Tag Archives: dumbfoundead

epik high parker

Dumbfoundead to Perform at Epik High’s Los Angeles Concert

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Epik High announced earlier today that Los Angeles-based rapper Dumbfoundead, who now goes by the name Parker, will be joining them on stage for their 2015 North American Tour.

Parker has been invited to perform as a guest rapper for the Los Angeles leg of the tour at the Wiltern Theater on May 29. Last February, Parker returned to the rap battle scene after a long five-year hiatus, defeating rapper Conceited and even earning praise from Drake.

Born in Beunos Aires, Argentina and raised in L.A.’s Koreatown, Parker has been an influential hip-hop artist in the Asian American community since the mid-2000s. He’s been featured in Epik High tracks “Maze” and “Rocksteady,” which were included in the hip-hop trio’s sixth album [e]. The L.A. rapper also performed as the opening act for Epik High’s Map the Soul tour back in 2009.

After adding new cities and encore concerts, Epik High is set to kick off their 2015 North American Tour at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater on May 28. The group will then travel to Los Angeles, Vancouver, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, New York and Toronto through June.

To learn more about the tour, visit Epik High’s official Facebook page or the official tour website


Awk Parker

Parker & Awkwafina Booking College Shows

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Parker, also known as Dumbfoundead, just finished off his Dead End Tour, but he’ll be back on the road soon with his fellow rapper Awkwafina. The two artists are gearing up for their tour through April and May, and they want a few suggestions from the college crowd.

If your school club or organization is interested in possibly hosting them for what will be one heck of a show, contact book.dfd@gmail.com.

You can read our September 2013 cover story on Awkwafina here.


Featured image courtesy of Dumbfoundead

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‘Bad Rap’ Documentary Asks: Where Are The Asian American Rappers?


Ever since hip-hop took off in the South Bronx in the 1970s, rappers around the world have embraced the music and culture, with many carving out their own identities and establishing themselves as mainstream stars.

But what about Asian American rappers? Though several have stomped onto the scene, from pioneers such as the Mountain Brothers, Jin and Lyrics Born, to stars of today including Far East Movement and Jay Park, these aren’t the names that we immediately associate with hip-hop in mainstream American culture.

Why not? Is it a lack of support? Their appearance? Not having that breakout hit? Filmmakers Salima Koroma (director/producer) and Jaeki Cho (producer) are looking to explore that question with Bad Rap, a new documentary about the Asian American presence in hip hop.




Bad Rap focuses on the perspectives of four Asian American rappers: Dumbfoundead, Awkwafina, Rekstizzy and Lyricks. Each has their own story, style and attitude, but they all share the same goal: to make it big. Yet they all encounter challenges in a culture that still expects them to fit the model minority stereotype.

With insight and appearances from Far East Movement, Jay Park, Jin, Traphik, Decipher, Kero One, The Fung Bros, Ted Chung and Oliver Wang, Bad Rap looks to shed light on the Asian American hip-hop culture and highlight the up-and-coming stars.

Salima Jaeki

Salima Koroma (left) and Jaeki Cho

As of now, Koroma and Cho are looking to add on their 40-minute film, and they are asking for support via Indiegogo. All proceeds will go towards adding more content to complete a 70-minute feature, as well as finalizing the film for its eventual premiere.

The idea for Bad Rap began with a “mutual obsession” with hip-hop. Koroma first reached out to Cho, who had written a piece on K-pop star G-Dragon when she was searching for a subject to cover for her thesis at Columbia University. Cho’s journey with hip-hop began with listening to Drunken Tiger when he was 10 years old, and that led to a career in music journalism.

Check out the trailer below, and follow the project on their Indiegogo page, as well as on Facebook, TwitterInstagram and YouTube.


Traphik (Timothy DeLaGhetto)



Jay Park

Jay Park


Far East Movement

Images via Bad Rap Film Indiegogo Page

Photos by Vince Truspin.

Korea’s Hip-Hop Legend Tiger JK is a Rebel with a Cause

Against the Flow

Pioneering hip-hop artist and producer Tiger JK has long defied convention, so KoreAm decided to take an unconventional approach to covering him.

First we look back at this Korean American rebel’s incredible 20-year career, which not only changed the face of music in Korea, but also planted seeds for a larger, lasting hip-hop movement. Then, we hear Tiger tell it like it was and is, in his own words, in a special interview conducted by the Smashing Pumpkins’ Jeff Schroeder.


photos by Vince Truspin

The humility and soft-spokenness of Suh Jung Kwon are surprising—even disarming—upon first meeting him. 

CS-TJK-0114-Grey1 CS-TJK-0114-Grey2

Better known as Tiger JK, or Drunken Tiger, the Korean-born rapper is a global superstar, or, as the media and his fans deem him, “hip-hop royalty,” “the godfather of Korean hip-hop,” “the Jay-Z of Korea,” the “most popular Korean rapper in America, Asia and the world.” It’s worth noting that the latter was a designation by the Los Angeles Times, not some gushing fansite.

