College friends seek release of former University of Oregon student Kenneth Bae from North Korean prison
Friends and colleagues described Bae as a devout Christian from Washington state but based in the Chinese border city of Dalian who traveled frequently to North Korea to feed the country’s orphans.
“Knowing Kenneth from college, he’s such a warm-hearted person, I can’t imagine him breaking the law,’’ Kwon said, adding that it is possible Bae took photos of orphans begging for food: “He probably couldn’t walk away from what he saw.”
Since Sunday, Lee and Kwon have been calling friends as well as Oregon’s congressional delegation to see what can be done to release their old college buddy. They are working on a website to complement a Facebook page that went up in late December.
Why is North Korea cooling it?
After weeks of fiery rhetoric, military saber rattling and threats against the United States and South Korea, North Korea seems downright quiet and willing to dial back the tension.
Fears Kim Jong Un would test a long-range missile have given way to an easing of his daily war threats, and North Korea has produced a list of conditions for dialogue.
In exchange for returning talks, North Korea wants the lifting of U.N. sanctions, the end of the U.S.-South Korea military drills, the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear strike capabilities from the region and a halt on criticism of the North. It also wants a South Korean apology for offending its leadership.
Choco Pies offer North Koreans a taste of the other side
The Guardian (U.K.)
World leaders have tried aid, lectures, sanctions and engagement. But the long-term future of North Korea may be partly determined by a small, round, sugary snack from the South given as a reward to North Korean workers, say analysts.
“Choco Pies are an important mind-changing instrument,” said Andrei Lankov, author of The Real North Korea and a leading expert on the country.
“It has become a symbol of South Korean prosperity – and North Koreans read it. They are suffering and starving, but thanks to Choco Pies, DVDs and large-scale labour migration to China, people don’t buy the old story [that the South is even poorer] and the government does not sell it any more.”
New Student School Board Member Says, ‘Students Are the Largest Stakeholders’
Patch.com (Rockville, Md.)
Meet Justin Kim, junior at Poolesville High and an 18-year-old Gaithersburg native who will serve as student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education next year.
Kim was elected to the position with 65 percent of the student vote, Montgomery County Public Schools announced April 26. All secondary students in the system were eligible to participate in the election.
Patch spoke to Kim about what he hopes to achieve during his term and the challenges the school system faces.
ITV Studios America Ups True-Crime Producer John X. Kim
Veteran showrunner John X. Kim has been promoted to Senior Executive Producer, ITV Studios America. Kim is the co-creator and executive producer of the real-life homicide investigation series The First 48, now in its 15th season on A&E. He also exec produces After The First 48 and The Killer Speaks, both currently airing on A&E, and the upcoming The Mathis Project on BET.
Cho teaches K-pop that youth isn’t everything
The K-pop scene has long been dominated by sleek young talents in their teens or not far out of them. But youth is not a requirement as 63-year-old veteran singer Cho Yong-pil has proven.
Cho’s new single “Bounce” is a hit, as is his new “Hello” – which happens to be his 19th.
“Bounce” immediately reached No. 1 on nine local music charts, competing with Psy’s global hit “Gentleman.” Preorders for “Hello,” Cho’s first album in a decade, reached 20,000.
Hines Ward doesn’t ‘think football is ready’ for an openly gay player
Jason Collins decision to come out of the closet is a huge deal: Collins, despite being an NBA free agent, is the first active player in any major North American sport to be openly gay. It’s not illogical to believe that the NFL and MLB are next in line to accept an openly gay player.
However, former Steelers wideout Hines Ward doesn’t think that “football is ready” for an openly gay player just yet.
“I don’t think football is ready. There’s too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much,” Ward said on NBC Sports Radio via Pro Football Talk.
What a Bargain!: Shin-Soo Choo is a Steal for the 2013 Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds took a chance that other teams may not have taken when they converted right fielder Shin-Soo Choo to center field, where Choo had played all of 10 games in his eight years prior to 2013. Defensively, the move of Choo to center hasn’t been flawless (2 errors and other dicey moments), but his strong arm and sufficient range have made the gamble by the Reds to play Choo in center look acceptable.
Offensively, Choo has been worth his weight in gold as a leadoff hitter. Leading the majors in on-base percentage with enough pop in his bat to also rank within the Top 10 in MLB in on-base plus slugging is much more of a return on investment than the $3.875 million the Reds are paying Choo this year.
