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October Cover Story: Inbee Park is the Story of the Year in Women’s Golf

Steady as She Goes

How Inbee Park, the so-called “Silent Assassin,” became the story of the year in women’s golf.

story and photos by MARK EDWARD HARRIS

In the game of golf, it’s not just how you handle your club, it’s how you handle yourself. In 2013, Inbee Park epitomized that statement.

“Very low key,” Brittany Lincicome, one of the longest drivers in women’s golf, characterized Park. “She goes with the flow, and that’s what you need out here.”

“The way she plays the game, it’s so steady,” said Paula Creamer, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion.

“You would think, after winning two of them, it would faze her a little bit,” said Stacy Lewis, whom Park replaced as the No. 1 women’s professional golfer in the world this past April. “But obviously at [this year’s] U.S. Open, it didn’t. Inbee is playing so good this year, and she’s so steady. You wouldn’t know whether she’s winning a tournament or whether she’s losing it, and that’s what you need in a major. As a player, you’d like to know if she’s human, to see if she actually feels the nerves like the rest of us do.”

Park is, in fact, human. She’s also quite a remarkable athlete. She captured the attention of the world with her phenomenal performance this year—winning a stunning three consecutive majors at the start of the season. That achievement is matched only by the legendary Babe Zaharias, who reached this feat in 1950.

“Trying to put my name next to hers means just so much,” Park said, after this year’s U.S. Open win that tied the record. “I would think I would never get there; it’s somewhere that I’ve never dreamed of. But all of a sudden, I’m there.”

In the past 16 months, Park has won eight LPGA titles. This year alone, she has won six times—half of them at majors—and amassed more than $2 million in prize money.

But, again, she’s human. And when the eyes of the world focused on the 25-year-old “Silent Assassin” from South Korea, as she launched her bid to make golfing history and become the first person to win four professional majors in a single season, she showed that her nerves aren’t made of steel and that her stellar signature putting isn’t infallible. She had two chances to nab a fourth major, at the Women’s British Open in August and at the Evian Championship last month, but fell short on both occasions.

In the lead-up to the tournaments, the media build-up around Park’s potential history making was incredible.

Having won her first major at age 19, Park is no stranger in the LPGA. But it was not until this year that she has shown the golf world what she’s capable of on a consistent basis. More than that, after the U.S. Open victory, suddenly, women’s golf—which has long struggled to match the popularity of the PGA—was making headlines.

Lots of them:

“Inbee Park on Verge of Golfing Immortality,” speculated CNN.

“Inbee Park Lines Up Her Grand Slam,” wrote the New York Times.

“Golf’s Queen of Serene,” the Wall Street Journal dubbed her.

“It’s been great for women’s golf, what Inbee has done this year,” said Lewis, the 2012 Rolex Player of the Year. “It’s good to see she’s finally getting the attention she deserves.”

Angela Park (no relation), the 2007 LPGA Rook of the Year who played junior golf with Inbee, credited her not only for raising the profile of the LPGA, but also for “setting new goals for other fellow athletes to achieve.”

Even the top players in the PGA couldn’t help but weigh in on this story of the year for women’s golf.

“It’s hard enough just to win one major, as I’ve found out throughout my career,”said Phil Mickelson, during a news conference at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio. “And to win three in a row like that is just amazing.”

Only Tiger Woods and Mickey Wright have held four professional majors at the same time, though they were accomplished over two seasons.

“It’s pretty incredible to win the first three,” Woods said, also from the Bridgestone Invitational. “And the way she did it … executing, and it seemed like she just is making everything….It’s really neat to see someone out there doing something that no one has ever done, so that’s pretty cool.”

At the Women’s Canadian Open in August, KoreAm asked Park why she thinks this has been such a banner year for her. “I don’t really have a good answer for that,” she said. “It just clicked.”

“I learned a lot from finishing second many times last year,” she also said. “So after that kind of experience, this year when I’m in contention, I feel a lot more comfortable, and I have a lot more confidence to win.”

Since April of this year, Park has been the No. 1-ranked player in the Women’s World Golf Rankings, and despite the most recent disappointing outings, she closes out the 2013 season at the very top.

The journey to No. 1 started 15 years ago in Korea, when a 10-year-old Park heard a ruckus in her home one night. The way the story goes, she went downstairs and discovered her father watching Se Ri Pak on TV, as the latter became the first South Korean to win the U.S. Women’s Open.

“Korea was struggling at the time. I know that my dad saw a lot of hope just from watching her play,” Park told the popular South Korean interview show, Healing Camp, last month. “I remember him screaming outside at midnight with our neighbors. That’s when I saw [Pak] play, and I started dreaming of playing golf as well.”

Prior to that, Park said, though her father and grandfather were huge golf fans, she didn’t think it was that fun. But after watching Pak, who would go on to become a Hall of Famer, she was inspired.

Within two years, her mother would take a 12-year-old Inbee and her sister Inah to the United States, so they could both play golf and study at the same time, while their businessman father stayed behind in Korea.

“In the U.S., even if you’re a student-athlete, they’ll never lighten your workload in school classes,” Park explained on Healing Camp. “You have to be in classes until 3, and then only practice for three hours after that. So I’m still not a player who practices a lot. So most Koreans question my amount of practice time, but really, practice is more about quality and less about quantity.”

The move to America paid off early, with Park winning nine tournaments on the American Junior Golf Association circuit and becoming a five-time Rolex Junior All-American. After graduating from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas in 2006, Park wanted to turn pro, but her request for LPGA permission to attempt to qualify as a 17-year old was denied. Rules require that a player be 18 to join the Tour.

Meanwhile, she received scholarship offers from Harvard and Yale, but didn’t accept either because she wouldn’t have been able to turn pro. Instead, she enrolled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, close to where she lived. She would soon leave the school, however, to go pro, playing on the Duramed Futures Tour where the age of entry had been lowered to 17.

