Survivors recall terror after a bus crash in Oregon’s Blue Mountain range kills 9
New York Daily News
A charter bus carrying 48 tourists, many of them South Korean nationals, crashed through a guadrail near a spot called Deadman’s Pass. Survivors remember the horror of seeing bodies in the snow.
5 Korean Victims of Oregon Bus Crash Identified
Nine people were killed when a tourist bus carrying 48 people plunged 30 m down a steep embankment from a highway in the U.S. state of Oregon on Monday.
The Foreign Ministry here said Tuesday that five of the victims have been identified as Korean, three others were Korean American and one has not been identified.
North Korean Defector Arrivals Plunge in South in 2012
Wall Street Journal
The number of North Koreans defecting to South Korea after fleeing their impoverished and oppressive homeland fell sharply in 2012, apparently due to tightened border control.
The Ministry of Unification said 1,508 North Korean defectors arrived in South Korea last year, a preliminary figure that may be revised by next month when final count is reached.
The number is about half the 2,706 North Koreans who arrived in South Korea in 2011. It’s also the first drop below the 2,000-level since 2006.
Focus on North Korea’s detention of Lynnwood man
Seattle Times [EDITORIAL]
Kenneth Bae, 44, of Lynnwood has been detained in North Korea since November. There’s hope for the tour operator’s release, but officials must deal with the situation diplomatically.
North Korea’s caste system faces power of wealth
AP via Google News
For more than a half-century, a mysterious caste system has shadowed the life of every North Korean. It can decide whether they will live in the gated compounds of the minuscule elite, or in mountain villages where farmers hack at rocky soil with handmade tools. It can help determine what hospital will take them if they fall sick, whether they go to college and, very often, whom they will marry.
It is called songbun. And officially, it does not exist at all.
The power of caste remains potent, exiles and scholars say, generations after it was permanently branded onto every family based on their supposed ideological purity. But today it is also quietly fraying, weakened by the growing importance of something that barely existed until recently in socialist North Korea: wealth.
Google’s executive chairman to visit final frontier of cyberspace: North Korea
AP via Minneapolis StarTribune
Google’s executive chairman is preparing to travel to one of the last frontiers of cyberspace: North Korea.
Sources tell The Associated Press that Eric Schmidt will be traveling to North Korea on a private trip led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that could take place as early as this month. The sources, two people familiar with the group’s plans, spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the visit hadn’t been made public.
Korean American soldier acquitted of rape in Seoul
On the 1st the 27th criminal division (Judge Kim Hwan-su) of the Seoul Central District Courts acquitted 25-year old Korean-American soldier Mr. A of charges of sexually assaulting a woman he had met at a nightclub while she was intoxicated. He had been indicted on the charge of quasi-rape (준강간죄).
The court said that “it is difficult to see the situation in which the victim had sexual relations with Mr. A as one in which she was unable to resist or could not protest… simply because the victim does not remember what occured does not enable the court to determine her intention or judge her unable to have resisted.”
Bergen County municipal court judge Jae Y. Kim reappointed
County officials have announced the re-appointment of Central Municipal Court Judge Jae Y. Kim.
Kim, a Hackensack attorney, was first appointed by Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan in January of last year. He’ll be sworn in at a ceremony at the Bergen County Court House Wednesday afternoon.
Buck Gee and Vish Mishra: Silicon Valley and our Asian-American advantage
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.)
We believe that the key reason few Asian Americans become Silicon Valley executives is that many bring a cultural background and a focus on individual achievement that leaves blind spots in their understanding of organizational leadership, especially with soft skills and business vision. We have witnessed this in the reactions of participants in a unique advanced leadership program for Asian American executives at the Stanford Business School, a partnership with Ascend and Asia Society that we helped initiate three years ago. To paraphrase an Intel engineering director’s closing feedback last August, “unknowing to awareness in six days.”
But we worry that there is a different narrative in the community. In a 2009 survey, 71 percent of Asian Americans polled felt that they were disadvantaged in workplace promotions. This has not significantly changed since 1993, when another study found that 80 percent of Asian Americans in Silicon Valley thought that a glass ceiling existed.
