Friday’s Link Attack: Kenneth Bae’s Prospects Not Good; Rodman Says ‘Not a Traitor’; East Sea Naming Fight in VA
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: January 31st, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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N. Korean diplomat says jailed American should serve out his sentence
Yonhap News

An American Christian missionary who has been detained in North Korea for more than a year should serve out his sentence, Pyongyang’s top envoy to Britain said, in a remark suggesting that the isolated country may not free him anytime soon.

Kenneth Bae was arrested in November 2012 while leading a group of tourists. He was accused of unspecified anti-state crimes and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, though he has been hospitalized in recent months due to illness.

North Korea’s ambassador to Britain, Hyun Hak-bong, said in a video interview posted Thursday that Bae would be freed when he serves out his prison term.

Koreas can discuss date for family reunions: N. Korean diplomat
Yonhap News

North Korea’s top envoy to Britain dangled the possibility of progress in staging reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War as he renewed Pyongyang’s demands that Seoul cancel its annual military drill with the United States.

Hyun Hak-bong said in a video interview posted Thursday that the two Koreas can discuss a date for staging the family reunions, breaking the silence the North has kept since South Korea proposed earlier this week to hold the reunions for the aging Koreans.

“As for the practical and exact date, it could be exchanged and discussed between the two sides … Now, we are working on that,” Hyun said in the interview with Sky News, a 24-hour news channel in Britain. Still, he did not elaborate.

Dennis Rodman: ‘I’m Not a Traitor’

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman offered a sort-of apology for his antics during recent trips to North Korea on Friday, in a wide-ranging CNN interview conducted in the rehab facility where he’s being treated for alcohol abuse.

“I don’t go to the camps, I don’t do anything,” Rodman said of his visits to the isolated country. “I’m not a traitor.”

The interview came after Rodman’s last interview with CNN host Chris Cuomo raised eyebrows and even outrage when Rodman angrily defended his “friend,” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and suggested an American imprisoned there may have been detained justifiably (he later apologized for the latter remark).

Rodman, speaking with Cuomo more calmly this time, expressed remorse about how his drinking has affected his family.

Va. textbook bill on alternative Sea of Japan name heads toward a partisan showdown
Washington Post

Two little words. They looked like an easy way to make a lot of people happy.

On the campaign trail, Terry McAuliffe (D) said that as governor, he’d make sure that new school textbooks note that the Sea of Japan is also known as the East Sea.

The promise was important to Northern Virginia’s large Korean American community, who see the Sea of Japan designation as a painful relic of Japanese occupation.

Korean ambassador meets Virginia politicians
AP via Yahoo News

A debate between Japan and South Korea over what to call the body of water that separates their countries is being played out in the Virginia Capitol.

At issue: whether textbooks approved by the state board of education should note that the Sea of Japan is also called the East Sea.

South Koreans want the change and the sizeable Korean American community in Virginia has put pressure on state lawmakers to make sure it’s a legislative priority this year. The Japanese do not want the textbook requirements changed.

Seniors’ truce good at eatery
Queens Chronicle (New York)

The truce is holding between Korean-American seniors and the McDonald’s at Northern and Parsons boulevards.

That’s the status report from Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), who last week brokered a deal so that the seniors will not monopolize space in the McDonald’s during peak business hours.

Many seniors use the eatery for social gatherings, where they spend many hours and few dollars with their elderly friends.

Police: High-end drug and prostitution ring busted on Super Bowl week

The 18 operators of a high-end escort service allegedly banking on Super Bowl week to deliver “party packs” of cocaine and prostitutes have been charged with drug and sex trafficking, New York authorities said Thursday.

The nearly year-long undercover investigation discovered that in addition to selling the “party packs,” the ring allegedly laundered the illegal proceeds through front businesses that included a clothing wholesaler, a wig wholesaler, a limousine service and a beauty supply wholesaler, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

The ring targeted wealthy customers in New York for large events, authorities said. Last week, a text message was blasted to frequent customers noting that “new sexy & beautiful girls R in town waiting for u.” The enterprise also ran numerous advertisements on the Internet and on public access television.

The Future of L.A.’s Thai Town and Koreatown Communities Ride on a ‘Promise’

Earlier this month, President Obama announced the first five recipient areas of his Promise Zone Initiative, a formal partnership between the federal government, local communities, and businesses intended to help shrink poverty and expand the rosters of the middle class. The initiative enables those areas to receive a share of a $500 million investment in existing federal funding, addressing the areas of job growth, economic stability, education, affordable housing, and public safety.

Aside from San Antonio, Philadelphia, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, Los Angeles was named, specifically a swath of the densely-populated central part of the city, which includes the communities of Hollywood, East Hollywood, Koreatown, Westlake, and Pico-Union.

L.A.’s Promise Zone, which encompasses an irregular-shaped area stretching from Franklin Avenue to Pico Boulevard, and between Highland and Union avenues, includes a predominantly low-income, yet culturally rich section of urban L.A.; though with a majority Latino population, it also includes two of the city’s designated Asian enclaves: Thai Town and Koreatown. Both share well-patronized and well-acclaimed ethnic eateries (many of which are open well into the late night hours), spas, and dense, pedestrian-oriented, transit-accessible corridors. The zone also includes pockets of other Asian immigrant groups, namely Filipinos (in East Hollywood and the Historic Filipinotown-adjacent parts of Koreatown and Westlake) and Bangladeshis (among the already-diverse immigrant multitudes residing in Koreatown).

Seollal a time for exploring Korean traditions
JoongAng Daily

The Lunar New Year holidays, or Seollal in Korean, kick off today. And while Seollal means a time for family and tradition, it also brings a wealth of activities where you can learn about and participate in Korean culture.

Those who are brave enough to fight the cold weather can venture outdoors to museums, concerts, restaurants, and even ski resorts to experience some traditional games and other rituals they don’t get to do everyday.