But on this overcast late Friday afternoon in Los Angeles, Tiger JK extends a warm hand and bows his head as he greets the people waiting for him at a photographer’s cozy Hollywood studio—no swagger in sight. The only indication that there is a major celebrity in our midst is the entourage surrounding him—a handful of men in dark jackets, including a buff, bald bodyguard named Tiny. And then there is, of course, Tiger’s wife, Yoon Mirae (also known as Tasha), herself a bona fide star carrying the title of the queen of Korean hip-hop. The couple has just flown in from Korea, where they live with their son Jordan, for KoreAm’s cover shoot. They will also be performing, along with fellow Korean hip-hop artist Bizzy, at the magazine’s annual Unforgettable gala the following day.

Initially, Tiger JK sits in the center of the couch, his hands together on his lap, head facing forward, almost like a schoolboy, but there is a slightly guilty look on his face. Speaking in hushed tones, he confesses that he’s a bit hung over and apologizes for the cornrows in his hair, perhaps concerned thatKoreAm readers might not like that kind of look.

Such modest demeanor seems to contrast sharply with the rebellious and revolutionary figure that Tiger JK is to his fans and anyone who has long followed his incredible 20-year career, lined with chart-topping singles, multiple music honors and collaborations with dozens of respected artists in genres as diverse as reggae and punk. Last fall the 39-year-old rapper/songwriter/producer world-premiered his ninth album, The Cure, timing it with the launch of his and his father, music journalist Suh Byung Hoo’s, new management company, Feel Ghood Music.

But, as with most pioneering figures, Tiger JK’s success came only after considerable growing pains. The truth is, when he made his debut in Korea in the early 1990s, hip-hop was largely considered low-grade music.

“It was sort of shiny, happy, cotton candy K-pop,” described music agent Bernie Cho, president of the DFSB Kollective, recalling the Korean music scene at the time. “Then along comes Drunken Tiger, roaring onto the scene.  He not only opened doors, he kicked doors down for hip-hop music in Korea. If it weren’t for Drunken Tiger, there would be no rap categories or trophies at Korean music award shows.

Because, back in the day, hip-hop was so new, so raw, so disruptive, no one knew how to deal with it.”

Though born in Korea, Tiger spent about a decade of his youth in the U.S., including his teen years in Los Angeles. And, at a time when we saw the rise of L.A. gangsta rapper crews like N.W.A. with their in-your-face, anti-establishment lyrics, Tiger grew his passion for this music and the mic. Though he attended Beverly Hills High School, he kept a multiracial group of friends—at one point, he said he even joined a black gang—and took part in freestyle battles with some of L.A.’s now-legendary underground rappers.

CS-TJK-0114-BW1 CS-TJK-0114-BW2

“I was surprised when [Tiger JK] started dropping these rappers’ names that I grew up listening to, from a famous open mic in L.A.,” said Dumbfoundead, a.k.a. Jonathan Park, the most prominent Korean American rapper in Los Angeles today. “They’re not big at all, they’re super-underground. It was tripping me out.

“That’s when I started having respect for him because that just tells me he was a rap kid like me growing up, battling, paying your dues in rap, going to cyphers, like you’re supposed to do. He was actually participating in the culture. I know every f-cking Asian American rapper who’s doing anything … you talk to them, they got mad respect for JK.”

Following the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Tiger JK famously performed at a multiracial open-mic event in L.A., withstanding some initial anti-Asian boos from the crowd, but leaving many with their mouths agape after he showed them what this Asian kid could do with words and rhymes. That performance also got him noticed by Koreans overseas.

At the urging of his friends in Koreatown, he then decided to take his motherland by storm.

Bernie Cho, working for the Mnet music network at the time, recalled the buzz about this kid from L.A. who could hold his own with the best rappers out there. “It was hard to believe, but you had to see it to believe it,” said Cho, also a former producer for MTV Korea. “He was the real deal.”

But many Koreans weren’t ready for music so real and so raw.

By its very nature, hip-hop is a rebellious art form, Dumbfoundead noted. “The Ice Cubes and Public Enemy, these are people that are fighting the establishment,” he said. “When you bring that sh-t out there, especially in a country where there are so many restrictions and it’s so conservative, … it’s like [Tiger JK] doing rap music is already like a symbol of being a rebel. He was a rebel. The first rebel.”

Dumbfoundead said that there were other artists rapping in Korea before Tiger, but the latter was more authentic. “I think everyone was doing it because they saw it in America, and they were like, ‘this is hot,’ as opposed to Tiger JK—he’s a rapper,” said the 27-year-old artist. “He wasn’t a singer dude trying to rap. He was the Eminem. Before, it was all Vanilla Ices.”

Tiger’s first solo album, Call Me Tiger, released by Oasis Records in Korea, flopped due in part to limited publicity because the single “Hide and Seek” couldn’t get any radio play.

“Every single or track got banned, had a redline, marked ‘explicit content,’ but I wasn’t cussing or nothing,” recalled Tiger JK, in an interview with Arirang TV in 2009. “Back then … everything’s rehearsed, everything’s in the box. I had no dancers, no stage clothes, no bling. … I was too raw. They banned my music, and they banned me.”

After that first effort, he would return to the States—he is a U.S. citizen—but gave Korea another try a few years later, this time teaming up with DJ Shine from New York to form Drunken Tiger. Their debut singles “I Want You” and “Do You Know Hip-hop” from their first album, Year of the Tiger (1999), are remembered today as classic and quintessential Drunken Tiger songs. Though their music was still seen as controversial, Korean youth started to gravitate toward this new sound and culture, showing industry naysayers that not everyone was satisfied with manufactured, choreographed K-pop fare.

