The Diamond Shamrock Protest May Be Canceled Due to Lack of Interest. ‘Bout Time.
Greg Howard of the Dallas Observer reports that the mini-boycott and protest of a Korean-owned gas station in South Dallas has gone out with a whimper.
Kim Jong-Il’s 70th birthday celebrated with a splash in the North Korean media
In North Korea, the death of Kim Jong-Il doesn’t make his 70th birthday any less special. The Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s official newspaper, made the importance of today’s date exceedingly clear.
“Let’s add lustre to Kim Jong-Il’s undying revolutionary exploits,” the headline read.
Kim Jong Un Gets Thumbs Up from North Koreans in Japan
When Kim Jong Un was declared heir apparent of North Korea in December, Choe Kwan Ik was probably one of the few people in Tokyo who knew who the kid was. As Bill Powell writes in this week’s story “Meet Kim Jong Un,” (available here for subscribers) what we don’t know about the 29-year-old leader of the world’s most unpredictable state is a lot. And though Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons are only 800 miles away from Japan, most Tokyoites hear as little about life in the Hermit Kingdom as anyone else. A trickle of information has flowed in from the books written by Kim Jong Il’s former sushi chef, but otherwise Japan, like the rest of world, must rely on the scraps of propaganda from North Korea’s official news agency, like today’s mournful tribute to the recently deceased leader’s birthday.
School reformer urges California to change teacher tenure rules
Los Angeles Times
Former District of Columbia schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee urged a Los Angeles audience of educators and parents to pressure state leaders to change teacher tenure and seniority rules.
Her appearance Wednesday night before an enthusiastic crowd of about 600 marked the third of four appearances statewide for Rhee, who is attempting to build a base of influence in California.
Rhee’s 1-year-old organization, StudentsFirst, has worked in other states with governors and powerful legislators but not in California, even though her organization is based in Sacramento.
In her remarks and a question-and-answer session, Rhee took on “last in, first out” rules that govern teacher layoffs. She characterized this approach as “incredibly detrimental to students and schools,” because gifted, less-experienced teachers are put out of work while less effective teachers with more seniority get to keep their jobs.
New York Mag’s Fashion Editor On Her Fave NYC Hotels
Jenny Kang is the practically the poster child for New York street style — she is the Fashion Editor for New York Magazine, after all.
The Chicago native, who has described her style as “preppy sportswear with punches of fun,” knows how to pick out ideal spots to cool her heels between shows. We asked Kang to dish on her favorite hotels, and of course, her favorite designers.
Right now she’s loving Proenza Schouler, Miu Miu and Givenchy, but is most looking forward to the Marc Jacobs show this NYFW. “The way he presents his collection is always innovative, almost like fashion theater,” says Kang.
Gideon Yu Promoted to President of NFL’s 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers promoted Gideon Yu to president and co-owner.
Yu was a general partner at Khosla Ventures, a venture capital company based in Menlo Park, California, until joining the 49ers as chief strategy officer last April. Yu, previously chief financial officer at Facebook Inc. and YouTube LLC, has focused in the past year on securing funding for the 49ers’ proposed new $1 billion stadium in Santa Clara, California.
“He’s both a visionary and the ‘go-to’ guy who can lead us through the enormous opportunities ahead, such as the stadium construction, expansion of our brand and its businesses and positioning the franchise for the future,” Chief Executive Officer Jed York said in a team release.
Sang Yoon on braising
Los Angeles Times
Sang Yoon shares how to make beef daube, stew with braised beef cheeks. Yoon is the chef-owner of beer-and-burger mecca Father’s Office, with locations in Santa Monica and Culver City. He also recently opened the restaurant Lukshon in Culver City, turning out his take on the cuisines of Southeast Asia and China.
IACP Announces 2012 Food Writing Finalists
The International Association of Culinary Professionals nominated Korean American chef Debbie Lee in the “International” category for her new cookbook, “Seoultown Kitchen.”
Do You Think the ‘Koreatown’ Stigma Still Exists in Annandale?
