China ‘protecting Kim Jong-nam’
The Telegraph (U.K.)
Kim Jong-nam, the oldest son of North Korea’s late leader, is being protected by China as a fallback option if the regime of his half-brother, Kim Jong-un, collapses.
Meet the Western Members of the Kim Jong Il Fan Club
The day before Kim Jong Il’s funeral last month, George Hadjipateras, 36, put on a black suit and tie and drove to the North Korean embassy in west London. Beneath a portrait of the Dear Leader, the office clerk laid a floral tribute, red carnations arranged in the shape of a star. He shook the hand of the first secretary lengthily as he pressed upon him that Kim was “a shining light, not just for his people, but for revolutionaries worldwide.”
“I mentioned to him I had lost my own father in September, and so this was doubly tragic for me,” Hadjipateras says. “My voice broke a bit then.” He had been closely monitoring Kim’s health since his 2008 stroke, and was blindsided by the death. “It’s tragic; he should have been getting better,” he told TIME. “I was as upset as the English were when the Queen Mother died.”
First look: Obama is a fan of Macy’s new style star
On-the-rise designer Doo-Ri Chung is not a household name — yet.
But the Korean-American designer will get a shot at noteriety when she unveils her doo.ri capsule collection for Macy’s Feb. 15.
Chung stepped into the mainstream fashion spotlight in October when Michelle Obama wore a one-shouldered doo.ri stunner to the White House state dinner honoring South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Hollywood stars, including Jessica Chastain, Kristen Stewart and Jessica Alba, also are fond of her frocks.
REVIEW: For Ellen
Variety via Chicago Tribune
With a directorial voice as consistent as that of any current American independent filmmaker, So Yong Kim takes what could have been routine story elements and transforms them into something deeply sad and touching in “For Ellen.” As a struggling rocker making a last-ditch attempt to gain shared custody of his daughter, Paul Dano delivers a beautifully wrought performance in a different key from any of his previous roles. The patient pace and generally forlorn tone makes this a tough sell Stateside, though Berlin screenings will attract much Euro bidding.
Bill Kim opening Belly Q, an Asian barbecue restaurant, in the West Loop
Time Out Chicago
The Michael Jordan-backed Cornerstone Restaurant Group tapped Chicago chef Bill Kim to head a new Asian barbecue concept restaurant.
The connection between Kim (the former Charlie Trotter’s chef de cuisine who set the trend of chefs going downscale when he left Le Lan to open and subsequently ) and Cornerstone (which operates, among other restaurants, Michael Jordan’s Steak House and WAVE) stemmed, per the press release, from “a chance conversation.”
S. Korean ex-spy’s asylum confirmed in U.S.
A U.S. court has upheld a 2008 ruling to grant political asylum to a former South Korean intelligence agent who claims to face threats from both South and North Korea, sources here said Tuesday.
Best Kimchi In a Jar: Granny Choe’s Version Comes With A Ninja Pepper Bonus
Of the Big Questions in life, we’ve long wondered why a really good store-bought kimchi is so hard to find. Until, that is, we stumbled upon Granny Choe’s Kimchi at our local market. It’s the best store-bought kimchi we’ve ever tasted, even better, it happens to be made by a small local (Moorpark) company.
Lively NKorean capital celebrates Lunar New Year
AP via Boston.com
North Koreans bundled against the freezing cold paid respects again to late leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang’s main plaza Monday and celebrated the Lunar New Year holiday with colorful flowers and children’s games.
A massive portrait of Kim Jong Il, absent after the mourning period for his death last month, has been restored at the vast Kim Il Sung Square. People stood in line to bow and lay single red flowers — the late leader’s namesake “kimjongilia” begonias — made of fabric.
North Korean defectors’ American Dream
Lee Jang-gil (assumed name, 24) washes dishes at a restaurant. On June 18, 2011, he got home late at 11 o’clock and immediately dialed 911. His mother was lying on the floor bleeding. Fire engines, police cars, and an ambulance arrived to the house on South Clinton Avenue in Rochester, New York. Police discovered that Lee’s father had hanged himself in the attic. The North Korean defector, 54, had stabbed his North Korean defector wife, 48, during a quarrel and then killed himself.
Jang-gil lost both his parents that night, just two years after arriving in the United States. Since then he has been drinking day and night. His brother, Myeong-gil (assumed name, 22) is now seeing a counselor. In early August, we managed to meet Jang-gil in Rochester, though he kept his mouth shut whenever the incident was mentioned, electing only to talk about the hardships his family had to go through.
Small talk: Krys Lee
Financial Times (U.K.)
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Krys Lee was brought up in the US but also studied in England. Her first book, Drifting House, is a collection of short stories set in North Korea, South Korea and the US. Lee lives in Seoul.
When did you know you were going to be a writer?
Since I was young – I always wrote poetry. My parents encouraged me to turn my love of writing into law but I did an English degree instead.
South Korea firm turns human ashes into beads
Los Angeles Times
When Jeon Gyeong-suk lost her husband to cancer three months ago, she agonized over how to keep his remains.
Because land is at a premium, burial was out, and she found the idea of a heap of ashes stored in an urn sort of creepy. So the 51-year-old widow paid $900 to transform her husband’s ashes into a few handfuls of tiny bluish beads that have the look of beluga caviar.
Even though the beads look like pebble-sized gems, they aren’t meant to be strung into a necklace. Instead, some mourners keep them in dishes and glass containers, the point being to keep a lost loved one close by.
