Park annoyed with military over North’s drones
President Park Geun-hye yesterday reprimanded the military’s top brass for failing to realize that North Korea was spying on South Korea using unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.
“I think the fact that our military authority was not able to detect information about drones at all means there is a problem with the air-defense network and ground reconnaissance,” she said in a meeting with her senior secretaries at the Blue House.
Park stressed that Seoul should come up with measures that could instantly block or destroy any kind of intrusions from Pyongyang.
Her comments come after three digital-camera-equipped UAVs, or drones, were discovered in different regions: Paju in Gyeonggi, Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea and Samcheok in Gangwon.
Korean American makes skiers’ hall of fame
Toby Dawson, a Korean-American athlete who won a bronze medal in men’s mogul skiing at the 2006 Winter Olympics, has become the first man of Korean parentage to be inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
The retired mogul skier, along with Montana native Scot Schmidt, Kris “Fuzz” Fedderson and Aspen native John Clendenin, was inducted into the hall of fame on Saturday at a ceremony in Park City, Utah.
Dawson was orphaned in 1981, about three years after his birth in Busan, Korea. He was adopted by an American family in Colorado, where he first started skiing.
N. Korea Shuts Down Jang Song-taek’s Department
The North Korean regime has shut down the Workers Party department once headed by purged eminence grise Jang Song-taek and executed or interned 11 high-ranking officials, sources said Sunday.
One of them was burned alive.
A source said the regime is preparing a third purge of officials who supported Jang. The first purge involved his family, relatives and high-ranking party officials, while the second purge underway. The third will target his supporters in provincial chapters of the Workers Party.
S. Korea returns N. Korean sailors, bodies after boat sinking
South Korea sent home today three North Korean sailors who had survived a fatal sinking of a cargo ship in waters off the South, an official said.
The 4,300-tonne Mongolian-flagged ship carrying 16 North Korean crew sank in the international waters off the South’s southern island of Geomun on Friday.
Two bodies were retrieved from the sea and returned to the North along with the three sailors across the border truce village of Panmunjom, Seoul’s unification ministry spokeswoman told AFP.
U.S. envoy urges N. Korea to release Korean American missionary
A U.S. special envoy urged North Korea on Monday to release Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been detained in the North since November 2012, so that he can be reunited with his family and seek medical care.
“He has health problems. We’ve expressed the desire that he be returned to his family on humanitarian grounds. So far, we’ve got no positive response,” Robert King, U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues, told reporters after talks with South Korean Foreign Ministry officials.
Bae, 44, was arrested on Nov. 3, 2012 while leading a tourist group on a tour of Rason, a special economic zone on the northeastern tip of North Korea that borders China and Russia.
South Korea Teenagers: Better Off Than Most?
Wall Street Journal
South Korean teenagers are notoriously pressurized lot, with a recent survey showing just over half having had suicidal thoughts over school concerns and future uncertainty.
But another new poll measuring well-being shows that they’re among the world’s best off by a broad compilation of metrics.
South Korea ranked third among 30 countries in the survey by the International Youth Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Hilton Worldwide that measured the quality of well-being of people aged 12-24.
Will Korea become the new tobacco manufacturing hub?
Stringent regulations and a growing negative sentiment toward cigarettes have caused tobacco companies in the world’s most advanced countries to keep their heads down.
In Korea, however, where regulations are relatively lax and a large part of the population is still very open to the idea of smoking, the situation is a bit different.
Perhaps encouraged by this difference, Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro and other popular cigarette brands, has recently decided to relocate its entire Australian cigarette production facility to Korea.
“We decided to cease cigarette manufacturing in Australia by end of 2014, and transition all Australian cigarette production to our affiliate in Korea,” the company said in a statement on last Wednesday.
Ten Korean writers on a country sawn in half
After two years of political hot potatoes – first China and then Turkey – this year’s “market focus” country presents a different challenge to the London Book Fair, which runs this week: who wants to read books from Korea? The choice of name could be dismissed as opportunistically misleading: Korea is two countries, but the 10 writers who will be at the book fair are all from the south.
