Tag Archives: John Cho

John Cho

John Cho of ‘Selfie’ Talks About Being an Asian American Actor in Reddit AMA

by JAMES S. KIM

What’s the difference between John Cho and Henry Higgins, the character Cho plays on ABC’s Selfie? Not much, apparently. Cho says he’s “pretty curmudgeonly about social media.” He doesn’t have a Facebook account, and although he has Twitter, he is very cautious of it — just like Higgins.

Earlier today, Cho participated in an “Ask Me Anything” Q&A, where he discussed his experiences in Harold & KumarStar Trek and even Better Luck Tomorrow. He also answered a few random questions from Redditors (he wants to be the next Batman!) and delved into some of the challenges he faced as an Asian American actor, from racism in the entertainment industry to finding fleshed-out roles for Asian Americans.

Here are some highlights:

How he is similar to his character Henry on Selfie:
“I am pretty curmudgeonly about social media. I don’t have Facebook and I’m on Twitter, but I go through periods where I’m scared of it, and resent it. Haha! And I don’t like how addictive it is, so I have to put it down. So I am cautious with social media, just like Henry. Henry has a better wardrobe, though,” Cho wrote.

On what drew him to the role on Selfie:
“What drew me in was the opportunity to play a character that I’m not typically asked to play,” Cho said. “I think it’s a very unique show on the tube right now. It’s got a very fun tone, and I can’t overstate this — Karen Gillan as the lead is fantastic.”

His thoughts on his co-star Karen Gillan:
“She’s an amazing actress, and a cool person to boot. It’s been a real privilege to work alongside her. You know what I find amazing? Because people in the UK are typically good at American accents, since they grow up with them? But what’s unusual about her is that she can pop in and out — she doesn’t speak American English between takes. … It’s bizarre. She’s particularly good at it.”

He added, “It’s funny. Karen is on Twitter and pretty good about tweeting. I am less of a tweeter, but have become more so as a result of the show.”

He wants to be Batman:
“I want a shot at playing Batman!” Cho eagerly wrote after being asked which Marvel or DC film role he would like to play. “Ben Affleck’s doing it next right? After Ben retires, I call next. A serious Asian tech billionaire maybe?”

His first time being recognized in public as an actor:
“The first time I really remember … I had shot American Pie, it was just a little bit role, I didn’t think anyone would know what the movie was,” Cho said. “I was out of the country, shooting another movie, and had missed the release of American Pie, and was unaware it was a really big hit. So I came back to America, and kids were chanting ‘MILF! MILF!’ at me on the street. And I was really confused, and it took me a while to understand what was happening actually.”

His experience as an Asian American actor in Hollywood:
“I experienced racism, and in my professional life, I try to take roles (and have always tried to take roles) that don’t fall within the parameters of any Asian stereotype. And so to me, hopefully, that’s a positive thing I can put into popular culture and so maybe in some bizarrely tiny way that helps people not think of Asians in one particular way.”

On Star Trek 3:
After stating that he has absolute confidence in Star Trek 3 director Bob Orci, Cho wrote, “I don’t know anything about Star Trek 3. I’m guessing I’m in it? I just went in for a costume fitting.”

On his overall experience on American Pie:
“It felt innocent. All those actors were young. I didn’t know anyone; they were all starting out. I didn’t know anything about the business, and Chris and Paul (the director and producer) were great,” Cho said about one of his earliest films.

“It could have been a forgettable gross out movie, but what carried the day was its earnestness and its characters, even though admittedly there’s a sexual pie, a man has sex with a pie, but I think there’s a lot of imitators and they were never able to quite capture the spirit of that movie, because what that movie did was effectively capture and remember what it felt like to be that age.”

On popularizing the term “MILF”:
“I don’t know that we needed it in our cultural vocabulary, but it was there and I was the conduit at that moment in time. It’s funny, and it started my comedy career inadvertently, but my joke answer is that I apologize for all the websites I’ve proliferated upon the world.”

