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
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
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
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
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…
Remember that handsome, kind boy that Girls’ Generation sang about in their 2013 single, “I Got A Boy?” Well, that boy is all grown up now, but he’s in a bit of a funk, and the ladies are back to remind him of the man they expect him to be in their latest single, “Mr.Mr.” Continue Reading »
U.S.-South Korea Begin War Games as Family Reunions Continue
The U.S. and South Korea began annual military exercises — denounced by the North as preparations for war — that coincided with the first reunions of families separated by the Korean War in more than three years.
The Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises began today as scheduled, U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Kim Yong Kyu said by phone. The two sets of drills, one based on computer simulations and the other involving field training, will draw thousands of additional U.S. troops into the country, according to USFK. The two allies say the drills are routine and defensive.
North Korea had initially threatened to pull out of the family reunions if the military drills weren’t canceled. Instead, the agreement to hold the reunions led to two rounds of high-level talks between the two countries, and today South Korea offered negotiations on providing assistance to stop the spread of the foot-and-mouth disease in the North.
California Korean Community on ‘East Sea’ Movement
The U.S. state of California.
Home to the largest population of Korean-Americans and Japanese-Americans in the country. Some may see this as the next ground for a political battle over how to refer to the body of water between Korea and Japan in school textbooks.
Virginia State will soon require the Korean-preferred title of “East Sea” to be used alongside the “Sea of Japan” in its textbooks, while in New York a similar bill has also been proposed.
But the issue has not stirred up much attention yet in California.
“LA The president of the Korean American Federation in Los Angeles says the greater L.A. area has been, and still is* busy trying to protect the so-called “comfort women” memorial statue in Glendale Central Park from being removed. So right now is not the most suitable time to raise another issue and divert attention – whether it be the East Sea bill, or anything else.
‘Korean to be first Asian US president’
It wasn’t long ago that Koreans barely had a voice in American politics. Now, they’re quickly emerging as one of the most influential among Asian politicians, so much so that one notable legislator says the first U.S. president of Asian descent will be Korean.
“I think of all Asian-American ethnic groups, I would say at this stage based on our history and trajectory, the first U.S. president of Asian descent will be Korean,” Mark Keam, a third-term delegate of the Virginia state Legislature who co-sponsored Virginia’s East Sea bill, said in an interview with The Korea Times.
There are several reasons, he said, but one of the foremost is because the growing Korean population in the U.S. is creating a larger pool of solid potential politicians.
“In the ‘80s, I didn’t run across a single Korean in Washington D.C. You just didn’t see any,” said Keam, who first began his political career as a college intern on Capitol Hill. “That’s 25 to 30 years ago. Now, things are a lot different.”
A Yu turn for a long-shot Senate candidate
Eugene Yu, the Korean American businessman who joined the crowded race for U.S. Senate, said Saturday he would instead challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow.
Yu always faced long odds in the race to replace Saxby Chambliss, with three sitting congressmen and two other prominent Republicans in the mix on the GOP side. The Augusta businessman may have decided he had a better shot challenging Barrow, one of the most targeted Democrats in the House, than maintaining an expensive statewide bid.
Barrow, seen as one of the most vulnerable moderate Democrats in the nation, faces heated competition every two years. This election is no different. Yu now joins businessman Rick Allen, long-time GOP aide John Stone and state Rep. Delvis Dutton in the GOP contest to unseat Barrow, who was first elected in 2004.
Sentencing begins in convenience store food stamp fraud cases
Two Korean citizens have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a food stamp fraud scheme and may face deportation, the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore announced this week.
The cases were part of a food stamp fraud sting that implicated 10 convenience store owners in the Baltimore area in September. Authorities said the defendants, eight of whom have pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud or wire fraud so far, would illegally redeem food stamps in exchange for cash.
