Japan Won’t Alter Apology to World War II Sex Slaves
New York Times
Japan will not revise a landmark apology to women forced to work in military brothels during World War II even as it moves ahead with a review of the testimony used to create that apology, a spokesman for the Japanese government said Monday.
Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary, told reporters that the conservative government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had no intention of changing the 1993 apology, called the Kono Statement. The apology admitted for the first time that the Imperial military played at least an indirect role in forcing the women, known euphemistically as “comfort women,” to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.
Mr. Suga was responding to rising criticism from South Korea, a former Japanese colony where many of the women came from, of an announcement made two weeks ago by Mr. Suga that the government would review evidence used to support the apology. At that time, Mr. Suga said the government would form a panel of experts to review the evidence used to back up the statement, mostly testimony made two decades ago by 16 aging former sex slaves.
North Korea Election: A Sham Worth Studying
Kim wins. That is the unsurprising outcome of North Korea’s first legislative election under the leadership young dictator Kim Jong Un. State media report that nearly 100% of eligible North Koreans voted in Sunday’s poll, and 100% cast votes in favor of the status quo. This is only partly as ridiculous as it sounds: voting is mandatory and there is one option on the ballot.
Indeed, when North Korea votes, it votes. When exactly 100% of eligible North Korean set out to cast votes 100% in favor of pre-determined politicians, they were carried forth on “billows of emotion and happiness,” state media reported. And nowhere were they happier — or more billowy, presumably — that in Kim Jong Un’s district, Mount Paektu, the Korean peninsula’s highest peak. The group that voted at the storied site were so moved by the exercise that they spontaneously burst into song, state media said.
North Korean Flagged Tanker Puzzles Observers
Wall Street Journal
Is North Korea trying to import oil from rebel forces in Libya?
The Libyan government and militias are threatening to attack a North Korean-flagged tanker off its coast that they say rebels are hoping to use to export oil from the port of al-Sidra.
“Any attempt (by the tanker) to move, it will be turned into scrap,” Libyan Culture Minister Al-Habib al-Amin said on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.
The presence of the tanker, named “The Morning Glory,” has puzzled observers because it’s very unusual for North Korean-flagged vessels to appear in the Mediterranean.
Dennis Rodman pledges to end North Korea trips
Dennis Rodman, back from a North Korea trip that included an exhibition game and birthday song for Kim Jong Un, has pledged he will not make a return visit to the dictator if that is not what people want.
Rodman said he went to North Korea with pure intentions, stating that he only wants to “do great things in life” in a television interview with ESPN’s Mark Schwarz.
“I wish they understood the whole purpose of why I went to North Korea,” Rodman said. “I wish they did.”
Kim Jong-un’s Sister Secures Place in Nomenklatura
North Korea’s state-run media have for the first time mentioned leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister Yeo-jong by name, suggesting she has established a position of some influence for herself in the corridors of power.
North Korean state TV on Sunday reported that Kim Jong-un visited a polling station at Kim Il-sung University for elections for the Supreme People’s Assembly on Sunday, accompanied by military politburo chief Choe Ryong-hae, Workers Party deputy directors Kim Kyong-ok and Hwang Pyong-so, “and comrade Kim Yeo-jong.”
Challenging South Korea’s Gender Barrier
Wall Street Journal
When Cho Eun-sook started her career as the first female software developer at LG Electronics Inc. in 1988, there was no such thing as maternity leave. Instead, she took vacation days to give birth to her two sons.
Now in her 27th year at the company, Ms. Cho runs mobile accessory development and is one of three female vice presidents at the company.
Ms. Cho was one of more than 120 female engineers who met to discuss women working in technology at an event hosted by Google Inc. in Seoul on Friday to mark International Women’s Day.
Fugitive tracked by Tribune is returned from S. Korea
U.S. authorities today extradited international fugitive Kyung Ho Song to Chicago from his native South Korea, more than a decade after Song fled Cook County to avoid being tried on charges of drunken driving and reckless homicide.
The hunt for Song was reactivated after the Tribune contacted prosecutors and police about the dormant case in connection with its 2011 “Fugitives From Justice” investigation. The Tribune separately tracked down Song in a suburb of Seoul and interviewed him there in early 2012.
Korean authorities arrested Song in December 2013 on a U.S. provisional arrest warrant, and the Korean ministry of justice authorized his extradition back to Chicago.
Affirmative action amendment has some Asian-Americans furious
Southern California Public Radio
A proposal to reinstate affirmative action at California’s public universities is riling some Asian-American groups more than any recent political issue, with critics unleashing their anger on social media and in protests and public meetings.
At issue is a Democrat-backed bill that would lift a 1996 ban keeping University of California and California State University schools from considering race or ethnicity in admissions and recruitment.
SCA 5 – short for Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 – passed on a party-line vote in the state Senate late January, and if it’s approved by the supermajority in the Assembly, Californians could vote on the issue as early as this year.
More charges after cyclist killed in W. Colorado
AP via Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A 29-year-old Palisade woman involved in a crash in western Colorado that killed a man on a cross-country bicycling trip is now facing several drug charges.
