Kia’s NBA Partnership Paying Off
Author: Steve Han
Posted: December 19th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin jumped over a Kia Optima and won the coveted 2011 NBA All Star Slam Dunk Contest. Just a year later, Kia posted a record sales of 557,559 as its brand topped 500,000 units in the U.S. market for the very first time.

In 2008, Kia signed a multi-year marketing partnership deal with the NBA, becoming the basketball league’s official automotive partner. Kia’s unit sales, which only stood at 113,369 then, have soared by a staggering 200 percent en route to becoming the eighth largest car brand today in the U.S. as measured by sales volume.

After struggling mightily in 2008 with a U.S. market share of 1.9 percent, Kia’s landmark partnership agreement with the NBA was the catalyst that successfully remade its brand image. The NBA rakes in approximately $5 billion every year in total revenue and has over six million television viewers across the country, a strong foundation Kia sought to tap into to broaden its U.S. market share. Continue Reading »

December Issue: The New Kia Soul Parties Like a Rockstar
Author: Steve Han
Posted: December 2nd, 2013
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , December 2013
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Kia Soul Parties On

As its redesigned 2014 Soul is unveiled, the carmaker revels in the success of the car that made Kia cool.


“Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO started ringing from the speakers inside the ballroom of the Graves 601 Wyndham Grand Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, as Kia Motors unveiled its redesigned 2014 Kia Soul this past October. The buzzing beats of that song seemed apropos; after all, the cool, hipster-chic styling of the new Soul—with giant wrap-around headlights, a beefed-up sound system and futuristic colors—certainly inspires the rock star label.

The boxy vehicle, which looks a little like an oversized boombox on wheels, is Kia’s second most popular model behind the Optima.

This four-door mini-wagon offers consumers on a budget an alternative to traditional hatchbacks such as the Honda Fit, Chevy Sonic and Scion xB, with a starting price of $15,495.

The new Soul has already earned several plaudits in the auto industry, winning the ALG Residual Value Award for subcompact utility vehicles in November. The ALG Residual Value Award determines the winner based on a number of factors, including the car’s performance, quality and price. Continue Reading »

Tuesday’s Link Attack: North Korea; Chef Sang Yoon; Crayon Pop
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: February 5th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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For South Koreans, a familiar tone from Pyongyang

As a child, Lee Yoon Jung used to hide underground with her classmates when the sirens rang at her school. The emergency drills were held in case of a North Korean attack.

Lee, now 46, has children of her own, who do not have such exercises at their schools in Ulsan, South Korea.

It represents the attitude shift over recent decades of tension between the two Koreas. South Koreans have become accustomed to living next to their northern neighbor, which often releases bellicose statements and calls it a “group of puppet traitors.”

U.S. May Have Trouble Gauging North Korean Nuclear Test
New York Times

Even if North Korea follows through with its threat to conduct a third nuclear test, Washington and its allies will have difficulty determining whether the device detonated is made of plutonium or uranium, a prominent American nuclear scientist and South Korean officials said on Tuesday.

Whether North Korea will set off a uranium bomb is a question high on the minds of policy makers and analysts in Northeast Asia. A failure to answer it would complicate their efforts to assess North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities.

U.N. urged to probe North Korean leaders’ role in abuses
Reuters via Yahoo News

North Korea’s leaders are likely to be the target of a U.N. investigation into their personal responsibility for rapes, torture, executions, arbitrary arrests and abductions, following an expert report published on Tuesday.

The report by Marzuki Darusman, an Indonesian lawyer who is the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, said North Korea’s “grave, systematic and widespread” human rights violations ought to be laid bare before the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. General Assembly.

More diversity among Asian Americans than meets the myth
Southern California Public Radio

Many observers regard Asian Americans as the nation’s most successful immigrants. But a new report details how the nation’s fastest-growing racial group is far more diverse a population, socioeconomically and otherwise, than “model minority” myths might indicate.

The stereotype of a generally well-educated, well-paid group doesn’t play out in the report by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, a civil rights and legal organization in Los Angeles.

While some Asian American groups in Southern California do earn more than non-Latino whites, the study also found that some groups, such as Cambodians, Bangladeshis and Tongans, tend to earn less than blacks and Latinos. And Korean Americans in the region, for example, are as just as likely as Latinos to lack medical insurance.