Chego Opens in Chinatown This Saturday
From Roy Choi’s Twitter feed, and I quote: “We don’t think anyone’s been as excited about Chego in Chinatown as us. And, well, maybe you. Which is why we’re sending you the invite. Finally. Ooey Gooey Fries and Chubby Pork Bellies shall be had once again…With maybe a little ping pong on the side. Trust. It shall be a Grand Opening that Far East Plaza shalt not soon forget.”
What: Chego reopens in Chinatown. Or, more stuff you’re probably wildly happy about. (See: The Dodgers, maybe. Trois Mec, maybe. Number 98.)
When: Sat. May 4, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Cocohodo: Korean Walnut Pastries In OC’s Koreatown
Usually, Asian trends start in LA and then migrate south to the smaller enclaves in Orange County. LA’s Koreatown is approximately a bazillion times larger than OC’s ever-expanding Koreatown, but that didn’t stop Cocohodo, a dessert maker whose name inspires Pavlovian drooling among a certain subset of young Koreans, from opening their first U.S. shop in Buena Park.
The little treats are so popular that there’s now a larger, more upscale-looking shop in Kaju Plaza at the northwest corner of Garden Grove Boulevard and Magnolia Street in Garden Grove, where the H-Mart is. You walk in and there is the usual menu of Asian tea drinks (boba, grain tea, etc.) and a display full of empty boxes.
North Korea’s former poet laureate to publish memoir in English
Los Angeles Times
Rider Publishing, a Random House imprint, acquired world rights to “Crossing the Border,” the memoirs of former North Korean State Poet Laureate Jang Jin-sung, the Guardian reports. In 2004, unable to reconcile his privileged position with the suffering endured by most North Koreans, Jang traveled to China on a pass and from there he found sympathizers who got him to South Korea.
Accounts of North Korea by insiders are rare. North Korean Kang Chol-hwan authored the prison camp memoir “The Aquariums of Pyongyang.” Barbara Demick’s “Nothing to Envy,” a National Book Award finalist, told of the hardships of ordinary life in North Korea as related by defectors living abroad.
Blakelock’s Ji Soo Choi headed to Juilliard to study violin
InsideHalton.com (Ontario, Canada)
Oakville’s Ji Soo Choi clearly has music in her veins. The young violinist is headed to Juilliard School in New York City where she will work on her bachelor’s degree in violin this coming school year.
“I’m really excited. It’s something that also my mom dreamed of and is something that I really wanted to do. Juilliard is such a big name,” Choi said.
The 18-year-old T.A. Blakelock High School student has been playing violin since the age of three. She takes lessons through the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) and practices a minimum of six hour a day, this on top of the time she spends in music class at Blakelock. She’s also the concertmaster for the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.
North Korea Threatens to Restart Nuclear Reactor
New York Times
North Korea said on Tuesday that it would put all its nuclear facilities — including its operational uranium-enrichment program and its reactors mothballed or under construction — to use in expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal, sharply raising the stakes in the escalating standoff with the United States and its allies.
The announcement by the North’s General Department of Atomic Energy came two days after the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said his nuclear weapons were not a bargaining chip and called for expanding his country’s nuclear arsenal in “quality and quantity” during a meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.
The decision will affect the role of the North’s uranium-enrichment plant in its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of the capital, Pyongyang, a spokesman for the nuclear department told the Korean Central News Agency. It was the first time North Korea said it would use the plant to make nuclear weapons. Since first unveiling it to a visiting American scholar in 2010, North Korea had insisted that it was running the plant to make reactor fuel to generate electricity, though Washington suggested that its purpose was to make bombs.
U.S. says no unusual military move in N. Korea, diplomacy still possible
The White House said Monday the deployment of advanced warplanes such as B-2 bombers and F-22 stealth fighters to the Korean Peninsula has helped decrease the possibility of a North Korean miscalculation or provocation.
“We believe this has reduced the chance of miscalculation and provocation,” press secretary Jay Carney said at a press briefing.
The U.S. has not seen any unusual military action by North Korea despite its near-daily threats to attack the U.S. and its regional allies, he added.
Samore: NK leader at crossroads between conflict, peace overture
After weeks of bellicose statements, North Korea’s next steps remain uncertain as it has come under heavy pressure from Beijing to stop escalating tensions, a former senior White House official said Monday.