Prosecutors say Tonie Rosales used cocaine for two days in September before heading to Delta for a court hearing relating to a prior DUI arrest. She struck and killed 25-year-old Eunjey Cho on U.S. Highway 50 on her way to court Sept. 18 and was formally charged with the drug offenses Thursday.
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1gc4wnD ) Rosales already has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide — one alleging DUI and another alleging reckless driving.
Brentwood girl gets two perfect ACT scores, looks to future in science
For most students, taking the ACT is a rite of passage.
It can be an eye-opening and sometimes brutal experience, often repeated to achieve better results and possibly gain college scholarship money and win selective admission.
But for Joyce Kang, a senior at Brentwood High School, the college entrance exam was a piece of cake both times she took it. That’s right: She made the highest possible score — 36 — both times.
Kang had to endure the exam a second time because she didn’t take the ACT written assessment the first time.
Folk rockers Run River North flows in the right direction on debut album
Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven’t heard of.
Week of 03/07/2013
WHO: Run River North
WHAT: Run River North
Run River North first came to our attention in a method befitting the the style of music they play. The six-piece had assembled its own music video (under its then name Monsters Calling Home) shooting inside a Honda Fit. The car company appreciated the gesture and hooked them up with Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Uncomfortable questions with Shin-Soo Choo
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)
Shin-Soo Choo’s big league career began when he was 22 as a rookie with the Seattle Mariners. He is 30 now, and should be fairly secure with the seven-year, $130 million contract he signed with the Texas Rangers in the offseason. He should be able to live off that for at least two to three years.
A native of South Korea, Choo is expected to bat leadoff hitter, and be the Rangers’ every day left fielder. He was nice enough to answer some uncomfortable questions.
Dodgers to start Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu in Australia openers
Los Angeles Times
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly made official Sunday what had been suspected for some time: Left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu are set to start the team’s season-opening games against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia.
But anything beyond that, Mattingly said, is still to be determined.
“We still haven’t made all our decisions on exactly how we’re going to set up our roster,” he said. “So those are issues that we continue to talk with guys about.”
IOC Deletes Fake Quotes from Kim Yu-na
The International Olympic Committee has quietly deleted fabricated quotes from Korean figure skating star Kim Yu-na that appeared to downplay controversy over judging irregularities at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
The IOC published an article with the implausible quotes on its official website on March 6, focusing on figure skaters from the Innsbruck Youth Winter Olympics who won medals in Sochi.
One skater in focus was Russian gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova. The IOC claimed Kim had been “magnanimous in defeat” after a highly dubious judging decision in Sochi put her in second place.
Kim Yu-na to hold farewell ice shows in May: agency
South Korean figure skating icon Kim Yu-na will hold farewell ice shows in Seoul this spring, her agency announced Monday.
All That Sports said Kim will take the center stage at her corporate-sponsored ice shows from May 4 to 6 in the nation’s capital.
The 23-year-old star retired from competition after the Sochi Winter Olympics last month. She picked up the silver medal behind Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, after winning the gold at the previous Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.
The agency said the three days of performances will be Kim’s last appearances on ice as a figure skater. Through the agency’s press release, Kim said she hopes to take the opportunity to show her appreciation for her fans.
Beverly Kim and John Clark Plan to Open Parachute
When the husband-and-wife chef team Beverly Kim and John Clark took over the now-defunct Bonsoirée in 2012, they fulfilled a dream of working together on a Korean-inspired modern restaurant. Unfortunately, the dream lasted only a few months there, and Bonsoirée closed.
After a year-plus deferral, they’re leaping back into their restaurant-ownership dream, and if you leap, you need a Parachute (3500 N. Elston Ave., Avondale, no phone yet). The 40-seat, liquor-licensed, Korean-American-perspective restaurant is scheduled to open in April.
Kim and Clark say the food will pull together traditional Korean flavors with new and creative ones. “Reminiscent of familiar traditional flavors, but presented in a new creative way,” Kim says. As an example, they offer a crispy mung bean pancake with pork belly, black garlic, and kimchi. The menu breaks down into snacks in the $4 to $7 range, appetizers such as crudos or salads, rice and noodles, and larger plates intended for sharing and costing between $18 and $25.
Korea’s Most Popular Online Eating Shows
Wall Street Journal
One of South Korea’s hardest-to-explain phenomena in recent months is the boom of “mokbang”: Internet-streamed shows where hosts eat often supersized meals – for the audience’s pleasure.
Choi Ji-hwan, a top mokbang host, told The Wall Street Journal in a recent interview that one of his satisfied viewers was on a diet seeking a vicarious thrill. Others were living alone and enjoyed his virtual company as they ate “together.”
Every night on a local YouTube-like platform AfreecaTV, multiple show hosts vie to be selected by hundreds of thousands of viewers. Several of them make a living through these shows and have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
South Korea asks for trust; North agrees, lets families have reunions
In stark contrast to the bellicose gesturing that has haunted relations in the recent past, North and South Korea took conciliatory steps in each other’s direction Friday.
Both sides will halt the harsh rhetoric, they agreed at a bilateral meeting on the heavily militarized border that divides them.
