Tag Archives: Kim Jong-un

A One and a Two

‘A One and A Two’: One Part Love Story, One Part Reflection on a Divided Korea

by HAEIN JUNG

When graduate film student Sungho Ahn came across a news article about a North Korean student studying in the U.S. a few years ago, the sheer thought of someone from the North being on an American campus took him aback. Of course, as someone pursuing his masters in film at USC, he then let his imagination take over. A series of questions danced around in his head: What if I met someone here, and she was North Korean? What if we fell in love? Could we find a way to be together, even though I am from South Korea and she is from the North?

Such questions eventually led to the making of A One And A Two, a short film he directed, starring Korean American actor Tim Jo and South Korean actress Hyunkyung Ryu.

A One and A Two, in the words of the director, is “one part love story, and the other, a reflection on the split between the two Koreas.” He added, ”I thought I could kill two birds with one stone.”

In the film, Jo (who starred in the former ABC sitcom The Neighbors) plays Sang-yup, a Korean American student at an American university, who meets and falls hard for fellow student Geum-song (played by Ryu of the Korean films The Servant, My Wife is a Gangster 2). But their blooming romance is put to the test once he finds out she’s from North Korea.

timjoTim Jo

Ahn believes his modern-day Romeo and Juliet-inspired tale takes a different approach than Hollywood or the South Korean film industry in how it treats North/South Korean subject matter. “In South Korea, they’re too political or in the spy genre,” Ahn said. “In America, they have always treated the country as evil or in a comedic way, and the [North Korean] people are commonly portrayed as poor, skinny and bedraggled.”

ryuHyunkyung Ryu

As a result, audiences may find the portrayal in A One and A Two quite surprising, as Ryu’s character, Geum-song, hails from an elite North Korean family that is wealthy and well-educated. Ahn said that while doing research for the film, he discovered that many children from elite North Korean families have studied abroad during their college years.

But the filmmaker, who formerly worked at a documentary film company in Korea before coming to the U.S., also noted that the research aspect proved the most challenging, as it was difficult gleaning first-hand accounts from North Korean students about their experiences studying abroad.

“I tried to meet North Korean students here, but they kept avoiding me. They were scared to talk about North Korea,” Ahn said. “There was a guy  [Yi Han-yong] from Kim Jong-il’s family who defected to the South. He decided to reveal his identity and went on television talking about his past. A few months later, he was mysteriously assassinated.”

According to Ahn, the film is meant to be more than just a simple love story. He hopes audience members will reflect on the deeper thematic message. “First, the focus should be on the couple and their sad love, but when the film is over, I would like the audience to look at the bigger picture and think about this divided country,” Ahn said. “Korea is the only country in the world to be still split into two. It’s devastating.

“When the film’s over, I want the audience to think about the two characters’ ending. About what happens to them, and what that means,” he added.

Jo said he appreciated the opportunity to star in the film because he finally had the chance to portray a character that reflected his real-life background as a Korean American. “As actors, oftentimes, we’re inserted into other people’s stories. We explore characters that are part of a larger story,” Jo said. “But if, and when, we’re given the opportunity to tell our own stories, to shine a light on the experiences of our culture, I’m so proud of that. I think we’re extremely qualified.”

The short is in post-production and is expected to be completed by late December 2014. It will be playing the festival circuit after that, with plans to expand it into a full-length feature film, said Ahn.

For more information on the film, including how to support the project with a donation, visit www.oneandtwofilm.com.

Photo of Tim Jo via Zimbio
Photo of Hyunkyung Ryu via Koreandrama

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Link Attack: Lubricant-loving Kim Jong-fun, the ’100%’-Nervous Win of Miriam Lee Over Inbee Park & Kakao Terrorism Talk

What we’re reading right now. 

Leave it to Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert to make the most of this heavily circulated picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-eun beaming from ear to ear while at a, ahem, lubricant factory. “Folks, it turns out beneath that sad expression, Kim Jong-eun might just be Kim Jong fun,” an ebullient Colbert says. “I have never seen him—or anyone, really—so transported by the pure joy of lube.” You can smile through the segment here.

Speaking of Colbert, a wag of the finger to Kim Won-jung, the South Korean ice hockey player who’s better known as figure skating champion Kim Yuna’s boyfriend. The 30-year-old who plays for the country’s military team Daemyung Sangmu as a way to serve out his mandatory military service, is apparently being stripped of his military “athletic status,” after he and three other hockey players were involved in a car accident while going AWOL to visit a massage parlor. The players will serve their remaining military service in their units, officials said.

In case you didn’t get the memo, apparently, it’s cool now to be Korean. Just ask Wall Street Journalist online columnist Jeff Yang, who made the case in this CNN piece.

Korea is apparently conquering the world in the kitchen, too, according to Serious Eats, which declared, “kimchi is the new miso.”

Did we mention Koreans are also good at golf? Over the weekend, Mirim Lee beat out Inbee Park to capture the Meijer LPGA classic title, earning her first LPGA Tour win. Lee admitted later she was “100 percent” nervous being in a playoff with Park, whom she called a “hero in Korea.” But that didn’t stop the 23-year-old LPGA rookie from sinking a birdie on the second hole of the playoff and sealing the win over her countrywoman.

LA Weekly recently scoured Los Angeles’ public and charter schools to find those “hidden gem” institutions that are getting students performing at high levels and aren’t necessarily located in exclusive, wealthy neighborhoods. Making its list of “6 Awesome LAUSD Schools in Affordable Neighborhoods” is Charles H. Kim Elementary School in Koreatown. The K-5 school, with a mostly Latino and Asian student body, offers Korean bilingual, Spanish/English dual language, and gifted classes, and has been named a California Distinguished School. Its namesake is a pioneering Korean American entrepreneur who started the prosperous Kim Brothers Company, which incidentally you can thank for the invention of the nectarine.