By 2006, she recorded 11 top-10 finishes on the Futures Tour, finishing third on its season-ending money list, which earned her exempt status on the LPGA Tour for the 2007 season. During her rookie season in the LPGA, she finished 37th on the money list and fourth in the Rookie of the Year standings.

It didn’t take long for her to prove that she should be playing with the pros. In 2008, at age 19, she became the youngest player to win the U.S. Women’s Open. From that point on, she was deemed South Korea’s next rising star. But rise she did not. She struggled through a dry spell, going nearly 18 months without another top-10 finish. In 2009, she ended the season 50th on the LPGA official money list.

Park admitted that marked one of her most difficult periods in her relatively young career.

“I wanted to give up,” she recalled. “Golf was giving me so much stress. I was young then and felt if I weren’t playing golf, my life would be stress-free. Back then, I just couldn’t handle that kind of stress.

“I really thought that I wasn’t ever going to be able to win again.”

But Park would break that winless streak in 2012, scoring her second LPGA title at the Evian Masters (which, this year, was recognized as women’s golf’s fifth major), where she earned a two-shot victory over Stacy Lewis and Karrie Webb. At Evian, Park, known for being one of the finest putters in the game, one-putted 11 greens.

The win also gave Park a much-needed boost of confidence. That year, she would go on to finish in the top three in 9 out of 24 tournaments she played, and topped the LPGA in money earned and scoring average.

Many, including Park, have credited her fiancé, Gi Hyeob Nam, who became her swing coach last year, for her improved game. He noticed she had an erratic swing and helped her fix her early release. The result has been more consistent driving and iron play.

At the Canadian Open in August, Park reflected on her dramatic turnaround.

“I had my bad times after the win at the U.S. Open in 2008, and I wasn’t experienced, or I wasn’t used to the Tour,” she said. “My game was just not ready yet. But over time, I worked on everything very hard, and little by little, it improved, I think, every year.”

That improvement was on full display by this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, held in Southampton, N.Y., in late June. Park was the clear favorite, riding on her victories at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April and the Wegmans LPGA Championship earlier in June.

And, this time, she did not disappoint. Three South Koreans would, in fact, vie for the title. I.K. Kim would come the closest, chipping into the lead with a birdie on the second hole on the final round, but that was followed by a bogey on the fourth. Though Park would make back-to-back bogeys at four holes, she would cancel them out with birdies. Park would sail to a comfortable win, finishing at 8-under, four strokes ahead of Kim. So Yeon Ryu, the 2011 winner, finished third at 1-under.

“To be honest, yeah, it’s time to win it,” Kim said, after the tournament, speaking of her own desire to clinch her first major. “But I think things have to come naturally, and it’s great to play with Inbee. She’s doing so well. Seeing her doing it, it just makes me want it more.”

After Park made the final putt on 18, Ryu and Na Yeon Choi, last year’s U.S. Women’s Open champ, sprayed Park with champagne. Korean players have notably won six of the last eight majors.

“I think everybody is inspiring each other, and when your friends are playing so good, you want to play as good as them,” said Park. “I think that pressure is really good.”

After Park’s win at the U.S. Open, it seemed all eyes were on her, as everyone from ESPN to NPR to the New York Times was seemingly champing at the bit to hang a fourth, history-making major on her. After all, she had two chances to do that—first at the British Open in August, and then at the Evian in September. But Park encountered some trouble, first, at the British Open.

“I left a lot of shots on the greens,” said Park at the time. “The greens were really tough to judge the speed; they were great one minute, [the next] minute they were slow.”

She would finish two strokes behind Lewis, who would take the trophy. Park later said that she was somewhat relieved the tournament was over, indicating that nerves may have gotten to her.

“Everybody has been watching me,” she said. “It feels a bit weird because I get to do an interview when I shot 6-over par today.

“It’s something I’ve never experienced before. It’s been a great experience. I might not have won this week, but I’ve learned a lot.”

At Evian the following month, Park faltered even more, finishing far out of contention, as Norway’s Suzann Pettersen would pull out the win, but with teenage phenom Lydia Ko, a Korean New Zealander, only two strokes behind her.

And just as quickly as attention swarmed Park, following her historic win at Southampton, it seemed eyes began shifting toward Ko, who, in August, won her second Canadian Open. She’s 16 and still an amateur, so she couldn’t collect the purse, but, already, the bespectacled teen has become the one to watch.

Despite the anti-climatic ending to the season for Park, she’s got plenty to enjoy from 2013—and one senses from her remarks to the media before she failed to clinch a fourth major, that she knows that.

“Whether I win this week, whether I don’t, the last two days, what I experienced was great,” she said just before the British Open. “You know, if I can handle this kind of pressure, if I face this kind of pressure, I’m really not afraid of any kind of pressure from now on in my career.”

The truth is, even without the Grand Slam victory, Park should rest assured that her name will be recorded in the golf history books. In addition to nabbing three in a row and earning the respect of the best golfers in the LPGA and PGA, she—a woman of color, for whom English is a second language, who once joked that she’s got an “athlete’s body”—helped raise the profile of women’s golf in 2013.

That’s a feat that has long eluded the LPGA, which seemed more apt to use sex appeal to try to do that. Park did it just by playing amazing golf, game after game after game.

As for the future, Annika Sorenstam, a three-time U.S. Women’s Open and 10-time major winner, perhaps said it best when she stated on broadcast TV, “[Park] can still improve in some areas, and that’s a scary thought.”

KoreAm’s Julie Ha and Steve Han contributed to this story.

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Four Korean Americans Qualify For LPGA Tour

Korean American women continue to shine in professional golf with four young women earning their full LPGA tour cards yesterday at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.

Christine Song, 20, of Fullerton, Calif., was the best of the quartet finishing second with a total of 8-under par in five rounds of golf.