They hope that this and other agreements will serve to build trust between Pyongyang and Seoul, Kim Kyou-Hyun, a high South Korean security official, said after the meeting wrapped up.
Pyongyang has been particularly irked by joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, and would like them to cease.
Why was North Korea so quick to agree to family reunions?
Christian Science Monitor
South and North Korea agreed to allow reunions next week of nearly 100 families divided by the Korean War in a breakthrough agreement that appeared to signal Pyongyang’s deepened interest in easing tensions on the peninsula.
North Korea surprised South Korean negotiators Friday by completely dropping its demand that the United States and the South cancel military exercises set to begin during the reunions.
The North, analysts say, may be prioritizing smoother relations with its southern neighbor while it grapples with internal problems after the execution of long-time regent-mentor Jang Song-thaek and the purge of hundreds of his followers.
Kim Jong-un ‘Successfully Tightens Grip’
U.S. intelligence services believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has succeeded in tightening his grip on power through a generational shift in the party and the military.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that two years after he took power Kim has further consolidated its position as sole leader and final decision maker.
He has tightened controls and ensured loyalty through personnel reshuffles and purges, Clapper said.
North Korea Sent Kenneth Bae to Labor Camp to Protest B-52 Flights
Imprisoned American Kenneth Bae was sent to a North Korean labor camp in part due to the regime’s anger over supposed American B-52 bomber flight drills around the Korean Peninsula last week, officials told ABC News.
North Korean officials broke the news by telling Donald Gregg, a former ambassador to South Korea and an ABC News consultant who was on a rare visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
“Rhee Young-Ho, a first vice minister, said that the memory of the B29 air raids are in the [North Korean] DNA,” Gregg told ABC News today during a stopover at the Beijing International Airport while en route back to the U.S. “[Rhee said] to have the B52s which are nuclear capable fly over their air space is seen as a really terrible, terrible threat.”
The Pentagon has acknowledged the “rotational presence” of bombers in the region, but would not confirm the details of the mission that angered the North Koreans.
Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, U.N. Panel Finds
A U.N. Commission of Inquiry has found that crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea and recommends that its findings be referred to the International Criminal Court, two people familiar with the commission’s report have told The Associated Press.
The commission, which conducted a yearlong investigation, has found evidence of an array of such crimes, including “extermination,” crimes against humanity against starving populations and a widespread campaign of abductions of individuals in South Korea and Japan.
Its report, due for release Monday, does not examine in detail individual responsibility for the alleged crimes but recommends steps toward accountability.
Korean businesses booted from the Exchange Building
Northwest Asian Weekly
The line at The Original Deli in downtown Seattle is usually full of businessmen and women grabbing whatever lunch they can within the short break they have. The mom-and-pop delicatessen, tucked on the first floor of the Exchange Building on Marion St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue, has been a favorite to many over the years. Relationships and stories have emerged since its opening 44 years ago. But that’s all gone now.
The Original Deli went out of business on Feb. 7, after the owners were told to leave when the building began going under major renovations. Deli owner Un “Missy” Bang was heartbroken and clueless as to what the future might hold.
“This is everything we have,” Bang said.
Beacon Capital Partners bought the Exchange Building for $66 million last year and decided to remodel. In the process, it forced two Korean-owned businesses — The Original Deli and The Goodie Box — to close down. Other businesses in the building have not been affected.
Landlords are having to ditch a century-old rental system
MOST South Korean urbanites would leap at the chance to part with $150,000 to rent a smallish flat for three years in Seoul, the capital. These days, however, most Korean landlords would spurn such a measly deposit.
Korea’s unusual rental system, known as jeonse, does not involve monthly rental payments. Instead, tenants provide landlords with a deposit, typically between a quarter and half of the property’s value, to invest for the duration of the lease. Property owners keep the returns and then repay the lump sum at the end of the tenancy.
Average deposits have now risen for 76 consecutive weeks in Korea, the longest streak ever. Thousands of jeonse leases in the capital are now as high as 90% of the value of the house; they sometimes exceed it in areas where property prices have fallen since leases were agreed.
The dangerous myth of “The Triple Package”: What Amy Chua gets wrong about Asian-American communities
Here we go again. Tiger mom Amy Chua is back, reinforcing stereotypes and presenting glib solutions for attaining success. Her new book, “The Triple Package,” jointly authored with husband Jed Rubenfeld, argues that certain ethnic and religious groups — namely Jews, Indians, Chinese, Iranians, Lebanese, Nigerians, Cubans and Mormons – possess qualities that make them more likely to succeed in life. Chua and Rubenfeld claim that these groups have “three cultural forces” — a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control — that drive them to achieve.
Aside from the innately offensive nature of such stereotyping, reviews and commentary have already pointed out that the book props itself up with flimsy data and questionable evidence. It comes as little surprise that Chua’s newest publication is accompanied by skepticism and controversy. Her previous book, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” and its accompanying Wall Street Journal article made unfounded racial assertions and coined a parenting philosophy out of thin air. The terms “tiger mom” and “tiger parenting” entered our vocabulary, becoming shorthand for a strict, no-excuses style of parenting supposedly commonplace and traditional across Asian and Asian American households. This further reinforced the “model minority myth” of Asian American students as stellar accomplishers with an almost supernatural ability to overcome all odds and pull themselves up by their bootstraps to achieve the American dream. In reality, no one had heard of the tiger parenting philosophy before Chua wrote about it because, like the mythical “model minority,” it doesn’t exist.