The crew’s albums would feature noteworthy Drunken Tiger-affiliated artists like DJ Jhig (a Korean American), Micki Eyes (a Korean Italian American) and Roscoe Umali (a Filipino American), as well as several Korean hip-hop artists who were part of The Movement. The Movement crew, which included Tiger’s now-wife Yoon Mirae, was in many ways a movement to bring these artists’ music into the Korean mainstream, but also served almost as a support group for these still-marginalized artists, who would cheer each other on. “The Movement was created for those of us who felt isolated and down,” Tiger JK has said.

The collective would eventually sprout some of Korea’s most popular hip-hop crews today, including Epik High, Dynamic Duo and Leessang.

“[Tiger JK’s] impact goes beyond just, like, seeing him on TV or on the radio,” noted Dumbfoundead. “He had a huge influence on the subculture. I think the influence on the subculture is actually more important because it sparks that underground movement, and that seeps into the mainstream. It’s like planting seeds.”

And those seeds even spread to remote areas of the world. Korean hiphop artist Bizzy, currently performing with Tiger JK and Yoon Mirae under the name MFBTY, recalled how, in his late teens, he was living in New Zealand and one of his Maori friends told him to check out Tiger JK. “One of my closest friends brought me a CD, and he was telling me, ‘Yo, those are your people. Have you heard of this album?” recalled Bizzy, then part of the underground hip-hop scene in New Zealand. It was Tiger’s first album. “It was kind of funky because it wasn’t Korean people who introduced [me to] Tiger’s music. It was Maoris (indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand) because they thought that the music was dope. I heard it, and it was fresh. I was, like, ‘Oh, that kind of music exists in Korea?’ That inspired me a lot.”


The early 2000s would see Drunken Tiger’s single “Good Life,” from the crew’s third album, The Legend Of…, climb to No. 1 in Korea; it is often referred to as the first time a purely hiphop song topped the Korean charts. That same single would claim the award for “Best Hip-hop Music Video” at the Mnet Music Video Festival in Korea. From there, Drunken Tiger’s fanbase swelled in Korea and beyond, with performances before capacity crowds of thousands at venues from Los Angeles to New York, Tokyo to Taipei.

Even after the departure of DJ Shine in 2005, Tiger JK would continue to use the Drunken Tiger name as a solo act, and his success only grew, with a hit sixth album, endorsements from companies like Hite Beer and Reebok Asia rolling in, and the establishment of his own record label, Jungle Entertainment in 2006.

But, notably, Tiger JK’s music didn’t intrigue based on shock value or explicitness. Ask fans of Drunken Tiger what draws them in, and they’ll use words like original, authentic, innovative, genius and honest. His music was not only influenced by L.A. rap, some tracks also carried Latin rhythms or a reggae vibe. He would also sample Korean instruments or songs, and rapped in Korean and English. “It’s very meticulous,” Cho said of Tiger’s songwriting. An example from his hard and heavy rap song “Monster” that Korean Americans can especially appreciate: Crazy jiujitsu but a hapkido flow. / You only throwin’ hands playing kai-bai-bo.

“Whether he mixes or mashes his verses in Korean or in English, every rhyme, every rhythm, every beat effortlessly flows,” added Cho. “The fact that he can seamlessly tap into his bicultural influences is a testament to his genius.”


He also draws from his life. His “8:45 Heaven,” which he wrote after the passing of his grandmother—at 8:45 a.m.—who helped raise him, is a fan favorite. Intimately performed, the song begins with a piano ballad introduction, and Tiger’s voice carries a longing and despair throughout, his voice sometimes breaking up and falling slightly off beat, yet he left that vulnerability in the track.

“I just fell in love with it,” said Hannah Jun, 24, a Korean American actress based in L.A., who has been a Drunken Tiger fan since high school. “It’s about his grandma, but it also relates to everything, anyone you love. It wasn’t heavy hip-hop, but it was very honest. You can actually feel it.

“His material is always personal. That’s why I think fans love him even more,” said Jun. “As a fan, you feel like you’re with him. It reminds you he’s human, too.”

And the human travails for Tiger have certainly been many. Not only did he contend with the early rejection of his music—he has said people even threw shoes at him—but he also faced a drug charge in 2000, widely believed to be trumped up by authorities trying to sabotage this controversial artist on the rise. It’s an almost unbelievable story that was documented in a Spin magazine article, which noted Tiger had passed a drug test and was not even in Korea at the time of his alleged crime. The charge led to an airtime ban of Drunken Tiger’s music, but he wouldn’t be silenced for long.

Then, by the mid-2000s, as Tiger’s success was soaring, he was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis, a spinal chord disease affecting one’s limbs and motor functions. It forced his hospitalization and a hiatus from performing. The disease, which can paralyze some patients, is incurable, and to this day, the rapper takes medication to treat the symptoms. In a 2009 TVN A Look at a Star documentary, his wife said, “No matter how sick he was, he didn’t want to show it and always kept smiling.”

He kept smiling and pushing himself, releasing a double-album of 27 tracks in 2009—this at a time when Korean artists were favoring releasing digital singles and not physical albums. Once again, Tiger went his own way. Feel gHood Muzik: The 8th Wonder would be named Album of the Year at the 2010 Seoul Music Awards, and was one of the best-selling CDs of the year in Korea, with all its tracks debuting in the Top 100 K-pop digital singles chart.

