College friends seek release of former University of Oregon student Kenneth Bae from North Korean prison
Friends and colleagues described Bae as a devout Christian from Washington state but based in the Chinese border city of Dalian who traveled frequently to North Korea to feed the country’s orphans.
“Knowing Kenneth from college, he’s such a warm-hearted person, I can’t imagine him breaking the law,’’ Kwon said, adding that it is possible Bae took photos of orphans begging for food: “He probably couldn’t walk away from what he saw.”
Since Sunday, Lee and Kwon have been calling friends as well as Oregon’s congressional delegation to see what can be done to release their old college buddy. They are working on a website to complement a Facebook page that went up in late December.
Why is North Korea cooling it?
After weeks of fiery rhetoric, military saber rattling and threats against the United States and South Korea, North Korea seems downright quiet and willing to dial back the tension.
Fears Kim Jong Un would test a long-range missile have given way to an easing of his daily war threats, and North Korea has produced a list of conditions for dialogue.
In exchange for returning talks, North Korea wants the lifting of U.N. sanctions, the end of the U.S.-South Korea military drills, the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear strike capabilities from the region and a halt on criticism of the North. It also wants a South Korean apology for offending its leadership.
Choco Pies offer North Koreans a taste of the other side
The Guardian (U.K.)
World leaders have tried aid, lectures, sanctions and engagement. But the long-term future of North Korea may be partly determined by a small, round, sugary snack from the South given as a reward to North Korean workers, say analysts.
“Choco Pies are an important mind-changing instrument,” said Andrei Lankov, author of The Real North Korea and a leading expert on the country.
“It has become a symbol of South Korean prosperity – and North Koreans read it. They are suffering and starving, but thanks to Choco Pies, DVDs and large-scale labour migration to China, people don’t buy the old story [that the South is even poorer] and the government does not sell it any more.”
New Student School Board Member Says, ‘Students Are the Largest Stakeholders’
Patch.com (Rockville, Md.)
Meet Justin Kim, junior at Poolesville High and an 18-year-old Gaithersburg native who will serve as student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education next year.
Kim was elected to the position with 65 percent of the student vote, Montgomery County Public Schools announced April 26. All secondary students in the system were eligible to participate in the election.
Patch spoke to Kim about what he hopes to achieve during his term and the challenges the school system faces.
ITV Studios America Ups True-Crime Producer John X. Kim
Veteran showrunner John X. Kim has been promoted to Senior Executive Producer, ITV Studios America. Kim is the co-creator and executive producer of the real-life homicide investigation series The First 48, now in its 15th season on A&E. He also exec produces After The First 48 and The Killer Speaks, both currently airing on A&E, and the upcoming The Mathis Project on BET.
Cho teaches K-pop that youth isn’t everything
The K-pop scene has long been dominated by sleek young talents in their teens or not far out of them. But youth is not a requirement as 63-year-old veteran singer Cho Yong-pil has proven.
Cho’s new single “Bounce” is a hit, as is his new “Hello” – which happens to be his 19th.
“Bounce” immediately reached No. 1 on nine local music charts, competing with Psy’s global hit “Gentleman.” Preorders for “Hello,” Cho’s first album in a decade, reached 20,000.
Hines Ward doesn’t ‘think football is ready’ for an openly gay player
Jason Collins decision to come out of the closet is a huge deal: Collins, despite being an NBA free agent, is the first active player in any major North American sport to be openly gay. It’s not illogical to believe that the NFL and MLB are next in line to accept an openly gay player.
However, former Steelers wideout Hines Ward doesn’t think that “football is ready” for an openly gay player just yet.
“I don’t think football is ready. There’s too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much,” Ward said on NBC Sports Radio via Pro Football Talk.
What a Bargain!: Shin-Soo Choo is a Steal for the 2013 Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds took a chance that other teams may not have taken when they converted right fielder Shin-Soo Choo to center field, where Choo had played all of 10 games in his eight years prior to 2013. Defensively, the move of Choo to center hasn’t been flawless (2 errors and other dicey moments), but his strong arm and sufficient range have made the gamble by the Reds to play Choo in center look acceptable.
