Obama Juggles Itinerary in Bid to Ease Tensions Between Two Asian Allies
New York Times
When President Obama brings together the estranged leaders of Japan and South Korea for a peacemaking session in The Hague on Tuesday evening, it will be the culmination of three months of intense behind-the-scenes American diplomacy.
The unusual effort included a phone call from Mr. Obama to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; a follow-up lunch that the American ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, had with Mr. Abe; a decision to put both Tokyo and Seoul on Mr. Obama’s itinerary when he visits Asia next month; and a plan to resolve this neighborhood quarrel on the ultimate neutral ground: a stately Dutch city accustomed to litigating international disputes.
“The diplomacy of northeast Asia is a little like junior prom: Cathy won’t sit with Jamie, but maybe she would if Sally comes over and sits with them,” said Michael J. Green, a senior adviser on Asia in the George W. Bush administration. “The U.S. can never solve these problems, but we can be quite effective in managing them.”
S. Korea urges N. Korea to stop provocations
South Korea called on North Korea Tuesday to stop provocative remarks and actions, criticizing the communist country for tinkering with a nuclear card.
Seoul’s call came one day after Pyongyang’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ri Tong-il, warned that his country will take additional “nuclear measures,” slamming the United States for conducting annual military drills with the South.
The envoy said during a news conference that his country “is ready to take a series of additional nuclear measures to demonstrate the power of the self-defensive nuclear deterrent,” warning that whether it would take those measures is entirely “up to the U.S.’ attitude down the road.”
North Korea Urged U.S. Changes Citing Talks With South
North Korea called on the U.S. to stop isolating it politically, militarily and economically, citing the totalitarian regime’s recent engagement with South Korea as proof of a commitment to relieving tensions.
In dealings with neighboring countries starting last month, North Korea participated in the first high-level talks with South Korea since 2007, allowed family reunions between the two Koreas and made plans to hold talks next week with Japan for the first time since November 2012.
“The DPRK did not hesitate to accept the request from South Korean authorities on holding the separated families’ reunion,” even though “in view of the harsh conditions of the political environment,” the situation “was not mature yet,” Ri Tong Il, a top North Korean diplomat at the United Nations, told reporters yesterday in New York. He referred to his country by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Court Ruling on Korean Tycoon Sparks Media Criticism
Wall Street Journal
South Korean media are abuzz over a four-year-old court ruling that allows a convicted tycoon to pay off a $23 million fine with just a month-and-a-half of prison labor, questioning the fairness of a decision that values his daily work behind bars 10,000 times higher than that of a regular convict.
The controversy erupted again when Huh Jae-ho, 71, the former chairman of now-defunct Daeju Group, returned home over the weekend to be taken to a prison labor facility after four years of living overseas to avoid paying the fine for tax evasion and embezzlement.
Handing down a suspended jail term against Mr. Huh, a local court in 2010 ordered him to pay the 25.4 billion won ($23 million) fine or do prison labor for 50 days–which valued his daily labor at 500 million won, compared with the usual 50,000 won a day for ordinary convicts.
Feds: Leaker’s plea spares secrets
Arguing that the move will prevent further damage to national security, prosecutors are urging a federal judge to approve a 13-month sentence for a former State Department contractor who has admitted leaking the contents of a highly-classified report on North Korea to Fox News.
In a filing Monday, the Justice Department urged U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to accept the sentence the prosecution and lawyer for defendant Stephen Kim agreed on prior to his surprise guilty plea last month to a felony charge of disclosing closely-held national security information. Prosecutors also said the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies “concurred” in the plea deal and proposed 13-month sentence.
“The agreement reflects a fair resolution of the defendant’s criminal culpability especially when balanced against the further harm to the national security that would likely result from a trial,” prosecutors wrote in a 13-page memo.
Chinese Records Shed More Light on Sex Slaves
China’s state archives in Jilin Province on Monday added to a wealth of proof on Monday that the Japanese Imperial Army forced Asian women to serve as sex slaves during World War II.
Among newly revealed documents is a letter written by a Japanese citizen who lived in China’s Heilongjiang Province in 1941 to a friend in Japan. “Some 20 Korean women were brought here forcibly under the national mobilization law to serve at a ‘comfort station’ in the Japanese army compound,” he wrote.
The 1938 law put the country’s economy on a wartime footing after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
A spokesman for the archives said the specific reference to the “national mobilization law” clearly shows responsibility by the Japanese government.
Suicide Drama ‘Thread of Lies’ a Surprise Hit at South Korean Box Office
Thread of Lies, a local drama about a 14-year-old girl’s suicide, grossed more than $8 million at the South Korean box office, maintaining a stronghold in spite of competition from Noah, 300: Rise of an Empire and other imported films.
The small-budget film ($1.96 million, or 2.1 billion won) debuted first place over its opening weekend of March 14-16. Though it ceded the top spot to Noah over the past weekend, online reservation rates for the film remain strong according to its distributor, Movie Collage.
