his grip on power through a generational shift in the party and the military.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that two years after he took power Kim has further consolidated its position as sole leader and final decision maker.
He has tightened controls and ensured loyalty through personnel reshuffles and purges, Clapper said.
North Korea Sent Kenneth Bae to Labor Camp to Protest B-52 Flights
Imprisoned American Kenneth Bae was sent to a North Korean labor camp in part due to the regime’s anger over supposed American B-52 bomber flight drills around the Korean Peninsula last week, officials told ABC News.
North Korean officials broke the news by telling Donald Gregg, a former ambassador to South Korea and an ABC News consultant who was on a rare visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
“Rhee Young-Ho, a first vice minister, said that the memory of the B29 air raids are in the [North Korean] DNA,” Gregg told ABC News today during a stopover at the Beijing International Airport while en route back to the U.S. “[Rhee said] to have the B52s which are nuclear capable fly over their air space is seen as a really terrible, terrible threat.”
The Pentagon has acknowledged the “rotational presence” of bombers in the region, but would not confirm the details of the mission that angered the North Koreans.
Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, U.N. Panel Finds
A U.N. Commission of Inquiry has found that crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea and recommends that its findings be referred to the International Criminal Court, two people familiar with the commission’s report have told The Associated Press.
The commission, which conducted a yearlong investigation, has found evidence of an array of such crimes, including “extermination,” crimes against humanity against starving populations and a widespread campaign of abductions of individuals in South Korea and Japan.
Its report, due for release Monday, does not examine in detail individual responsibility for the alleged crimes but recommends steps toward accountability.
Korean businesses booted from the Exchange Building
Northwest Asian Weekly
The line at The Original Deli in downtown Seattle is usually full of businessmen and women grabbing whatever lunch they can within the short break they have. The mom-and-pop delicatessen, tucked on the first floor of the Exchange Building on Marion St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue, has been a favorite to many over the years. Relationships and stories have emerged since its opening 44 years ago. But that’s all gone now.
The Original Deli went out of business on Feb. 7, after the owners were told to leave when the building began going under major renovations. Deli owner Un “Missy” Bang was heartbroken and clueless as to what the future might hold.
“This is everything we have,” Bang said.
Beacon Capital Partners bought the Exchange Building for $66 million last year and decided to remodel. In the process, it forced two Korean-owned businesses — The Original Deli and The Goodie Box — to close down. Other businesses in the building have not been affected.
Landlords are having to ditch a century-old rental system
MOST South Korean urbanites would leap at the chance to part with $150,000 to rent a smallish flat for three years in Seoul, the capital. These days, however, most Korean landlords would spurn such a measly deposit.
Korea’s unusual rental system, known as jeonse, does not involve monthly rental payments. Instead, tenants provide landlords with a deposit, typically between a quarter and half of the property’s value, to invest for the duration of the lease. Property owners keep the returns and then repay the lump sum at the end of the tenancy.
Average deposits have now risen for 76 consecutive weeks in Korea, the longest streak ever. Thousands of jeonse leases in the capital are now as high as 90% of the value of the house; they sometimes exceed it in areas where property prices have fallen since leases were agreed.
The dangerous myth of “The Triple Package”: What Amy Chua gets wrong about Asian-American communities
Here we go again. Tiger mom Amy Chua is back, reinforcing stereotypes and presenting glib solutions for attaining success. Her new book, “The Triple Package,” jointly authored with husband Jed Rubenfeld, argues that certain ethnic and religious groups — namely Jews, Indians, Chinese, Iranians, Lebanese, Nigerians, Cubans and Mormons – possess qualities that make them more likely to succeed in life. Chua and Rubenfeld claim that these groups have “three cultural forces” — a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control — that drive them to achieve.
Aside from the innately offensive nature of such stereotyping, reviews and commentary have already pointed out that the book props itself up with flimsy data and questionable evidence. It comes as little surprise that Chua’s newest publication is accompanied by skepticism and controversy. Her previous book, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” and its accompanying Wall Street Journal article made unfounded racial assertions and coined a parenting philosophy out of thin air. The terms “tiger mom” and “tiger parenting” entered our vocabulary, becoming shorthand for a strict, no-excuses style of parenting supposedly commonplace and traditional across Asian and Asian American households. This further reinforced the “model minority myth” of Asian American students as stellar accomplishers with an almost supernatural ability to overcome all odds and pull themselves up by their bootstraps to achieve the American dream. In reality, no one had heard of the tiger parenting philosophy before Chua wrote about it because, like the mythical “model minority,” it doesn’t exist.
