Tag Archives: entertainment

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Tuesday’s Link Attack: Hettienne Park Speaks Out; Girls Generation Singer Questioned by Police; Korean Air to Design Bobsleds

Why It Matters When Asian Women Leave TV Shows
Vanity Fair

Someone important died this weekend on NBC’s serial-killer drama Hannibal. That should come as no surprise, beloved actors are dropping like flies on TV these days, and the stakes are always high when Dr. Lecter is involved. In the shadow of larger recent shocks like those on The Good Wife or The Walking Dead, the death of a supporting character like investigator Beverly Katz may not seem like it should hit us quite so hard. But that character happened to be portrayed by Hettienne Park, an Asian female. So what? Does being a Korean-American woman on network television mean you should be bulletproof (or in this case, carving-knife-proof)? Certainly not. But given the lack of strong, female Asian characters on television, Park’s absence carries a weight outside the fictional world of Hannibal. Aware of the uproar surrounding her character’s death, Park commented on the more extreme outcry from the show’s fandom.

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Racism, Sexism, and Hannibal: Eat The Rude
Hettienne Park (Tumblr)

I’m an American actress and I play Beverly Katz on NBC’s HANNIBAL created by Bryan Fuller. (Spoiler Alert coming right now!!!) And she dies in episode 4 of Season 2. That episode got a lot of positive reviews, but it also incited an on-line storm of vitriol directed to Fuller himself for killing off Katz, or more specifically, for being racist and sexist. I caught wind of this myself via Twitter from our beloved Fannibals. And I thought maybe it’d be productive to talk about rather than ignore it.

Fuller cast me in a role that I didn’t think I had a chance in hell of getting. I rarely if ever see minorities, women, minority women, let alone Asian women, get to play characters like Beverly Katz. I rarely if ever see characters like Beverly Katz period. And her last name is Katz for Christ’s sake. Pretty open-minded, non-racist, pro-feminine writing and casting in my opinion.

Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon Reported To Seoul Police For Allegedly Assaulting Male Friend: Rep Calls Incident ‘Misunderstanding’
KpopStarz

A male friend of Kim Hyoyeon has reportedly accused the Girls’ Generation singer of physically assaulting him in the Seoul neighborhood of Seobbinggo, early Saturday morning.

According to a spokesperson for the local police department, officers from the Yongsan District station quickly dismissed the male friend’s allegations since he lacked a visible injury.

“Since it was reported, we processed the charge, but because the entire case was just happenstance, we concluded [Hyoyeon was] cleared of any suspicion of assault,” the Seoul police spokesperson said, according to the publication eNEWS.

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Income data show lineage still crucial to become rich in S. Korea
Yonhap News

South Korea’s business tycoons and their family members kept top spots in terms of income in 2013, data showed Tuesday, with other highly-paid individuals barely managing to catch up to the clans who collected massive earnings from dividends.

According to the data by CEO Score, which tracks details of corporate leaders, most of the country’s top 30 income earners had kinship ties with the heads of family-controlled businesses.

Top executives of South Korean conglomerates have long been the subject of envy for salaried workers in the country, raking in incomparable paychecks compared with ordinary workers.

Korean Air Lines to Design Bobsleds
Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s bobsled team hasn’t had much success at the Winter Olympics. Now, as the country prepares to host the Games in 2018, Korean Air Lines003490.SE -0.65% is getting involved.

The national flag carrier said in a statement it will build two- and four-person bobsleds for the national team in partnership with universities in South Korea as well as the University of California.

Korean Air said it plans to unveil a prototype in November and upgrade it through tests until the next Winter Olympics, which will be held in Pyeongchang, a province in northeast South Korea.

Dignitaries witness Goddess crowning
Jeju Weekly

It is not unusual for a performer to receive an award for their extraordinary talent. Most often, though, that award does not bestow a title that raises the recipient’s status to one of divinity. However, Jeju Island, a traditionally matriarchal society home to 18,000 gods and goddesses, does things differently.