Korean offices use admissions as their main box office count, and more than a million people had seen the film as of Tuesday, according to the Korean Film Council.
Scalpers cash in on fans of TV star Kim
TICKETS for a meet-and-greet event hosted by Kim Soo-hyun in Shanghai yesterday changed hands for up to 25,000 yuan (US$4,015) as scalpers sought to cash in on fans’passion for the South Korean TV star.
The face value of the best tickets for the show at the Shanghai Grand Stage was just 1,280 yuan.
Scalpers began congregating outside the venue early yesterday morning. One of them, who declined to give his name, said he’s been working as a scalper for 10 years and never has a problem getting hold of tickets for the big events.
He said he was offering seats in the first 10 rows for between 15,000 and 25,000 yuan.
Linkin Park’s New Video is a Game: Exclusive Inside Look at ‘Guilty All the Same’
It’s a music video. It’s a game. It’s Linkin Park’s latest play on technology — a six-minute video game debuting on Tuesday (March 25) that’s based on the band’s latest single, “Guilty All the Same,” featuring Rakim.
Band members Joe Hahn and Mike Shinoda say they want their fans to literally play with their music. Fans can take it apart and remix both the song and the game any way they want, using the tools provided in “Project Spark,” a free software platform created by Microsoft Corp. that lets players make their own video games on Xbox One and Windows 8 computers.
In Linkin Park’s version of the game, the protagonist is a character haunted by guilt. The player navigates the character through a dark, slightly sinister environment that threatens to devour him as he tries to flee from the forces of his own guilt. The level resembles a mashup between the racing mechanic of “Temple Run” and the noir art style of “Badland.” The better the player performs, the richer the soundtrack for the song.
Is ‘Avengers’ shoot worth such a super hassle?
Korea JoongAng Daily
When Disney’s Marvel Studios decided to shoot part of the upcoming “Avengers” sequel in Seoul, the city government and state-run film agencies welcomed the decision with fanfare – and with rosy estimates about potential benefits from the elevation of Seoul’s image and the boost it will give to tourism.
But in the face of unprecedented traffic control on some of the city’s busiest districts for more than 10 days, some are questioning whether the government is offering too much support to the filming of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” at the expense of citizens’ convenience.
The areas that will be blocked off will include major bridges on the Han River such as Cheongdam and Mapo bridges, and important arteries near Gangnam subway station and Digital Media City (DMC) in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, starting from March 30 through April 13.
‘Professional’ Yoon Suk-min adjusting well to life with Baltimore Orioles: interpreter
Justin Yoo, a Korean-American interpreter for the Baltimore Orioles’ South Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min, has had a front-row seat on the player’s new life in the United States.
After nine mostly successful seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Yoon signed a three-year deal for US$5.575 million with the Orioles last month. Yoon was rushed to the team’s spring training, which had already been underway by the time he inked his contract, and he had to travel to Canada for a few days to receive his work permit before he was able to pitch in games.
Whether due to his lack of preparation or to the stiff competition for a spot on the big league club’s staff, Yoon was optioned to the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tide, after making his second preseason appearance last week.
S. Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong released by Chicago Cubs
South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong has been released by the Chicago Cubs, the Major League Baseball (MLB) team announced Tuesday, possibly opening the door for his return to the native land.
The Cubs’ official website stated that Lim was “granted his unconditional release” on Monday local time. The 37-year-old is now a free agent.
The right-hander with a sidearm delivery made his MLB debut last September, after a call-up from the minors. He had Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his pitching elbow in July 2012 and spent the first half of 2013 in rehab, before making his first minor league appearance in July.
Texas Rangers offer “Korean Discount”
The Texas Rangers, whose outfielder Choo Shin-soo is one of Korea’s biggest sports stars, will offer a heavy ticket discount for the approximately 85,000 Korean Americans residing in Dallas and Fort Worth.
The team has offered a 41 percent discount to Koreans for its monthly home games held at Arlington’s Globe Life Park, according to the Korean Society of Dallas on Monday.
Choo is expected to be a left-fielder for the Rangers, and the club will reserve 500 seats near the third base.
They provided tickets to the organization for the April 1 game at $30, which is 41 percent off the regular price of $51.
North Korea Skillfully Evades Sanctions, U.N. Panel Says
New York Times
Recent inspections and seizures of banned cargo have shown that North Korea is using increasingly deceptive techniques to circumvent international sanctions, a panel of experts said in a report to the United Nations Security Council published Tuesday.
After a series of nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests by North Korea over the past decade, the Security Council has adopted resolutions calling for increasingly vigorous sanctions aimed at crippling the North’s financial and technical capability to build weapons of mass destruction.
In its latest annual report, posted Tuesday on the United Nations website, the panel of eight experts said that North Korea has persisted in defying those resolutions not only by continuing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs but also by engaging in illegal arms trade.
Growing Chinese Influence Worries N.Korean Officials
There are “serious concerns” among some North Korean officials that North Korea could turn into a vassal state of China amid growing economic dependence on its sole ally, a defector said Monday.
