Monday’s Link Attack: NK/SK Artillery Exchange; the Colbert Controversy and the ‘Weaponized Hashtag’; Russia Eyes Kaesong
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: March 31st, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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South Korea Exchanges Artillery Fire With North Over Sea Border

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.

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).

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.’’

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.

Seoul to Shut Down Some Streets For Filming of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: March 18th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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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.

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. Continue Reading »

Friday’s Link Attack: Thousands Mourn Fallen LAPD Officer; Korea Joins Search for Missing Plane; Roy Choi Uses Google Glass
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: March 14th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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Thousands Mourn Fallen LAPD Officer Nicholas Lee
Korea Times US

Hundreds of mourners, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and Gov. Jerry Brown, gathered on Thursday to pay tribute to Los Angeles police Officer Nicholas Choung Lee, who was killed when his patrol car was struck by a dump truck.

Lee, 40, died at the scene of the crash, which occurred around 8 a.m. Friday near Robert Lane and Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills, about one block across the city line. His partner, who was just three months out of the police academy, was hospitalized and released Saturday night. The two were responding to an “unknown trouble” call when the crash occurred.

An investigation into the crash is continuing, but Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said last week the initial indication appears to be that the truck, which wound up on its side after striking the patrol car, may have lost its brakes.

Japan Prime Minister Says He Will Not Revise 1993 Apology to ‘Comfort Women’
New York Times

Moving to defuse a heated diplomatic dispute over World War II-era history, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday that his government would not revise a landmark 1993 apology to women forced to work in Japanese military brothels.

It was the first time since taking office more than a year ago that Mr. Abe has explicitly stated that his right-wing administration would uphold the official apology, known as the Kono Statement. That statement, issued by Yohei Kono, then the chief cabinet secretary, admitted that Japan’s military played at least an indirect role in forcing the so-called comfort women to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.

“I am deeply pained to think of the comfort women who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering, a feeling I share equally with my predecessors,” Mr. Abe told Parliament. Referring to the Kono Statement, the prime minister said, “The Abe cabinet has no intention to review it.”

N. Korean defectors who once settled in S. Korea face deportation from Canada
Yonhap News

More than 600 North Korean defectors, who initially settled in South Korea, are on the verge of being deported from Canada while attempting to take refuge there, an informed source said Thursday.

The Canadian authorities accuse them of disguising themselves as those who just fled the communist nation, said the source from South Korean political circles.

They actually defected to the capitalist South and gained citizenship there, according to the source who is on a trip here after visiting Canada.

“The people with the nationality of South Korea, who fled North Korea, filed applications for a refugee status with the Canadian government. But their applications were rejected and they face deportation,” said the source.

South Korea to join search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane
Straits Times

South Korea has decided to send two military aircraft to join the international search and rescue operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Friday.

The country plans to send a P-3C Orion patrol aircraft and a C- 130 military transport airplane to carry out search and rescue tasks, Xinhua news agency reported, quoting the ministry.

It has also ordered 39 South Koreans from the military to depart for Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to join the international search and rescue efforts, Xinhua said.

Seoul counselors help curb suicide
Korea Times

Thirty counselors at the Seoul Suicide Prevention Center (SSPC) are on standby 24/7 in a fight to bring city’s suicide rate down.

“Suicide is not a disease. An impulse to kill can happen to anyone. When it happens to you, you need people to talk to. That’s what we are trying to do for the callers,” Choi Min-jung, an SSPC counselor, said.

The SSPC, launched in 2005, is under the supervision of the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

This reporter spent two nights recently at the center, to observe the counselors’ work. The writer was not allowed to listen to callers for privacy reasons, but overheard counselors often begin the conversations with questions: “You seem angry. Would you mind sharing more about your feelings?”

Sex crimes against minors soars in recent years
Yonhap News via GlobalPost

The number of sex crimes against minors rose sharply in the past five years but more than 40 percent of convicted offenders were released on probation, government data showed Thursday.

According to the data by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the number of sex crimes, such as rape, indecent assault and brokering prostitution, against children and juveniles rose 52.7 percent from 1,068 cases in 2007 to 1,631 in 2012.