“We will see whether Pyongyang listens to what Beijing says or whether they decide to proceed with additional actions,” Gary Samore, who served as President Barack Obama’s key aide on arms control and nonproliferation, told Yonhap News Agency after a forum hosted by the Brookings Institution. “We’re all waiting to see whether Kim Jong-un now goes into the peace offensive mode or continues with provocation.”
Samore warned that the North Koreans are putting themselves in a “very dangerous situation” where the future of their relationship with South Korea’s Park Geun-hye administration and their ties with China are at stake.
Japan Reacts to North Korea’s Nuclear Plans
Wall Street Journal
The biggest danger from North Korea’s plan to restart an idled nuclear reactor may not be the weapons program it’s supposed to supply, Japanese analysts say, but rather the accident that the decrepit plant, closed since 2007, could suffer.
Pyongyang’s state news agency revealed Tuesday that the reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear plant would be restarted to produce both electricity and material for atomic bombs.
“It is an old graphite reactor, and you’ve got to really think about the risks if you’re going to restart something as old as that,” said Shizuoka University professor Hajime Izumi. “Even if Japan gets rid of nuclear power plants, China, Korea and now North Korea are looking to increase their dependence on nuclear. That means any accident would directly impact Japan.”
Don’t blame Korean culture for Oikos massacre
I still remember the bodies of the slain laying in a neat row under yellow police tarps on a grassy median in front of Oikos University. They were nursing students and an employee of the Korean Christian-based school in Oakland whose lives had been snuffed out in an instant by a former student with a gun.
Before the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., and the elementary school slaughter in Newtown, Conn., we had our Bay Area version of the national mass shooting madness. Six people who were studying to be nurses and one school employee were fatally shot.
In January, an Alameda County Superior Court judge found the accused shooter One Goh, a Korean immigrant who is a naturalized citizen, mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Foreign adoption comes with obstacles, but parents advised to ‘stay the course’
Even the media can have an impact. Stories critical of South Korea’s adoption system in 1988, the year it hosted the Olympics, led to a temporary suspension of adoptions.
Or, Americans are their own worst enemies, said Jan Wondra, chair of FRUA INC., or Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption Including Neighboring Countries.
“Some Americans go (to another country) making demands, saying things that offend them and viewing adoption as their right, not a privilege,” she said.
Get Yer Yeah Yeah Yeahs Out
New York Times Magazine
No one saw the show apart from a handful of friends and, according to Zinner, “a lone English guy.” But it quickly took on mythic proportions. (The headliner that night was the White Stripes, who ended up crashing at Karen O’s apartment over a Ukranian diner on Avenue A.) Within the year, it became clear that a scene was forming. The White Stripes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, along with bands like the Strokes and Interpol — the so-called Class of 2001 — would emerge as leaders of a global rock revival.
Karen O, whose real name is Orzolek, was the most intriguing face of this movement.
‘Long way from the football field’
Triathlete.com via ESPN.com
When Hines Ward stepped across the finish line at the Seal Sprint III Triathlon on Coronado Island on March 17, he breathlessly remarked, “It’s a long way from the football field, I’ll tell you that.”
The former wide receiver, who retired in 2011, was wearing his NFL number, 86, on his triathlon bib. He had just completed a 500-meter swim, a 20-kilometer bike ride and a 6K run, the first major milestone in his road to the 2013 Ironman World Championship as part of the Become One program. The program entails Ward and three other amateur athletes racing on the biggest stage in triathlon, the Hawaii Ironman, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile ride and 26.2-mile run.
To get Ward and the three other athletes (Eric McElvenny, Chrisann Dalton and Josh Kalb) across the finish line, Become One enlisted the coaching services of Paula Newby-Fraser, who has won the Ironman World Championship a record eight times, earning her the nickname “Queen of Kona.” Her main goals are to get Ward to the Ironman start line this October uninjured and fit enough to finish the race before the 17-hour cutoff. But just three months ago, she was starting to have some doubts.
Q&A DAVID CHANG: Momofuku chef talks food, film and family
Globe and Mail (Canada)
David Chang, the chef behind the Momofuku restaurant empire (including three in Toronto: Noodle Bar, Daisho and Shoto), will be in town this week for the second season of TIFF’s Food on Film series, where he’ll be guest speaker at a screening of Ang Lee’s 1994 film Eat Drink Man Woman.