Kim Chong-song, who under his real name used to be a senior member of the Workers Party, is the highest-ranking North Korean defector living in the South and spoke to media here for the first time.
“Without Chinese capital and goods, it would be impossible for the North Korean government to operate, and ordinary people would not be able to carry on with their daily lives,” Kim said. “North Korea grew so dependent on China in the 20 years of Kim Jong-il’s rule that it’s now impossible to construct buildings, grow farm produce, or sustain the regime without imports of Chinese materials, fertilizer and pesticides.”
S. Korean charity to send aid to N. Korea under tension
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
A South Korean charity announced on Tuesday it will provide aid for children and expectant mothers in impoverished North Korea, under lingering tensions on the peninsula.
ChildFund Korea said it will ship 200 tons worth of wheat flour and bean flour north of the border. It represents South Korea’s largest private aid to the North under President Park Geun-hye.
According to ChildFund Korea, North Korea has pledged to share the foodstuffs with about 23,000 children and 29,000 pregnant women.
Unified Korea would become world’s 8th largest economy by 2050: think tank
If North and South Korea were to unify within the next year, Korea would have the eighth largest economy in the world by 2050 with a per capita income exceeding that of Japan, a report by a local think tank claimed Tuesday.
According to Hyundai Research Institute (HRI), one of South Korea’s largest research institutions, unification would generate new growth engines and create a sizable domestic market that would make the country less reliant on overseas markets.
“The increase in population and market would make it possible to deal effectively with the drop in economic growth potential and the country’s weakness to external economic developments,” said Hong Soon-jick, head of the HRI’s unification economy center.
Canada, South Korea conclude long-delayed free trade deal
Canada and South Korea announced on Tuesday they had wrapped up talks on a long-delayed free trade deal which had stalled for years amid squabbles over exports of autos and beef.
The deal – outlined in a statement by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper – is particularly important for Canada, which is trying to cut its reliance on the U.S. market.
The agreement is the first Canada has concluded with a nation from Asia, a fast-growing part of the world that Ottawa is deliberately targeting.
Canada’s Trade Ministry says exports to South Korea in 2012 were worth C$3.7 billion ($3.4 billion) while imports from South Korea hit C$6.4 billion.
Pope Visit Caps Banner Year for Korean Catholics
Wall Street Journal
The Pope says he loves Korea. And to prove it, he’s making his first trip to the country later this year, adding to a recent string of coups for South Korea’s Catholics.
On Monday, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis would visit in August, marking the popular pontiff’s first trip to Asia since he was elected pope, a year ago this week.
The papal visit, the first to South Korea since John Paul II’s visit in 1989, is the latest — and biggest — coup for South Korea’s Catholic church this year, which generally keeps a lower profile than the country’s Protestants.
SBS Hands Over Footage in Dating-Show Suicide
Broadcaster SBS has handed over raw footage from the blind-date program “Jjak” to police after a contestant killed herself during filming on Jeju Island last week.
A police spokesman said investigators want to check whether the woman suffered “undue pressure or humiliation” during filming of the typically adversarial program.
The contestants on the show, a Korean version of U.S. program “The Bachelor,” are herded together in a hotel for weeks and filmed practically every waking moment.
LA Web Festival to screen ‘Kimchi Warrior’ animation
Kimchi superhero animation will screen at one of the largest U.S. web series festivals.
According to the LAWEBFEST 2014, Korea-born director Kang Young-man’s “Kimchi Warrior” episodes are included in its final play list for the five-day event scheduled for March 26-30. It is the first time that a Korean director has been invited to the festival.
Kang’s two episodes, each running 5-6 minutes, contain blend of martial arts, comedy, and the promotion of good health. Web series are three-to-six minute-long serialized videos in various genres that are rapidly spread through YouTube and SNSs.
“It is a unique blend of martial arts, comedy, and the promotion of good health. Based on the premise of ‘Popeye,’ our hero obtains supernatural strength by consuming the most prominent Korean dish to defend mankind from the world’s most notorious diseases such as swine flu, mad cow disease, malaria and SARS,” Kang, director of L.A.-based YMK Films, said in a statement on its website.
In second camp, Dodgers and Ryu more comfortable
The Dodgers use the word “comfortable” so much to describe pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu this Spring Training compared to last, you’d think he’s throwing from a Barcalounger.
The fact is, it’s the Dodgers who are more comfortable this Spring with Ryu.
Last Spring, they had a rocky honeymoon. Ryu reported out of shape, unaware that Major Leaguers are expected to be ready from Day One of camp and not work themselves into fitness.
He believed the six-year, $36 million contract he signed to leave Korea assured him a spot in the starting rotation. Management, though, got a little worried as he struggled in exhibition games and began talking about “competing” for a job.
IOC admits misquoting Yuna
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) admitted that a quote attributed to figure skater Kim Yuna was fabricated in a news story published on its website during the recent Sochi Olympics.
