Tag Archives: entertainment

joss

Joss Whedon Apologizes for Filming ‘Avengers’ in Seoul

Seoul will be getting a big taste of Hollywood blockbuster action this weekend, as Avengers: Age of Ultron begins filming in the capital on Sunday. But the various road closures aren’t sitting well with many concerned South Koreans, and director Joss Whedon recorded an apology to the residents and commuters who will be dealing with the changes until April 12.

“I’m really grateful and excited to be filming in your city,” the director said. “We’re going to mess it up a bit and inconvenience some people for a few days and I apologize for that. I know what that’s like, I live in Los Angeles, it happens to me all the time and it’s not fun.”

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The latest Avengers movie will be shooting several big action and chase sequences in the South Korean capital, where the Avengers will battle supe villain Ultron (played by James Spader) to keep him away from advanced technology being developed at a Korean institute located on an island in the Han River.

“I hope that it will be worth it,” Whedon continued. “We love this movie, we love your city, and having the two of them together will show the city to the world in a light that I don’t think it’s been shown, certainly not in America.”

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The Seoul Metropolitan Government and state-run film agencies initially welcomed the decision by Disney’s Marvel Studios to film in the city, speculating about the potential benefits from the elevation of Seoul’s image and boosts in tourism. On the flip side, citizens have voiced their concerns on the Internet, particularly those whose commute is severely affected by the road closures.

“I think it’s a bit ridiculous to say that filming here will boost tourism,” said Lee Min-seob, who works for a finance company in the Gangnam District, to Korea’s Joongang Daily.

“The characters are trying to protect the Earth against attackers and most of the scenes include the demolition and burning down of buildings. Seoul is not even a main location for the film. I don’t know why the city is making such a big fuss.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron opens in theaters on May 1, 2015.

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frozen

Korean ‘Frozen’ Parody Goes Viral

The wildly popular song “Let It Go” from Disney’s Academy Award-winning animated classic Frozen has generated an array of musical covers by fans, but this Korean variety show’s comedic twist to the songis parody perfection.

Best known to be originally sung by Idina Menzel, this parody recreates an uncanny resemblance to the empowering scenes of Elsa unleashing her icy powers as she blasts snow from thin air and changes into her iconic blue gown.

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With a dash of lip-syncing and a whole lot of passionate facial expressions, this version’s flawless portrayal of Elsa’s struggles and raw emotions as well as her transformation from a fearful girl to confident young woman will make it impossible for audiences not to laugh.

Although not as elegant as the original and a tad bit cheesier, watch as Korean Elsa adds her own flair to this ridiculously witty and unforgettable remake of this year’s Oscar-winning best original song.

The video was published on March 15 but only went viral a couple of days ago, recently eclipsing 1 million views on YouTube.

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kyj

March Issue: Kim Yoo-Jung Was Born To Act

Born to Act

South Korea’s most famous child actress, Kim Yoo-jung, makes her U.S. debut in a horror-mystery short film inspired by a dark chapter in East Asian history.

by STEVE HAN

Fifteen-year-old Kim Yoo-jung doesn’t like scary movies. Acting since age 3, she has already starred in 15 films and 17 television dramas, but as diverse as her roles have been, horror is one genre she will never get used to.

“I watch scary movies with my eyes shut,” Kim said in Korean. “I keep my eyes closed and take peeks. I can’t really watch scary movies from beginning to end.”

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And, yet, Kim was in Los Angeles in February to film Room 731, a horror mystery short film directed by Youngmin Kim, an award-winning graduate student at the University of Southern California’s film school. The film, expected to hit the festival circuit this summer, depicts the fate of an amnesiac young girl who finds herself abandoned in a prison cell. 

The film, also Kim’s first outside of Korea, sheds light on the dark history of East Asia during World War II. Kim plays Wei, a tortured 15-year-old Chinese girl who has been traumatized from suffering at a Japanese torture camp. Asian American actors Tim Kang and Nikki SooHoo are co-starring with Kim. Kang, best known for his role in The Mentalist on CBS, also serves as the short’s executive producer.

