September Issue: Steven Yeun Talks About His Evolving Role in ‘The Walking Dead’
Author: Grace Kang
Posted: September 30th, 2013
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , September 2013
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Steven Yeun as “Glenn Rhee”

The Walking Dead on AMC

by GRACE KANG

What could be more romantic than ring shopping for the love of your life? Well, for Glenn Rhee (played by Steven Yeun), it meant going out into a prison yard and cutting the ring finger off of a wandering zombie to acquire that symbol of everlasting love for his fiancée, Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan). That proposal was one of the few moments of respite from the bloodbath that was Season 3 of The Walking Dead.

The popular zombie apocalypse drama on AMC returns Oct. 13 with its fourth season, and Yeun promises his character, a fan favorite for his everyman quality, will continue to grow and stretch in new ways.

“Glenn is a consistently evolving character,” Yeun, 29, told KoreAm last month. “He’s at that young adult age, where he’s becoming a man and figuring out what life is in this new world and what it means to be a provider, a lover, a protector.” Continue Reading »

Friday’s Link Attack: Widower of Woman Killed in Kenya ‘Devastated’; Austin Powers Actor Pleads Not Guilty
Author: Young Rae Kim
Posted: September 27th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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South Korea Calls on Japan to Drop Heritage Push for Labor Sites
Bloomberg

South Korea called on Japan to reassure neighbors about its defense expansion and drop plans to seek world heritage status for sites where Koreans were used as forced labor last century.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se made the remarks during his meeting yesterday with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly annual meeting in New York, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said on its website.

One of the potential heritage sites, known as Battleship Island, was featured as the villain’s hideout in the most recent James Bond movie, “Skyfall.” South Korea says Koreans were forced to work at the mining facility before and during World War II.

Piercing the veil of North Korean human rights violations
Washington Post

A COMMON illusion held by dictators is that they need only to shut the borders, turn off the Internet and control television for no one to notice the horrors they commit inside the country. The work of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has demonstrated how wrong they are. The commission has shined a light on one of the world’s human rights sinkholes, North Korea, without ever setting foot there.

Michael Kirby, the retired Australian jurist who heads the commission, delivered an interim report last week that manages to shock on a topic that has already shocked for some time. The commission’s witnesses provided evidence of systematic and widespread human rights violations, including torture, sexual violence, deliberate starvation, arbitrary detention and more.

Niall Saville “devastated and heartbroken” after wife dies in Kenyan Westgate terror attack
Lincolnshire Echo (Lincolnshire, U.K.)

Niall Saville said he is “devastated and heartbroken” by the death of his wife Moonk Hee Kang, in the Kenyan Westgate shopping mall terror attack.

Mr Saville, from Farndon near Newark, is recovering in hospital from gun and grenade wounds.

In a statement issued through the Foreign Office, the Saville and Kang families said: “The Saville family wish to confirm that Niall was injured in the Nairobi attack on Saturday, and that his wife, Moon Hee Kang, was fatally wounded.

“The Saville and Kang families are devastated and heartbroken by the sudden loss of Moon Hee. She and Niall had lived in numerous locations around the world together, but they always had time for both families.

China hopes U.S., N. Korea to hold direct talks on nuclear standoff
Yonhap News

China said Friday it hopes the United States and North Korea will hold bilateral talks to help resolve the North’s nuclear standoff as Beijing has intensified its diplomatic efforts to resume the long-stalled dialogue on Pyongyang’s atomic weapons program.

Hong Lei, a spokesman at China’s foreign ministry, made the remarks a day after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in New York, during which they discussed North Korea, Syria and Iran, among others.

Describing the Wang-Kerry meeting as “candid, practical and constructive,” Hong said they agreed to “commit to the denuclearization, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

‘Austin Powers’ actor pleads not guilty to cell mate’s death
Bakerfield Californian

A former actor who achieved fame as a henchman in the first “Austin Powers” film pleaded not guilty in Kern County Superior Court Thursday to a charge filed in connection with the beating death of his cell mate in 2011.

Joseph Son, 42, was immediately led out of Department 1 following his arraignment before Judge H.A. “Skip” Staley on a charge of assault by a life prisoner with force causing death. His next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 7.

Palisade woman formally charged in alleged fatal DUI crash
Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction, Colo.)

In charging documents filed today, prosecutors allege a Palisade woman last week was driving under the influence of “alcohol, one or more drugs or a combination” of substances, which was the “proximate cause” of the death of a 25-year-old man on a cross-country cycling trip.

Tonie Rosales, 29, was formally charged with two separate counts of vehicular homicide — one alleging DUI and another alleging reckless driving causing death — in connection with the Sept. 18 crash which killed Eunjey Cho, who was struck while biking on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 50.