The findings are based on a research conducted by the state-run Korean Women’s Development Institute on supreme court cases of sex crimes against minors during the 2007-2012 period.

Korea-U.S. FTA Scorecard Shows Seoul the Bigger Winner
Wall Street Journal

The U.S.-South Korean free trade agreement marks its second anniversary Saturday.

The landmark deal, effective since March 15, 2012, helped boost bilateral trade. A question is which side benefits more? The answer is Seoul, not Washington, according to trade data in South Korea.

Bilateral trade has risen 4.1% for the past two years with the South Korean surplus—or the U.S. deficit—growing, show Seoul’s trade ministry data. The data show South Korea’s surplus in trade with the U.S. widening to $17 billion for the first year after the pact took effect and $20 billion for the second year—from $12 billion for a year before the deal.

Beneficiaries from the two-year free-trade pact include South Korean auto-parts suppliers, petroleum-goods producers and processed-food makers as well as U.S. pumping-machine manufacturers, pesticide producers and fruit growers—whose exports to the other side grew sharply.

68-year old Korean American man left brain-dead after falling accident may save up to six lives as an organ donor
Korea Times US

A 68-year-old Korean American man who was left brain-dead after a falling accident may save the lives of up to six people as an organ donor.

Jung Sang-gil was the owner of Dae Hung Refrigeration who lived in Los Angeles’ Koreatown for 28 years.

He was declared brain-dead after he fell from a ladder on March 6 while climbing onto a market rooftop located on James M. Wood Blvd. and Bonnie Brae St.

Jung was a giving person who had made it known that he would donate his organs if necessary, his family said. He died on Sunday after his family made the decision to follow his wishes. His liver and kidneys have been donated through surgery, and the hospital will use his lungs and other organs after testing them for compatibility.

‘Clergy Academy’ trains recruits on mental health
Southern California Public Radio

In immigrant circles, depression and other mental health issues often carry heavy stigma. Those in crisis may forgo treatment and instead seek help from one of the most trusted people in the community: the local clergy member.

But church leaders lack the training to treat mental health, and the help they provide is often restricted to the spiritual.

“They just say only, “Let’s pray.’ And that’s about it,” said Young Ahn, a mental health services coordinator for Los Angeles County.

To better equip faith leaders in immigrant communities, the county’s Department of Mental Health this year officially launched a program called ‘Clergy Academy.’ Pastors and clergy who go through the 12 courses earn a certificate.

Asian Americans nominated for key White House admin positions
Northwest Asian Weekly

President Obama announced on March 6 that he will nominate Nani A. Coloretti to be the Deputy Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Erika Lizabeth Moritsugu as Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations, Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Coloretti is currently the Assistant Secretary for Management at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, a position she has held since November 2012. From 2009 to 2012, she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget. Prior to joining the administration, Ms. Coloretti worked in the San Francisco mayor’s office from 2005 until 2009, most recently serving as budget director. She was a budget analyst for the Department of Public Safety in the state of Hawaii from 1991 to 1992.

Iron Man and Captain America Bound for Gangnam
Wall Street Journal

“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” by the U.S.’s Marvel Studios, will be filmed in Seoul, possibly as soon as this month.

The Korean Film Council told Korea Real Time that the government-supported agency, together with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, will sign a memorandum of understanding with Marvel Studios next Tuesday, when details about the location and timing of the shoot will be revealed.

Yonhap News Agency earlier reported that the Seoul Metropolitan Policy Agency had met with the relevant agencies on Wednesday to discuss possible traffic control and support for the shooting. According to the report, the movie will be filmed from March 30 until April 12 and various parts of the city, including the bustling Gangnam subway station, will be used as locations.

Examining the recruitment of Shin-Soo Choo

The Rangers made a big move in November trading for Prince Fielder. And, of course, there would be major ripple effects.

The deal came together so quickly that the Rangers didn’t get a chance to inform Ian Kinsler that he was leaving the team that drafted and developed him before Twitter was abuzz with the news.

