Tag Archives: china

JYJ

PSY, JYJ and EXO Headline Electric Incheon Asian Games Opening Ceremony

by JAMES S. KIM

South Korea knows how to party, and the host country put on one heck of a show to kick off the 2014 Incheon Asian Games earlier today at the sparkling new Incheon Asiad Main Stadium. The three-hour event marked the beginning of the 16-day games, which will showcase around 10,000 athletes in 36 sports.

Celebrities and stars kept the ceremony in high gear for all 60,000 people in attendance. Boy band EXO began the festivities with performances of their hits “Growl” and “Wolf.” Opera singer Jo Sumi sang “The Song of Asiad,” based on a poem written by renowned poet Ko Un, and the always-popular “Arirang.”

The crowd went crazy for My Love from the Stars‘ leading man Kim Soo-hyun and fellow actor Jang Dong-gun. Who better to convey a message of togetherness among Asian countries than these two pan-Asian stars?

Well, perhaps, international superstars PSY, JYJ and South Korean actress Lee Young-ae, who is widely known for her role in the hit Korean drama Daejanggeum.

Xiah Junsu, Yoochun and Jaejoong of JYJ took the stage in what had to be an incredibly rare Korean television appearance since breaking away from TVXQ years ago. There was no question the guys still have it–they performed “Empty,” then the official Incheon song “Only One” as South Korean sports legends, past and present, carried the torch around the stadium.

 
After the torch passed from athlete to athlete, including baseball slugger “the Lion King” Lee Seung-yeop, golf superstar Inbee Park, speed-skating icon Lee Kyu-hyuk, basketball legend Park Chan-sook, and then tennis giant Lee Hyung-taek, Lee Young-ae and two children lit the flame to mark the beginning of the games.

To close the performances, PSY hearkened back to 2012 (has it already been that long?) with a signature nothing-held-back performance of “Gangnam Style” and a remix of “Champion,” the latter a collaboration with Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

 
The show definitely wasn’t 2008 Beijing, but it didn’t have to be.

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China Executes 2 SKoreans for Drug Trafficking Crimes

by JULIE HA

Demonstrating its absolute, zero-tolerance policy for drug crimes, Chinese authorities this week executed two South Korean men convicted of trafficking drugs from North Korea.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry confirmed that the two citizens—a 53-year-old surnamed Kim and a 45-year-old surnamed Baek—were executed on Aug. 6, after being sentenced to death this past March by the Intermediate People’s Court in Baishan City, in Jilin Province, reported the Korean news site, The Hankyoreh.

Their crimes date back to 2011, when Kim was reportedly caught smuggling 14.8 kilograms of the methamphetamine, philopon, into China. Authorities said Baek purchased 12.3 kilograms of it.

Jilin Province, located in the northeastern part of China and sharing a border with North Korea, is notorious for drug trading between the two countries.

South Korean authorities apparently tried to appeal to the Chinese government to stop the executions, but to no avail. “The government provided all consular support starting from when the two men were caught,” said South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Noh Kwang-il, according to The Hankyoreh report. “After they were sentenced to death, the government also made requests at various levels to have the death penalty waived on humanitarian grounds.”

The executions were consistent with China’s harsh policy on drug offenders. Citizens from England, Japan and the Philippines have also been executed for drug offenses in the last five years, according to The Hankyoreh.

Another South Korean, arrested in the Shandong district in eastern China for drug smuggling in 2009, is currently awaiting execution, according to the International Business Times.

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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

Arirang-Musicians

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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