“It was originally written by one of our ‘young reporters’ (young trainee reporters from the Youth Olympic Games), but Kim Yuna’s agent contacted us to say she felt that the quote was not accurate,” IOC media relations manager Sandrine Tonge told The Korea Times on Monday.
“We felt it was better to remove it since this was not integral to the story and we wanted to be accurate.”
Stargazers Witness Close Encounter
A bright shining object in the skies captivated observers in Suwon on Sunday night. Experts say it was probably a shooting star.
The object blazed across the night sky for some moments before crashing to earth.
Several videos capturing the scene from in-car systems were posted on social networking sites.
On Monday morning, a black rock measuring 25 by 50 cm and presumed to be part of a meteorite was found in a greenhouse in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province.
Korean Emoticons Infographic
Dom & Hyo
Check out this super cute infographic about Korean emoticons. This useful guide will show you some new ones, for sure.
World’s Largest Asymmetrical Building to Open in Seoul
Wall Street Journal
Seoul unveils to the public next Friday what is likely to be South Korea’s most controversial building in recent memory.
Designed by Pritzker-winning Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the seven-story Dongdaemun Design Plaza is the world’s largest asymmetrical free form building, according to its operator Seoul Design Foundation. With a floor area of 86,574 square meters (931,875 square feet), the structure spans three underground levels and four above ground, and occupies a site of more than 25,000 square meters — equivalent to 3.5 soccer fields.
The building’s exterior is noted for its grass-covered tops and its 45,133 aluminum panels, each individually shaped.
Built on a historic site adjacent to the ancient capital’s east gate, the structure contains exhibition spaces and conference centers as well as workshops and boutiques. The shows for the 2014 Fall/Winter Seoul Fashion Week will take place at its opening next Friday.
The North Korean Purge That Didn’t Happen
Wall Street Journal
Call it a helpful reminder that much of what you hear about North Korea is probably not true.
A senior North Korean military official close to dictator Kim Jong Un reemerged in state media on Friday after disappearing from public view for a few weeks. Speculation had been building that Choe Ryong Hae might have been purged after a report from a radio station operated by North Korean defectors that Mr. Choe was arrested on Feb. 21.
The report said Mr. Choe had fallen short in his duties to keep troops sufficiently devoted to Mr. Kim, among other failings.
North Korean election provides clues to reclusive Stalinist state
Reading the official website of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and you would be forgiven for thinking the reclusive Stalinist state was the Cayman Islands of East Asia.
No taxes, zero unemployment and a performance-related reward-for-labor bonus regime, North Korea touts itself as having “a people-centered social system in which the masses of the working people are the masters of everything and everything in society serves them.”
This Sunday, North Koreans will be required to show their assent for this political system at general elections universally expected to return the current incumbent Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang’s Hunger Games
New York Times
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry’s report on North Korea, released last month, contains so many tragic findings that it is difficult to grasp the scale of the crimes described. But the world owes it to the North Korean victims, both living and dead, to focus on a figure buried in paragraph 664 of the commission’s report: $645,800,000.
That is what the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, is said to have squandered in 2012 on “luxury goods,” including cosmetics, handbags, leather products, watches, electronics, cars and top-shelf alcohol. In that same year, Mr. Kim also spent $1.3 billion on his ballistic missile programs.
Mr. Kim’s profligacy should be weighed against two other statistics absent from the commission’s report. The first is $150 million. That is what the United Nations World Food Program asked donor nations to give for food and other humanitarian aid for North Koreans in 2013. The second is 84 — the percentage of North Korean households that, according to the W.F.P. and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, had “borderline” or “poor” levels of food consumption in 2013.
Four U.S. congressmen urge reunions of divided Korean-American families
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
Four U.S. congressmen submitted a resolution to a House committee calling for the reunion of Koreans in the United States with their long-lost families in North Korea, according to the Library of Congress.
The measure was sponsored by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Howard Coble (R-NC), John Conyers (D-MI) and Samuel Johnson (R-TX), all Korean War veterans.
“The division on the Korean Peninsula separated more than 10,000,000 Korean family members, including some who are now citizens of the United States,” said the resolution, referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs Thursday.
Japan’s Uphill PR Battle
Japan is involved in a worsening quarrel with its two neighbors, China and South Korea, not only concerning sovereignty over some tiny islets, but also its alleged tendency to whitewash its history of military aggression and brutal colonial rule.
One of the major points of antagonism is the issue of “comfort women” (or “sex slaves” as an angry Hillary Clinton called them), namely women in Japan-occupied Asia who were forced into prostitution serving Japanese soldiers. Despite the 1993 Kono Statement in which the Japanese government admitted that Japan’s military had coerced these women, a recent rise of nationalism has led a majority of Japanese to deny any such thing, giving rise to suspicion that Japan is again refusing to take responsibility for its war crimes.