Hyung Cho, 40, of Catonsville, was sentenced to 38 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and his mother Dae Cho, 67, of Catonsville, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The Cho’s, who operated K&S Market, a convenience store at 3910 West Belvedere Avenue, were both ordered to forfeit more than $371,000 and pay restitution of $1.4 million. They did not have legal immigration status, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and have “agreed not to object to any proceedings that may be brought to remove them from the United States upon completion of their sentence.”
Justices refuse appeal from killer set to die
Houston Chronicle (Texas)
A convicted killer facing execution next month for a Dallas-area slaying 11 years ago has lost an appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Anthony Doyle is set to die March 27 for the 2003 beating death and robbery of 37-year-old Hyun Mi Cho. She was delivering a doughnut and burrito order to a house in Rowlett. Her body was found in a trash can behind the house. Doyle was 18 at the time and on probation for theft. He also had a juvenile record.
The high court Monday, without comment, refused to review his case.
Doyle told police he intended to rob the woman and struck her with a baseball bat when she told him she had no money. Evidence showed he took her car and used her credit cards.
Girls’ Generation Achieves All-Kill and Sweeps Charts All Over the World
Girls’ Generation has finally returned with a new single “Mr.Mr” and have been sweeping music charts not only in Korea but all around the world.
On February 24, Girls’ Generation released their fourth mini-album online. In just a mere hour upon release, “Mr.Mr” was the #1 song on seven different music charts including Melon, Mnet, Olleh Music, Bugs, Genie, Soribada and Monkey3. In a couple more hours, “Mr.Mr” rose to the top on Naver and Daum Music as well.
Overseas reactions and interests are also getting higher and higher. “Mr. Mr” was ranked #2 in Thailand, #5 in Malaysia, #14 in Hong Kong, #21 in Taiwan, #52 in the Philippines and #63 in Indonesia, making “Mr.Mr.” enter the Top 100 chart in six different countries within an hour after release.
Shortly afterwards, “Mr.Mr” was ranked #2 in Thailand, #3 in Vietnam, #4 in Singapore, #5 in Malaysia, #6 in Indonesia and Kazakhstan, #14 in Hong Kong, #21 in Taiwan, #55 in the Philippines, #97 in Sweden and #99 in Macao within two hours upon release.
South Korea Puts Anger Aside After Olympic Skating Disappointment
New York Times
Kim Yu-na was a perfect heroine for her country. Like postwar South Korea, she rose from a humble start, skating on a tatty rink as a 6-year-old, to win gold for a nation that had felt sidelined in a sport dominated by Western athletes.
So when she was dethroned in Sochi by a Russian teenager in a much-debated decision, it was not surprising that Ms. Kim’s country, which has long tied international sports achievements to self-worth, reacted with anger.
A popular novelist said he would remember these Games as the “Suchi Olympics,” using the word for “humiliation.” A petition on Change.org calling for an investigation by the International Skating Union drew more than 1.9 million signatures, most of them from South Koreans. And many online commentators said Ms. Kim had been cheated of a gold medal because her country was “small and weak.”
Yuna Kim Has Not Had Plastic Surgery, and Koreans Love Her For It
When the Olympic judges placed South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim second to Russian Adelina Sotnikova yesterday, her fans wouldn’t have it: Nearly two million have already signed a petition to have the judging re-opened. American skating enthusiasts might know Kim for her artistic style or her signature “camel spin”, but in South Korea—where she’s known as “Queen Yuna”—there’s another reason women love her: Unlike most Korean celebrities and “pop stars”, she appears not to have had plastic surgery—even though she has the kind of eyelids that would send many Korean girls running to the doctor.
“Most Korean girls want plastic surgery,” said Lee Tea Yang, a trader in Seoul. “Yuna Kim made a new era. There has never been a star like her.”
Though statistics are hard to verify, South Korea consistently ranks in the top few countries worldwide for per capita plastic surgery. One of the most popular procedures is “double eyelid surgery”, in which doctors use a combination of cutting and stitching to create a crease in Asians’ typically flat upper eyelids, giving the eyes a larger, rounder, arguably Westernized appearance.