Military issues cloud singer Rain’s love life
AFP via Google News
South Korean pop icon Rain has come under fire after reports revealing his relationship with a top TV actress suggested he might be flouting the terms of his compulsory military service.
Rain’s relationship with Kim Tae-Hee, a major TV drama star with a massive following in Japan, was first reported Tuesday by a tabloid magazine, sparking a fan frenzy on entertainment websites and social networks.
The magazine published photos showing Kim, 32, wearing a cap and surgical mask, getting into a car driven by the singer, who is halfway through the two-year military service that is mandatory for Korean men.
Kim Yu-na to skate in S. Korean figure championships this weekend
Figure skating star Kim Yu-na will compete in the South Korean national championships this weekend, her first appearance at the tournament in seven years, as she tries to qualify for the world championships this spring.
The Korea Skating Union (KSU) said Wednesday Kim will take part in the 2013 Korea Figure Skating Championships at Mokdong Ice Rink in western Seoul. The ladies’ short program is set for Saturday and free skating is on Sunday.
Footballer Ji Dong-won moves from England to Germany on loan
South Korean footballer Ji Dong-won, once confined to the bench in the English Premier League, has joined a first-division German club on loan, officials said Wednesday.
Ji’s new team, FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga, and his English side, Sunderland, both announced early Wednesday, Korean time, that Ji is moving to Germany on a loan deal. The transaction ended months of speculation on the future of the 21-year-old, who had not played a game for Sunderland in the ongoing season.
South Korean police failed to stop a civic group from launching anti-North Korea leaflets across the border, despite the North threatening them with a “merciless military strike.”
The police blocked the road and encircled the vehicles transporting the activists and 200,000 leaflets to the launch site near the demilitarized zone. The activists appeared to be retreating after a three-hour standoff, but it was later learned that 10 of the 80 activists managed to elude the police hours later and released half of their leaflets from Ganghwa Island.
Photo via Bloomberg
A North Korean teenage solider defected on Saturday after killing two of his superiors, according to a South Korean military spokesman.
The 17-year-old solider, only identified as a sergeant, reportedly killed his platoon and squadron leaders before crossing the demilitarized zone to defect. South Korean border guards observed a North Korean soldier crossing the heavily armed area shortly after hearing six gunshots across the border, said the spokesman.
The soldier dropped his rifle when the guards used a loudspeaker to confirm his intention to defect. He later confessed during investigations that he had killed two North Korean officers prior to defecting. Continue Reading »
Young North Korean Defectors Struggle in the South
New York Times
But when he finally made it to South Korea, and freedom, Mr. Kim faced an obstacle that even his considerable street smarts could not help him overcome. He had placed into a university under a new affirmative action program, but was haunted by the deprivations of his past and quickly slipped behind South Korean classmates who had already made it through years of an extremely competitive education system.
“I just couldn’t shake the memory of hunger from my mind,” said Mr. Kim, 26, who dropped out after just one semester and fell into a deep, alcohol-fueled depression.
It’s still ‘My Way’ or the highway under North Korea’s Kim
Los Angeles Times
So North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s recent embrace of Western songs, movies, cartoon characters and flashy fashion — public displays his late father and grandfather would have denounced as “spiritual pollution” — has set Korea analysts to pontificating on what the new leader’s cultural inclinations might signify.
Kim Jong-un Is Ardent Fan of Western Pop Culture
Highlights and the theme song from “Rocky 4″ were played during a performance by the newly-created Moranbong troupe in front of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last Friday. The show also featured groups of female singers dressed in mini-skirts, high-heeled shoes or off-the-shoulder tops reminiscent of the girl groups of South Korea, and performers dressed as Disney characters.
Top diplomats of two Koreas shun each other at ASEAN forum
Top diplomats of the two Koreas have pointedly shunned each other at annual security talks here, dashing hopes of a possible encounter and underscoring frozen inter-Korean relations.
Paying for Reunification: No Joking Matter
Wall Street Journal
When Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik came up with the idea of gathering donations from the public as a way to help cover the costs of Korean reunification, he raised more eyebrows than cash.