On this issue, the Koreans are more militant than the Chinese and political ties between Tokyo and Seoul have been frozen since the hawkish Shinzo Abe returned to power, and has hardly bothered to hide his aim of repealing past Japanese admissions of sin regarding the comfort women. The right-wing prime minister actually represents a growing number of Japanese who believe that Japan did nothing wrong in the last world war and that the comfort women were only professional prostitutes. These Japanese are fed up with the Korean and Chinese demands for apologies and compensation.
Washington City Paper
Lobbyists have wet dreams about this scenario.
You’ve mobilized an entire constituent group, 80,000 potential swing voters in a swing state. It’s a growing immigrant population with a profile coveted by politicians: well-educated, relatively prosperous, suburb-dwelling, beholden to no party. State legislators and gubernatorial candidates meet with you and come to any press events you organize. They are prepared to speechify about whatever issue you tell them is dear to your community, and pledge that your cause is their cause. Any issue at all.
What do you tell them?
If you are Peter Kim, president of the Virginia-based Voice of Korean Americans, you tell them what your community really wants—more than anything—is for any reference in any school textbook to the body of water that lies between the Korean peninsula and Japan, commonly called the Sea of Japan, to say that it’s also known as the East Sea.
Flushing man to offer free meds, barber trims to the needy
New York Daily News
He wants to snip away at poverty. A Flushing man who gave away free bowls of soup to the poor at a Korean restaurant last month now has his sights set on the barber’s chair as a way to help out Queens’ neediest.
Jin Kim, 38, is working with a local pharmacy to hand out free meds and Queens barbershops to offer gratis haircuts.
“Not only me, a lot of people need help,” said Kim, a Korean-American immigrant and John Jay College Ph.D student who got the idea to start a charity when he first arrived in Queens 12 years ago and struggled to survive. “I think some people have more. Maybe they will share a little bit and help everyone. I want to be the connection.”
For Korean Kids, Mobile Chat Rules
Wall Street Journal
The verdict is still out on whether teens and tweens are a reliable predictor of tech trends, but if South Korean school kids make a good benchmark, chat is king.
A recently-released poll by the National Youth Policy Institute, a Seoul-based public research center, shows that the most frequently used feature among students in grades four to 12 on their smartphones was local messenger apps such as KakaoTalk and Line. Over a quarter – one third for girls – said it was their most-used feature.
The overall runner-up in the November survey was games (15.6%), followed by making calls (14.8%) and music (12.8%). Just 6.8% of the 10,000 students surveyed said social media was their most-used application, the same percentage as said browsing the Internet was what they do most on their phones.
S. Korean Dream Line: Rail Link Via N.Korean Eco Zone To Russia
Imagine a railroad linking the great industries of South Korea with Europe. The dream might some day come true as the South drafts elaborate plans for shipping goods through North Korea’s Rason special economic zone adjacent to the North’s 10-mile-long Tumen River border with Russia.
The South Koreans have the enthusiastic support of the Russians, who have long dreamed of shipping goods by rail from South Korean factories, through North Korea and then onto the trans-Siberian railway. They’ve already rebuilt the railroad into North Korea over which they once shipped oil and other products at prices way below their real costs.
The oil stopped flowing with the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, but Russia has never abandoned its historic interest in the Korean peninsula.
Police seek help in locating missing Staten Island man
Staten Island Advance (N.Y.)
Police seek the public’s help in ascertaining the whereabouts of a 60-year-old New Springville man reported missing on Thursday.
Kang Ok Cho was last seen two week ago on Friday, Feb. 21 at about 6 p.m., according to a written statement from the office of the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for public information. He was leaving for his job at a Flushing, Queens, car service, said an NYPD spokeswoman.
The reason for the delay in the report being made was not immediately clear.
TV Soap Revives Korean Craze in China
Korean soap “My Love from the Star,” about a woman’s romance with an alien, has taken China by storm, sparking fads for anything from food to books.
The Bibigo chain of Korean restaurants launched a new dish in outlets in Beijing on Wednesday consisting of fried chicken, pickled radishes and two bottles of beer, which is a popular combination among Koreans.
“We decided to add the new item to our menus due to the explosive popularity of ‘chi-maek’” — the Korean abbreviation for the combo.
So what’s going on here then? Jessica Gomes’ goofy snap with Walking Dead star Steven Yeun’s sparks romance rumours
Daily Mail (U.K.)
She split from her long term boyfriend Sebastian Drapac a few months ago, and now it looks like Australian model Jessica Gomes could be back on the dating scene.
The 28-year-old David Jones fashion ambassador posted a goofy candid photo of herself and 30-year-old Walking Dead actor Steven Yeun on Instagram earlier today, sparking speculation of a new romance.
The pair playfully pulled their tongues out, and fans commented asking if the model and actor were dating.
Iowa City native connects two cultures in film debut
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Christine Yoo made her first movie as a student at Shimek Elementary.
“In my reading group, we wrote and shot a construction animation piece about finding King Tut’s tomb,” she said, recalling that she was inspired by her art teacher, Mr. Ferguson.