We’re desperate to hear the inside story of North Korea because it is the stuff of nightmares, locked in unending cold war, complete with nuclear bombs aimed at unknown targets. We have no access to the first-hand stories of its citizens, so we rely on western writers, whether of novels, such as Adam Johnson’s Pulitzer prizewinning The Orphan Master’s Son, or of journalism. Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea won the 2010 Samuel Johnson prize, while John Sweeney was more recently accused of putting a group of London students at risk by joining them incognito to research his book, North Korea Undercover.
Rhythmic gymnast Son wins 4 World Cup titles
South Korean rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae earned four titles, including the individual all-around gold medal, at a World Cup stop in Portugal over the weekend.
Son finished first in ball, clubs and ribbon events on Sunday at the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Lisbon, a day after claiming the all-around title.
Son became the first South Korean rhythmic gymnast to win an individual all-around gold at a senior international event.
Dresden to build ‘Korea Street’
Dresden will have a “Korea Street” to commemorate President Park’s state visit to Germany. (photo: Yonhap News)
Thanks to President Park Geun-hye’s visit to Dresden, the capital of Saxony will now establish a street named after Korea. The Grünes Gewölbe, or Green Vault, a well-known historic museum in the city with one of the largest collections of treasures in Europe, has also begun offering an audio guide to its collection in Korean.
Cheong Wa Dae said at a briefing on March 30 that Dresden Mayor Helma Orosz told President Park that he will re-name a street in Dresden as “Korea Street”. The Dresden mayor made the announcement during a luncheon hosted by the prime minister of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich. The decision marks the friendship and cooperation between Korea and Germany and commemorates President Park’s visit to the city.
Passenger jet passed through trajectory of N. Korean rocket, South Korea says
A Chinese passenger jet with more than 200 people on board flew through the trajectory of a North Korean rocket that had been fired minutes earlier, the South Korean government said.
North Korea fired the rocket Tuesday at 4:17 p.m. without giving any navigational warning, Kim Min-Seok, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, said Wednesday.
Seven minutes later, a China Southern Airlines plane carrying 220 passengers from Japan’s Narita airport to Shenyang in China passed through the rocket’s trajectory, he said.
N. Korea snubs South’s offer of Red Cross talks
North Korea on Thursday rejected South Korea’s proposal to hold Red Cross talks to discuss regular reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War as Seoul’s point man on Pyongyang called for the sides to build mutual trust.
The North’s Red Cross said in a message to its South Korean counterpart that an appropriate atmosphere has not been created for the proposed talks, according to the unification ministry.
The North did not elaborate on what it meant by atmosphere, though it may have referred to its displeasure with the ongoing joint military drills between South Korea and the United States.
The ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, expressed regret over the North’s rejection.
U.S. envoy still hopeful for missionary’s release from North Korea
The United States is still hopeful of securing the release of an American missionary being held in North Korea, the U.S. human rights envoy for the country said on Thursday, even though two trips he has had scheduled for the purpose have been canceled.
Ambassador Robert King said there had been no progress on the Kenneth Bae case since his last trip was called off in February.
“We are hopeful; we continue to press,” King told Reuters. “I have had two trips canceled, but we are hopeful that the right circumstances will occur and we will be able to do something.”
Australian Missionary Describes North Korea Detention
Wall Street Journal
John Short, the Australian missionary released by North Korea on Monday, has given his first public account of his detention. Compared with North Koreans caught practicing religion, he got off lightly.
In a statement released to the Australian Associated Press on Wednesday, Mr. Short said he was questioned daily for four hours over a 13-day investigation.
“There were two-hour sessions each morning, which were repeated again in the afternoons,” he said.
Mr. Short, 75, says he was kept in a room with a 24-hour guard and was told he could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Kennedy Urges Japan, South Korea to Resolve Diplomatic Tensions
Japan and South Korea should take the lead in improving relations and the U.S. will do whatever it can to help defuse tensions between its two main Asian allies, Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy said.
“The three countries can work together, will work together, and I think these good relations are in everyone’s interest,” Kennedy said in an interview aired yesterday by Japanese broadcaster NHK. “The two countries really should and will take the lead in this process and the United States, being a close ally of both of them, is happy to help.”
Relations between Japan and South Korea have soured since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in December 2012. Ill-will over a lingering territorial dispute has been aggravated by Abe’s visit to a Tokyo war shrine and comments by his administration about wartime sex slaves, reviving tensions over Japan’s militant past and 35-year occupation of Korea. Abe has not met with Korean President Park Geun Hye during his current term in office.