“It was great for me that our director is Korean,” said Kim, during an interview in the lobby of The Line hotel in Los Angeles. Kim said she received instructions from the director, a South Korean native, in Korean during the filming process. “I can understand a lot of English, but just can’t speak it well enough,” she said. “When I talk to Uncle Tim [Kang], I speak to him in Korean because he understands Korean, and he’ll respond to me in English.”

If Kim was scared of watching horror films before this project, acting in Room 731 only heightened that fear. Even the set where Room 731 was filmed, Willow Studios near downtown L.A., which is often used to shoot scary movies, gave off a spooky vibe, she said. But, like a seasoned professional, she channeled that genuine fear into her performance.

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“It was so dark,” said Kim of the set. “I went in there with our director to get used to the set, and as soon as I entered, I just wanted to get out of there because it was just really scary. I mean, really. Even as the director was giving me directions, I was getting teary-eyed, and I was truthfully feeling fear as we were filming.”

Kim and her mother, Mok Sun-mi, decided she should take on the role in Room 731 not only because they thought it was a good opportunity to work in the U.S., but also because it gave the teenager a chance to learn an important history lesson. Until recently, the actress admitted she knew nothing about the premise of the film, which centers on Imperial Japan’s alleged medical experiments on hundreds of East Asians during World War II.

“I didn’t even know why or how World War II started before this,” said Kim. “I only started doing research after I was cast. I read about it on blogs and I was really shocked. One of the reasons I chose to participate in this film was actually because this film had a message. If this film never came to me, I would have known nothing about any of this.”

Because Kim started acting at such an early age, she has no memory of those earliest days of her career.

Since debuting on TV in a Seoul Milk commercial in 2004 after Kim’s mother submitted photos of her for an online contest, she has emerged as perhaps the most famous child actor in Korea. Many of her 17 TV dramas—notably Dong Yi on MBC—were aired during Korean primetime, and her filmography includes a role in internationally acclaimed director Park Chanwook’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeanceand the 2008 thriller The Chaser.

“I only realized that I was an actress later on in my life,” said Kim, who has earned the Best Child Actress Award at all three of Korea’s terrestrial TV networks—SBS, KBS and MBC—between 2008 and 2010. “I realized that, at a certain point, I’d accepted that I was an actress without really knowing how it even started. So I’ve always thought of it as destiny.” Kim, who’s currently attending her last year at Daesong Middle School in Goyang, South Korea, inevitably misses school for a large part of the year because of her career.

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“I actually feel anxious when I’m not acting,” Kim said. “Whenever I’m on a break from acting and go back to school and start to have fun with friends and classes, I start this self-doubt and ask myself, ‘What if I start to dislike acting and like school more?’ And that scared me.”

Kim is fascinated by the differences in the working environments for actors in Korea versus the U.S. She was especially surprised to see how much more protective the American film industry is for child actors, who aren’t allowed to be on set for longer than seven hours per day to ensure that they get enough rest.

“Korea doesn’t have any of those restrictions,” Kim said. “I was so used to filming for 24 hours in Korea, but over here, I actually went to bed early!  It’s impossible to get enough sleep in Korea, and I almost think that stunted my growth a little bit.”

Kim, who’s listed at 5-foot-2, has aspirations of bringing her career to the U.S. if the opportunity arises. She also has a specific role in mind that she wants to play.

“I want to play an evil role,” Kim said. “But it’s never been offered to me yet. My biggest goal as an actress is to play an evil role so well to the point where the audience would curse at me.  That would really mean that my acting was accepted and done well. I want to be a bad person.”

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

 
sunye

Wonder Girls Leader to Become Long-Term Missionary in Haiti

Sun-ye and husband James Park.

Rumors of an impending breakup of once wildly popular girl group The Wonder Girls hit a fever pitch this week as leader Sun-ye said she plans to serve as a missionary to Haiti for five years.

“My husband and I have decided to spend the next five years in Haiti from this July conducting missionary outreach projects,” she said, in a statement.