Song earned two wins on the second-tier tour in 2010 to finish third on the money list and had her first taste of the LPGA Tour in 2011, according to the Chosun Ilbo.

But due to an underwhelming season, Song was forced to go through the Qualifying Tournament again to reconfirm her berth.

The top 20 among the 142 golfers competing in the Qualifying Tournament are given a full seed on the LPGA Tour next season.

Jennie Lee, the 2005 U.S. Junior champion, came third after shooting 4-under, Angela Oh took a share of 9th after finishing at 3-over, and Hannah Yun was one stroke behind to place 15th. They all qualified for the Tour.

See the full results of the tournament at LPGA.com.

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Friday's Link Attack: Robot Prison Guards, MMA Fighter Ben Henderson, Chang-Rae Lee

Robot Prison Guards Roll Out
Wall Street Journal

As it seeks to become a leader in robotic technology, South Korea is about to put a new type of droid through its paces: a robot prison guard.

Under a project sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, trials of the robots will be held for a month at a jail in the city of Pohang, southeast of Seoul, from March. The robots are designed to patrol the corridors of corrective institutions, monitoring conditions inside the cells. If they detect sudden or unusual activity such as violent behavior they alert human guards.

Did the Novel ‘Native Speaker’ Foreshadow The Liu Fundraiser Scandal?
Wall Street Journal

A councilman from Queens, an Asian immigrant who’s traveled the striver’s path to success, rises to New York’s political heights with the support of a multicultural coalition of voters. His reformist zeal and unique ability to unite fragmented factions — blacks, Latinos, Asians and labor — make him a media darling and a serious contender for what some call the second-most powerful office in America: mayor of New York. But when an Asian American agent is sent undercover to probe the roots of his success, allegations of an illicit immigrant money ring surface, threatening to derail this rising star’s ambitions.

You might recognize this as the story of city comptroller John Liu, who’s gone from Flushing, Queens councilman to putative frontrunner in the race to replace Mayor Bloomberg in 2013 — only to have that status rocked last week by the high-profile arrest of one of his major fundraisers, Oliver Pan, over alleged financial improprieties. Liu, New York City’s chief financial officer and the first Asian-American to hold citywide office, said in a statement that he was “saddened” by the allegations: “If it is true, then the conduct was clearly wrong and my campaign was not told the truth.”

Uncannily, however, the controversy also happens to mirror the basic plot of a novel written in 1995: Chang-Rae Lee’s acclaimed PEN/Hemingway award-winning debut, “Native Speaker.” Reached in Princeton, where he’s a professor of creative writing at the university’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Lee admits to being a bit spooked by the seeming coincidence.

Martin Scorsese Gives a Thumbs Up to UCI Professor Kyung Hyun Kim’s Cinema Book
O.C. Weekly

​It’s not often that an academic tome–even one related to film–snags a forward written by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, whose latest movie Hugo coincidentally opens nationwide today.

But Kyung Hyun Kim, UC Irvine’s associate professor of East Asian languages & literatures and film & media studies, won those bragging rights, and like else everything in Hollywood it all started with the right connections.

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U.S. ambassador to Seoul confident of enduring ties with Korea
Korea Herald

U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Sung Kim expressed confidence in the resilience of the ties between his country and South Korea, saying he believes the friendship between the U.S. and the country of his birth will survive any challenge.

In his second blog post since taking office earlier this month, the Korean-American ambassador said two of his main missions here are to “strengthen and deepen” both the bilateral alliance and people-to-people ties. He is the first Korean-American to serve as Washington’s top envoy to Seoul since the sides established diplomatic relations 129 years ago.

Tales from Asia: Benson Henderson’s tour through Korea and Japan
Yahoo Sports

Last week, I was honored to be asked by the UFC to represent them in Korea and Japan. This is my first time overseas, which these days seems to put me in a minority. But I am looking forward to the great events and festivities that are lined up.

The main purpose of this trip is to visit with many of our American troops here in Korea. These men and women do so much for our country, and have to spend so much time away from their loved ones to accomplish that. We sometimes take that for granted.

I also wanted to take this trip for a very personal reason. I am a second-generation Korean-American, and I am visiting my mother’s home country. My Oma (mom) is accompanying me on this trip. Over the weekend, she will get to see many of her family members for the first time in years, and I will be meeting them for the first time EVER! Being able to share this trip with my Oma makes it so much more special.

I never really thought I’d come visit Korea until I was much older and retired, but the UFC has made it a reality. As I am writing this, we are driving through a very beautiful and slightly overwhelming downtown Seoul.

Half-Korean mixed martial artist proud of heritage
Yonhap News

Ben Henderson, a U.S. mixed martial artist born to a Korean-American mother and an African-American father, speaks only little Korean.

But that hasn’t stopped him from tattooing Korean characters onto his lithe, yet chiseled frame: his own name, as well as the words for “power,” “glory” and “warrior.”

In an interview with Yonhap News Agency Thursday, Henderson, a Colorado native, said he takes great pride in his heritage.

“I am very proud to be part-Korean, to have Korean in my blood,” Henderson said in a phone conversation Thursday. He was visiting the demilitarized zone (DMZ) as part of an ongoing tour in South Korea, and he’s also scheduled to visit U.S. troops and spend some time with his mother’s family. This is his first trip to his mother’s homeland.

“I think Koreans… have a lot of pride,” he said. “I think that’s where I get it from, from my Korean side.”

UC Berkeley student briefly sets up tent on Chancellor’s lawn, moves to Sproul
The Daily Californian

While most UC Berkeley students chose to head home for the Thanksgiving break, senior Alex Kim decided to do something decidedly different early Thursday morning.

Kim cancelled his plane ticket home and instead lugged camping equipment and his pet cat Obi to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s front lawn around 5 a.m. There he pitched a tent in solidarity with the Occupy Cal movement that has shaken the campus over the last three weeks.

