Tag Archives: defectors

Tuesday's Link Attack: NK Defectors, Sung Kim Confirmation Delayed

Suspected North Korean defectors found off Japanese coast
The Guardian (U.K.)

Coastguard officials in Japan are questioning nine suspected North Korean defectors after they were found drifting off the country’s west coast, on Tuesday morning.

The group – three men, three women and three young children – were found by a coastguard helicopter 15 miles off the Noto peninsula, in Ishikawa prefecture, after a tip-off from local fishermen.

They were collected by a coastguard vessel and taken to Kanazawa for questioning. Their eight-metre boat bore Korean characters along its sides and was stocked with rice and pickled vegetables, Japanese media reports said.

A man claiming to represent the group told local media that they had come from North Korea and had intended to travel to South Korea. The man reportedly described himself as a member of the Korean People’s army, and said the eight other people on board were his relatives.

Hawkish senator obstructs confirmation of Sung Kim
Korea Times

The U.S. State Department is trying to persuade a senior Republican senator to lift a hold on the confirmation of Sung Kim, the nominee to become a new ambassador to South Korea, congressional sources said Monday.

Jon Kyl (R-AZ), assistant minority leader in the Senate, has been blocking the confirmation process for more than a month, according to the sources. He is known as a staunch conservative on foreign policy.

The article goes on to say that it was unclear exactly why Sen. Kyl is holding up the confirmation.

Police not ruling out foul play in former Cal golfer’s death
Oakland Tribune

Police have not ruled out foul play in the death of Diane Kwon, a 21-year-old former golf star found dead last week in a shopping center parking lot.

Kwon, a graduate of Kennedy High School in Fremont, was not shot or stabbed, Sgt. Chris Mazzone said. Authorities are trying to determine her cause of death, which they are treating as “suspicious,” he said.

The Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau is performing an autopsy and a toxicology report, which takes four to six weeks to complete.

“We’re waiting for those reports to come back to find out the cause of death,” Mazzone said.

About 11 p.m. Sept. 5, a passer-by discovered Kwon on the ground near her car, behind a building formerly occupied by Barnes & Noble in Fremont Plaza, 3950 Mowry Ave., police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Father’s relief as Chris Jeon, ‘dude with the AK47′, calls from Libya
The National (U.A.E.)

At first, it did not sink in. Front line? Front of what line? A concert or movie queue? A beach volleyball game? No, the caller said, your son is at the front line of the Libyan civil war with rebel fighters trying to oust a notorious despot.

Peter Jeon was stunned. “A friend said Chris was on the news, so we went on the internet,” said Mr Jeon, an orthodontist in Orange County, California. “Obviously, we were shaken.”

Moon Bloodgood Q&A
Men’s Fitness

This former dancer turned actress and star of TNT’s post-apocalyptic thriller Falling Skies talks no small amount of trash while running circles around you in the gym or beating you to a pulp on Xbox Live. That’s right, Moon Bloodgood is perfect.

Dave Gibbons Is a Church Misfit
O.C. Weekly

Check out this O.C. Weekly cover story by former KoreAm staffer Michelle Woo about Korean American pastor David Gibbons.

Newsong was on its way to becoming Orange County’s next big megachurch—then its pastor decided to pull back and go small.

Raising Kang: Single mother, single goal
Casa Grande Dispatch (Arizona)

Here’s a nice profile of a Latina single mother raising her son Michael Kang in Arizona.

Hawaii, it happens, is a part of Kang. His father is Hawaiian-Korean. His mother is Hispanic. He takes a bit of gentle ribbing from his classmates about his ethnic diversity. For Kang, that’s all just background noise, though. Military life has always been his focus.

How Korean Pop Conquered Japan
The Atlantic

In Japan—a country that has prided itself on producing and exporting its own fantastical pop culture—Korean entertainment has come to gobble up massive portions of melodrama and musical market share. Not only do Korean dramas air frequently on TV, but in the past year Korean pop groups like Girls’ Generation and KARA have shattered sales records and become primetime fixtures on Japanese television programs, thanks to a mish-mash of Western club-friendly and a sped-up tempo appropriate for an arcade. This boom in Korean entertainment isn’t just about units moved or appearances on talk shows; Korean media, especially pop music, has exploded in the Land of the Rising Sun because the K-Pop architects have embraced everything that the Japanese music industry has shunned for years.

