Park annoyed with military over North’s drones
President Park Geun-hye yesterday reprimanded the military’s top brass for failing to realize that North Korea was spying on South Korea using unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.
“I think the fact that our military authority was not able to detect information about drones at all means there is a problem with the air-defense network and ground reconnaissance,” she said in a meeting with her senior secretaries at the Blue House.
Park stressed that Seoul should come up with measures that could instantly block or destroy any kind of intrusions from Pyongyang.
Her comments come after three digital-camera-equipped UAVs, or drones, were discovered in different regions: Paju in Gyeonggi, Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea and Samcheok in Gangwon.
Korean American makes skiers’ hall of fame
Toby Dawson, a Korean-American athlete who won a bronze medal in men’s mogul skiing at the 2006 Winter Olympics, has become the first man of Korean parentage to be inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
The retired mogul skier, along with Montana native Scot Schmidt, Kris “Fuzz” Fedderson and Aspen native John Clendenin, was inducted into the hall of fame on Saturday at a ceremony in Park City, Utah.
Dawson was orphaned in 1981, about three years after his birth in Busan, Korea. He was adopted by an American family in Colorado, where he first started skiing.
N. Korea Shuts Down Jang Song-taek’s Department
The North Korean regime has shut down the Workers Party department once headed by purged eminence grise Jang Song-taek and executed or interned 11 high-ranking officials, sources said Sunday.
One of them was burned alive.
A source said the regime is preparing a third purge of officials who supported Jang. The first purge involved his family, relatives and high-ranking party officials, while the second purge underway. The third will target his supporters in provincial chapters of the Workers Party.
S. Korea returns N. Korean sailors, bodies after boat sinking
South Korea sent home today three North Korean sailors who had survived a fatal sinking of a cargo ship in waters off the South, an official said.
The 4,300-tonne Mongolian-flagged ship carrying 16 North Korean crew sank in the international waters off the South’s southern island of Geomun on Friday.
Two bodies were retrieved from the sea and returned to the North along with the three sailors across the border truce village of Panmunjom, Seoul’s unification ministry spokeswoman told AFP.
U.S. envoy urges N. Korea to release Korean American missionary
A U.S. special envoy urged North Korea on Monday to release Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been detained in the North since November 2012, so that he can be reunited with his family and seek medical care.
“He has health problems. We’ve expressed the desire that he be returned to his family on humanitarian grounds. So far, we’ve got no positive response,” Robert King, U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues, told reporters after talks with South Korean Foreign Ministry officials.
Bae, 44, was arrested on Nov. 3, 2012 while leading a tourist group on a tour of Rason, a special economic zone on the northeastern tip of North Korea that borders China and Russia.
South Korea Teenagers: Better Off Than Most?
Wall Street Journal
South Korean teenagers are notoriously pressurized lot, with a recent survey showing just over half having had suicidal thoughts over school concerns and future uncertainty.
But another new poll measuring well-being shows that they’re among the world’s best off by a broad compilation of metrics.
South Korea ranked third among 30 countries in the survey by the International Youth Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Hilton Worldwide that measured the quality of well-being of people aged 12-24.
Will Korea become the new tobacco manufacturing hub?
Stringent regulations and a growing negative sentiment toward cigarettes have caused tobacco companies in the world’s most advanced countries to keep their heads down.
In Korea, however, where regulations are relatively lax and a large part of the population is still very open to the idea of smoking, the situation is a bit different.
Perhaps encouraged by this difference, Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro and other popular cigarette brands, has recently decided to relocate its entire Australian cigarette production facility to Korea.
“We decided to cease cigarette manufacturing in Australia by end of 2014, and transition all Australian cigarette production to our affiliate in Korea,” the company said in a statement on last Wednesday.
Ten Korean writers on a country sawn in half
After two years of political hot potatoes – first China and then Turkey – this year’s “market focus” country presents a different challenge to the London Book Fair, which runs this week: who wants to read books from Korea? The choice of name could be dismissed as opportunistically misleading: Korea is two countries, but the 10 writers who will be at the book fair are all from the south.
We’re desperate to hear the inside story of North Korea because it is the stuff of nightmares, locked in unending cold war, complete with nuclear bombs aimed at unknown targets. We have no access to the first-hand stories of its citizens, so we rely on western writers, whether of novels, such as Adam Johnson’s Pulitzer prizewinning The Orphan Master’s Son, or of journalism. Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea won the 2010 Samuel Johnson prize, while John Sweeney was more recently accused of putting a group of London students at risk by joining them incognito to research his book, North Korea Undercover.
Rhythmic gymnast Son wins 4 World Cup titles
South Korean rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae earned four titles, including the individual all-around gold medal, at a World Cup stop in Portugal over the weekend.
Son finished first in ball, clubs and ribbon events on Sunday at the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Lisbon, a day after claiming the all-around title.
Son became the first South Korean rhythmic gymnast to win an individual all-around gold at a senior international event.
