South Korea’s prestigious academic institution Yonsei University announced its appointment of Krys Lee as its newest professor.
Lee, a Korean American writer, hold lectures at the school’s Underwood International College, teaching creative and essay writing.
Ghosts Calling Home
Kalliope Lee’s debut novel, Sunday Girl, channels the souls and unresolved wounds of the Korean “comfort women.”
Kalliope Lee is summoning spirits—and she wants you to listen. Lee’s novel Sunday Girl is a kind of literary séance, a book that explores tragedy, sexuality, death and healing through the story of the “comfort women.”
Over 20 years ago, when Kim Haksoon—the first former “comfort woman” to come forward publicly—accused the Japanese of abducting young women and forcing them into sexual slavery, Lee was deeply disturbed by the revelation. How could such atrocities be kept secret for so long? The silence that was imposed on these women weighed heavily on Lee, and she felt compelled to speak out. Or, more accurately, to write.
“I felt very connected to the plight of the comfort women and a lot of the oppression of Korean women throughout history,” Lee said during a phone interview in early August. “I felt like it was still very much a part of me and my soul, and that the writing of Sunday Girl was sort of—I hate using this word, but it’s exactly how it felt— an exorcism. [I felt] that I needed to really connect with these voices in me of my ancestors who were never heard.”
Lee explained that throughout the process of researching, writing, editing and rewriting, she felt a sense of obligation to tell the story of these women whom history has continually tried to hush and erase. Continue Reading »
Veteran and activist Paul Chappell talks drones, North Korea, Syria and the urgent necessity of making peace at home and abroad.
by CHELSEA HAWKINS
“Like mud that sticks to the soles of our shoes, war has a way of sticking to the human mind and following people home,” writes Paul K. Chappell in the opening chapter of his new book, The Art of Waging Peace. An Iraq war veteran and peace activist, Chappell, whose mother is Korean and father is African American and white, has seen the violence of armed conflict firsthand, but his exposure to the trauma of war started even earlier, when he was a child.
Chappell’s father fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the experiences had a profound impact on him throughout his and his son’s life. “As a child my life was turned upside down when the wars from my father’s past reemerged,” he details in his book. “I was sleeping peacefully late one night when I felt someone grab my leg and drag me from my bed onto the floor. … Looking up and seeing my father, I began to panic as he pulled my hair and told me he was going to kill me. His cursing and my screaming woke my mother, who ran into the room and bear-hugged him until he finally calmed down.”
It is this discussion of trauma that propels The Art of Waging Peace, Chappell’s third book on the subject, and also his most personal. The 33-yearold’s revelations of an intimate history of family violence and internalized racism only further his argument for peace.
KoreAm first spoke with Chappell, who serves as the peace leadership director at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, back in 2011 for a lengthy discussion about his background as a multiracial American growing up in the South, how he could be a soldier and a peace activist, and his thoughts on the military-industrial complex. Last month, KoreAm reconnected with the author and activist to talk about his new book, drone warfare, conflict in Syria, shaky North Korea-U.S. relations, and how the ability to wage peace is also a tremendous life skill.
How is The Art of Waging Peace different from your previous books, and why did you decide to write it? Continue Reading »
After the War
Paul Yoon’s new novel about a North Korean war veteran allows him to connect with an intimate family history.
By ADA TSENG
While researching Korean history for his first short story collection, 2009’s critically-acclaimed Once The Shore, Paul Yoon read that after the Korean War ended in 1953, there were North Korean prisoners of war in South Korea who, rather than return north to their home country, opted to defect to South America.
“It felt like such an odd fact that was just glossed over,” remembers Yoon. “So it piqued my curiosity, and I became obsessed with this notion that a group of prisoners would choose to travel to the other side of the world.”
This detail of history would become the inspiration for Yoon’s latest book, Snow Hunters, a novel released this month by Simon & Schuster. The first chapter follows 25-year-old Yohan, a North Korean veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, as he first arrives in Brazil, a country he had never heard of prior to this journey. He’s come to live and apprentice with Kiyoshi, an old Japanese tailor who lives in a small port town. Mending clothes is a trade Yohan had learned at the POW camp in South Korea, a skill that would support his new life abroad. Continue Reading »
Kim Jong-il’s Widow ‘Purged’
Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s widow appears to have fallen victim to a purge by the new regime, Radio Free Asia said on Tuesday.