That hasn’t stopped him pushing ahead with the idea, and on Thursday evening he hosted a fundraiser-cum-comedy-show in northern Seoul to kick-start the program. The centerpiece of the event was the presentation of the first of his own hand-made ceramic “unification jars.”
Colin Farrell and John Cho square off in the new Total Recall clip
In less than a month the remake of the 1990 film TOTAL RECALL, from director Len Wiseman, will hit theaters and the marketing monkey is in full swing. Today we’re getting a newish clip from TOTAL RECALL which shows Colin Farrell going into the fantasy factory and having a short exchange with a bleach blonde Jon Cho. This remake doesn’t really give anything away since we’ve seen the majority of the clip in the previous trailers, but it’ll keep you all intrigued so you won’t forget to put TOTAL RECALL on your summer “to watch” list. We’re also getting a look at the international poster which features Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel, nothing special but nothing terrible either.
What they said: K.J. Choi
K.J. CHOI: You know, it’s bogey-free on the tournament in the 18 hole. Keep patient every hole. This week in birdie, good patient and good crowd. I love the people here.
Course is fantastic shape in the morning. More saving and greenside hit the putt. It’s a very good read. This really first time Graham caddie for me, so very good helping in this course.
Girls’ Generation’s YoonA earned $3.5 million USD in first half of 2012
Girls’ Generation is currently in the lead when it comes to being considered the nation’s girl group. Yet even among all the members who have each achieved such great popularity, member YoonA has earned the greatest salary. On top of the payments she receives as an artist, YoonA has landed a total of 20 advertisement deals and also completed another drama. As a result, YoonA’s total income has exceeded 4 billion KRW (approx. $3.5 million US dollars) after just the first half of this year.
Minjae Lee features iconic women in his upcoming work
Minjae Lee is a mostly self-taught artist who uses seemingly old-fashioned tools, such as markers, pens, crayons, and acrylics, to create art that focuses on ethereal women. His newest works will focus on iconic women that range in celebrity from actresses to singers to models. The chosen women to be featured in this series of artwork reflect both his Korean and worldwide influences.
22 stunningly photogenic destinations in Korea
While the book doesn’t necessarily make for the most exciting read (we would have loved some quirky/crazy personal stories featuring these destinations as settings), the 1,000-plus photographs are amazing, and the book is certainly crammed with historical and practical information.
Pet Dogs Abandoned and Sold by Owners for Korean Meat Market
At the height of summer, known in Korean as the Boknal, it has been reported that those who can no longer take care of their pet dogs take them to the Moran market outside Seoul in an attempt to sell them for meat, only to abandon them when merchants refuse to purchase a former pet [Moran is known for selling animals as both pets and meat].
North Korea defector learns to trust the stranger who saved him
Los Angeles Times
On his first day of freedom, North Korean defector Kim Yong-chul sat crossed-legged on the floor of a small apartment without a stick of furniture. He ate fried chicken and pork belly, washed down with celebratory shots of soju from a paper cup, toasting the stranger he says saved his life.
Krys Lee is no stranger now. The Korean American writer is more like a fussy parent, worrying that the fortysomething refugee was drinking too much and might fall prey to other addictions in South Korea’s culture of plenty.
That morning, Lee had greeted Kim as he emerged from a high-security facility near Seoul, the South Korean capital, that serves as a decompression chamber for defectors from the North. Like other defectors, Kim had adopted a new name in hope of protecting relatives in North Korea. His was Yong-chul, “the wanderer.”
Krys Lee tweeted KoreAm yesterday that defector Kim recently found a job.
AP opens full news bureau in North Korea
AP via Google News
The Associated Press has opened its newest bureau here, becoming the first international news organization with a full-time presence to cover news from North Korea in words, pictures and video.
In a ceremony Monday that came less than a month after the death of longtime ruler Kim Jong Il and capped nearly a year of discussions, AP President and CEO Tom Curley and a delegation of top AP editors inaugurated the office, situated inside the headquarters of the state-run Korean Central News Agency in downtown Pyongyang.