Big Korean Business Dominates Super Bowl Ads
Chosun Ilbo

Big Korean companies flashed their growing global presence with their Super Bowl ads on Sunday.

A total of 37 companies from around the world invested US$300 million in TV commercials during the Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday.

Korean giants like Samsung, Hyundai and Kia all paid a massive share.

Jon Stewart tests Michelle Rhee, defends teachers
Washington Post

Jon Stewart invited Michelle Rhee on “The Daily Show” Monday night and, while he didn’t skewer her the way some Rhee critics would have liked, he kept challenging her about whether her brand of school reform unfairly targets teachers. He also said something that Rhee and other reformers could take to be something of a slap: that there has been “no real innovation in education since John Dewey.”

See the video here.

Paper Mag

Sang Yoon, the chef behind L.A.’s Father’s Office (and its world-famous burger), avant Asian bistro Lukshon and the forthcoming Helms Bakery, a project that sees the chef partnering with Sherry Yard (pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck) to re-open the classic L.A. institution that closed in the late 60s and turn it into a “bakery/cafe rooted in the old Americana,” Yoon tells us. Read on for his late-night picks.

Where’s your favorite place to go in L.A. for a late-night bite after you leave the kitchen?
The thing about L.A., especially the West Side of L.A., is that it’s not really known as a late-night town. But luckily, we have an amazing Koreatown and Thaitown so between the two — which are in the middle of the city — you have a lot of late-night options. In the Thai neighborhood there’s a place called Ruen Pair. It’s very popular amongst the Thai population — it’s quite authentic. [It's also] a favorite among chefs. I know several guys who end up over there and I think they’re open til at least 3 or 4 in the morning.

Crayon Pop Subvert Sexy Stereotypes
Chosun Ilbo

Stereotypical and over-abundant may be appropriate words to describe the current crop of K-pop singers. There are so many generic bands with similar looks that it is difficult to distinguish one from another.

But Crayon Pop defy such stereotypes by thumbing their nose at sexy girl bands and they are far from the cookie-cutter mold.

On anniversary of Linsanity craze, Jeremy Lin spends day nursing sprained ankle with Houston Rockets
New York Daily News

Lin was on the verge of being cut by the Knicks last Feb. 4 when then-coach Mike D’Antoni inserted him off the end of the bench for a 25-point outburst to lead the Knicks to a victory over the Nets, igniting a season-saving seven-game winning streak.

South Korean teenager youngest player in field
Monterey County Herald

South Korean teenager Si Woo Kim simply cannot believe that it’s all happening. Back in December, the 17-year-old’s wild ride first began when he became the youngest player to ever earn his PGA Tour card at what was the final Q-School where players could advance directly to the tour.

Kim made it through all four stages of Q-School, including pre-qualifying in September.

A few weeks ago, Kim’s good fortune continued when he got a call from Monterey Peninsula Foundation CEO Steve John, telling him that he’d be getting a sponsor’s exemption to play in this week’s AT&T Pro-Am.

Friday’s Link Attack: North Korean Women; Another Subway Victim; Lee Byung-Hun
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: December 28th, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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N. Korea suspected of purging two officials for April rocket failure

The list of North Korean scientists and officials named national heroes for contributing to the country’s successful launch of a long-range rocket earlier this month did not include key officials in charge of a botched April rocket launch, prompting speculation over their possible purge.

According to recent North Korean media reports, the communist country declared 101 scientists, officials and others national heroes and gave them medals for contributing to its widely celebrated Dec. 12 launch of a long-range rocket.

The country has claimed the launch was to send a satellite into orbit, but it has been condemned by the international community as a covert test of ballistic missile technology.

S.Korea retrieves N.Korean rocket engine debris
AFP via Google News

South Korea has recovered what it believes to be debris from the engine of the long-range rocket launched by North Korea this month, the defence ministry said.

“If it is confirmed to be engine debris, it will be very useful for analyzing North Korea’s missile technology,” a ministry spokesman said.

He said navy ships had retrieved six chunks of debris from the rocket that was launched — to international condemnation — on December 12.

Out Of Desperation, North Korean Women Become Breadwinners

Imagine going to work every day and not getting paid. Then, one day, you’re told there’s no work to do — so you must pay the company for the privilege of not working.