Years later, the former Iowa City resident has made her first full-length feature film with “Wedding Palace,” a movie about a young Korean American man dumped at the altar and facing a family curse that requires all family members to marry before they turn 30. The film strives to connect two cultures.
Yoo said the movie has been described as the Korean-American version of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
An account of Kim Yuna backstage at Olympics; Netizens moved
‘Yuna cried a lot backstage. That was why the awards ceremony was a bit delayed.’
In contrast with her calm appearance after the women’s singles figure skating competition, ‘figure skating queen’ Kim Yuna (24) looked extremely sad backstage and shed many tears, according to an eyewitness account that was uploaded to the Internet. It has caught the attention of many people, and many netizens are crying together.
In a popular Internet community on the 3rd of March, a post titled ‘Kim Yuna is a delicate athlete after all’ has recorded a high number of hits and has gained a lot of public interest.
10 Personality Traits about Koreans You Should Know!
The most Korean of athletes are always nationalistic. Whether it be olympians that dedicate their victories to their home country, or MMA fighters that dedicate their wins to the Independence Day of Korea (UFC Fight Night 37), nearly all Korean athletes are loyal to their country. Koreans are raised to put their country before themselves, and that leads to nationalistic activists that fight for Korea’s ownership of the Dokdo Islands (aka Liancourt Rocks), expansion of Korea’s airspace territory, or even Koreans abroad fighting for renaming of the Sea of Japan (contested as the East Sea). Koreans are bred to be nationalistic, mostly with the phrase: Daehanminguk manse (대한민국 만세)! Victory to Korea!
South Korea is definitely on the forefront when it comes to the term “Save the Earth”! We always try to save on energy and recycling. The Korean government initiated a program throughout the country back in 2005 that tries to limit green house gases by conserving the energy costs of businesses through the Cool Biz program. Korea also takes its recycling programs serious! Bio-waste matter (left over food) is recycled through yellow plastic bags that are meant specifically for compost matter (which is rumored to be super eco-friendly and fed to pigs!). In addition, everything is separated by glass, plastic, cardboard and cans. And if you don’t believe us, watch your trash not get picked up!
Tate Modern buys first collection of Paik Nam-june works
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
The Tate Modern gallery in London said Friday it has bought its first ever collection of works by late Korean-born American media artist Paik Nam-june and will put the new collection on display in the second half of this year.
Tate Modern, which mainly houses international modern and contemporary art from the 20th and 21st century, acquired nine media art pieces and video installations by Paik, the gallery said.
It added the purchase was funded by South Korea’s largest automaker Hyundai Motor Co. as part of a bilateral partnership deal signed between the two sides in January. The items will go on display in the second half of this year at the gallery, the gallery said.
Free Oriental Medicine clinic this Saturday in O.C.
The Korean American Federation of Orange County will offer free oriental medicine treatments and medical consultation at the Orange County Korean Cultural Center from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
Appointments are required due to the limited time.
Acupuncture treatment with a moxa system, as well as consultation, will be aided by Dr. Han Choong-hee, who operates an acupuncture clinic in Irvine.
North Korea’s Weapon of Choice: The Fax Machine
Wall Street Journal
North Korea has ramped up the rhetoric against South Korea again through its weapon of choice this year: the fax machine.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Friday a letter from the North’s National Defense Commission addressed to the South’s presidential office was faxed early Thursday via the military communication link between the two sides, threatening a “merciless” attack on South Korea.
The letter objected to the “repeated extra-large provocations to North Korea’s highest dignity taking place in the middle of Seoul” and warned of “a merciless retaliation without warning,” according to ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok.
Kim Jong-un’s Aunt ‘Seriously Ill’
Kim Kyong-hui, the wife of executed North Korean eminence grise Jang Song-taek, and aunt of leader Kim Jong-un, has had long-term treatment in Russia for heart problems but her health apparently continues to deteriorate, sources claim.
A source in Beijing said Kim was in Russia for some 40 days due to heart problems and returned to Pyongyang last month. The source added Kim’s condition is “serious.”
Her brother, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and father, nation founder Kim Il-sung, both died of heart attacks, making it likely that the disease is genetic.
I’ll look after myself: Korean man Min Tae Kim told friends before death
Courier Mail (Australia)
JUST weeks before heading home Min Tae Kim assured friends he would look after himself.
His two-year Australian adventure was coming to an end and friends were planning a welcome home get-together in Seoul.
With his itinerary posted on Facebook his friend ChanKwan Park wrote: “Please be careful until you come back.”
Chinese Respondents Top Materialism Poll
New York Times
A global poll of attitudes toward wealth has found what many domestic critics allege already: Chinese today are just too materialistic.
The survey was conducted by the French market research company Ipsos in September and polled more than 16,000 adults in 20 countries.