General manager Jon Daniels closed the deal just before boarding a plane, but it required MLB approval. As is chronicled in an ESPN The Magazine story on Kinsler, the second baseman found out via text after news broke through social media. Daniels was 30,000 feet in the air, and before he could power on his Wi-Fi the blockbuster was national news.

Watch Roy Choi Use Google Glass To Make Irish Burritos (And Get His Recipe)

Roy Choi started a new age in the worldwide street food movement when he opened up his Korean fusion taco truck, Kogi. Since then he’s become the de facto spokesman for street cuisine, and the folks at Google have taken note.

It’s not all that shocking, really, considering that Kogi’s popularity spread like wildfire due to Twitter, technology, and mobile culture. Now Choi is one of Google Glass’ Explorers, testing out the technology and showcasing how it would work in a kitchen setting.

To be honest, the geeky glasses seem like they’d come in handy as a cook. We use our iPad as a recipe reference quite a bit, and the screen can get a little messy. With things perched on your head, it seems like there’s less room for water (or wine, if you’ve been known to sip and cook like us) damage.

Pot Cafe is open in the Line Hotel: French bread pizza, butter mochi bars and more
Lost Angeles Times

Pot Cafe, the bakery annex of Roy Choi’s Pot lobby bar and still-to-come Pot restaurant in Koreatown’s Line Hotel, is now open. Tucked into a corner of the main floor of the hotel, it’s Choi’s version of a Korean bakery.

“It’s set up like any bakery but instead of Danish and croissants and morning buns [there are] red bean buns, cream buns, French bread pizza,” Choi said. “If you walk into a Korean bakery, you’ll know what I’m talking about — like 85C, Paris Baguette. We want to take that whole culture and put our twist on it.”

So in the pastry cases are rows of Asian cream buns with fillings such as red bean, custard and cream; toasted bread-and-butter buns such as Bun B the G topped with honey butter, candied ginger and sea salt and the Kimchi Squat with kochujang chile butter and topped with nori; Hawaiian pull-apart bread; mocha chip cookies (including a gluten-free version); Ritz candy bars; and French bread pizza, including a sloppy joe pizza topped with beefy sauce and melted American cheese.

‘Top Chef’ finalist Shirley Chung’s culinary adventures in South Korea
Las Vegas Sun

“Top Chef” contestant Shirley Chung became a fan favorite as she won several weekly episodes of Season 11 in New Orleans, but there was a coast-to-coast collective sigh of sympathy when our Las Vegas chef was eliminated after making the final three and competing in Maui.

Celebrity chef and judge Emeril Lagasse raved about her cuisine during filming, so much so that one of her winning dishes was added to the menus at all of his restaurants, including here in Las Vegas.

During our weekly coverage of her progress, Shirley, who had worked here for acclaimed culinary kings Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Jose Andres, told me that she was weighing several offers to open her own dining venue here.

Monday’s Link Attack: NKorea Fires More Missiles; Girls Generation Vs 2NE1; Nike Yoga Master Leah Kim
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: March 3rd, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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N. Korea fires short-range missiles, South says ‘provocative’
AFP via Yahoo News

North Korea fired short-range missiles into the sea off its eastern coast for the second time in a week Monday, prompting a warning from South Korea of “reckless provocation.”

The missile tests have clearly been timed to coincide with annual South Korea-US military exercises which kicked off a week ago and run until mid-April.

Two missiles were fired Monday and both flew around 500 kilometers (310 miles) into the Sea of Japan, according to South Korea’s Defence Ministry.

Four short-range Scud missiles were fired in similar fashion on Thursday.

South Korea proposes regular family reunions with North

South Korean President Park Geun-hye made a formal proposal to North Korea on Saturday to hold family reunions regularly, uniting families separated since the 1950-53 Korean war, a sign Seoul is seeking to improve relations with the North.

The reunions used to be held roughly annually, but until this February had not taken place since 2010 when tensions between the two Koreas spiraled after the South said the North sank one of its naval vessels.

The latest family reunion was held on February 20-25 at the Mount Kumgang resort just north of the border and a total of 813 family members met in tears and joy.