On North Korea:
“My father was born in what is now North Korea. I saw a Frontline documentary on North Korea, and … There are people who are risking their lives to smuggle in DVDS with Western pop culture movies and TV shows,” Cho wrote. “It is considered a way to fight the regime by spreading images of Western Pop culture to show that what they’ve been saying about the West is untrue. It would be really amazing if they were aware of a person of Korean descent who was part of that popular culture and output.”

He also wants to be on Game of Thrones:
“I want to up my swordplay and be on Game of Thrones,” Cho said in response to a question asking him which TV show he wish he was a part of the cast. I guess if Cho were to meet John Snow on set, the two could take turns telling each other they know nothing.

His thoughts on Better Luck Tomorrow:
“We did feel that we were making something special. And that was part and parcel of a great movement in independent cinema that came out of the 1990s, but it came out of this great fervor,” Cho wrote about the 1992 crime drama that featured an Asian American cast.

“It felt like we were pushing against a membrane and never really broke through, but I was really proud to be a part of the pushing. And maybe nothing really similar has come along, partially because the business has changed to be less about independent cinema and more about television, that’s where the interesting content is going.”

On working on the Star Trek franchise:
“I would say first and foremost it’s a real pleasure to be working with JJ and that particular cast. Everybody involved in that production is pretty much at the top. They are among the best at what they do, so it’s a pleasure that way,” he wrote. “It’s an honor to be a part of this American cultural masterpiece.”

On George Takei:
“I find George to be fascinating. First of all, I know George and have been familiar with him for all my life. I also find it amazing that he has moved past being an actor and has become an American cultural icon. It’s pretty crazy. But people who’ve never seen Star Trek know who George Takei is, and if you say ‘Oh, my’ you know it’s the dude from Star Trek.”

When asked about receiving any tips from the original Sulu, Cho responded: “He was just very encouraging with me, because I was very very nervous, and he had put in a good word to JJ on my behalf. And I didn’t know that. And it meant the world to me that he approved of my casting.”

When he refused to do an accent for a film:
When Cho was asked to do a Chinese accent for Big Fat Liar, he declined. “I quietly thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to do this role in a kid’s comedy, with an accent, because I don’t want young people laughing at an accent inadvertently,'” Cho said. He explained that despite knowing that the filmmakers’ intent was not to jab at the accent, he “didn’t want to risk it.” Fortunately, the director Shawn Levy was willing to toss the accent and develop a new character for Cho.

“I bumped into him recently, and for him he says it was his first feature, and it was really awesome from HIS perspective that it was a good reminder that actors need to feel invested and the importance of collaboration, but for ME it was important that someone understood where I was coming from politically as far as representation of Asian-Americans.”

His plans for a zombie apocalypse:
“I’m inclined to get eaten as quickly as possible and get it over with,” Cho responded, clearly amused. “I hate being chased, it’s the subject of all my nightmares. Let’s eliminate the chase.”

To read more of John Cho’s answers, check out his AMA thread on Reddit.

Harold-and-Kumar-e1366395655157

‘Harold and Kumar’ To Become An Animated Series!

by HAEIN JUNG

Those of you who’ve enjoyed the antics of stoner-duo Harold and Kumar over the years can sit back, light one up, and look forward the Harold and Kumar animated series, set to air on Adult Swim.

Last week, actor Kal Penn (aka Kumar) tweeted about the casts’ first table read for the series, ‘Had a wildly inappropriate morning,’ with John Cho (Harold), Dave Krumholtz, Paula Garces, and Eddie Kaye Thomas.

The franchise chronicles the misadventures of cannabis loving best friends Harold and Kumar as they journey to White Castle in the first film and escape from Guantanamo Bay in the second. In the final installment, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas 3D, they deal with growing pains of becoming adults and putting their wild past behind them.

Additional confirmation comes from writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg who helmed the screenplay for all three films. Hurwitz tweeted, “‘Harold & Kumar’ table read was insane, surreal, & hilarious. Cannot wait for fans to see this!”