Classically Trained, Unlikely Rockers
Wall Street Journal
Just months ago, Daniel Chae was working in finance. Now, he is staking his future on an alternative folk-rock band composed of six Korean-Americans. “We found the American dream in music,” says Mr. Chae, 25 years old, who quit a job at a large bond-trading firm in Los Angeles last summer to devote himself full-time to playing electric guitar and violin in the band Run River North.
Formed in 2011, the Los Angeles-based ensemble performs original compositions, many of them about the Korean immigrant experience. Its members are classically trained musicians, thanks to parents who goaded them to study piano and violin. One of them, violinist Jennifer Rim, was barely familiar with pop music until she joined the band.
Run River North is no K-Pop confection—its music will never be confused with flamboyant Korean pop like Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” The group’s soothing melodies are more in line with Simon and Garfunkel’s, and they appeal to a diverse audience. Last year, Run River North was signed by an indie label after appearing on ” Jimmy Kimmel Live” and playing to sold-out crowds at Los Angeles’s legendary Troubadour nightclub. The band’s self-titled debut album is set for release this month.
Karen O Performing ‘Her’ Song at Oscars
Karen O will perform “The Moon Song” from “Her” during the Oscars, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced Thursday.
“The Moon Song” was written by Karen O and “Her” director Spike Jonze and is a best original song nominee. The upcoming performance marks the first time the Yeah Yeah Yeahs front-woman will perform the track for a global television audience.
The three other Oscar-nominated songs in the original song category are “Let It Go” from Frozen, “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 and “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom — all of which are also set to be performed on the show.
Girls’ Generation mulls album release delay after losing video footage
Yonhap via GlobalPost
Girls’ Generation, one of the most popular South Korean pop groups, may postpone the release of its new album after footage for the video of the album’s title track was accidentally deleted, the group’s management agency said Friday.
The K-pop group originally planned to end a one-year hiatus with the release of its fourth mini-album titled “Mr.Mr.” on Feb. 24. Before the official release, the group was scheduled to release the title track “Mr. Mr.” on local online music services such as Melon, Naver Music and Genie on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the group was scheduled to resume local broadcasting activities on cable TV network Mnet’s music program, “M!Countdown.”
U-Kiss Is One Of The Most Popular K-Pop Groups In The World, So Why Aren’t They Huge In Korea?
In the lobby of New York’s Best Buy Theater on a night in mid-January, 100 fans are getting ready for some high fives from their favorite boy band. They’re there for a “high touch” session, a type of meet-and-greet popular in Asia where — in lieu of a standard autograph session common in the States — artists hold out their hands to give high fives to a passing line of stunned, crying superfans.
As the group enters the room, the screaming starts. The thought of hand-to-hand contact with six pristinely made-up, extremely attractive young guys sends the fans into overdrive; the noise level skyrockets.
These are KissMes — fans of U-Kiss, a K-pop boy band in town for their first-ever concert in New York City, the start to a short three-city U.S. tour. The fans’ moniker is a spin on the group’s name, which is an acronym for Ubiquitous Korean International Idol Super Star. U-Kiss debuted in South Korea in 2008 and are known for their English-speaking members, as well as their catchy mix of tunes that perfectly encapsulate both Korean ballad pop sounds and equally slick American R&B. Like other group acts in Korea, U-Kiss incorporate visually compelling dance moves and aim to please with their fan service — little gestures and interactions that get fans squealing.
Olympic champion Yuna Kim takes Lipnitskaia mania in stride
The defending Olympic champion in women’s figure skating is not concerned by the rapid emergence of Russian teenage sensation Julia Lipnitskaia.
Yuna Kim was considered an overwhelming favorite to win a second straight gold after her triumph at the 2010 Vancouver Games, but her apparent stranglehold on the Olympic title has been thrown into some doubt by the performance of Lipnitskaia, who dazzled last week in helping Russia win gold in the team competition.
The South Korean arrived in Russia on Thursday and has already practiced twice ahead of the ladies’ short program starting on Wednesday.
“It will be a great opportunity for her as the Olympics are taking place in her home country,” Kim told reporters. “Thinking about who may or may not do well won’t help me at all. What’s important is I do everything I’ve been preparing so hard to do.”
Lonely at the top for South Korea’s Lee
Yahoo Eurosport UK
Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa cut a lonely figure on Friday as the Olympic 500 metres champion reflected on South Korea’s struggles at the Sochi Winter Games.
The top speed skating nation at the 2010 Vancouver Games with three gold and two silver medals, South Korea have endured a Games to forget on the ice so far in Russia with Lee’s victory on Monday the Asian nation’s only medal in the sport in Sochi.
Four years ago, ‘Empress Lee’ was joined by all the Korean medallists to address the media.
On Friday she sat alone.