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Interview with Two Brothers Making Products They Love
MYX TV

Terrence and Kevin Kim are two Korean American brothers from New Jersey who had a dream. Instead of going down the usual post-college-graduate path that most 22-year-olds follow after their education is complete, the brothers decided to pack up a suitcase each and head for Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

Fast forward to the end of 2011, and the brothers have traveled all around China and Korea to experience the cultures of both countries by visiting factories, fabric markets, and sight seeing. Influenced by the traditional art, architecture, fabrics, dyeing, monks, etc., they decided to make their dream a reality.

Student kills mother, keeps body at home for 8 months
Korea Times

A high school student is suspected of having killed his mother and keeping the body hidden for eight months at their home after being pressured by her to get higher exam scores.

Gwangjin Police in eastern Seoul said Thursday they have requested an arrest warrant for the 18-year-old high school senior, identified as Ji, on suspicions of murdering his mother, 51-year-old Park. Ji is suspected of having stabbed his mother to death at their home in eastern Seoul at around 11 a.m. on March 13. The body was kept in her room for eight months.

According to police, Park kept telling her son that he must enter a top-class university and should rank first in nationwide exams. When he obtained lower scores than her expectations, she didn’t give him food or forced him to stay awake at night to study. Being afraid of her scolding, Ji had fabricated grade reports since middle school. His fear grew as his test scores fell after entering high school.

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New research reveals the reasons we shop on Black Friday
Washington Post

Sang-Eun Byun, an assistant professor of consumer affairs at Auburn University in Alabama, surveyed hundreds of shoppers at Zara and H&M and found that the limited availability of goods in those stores excited the customers. Even though it wasn’t Black Friday, she said her findings hold true for any shopping situation in which high-value goods are scarce.

Ordinarily, Byun said, shoppers are turned off by crowds. But when crowds create a sense of competition — such as when hundreds of shoppers are rushing to collect marked-down goods — they generate a different feeling entirely. Competition creates what’s called hedonic shopping value, or a sense of enjoyment from the mere process of buying goods.

“At certain levels, consumers enjoy arousal and challenges during the shopping process,” Byun said. “They enjoy something that’s harder to get, and it makes them feel playful and excited.”

North Korea Warns South on Maritime Drills
New York Times

North Korea warned on Thursday that any military clash on a disputed maritime border could escalate into an attack on the presidential office in Seoul, threatening to engulf the South Korean leadership “in a sea of fire.”

The threat came one day after South Korea conducted military drills near Yeonpyeong, a front-line island west of Seoul. The display of firepower was timed to mark the first anniversary of the North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong, which killed two marines and two civilians.

Hines Ward’s status unlikely to change
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hines Ward’s reduced status does not look as though it will change any time soon, which begs this question: Are we watching the final games of the brilliant career of the Steelers most prolific and decorated receiver?

Golfer Kevin Na Thanks Fans with Charity Tournament
Chosun Ilbo

Korean American golfer Kevin Na, who won his first U.S. PGA title on his 211th attempt and his eighth year on the Tour early last month, will hold a charity tournament under his name near Los Angeles on Dec. 8.

Marijuana plants worth $3 million found in Rosemead home
Pasadena Star News (Calif.)

Looks like a mullet is required to be a member of the Asian Boyz.

Deputies looking for Asian Boyz gang members wanted in a machete attack also discovered 1,400 marijuana plants worth about $3 million growing in a house on Wednesday.
In addition, authorities seized Ectasy pills and methamphetamine at a house next to the pot grow. They arrested a man and two teens for the assault plus two other people for the drug possession.

Sgt. Steve Kim of the Sheriff’s Asian Gang Team said 30 deputies served search and arrest warrants at five Rosemead locations at 6:30 a.m.

Being a TNA Knockout means everything to Gail Kim
SLAM Wrestling

It’s been a strange couple of months for current TNA Knockouts Champion Gail Kim. Back in August the Canadian-born grappler controversially went against instructions and eliminated herself from the Divas Battle Royal match on the August 1st episode of Monday Night Raw. A few days later Kim announced on Twitter that she had quit WWE, however, she was not permitted to leave.

What followed was a stunning standoff between WWE and their former Women’s Champion, which saw her forced to sit out the remainder of her contract. Kim’s decision to eliminate herself caused quite a bit of controversy, with some figures in the wrestling world who called her actions unprofessional, although Kim stands by the decision she made.

Monday's Link Attack: Mary Hayashi, David Oh, Hee Young Park

Hayashi’s political career, legacy in jeopardy with charges looming
San Jose Mercury News

State Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi entered the political world as a survivor of a tormented childhood, losing an older sister at 17 to suicide and watching as her disgraced parents burned her sister’s clothes, cut her out of photos and never mentioned her name again.

Yet Hayashi quickly built a name for herself at the Capitol after becoming the first Korean-American woman to serve in the Legislature. She became part of the inner circles of two Assembly speakers. A magazine named her one of the 100 most influential Asian-Americans of the past decade.

Now, a new and puzzling source of shame is threatening to ground this once-rising East Bay Democrat and dash her plans to run for the state Senate: a bizarre grand theft charge that accuses her of shoplifting nearly $2,500 of clothes at San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus on Oct. 25.

While the case has embarrassed fellow lawmakers and could make Hayashi the first California lawmaker in 18 years to be ousted because of a felony conviction, it has focused new attention on what legislative staffers call Hayashi’s overly ambitious and sometimes erratic behavior.

Her criminal case has caused tongues to wag at the Capitol and jolted the tight-knit Korean-American community, where many view her as a role model.

“I’m saddened because she’s somebody that many in the Korean-American community have looked up to,” said Jiyon Yun, a Walnut Creek attorney. “She’s had so many accomplishments and contributed so much to so many efforts and projects, I hope this doesn’t take away from what she’s been working on.”