This is the daily reality facing Mrs. Kim, a petite 52-year-old North Korean. Her husband’s job in a state-run steel factory requires him to build roads. She can’t remember the last time he received a monthly salary. When there are no roads to build, he has to pay his company around 20 times his paltry monthly salary, she says.

“He had to pay not to work for about six months of last year,” Mrs. Kim told NPR, sighing. “You have to pay, even if you can’t afford to eat. It’s mandatory.”

Top News Of 2012: Year of the Horse
Wall Street Journal

With 2012 winding down, there’s only really one choice for the top news of the year, as selected by the staff of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones in Seoul: the Gangnam Style explosion.

Ever since Psy released his goofy earworm song and video in July, barely a day goes past without hearing it – in shops, cafes, on video billboards and even at labor rallies — in Seoul. It feels like it’s in South Korea’s bloodstream.

We’re glad we were among the first to grab Psy for an interview, before he got swept away on a global horse ride of prime time TV and YouTube clicks. On returning home, the portly singer’s free concert in central Seoul felt like a wonderful national celebration.

Victim of brutal subway shove ID’d after attacked caught fleeing on tape
New York Post

For the second time in a month, an Asian American person has died after being pushed onto subway tracks in New York City.

The victim of last night’s senseless and deadly subway shove has been identified as a hardworking native of Calcutta, India, who loved music and had recently started his own business.

Sunando Sen, 46, was pushed into the path of an oncoming 7-train at the elevated 40th Street station around 8 p.m. by a mumbling madwoman who remains on the loose.

“I think she’s crazy,” said Sen’s stunned and saddened roommate Ar Suman, 33, a taxi driver. “I can’t believe this right now.”

Asian Americans Most Responsive To Social Media Ads

A new study from Nielsen reveals that the influence of ads on social media sites, varies greatly between ethnicities, and it turns out Asian Americans are most likely to respond to ads they see on sites like Facebook.

Nielsen rated each ethnicity (Hispanic, White, African American, Asian American) and the actions they took after seeing a social ad (Shared Ads, Liked Ads, Purchased Products). In every case, Asian Americans took more action in response to social ads than any other ethnicity. In the case of sharing ads 26%, versus 15% for the total group, 41% liking ads versus 26% for the total group, and 31% purchasing products versus 14% for the total group.

Police: Woman upset over TSA pat down slapped officer
Orlando Sentinel

A South Korean woman was jailed after she became irate and slapped a TSA employee at Orlando International Airport Wednesday, police said.

Hyunjoo Kim, 39, was upset that she needed to be patted down during the screening process at the security check point and slapped a female Transportation Security Administration employee, reports show. She became more agitated when screening officers told her two bottles of lotion were too big to carry onto the airplane.

Peter Schreyer Becomes First Non-Korean President Of Kia Motors

You know Peter Schreyer as the creative brain behind many beloved Audis and, since taking over design at Kia, the 10th most influential person in the auto industry. Time to bump him up to at least 9th as Kia has named him the first non-Korean president of their company.

What’s actually happening at Kia isn’t entirely clear as the press release makes no mention of what’s happened to current president Hyoung-Keun Lee, although it seems like he may have been promoted to vice-chairman.

On the prowl for more laughs, Cheezburger gobbles up cash

Cheezburger Network, the Seattle online comedy network behind Fail Blog, I Can Has Cheezburger, The Daily What and dozens of other sites, has raised an additional $5 million in funding.

A SEC filing today notes that the new cash is part of a $6.1 million round.

The Best Concerts of 2012, as Seen by Times Critics
New York Times

2NE1 Aug. 17, and BIGBANG Nov. 8, both at Prudential Center, Newark. This was the year K-pop arrived — not in the form of “Gangnam Style,” which was everywhere and yet completely evanescent — but in these arena shows, which were full of thousands of young, paying fans eager to see the girls of 2NE1 and the boys of BigBang, groups with zero American hits between them, but rabid American followings all the same.

Shaking Up K-Pop: The Emerging Empowerment and Sexuality of Korean Girl Groups
Busan HAPS

Tired of “Gangnam Style” and its numerous parodies? Finding it difficult to keep track of the hordes of pretty girl groups and boy bands, many of whom can’t actually sing? Wondering why you should even bother?