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Sun-ye said her fellow group members as well as her label, JYP Entertainment, “understand my decision and have given me their full support.” She added, “I hope I can pay them back for all the trust they’ve put in me.”

The announcement sparked speculation that the group would break up but JYP Entertainment said this was not the case.

“We will coordinate the members’ schedules or arrange other activities so that Sun-ye can remain with the band, even though she will be staying in Haiti,” the statement said.

Sun-ye met her husband, Korean Canadian James Park, while serving on a weeklong missionary trip to Haiti in 2011. The couple married in January 2013 and had a daughter in October 2013.

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avengers

Seoul to Shut Down Some Streets For Filming of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

The upcoming sequel of Hollywood blockbuster The Avengers will soon be taking over the streets of Seoul from March 30 to April 14, thanks to an agreement made between the Korean government, the Korean Film Commission and Marvel Studios.

Authorities have confirmed production of Avengers: Age of Ultron will shut down many major streets and locations that may cause quite an inconvenience for Seoulites.

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During film production, residents will have limited access to places such as the Gangnam Subway Station, Mapo Grand Bridge, Cheongdam Grand Bridge, Saebit Dungdungseom islands, and parts of the Digital Media City in Sangam-dong. Detours will be created to minimize traffic caused by the film.

Although the movie may be creating a bit of chaos in the city, Korean citizens can look forward to many major scenes of the film occurring in their capital, displaying Seoul as a modern metropolis with stunning scenery.

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They can also look forward to Korean actress Kim Soo-hyun, a.k.a. Claudia Kim, as she reportedly takes on a supporting role as a doctor accompanying Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man.

Kim recently attended the red carpet premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in Los Angeles and walked the red carpet.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said Korea was a “perfect location” for their blockbuster movie because “it features cutting-edge technology, beautiful landscapes and spectacular architecture,” according to a statement released on Marvel.com.

The superheroes of The Avengers will make their comeback with the upcoming sequel set to debut in the United States on May 1, 2015 and approximately one month later in South Korea.

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Kim Soo-hyun (Claudia Kim).

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K-Pop Concerts Across America: A Year in Review

Photos via MTV K

by Linda Son

Last April, when a car pulled up to the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, it became hard for those waiting in the crowd to breathe, let alone move, as throngs of young people flocked to the automobile.

The group of diehard fans of Korean pop music, or K-pop, whispered among themselves as they craned their necks and stood on tiptoes to get a clearer look into the car. “Who is it? Is it someone I know?” Their hopes were usually dashed as an average hotel guest would emerge from the car. But sometimes, the person in the car was actually the pop music celebrity they were waiting for to arrive and pandemonium would ensue.

The evenly dispersed group would transform into one enormous mass of people and many would find themselves being pushed into nearby strangers. Cameras would begin flashing and the air became filled with shouts of different Korean phrases: from simply calling out the artists’ name to declarations of love and adoration. Decked out in big sunglasses or hats to hide their makeup-less faces, the stars would try to make their way through the fans, sometimes stopping for a few autographs, never a picture, until their staff members or managers would usher them inside. When the star successfully made their way to the elevators, the crowd would simmer down until another car pulled up to the Sheraton, then the madness would start all over again and continue until the wee hours of the morning.

The hotel, famous for housing K-pop stars this time of year, sees this scene almost every April and this year was no exception to the fangirl madness as scores of people waited outside the Sheraton to catch a glimpse of their favorite singers. The reason? L.A.’s annual Korean Music Festival.

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Nine years in the making, KMF, as it’s known to many of its patrons, has featured top K-pop acts such as TVXQ, Girls Generation, Big Bang, Wonder Girls and Super Junior. This year, the Korea Times and other sponsors brought out Jay Park, 4Minute, G.NA, U-Kiss, Secret, Sistar, Baek Ji Young, K.Will and DJ DOC among other singers of trot music and traditional Korean music.

“There is much more excitement in seeing the band you love live than through a computer screen,” said Ann Yang, a first-time attendee of KMF. For much of the show, Yang was up on her feet, dancing and singing to the songs she knew, along with the thousands of other fans in attendance.