For Koreans who want to experience how their ancestors spent the Lunar New Year, many museums have prepared all-inclusive experiences. Some of the events even provide free traditional food and beverages.

South Koreans Flex Smartphone Muscles
Wallstreet Journal

First time on Seoul’s subway system? Don’t expect a lot of eye contact.

Here, almost everyone is busy playing games like Cookie Run, or sending messages on their oversized smartphones.

Those eyeballs add up. In 2013, South Korea jumped ahead of the U.S. in revenue generated from app sales on Google Inc.’sGOOG +4.13% Play mobile store, according to research and analysis firm App Annie, which tracks app purchases.
That makes South Korea, a country of 50 million people, the second-most lucrative country in the world by that metric, just behind Japan.

By app downloads, which doesn’t take into account the amount of money spent, South Korea also ranks second on Google Play, behind the U.S., whose population is six times that of Korea’s.

4,323 Korean churches in U.S:
Korea Times

90 more Korean churches sprang up last year to bring up the total to 4,323 Koreans churches in the United States.

According to, California has the most Korean churches with 1,358, which accounts for 31.4% of the total in the U.S. New York came in second with 446, followed by New Jersey (258); Virginia (211); Texas (210); Washington (208); Georgia (197); Illinois (190); Maryland (161); and Pennsylvania (161), in order.

The Korean population was tabulated to be 1,706,822 in the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau report – which means for every 394 Koreans, there’s a Korean church.

Dia Frampton wins hearts
New Straits Times

The cafe was filled with fans who came to see her sing.

Frampton who was first runner-up during the first season of the reality show, The Voice, impressed the crowd with a number of songs. She sang hits songs like Losing My Religion, Heartless and Inventing Shadows.

Her fans could not stop cheering when the singer, who is of Dutch and Korean parentage started to sing.
When she sang The Broken Ones the crowd started singing along and clapping.

Korean Julia Sun-Joo Lee Brings New Face to Black Literature
Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Dr. Julia Sun-Joo Lee has gotten used to the strange looks that sometimes greet her on the first day of class.

“My students may initially be surprised to see me in the classroom,” says Lee, who teaches African-American Literature at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“But I always say that African-American literature is not just limited to African-Americans. It is American literature and is so much a part of the history of this country. It shouldn’t be ghettoized.”

Show US
Korea Times

Next up for the South Korean National Soccer Team, who got humiliated against Mexico on Wednesday night in Texas 4-0, is the United States.

The U.S. side is supposed to be tougher and is ranked higher than both Mexico and Costa Rica. The current FIFA ranking has the U.S. at No. 14, while Mexico is No. 21, Costa Rica is No. 32, and South Korea is No. 53.

S. Korean manager Hong Myung-bo all of sudden has a lot to prove.

Here is the U.S. Soccer News release:

The U.S. Men’s National Team will open its 2014 schedule playing before of a capacity crowd of 27,000 fans when it hosts the S. Korea for an international friendly at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., on Saturday, Feb. 1. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes Radio and UniMas. Fans can also follow the match live on Twitter @ussoccer.

Choo isn’t afraid to take one for the team

Ian Kinsler set a Rangers record last season in getting hit by eight pitches. That gave him 57 for his career, the most in Rangers history, before he departed for Tigers.

Now Shin-Soo Choo has seven years to catch Kinsler. The odds seem to be on his side.

The Rangers signed Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract, and one of the reasons is they love his ability to get on base. Choo’s knack for getting in the way of a pitch has done wonders for his on-base percentage, especially last season.

Choo was hit by 26 pitches in 2013, the most in the Major Leagues. It was the 33rd time in Major League history that a batter was hit by at least 26 pitches. The record is 51 by Hughie Jennings in 1896 for the Baltimore Orioles. The modern-day record is 51, set by Ron Hunt of the Expos in 1971. The Rangers record is held by Alex Rodriguez, with 16 in 2001.

Wednesday’s Link Attack: Details Emerge in Australia Murder; Multicultural Education in Seoul; Korean Street Food
Author: Young Rae Kim
Posted: November 27th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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China’s Airspace Claim Inflames Ties to South Korea, Too
New York Times

South Korea’s foreign minister warned on Wednesday that China’s recent attempt to police the sky over a vast area in the East China Sea was worsening tensions in a region already strained by territorial disputes.

China’s so-called air defense identification zone covered not only a group of islands that both Japan and China claim but also a submerged rock that both China and South Korea want to control.

The dispute over the submerged rock has never been as fierce as China’s dispute over the islands with Japan, but the new air patrol zone drew strong protests from South Korea, threatening to heighten tensions with Beijing. Seoul said it would not recognize the Chinese zone and would maintain its jurisdictional right to waters around the rock, which is called Ieodo in Korea and Suyan Rock in China.

Brisbane teen ‘looking for thrill kill’
9 News (Australia)

The teen accused of fatally bashing a South Korean student in a Brisbane park had fantasised about murder since he was a child, police will allege.

Detectives believe Alex Reuben McEwan, 19, was hunting for a random victim when he attacked 22-year-old Eunji Ban in an inner-city park as she walked to work as a hotel cleaner in the early hours of Sunday morning, the Courier-Mail reports.

McEwan, an apprentice spray painter, was arrested late on Monday after a tip-off to police.

He was allegedly wearing a fresh plaster cast for a broken hand he sustained in the attack.

Culturally mixed, united in learning
Korea Times

A fourth grader, Kaya, didn’t have a care in the world while playing soccer with friends after classes Tuesday on the grounds of Seoul Itaewon Elementary School.

Merrily and slightly roughly, Kaya and fellow fourth graders were kicking, running and scoring goals, shouting out mostly in Korean but with a mix of English

Kaya, who would only give his first name, was born to an Indian father and a Korean mother.

Tokyo, Seoul clash over artifacts taken to Japan during colonial period
South China Morning Post

There is growing anger in South Korea over an exhibition of ancient Korean artefacts that are on loan from a museum in Tokyo, with a Japanese legal expert warning that “emotional” demands by the media are likely to strain ties that are already at breaking point.

