South Korea Dethroned for World’s Fastest Internet
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 23rd, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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It is well known that South Korea is the world’s most wired country. Blazing fast Internet speeds while you’re traveling underground on the subway is more of a right than a privilege.

But in terms of the fastest average peak speeds, South Korea was recently ousted from the top spot by Hong Kong, according to a report to be published later today by Akamai Technologies.

Bloomberg got its hands on the report early and said South Korea’s bandwidth has been strained by the massive popularity of online gaming. Damn you, Starcraft! Continue Reading »

Monday’s Link Attack: Korea Snubs Japan’s Dokdo Protest; K-pop; Yahoo Leaves Korea
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: December 31st, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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S. Korea snubs Japan’s protest over Dokdo
Yonhap News

South Korea has rejected a protest by Japan over Seoul’s annual defense report that reaffirms its bid to protect the easternmost islets of Dokdo, a senior official said Monday.

Japan recently sent the South Korean government an official letter protesting the defense white paper that made clear Seoul’s sovereignty over Dokdo, which Tokyo has also claimed as its own.

In a rebuttal letter to Japan, South Korea reiterated that, “Dokdo is an integral part of Korean territory historically, geographically, and under international law,” the foreign ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

Drones for South Korea [EDITORIAL]
New York Times

Less than a month after North Korea’s latest missile test, the Obama administration has offered to sell South Korea advanced spy drones so it can keep a closer eye on its northern adversary. The decision raises some concerns, and Congress would be wise to ask a lot of questions before going along, including whether the deal is part of a comprehensive strategy or just a way to penalize North Korea.

The proposed $1.2 billion sale of four Global Hawks made by Northrop Grumman was first requested by South Korea several years ago. The drones, remotely piloted aircraft with enhanced surveillance technology, would expand South Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities when it takes over wartime control of its troops from the United States in 2015, as previously agreed. The United States has held wartime command since the Korean War; the Seoul government regained peacetime control of its military in 1994.

2013: Asia’s Time?

The most consequential developments will take place in China. Xi Jinping will assume the presidency in March. But as the Communist Party’s leader, he is already the most powerful person in the country. How will he lead? The early signs are promising. After his election, Xi’s first official visit outside Beijing took him to Shenzhen. It was a carefully considered choice. Shenzhen is a “special economic zone” – a poster child for China’s economic reforms. While there, Xi made a point of laying a wreath at a bronze statue of Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s fiscal reforms in the 1980s. The symbolism was clear: it is time once again for a bend in the road.

Yahoo exits S. Korea, halts service
Yonhap News

U.S. Internet company Yahoo Inc. on Monday halted its South Korean service, pulling out of one of the world’s most wired countries after 15 years.

Yahoo will halt all products, services and content of Yahoo Korea starting Dec. 31 in addition to ending customer support in Korea on the same day, the company wrote on its Korean Web site.

In October, Yahoo announced a plan to pull out of South Korea as chief executive officer Marissa Mayer focuses more on stronger markets.

State Senate chooses Donna Kim as new president
Honolulu Star-Advertiser

The state Senate has reorganized behind Sen. Donna Mercado Kim as the new Senate president.

Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa) succeeds Shan Tsutsui, who accepted the post as lieutenant governor on Thursday.

“We are solidified in dealing with the pressing issues facing our state,” Kim said in a statement. “The Senate continues to be organized in a cooperative and focused manner. I’m humbled to receive the confidence and support of my colleagues.”

Person of the Year: Chubby You-Know-Who
Wall Street Journal

On New Year’s Eve 2011, Park Jae-sang probably shared a bottle—or seven—of soju with friends while celebrating his 35th birthday (he was born on Dec. 31, 1977).

This year, he’ll be one of the headline acts performing in New York’s Times Square.

What a year it’s been for Mr. Park, aka Psy, the undisputed person of the year in a poll of the staff of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones in Seoul.

Year in Ideas: What a Korean rapper taught us about pop culture today
National Post (Canada)

The video for Gangnam Style, the unlikely hit from South Korean rapper/fancy dresser Psy, has been viewed on YouTube more than one billion times since June. Of these, half a billion involved people watching it so they could memorize the moves for their own Gangnam Style parody and a quarter billion that involved curious watchers who, at the end of four minutes and 13 seconds, were left baffled as to how that song became the most-watched internet video of all time. (These are estimates only.)