David Oh takes the cake in at-large Council race
Philadelphia Daily News

There will be no repeat of the nightmare four years ago, when attorney David Oh was ahead on election night for one of two City Council at-large seats set aside for the minority political party but lost after absentee ballots were tallied.

Oh today finally bested Al Taubenberger in last week’s election, after absentee, military and provisional ballots were counted. In the final tally, Oh led by 166 votes from election day ballots and absentee ballots. A count today of 755 provisional ballots, used on election day when there are questions about a voter’s registration, did not put Taubenberger ahead.

Oh said he was not surprised by the narrow margin, though he said it was unclear what impact a barrage of negative mailings, radio ads and robo-calls in the closing week of the campaign had on his campaign. That effort was run by a political action committee controlled by Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which supported another Republican in the race.

Hee Young Park wins LPGA finale
USA Today

Holding off some of the biggest names in women’s golf, unheralded Hee Young Park won the CME Group Titleholders on Sunday for her first career LPGA title.

Park, with a closing 70, finished at 9-under-par 279 to beat Paula Creamer and Sandra Gal by two shots at sun-splashed Grand Cypress Resort to win the LPGA tour’s season-ending event. Another shot back were Na Yeon Choi and world No. 2 Suzann Pettersen. Michelle Wie, world No. 3 Cristie Kerr and world No. 1 Yani Tseng, trying to win for the 12th time this season, made brief runs at the championship before finishing in a tie for sixth, seven shots behind.

Korean Tacos Bounce From LA to Seoul
Wall Street Journal

In an alley just off Garosoo-gil, the tree-lined street in Gangnam that has taken over from Apgujeong as the coolest place to be seen on weekends, is the three-month-old Grill5taco restaurant that has created its own version of Kogi’s fusion of Korean and Mexican foods.

Grill5taco was started by Ban Joo-hyung and Kim Hyun-chul and their original thought was to sell their tacos from trucks just like Kogi does. So they brought one over from the U.S. and hit the streets for a short time last year.

But the police kept slapping them with fines. Apparently, it’s OK to sell food from tents and from trucks that have permission to work in certain spots. But it’s against the law to just drive around wherever you want and sell food.

Mr. Kim said that’s when they decided to open the restaurant. “Garosoo-gil was the only neighborhood we considered,” he said.

Korea Still Sends Hundreds of Babies Abroad for Adoption
Chosun Ilbo

Korea is still the largest exporter of babies for adoption to the U.S., highlighting the need to strengthen child protection in the country. According to the 2011 Annual Adoption Report to Congress released Friday, out of the total of 2,047 foreign-born children adopted by U.S. families from October 2010 to September 2011, 734 or 36 percent were from Korea.

The Philippines was a distant second with 216, Uganda third with 196, India fourth with 168, and Ethiopia fifth with 126. Korea last topped the list in 2003 and since then it ranked fourth or fifth until it reclaimed first place this year.

Suspected N.Korean Spy Arrested After Posing as Defector
Chosun Ilbo

An alleged North Korean spy has been arrested after arriving in the country posing as a refugee.

The government said Saturday that a routine background check on the individual revealed he had been assigned by the North to conduct espionage activities in the South.

Authorities said the man entered Korea in April after traveling through China and Southeast Asian countries including Laos, Vietnam and Thailand in a bid to legitimately build his cover story as a defector.

A New Voice Grips South Korea With Plain Talk About Inequality and Justice
New York Times

Two days before Seoul elected a mayor last month, an unassuming man slipped into the campaign headquarters of Park Won-soon, an independent candidate. Amid flashing cameras, the man, Ahn Cheol-soo, a soft-spoken university dean who had earlier been seen as a contender for mayor himself, affirmed his support for Mr. Park, entrusted him with a written statement and then left.

“When we participate in an election, we citizens can become our own masters, principle can defeat irregularity and privilege, and common sense can drive out absurdity,” said Mr. Ahn’s statement, an open appeal to voters that quickly spread by way of Twitter and other social networks. “I’m going to the voting station early in the morning. Please join me.”

It was a pivotal moment in an election whose outcome has rocked South Korea. In a country where resentment of social and economic inequality is on the rise, and where many believe that their government serves the privileged rather than the common good, Mr. Ahn’s words — “participate,” “principle,” “common sense” — propelled younger voters to throw their support overwhelmingly behind Mr. Park, the first independent candidate to win South Korea’s second-most-influential elected office.

Korean-American businesses donate 600 turkeys
WNEM.com (Flint, Mich.)

Detroit police Chief Ralph Godbee says Korean-American businesses are donating 600 turkeys for distribution to the city’s needy.

Godbee says the 27th Korean-American Share Day is being marked with an event at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the department’s 12th Precinct station.

A Korean teacher cycling across the country stops in East Texas
KTRE ABC (Lufkin, Tex.)

It was a request like no other for the First Assembly of God. A 21-year old teacher from Korea cycled up to the church last Thursday, asking to spend the night in the front yard.

“He asked if he could put his tent up and stay the night to get some rest because he felt more safe staying at churches than he did just anywhere,” said First Assembly of God member, Lesa Rodgers.

“They told him yes he can camp here. So then, I come up. It was cold. So I said look just come on in the church. We weren’t going to leave him there,” said First Assembly of God pastor, Kenneth Reynolds.

Tungin Byun saved up money over the past year. Now, he’s using it to cycle around the US, stopping at churches for rest along the way.

North Korean celebrities are struggling because of the Hallyu Wave
allkpop

North Korean celebrities are suffering significantly due to the Hallyu Wave, mainly because South Korean celebrities are gaining much popularity, while North Korean celebrities are becoming forgotten. Multiple insiders state, “People related to the North Korean entertainment business ignore the demands of the people and solely focus on Kim Jong Il‘s propaganda. People can expect to see the end of North Korea’s entertainment industry“.