Not only was the franchise a beloved cult comedy classic, it has also been favorably reviewed by critics. Robert Koehler of Variety says, “…gleefully upends expectations and delivers an energetic comedy”. A.O Scott of the New York Times writes it’s “delightfully stupid” and that it’s also “one of the few recent comedies that persuasively, and intelligently, engage the social realities of contemporary multicultural America.” The exact airdate of the animated series is vague. However, actress Paula Garces (Maria) assured fans on Twitter, “Coming sooner than u think!”

Puff. Puff. Exhale.

Image via The Daily Caller

henney-zero-2

Why Does Every Blockbuster Have to Kill Off the Asian Guy?

He’s in Every Action Movie–But Not for Long: Meet the Expendable Asian Crewmember

From Godzilla to X-Men to Total Recall, why does every blockbuster need a single Asian guy to kill off?

by PAULA YOUNG LEE

Fans of the original Star Trek television series, which aired from 1966 to 1969, are familiar with the old trope of the expendable Asian crewmember. Every week, one or two unlucky marginal characters, wearing the red shirt of a Security Officer, would join a landing party that usually consisted of Captain James Kirk, First Officer Spock and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy from the starship USS Enterprise. The trio would beam down to the planet’s surface along with the Expendable Crewmember—who would promptly get killed off by a space monster/mysterious sentient cloud/primitive hostiles. The Expendable Crewmember became such a routine part of the storyline that it was spoofed on the animated television show Family Guy, and became a running joke in the 1999 film Galaxy Quest, in which Sam Rockwell’s character, “Crewman no. 6,” is a nervous wreck named Guy, so forgettable to everyone that even he knows he’s doomed to die.

As little kid, I found it a bit odd that the Klingons always missed Kirk and hit the guy in the red shirt standing next to him. And as I got older, I couldn’t help but notice two strange trends beginning to pop up in Hollywood summer blockbusters: 1) Random storylines would detour to someplace in Asia for no particularly good reason, and 2) One useless Asian character—only one—would show up and stick around just long enough to make a vague impression as a villain. Then he or she would die at the hands of the good (white) guys, who would then march off victoriously into the sunset.

Now, it has been pointed out to me that the business of killing off villains is an equal-opportunity plot device, and Asian people are not being singled out for horrible deaths. Which is true. It’s long been the case that Hollywood casts ethnic minorities as bad guys so their heads can be blasted off. In horror films, there is also the bimbo rule, which requires hot blondes to get killed off first. This is neither racist nor sexist (see no. 7 on this list, John Cho, hot blond), but the norm. The Expendable Asian Crewmember is different from the phenomenon known as the “Asian sidekick,” whose ranks include Cato in the Pink Panther film series from the ’60s and ’70s and remade in 2006; Kato in the Green Hornet television series from the ’60s, remade as a film in 2011; Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, 1984, remade and moved from California to China, 2010; and the mutant Yukio in The Wolverine, 2013. But the vast majority of blockbuster film franchises have no Asian characters in them at all. In general, both New York City and The Future are curiously free of Asians except for Maggie Q, whose time-traveling powers enable her to pop up briefly in Divergent, 2014. There are so few Asians in the galaxy inhabited by Star Wars that a hilarious blog, “You Offend Me You Offend My Family,” has scoured the entire franchise for signs of Asian life. The results were: one rebel officer, and a dubious claim that Admiral Ackbar, fearless cephalopod leader of the Rebellion, was “Asian-like.”

Which brings me to the 2013 Star Trek reboot, with Zoe Saldana as Lt. Uhura and John Cho as Lt. Sulu, plus loads of “Asian-like” aliens, including Vulcans. When the most diverse cast in a Hollywood summer blockbuster happens to be based on a television show that debuted a half century ago, it’s better to be the Expendable (Asian) Crewmember than not be allowed on board at all. But I’m hoping it won’t be another 50 years before Mr. Sulu not only takes the helm, but gets his own ship—and can star in his own film.

