South Korea Proposes Talks to Reunite War-Divided Families
New York Times
President Park Geun-hye of South Korea said Thursday that South and North Korea should resume arranging reunions of families separated by the Korean War six decades ago, and she renewed a proposal to build an “international peace park” straddling their heavily armed border.
Ms. Park’s conciliatory overtures came a day after the Koreas agreed to reopen an idled joint industrial park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, a deal indicating that they were moving toward a thaw after months of tensions this year. The Kaesong agreement also appeared to give impetus to Ms. Park’s “trustpolitik” policy, which calls for building trust with the North as a foundation for more serious negotiations on ending the North’s nuclear weapons programs in exchange for helping the country rebuild its economy.
How the Koreas Got to Yes on Kaesong
Wall Street Journal
After seven rounds of meetings and 133 days, negotiations between the two Koreas over the mothballed Kaesong Industrial Complex culminated in a tentative agreement to reopen the project.
What led to the bargaining breakthrough?
The first six rounds of talks were mainly a fruitless exercise in which each side stated and restated its position without any consensus. Negotiation analysts refer to this as “positional bargaining.”
Politics bog release of American jailed in NKorea
The State (South Carolina)
Kenneth Bae, the latest of several Americans jailed by North Korea in recent years, has already waited longer for his freedom than any of the others had to. But as his health deteriorates, Washington and Pyongyang appear unable to negotiate, each wary of giving concessions to the other.
Past detainees were freed following visits from prominent Americans — a former president in two cases. But this time Washington, or perhaps Pyongyang, is refusing to play that game of “send me a statesman.”
Pyongyang has put a spotlight on Bae’s case by allowing the American missionary and tour operator to be interviewed by North Korean-sanctioned media first in jail and then, last week, in the hospital where he is now being treated for several ailments. Both times, under the supervision of his North Korean guards, Bae has said he wants the U.S. to do more to gain his release. He wants a high-ranking U.S. official to travel to North Korea to seek a pardon for him.
The U.S. Soldier Who Defected to North Korea
We all do stupid things when we’re drunk, but among bad decisions, this one deserves special distinction: on the night of January 4, 1965, U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins pounded 10 beers, deserted his infantry company at the edge of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, walked alone across a minefield, and defected to North Korea. He was thrown into a chilly, spartan house (he tried, unsuccessfully, to leave) and forced to study the works of the North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung for 11 hours every day. By 1972, he could recite Kim’s core principles by heart in Korean. That year, he was forcibly naturalized as a North Korean citizen. He went on to work as an English teacher, a translator, and an actor, under 24-hour surveillance and conditions of near-starvation.
North Korean Missiles Are Likely Fake, Experts Say: Report
Government experts and independent researchers say North Korean missiles that were paraded in Pyongyang in late July are “almost certainly” fake, according to an NBC News investigation.
The experts and analysts made their determination by studying high-definition photographs of a North Korean military parade held July 27.
NBC News space and missile expert James Oberg, who witnessed North Korea’s failed Unha-3 rocket launch in April 2012, pointed to the “undulating skin” seen on a warhead as evidence that it was bogus.
Japan’s Premier Stays Away From War Shrine, but Sends Offering
New York Times
Emperor Akihito attended a ceremony at a martial arts arena on Thursday to mark the anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, while cabinet ministers paid private visits to a Tokyo war shrine that has angered China, a former victim of Japanese wartime aggression.
Japan’s hawkish new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, did not visit the shrine, called Yasukuni, after refusing for days to say clearly whether he would go or not. Instead, Mr. Abe dispatched an aide to make a ritual offering in his name, an apparent effort to appeal to his supporters on the nationalistic right without provoking China and other Asian nations.
The Japanese government’s top spokesman, the chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga, described Mr. Abe’s offering as a personal gesture, not an official one. Separately, three cabinet members paid what they called private visits to the shrine wearing formal black suits.
S. Korea held defense drills near Dokdo in June
South Korea conducted naval drills in waters near the country’s easternmost islets of Dokdo in late June, a government source said Thursday, as Japan continues to lay claims to the rocky outcroppings.