North Korean youths who defected from the country were able to name several South Korean films including ‘Stairway to Heaven‘ and ‘Scent of a Man‘, while they were unable to recall any names of actors/actresses from a particular North Korean film.

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N. Korea crowned world champs – unofficially
AFP via Google News

North Korea’s 1-0 win over Japan last week was not only a famous victory over their bitter rivals — it also made them the Unofficial Football World Champions, according to a tongue-in-cheek website.

The www.ufwc.co.uk site contends that the world title won by Spain in 2010 passed unofficially to Argentina after a friendly win, and then to Japan after the Blue Samurai beat Lionel Messi’s men in October last year.

So when Pak Nam Chol buried his 50th-minute header at Pyongyang’s bitterly cold Kim Il Sung Stadium last Tuesday, prompting rapturous celebrations, it was a goal that also put the secretive state unofficially on top of the world.

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Wednesday's Link Attack: Roy Choi, Margaret Cho, Anthony Kim

Roy Choi to open Sunny Spot next week
Los Angeles Times

Roy Choi of Kogi, Chego and A-Frame says he’ll be opening new restaurant Sunny Spot on Nov. 18 in Venice in the former Beechwood space — “think roadside cookshop, where every day’s a holiday.”

Inspired by the cuisine of the West Indies, Sunny Spot’s menu runs the gamut from double-fried jerk chicken and rum-glazed prawns to slow-roasted whole goat and papaya-guava honey pot salad with crushed cashews, red onion, lime and tarragon (pictured).

N.Korean Elite Sniper Defects
Chosun Ilbo

An ex-member of an elite North Korean special warfare unit defected across the West Sea on Oct. 30. He crossed the sea on a raft made of tires, it emerged on Tuesday.

Under questioning by the National Intelligence Service, the military and police, the man, who is in his early 30s, said he had been discharged from the marine sniper brigade five years ago and then worked as a civilian member in a military unit.

Watch Margaret Cho Invade Bonnaroo, Accost Indie Rockers
Spin.com

Last week, we watched Das Racist drag their parents to Bumbershoot. Today, to herald the release of Margaret Cho’s stand-up concert film, Cho Dependent — and say farewell to SPIN’s first-ever “Funny” Issue — we have footage of the comic and friend-of-indie-rockers everywhere bugging the shit out of everyone backstage at the 2010 Bonnaroo festival to the sounds of her “Baby I’m With the Band” (featuring Brendan Benson). Watch carefully to see who embraces the Cho, and who eyes her warily (the list of guest stars includes Conan O’Brien, Reggie Watts, Doug Benson, The Flaming Lips, Weezer, OK Go, the Gossip, The Punch Brothers, and GWAR).

Hines Ward: ‘It’s about the team’
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Hines Ward did not start in Cincinnati, and he played a limited number of snaps in the Steelers’ 24-17 win over the Bengals. If the Steelers’ all-time leading receiver has been demoted he is taking it in stride.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the team,” Ward said. “We won the game that’s the bottom line.”

Ward said his health wasn’t an issue, and that the coaches didn’t tell him before the Bengals game that his playing time would be diminished.

North Korea’s unusual experiment in tourism [SLIDESHOW]
Washington Post

The normally closed, secretive country is trying to open its doors a crack to foreign tourists, particularly from China, as a way of earning hard currency.

[In the photo above,] Chinese tourists converge on the house where the late Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s “Great Leader,” was said to be born.

Anthony Kim – The future’s bright
Sky Sports

Anthony Kim has endured plenty of lows over the past 12 months, but feels he’s now on course to hit new highs.

The Language of Many: ‘The Language Archive’ at East West Players [REVIEW]
Hyphen

During the LA premiere of The Language Archive at East West Players, the scent of warm bread wafted through the theater. There’s nuance to smells, I’m told, a layering that is discernible to even the most indiscriminate noses. The same could be said of language and of theatrical plays that go beyond just the black and white categorization of “good” and “bad.”

As with my nose, there’s a certain level of layering that I’m oblivious and, like the bread smell, there was something comfortable and familiar with the The Language Archive. I spent the evening trying to figure out where I’ve seen this story before.

Sarah Cho of Torrey Pines wins CIF state girls golf title
ESPN.com

Sarah Cho of Torrey Pines won the CIF state girls golf championship in a two-hole playoff over Cha Cha Wilhoite of Palm Desert at the Poppy Hills Golf Course at Pebble Beach on Tuesday.

Cho and Wilhoite were the only two golfers to shoot under par in the tournament. Both were 1-under, 71, after 18 holes.

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S. Korean football fans demand coach’s ouster
AFP via Google News

Angry fans called Wednesday for the resignation of coach Cho Kwang-Rae after South Korea suffered a stunning 1-2 defeat to underdogs Lebanon in the third round of regional World Cup qualification.

The official website of the Korea Football Association (KFA) was flooded with critical postings, with one suggesting a petition campaign to press the KFA to dismiss Cho.

Newspapers also lambasted South Korea for playing what Chosun Ilbo daily called a “game of sleepwalkers”.

Asian women struggle to make films
City Times (San Diego)

For many filmmakers, the festival serves as an opportunity to create change in the industry through gaining exposure and connecting with people.

“Support from groups like this has been invaluable in helping further my career,” said Mina T. Son, a Korean American filmmaker who screened her short, “Making Noise in Silence,” at the festival. The the short follows the lives of two Korean-American students at the California School for the Deaf. Son returned to the festival to receive an award for Best Short Documentary for the second year in a row.