Offensively, Choo has been worth his weight in gold as a leadoff hitter. Leading the majors in on-base percentage with enough pop in his bat to also rank within the Top 10 in MLB in on-base plus slugging is much more of a return on investment than the $3.875 million the Reds are paying Choo this year.
Chego Opens in Chinatown This Saturday
From Roy Choi’s Twitter feed, and I quote: “We don’t think anyone’s been as excited about Chego in Chinatown as us. And, well, maybe you. Which is why we’re sending you the invite. Finally. Ooey Gooey Fries and Chubby Pork Bellies shall be had once again…With maybe a little ping pong on the side. Trust. It shall be a Grand Opening that Far East Plaza shalt not soon forget.”
What: Chego reopens in Chinatown. Or, more stuff you’re probably wildly happy about. (See: The Dodgers, maybe. Trois Mec, maybe. Number 98.)
When: Sat. May 4, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Cocohodo: Korean Walnut Pastries In OC’s Koreatown
Usually, Asian trends start in LA and then migrate south to the smaller enclaves in Orange County. LA’s Koreatown is approximately a bazillion times larger than OC’s ever-expanding Koreatown, but that didn’t stop Cocohodo, a dessert maker whose name inspires Pavlovian drooling among a certain subset of young Koreans, from opening their first U.S. shop in Buena Park.
The little treats are so popular that there’s now a larger, more upscale-looking shop in Kaju Plaza at the northwest corner of Garden Grove Boulevard and Magnolia Street in Garden Grove, where the H-Mart is. You walk in and there is the usual menu of Asian tea drinks (boba, grain tea, etc.) and a display full of empty boxes.
North Korea’s former poet laureate to publish memoir in English
Los Angeles Times
Rider Publishing, a Random House imprint, acquired world rights to “Crossing the Border,” the memoirs of former North Korean State Poet Laureate Jang Jin-sung, the Guardian reports. In 2004, unable to reconcile his privileged position with the suffering endured by most North Koreans, Jang traveled to China on a pass and from there he found sympathizers who got him to South Korea.
Accounts of North Korea by insiders are rare. North Korean Kang Chol-hwan authored the prison camp memoir “The Aquariums of Pyongyang.” Barbara Demick’s “Nothing to Envy,” a National Book Award finalist, told of the hardships of ordinary life in North Korea as related by defectors living abroad.
Blakelock’s Ji Soo Choi headed to Juilliard to study violin
InsideHalton.com (Ontario, Canada)
Oakville’s Ji Soo Choi clearly has music in her veins. The young violinist is headed to Juilliard School in New York City where she will work on her bachelor’s degree in violin this coming school year.
“I’m really excited. It’s something that also my mom dreamed of and is something that I really wanted to do. Juilliard is such a big name,” Choi said.
The 18-year-old T.A. Blakelock High School student has been playing violin since the age of three. She takes lessons through the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) and practices a minimum of six hour a day, this on top of the time she spends in music class at Blakelock. She’s also the concertmaster for the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Park Ji-sung, the icon of South Korean soccer, could be on his way to North America to play in Major League Soccer.
Callum Williams, the play-by-play announcer of MLS’s Sporting KC, posted via Twitter on Thursday that Park is “the latest to be linked” with an anonymous MLS franchise. Williams then speculated that Toronto FC is the likeliest team to sign Park as its head coach Ryan Nelsen played with the Korean midfielder until recently at Queens Park Rangers of the English Premier League.
However, it has been known that an MLS franchise other than Toronto has already claimed Park’s “discovery rights.” Since then, MLS columnist Shahab Kahn wrote that the Portland Timbers own the exclusive rights to sign Park, but MLS Transfers insisted that it’s the Vancouver Whitecaps. Continue Reading »
South Korea Brushes Off North’s ‘Final Destruction’ Threat
Voice of America
South Korea’s top national security official, in an exclusive VOA interview, says there is no cause for alarm amid a fresh North Korean threat to destroy the South.
National Security Adviser, Chun Yung-woo, says he is disappointed but not alarmed by a North Korean diplomat’s bombastic threat.
Chun told VOA’s Korean Service Wednesday that Pyongyang routinely resorts to “violent vocabulary and expressions” to issue threats of war and retaliation. So such rhetoric unleashed at an international conference is not surprising.