The bureau expands the AP’s presence in North Korea, building on the breakthrough in 2006 when AP opened a video bureau in Pyongyang for the first time by an international news organization. Exclusive video from AP video staffers in Pyongyang was used by media outlets around the world following Kim’s death.
What It’s Like Chatting Up Kim Jong Nam
Wall Street Journal
So can just anyone talk to Kim Jong Nam these days? It would seem so after Korean newspapers reported on Monday that Kim Jong Il’s number-one son was spotted in the Beijing airport by several South Koreans on Saturday afternoon.
The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s largest paper by circulation, carried the news that one intrepid professor from Incheon went right up to Kim Jong Nam and engaged him in a brief conversation. The professor, it turns out, is the paper’s former Beijing correspondent Park Sung-joon, who now teaches Chinese studies at the University of Incheon.
“Kim Jong Nam had been on my wish list of people who I wanted to meet,” Mr. Park said in an interview Tuesday. He said he had no trouble recognizing Mr. Kim but was surprised to find him sitting on his own waiting for a flight from Beijing to Macau.
“I approached him and said, `Excuse me, are you Mr. Kim Jong-nam?’ Then he stood up from his seat and answered modestly, `Yes, I am,’” Mr. Park said.
Kim brother says N.Korea heading for collapse: book
AFP via Yahoo News
The eldest brother of North Korea’s new leader says reforms needed to avert the collapse of the country’s economy will lead to the end of its Stalinist regime, according to a book to be published this week.
Kim Jong-Nam, the half brother of Kim Jong-Un who took control of the hermit state on the death of their father last month, says the military has become so powerful it will step in and take over.
The comments come in a book by Yoji Gomi, a Japanese journalist who says he built a relationship with Jong-Nam after the pair met in Beijing in 2004.
“My father Kim Jong-Il and Me” will be published in Japan by Bungeishunju on Friday.
Koreans in US hop on new biz trend
Besides dry cleaners and video stores, computer repair, alteration and stationary shops are also losing steam, according to Korean associations.
So which businesses are up and coming? Bakeries, frozen yogurt shops, pet care units and postpartum care centers are among those that are emerging.
“We’re noticing that fresh Korean immigrants go for businesses that are less labor intensive and more service-centered,” says Lee, an official of the Federation of Korean Associations. “The key is to offer something that they can’t get from conventional American businesses.”
‘Hillary’s lawyer’ proud of motherland Korea
Yonhap News via Korea Times
Working as the chief legal adviser of the U.S. State Department, Harold Hongju Koh calls Secretary of State Hillary Clinton his “client,” rather than the boss.
Koh, a prominent Korean-American expert on international law, starts his working day by meeting with Clinton.
“I am the legal adviser of the U.S. Department of State, which means that I am a lawyer for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and I do the international law work for the U.S. Department of State. I supervise a law firm of about 200 international lawyers, which I think is the best international law firm in the world,” he said in an interview at his office in the department.
Korean festival blooms with cultural life
Orange County Register
Amid the scent of barbecued meat and the tinny voices of a Korean children’s choir, Shu Soon Ja’s brush strokes weaved pink orchids and green bamboo shoots on thin sheets of paper. As passersby stopped at the booth, Ja waved her hand at the pile of water-color florals, inviting people to select one that was most appealing.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Irvine Civic Center Plaza on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the city’s third annual Korean Cultural Festival. City Councilman Steven Choi started the festival to celebrate national Korean-American Day, designated Jan. 13 by Congress.
Beneath Pink Parasols, Identity in Stark Form
New York Times
Young Jean Lee is, hands down, the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation. In previous shows this Korean-American writer has devised a comic revue about black identity politics, retailored Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and taken to the stage herself to perform a cabaret act mostly about death.
Ms. Lee has said in interviews that she is motivated, in part, by scaring herself nearly to death with each new endeavor. Her latest, called “Untitled Feminist Show” and presented as part of the Coil festival organized by Performance Space 122, may well be her most daunting attempt to push her talent in a new direction. This time she has dispensed entirely with words to create a frolicsome if fuzzy riff on the female body and the female spirit, through movement (and music) alone.