Kim Ok and her father Kim Hyo, a senior official in the Workers Party’s Finance and Accounting Department, “has recently been dismissed from all their posts,” RFA quoted an informed source as saying. “They may have fallen victim to a political purge.”
The defector-run radio station speculated that young leader Kim Jong-un has sacked his stepmother to tighten his own grip on power.
“Rumors are circulating in the North that the regime has forced all the old guard from the Kim Jong-il era to retire,” another source said. “Kim Ok may be part of that move.”
South Korean Executive’s Arrest Seen as Move to Tame Conglomerates
New York Times
The head of the CJ Group, a large conglomerate in South Korea, was arrested on charges of embezzlement and tax evasion as the country’s Parliament on Tuesday enacted a series of laws aimed at protecting smaller businesses from the corporations that have dominated the economy for decades.
Lee Jay-hyun, the CJ Group chairman, was locked up shortly before midnight Monday, accused of stashing hundreds of millions of dollars under other people’s names, dodging 70 billion won ($61 million) in taxes and misappropriating 100 billion won in company money.
Mr. Lee, 53, a grandson of Lee Byung-chull, the founder of the Samsung empire, was the first tycoon to be arrested on corruption charges since President Park Geun-hye took office in February amid mounting public calls for “economic democratization.” In her inaugural speech, Ms. Park took note of public sentiment, vowing to deal sternly with tycoons involved in white-collar crimes and the conglomerates’ expansion at the cost of smaller businesses.
365 Days of Jim Yong Kim
In his first year at the helm of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim has put together a vision for wiping out extreme poverty and fighting inequality by 2030, begun to shift the Bank’s health policy, and threw the Bank’s influence behind ambitious efforts to combat climate change. Very promising.
A focused vision is precisely what the World Bank needs today, with an increasingly volatile global economy and dwindling sources of aid. But only time will tell if the Bank — often its own worst enemy — and Kim are unified in their commitment to deliver on the 2030 vision.
The World Bank’s mission was always about ending poverty — except when it wasn’t. Whole decades were lost to “structural adjustment policies,” which forced on cuts in social spending, hiring freezes on doctors and teachers, fees to basic health care, and worsened poverty in many developing countries. As a development expert, Kim recognized that the Bank needed to re-focus on eradicating extreme poverty, reducing inequality, and curbing climate change. Let’s hope he gets it right.
Third teen sues Fort lee Police Department
Fort Lee Suburbanite via NorthJersey.com
A third teenager has sued Fort Lee and its police department, claiming officers violated his civil rights when they left him and four other teenagers in a police van for 15 hours in March 2011 in freezing temperatures with no food and water.
The civil suit filed by resident Kevin Jun follows similar allegations from Liam Eisenberg, who filed a lawsuit in February, and Adam Kim, who filed a lawsuit in December. All three cases were consolidated into one this month.
Jun’s suit argues Fort Lee police used excessive force and failed to adhere to appropriate policies and procedures when they took him into custody following the break-up of a noisy house party on March 25, 2011, and subjected him to a night of false imprisonment. He alleges officers uttered racial epithets when they broke up the party and arrested about a dozen teenagers “without probable cause.”
Jun, who is of Korean descent, said he was not read his Miranda rights, told why he was being arrested or given the right to contact his parents.
Hung jury in 33-year-old Portland cold case means retrial in PSU convenience store robbery and killing
The Oregonian (Oregon)
A Multnomah County jury couldn’t agree Monday on the fate of a man accused of killing a Plaid Pantry convenience store clerk near Portland State University 33 years ago.
A hung jury in a murder case is highly unusual — and that’s doubly so in cases based on DNA evidence — often considered particularly credible proof by jurors in criminal proceedings.
In this case, prosecutors argued that DNA on a mask would prove that the Portland defendant was the killer.
Instead, jurors were close to reaching the 10 votes necessary to acquit Antonio Wabol of aggravated murder in the point-blank shooting of Myong Su Cho shortly before midnight on Jan. 18, 1980. The vote was either 8-4 or 9-3 to acquit — the judge and defense attorneys came up with different counts — but the jurors were stuck nonetheless.