“He’s a very innovative individual, with his lyrics and music, and the choices he made with his career,” said Korean American singer/rapper Jay Park, formerly of K-pop band 2PM.

“I respect him as an artist and as a person,” added Park, who has collaborated and performed with Tiger JK. “To me, he’s an OG, a legend, but he’s super cool to me, and he’s super humble. He keeps it real and helps me out whenever he can.”

Park’s comments seem to reveal a sense of responsibility Tiger feels, and the title of godfather of Korean hip-hop doesn’t seem quite so hyperbolic anymore.

“A lot of what Tiger JK went through is almost like urban legend,” said Cho. “He’s been through some unbelievable hurdles and hardships that would derail most people. But he’s always found ways to get up and stand up—bigger, better, stronger.”

Today is no exception. Last July, Tiger revealed via Twitter that he, Yoon and Bizzy were leaving Jungle Entertainment. He has not publicly stated the reasons, though Tiger has said generally in the past, “the record business in Korea is shady.”The Drunken Tiger fansite, drunkencamp.com, quoted a source as saying the move was “related to business practices recently unearthed.”

Tiger’s new album, The Cure, released under his new label Feel Ghood Music seems to symbolize a fresh start for this hip-hop veteran. But it’s more. He has dedicated the album to his beloved dad, who is battling cancer. As KoreAm’s cover shoot last December was coming to a close, Tiger talked about how heavily his father’s serious condition was weighing on him and said that’s why he had been drinking the night before. He hoped the soulful title track—with the refrain, “I gotta get up. / Don’t give up now”—would uplift his father and anyone else going through difficult times.

The elder Suh, a former writer for Billboard, is a pioneering figure in his own right, instrumental in introducing pop music and culture to Korea’s shores through his writing and as a rock promoter, at a time when it was risky to do so. He has been called one of the most influential figures in the Korean music scene. That’s a title that could easily be applied to his son, who seems to have unknowingly followed in his father’s revolutionary footsteps, pushing boundaries for his own generation and opening up his motherland to new sounds and forms of expression.

“He created a real culture,” Dumbfoundead said of Tiger JK. “When I went to Korea over the last five years, it was incredible to see Korean hip-hop crews out there who rap and make beats, who don’t count on outside rappers to come in and throw shows.

“It’s been huge progress, where you can have rap groups compete up there with K-pop artists now. I think Korean hip-hop is at its peak.”

Incidentally, “The Cure” hit No. 1 on multiple charts in Korea, and the Billboard and Billboard Korea staffs ranked it No. 2 of the top 20 songs coming out of Korea in 2013. In other words, the Tiger is back. Again.


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



Video Roundup: Crazy Korean Drivers, Spiral Art, Rappers Unite

Here’s a look at some of the videos we are watching this week at KoreAm.

Korean Tow Truck Breaking Traffic Laws

In South Korea, a camera mounted on a Korean tow truck captures the truck’s journey to an accident scene. The truck, however, didn’t just travel to the scene, it raced at least two other trucks to the accident scene. Along the way, the truck broke an outrageous amount of traffic laws by violently racing through the streets, crossing over into the opposing lanes, running red lights, nearly hitting other automobiles among other laws.

Spiral Artwork

Chan Hwee Chong, a Singaporean artist, uses a single black line to reproduce famous artwork from all over the world. His illustrations consist of a single black line spiraled into the likeness of a particular artwork.

Coast to Coast Collaboration

Asian American rappers from across the United States come together to collaborate on a new hip hop track. The black and white music video features the rappers rhyming about everything from music, women, life and other topics. New York’s Rekstizzy (a.k.a. KoreAm contributor David “Rek” Lee), Decipher from Philadelphia and Los Angeles’ very own Dumbfoundead put their own verses and experience into the song “No Apologies.”

India’s Toughest Warriors

The Warriors of Goja prove that they are some of toughest and most resilient men in India and, probably, the world. For an Indian talent show set up similarly to “America’s Got Talent,” this group of men showcase their talent of trying to destroy themselves. The Warriors violently attack themselves and each other with bricks, florescent bulbs, sledgehammers, spikes and even cars causing the judges to gasp in horror. In the end, all the men walked away battered, bruised and bleeding but that didn’t stop their smiles. This video is not for the weak-hearted.

South Korean Lawmaker Tear-Gases Parliament

Earlier this month, a South Korean lawmaker, Kim Sun-dong, tried to prevent a vote on a trade pact with the United States by releasing tear gas into the National Assembly chamber. This video captures the moment and chaos that ensued.

Chinese Pig Walks on Front Legs

In July of the year in Mengcheng County, Anhui Province, China, this piglet was born without its two hind legs. The piglet, called “Piggy the Strong” by the local villagers ways over 30kg. and mostly travels on his two front legs.

Have a video to share? Email linda@iamkoream.com!

Thursday's Link Attack: Toby Dawson, SNL Korea, Tokimonsta

Skier returns to his roots
Korea Herald

Olympic bronze medalist Toby Dawson has only been the coach for the Korean national men’s freestyle skiing team for a short time but he’s already received a shock.

A month has passed since he settled in Korea, and Toby Dawson, a U.S. Olympic bronze medalist skier, has just found out his real birth date.