Classically Trained, Unlikely Rockers
Wall Street Journal
Just months ago, Daniel Chae was working in finance. Now, he is staking his future on an alternative folk-rock band composed of six Korean-Americans. “We found the American dream in music,” says Mr. Chae, 25 years old, who quit a job at a large bond-trading firm in Los Angeles last summer to devote himself full-time to playing electric guitar and violin in the band Run River North.
Formed in 2011, the Los Angeles-based ensemble performs original compositions, many of them about the Korean immigrant experience. Its members are classically trained musicians, thanks to parents who goaded them to study piano and violin. One of them, violinist Jennifer Rim, was barely familiar with pop music until she joined the band.
Run River North is no K-Pop confection—its music will never be confused with flamboyant Korean pop like Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” The group’s soothing melodies are more in line with Simon and Garfunkel’s, and they appeal to a diverse audience. Last year, Run River North was signed by an indie label after appearing on ” Jimmy Kimmel Live” and playing to sold-out crowds at Los Angeles’s legendary Troubadour nightclub. The band’s self-titled debut album is set for release this month.
Karen O Performing ‘Her’ Song at Oscars
Karen O will perform “The Moon Song” from “Her” during the Oscars, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced Thursday.
“The Moon Song” was written by Karen O and “Her” director Spike Jonze and is a best original song nominee. The upcoming performance marks the first time the Yeah Yeah Yeahs front-woman will perform the track for a global television audience.
The three other Oscar-nominated songs in the original song category are “Let It Go” from Frozen, “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 and “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom — all of which are also set to be performed on the show.
Girls’ Generation mulls album release delay after losing video footage
Yonhap via GlobalPost
Girls’ Generation, one of the most popular South Korean pop groups, may postpone the release of its new album after footage for the video of the album’s title track was accidentally deleted, the group’s management agency said Friday.
The K-pop group originally planned to end a one-year hiatus with the release of its fourth mini-album titled “Mr.Mr.” on Feb. 24. Before the official release, the group was scheduled to release the title track “Mr. Mr.” on local online music services such as Melon, Naver Music and Genie on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the group was scheduled to resume local broadcasting activities on cable TV network Mnet’s music program, “M!Countdown.”
U-Kiss Is One Of The Most Popular K-Pop Groups In The World, So Why Aren’t They Huge In Korea?
In the lobby of New York’s Best Buy Theater on a night in mid-January, 100 fans are getting ready for some high fives from their favorite boy band. They’re there for a “high touch” session, a type of meet-and-greet popular in Asia where — in lieu of a standard autograph session common in the States — artists hold out their hands to give high fives to a passing line of stunned, crying superfans.
As the group enters the room, the screaming starts. The thought of hand-to-hand contact with six pristinely made-up, extremely attractive young guys sends the fans into overdrive; the noise level skyrockets.
These are KissMes — fans of U-Kiss, a K-pop boy band in town for their first-ever concert in New York City, the start to a short three-city U.S. tour. The fans’ moniker is a spin on the group’s name, which is an acronym for Ubiquitous Korean International Idol Super Star. U-Kiss debuted in South Korea in 2008 and are known for their English-speaking members, as well as their catchy mix of tunes that perfectly encapsulate both Korean ballad pop sounds and equally slick American R&B. Like other group acts in Korea, U-Kiss incorporate visually compelling dance moves and aim to please with their fan service — little gestures and interactions that get fans squealing.
Olympic champion Yuna Kim takes Lipnitskaia mania in stride
The defending Olympic champion in women’s figure skating is not concerned by the rapid emergence of Russian teenage sensation Julia Lipnitskaia.
Yuna Kim was considered an overwhelming favorite to win a second straight gold after her triumph at the 2010 Vancouver Games, but her apparent stranglehold on the Olympic title has been thrown into some doubt by the performance of Lipnitskaia, who dazzled last week in helping Russia win gold in the team competition.
The South Korean arrived in Russia on Thursday and has already practiced twice ahead of the ladies’ short program starting on Wednesday.
“It will be a great opportunity for her as the Olympics are taking place in her home country,” Kim told reporters. “Thinking about who may or may not do well won’t help me at all. What’s important is I do everything I’ve been preparing so hard to do.”
Lonely at the top for South Korea’s Lee
Yahoo Eurosport UK
Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa cut a lonely figure on Friday as the Olympic 500 metres champion reflected on South Korea’s struggles at the Sochi Winter Games.