Survivors liken N.Korean prison camps to Holocaust horrors
AFP via Google News
North Korea’s prison camps are a closed-off world of death, torture and forced labour where babies are born slaves, according to two survivors who liken the horrors of the camps to a Holocaust in progress.
“People think the Holocaust is in the past, but it is still very much a reality. It is still going on in North Korea,” Shin Dong-hyuk told AFP through an interpreter on the sidelines of a human rights summit in Geneva.
Shin himself spent his first 23 years in a prison camp in the secretive country, where he says he was tortured and subjected to forced labour before making a spectacular escape seven years ago — and giving the outside world a rare first-hand account of life inside the camps.
South Korea faces quandary over potential human rights probe of North
The United Nations’ human rights chief declared recently that it was time for a “long overdue” investigation into what she called unparalleled rights abuses in North Korea. The probe, unprecedented in scope, could help establish whether the North’s leaders are committing crimes against humanity.
Navi Pillay’s January proposal has already drawn support from the United States. But the decision has proved sensitive in still-undecided South Korea, where leaders remain divided over whether to confront the North or try to somehow reduce tensions with it, even after Pyongyang last weekdetonated an underground nuclear device.
S. Korea urges Japan to drop event claiming Dokdo islets
South Korea urged Japan on Tuesday to cancel an event it plans to hold to promote Tokyo’s territorial claims to the Dokdo islets.
“The event is one that should not be held in the first place. I saw reports that a Japanese government figure will attend it. If that’s true, it is very regrettable,” Seoul’s foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters during a regular briefing.
According to Japanese media reports, Tokyo is considering sending Aiko Shimajiri, a vice-ministerial official and a member of the upper house of parliament, as well as 18 other lawmakers to attend the event set to be hosted by Shimane prefecture.
South Korean Director Park Chul-soo Dies in Car Accident
Director Park Chul-soo, the South Korean auteur known for sexually explicit films like last year’s B.E.D., died following a car accident Tuesday. He was 64.
The filmmaker was crossing a street in the city of Yongin early Tuesday morning when he was hit by a man driving under the influence, according to police.
Park’s death follows road accidents that killed two international filmmakers last year. Legendary Japanese director Koji Wakamatsu was struck by a car in October, and Greece’s Theo Angelopoulos was killed by a motorcycle nine months earlier.
WBW: Korean-American Style
It’s not a coincidence that more and more Korean-American singers are making their way onto these shows as K-pop has been recruiting internationally for years with America being a prime target. Even in the early years, there has always been a steady stream of talent from the States to Seoul. Today’s Way Back Wednesday will feature some of the most influential artists from back in the day who lived in America before making it big. Some were born in America, others only lived here for a few years, but they all helped make K-pop what it is today.
Newcomer Hyun-Jin Ryu seems all right to Dodgers
Los Angeles Times
While working with Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first week of spring training, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was reminded of another top-heavy left-hander who used to pitch for the Dodgers: Fernando Valenzuela.
“He has a presence about him,” Honeycutt said of Ryu.
Honeycutt hasn’t seen enough of Ryu to draw any conclusions about how he’ll transition from the Korean league to the majors, but he’s certain of this: The 25-year-old’s oversized torso is bursting with self-belief.
Others see it too.
“He does seem confident,” Manager Don Mattingly said.
Eagles sign OT Ed Wang to two-year deal
The Eagles have signed offensive tackle Ed Wang to a two-year deal, the team announced on Friday.
Wang, 6’5″, 315 lbs, was the first Chinese player ever drafted in the NFL when the Buffalo Bills took him in the 5th round of the 2010 draft. Wang never started for the Bills but did play in six games.
“I’m excited to play here and be here with the tradition they have,” Wang said.
Korean Lunar New Year [SLIDESHOW]
San Francisco Chronicle
Simone Willets tosses an arrow while playing a game of tuho, with help from her classmate Adrien Stroumza (right), during a celebration of Seol Nal, the Korean Lunar New Year, at the Claire Lilienthal School in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. Students in the Korean-immersion program wore traditional hanbok outfits and participated in a variety of activities to celebrate the lunar new year, which begins Sunday.