South Korea Had the Most Last-Place Finishes in Sochi
Wall Street Journal
After a respectable 14 podium appearances in Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics, South Korea’s outlook was bright coming into the 2014 Games. The Koreans weren’t able to live up to expectations, earning only eight medals in Sochi, but they were the best in the world in one unfortunate category: finishing last.
For the third consecutive Olympics, The Wall Street Journal awarded lead, tin and zinc medals to the three worst performers to complete a given event (based on time or score of last-place finishers in every Olympic event; no disqualifications or non-finishers were counted). South Korean Olympians finished in the bottom three places in an astounding 19 different events, more often than any other participating country.
Canada came in second with 16 medals, with the U.S. (15) earning the third most not-so-precious medals. Since the U.S. and Canada have large Olympic delegations, it isn’t entirely surprising to see such large pools of Olympians finish all over the field of competition: These two countries earned 28 and 25 real Olympic medals respectively in Sochi.
Defection row overshadows South Korean Viktor Ahn’s skating victory for Russia
South China Morning Post
It was a night when Viktor Ahn should have been out celebrating becoming the most successful short track speed skater of all time but instead he was quizzed from all sides at the Sochi Olympics about why he defected to Russia.
Ahn confirmed his place among the greatest Winter Olympians when he won the 500 metres individual event then returned to the ice about 45 minutes later and helped Russia win the 5,000m relay. Ahn also won gold in the 1,000m at Sochi and now has six Olympic gold medals in total – more than any speed skater either in short track or the more traditional long course.
If the skater formerly known as Ahn Hyun-soo, who won three golds for South Korea at the 2006 Turin Olympics, thought he would clarify his position once and for all at a packed news conference starting after midnight he was clearly mistaken.
Far from Sochi, North Koreans hone skiing skills
For North Korean skiers, Sochi was a distant dream. The country didn’t send a single athlete to the Winter Olympics and has never won a downhill medal. But as the rest of the world watches this year’s Olympic pageant wrap up in Russia, North Koreans are flocking to the slopes of a lavish new ski resort all their own — and many have a gold medal in mind four years from now, when the winter games will be held in South Korea.
Of course, that’s a tall order.
Even by official estimates, only about 0.02 percent of North Korea’s 24 million people have ever strapped on ski boots. But with the blessing of leader Kim Jong Un, who has made building recreational and sporting facilities a priority, in part to boost tourism as a source of hard cash for the economically strapped nation, skiing is now almost a national duty for those who have the time, money or opportunity to hit the slopes.
South Korea Awaits 2018 Games With a Different Plan
New York Times
The sun was shining once more by the Black Sea and the jackets were off with the Olympic flame still a few hours away from being extinguished.
“You better bring your jacket to Pyeongchang,” said Kim Jin-sun, head of the organizing committee for the 2018 Games in South Korea. “Much colder than Sochi.”
As the Russians and the members of the International Olympic Committee begin recovering from the sleepless nights that surely accompanied their wild, seven-year ride to Sochi’s closing ceremony, the cosmic question is where the Winter Games go from here in a world of climate instability, declining winter sports participation numbers in the West and spiraling costs and scale for Olympic organizers?
Rangers like what they are seeing with Choo
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)
Scouting Shin-Soo Choo has become an easier task over the years. He’s established himself as an on-base machine with speed and power.
In the beginning, though, nobody knew how Choo would pan out. Just ask Jim Colborn, the Rangers’ senior adviser for Pacific Rim operations.
“The big problem with scouting him is that he’d walk about three times a game,” said Colborn, a scout for the Mariners at the time.
“They’d never give him anything good to hit and he’d take his walks. So it was tough to grade him.”
Whiz Now Open Serving Philly Cheesesteaks in Koreatown
For all those times you’re in Koreatown and have a hankering for a cheesesteak sandwich as opposed to, say, a sizzling bowl of soon tofu: Whiz opened in the neighborhood last Saturday, Feb. 15, a small shop on the corner of 6th Street and Oxford Avenue, or right around the corner from craft beer bar Beer Belly.