The one-day drill was carried out under a scenario in which other countries approach and illegally land on the islets, the source said. It followed regular maritime drills in the East Sea in the same month.
The source did not say why the drill was not made public at the time.
How would America react if Japan suddenly attacked South Korea?
This week Japan celebrates the end of World War II. At the same time, Korea takes a different angle on the times and celebrates the end of Japan’s colonization and subjugation of their country. This anti-Japan sentiment remains rooted in many aspects of Koreans’ psyche, and led to the creation of a certain documentary which aired on the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) last Sunday, August 11. The program was titled The Archipelago’s Perilous Night and posed the questions, “What would America do if Japan suddenly attacked South Korea? Who would they aid?” Korean Internet users were quick to respond with their own speculations.
Japan as a whole likes to pretend that many of its amoral actions, particularly war crimes, are really just misunderstandings. Unsurprisingly, this has caused a great deal of resentment and distrust to brew in the hearts of many South Koreans, who hate the Japanese for occupying their country during WWII. And so, it’s unsurprising that the harsh words of some right-wing Japanese politicians have caused some Koreans to worry about the prospects of another war. They say that even if the political hate speech is all overblown to appeal to far-right voters, it could still have some influence on the impressionable youth and lead to a future attack.
Undocumented Asian Students Live Under the Radar
El Nuevo Sol (California State University Northridge)
James (an undocumented student alias) called Tlaxcala, Mexico, home for three years as he and his family migrated from South Korea so he could learn Spanish. At age 14, he migrated again with his family to Chatsworth for more opportunities for higher education.
Now, at age 24, James, a Korean student at CSUN majoring in Asian-American Studies is the only member of his family classified as undocumented. His family came from Mexico with visitor’s visas 10 years ago. After those visas expired, James parents secured a new kind of visa which granted them all to stay in the U.S. However, since James was no longer a dependent and he is over the age of 21, now he is on his own.
“Our migration stories were tougher than other migrants who have connections,” says James. “Our family struggled a lot because of not knowing the system.”
Korean Liberation Day celebrated Thursday in San Pedro
Daily Breeze (Torrance)
San Pedro’s Korean Friendship Bell will be rung at 12:30 p.m. Thursday for the 68th annual observation of Korean Liberation Day.
Members of the Korean-American community in Los Angeles will attend after the city’s official ceremony in Koreatown.
Aug. 15 is celebrated annually to commemorate the Allied forces’ victory in World War II, which also liberated Korea from Japan’s colonial rule.
27 Asian Leading Men Who Deserve More Airtime
Asian actors don’t often get starring roles in Hollywood, but these guys — American and otherwise — prove they’re leading men too.
1. Daniel Dae Kim
Works in: U.K., U.S.
Claims to fame: Lost, Hawaii Five-0
Fun fact: For two weeks, Daniel played the King of Siam in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I at the Royal Albert Hall.
2. Naveen Andrews
Works in: U.K., U.S.
Claims to fame: The English Patient, Lost
Fun fact: Naveen has spoken about his heroin addiction and alcoholism in the mid-90’s and said he decided to get clean when he was driving drunk and scared his son.
Korean-American director John S. Park signs with The Sweet Shop for international representation
The Sweet Shop has announced the addition of John S. Park to its global roster.
Skilled in multiple disciplines, the Korean-American director boasts an impressive resume of commercial, documentary, and short form content distinctive for its mixing of both Eastern and Western advertising traditions. With experience in the culture and flavors of both markets, John’s work has been able to successfully merge the narrative and storytelling focus popular in the West with the image-driven content that has become a hallmark of the East. The result is a body of evocative, sensory work complimented by powerfully visual technique.
Mysterious man donates $200,000 to CMS — Transforming the Korean community one event at a time
Northwest Asian Weekly
If the Chinese and Japanese-American communities are considered to be sophisticated fundraisers, the Korean community is a super star. The Korean community surprised many by eclipsing its older brothers with progressive attitudes towards charitable causes on Aug. 10.
