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kcon guests

Korean Celebs Daniel Henney, Kim Soo-hyun to Attend KCON L.A. 2015

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Just as comic book, film and TV fans are soaking up pop culture galore at San Diego Comic-Con this week, Hallyu fans will have a chance to meet their idols at KCON 2015 later this month.

KCON announced Thursday that actors Kim Soo-hyun, Daniel Henney, Ki Hong Lee and Son Ho-jun will be joining the convention’s L.A. lineup. From July 31 to Aug.2, the star-studded convention will host autograph sessions, workshops, celebrity panels and concerts.

Best known for his role in the wildly popular South Korean drama My Love from Another Star, Kim Soo-hyun is one of the biggest names in Hallyu today. The 27-year-old actor first rose to fame after starring in the musical drama Dream High. He recently wrapped his latest project The Producers, a mockumentary set in a Korean broadcasting company.

Daniel Henney is a household name among K-drama and Hollywood fans. Born in Michigan to a Korean adoptee mother and a American father, Henney first rose to fame in Korea after playing a charismatic surgeon in the popular 2005 drama My Lovely Sam Soon. Since then, he has starred in films and TV series in both sides of the world, including roles in X-Men OriginsWolverineBig Hero 6 and My Father. Henney will be making his U.S. television comeback as a series regular in Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.

Ki Hong Lee has been enjoying rising popularity since starring in The Maze Runner last year. After honing his acting chops in various Wong Fu shorts and ABC Family’s The Nine Lives of Chloe King, Lee currently plays the love interest in the Netflix comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. He returns to the silver screen this year in The Stanford Prison Experiment and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.

Son Ho-jun has garnered several Best New Actor nominations for portraying the character “Haitai” in the 2013 drama Reply 1994. Since then, the singer-turned-actor has appeared as a regular and guest star in popular Korean variety shows, including Running Man and Youth Over Flowers.

This year, KCON will be held in both coasts, with over 90 celebrities slated to attend. In L.A., K-pop artists Super Junior, Shinhwa, Zion.T & Crush, Got7, SISTAR, Roy Kim, Block B and AOA will perform at the Staples Center on Aug. 1 and 2. Meanwhile, Girls Generation, Teen Top and VIXX will headline the New York concert.

To learn more about KCON 2015, visit the official website here. Last year, KoreAm interviewed girl group SPICA during the U.S. debut at KCON 2014. You can watch the interview below:

See Also


Devotion of K-pop Fans on Full Display at Day 1 of KCON 2014

March 2013 Cover Story: Daniel Henney


Featured image via KCON and Daum 

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daniel henney

Korean American Stars with Their Adorable Dogs

Happy National Puppy Day! To celebrate this wonderful holiday, here are some photos of Korean American talents with their loyal, fluffy companions.

Jamie Chung with Ewok

Jamie Chung and EwokPhoto via Daily Mail

Jamie Chung adopted her furry companion Ewok from the Saving Spot Rescue shelter earlier this month. The pup is already famous on social media, thanks to the Chung’s bustling Instagram.

Daniel Henney with Mango

daniel-henney_1386093013_af_orgPhoto via Daniel Henney/Instagram

Just when you think Daniel Henney couldn’t get any more dashing, he snuggles with a puppy.

Arden Cho with Chewy

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 4.43.44 PMPhoto via Arden Cho/Instagram

Teen Wolf‘s Arden Cho loves to post videos and pictures of her pup Chewy on YouTube and her social media outlets. Chewy is a Pekinese-Shiz Tzu mix.

David Choi 

David-Choi-Photo-1024x682Photo via David Choi/tumblr

According to singer-songwriter David Choi, his dog Pepper was terrified when they were posing for this picture. Poor thing.

Tiffany Hwang of Girls’ Generation 

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 5.07.42 PMPhoto via Tiffany Hwang/Instagram

Tiffany’s cute puppy is very photogenic as he often graces magazine covers with the K-pop singer.

Ki Hong Lee 

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 4.51.17 PMPhoto via Ki Hong Lee/Instagram

If you take a peek at Maze Runner star Ki Hong Lee’s Instagram, you’ll find several photos of his fluff pup looking adorably unamused by Lee’s antics.

Aubrey Anderson-Emmons 

CAjjUmfUcAAm0xoPhoto via Aubrey Anderson-Emmons/Twitter

Modern Family star Aubrey Anderson-Emmons lounges with her two dogs Bob Barker and Pismo.

Steven Yeun with Agnes


Steven Yeun’s dog, Agnes, is a 20-pound Golden Retriever-Poodle-Bichon mix. Agnes is a longtime companion of the Walking Dead star, since she accompanied him on his move from Michigan to Los Angeles.