“In Vancouver, I was with my fellows skaters seated side by side in the news conference, but here I’m alone today and that makes me feel sorry,” Lee told reporters in Sochi.
Korean curling team hits Great Wall
Korea’s female curlers lost to China 11-3 after their worst performance at the Ice Cube Curling Center, Friday (KST), moving further away from their hope of reaching the semifinals on their first Olympic appearance.
Buoyed by a win over Russia hours earlier, Korea looked to establish a bridgehead to the semifinal over China but failed to beat the world No. 5 due to a lack of strategy and too many mistakes.
China went ahead in the second end, where it scored three, after giving up the first end without any points. Korea, the world No. 10, cut the deficit to 3-2 in the second end, but the tension didn’t last long.
In the fifth end, China added three points as Korea started to lose its concentration and determination to win. After scoring just one more point in the next end, Korea fell to 11-3, the biggest loss so far at the Sochi Games.
Park Ji-sung won’t return for World Cup
Park Ji-sung, former captain of the South Korean men’s national football team, won’t return for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the team’s head coach said Friday.
Hong Myung-bo, who will lead South Korea to its eighth consecutive trip to the World Cup this summer, said Park told him he will not come out of international retirement for one last hurrah. “I had a heart-to-heart with Park Ji-sung,” Hong told reporters at Incheon International Airport upon returning from his trip to the Netherlands. Park is currently playing for PSV Eindhoven in the top Dutch league. “He said his knees are worse than he’d feared and that will prevent him from playing for the national team,” Hong said of the veteran with a history of knee injuries. “And I decided to respect his decision.”
Park’s status for the big tournament has been a hot potato in South Korean football so far this year. The 32-year-old said he would no longer play for the national team in January 2011 and has repeatedly said he won’t change his mind.
12 Things Never to Say to an Asian Woman
1. Where are you from?
This is usually followed by an intense stare as the person, most likely a dude, is trying to figure out if I’m Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, or something else “exotic.” When I say New Jersey (the most exotic of the states), this leads to question #2.
2. No, really where are you from?
Let’s get to the point. You want to know where my family is from. Taiwan. Are you happy now? Where are you from? Because I’d really like to know so I can avoid going there.
The family of the executed uncle of Kim Jong-un, including children and the North Korean ambassadors to Cuba and Malaysia, have also been executed at the behest of the North Korean dictator, according to Yonhap News.
News of Jang Song-Thaek’s execution dominated headlines about North Korea last month, after the former second-in-command fell out of Kim’s favor, allegedly attempting a coup.
“Extensive executions have been carried out for relatives of Jang Song-thaek,” an anonymous source told Yonhap. “All relatives of Jang have been put to death, including even children.” Continue Reading »
South Korea Proposes Dates for Family Reunions With North
New York Times
South Korea proposed to North Korea on Monday that the two sides hold a new round of family reunions between Feb. 17 and Feb. 22 to allow elderly relatives separated by the Korean War to meet for the first time in six decades.
The South offered to send South Korean Red Cross officials to the border on Wednesday to sort out details with their North Korean counterparts. Both Koreas have suggested that the reunions can be held at the Diamond Mountain tourist resort in southeast North Korea.
“We hope that family reunions will take place smoothly and create a new opportunity for South-North relations,” Kim Eui-do, a spokesman for the South Korean government, said on Monday.
In North Korea, meth is offered as casually as a cup of tea
Los Angeles Times
After the North Korean coal mine where she worked stopped paying salaries, Park Kyung Ok tried her hand at business.
Buttons and zippers, candy and dried squid, fabric, plastic tarpaulins, men’s suits and cigarettes.
“I sold just about everything,” said Park, 44.
But it wasn’t until she started hawking methamphetamine in 2007, she said, that she was able to earn a living.
Methamphetamine, known as orum, or “ice,” is a rare commodity manufactured and sold in North Korea, where most factories sit idle, the equipment rusted or looted. The North Korean government once produced the drug, and others that are illicit in the West. Resourceful entrepreneurs have since set up their own small facilities, and evidence suggests that they are distributing the drug beyond the nation’s borders.
UN not taken seriously by North Korea, says defector Shin Dong-hyuk
South China Morning Post
North Korean defector Shin Dong-hyuk will be in Geneva on March 17, when the United Nations commission set up to look into the human-rights situation in North Korea announces its findings, but he has little faith that anything the UN says will have any impact in Pyongyang.
“Unfortunately, the UN cannot do very much,” Shin, the only person born in a North Korean labour camp to escape to the West, said yesterday in Tokyo.
“The horrible state that is North Korea does not take the UN seriously and history shows us that the organisation has not been able to do one thing to halt the problem in North Korea,” he said.
Japan gov’t distances itself from NHK head’s ‘comfort women’ remark
Tokyo on Monday distanced itself from comments by the new head of national broadcaster NHK, who said the Imperial Army’s system of wartime sex slavery was not unique to Japan.
Mr Katsuto Momii said on Saturday that the practice of forcibly drafting women into military brothels during World War II was “common in any country at war”.
“Can we say there were none in Germany or France? It was everywhere in Europe,” he told an inaugural press conference, according to local media reports.