The Globe spoke to Mr. Chang before the screening, where he talked about why he thinks Eat Drink Man Woman is the best food movie ever, how he’s settling into Toronto so far, and why, despite his two Michelin stars, you might easily bump into him at Subway in the middle of the night.
What it Means to Be Oppa, Unnie, Hyung, Noona (Older in Korea)
Oppa (오빠) = Older male (to females) | Unnie (언니) = Older female (to females)
Hyung (형) = Older male (to males) | Noona (누나) = Older female (to males)
Depending on where you’re from, the saying “age ain’t nothing but a number” might ring true. But in Korea, it’s a BIG number. Knowing someone’s age will instantly let people know where they stand on the super hierarchical Korean respect scale. Instantly, they’ll know how to act, how to speak and how to listen.
But to first understand this post properly, you’ll have to know your Korean age. Koreans calculate age by birth year. And this means even if you’re only 1 month older than someone, but born in a different year (i.e. December 1987 vs January 1988), you’re still considered older! Just think of January 1st as a line that isn’t crossed; you’re either on one side or the other.
S. Korea, U.S. to conduct annual joint military drills next month
South Korea and the United States will stage their annual joint military drills next month, the Combined Forces Command (CFC) said Thursday, amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea’s recent nuclear test.
The computer-based simulation, called Key Resolve, will be held from March 11-25 to improve the combined forces’ operation and combat capabilities to deter threats from the North, the CFC said.
The two-week war game will also involve about 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 American troops to test various scenarios in which South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff plays a leading role in conducting operations. Such practice is needed as Seoul prepares to regain its wartime operational control (OPCON) from Washington at the end of 2015.
South Korean ambassador stresses trade over might
Orange County Register (Calif.)
South Korea’s prosperity over the last 60 years is directly connected to its alliance with the United States, specifically the trade archetype America has brought to South Korea.
That was the message of Y.J. Choi, ambassador to the United States from South Korea, who addressed a crowd of 100 dignitaries, students and community members Wednesday at Cal State Fullerton.
“America’s exceptionalism has made Korea what she is today,” Choi said to start his speech.
Reformer Michelle Rhee has advice for state’s schools
The former chancellor of Washington, D.C., schools, Michelle Rhee, told a Town Hall Seattle audience Tuesday night that adults devote too much time to making children feel good about themselves.
Chiwan Choi: Los Angeles, Writ Large
Each week, Jeremy Rosenberg (@LosJeremy) asks, “How did you – or your family before you – wind up living in Los Angeles?”
This week we hear from Chiwan Choi, writer, teacher and the editor & publisher of Writ Large Press
“My family came to L.A. at the end of March 1980. That included me, my brother and my mom and dad. We came from Paraguay, in South America. We lived there for five years, until I turned 10.
A South Korean City Full of Food, History and Bargains
New York Times
There are two phrases to learn if you visit Jeonju, a 650,000-person city – and a paradise for Korean food-lovers — three hours by bus south of Seoul.
First is “Hyundai-ok odi innayo?” — “Where is Hyundai-ok?” – a reference to a tiny restaurant famed for its kongnamul guk, or bean sprout soup, but nearly impossible to find in the labyrinthine bowels of Nambu Market.
The second is “Kamsa hamnida,” or “thank you,” the inevitable response to whichever generous soul drops what he’s doing and leads you to Hyundai-ok, past stalls of frozen fish and fresh fungi and down narrow passageways stacked with empty boxes and piles of dirty dishes.
Daniel Dae Kim brings “Hold These Truths” to Honolulu
You might know Daniel Dae Kim as a Hawaii Five-O actor, but this month he is taking on the role of producer, bringing an off-Broadway play from New York to Honolulu.
The play is entitled “Hold These Truths,” inspired by the true story of Japanese American Gordon Hirabayashi who fought the U.S. government’s order to send all Japanese people on the West Coast to internment camps. This month marks the 70th anniversary of Japanese internment in World War II.
Kim was inspired to bring the production to Hawaii after watching his close friend Joel de la Fuente perform in the show and says he was deeply moved.
‘Top Chef Seattle’ recap: Kristen Kish out of Last Chance Kitchen and into the finale fire
Kentwood, Michigan’s Kristen Kish is back where she belongs and battling in the finale for title of Top Chef. But is it a case of “Out of the Last Chance Kitchen and into the fire?” I don’t want to jump too far ahead so let’s get to a quick recap of last night’s action.