Eric Nam 

eric nam and puppyPhoto via Eric Nam/Instagram

Fun fact: This isn’t even Eric Nam’s dog. The caption for this photo read, “PUPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want a dog ㅠㅠ.” It’s safe to say that the K-pop singer is a serious dog-lover.


Featured image via Daniel Henney/Instagram


Win a ‘Big Hero 6′ Blu-ray by Telling Us Your Unconventional Superpower

Superheroes come in all shapes, sizes and personalities, and there probably isn’t a more eclectic group of crime fighters than the members of Big Hero 6. But what if you were part of the team? What would you bring to the table?

Here’s your chance to win a free copy of the Big Hero 6 Blu-ray: Collector’s Edition, which includes a DVD and Digital Copy. The disc includes the origin story of Big Hero 6, deleted scenes, Easter eggs and interviews with the animators who brought the film’s vibrant characters to life.

How to Enter the Giveaway

KoreAm Journal and Audrey Magazine want you to experience this movie for yourself, so we will be giving away eight copies of the Blu-ray to those who give the best answers to this question:

“If you could be a member of Big Hero 6, what would be your unconventional superpower?” 

* You can give your answer in the comment section below via Disqus, in the comment section of this article’s Facebook post or tweet at @KoreAm with the hashtag #balalala.

* Then, enter your email at our contest page to complete your registration. Your email will not be stored, nor will be used for any other purpose besides this contest.

* Winners will be chosen based on the creativity of their answer and will be notified through email.

For those of you who don’t win, don’t worry—you can still get all the Baymax you want by purchasing the Big Hero 6 Blu-ray, which is now on sale everywhere. We will be accepting contest submissions until Friday, March 6.

Rules and Disclaimers: Participants must be 18 years or older and live in the United States. Residents of Hawaii and Alaska are eligible for this contest. We value your privacy. Your personal information will be kept confidential and will never be shared with third parties. It will only be used for communications related to this contest.


Featured image courtesy of Disney

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‘Big Hero 6′ Wins Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Although the 87th Academy Awards were criticized for being the “whitest” Oscars since 1998, Asian Americans held their breath and cheered as they watched Disney’s Big Hero 6 win Best Animated Feature on Sunday night.

Set in the fictional metropolis of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 tells the story of a hapa Asian American teen prodigy and his marshmallow-like robot, Baymax. The animated film not only features multicultural characters but also a multiracial cast, including the voices of Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney and Jamie Chung.

While casting Asian Americans in animated films is nothing new to Disney, it’s an open secret that Hollywood has a long history of casting Caucasian actors in Asian roles. This includes live action films, such as Dragonball: Evolution, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the upcoming Ghost in the Shell film adaptation.

So, when the envelope was opened and Big Hero 6 was named Best Animated Feature of 2015, Asian Americans took to Twitter to celebrate the film’s win and bring attention to Hollywood’s lack of diversity.

Big Hero 6 will release on DVD/Blu-ray on Feb. 24, 2015.


Recommended Reading:

Voices of Asian American Talent Featured in Disney’s Big Hero 6” by KoreAm Journal

Big Hero 6 Animators Discuss Their Creative Process” by KoreAm Journal

[VIDEO] Audrey Magazine Interviews Daniel Henney & Ryan Potter” by Audrey Magazine

Film Review: Big Hero 6 Charms in Predictably Disney Fashion” by KoreAm Journal

Big Hero 6‘s Ryan Potter Discusses Playing Hiro, Why He Wants to Be Nightwing” by ComicBook.com


Featured image via Greek Fire/Twitter


Daniel Henney Cast in ‘Criminal Minds’ Spin-off

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Daniel Henney has been cast in the upcoming spinoff of CBS’ popular American police-procedural series, Criminal Minds.

The untitled spin-off will center on FBI agent Jack Garrett, played by Gary Sinise, who leads a team of operatives that aids American citizens who find themselves in trouble overseas. Henney will be portraying expert profiler Matt Simmons, a charismatic family man and an army brat who grew up abroad. Deadline further describes him as “the kind of guy you would follow into battle, and his split second profiling skills honed on the battlefield make him a crucial part of the team.”

Other actors who have been confirmed to be a part of the cast includes Breaking Bad‘s Anna Gunn and The Walking Dead‘s Tyler James Williams.

Criminal Minds will debut the spin-off’s cast in a special episode during its 10th season. This will be the show’s second crack at a spinoff as it had previously aired Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior in February 2011. Due to low ratings, the spin-off was canceled just after 13 episodes. Let’s hope that the new series fares better than its predecessor.