Derek Kirk Kim Completes Season 1 of ‘Mythomania’ Live-Action Web Series [Video]
Comics Alliance

The Eisner and Harvey-winning cartoonist behind such works as Same Difference and Other Stories, The Eternal Smile (with Gene Luen Yang) and Good As Lily (with Jesse Hamm), Derek Kirk Kim has completed the first season of his live-action Web series Mythomania. Written and directed by Kim, the show follows aspiring cartoonist Andy Go as he navigates the joys, challenges, sacrifices, screw-overs and other assorted indignities suffered by those who seek their fortunes in the comic book book business. The show is an honest and personal (perhaps too personal, in the case of episode seven) into what life can be like for cartoonists, and how easy it can be to face not only rejection but also opportunity.

Serial Smacker Hits Seoul’s New Mayor
Wall Street Journal

There’s a new addition to the diverse and colorful ranks of South Korean protesters: a woman who is a serial head-smacker.

The 62-year-old woman has only been publicly identified by her last name, Park. She has been going around for the past few months hitting left-wing politicians on the head.

On Tuesday, she walked into an event in a subway station where Seoul’s new mayor, Park Won-soon, was speaking, got right up behind him, then hit him on the head and called him a “communist.”

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November Issue: Kevin Na is a Champion At Last

Champion, At Last

After earning his first PGA title last month, Kevin Na shares thoughts on a hard-won victory that’s been a decade in the making.

by Timothy Yoo

He created a minor stir with his then-controversial decision to drop out of high school to pursue a professional golf career at the age of 17. And last April at the Texas Open, he became a target for ribbing on ESPN’s SportsCenter, and nearly a million YouTube views, when he carded a 16 at the par-4 ninth hole, the worst single-hole score since the PGA Tour started keeping records.

But now Kevin Na can call himself a PGA tournament winner. The eight-year veteran of the pro tour captured the title at the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Oct. 2. KoreAm caught up with the now-28-year-old to chat about his breakthrough win and how his career has evolved over the years.

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Congratulations, Kevin. Obviously, the big news is your first PGA Tour victory. Can you describe what if felt like to get that win?

It feels great, since it was something that I had been working hard my whole life to get. I was a little nervous because I had been close several times, but for some reason, I was very confident that I would pull through this time.

Before winning this tournament, you had been knocking on the door. You were in contention at the Northern Trust Open back in February, and you had a fantastic top-10 result at the PGA Championship in August. Do you think you have turned a corner with your golf game? Continue reading

KJ Choi Pulls Ahead Of Anthony Kim To Win Own Tournament

KJ Choi came back from three strokes behind heading into the final round to win the inaugural CJ Invitational in Yeoju, South Korea by two strokes on Sunday.

The Korean-born golfer, sitting in third place after Saturday’s round behind surprise leader Lee Ki-Sang and Korean American Anthony Kim, shot a five-under-par 67 in the final round, according to AFP.

Choi, 41, “wowed the crowd” with three birdies on the homeward nine in front of large galleries at the Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club in Yeoju, a city located about 65 miles south of Seoul.

It was Choi’s second victory of the season following his triumph in the Players Championship in the United States and his fifth career title on the Asian Tour, where he is an honorary member.

“This week I had so many things going on. I didn’t really think about the win. I was busy looking after the players and taking care of the sponsors,” said Choi.

“Probably the fact that I wasn’t thinking about the tournament helped me feel at ease. The way it turned out, I’m happy to be the inaugural champion and even though I am hosting this event, it gives a special meaning,” said Choi, who totalled 17-under-par 271 and pocketed $118,875.

Meanwhile, fellow countryman Noh Seung-Yul, ranked no. 1 on the Asian Tour, finished in second place. Kim and Saturday’s leader Lee closed in a tie for third place.

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Friday's Link Attack: Anthony Kim, Dr. Sammy Lee

American Kim leads by a hair in S. Korea
AP via Google News

Anthony Kim may soon require a trip to the hairdresser after he battled his way to a six-under-par 66 on Friday to propel him into a three-shot halfway lead at the inaugural CJ Invitational.

The 26-year-old American, a three-time winner in the United States, did not even produce his best golf at the Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club but ground out seven birdies in the $750,000 event in South Korea hosted by K.J. Choi.

Choi endured an error-strewn 70 for tied second place with fellow South Koreans Lee Ki-Sang and David Oh, who shot 67 and 69 respectively for a 137 total in the co-sanctioned Asian Tour and Korean Golf Tour showpiece.

Oral history? Telling it like it was
Orange County Register

Dr. Sammy Lee has a tale to tell.

Born in California in 1920, he was inspired by the 1932 LA Olympics to become a two-time Olympic gold diving champion. A respected doctor and veteran, he traveled the world and was family friends with Syngman Rhee, the first president of South Korea.

The son of immigrants, he encountered discrimination that sounds horse and buggy today – outmoded from a different time.

Lee could not practice diving at private clubs because these pools were closed to Asians. During World War II, he once wore a badge: “I am Korean, not a Jap.” He won the 1953 Sullivan Award from the Amateur Athletic Union, but was turned down twice in 1954 trying to buy a house in all-white Garden Grove — until the media got involved.

Those are the facts, an outline for a story only Lee can tell. It’s the kind of the story the Center for Oral and Public History at Cal State Fullerton wants to capture.

Palisades Park woman admits role in ID-theft and bank-fraud ring
Bergen County Record (N.J.)

A Palisades Park woman who was one of 53 suspects arrested in a massive identity-theft and bank-fraud ring last year pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to produce phony identification documents, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

Sung-Sil Joh, 47, also pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting financial institutions, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, authorities said.

Joh was arrested in September 2010 when authorities broke up an identity-theft and bank-fraud ring allegedly run by Sang-Hyun “Jimmy” Park, 44, of Palisades Park.

The ring allegedly obtained Social Security cards beginning with “586.” Cards with that prefix were issued legitimately in the 1990s to Chinese citizens who came to work in American territories such as American Samoa, Guam and Saipan.