But aside from the fact that people still seem to get a kick out of bow ties, the Gangnam phenomenon says something about how we experience culture in an internet world. Just don’t expect Psy to be a big deal in 2013, too.

Korea Counts Down Not Just To New Year, But to New Girls’ Album
Wall Street Journal

There have been so many countdowns in South Korea over the past couple months that hardly a day went by without the “D-some number” in the corner of a TV screen. There was the annual countdown to the college entrance exam in November, then came the one for the presidential election, the end of civilization under the Mayan calendar and the end of 2012.

But anyone recently looking at South Korean entertainment news – online, on the air or in print – knows that one countdown has been dominating the scene for the few weeks: the one for the new album from Girls’ Generation.

Seoul searching: on the trail of the K-pop phenomenon
The Guardian (U.K.)

The K-pop phenomenon, spearheaded by that song, has put South Korea’s capital, Seoul, in the spotlight. We visit Gangnam to find out what all the fuss is about

The Color of K-Pop: HyunA, Yo Seob and K-Pop All-Stars Unite for Charity Singles

The holiday season in the K-pop world signifies the coming of the SBS Gayo Daejun — the end-of-year broadcast special in South Korea where celebrities come together for special performances and collaborations.

2012 marks a particularly special year as members from some of K-pop’s biggest groups will create four super idol groups, record a new single, and perform it together at SBS Gayo Daejeon. All the better, all the proceeds will go to children of low-income families through the charity Dream Orchestra.

Nebraska OL Choi draws inspiration from Hines Ward
Athens Banner-Herald (Ga.)

There would typically be no reason for a starting offensive lineman for Nebraska to feel a connection to a player who finished his college career at Georgia 15 years ago.

Seung Hoon Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea, like former Bulldogs star Hines Ward. Choi didn’t know about Ward, the now retired Super Bowl MVP receiver, until Choi began playing football as a sophomore at Christian High School in Lincoln.

“I followed him,” said Choi, a senior who started all 13 games at left guard this year. “He’s a big-timer in Seoul. I followed him quite a bit. I heard he was thinking about going to Nebraska, too.”

Young Male Skater Hopes to Follow in Kim Yu-na’s Tracks
Chosun Ilbo

Olympic champion Kim Yu-na’s rise to the pinnacle of world figure skating has spawned a generation of talented young skaters with stars in their eyes.

Kim Hae-jin and Park So-youn have both started making it onto the podium at international competitions as they aspire to become the next Kim Yu-na.

And now the country has a promising young male skater in the form of 16-year-old Kim Jin-seo, who won a bronze medal at the International Skating Union-sanctioned Junior Grand Prix in Austria in September.

Kwon Receives All-County and All-State Honors (subscription req’d)

Andy Kwon, a senior offensive lineman at North Gwinnett High School (GA), wraps up his high school career on Saturday as an All-State selection in Columbus. Kwon discusses his accomplishments and his commitment to Georgia Southern.

Singer Lee So-eun Passes U.S. Bar Exam
Chosun Ilbo

Singer Lee So-eun recently passed the U.S. bar exam, offering an alternative role model for Korean youngsters who regard becoming a celebrity as the be-all and end-all of existence.

For Lee, going to law school was not an escape from a flagging musical career. She has released four albums since debuting in 1998, when she was just in high school. Lee spent her childhood in the U.S. and had difficulty adjusting to school back to Korea. Then she happened to hear about an audition on education broadcaster EBS and entered it. She made it to the finals with a piece she composed by herself.

Korean-American novelist uses Macalester as backdrop for ‘The Collective’
Minnesota Public Radio

The Korean-American novelist Don Lee’s latest book “The Collective” uses Macalester College in St. Paul as a launching point for a tale about the Asian-American experience. Lee said of his four books so far, “The Collective” is his most personal.

“The Collective” begins with the suicide of Joshua Yoon, a young writer on the verge of making it big. The news leaves his once-close group of college friends reeling.

Entrepreneur Ben Huh’s Reality Show Set to Launch
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: September 24th, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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Emily Huh. Photo via

A new reality TV show centered around a Korean American will make its debut on Nov. 5 on Bravo, the cable channel announced last week.