“I had a fake birth date from the orphanage, which was Nov. 30 in 1978. But two days ago my dad in Busan told me I was born on May 4 in 1979,” Dawson said Wednesday.

Dawson, a Korea-born adoptee, came to Korea last month after being named freestyle ski coach for the national team. And after his official appointment last week, the 32-year-old sat in a caf in Gangnam, southern Seoul, to speak about his plans here.

“I’m just starting to learn so much now, and I’m very excited,” he said with a big smile on his face.

Seoul Patch vs. Reform Club Pop-Up Battle Royale
SF Weekly

San Francisco-based Korean American chef Eric Ehler will be mashing up his two pop-up kitchens this Sunday.

Some of the menu highlights include seared rock cod with braised kimchi beans, ham hock, and ginger, and salted caramel ice cream with black sesame rice cake and persimmon. To take the evening to the next level, they’ll play K-Pop and a Korean Dramedy on the projector screen. Bang!


Official Says U.S. Needs Time to Assess Aid to North Korea
New York Times

The United States needs more time to decide on possible aid for North Korea because it is not sure humanitarian assistance would reach the people in need, the top American aid official said on Thursday.

Rajiv Shah, the head of the United States Agency for International Development, made the comment amid growing appeals from American and United Nations relief agencies, which have recently called for urgent aid for the most vulnerable of the North Korean population, especially its children.

REVIEW: Dia Frampton – Red
Entertainment Weekly

With Red, [Frampton] pledges allegiance to no single genre, flitting confidently from Blondie-style disco-pop (”Billy the Kid”) and floaty acoustic folk (”The Broken Ones”) to the kind of big-chorus country proffered by her Voice coach Blake Shelton, who turns up for a duet on ”I Will.” The result feels like a farewell to life on the Warped Tour. B

REVIEW: Dumbfoundead’s ‘DFD’
The Silver Tongue (blog)

Rising out of the very saturated Los Angeles hip hop scene is Korean-American emcee Dumbfoundead, who has been making quite a name for himself through various viral YouTube videos of his exploits as a battle rapper and his latest venture: a media collective/lifestyle brand known as Knocksteady. All of these efforts have lead up to his latest album titled DFD, which hit the #2 spot on iTunes during it’s week of release last month, shocking many as Dumb is an unsigned act that managed to accomplish this feat with the strong fan base he has built over the years.

DFD’s production is very much in the realm of synthy boom-bap with splashes of alternative rock elements that give off a happy-go-lucky vibe throughout the album. Guest vocalists such as American Idol finalist Andrew Garcia and Breezy Lovejoy along with Dumbfoundead himself provide very catchy melodies and flows that have a lot of crossover appeal while maintaining a genuine everyman atmosphere in the track concepts.

Korean Students Struggle at Ivy League Colleges
Chosun Ilbo

The number of Korean students at Ivy League universities is on the rise, but little more than half complete their courses. According to figures from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, around 110,000 Korean students were studying in the U.S. as of this year, the largest group of foreign nationals for the fourth year running.

Korean-American academic Samuel Kim, a doctoral candidate at Columbia University’s Teachers College, reviewed data of 1,400 Korean students at 14 top universities such as Harvard, Yale and Cornell between 1985 and 2007 for his doctoral dissertation and found that only 784 or 56 percent graduated while the rest dropped out.

Hillsborough gas station owner shot in leg during robbery
St. Petersburg Times (Florida)

Deputies were searching for two men who robbed a gas station and shot the owner in the leg Wednesday night.

Two men walked into the BP station at 9702 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and demanded money. As the two attempted to take money from Tae Chun Kang, 42, the owner struggled with them and a gun fired, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Kang was taken to the hospital with a non life-threatening injury, deputies said.

Korea Tourism Organization wages war on ‘Engrish’

Looks like Engrish.com — the snarky website showcasing error-riddled English signs in Asia — won’t be getting as many submissions from Korea.

How awesome is this? Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) is offering to reward photographers who submit snaps of muddled signs at tourist spots.

The prize? A gift card of ₩50,000 (approximately US$45) that can be used at any vendor that accepts credit cards — otherwise known as free money.

Live From Seoul! It’s Saturday…Really…
Wall Street Journal

Since 1999, the KBS comedy show called “Gag Concert” on Sunday nights has been required viewing for those wanting to be part of the cultural zeitgeist. It’s often called Korea’s “Saturday Night Live” for its influence, though obviously not its format or time.

Now, cable station tvN, which mainly broadcasts variety shows and entertainment-celebrity news, is starting a weekly comedy program called “Saturday Night Live Korea.”

And it will be both live and on Saturday night. The show starts this Saturday.

It will have a cast of 16, nine men and seven women. A celebrity will host each week and there will also be musical guests, just like the original SNL on NBC in the U.S.

Toyota Gains From U.S.-S. Korea Trade Pact

The biggest beneficiary of the new trade agreement that will end South Korea’s tariffs on U.S.-made cars may be based in Japan.

Toyota Motor Corp. is looking to profit as it fights a rising yen blamed for an operating loss (7203) in its fiscal first half. Japan’s biggest carmaker began exporting Sienna minivans from Princeton, Indiana, to South Korea this month and may do the same with Camry sedans next year, said spokeswoman Amiko Tomita. The Camry was the third most popular import in South Korea in 2010.