Henney recently voiced the character Tadashi on the Oscar-nominated animated film Big Hero 6, which will be available on DVD/Blu-ray on Feb. 24. His previous television credits include NCIS: Los Angeles, Revolution and Hawaii Five-0.

You can read KoreAm‘s March 2013 cover story on Daniel Henney here.


Featured image via Romsquared.tumblr.com


‘Big Hero 6′ Stirs Controversy in South Korea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Although Big Hero 6 hasn’t hit theaters in South Korea yet, the Disney animated film is already stirring online controversy for allegedly featuring images of the Japanese Rising Sun flag.

For those of you wondering why some South Koreans are upset over this specific detail, the Rising Sun is considered offensive in South Korea and is viewed as a symbol of Japanese imperialism during the early 20th century. While Japan has been using the flag for centuries and still incorporates it into their commercial products today, to many Koreans, the imagery is tantamount to the Swastika.

So, it’s not surprising that a few Korean netizens became angry after spotting alleged Rising Sun emblems in the Big Hero 6 trailer. Here are some of the screenshots that have been shared on Korean media sites:

wdp7vvcnvemfnkmfi28zEWmleRy12E7gwxxrorPhotos courtesy of Kotaku and Hitgall

In response to the controversy, Disney said, “There are no Rising Sun flags on display in the movie, nor was it the intention to suggest the Rising Sun flag.”

An early concept artwork, however, suggests that Disney did at some point include a flag that resembles the Rising Sun symbol in Hiro’s bedroom. To be fair, the original Big Hero 6 comic is more explicit in its Rising Sun imagery, and it’s likely that the concept artist was just drawing elements from the source material. Still, Disney made a good call scrapping the flag in its final cut.

zjkthpek1au9rtw1kajaConcept art of Hiro’s bedroom. Photo courtesy of Hitgall.

collage22Big Hero 6 comic book covers. Image courtesy of WDWNTScreen Shot 2015-01-19 at 10.58.13 PMImage courtesy of bluehoung617/deviantart

Apparently, Disney took extra measures to dilute its Japanese aesthetics for the South Korean audience.

Hiro and Tadashi, for example, had their names altered in the Korean version of the film, erasing all indications that they are of Japanese descent. While Hiro’s name was tweaked to “Hero,” Tadashi was renamed “Teddy.” The brothers’ Japanese surname “Hamada” was also changed to “Armada,” which is a pretty cool last name. Hero Armada definitely fits the superhero bill.

According to Kotaku, Disney also removed Japanese-language signs that were featured in the U.S. edition of the film. Below, you can see that the Japanese letters on the cat’s stomach have been switched to English for the South Korean release.

cp0fdwekiupmmaiwyop0Image courtesy of Extreme Movie

Another change Disney made for the Korean release was the title of the movie. The film was retitled Big Hero to avoid the impression of it being a sequel.

Interestingly enough, there’s a good number of Koreans who worked on Big Hero 6, including its character design supervisor, Sang-jin Kim; lead character designer, Shiyoon Kim; animator, Hyun-min Lee; and voice actors, Jamie Chung and Daniel Henney.

Big Hero 6 will premiere in South Korea on Jan. 21.

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Sexual Assault in the Asian American Community: What You Need to Know
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Eddie Huang on Watching His Memoir Become an ABC Sitcom

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 3.26.05 PM“Network television never offered the epic tale highlighting Asian America’s coming of age; they offered to put orange chicken on TV for 22 minutes a week instead of Salisbury steak,” Huang writes in his Vulture essay. “And I’ll eat it; I’ll even thank them, because if you’re high enough, orange chicken ain’t so bad.”

ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat Panel Gets Awkward
There were plenty of awkward and tense moments at the Fresh Off the Boat panel at the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour. One of those moments was when a TV reporter asked the cast: “I love the Asian culture. And I was just talking about the chopsticks. And I just love all that. Will I get to see that? Or will it be more Americanized?”

10 Chopstick-centric Episode Ideas for ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat
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NYC may see its first female Korean American police captain
According to the New York City Police Department, Lt. Huh Jung-yoon of Queens ‘109 Precinct recently passed a captains test.

The Low-Down on E-Cigarettes and Why It Affects Asian Americans
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Margaret Cho Talks About Sex
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Asian American Band Fights to Trademark Name “The Slants”

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People of Chinese, Korean or Japanese Descent Needed for Psychology Study
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Twitter Responds to Whitewashed Oscar Nominations with #OscarsSoWhite

Violinist Helen Kim sparkles in Kennsaw concert with pianist Sakiko Ohashi
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A Korean Hallyu Threatens American Cultural Dominance
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Daniel Henney Talks Abut Dubbing for Movie ‘Big Hero 6′

Daniel-Henney-Big-Hero-6-e1421340569162“There are times when I get confused as to whether I’m a Hollywood actor or a Korean actor,” Daniel Henney says, laughing. “But I think of myself as a Korean actor. It was in Korea that I was able to gain acting experience and get to where I am today. I take a lot of pride in being a Korean actor.”