Gardena pastor rides bike to raise awareness of North Korea’s children
Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.)
Children in North Korea wear one thing on their feet yearlong: thin shoes that are worn down to almost nothing, with stitches coming loose and holes so big their toes are visible.
These shoes provide little shelter from the cold and the children suffer from hypothermia and multiple frozen toes.
This is what pastor Sung Hwan Kim of the Gardena Presbyterian Church witnessed on one of his October trips to North Korea. It inspired him to provide the children with decent winter shoes.
Last month, pastor Kim bicycled from San Francisco to Los Angeles (approximately 500 miles) in six days to raise money to take to North Korea to provide monetary aid in making winter shoes. Each day, he traveled approximately 90 miles along Highway 1.
Bethany United Methodist opens doors to Korean congregation
Members of the newly formed Bethany Korean United Methodist congregation, the first of its denomination in Howard County, gather weekdays at 5 a.m. for a dawn prayer service and on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. to worship.
For a group that held its first service a little more than a month ago, the small church has quickly found its rhythm.
Arrangements for the 20-member Korean-language church to meet in the historic chapel on the campus of Bethany United Methodist Church came together just as quickly, said the Rev. David W. Simpson, senior pastor of the 1,300-member host church, which is located on Bethany Lane in Ellicott City.
Hearing set for Rancho Cucamonga man found insane in mother’s killing
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Calif.)
A Rancho Cucamonga man will soon find out which mental health facility he will be sent to after being convicted of killing of his mother with a golf club.
Judge Colin Bilash scheduled a placement hearing for Luke Kang on July 15 after finding that the man was insane at the time of the crime, according to court reports.
Earlier this month, following a mistrial in the insanity phase, prosecution and defense lawyers agreed to stipulate that the court could consider reports of doctors who examined Kang after he fatally attacked his mother, Hannah Kang, and assaulted his father, Ezra Kang, on Feb. 22, 2012, at the home they all shared.
Those doctors reported that based on their evaluations, Kang was insane at the time of the crimes.
Anchorage Man Killed in Car Crash near Chickaloon
A 66-year-old man from Anchorage died in an SUV crash Friday morning near Chickaloon, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Troopers say Young Yoon was ejected in a single vehicle roll over and pronounced dead on the scene shortly after 7 a.m. near Mile 74 of Glenn Highway.
According to troopers, 57-year-old Yong Lee, of Anchorage, fell asleep driving a 2004 Chevy Suburban southbound on the Glenn Hwy and 54-year-old Chang Yoon, of Anchorage was riding in the passenger seat and Young Yoon was lying down in the back seat.
Hongs Plead With Public to Save Irv’s Burgers
Wehoville.com (West Hollywood, Calif.)
Irv’s Burgers, the 63-year-old West Hollywood hamburger stand sitting at the northeast corner of Santa Monica and Sweetzer, is asking for public support on its website as it faces an eviction notice from its owner and struggles to stay open.
The Hongs, a Korean-American family who invested their life’s savings in the business, are asking supporters to send an email to West Hollywood officials to stop their eviction by landlord Standard Oil Investment Management, which needs to bring the Irv’s site up to code in order to construct its neighboring cafe concept “Beach Nation.”
‘Mistresses’ Yunjin Kim’s first film beat ‘Titanic’
Yunjin Kim became known for her role on ABC’s “Lost,” but she was already a major star in her native South Korea.
“In 1999, when ‘Titanic’ was No. 1 in every single country, we beat ‘Titanic,’ ” she tells Zap2it of “Swiri.” “And that was my first film, and ‘Lost’ was my first American TV show. I kind of go downhill from there on.”
Perhaps not, considering she’s starring in another ABC series, “Mistresses.”
A classically trained dancer and master of combat skills, Kim says, “I became action girl in Korea, a wonder woman, and I had to do it in four roles.”
Shin-Soo Choo and the Dark Art of HBP
The first batter to step to the plate this season for the Cincinnati Reds was Shin-Soo Choo. This was by design. The top of the Reds lineup was a disaster for much of last year, with Drew Stubbs and Zack Cozart competing for the out-making championship of the universe. They needed a completely different kind of hitter to take their place, someone who would avoid making outs, setting the table for other hitters, building and extending rallies.