This location is no coincidence, as the shop is brought to you none other than Beer Belly’s owner Jimmy Han and executive chef Wes Lieberher. You could have guessed as much just by the artwork: MR44, who did the mural at Beer Belly, collaborated with artist Swanski to create a beautiful piece outside Whiz.
North and South Korea to hold ‘high-level’ meeting
North and South Korea will hold a “high-level meeting” Wednesday ahead of planned family reunions of people from the two countries, Seoul said Tuesday.
“No agenda was set prior to this meeting,” Kim Eui-do, a spokesman for the South Korean Unification Ministry said. “But we expect that there will be comprehensive dialogue on the smooth operation of these family reunions, holding the family reunions on a regular basis and other important areas of interest.”
The talks will start Wednesday morning at the Panmunjom Peace House, which is on the South’s side of the heavily militarized border, Kim said.
Pyongyang said last week it may back out of the reunions of the families — who were separated by the Korean War in the 1950s — if South Korean forces participate in annual joint military exercises with the United States later this month.
North Korea claims Kenneth Bae not a political pawn? Prove it
North Korean officials said months ago that American prisoner Kenneth Bae would not be used as a political pawn. Their latest action suggests they’ve changed their mind.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced Sunday that North Korean officials had rescinded a second invitation for a special American envoy to fly to Pyongyang to meet with Bae. According to this Associated Press news story, the cancellation “signals an apparent protest of upcoming annual military drills between Washington and Seoul and an alleged mobilization of U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 bombers during training near the Korean Peninsula. North Korea calls the planned drills a rehearsal for invasion, a claim the allies deny.”
North Korean leaders would be wise to let Bae — imprisoned for 15 months now — return to his family before his health deteriorates any further. Bae is not a public official or representative of the U.S. government. He entered the country numerous times as a tour operator before he was detained in November 2012. He is a father, husband, son and brother, and a man of faith who has apologized (possibly under duress) to the North Korean regime for whatever crimes they claim he committed.
Ex-U.S. envoy visits Pyongyang: state media
Donald Gregg, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, arrived in North Korea, Pyongyang’s state media reported Monday, a trip seen to help facilitate the release of a Korean-American man detained there.
In a brief report, the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Gregg, now chairman of the U.S. Pacific Century Institute, and other members of the institute are visiting Pyongyang.
The KCNA did not give specifics on the purpose of their visit to the communist state, but the report came one day after the U.S. said it was disappointed by the North’s decision to cancel its invitation to Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues.
Amb. Robert King had planned to travel to the communist state sometime this month to discuss the release of Kenneth Bae, but Pyongyang canceled its invitation for King, citing an annual joint military drill between the U.S. and the South.
Time Running out on Former Sex Slaves’ Quest
A single picture captures the regret, shame and rage that Kim Gun-ja has harbored through most of her 89 years. Dressed in a long white wedding gown, she carries a bouquet of red flowers and stares at the camera, her deep wrinkles obscured by makeup and a diaphanous veil.
A local company arranged wedding-style photo shoots as gifts for Kim and other elderly women at the House of Sharing, a museum and nursing home for South Koreans forced into brothels by Japan during World War II. Kim and many of the other women never married, giving the pictures a measure of bitterness.
“That could have been my life: Meet a man, get married, have children, have grandchildren,” Kim said in her small, tidy room at the nursing home south of Seoul. “But it never happened. It could never be.”
Japanese soldiers stole her youth, she says, and now, “The Japanese are waiting for us to die.”
South Korea’s LGBT Community Is Fighting For Equal Rights
Last September, two men held South Korea‘s first same-sex wedding on a bridge in Seoul, to the applause of hundreds of guests and the soaring voices of a choir. The ceremony carried no legal weight — same-sex unions are not recognized in South Korea — but the couple and their legal advisers are now moving forward with a legal challenge that they hope will put South Korea in the vanguard of same-sex equality in Asia.