The top speed skating nation at the 2010 Vancouver Games with three gold and two silver medals, South Korea have endured a Games to forget on the ice so far in Russia with Lee’s victory on Monday the Asian nation’s only medal in the sport in Sochi.
Four years ago, ‘Empress Lee’ was joined by all the Korean medallists to address the media.
On Friday she sat alone.
“In Vancouver, I was with my fellows skaters seated side by side in the news conference, but here I’m alone today and that makes me feel sorry,” Lee told reporters in Sochi.
Korean curling team hits Great Wall
Korea’s female curlers lost to China 11-3 after their worst performance at the Ice Cube Curling Center, Friday (KST), moving further away from their hope of reaching the semifinals on their first Olympic appearance.
Buoyed by a win over Russia hours earlier, Korea looked to establish a bridgehead to the semifinal over China but failed to beat the world No. 5 due to a lack of strategy and too many mistakes.
China went ahead in the second end, where it scored three, after giving up the first end without any points. Korea, the world No. 10, cut the deficit to 3-2 in the second end, but the tension didn’t last long.
In the fifth end, China added three points as Korea started to lose its concentration and determination to win. After scoring just one more point in the next end, Korea fell to 11-3, the biggest loss so far at the Sochi Games.
Park Ji-sung won’t return for World Cup
Park Ji-sung, former captain of the South Korean men’s national football team, won’t return for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the team’s head coach said Friday.
Hong Myung-bo, who will lead South Korea to its eighth consecutive trip to the World Cup this summer, said Park told him he will not come out of international retirement for one last hurrah. “I had a heart-to-heart with Park Ji-sung,” Hong told reporters at Incheon International Airport upon returning from his trip to the Netherlands. Park is currently playing for PSV Eindhoven in the top Dutch league. “He said his knees are worse than he’d feared and that will prevent him from playing for the national team,” Hong said of the veteran with a history of knee injuries. “And I decided to respect his decision.”
Park’s status for the big tournament has been a hot potato in South Korean football so far this year. The 32-year-old said he would no longer play for the national team in January 2011 and has repeatedly said he won’t change his mind.
12 Things Never to Say to an Asian Woman
1. Where are you from?
This is usually followed by an intense stare as the person, most likely a dude, is trying to figure out if I’m Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, or something else “exotic.” When I say New Jersey (the most exotic of the states), this leads to question #2.
2. No, really where are you from?
Let’s get to the point. You want to know where my family is from. Taiwan. Are you happy now? Where are you from? Because I’d really like to know so I can avoid going there.
North Koreans In The South Who Want To Go Back Home
Son Jeong-hun escaped from North Korea more than 10 years ago. Since then, he has helped other North Koreans to resettle here in the south. The 49-year-old says that many were surprised when he announced that he wants to go back home.
“No one had ever asked to re-defect to North Korea before. The government said there’s no way for me to return, and that it was illegal. I was told that, at the very least, I need an invitation from North Korea if I want to visit.”
Son says he’s ill and wants to see his family in Pyongyang again before he dies. And he’s also broke – he couldn’t pay back a loan and lost his apartment. He says he now regrets coming to South Korea.
“I’m not making this up, 80 out of 100 defectors say they’d go back to North Korea to be with their families if it weren’t for the punishment they’d receive there. They’d go even if it meant they’d only be able to eat corn porridge.”
More U.S. States to Use ‘East Sea’ Name
More U.S. states are seeking to refer to the body of water between Korea and Japan as both “East Sea” and “Sea of Japan” in future school textbooks.
Last Thursday, a Virginia House of Delegates panel passed a bill authorizing the unusual use of both names, which goes against federal practice of settling for just one. On Friday, lawmakers in the states of New York and New Jersey proposed similar bills.
On Jan. 28, the Georgia state senate also unanimously passed a resolution to use the two names.
Korean residents’ groups in California, which is home to the biggest population of Koreans in the U.S. with 500,000 people, are pushing for the name “East Sea” to be used there as well, as do Korean residents’ groups in other states like Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Texas.
Republicans on mission to win over Asian-American voters
Southern California Public Radio
The Grace Ministries complex, spread over 26 acres in Fullerton, is where some 6,000 Korean-Americans worship.
But on a recent weekday, the turnout was much smaller. Just 70 people gathered in the church’s fellowship hall as Sharon Day, co-chair of the Republican National Committee, made a passionate pitch.
“We’re committed to tell you why the Republican party is the Asian party — why that’s where you should be,” Day said.