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US citizen killed in Medan
Jakarta Post (Indonesia)

US citizen Samuel Hyein, 28, died after he was stabbed by two unidentified men riding on a motorcycle.

The Korean-American was taking a pedicab headed to his hotel from Polonia International Airport, according to North Sumatra Police chief Sr. Comr. Heru Prakoso.

“The victim had just arrived at 10:30 p.m. local time from Malaysia on an AirAsia flight,” Heru said on Thursday.

Hyein bled to death from a wound to his leg while being treated at Elisabeth Hospital in Medan.

“We are still trying to identify the perpetrators. Their features were obscured since they wore helmets,” Heru said.

Detectives were still searching for a motive, Heru said. All of Hyein’s property was accounted for, mooting assumptions that the killing was a botched robbery.

From Korean orphan to Richmond local hero
Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia)

Margaret Lerke Woody, whose abandonment as a Korean infant severed her ancestral bloodlines, has become a vital Richmond community lifeline as a volunteer, caregiver and champion of inclusion.

For her efforts, Woody was honored as a “local hero” during Thursday night’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Awards at the Virginia Historical Society. With her recognition comes a $5,000 gift from Bank of America to ART 180, an organization that seeks to transform local youth and communities through art.

Marina woman says she was imprisoned in chicken coop
Monterey County-Herald (Calif.)

A Korean woman in California locked up her Japanese mother-in-law in a chicken coop.

A 92-year-old woman reported to the Marina Police Department she was battered and locked in a chicken coop Wednesday by her daughter-in-law.

The alleged victim said Myuong Sakasegawa, 64, took her purse, battered her, and locked her in the chicken coop. She said she was released from the coop by her son about an hour later.

(HT Marmot’s Hole)

Manoa school featured in George Clooney movie
KHON2.com (Honolulu, HI)

The upcoming film “The Descendants,” starring George Clooney and directed by Alexander Payne was shot entirely in Hawaii and hundreds of local students auditioned for small parts in the movie. One of them was high school student Esther Kang, who had a scene with the Academy Award-winning actor.

“He was like making jokes, he was a super cool guy, like, I had a conversation with him. It was sweet just to meet him,” said Esther Kang. “When I found out [I was cast] I was so happy it was like the best day of my life.”

Adoption satire mostly hits mark
Minneapolis Star Tribune

In “Four Destinies,” Korean-American playwright Katie Hae Leo’s smart, cutting social satire now up in a premiere in Minneapolis, a meddlesome character named Katie Leo (played by Katie Bradley) declares that she wants to speak for all adoptees. And she does, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Beckman’s Kim runs over Northwood for five TDs
OCVarsity

It turns out last week was just a warmup for Jeff Kim.

After rushing for 191 yards and two touchdowns last week against Woodbridge, Kim ran for 253 yards and five touchdowns Thursday in visiting Beckman’s 52-31 victory over Northwood in a Pacific Coast League game at Irvine High.

Kim, who was not allowed to play in three games because of undisclosed reasons and returned to action for the Woodbridge game, had 218 yards in the first half and scored four touchdowns in the second quarter.

For the season, Kim, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior, has rushed for 621 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Organizers Accused of Sexually Harassing Beauty Queens
Chosun Ilbo

Contestants of an international beauty pageant hosted by Korea were sexually harassed and offered places in the competition in exchange for sex, contestants claim.

Amy Willerton (19), who competed in the 2011 Miss Asia Pacific World in Korea from Oct. 1 to 15, was quoted by the Sun on Wednesday as saying, “I had two of the organisers sexually assault me — one tried to pull my top down.”

“Girls were pulled aside and told they knew what they had to do if they wanted to win — we all knew they meant sex,” Willerton said.

About 50 contestants participated in the pageant, the first of its kind, in Seoul, Daegu and Busan between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15. The top prize was US$20,000.

Contestants were put in a hotel without enough beds and fed just one meal per day, Willerton said. An optional “talent round” was won by Miss Venezuela, who had not even entered that section of the competition.

Latest hot Korean medical tour: Voice feminization surgery
CNNGo

A little over a decade ago, Dr. Kim Hyung-tae, 48, was your standard otolaryngologist, or a doctor specializing in ear, nose and throat.

Now he is being touted as the best in a highly specialized area — voice feminization surgery, which he developed while treating anemic patients at Catholic University Hospital in Seoul.

Initially devised as a way to combat the voice-deepening side effects of treating anemic female patients, voice feminization surgery is becoming increasingly sought after by transsexuals from overseas who fly in to specifically to receive this treatment, reported Joongang Ilbo today.

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Name released of victim in fatal Wednesday crash near Drummond
KBZK.com (Bozeman, Mont.)

Powell County authorities released the name of a man killed in a Wednesday morning crash on I-90 near Deer Lodge as Yun Seok Kang, 41, of Denver, Colorado.

A passenger car with two people hit an elk while traveling westbound in Powell County at around 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to Montana Highway patrol Trooper Tom Gill. Gill said after hitting the elk, the driver lost control of the vehicle, which then crossed the median into the eastbound lanes and hit a semi truck head-on.

Kang was a passenger in the car. The driver, a female, was taken to Deer Lodge by ambulance and then airlifted to a Great Falls hospital.

Student group raises awareness about North Korea
The Pitt News (Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Pitt’s chapter of Liberties in North Korea is a nonprofit student organization designed to break down those walls of silence.

“We raise awareness about not only the human-rights atrocities going on in North Korea, but also the refugee situation in China,” T.J. Collanto, president of Pitt’s Liberty in North Korea chapter, said.

Last year, former Pitt seniors Laura Lee and Jimmy Eppley launched the organization on campus. They devised a way to involve Pitt in the national organization after watching a documentary screening of the crisis in North Korea. Eppley is now a fifth-year senior and Lee has graduated, but the club’s message resonated with the people who joined.