The cause is being helped by the fact that the Kims are high-profile professionals from South Korea’s glamorous film industry. Kim Jho Gwang-su, 48, is a prominent director, while producer Kim Seung-hwan, 29, is CEO of Rainbow Factory, a production house known for its LGBT output. “We realized we could be an example to others and that it was selfish not to use our positions as public figures to push for change,” Kim Seung-hwan told TIME.
Change has been a long time coming for this socially conservative nation. Homosexuality is not illegal in South Korea (or expressly legal), but before the late 1980s the country was ruled by dictatorial regimes and citizens enjoyed few civil liberties, never mind sexual rights. A small and tentative LGBT movement emerged in the 1990s, but even in the year 2000, when prominent actor Hong Seok-chun came out as gay — the first Korean entertainer to do so — he lost all his TV, film and radio contracts.
Why South Korea is really an internet dinosaur
SOUTH KOREA likes to think of itself as a world leader when it comes to the internet. It boasts the world’s swiftest average broadband speeds (of around 22 megabits per second). Last month the government announced that it will upgrade the country’s wireless network to 5G by 2020, making downloads about 1,000 times speedier than they are now. Rates of internet penetration are among the highest in the world. There is a thriving startup community (Cyworld, rolled out five years before Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, was the most popular social network in South Korea for a decade) and the country leads the world in video games as spectator sports. Yet in other ways the futuristic country is stuck in the dark ages. Last year Freedom House, an American NGO, ranked South Korea’s internet as only “partly free”. Reporters without Borders has placed it on a list of countries “under surveillance”, alongside Egypt, Thailand and Russia, in its report on “Enemies of the Internet”. Is forward-looking South Korea actually rather backward?
State Rep. Patty Kim makes re-election bid official
State Rep. Patty Kim formally announced Monday she’ll seek another term representing the capital city.
Kim, a Democrat and former Harrisburg Councilwoman, represents the 103rd District: Harrisburg, Steelton, Highspire, Paxtang Borough and part of Swatara Township.
“Our community needs someone fighting for them in the State Capitol, and I want to continue to be their voice,” Kim said.
She still has work to do, particularly with respect to income inequality, according to the statement.
To that end, Kim has introduced bills that would increase minimum wage, and expunge records of non-violent offenders who have successfully and productively re-entered their communities.
Brentwood girl one of 40 finalists for $100,000 prize in science research
Brentwood High School Senior Joyce Kang is one of 40 finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search, a competition that challenges high school students to conduct innovative and unexplored research possibilities and possibly win $100,000.
Not your typical high school project; Kang’s project explores the development of a high-performance hybrid super capacitor.
The 40 finalists were chosen from among more than 1,800 applicants. Kang is the only finalist to come from the state of Tennessee.
She will attend the final round of judging and compete for more than $630,000 in prizes, including the $100,000 grand prize.
Girls’ Generation Announces Comeback Single ‘Mr.Mr.,’ New Album
Girls’ Generation has announced its return to the K-pop scene with a 40-second teaser video for new single “Mr.Mr.” that will lead off their new album.
Filimed on a chilling hospital video set, the nine members are seen in glitzy dresses and pricey jewelry as they wear oxygen masks, hold hands with a male model and check the vital signs of a teddy bear. The black-, white- and pink-themed visual is soundtracked by a crunchy, electronic/hip-hop-hybrid beat with an addictive, repetitive “Mista mista” hook.
Anticipation is high to see what the group can accomplish after an exciting 2013.
The outfit’s “I Got a Boy” video earned nearly 85 million YouTube views as well won the group Video of the Year at the inaugural YouTube Music Awards, where it competed against the most watched and shared videos of the year from Justin Bieber, One Direction, Miley Cyrus and more. The new single will also prove whether the act can garner enough U.S. views to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 after the chart added YouTube views to its formula. (The rule was not in place when “I Got a Boy” was released.)
