Tag Archives: china

Protest

29 NKorean Defectors and Five Guides Arrested in China

Above photo: Demonstrators stage a rally at the Chinese Embassy in Seoul to protest China’s policy of arresting North Korean defectors in 2012. Source: Los Angeles Times

by JAMES S. KIM

An activist group for North Korean defectors confirmed the arrest of 29 North Korean defectors and five guides in China, reports the Chosun Ilbo. It is said to be the largest arrest of North Korean defectors and guides recorded so far.

The individuals, who were divided into two groups, were arrested between July 15 and July 17, said the newspaper. Kwon Na-hyun, speaking on behalf of the activist group, said that 20 defectors were arrested in Qingdao, Shandong Province, and nine others in Kunming, Yunnan Province, as they made their way through an established escape route to Southeast Asia. Of the guides arrested, one of them, Na Su-hyun, 39, was a former North Korean defector who has a South Korean passport. The South Korean consulate general in China is expected to visit Na.

“Nine of them left for Kunming [from Qingdao] on July 14, because it would have been dangerous if all 29 defectors traveled together,” Kwon told the Chosun Ilbo. The defectors are being held in Tunmen, a town close to the North Korean border, and they face almost certain deportation.

Voice of America reports that the group of North Koreans consisted of four families, including a couple in their 60s and others in their 20s and 30s, as well as a 1-year-old baby.

The South Korean government apparently learned of the arrest on July 16 and is in the process of negotiating with the Chinese government for their release. A Seoul official told Voice of America that Beijing was very reluctant to release the North Koreans to South Korea. Meanwhile, China has not publicly commented on the issue.

Beijing’s policy for years has been to send North Korean defectors back, citing its border treaty with Pyongyang and illegal immigration problems as a whole. Instead of classifying them as refugees or asylum-seekers, the Chinese government classifies them as illegal economic migrants subject to deportation.

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Pic of the Day: Man Stuck in Korea After Son Draws on Passport

by JAMES S. KIM

Children do the cutest things. They also sometimes have the worst timing.

A Chinese man is stuck in South Korea after his 4-year-old son made the passport his canvas. Unfortunately for the father, the markings rendered his passport unrecognizable, and authorities apparently told him it is unlikely he will be able to travel home.

The drawing crudely and charmingly depict stick-figure animals and people, while the photographs of his father now include extra whiskers and thicker lips.

The father, identified only as Mr. Zhang, had originally posted the photo on Chinese social network site Weibo, asking for help, according to the Telegraph.

“It is so depressing,” he wrote of his “naughty” child’s masterpiece. “What am I supposed to do now I cannot go back to China? Solutions? Help???”

As with everything on the internet, though, the story may be too good to be true. According to a few sharp-eyed individuals, the picture looks like a Photoshop or even a MS Paint job, and they present some condemning evidence.

Kotaku pointed out several points that don’t add up. Among them: no smearing or proper depth perception of the ink, and the passport’s most important bits of information were coincidentally doodled over or crossed out. Of course, the father could have further defaced his passport after his son drew on it so that he could upload it to Weibo.

Image via Kotaku

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Korean Flash Mob in China Performs a Defiant ‘Arirang’

by JULIE HA

We, Korean Americans, are all familiar with the beloved Korean folk song, “Arirang.” The melody to “Arirang,” often considered Korea’s unofficial national anthem, innately carries a sense of longing—that is both a lament and yet also full of hope. Recently, a group of ethnic Koreans living in China took the song to a whole new level of emotion—and a video of their defiantly moving performance is now circulating among ethnic Koreans all over the world.

It was defiant because Koreans living in China are prohibited by law to openly sing their Korean national anthem and other songs that rouse a sense of nostalgia toward their homeland. In response, a group of Korean musicians decided to unleash a flash mob on March 1 at a park in Shenzhen, where around 25,000 ethnic Koreans reside. The result is a rousing performance of “Arirang, the Spring of Our Home,” which if you listen carefully also incorporates the melody from the official South Korean national anthem, “Aegukga.”