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‘Big Hero 6′ Animators Discuss Their Creative Process

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

It came as a surprise to many when Disney in 2013 announced plans to adapt Marvel’s Big Hero 6 into a 3D computer-animated film, it being the first animation project to spawn out of the studio’s acquisition of the comics publishing giant four years prior.

The crime-fighting series about a young robotics prodigy and his robot companion set in a futuristic city called San Fransokyo was considerably more obscure compared with other Marvel comics.

Yet when Big Hero 6 hit theaters in early November, adults and children alike fell in love with the characters. (Young protagonist Hiro Hamada is voiced by the half-Japanese American actor Ryan Potter, while Korean American actors Jamie Chung and Daniel Henney also lent their voices to the film.)

The visually stunning final product audiences got to see was thanks to imaginative Disney animators behind the scenes who helped translate the comic book characters to the big screen.

“Those little subtleties—[they’re] almost like a musical beat,” says Hyun-min Lee, 33, an animator for Big Hero 6 who worked primarily on scenes for Baymax, the polite and adorably clumsy blimp-like robot. “It’s about where you can hit those [notes] and really influence how people will read [a character]. It’s like an experiment almost, playing around with that subtle timing.”

BIG HERO 6A scene from Big Hero 6. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Both Lee, 33, and the lead character designer for Big Hero 6, Shiyoon Kim, 31, have been involved in some of Disney’s most successful animated features during the studio’s “neo-renaissance” period. Lee has animation credits for The Princess and the Frog (2009), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), Winnie the Pooh (2011), last year’s Frozen, and the shorts Paperman and Feast. Kim joined Disney to work on Tangled (2010) and Paperman.

The Korean Americans, both alumni of the California Institute of the Arts, are just a few among a large team of animators at Disney linked to a period of creative resurgence that has introduced dynamic characters whose expression, movements and emotions give them personality and life.

Animation itself has come a long way since Disney’s first animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was released in 1937. Despite the advent of computer animation, said Lee and Kim in a joint interview, Disney’s studio remains faithful to detail since the hand-drawn days of yore, incorporating 2D animation along with 3D.

Both designers and animators need to flex their creative muscles, says Kim. For instance, in order to design Maximus, the sassy sword-wielding horse in Tangled, Kim observed different horse breeds at the equestrian center near Disney’ s Burbank, California studios before conceiving the initial designs for the character.

Kim faced a different kind of challenge when it came to the swashbuckling hero Flynn Rider from Tangled. “There was a lot of development [and] ideas on who this character was,” Kim tells KoreAm. “At the studio, the animators put all of their favorite, good-looking actors on a board. Everyone had their own opinion on what was good-looking.

“It was really interesting, because I think it’s a very subjective thing,” Kim adds. “I think where we landed was something appealing, and it fit right in with the story.”

FROZENHyun-min Lee works on images. Photo courtesy of Araya Diaz

For Lee, the challenge of working on Baymax was that the rotund character did not really have a face or many defining features. (The film reimagined the character as a round, white robot from a synthetic being who can transform into a fierce-looking green lizard, as he is portrayed in the comics.)

“Baymax was [both] the hardest and easiest [character to work on], because he’s so simple,” Lee says. “There’s a lot of subtlety that goes into his specific head angle, exactly when he blinks, [how] quickly he blinks, how many times he blinks. Does he cock his head to the side, or toward the front?”

By the time a character design reaches the animator’s desk, the storyboards are ready and the voice actors have recorded their lines, so it’s left to the animators to bring the film to life, a few seconds at a time.

“They sometimes let us be a little more free about coming up with the de- tails in the acting, which is kind of the fun part of it,” Lee says.

Of course, it’s not easy for animators to watch their own work; they are their own worst critics. “It’s extremely hard to watch the movie as it is, be- cause instead of the story and characters in the film, I see all the hard work that everyone put into this,” Kim says, of Big Hero 6. “I’m so very proud of them, and it’s a testament to the level of heart and passion that each individual has given to the film.”


Big Hero 6 received an Oscar nomination for best animated feature film. The feature will become available on digital HD & 3D on Feb. 3, 2015. It will also become available to own on blu-ray, DVD, digital SD and On-Demand on Feb. 24, 2015.

This article was published in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of KoreAmSubscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the December/January issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).