Tag Archives: japan


Chan Ho Park To Be Honored At SKorean All-Star Game


Retired pitcher Chan Ho Park, South Korea’s pioneering major leaguer, will be honored Friday at the Korean Pro Baseball’s All-Star Game in Gwangju’s Champions Field.

Park, 41, retired in 2012 after 17 seasons in the major leagues. The highlight of his career includes nine seasons he spent with the L.A. Dodgers, during which he was a National League All-Star in 2001. Park also reached the World Series in 2009 with the Philadelphia Phillies, and pitched for the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 season. His 124 wins in the major leagues set a record for the most wins by an Asian player.

“I’m proud that I’ve played for as long as I did,” Park told KoreAm in an in-depth interview upon his retirement two years ago. “There were a lot of obstacles.  The early years in the minor leagues and struggling in Texas later on … it was tough. I’ve been at a crossroads so many times, and thought about quitting and going back to Korea. But I stayed patient and endured everything.  That’s what makes me proud.

Hideo Nomo, Park’s former teammate in L.A. and Japan’s pioneering major leaguer, will also be honored the same day in a separate ceremony in Japan.

“Nomo and Park are both true pioneers,” said Peter O’Malley, the former Dodgers president, in a released statement. O’Malley was responsible for signing the two Asian pitchers from their respective countries in the early 1990s. “Today, there have been 40 players from Japan and 14 from South Korea who have played in the major leagues. I am very proud of their leadership and their ongoing commitment to youth baseball in Japan and South Korea” he said.

Park became South Korea’s first ever major leaguer when the Dodgers signed him out of Hanyang University in 1994. Including Park, there have been 14 players from South Korea who have played in the major leagues since then. One of them is current Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, to whom Park served as a mentor back in 2012, when the two played for Korea’s Hanwha Eagles.

Today Park is reportedly developing a baseball training center and entertainment complex in Korea.

To read more of KoreAm‘s interview with Park, where he speaks frankly about the highs and lows of his career, the support of the Korean American community and his baseball legacy, click here.

"Comfort women" memorial unveiled in Washington suburb

Peace Garden Seeks to Raise Awareness

story by RUTH KIM

Advocates in northern Virginia unveil a “comfort women” memorial that carries a message not just relevant to history, but very much engaged with the present.


In the backyard of the Fairfax County Government Center in Virginia, a brick pathway trails into a quaint, circular garden, where an unassuming boulder stands at its center. Flanked by butterfly-shaped benches of a brilliant turquoise hue, the two by-two-foot boulder displays a brass plaque, and the garden, surrounded by green grass and an open expanse, offers a moment of peace and serenity for any passerby.

However, the inscription on the plaque engages in a much more agitated conversation. In part, it reads: “In honor of the women and girls whose basic rights and dignities were taken from them as victims of human trafficking during WWII…. May these ‘comfort women’ find eternal peace and justice for the crimes committed against them. May the memories of these women and girls serve as a reminder of the importance of protecting the rights of women and an affirmation of basic human rights.”

Situated near the 9/11 Memorial Grove, the Comfort Women Memorial Peace Garden pays tribute to the girls and women, referred to euphemistically as “comfort women,” who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War. An estimated 80,000 to 200,000 women who were enslaved—a figure that is still being debated today—were predominantly from Korea, but included others from China, the Philippines, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Netherlands, East Timor and other territories, where Japanese so-called comfort stations were set up to “service” soldiers at that time.

Installed by the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues (WCCW), the memorial peace garden was unveiled in Fairfax, Va., on May 30 in a ceremony that featured Korean song and dance, a release of butterflies, as well as speeches by U.S. Congressman Mike Honda, Fairfax County officials and “comfort woman” survivor Kang Il-chul.

“I am grateful and excited to see you all, but somehow feel a little grief,” said Kang, 85, through a translator, expressing mixed feelings at the ceremony, which drew both smiles and tears from her.

Kang’s comments seemed to capture the overall tone of the discourse on the issue: a feeling of hope for the future, mixed with the bitter pain of the still unresolved past.

It is unresolved because the government of Japan has yet to issue a formal apology to the “comfort women” and to provide reparations to survivors, even though allegations of these war crimes first came to light in the early
1990s. The closest it came to one was a statement of “sincere apologies and remorse” delivered by the country’s chief cabinet secretary in 1993, and a private fund established to assist survivors.

But, adding fuel to the flame is the fact that over the years there have also been a number of controversial statements given by various leaders about how the “comfort women” were prostitutes, not slaves. Current Prime Minster Shinzo Abe said this past February that he wanted to revisit the evidence that led to the 1993 expression of regret. He has since back-stepped on his own statement, as tensions between South Korea and Japan have intensified.

