With several hit singles and a slew of musical accolades already in tow, the New Jersey-raised K-pop singer reflects on her journey from the object of netizen outrage to respected rising star.
by STEVE HAN
How could this happen? Why is a U.S. citizen going to sing our national anthem? What if she starts singing the American anthem instead? She only came here to make money!
Those were just a few of the jabs South Korean netizens hurled at Ailee, after the young Korean American singer was chosen to perform the Aegukga on opening day of the Korean professional baseball season in April 2012.
Baseball is arguably Korea’s most popular professional sport, and for K-pop artists, singing the country’s national anthem on the season’s first day is considered a high privilege. So, when news of the selection of Ailee—a fresh-faced K-pop singer whom most Koreans at that point only knew from her appearance on the MBC reality show Singer and Trainee—went public, netizens lit up the blogosphere with scathing criticism.
“I was really, really proud to sing the Korean anthem because I’m Korean!” recalled Ailee, 23, during an interview in February at the InterContinental Hotel in Los Angeles. “But I got a lot of unexpected criticism. I was really hurt. I mean … really, really hurt.”
But when the moment of truth came, the singer stepped up to the mike behind home plate and did what she had been doing throughout her young career—she sang from the heart. It may have been the anthem of her parents’ motherland, but it had deep meaning for her as a Korean American, too. Continue Reading »
The woman who accused actor Park Si-hoo of raping her last February has decided to drop the charges against him, prompting speculation from both the Korean media and fans.
Prosecutors said the accuser canceled her claim against Park on May 9 and Park, in turn, dropped his libel civil suit he had filed against the woman, her friend and his former talent agency.
He has not dropped his lawsuit against the friend, referred to as “B” in media reports and his former agency. In the suit, Park claims that his agency encouraged the rape case to go forward in retaliation for his leaving the company. Continue Reading »
South Korean actress-cum-boxer Lee Si-young’s win at the South Korean national team tryouts last month has sparked controversy after the Korean Amateur Boxing Federation (KABF) was accused of giving the star an unfair advantage to boost the sport’s fading popularity.
Lee, 31, edged out the 19-year-old Kim Da-som in a 22-20 decision in the 106-pound class to become the newest member of the South Korean national boxing team.
Although Kim seemed to have dominated the fight, the umpire, Jo Jong-deuk, determined it was Lee who landed more effective blows. Jo also said after the fight that at least a handful of Kim’s shots were open-handed blows, a term used to describe illegal hits with the inside of the glove.
According to KABF regulations, losers have 30 minutes to protest the decision but Kim’s party apparently didn’t raise questions until a day after the fight. Continue Reading »
North Korea says Korean-American sentenced to labor had smuggled in anti-Pyongyang literature
North Korea delivered its most in-depth account yet of the case against a Korean-American sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor, accusing him late Thursday of smuggling in inflammatory literature and trying to establish a base for anti-Pyongyang activities at a border city hotel.
Still, the long list of allegations included no statement from Kenneth Bae, other than claims that he confessed and didn’t want an attorney present during his sentencing last week for what Pyongyang called hostile acts against the state.
Since the sentencing came during a period of tentative diplomatic moves following weeks of high tension and North Korean threats of nuclear and missile strikes on Washington and Seoul, outside analysts have said Pyongyang may be using Bae as bait to win diplomatic concessions in the standoff over its nuclear weapons program. North Korea repeated its denial of such speculation in the new statement, but the pattern has occurred repeatedly.
Disgraced spokesman leaves blemish on Park’s U.S. visit
President Park Geun-hye’s first official visit to the United States ended in one of the worst ways possible Friday with her spokesman being fired amid allegations that he had sexually assaulted a woman during the trip.
The allegations sparked public outrage in South Korea and dealt a serious blow to Park just as she was beginning to regain public confidence through her handling of tensions with North Korea and what appeared to be a successful five-day visit to the U.S.
“(He) completely poured cold water over the accomplishments of the U.S. visit,” said one presidential official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It’s causing an extreme burden to state affairs.”
Dennis Rodman says heading back to N.Korea
AFP via Google News
Basketball hall-of-famer Dennis Rodman said he plans a second trip to North Korea to try to use his budding friendship with leader Kim Jong-Un to free a jailed American, in an interview aired Friday.
The flamboyant basketball legend, approached by celebrity news website TMZ as he walked on a Los Angeles street Thursday, said he would return to North Korea on August 1 on a mission to release jailed tour organizer Kenneth Bae.
“I’ll be back over there. I’m going to try to get the guy out,” the heavily tattooed Rodman said in between waving to well-wishers.
Woman pleads guilty to hitting and killing teen
AP via San Francisco Chronicle
An associate professor at the University of Montana has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge filed after her car veered onto a sidewalk and struck and killed an 18-year-old Missoula man.
Yoon Hee Cho, 38, pleaded guilty Thursday in Municipal Court to careless driving resulting in death and to driving on a sidewalk.
The plea agreement calls for Cho to spend 30 days on house arrest and pay $5,000 into the Chance Geery Memorial Fund in lieu of a fine.
Cho was charged in the death of Geery, who was struck on April 1 as he was walking and holding hands with his girlfriend.
Palisades Park man linked to ID and credit card fraud ring to be deported to South Korea
Bergen County Record (N.J.)