The video of the flash mob, uploaded to YouTube, starts with a typical scene of families enjoying a beautiful park day. Several seconds later, a woman lifts her violin and bow and starts to play the familiar opening notes to “Arirang,” as passersby suddenly turn their attention toward her. A woman with a cello then joins in. Soon after, several young people carrying music stands and instruments come to the center of the field to join the pair. It doesn’t take long before the field is full of musicians playing the folk song—with flutes, saxophones, drums, violins, cellos, trumpets—as more and more onlookers stop to watch, listen and record the event with their smartphones.

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Finally, the flash mob members, led by a conductor, begin to sing the lyrics to “Arirang,” as Korean members of the audience begin to sing along. As the audience erupts into loud applause at the end of the performance, the participants walk away carrying their instruments and music stands. The text in Korean at the end of the video says: “We can’t sing the ‘Aegukga’ or wave the Taegeukgi, even though there are 25,000 Korean expats and around 1,500 Korean children living in Shenzhen, China. 104 children and 50 expats, for the sole purpose of remembering our Korean identity, made ‘Arirang, the Spring of Our Home.’”

It’s a long video, but definitely worth checking out, in part, to remember how precious freedom is, and how many people around the world are still deprived of the right even to perform a song that they hold dear to their hearts and identity.

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Japanese Prime Minister: We Won’t Emulate Germany In Reconciling War Crimes

Photo courtesy of Kyodo

Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe said his country cannot follow Germany’s footsteps in mending its relationships with neighboring countries, although he acknowledged Japan’s wartime atrocities.

Abe recently said that the post-war situations between Japan and Germany, the main Axis power during World War II, were completely different. His statement serves as a direct dismissal of the demands from South Korea and China, two countries with longstanding beliefs that Japan owes sincere apologies and proper compensations to reconcile its strained relations with the rest of East Asian countries.

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Both South Korea and China have continuously proposed to Japan that it should use Germany, which now plays a central role in the European Union, as a model to mend the relationship that has been fraught with animosity due to its reluctance to acknowledge the wartime atrocities by the imperial Japanese army.

“In Europe, there was a pan-European quest for the great goal of European integration,” Abe told German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The situation in Asia has been completely different after the end of World War II.”

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama said during his visit to the country that Japan’s wartime atrocities, including the deployment of East Asian women as sex slaves known as comfort women, were “a terrible, egregious violation of human rights.”

Abe initially responded to Obama’s comment by admitting without offering a direct apology that it’s “heartbreaking” to even imagine the level of pain and suffering those comfort women had to endure, but his recent interview with the German media will likely irk Japan’s neighboring countries even further.

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Justin Bieber Apologizes After Visiting Controversial World War II Shrine

Justin Bieber with a priest at the Yasukuni Shrine. Image via The Independent

Pop star Justin Bieber isn’t exactly known for his cultural sensitivity, and on Wednesday, he added another reason for that reputation. During a visit to Tokyo, Japan, Bieber posted two photos on Instagram that showed him visiting a controversial World War II shrine, causing outrage among South Korean and Chinese netizens, as well as some lawmakers from those countries.

One photo showed Bieber praying in front of the Yasukuni Shrine, and another showed him posing with a priest. Bieber tweeted the photos with the caption, “Thank you for your blessings.”

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Bieber quickly apologized and removed the photos after he came under fire from Chinese and South Korean fans, some of whom called for the singer to be banned from performing in their home countries and even demanding he be “run out of Asia” permanently, The Independent reports. On Instagram, Bieber said he did not realize what the shrine represented and was initially just struck by its beauty.

The singer explained that he had merely asked his driver to stop when he saw the “beautiful shrine.”

“I was mislead (sic) to think the shrines were only a place of prayer,” Bieber said in his post. “To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry.”

Bieber in front of the Yasukuni Shrine. Via The Independent

The Yasukuni Shrine honors Japanese soldiers killed in World War II, along with several war criminals. Visits by Japanese dignitaries over the years have strained relations between Japan and neighboring Asian countries, who view it as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. Earlier this week, 150 Japanese lawmakers visited the shrine, and while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not come along, he made an offering to the shrine.

oppa

Who’s Your Oppa? China Embraces Korean Word But Changes Meaning

Oppa Benz spotted in Koreatown. Photo by Y. Peter Kang.

by RUTH KIM

In an ever-expanding heterogeneous world where diverse cultures continuously intersect, it’s easy to get a little lost in translation—the Korean word “oppa,” which women usually use to call older men or a boyfriend, is being re-defined in China.