Here is a mere sampling of the Expendable Asian Crewmembers I’ve spotted over the years:

X-Men 2: X-Men United, 2003. Yuriko. The perfectly coiffed, impeccably manicured and silent assistant to evil mastermind Stryker, Yuriko turns out to be a super-villain called Lady Deathstrike whose abilities closely parallel those possessed by the Wolverine. Wolverine kills her by injecting her with the rare metal adamantium in its liquid form.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand, 2006. Kid Omega. As the Mutant Brotherhood organizes against humans, Kid Omega becomes one of Magneto’s new recruits. Played by Ken Leung, he can project spikes out all over his body in the manner of an angry porcupine. He dies in a blast of psychokinetic energy unleashed by the super-mutant, Jean Grey/Phoenix.

Mission Impossible III, 2006. Zhen Lei. Played by Maggie Q, this femme fatale joins the “Impossible Mission Force,” experiences a staged death, and disappears from the story. The fact that she is Chinese does not explain why the action relocates to Shanghai as opposed to, say, Southern California, which is also inhabited by white heroes plus a few Chinese people eating noodles.

Live Free or Die Hard2007. Mai Lin. Once again played by Maggie Q, Mai Lin is a cyber-terrorist with nefarious plans that vaguely involve computer hacking. Bruce Willis blames her for the awful script and throws her down an elevator shaft.

The Dark Knight2008. Lau. Played by Chin Han, Lau is a mob accountant who hides the mob’s money and flees to Hong Kong for the express purpose of getting Batman to Asia for an extended tourist commercial involving many tall, sleek skyscrapers. Batman brings Lau back to the U.S., where he is killed by the Joker.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 2009. Agent Zero. A mutant expert marksman, Agent Zero, played by ethnic Korean actor Daniel Henney, not only looks fine in a tailored black suit, he has better hair than Wolverine. After many tries, Wolverine finally succeeds in mussing his rival’s hair by downing his helicopter and blowing it up.

John Cho

Total Recall (remake), 2010. Bob McClane. Played by John Cho, better known as Lt. Sulu from the “Star Trek” reboot, Bob gets killed off when he stupidly asks secret agent Doug Quaid about his feelings. This taboo question prompts a police raid that results in everybody except Quaid getting shot.

Pacific Rim, 2013. My friend Minsoo Kang, who is an expert on the history of automatons, told me that not one but “two Chinese robot operators” show up and get crushed when monsters mash their robots. (They die at the same time and don’t have names, so I will count them as one.) Not only does this film have a female lead played by Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi, but it’s set in Hong Kong, which gets smashed by machine-monsters. This film didn’t do very well in the U.S. but did extremely well in Asia (e.g., China, Korea and Japan). As summed up by Forbes, Pacific Rim was “the rare English-language film in history to cross $400 million while barely crossing $100 million domestic.”

Red 2, 2013. Han Cho-Bai. He is an international assassin sent to kill retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses. Moses is played by Bruce Willis, so you know he doesn’t get killed off. Neither does Han Cho-Bai (played by Korean actor Lee Byung-Hun), because he’s a red herring who is really a disguised sidekick. Though I enjoyed the display of his martial arts skills, he’s got no business being in this film except to sell tickets. It made nearly twice as much in foreign receipts as it did in the U.S., and the bulk of those tickets were sold in Japan and South Korea.
 Could there be a theme developing here? Why, yes! And it leads directly to…

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Godzilla (remake), 2014. Dr. Serizawa. Played by the legendary Ken Watanabe, the Serizawa character appears in the 1954 version set in Japan, where he unexpectedly dies. Crucially, the original Godzilla hit U.S. theaters around the same time as the first wave of Asian immigrants, in the aftermath of WWII and the Korean War. Sixty years later, the newer, sexier version of the giant lizard suggests that Godzilla is a strong, charismatic, assimilated Asian-American who wants his own starring role in a summer blockbuster without so much goofy metrosexual makeup. And just as some of the funniest Internet memes focus on the giant lizard’s new Hollywood look, it’s not a done deal that Serizawa’s character gets killed off this time around, even if he is the only Asian character with a name, thus adhering to the one-Asian rule. I guess you could call that progress.

Paula Young Lee’s most recent books are Deer Hunting in Paris: A Memoir of God, Guns, and Game Meat and Game: A Global History, both published in 2013. This article originally appeared in Salon.