On Friday, March 28, Jeju Island celebrated the crowning of its first live goddess as opera singer Kang Hye-myoung was named a “Living Goddess of Jeju.” The award was given in homage to Jeju’s rich religious traditions and also to promote International Women’s Day, which passed on March 8, and the upcoming 28th BPW International Congress 2014 to be held on Jeju Island, May 23 to 27.

The Jeju club of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) hosted the celebration and opera showcase and funds raised from the event were donated to the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. About 2 million won will go to this Busan-based organization.

Ice Hockey Player Out to Prove She’s More Than a Pretty Face
Chosun Ilbo

Korea was unable to send an ice hockey team to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in February as both the men’s and women’s teams failed to make the grade. But the women’s team, first formed in 1998 and now ranked world No. 23, became one of the most-searched keywords early this month.

This happened after a photo of figure skating champion Kim Yu-na with Ahn Kun-young, a member of the national women’s ice hockey team, was posted online. It instantly grabbed people’s attention, largely due to Ahn’s pretty face.

“I was never told I was pretty until earlier this year when I lost some weight,” Ahn said. “Looks aren’t important to ice hockey players. What counts are your skills on the ice.”

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World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says his is a ‘a very different bank’
CNN

From Ukraine to Russia, Tunisia to Egypt, it’s the economy, stupid, as Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign famously put it during his 1992 campaign.

How to get nations into better health, and thus greater wealth? That is the herculean task of Jim Yong Kim and the institution he leads, the World Bank.

“Twenty years ago I was actually on the streets protesting against the World Bank,” Kim said. “I was part of the ’50 years is enough’ movement, and we wanted to shut down the World Bank on its 50th anniversary.”

Now, as president of the organization, he says it is “a very different bank.”

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Monday’s Link Attack: NK/SK Artillery Exchange; the Colbert Controversy and the ‘Weaponized Hashtag’; Russia Eyes Kaesong

South Korea Exchanges Artillery Fire With North Over Sea Border
Bloomberg

South Korea returned artillery fire after North Korea lobbed shells over the two countries’ western sea border, pushing tensions to their highest in months.

About 100 North Korean shells landed over the disputed sea border during planned live-fire drills, while South Korea fired back about 300 shells, the South’s Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok said at a briefing. Residents on the South Korean islands of Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong were moved to shelters.

The incident yesterday came a day after North Korea said it may conduct a “new form” of nuclear test, and after South Korea President Park Geun Hye in a speech last week in Germany proposed building closer links with the North to spur reunification. North Korea fired artillery shells at Yeonpyeong in November 2010, killing two marines and prompting South Korea to return fire and mobilize fighter jets.

Kim Jong-un Makes Sister His Chief of Staff
Chosun Ilbo

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister Kim Yeo-jong has been his chief of staff since last year, a source said Sunday. The source said Kim Yeo-jong was appointed chief secretary of the Workers Party early last year.

Before Kim Yeo-jong’s promotion, the chief secretary was Kim Chang-son, who is now chief of protocol. This is the first time that a member of the Kim family has assumed the post of chief secretary.

The party secretariat is in charge of purchasing and providing daily necessities for the leader and his family and also handles the delivery of official reports from the party, the Cabinet, the powerful National Defense Commission and other key state organizations.

Corpse surfaces during “Avengers” shooting
Korea Herald

A dead body floated to the surface of the Han River under Mapo Bridge in Seoul, where the American movie crew was filming a sequel to Hollywood Blockbuster “The Avengers,” police said Sunday.

“A security member of the movie crew aboard a boat found the body floating and reported it to the police at around 2:10 p.m.,” said an officer at Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

A police team retrieved the badly decomposed body, which was later identified as a 21-year-old man surnamed Yoon. He was reported missing by his family on March 10, after sending a mobile text message expressing his despair.

Blocking all lanes on the bridge for nearly 12 hours from early in the morning, the American crew shot for “The Avengers: The Age of Ultron” Sunday, the first day of their two-week stint here in Korea.