Hines Ward preparing to tackle Ironman
Pittsburgh Steelers great Hines Ward loves a challenge.
So imagine what happened when the future Hall of Fame wide receiver, who retired in 2011, was asked to train for October’s Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, and to document it in an online series.
Partnering with Refuel’s “Got Chocolate Milk” campaign, the 36-year-old Ward has been training since November for the 140.6-mile triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a 26.2-mile marathon.
NKorea’s Kim issues ‘important’ guidelines on how to bolster the army and protect sovereignty
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued “important” guidelines on how to bolster the army and protect the nation’s sovereignty at a high-level ruling Workers’ Party meeting, state media said Sunday, an indication that Pyongyang may be ready to conduct an atomic test anytime.
North Korea said last month that it would conduct its third nuclear test to protest international sanctions toughened over its long-range rocket launch in December. The U.S., South Korea and other countries have urged the North to scrap its nuclear test plans or face grave consequences.
SKorea envoy says NKorea nuke test seems imminent
AP via Google News
South Korea’s U.N. ambassador said Monday a North Korean nuclear test “seems to be imminent.”
Ambassador Kim Sook said there are “very busy activities” taking place at North Korea’s nuclear test site “and everybody’s watching.”
Kim told a press conference that in the event of a nuclear test, he expects the U.N. Security Council to respond with “firm and strong measures.”
Michelle Rhee Gets an Education
New York Times Magazine
In your new book, “Radical,” you recount that while growing up in a Korean-American household in Toledo, if your brother brought home a bad grade, your mother would ground you, not him. Can you explain her thinking?
My mother is a very traditional Korean mom. I grew up with clear roles as the girl of the family, and one of them was being responsible for my brothers and specifically to make sure my younger brother was doing well in school. Korean culture is very lenient on boys.
Attending a North Korean school … in Japan
On the surface, it resembles just about any other high school in Japan — or any high school in most places around the world.
Students sit quietly studying math, science and English; some struggle to stay focused, looking at the clock and waiting for the bell to ring. When the school day ends, some move out to the sports fields for rugby or soccer practice, while others study music in emptying hallways.
What makes this school different is the pictures of two men scattered throughout the building — portraits of North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung and previous leader Kim Jong Il.
‘Gangnam Style’ Reaches N.Korea
Not even North Korea has been spared the global phenomenon that is “Gangnam Style.” The Chosun Ilbo has footage of North Koreans watching a video of rapper Psy’s smash hit.
Caleb Mission, which supports North Korean defectors, acquired the video while trying to find out how South Korean entertainment plays in the North. The mission, along with the Chosun Ilbo, gathered information in a Chinese border city last month.
The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun on Glenn’s changing role as the prison and Woodbury collide
Channel Guide Magazine
CGM: Was the roar you let loose after freeing yourself and killing the zombie Merle [Michael Rooker] sicced on you at Woodbury a thesis statement for who Glenn has become this season?
Steven Yeun: You know, that scream actually wasn’t scripted — that just came out of the scene. Dan Sackheim, who was our director for that episode, gave me free rein in that moment to just play. I was kicking stuff over and falling and picking myself back up and it was so crazy and intense. And finally, once that actual hit happened, my only reaction was to just let it out. So, yeah, you could call it a thesis statement, but I don’t think Glenn is done growing. Glenn is still very much a young man — and when traumatic things like that happen, sometimes with youth you kind of overstep your boundaries, as well. I think people will be interested to see how far he takes this.
Small roles, powerful performances
Los Angeles Times
Moon Bloodgood: Vera, “The Sessions”
Moon Bloodgood may be familiar to audiences for starring roles in “Terminator Salvation” and TNT’s “Falling Skies,” but in “The Sessions,” she’s almost unrecognizable — and she couldn’t be happier. As Vera, the caregiver for polio-stricken Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes), the stunning actress is stripped of all glamour, “hair pulled back, wearing funky clothes, and I tried to walk in a really frumpy way,” she says.
“It was so nice to play someone who didn’t have to look pretty in front of the camera. You get to be loose and real and relaxed.”
Fresh Footage From Community’s Changlorious Return
The more things change — or Chang, if you will — the more they stay the same. However, Community, which (finally) launches its fourth season this Thursday (NBC, 8/7c), is about to turn that adage on its head with the not-so-triumphant return of Ken Jeong‘s Ben Chang.