Surveys show Asian-Americans have made the biggest pivot away from the Republican party of any ethnic group in recent years. And now the GOP is doing its best to woo them back.
New York exhibition celebrates awakening of Asian-American identity in the 1970s
South China Morning Post
Asian Americans have a reputation for being apolitical, passive members of society. But that is not so, and has never been so, says Ryan Wong, curator of “Serve the People: The Asian American Movement in New York”, an exhibition now on at the Interference Archive in the Big Apple.
The exhibition, which runs until February 23, brings together posters, artworks, photography, magazines and music produced by social and political activist groups that were active in the city during the 1970s. It also shines a light on the years that saw the birth of the term – and the concept of – “Asian American”.
“The idea is to look at the identity of Asian Americans in a political context,” Wong says in an office of the Interference Archive, a Brooklyn-based organisation that focuses on documenting materials created by social movements. “It’s focused on the Asian-American movement, a constellation of activists and organisations in America, especially in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and New York City, in the early 1970s. At that time, there was an amazing outpouring of art, culture, and activism that was trying to identify the idea of Asian American-ness, as well as to put Asian Americans at the forefront of the international social movements that were happening.”
The Problem With The Asian American Consumer Report
As evidenced by a compilation of ads by top brands marketing to Chinese residents of North America during the Lunar New Year, the Nielsen report on Asian Americans may have finally succeeded in convincing corporate America to pay more attention to the fastest-growing U.S. multicultural segment. But Asian American scholars say the report may be a step backward for smaller Asian groups that are underserved and misrepresented.
All things considered, the holiday is also shared by other groups who were not particularly marketed to.
“There will always be diverse populations within Asian America that may not be successful,” said Vu Pham, former Asian American studies researcher and lecturer at UCLA. “We do need to work harder than 100% to achieve 100%.”
Orange County Gangster Says Restitution To His Attempted Murder Victim is Unfair
No, Buena Park’s Kim is literally dirt poor.
He earns 13 cents an hour working in a prison laundry room and is irked that the government wants to take about half of that impressive income and give it to another man.
Outrageous, isn’t it?
In March 2008, 17-year-old Kim, a Sunny Hills High School student, and his fellow Korean criminal street gang punks decided to prove their toughness by trying to kill an innocent man visiting Emery Park in Fullerton.
According to law enforcement reports, Kim was the leader of the scumbags, who repeatedly shoved a knife into Jack Stotts and then took turns beating him with a baseball bat.
Coroner: San Jose man accidentally drowned at Santa Cruz wharf
San Jose Mercury News
A 31-year-old San Jose man who was found dead near the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf on Feb. 1 died from accidental drowning, according to the Santa Cruz County Coroner’s Office.
Ryan Kim was found unconscious and fully clothed in the water about 1 p.m., but it remains unclear how he got there, said Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy Ryan Kennedy. Kim apparently tried to climb the mussel encrusted wharf pylons and cut his hands and arms, authorities said.
An investigation concluded that there were no signs that Kim was suicidal and his death does not appear to be a suicide, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
How ‘Frozen’ took over Korean cinema
Stella Chung, a 39-year-old mom with two pre-school girls, thought that she was well past Disney movies until “Frozen” started sweeping local theaters. Following a friend’s recommendation, Chung took her family to the theater over the Lunar New Year holidays.
“It was the best Disney movie I’d seen in a long time,” Chung said. “I was as impressed with Frozen as I was with the old Disney classics I grew up watching, like Sleeping Beauty (1959) and Beauty and the Beast (1992). Frozen really combines all the qualities women look for in an animated film — a gripping storyline, lovely characters and unforgettable music.”
Chung is among many Korean women in their 30s who are revisiting their youth through “Frozen.” A recent report showed that the women in their 30s were the driving force behind the movie’s record-breaking performance at the box office in the last few weeks here since its local release on Jan. 16.
‘Mistresses’ Adds ‘General Hospital’ Alum for Season 2 (Exclusive)
Mistresses has added two characters for the new season.
General Hospital alum Rebeka Montoya and Catherine Kim, who was discovered at ABC casting department’s Los Angeles talent showcase, have joined the second season, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Both will recur.
Mistresses, from executive producer K.J. Steinberg, is a remake of the British series of the same name. Alyssa Milano, Yunjim Kim, Rochelle Aytes, Jes Macallan, Brett Tucker and Jason George star. Rina Mimoun and Bob Sertner are also executive producers.