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THE CAMPAIGN TO “CANCEL” COLBERT
New Yorker

On Thursday night, the official Twitter account for “The Colbert Report” committed the comedic sin of delivering a punch line without its setup. The offending tweet, “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” was meant to be a satirical analog to the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, whose creation was announced earlier this week by the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder.

The joke, which originally aired on Wednesday’s episode, is not particularly complicated: Daniel Snyder created a charitable organization for the benefit of a community and used a racial epithet for that same community in the organization’s name—so here’s an absurd fictional extrapolation of Snyder’s own logic. Everyone who hates both racism and Daniel Snyder laughs.

Stephen Colbert, Racism and the Weaponized Hashtag
Wall Street Journal

Last Wednesday, Stephen Colbert — in his persona as “Stephen Colbert,” the rock-ribbed right-wing pundit of his Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report” — aired a segment satirizing the decision by Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, to set up a fig-leaf nonprofit foundation designed to “help address the challenges that plague the Native American community.” His newly launched Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation has distributed winter coats and shoes to several tribes, purchased a backhoe for Nebraska’s Omaha Tribe and claims to have over forty other projects in process to help build a brighter future for Native Americans.

For a franchise reportedly worth $1.8 billion with operating profits of over $100 million annually, handing out shoes and buying a $100,000 backhoe is a cheap price to pay to defray ongoing negative PR from the many Native Americans who have been pushing for the team to change its 77-year-old name — which many people see as a corrosive ethnic slur and a reminder of a centuries-long history of broken promises and genocide.

S. Korean game developers to go global with Google Play
Yonhap News

The mobile application market powered by U.S. Google Inc. will assist South Korean game developers in tapping deeper into overseas markets, the local unit of the Internet giant said Monday, on the back of the platform’s foray into the contents industry.

“The Google Play ecosystems in Korea rely on great Korean developers making great apps,” said Chris Yerga, who oversees the platform business, adding that 17 out of the top 20 most downloaded apps in the country were games.

The Internet giant said Google Play, its mobile application market brand that was rolled out in 2012, will provide local developers with new business opportunities as the platform is used in more than 190 countries.

US Ambassador to Korea finally asked about topics not related to North Korea
Stars And Stripes

Think answering questions about how to convince North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons is tough? Try talking on national television about dating your wife.

U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim recently appeared on the popular SBS program “Good Morning Korea,” where the focus was, for once, not on the latest provocation from Kim Jong Un.

During the show, Kim – the first Korean-American ambassador to Seoul – answered questions about everything from how he met his wife (they were introduced by a friend when Kim was worked at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul years ago) to which Korean foods he recommended to U.S. President Barack Obama during a visit to Seoul (bulgogi).

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Apple-Samsung row heads to court
Korea JoongAng Daily

The fiercest rivalry in the world of smartphones is heading back to court this week in the heart of the Silicon Valley, with Apple and Samsung accusing each other, once again, of ripping off designs and features.

The trial will mark the latest round in a long-running series of lawsuits between the two tech giants that underscore a much larger concern about what is allowed to be patented.

“There’s a widespread suspicion that lots of the kinds of software patents at issue are written in ways that cover more ground than what Apple or any other tech firm actually invented,’’ Notre Dame law professor Mark McKenna said. “Overly broad patents allow companies to block competition.’’

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Russia Eyes Kaesong Industrial Complex
Chosun Ilbo

North Korea and Russia will discuss the possibility of Russian companies opening factories in the joint-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex, Radio Free Asia reported Friday.

Russia’s Far East Development Minister Alexander Galushka visited the North for five days last week to explore ways of boosting business cooperation, according to the radio station. Galushka apparently discussed improving business conditions for Russian companies in North Korea, measures to protect Russian investments, and multiple-entry visas.

Other points on the agenda were development of North Korea’s Rajin-Sonbong economic zones, steps to modernize the North’s mines, power plant projects, rail lines connecting Russia and Korean Peninsula and a gas pipeline from Russia to South Korea via the North.