The WCCW, a nongovernmental organization, first formed in 1992 to advocate for Japan to issue a formal
apology and provide formal reparations to the women, according to Grace Han Wolf, the group’s co-chair. But she
added that, over time, the group’s focus has shifted somewhat to emphasize “more on outreach, education and awareness building,” and that’s how the memorial idea emerged. “It’s really about making sure these women were not forgotten, making sure the crime was not forgotten, and making sure Fairfax County stands vigilant against human trafficking,” said Wolf.

Wolf, the first Korean American woman elected to office in the Commonwealth of Virginia and serving her third term on the Herndon Town Council, joined the coalition in 2012 to help facilitate the memorial’s planning. “[The WCCW] had put together this idea of a memorial after some of the other memorials had been erected in other parts of the U.S., and they weren’t really sure how to go from the idea to reality,” Wolf said. That’s where she stepped in as a liaison between the group and the local government.


The memorial serves as a reminder that this is not just a historic issue, but a contemporary one. “It’s one of those things where you think, ‘Oh, that happened so long ago,’ but, no, it’s happening right now. And that’s really where this group is really more focused on, to really educate people about what happened, and about what continues to happen,” Wolf said. “Human trafficking is still a big issue, and Fairfax just announced a big initiative in January of this year to combat teen sex trafficking, which unfortunately is still a [problem] here in Fairfax County.”

The peace garden is not the first memorial dedicated to “comfort women” to be constructed in the U.S. In 2013, a statue was erected in Glendale, Calif., portraying a girl in a hanbok sitting on a chair with an empty chair next to her; it is based on local resident and “comfort woman” survivor, Bokdong Kim. That memorial unleashed a storm of controversy. Since its installation, three delegations of Japanese politicians have complained, and Glendale’s sister city in Japan even canceled a student exchange program as a result. A group called the Global Alliance for Historical Truth filed a lawsuit in federal court to have the statue removed. Even counter petitions on the White House’s “We the People” website—one to take down and the other to keep the statue—each garnered over 100,000 signatures. Some opponents of the memorial have said that the statue promotes hate toward the people and nation of Japan, while others have said that this kind of international conflict should not be played out on American soil.

Although the Japanese Embassy and a nationalistic Japanese group have protested the Virginia memorial, Wolf said it has not sparked as much controversy as the Glendale memorial. “I think the [statue] in Glendale was probably more of a lightning rod for controversy,” she said. “The garden [here] is really positioned as awareness building not just for the history of comfort women, but more importantly the issue of human trafficking.”

She said the organization also reached out to many local community groups in the county in a conscious effort to be inclusive.

“We don’t really perceive ours as anti-Japanese nor particularly pro-Korean. We were really careful to position it that way because we didn’t want it to become just about that,” Wolf said. “The ‘comfort women’ is one of many sad stories about human trafficking, which disproportionately affects Asian American women and children. So we really took a pan-Asian approach…. We reached out to all [ethnic] groups equally. We didn’t make a special effort or not a special effort—we included everybody.”

One supporter of the Virginia memorial has been Congressman Honda, a Japanese American who spent part of World War II in an internment camp. He has also championed a congressional bill this year that called for Japan to issue an “unequivocal” apology to the “comfort women,” many of whom have already passed away. In a statement, Honda said, “For the women still alive, and for the countless who have passed, official recognition and acknowledgment is the only way to bring proper closure to this terrible chapter of World War II history.”

This article was published in the July 2014 issue of KoreAmSubscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the July issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).


Godzilla Returns Again and Again: A Look Back At These Memorable Monster Movies

Monster Love
We pay homage to the king of all monsters, Godzilla.


(Above photo: Scene from Gojira, 1954)

He’s baa-ack,and bigger than ever, literally—there’s been much chatter about the Godzilla of 2014 packing on a few extra pounds, er, tons. And while this new oversized, made-in-America reboot continues to take a bite out of the box office, KoreAm thought it would be fun to take a look back at the iconic monster that made up such a huge part of many of our childhoods.

There were plenty of films to watch. Godzilla, or “Gojira” as he’s called in Japanese, has been back 30 times, not counting the original, 1954 black-and-white film that spawned the series. (The films made by Toho, the production company that created Godzilla, are divided into three categories: those released from 1954 to 1975 are part of the Showa series; from 1984 to 1995 are the Heisei series; and films in 1999 and 2004 compose the Millennium series.)

He was an allegory for the atomic age, Godzilla as mankind’s comeuppance for our nuclear ambitions. And upon first release, the reception was mostly negative because many Japanese critics accused the film of exploiting the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with Godzilla representing the deep anxiety that many Japanese grappled with after those bombings and their fear that it might reoccur. However, as time went on, Godzilla gained more respect and popularity in Japan. And, soon, the U.S. and the rest of the world would also embrace the movie monster.