S. Korean women’s curling team beats Japan in Olympic debut
The South Korean women’s curling team defeated Japan 12-7 in its opening round robin match at the Sochi Winter Games on Tuesday, making a successful Olympic debut.
Led by skip Kim Ji-sun, the South Koreans handily prevailed over the mistake-prone Japanese with five points over the final three ends at Ice Cube Curling Center.
South Korean curler Lee Seul-bee (C) throws the stone as teammates Shin Mi-sung (L) and Gim Un-chi (R) watch during their round robin match against Japan at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Feb. 11, 2014. (Yonhap)
South Korea is scheduled to face Switzerland in the day’s second match at 7 p.m. here (midnight in South Korea).
South Korea Pained By Victor’s Bronze
Wall Street Journal
For South Koreans, the sight of a former favorite son winning a medal in Sochi on Monday was bittersweet.
Victor An took bronze in the men’s 1,500 meter short-track speed skating event for Russia. Only three years ago he was skating for South Korea. At the 2006 Olympics in Turin, he won three golds and a bronze for the nation under the name Ahn Hyun-soo.
But in 2010 he fell out with the Korean speed skating federation when a knee injury kept him from qualifying for the Vancouver Olympics. South Korea, fertile ground for competitive speed skating with plenty of up-and-coming candidates, had little room for injured athletes.
So Mr. Ahn chose Russia as his new homeland. Russia welcomed him. He changed his name to Victor An.
Ryu Hyun-jin checks in with slimmed down look
The Los Angeles Dodgers opened their spring training camp with much slimmer Ryu Hyun-jin.
Ryu still won’t reveal just how much he exactly weighs, but he did say it’s significantly less than last year at this time, as he checked in on Sunday. And, he even kept up with four other pitchers, including Clayton Kershaw, during a 20 minute run around the complex drill, unlike last year.
“Looks to me like he wants to be even better. That’s a good sign,” General Manager Ned Colletti said.
Ryu also said he’s more comfortable this spring. “I know the faces, and I have friends here. The first day doesn’t feel like the first day like last year, when I didn’t know anybody,” he explained.
S. Korea doubts sincerity of North’s peace offensive
South Korea expressed doubt Friday over the North Korean leader’s rare peace offensive as it urged Pyongyang to make serious efforts to denuclearize itself.
“We have no choice but to question the sincerity” of Kim’s conciliatory gesture, unification ministry spokesperson Kim Eui-do said in a comment.
The comment came two days after leader Kim Jong-un called for “a favorable climate” to improve ties with South Korea and pledged to make aggressive efforts to strive for better relations in his New Year’s message.
The ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, cited Pyongyang’s track record of carrying out provocations and slandering South Korea as a reason for caution on its peace offensive.
A Dog of a Story: Why Kim Jong Un Probably Did Not Feed His Uncle to 120 Hounds
Kim Jong Un’s late uncle was “worse than a dog,” according to the blustery state media account of his purge. But was he killed by a pack of half-starved dogs?
That’s the claim of Beijing-linked Hong Kong newspaper, Wen Wei Po, which on Dec. 12 reported that the instead of being executed by a firing squad, as is typical, Jang was stripped naked, thrown in a cage with five of his associates, and devoured by 120 hounds as Kim Jong Un and 300 officials watched. The dogs preyed on the prisoners “until they were completely eaten up,” according to the Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper, who picked up the story on Dec. 24.
Female perspective still in short supply in Pennsylvania Legislature: Patty Kim
I quickly observed a female perspective is still in short supply. Women make up about one in six House members and are even rarer in leadership. I was surprised at some early advice from a seasoned colleague: “Don’t carry a purse.” To me, it showed that the women who have gone before me had to “downplay” that they were females in a male-dominated arena. I’ve heard stories about how women staffers and legislators were poorly treated in the years before I arrived. I appreciate those pioneering women who had to endure a lot to make it easier for me, so that in 2013, I unselfconsciously carry a purse.