Patch.com (Annandale, Va.)
In fact, some residents of the D.C. metro area refer to Annandale as “Koreatown,” in part due to Annandale’s relatively dense Korean population (compared to the rest of Fairfax County) and the large number of Korean businesses. The stereotype has divided Annandale residents—something The Washington Post addressed back in 2005.
Fresh from ‘The Voice,’ Dia Frampton is out with her debut solo album
What kind of reaction did you get from Meg & Dia fans [about appearing on The Voice]?
There was a lot of mixed reactions. There was a lot of “That’s really awesome, good for you.” There was a lot of “Why are you doing that? You’re already rich and famous.” That was kind of funny to me because I was working for minimum wage at a coffee/cupcake place in New York, and I was like, “Just because someone is on MTV for a hot second does not mean they are successful.” At the time, Meg & Dia, we almost had to jump off the last tour because we didn’t have enough money for gas to get to the next city. So it’s a little frustrating to have people be unsupportive of that, because of how hard I’ve been trying in the past. I don’t know, when it comes to these vocal competitions, I look at it like people didn’t think it was fair that it was people who had experience. In my opinion, I just feel, who deserves it more — the girl who is just out of high school and just kind of auditioned because she liked singing, or someone like Vicci who has been trying and put out five records and has been working her [behind] off for years? That just proves that they really sacrificed a lot to try to do what they wanted to do.
MLB doesn’t approve Orioles’ signing of Kim
Major League Baseball has ruled it will not approve the Orioles’ contract with 17-year-old South Korean Kim Seong-min, a move that caused much controversy in the pitcher’s home country.
The action comes five days after the Orioles apologized for an “unintentional breach of protocol” in signing Kim, regarded as the country’s top left-handed high school pitcher.
Orioles’ Kim Seong-min situation far from over
The circus revolving around the Orioles’ signing of 17-year-old South Korean pitcher Kim Seong-min is far from over.
First are the semantics. As reported yesterday, an industry source confirmed to me last night that Kim’s contract is not voided, but that it has not been approved.
That’s a big difference. The Orioles can approach the situation with Kim again. Yonhap News Agency reported that the contract will be on hold for the next 30 days. Yonhap also reported that the KBO was told by MLB that the Orioles will receive an undisclosed fine.
The Mentalist’s Tim Kang aka Kimball Cho Talks About The Summer-Cho Moment, Hot & Heavy Scenes and Game of Thrones
TV Equals (blog)
What’s been the funniest moment so far this season during ‘The Mentalist’ production?
Tim Kang: During production we have moments, especially with the character that I play where the Cho veneer is lost. You play this really stoic, serious guy all the time and sometimes you just can’t keep a straight face. I’m looking at Owain or Simon [Baker] dead in the eye and I just burst out laughing. That’s happened on maybe two or three occasions. I’m pretty good at staying in character, but yeah, this season it’s happened about two or three times and it gets to be pretty funny. Everyone in the crew, everyone around us, they all have a good laugh, like, ‘I broke you. I got you.’
Twitter, Weibo Spread Rumors of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un’s Assassination
Did social media just prematurely kill off the leader of North Korea?
Rumors that Kim Jong-un, the country’s supreme leader, has been assassinated just months after he took power originated on Chinese microblogging service Weibo and have now spread all over Twitter.
Others are reporting that Jong-un, believed to be 28 years old, may be on the run rather than dead, but both reports claim that some kind of coup is taking place.
South Korea Lawmakers Make First Trip to Gaeseong Complex Since Kim Death
Eight lawmakers toured factories and met representatives of South Korean businesses in the Gaeseong Industrial Park six miles (10 kilometers) north of the border that opened in 2005. More than 50,000 North Koreans employed by 123 South Korean companies at the facility produced a record $400 million in goods last year, according to ministry figures.
Park Joo Sun, head of a parliamentary committee on inter- Korea relations, said after returning that business owners told the delegation the complex needs 23,000 additional North Korean workers to meet growing demand.