Montoya will play Toni, a Latina lawyer whose ambition is matched by her beauty and whose presence will shake things up more than a few of the main characters. Kim, meanwhile, has been cast as Mia, Karen’s patient who leads the psychiatrist down a twisted path.
Viktor Ahn 1, Korea 0
The much-anticipated Viktor Ahn versus Korea showdown almost didn’t happen. And when it did, their drama proved merely a foil to the greatness of Canada’s Charles Hamelin, who won his third-career Olympic gold in the men’s 1,500-meter event at the Sochi Olympics on Monday.
Ahn, a three-time gold winner for Korea, trailed Hamelin and China’s Han Tianyu for the bronze, hauling in his first medal for his adopted homeland Russia, which had previously never won a medal in short track.
Hamelin, who took gold in the men’s 500 meters and 3,000-meter relay at the 2010 Vancouver Games, was considered a surprise winner as the 1,500 meters has never been the best event for the 29-year-old. Now, the Quebec native is favored to win multiple medals in Sochi.
Rejecting the U.S. to Skate for Russia
New York Times
In 2011, the South Korean short-track speedskating star Ahn Hyun-soo became a Russian citizen, changed his name to Viktor Ahn and pledged to compete for his adopted homeland at the Sochi Games. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was said to be especially pleased.
But what if Ahn Hyun-soo had not become Viktor Ahn? What if he had become Joe (or Mike, or Bill) Ahn instead?
That seemingly unlikely situation is not so far-fetched. When Ahn, 28, went searching for a new Olympic allegiance after a falling-out with the South Korean skating federation, he and his father examined naturalization for top athletes in several countries — with the United States and Russia being the final two possibilities, said Jang Kwon-ok, a former Russian speedskating coach who helped recruit Ahn.
Jang, who has also coached the national teams of South Korea, Australia and the United States, said last week that Ahn, who will compete in the men’s 1,500-meter race on Monday, considered trying to switch to the American skating program but ultimately chose to go with Russia because it was an easier and more lucrative process.
South Korea: It’s a nice day for a shady wedding
Weddings here are not just huge American-style parties. They’re lavish, anxiety-inducing celebrations. They’re even sometimes used for nefarious purposes, such as influence peddling.
Families take the events very seriously. Their honor is at stake in a society where social stature is paramount.
Forget the American ideal of intimate affairs in bucolic settings. Families here are eager to show off their wealth and personal relationships, judged by the number of guests and the unbridled opulence of the event. Hundreds of co-workers, friends and distant relatives arrive even if they’ve never met the bride and groom. Otherwise, the hosts could lose face.
For some young couples, the demands are so grueling they lead to a pile-up of debt and fighting later in life
Korean-based operation takes stink, mess out of hog farming
West Hawaii Today
A Korean-based method of managing animal waste is improving hog farming conditions and garnering support on Hawaii Island.
“There seems to be a growing interest in natural farming,” Donn Mende, Hawaii County research and development deputy director, said.
Sim Mook Kang, owner of Kang Farms in Mountain View, adopted the practice for his piggery outside of Kurtistown in 2009. It was the first of its kind in the United States to use innovative waste management technology that, according to Kang, leaves most visitors surprised.
“It’s a pretty good system because there’s no smell,” Kang said.
World’s first robot theme park to open in South Korea
A massive project is underway in South Korea that would bring the Will Smith movie “I, Robot” to life with the opening of the world’s first theme park devoted to robotics and artificial intelligence.
Slated to open in 2016, Robot Land will include a family-friendly amusement park with rides and attractions, waterpark and hotel, but will also be home to a graduate school for robotics, research and development lab, as well as a residential complex, retail center and condominium.
Spanning 387,505 square meters in Incheon, 30 km from Seoul and 15 minutes from the Incheon airport, Robot Land is a tri-level investment from national and local governments, as well as private developers, and is estimated to cost US$625 million.
Though details remain scarce, one of the main mandates will be to offer more “Asian and Korean content” in order to differentiate itself from other theme parks.
This photo of Kim Jong Un riding a ski lift is North Korea’s way of flipping off Europe
This photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sitting alone on a ski lift might not look like North Korea flipping Europe a giant middle finger. But that’s exactly what it is.
I’ll explain. Kim is thought to have developed a love for skiing when he went to boarding school (under a fake identity) in Switzerland. One of his pet projects since taking power two years ago has been building a giant ski resort, something that does not immediately serve the world’s poorest country but would be meant as a show of national greatness. So Kim made it a top national priority to build the resort, Masik Pass, and work has been proceeding feverishly.