“I propose to North Korea to make family reunions regular in order to ease the deep sorrow of the separated families as soon as possible. North Korea too has separated families and I believe it also has to relieve their pain and agony,” said Park in a speech marking the March First Independence Movement Day.

N. Korea’s No. 2 man arrested
Korea Times

North Korean government may have locked behind bars the state’s second-in-command Choe Ryong-hae for not fulfilling his duties and other allegations deemed disloyal, Free North Korea Radio (FNKR) said Friday.

According to the media’s state correspondents, the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Chief was arrested at his home on Feb. 21 at around 6 a.m. Some 30 military guards detained Choe who at the time was getting ready to go to work.

The guards, after the arrest, confiscated all documents and appliances at his office in the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces.

Choe is known to have been serving his jail time in a cell located inside the State Security Department since then.

Park Geun-hye Asks Xi Jinping…
Exit Emperor Kim Jong-Il

SK President Park Geun-hye is said to have asked China’s President Xi Jinping whether there was a plan for China to annex North Korea as the 4th province of the Northeast (Dongbei) in the event that North Korea’s governance structure completely breaks down. Xi is said to have answered, no.

Presumably, the new leaders of the respective countries had vetted this question/answer prior to their summit (Beijing, June, 2013). Nevertheless, it is a loaded question, and it had to have caused stir among policy wonks in Beijing.

Park’s question goes directly to her initiative in unification of two Koreas under the leadership of South Korea. She sought consensus among neighboring countries, and appears to have persuaded Xi, Putin, and Obama that Korean unification under the South Korean leadership was good for the region.

Ex-Premier Murayama Expects Abe to Stick by Japan’s War Apologies
Wall Street Journal

Tomiichi Murayama, the former socialist leader of Japan who apologized for Japan’s wartime aggression, is the latest ex-premier to come out of retirement and make current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe uncomfortable.

Mr. Murayama, who is celebrating his 90th birthday Monday, said in a recent visit to South Korea that he expects Mr. Abe to stick by the 1995 “Murayama statement” that contained the apology. Mr. Murayama also wants Japan to uphold a 1993 statement apologizing over the “comfort women” issue, made by Yohei Kono, Japan’s then-chief government spokesman. The term comfort women refers to women and girls, many of them Korean, who were forced to sexually serve Japanese soldiers during World War II.

At a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, Mr. Murayama stepped up his criticism of those who want to revise the apologies, describing the recent controversy surrounding the Kono statement as “meaningless.”

South Korea Assails Japan on Wartime Brothels
New York Times

Unleashing fresh criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, President Park Geun-hye of South Korea on Saturday urged him to be honest and courageous enough to face his country’s history of aggression in the early 20th century, especially its enslavement of Asian women in Imperial Army brothels.

“True courage lies not in denying the past but in looking squarely at the history as it was and teaching growing generations the correct history,” Ms. Park said, referring to Japan’s often brutal colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945. “The more one denies the history of the past, the more wretched and more isolated one gets.”

Just a day earlier, Mr. Abe’s government said it would re-examine a landmark 1993 apology it made to the sex slaves, commonly known by the euphemism “comfort women.”

Former White House staffer Ronnie Cho ‘seriously considering’ Arizona congressional run
Washington Examiner

Former White House staffer Ronnie Cho is strongly considering a congressional run in Arizona, sources tell the Washington Examiner.

Cho, the former associate director for the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, has been taking calls encouraging him to run in Arizona since Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor announced Thursday he would retire after his current term.

Sources close to Cho, a Phoenix native and Arizona State University alumnus, said he is seriously thinking of throwing his hat into the ring in Arizona’s 7th Congressional District. If successful, he would be the first Korean-American Democrat elected to Congress.

Cho also has been an editor at Newsweek/Daily Beast and worked at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as associate director in the Office of Legislative Affairs.

Gourmet Heaven owner charged with discrimination, wage theft
Providence Journal (Rhode Island)

Gourmet Heaven owner Chung Cho was arrested Monday on five charges of discrimination against workers and five violations of failure to keep wage records at its Connecticut stores, according to Connecticut court records.