Last seen living in the vents of the dastardly City College, the onetime troublemaker returns to Greendale early in Season 4 — but, alas, he’s no longer Chang. Instead, the character is suffering from — dun, dun, dun! — Changnesia and goes by the name Kevin.
Reality Check: Hines Ward is still cooking
A particular joy in Food Network’s “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off” (Sundays) is knowing that the two remaining contestants who are not self-proclaimed, gotta-win-it foodies have done well so far.
Until this week. Low-key Hines Ward continues to turn out some of the most-liked plates. In this week’s episode, he managed to create some nicely done quesadillas and miniature cupcakes.
Rogge confident Pyeongchang will overcome debt obstacle
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge is confident Pyeongchang will host a successful Winter Olympics in 2018 despite fears that preparations could suffer as the South Korean town battles mounting debts.
Figure skater Kim Yu-na to perform with Michelle Kwan in Special Olympics closing ceremony
South Korean figure skating star Kim Yu-na will perform with her idol, Michelle Kwan of the U.S., in the closing ceremony of the Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, organizers said Monday.
Concert to commemorate Korean immigration to isles
Honolulu Star Advertiser
The Korean American Foundation Hawaii is commemorating the 110th anniversary of Korean immigration to the islands with a concert, “Seulgidoong: Korean Rhapsody,” at 7 p.m., March 2, at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. An 11-person ensemble will merge traditional Korean music with a contemporary style.
How to travel to North Korea
You would think with tension so high, the isolated state would be off-limits to tourists. But it’s not. Here’s how to get in and the best times to go
Man Hurt as Samsung Phone Explodes in Pants Pocket
Another Galaxy smartphone has exploded and injured its owner. Bupyeong Fire Station in Incheon on Sunday said a 55-year-old man reported the previous day that his smartphone battery blew up in the pocket of his pants.
North Korean Leader Vows ‘High-Profile’ Retaliation Over New U.N. Sanctions
New York Times
Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has ordered his top military and party officials to take “substantial and high-profile important state measures” to retaliate against American-led United Nations sanctions on the country, the North’s official media reported Sunday.
North Korea did not clarify what those measures might be, but it referred to a series of earlier statements in which Mr. Kim’s government has threatened to launch more long-range rockets and conduct a third nuclear test to build an ability to “target” the United States.
Absence of N.K. leader’s uncle sparks speculation over internal power game
The absence of Jang Song-thaek, uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at a key national security meeting may be a sign of a renewed power game inside the reclusive communist nation’s leadership, a U.S. expert said Sunday.
Jang, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, did not attend the meeting of top North Korean officials handling security and foreign affairs, in which Kim ordered “substantial and high-profile important state measures,” according to Pyongyang’s official media.
Kim recently convened the meeting, viewed as North Korea’s equivalent of the U.S. National Security Council, to discuss the impact of new U.N. sanctions imposed on his regime for the Dec. 12 rocket launch and Pyongyang’s response. The North’s media stopped short of specifying the date and venue for the meeting.
South Korea’s new leader, Park Geun-hye, was pushed onto political stage by tragedy
The first major tragedy in Park Geun-hye’s life was a shooting that took place at the National Theater in downtown Seoul nearly 40 years ago. She didn’t even witness it. She was studying in Grenoble, France, at the foot of the Alps, when she got a worried call from the South Korean Embassy. The official didn’t give any specifics.
“The person only said that something had happened to my mother,” Park wrote in her 2007 memoir, “and that I needed to return home.”
The details that Park would soon learn redirected her life suddenly and irreversibly, ending her hopes of becoming a professor, flinging her for the first time into the public spotlight, and setting her on a course that would lead to the nation’s top office, the presidency, a job into which she’ll be sworn next month.
South Korea files motion in Cook County to stop adoption
An Evanston couple accused of circumventing South Korea’s adoption procedures have temporary care of a baby girl while they continue to fight for her permanent custody in state and federal courts.
On Thursday, the South Korean government filed a motion to intervene in adoption proceedings that were initiated by Jinshil and Christopher Duquet in Cook County Circuit Court, said Donald Schiller, a lawyer representing South Korea.
“Korea wants to protect its citizen,” Schiller said. “There is no more vulnerable citizen than an infant child that has been illegally taken out of the country. The U.S. wouldn’t stand for it if it happened here, and Korea is not going to stand for it.”