But Kim’s pet project hit a major snag this August: ski lifts. Kim just could not get his hands on any ski lifts. North Korea doesn’t have the technology to build its own. And the countries that make them all tend to be in the West, where new sanctions imposed in March make it illegal to sell luxury goods to the Hermit Kingdom. North Korea tried offering millions of dollars to Austrian and French companies to import ski lifts, but both said no.
N. Korea may stage provocation against Seoul around March: think tank
North Korea may stage provocations against South Korea early next year as part of efforts to further ensure internal unity following the execution of leader Kim Jong-un’s once-powerful uncle and his associates, a Seoul think tank said Tuesday.
The North executed Jang Song-thaek on charges of treason, along with other officials in early December. The shocking series of purges sparked concerns over potential instability in the isolated country.
“There is a possibility that the North could attempt provocations at a time when the defense posture is slackened right after the end of military exercises,” between South Korea and the United States, said the Institute for National Security Strategy, which is run by the National Intelligence Service.
S. Korean FM to visit U.S. to discuss N. Korea, regional issues
South Korea’s top diplomat plans to visit Washington in early January for talks with U.S. officials on key regional issues, including North Korea, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Tuesday.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior U.S. officials, foreign ministry spokesperson Cho Tai-young said.
Yun and Kerry last had a face-to-face meeting in September in New York.
N.Korea Calls Back Diplomats Close to Jang Song-taek
Hong Yong, North Korea’s deputy chief of mission to UNESCO, returned to Pyongyang on Monday as part of a wider recall of diplomats who had been close to executed eminence grise Jang Song-taek. Hong follows Pak Kwang-chol, the ambassador to Sweden who returned to North Korea last Friday.
Before Jang was executed, the regime recalled Jon Yong-jin, Jang’s brother-in-law and ambassador to Cuba, and Jang Yong-chol, his nephew and ambassador to Malaysia.
“The ongoing purge of Jang’s associates is an ominous sign,” a source said. “It seems the regime is recalling any diplomats who are branded as Jang’s associates to Pyongyang.”
It’s Not Easy Being Asian-American
Last week, in a piece for Asian Fortune News, advocates Sharon Choi, Francine Gorres and Tina Ngo argued that many young Asian-Americans constantly struggle with their bi-cultural identities, expected to adhere to multiple sets of norms, none of which quite fit.
“Giving our young people opportunities to share their cultural backgrounds and learn about the experiences and traditions of others is important to youth being able to shape and understand their unique identities,” they wrote.
The issue Choi et al raise is an important one, particularly for many first or second-generation Asian-American millennials who feel they have to live up to two different sets of expectations. On the one hand, we’re encouraged embrace American culture and shed ties to our Asian heritage. On the other hand, we’re expected to maintain our ethnic identity and keep our parents’ traditions alive. Failure to live up to either set of expectations can sometimes lead to fear of rejection or ostracism — even an identity crisis of sorts.
10 Sexiest K-Pop Videos of 2013
Girl-on-girl kissing. Grinding. No shirts. This year saw K-pop videos provoke more than ever.
Typically, K-pop skews more cute than raunchy, opting to tease rather than let it all hang out. But 2013 was K-pop’s sexiest year by far. From camera angles highlighting the idol’s best assets to choreography that made viewers weak at the knees, the scene upped its raciness while still maintaining its stars’ dignity, unlike — not to name names — select stars of the West.
End your 2013 on a sizzling note with the year’s 10 sexiest K-pop videos.
Korean Cash Takes Broadway Bows
New York Times
SEOUL, South Korea — Only one Korean theater producer has a Tony Award for best musical, a Broadway honor that is coveted the world over. Yet the 2013 trophy for “Kinky Boots” sits inconspicuously here on Kim Byeong-seok’s cluttered bookcase, amid cheap memorabilia from “Cats,” “Grease” and “42nd Street.”
For Mr. Kim, of the entertainment giant CJ E&M, status symbols of Broadway are beside the point.
He put $1 million of his company’s money into the $13.5 million “Kinky Boots” in hopes of getting the attention of top New York producers — seven-figure investments are rare these days — to develop relationships for future ventures. CJ now has the inside track to mount the first Asian production of the hit show, which features songs by Cyndi Lauper, who has a strong fan following here. The goal is to open “Kinky Boots” next fall in Seoul, a hotbed of Western musicals with heart-tugging plots and charismatic characters, like this musical’s fearless drag queen, who saves a shoe factory.