Chinese respondents topped the list in measuring success by their possessions, coming in more than double the global average, according to the results published last week. Seventy-one percent of Chinese respondents agreed with the statement “I measure my success by the things I own,” far higher than respondents from its East Asian neighbors South Korea, at 45 percent, and Japan, 22 percent. Respondents from developed economies generally disagreed with the statement. Just over 20 percent of Americans and Canadians agreed and only 7 percent of Swedes.
After 2 years, Jeon finds way home
Korea Joongang Daily
Actress Jeon Do-yeon, one of Korea’s most awarded stars, returned to the big screen for the first time in two years with “Way Back Home.”
In the film, Jeon plays an ordinary homemaker named Song Jeong-yeon, who is duped into carrying large bags of illegal drugs into France but is eventually caught at the border.
Based on the true story of a Korean housewife who got caught at an airport in France in 2004, the film influenced Jeon to strive toward realism.
Spike Lee’s “Oldboy”: Revenge is a dish best served Korean
Spike Lee’s Oldboy, a remake of the 2003 Korean film of the same name, is lacking a crucial element of the original Park Chan-wook version: it’s not Korean. It’s one thing to make a revenge movie—but only a Korean director can make a revenge meditation, a laser-sharp focus on a base, reptilian urge with that offers no redemption or satisfaction that justice has been done. Vengeance is part of the Korean collective unconscious, an ultra-distilled form of rage so unique that the Korean language has its own, nearly untranslatable word for it: han. In the han universe, characters don’t suffer or become evil because of early trauma: they suffer because life is horrible.
This is the driving force behind Park’s “Revenge Trilogy,” of which Oldboy is the second installment. Winning the 2004 Gran Prix at Cannes, the film became a cult classic worldwide, aided by the vociferous support of Cannes jury member, Quentin Tarantino. Based loosely on the Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo, Oldboy tells the lurid tale of a slovenly everyman, Oh Dae-soo, who is abducted and held captive in a private prison. When Oh is finally released 15 years later, for reasons as mysterious as his imprisonment, he is importuned by a smelly homeless man who hands him a cell phone and a wallet stuffed with cash. The cell phone rings. Oh answers it. It is his captor, daring Oh to find out what why he was imprisoned. What ensues is a glorious duet of mutual vengeance between two men, each of whom is simultaneously captor and prey.
Shin-Soo Choo’s special skill
ESPN Insider (Subscription Required)
If you find it strange that the Yankees offered the same number of contractual years to Shin-Soo Choo as they did to Robinson Cano, it’s worth remembering that Choo possesses a skill that does not disappear as quickly as defense or speed or fastball velocity.
The man has an acute ability to take a walk, and the folks who can do this tend to age well — a tremendous talking point for his agent, Scott Boras, especially as he talks to American League teams, who can envision Choo going through his golden years as a designated hitter.
Choo is 31 years old and his outfield range is generally regarded as below average but playable, at this stage is in his career. His declining power against left-handed pitchers has raised concerns.
Seoul, Beijing Find New Common Ground Against Tokyo
Wall Street Journal
History quite literally shapes the present in northeast Asia, where leaders refuse to let the past rest in peace as they tap into this infinite source of conflict – so much so that Japan seems unable to escape the diplomatic quagmire that it’s in with China and South Korea.
But while the source of the current strain between Japan and its neighbors tended to be territorial rows or about mid-20th century aggression by the imperial army and how the current Japanese leaders continue to offend, Seoul and Beijing have recently decided to go further back in time to denounce Japan, possibly driving the schism deeper between Asia’s top economic powerhouses.
On Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye thanked a visiting senior Chinese official for the progress made for a monument in Harbin, China, commemorating the 1909 assassination of Hirobumi Ito, who presided over the Korean Peninsula as governor when it was a colonial protectorate of Japan’s.
Japan envoy urges attention on Tokyo efforts to help comfort women
South Korea should acknowledge Japan’s efforts to help Korean women sexually victimized by Japan in the early 20th century, Japanese ambassador to Seoul said Tuesday, calling for cooperation in resolving the tricky issue.
“Acknowledging Japan’s efforts and taking a cooperative attitude are important in order to solve the issue of comfort women for Japanese soldiers,” Koro Bessho said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency to mark his one year on the job.
The Japanese government made efforts in the 1990s to help the female victims, establishing an Asian women’s fund to help them, sending apology letters to each of the victims and providing medical support for them, Bessho said. “But such efforts have not been properly assessed in South Korea.”
Seoul unveils lists of Korean victims of anti-Japan uprising, massacre
South Korea on Tuesday made public decades-old official lists of Koreans killed by colonial Japan during its independence movement in 1919 and victims of Tokyo’s massacre following a powerful earthquake four years later.
According to the National Archives of Korea, a registry recently found in the country’s embassy in Japan showed detailed information about 630 Koreans killed during the March 1 national uprising against its colonial rule in 1919.
The Korean Peninsula was under Japan’s brutal colonial rule from 1910-45.
Currently, a total of 391 people are officially recognized as victims of the independence movement.