For the older Korean American folks, the earlier Godzilla movies marked the rare times we’d see Asian faces, played by Asian actors in largely sympathetic roles, on our TV screens— dubbed in English, of course. And when Godzilla turned into a “good guy” in later films, we actually had an Asian-born hero to root for, so to speak.

However, Godzilla, to most, is a menacing figure, the king of kaiju, the term for the monster genre. We picture skyscrapers crumbling and people fleeing, with cameras zoomed into terror-stricken faces while crying out his name in manic frenzy. He is also the ultimate survivor, with no weapon able to defeat him, not even the atomic bomb. He possesses an almost immortal quality. Perhaps, that’s why, 60 years later, audiences still get excited for this giant lizard.

Here’s a look back at 10 noteworthy Godzilla films.

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Gojira (1954)

In the one that started it all, a 164-foot-tall reptilian monster, mutated by nuclear radiation, is unleashed and ravages Japan with his massive body as well as his radioactive breath. A group of Japanese scientists and citizens band together to put an end to the monster before it destroys all of Japan and the rest of the world. According to IMDB, this is one of the first Japanese movies to be released in Korea, following the tension (caused by Japanese occupation of Korea) between the two countries.

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Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)

This American remake incorporates most of the footage from the original Japanese film and is dubbed into English, while also inserting new footage of an American reporter, Steve Martin (played by Raymond Burr), who witnesses the menace of Godzilla. Because this is the first film to introduce many audiences outside of Japan to the monster, Godzilla becomes internationally recognized as the “King of the Monsters.”

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King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

In the third film produced by Toho, the discovery of special berries on Faro Island brings together the giant ape and Godzilla, and a rumble of epic proportions follow. To tone down Godzilla’s darkness from the first two films, the producers at Toho decided to give Godzilla’s roar a much higher pitch. This remains his signature sound for the rest of the Shōwa series.

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Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

On Infant Island, Mothra is worshipped as a god. When a hurricane blows Mothra’s egg all the way to Japan, Mothra’s twin fairy priestesses appear and warn that the larva will cause great destruction in search of food. Meanwhile, Godzilla reawakens and begins another rampage. As the ferocious lizard approaches the egg, Mothra shows up and a long battle between the two gigantic creatures ensue. This is the final film in the Shōwa series that depicts Godzilla as a malevolent figure.

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Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)

The world is becoming more polluted. A microscopic alien life form named Hedorah feeds on Earth’s pollution and grows into a sea monster, and eventually it begins to consume the muck on land, until he is confronted by Godzilla. This is the first film in the series since Mothra vs. Godzilla to have a strong message. And it’s the only one in which Godzilla demonstrates his ability to fly by firing his atomic breath towards the ground and propelling himself backwards.

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Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

Ape-like aliens plan to take over Earth with a mechanized superweapon in the shape of Godzilla, and an archaeologist translates a prophecy that will reveal a legendary monster known as King Caesar, who comes to aid Godzilla during an epic battle against MechaGodzilla. According to IMDB, this film was produced to commemorate Godzilla’s 20th anniversary.

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Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

Time-travelers come to warn the citizens of the downfall of Japan if Godzilla cannot be terminated. They also reveal Godzilla’s origin: a dinosaur who survived into the 20th century, only to be mutated by the atomic testing on his island home. These time travelers create a plan to remove the dinosaur from the timeline, but in doing so, they create a new monster—the three-headed King Ghidorah. This film was controversial when released because of its seemingly anti-American sentiment.

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Godzilla (1998)

The first American attempt to create an original Godzilla story features Matthew Broderick as a scientist trying to figure out a way to stop the monster from destroying New York. According to IMDB, director Roland Emmerich admitted that he was not a fan of the original Godzilla movies; he only agreed to the project after being promised that he could do whatever he wanted with what was planned to be a trilogy. That idea was shelved when his Jurassic Park rip-off flopped. Ken- pachiro Satsuma, the man in the Godzilla suit from 1985 to 1995, said of this film: “It’s not Godzilla. It doesn’t have the spirit.”

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Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)

In the first film since Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) to portray the titular monster as truly evil, Admiral Tachibana is driven to find and destroy Godzilla because his parents died from one of its destructive rampages. His daughter, Yuri, is a reporter who learns of Godzilla’s true nature. The Three Sacred Guardian Beasts of Yamato—King Ghidorah, Mothra and Baragon—are awakened and fight Godzilla. Ultimately, it is Tachibana who kills Godzilla, but the creature’s heart still beats at the end. In the opening scene, Tachibana, while lecturing his troops, notes that “a monster similar to Godzilla ravaged New York,” which is a jab at Roland Emmerich’s 1998 film.