Four days earlier, on Feb. 20, New Haven police arrested Chung on 21 felony counts of wage theft and 20 misdemeanor charges of defrauding immigrant workers, according to the court records.

Gourmet Heaven has two locations in Connecticut and two in Providence, one on Weybosset Street downtown and the other, more recently opened, on Meeting Street on College Hill.

The Providence stores are not under investigation, according to Nicole Armstrong, program coordinator for the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.

Oscars: Karen O Performs Ethereal ‘Moon Song’ With Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig
Hollywood Reporter

Karen O took the Academy Awards stage Sunday with special guest Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig accompanying on guitar for their performance of Oscar-nominated original song from Her, “The Moon Song.”

Dressed in a deep-V red gown, a seated Karen O brought an ethereal mood to the Dolby Theatre with Koenig’s help on supporting vocals. The performance was in stark contrast to Pharrell Williams’ show-stealing performance of Despicable Me’s “Happy” minutes before, with dozens of dancers amping up the star-filled crowd. An image of a moon rose as Karen O and Koenig crooned “The Moon Song” with the rest of the stage in black.

The two teamed up for a new version of “The Moon Song,” which was co-written by Karen O and Her director Spike Jonze, as part of a three-song EP released on iTunes. Karen O also recorded a solo version.

2NE1 Vs. Girls’ Generation: K-Pop Girl Group Battle Raging on the Charts

As two of K-pop’s biggest international acts, Girls’ Generation and 2NE1 dropping albums within days of each other was sure to stir up a competitive chart battle in both their native South Korea and abroad. According to early chart forecasts, both Korean releases should be making exciting chart moves.

Industry forecasters suggest that 2NE1′s new album “Crush” might sell around 4,000 copies by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, March 2. Meanwhile, Girls Generation’s “Mr.Mr.” EP could sell 3,000.

If 2NE1′s latest effort sells 4,000, it would easily mark the act’s best sales week; the group’s previous high came when “2NE1 2nd Mini Album” EP sold 1,000 in its first week in 2011.

‘Frozen’ Crosses $75 Million in South Korea, Breaks Local Records
Hollywood Reporter

Frozen broke several South Korean box office records over the weekend as it became Sunday the first animated feature and the second imported film to cross 10 million admissions here.

As of Monday, according to the Korean Film Council, the Oscar-winning film has grossed $75.48 million (80.45 billion won), making Korea the most successful market for the Disney animation outside of the U.S.

The film’s directors, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, expressed thanks to Korean fans with a hand-drawn picture of the character Olaf and the message, “Thank you Korea for loving me so much! I want to give you all a warm hug!!”

The Chinese obsession with Korean dramas is making bad Chinese TV look bad

Days after a woman suffered a heart attack after staying up late to watch the hit Korean drama “My Love From the Star” (来自星星的你), Xu Qinsong, a Guangdong delegate to the CPPCC (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference), stood up for the poor souls working in the lackluster Chinese domestic television industry by saying enough is enough with China’s Korean drama craze.

In a recent interview, the venerable Mr. Xu lamented how the Korean Drama obsession is hurting China’s “cultural self-esteem.” And the truth is, he does kind of have a point.

“My Love From the Star,” which recently concluded its first season on February 27, weaves a deeply complex and nuanced tale of a young, beautiful Korean actress (played by the young and beautiful Jun Ji-Hyun) who falls in love with her young and beautiful alien boyfriend (played by the young and beautiful Kim Soo-hyun). The show has been broadcasted on China’s video platform sites LeTv.Com and iQiyi, where it has reportedly been watched 14.5 billion times on the latter site alone. Damn. On February 14th, over 100 fans took out a full-page advertisement in the Beijing News to wish male star Kim both a happy Valentine’s Day and happy birthday on February 16th.

Korea’s indie rock music survives in shadow of K-Pop
South China Morning Post

It’s Saturday night in Hongdae, one of Seoul’s best-known entertainment districts. Alleyways that are quiet by day have transformed into bustling passageways lined with busy bars and restaurants; street food vendors have pitched tents to serve soju and fried seafood; and young men and women prowl the streets in their nightclub finery.