G.NA and DJ DOC’s own Kim Chan Ryul played hosts for the star-studded event, which was seen by thousands of people who traveled from all over North America and beyond.

K-pop garnered more attention in 2011 than ever before. YouTube announced its official categorization of K-pop as a genre on its music page, providing easy access to videos. This year also showed K-pop’s popularity in the United States where a number of concerts were held and dozens of Korean artists not only delighted their overseas fans but also performed to sold out crowds or at venues that were near capacity.

The Korean Music Festival used to be the only concert where North Americans could travel a reasonable distance to see K-pop artists perform live. These artists, however, are more frequently stopping by the U.S. to perform for their international fans.

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Wednesday's Link Attack: Kim Jong Il, Hyuna, Seung Hoon Choi

From Miraculous Birth to ‘Axis of Evil’: Dictator Kim Jong Il’s Timeline
Bloomberg

North Korea ends 12 days of official mourning today for Kim Jong Il, the dictator eulogized by his nation’s state media as “Dear Leader.”

Kim died of a heart attack on Dec. 17, brought on by exhaustion as he traveled the country by train offering guidance to his people, according to the official account of his passing.

Below is a timeline of notable events during the life of Kim, showing the contrast between the persona crafted by his state media and the accounts of outsiders and the international press.

Where in the World Is Kim Jong Nam?
Time.com

Reports say Kim Jong Il’s eldest son is now under “Chinese protection” after leaving the island of Macau. But like most things in the Hermit Kingdom, it’s hard to know for sure.

Just how isolated is North Korea? 6 facts to consider
Christian Science Monitor

North Korea’s outlook has earned it the title of the ‘hermit kingdom.’ The country is both cut off from the wider world and intensely focused on its neighbors.

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In South Korea, some praise North’s departed “Dear Leader”
Reuters

Despite growth that has propelled South Korea to become the world’s 13th largest economy, a powerhouse that makes computers, mobile telephones and cars, there are some in the capital of Seoul who believe life is better in the impoverished North.

As the world watched Wednesday’s funeral of dictator Kim Jong-il, who presided over famine, a nuclear arms push and military skirmishes with the South, Choi Dong Jin, 48, told Reuters that Kim was “a great and outstanding person” for resisting U.S. imperialism.

Korean American pastor seeks reunification through humanitarian aid
CNN.com

When Chang Soon Lee reflects on his childhood years in North Korea, his joy quickly turns to deep sadness. Like millions of Koreans caught in the middle of the Korean War in the early 1950s, Chang at the age of 15 was forced to flee his native homeland.

His father, a prominent minister who survived World War II, disappeared just days after communist-led forces invaded Pyongyang. “After the (World War II) liberation of Korea, my father often visited churches and preached but one day we waited for him and he never returned home,” says Chang.

By the time an armistice halted the Korean War in 1953, nearly 37,000 U.S. troops had been killed and more than 400,000 North Koreans soldiers were dead, according to the U.S Department of Defense.

Chang eventually emigrated to the United States on a student visa and became a minister, co-founding a ministry for Korean immigrants at Wiltshire United Method Church in Los Angeles, home to the nation’s largest Korean-American population.

But Chang has never forgotten his homeland and he’s returned half a dozen times on humanitarian missions, taking tons of food to orphanages as part of a charity group he established in the United States. “Its a kind of symbolic showing for them that we love you, you are our brothers and sisters, we are tragically separated but we are one and we are concerned about you we are praying,” says Chang.

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N.Korean Spy Kills Himself
Chosun Ilbo

A man who claimed to be a North Korean defector has committed suicide after confessing that he was sent to spy on the South.

During questioning the man, who was in his 30s, said he had received orders from Pyongyang to report on a South Korean organization that helps defectors from the North.

The National Intelligence Service said the man had hanged himself in a shower room. The source said North Korean spies held the man’s family hostage and that he felt pressured after his confession.

Adoption of Korean boys leads to full house
Journal Review (Crawfordsville, Ind.)