In South Korea, North Face jackets tied to wave of bullying, theft
Los Angeles Times
The winter jackets, long popular among grade-school and high-school students, have become the objects of robbery and bullying, authorities say.
In recent months, half a dozen students have committed suicide after being bullied at school, authorities said, leading beleaguered education officials to institute a rash of new security measures, including starting plainclothes-police patrols and prosecuting teenage suspects.
In many cases, the jackets are part of the bully’s agenda, officials said.
Victims have been forced to buy used jackets from other students, and jackets have been snatched and stolen. Students caught burglarizing a house outside Seoul told police they were trying to get money to buy North Face jackets, which range in price from $200 to $600.
Mina Cheon treats politics like lollipops
An enlarged DIY action figure of U.S. president Barack Obama rotates in the middle of the exhibition hall and dances to the “Hooked on a Feeling” ooga chaka refrain featured in the hit Fox-TV series “Ally McBeal” in a video installation titled “Obama Dancing.” This is “The “Obama Room,” a part of Korean-American artist Mina Cheon’s exhibition “Polipop” at Sungkok Art Museum in Seoul.
Is Hollywood ‘whitewashing’ Asian roles?
America’s embrace of Japanese pop culture, particularly manga and anime, hasn’t resulted in an embrace of Asian and Asian-American actors when those storylines go to Hollywood.
Two upcoming feature films based on Japanese material are already stirring controversy after rumors that white American actors will be cast as characters originally written as Japanese.
Tom Cruise is rumored to be in talks to play the lead role in the Warner Bros. adaptation of Japanese novel “All You Need is Kill,” replacing a Japanese main character. Warner Bros., which is owned by the same parent company as CNN, is also in the pre-production stages of making a live-action version of “Akira,” a graphic novel that was made into a landmark 1988 animated feature film in Japan. All of the actors rumored to be in consideration for the upcoming film’s main characters are white Americans, although casting calls invited actors of “any race” to audition.
That’s troubling to both the series’ devoted fans and advocates of diversity in casting.
Korean couple recalls 30 hours trapped in wrecked ship
Yonhap via Korea Times
A Korean honeymoon couple who survived a fatal cruise ship accident in Italy on Monday recounted their panic-filled 30 hours spent trapped inside the darkened and upended ship.
“We slipped into the corridor as water began to rise in our cabin. We then shouted ourselves hoarse calling for help and blew the whistles attached to our life jackets,” said Han Gi-deok, a 29-year-old schoolteacher, in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.
“We subsisted on a few bits of cookies and water, worrying that we may be trapped there for a long time,” said Han’s 29-year-old wife, Jeong Hye-jin, who also is a teacher.
The couple were rescued on Sunday morning after the luxury cruise Costa Concordia struck a rock and keeled over in shallow waters late Friday off Italy’s Tuscan coast with more than 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crewmembers aboard.
Researcher’s aim: discover, share Asians’ local history
Austin American Statesman (Texas)
A former railroad laborer who worked his way down to Central Texas during the 1800s,Joe Lung and his family served three kinds of food to Austinites. At Joe Lung’s Cafe downtown, the prime menu item was the 25-cent steak dinner, beloved by legislators on a budget. Nearby, Lung’s Chinese Kitchen offered the first tastes of Asian cuisine to many Austinites. The Lung family’s Cocina del Sur, in what was then North Austin, added to the city’s wealth of Mexican food.
Esther Chung, the Asian American community liaison at the Austin History Center, researched these long-closed eateries in 2010 while putting together “Pioneers from the East: First Chinese Families,” a tantalizing exhibit that inspired several articles and columns in this newspaper.
The stories keep on coming, especially as the city’s Asian American populace grows and transforms. Seoul-born Chung, 36, employs census data, city directories, architectural drawings, clippings files, biographical files, videos, oral history recordings and more than a million photographs in the center’s collection to help Asian Americans recover their cultural and familial legacies.
Margaret Cho: The Girl With the Genteel Tattoo
Wall Street Journal via YouTube