Founded by Dr. Chang Shin, Cornerstone Medical Services (CMS) is a free health clinic for low-income clients in Federal Way and organized its first fundraising dinner at the Seattle Westin last Saturday, raising $380,000. The organization offers free health service on Saturdays, but its goal is to develop into a daily-service facility.
At first, I thought it was just a regular Korean community event, long and boring with the same old programming. I planned to take some photos and run, but my instincts told me to stay.
Uzbek Musician Chosen for US ‘Banjo Babe’ Calendar
Ria Novosti (Russia)
Ex-Soviet Uzbekistan is not often associated with bluegrass finger pickin’ music. But that may soon change after a Russian-Korean musician from the Central Asian republic was chosen to appear in the first US “Banjo Babes” calendar, according to the project’s website.
Janna Kim, a 28-year-old banjo player from Tashkent will be the featured “banjo babe” for April 2014 in the calendar, which otherwise features American women. In an interview with BanjoCrazy.com, she claimed to be the “…only one who plays banjo in Uzbekistan.”
“America was always my favorite country in the world. When I play banjo and when I hear its sound, I feel like I have come into the Old Wild West, where I can see cowboys, horses and saloons,” Kim told the website.
14 Under-The-Radar Koreatown Restaurants to Try Now
Eater Los Angeles
Koreatown has a multitude of excellent eateries, most of which can be found on this guide here. But there are some that serve regional specialties or rare dishes that literally can’t be found anywhere else in America. The quality and breadth of Korean cooking in Los Angeles rivals even Seoul itself. Here now, a guide to under-the-radar restaurants in Koreatown that are worth trying now.
1. DHA RAE OAK
This restaurant doesn’t have an easy descriptor, except that it has a variety of traditional dishes to go along with some specialty duck dishes of note. In particular, there’s a table-top grill where smoked duck breast might be one of the most unique preparations around. And there’s a whole roasted duck stuffed with glutinous rice and other aromatics, though it must be ordered four hours in advance. It’s worth the wait.
Marriage Cost for Son Triple that of Daughter
A domestic survey finds that it costs three times more to marry off a son than a daughter.
The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs surveyed the cost of marriage in about 970 households in the past three years. A son’s marriage is found to have cost over 107 million won on average compared to over 35 million won for a daughter.
Of the total cost, the sons themselves footed close to 35 million won of the bill while daughters paid for 16 million won, less than half of the sons’ share.
Haute-couture hiking in South Korea
AFP via Fox News
If you want to go hiking in South Korea, you’re going to have to spend a substantial amount of money on stand-out designer gear if you want to blend in.
While jeans and a T-shirt will draw attention — mainly in the form of thinly-disguised pity — a $650 North Face jacket with the latest ultra-light, three-ply Gore-Tex technology, will barely merit a second glance.
Hiking is close to a national pastime in South Korea, and millions throng the country’s many mountain parks and trails every weekend.
Damon drops Gangnam Style mention
Belfast Telegraph (U.K.)
Matt Damon has made a jokey reference to Psy’s Gangnam Style as he stopped off in South Korea.
The Bourne star visited the capital Seoul with his Elysium co-star Sharlto Copley for the press tour for Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi film, their only stopover in Asia.
“Everyone in America knows it’s a huge [film] market and a growing market. I wasn’t surprised when I was told by the studio that I was coming here. I hope next time I can bring my family here,” Matt said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Best-Selling Booze in the World
This Thursday, Aug. 15, South Korea will celebrate the 68th anniversary of the Allies’ victory over—and hence Korea’s liberation from—the Empire of Japan. Many, many flags will be raised, just as they are every other major civic holiday. Many, many, many glasses of soju will be raised, also, just as they are every other single day in South Korea.