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Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

In the most recent Toho production, environmental pollution and warfare has resulted in kaiju appearing on Earth, and the Earth Defense Force is created to protect the planet from these enormous monsters. When it’s discovered that an alien race called the Xiliens are behind these kaiju attacks, Godzilla is released and defeats all of them, with Mothra’s aid. This is the first time that Mothra is portrayed as Godzilla’s ally, and Mothra is shown flying back to Infant Island during the end credits.

Still didn’t get enough Godzilla? Here’s a complete list of the other 21 Godzilla films, with an interesting tidbit about each one:

Godzilla Raids Again (1955): The Godzilla suit that actor Haruo Nakajima wore in this film is similar to the one worn in the original film, but was apparently slimmed down to better fit Nakajima’s physique.

Ghidorah, the Three-headed Monster (1964): In this film, Mothra’s twin fairy priestesses attempt to convince Godzilla and Rodan to stop fighting and unite to fight Ghidorah, a three-headed monster.

Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965): Even though Godzilla still causes destruction, this film clearly depicts Godzilla as a hero for earthlings.

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966): Red Bamboo squadrons and a giant condor come to attack Godzilla in this flick.

Son of Godzilla (1967): This is the first film to depict Godzilla as a parent, who teaches his offspring, Minilla, to become the new King of Monsters.

Destroy All Monsters (1968): All the giant monsters from the previous films fight in an epic battle.

All Monsters Attack (1969): This film carries an anti-bullying theme, as a lonely child named Ichiro Miki sleeps to have his dreams carry him away to Monster Island, where he meets both Godzilla and Minilla. Godzilla trains Minilla in self-defense and fighting techniques because the latter also confronts bullying issues thanks to a monstrous ogre known as Gabara.

Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972): This is the first film where we see Godzilla drawing blood from attacks.

Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973): After Seatopia, the undersea civilization, is affected by nuclear testing, the Seatopians plan to unleash their god, Megalon, to destroy the world. Guess who swoops in to save the day?

Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975): This film marks the last time that Godzilla is portrayed as a hero until Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004.

The Return of Godzilla (1984): The whole world goes on red alert and waits for Godzilla to start his rampage.

Godzilla 1985 (1985): This is the American production of the 1984 film. New scenes were shot in the United States and with actor Raymond Burr. The premise is almost the same, but many political overtones and nuclear themes were removed from the English version.

Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989): A scientist, who has recently witnessed his daughter’s death, combines Godzilla’s genes with those of a rose and his deceased daughter. As a result, he creates a monster named Biollante. The shots of Godzilla in the ocean were filmed in a large pool.

Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992): When an archaeological research team visits Infant Island, they discover two tiny women, who reveal that earth will retaliate for all the harm that humans have done. Earth sends out Battra, an enormous moth, to destroy us. The women offer their help by sending Mothra to battle the creature. Godzilla appears, and a three-way battle ensues, threatening Japan.

Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994): Space Godzilla is introduced in this film, and this new creature heads to earth to confront Godzilla, Junior Godzilla and a G-Force robot named Moguera.

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995): According to IMDB, this was intended to be the last Godzilla film. This allowed TriStar to make a trilogy, but because of the poor critical response to Roland Emmerich’s 1998 film, TriStar abandoned the trilogy plan. This prompted Toho to revitalize Gojira sooner than anticipated with Godzilla 2000 (1999).

Godzilla 2000 (1999): This film ignores all the other Godzilla movies previously made. This film features a strong fiery breath from Godzilla that is stronger than previously depicted on film.

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000): Japan has two new weapons to defend themselves against Godzilla: the first is a high-tech ship, The Gyphon, and the second is a device that creates artificial black holes, the Dimension Tide.

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002): Scientists are gathered to build a bio-mechanical robot from the original Godzilla’s skeleton. The cyborg Mechagodzilla, named Kiryu, is finished and is used to fight Godzilla.

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003): Mothra’s fairy twins warn the Japanese government of impending doom because the latter used the original bones of Godzilla when creating Mechagodzilla (Kiryu). Godzilla battles Mothra and Kiryu in this one, and something shocking happens deep in the ocean. Don’t forget to watch the post-credits scene!

Godzilla (2014): Directed by Gareth Edwards, as a co-production of Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, this is the second Godzilla movie to be fully filmed by an American movie studio, according to Wikipedia. Though it is set in contemporary times, this film, starring Bryan Cranston and Greg Watanabe, is said to be done in a style faithful to the Toho series of Godzilla films.

A shorter version of this article was published in the June 2014 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the June issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).