Bilingual classes gives older immigrants better shot at citizenship
Southern California Public Radio
In the civics class she teaches in a Koreatown library, Theresa Jung speaks in Korean before switching seamlessly to English.
“What is this “D” word?” Jung said, gesturing to a page in the textbook. “Democracy!”
The students – mostly in their 50s and 60s – murmured the word. Jung could tell it was hard for some students to say, and tried to loosen them up.
“Say it one more time, Korean-version,” Jung said.
“Demo-crush!” several students said in unison, laughing.
Jung’s class is part of a newly-launched program to teach English and civics to immigrants in Los Angeles County with limited English skills.
We weren’t violent so it wasn’t rape, insist abusers of girl
Gympie Times (Australia)
A PAIR of 16-year-old boys took turns having sex with an underage girl who was “almost comatose” from alcohol – but still believe they didn’t rape her because they were not ‘violent’.
In a case with similarities to the “Roast Busters” scandal, the 15-year-old victim was heavily intoxicated and the two teenagers plotted to have sex with her.
After she was abused by each boy separately and left naked in a bedroom, she was further humiliated by a group who came in with their cellphones lit up and touched her.
BIGBANG to release new album this summer
Popular K-pop boy band BIGBANG will release a new album this summer.
Yang Hyun-suk, president of YG Entertainment which manages BIGBANG, told reporters on Sunday the five-member band will take the stage in support of a new full-length album “somewhere around July or August.”
During the band’s Seoul concert on Sunday, its leader G-Dragon said, “I feel like we have new family whenever we travel to a new country, so we’re very happy.”
Shin-Soo Choo gets on base any way he can
Part of Shin-Soo Choo’s impressive ability to get on base is that he isn’t afraid to get hit by a pitch.
Choo posted a .423 on-base percentage, the fourth-best in the majors. He also was hit by a pitch 26 times, the most by any big leaguer in 2013.
“Hit by pitch is part of baseball,” Choo said Friday night. “I can’t do anything. If I get scared about hit by pitch, I might change approach and I can’t do anything. Pitchers can throw inside. I can hit it or I get hit.”
Kim lifts Korea to 1-0 win over Costa Rica
The Korean national football team began the year of the Brazil World Cup with a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Sunday (KST).
Without key European based players such as Son Heung-min and Lee Chung-yong, who will surely be included in the World Cup squad barring injury, lone striker Kim Shin-wook scored the game’s only goal to prove his worth ahead of the global event only six months away.
“Players exceeded my expectation,” team manager Hong Myung-bo said. “Today’s match was important in terms of not only the result but also the performance. I’m glad that we won. Players tried hard and they did it.”
Study time almost over for Olympic team
With the Sochi Winter Olympics just 10 days away, preparation time is almost over for Korean athletes who will arrive at the Black Sea resort town burdened by expectations for a historic medal haul.
A record 66 Korean athletes have qualified for the upcoming Olympics, 18 more than the 48 the country sent to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Games. They have been facing mounting pressure for an impressive performance in Sochi, where the country aims at winning at least four gold medals and add to the build-up for the 2018 Games to be held at the Korean ski town of PyeongChang, Gangwon Province.
Twenty-eight Koreans will compete in the speed and figure skating events, 16 in sledding events and 15 in skiing events. Five Korean women will compete in curling and the country will also send two biathlon athletes. Ice hockey will be the only sport in Sochi where Koreans will not be participating.
In South Korea, Spam Is the Stuff Gifts Are Made Of
New York Times
As the Lunar New Year holiday approaches, Seoul’s increasingly well-heeled residents are scouring store shelves for tastefully wrapped boxes of culinary specialties. Among their favorite choices: imported wines, choice cuts of beef, rare herbal teas. And Spam.
Yes, Spam. In the United States, the gelatinous meat product in the familiar blue and yellow cans has held a place as thrifty pantry staple, culinary joke and kitschy fare for hipsters without ever losing its low-rent reputation. But in economically vibrant South Korea, the pink bricks of pork shoulder and ham have taken on a bit of glamour as they have worked their way into people’s affections.
“Here, Spam is a classy gift you can give to people you care about during the holiday,” said Im So-ra, a saleswoman at the high-end Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul who proudly displayed stylish boxes with cans of Spam nestled inside.
New Year party offers link to Korean culture
Des Moines Register (Iowa)
The celebration of the Korean New Year on Saturday in Des Moines was a big opportunity for Michelle Cortlandt and her family.
Cortlandt’s two children were both adopted from Korea. Since adopting the children, she said, her family has become a “Korean-American family” that emphasizes connections to the children’s heritage.
The observance of the beginning of the year of the horse was marked with food and festivities and a large crowd at Westminster Presbyterian Church
Kim Jong-un’s aunt ‘in vegetative state after brain surgery’
The Telegraph (U.K.)
Speculation over the fate of the aunt of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, took a new twist on Thursday as intelligence sources in Seoul and Washington claimed that Kim Kyong-hui is in a vegetative state after undergoing surgery for a brain tumour late last year.
The reports come just days after South Korean media reported that Ms Kim, 67, was dead and may have committed suicide.