It is difficult to overstate how much of this stuff—most traditionally distilled from rice and conventionally described as a low-proof “Korean vodka”—the population goes through. Last month, K-pop star Psy—whose “Gangnam Style,” viewed a billion times over, remains the most-watched video on YouTube—told the Sunday Times that soju was his “best friend,” prompting his fans to explain that he is not, when viewed in proper cultural context, a degenerate lush: “As anyone who has ever lived or worked in South Korea can attest to, Koreans (particularly the men) drink for just about every occasion, and often times without a specific reason at all.”
Obama to visit S. Korea for talks with Lee, global nuclear summit
The Korea Herald
U.S. President Barack Obama will arrive in South Korea on Sunday for a three-day visit that includes summit talks with President Lee Myung-bak and discussions with dozens of other world leaders on nuclear security, the presidential office said Tuesday.
The upcoming trip, which will be Obama‘s third to South Korea, comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea announced last week that it will launch a satellite on a long-range rocket next month, a pretext Pyongyang has used before to disguise banned missile tests.
North Korean Satellite Plan to Loom Over Meeting
New York Times
When regional powers gather in Seoul next week to discuss nuclear terrorism, they will have to deal with another urgent matter: how to pressure North Korea to cancel its plans to launch a satellite, President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea said Tuesday.
“No matter what excuses North Korea may have, this would be an act of flouting a U.N. Security Council resolution,” Mr. Lee told a group of reporters during an interview in his office. He was referring to a 2009 Council resolution that bans the North from any rocket launching using ballistic missile technology.
North Korea has been sending out conflicting messages about its nuclear ambitions since it reached a deal last month with the United States to suspend long-range missile tests and uranium enrichment and admit United Nations inspectors in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid.
Its announcement on Friday that it would launch its new modified Unha-3 rocket to put a satellite into orbit between April 12 and 16 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founding president, drew swift international condemnation.
Korean American couple attacked, robbed
Philadelphia Daily News
IN YET ANOTHER home invasion of an Asian business owner, an Oxford Circle man says that he and his wife were ambushed as they pulled into their back driveway Sunday night in their black Lexus.
The husband, a 42-year-old Korean American who goes by the nickname Kenny but did not want his name published, Monday showed the Daily News a home surveillance video that captured the attackers as they pounced from behind a fence, surprising the couple.
Family, friends remember Thomas Kim’s passion for teaching and for family
Reporter News (Abilene, Tex.)
More than 200 family members, friends and colleagues of Thomas K. Kim gathered at St. Paul United Methodist Church on Saturday afternoon to remember the life of the man that devoted his life to teaching and his family.
The church was where he spent years volunteering, teaching Sunday school to students, and where he worshipped as a devout Methodist.
The longest-serving president in McMurry University’s history, Kim, 83, died Monday at Hendrick Medical Center after a brief illness.
Young boy’s illness overlooked by doctors
WJLA (Washington, D.C.)
As one year old Rayan Lajnef struggled for air, his windpipe shrinking more every day, his parents struggled to get the doctor to listen to them.
“I mean, basically we were ready for him to die,” said Raouf Lajnef, the young boy’s father.
One day Rayan suddenly started coughing, then wheezing. Fearing he had swallowed something, his parents rushed him to a nearby clinic in Woodbridge.
“She said it looks like he’s catching a cold,” said Hanene Lajnef, Rayan’s mother.
Why China can’t persuade N.Korea alone
Global Times (China)
Pyongyang announced Friday its plan to launch a satellite next month, setting off another round of condemnation from South Korea, Japan and the US. China summoned North Korea’s ambassador to China to express its concerns. A sense of nervousness is seemingly shrouding the Korean Peninsula.
China appears to be put in an awkward position every time Pyongyang makes a surprise move. It has to maintain a balance between preventing radical actions in the Peninsula and keeping friendly ties with North Korea.
N.Korea to Spend Billions on Centenary Celebrations
North Korea is about to spend an estimated US$2 billion, or one third of its annual budget, to mark the centenary of nation founder Kim Il-sung on April 15, plus an additional $850 million to build a three-stage rocket and launch pad for the event. The total would be enough to buy 4.75 million tons of rice based on current grain prices at $600 per ton as the regime holds out its hands for international food aid.