Persevere. Because despite appearances, female singers are shaking up K-pop in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Leading the charge is Ga-in of the Brown Eyed Girls, who released “Bloom” as part of her mini-album Talk About S in October. Sporting blonde locks, two minutes into the video she suddenly appears in a tight red sweater, strongly resembling 1940s Hollywood actresses like Lana Turner—and just as sassy. Add leather hot pants, and you immediately sense something big is up.

Lee Byung-hun Honored by Fellow Korean Actors
Hollywood Reporter

This year has been an eventful one for “South Korea’s Brad Pitt” Lee Byung-hun, who wraps up 2012 with an Achievement Award from the Korean Film Actor’s Association.

The organization, which was founded to promote the rights of actors and currently operates under the auspices of the Korean culture ministry, announced Thursday that it will be honoring Lee as well as veteran Ahn Sung-ki. In July, the two became the first local stars to leave their handprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

More Than Just a Pretty Face
The Wall Street Journal

Ku Hye-sun has a reputation for multitasking. In addition to being an actress, the 28-year-old is a filmmaker, painter, composer and singer.

A decade ago, however, she was known for just one thing: her beautiful face. She broke into South Korea’s entertainment industry after posting pictures of herself on Damoim, a now-defunct social-networking site. Other members began sharing and commenting on her photos, and she soon achieved the status of an “eoljjang”—a term for those who achieve Internet fame for their good looks.

That led to mainstream-media opportunities. Ms. Ku shot her first television commercial in 2002, and appeared on Korean TV shows such as “Pure in Heart” and “Boys Over Flowers.” In 2009, a 14-minute short film she directed, “The Madonna,” played at a genre-film festival in Bucheon.

A Guide to the Best Korean Restaurants in Koreatown
Eater LA

LA’s Koreatown offers a mecca of Korean cuisine that lies unparalleled in America. The food is so good, and so varied, that even foodies from Seoul marvel at the quality and breadth of eateries here. There’s a growing number of regional specialties that highlight the unique perspective of Korean cuisine in the context of this city, which has historically the most popular landing point for immigrants from the motherland. While traditional restaurants and barbecue joints comprise most of the selections, look for the places that specialize in one or two dishes, such as beef soups, tofu stews, and ginseng chicken soup. To help you navigate, here now a list of Koreatown’s top restaurants.

7 Korean liquors you can find anywhere
The Korea Blog

Anybody who’s ever visited Korea knows that this country is no stranger to alcohol. Korea has a rich heritage of fermentation and imbibation, with thousands of family recipes passed from generation to generation. I’ve previously written about how some of these are being rediscovered, but it’s going to be a while before you can expect to order a bucket of ehwaju (이화주) in a bar and get a couple spoons to eat it.

Still, there are many traditional Korean alcohols that are widely available in grocery and convenience stores. If you’ve been here long enough you’ve probably tried them all, but you might not know everything you thought you did about them. Here are seven that are easy to pick up anywhere in Korea.

LA Lakers first NBA team to broadcast every game in Korean

When the Lakers named Paul Lee the team’s first Korean-language color commentator this season, his friends all wanted to know one thing.

“When people hear that I get to the do the Lakers broadcasts, they get all excited and ask: ‘Can you take me with you?’ But I actually don’t do it courtside,” said Lee.

In fact, Lee doesn’t even do the games in the same building.

Monday’s Link Attack: Asian American Voter Influence; Jamie Chung; G-Dragon’s Hotel
Author: Steve Han
Posted: November 26th, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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Asian American voters’ influence grows
San Francisco Chronicle

Republicans have been rallying around a drive to adopt positions that appeal to Latinos since their defeat in this month’s presidential contest. But the GOP is also having problems attracting the votes of an even faster growing group: Asian Americans.

Exit poll data show that 73 percent of Asian American voters nationwide supported President Obama on Nov. 6, while GOP challenger Mitt Romney received 26 percent of the vote. In 2008, Obama carried 62 percent of the Asian American vote, while his opponent, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, got 35 percent.

In California, 79 percent of Asian American voters selected Obama and 21 percent backed Romney. That is a larger spread than in 2008, when 64 percent of Asian Americans in the state voted for Obama and 35 percent voted for McCain.