S. Korea snubs Japan’s protest over Dokdo
South Korea has rejected a protest by Japan over Seoul’s annual defense report that reaffirms its bid to protect the easternmost islets of Dokdo, a senior official said Monday.
Japan recently sent the South Korean government an official letter protesting the defense white paper that made clear Seoul’s sovereignty over Dokdo, which Tokyo has also claimed as its own.
In a rebuttal letter to Japan, South Korea reiterated that, “Dokdo is an integral part of Korean territory historically, geographically, and under international law,” the foreign ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.
Drones for South Korea [EDITORIAL]
New York Times
Less than a month after North Korea’s latest missile test, the Obama administration has offered to sell South Korea advanced spy drones so it can keep a closer eye on its northern adversary. The decision raises some concerns, and Congress would be wise to ask a lot of questions before going along, including whether the deal is part of a comprehensive strategy or just a way to penalize North Korea.
The proposed $1.2 billion sale of four Global Hawks made by Northrop Grumman was first requested by South Korea several years ago. The drones, remotely piloted aircraft with enhanced surveillance technology, would expand South Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities when it takes over wartime control of its troops from the United States in 2015, as previously agreed. The United States has held wartime command since the Korean War; the Seoul government regained peacetime control of its military in 1994.
2013: Asia’s Time?
The most consequential developments will take place in China. Xi Jinping will assume the presidency in March. But as the Communist Party’s leader, he is already the most powerful person in the country. How will he lead? The early signs are promising. After his election, Xi’s first official visit outside Beijing took him to Shenzhen. It was a carefully considered choice. Shenzhen is a “special economic zone” – a poster child for China’s economic reforms. While there, Xi made a point of laying a wreath at a bronze statue of Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s fiscal reforms in the 1980s. The symbolism was clear: it is time once again for a bend in the road.
Yahoo exits S. Korea, halts service
U.S. Internet company Yahoo Inc. on Monday halted its South Korean service, pulling out of one of the world’s most wired countries after 15 years.
Yahoo will halt all products, services and content of Yahoo Korea starting Dec. 31 in addition to ending customer support in Korea on the same day, the company wrote on its Korean Web site.
In October, Yahoo announced a plan to pull out of South Korea as chief executive officer Marissa Mayer focuses more on stronger markets.
State Senate chooses Donna Kim as new president
The state Senate has reorganized behind Sen. Donna Mercado Kim as the new Senate president.
Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa) succeeds Shan Tsutsui, who accepted the post as lieutenant governor on Thursday.
“We are solidified in dealing with the pressing issues facing our state,” Kim said in a statement. “The Senate continues to be organized in a cooperative and focused manner. I’m humbled to receive the confidence and support of my colleagues.”
Person of the Year: Chubby You-Know-Who
Wall Street Journal
On New Year’s Eve 2011, Park Jae-sang probably shared a bottle—or seven—of soju with friends while celebrating his 35th birthday (he was born on Dec. 31, 1977).
This year, he’ll be one of the headline acts performing in New York’s Times Square.
What a year it’s been for Mr. Park, aka Psy, the undisputed person of the year in a poll of the staff of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones in Seoul.
Year in Ideas: What a Korean rapper taught us about pop culture today
National Post (Canada)
The video for Gangnam Style, the unlikely hit from South Korean rapper/fancy dresser Psy, has been viewed on YouTube more than one billion times since June. Of these, half a billion involved people watching it so they could memorize the moves for their own Gangnam Style parody and a quarter billion that involved curious watchers who, at the end of four minutes and 13 seconds, were left baffled as to how that song became the most-watched internet video of all time. (These are estimates only.)
But aside from the fact that people still seem to get a kick out of bow ties, the Gangnam phenomenon says something about how we experience culture in an internet world. Just don’t expect Psy to be a big deal in 2013, too.
Korea Counts Down Not Just To New Year, But to New Girls’ Album
Wall Street Journal
There have been so many countdowns in South Korea over the past couple months that hardly a day went by without the “D-some number” in the corner of a TV screen. There was the annual countdown to the college entrance exam in November, then came the one for the presidential election, the end of civilization under the Mayan calendar and the end of 2012.