Until this month, the 17 Toyota and Lexus models sold in South Korea were all from Japan. The dollar has declined against the won in the past year while the yen has gained.

“Because of a more favorable dollar-won exchange rate compared with the yen-won rate, Japanese carmakers can shift sourcing to the U.S., allowing them to lower their prices in Korea,” said Christian Yang, an analyst at consultant IHS Automotive. “Japanese imports look to gain market share through more aggressive pricing against domestic competitors.”

K.J. Choi leads Tiger Woods in Chevron World Challenge
Los Angeles Times

Tiger Woods birdied four of the first five holes but a red-hot K.J. Choi did Woods one better with birdies at all five to grab the early lead Thursday in the first round of the Chevron World Challenge.

Choi, a South Korean who won the Players Championship in May, went out with a five-under 31 on the front nine holes of the par-72 Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks.

After a bogey at the par-four ninth hole, Woods carded a three-under 33 and trailed by two shots as he headed to the 10th tee.

Preparation of Steelers’ Hines Ward hasn’t changed
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via Boston Herald

The reality is that Ward has had to accept a reduced role since wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery told him three weeks ago that the Steelers wanted to get others more involved in the passing game.

Ward played just nine snaps in Cincinnati, and he caught one pass for 10 yards. Ward started last Sunday night in Kansas City, but he logged just 16 snaps and caught four passes for 21 yards.

“I didn’t ask why or if I was playing bad or the reason behind it. I’ve never once questioned a coach(ing) decision, how they run game plans,” Ward said following practice yesterday. “That’s all that was told me that we want to get other guys the ball. They don’t owe me anything. I just try to go out and bust my tail and continue being the same player. I think you guys wanted it to be about me, but it’s not about me. I’m a team guy.”

TOKiMONSTA: “Swine And Burgers”
Prefix Magazine

Can I just come out and say that Soundcloud is the f-cking tops? I mean, in just the past 24 hours we have been able to hear previously unreleased gems from Brainfeeder’s Flying Lotus and TOKiMONSTA thanks to their accounts on the social networking/music site. The latter just posted a great never-before-heard tune, “Swine and Burgers,” that stems from some recording sessions back in 2009. Why she chose to leave this bumper of a tune off any of her releases is beyond me, but at least we’re hearing it now, right?

Check out our feature story on Tokimonsta from the October 2011 issue of KoreAm.


Monday's Link Attack: David Chang, Forever 21, K-Pop

The Hangover Part III

It started as a challenge. A patently absurd challenge. Could one writer keep up with a real-life Wolf Pack—comic star Aziz Ansari, top chef David Chang, and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy—as the hipster trinity partied through Tokyo, arguably the food capital of the world? (It’s definitely the drunk-karaoke capital.) Brett Martin remembers what happened next. Most of it.

David Chang – surly and hot, the chef who’s delivering Manhattan chic to our high rollers
The Daily Telegraph (Australia)

Momofuku Seiobo opened just three weeks ago at the revamped Star in Pyrmont and is already one of the most talked-about restaurants in town, and not for all the right reasons. There’s the online-only booking policy, $175 upfront payment in a dark diner without a view and music too loud for the over-45s.

Chang is a bit surly. The shopping trip to Railway and Rowe Sts in Eastwood to sample the delights of Sydney’s Little Korea doesn’t start well when he is kept waiting 40 minutes after his car fails to turn up. He hops in a cab instead and picks up the organiser of the missing lift – me – on the way.

He doesn’t talk much, preferring to eke out emails on his phone before his New York head office shuts up shop.

Anthony Bourdain called him the hottest chef in the business. At 27 the New York food scene was struck dumb by his French/Japanese/Italian/Korean cuisine, including homemade, fluffy white steamed buns stuffed with braised pork belly and topped with hoi sin sauce and dishes including his spins on ramen noodles, kimchi stews and slow-cooked egg.

Amid Shrinking Budgets, Forever 21 Just Keeps Getting Bigger
Advertising Age

(Pictured above: Linda Chang, Forever 21 senior marketing manager and daughter of co-founders Do Won and Jin Sook Chang).

For a privately held fast-fashion retailer that after 27 years in business is still run by its Korean-American founder, Do Won Chang, Forever 21 has been behaving a lot like a big-box giant.

While many stores struggled to stay afloat during a recession that walloped consumer spending, Forever 21 pushed forward aggressively, opening ever-bigger locations and in many cases moving into space vacated by bankrupt businesses. Some Forever 21 shops, at 90,000 square feet or more, now rival a Kohl’s or Target in size.

“Many of [Forever 21] locations look and feel like flagship stores,” observed Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst with NPD Group. “Every shopper feels like it’s a great experience for them.”

South Korean pastor jailed for adultery
AFP via Yahoo News

A South Korean Christian pastor was jailed for 18 months for having a decade-long affair with a woman whose wedding he had officiated at, according to a court.

Adultery in South Korea is a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison but most offenders usually receive only suspended jail terms and imprisonment is quite rare.

The 51-year-old pastor, whose name has been withheld for privacy, had a secret affair with the woman, 41, for more than 10 years after conducting her marriage ceremony. She and her husband were both followers of his church. The woman was also given a year-long jail sentence.

Korean-American Director Rediscovers Roots
Chosun Ilbo

Tammy Chu was adopted by an American family at the age of nine and raised in rural New York state. She never saw another Korean until she went to college. “I remember what my birth parents looked like, but I forgot how to speak Korean and memories of Korean culture also disappeared from my mind,” she recalls.