“Both countries have ratified the conventions that cover these artefacts so the situation seems to be more legal than nationalistic, but the South Korean media is becoming more and more emotional and that is certain to accelerate the nationalistic tendencies,” said Toshiyuki Kono, a professor in the faculty of law at Kyushu University and an expert in the trade of ancient artefacts.

Under the headline “Stolen national treasures come home for 90 days”, The JoongAng Daily on November 21 said visitors to an exhibition of treasures from the Gaya period at the Yangsan Museum, in South Gyeongsang province, were “stunned” that the items were only on loan from the Tokyo National Museum.

College-bound graduate seeks help for buying an assistance van
The Issaquah Press (Washington)

Local volunteers hope to make a college transition easy for one student.

Jae Kim graduated from Issaquah High School this year and is excited about starting Bellevue College in January. She has cerebral palsy, and while Issaquah High School provided assistance in transportation, she will need to find her own way to future education.

In response, a group of local residents have started a campaign to raise $50,000 to buy Kim and her family a gently used van, complete with lift assistance. They hope to find help from the community to take this large worry off Kim’s entry into college.

Kangta to represent ‘voice’ of Korea
Korea Times

Kangta, a former member of Korean boy band H.O.T., will attend the “Voice of World” concert as a representative of Korea.

The world-wide event, organized by China’s Zhejiang TV, has invited judges and contenders of a survival audition program “The Voice,” whose regional editions have been aired throughout countries like the U.S., U.K., Germany, China as well as Korea.

Kang, 34, a former judge of the first and second season of “Voice of Korea,” will attend the special event with his mentee and second season winner Lee Ye-jun, to be held on Saturday at the Wukesong stadium in Beijing, China.

MUSIC VIDEO: Never Shout Never Ft. Dia Frampton – “Under The Mistletoe”
Under the Gun Review

Earlier today, Never Shout Never partnered up with Alternative Press to release a music video for “Under The Mistletoe,” which is the first single off their brand new EP, titled The Xmas EP. You can view it for yourself by following the jump.

Throughout the tender tune, Dia Frampton aids frontman Christofer Drew on vocals, resulting in a warm, easy-to-listen-to arrangement that even goes so far as to rival more established holiday carols. In addition to “Under The Mistletoe,” this EP also features three classic Christmas sing-alongs to put you in the holiday spirit.

South Korean Web Giant Naver to Support Indie Cinema
Hollywood Reporter

South Korea’s biggest online search engine Naver has signed a pact with the Association of Korean Independent Film & Video (KIFV) to promote local independent films, the partners announced Wednesday.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) covers online services, as well as offline events, such as local independent film festivals.

The two parties will in January launch what they called an “online theater” for screening indie films. They will also create a database for independent filmmakers and actors. They will also co-sponsor local genre events, including the Seoul Independent Film Festival that kicks off Thursday, and the Seoul Independent Documentary Film & Video Festival that will take place in March. Films featured in the festival will be shown on Naver.

Asia TV Success Stories: Korean Dramas, Asian Animation

Aside from Hong Kong’s kung fu movies, Korean dramas and Asian animation are the two genres of local content that have the most success crossing borders within Asia.

Long-running Korean series play everywhere from Mongolia to the Middle East, Eastern Europe to Mexico, which otherwise have little connection with Korean culture. Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun recently reported that all four terrestrial and six satellite channels in Japan were airing Korean drama, amounting to more than 93 hours of Korean content per week.

MBC’s historical medical drama “Jewel in the Palace” this year celebrates its 10th anniversary, a decade in which South Korean TV drama exports have climbed in value from just $8 million in 2001 to $155 million in 2011, the latest data available. Most are sold as completed shows, but others have been sold as formats.

‘Oldboy’ movie review: Spike Lee’s remake of a 2003 Korean cult film makes some fixes
Washington Post

There’s a nice Hitchcockian quality to the new “Oldboy,” Spike Lee’s remake of Korean director Park Chan-wook’s cult film of revenge and regret. Which is kind of weird, considering that the source material is not Hitchcockian in the least.

It’s a strange, yet not entirely unsatisfying, fit. In trying to adapt the source material — not just the 2003 film, but the late 1990s Japanese manga series on which it was based — Lee and writer Mark Protosevich (“The Cell”) have jettisoned some details while significantly reshaping others, all the while keeping the essential outlines of the baroque and quite frankly bizarre tale of punishment and redemption intact.

“Oldboy” is grand opera shoved into the shoebox of a murder mystery.

As in the original, Lee’s “Oldboy” revolves around a man (Josh Brolin, here given the Everyman moniker of Joe) who wakes up after a bender to find that he’s been imprisoned in what seems to be a seedy, windowless hotel room where he’s fed, through a hole in the locked door, the same carryout Chinese dumplings every day for the next 20 years. (In the manga, it was 10 years; in the first film, 15. I guess that’s inflation for you.)

More Details on Han Ye Seul and Teddy’s Relationship in Woman Sense Magazine

The December 2013 issue of women’s magazine Woman Sense revealed further details behind actress Han Ye Seul and YG Entertainment hip hop producer Teddy Park’s relationship. The article contains information from multiple unnamed sources close to the couple. The reporter stated that the magazine spent two months covering the story in order to verify the couple’s relationship, which was ascertained through various channels.

The two met through a mutual acquaintance at the beginning of this year, and became a couple after May. Han Ye Seul and Teddy share something in common; both grew up in the US (California). A source close to the couple stated, “Teddy and Han Ye Seul are serious about one another. Both are working in different fields, and naturally that led to curiosity about each other’s work. Furthermore, they share similar feelings having lived overseas for a long time.”