 

John Cho

John Cho Cast in Lead Role in ABC Comedy Pilot ‘Selfie’

Better known for his roles in Harold & Kumar and Star Trek Into Darkness, Korean American actor John Cho is back with a new gig!

Cho will be staring in ABC’s new comedy Selfie alongside Doctor Who actress Karen Gillian.

Written by Suburgatory creator Emily Kapnek, Selfie takes inspiration from My Fair Lady to tell a story of a self-obsessed, social media crazed woman named Eliza who suffers from a highly publicized breakup. Once obsessed with getting likes, she suddenly gains much unwanted attention and “followers” when she becomes the focus of a video gone viral. In order to rid herself of this bad reputation, she looks for help from her company in hopes of repairing her ruined image.

Cho will take on the role of Henry, a confident and successful marketing expert who has a different perspective on today’s social media addiction. He decides to take on the challenge of “remarketing” his co-worker Eliza in order to change her image after the scandal. 

Keep an eye out for the pilot of Cho’s new comedy that exemplifies society’s fascination with social media today.

Monday's Link Attack: Steven Yeun, Miss Korea, Erotic Garden

Steven Yeun: ‘The Walking Dead’ aims for my groin
Zap2it

“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 Zap2it.com.

‘Walking Dead’ Creator Talks Steamy Sex Scene
MTV.com

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
CNNGo

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.”

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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.

8Asians.com Readers Asked, John Cho Responds!
8Asians

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
CNNGo

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
Hyphen

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
Billboard.com

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
YouTube

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November Cover Story: Harold, Kumar and the State of Asian American Media

Are We There Yet?

The third Harold and Kumar film has the titular characters grappling with adulthood. Has Asian American media itself come of age?

By Eugene Yi

So you’re watching TV. It’s good, it’s OK, it’s whatever. You have it on just to have something on. The situations and the characters are stock, and the jokes barely seem to fill the time between the imagined rimshots. You’re watching it and not watching it. It’s just TV, after all.

An Asian character walks onto the set. You think, “Oh. There’s one.”

You are counting. And you are primed for outrage.

Exotification? Emasculation? Model minority? A terrorist? A stupid accent? A deadly martial art? You think, “What am I going to be mad about now?” It’s not just TV, after all. A stock ethnic character on television is not just a caricature; it’s a template, and there are those who will overlay it on you, see where the lines overlap and where they don’t, and then, stereotype accordingly. Representation channeled through society influences identity—

Or does it? On the morrow of the release of A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, I’m spending a lot less time going all ethnic-studies on the film. In my lifetime, we’ve gone from “Whats-a happening-a, hot stuff?” to “MILF!” to, well, what exactly? Too many different representations, too many different actors, a fugue of voices upon voices striving to be heard. “Oh. There’s one” has become “OK, another one.”

Would this have happened without Harold and Kumar? Perhaps. But it is still the first Asian American Hollywood franchise. “I consider it an achievement that one movie was made, another grand achievement that a second one was made, and completely implausible that a third one was made starring a Korean guy and an Indian guy as the leads,” said Harold, née John Cho.

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One could conceivably reverse the order: that it was completely implausible that one would get made, a grand achievement that a second one did, and a lesser but still notable achievement that we’re now at part three. And not just because the films made money. Something subtle has happened in the relationship between Asian America and mainstream culture. Seven years ago, when the first film came out, two Asian Americans helming a studio comedy seemed like the fruition of an impossible dream. Now, it’s hard to list prominent Asian American actors without feeling like you’re leaving someone notable out.

Some of the most popular YouTube channels are run by Asian Americans, telling stories about Asian Americans. Most large cities have at least one, if not several, Asian or Asian American film festivals. There is an array of options available for the average Asian American looking for faces that look like theirs. It’s not some utopian, Obaman post-racial nirvana, of course. But all the small steps—cultural, political, technological, accidental—seem to have allowed Asian American media to trend towards some sort of maturity. Continue reading

Friday's Link Attack: Pyongyang University, John Cho, Sung Kim


The Man With the Golden Shoes (Photo)
WSJ

Young Jun wears a vintage leopard jacket over Givenchy’s snarling Rottweiler t-shirt. New Yorkers seem particularly fond of the image’s “step back” message; Rottweiler tees are prowling the streets. Both Young Jun’s baggy pants and his golden wingtip shoes are by Comme des Garçons. The bag slung over his shoulder is made by the Korean design duo, Steve J & Yoni P.