The only daughter of Kim Il-sung, the revered founder of North Korea, Ms Kim was the estranged wife of Jang Song-taek before he was executed in December for a litany of crimes against the state.
Strangest of bedfellows
THE crowd gathered at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium on January 8th made unlikely spectators for a basketball game. Dressed in suits and ties, the 14,000 people filling the stands in North Korea’s capital held neither hotdogs nor giant foam fingers. Applause for the two squads, a motley crew of former American National Basketball Association (NBA) stars and street-ball players, and then the North Korean team, was tightly orchestrated. But when the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, entered the stadium, the atmosphere changed. “It’s just really shocking, an overwhelming experience to see how much power that guy has in this country,” said Dennis Rodman, the provocative former professional American player who was chiefly responsible for the spectacle. “All [Mr Kim] has to do is get up and they go nuts.”
This is Mr Rodman’s fourth trip to North Korea, an ostentatious tour with an athletic entourage which is estimated to cost his hosts about $1m. He is the highest-profile American to have met the youthful Mr Kim, and this has cast Mr Rodman into a position of perhaps unwitting ambassadorial significance. He labels his own visits as “basketball diplomacy”, an opportunity for cultural exchange with the secretive state. He claims to have no political motive.
Students Plan Visit to N.Korea in Dokdo Campaign
A group of university students and a freelance writer publicizing Korea’s sovereignty over Dokdo want to visit North Korea in August of this year to promote their cause.
The Unification Ministry said on Wednesday it has received an application from the group calling themselves the “Dokdo Racers.” A ministry official said, “We can’t give them a quick answer due to the many variables in inter-Korean relations, but we should be able to reach a decision by May at the latest.”
If their visit is permitted, it would be the first time since 2006 that university students here have visited the North. The last time was a federation of university student councils who went to Mt. Kumgang for a meeting with North Korean student bodies.
Advocates push to give undocumented New York immigrants driver’s licenses
New York Daily News
Believing the political climate is now in their favor, advocates are launching a major push to allow undocumented immigrants to get New York State driver’s licenses.
Members of more than 50 organizations met Tuesday with an umbrella group known as the New York Immigration Coalition to set their campaign in motion.
“We have really decided to go forward, and go forward full steam,” said Steven Choi, the coalition’s executive director. “We are hearing from our members, from Brentwood in Long Island all the way to Buffalo, that driver’s licenses are a major issue.”
S. Korea tycoon has high hopes for L.A. hotel project
Los Angeles Times
On a honeymoon trip to Southern California in 1974, Yang-ho Cho and his new bride drove into downtown Los Angeles only to get lost among the dark, empty industrial buildings and shuttered shops.
Cho remembers he could find no one on the streets to ask for directions to his hotel.
Nearly 40 years later, Cho is heading the development of the tallest building west of the Mississippi, a $1-billion downtown hotel complex that no one will have trouble finding at night.
Apple, Samsung CEOs agree to mediation in U.S. patent fight
Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics have agreed to attend a mediation session to be held on or before February 19, as they prepare to clash in court in March over smartphone patents.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon will attend the session with in-house lawyers only, according to a Wednesday court filing. Their legal teams had met on January 6 to “discuss settlement opportunities,” the filing read.
Neither company immediately return messages seeking comment.
Is dating harder for expat women?
After Jenny, an American, decided to move to Busan to teach English, she researched the expat dating scene in Korea. And then she resigned herself to being single.
“A lot of people say that Western guys in Korea only want to date Korean girls and Korean guys only want to date Korean girls,” she said. Such views weren’t completely accurate, however. “There are men who are exceptions.”
She eventually began going out with a Korean, a “rebellious and unique” man who “liked being different.” But her initial expectations reflected common perceptions about dating here, where it’s more common to see heterosexual couples of expatriate men and Korean women, than vice-versa.
Local martial arts instructor, Sang Kim, has passed away
KCBD News (Texas)
Family and friends are mourning the loss of a well-known Taekwondo instructor here in Lubbock.
A close friend of Grand Master Sang Kim says he passed away Tuesday night after battling a long-term illness.
Many people would say he is a long-time Lubbock martial arts legend and although his life was short, his impact has been a long and lasting one.
Hulu Executive Talks Original Programming, New CEO and Online Viewing Habits (Q&A)
Hulu might have a new face running the show, but many familiar faces will be returning to its slate of original programming this year.
The streaming service’s lineup of shows includes new seasons of some of its most popular original programming. Among the shows renewed for a second season are Seth Meyers’ animated superhero series The Awesomes and Chris O’Dowd’s semi-autobiographical comedy Moone Boy.
Hulu is also introducing four new series to its audience this year. Among them are Deadbeat, a supernatural comedy co-produced with Lionsgate Television, and reality TV satire The Hotwives of Orlando.
At one year, South Korean babies get gilded parties
It takes a lot more than a cake and a song to celebrate a baby’s first birthday in South Korea, where in the past disease and starvation claimed so many lives that the completion of an infant’s first year was a major milestone.
The first birthday, or “doljanchi”, is now an event where affluent parents in one of the world’s richest countries flaunt their wealth, connections and even their offspring’s gilded career prospects at lavish parties.