Han Ye Seul has been on hiatus from entertainment activities for a while, but Teddy’s been actively producing for 2NE1 and G-Dragon, so their dates are usually early in the morning to fit Teddy’s schedule. Another close source explained, “Teddy usually starts working late at night. He works on songs almost every day as he produces most of YG artist’s songs. He goes on dates with Han Ye Seul after he finishes work early in the morning.”

LPGA’s Koreans Make Statement With Golf, English
AP via ABC News

This kind of conversation was rare five years ago on the LPGA Tour. For starters, it involved Vin Scully.

So Yeon Ryu was chatting on the putting green when the topic of her name came up. The LPGA makes sure everyone pronounces it correctly as “Yoo.” So why is it that Scully referred to rookie left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as “REE-yoo?”

“Oh, the Dodgers’ pitcher? He’s a really good guy,” she said. “Maybe that can be a nickname for him.”

Fresh from the street
Korea Times US

One of Seoul’s biggest attractions as a food destination is that its culinary offerings are not confined to restaurants. An amazing variety of food is available at the food carts and trucks that are a common sight along the streets of leisure and business districts, providing pleasure and refuge for the city’s famously overworked citizens.

It could be said that the city’s street-food culture was more vibrant from the 1960s to the early 1990s. But vendors now struggle to compete with franchised fast-food chains, the dull but relentless juggernauts that now dominate the inexpensive eating industry.

Tuesday’s Link Attack: Korea-Japan Relations Still Cold; Daniel Henney’s New Movie; John Cho’s ‘The Office’ Audition
Author: James S. Kim
Posted: August 6th, 2013
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Seoul-Tokyo ties remain icy one year after Lee’s Dokdo visit
Yonhap News

A year after former President Lee Myung-bak’s high-profile visit to Dokdo, relations between South Korea and Japan remain frosty with no signs of improvement following a recent series of provocative actions by Tokyo, analysts said Tuesday.

Bilateral ties took a major blow after the former South Korean president set foot on the easternmost South Korean islets on Aug. 10 last year, becoming the first sitting local head of state to do so.

The bold move, intended to reassert South Korea’s sovereignty over the islets, sparked a strong backlash from Tokyo, which has long laid claim to the outcroppings that lie about halfway between the countries.

Clock Ticking on Koreas’ Idled Kaesong Park
Wall Street Journal

Idle since all North Korean workers withdrew four months ago, the nine-year-old Kaesong industrial park—a rare symbol of inter-Korean cooperation—neared a crucial step Tuesday toward its potential demise.

The unification ministry in Seoul, handling cross-border relations, said Tuesday it had almost completed reviewing state-funded insurance payment for 109 of the 123 South Korean firms operating in Kaesong, paving the way for paying damages to the companies.

Upon receiving state reparation, the companies would be required to hand over control of their Kaesong assets to the Seoul government.

National Geographic, Korea, and the 38th Parallel: How a National Geographic map helped divide Korea
National Geographic

Sixty years ago North and South Korea ended the “Korean Conflict” by agreeing to the Armistice Agreement for the Restoration of the South Korean State. The agreement—a cease-fire, not a peace treaty—called for the Korean peninsula to be divided by a Military Demarcation Line (MDL) and a buffer, the demilitarized zone (DMZ), whose function would be to “prevent the occurrence of incidents which might lead to a resumption of hostilities.”

The armistice line meanders in an east-west fashion across Korea, connecting what Koreans call the East Sea with Gyeonggi Bay, 148 miles (238 kilometers) away off the peninsula’s west coast.

Although it approximates the positions held by communist and U.S.-led U.N. forces for most of the last two-thirds of the war, the MDL is not the same line that had divided Korea before North invaded South in June, 1950.

Two-time North Korean defectors detained in China are in limbo
South China Morning Post

China is in a diplomatic quandary on how to treat North Korean defector Kim Kwang-ho and his family who were arrested by public security officials in the northeastern city of Yanji last month.

What complicates Kim’s case is the fact that he and his wife originally defected from the North in August 2009 and settled in South Korea in March 2010.

Chinese authorities are trying to determine whether Kim, his wife Kim Ok-sil and his one-year-old daughter should be treated as North Korean citizens or as South Koreans.

Former North Korean child beggar wins fame as TV chef

With her flower-print dress and black hair dyed a fashionable light brown, Kim Ha-na does not seem like a former child beggar who risked her life three times trying to escape from North Korea before finally fleeing at the age of 15.

Kim, 25, settled in South Korea in 2005, and has recently gained television fame with a run in the competitive cooking show Masterchef Korea.

She hopes her spell in the spotlight will help her find her father, who she last saw as they tried to flee across the North Korean border into China, with North Korean guards in hot pursuit.

Joe Yun all set for work as U.S. ambassador to Malaysia
Yonhap News via GlobalPost

Joseph Yun, a Korean-American diplomat, plans to begin his work as the new top U.S. envoy in Malaysia in late August or early September, a diplomatic source said Tuesday.

Yun, principal deputy assistant secretary of state handling Southeast Asian affairs, underwent a Senate confirmation hearing last week for his nomination as ambassador to Malaysia.

“He was confirmed by the Senate last week. He is expected to start his work in late August or early September,” the source said.

N.Y. woman indicted in murders of ex-boyfriend, River Edge woman

An Orange County woman who allegedly stalked her ex-boyfriend before killing him and his new lover has been indicted for their murders.

Monica Mogg, 49, of Washingtonville, N.Y., could face up to two consecutive life terms if convicted of murdering Arthur Noeldechen, also from Washingtonville, and Jung Yi “Lillian” Kim, 42, of River Edge, on Oct. 30. She is currently being held on $3 million bail in the Bergen County Jail, according to court records.

DREAM Riders Cross the Country to Tell Stories
Epoch Times

When Kevin Lee was little, his mother warned him to keep his families’ immigration status a secret. “Mom said, ‘Kevin, don’t say anything,’ and I knew at any moment my parents could be taken away. I knew I was undocumented. Some people find out later.”