N. Korea halts name-calling against ruling party candidate Park
Yonhap News

With South Korea’s presidential election less than a month away, North Korea appears to have suspended its critical campaign against conservative party candidate Park Geun-hye, analysts said Monday, triggering speculation the communist state may eye a potential opportunity to mend ties with the South under a new administration.

Since last publishing an article accusing Park, the presidential candidate on the ruling Saenuri Party ticket, of leading an anti-North Korea policy line on Nov. 10, the country’s leading Rodong Sinmun has discontinued its name-calling against Park in recent issues of the newspaper monitored in Seoul.

‘Poison’ pen mightier than sword for would-be North Korean assassin

All you might feel is someone brush by you and a slight pin prick. But very quickly you would be suffering muscle paralysis followed by suffocation. You would be dead within a very short period of time.

This is the deadly effect of just one of the weapons found on a failed North Korean assassin last year on the busy streets of Seoul, now shown exclusively to CNN.

Disguised to look like a Parker ballpoint pen, it contains a poison needle and is practically impossible to identify as a weapon.

Jamie Chung: ‘Once Upon A Time’ Gets Really Dark

Like many actors before her, Jamie Chung cut her teeth working on a soap opera. And like many actors before her, that 2007 Days of Our Lives entry on her resume has been forever eclipsed by her work alongside actors like Bradley Cooper, Russell Crowe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and for directors like Zack Snyder, Todd Phillips and David Koepp.

Now, Chung is busier than ever, playing Mulan on ABC’s Once Upon A Time, reprising her role in the final Hangover film and suiting up for Sin City 2. ETonline caught up with Chung to talk about all these projects and discovered the personal mantra that led to all of them.

Q&A – Steven Yeun (Glenn Rhee)

Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn Rhee on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks with about post-apocalyptic romance and his expertise at being a hostage.

K-Pop superstar takes logical next step, builds hotel for fans, gives it to his parents

Thousands of fans fly in to South Korea to squeal and go nuts at K-Pop concerts every year. Now, some of them can stay at a K-Pop star’s new “pension” hotel, complete with a chance to see their favorite pop star’s family and dog while they do it.

Financed by K-Pop boy band Big Bang leader G-Dragon and operated by his family, the new Dolce Vita Pension in Pocheon, Korea has been the rage in media, blogs and online portals since it opened last week. (“Pensions” are small boutique hotels usually located in the Korean countryside.)

Danny Kim’s Motorbike Won’t Wipe Out
Business Week

Daniel Kim decided to reinvent the motorcycle eight years ago, soon after a car nearly crushed him. He was welding a Land Rover sport-utility vehicle, laying on a mechanic’s sled under its 500-pound chassis, when the chassis fell off its frame stands. Kim stuck his arm up as the chassis fell, and on contact the force pushed him and the rolling sled out from beneath the car. The near-death experience gave Kim his fill of big machines, he says: “I thought, does the world need another SUV? No.” A lifelong bike aficionado, he set out to create one as safe as a car.

After a long preference for sons, it’s a girl generation
Korea Daily

Historically, Korea was a rigid male-dominated society on par with China. One of the seven faults of women during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) was not bearing a son, which was ground for divorce. In extreme cases, women were deserted by their husbands or mothers-in-law for not conceiving a son.

In the 1970s and 1980s, women often received underwear worn by women who had delivered sons from their mothers-in-law hoping for grandsons.

But figures and statistics support a drastic social shift: a majority of parents today want girls.

New ‘Tune,’ Same Key From Cartoonist Derek Kirk Kim
WNNO (Univ. of New Orleans)

By the time cartoonist Derek Kirk Kim was 30 years old, his prodigious talents had already won him an Eisner award, an Ignatz award and a Harvey award, the top three honors of the comics field. Chalk that up to the simple fact that in the much-plaudited Same Difference and Other Stories, which he first serialized on his website and later self-published (it has since been collected and published commercially), Kim wrote what he knew: It’s a story of self-deprecating, disaffected 20-somethings besotted with pop culture and beset by lassitude.

His characters — most, like Kim, Korean-American — didn’t share their parents’ rigorous work ethic, preferring to while away their days discussing love, life and bathroom habits as they struggled to understand and be understood by the world around them. Kim captured it all with empathic, wistful humor and deft, expressive line work.

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