With so much action going on, it’s easy to miss the entrance to Club Freebird, an obscure but influential music venue in the area. Inside the bar, surrounded by the blue haze of stage lights, a small crowd sways to Led Zeppelin-inspired guitars and the siren-like vocals of a singer in black eyeliner, fishnet tights and shorts.

Apart from the cheap drinks, every member of the audience is here to enjoy something that South Korea isn’t known for: indie music.

Yoo Jae Suk Gifts University Students Who Appeared on “Running Man”

Comedian Yoo Jae Suk gave gifts to the guest university students who participated in the March 2 broadcast of SBS’ “Running Man.”

According to a “Running Man” representative on March 3, “Yoo Jae Suk gave iPads as gifts to the university students who participated in the ‘Running Man 2014 University War’ special.”

The rep explained, “Yoo Jae Suk wanted to express his gratitude toward all of the university students who actively participated on the show. He was too shy to give the gifts in person, so he asked the production team to give out the gifts on his behalf. He wanted to let this pass quietly, but people found out.”

Nike yoga master trainer Leah Kim: I felt out of place in an office

Leah Kim, 34, was an unsporty child destined for a ‘proper’ job. Somehow, she became Nike’s global yoga master trainer.

Growing up in California, it was the norm to be health-conscious and yoga was around my entire life. But it wasn’t until I was at college at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles] that I walked into class with the teacher who would become my mentor, and yoga became a huge part of my life. During that first class, I started experiencing the aspects of yoga that go beyond the physical, that ask you to look within. It seemed like there was so much to learn and I just wanted more.

I was definitely not sporty at school – not in the slightest. Sometimes it feels like a fluke that I’m now a ‘Nike athlete’ but I stepped into my body’s potential when I stepped on to the yoga mat. I’d gone to UCLA to study economics but I wasn’t passionate about it. Growing up, there was an inherent expectation that I would get a ‘proper’ job in some sort of business capacity. But once I got into my cubicle at my first job out of college, I felt out of place and uninspired. I found I was so much more contented at the yoga studio than anywhere else and wished I could spend all day long there. Then one day I had the realisation – well, maybe I can…

Friday’s Link Attack: North Korea’s Missile Launch; SKorean Birth Rate at All-Time Low; Abuse of Koreans in Japan
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: February 28th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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5 Things About North Korea’s Latest Missile Launch
Wall Street Journal

Around 5.42 p.m. local time Thursday, North Korea fired what South Korea initially thought were four KN-02 type short-range missiles with a range of about 160 kilometers into the sea from its launch site in Kittaeryong in the southwest of the country. On Friday, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the missiles were Scud-type weapons, of which North Korea has a few variants with ranges from 300 km to 700 km. The longer-range types could potentially reach any target in South Korea and western Japan.

North Korea test fires short-range missiles into the sea a few times a year, usually during military drills. Winter exercises are ongoing in the North. The launches are also seen by officials in Seoul as a protest against military exercises in South Korea. The U.S. and South Korea began their annual drills this week, which will run through April. “With the exercises underway, we see the firings as a calculated, provocative act,” South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Friday, also noting that a North Korean ship breached the west coast inter-Korean maritime border earlier this week. South Korea doesn’t always publicize military provocations from the North but did give details of missile launches last year around the time of drills in the South.

North Korea condemns Australian judge behind U.N. rights report

North Korea on Friday condemned an Australian judge who led a U.N. investigation that concluded that North Korean security chiefs and possibly its leader should face justice for torture and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.

North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency, citing a pro-North Korean politician from Brazil, said the judge, Michael Kirby, had manipulated evidence at the behest of North Korea’s old enemy, the United States.

“(Kirby’s) mission is to manipulate ‘evidence’ on the orders of Washington, lie about (North) Korea and oppose the republic under an international alliance that is controlled by the United States,” KCNA said.

North Korean state media often uses comment from small, foreign support groups to criticize the United States and South Korea.