Scholar fights for Korean studies in US
Korea Times

[Professor Kim Yung-hee], currently director of the Center for Korean Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is wrestling with a fresh challenge.

The class size of Korean studies there is shrinking.

“These days it is hard to find students who are interested in Korean studies as a major. As a Korean literature professor, this is my primary concern,” said Kim. “The arts and literature department is not a priority in many U.S. universities. I think this is the case for Korea, too. I understand many Korean parents encourage their children to attend either law or medical school in the hope that they can land high-paying jobs easily after graduation.”

Students’ lack of interest in Korean studies came as a bit of a surprise, considering the number of undergraduate students taking Korean language courses at the University of Hawaii has continued to increase. Approximately, 300 to 400 students attend the course every semester.

Seoul revival as students embrace Korean language
The Australian

Good Korea move: 89 students have signed up for a new Korean language program at the University of Western Australia, which is riding a wave of teenage obsession with Korean pop groups and television.

“We initially had more than 100 and we had to put a cap on [numbers]. Nobody expected so many students,” Associate Professor Kyu-suk Shin said. Korean has been in low demand in Australia, despite official rhetoric about its importance.

Pizza on Jesa Table?
Ask a Korean! (blog)

This photo is generating an interesting online controversy in Korea. As the Korean covered previously, jesa is a traditional ritual in which the family gets together to commemorate the ancestors. (A jesa held on chuseok and other holidays are called charye [차례].) Jesa follows a strict guideline in all aspects, including what to put on the table and the order in which those items will be arranged.

Needless to say, pizza does not really fall under that guideline — hence the controversy.


Friday's Link Attack: Sandra Oh, Daniel Henney, Somali Pirates

Interview with Hollywood actress Sandra Oh

Sandra spoke of her love for Korea as a Korean-Canadian and her hopes to one day star in a Korean movie. She also talked about the inside stories behind “Grey’s Anatomy” and how she was cast into the show.

“If I am to be cast in a Korean movie, I will be happy to take any role. I will study Korean, and if I don’t have any lines, I can act with just my facial expressions. I’ve always wanted to attend the Busan Film Festival, but I was always caught up with work. I want to attend the festival with a piece I star in.”

Somali pirates holding S. Korean hostages demand release of captured pirates

Somali pirates holding four South Koreans in a hijacked chemical tanker are demanding that Seoul pay ransom for the hostages and release five pirates captured during a January raid of a seized Korean freighter, an official said Friday.

The four South Koreans are among 25 crew members of the Singapore-registered 21,000-ton MT Gemini that was hijacked on April 30 in waters off Kenya. The seizure came about three months after South Korean naval commandos raided a Korean-owned freighter on Jan. 21 and rescued all 21 crew members.

N.Korean Defectors Flock to U.K.
Chosun Ilbo

Some 581 North Korean defectors have been given asylum in the United Kingdom, making them the largest group of all defectors in countries other than South Korea.

Korean young guns impress at British Open
AFP via Google

South Korean young guns Noh Seung-Yul and Hwang Jung-Gon led the Asian charge at the British Open on Thursday, signaling their talent with sub-par rounds at Royal St George’s.

Where in The World is Daniel Henney?

Daniel Henney recently wrapped shooting on the buddy flick with Bill Paxton tentatively titled “Americatown” and apologized to fans for not being online lately.

I know it’s been FOREVER since I’ve chimed in. My apologies. We’ve been in China for 1.5 months now shooting this film, and it’s been incredibly difficult to get online. Anyway, I’m back now, and will update you with some pics very soon…Pics from my last 1.5 months spent in China.

SUNY Gets OK for Campus in Songdo
The Wall Street Journal

Soon South Korean students seeking a U.S. diploma might be able to do so without even getting a stamp in their passports.

The Ministry of Education announced Wednesday that it has given final approval to Stony Brook University — or the State University of New York at Stony Brook — to open a campus in Songdo, the newly established international business district near Incheon International Airport.