At one party in Apgujeong, dubbed the Beverly Hills of Seoul, one-year-old Dot-byul peered down at a tray of items symbolizing various professions – including a stethoscope for a doctor, a judge’s gavel and a microphone.
THE CHORUS OF “WE”: AN INTERVIEW WITH CHANG-RAE LEE
This week, Chang-rae Lee’s fifth novel, “On Such a Full Sea,” comes out from Riverhead. The book is set in a future version of America where classes are rigidly stratified. When a young woman named Fan leaves the security of her life in a labor settlement, we follow her adventures as she travels through this dangerous and divided country. I spoke to Lee about how he created his dystopian world and about his approach to writing about violent struggle and assimilation in his previous books. What follows is an edited text of our conversation.
Your last novel, “The Surrendered,” traced the shadows cast by the Korean War on the lives of a Korean woman, who was a young girl during the war, and an American man, a U.S. soldier, decades after the war’s conclusion. When you finished that novel, did you know your next book was going to be set in some dystopian American future?
Psy to come back next month…with Snoop Dogg
Singer Psy is expected to come back in February after filming a music video for his next song this month.
He is busy in his last stage of preparation since the dates for shooting his music video have been confirmed, according to his staff members.
Filming a music video implies that he has already decided on his title songs, costumes and dance.
Yuna Kim, the queen of the rink
When she took to the ice at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum on 25 February 2010, Yuna Kim turned on a dazzling gold medal-winning display that captured the imagination of the crowd and impressed the judges, who gave the 19-year-old the highest score ever awarded to a figure skater. In doing so she made an indelible mark on the Republic of Korea’s Olympic history by winning the country’s first ever figure skating title, a feat that made her a national idol.
That status is founded on the kind of grace and technical prowess she displayed in executing triple Lutz-triple toe loop combinations and her signature layover spin, dubbed the Yuna Camel, in front of 15,000 spellbound spectators in Vancouver. That performance, one of the most stunning of the 2010 Winter Games, was hailed by the then IOC President Jacques Rogge, and rewarded by the judges with a total of 228.56 points that saw her earn a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Kim has long been accustomed to pulling off firsts. She took up skating at the age of six and nurtured her talent under the watchful eye of Canada’s two-time Olympic silver medallist Brian Orser in Toronto since 2006.
Michelle Wie shows off her new putting stance
If you watched any women’s golf last year, no doubt you saw Michelle Wie’s ”tabletop” putting stance. I know I did a double-take when I first saw her bend at the waist until her back was parallel to the ground before taking her stroke.
She took a lot of ribbing for her unique stance, and even made fun of it herself on a few occasions. And during a visit to the David Leadbetter Academy on Wednesday, she jokingly showed us the latest adjustment to her stance (that’s her on the right).
”The 2014 version of the ‘tabletop’ putting stance,” she tweeted, adding a couple of hashtags: #donttrythisathome and #leadbetterschoolofputting.
KBO veterans see more foreign players as boon
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
A recent decision by the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) to add an extra roster spot for foreign players starting in 2014 will likely have a positive impact on the quality of play in the top-flight domestic league, three veteran pitchers from overseas say.
Previously, the KBO teams were allowed to sign up to two imports. From 2014, they will be permitted to put a maximum of three players on their active rosters, and have two of them play at the same time. The maximum number is four for the expansion team NC Dinos.
All nine teams in 2014 must also include at least one position player. In the past two seasons, all KBO teams have filled their quotas with pitchers.
The Great Sriracha Debate Heats Up: Are You Team Andrew or Team David?
Things are heating up between chefs Andrew Zimmern and David Chang in what we’re calling the Great Sriracha Debate of 2014. Okay, maybe friendly discourse is more like it — when it comes to hot sauce, there are no losers.
Quick recap: Last month, Bizarre Foods‘ Zimmern called sriracha both one of the top food trends of 2013 and the most overrated item of the last 20 years. “There are a hundred hot sauces and chile condiments I prefer,” he told PEOPLE, and listed a few of them (including Peruvian Aju Limo Paste and Lousiana’s Crystal Hot Sauce) on his website, which sparked some rather spicy reactions.
More recently, Chang defended sriracha to PEOPLE, and reflected on his comrade’s opinion: “I don’t understand how he could hate something so loving and giving. It’s just goodness. It’s good on everything,” the Momofuku restaurant founder enthused.
Campus Chic: Seojung Kang
New quarter, new fashion. In our first edition of Campus Chic for 2014, our muse of the week, third-year biochemistry and molecular biology major Seojung Kang, tells us all about her winter getaway in Seoul, Korea and what she bought as a little gift to herself during the holiday season.
There’s something about Seojung that really caught my eye. Everything from the Karlie Kloss-inspired cropped hair to the oversized, tweed waistcoat was just so chic yet so effortless that I was immediately compelled to feature her look in MUSE. She is able to play with the masculine and the feminine and incorporate menswear tailoring in her look to create her own sophisticated style.
1. If you could describe your personal style in three words, what would they be?
Comfortable, classy and chic. Even though I say “comfortable” is one of my words, sometimes I just want to wear my heels.