“We hope that our visit can be a catalyst for increased activity in Gaeseong,” Park said at a press conference in the South Korean border city of Paju.
Mobile phones in North Korea: Some North Koreans get better connected
North Korean mobile-phone users spend an average of $13.90 a month on calls and text messages, and they tend to pay in hard currency. According to a foreign diplomat, many customers turn up at Koryolink shops with bundles of euro notes. There are even incentives for paying in euros, such as free off-peak calls. This provides foreign currency for a government that craves it.
Mobile-phone customers obtain the hard currency from the informal private trading on which many North Koreans depend. Such business is forbidden, but the government has failed to feed its people, forcing it to turn a blind eye to some capitalist practices. Many insiders benefit: Pyongyang’s “golden couples” consist of a government-official husband and an entrepreneur wife.
From Korea to Minnesota and back: Kelly Fern shares her remarkable double-adoption story
Twin Cities Daily Planet
The more you learn about Kelly Fern, the more you want to know. Not only does she tell a moving personal story of being adopted from Korea at age five, she reveals that on the flight to America, her identity was accidentally switched with that of another young adoptee—a circumstance that ultimately resulted in her family adopting three Korean girls, not just the two sisters they’d expected. Further, Fern herself had a child who she gave up for adoption. In the space of less than a year, Fern recently reconnected with both her biological family in Korea and her biological daughter in Minnesota.
For He Is the Lin Beneath Our Wings
Wall Street Journal
Jeremy Lin sort of makes me feel sorry for the New York Rangers. This is not a slight of Lin, a genuinely compelling story who has captivated this town. But the Rangers have spent not days or weeks but years assembling a talented hockey club, and are currently rocking the NHL’s Eastern Conference. They have a genuine shot to make a lot of noise in the postseason.
But all of a sudden, in the space of 72 hours or so, the Rangers have been ushered to sports Siberia by a previously little-known point guard who has started a total of two games for the Knicks. A former backup to the backup point guard whom the Knicks actually demoted to the D-league a few weeks ago. A point guard who plays for a team that is 11-15, just frightful percentage fragments ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Top Chef’s Ed: What’s the Point of Last Chance Kitchen?
Edward Lee would like to point out that he technically was in the final four of Top Chef — for a few hours. But then Beverly, having won Last Chance Kitchen, returned to the game and out-cooked him for a spot in the actual final four. “It is what it is. I don’t hold a grudge. She won fair and square,” Ed tells TVGuide.com. “I shouldn’t have used the smoked oysters, so it was all on me.” Still, the Louisville-based chef is none too pleased with the second-chance secret competition for eliminated cheftestants.
Korean American hopeful Heejun Han moves on to the next round of ‘American Idol’
The February 8th episode of ‘American Idol’ featured the contestants auditioning on ‘Hollywood Week’, and Han won the judges’ votes by singing Michael Bolton‘s “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You“.
Although he looked quite nervous to perform after the confident and suave Johnny Keyser who won the heart of judge Jennifer Lopez (J.Lo), Heejun shook off his jitters and started his song. He did gain some confidence after J.Lo whispered “I love him,” to Steven Tyler in the middle of his performance.
When he sang the lyrics, “When all that I’ve been livin’ for is gone,” he even mustered up the courage to point to J.Lo, who remarked that his performance brought her to tears.
North Korean Ex-Propagandist Song Byeok To Show New Satirical Artwork In U.S. (PHOTOS)
Byeok’s world changed completely in the late 1990s when famine struck North Korea, killing his father, mother, and sister. He wandered alone and hungry through a country he once loved, and was later tortured by the government he once idolized. At this point, he began a journey to discover a life outside of DPRK. Byeok, now in his 40s, has devoted his life to using his artistic skills to promote freedom through satirizing Kim Jong Il and the legacy of his reign.
Matthew Morrison, Daniel Dae Kim to guest co-host ‘Live! with Kelly’
Hawaii Five-O and former Lost star Dae Kim will join Ripa to interview Two and a Half Men actor Jon Cryer and Dancing with the Stars professional Derek Hough on the February 20 episode.