But anyone recently looking at South Korean entertainment news – online, on the air or in print – knows that one countdown has been dominating the scene for the few weeks: the one for the new album from Girls’ Generation.
Seoul searching: on the trail of the K-pop phenomenon
The Guardian (U.K.)
The K-pop phenomenon, spearheaded by that song, has put South Korea’s capital, Seoul, in the spotlight. We visit Gangnam to find out what all the fuss is about
The Color of K-Pop: HyunA, Yo Seob and K-Pop All-Stars Unite for Charity Singles
The holiday season in the K-pop world signifies the coming of the SBS Gayo Daejun — the end-of-year broadcast special in South Korea where celebrities come together for special performances and collaborations.
2012 marks a particularly special year as members from some of K-pop’s biggest groups will create four super idol groups, record a new single, and perform it together at SBS Gayo Daejeon. All the better, all the proceeds will go to children of low-income families through the charity Dream Orchestra.
Nebraska OL Choi draws inspiration from Hines Ward
Athens Banner-Herald (Ga.)
There would typically be no reason for a starting offensive lineman for Nebraska to feel a connection to a player who finished his college career at Georgia 15 years ago.
Seung Hoon Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea, like former Bulldogs star Hines Ward. Choi didn’t know about Ward, the now retired Super Bowl MVP receiver, until Choi began playing football as a sophomore at Christian High School in Lincoln.
“I followed him,” said Choi, a senior who started all 13 games at left guard this year. “He’s a big-timer in Seoul. I followed him quite a bit. I heard he was thinking about going to Nebraska, too.”
Young Male Skater Hopes to Follow in Kim Yu-na’s Tracks
Olympic champion Kim Yu-na’s rise to the pinnacle of world figure skating has spawned a generation of talented young skaters with stars in their eyes.
Kim Hae-jin and Park So-youn have both started making it onto the podium at international competitions as they aspire to become the next Kim Yu-na.
And now the country has a promising young male skater in the form of 16-year-old Kim Jin-seo, who won a bronze medal at the International Skating Union-sanctioned Junior Grand Prix in Austria in September.
Kwon Receives All-County and All-State Honors
Scout.com (subscription req’d)
Andy Kwon, a senior offensive lineman at North Gwinnett High School (GA), wraps up his high school career on Saturday as an All-State selection in Columbus. Kwon discusses his accomplishments and his commitment to Georgia Southern.
Singer Lee So-eun Passes U.S. Bar Exam
Singer Lee So-eun recently passed the U.S. bar exam, offering an alternative role model for Korean youngsters who regard becoming a celebrity as the be-all and end-all of existence.
For Lee, going to law school was not an escape from a flagging musical career. She has released four albums since debuting in 1998, when she was just in high school. Lee spent her childhood in the U.S. and had difficulty adjusting to school back to Korea. Then she happened to hear about an audition on education broadcaster EBS and entered it. She made it to the finals with a piece she composed by herself.
Korean-American novelist uses Macalester as backdrop for ‘The Collective’
Minnesota Public Radio
The Korean-American novelist Don Lee’s latest book “The Collective” uses Macalester College in St. Paul as a launching point for a tale about the Asian-American experience. Lee said of his four books so far, “The Collective” is his most personal.
“The Collective” begins with the suicide of Joshua Yoon, a young writer on the verge of making it big. The news leaves his once-close group of college friends reeling.
Daughter Of A Dictator Favored In S. Korean Election
Her presidential campaign rallies present blaring pop music and dancing supporters, but Park Geun-hye’s campaign involves managing some tricky legacies.
Her father, Park Chung-hee, was a military dictator who ran the country from the time he carried out a 1961 military coup until his assassination in 1979. His memory still stirs mixed emotions among South Koreans.
In September, the daughter publicly apologized for her father’s suppression of democracy. Then again, some older Koreans remember Park fondly for his role in transforming their war-torn, impoverished country into the world’s 11th largest economy.
In ‘Madame Park,’ S. Korea sees its first potential female leader
South Korea has the chance Wednesday to elect a woman to its top office, an unprecedented step in a nation long dominated by boardrooms of men and ranked only slightly ahead of most Islamic countries when it comes to gender equality.