Va. bill on alternative Sea of Japan name in textbooks heads toward McAuliffe’s desk
Having survived weeks of behind-the-scenes scheming, an obscure textbook bill that elicited threats from Japan and drew busloads of Korean activists to the Capitol was headed Wednesday to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature.
McAuliffe (D) had promised on the campaign trail to support legislation requiring that any new Virginia textbooks note that the Sea of Japan is also known as the East Sea. It was a move meant to win voters in Northern Virginia’s large Korean American community, where “Sea of Japan” is considered a holdover from Japanese occupation.
The promise angered Japan, one of Virginia’s largest trading partners and biggest sources of foreign investment. The Japanese ambassador sent McAuliffe a letter suggesting that the legislation would damage trade relations. The embassy also hired a team of prominent Richmond lobbyists to try to thwart the legislation in the Capitol.
In battle for 6th District’s votes, Coffman, Romanoff target Koreans
Fifty-eight- year-old Alex Choe runs a dry cleaners in Firestone, doesn’t feel confident in his English skills and, until shaking GOP Rep. Mike Coffman’s hand last year, had never met an elected federal politician.
That Choe, who lives in Aurora, has emerged as an attractive person to glad-hand for Coffman and his Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff, reveals two important traits of their looming November battle: The 6th Congressional District race could be won in the thousands of votes, and Aurora’s diverse micro-ethnic populations suddenly matter.
“I am sure the Korean-American vote won’t be discounted this year because it’s such a close race,” Choe, president of the Korean Society of Denver, said in an interview through an interpreter. “I am undecided. … I don’t want to make hasty decisions.”
More Korean court translators needed
Korea Times US
California state court authorities are planning to carry out a policy to expand translation services for minorities, including Koreans.
During a public hearing this week, residents and court employees came out to discuss the Statewide Language Access Plan (LAP) for California Courts, which was launched last month by the state’s legislation and judiciary committee.
The LAP outlines the need for a more comprehensive translation service. The committee said its aim is to provide those who do not have English proficiency — currently 20 percent of Californians, or 7 million people — with services to break the language barrier.
Maj. Kurt Chew-een Lee, Asian-American Marines trailblazer dies at 88
Maj. Kurt Chew-Een Lee, the first Asian-American U.S. Marine Corps officer, rose through the ranks beginning his career from World War II to the Vietnam War.
During the Korean War, he became commander of a machine gun platoon, to the shock of his men who had never before seen a person of Chinese ancestry. Some even questioned his loyalty as U.S. forces were battling Chinese forces, which had joined the conflict on the side of North Koreans.
In a November 1950 clash, Lee and his men were outnumbered in a surprise attack by Chinese forces. His actions there and in another clash would earn him a bevy of military honors, including the second highest military decoration, the Navy Cross.
Is This Pickup Artist Actually… Helping People?
“Once you go Asian, you can’t go Caucasian. Once you go yellow—hello!” JT Tran told his audience of hopeful men.
This was in a Manhattan conference room on Valentine’s Day, and JT was running a weekend-long bootcamp with a simple mission: to help Asian men get some skin in the dating game, and maybe even get laid.
The class’s methods and language were taken straight from the pickup artists’ world. And yet, the course also resembled a rollicking post-grad symposium on race. Yellow fever. That infamous OKCupid survey that showed Asian women overwhelmingly preferred white men. The culture clash between an Asian upbringing and a Western world that has different expectations for success. And the ease with which people speak racistly of Asian men—like the way Lorde and her Asian boyfriend were recently torn into on Twitter.
Laboring in a dating world that seems stacked against his kind, JT, whose name is Jerry and who bills himself as a transformational figure in the Asian community, is a man on a mission to transform the Western image of Asian men from asexual nerds into shagworthy dating material—all through the science and/or art of picking up women.
South Korea Sets World Cup Wheels in Motion
Wall Street Journal
The lost man of South Korean soccer returned to the national side on Wednesday to help fire the team to a 2-0 win over Greece in Athens and rekindle optimism over the upcoming World Cup.