Police search for suspect in attacks on Asian-Americans
Fox News New York
The NYPD has identified the man they believe is responsible for a series of brutal attacks on Asian Americans in Manhattan.
“(In) the eight robberies and assaults, all of the victims were Asian. All were struck- nose broken, teeth broken; money and cell phones were taken,” NYPD Cmsr. Ray Kelly told Good Day New York on Monday.
Kelly showed viewers a photo of Jason Commisso. The suspect has a long rap sheet including more than 30 arrests, said Kelly.
Commisso allegedly targeted Asian-Americans in East Harlem and parts of the Upper East Side since January 17th.
Michelle Rhee just getting started on shaping California education policy
Michelle Rhee put the nation’s education establishment on alert two years ago when she announced she would form an advocacy group focused on thwarting the power of teachers unions in state and local politics.
The former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor already had a national reputation as a change agent, unafraid of angering teachers and principals in her drive to improve schools serving the neediest children.
Rhee, now married to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, set up StudentsFirst’s headquarters in California’s capital and chose the Golden State as one of 17 she would target.
Celebration connects children to Korean heritage
The Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, N.Y.)
As she’s grown older, Hilary Short has become more and more grateful that her adoptive parents offered her so many opportunities to connect with her Korean heritage — opportunities that not every Korean adoptee she’s encountered has shared.
“It’s hard when you’re adopted and you have two Caucasian parents that don’t really pass that down to you,” said Short, 28, of Brighton. “I think that it keeps you connected, and then maybe you don’t have that identity crisis that some other adoptees have.”
Some of Short’s best memories come from the Korean camps and schools she attended as a youth, and with children of her own now, she wants to make sure that they have the same chance to connect with their roots. So she volunteers with Love the Children of Rochester, a support group for parents who have adopted Korean children. On Saturday, the group held an advance celebration of the Lunar New Year, which is on Feb. 10.
Early Facebook Employees Launch Foundation To Promote Asian American Artists
After helping Facebook become one of the most popular destinations on the Internet, three of the social network’s early employees now have a more benevolent mission in mind. Phil Fung, Julia Lam, and Franklyn Chien launched the A3 Foundation (Asian American Artists), which is focused on promoting and supporting the talents of Asian Americans in television, film, and online digital media. This week, the A3 Foundation partnered with the Sundance Institute to give their vision a new stage.
Fung was recruited to Facebook while he was a graduate student at Stanford University. He still works for the company as an engineering manager on Facebook’s mobile team. Fung walked out of class one day to find Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg holding a sign that said, “Work for Facebook.” Not long after, Fung got an interview and left school to start working for Facebook.
Lam joined Facebook after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles. She worked on many high-impact developer marketing initiatives such as fbFund, the Facebook Developer Garage program, Facebook Presence, and the f8 Developer Conference. Currently, Lam is the co-founder of Optimistic Labs, a startup integrating social good through mobile, as well as an advisor at her alma mater.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O is proud of her Korean roots
Straits Times (Singapore)
Art-punk trio Yeah Yeah Yeah’s feisty frontwoman Karen O says that growing up as a half-Asian kid in New Jersey made her what she is today.
Born Karen Lee Orzolek in South Korea to a Korean mother and a Polish father, the 34-year-old tells Life! in a telephone interview from Los Angeles: “I felt like an outsider, definitely. But I think I enjoyed being an outsider. In my art, I like doing what other people don’t do and I get inspired by doing the opposite of the trend.”
She is proud of how K-pop is making an impact on the global music industry.
Asian-American Sung Kang, from ‘Fast Five’ to ‘Bullet to the Head’
GMA News (Philippines)
Coming into the project, Kang says that he was excited about the opportunity to work with both Stallone and director Walter Hill. “I pretty much grew up watching Sylvester Stallone movies. One of the first movies my father took me to was ‘Rocky.’ So getting to work with him was a pretty amazing experience, definitely one of those things on my bucket list,” he smiles. “And from the get-go, Walter Hill was so open to ideas; he was such an ally for me as an actor in that respect.”
Crime Stopper: Interview with The Mentalist’s Tim Kang
The Morton Report
When he is not chasing after criminals on The Mentalist, the actor keeps busy working on some projects of his own. “I started a production company last year called One Shoot Films [OSF], and we’re in the process of finishing up our first short film,” enthuses Kang. “It turned out really well and we’ll be entering it into [film] festivals within the next couple of months.