Small Businesses Want 2nd Industrial Park in N.Korea
Chosun Ilbo

An association of small and medium-sized businesses wants to build a second industrial park in North Korea along the lines of the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.

The head of the Korea Federation of Small and Medium-sized Businesses, Kim Ki-mun, told a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday that his organization is looking at Haeju or Nampo in North Korea as suitable locations.

The comments have increased hopes here of a breakthrough in chilled relations with Pyongyang. Kim’s idea coincides with the North’s hopes to develop more special economic zones.

6 Stunning Celebrity Couples of Asian Men & Non-Asian Women
Speaking of China

Every week, the entertainment mags churn out list after list of swoon-worthy celebrity and Hollywood couples. But these couples are almost always white…and I can’t remember the last time, if ever, that I’ve seen a single couple of Asian men and non-Asian women on their lists.

If my Pinterest board with real-life couples of Chinese men and Western women has taught me anything, it’s that the community of Asian men and non-Asian women in love is bigger than I ever expected — with plenty of beautiful faces. So it’s no surprise that our community includes some stunning celebrities and their equally stunning partners. Don’t they deserve a little love for once?

Move over, Brangelina! Here are six dazzling couples that could turn heads on the red carpet, while showing the world how lovely it is when Asian men and non-Asian women get together.

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Friday’s Link Attack: CancelColbert Campaign; Girls’ Generation Interview; Yuna Kim’s Record Broken

Park unveils proposals to N. Korea to lay groundwork for unification
GlobalPost

South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday unveiled a package of proposals calling for bolstering exchanges with North Korea as first steps toward building trust between the two sides to lay the groundwork for unification.

Park made the announcement during a speech at the Dresden University of Technology in the former East German city of Dresden. The address was watched closely and televised live amid expectations that she would unveil a new vision for unification of the divided Korean Peninsula.

“Now more than ever, South and North Korea must broaden their exchange and cooperation,” Park said in the address. “What we need is not one-off or promotional events, but the kind of interaction and cooperation that enables ordinary South Koreans and North Koreans to recover a sense of common identity as they help each other out.”

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South Korea sends back stray North Korean fishing boat
Reuters

South Korea on Friday sent back a North Koreanfishing boat that had drifted across a disputed maritime border off the west coast, the defense ministry said, defusing tensions in an area which has been the scene of deadly clashes in recent years.

South Korea’s military had seized the boat after it ignored warnings to retreat, but later confirmed the vessel had experienced engine failure and the three crewmen had no wish to defect to the South, a ministry official said.

The incident came as the North faced renewed pressure from the international community after it fired two mid-range missiles on Wednesday just as the leaders of the South, Japanand the United States pledged to curb its arms ambitions.

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South Korea Returns Bodies of Hundreds of Chinese Soldiers
New York Times

South Korea on Friday repatriated the remains of 437 Chinese soldiers killed during the Korean War six decades ago, making a gesture symbolic of warming ties between the two nations.

China sent a flood of soldiers to help its Communist ally North Korea, which invaded South Korea in June 1950. Its intervention saved the North, whose forces had been pushed back toward the country’s northern corner by American-led United Nations forces later that year. The three-year war ended in a cease-fire, leaving the divided Korean Peninsula technically in a state of war.

Over the years, when South Korea discovered the remains of hundreds of Communist soldiers in old battle sites, it kept them tucked away in a little-known temporary burial ground north of Seoul, until recently known as “the enemy cemetery.”

Energy Panel Approves Contentious Nominee Rhea Suh
Wall Street Journal

Newly minted Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Mary Landrieu(D., La.) pushed through a controversial Interior Department nominee Thursday over the united opposition of Republicans.

The committee voted along party lines, 12-10, to approve the nominee, Rhea Suh, to be assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Interior Department. Ms. Suh now advances to the full Senate where she needs 51 votes for confirmation. It was the first nomination meeting presided over by Ms. Landrieu.

“I am sorry we are starting this new era of the Committee on such a troubling note,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) told her usual ally Ms. Landrieu. “I expect that we will be able to work together on many issues that come before us—but this particular nomination is simply not one of them.”