A Palisades Park man involved in a massive identity theft and credit card fraud ring was transferred Thursday to immigration officials for deportation to South Korea after a federal judge determined that the 31 months he has already spent in jail would satisfy his sentence.
Osung Kwon, 37, pleaded guilty in 2012 to using a social security card and counterfeit driver’s license he obtained through a borough-based black market enterprise to defraud banks and credit card companies of almost $400,000. He has been in prison since he was arrested in September, 2010.
Speaking through a translator, Kwon, who was wearing shackles and a green prison jumpsuit, apologized to U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden and pleaded for a lenient sentence.
Witnesses tried to save 4-year-old after he was struck by Jeep
First he heard a thud. Then screams. Then Jim Sugent saw a 4-year-old boy lying in the middle of Stevenson Avenue in Alexandria.
Police say the child, who was identified Friday as Jacob Choi, had run into oncoming traffic May 4 and was struck and killed by the driver of a 2010 Jeep Commander. The driver, who is 84, has not been identified by police. He has not been charged in the accident, which remains under investigation, police said.
Jacob’s mother, whose name and address were not released, ran into traffic after her son and also sustained injuries, but they were not serious, police said.
Star Trek’s John Cho a boldly going actor worth shouting about
“I get called Harold the most,” Cho says. “I think maybe Harold & Kumar fans don’t know my name and Star Trek fans do know my name … Harold fans are vocal!”
And of course there’s Star Trek, now two films into the franchise with Star Trek Into Darknessset to boldly go to theatres galaxywide on May 17. Cho plays Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu in the prequel reboot series, the promotion of which has brought him to Toronto. (His introduction at a Monday night screening of Into Darkness included reference to him as “the MILF guy.”)
This makes three hit franchises that Cho has been active in so far, and he’s just entered his 40s. He’s also busy with TV series, most notably the sci-fi drama FlashForward and the recent sitcom Go On, and his early career in the 1990s included much stage work, as a member of East West Players, an Asian-American theatre company in L.A.
Tokimonsta Live at KCRW on Morning Becomes Eclectic 05.09.13
LA native Tokimonsta has a unique take on electronic dance music and is notably the first female to join the groundbreaking Brainfeeder crew, led by Flying Lotus. We’re treated to one of her energetic live performances on Morning Becomes Eclectic at 11:15am.
Choo staying calm in contract year
When new Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo arrived in Cincinnati at the start of the regular season, a book was waiting for him at Great American Ballpark. The text was written in Korean, Choo’s native language. A fan had sent it, he said.
It wasn’t a baseball book. It was about the games we play between our ears. Choo read about keeping a narrow focus, about thinking “simple things,” about accepting that he can’t please everyone.
“When you stop, you see everything,” Choo told me recently, in the cramped visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field. “I really want to explain it to you, but it’s hard to say. I’ve already read it three times.”
Mets could go after Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in offseason
New York Daily News
Almost anything would be an upgrade for the Mets, considering that the state of their outfield is as bad as predicted — even if reserve Mike Baxter has a knack for the big moment, as he showed again Thursday night.
Who’s better: Henderson or Aldo?
ESPN Insider (subscription req’d)
Lightweight champion Benson Henderson and featherweight champ Jose Aldo are two of the most popular fighters in mixed martial arts.
In their most recent fights, Aldo dispatched Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision in February at UFC 156, and Henderson beat Gilbert Melendez in a split-decision victory in April during UFC on Fox 7.
Although the two fight in different weight classes, Aldo has hinted at a jump in competition. Should Aldo beat top contender Anthony Pettis at UFC 163 in August, there’s a real chance these two champs could soon meet in the Octagon.
Mom’s Cooking Comes Between a Husband and Wife
The New York Times
Sometime KoreAm contributor Sung J. Woo writes a Mother’s Day piece for the New York Times.
My mother and I don’t fight often nowadays, because I’m 41 and she’s 72 and we lead separate lives. I see her once every two weeks. She makes me lunch, we shop at Costco, she makes me dinner, then she sends me off with grocery bags full of her cooking.
We’ve been on this schedule for the last eight years, since my father passed away. But on this evening, near the end of my visit to her senior apartment, I could tell we were going to argue.
“Just take it,” she said.
“It’s just one more.” There was an edge to her voice. “Why are you being difficult?”
Have American Parents Got It All Backwards?
This is a guest column by Korean American professor, Christine Gross-Loh, author of Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us.
The parent I used to be and the parent I am now both have the same goal: to raise self-reliant, self-assured, successful children. But 12 years of parenting, over five years of living on and off in Japan, two years of research, investigative trips to Europe and Asia and dozens of interviews with psychologists, child development experts, sociologists, educators, administrators and parents in Japan, Korea, China, Finland, Germany, Sweden, France, Spain, Brazil and elsewhere have taught me that though parents around the world have the same goals, American parents like me (despite our very best intentions) have gotten it all backwards.
We need to let 3-year-olds climb trees and 5-year-olds use knives.
South Korean superstar Psy was all “Gentleman” about being called “herpes” by the Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong.
Armstrong recently posted a photo of Psy on Instagram, and wrote that the Korean rapper is “the herpes of music,” because, “once you think it’s gone, it comes back.#herpes #flareup #pleasegoaway.”