Park Chu-young, who hadn’t played for the national team for more than a year, latched on to a lob over the Greek backline to volley South Korea ahead on 18 minutes. Park joined English Premier League side Arsenal in 2011 but had almost zero game time before a recent loan move to second tier team Watford.
Greece hit the goal frame three times in the first half but conceded a second goal from Son Heung-min 10 minutes into the second half and never mounted a sustained fightback.
Women Everywhere in Food Empires But No Head Chefs
Over the past decade, David Chang has built Momofuku from a small ramen bar in Manhattan’s East Village to an eight-restaurant empire with roughly 500 staffers in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Here’s what else he’s done:
He’s earned two Michelin stars and four James Beard Awards. He’s accrued nearly 100,000 Twitter followers. He’s disrupted the French-Italian pastry monopoly by starting, with Christina Tosi, a chain of Milk Bar bakeries that tout haute junk food over croissants and cannolis. And he co-founded a quarterly food magazine called Lucky Peach, one of whose publications was titled “The Gender Issue.”
Now here’s what Chang hasn’t done: Tapped a woman to lead one of his restaurants as chef de cuisine or higher. It is a peculiar omission, given the diversity of his staff, even at upper echelons of his company.
Obama enjoys Korean food
U.S. ambassador to Korea Sung Kim said U.S. President Barack Obama likes Korean food very much.
Appearing on a morning show “Good Morning” of SBS, the envoy said, “President Obama enjoys Korean food so much that he voluntarily orders the food himself. I don’t feel the need to recommend Korean food for him.”
“When President Obama visited Korea in 2012, he knew that the hotel where he stayed was offering Korean food as room service. At that time, he (Obama) told me that he would eat “bulgogi” for dinner.
Korean poet Kim Hyesoon is poking American art’s holes
In the introduction to Kim Hyesoon’s All The Garbage of the World, Unite!, translator Don Mee Choi recounts a great example of the type of problem translated works often run into. An American literary journal, after showing interest in one of Choi’s Korean-to-English translations of a Kim poem, requested that the word “hole” be replaced with something else, on the grounds that “hole has negative connotations in our culture.” Choi had used the word in reminding her reader that, during the Korean War, 250,000 pounds of napalm were dropped by the American military each day, turning her country into a mass of holes where once there had been houses, mountains, rice fields. She told the magazine she “didn’t have time to think about it.”
Kim is no stranger to stodgy literary types. At the time she began writing, classical forms in the hands of aristocratic men had long dominated Korean poetry. “I often felt as if my tongue were paralyzed,” Kim has said. “For me the vast open field of the unknown and the prison existed simultaneously.” Over time, poetry in her country has slowly opened up with the rise of free verse, feminism, and activism.
North Korea released John Short after detaining the 75-year-old Australian missionary last month on a charge that he spread Bible tracts in Pyongyang, according to CNN.com.
The Australian government said North Korea recently notified it of Short’s release. Short’s wife, Karen, also confirmed that she had been told that her husband is now in Beijing after the North deported him.
“The relevant organ decided to expel him from the territory of the DPRK, thanks to the tolerance of the law of the DPRK and in full consideration of his age,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Monday. Continue Reading »
President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the United States would make every effort to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, the Korean American imprisoned in North Korea.
“Let us pray for Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary who’s been held in North Korea for 15 months, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor,” the president said at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. “His family wants him home. And the United States will continue to do everything in our power to secure his release because Kenneth Bae deserves to be free.”
While this is the first time Obama himself has directly mentioned Bae, the White House and the federal government have repeatedly urged North Korea to release the 45-year-old missionary. Bae’s family was invited to attend the president’s State of the Union address last week after Secretary of State John Kerry met with them last month. Continue Reading »
The 45-year-old Korean American missionary imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year made a public plea to the U.S. government at a press conference on Monday in Pyongyang in the hopes of being released, the New York Times reports.
“I believe that my problem can be solved by close cooperation and agreement between the American government and the government of this country,” said Kenneth Bae, who was wearing a gray cap and prison uniform with the number 103 on his chest.
The Associated Press quoted him as saying he had apologized for his “hostile acts” against North Korea and that he had not been treated badly while in confinement, while Xinhua, a Chinese news agency, quoted him as saying he had benefited from “humanitarian” help from the North Korean government. Continue Reading »