Diageo Goes Gangnam With Johnnie Walker for Korean Revival
Bloomberg

Diageo Plc (DGE), the world’s biggest distiller, is trusting Gangnam to do the same for whisky as the song named after it did for dance moves.

Seoul’s luxury retail district, best known for the Gangnam Style music video that became a global phenomenon, is the location for today’s opening by Diageo of a Johnnie Walker House as the liquor maker goes after high-net worth consumers seeking a bespoke bottle of its biggest whisky brand to take home.

UT graduates show photographs at new Asian American Resource Center
Daily Texan (Univ. of Texas)

Mary Kang moved to Austin from South Korea with her family 13 years ago, but a University of Texas photojournalism class opened her eyes to the Asian-American refugee community within her own city limits.

On Saturday, the Asian American Resource Center (AARC) opens its doors and inside will hang Kang’s photographs of Nepalese and Bhutanese refugees living in Austin. Kang, a UT advertising alumna and former photographer for The Daily Texan, spent three years off-and-on with refugee families. She said the people she met inspired her to become interested in her own cultural background.

For South Korea’s Top Students, Chaebol Are the Place to Be
BusinessWeek

The chaebol—South Korea’s leading conglomerates—have dominated its economy for decades, but for most of that time they didn’t get to hire much from Korea’s top universities. Graduates of these schools weren’t interested in a career in manufacturing. They opted for the civil service, banks, the law, and foreign consulting firms. With the exception of Samsung Electronics (005930:KS), the chaebol had to recruit from less prestigious schools. That’s changing. While only 13 percent of business grads from Seoul National University (SNU)—often called Korea’s Harvard—went to work at a chaebol in 2009, 25 percent of the class of 2011 said they opted for a job at one. The remaining 75 percent pursued careers in law and civil service.

A big beneficiary from this shift is Hyundai Motor (005380:KS). As it’s growing faster than any other global auto brand over the past decade, Hyundai’s now attracting graduates from top schools. In the latest study of grads from SNU, more business students in the class of 2011 said they went to Hyundai than any other employer. Two years earlier, none did. “When I was graduating, SNU graduates thought places like the Bank of Korea or new high-paying Korean commercial banks were the best places to start a career,” says Heo Pil Seok, an economics major in SNU’s class of 1989 and now chief executive officer of Midas International Asset Management in Seoul. “Hyundai wasn’t on the preferred list.”

A Nuptial Curse in the Finest Korean-American Tradition
New York Times

The romantic comedy “Wedding Palace,” Christine Yoo’s feature directing debut, is swimming in color, clichés and stereotypes, recalling Baz Luhrmann’s “Strictly Ballroom” and other films of that highly stylized ilk. While the story is a bit weak, the film does a good job of contrasting Korean-Americans who steadfastly adhere to the traditions of their homeland with South Koreans who have renounced old customs.

In Los Angeles, Jason (Brian Tee) experiences a familial love that is just as complicated as the romantic kind. When his fiancée ditches him, his high-strung mother is the one who is ready to jump off a cliff. But there is some justification: A family curse could bring about his death if he doesn’t marry by his fast-approaching 30th birthday. When he travels to Seoul for work, he finds love on his own terms — with a South Korean businesswoman, Na Young (Hye-jung Kang), who laments that Korean-Americans are “stuck in the ’70s.” Their bliss doesn’t last, however; in the United States hysterics ensue when a revelation about Na Young comes to light.

Wedding Palace: Film Review
Hollywood Reporter

Christine Yoo’s debut feature is being billed as the first Asian-American romantic comedy.

Wedding Palace is being billed as the first Asian-American romantic comedy and the first U.S.-Korea independent co-production. Too bad, then, that this shrill, unfunny effort from director/co-writer Christine Yoo features such broad clichés and stereotypical characters that it doesn’t exactly reflect well on the Korean-American community.

The story centers on 29-year-old Jason (Brian Tee), who is abandoned at the altar by his would-be bride early in the proceedings. This sends his family, especially his hysterical, domineering mother (Jean Yoon), into a panic, since there is a family curse that will kill him if he fails to marry before his 30th birthday.

A Day at the Office with Kristen Kish
Eater National

After crushing it on Top Chef, Kristen Kish kept up her winning momentum to snag a coveted job as chef de cuisine at Menton, Barbara Lynch’s fine dining Boston establishment. Before she dons her chef’s whites for a usual day at the office, Kristen goes collegiate, dressing up a pair of 1969 coated biker skinny jeans with a Gap tweed academy blazer, and tops the whole thing off with a Gap houndstooth scarf.

MLB Clubs’ Signing of Ryu, Choo Hailed as Best Decisions of Season
Chosun Ilbo

Top U.S. media have praised two Major League Baseball clubs for signing talented Korean players in light of their stellar performances, hailing the moves as being among the best decisions of the season.