Paul and Stacey Leonard of Ladoga adopted sons Charlie, 1, and Reuben, 5, from South Korea. The Leonards also have a biological son, Peter, 8.

Injury costs Huskers one-time starting lineman for bowl
NBC Sports

Due to an injury to the regular starter, Nebraska Cornhuskers offensive lineman Seung Hoon Choi will be in the starting lineup when Nebraska takes on South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2.

S. Korean short-track legend gains Russian citizenship to fulfill Sochi dream
Russia Today

Russia’s medal hopes at their first-ever Winter Games in Sochi have been given yet another boost as South Korean short-track legend Ahn Hyun-soo has finally been granted Russian citizenship.

The 26-year-old captured three golds and one bronze at the Turin Olympics back in 2006, becoming the most successful athlete there. He is also a five-time Overall World Champion.

HyunA & 2NE1 make it to Spin.com’s ‘Favorite Pop Tracks of 2011′ list
allkpop

On December 27, the website for music magazine Spin revealed their favorite pop singles of 2011.

Among the various songs by A-list pop icons, two K-pop songs made it to the list. At #3, HyunA‘s “Bubble Pop” beat #4 pop princess Britney Spears‘ “Till the World Ends“, and 2NE1‘s “I Am the Best” took the #8 spot.

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Tuesday's Link Attack: North Korea, 2NE1, Opera Singer Ji Hyun Kim

North, South Korea exchange recalls previous historic meeting
Los Angeles Times

REPORTING FROM SEOUL -– Though brief, Tuesday’s meeting between North Korean and South Korean leadership families smacked of another historic get-together more than a decade ago that led to one head of state winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Lee Hee-ho, center, and Hyun Jeong-eun, right, in Paju, South Korea, on their way to North Korea on Monday to pay respects to Kim Jong-il and meet the North's new leader, Kim Jong-un.

New North Korean Leader Meets South Koreans and Assumes Leadership of Party
New York Times

South Korea had said it would send no official mourners to Kim Jong-il’s funeral, which angered North Korea as a sign of disrespect. But Kim Jong-un’s meeting with the private delegation of mourners, which included the former first lady of South Korea and a top businesswoman, appeared to be cordial.

The South Korean visitors, Lee Hee-ho, the widow of former President Kim Dae-jung, and the chairwoman of Hyundai Asan, Hyun Jeong-eun, which had business ties with North Korea, were the only South Koreans allowed by the government in Seoul to lead private delegations to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, to express sympathy over the death of Kim Jong-il on Dec. 17.

From Dear Leader to Marilyn Monroe, defector mocks Kim
Reuters

North Korean artist Song Byeok once proudly drew the “Dear Leader” in propaganda paintings. But he was sent to labor in one of the reclusive state’s notorious prisons after hunger forced him to try to flee.

Now a defector living in the South Korean capital, Seoul, Song has turned to mocking a ruler who led his country into famine, isolation and economic ruin.

“The day I finished this, he passed away,” Song said of his painting and the death of Kim on December 17.

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Did Kim Jong-il death ruin breakthrough deal on North Korea nukes?
The Christian Science Monitor

The death of Kim Jong-il has disrupted an American plan to encourage North Korea to curb its nuclear arsenal, and the uncertainties surrounding the “dear leader’s” replacement mean US officials have little choice for now but to sit tight.

Before the announcement of Mr. Kim’s death Sunday, the US was on the verge of completing a deal to exchange humanitarian assistance for North Korean steps toward denuclearization.

But as Kim’s replacement and youngest son, Kim Jong-un, tries to establish himself in his father’s place, it will likely be months – and potentially tense and surprise-laden months – before the North Korean leadership will be ready to reengage diplomatically, many North Asian analysts say.

North Korea Presses South to Implement Economic Pact
New York Times

In its first interaction with visitors from South Korea since the death of its leader, Kim Jong-il, North Korea on Tuesday called for the implementation of the inter-Korean summit agreements, which would have brought massive South Korean investments had the South Korean leader, Lee Myung-bak, not scuttled them.