Japanese from Osaka’s Koreatown pursues dream to become K-pop star
Although Asuka Suemoto has no Korean ancestry, she dreamed of becoming of a pop singer in South Korea while growing up in Osaka.
“It was natural to be around Korean culture,” says Suemoto, who was born and raised in the city’s Ikuno Ward, where one in four residents is said to have roots in the Korean Peninsula.
This fall the 23-year-old took a big step toward making her dream come true with her first appearance at the K-Pop World Festival, a Korean music contest, held in the city of Changwon, in southern South Korea.
Chang-Rae Lee charts a rocky course toward freedom in his dystopian novel ‘On Such a Full Sea’
Since his first novel, “Native Speaker,” in 1995, Chang-Rae Lee has been absorbed by questions of identity and culture, proximity and marginalization, “nativeness” and migration, risk.
His writing is supple and poised; his understanding of human nature, richly nuanced. A new book by Lee is cause for giddy expectation.
His latest, “On Such a Full Sea” (Riverhead, 368 pp., $27.95), is both a detour and a confirmation: a detour because, as a dystopian vision, it is unlike his previous narrative forms; a confirmation, because despite that difference, his prodigious talents are still everywhere evident.
‘Songs of the Dragons’ confronts with humor and fury
With “Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven,” the Apollinaire Theatre Company reaffirms its reputation as the home of the area’s most provocative contemporary theater. Young Jean Lee’s confrontational comedy looks at racism and identity politics with an unflinching combination of humor and fury. Danielle Fauteux Jacques directs the play with a light hand, and yet elicits fearlessly transparent performances from her ensemble.
Lee has built her career around squirm-inducing experimental plays that rip open accepted assumptions around Christianity (“The Church”) and race relations (“The Shipment”). “Songs of the Dragons” explores Lee’s own experience with racism and stereotypes as a Korean-American, and, in keeping with Lee’s style, leaves the audience feeling both amused and unsettled.
“Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven,” opens in utter darkness and the audience spends the first few minutes listening to a director offering suggestions about the intensity with which one actor should slap another across the face. After a few minutes of listening, we watch a video of the repeated slaps, with the playwright as the recipient. It’s a disturbing introduction: Is this passive acceptance of violence a symbol of self-hatred? Before we have a chance to let that idea sink in, the lights change and we are greeted by a perky Korean-American woman (Nicole Dalton) who delivers a speech that is one part shocking and two parts hilarious, opening with the assertion that most Asian-Americans are slightly brain damaged from having grown up with Asian parents, and culminating with the statement that “The wiliness of the Korean is beyond anything. You may laugh now, but remember my words when you and your offspring are writhing under our yoke.”
Free agent pitcher Lim Chang-yong hoping for another shot at majors: agent
South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong, recently non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs, is hoping for another shot at Major League Baseball (MLB), his Seoul-based agent said on Tuesday.
Kim Dong-wook, head of the local agency Sports Intelligence who recently signed on as Lim’s agent, said going to South Korea or Japan is not an option for his client at this point.
Kim was responding to a recent statement by the South Korean club Samsung Lions that they’d open contract negotiations with Lim if he is unable to land with a team in the United States.
Athletes in less popular sports dream Olympic glory
Figure-skating megastar Kim Yu-na and speed-skating champion Lee Sang-hwa are expected to dictate the media attention on Korean athletes at next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Korean athletes competing in less popular sports, however, are vowing to let their presence be known on the world stage.
Korea’s bobsledders are talking about medaling at the Olympics after winning the America’s Cup in March, which represented the first international title ever won by a Korean team.
The team of Won Yun-jong and Jung Jung-lin snatched the gold in the two-men race there.
Korean Sporting Icons Serve as Beacons of Hope in 2013
Athletes occupied the top three spots in a poll of 300 Chosun Ilbo reporters to determine which Korean celebrities had given the nation the most cause for joy in 2013.
Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, who had 14 wins in his debut season in Major League Baseball, topped the list with 43.01 percent of the votes.
Kim Yu-na, who won this year’s World Figure Skating Championships in Canada in March after returning to competition following a two-year layoff, came second with 8.6 percent.
Dining on dog in the South Korean capital
New York Post
Tomorrow night, I’m going to eat dog.
That is, if I take up a local friend-of-a-friend’s invitation to visit what he assures is Seoul’s “best restaurant for dog.” I debate my RSVP while navigating the hip enclave of Garosu-gil, Seoul’s SoHo equivalent, sipping a $6 Dutch cold-press coffee. Older Koreans believe that dog can cure illness and enhance sexual virility, while the younger ones wouldn’t mind seeing it disappear altogether. Me? I’m both intrigued and horrified. WWBD — what would Bourdain do? — I ask myself.