North Korea’s human rights atrocities continue, and the world doesn’t act
Boston Globe

CLIVE CROOK, who for many years was a senior editor at The Economist, wrote the other day that he used to think his finest moment at the magazine was in June 2000, when he approved what became one of the most memorable covers in the publication’s history — a photo of North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong Il, “looking wonderfully absurd” as he waved stiffly to an audience. The headline: “Greetings, earthlings.”

Now, having read the new UN report on the Kim regime’s institutionalized barbarity, Crook feels a “pang of shame” at the thought of that cover. North Korea jokes no longer seem so funny.

Indeed. It has been known for years that North Korea is a totalitarian hellhole ruled by megalomaniacs who have turned the country into a vast concentration camp. Millions of North Koreans have died from starvation caused by their government’s deranged policies; millions more have been victimized by its fanatical efforts to repress any hint of independent thought, and by its merciless assaults on human dignity. But the report issued by the UN panel this month, after a year-long investigation that gathered evidence from more than 320 victims and witnesses, paints such an extensive and meticulous portrait of evil that it compares in significance, as the Washington Post observed, to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s devastating history of the Soviet labor camps, “The Gulag Archipelago.”

Jang Purge Yet to Hurt North Korea-China Trade
Wall Street Journal

When North Korea purged dictator Kim Jong Un’s uncle in December one question raised was whether the move would impact economic ties with China. Jang Song Thaek was seen as a key interlocutor with Beijing and a proponent of business links.

Initial data shows there’s been no immediate negative effect on the trade relationship between the countries.

Trade volume between North Korea and China rose 16% on-year to $546 million in January, according to the Korea International Trade Association, which compiles data based on Chinese customs statistics.

Among the litany of crimes attributed to Mr. Jang before his execution was an accusation that he sold off coal and other resources “at random.” That suggested North Korea would seek to renegotiate export deals with its only big trade partner, China.

Fewer and Fewer Children Born in Korea
Chosun Ilbo

Some 436,600 children were born in Korea last year, the smallest number recorded since 2005, Statistics Korea said on Thursday. Compared to 2012, the number dropped 9.9 percent from 484,550.

The total fertility rate, the number of children that would be born to a woman in her lifetime, stood at 1.19 children last year, even fewer than the 1.3 recorded in 2012.

The number of newborns is likely to drop below 400,000 in 2030 and to below 300,000 range in the 2050s if the trend continues.

Yoon Yeon-ok at Statistics Korea said, “The number of women of peak childbearing age between 29 and 33 declined by 360,000 compared to the previous year, while more women remain single or marry later in life.”

Poor construction blamed for deadly gym collapse: police

Police on Friday blamed shoddy construction and poor materials for last week’s deadly gymnasium collapse that killed 10 people, mostly college students, and injured 128 others.

The roof of the gymnasium at the Mauna Ocean Resort in Gyeongju, a historical tourist city 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, caved in on some 560 incoming freshmen of the Busan University of Foreign Studies on Feb. 17 during a welcoming party.

Announcing the interim results of their investigation into the tragedy, officers at the Gyeongju Police Station said that the collapse was the result of overall poor construction and lax management of the building.

Under siege by ultrafine dust
Korea Times

Seen from a subway train crossing a Han River bridge on a morning commute, Seoul remained in a thick fog of fine dust.

On the street, commuters were walking without masks, looking like disarmed soldiers going to war.

Many of them may have regretted listening to the weather forecast about the clouds of dust receding.

Erring on the safe side, they should heed severe yellow sand warnings for March.

3 hurt in vehicle collision north of Esparto
Daily Democrat

A portion of a northern Yolo County road had to be closed Wednesday morning while emergency crews extricated and then lifeflighted a motorist to a hospital following an accident.
The California Highway Patrol reported the accident occurred around 11:30 a.m. on County Road 19, just west of I-505.

Hae Jung Cho, 61, of Millbrae was driving a 2006 BMW X3 on northbound I-505 approaching CR-19, according to the CHP, at the same time Tommy Saeteurn, 29, of Winton was driving a 2002 Acura TL on westbound CR-19, approaching I-505.