The outcome of the presidential election is hardly clinched: Conservative Park Geun-hye — known to her supporters as Madame Park — must hold off liberal Moon Jae-in, who in recent weeks has slashed Park’s lead in polls from several percentage points to nearly zero.
Remembering Madeleine F. Hsu, 6, Sandy Hook Elementary/Newtown Shooting Victim
This is a sad post that I haven’t wanted to write. My spirits have been heavy ever since I heard about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings on December 14 and while my heart goes out to all the victims, their loved ones and a community shattered, one victim’s name stood out to me as the editor of a blog covering Asian Americans: Madeleine F. Hsu, aged 6.
North Korea Duped by Hackers’ Attack on Time Poll
Wall Street Journal
In what looks a lot like the recent outbreak of Onion-itis at China’s People’s Daily, the Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday that Mr. Kim was selected by Time subscribers, “including politicians, businessmen, artistes, sportspersons and announcers” as the magazine’s “man of this year.”
Mr. Kim did indeed come top of the online poll, but thanks to some skullduggery on a large scale by members of the 4Chan website, who hacked into the poll to help Mr. Kim to 5.6 million votes, over 3 million more than the second-placed Jon Stewart. In fact, the hackers appear to have successfully manipulated the entire top 14 places of the poll.
Kim Jong-un’s Wife Heavily Pregnant
A screen grab from North Korea’s official KCNS news agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju heavily pregnant.
Shooting prompts call for more security in Towson when bars close
The alleged shooter, Francis Minsgung Kang, 26, barely drove a block away in his pickup truck before police stopped him.
Cpl. Cathy Batton, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County Police, said Kang, of the unit block of Brook Farm Court in Cockeysville, was leaving the pub at closing time when two women asked if they could get him a cab. Police said Kang yelled at the women and then left and got behind the wheel of his white Dodge Dakota pickup truck.
As he drove down Pennsylvania Avenue past the two women Kang threw an open Gatorade bottle at them, and a group of bystanders chased him around the corner. Police said Kang exited his vehicle in the unit block of West Chesapeake Avenue to confront them.
Jamie Chung stars in the upcoming horror thriller ’7500′
Jamie Chung stars in Japanese director Takashi Shimizu’s upcoming horror thriller “7500,” which follows a group of passengers aboard a flight across the Pacific Ocean who encounter a supernatural force.
The cast includes Chung, Amy Smart, Leslie Bibb, Aja Evans, and Jerry Ferrara from HBO’s “Entourage” series.
Lin shows Knicks why he’s a keeper
The artist formerly known as Jeremy Lin was back on his preferred stage, throwing himself fearlessly at the Madison Square Garden basket while recreating something he swore he did not want to recreate.
Yes, this was a worthy sequel to Linsanity. Some sentimental New York Knicks fans showed up in their Lin jerseys, maybe for the last time, and their former point guard showed up with some of his old flash and dash, definitely not for the last time.
Anthony Kim won’t return from Achilles surgery until March
Following an Achilles injury in June that led to surgery, the once-promising American star Anthony Kim won’t be playing competitive golf again until March at the earliest, according to The Desert Sun.
At just age 27, Kim’s career has had incredible highs, like his debut Tour win at the Wachovia and a starring role on the last winning U.S. Ryder Cup squad in 2008; and lows, like his chronic injuries and murmurs that his Entourage-like lifestyle was holding back his golf game.
Former USC Walk-On Kim Staying Optimistic
Walnut (Calif.) Mt. San Antonio College offensive lineman Patrick Kim will be the first to tell you he’s taken an unconventional football journey, from walking on at USC to joining the Mounties team. He also isn’t making an apologies.
“I had about ten to twelve offers in high school, like UTEP, Villanova, Texas State, San Jose State. I’m really big in my faith; the reason I play football is for the glory of God. I prayed about it with my family, and I just didn’t feel like any of those places were where I was meant to be. A lot of people said it was a terrible mistake, but I feel like the last two years that I spent at USC out of high school were the two years I grew up most as a man. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything,” he said.