“LOLwork” follows Ben Huh, founder of a Seattle-based company behind the popular cat meme and humor website, and his quirky staff, which includes his wife Emily.

A press release issued by Bravo describes the 30-minute show as a “doc-com” and some scenes in the brief previews do sort of resemble an episode of “The Office,” right down to the deadpan confessionals. With the highly coveted time slot of Wednesdays at 11 p.m., you may be too sleepy to check out the premiere but you can be sure Bravo will air it 30 more times later in the week.

Check out a preview after the jump: Continue Reading »

New Reality Show to Focus on Korean American Entrepreneur
Author: Emily Kim
Posted: April 13th, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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A new reality TV show on Bravo will feature the goings-on of a wacky Korean American entrepreneur and his equally wacky staff, the cable channel recently announced.

The show, tentatively called Huh?, will spotlight Seattle-based Ben Huh, founder of the popular website I Can Has Cheezburger.

The Huh? reality series will be produced by RelativityREAL with Tom Forman, Jay Blumenfield, and Tony Marsh as executive producers, according to Continue Reading »

Monday’s Link Attack: Steven Yeun, Miss Korea, Erotic Garden
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: November 7th, 2011
Filed Under: BLOG
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Steven Yeun: ‘The Walking Dead’ aims for my groin

“It seems like ‘The Walking Dead’ just kind of aims for my groin,” Steven Yeun, who spent the latest episode dangling inches above a water-bloated zombie in a well, tells

‘Walking Dead’ Creator Talks Steamy Sex Scene

This week’s episode finally turned up the heat and gave us a whole lot of flesh — but not the kind “Walking Dead” heads are typically used to.

We’re talking, of course, about the steamy sex scene between go-to odd-jobs man Glenn (Steven Yeun) and newcomer Maggie (Lauren Cohan), daughter of farmer Hershel Greene. After Glenn successfully roped in an incredibly gruesome zombie at the bottom of a well (seriously, did you see that thing? That’s Greg Nicotero at his finest!), the former pizza delivery boy clearly demonstrated enough cojones to win Maggie’s heart — or at least her body. But following the spontaneous sexual encounter, Maggie called it quits, leaving Glenn more than a little bit confused about what just happened.

Google Plans K-Pop Channel, and More?
Wall Street Journal

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is in Seoul to meet with executives at several major IT companies over the next couple of days. One of the first stops was the Blue House, where he talked with President Lee Myung-bak about cooperation between Korean IT firms and Google, and Mr. Schmidt said Google intends to set up a YouTube channel for Korean pop music, or K-pop.

Judging by the response to a recent series of K-pop concerts around the world, that’ll get plenty of interest online.

Interview: Miss Korea 2011 talks fashion, her new job and plastic surgery

For Miss Korea 2011 Yi Seong Hye, photoshoots, interviews, community service and learning how to do her hair and makeup herself are all part of her weekly official duties as the public relations ambassador for the country.

After spending 13 years in the United States — she attended high school in Boston and is currently on leave from studying at Parsons in New York — Yi had to learn a great deal about Korean culture upon returning to to the country of her birth.

“The pageant was actually not why I returning to Korea,” says Yi, who turns 23 this week.

“I came back to be back with my family and to learn about Korean culture, and then the lucky opportunity of entering the pageant came along.”

Boat With 21 North Koreans Found Off South Korea’s Coast
New York Times

Twenty-one North Koreans, including women and children, were found adrift in a boat off the west coast of South Korea last Sunday and asked for asylum, the South Korean military said Saturday.

The five-ton boat was spotted by a South Korean Navy patrol 23 miles south of the maritime border disputed by North Korea. The people on board were transferred to a maritime police boat and taken to Incheon, a major port outside Seoul, the South Korean capital.

“When they were found, they immediately expressed their intention to defect,” the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. “A joint inquiry team from the related government agencies are investigating what motivated them to defect.”

N.Korean soldiers shoot refugee in China: activist
AFP via Google News

A refugee was shot dead by North Korean border guards last month after reaching Chinese soil in a strengthened crackdown on escapees, according to a South Korean activist.