Lee is a Dreamer, an undocumented youth who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, (DACA). It means he can get a drivers’ license and work legally, and will not be deported. His parents could still be deported. There is no similar program for people over 30.

Before the Dream Act or DACA, Lee went to the Navy to enlist, but found he could not enlist without a Social Security number. “Even though I pledged allegiance to the flag every day (in school) I was not really an American,” he said in an American accent.

Family Ties: More Than a Face in the Crowd
Huffington Post

The bonds of family are extremely strong in most Asian-American households. So it should be no surprise that many short films screened during 2013′s CAAMFest offer unique perspectives on family relations. Three shorts stand out among this year’s crop.

Many people can point to an aunt or uncle who was always a bit odd, or danced to a different drummer. But for filmmaker Samantha Chan, her 100-year-old great aunt’s extensive film career was a mystery that needed to be solved.

Many people may have noticed Jane Chung’s cameo appearances in When Harry Met Sally, Chinatown, and The Birds. But as Chan documents in More Than a Face in the Crowd, her great aunt’s screen career (which began at a time when acting was often equated with prostitution) led to roles in more than 50 films and several television series.

What lessons could public schools take from South Korean cram schools?

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article on South Korea’s hagwons, the for-profit cram schools that nearly three out of four South Korean students attend. What can American public schools learn from a country where top tutors can earn up to $4 million a year?

Update: This is one of those posts where the best nuggets, in my opinion, are in the comments. There are some great discussions going on from people with experience in both the US and South Korean educational systems.

It’s interesting to compare this world of private tutoring, where parents shell out more to have their students taught by top-performing tutors, with Finland’s entirely public education system, in which schools provide education as well as food, counseling, and medical care. Two very different educational cultures, both marked by highly motivated teachers—at least according to the WSJ piece on the South Korean side.

Crystal Kim ’15 Examines Korean Fever for Education
Hamilton College

Crystal Kim ’15 grew up in America with South Korean parents, and she was often struck by the difference between her American education and her Korean upbringing. Upon realizing that education is a central part of Korean culture, she decided that she needed to gain a better understanding of Korea and of her own heritage. She is taking advantage of the summer to do just that with an Emerson Foundation grant, “The Korean Fever for Education: An Examination of Historical Foundations, Cultural Transmittance, Educational Inequalities, and Social Issues,” working with Director of the Education Studies Program Susan Mason as her advisor.

Last summer, as an intern with KoreAm Journal, a monthly Korean-American culture and news magazine, she read multiple articles about education, which sparked her interest in the topic. Her goal this summer is to gain a broad understanding of Korean education. In order to do so, Kim is reading many books and articles that discuss modern Korea and the history that led to the current educational system. In particular, she is researching “Education Fever,” a cultural obsession with education and educational credentials as a primary means of societal success and recognition. Kim described it as “almost a religious fervor.”

Daniel Henney to Return with New Film
Chosun Ilbo

Heartthrob Daniel Henney on Monday appeared with other cast members at a press event to promote his new movie “The Spy,” which is set to be released in early September.

He was accompanied by fellow stars Sol Kyung-gu and Moon So-ri.

The comic action film set in Bangkok, Thailand is the story of a spy and his wife, who has no idea what he does for a living.

‘The Office’: Watch Adam Scott, John Cho and more audition for the show

In 2003, as the American version of “The Office” was just getting off the ground, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn and Bob Odenkirk were among the actors who auditioned for the roles of Jim, Pam and Michael.

Press reports from that time, and a Facebook post by “Office” star Rainn Wilson from earlier this year, clued us in to some of the people who read for roles on the show. Now, you can actually see some of those auditions.

Readings by Scott and John Cho (Jim), Seth Rogen (Dwight), Odenkirk (Michael), Hahn (Pam) and future “Modern Family” star Eric Stonestreet (Kevin) are part of an extra feature on “The Office” Season 9 Blu-ray and DVD sets. You can get a glimpse of their readings in the clip below.

Crayon Pop Does The Straight-Five Engine Dance
Wall Street Journal

Are these five jumping girls on their way to produce this year’s “Gangnam Style?”

“Bar Bar Bar,” the latest single by girl group Crayon Pop, is emerging from left field in South Korea with eccentric choreography that has pundits comparing with Psy’s famous horse-dance routine.

Known as the “Straight-Five Engine Dance,” the five girls jump up and down during the track’s refrain, mirroring the movements of five engine cylinders.

How To Say Goodbye by Dia Frampton
Channel APA

Former Voice contestant singer Dia Frampton released her original song “How To Say Goodbye”. The break up song ponders on where the relationship went wrong, but the only thing to do now is to say goodbye. The separation is heart breaking and leaves an indelible mark on everyone involved. In the video, her vocals are backed by a quartet of guitars, a mandolin, and a cello.

Park In-bee ready to start fresh after disappointing Women’s British Open
Yonhap News

After coming up short in winning her fourth straight LPGA major last weekend, South Korean star Park In-bee said Tuesday she is ready to put the disappointment behind her.

Park arrived home on Tuesday to rest after competing at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at the Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland. She was seeking to become the first golfer, male or female, to win four consecutive professional majors in the same season, but she finished tied for 42nd at 6-over par, 14 shots behind the champion, Stacy Lewis of the United States.

At Incheon International Airport, Park, the world’s No. 1-ranked female golfer, said she was relieved to be done with the event.

SPORTS BRIEFS: Generals’ Ji-Man Choi is Southern League Hitter of the Week
Jackson Sun (Tenn.)

Jackson infielder Ji-Man Choi has been named the Southern League’s Hitter of the Week for the week July 29-August 4. During the last week Choi batted .350 with four extra base hits and 10 RBI. Choi also drew eight walks and registered a .536 on-base percentage.

Choi is a native of Kwang Yeuk, South Korea and was signed by Seattle as a non-drafted free agent in 2009. He was a member of the World squad during the 2013 Futures Game in New York.

Monday’s game was postponed to today.