Tuesday’s Links: NKorea Building Disaster; New SKorean PM; Dan Matthews at UW

North Korea building disaster reveals regime vulnerability
Japan Times

It may have taken the collapse of an apartment block in an exclusive district of the North Korean capital to reveal the Achilles heel of young leader Kim Jong Un’s secretive regime.

Last week’s accident killed the families of people important enough for North Korea to issue an obsequious and unprecedented public apology in a bid to quell public anger, some analysts said.

The 23-story building in Phyongchon, central Pyongyang, was part of a construction boom driven by Kim that includes apartment blocks, roads, bridges and the Masik Ski Resort that has become synonymous with his policy of finishing projects at lightning speed.

Fire At South Korean Bus Terminal Kills 6
Associated Press

A fire in a construction area at a bus terminal near Seoul killed six people and injured 38 on Monday, emergency officials said.

The fire was suspected to have started during welding work in the basement of the building in Goyang city, just north of Seoul, said Ha Jong-keun, an official at an emergency office in Gyeonggi Province which governs the city.

The terminal building also has a multiplex movie theater and a shopping mall, but witnesses told local media that not many people were at the scene at the time of the fire, reported about 9 a.m. Ha said the fire was put out in 20 minutes.


Ferry disaster overshadows South Korean elections
Yahoo News

South Korea’s opposition parties are expected to reap an election bonanza from seething public anger over the government’s mishandling of the ferry disaster as campaigning for next month’s local polls opened on Thursday.

The June 4 polls are the first nationwide elections since President Park Geun-Hye took office 16 months earlier and are widely seen as a referendum on her performance.

Prior to the April 16 ferry disaster which left more than 300 dead and missing, the elections were seen as a walkover for her ruling Saenuri Party as many middle-of-road voters threw their weight behind the conservative party on hopes it would improve the sluggish economy.


Can new PM give Pres. Park a way out of the Sewol crisis?
The Hankyoreh

President Park Geun-hye’s nomination of former Supreme Court Justice Ahn Dae-hee for Prime Minister on May 22 is raising questions about whether the choice can save her and the ruling Saenuri Party from the crisis over the response to last month’s Sewol ferry sinking.

Ahn himself is seen by many as a potential rudder for the “human reforms” Park has declared, and a key presence for spearheading a future drive to reform government.


What Korea can learn from Japan’s lost decade
The Korea Herald

South Korea can avoid possible economic risks by seeking to gradually transform its economy through structural reforms, rather than depending solely on monetary policies, according to a senior Japanese economist.

Such is the lesson that Korea can learn from Japan, despite their complicated historical ties, said Naoyuki Yoshino, professor of economics at Keio University, in a recent telephone interview with The Korea Herald.

“Korea can learn from Japan’s mistakes in the past,” he said from Tokyo, where he now heads the Asian Development Bank Institute, a policy-oriented think tank focused on development issues in the Asia-Pacific region.


Japan contacted by North Korea’s secret police before Stockholm summit
Japan Daily Press

As Japan and North Korea prepares for their second bilateral talks in 16 months, it was reported that the communist state’s intelligence agency has already reached out to Japan. The move by the State Security Department to contact Japan is welcomed as a sign of its country’s willingness to reopen the investigation on abducted Japanese nationals decades ago.


Keeping (And Losing) Faith, The Asian American Way
AAPI Voices

Are Asian Americans in a state of religious confusion? And are Asian American Protestants fleeing their religion?

Consider the example of Lisa, a 20-year old second-generation Vietnamese American from Houston: “I really don’t think I have a religious preference,” she says “I believe that someone is up there, and I’m pretty much screwed up in the head,” she continued with a laugh. “You know ‘cuz I went to Catholic school until I was in 8th grade, and when my parents got divorced I went to [Buddhist] temple for like about 5 or 6 years. So I got the aspects of both religions, and I think that both of them have good aspects, and both of them have bad aspects. And I do what [my parents] ask me to do, but in my own mind I really don’t have like a set religion y’know?”


Farmed Out
The Economist

IN THE mid-1990s posters plastered on the subway in Seoul, South Korea’s capital, exhorted local girls to marry farmers. Young women had left their villages in droves since the 1960s for a better life in the booming city. Sons, however, stayed behind to tend family farms and fisheries.

The campaign was futile. Last year over a fifth of South Korean farmers and fishermen who tied the knot did so with a foreigner. The province of South Jeolla has the highest concentration of international marriages in the country—half of those getting married at the peak a decade ago. In those days, the business of broking unions with Chinese or South-East Asian women boomed, with matches made in the space of a few days. Not long ago placards in the provinces sang the praises of Vietnamese wives “who never run away”. Now, on the Seoul subway, banners encourage acceptance of multicultural families.