The Fall of the House of Moon
: Sex rituals, foreign spies, Biden offspring, and the Unification Church’s war-torn first family
In Jin [Moon] had assumed control of the U.S. church at a precarious moment for Moon’s religious empire. Her father had come to the United States from Korea nearly 40 years earlier, aiming to “subjugate” America as the first phase in a plan to establish a new world order. Moon had gone on to amass extraordinary political influence, building a vast network of powerful right-wing organizations and forging alliances with every Republican presidential administration since Ronald Reagan’s. In 2004, he and his wife even staged an elaborate coronation ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, which at least a dozen lawmakers attended.1 Republican Roscoe Bartlett bowed down before the couple, and Democrat Danny Davis carried in one of two golden crowns that were placed on their heads. Moon then informed the audience that “kings and presidents” had declared him “humanity’s savior” and that Jesus, Buddha, Hitler, and Stalin had been “reborn as new persons” through his teachings.
But in recent years, Moon’s plans to remake America and salvage humanity had run into trouble. Followers had drifted away; his political influence had ebbed. With his ninetieth birthday approaching, he increasingly looked to his children to preserve his life’s work.
For Korean students, it is Harvard, MIT all the way
Korea Times US
No matter how trends change, it is still Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology all the way for Korean students.
That has held true even as the number of Korean students heading overseas for their studies has dwindled due to the ongoing economic downturn.
Despite a small reduction in the number of students heading to foreign countries, the ranks of those choosing top universities in the United States are still going strong.
Family’s future in Canada uncertain due to work permit wait
CBC News (Canada)
A man who brought his family to Winnipeg from South Korea five years ago says their future in Canada is uncertain due to immigration bureaucracy.
Kyung Sung Kim says he has been waiting for Citizenship and Immigration Canada to renew his work permit since it expired 2½ years ago.
While Kim, a carpenter, has been allowed to continue working in the interim, he said waiting so long to get his work permit renewed has been difficult for his family.
German game developer calls addiction bill ‘joke’
Khaled Helioui, CEO of Bigpoint, a Germany-based game developer, argues that a proposed bill on game addiction will hurt Korea’s gaming industry.
“This bill could be quite a big threat to the online game industry,” Helioui said during a recent interview. “The government might be putting at risk something they have built over the last 10 years.”
The bill was proposed by Rep. Shin Eui-jin of the ruling Saenuri Party on April 30 and places Internet games in the same category of addictive activities as drugs, alcohol and gambling.
Chinese Tourists in Seoul Spend Most on Shopping
Most Chinese tourists stay in Seoul for six days and spend an average of $250 a day, according to a recent survey. The results are based on a poll of 2.22 million Chinese who visited the country in 2011.
The results showed that 91.1 percent stayed in the capital for an average of six days and spent $250 a day, mostly on shopping.
Their favorite destinations were Myeong-dong (69.2 percent) and Dongdaemun market (66.7 percent).
‘Snowpiercer’ Wins Big at South Korean Film Critics Awards
Bong Joon Ho’s sci-fi blockbuster Snowpiercer won best film at the 33rd Korean Association of Film Critics (KAFC) Awards on Monday. It also took home best director and best cinematography.
Set in a dystopian future, Snowpiercer is one of the year’s highest-grossing films, with over 9.3 million admissions. It is most expensive Korean film to date. Bong’s first English-language film — starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton — it was also sold to a record 167 countries.
Hallyu is more than K-pop: Korean jazz artists gaining global attention
Korea Times US
Jazz is not a style of music for everyone’s taste and seldom sees commercial success — at least in Korea where K-pop is dominating the music industry.
Under this mercantile environment unfavorable to diverse musical genres here, some jazz musicians are turning their eyes to overseas fans, making a splash in the international jazz scene. Jazz songstress Nah Youn-sun and duo Winterplay are solidifying their strong fan bases around the world.
Son Heung-min Ranked Among Top Rated Young Players in Europe
Bayer Leverkusen’s Son Heung-min has been named one of the five top rated players aged 21 or under in Europe’s top five leagues this season by WhoScored.com.
The site, which collects statistics on the English, French, German, Italian and Spanish leagues, announced its verdict on Friday.
Its top five players were Brazil’s Neymar of Barcelona, Switzerland’s Ricardo Rodriguez of Wolfsburg, Italy’s Luca Antei of Sassuolo, France’s Paul Pogba of Juventus, and Son.
Cal’s Kim competing at Q-School this week
The 2012-13 Haskins award winner Michael Kim is competing in second stage of Web.com Tour Q-School, Nov. 19-22. The California junior will compete as an amateur at Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, Calif.
Kim is exempt into second stage of Q-School after his 17th-place finish in June at the U.S. Open at Merion, which earned him low-amateur honors.
Kim and fellow first-team All-Americans – Daniel Berger and James Erkenbeck – are also competing in second stage this week. Berger, who turned professional after his sophomore season at Florida State, will play at Southern Hills Plantation in Brooksville, Fla., and Erkenbeck, who graduated from New Mexico, will play with Kim out in California.