I knew reform couldn’t wait but that as a freshman member in the minority party I needed to focus on what I could do by example. One of the first communications I received was a letter stating that simply by virtue of being sworn in I would receive a raise above what legislators in the previous session had been paid. I returned that $1,776 “adjustment” to the Pennsylvania Treasury and introduced legislation to eliminate these “COLAs”. To ensure my office’s operations are transparent, I post all my expenses on my website (they can be viewed under “expense reports”).
Tech exec Ken Cho keeps raising the bar
Austin Business Journal
Software maker People Pattern Corp. has been five years in the making for CEO Ken Cho.
The Austin-based startup, which earlier this week completed a $4.5 million Series A round of funding, is Cho’s third company and is based on an idea he began discussing with University of Texas professor Jason Baldridge in 1998. The concept blends proprietary data with open data from social media to develop specific audience data for marketers.
The result is People Pattern, which launched last March and already claims several major enterprise customers. The company employs eight workers with a tool designed for chief marketing officers to quickly determine how well ad campaigns are working.
Buena Park’s “Koreatown” Shopping Center Readies for Kickoff
Orange County Business Journal
A new Korean-American shopping center in Buena Park is expected to officially launch on Jan. 10, according to Korea Herald Business Daily, a Korean-language newspaper.
The center, called Village Circle on Beach, has a dozen or so tenants lined up, including a number that are expected to open in coming weeks, with most focused on Korean-American customers. The area around the center has been dubbed Orange County’s “Koreatown” in the ethnic press.
Operations effectively began in late 2013, when Japanese discount goods chain Daiso opened. Los Angeles-based Open Bank started its first OC branch there in December.
Allen Suh: The chef
For almost anyone in the business of entertaining people — whether as a chef, concert promoter or otherwise — there comes a moment when taking a risk implies an uncertain variation on that famous maxim from Field of Dreams: If you build it, will they come?
For chef Allen Suh, his version was something along the lines of: If you open a ramen shop inside of a small breakfast diner in a sleepy residential neighborhood on Mondays and Tuesdays, historically two of the slowest weeknights for any restaurant, will they come?
Suh spent eight years working his way up the restaurant food chain: late nights spent watching “Iron Chef,” a gig at a hibachi grill, classes at Le Cordon Bleu, and working in the celebrated kitchen at Restaurant Eugene. He also spent four years as executive sous chef at One Flew South, which has the unusual distinction of being one of the most celebrated airport restaurants in the world. All of that experience still couldn’t guarantee that people would actually show up.
Diving Into the Wreck ‘On Such a Full Sea,’ by Chang-rae Lee
New York Times
Watching a talented writer take a risk is one of the pleasures of devoted reading, and “On Such a Full Sea” provides all that and more. It’s a wonderful addition not only to Chang-rae Lee’s body of work but to the ranks of “serious” writers venturing into the realm of dystopian fantasy. Colson Whitehead, Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood (in her recently concluded MaddAddam trilogy) have all tackled this genre. Doris Lessing’s “Mara and Dann” is a classic, as is Anthony Burgess’s “Clockwork Orange.” Further back in time, one has only to think of Orwell, Huxley and Wells, even Jack London and Mary Shelley. As the author of such carefully realist fiction as “Native Speaker” and “A Gesture Life,” Lee has always been preoccupied by the themes of hope and betrayal, by the tensions that arise in small lives in the midst of great social change. His marvelous new book, which imagines a future after the breakdown of our own society, takes on those concerns with his customary mastery of quiet detail — and a touch of the fantastic.
Top 10 Asian American achievements of 2013
Northwest Asian Weekly
Each year, certain people are recognized for their accomplishments in the Asian American communities. There were many incredible feats this year, so we grouped them into 10 accomplishments.
1. President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye in August. Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, representing the people of Hawaii from the moment they joined the Union.
2. U.S. Senate Confirmations: It was a big year for U.S. Senate confirmations. Pamela K. Chen became the first openly gay, Asian American person to preside on a federal bench when she was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Raymond T. Chen became the first Asian American to serve on the Federal Circuit in more than 25 years with his U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit confirmation.