Adam Carolla, Has-Been Comedian, Says Asians (And “Chicks”) Aren’t Funny
Dame Magazine

“Where are the Asian comedians? Maybe there just aren’t any!” said comedian Adam Carolla, formerly of The Man Show, in a recent interview with Salon. In Carolla’s America, humorless Asians nonetheless “beat the rigged system” and now “pass white people” in every other area of life except comedy. Which they have no business trying. Because, you know: unfunny.

“How did Asians pass white people? They got lucky?” he told Salon’s Daniel D’Addario, in an interview in which he also bemoaned “the gay mafia.” Carolla added, “I would go ahead and say: The Asians beat the rigged system and did better than white people. You don’t think that’d be something to look into? Do you think we decided to rig the system against certain ethnicities?”

Food truck king Roy Choi adds authentic flavor to ‘Chef’ film
The Salt Lake Tribune

If you’re going to make a movie about a food truck, then it makes sense to hire Los Angeles chef Roy Choi as your technical consultant.

Choi, 44, became king of the food truck world after launching his Kogi food truck, which fused Korean BBQ and Mexican flavors and created LA’s mobile food craze.

That’s why writer/director Jon Favreau called on Choi to help him with “Chef,” the story of Carl Casper (played by Favreau), who rediscovers his passion for food — and life — when he launches a food truck. (See review on XX).


Daily life in North Korea
Al Jazeera

There is a popular saying, “Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance”. This oft-quoted statement might sound lofty and uplifting, but, alas, it is patently false. As experience of the 20th century politics demonstrates well, it is quite possible to organise a state in a way that precludes the existence of any visible resistance – at least, for a long, long time.

A good example of such a resistance-less regime is the Soviet Union at the height of Joseph Stalin’s rule, from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. While the government was highly repressive and executed about one million real and alleged political criminals (not including the many who perished in prison camps), the Soviet Union of this period saw no organised resistance to speak of – the uprising of the national minorities on the distant periphery was the only exception. Many were unhappy, but they were seldom willing to express their hostile attitude to the state.


Korean American adoptee shares his journey with UW students
The Daily (University of Washington)

Dan Matthews, a Los Angeles-based rapper, visited the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Theatre (ECT) on Thursday. Matthews promoted his documentary about meeting his biological family in Korea, and performed for the UW students afterward.

The documentary, titled “aka DAN,” chronicles how Matthews’ pursuit for identity as an Asian American adoptee led to his music career and search for his biological parents.

“Although the documentary is a story about adoption, it also focuses on the meaning of family. You don’t need to be a Korean adoptee to understand or relate to the story,” Matthews said.


The History Behind Korea’s Secret Gold Temple

Working in South Korea, I am not only lucky enough to fly over to neighboring countries like Japan and Taiwan without crossing hemispheres, but also able to compare heritage between the countries of East Asia, especially with regards to that of my new home on the peninsula. When travelling in the Kansai region of Japan for example, I was struck most by colours — the orange hue of Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) in Kyoto, the gold sheen of Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺), and often wondered back to the red and green temples I’d see on a regular basis in and out of Seoul. Perhaps most temples in Japan look the same too, so the ones that stood out in Kansai were those different to the island nation’s usual brown and white style. These were the famous ones that drew in the tourists.

Comfort Women

South Korea And Japan to Hold Talks On Comfort Women

South Korea and Japan will reportedly hold talks between their high-ranking officials to discuss the Japanese army’s alleged exploitation of Korean women as sex slaves during World War II.

During the talks, the main point of discussion will center on the estimated 200,000 East Asian women, commonly known as comfort women, who were forced to work at front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during the war. The two countries will discuss the lawsuits seeking compensation for the 55 South Korean victims who remain alive.

The talks will likely take place Thursday or Friday in Tokyo.

Lee Sang-deok, director general for Northeast Asian affairs, will represent South Korea while Japan will be represented by Junichi Ihara, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affiars Bureau of the Foreign Ministry.

Whether or not the talks could help to create a resolution to the issue that has strained Korea-Japan relations for decades remains uncertain, but it’s significant that the two countries are holding the open discussion.

In recent years, South Korean President Park Geun-hye remained firm in her stance that she won’t meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unless Japan addresses the comfort women issue “effectively and in a way that is agreeable to the living victims.”

On the other hand, Japan has dismissed Korea’s demand for a sincere apology and proper compensation, saying that its government has already compensated Korea for its wartime atrocities through a 1965 treaty that normalized the two countries’ bilateral ties.

Ties between South Korea and Japan still remain at the lowest point in recent decades as the two countries are also in dispute over islets in the East Sea, known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese.