“During my trip to a border area on October 22, I witnessed a man shot to death after arriving in China,” Kim Yong-Hwa, head of the North Korea Refugees Human Rights Association of Korea, told AFP.

The man in his 40s was apparently shot by the North’s guards from near the northern border city of Hyesan and died in front of Chinese soldiers, he said.

“After a sound of shooting across the river, I saw him groaning and crawling on the ground. Several Chinese soldiers were there but did not care,” Kim said. Readers Asked, John Cho Responds!

Do you think it’s harder for the Asian American community to catch their big break in the biz? Why do you think it is or isn’t? – Anunez587

JC: Obviously, it is. You just look around and it’s a numbers game. There are fewer parts for Asians. The concept of “the big break” is something that works against Asians in that the majority of parts available to Asians aren’t meant to break anyone’s career open — they’re modest roles. So even if a person has a long career, there may have never been a “break.” I don’t know if my career has ever really “broken,” or if I’m just descending step by step. The concept of a break implies these floodgates will open and I don’t even think that has happened for me or Kal.

Korean-Japanese billionaire to give away fortune
Korea Herald

Han Chang-woo, a Korean-Japanese businessman who founded Maruhan Corp., Japan’s largest operator of pachinko parlors, said Saturday he will donate all his wealth, worth $1.7 billion, to help improve relations between the two countries.

“I’d like to give away all the money I’ve made before I die. I can assure that my personal assets, except for the company to be handed over to my son and some money for my wife, will be used for the inter-development of Korea and Japan,” Han told reporters in Busan.

The 80-year-old Korean immigrant was ranked Japan’s 17th-richest person by Forbes last year with net worth of 132 billion yen ($1.7 billion).

Miele Guide: Korean restaurant finally makes Asia’s Top 20

Seoul took a big step forward as a culinary capital as its chefs won Asia-wide accolades in Singapore last week.

For the first time a Korean restaurant, Pierre Gagnaire à Séoul, was listed among Asia’s Top 20 in The Miele Guide, a compendium of the continent’s finest dining venues, released annually.

Its Jeju pork belly and tilefish dish was highlighted as a great example of what the kitchen talents there can do.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg Opens Up to Flushing
Times Ledger (Queens, N.Y.)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a town hall meeting in Flushing that he would try to help do away with the fines Korean business owners receive for storing kimchee at room temperature.

Asian American Sports with Rick Quan: The Darwin Barney Interview

Our friend and sports expert Rick Quan continues his series of interviews with Asian American athletes with a profile of Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney. The quarter-Japanese, quarter-Korean, and half-Caucasian Barney hails from Beaverton, OR where a love of sports was instilled in him by his father who — at 5’6″ — played point guard as a college basketball player and taught his son to never impose limits on his abilities. Check out the video and learn how the 25-year-old grew to love piano once his parents stopped forcing him to take lessons, how he once thought he was Hawaiian, and catch the classic expression on the face of Dan Uggla from the Atlanta Braves as Barney ended his 33-game hitting streak this past August.

NSFW: South Korea Has A Very Naughty Erotic Sculpture Garden
Business Insider

We never really thought of South Korea as a sexually provocative place, so we were pretty surprised when we read about Jeju Love Land, an erotic theme park on Jeju Island.

The park, which opened in 2004, has 140 sculptures of humans and their genitalia, and also shows sex education films.

William Hung Scores Job With L.A. County Sheriff

America’s favorite American Idol auditionor has found a new gig – with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

After his Season 3 audition performance in 2004 of Ricky Martin’s She Bangs, William Hung became a viral hit and received a cult-like following, which led him to numerous talk show appearances, three studio albums, and his primetime television show debut on Fox’s Arrested Development. Now, it appears Hung has made a career shift.

According to TMZ, Hung is working for the LA County Sheriff’s Department as a Technical Crime Analyst, meaning he is analyzing trends and patterns in crimes. This can help law enforcement deploy resources in a more effective manner, as well as playing a role in apprehending suspects, solving crimes, and formulating crime prevention strategies.

Beckman’s Kim keeps coming
Daily Pilot (Irvine, Calif.)

Running back has been a force for the Patriots, who will face Corona del Mar for the Pacific Coast League title on Friday.

Priscilla Ahn – Vibe So Hot

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