Narrowing the definition, people in China are using the term “oppa” to refer to handsome men. According to China’s state-run Global Times, a restaurant in Seoul has female customers lining up at the door because the male staff members are reportedly all “oppa.” The article didn’t bother to even explain the term, as it is already well understood by Chinese readers.

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Last month, the word was listed in a Chinese online encyclopedia hosted by Baidu.com, written as “歐巴,” and loosely defines the term as an ambiguous love and closeness, or intimate feeling.

“Ajumma,” another Korean word, is also entering the Chinese language. Although the original definition refers to married women, or older women in general, the Chinese interpretation indicates tough women.

Since PSY’s “Gangnam Style” exploded, “oppa” has earned a spot on the list of terms known universally. And as long as Korean culture, especially the influence of K-pop and famous Korean dramas, continue to garner fans the world over, Korean culture and language will carry on to be a strong and powerful international presence around the world.

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Korea, China Dispute Invention of Traditional Floor Heating System

Ondol (left) vs kang.

Ondol is ours!

Not so fast, say the Chinese. A dispute has erupted between China and South Korea, which announced preliminary plans to register the traditional underfloor heating system known as ondol with the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.

“We have decided that ondol technology is worth being protected as a World Heritage for all mankind,” the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced on Sunday.

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In traditional Korean architecture, homes were heated by transferring heat from an outdoor stove, which warms the floor of a house through horizontal smoke. In modern times, Korean homes now use electric water heaters to warm the floors of their apartments and homes but it is still called ondol.

Chinese netizens were outraged at the news, saying the ondol originally came from the Chinese kang, sort of a raised clay oven that was used by the people in northeast China.

“They must have borrowed the idea of kang from us,” one blogger said, according to the South China Morning Post.

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However, some cooler heads advised caution, pointing out the many small differences in the two traditional heating methods.

Nevertheless, Korean netizens were quick to defend the country’s honor.

“In Korea, no matter which house you go to there is ondol, but what about in China?” said one blogger, according to SCMP.

“We have to get it listed before China!” said another.

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star

Korean Drama ‘My Love from the Stars’ Sparks Mania in China

by CASSANDRA KWOK

The hottest Korean drama, My Love from the Stars, has taken Asia by storm, particularly in China. From sold-out fan meetings to a boom in sales for food merely mentioned on the recently-concluded SBS drama, Chinese fans just can’t seem to get enough.

China has fallen head-over-heels for Kim Soo-hyun, who plays the title character, a gorgeous, yet mysterious 400-year-old alien who falls in love with a Hallyu actress, played by My Sassy Girl star Jun Ji-hyun.

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China’s Jiangsu Satellite TV invited Kim to appear as a special guest judge on game show Super Brain on March 8. The show reportedly paid Kim approximately $500,000 for his eight-hour appearance and spent an additional $500,000 to charter a private jet and hire 600 security guards to control the massive crowds.

Chinese fans shrieked with excitement chanting “Do Min Joon,” the name of his drama character, as he made his appearance in a dapper black tuxedo very similar to his character’s style.

And the mania is not just reserved for Kim. On one episode, Jun’s character mentions that she loves chowing down on fried chicken and beer when it snows. Since then, Korean fried chicken restaurants in China have done a booming business, with accounts of three-hour lines and chicken shortages. News reports said a pregnant woman almost had a miscarriage due to binge-watching the show while eating just chicken with beer.

What exactly about this series has got China obsessed? The Chinese government is wondering the same thing. The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) members have been questioning why they can’t produce such addicting and impactful dramas much like Korea, according to the Washington Post. Some politicians have said that the rise of K-dramas in China has punctured the pride of Chinese culture.

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Kim is escorted off the private charter jet.

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Fans cheer as Kim makes an appearance on Chinese TV.