“OK,” I text him, “let’s go for it.”
Please, don’t hate me. Seoul may be a beautiful juxtaposition of urban cityscape and mountain greenery, but at first glance, the Korean capital feels like a homogenous, uniform mass. Most blocks seem like barely modified remixes of the one before, heavily populated with overpriced coffee shops — from Starbucks behemoths to indie cafes. No wonder I’ve grown famished for truly local, off-the-Google-map gems.
Aria Korean American Snack Bar: Hidden in Plain Sight
San Francisco Weekly
I’m taking a deep breath as I write this, because if there is one hole-in-the-wall in San Francisco that I genuinely (and completely selfishly) don’t want to become popular, it’s Aria. This tiny, ugly, clumsily laid out, two-table “Korean American Snack Bar” run by a sweet, late-middle-age couple on a gross stretch of Larkin Street is unfailingly delicious, yet I’ve never once had to wait for a table to open up.
And now they’ve doubled the size of the menu, so I feel compelled to share as I eat my way through it. Both types of Korean fried chicken are always excellent — as is the dukboggi, a hot and spicy rice cake that comes swimming in a sauce that’s like a hot, seasoned tomato soup. (They have a strangely enchanting density we’ve been assured is somewhat challenging to pull off.) Kalguksu, or knife-cut noodles, might not be the exact same thing as ramen, but they’re good for what ails you. I’m as excited by the japchae (a dish of sweet potato noodles with stir-fried vegetables) as I am by the sundae (which would be panfried Korean sausage, not ice cream). Even the oyster and mushroom porridge calls out to me, to be kept in mind for the next cold snap.
Tasting notes: Urbanbelly’s new menu
Time Out Chicago
Back in October, Bill Kim announced he was moving Urbanbelly, his tiny BYO Avondale noodle restaurant, to Restaurant Row, where it would share space with BellyQ (1400 W Randolph St), his Asian barbecue spot. The move was the result of the restaurant outgrowing its space and Cornerstone Restaurant Group, which already had a hand in BellyQ, taking an ownership stake in all of Kim’s restaurants. When Urbanbelly reopened in early November, there were other changes, too: a small wine, beer and sake list, a kid’s menu and a few new menu items, cooked in a new wok.
The new space is adjacent to BellyQ and twice as large as the old one. As before, you order at the counter, then grab a seat. The dining room has communal tables and one of the brick walls is covered with plants—it’s a pretty comfortable space to spread out and work through the menu.
Asian Americans have a complicated yet rich history in Los Angeles, and that story is taking on new and exciting twists. In a report released yesterday by Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles, the Asian American population of L.A. County grew nearly twice as fast as that of Latinos, and more than five times as fast as the general population between 2000 and 2010.
The organization, formerly known as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, used census, academic and government data to compile what has been regarded by some as a surprising report, particularly regarding the growth trends of certain ethnic groups. While Chinese Americans are still the region’s largest Asian ethnic group, the fastest-growing group is from Bangladesh. In fact, of the five fastest growing Asian groups, four are South Asian.
Stewart Kwoh, the group’s director, told 89.3 KPCC that the fastest growing groups are coming from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. Nationwide, he said, South Asians are also the fastest growing Asian ethnic group. Continue Reading »
Op-ed by EUGENE LEE & DEANNA KITAMURA of Asian Americans Adavancing Justice-Los Angeles for New America Media
As the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country, Asian Americans are an increasingly critical population of voters. Nearly four million Asian Americans voted in the 2012 election, representing a 16 percent increase from those who voted in 2008, and a 91 percent increase from those who voted in 2000.
And like other communities of color, Asian Americans have faced and continue to face barriers to voting. For example, until the mid-twentieth century, foreign-born Asian Americans were flat out denied the right to vote because of restrictions on their ability to naturalize as U.S. citizens.
Even now, Asian Americans encounter discriminatory behavior at the polls. During the 2012 presidential election, Hmong American voters in Minnesota were incorrectly asked to provide identification, even though a white voter standing in line behind them was not. For Asian Americans today, another particular brand of vote denial arises when they are unable to access the language assistance to which they are entitled under law.
Last month, Asian Americans Advancing Justice released a report detailing Asian American voters’ access to language assistance in 2012. Advancing Justice’s Voices of Democracy report highlights ways election administrators effectively, or ineffectively, provided voters with language assistance. Continue Reading »