Koreans turn to dog soup to beat the heat
Reuters via ABC News (Australia)

Thursday was not a good day to be a dog in South Korea. That’s because it was one of the three hottest days according to the Korean lunar calendar – and dog soup is one way to beat the heat.

On “Chobok,” people seeking to protect the body from overheating eat traditional healthy foods such as ginseng chicken soup, broiled eel and “bo-shin-tang,” literally “body preservation stew”.

Dogs are bred to be eaten in South Korea, and advocates say bo-shin-tang, which consists of dog meat boiled in a mix of hot and strong spices and vegetables, is good for the health. It is considered a delicacy by some.

Korean BBQ Trivia + Forage’s Soy and Coca-Cola Flank Steak Recipe
LA Weekly

If you’ve ever wondered if Korean households have dining tables with built in bbq holes, like the ones at Korean bbq restaurants, the answer is “no”. The historical antecedent for modern restaurant tables are traditional Korean kitchens with round stoves (agungi) that were fueled by wood or large cylindrical charcoal briquets. If you clicked on the link, you probably figured out why Korean bbq pans are dome shaped, rather than square or rectangular.

FC Barcelona signs Korean teen for five years
JoongAng Daily

A Korean teenager has signed a five-year contract with FC Barcelona’s youth team, his father revealed Wednesday.

Play Canceled on Account of Suicide Threat
The Korea Times

A nude play has been forced to cancel its performance on July 14 by a male member of the public.

The man threatened to commit suicide if “The Professor and the Female Student 2” goes on stage on that date. He claimed that star actress Um Da-hae, 30, who plays the female student, is “his woman.”

Korean gangsters invade Manila
The Manila Times

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) was warned Monday against the entry into the country of Korean criminal syndicates that wanted to establish their illegal network in the country.

Monday's Link Attack: Fast Food Too Fast, Korean Britney Spears, More

Danger on wheels: fast food delivery in South Korea
Christian Science Monitor

There has been a steady increase in the number of accidents involving motorcycle deliverymen, raising concerns that Korea’s obsession with being fast may need to be adjusted.

In 2009, there were 1,395, part of 4,962 injuries or deaths involving motorcycles in the restaurant and lodging industry during the past six years. And a recent poll of delivery drivers showed nearly 50 percent of those using motorcycles had indicated they had been involved in a road accident during the course of their work.

Derek Hough and the ‘Korean Britney Spears’ heat up film set with steamy kissing scenes
The Daily Mail (UK)

I guess BoA is the Korean Britney Spears. I thought this (below) was the Korean Britney Spears.

The former Dancing With The Stars professional was spotted in a steamy clinch with Korean popstar BoA Kwon as they shot scenes for Cobu 3D in Toronto, Canada.

Korean noodle maker in hot water over advertising

Top South Korean noodle maker Nongshim ran into unexpected trouble from the nation’s fair trade officials, who Monday slapped the company with a steep fine for exaggerating the nutritional value of a new brand of instant noodles.

Students share time with defectors
Korea Herald

A group of high school students has been making regular visits to North Korean defectors who are patients at the National Medical Center, and offering their friendship.

Hurdles remain for Korean adoption
Korea Herald

Now that the government has reduced the quota for overseas adoptions to 1,013 to shed Korea’s image as one of the largest “orphan exporters,” the number of children that need to be adopted in-country is estimated to have taken off at a dramatic pace.

Insiders claim that the actual number of children abandoned and in need of families is actually much higher since some legal restraints keep a substantial number of children from being legally adopted.

Sending couples to the altar in style
JoongAng Daily

Jung Lee, a Korean-American wedding planner who runs her own firm, Fete, in New York, helped the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul overhaul its wedding planning services.

Traveler delights in South Korean journey, but glad to be home
The Times and Democrat (S.C.)

Here is a foreigner’s perspective on modern-day Korea.

[T&D Correspondent Larry Jordan] and his wife, Bonnie, recently returned from their nine-week visit there, where son Paul is stationed at United States Army Garrison Humphreys in Anjung-ri, south of Seoul.