World’s first road-powered electric vehicle network switches on in South Korea

South Korea has rolled out the world’s first road-powered electric vehicle network. The network consists of special roads that have electrical cables buried just below the surface, which wirelessly transfer energy to electric vehicles via magnetic resonance. Road-powered electric vehicles are exciting because they only require small batteries, significantly reducing their overall weight and thus their energy consumption. There’s also the small fact that, with an electrified roadway, you never have to plug your vehicle in to recharge it, removing most of the risk and range anxiety associated with electric vehicles (EVs).

The network consists of 24 kilometers (15 miles) of road in the city of Gumi, South Korea. For now, the only vehicles that can use the network are two Online Electric Vehicles (OLEV) — public transport buses that run between the train station and In-dong.

Friday’s Link Attack: North Korean Missiles; Portland Con Artist; K-Swiss Acquired by Korea’s E-Land
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 18th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Movement of Missiles by North Korea Worries U.S.
New York Times

The discovery by American intelligence agencies that North Korea is moving mobile missile launchers around the country, some carrying a new generation of powerful rocket, has spurred new assessments of the intentions of the country’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un, who has talked about economic change but appears to be accelerating the country’s ability to attack American allies or forces in Asia, and ultimately to strike across the Pacific.

The new mobile missile, called the KN-08, has not yet been operationally deployed, and American officials say it may not be ready for some time. But the discovery that the mobile units have already been dispersed around the country, where they can be easily hidden, has prompted the White House, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies to reassess whether North Korea’s missile capabilities are improving at a pace that poses a new challenge to American defenses.

U.S., China in tentative U.N. deal on North Korea resolution: envoys

The United States and China have struck a tentative deal on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea for its December rocket launch, though Beijing has yet to give its final approval, U.N. diplomats said on Friday.

The resolution would not impose new sanctions, but would call for expanding existing U.N. sanctions measures against Pyongyang, the envoys said on condition of anonymity.

Two North Koreans Killed for Christian Faith
Christian Post

Two North Korean Christians have been killed because of their faith, a global watchgroup revealed of the latest persecution cases to come out of the oppressive Pacific nation.

Opens Doors USA confirmed the deaths of the two Christians, revealing that one was shot while he was leaving for Bible training in China, and that another one died in a labor camp in North Korea.

Half of Asian Americans rely on ethnic media: poll
AFP via Google News

Around half of Asian Americans relied on ethnic media for news during the last election in which the growing community voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama, a study said Thursday.

Massive support by minorities played a vital role in Obama’s re-election on November 6. Asian Americans made up 3.4 percent of the electorate and could play a greater future role as they form the fastest expanding racial group.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, releasing detailed findings from its exit polls, found that 48 percent of Asian Americans considered ethnic media, led by television, to be their prime news source.

Sob story moves man to help – only he gets conned (Portland, Ore.)

At least four people who cashed checks for a 19-year-old man, trying to do him a favor, say they got stuck with a worthless piece of paper and are out hundreds of dollars in cash.

Adam Wallace was one of those alleged victims and was surprised he may not be the only one.

“I found out there were seven victims and that’s the ones that talked to me,” he said. “And some of them were his close friends – like closer than I was.”

Wallace had reconnected with Paul Byun through the personal ads on Craigslist.

“And he had told me, he gave me the sob story – cuz I had hung out with him for a week – he gave me the sob story that his mom had died in October of ovarian cancer and that his father drained the bank account and went to Korea,” Wallace said.

E.Land to Pay $170 Million for K-Swiss Shoes to Add Brands

E.Land World Ltd., a South Korean apparel distributor, agreed to pay about $170 million for K- Swiss Inc. (KSWS) to add the money-losing U.S.-based athletic shoemaker’s brands to its portfolio.

K-Swiss stockholders will receive $4.75 in cash per share, 49 percent more than yesterday’s closing price on the Nasdaq Stock Market, the Westlake Village, California-based shoemaker and E-Land said yesterday in a statement.

K-Swiss sales have dropped by about 50 percent since 2005 and the shares have plunged 91 percent from the 2006 high as the shoemaker’s all-white casual sneakers fell out of fashion and the company failed to take advantage of growth in athletic footwear demand. Revenue in the 12 months through September was $231.3 million, compared with $508.6 million in calendar 2005. Net losses from 2009, 2010 and 2011 totaled more than $160 million.

Man Found Dead 7 Years After Apparent Suicide
Chosun Ilbo

The skeletal remains of a 55-year-old man were found in the boiler room of his home in Busan on Wednesday, where they had been decomposing for seven years.

The corpse was found by the man’s landlord, who was trying to locate a cracked heating pipe. The landlord said the head was found away from the body.

Police later discovered strands of the man’s hair stuck to an electrical wire. Judging by the fact that there were no signs of forced entry, they believe he committed suicide.

Margaret Cho Talks About Being Seen as a Smothering Mother to the Planet (Interview, Part Two)
LA Weekly

In part one of our interview with comedian and musician Margaret Cho, we probed her about the Grammy award winning album Cho Dependent and she told us about her knee tattoos of presidents Lincoln and Washington.

In this second part, she talks about being seen as a mother figure, her own mom, her favorite television mama, and her newest stand up show, apt titled, Mother.

Dia in the house
New Straits Times (Malaysia)

THE Voice Season 1 runner-up Dia Frampton has been a busy little bee having spent most of last year touring to promote her debut album Red.

Apart from a six-month solo US tour, Frampton was also the supporting act for alt-rock band The Fray and the opening act for her coach on The Voice, country star Blake Shelton during his Well Lit & Amplified tour.

“I feel very lucky to have worked with Blake, he’s such a great person and one of the best performers I’ve ever seen,” she says when met at the Universal Music office before her maiden performance in KL recently.

Benson Henderson Knows Gilbert Melendez Will Be Hungry for His First UFC Fight
MMA Weekly via Yahoo Sports

For the second time in a row, UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson will headline a UFC on Fox card, this time facing Strikeforce titleholder Gilbert Melendez.