So when Choo strode to the plate to face Jered Weaver to lead off the Reds’ season, his mandate was clear. Do whatever it takes to get on base. And he did.
We rarely recognize historic events in their earliest stages. Only when confronted with reams of evidence can we clearly see what’s unfolding. Only then can we go back and see those early happenings for what they were: the start of something big. When Weaver plunked Choo on the right foot on the third pitch he saw all season, that was one of those early, precipitating events. It set the stage for what could now become the second-highest total of hit-by-pitches in baseball’s modern era (since 1900).
Choo’s reviewed blast could be good sign
Coming into Tuesday 4-for-31 (.129) over his last nine games, Shin-Soo Choo appeared to have broken out of his slump in a big way with a home run in his first at-bat against the Giants. Instead, thanks to an umpire review, he had to settle for his first double since July 14.
Leading off the bottom of the first, Choo took a 3-1 fastball from Tim Lincecum and sent it deep to right field. Hunter Pence jumped at the fence to make a play on the ball, which bounced off his glove and back into play. However, second-base umpire Fielden Culbreth ruled it a home run, as it originally appeared to bounce off a fan after Pence’s deflection.
The umpires reviewed the play at the request of Giants manager Bruce Bochy and quickly overturned it, forcing Choo back to second with a ground-rule double. Two batters later, he came home on a Joey Votto sac fly.
Steamy Novel An ‘Education’ In Youth, Love And Mistakes
Susan Choi’s previous novels have pulled from events in the headlines: the Korean War for The Foreign Student; the Patty Hearst kidnapping for American Woman; and the Wen Ho Lee accusations for A Person of Interest. But her latest book, My Education, was inspired by something else — youthful passion.
My Education focuses on graduate student Regina Gottlieb, who finds herself involved in a very sexual — and very inappropriate — relationship with a married woman. Despite some graphic scenes, Choi tells NPR’s Lynn Neary she didn’t choose the topic for the sex.
“I certainly didn’t sit down and think, ‘I’m going to write an erotic novel.’ I mean, I’m so — my own mother referred to it in an email as ‘sizzling,’ and I was so mortified,” she says. “I wanted to write a book about being young and making mistakes, and if you decide to write a book about being young and making mistakes, you’re pretty quickly — or at least I found myself pretty quickly — in love and sex territory.”
Steph Cha’s ‘Follow Her Home’ is more than just a Chandler homage
TribLIVE.com (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
An engrossing novel can be more than entertainment — it can double as an escape and a refuge from harsh realities. Steph Cha’s intriguing debut “Follow Her Home” works as a testament to the power of storytelling and a cautionary tale against forsaking reality for fiction.
As a teenager, Korean-American Juniper Song found that safe retreat in Raymond Chandler’s novels, immersing herself in Philip Marlowe’s adventures to escape her overprotective mother. But, too often, she allowed herself to believe she could be the sleuth like Marlowe. While that led to a family tragedy from which she has never recovered, her desire to be a detective has never dampened.
So, she jumps at the chance to play private eye when her best friend and former Yale classmate Lucas Cook asks her to find out whether his father is having an affair. Lucas suspects that his father, a prominent L.A. attorney, is seeing Lori Lin, who also is Korean-American. Lucas is worried that his emotionally fragile mother would be pushed to suicide if the affair became public.
Author Maurene Goo dishes on debut novel, the writing process and her own teen years
Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)
At 31 years old, Los Angeles native Maurene Goo is starting her literary career off with a bang with her debut young adult novel, “Since You Asked ….” I was lucky enough to talk with the new author about her life as a teenager and her desire to become a writer, as well as the process she uses to develop her characters.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A: “I didn’t always know I wanted to be one, but I always wrote. I wrote short stories in high school and this never-ending saga about three friends while I was in college. But I never thought of writing creatively as a profession until the day I got an agent.
“Before that, I was fixated on being a journalist, and then eventually working in book publishing. Writing stories was always a side hobby; I never imagined that it would eventually be my end goal and that I’d succeed. I feel incredibly lucky.”