Cho exited I-505 at CR-19 and proceeded up the off-ramp to the intersection. However, Cho failed to stop at the stop sign as he made a left turn toward westbound CR-19, and directly into the path of the Acura.

Saeteurn was unable to avoid the BMW, causing the front of the Acura to collide with the right side of the BMW.

‘Son of God’ Courting Korean Americans
Hollywood Reporter

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are engaged in a full-court press to encourage Korean Christians living in the U.S. to see their upcoming film, Son of God, which has already been the recipient of a big marketing push in the Hispanic community.

LightWorkers Media, the production company founded by Burnett and Downey, recently hosted two screenings of the film with Korean subtitles, and the events attracted 800 influential members of the fast-growing community, including Korean journalists and faith leaders, The Hollywood Reporter learned on Tuesday.

Marketers for Son of God, a film about the life of Jesus based on the TV miniseries The Bible, also have visited at least 20 Korean churches and businesses distributing 3,000 posters and 10,000 flyers advertising the movie, which distributor 20th Century Fox will open wide on Friday.

Director-playwright hopes to jump-start Asian-American theater scene in Philly

FOR ALL of the Philly theater universe’s often breathtaking diversity, Asian-American artists and productions are scarce almost to the point of non-existence.

But Rick Shiomi is hoping to change that.

Shiomi is the founder and former longtime guiding light of the St. Paul, Minn.-based Mu Performing Arts, an organization dedicated to Asian-American theater. He is currently in the midst of a part-time, four-month residency funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and presented under the aegis of the Asian Arts Initiative and Center City’s Interact Theatre.

His time here, which began earlier this month, has Shiomi overseeing a series of readings of plays written by Asian-American authors. The works all deal with themes specific to the various cultures under the “Asian-American” umbrella. It’s the first volley in what he hopes will be a successful campaign to bring the local Asian-American community into Philly’s theatrical mainstream.

Huffington Post launches Korean edition
Korea Times

The Huffington Post, an online news site based in the United States, opened a Korean edition of the website ( Friday.

The Korean site is Huffington’s 11th international edition and the second Asian edition. A Japanese edition was launched in May.

The online news provider launched the Korean edition in partnership with Hankyoreh Media Group, a liberal newspaper. The content of the news site, however, will be provided independently from the Hankyoreh by a separate team of editors at the Huffington Post Korea. The editor in chief of the Korean edition is Sohn Mi-na, a freelance travel writer and former announcer on a local news channel.

Korean Skating Union: The ‘Biggest Loser’ in Sochi?

It was South Korea’s Winter Games of Discontent.

Coming off a historic performance at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, South Korea was supposed to assert itself as a winter sports power in Sochi, as it gets ready to host the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Instead, the Korean contingent had the most disastrous Games imaginable. After taking home 14 medals, including six golds from Vancouver, South Korea totaled just eight medals (three golds) in Sochi, finishing 13th in the medal standings. The Wall Street Journal even piled on by naming the nation the biggest loser in terms of last-place finishes.

The raging controversy over Yuna Kim’s loss to Russian figure skater Adelina Sotnikova certainly affected South Korea in the medal standings, with the perception that Kim was robbed of a gold because of nebulous politics. But in the big picture, that merely affected the placement of one medal.

The true cause of South Korea’s downfall in Sochi can be summed up in the loss of one athlete: Viktor Ahn.

Koreans in Japan abused: U.S. report
Korea JoongAng Daily

A U.S. government report released Thursday shed light on social discrimination and harassment against ethnic Koreans in Japan, especially by right-wing civic groups in the midst of the growing anti-Korea sentiment under the nationalist administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The U.S. Department of State on Thursday released its annual report on human rights situations worldwide, titled “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013,” describing human rights violations in each country last year in detail.

In its section on Japan, the report states that entrenched societal discrimination against foreign nationals in the country, particularly against ethnic Koreans, was observed and recorded.

“During the year [2013], ultra right-wing groups held a series of demonstrations in predominantly Korean neighborhoods in Tokyo,” the report said.

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