Henderson fought at UFC on Fox 5 in early December and pulled off a dominant five-round decision over Nate Diaz to mark his third win in 2012.

Now as he looks to continue his reign atop the division in 2013, Henderson starts the year with a challenge of champion against champion as Melendez moves over to the UFC after spending the last few years as the king of Strikeforce.

Worcester Surgeon And 2011 Fan Of The Year Spreads Love Of Pats Around World
CBS Boston

Did you hear the one about the surgeon, who traveled the world, helping heal kids?

Except on Sundays, when the Patriots were playing at home. True.

Dr. David Kim is a plastic surgeon, and often travels to third-world countries to operate on kids with deformities. And when the surgery is done, his patients not only have new hands or repaired faces, they also have Patriots jerseys or t-shirts.

“They have no idea about American football, so I’m compelled to spread the word about Patriots Nation,” Kim said.

Choi enjoys success, ‘can’t stop’ giving back

When Na Yeon Choi was a rookie on the LPGA, she spoke so little English that she and her parents often ate at fast food restaurants because the combo meals were numbered.

One of the few times they ventured out to a nicer establishment, Choi’s father ordered for the family by walking the waiter over to a nearby table and pointing to the plates of other patrons.

Rookie Hahn shares 18-hole lead at Humana
Golf Channel

James Hahn always kept the dream alive, even when he was working part-time at an ad agency and selling women’s shoes at Nordstrom. It’s what makes days like Thursday all the more gratifying.

In only his second career PGA Tour start, the 31-year-old rookie shot a 9-under 63 on the Palmer Course at PGA West to grab a share of the early lead at the Humana Challenge.

“I don’t ever take a day like this for granted,” Hahn said. “I remind myself every time I have a hard day that we have bad rounds and bad days and we miss cuts. We feel like the world is falling down, tearing apart.

Golfer of the Year: ALICE JEONG, North Torrance
Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.)

Throughout her high school golf career, North Torrance’s Alice Jeong had established herself as a rising star.

It seemed to all lead to her remarkable senior season.

Jeong sparked North to a share of its first Ocean League team title, then began a sparkling individual CIF postseason run that culminated with a sixth-place state medal.

The Cal-bound Jeong earned the 2012 Daily Breeze Girls Golfer of the Year.

Your destiny may all be written on your face
Yonhap News

Like many young South Koreans, Ko Joo-hyun is anxious about her future. She will be graduating from college soon, and she wonders what kind of job she will end up in and when she will get married. Like many others struggling to get or stay ahead in a society that moves quickly, questions about her future are a source of stress, and to help address them, she will consult a fortuneteller that offers a range of services — including face reading.

Face reading is an old practice where a trained expert assesses the contours of one’s face, and the size and shape of the chin, forehead and cheekbones in order to glean insight into one’s character and prospects for the future.

Tuesday’s Link Attack: Asian American Philanthropists; Michelle Rhee’s New Memoir; Girls Generation
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 8th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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As Asian-Americans’ Numbers Grow, So Does Their Philanthropy
New York Times

About 800 people gathered in November in a ballroom in Midtown Manhattan for one of the year’s more elegant galas. They dined on beef tenderloin with truffle butter, bid on ski and golf vacations in a charity auction, and gave more than $1 million to a nonprofit group based in New York.

But this was not an old-money event. The donors were largely Korean immigrants and their children.

Members of a new class of affluent Asian-Americans, many of whom have benefited from booms in finance and technology, are making their mark on philanthropy in the United States. They are donating large sums to groups focused on their own diasporas or their homelands, like the organization that held the fund-raiser, the Korean American Community Foundation.

Korean Americans lobby US government for greater involvement in Korea
The Hankyoreh

As one of its major goals for 2013, Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE), an organization for Americans of Korean descent, has decided to urge the Obama administration to engage directly with North Korea to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula. KACE has already started seeking out help from congress.

Getting involved in the North Korean issue is unusual for KACE, which until now has directed its influence on Capitol Hill toward achieving greater rights for Korean Americans, such as visa waivers and immigration reform.

Leonia’s first Korean-American councilman is honored as he steps down
Bergen County Record (N.J.)

The borough’s first Korean-American councilman, Philip Choi, received a rousing sendoff at the borough’s reorganization meeting Monday, accepting proclamations from state officials and gratitude from his political colleagues.

“You have been a friends and a great supporter to the people of Leonia,” state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, said as the crowd gave a standing ovation. “We know we haven’t heard the last of you in public office.”

Choi, a Democrat who joined the council in 2006, chose not to run for another term after running unsuccessfully for mayor as an independent in 2011. His opponent, Mayor John DeSimone, embraced Choi after presenting him with a proclamation to recognize his service.

What’s missing from Michelle Rhee’s memoir
Washington Post

Michelle Rhee left town more than two years ago, but the debate about her stint as D.C. schools chancellor shows no signs of cooling. It remains a hot button for the education commentariat and is the subject of a “Frontline” documentary that airs Tuesday evening. And now Rhee has produced “Radical: Fighting to Put Students First” a memoir/manifesto to to be published next month.

She offers some interesting coming-of-age detail, especially about life with her staunchly traditional Korean immigrant parents who expected her to wash the dishes after every meal and clean up after her brothers. We learn that she was a college sophomore the first time she fired someone, while managing a deli called Grumpy’s. As a lefty Cornell undergrad in the early nineties, she registered her opposition to President George H.W. Bush’s policies on reproductive rights with a button on her backpack that read “Bush, Stay Out of Mine.”

San Jose man, 79, identified as person killed Friday while walking on freeway
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.)

A man who was struck and killed Friday while walking in lanes of traffic on Highway 101 has been identified as Hyuk Joon Kim, 79, of San Jose.