Grilled Rat for Welfare Shows Unification Hurdles for Korea
Kim Tae Hee fled North Korea at age 16 and made her way to Seoul via China. Two years after arriving she is unemployed and dependent on government welfare to pay her food and electricity bills.
“I thought life would be comfortable here, living in high- rise apartments and wearing nice clothes,” said Kim, for whom finding rats to grill was a luxury in her village back home. “Everything was supposed to work out once I got here and nothing has.”
More than 2,000 North Koreans come to South Korea every year, escaping chronic malnutrition and a regime that forbids dissent and restricts contact with the outside world. Lacking social skills attuned to the Internet age, or educational backgrounds that match employer needs, northerners face a jobless rate three times higher than native-born citizens.
John Park’s sells 20,000 copies of debut album in 20 days
John Park‘s debut album has sold 20,000 copies in only 20 days.
On March 18, John Park astounded by ranking first on Hanteo Chart’s real time record sales as well as the daily record sales.
He released his first mini album ‘Knock‘ on February 22nd and since then he has been promoting his title track “Falling“. After having his album on sale for only four weeks, he has been dominating charts and recieving lots of attnetion from music fans.
‘X-Treme X-Men’ by Greg Pak & Stephen Segovia Announced [WonderCon]
As promised in a teaser image and press release from earlier this week, Marvel Comics announced today at WonderCon’s “Talk to the Hat” panel the coming of X-Treme X-Men, a new ongoing series written by Greg Pak and drawn by Stephen Segovia. The book stars James Howlett, Emmeline Frost and Kid Nightcrawler — the alternate versions of Wolverine and Nightcrawler seen in Pak’s recent work in Astonishing X-Men — as they “gather their forces to save all universes from the greatest threat [they've] ever faced.” Details remain few, but we do know of one mutant who will join the ranks of this new team: Dazzler.
The Sea of Blood Opera Show: A History of North Korea’s Musical Diplomacy
Last week, North Korea’s premier state instrumental ensemble, the Unhasu Orchestra, performed in Europe for the first time since 1953, the year the Korean War ended. The event was a landmark in North Korea’s latest show of opening and reform, a cycle it has repeated many times, this time under the leadership of young new heir Kim Jung Un. The carefully managed event was also a reminder that, with so much energy and scrutiny applied to an event that would be boringly routine for most countries, the world has a long way to go before seriously engaging North Korea on touchier matters like, say, nuclear weapons or conflict with South Korea.
Spring Practice Position Battles (Guard)
Andrew Rodriguez started every game he was healthy enough to play in throughout the 2011 season until the end. An injury to Rodriguez kept him from being with the team, and as a result, walk-on Seung Hoon Choi started in the Capital One Bowl. Most Husker fans believed Rodriguez would resume his role as starter for the 2012 season.
Spring practice started and Rodriguez wasn’t with the starters – it was Choi. Rodriguez spent the first chunk of spring practice working exclusively with the second team, and remains with the backups. Teammates said Choi is the starter because he worked hard and earned it in practice during Rodriguez’s absence.
How to watch Korean TV in America
Hey guys, I recently hooked up a PC for my mother and she would like to watch some Korean TV on it. I’m fine with paid and free options, but nothing complicated like torrents. She mainly likes to watch things like the news and informative shows, but may occasionally watch some drama. Any good options?
Korea joins curling’s Asian invasion
Add Korea’s name to curling’s Asian invasion.
Young skip Ji-Sun Kim, 24, has become one of the early surprises at the women’s world curling championship.
Korea was winless in its first world appearance in 2002.
When Kim showed up as the country’s rookie skip at the 2011 worlds, the team finished 11th with a 2-9 record.
This time, Kim has rattled off four straight wins after losing her event opener.
Bobby Lee and the World’s Biggest Condom (NSFW)
Asian American males aren’t usually well-represented on American Idol. We had Anoop “My Prerogative” Desai make it pretty far last year, but he had to break past the shameful gates of the house that Sanjaya Malakar and William Hung built. Continue Reading »