New university is opening doors in North Korea
Houston Chronicle

The meeting was recently held in the new Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). What I came to learn was that the very existence of this institution represents nothing short of a miracle and a unique opportunity for change.

The brainchild of James Kim, a Korean-American businessman who survived imprisonment and a death sentence in Pyongyang in 1998, the university is a place where hundreds of North Korean students are receiving a first-class education taught in English by a multinational, primarily Western faculty. The students who live and study here are among their nation’s brightest and best, and most importantly, represent the leaders of tomorrow.

In South Korea, Plastic Surgery Comes Out of the Closet
New York Times

Cosmetic surgery has long been widespread in South Korea. But until recently, it was something to keep quiet about. No longer.

And as society has become more open about the practice, surgeries have become increasingly extreme. Double-jaw surgery — which was originally developed to repair facial deformities, and involves cutting and rearranging the upper and lower jaws — has become a favorite procedure for South Korean women who are no longer satisfied with mere nose jobs or with paring down cheekbones to achieve a smoother facial line.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas: Film Review
The Hollywood Reporter

Nothing has changed. After being waylaid by the lame Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay in 2008, Harold and Kumar, looking well past 30 — the actors always played much younger than they were — return for another nocturnal ramble that will increasingly move into surreal fantasy. But the situation, for all the 3D claptrap, remains essentially the same: Two reasonably authentic characters tumble into a Wonderland of sheer nonsense.


To Anyone: The Rise of Korean Wave
Pitchfork

South Korean pop culture (often referred to as “Hallyu”, which means “Korean Wave”) is a fresh-faced phenomenon. The record companies that currently dominate the country’s music industry date back only to 1995, which means that K-Pop, as a genre and a business, is probably younger than you are. It certainly sounds young– even if you ignore the fact that most K-Pop groups are made up of teenagers, there’s a wild, enthusiastic spirit evident in the way their producers gobble up and spit out sounds like Britney/Gaga Eurotrance, Auto-Tune, rapid-fire rap, swooning Final Fantasy strings, breakbeats, and industrial-strength synths. This music can be flat, derivative, and sometimes really, really annoying. It can also deliver the kind of senses-shattering, hands-in-the-air euphoria that’s a defining marker of great pop.

Blunted in the Walk-In: Eddie and Prodigy Eat Korean at Jung Sik
Complex

Jung Sik wants to be the “first high-end, thoroughly modern Korean restaurant in New York.” If “modern” means a Korean Francophile’s expensive and long-winded tasting menu, then they’re undoubtedly modern in every sense of the word. But if modern means something more like Roy Choi, who serves a modern, personal, Korean-American story through $2 tacos, then NY is still waiting for its first thoroughly modern Korean restaurant or, better yet, a Kogi Truck on dub-deuces. Cause if I had a food truck, it’d be sittin’ on 22-inch Daytons with Uncle Murda yelling “Ohhh, I’m gettin’ paper.”

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The True Origins of Pizza: Irony, the Internet and East Asian Nationalisms
Japan Focus

On September 30, 2011, an outfit named GumshoePictures uploaded on YouTube a video entitled “The True Origins of Pizza,” which, in the format of a brief documentary (3:44), reminiscent of those seen on such stations as the Discovery Channel, investigates an apparent historical puzzle: a series of speakers, from academics to a blogger and a representative of the “Korean Culinary Center,” are interviewed and advance evidence that pizza originated in Korea and had been “stolen” by Marco Polo, much as he had reputedly brought back noodles from China to Italy as spaghetti.

The co-star of Harold & Kumar comes clean about his addiction to Angry Birds and his epiphany after reading The New York Times in print.
AdWeek

Give us the skinny on your favorite app.
My favorite app right now is Angry Birds. It’s like a disease. And Netflix, although it’s weird in terms of what’s available lately. I think iBooks is insanely convenient.