Stephen Colbert vs. the Hashtag Activists
Slate

So: On Wednesday night Stephen Colbert made sport of Washington football team owner Dan Snyder and his plan to undercut criticism of the team name by founding an organization for the uplift of “original Americans.” Colbert ran though all the reasons why this was funny, then called back to a skit from one of the show’s first episodes, way back from the fall of 2005—a joke about the host being caught on a “live feed” playing a racist Asian stereotype (Ching Chong Ding Dong, from Guanduong), then not understanding why it was racist. Colbert would make amends with his new “Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” He’d played versions of the game since then, dressing up in a sombrero for “Hispanic heritage month.” It’s one of the Colbert character’s oldest gags—he “doesn’t see color,” so he can’t ever be blamed if he accidentally does something horribly racist.

Most of a day later, the official Twitter account of The Colbert Report tweeted a short version of the joke: “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” Bad move. This attracted the ire of a 23-year-old freelance writer and hashtag activist named Suey Park, who gained prominence last year with the #NotYourAsianSidekick micromovement.

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Anti-Colbert activist, HuffPost Live host grapple over racism, satire
Washington Post

Josh Zepps is a host on HuffPost Live. He presides over many interesting and civil conversations with guests on a wide variety of topics. Generally they end in a civil manner.

Not so much today, because of the issue: On the other end of the video link was Suey Park, the Korean-American Twitter hashtag activist who drew recognition from her campaign #NotYourAsianSidekick.
This week, she roared again, this time in response to a tweet that came from the account of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert show:
“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”

Like most things that emerge from the Colbert universe, that (as the context of the joke made clear) was satire — satire intended to skewer Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who recently launched the Original Americans Foundation at a time when the name of his squad is under fire for being racist.

The satire wasn’t working for Park, who launched #CancelColbert, not to mention a massive discussion about how we mix race and humor, and whether we should at all.

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Texas executes man who killed food delivery woman with bat
Reuters

Texas executed convicted murderer Anthony Doyle on Thursday as it kept the pace of executions steady while other states have had to postpone capital punishments because they cannot obtain drugs used in lethal injections.

Doyle, 29, was convicted of beating food delivery woman Hyun Cho, a South Korean native, to death in 2003 with a baseball bat, putting her body in a trash can and stealing her car.

Doyle was pronounced dead at 6:49 p.m. CDT (2349 GMT) at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville after receiving a lethal injection. He did not make a last statement, a Department of Criminal Justice spokesman said.

Knife Threat Failed to Halt Korea’s First Female Bank CEO 
Bloomberg

Facing a desperate, knife-brandishing customer, Kwon Seon Joo knew the value of staying cool under pressure more than two decades before being picked to become the first woman to head a South Korean bank.

In 1992, the now 57-year-old chief executive officer of the country’s fourth-largest lender byassets, Industrial Bank of Korea, was deputy manager of trade finance at a branch in an upscale district of Seoul. Kwon said she agreed to meet a customer presenting forged shipping documents who was demanding a loan because he risked financial ruin after exporting artificial flowers that had been rejected by the recipient. When she refused, he lifted his trouser leg to reveal something tucked in his sock: a knife.

“I was shocked at first, but deep down I was confident that I could resolve the situation with conversation,” Kwon said in an interview at IBK’s headquarters in Seoul last month. She spoke calmly with the man for more than an hour before he walked out with his demands unmet and no one harmed, she said.

Help For Working Women, But Will More Storks Come?
Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s announced more incentives for working women to help boost female employment and improve low birth rates, but it’s unclear if the policies will overcome cultural norms in the workplace.

President Park Geun-hye’s been trying to keep her campaign promise of lifting the total employment rate to 70% by 2017 from 65% currently.

A key to this is getting women to stay in the work force after they start families and have children and on Monday, the Labor Ministry announced that women in their first 12 weeks and the last four weeks of pregnancy may work two hours less, fully paid, starting September.