Recalling a Trip to North Korea Before the Death of Kim Jong-il
New York Times

Mun Ho-yong placed the bouquet of flowers at the foot of the towering outdoor portrait of Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea. Then he turned to the Chinese businesspeople and tourists, and to the foreign journalists. “Now please bow to our leader,” he said.

Most of us had set foot in North Korea for the first time just hours earlier. We had no idea what protocol to adopt when faced with the “Great Leader,” as North Koreans call him. So we followed Mr. Mun’s lead. We bowed.

2NE1 and SNSD ranks in SPIN’s 20 Best Pop Albums of 2011
Soompi

Girl groups 2NE1 and SNSD are receiving worldwide attention.

The two groups, who are leaders in K-pop’s Korean Wave thanks to their unique performances and refined music this year, have been favorably noticed by famous foreign magazines. SPIN, a popular music magazine in the United States, announced their 20 Best Pop Album of 2011 on December 22 (local time) and the two groups were listed.

Five arrested including two members of Hawthorne Fire Department arrested after drug investigation

The Gazette (Hawthorne, N.J.)

A month and a half-long narcotics investigation resulted in the arrest of five Hawthorne residents, two of whom are members of the Hawthorne Fire Department, on Dec. 21.

At sentencing, Choi apologizes for slaying three in a Tenafly home
North Jersey

“We have three individuals who no longer walk the earth,” said Judge Donald Venezia. “You brought havoc to three individuals and to a community. Anything less than a life sentence and I’d be condoning what you did. There’s no way you’re getting a break. You did not give Mr. [Han Il] Kim a break.”

Before being sentenced, Choi apologized via his Korean translator.

“I’m very sorry to the victims and their families,” he said. “I’m sorry to my own family.”

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James Kim: Recent College Grad Feels Pain Of Uncertain Job Market
Neon Tommy

Kim, 23, is one of the “Millennials”- a group defined by a 2010 Pew Research study as 18- to 29-year-olds who are mostly newcomers to the American labor force and who, more recently, have become the last hired and the first to lose their jobs.

According to the study that surveyed 50 million Millennials nationwide, only 4 out of every 10 participants said they had full-time work, and the unemployment rate among the group was 37 percent – the highest it had been in over 30 years.

Ji Hyun Kim: New Face
The Telegraph (U.K.)

Who’s that bright and breezy young tenor playing Gastone in the current revival of La Traviata at Covent Garden?

He’s 28-year-old Ji Hyun Kim, currently a hard-working member of the Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme.

Perilla, ggaennip, shiso: By any name, a fine addition to garden
L.A. Times

It’s telling that with such limited ground — not even 20 square feet — the gardeners at the Korean Resource Center have dedicated a majority of their space to the perilla plant, a member of the mint family known as ggaennip in Korea and shiso in Japan.

‘Brazen’ contracting scam: Records provide a window into audacious swindle
Washington Post

The plan was straightforward but effective: A tight team of savvy contractors and government employees allegedly inflated invoices by $20 million, approved them and split the proceeds.

And they lived large — on the taxpayers’ dollar. Porsches, real estate, flat-screen televisions and Cartier watches: The men bought it all with impunity, prosecutors say.

The Strangest Man in Ikea
Gizmodo

Taeyoon Choi isn’t at this Ikea, the second largest store location in the world, to buy a coffee table. He’s not there for delicious meatballs and lingonberry sauce, either. He’s in Ikea to create crazy-weird experimental noise machines.

7 best ski and snowboard resorts in Korea
CNN

Given that almost three-quarters of Korea is covered by mountains, it’s no wonder thousands of tourists fly in every winter to hit the slopes.

Now that it’s finally snowing, even in Seoul, here’s where to find the best snowy runs in Korea.

UNM students deface El Morro rock
Santa Fe New Mexican

Dana Choi, a Korean student at The University of New Mexico, admitted to etching the words Super Duper Dana’ into rock at El Morro National Monument in October. His graffiti covers a portion of an inscription that reads Pedro Romero 1758.’ Although officials at monument won’t talk about how they plan to erase the markings, the restoration costs have been estimated at nearly $30,000.

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