What’s your biggest digital indulgence?
An iPad is not particularly necessary, but I got one. But it hasn’t taken over my life.

Look how far South Korea has come
The Globe and Mail

The Kia Optima may be the winning car of this group, but overall at this year’s TestFest, the South Korean currency was the big winner. Every category in which a South Korean product was entered, a South Korean car scored a victory, with one exception: the Hyundai Genesis R-Spec, which was optimistically entered into the Performance Above $50,000 group of track stars, instead of the Luxury car group, where it more naturally fit.

Jung Gon Kim charged with sexually abusing boys
ABC 7

An Ellicott City barber is facing charges that he sexually abused a 13-year-old boy.

Police charged the barber, Jung Gon Kim, 54, with sexual abuse of a minor, second- and third degree sex offense, sodomy and second degree assault.

The victim was a client of the Scissors Sound Hair Salon in Ellicott City.

Sung Kim sworn in as U.S. ambassador to S. Korea
Yonhap News Agency

“The new ambassador, Sung Kim, is expected to go to Seoul around Nov. 10 and he will immediately present credentials (to President Lee Myung-bak) to begin his work,” the source said, requesting anonymity since the State Department has yet to announce a related schedule.

Kim, a career diplomat with expertise on the North Korean nuclear issue, will become the first Korean-born U.S. ambassador to Korea since the two sides forged diplomatic relations 129 years ago.

Kim Jong-il reveals fondness for dolphins and fancy dogs
The Telegraph

North Korea’s ailing leader Kim Jong-il has long been known to have a taste for the finer things in life – from Uzbek Caviar to fine French Cognac – but a new list of luxury imports now also reveals a penchant for Chinese dolphins, French poodles, and African aphrodisiacs.

박재범 Jay Park ‘Girlfriend’ [Official Music Video]
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Tuesday's Link Attack: Harold and Kumar, Yoon Mirae, SNSD

The Harold & Kumar worldview
Philadelphia Inquirer

[Kal] Penn points to shows like Modern Family and Community as evidence that the viewing culture has shifted. [John] Cho says he’s been getting different questions from journalists this time around.

For the first two movies, he says, the characters’ race “was all we talked about. I learned that’s what people clock first, the color of a person. This time, we’re not necessarily talking about the politics of race in America – I’m not sure actors are the best people to talk about that – and when we are, the questions don’t overwhelm the discussion.”

At 39, Cho is also substantially older than his Harold & Kumar character. But perhaps because of how the franchise’s audience skews, both actors feel like they’ve gained insight into the way younger people see the world, an experience that’s left them with surprisingly optimistic worldviews.

The success of the movies, Cho says, “speaks to a different tone in the country. For the first movie, it was months and months of justifying why there was a Korean guy and an Indian guy in a theatrical motion picture. There’s no need anymore. It’s been done.”

Redistricting offers Asian-Americans a political opportunity to gain fair representation
New York Daily News

Redistricting — the redrawing of political district lines — takes place every 10 years, after new Census data are released.

Elected officials and political insiders pay close attention to this arcane process of map-drawing, because they understand well that new district lines could result in major shifts of political power.

As civil rights advocates, we see redistricting as the once-in-a-decade chance for communities of color to secure political influence that is commensurate with their numbers.

New York City’s changing demographics, fueled by rising immigration, will now provide Asian-Americans a real opportunity to gain fair representation through redistricting.

Get It In by Tasha Reid (aka Yoon Mirae)
channel APA

Coming out of Korea is Tasha Reid’s (aka Yoon Mirae) homage to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill with the music video for her single “Get It In.” Opening up into an unparalleled world of music and virtual mayhem, it features action packed bloody scenes with swordplay as she take on multiple enemies. She’s showing that she’s a true woman warrior.

Tasha, as the protagonist and heroine, controls the confines of her existence with the swing of her sword, kicking ass and fighting off tuxedo suited villains. Once she passes the underlings, Tasha faces the big boss Tiger JK of Drunken Tiger (who is her real life husband). He makes his defiantly late entrance, proceeding into a storm-struck battle of the-hip hop beaux. Complete with wire work and special effects, this is one high value big production.