Chu became a documentary film director and came back to Korea in 1998 for a project. “When I came to Seoul, it felt strange yet familiar and uncomfortable yet comfortable.”

She now lives in an apartment in Itaewon. She had shuttled back and forth from New York and Seoul for some 10 years and eventually decided to settle down here. Last year Chu, who can now understand a lot of Korean, won the top prize for a documentary at the Busan International Film Festival for her film “Resilience,” which focused on Korean adoptees.

Assault At Anti-FTA Protest
Wall Street Journal

Protests against South Korea’s ratification of a free-trade agreement with the U.S. took another ugly turn over the weekend with the assault of a police chief during a major demonstration in central Seoul.

Park Geon-chan, the head of Jongno Police Station, sustained minor wounds after being attacked by a group of around 100 demonstrators. They were part of a larger gathering of over 2,000 anti-FTA protestors that brought the Gwanghwamun area to a standstill on Saturday evening.

Mr. Park was apparently singled out because of his status and because he was in uniform.


US jury convicts man of visa fraud for recruiting Thai welders, forcing work in restaurants
AP via Washington Post

A California man was convicted of seeking visa extensions for Thai welders purportedly hired for a construction job when in reality they were forced to work at restaurants and live in deplorable conditions, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Yoo Taik Kim, 55, was found guilty by a federal jury in Los Angeles on Tuesday of visa fraud and lying on his citizenship application.

The case was part of a broader investigation into a labor deal that Thai welders claimed promised them legitimate jobs for an American steel company but subjected them to intolerable conditions at the hands of Kim’s manpower company.

Beckman-Ocean View recap
OC Varsity

Jeff Kim scored four rushing touchdowns and added another receiving as Beckman defeated Ocean View, 62-24, in the second round of the CIF-SS Southern Division playoffs Friday night at Ocean View High.

The game was played with a running clock in the fourth quarter as Beckman (10-2) carried a 45-point lead into the final quarter.

Kim finished with 204 rushing yards on 13 carries, including a scoring run of 90 yards midway through the third quarter. He also caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Biedgoly to put Beckman up 28-10 three minutes before halftime.

White Men are Likely to Move Twice as Fast When With a Minority Girlfriend

Among young American adults, relationships between white men and minority women move into sexual intimacy and from sex to cohabitation significantly faster than white-white couples or minority-minority pairings, reports a new study by a Cornell demographer. […] Controlling for such factors as religion and family background, the researchers found that, on average, white male-minority female couples advanced to sex within one month of dating — nearly twice as fast as white-white couples.

Calling Out Names of 83,000 Lost South Koreans
New York Times

A group of elderly South Koreans are campaigning “to generate more interest in the fate of tens of thousands of South Koreans believed to have been forcibly taken to North Korea during the Korean War six decades ago.”

On a sidewalk in central Seoul recently, Lee Mi-il and several other older South Koreans took turns at a microphone, calling out what seemed like an endless list of names. They began in the morning and continued through the night, one faceless name after another — 83,000 in all — ringing out and melting into the cacophony of the capital city’s busiest district.

K-pop craze: The K Factor
The Independent (U.K.)

Yet another mainstream article about the global K-pop phenomenon.

The loudest screaming I’ve ever heard isn’t at a pop concert at the O2, or the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, or the Birmingham NEC – it’s ringing up and down the aisles of a cinema in central London. And the cause of such eardrum-shredding shrillness? Not stadium rock gods or Simon Cowell’s latest pop puppet or a Beyoncé-calibre diva, but a band you’ve probably never even heard of: SHINee, five pretty young men from Korea. This is K-pop, and it may just be conquering the world.


Captors free last of South Korean businessmen held in restive southern Philippines, army says
AP via Washington Post

Kidnappers abandoned two South Korean businessmen in the restive southern Philippines after troops closed in and the gunmen panicked, an army general said Sunday.

The gunmen had been holding three South Korean businessmen. The first, Choi Inn-so, was released Friday, apparently because he had fallen ill and was slowing down the group.

On Saturday, the other two were found in Lanao del Norte province. Army Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes said Wu Seok-bung and Kim Nam-du were weak and starving when troops found them.

A Filipino guide who was seized with the South Koreans on Oct. 21 was reportedly shot in captivity, and troops will continue to look for him and the approximately 15 kidnappers, army Col. Daniel Lucero said.

Gardena husband shoots and kills estranged wife, then himself
Daily Breeze (Orange County, Calif.)

A man apparently shot his wife to death at the door of their Gardena apartment, stepped away from her and then killed himself, police said Friday.

Detectives said it appeared the husband, Won Chin, 52, committed the acts Wednesday night in the 15800 block of South Normandie Avenue because of a failing marriage.

“She moved out fairly recently,” Gardena police Sgt. Russ Temple said. “She came over to the house that night and it looks like he met her at the door and shot her with one single gunshot wound to the head.”

Korean Footballers a Step Closer to London Olympics
Chosun Ilbo

The nation’s Olympic footballers beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Sunday to top Group A in the final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2012 London Games.

Led by coach Hong Myung-bo, the team added three precious points to keep its Olympic dreams alive halfway through regional qualifying. It now has seven points from two wins and one draw, while Saudi Arabia is bottom of the table with one point.