Most people grow crops in every space available to use for themselves or to sell. Since most small farmers use hothouses to grow their vegetables, you can buy every kind of vegetable year-round. All sorts of products — vegetables, chickens, seafood and crafts — are sold at markets that abound in every city or village. Throughout the country, street markets are held on every date that ends with a three or an eight. They line the sidewalks, and it is a delight to stroll through and see the vast array of products for sale. The discerning shopper can find many bargains.

Homegrown Idols
Wall Street Journal

It’s like a pan-Asian version of the Backstreet Boys. Seasoned American music execs are spearheading efforts to make Blush the next big thing in America. The all-girl group features a member from South Korea, Japan, China by way of India, and the Philippines.

The story sounds like a teenage dream. But, in the mold of The Monkees or the Spice Girls, Blush is the product of a team of producers with a hard-nosed business plan. Five years in the making, the group’s sound and image has been carefully managed and tested against focus groups of teenage girls. Already, band members have adopted cute nicknames Queen V, Nacho, Jelly, Ali B and Tiger Lady.

“This all started with a simple thought: Why hasn’t a singer of Asian descent ever made it really big in the West?” says Jon Niermann, a youthful 45-year-old who founded Far West Entertainment, the Hong Kong-based media production company behind the band.

Public art rubs Seoul the wrong way
LA Times

Critics of an urban improvement effort in the South Korean capital that requires developers to provide public art say the law generated too many works that many find objectionable. It has been changed.

North Korea's "Boat People"


It’s no secret that North Korea holds a harsh stance on defectors and their families – rumors of hard labor and prison camps for families members of “traitors” abound and citizens are often brainwashed into believing that defecting will only lead to more difficulties.

So unsurprisingly, when a group of North Koreans accidentally drifted over the Yellow Sea maritime border last month and were rescued by South Koreans, most of them asked to be repatriated. But in a strange twist of events, North Korea is refusing to take them back.

Four of the 31 North Koreans were reportedly so impressed by what they’ve seen in the South that they don’t want to return, and as South Korea’s policy is to accept and give refugee status to those who choose to defect, South Korean officials are refusing to force repatriation. In return, North Korean authorities are refusing to accept the remaining 27 “boat people” until all 31 choose to return.

The intensely private communist country has a history of only releasing cryptic press releases, but North Korean officials have retaliated with an unforeseen tactic: emotional and public blackmail in the form of online interviews with the family members of four defectors.

The footage shows a woman identified as the mother of one of the defectors calling South Korea “inhumane and confrontational”

“The South Korean puppet regime must return my daughter to her mother’s arms right away,” says Park Myong Ok.

“I miss you daddy,” says a daughter in another clip. “Please come home quickly.”

But Dan Bielefeld, with the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, told the CS Monitor, “No matter what, if they go back, I don’t think they’ll save their families. […] By stating they weren’t going back, those four families were already in big trouble.”

Experts are speculating that North Korea is using the “boat people” as propaganda, in order to hold down defections, but also believe that officials are attempting to make this issue more important than the Cheonan sinking and the Yeonpyeong shelling.

North Korean authorities are refusing to speak about any other outstanding issues until all 31 people show up at the truce village, Panmunjom.

True Life in North Korea

With high profile incidents like the recent sinking of the South Korean Navy ship and the capture of American journalists, tensions mount in the Korean Peninsula.

It’s time for us to get educated.

As part of its T.H.I.N.K. (Topple Hunger in North Korea) Conference in Los Angeles, the Korean American Coalition is assembling a rare panel of experts on North Korea, including two of the highest profile defectors from the “Hermit Kingdom.” This is a unique opportunity to gain fresh insight into a country that remains stubbornly frozen in the Cold War era, in a region that holds deep cultural, economic and military ties with the U.S.

The event, which will take place on June 25 and 26 at the Westin Bonaventure, will feature guest speakers Sang Man Han (Founder, Han-Schneider Int’l Children’s Foundation), Cheol-Hwan Kang (DPRK defector & Journalist in Seoul), Professor David Kang (Director, USC Korean Studies), David J. Karl (President, Asia Strategy Initiative), Dr. Ae-Ran Lee (DPRK defector and 2010 Int’l Women of Courage Award recipient), John S. Park (Sr. Research Associate, U.S. Institute of Peace) and Suzanne Scholte (President, Defense Forum Foundation).

For details, click here.