Justin Bieber Apologizes After Visiting Controversial World War II Shrine

Justin Bieber with a priest at the Yasukuni Shrine. Image via The Independent

Pop star Justin Bieber isn’t exactly known for his cultural sensitivity, and on Wednesday, he added another reason for that reputation. During a visit to Tokyo, Japan, Bieber posted two photos on Instagram that showed him visiting a controversial World War II shrine, causing outrage among South Korean and Chinese netizens, as well as some lawmakers from those countries.

One photo showed Bieber praying in front of the Yasukuni Shrine, and another showed him posing with a priest. Bieber tweeted the photos with the caption, “Thank you for your blessings.”


Bieber quickly apologized and removed the photos after he came under fire from Chinese and South Korean fans, some of whom called for the singer to be banned from performing in their home countries and even demanding he be “run out of Asia” permanently, The Independent reports. On Instagram, Bieber said he did not realize what the shrine represented and was initially just struck by its beauty.

The singer explained that he had merely asked his driver to stop when he saw the “beautiful shrine.”

“I was mislead (sic) to think the shrines were only a place of prayer,” Bieber said in his post. “To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry.”

Bieber in front of the Yasukuni Shrine. Via The Independent

The Yasukuni Shrine honors Japanese soldiers killed in World War II, along with several war criminals. Visits by Japanese dignitaries over the years have strained relations between Japan and neighboring Asian countries, who view it as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. Earlier this week, 150 Japanese lawmakers visited the shrine, and while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not come along, he made an offering to the shrine.


Korean Network Bans Crayon Pop Song for Japanese Word

Crayon Pop in a music video for the group’s single, “Uh-ee.” Image via Chrome Entertainment

When it comes to Korean music, it doesn’t get any more traditional than “trot.” But as girl group Crayon Pop found out, it can take just one word to get a song banned from broadcast.

Last Thursday, South Korean network KBS confirmed it had banned “Uh-ee,” Crayon Pop’s latest single, for the use of a Japanese word, “ppikka,” which means “shiny” in Japanese.


There is nothing inappropriate about the word, except for that it is Japanese in origin, according to the executives at KBS, which is well-known for being a conservative network.

“KBS notified us that ‘ppikka‘ is a vestige of Japanese imperialism and needs to be refined,” said Lee Sung-soo, an official at Chrome Entertainment. All other Korean television networks, however, approved the song.

The chorus of the catchy electro-pop song begins with “ppikka” and “bbunjjuk,” which is the Korean equivalent to “shiny,” as the girls sing about making sure they live their lives to the fullest, with shiny things. There is no reference to anything Japanese, and “ppikka bbunjjuk” is a commonly used term to describe something shiny—or someone who likes shiny things.


According to Chrome Entertainment, the company has since changed the word to “bbunjjuk” and the band has re-recorded the song for KBS. Because Korea was under Japanese occupation between 1910 and 1945, the South Korean government used to have a policy of banning imports of Japanese culture, but no longer has such a policy. KBS, however, has a track record of banning songs and videos that it deems inappropriate, as it did last year with Psy’s “Gentleman” music video, which depicts the singer kicking a traffic cone.


Friday’s Link Attack: NKorean Drones; Stephen Kim Sentenced in Leak Case; Lee Min-ho Meets President Park

North Korean crew missing after capsize off South

A Sixteen sailors were on board the Mongolian-flagged cargo ship that went down off the southern coast of South Korea.

Three of the crew have been rescued, South Korean officials said. A search was under way for the remaining 11 crew members. The vessel was heading from North Korea to China with a cargo of steel.

South Korea’s coast guard said 13 vessels and six aircraft were involved in the search. It is not clear what caused the ship, which sent a distress call in the early hours of Friday, to sink.

N.Korean Drone Snapped Photos of Cheong Wa Dae
Chosun Ilbo

A drone that crashed in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on March 24 hovered above Cheong Wa Dae and took close-range photos of the facility, it was revealed on Wednesday.

Based on several photos the Chosun Ilbo obtained on Wednesday, the drone started taking photos near Paju along a pre-set route. It flew right above Cheong Wa Dae and Gyeongbok Palace at an altitude of 1.3 km.

Analysis of digital information contained in these photos shows that the drone photographed the Cheong Wa Dae compound and its vicinity while flying from northwest over the area.

Japan’s claims in grade school texts
Korea JoongAng Daily

The Korean government yesterday “strongly denounced” Japan’s plan to significantly step up claims to the Dokdo islets in the East Sea in elementary school textbooks and said it was trying to distort history once again.

Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology yesterday revealed that its textbook authorization committee approved fifth and sixth grade social science textbooks from four publishers that explicitly claim Takeshima, Japan’s name for the islets, as Japanese territory.