In an article titled “The 10 best decisions of 2013,” U.S. sports network ESPN on Wednesday included the Cincinnati Reds’ move to add Choo Shin-soo to their roster and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ acquisition of Ryu Hyun-jin. It put the former trade as No. 6 on its list and the latter as No. 8.

September Issue: ‘Wedding Palace’ Finally Getting Hitched
Author: Chelsea Hawkins
Posted: September 11th, 2013
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , September 2013
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Headed to the Altar

After many fits and starts, filmmaker Christine Yoo’s Wedding Palace—starring an Asian American cast—is finally making its way to theaters.

By CHELSEA HAWKINS

If you’re hearing wedding bells, it might just be for Brian Tee and Kang Hye-Jung. Korean American Tee and South Korean Kang, in her first-ever English-speaking role, lead this fall’s Wedding Palace as Jason Kim and Na Young Song, a long-distance couple on their way to the altar (hopefully).

But if you’re having a bit of déjà vu, it might be because Tee, along with comedian Bobby Lee and actress Joy Osmanski, graced the cover of KoreAm back in March of 2012 to promote the film, which largely came together only after the Korean American community stood behind director Christine Yoo. Los Angeles’ K-town wanted this film as much as Yoo did, and at that time, it was expected to be released a year ago. But distribution deals failed to come together, and Yoo was left with a finished film, but not the nationwide theaters to showcase it.

Opposition from traditional distributors often came for two reasons: one, they were unsure how to market a film that boasts an all-Asian cast to a wider audience, and two, a belief that the Asian market, which was the target market, was too small to be truly profitable. Continue Reading »

Q&A With ‘Let Me Out’ Director Jae Soh and Actor Kwon Hyunsang
Author: Grace Kang
Posted: August 27th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Kwon Hyunsang as Kang Muyoung in Let Me Out.

by GRACE KANG

From the joint artistry of director/screenwriters Kim Changrae and Jae Soh comes a story about moviemaking, zombies, and flat-broke college students. Let Me Out, starring Kwon Hyunsang, is the first Korean indie film to launch a U.S./South Korea back-to-back premiere, and marks the first feature film by Jae Soh.

KoreAm interviewed co-director Jae Soh and actor Kwon Hyunsang in August, before they walked the red carpet for the L.A. premiere, to unearth a more in-depth look at what made this metafictional composition tick.

Let Me Out is your first feature film, so what inspired this film about filmmaking?

Jae Soh: I’m a film professor and one of the pieces of advice I always give my students is that you should make a movie about a subject matter that you’re really familiar with. My co-director Changrae and I both thought: Why don’t we make a film about a film student who wants to make a movie, but still hasn’t gotten to do it? It was a natural fit. [The character Muyoung] is also based on us—we were film students at one point, so we were conceited and we thought we owned the world. We just started looking at our past and all the mistakes we ever made, and tried to put it in the movie.

I think in some ways the main character is like me and [my co-director] Changrae. [Hyunsang] is a film student as well, so he was able to bring his experience as a film student as well.

There seemed to be a lot of experimentation in the film, with effects and other technical/visual aspects. Did that tie into the narrative itself? Continue Reading »

Film Review: ‘Let Me Out’
Author: Grace Kang
Posted: August 27th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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A scene from Let Me Out.

by GRACE KANG

Remember that guy you knew back in college from that one class? The one who talked a big game and strutted around like a peacock, the pretentious one everyone loved to hate because no one ever actually saw him put his money where his mouth is? Well, today that guy’s name is Kang Muyoung (played by Kwon Hyunsang).

Co-written and directed by Jae Soh and Kim Changrae (Project Makeover), Let Me Out follows the story of our young protagonist, who is studying film to fulfill his ambitions of becoming a director, though his real talent seems to lie in dropping quotes by famous filmmakers and complaining about how everyone around him just really sucks at what they do. What a guy. I’m sure you want nothing more than to see him go through the wringer, and, don’t worry, he totally does. But first, Muyoung is awarded a $5,000 scholarship by famous indie film director Yang Ik-june (a playful jab at a real-life director of the same name), after insulting the man at his own screening.

Let Me Out opens with the audience face-to-face with a zombie, its eyes glazed a milky white and mouth sticky with blood. It staggers with chilling purpose through the woods, accompanied by its undead companions; they soon arrive at a cabin. And the cabin, perhaps from sheer terror, falls to the ground, revealing the film crew huddled behind the front and only wall. The spell is broken and the set erupts into chaos. At the eye of the storm, Muyoung curses Yang Ikjune. That’s gratitude for you. Continue Reading »

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