“Next up, I’m planning to shoot a feature film with the production company and work with other production companies and filmmakers to come up with our own content. Our goal is to go back to that quality I spoke of when I did that play with Janos. We want to tell stories that are, of course, entertaining, and at the same time give the work a little more attention that we typically don’t have the time to give it.
Check out KoreAm’s September 2011 cover story on Tim Kang.
Korean film on 1948 Jeju massacre wins main prize at Sundance
A Korean film about the Jeju Island massacre in Korea in 1948 has won the prize for best foreign film at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival, one of the world’s most authoritative indie film festivals.
“Jiseul,” directed by O Muel claimed the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic world cinema Saturday (on U.S. MST) at the Sundance Awards in Park City, Utah, making it the first Korean film to win a main prize at the festival.
In Hollywood, as in the NBA, Asian-Americans Are Still Rare
Asian-Americans were tagged years ago as the “new Jews” because of their disproportionate degree of academic success and their prominence in the medical profession. But one area of American life where Asian-Americans have not successfully followed in the footsteps of their Jewish peers is the film industry. As Neal Gabler memorably documented in An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, Jewish immigrants largely created the American film industry, by starting studios like Universal, 20th Century Fox, and Paramount.
Whereas, not all that long ago, Hua Hsu described Wayne Wang’s 1982 film Chan Is Missing as “still the pinnacle of Asian-American filmmaking.” Attending Sundance this year I saw nothing likely to unseat it.
But there was, at least, Linsanity, a documentary that is itself about a sort of Asian-American exception.
Hines Ward to appear as zombie on ‘Walking Dead’
“It was an amazing experience,” said Mr. Ward, who will be a zombie extra when AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” returns to haunt Sunday nights Feb. 10. “Just being in makeup preparing me for my role was cool. I actually scared myself when I looked in the mirror for the first time after.”
IronE Singleton, the actor who played the character T-Dog — played being the operative word, as poor T-Dog went out in a blaze of glory a few months back, saving one of his friends in a zombie attack — attended the University of Georgia on academic and football scholarships.
Hines Ward honored with Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award
It would at first glance seem odd to honor Hines Ward with the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award when much of his life is ahead of him.
Ward is 36 and just one year into what Chuck Noll would call his life’s work. Yet his first life was so filled with achievement that it deserves some recognition.
Where do we start? Most prolific receiver in Steelers history, Super Bowl MVP, two-time Super Bowl champ, top eight in receptions in NFL history, three-time Steelers MVP, first Korean-American Super Bowl winner, a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and “Dancing With The Stars” champion, among others.
Two adoptees return for Special Olympics, hoping to meet biological parents
The upcoming Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, a South Korean alpine town, will be a homecoming of sorts for two American athletes.
Henry Meece, who will take part in snowboarding, and Tae Hemsath, who will compete in snowshoeing, are both South Korean adoptees representing their adopted home from Jan. 29-Feb. 5 at the sporting competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
This is the first trip to South Korea for both since they left the country years ago. Meece, 23, was adopted when he was six months old and grew up in Portland, Oregon. Hemsath, 37, grew up in New York after getting adopted in 1978.
Beverly’s Pak the Toughest Mudder of them all for a second straight year
The Salem News (Mass.)
Junyong Pak proved that winning the World’s Toughest Mudder championship last year was no fluke by going out and doing in again. The 34-year-old Beverly resident won the 24-hour nonstop endurance event last month at Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.
Any tough mudder competition is not for the faint of heart. It requires mental and physical toughness along with stamina, strength and fitness under extremely challenging conditions. The 100-mile course over 30 military-style obstacles at Englishtown was designed by British Special Forces to test even the most superbly conditioned athlete.
When he won the inaugural event a year ago, Pak took home $10,000, but this time the prize money was increased to $15,000.
South Korea helps young emigrate, Singapore wants them back
Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
Times are hard for young job seekers in South Korea. So hard, in fact, that the government is now helping them find work overseas.
The real unemployment rate among South Korea’s twentysomethings is 20 percent, so the government is searching abroad for 30,000 internships and 50,000 jobs for its beleaguered youth.
French Deputy Minister to Visit Land of Her Birth
France’s Korean-born deputy minister for small business and digital economy will visit Korea in March for the first time since she was adopted by a French family 40 years ago.
Born in August 1973, Fleur Pellerin was found on the streets of Seoul when she was three or four days old and sent to an orphanage. She was adopted six months later.