Callers reported a man in the traffic lanes around 7:18 p.m., and he was struck by at least one vehicle a short time later, according to the California Highway Patrol. Kim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gordon Flake on Japan-Korea Ties
Wall Street Journal

Gordon Flake, a Korea specialist and executive director of the Mansfield Foundation in Washington, is a regular visitor to South Korea and the Northeast Asia region.

As new administrations in Seoul and Tokyo take tentative steps to improve relations following a deterioration of ties last year, Mr. Flake spoke at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul on Tuesday about the importance of the bilateral relationship for both countries, the U.S., and security in the region.

North Korean adoptions approved in US
The Telegraph (U.K.)

The US Congress has approved a bill which aims to make it possible for Americans to adopt orphaned North Korean children.

Down-Home American, Korean Style
New York Times

Charlie’s Main Street Cafe in the heart of downtown here is a monument to small-town Americana.

The purveyor at this landmark of deeply American culture in a town that is more than 97 percent American-born happens to be a South Korean immigrant who traces her earliest awareness of the United States to a story her mom told her when she was in elementary school in Seoul, about a place that boasted of 31 flavors of ice cream.

When Geewon Anderson, 48, bought Charlie’s in May, she not only embraced the tradition the cafe represented, she also worked to bolster it.

Coming to Britain: Koreans make a home in the heart of England
Yonhap News

Arriving in the United Kingdom as a single mother with three young children in the late 1980s, Hyeon-ja Jo harbored great expectations.

“I’d thought that Britain would be a great place,” says Jo. “But in fact, when I got here it was rather disappointing. Arriving at Gatwick (London’s second-largest airport), it felt like Gimpo (an international airport in Seoul): small, kind of provincial. Americans are so tall, but British men … weren’t.”

Twenty-four years later, despite her initial misgivings, Jo remains firmly in the U.K. Arriving in the very year South Korea was announcing its own accession onto the world stage with the 1988 Seoul Olympics, she settled in southern England, where she subsequently remarried, raised her family, and built up a successful restaurant business that now employs all of her children.

Korean-American Actress Won’t Be Pinned Down
Chosun Ilbo

Korean-American actress Esther Chae has built up her filmography with roles in popular soap operas such as “The West Wing” and “The Shield,” while continuing to write scripts, act and direct plays.

In her latest work, a one-person play called “So the Arrow Flies,” Chae plays four roles to portray a cat-and-mouse game between a North Korean spy and an FBI agent who is in hot pursuit. The play has received much critical acclaim and was invited to a number of international events, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Chae was born in Oregon, while her parents were studying there, and her family moved to Korea when she was five. After graduating from Korea University, she returned to the U.S. with a long-held dream of becoming an actress. She then graduated from the Yale School of Drama before making her stage debut.

‘Top Chef: Seattle’: Kentwood’s Kristen Kish talks about being the frontrunner of the current season (Mich.)

Kristen Kish is currently the darling of “Top Chef: Seattle.”

Nine episodes into the current season of Bravo’s battling-chef reality show, the cook from Kentwood is easily the frontrunner among the remaining contestants. She has won three Elimination Challenges, with her victor’s spoils totaling $35,000, plus a Healthy Choice frozen entrée based on her winning pot pie recipe. The judges often lavish praise on her work, and fans of the show have buried her with compliments and accolades.

Now, Kish is just enjoying her time in the spotlight. The 2002 East Kentwood High School grad called me from Boston, where she lives and works as Chef de Cuisine at Stir, to talk about her newfound fame, her non-strategy strategy and, of course, her flirty little asides with fellow contestant Stefan Richter.

Girls Generation’s New Album Already a Hit with U.S. Media
Chosun Ilbo

Girls’ Generation’s new album “I Got a Boy” is receiving rave reviews from the U.S. media.

Billboard on Friday ran a review on all the tracks on the album and described them as “polished K-pop confections that combine elements of forward-thinking EDM (electronic dance music), classic and modern R&B, 80s new wave, and more.” It added that “it should more than satisfy not only K-pop fans but also listeners of all types of popular music.”

Buenos Dia: Dia Frampton live in Manila

Organizers said they had just over a week to plan for the one-night-only show of Dia Frampton in the Philippines.

The first season runner-up of hit reality singing show “The Voice” is in the midst of the Southeast Asia leg of a tour to promote her debut album “Red.”

After Vietnam, she expressed interest to come to Manila. “My guitarist is Filipino,” she said.


I just cracked open Prophecy, the debut novel by Ellen Oh.

It’s a young adult fantasy adventure rooted in ancient Korean folklore, about a badass young female warrior outcast named Kira who has crazy yellow eyes and slays demons. It has a kingdom in peril, a dangerous quest, a ragtag crew and a villainous Demon Lord. You know, everything a proper fantasy adventure tale needs. And swords.

Kim: Missing Korean Studies
The Dartmouth (Dartmouth College)

Every Ivy League university other than Dartmouth currently has a Korean language or studies program as part of its regular curriculum. This has been the case since the early 1990s. On this matter, the College is literally decades behind its peers.

Over these last two decades, South Korea’s importance in the global economic and political system has continued to grow. The country currently has the 12th largest economy in the world, when measured at purchasing power parity. Furthermore, with a vibrant democracy and a liberal economic system, South Korea shares many similarities with America and its European allies. South Korea also plays a crucial role in the United States’ negotiations with North Korea and China. If the College wishes to continue to send its graduates to the forefront of global politics and business, then the formal establishment of a Korean studies program, including language courses, would be a key step towards this goal.

Jong wants to be Korean ‘ambassador’

North Korea striker Jong Tae-se has said he wants to be an ambassador between the two Koreas after finalising his move to South Korean club Suwon Samsung.

Jong, 28, was born in Japan but has a North Korean passport because his mother is North Korean.

He represented North Korea at the 2010 World Cup and has scored 15 international goals. His move to Suwon Samsung makes him the fourth, and so far the best-known, North Korean to play in the South.

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