Srikanth Srinivasan was confirmed as the first circuit court judge of South Asian descent to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Korea’s favorite TV shows
Koreans’ favorite TV programs are the “Infinite Challenge” (무한도전), followed by recently ended drama series “Princess Aurora” (오로라 공주), despite being under heavy criticism throughout its 150 episodes, according a Gallup Korea survey.
Both shows are distributed and syndicated by Korea’s Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
The results came from a Gallup Korea poll conducted December 16-19. A total of 1,207 people in Korea, at least 19-years of age and older, were asked about their favorite TV programs, and MBC’s Infinite Challenge again came in first at 10.4%.
Infinite Challenge was at the top of the poll every month last year, except in February, and its rating was the highest in October with 13%.
Girls’ Generation Soo Young is in a Relationship with Actor Jung Kyung Ho
Soo Young of Girls’ Generation admitted that she is ina relationship with actor Jung Kyung Ho.
Girls’ Generation is in love! It has been only two days that YoonA admitted her relationship with Lee Seung Ki, but Soo Young also got caught dating her actor boyfriend, Jung Kyung Ho.
The two were once suspected in last year, but denied to be in a relationship. However, one medium in Korea caught them enjoying a date on Christmas and announced that the two are seeing each other.
Boyfriend Announces US Showcases in Dallas and Chicago
Any Best Friends in the house? Great news, six-member boy group Boyfriend has just announced their US showcase tour, “Boyfriend First US Showcase Live in USA“!
On March 11th and March 13th of next year, Boyfriend will be performing at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, IL and Verizon Theatre in Dallas, TX, respectively. The showcases will begin at 7pm and doors will open at 6pm.
Tickets will go on sale on January 7th at 10am 7pm CST on axs.com for Dallas and etix.com for Chicago. Ticket prices include many opportunities for VVIP and VIP ticket holders to have autograph sessions and hi-touch sessions with the boys themselves, so don’t miss out!
Lim Hyun Gyu to headline UFC event in Singapore
Korean MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter Lim Hyun Gyu will face former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s main event this Saturday in Singapore.
Lim (12-3-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) got his chance as a last-minute replacement, but the stage doesn’t get much bigger – this will be the first MMA event to be streamed exclusively on the UFC’s ‘Fight Pass’ digital network.
The subscription service, which is accessible on a free trial through February 28, is currently available in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
The UFC is the largest MMA organization in the world and the event is reportedly close to selling out the 6,000-capacity arena at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
The 28-year old striker Lim, standing 6′ 2″ tall, was mighty impressive in his last two knock out wins, and the 26-year old Belgian champ Saffiedine, more known for his defense, will be making his long-waited UFC debut.
Local GoFundMe Campaign Raises Money for Family Performing Missionary Work
Bayside Douglaston Patch
An online campaign dedicated to raising money to help fund a family’s missionary work has, so far, raised $4,180.
Oakland Gardens’ John Hyun Yoon created a GoFundMe page titled “Send the Yoon Family to the Nations,” with the goal of raising a total $34,000. So far, 50 people have donated to the fund.
The page reads:
Lately, God has really been challenging our faith to trust Him to be our everything and follow Him. We have decided to take action and follow Him into a life of missions and dependency on Him.
Korean noodles? In Memphis?
Dallas Morning News
This Mississippi River city is proud of its barbecue, its fried chicken, its soul food.
Those foods are what tourists typically obsess over, standing in line at Central BBQ for smoky ribs or Gus’s Fried Chicken for juicy drumsticks. But there’s a place in Memphis that makes standout Korean food. Crazy Noodle might be proof that people in intensely Southern cities like Memphis, where collard greens are made correctly and macaroni and cheese is listed as a vegetable, are welcoming the cuisine of immigrant communities.
Owner Ji Choi estimates that 60 percent of her customers are regulars. It’s a hidden gem for tourists seeking to avoid the barbecue and the out-of-towners.