Counterfeit “Ugg” Boots Sold
KIMT (Iowa)

One person has been arrested for selling counterfeit “Ugg” boots at Southbridge Mall.

59-Year-Old Joseph Kim of Columbine, Illinois was arrested and charged with 1 count of Counterfeiting Intellectual Property, a Class D Felony on Wednesday. He could face up to 5 years in prison.

Kim is accused of selling counterfeit “Ugg Boots” at Southbridge Mall in Mason City.

“No Apologies” Rekstizzy | Decipher | Dumbfoundead [Official Video]

Friday's Link Attack: Tablo, Toby Dawson, Dumbfoundead

Tablo: With “Fever’s End” Comes Happiness
Wall Street Journal

Tablo just released his first solo album “Fever’s End” – actually a two-parter with five songs each — after staying out of the public eye for almost two years.

The albums debuted very high on Billboard’s World Album chart. “Fever’s End (Part 2)” was ranked second and “Fever’s End (Part 1)” was ranked fifth.

“I didn’t have concrete expectations, so the warm reception is a surprise to me,” Tablo said in an interview with the Journal earlier this week.

Toby Dawson to Coach National Freestyle Team
The Chosun Ilbo

U.S. skier Toby Dawson, a Korean adoptee who won the bronze medal in mogul skiing at the 2006 Winter Olympics, was officially named as the coach of the Korean national freestyle skiing team on Thursday.

Dumbfoundead: Koreatown rapper inspires a tremendous following with his unlikely story
L.A. Weekly

During two hours in Koreatown’s Chapman Plaza, meanwhile, Park is stopped three times. He’s something of a local celebrity in this part of town, and one group even asks to pose for a photo with him.

“Everything changed when I really discovered YouTube two years ago,” he says, sipping soju and OB beer at Gaam Restaurant, a phosphorescent late-night lounge for the upwardly mobile. “Success on YouTube isn’t only about rapping well. It’s letting viewers share your life experiences and daily routine. A lot of them have followed me on every step of my journey and feel a personal connection.”

KCRW StoryCorps – Roy Choi [AUDIO]
StoryCorps (KCRW Los Angeles)

Roy Choi of Kogi Korean taco fame, shares stories with his friend Jude Angelini about growing up Korean-American in Los Angeles.

Backbeat: ‘The Voice’s’ Dia Frampton Steps Into The Great Wide Open

Dia Frampton, runner-up on the first season of NBC’s “The Voice,” performed four songs Thursday for the employees of Reveille Productions, the producer of “The Biggest Loser” and “The Office,” among other shows. The appearance, booked as part of Reveille’s monthly Brown Bag Lunch Series, had a two-fold purpose promote her album “Red,” due Dec. 6 on Universal Republic, and provide footage for an NBC.com series that will air around the beginning of “The Voice’s” second season.

1 Year Later: Who Gunned Down Studio City Man in His Driveway?
Patch (North Hollywood, Calif.)

When Jong Kim’s killers gunned down the businessman outside his home near Universal Studios last Nov. 18, they left a distinctive clue.

The three men had driven to Kim’s house on the 10600 block of Chiquita Street in Studio City near the border with Toluca Lake and North Hollywood, in a car with an unusual two-toned paint job. The Honda Prelude, a 1988-1992 model with a sun roof, after-market rims and modified exhaust, was caught on surveillance tape. The images were shown here and in a few other local media outlets—but, eight months later, detectives have not yet found the car, which could possibly lead them to the killers.


Redmond man arrested in connection with Bellevue homicide: Formal charges still pending

Redmond Reporter (Washington)

A Redmond man was arrested after investigators said he shot and killed a man, who was allegedly having an affair with his wife, at a downtown Bellevue apartment building Tuesday morning.

At 10:07 a.m. Tuesday morning, Bellevue police responded to the Belle Arts apartment complex, located at 111 108th Ave. NE, where they found Jin Kim, who was pronounced dead at the scene from a single gunshot wound to the head.

‘Korea has respect for design’
The Korea Times

“There’s something about Korean designers I like very much. First of all, they like to work with media, electronics and digital technology. They are comfortable with them and use them in a poetic way,” Antonelli said. “So even though some artists are traditional such as painters and sculptors, there is a great search of digital and multimedia art here.”

Samie Kim Falvey: ABC’s comedy queen

Credit for ABC’s comedy resurgence goes to many, but Samie Kim Falvey is clearly due some praise. The exec, who was named senior VP of comedy development in 2006, oversees a healthy laffer lineup that includes two-time Emmy winner “Modern Family,” “Happy Endings” and “The Middle,” as well as freshmen “Suburgatory” and “Last Man Standing.”

3rd-generation ethnic Korean helps dig up oil
The Korea Times

AKTOBE, Kazakhstan ― Dmitri Lim cannot speak any Korean but thinks of himself as at least half-Korean and even roots for the national football team of his great grandfather’s country.

The 32-year-old engineer is working for Firm Ada Oil, a joint venture established by two Korean companies, which produces oil in Aktobe, western Kazakhstan.

Firm Ada Oil’s majority stakes are shared by Korea National Oil Corp. and LG International.

“One of the reasons I decided to work for Ada Oil is that it is run by Korean companies,’’ said Lim who has worked for the oil developer for the past one and a half years.