K-POP PHENOMENON GIRLS’ GENERATION WANT TO MAKE INSECURE MEN FEEL BETTER
Vice

We all know Psy. You’ve probably heard G-Dragon and CL before—on a Diplo or Skrillex beat at the least—and some hundred thousand Lady GaGa fans are about to meet Crayon Pop in stadiums across Middle America and Canada this summer. But there’s no K-pop phenomenon bigger than Girls’ Generation. They remain Korea’s all-time best-selling girl group, their YouTube prowess has trouncedthat of even some of the brightest Western stars, and their tour attendance is astounding. If Korean music is something that’s been brought to your attention sometime in the past half decade, there’s a good chance that had something to do with “Gee,” the undisputed classic of K-pop (watch it above).

After an uncharacteristically long break since their last release—all of two months—and almost a straight year of Japanese records and tours, Girls’ Generation returned late last month with the Mr.Mr. mini-album. We broke bread with all nine (very polite) girls to talk new music, bolstering the flagging confidence of insecure boys, and Korea’s super intense trainee pop regime. Apparently of the 10,000 K-Pop wannabes, only one becomes a star. Steep odds for sure.

2NE1: Crush
Pitchfork

Instead of following a tried-and-true formula of slowly rolling out individual songs and their characteristically flashy videos, the all-female Korean pop supergroup 2NE1 went the opposite direction with their new album, Crush. Announced in January—no advance snippets were available—and released digitally in February, 2NE1 dropped two singles simultaneously (the uptempo pair “Come Back Home” and “Gotta Be You”). Though both unsurpisingly lit up the Korean charts, the excitement—as well as an appearance in a January episode of ABC’s The Bachelor—buoyed an entrance into Billboard 200, where 2NE1 sold more copies in the first week than any Korean outfit in history. The only semi-micro-plotted movement in the whole campaign happened when YG Entertainment bumped the digital release three days—meaning that they broke the record in four days, instead of a full seven—so it would come out on the February 27 birthday of CL, 2NE1’s ascendant star. Hold that thought.

Tickets for the Free LA K-Pop Festival Available Online this Saturday
Soompi

With the LA K-Pop Festival a little more than two weeks away, it has been revealed that tickets will be distributed through Ticketmaster this Saturday at 10am PST on a first come, first serve basis (limit: 2 per person). While the concert is free, a small service fee for Ticketmaster is added.

Physical Ticket Distribution will occur on Saturday March 29 at 10:00am PST at the HwaGae Traditional Market (940 S. Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006) on a first come first serve basis, with up to 5,000 tickets being distributed that day (limit: 2 per person).

Hosted by KBS America and the Los Angeles Korean Association, the event is set for April 12 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The event will start with a day long festival at 10am, followed by a concert at 5:30pm.

Veteran Choo adjusting to left field at Globe Life Park
Dallas Morning News

Shin-Soo Choo on Thursday started a crash course in the art of playing left field at Globe Life Park.

Choo, entering his first season with the Rangers, tried to familiarize himself with the nuances of his new position during an afternoon workout. He also started in left field in the park for the first time in nearly eight years during the exhibition game against Quintana Roo of the Mexican League.

Choo played center field with Cincinnati last season and has fewer career starts in left

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field (60) than the other outfield spots. Choo can apply his experience as a right fielder in that balls will hook and slice toward the left-field line.

“It’s something I’ll have to get used to,” Choo said. “The more I play out there, the more comfortable I’ll be.”

Japan’s Mao Asada breaks Yuna Kim’s world record in women’s short
Fox Sports

Mao Asada of Japan set a world record on Thursday to finish first in the short program at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Skating to Chopin’s Nocturne, Asada hit her trademark triple axel at the start of her routine and completed all her remaining jumps to finish with 78.66 points, surpassing the previous record of 78.50 set by Yuna Kim at the Vancouver Olympics.

“As the last competition of this season, I am happy to skate the best short program,” said Asada, a two-time world champion. “My mission here is to perform both programs perfect so already half is done and tomorrow I want to focus on showing everything I have practiced.”

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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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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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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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