Daniel Henney in ‘Shanghai Calling’ Trailer
Angry Asian Man
Here’s the freshly dropped new trailer for Shanghai Calling, the upcoming indie feature film debut from writer/director Daniel Hsia. It’s a romantic comedy, starring Daniel Henney, about American “expats” living and working in Shanghai. I think it looks pretty promising. Check it out: here.
North Korea’s super-size hotel is set to open — 23 years behind schedule
The Washington Post
“It was the hotel with the iconic crane,” said Simon Cockerell, an executive at Beijing-based Koryo Tours, which leads tourist trips to North Korea. “It dominated the skyline.”
Sometime this spring, though, according to the Yonhap news agency in Seoul, the Ryugyong Hotel will partially open — 23 years behind schedule. Initially, it might serve as an office complex, not a hotel, but eventually, travel agents say, the Ryugyong will open for tourists.
Krys Lee on Drifting House
Krys Lee talks about her collection of short stories, Drifting House. Her stories illuminate the Korean immigrant experience—from children escaping famine in North Korea to recent arrivals in America, whose lives play out in cramped apartments and Koreatown strip malls.
As Buzz Fades, Singing Show Winds Down
The Wall Street Journal
One of South Korea’s biggest TV shows, “I Am a Singer,” comes to the end of an 11-month run this week, partly because its buzz has faded and viewing rates are sluggish.
For those who aren’t familiar with the program, here’s how it works: Seven professional singers perform and are ranked by an audience of 500. The singer with the lowest combined score after two rounds is replaced by a new contestant. And those who survive seven rounds – 14 contests in all – exit the show and are called “honorary graduates.”
Roving Robotic Scarecrows Battle Airport Birds
“They were originally commissioned by the military to prevent bird strikes at military airports,” said Yi Jongmin, head of public relations at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI).
The robotics lab at KAERI spearheaded the development — officially dubbed “Airport Birdstrike Prevention System” — in conjunction with weapons manufacturer LIG Nex1.
Bird strikes remain one of the top problems for airlines and airports around the world.
American Musician with a Passion for Korean
Michael Elliott was a composition student at California Institute of the Arts when he first came into contact with Koreans. He collaborated with several Korean animators, producing scores for their short films. Since he had been interested in languages from a young age, largely due to the influence of his grandfather, who is fluent in Spanish, he had dreamed of learning a new language but was too wrapped up in his music to do much of anything else. Working with the Koreans at CalArts, however, he started to learn a few phrases and this quickly blossomed into a hobby and then an obsession.
A Korean reporter’s perspective on the Orioles and Kim Seong-Min (update)
Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN)
One thing Kim believes is unlikely to happen is the Orioles signing of the pitcher to be overturned or voided in any way. He fully expects the left-hander to be an Oriole when this flap is over.
“I think the contract will go through. I believe the player already left the country and for now, I think it’s safe to say that Kim will be the property of the Orioles’ organization,” Kim said.
Kim feels what is at issue here is that the Orioles, reportedly according to the KBO, failed to first contact MLB, which was then to contact the KBO commissioner to get clearance for Baltimore to negotiate with the player. According to KBO rules, once MLB makes the contact, the KBO must respond within four business days.
“That is a process that all transactions must go through,” Kim said. “The Orioles, for whatever reason, they did not go through the steps. They contacted and signed the player directly. That seems to be the main issue with KBO. I think KBO feels somewhat disrespected.”
Korean baseball’s governing body bans Orioles scouts in wake of Kim signing
This week, the Korean Baseball Association, the nation’s governing body for baseball, banned Orioles scouts from KBA-sanctioned games, which include the national high school and college tournaments that serve as a treasure trove for scouts seeking the country’s top players. The KBA added that the same penalty will fall on major league teams that contact amateur players before their senior seasons.
The KBA also suspended Kim from playing and coaching in Korea indefinitely for making contact with a pro team before his final year of high school.
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 »