Dresden to build ‘Korea Street’
Dresden will have a “Korea Street” to commemorate President Park’s state visit to Germany. (photo: Yonhap News)
Thanks to President Park Geun-hye’s visit to Dresden, the capital of Saxony will now establish a street named after Korea. The Grünes Gewölbe, or Green Vault, a well-known historic museum in the city with one of the largest collections of treasures in Europe, has also begun offering an audio guide to its collection in Korean.
Cheong Wa Dae said at a briefing on March 30 that Dresden Mayor Helma Orosz told President Park that he will re-name a street in Dresden as “Korea Street”. The Dresden mayor made the announcement during a luncheon hosted by the prime minister of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich. The decision marks the friendship and cooperation between Korea and Germany and commemorates President Park’s visit to the city.
South Korean elementary schools will begin using a smartphone app that allows teachers to monitor, shut down or limit the usage of their students’ electronic devices, including phones and tablets.
iSmartKeeper, the app made by South Korea’s Gongju National University and Net Cube Technology, is designed for schoolteachers and parents who wish to control their student or children’s smartphone and tablet usage from their own devices. The app serves as a remote management software on smartphones and tablets and can lock phones down in one of six modes.
The extent of the lock varies, as parents and teachers can allow only emergency calls, incoming calls or text messages. They can also turn off specific apps on the devices they’re given access to. Elementary schools in South Korea’s Gangwon Province will use the app to prevent students from becoming distracted during class time. Continue Reading »
Got too much homework? Outsource it!
Homework agencies, a growing trend in Korea, reveal some of the extreme lengths Korean parents are willing to take in order to give their children an academic edge. These online agencies offer to do their customers’ homework, charging anywhere from 20,000 to 70,000 won ($19 to $66) for each assignment.
Lee, 41, an overly-involved mother has been doing her son’s homework, so that he can focus his energy on studying for exams. However, when her son received an art project that Lee was unqualified for, she remembered coming across an advertisement that said, “we do art homework for customers,” the JoongAng Daily reported.
Two days after sending in the $28 charge, Lee received the finished project for her son, who thought his mother did the art project. Continue Reading »
It’s hard to imagine that a country could suffer economic stagnation for having a workforce armed to the teeth with advanced degrees, but that’s exactly what South Korea is going through at the moment.
About 70 percent of high school graduates in South Korea pursue a college education, far above the average of 56 percent among nations in the OECD, reports the Financial Times. South Korea is far and away on top of the competition in producing over-educated workers, so much so that it’s starting to see a skills surplus and an underutilization of laborers.
The number of college graduates in South Korea exceeds the demand of its job market by about 50,000 graduates a year, while there’s shortfall of over 30,000 high school graduates, according to the labor ministry. Continue Reading »
Signs Suggest North Korea Has Restarted Nuclear Reactor
New York Times
North Korea’s main nuclear complex was discharging hot wastewater in a further sign that the country has restarted a Soviet-era nuclear reactor there that it had used to obtain plutonium fuel for atomic bombs, an American research institute said on Thursday.
Using commercial satellite imagery, the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University has been monitoring the nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Last month, it reported that satellite images from late August showed steam emerging from a generator building adjacent to the five-megawatt reactor, which it said suggested that North Korea was following through on its vow to restart it.
The restarting of the reactor means that the country can produce weapons fuel again. Until the reactor was shut down in 2007 in a short-lived nuclear disarmament deal with Washington, its spent fuel had been the source of plutonium fuel for the North, which conducted three underground nuclear tests between 2006 and last February. North Korea has also said it is running a uranium enrichment program that can provide it with another type of bomb fuel: highly enriched uranium.
The Venerable Jaseung has, of late, become good at saying sorry. When eight senior monks were caught smoking and boozing over a game of high-stakes poker in a hotel room last year, the leader (pictured) of the Jogye order, South Korea’s biggest Buddhist sect, led the 108-bow repentance. Many thought he should resign. He assured them he would not run for election again. But on September 16th, he belatedly entered the race—and swiftly apologised for doing so.
He joins four others in a bid to win an election on October 10th to lead 24 chief monks and 10m faithful, and manage 2,500 temples, an annual budget of 33 billion won ($30m) and millions more in property—including lucrative cultural monuments and tracts of land leased to the government as national parks. The Venerable Boseon, Venerable Jaseung’s main rival, says the gambling binge proves the order needs “a complete makeover”. Monks, he says, should return to meditation, and tougher penalties should be meted out for mischief.
‘We were placed in grave danger by a mob of reckless and violent motorcyclists’: wife of SUV driver attacked by bikers in upper Manhattan
New York Daily News
The wife of a man who was attacked after a hell-on-wheels chase through upper Manhattan released a statement on Thursday, saying that they were trying to escape a mad mob of motorcyclists when they struck a biker and fled.
Alexian Lien, 33, was beaten and slashed by the bikers in front of his wife, Rosalyn Ng, and their 2-year-old daughter after a terrifying 4-mile chase that erupted after a fender bender on the Henry Hudson Parkway on Sunday.
Ng — in her first public words since the harrowing attack — said there was no way to avoid the riders who interrupted what was supposed to be a pleasant afternoon with their family.
Jesuit volunteer dies on bike ride
Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.)