These four textbooks will be used in classrooms starting from April 2015. All four say that “Korea is illegally occupying Takeshima.”

Kim Is Unafraid to Fly
Wall Street Journal

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un clearly doesn’t share his father’s fear of flying.

On Wednesday, North Korean state media showed Mr. Kim disembarking from an airplane at Samjiyon airport in the north of the country, a rare shot of the leader traveling by plane.

Mr. Kim took part in an “oath-taking meeting” of Korean People’s Army officers close to Mt. Baekdu on the border with China, according to the Korean Central News Agency. The officers were reportedly wrapping up a study tour of battle sites associated with Mr. Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, in the area.

Ex-State Department adviser Stephen J. Kim sentenced in leak case
Washington Post

A former State Department arms expert who leaked classified information to a Fox News reporter was sentenced Wednesday to 13 months in prison after a pointed courtroom debate about the Obama administration’s aggressive pursuit of unauthorized disclosures of top-secret information.

Stephen Jin-Woo Kim pleaded guilty in February to sharing classified information from an intelligence report on North Korea with reporter James Rosen, Fox’s chief Washington correspondent. Rosen was also targeted in the investigation by federal agents, who described him as a possible “co-conspirator” in a bid to search his personal e-mails.


Occupational therapist John Hwang hangs with the homeless
Southern California Public Radio

By day, La Puente resident John Hwang works in Monterey Park as an occupational therapist. By night – and sometimes quite late into the night – he’s walking L.A.’s Skid Row,checking in with old friends and making new ones along the way.

“I’ve always been very intrigued by people living on the street,” says Hwang, “because if you live in L.A., you see them all the time.” He had no plans to document his visits when he started going out to Skid Row about a year and a half ago. Yet as he met more people, and heard more of their stories, he felt he needed to share them somehow.

Kim Soo Hyun Scores Coca-Cola China Endorsement Deal
KDrama Stars

Soon, China will be filled with Kim Soo Hyun’s face with a Coca-Cola product.
In a statement made by KeyEast Entertainment, Kim Soo Hyun’s agency, the actor has been chosen as Coca-Cola China’s latest ambassador and is set to shoot a commercial film this May. The actual release will be made late this year.

Kim Soo Hyun’s popularity is mainly attributed to his hit SBS TV drama “You Who Came From The Stars” which started airing in Korea in December 2013 and concluded last February.

It was also reported that the broadcasting rights of the TV drama was the most expensive ever for a Korean drama in China.

Korean Author Kyung-sook Shin On Literature and Geopolitics
Publishing Perspectives

The border with North Korea and its famous Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) must be one of the happiest and saddest places on the planet – happy because it is full of tourists having their pictures taken with the South Korean soldiers, who clearly enjoy the flattery (“Hey, he looking good this one!” josh their colleagues to each other over the tannoy); sad because it divides one people, brother from brother.

Newspapers in the west are full of the animosity between the two countries – all those stories of missile launches and military exercises on each side of the border. But when you visit, when you are there on the ground in this odd place, one doesn’t sense a raised fist; rather, an outstretched hand. The message, the signs, are all of peace and reconciliation. It is moving, even more so when one gazes out on the four-mile strip (two on each side of the border) that forms the DMZ itself.

The Walking Dead Relationships: Glenn and Eugene? Josh McDermitt Explains

The Walking Dead may be a show centered around a specific group of people just trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, but there’s still time for our characters to have romantic relationships with one another, and boy do they ever! We’ve got Gleggie, which is the name for Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) and Maggie Greene’s (Lauren Cohan) totally legit union, but we also have ‘ships like Richonne or Caryl, which advocate for pairings that haven’t happened on screen yet and may never even get to that point. Richonne is for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) fans, while Caryl supporters are those that want to see Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) enter into a relationship.


Roof of Kim Jong-un’s Jerry-Built Luxury Villa Caves In
Chosun Ilbo

The roof of a luxury villa in Wonsan belonging to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has collapsed, apparently due to faulty construction.

A comparison of a photo of the villa taken by South Korea’s Arirang 3 satellite and an earlier image of the area on Google Earth shows a building in the compound with a collapsed roof.

One U.S. satellite image expert who analyzes photos of the luxury villas and government buildings used by the North Korean elite said the building appears to be an aquarium that was built in 2011.

Lee Min-ho meets President
Korea JoongAng Daily

Actor Lee Min-ho met with President Park Geun-hye yesterday at the third conference of the Presidential Committee for Cultural Enrichment, which looks at issues related to developing Korea’s cultural content.

Lee was invited by the committee and the Blue House because of his fame as a leading figure in the Korean Wave. The meeting was held at Bitmaru Broadcasting Center in Ilsan, Gyeonggi.