With Park Gone, Korea Loses Its Trailblazer
Wall Street Journal

The search for three missing South Korean mountain climbers at Annapurna, one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas, ended Saturday after 12 days without success.

Park Young-seok, one of the country’s most renowned summiteers, and two fellow climbers went missing on October 18. His last message via satellite phone said his team had a hard time climbing down due to heavy avalanche.

Since the last contact, the Korean Alpine Federation and local Sherpas launched a risky search operation, believing that they might have been trapped in a crevasse, to no avail. The search team only found a rope and climbing nail buried under snow, both believed to belong to the missing climbers.

On Sunday, a memorial service was held at the Annapurna base camp at an altitude of 4,200 meters. It was attended by the search team and family members who flew in from Korea.

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Korea’s Diabetes Death Rate is Highest in OECD
Chosun Ilbo

Korea’s rate of diabetes-related deaths is the highest of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations.

Diabetes-related deaths per 100,000 persons were 35.5 in South Korea, more than twice the 13.7 average of OECD nations. Japan’s rate is 5.9 and England’s is 7.5. Korea’s rate is almost twice that of Germany’s 16.6 and significantly higher than the U.S.’ 20.9 even though both of those nations have high numbers of diabetes-related deaths.

Defector uses balloons to send socks to North Korea
Los Angeles Times

The oblong helium balloon rose into an ink-colored sky Saturday, released by a dozen hands just south of one of the world’s most fortified borders, its precious cargo bound for North Korea.

Yet unlike countless balloon launches that shower the north with pamphlets and political screeds criticizing Kim Jong-il’s secretive regime, this one carried a different kind of payload: socks.

In all, hundreds of pairs of foot coverings were lifted heavenward by 10 balloons: little pink baby footies and large black and blue ones for growing children and adults -– all headed for impoverished residents facing another winter.

The socks also carried a message: Hang on for dear life.

How to rock Ajumma style
Korea.net

Are you an ajumma (아줌마)? Ajumma is the familiar term for “married woman”, but also the general moniker in calling an older woman, regardless of marital status. It’s not just a name, though. It’s much more than that; it’s a title, a state of mind, a complete lifestyle. All Korean women seem to be born with the ajumma gene which surfaces naturally after 3 months of becoming one, and whose traits become stronger and stronger as time goes by.

Ajummas have their own distinctive style, something that also seems to be automatically released upon marriage, but if you’re an ajumma who just isn’t fitting in, or in need of some extra oomph, here are a few tips to make your outer (and inner) ajumma shine!

What does the United States think of Girls’ Generation?
CNNGo

With the girls’ U.S. album being released today, we asked a selection of Americans across the country what they make of all the K-Pop fierceness.

Winner of Taiwanese “Emmy”: “I’d like to thank my iPhone”
via Yahoo News

During the recent Golden Bell Television Awards last month in Taipei — Taiwan’s equivalent of the Emmy awards — Huang Ming-chan, who won one of the top prizes in the director categories, gingerly walked up to the stage and snapped a cellphone photo of himself (over the shoulder) while approaching the podium.

The 40-something director then took another cell phone from his other jacket pocket and started reading congratulatory email messages and smiling to himself, totally ignoring the audience before finally addressing the 5,000 people in the auditorium — and on national TV — by reading his acceptance speech from the screen of his iPhone.

Fort Lee man pleads guilty for role in Palisades Park-based fraud ring
Bergen County Record

This is the case that never ends. That’s what happens when 53 people are involved in an identity theft ring.

A Fort Lee man was among four people who pleaded guilty Tuesday in connection with an identity theft and bank-fraud ring that was the target of a federal investigation last year, authorities said.

Byung Jang, 47, pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to conspiracy to commit credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a statement.

Asian Americans now country’s fastest growing racial group
Los Angeles Times

Increased immigration from South Asia helped fuel the rapid growth in the number of Asian Americans over the last decade as well as an influx of Asians to states such as Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data released Wednesday.