Eunjey Cho, 25, had traveled the world before he arrived in Spokane as a volunteer for Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in 2012. After serving here for a year, he set out on a fundraising bicycle journey across the country together with his friend and fellow Jesuit volunteer, John McGuin.
They named their journey “Spoke to Coaaaaaaaast!!” on the FirstGiving donation website and set a goal of raising $2,400 before reaching Cho’s hometown of Princeton, N.J.
Cho never made it home.
He was hit by a car Sept. 18 while riding his bike just outside Grand Junction, Colo., and died at a nearby hospital.
South Korean students are ditching US schools for Made-in-China degrees
In yet another blow to the US export machine, China may be trumping America in its offerings of college education for foreigners.
According to new data from South Korea’s ministry of education, South Korean students who have long been attracted to universities in the US are opting Chinese universities instead. The reason? China is undercutting US educators on price and offers the opportunity to learn Mandarin, now a coveted job skill.
The country has long been a major exporter of students, second only to China and India. Like China and India, the top destination for Koreans has been the US and other English-speaking countries. (An overseas degree is considered an advantage in South Korea’s extremely competitive job market.) But over the past few years, the number of Korean students studying in China has been rising faster than the rate of those going to the US. According to the government data, the number of Korean students studying in China more than tripled between 2001 and 2012, to 62,855, compared to 73,351 Korean students in the US, which was only a 50% increase over the same period.
Busan: Asia’s Stars, Industry Giants Gather for Festival Opening Gala
Some of the biggest names in Asian cinema gathered here on Thursday evening for the launch of the region’s biggest film festival, which kicked off with the world premiere of Bhutanese musical drama Vara: A Blessing.
Box office revenues are booming in Asia, and the region’s premier film event, which takes over the city’s Haeundae beachfront, is attracting more attention than ever this year.
“I’d like to welcome film fans from Busan and cineasts from near and far to the festival,” said Busan mayor and Busan International Film Festival chairman Hur Nam-sik. “The festival has established itself as a global event thanks to your passionate support. We are happy to present quality works in return.”
Kim Jee-Woon Directing Ed Brubaker’s ‘Coward’ (EXCLUSIVE)
Korean director Kim Jee-woon is turning to crime, coming on board to helm the movie adaptation of Ed Brubaker’s “Coward.”
The attachment comes on the eve of the premiere of Kim’s latest film, “The X,” at the Busan Intl. Film Festival. His best-known Korean titles are “I Saw the Devil” and “A Bittersweet Life”; he made his English-language debut earlier this year on Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner “The Last Stand.”
Jamie Patricof and Lynette Howell of Electric City Entertainment are producing. Nick Meyer’s Sierra/Affinity is attached to finance the project and handle international sales.
Postmortem on Cincinnati Reds’ season: Shin-Soo Choo’s future among hot topics after Reds’ loss
Shin-Soo Choo has no doubt the Reds will be back in the playoffs, but he doesn’t know if he will be with them.
Choo scored both runs in the Reds’ 6-2 wild-card game loss to the Pirates on Tuesday, homering in what may have been his final at-bat in a Reds uniform.
Choo said he certainly wanted more, hoped for more and thought the Reds had a chance to do more than play a single postseason game.
Inbee Park seeks to regain winning form at inaugural Reignwood Classic in Beijing
South Korea’s Inbee Park will seek to regain her dominant form with a strong showing at the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing.
Park, the world No. 1, is being joined by third-ranked American Stacy Lewis at the tournament, which begins Thursday.
Park swept the first three major championships of the season, and has added three other U.S. LPGA Tour wins this year.
Faded Dreams of Riches Drive Pursuit of a Celebrated Fungus
New York Times
The dusty white pickup truck rolled to a stop on the edge of the Oregon woods, where a father-and-son team of mushroom buyers, the Souvannasays, had set up their tent and scale. “Five,” John Souvannasay said before the driver could even open his mouth. With a resigned nod, the man shoved the gear knob into park.
Some commercial hubs obsess over the price of stock shares, or real estate, or in centuries past, tulip bulbs. This dot of a town in south central Oregon, population 135, briefly flowers each fall into a global capital of the wild mushroom trade, with all eyes fixed on a commodity that few Americans have tasted, or perhaps even heard of: the matsutake.
South Korea Is Finally Getting a Robot Theme Park
Disneyland? Meh. Universal Studios? Been there, done that. Robot Land? Now, we’re talking.
For years now, there has been talk in South Korea about a robot theme park. Construction was supposed to start in 2009, but it never happened. (Heck, several years ago, I spent some time in South Korea talking to researchers about it for a magazine article.) There was a website and lots of talk, but construction never started. Until now.
Recently, the park held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction. That means Robot Land is really happening. Or rather, building Robot Land is really happening! Above, you can see an image from the ceremony.
Newborn White Lion Cubs In South Korea
Voice of America
Officials at South Korea’s Everland zoo park displayed for the first time Tuesday two rare newborn white lions in the city of Yongin.
White lions are a rare color mutation, with only about 300 specimens left in the world.
The two newborns have brought the total number of white lions at the Samsung Everland’s ecological safari “Lost Valley” park to eight.