How To Keep The Dear Leader Well Preserved
New York Times
Kim Jong-il has been dead for just over a month, and the embalmers in Pyongyang are reportedly at their work — draining blood, scooping out internal organs, removing the brain and preserving the genitals. Even in death, Mr. Kim’s remarkable bouffant hairdo will remain intact.
Reports from Moscow say that Russian scientists are guiding North Korean doctors in giving Mr. Kim the same treatments that have kept Vladimir Lenin in the pink since 1924. (A Russian team in 1994 also embalmed Kim Il-sung, Mr. Kim’s father and North Korea’s founding president.)
Korean Hip-Hop: K-Hop Goes Global
South Korea’s music industry gave the world ‘K-Pop’ with its peppy girl and boy bands. Now it’s taking on hip-hop’s swag.
Review: Miss Kim
There’s no doubt there are dark histories people need to reveal in order to get on with living, but those stories are best told to psychotherapists or during 12-step meetings. It’s in those rooms where Gina Kim and Ryan Tofil’s Miss Kim, now at the 45th Street Theatre, properly belongs.
My Korean Quest for Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital and a Silicon Valley
I set out seeking a new destination for U.S.-style venture capital and small companies poised to grow. I came back from Korea with a greater appreciation for its unique innovation trajectory, technology commercialization process and the big conglomerates that dominate its industry. As much as parts of Korea wanted to be like Silicon Valley, I found myself wishing that parts of Silicon Valley would be more like Korea.
The Young, Unproven ‘Great Successor’
Thoughts on the third-generation (third-choice) ruler, Kim Jong Un
by Julie Ha
As of late December, the North Korean leadership appeared to be putting its best foot forward to show a nation in mourning over the passing of its “Dear Leader” of 17 years, but still moving confidently to ensure a rapid transfer of power. Within days of the announcement of Kim Jong-il’s death, the North’s official newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, published a front-page editorial calling on the people to unite in support of Kim Jong-un, in keeping with his late father’s last wishes.
The newspaper referred to Kim Jong-un as the “successor to the revolutionary cause” and the “leader of the people.” He had been quickly elevated to the leadership post of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, and the military’s top brass swore their allegiance to him.
What exactly do we know about Kim Jong-un? Almost nothing, said Korea expert David C. Kang, director of USC’s Korean Studies Institute. “We know he’s younger than 30 years of age, but we don’t know his exact age. We know he went to school briefly in Switzerland while a child, but have almost no information beyond that. He is reputed to like sports, although this tells us very little about his personality or leadership abilities.”
We also know that he was third pick, as his older brothers, Kim Jongnam and Kim Jong-chul, were passed up for, respectively, an embarrassing attempt to visit Tokyo Disneyland under a false name, and alleged effeminacy. Continue Reading »
The Days After
Korea expert David C. Kang talks with KoreAm about a post-Kim Jong-il world, prospects for reunification, and why Kim caricatures may be funny but counterproductive.
story by Julie Ha
What does a post-Kim Jong-il world look like so far?
All the indications are that they have planned for this for the last three years, since [Kim’s] stroke in 2008, so there doesn’t seem to be a sense of panic in North Korean leadership. As a result, I would expect more of the same in the short run. They chose Kim Jong-un because they expect him to be able to carry on the regime leadership, and there is going to be a senior set of leaders who are going to be guiding him in the next year. So I don’t expect a whole lot of change.
What’s the best thing the U.S. can do in relation to North Korea?
I think what everybody is going to do is spend at least a year cautiously waiting. They’re going to see what the regime does because, in a way, if you don’t know how [Kim Jong-un is] going to react, any policy is even more risky. The interesting thing is, literally a week before Kim Jong-il’s death, North Korea said it was going to freeze its uranium [enrichment] program [in exchange for food aid]. We’ll see if North Korea follows up on this, if they’d be willing to continue the discussion.
I just don’t expect a whole lot to happen. Both leaders in South Korea and the U.S. are going to go through presidential elections [in 2012]. All are going to be fairly cautious.
I’ve heard several Korean Americans express that, with the death of Kim Jong-il, there’s this sense that reunification is more likely to occur within our lifetimes. Is this overly optimistic? Continue Reading »
A Death Close to Home
The passing of Kim Jong-Il prompts a personal response from Korean Americans of northern heritage.
by Kai Ma
North Korea’s enigmatic second leader dies, and the first person I think of is my mother. I wasn’t the only one. As soon as the news broke onSunday that Kim Jong-il had passed, my phone started to buzz and bleep with text messages from my brother and friends, inquiring about my mother’s reaction.
Not that my 63-year-old Korean mother had any real tie to NoKo’s generalissimo. Other than her snarky suggestion that I should “go live with the ‘Dear Leader’” when I would misbehave as a teen, she rarely uttered his name. And for good reason. She emigrated from South Korea in 1975 and has lived in both Baltimore and Los Angeles since. But as someone who was born in Kaesong, a city in what is now North Korea, and who rode on theroof of a slow, southbound freight train with her fleeing parents during the Korean War, she is aware that different decisions—when to go, where to go, whom to take—could have sealed a drastically different fate for our family.
I’ve asked for this story dozens of times. My mother was 2 when my grandparents fled the north in 1950, so the story is often told as a hodgepodge of hazy vignettes narrated by my grandmother and then translated into English for me by my mother. The morning they left Kaesong, my grandmother swiftly packed bundles and awaited instructions from my grandfather, who was at the police station where he worked, on where to catch the train. My grandparents, with their two children— my mother and my then-7-yearold uncle—left Kaesong that day, not realizing that they would never see the relatives that stayed—including my grandmother’s mother—again. Continue Reading »