What’s worse than being pursued by a mosquito? How about being pursued by a guy with an Asian female fetish. Paula Yoo, who has had to swat away her share of both annoyances, says unfortunately “yellow fever” is thriving in the online dating world.

Kakao Talk and terrorism–what the #@*? Chinese authorities are making the link.

South Korea prepares for the big papal visit this week.

It’s amazing what you can do with Photoshop and lots of free time. Kotaku reminds us of this as it features some of the work done by the Korean language Facebook page called “We Do Phoshop,” which solicits Photoshop requests from readers, but doesn’t always deliver exactly what’s asked. Examples here.

 

 

 

hello-kitty-wristphone

Link Attack: LG’s Kid-Tracker, Daniel Henney’s Reality Show & North Korea’s Protest Of ‘The Interview’

What were reading right now.

South Korean electronics companies have found a new market: young kids. LG introduced the KizON, a device that lets parents keep track of where their child is and listen to what they are up to. Swell idea or the beginnings of a dystopian future?

Daniel Henney is part of a new travel reality series on South Korea’s Channel CGV. Maybe he’ll be coming to a town near you.

The third season of “Sullivan And Son” is underway on TBS. Here are some fun facts about its star Steve Byrne.

Where are the Asians in the Asian Republican Coalition? A liberal Korean writer wants to find out.

ESPN profiles the up and down career of Michelle Wie, who is off to a tough start at the British Open.

Though shows such as The O.C. may suggest otherwise, Orange County has the third-largest Asian American population in the nation.

After a disappointing World Cup campaign in Brazil, Hong Myung-bo quits as coach.

The North Korean government has filed a formal protest with the United Nations over The Interview, a film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco about a plot to kill Kim Jong-Un. Seth Rogen seems unfazed.

PHOTO: LG Electronics KizON Hello Kitty wristphone. Courtesy of LG Electronics.

gloriousleader

‘Glorious Leader!’ Video Game Lets You Become Kim Jong-Un

by RUTH KIM

Now you can become the powerful, the eccentric, the Glorious Leader.

Moneyhorse Games has released a preview for a satirical, retro-style video game that allows you to assume North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un and defeat those capitalist Americans while riding a unicorn with your sidekick, Dennis Rodman. It was only a matter of time.

With grandiose classical music playing in the background, the trailer for Glorious Leader! begins with a slideshow of pictures of Kim Jong Un and subtitles, which read, “Oh glorious leader, oh glorious leader! For years you have watched and trained, and trained some more, and stood on tanks, waiting for the moment to destroy the capitalist swine!”

Although some may say the game trivializes rather serious accusations towards North Korea with a game that encourages users to kill American soldiers, Moneyhorse CEO Jeff Miller says he is trying to “carefully walk the line of satire without being an apologist for the regime.” Some people are bound to disapprove, but it seems pretty clear that the game is a completely parodic take on the regime’s leader, with fiery unicorns, narwhals, and a secret passageway under a basketball court, all complete in pixelated graphics.

YouTube comments for the video are widely positive. One reads, “This is the greatest game ever! And I am not being forced to play this game.” Miller also reported that feedback for the game surprisingly included a considerable number of South Koreans asking whether the game would be available in their country.

There is no official release date for Glorious Leader! but it is predicted that it will be come out towards the end of this year. The game will be available on PC and mobile platforms; availability for iOS systems is still pending.

NKorean Building Collapses, Death Toll Believed To Be In The Hundreds

Hundreds of North Koreans may have died in a building accident after a 23-story apartment complex housing reportedly collapsed on May 13 due to slipshod construction.

North Korean officials issued an apology Sunday via the state-run Korean Central News Agency, taking responsibility for the collapse of the building in Pyongyang. An apology is extremely rare for the hermit nation which has total control over the information that’s available to its citizens, most of whom have no access to the internet.

KCNA, which virtually operates for the sole purpose of glorifying the communist regime, expressed its “profound consolation” for the tragedy and also heavily criticized Choe Pu Il, the minister of people’s security. The agency called Choe “can never be pardoned” for his crime and added that the country’s leader Kim Jong Un “sat up all night” in grief.

Although no photos of the accident site were published, Sunday’s newspaper showed an official bowing to a crowd of people in apology.

Attributing an anonymous report, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that the collapsed apartment complex wasn’t complete, but that it is not unusual in North Korea for people to move into a building while construction is underway.

North Korea didn’t issue a death toll, but because North Koreans generally have families of four and 92 families reportedly resided in the building, hundreds are believed to have died in the accident. An “intensive” rescue operation was launched after the accident, which ended Saturday, according to the North.

Those who defected North Korea in recent years say that construction accidents aren’t uncommon in labor sites located outside Pyongyang, but a collapse of a residential complex in the capital city is rare. Pyongyang is available exclusively to the country’s “loyal” class as its limited resources are pulled to decorate the city as the showpiece of the communist regime.

The recent tragedy in Pyongyang occurred while North Korea has been criticizing South Korea for its response to a capsized ferry which contained more than 300 people who are either confirmed dead or still missing.

dennisrodman

Dennis Rodman Says NKorean Leader’s Uncle Is Still Alive

Photo by Alexander F. Yuan/AP

Eccentric former basketball star Dennis Rodman says North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s right-hand man and uncle, who was reportedly executed, is still alive.

In an interview with fashion and culture magazine DuJour, Rodman said that Kim didn’t execute his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, and that he even met him during his latest trip to the communist country in January. North Korea’s state-run media confirmed last December that Jang was executed for his “anti-state acts.”

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“You could say anything here about North Korea and people would believe it,” Rodman said. “The last time I went there, when they said they killed his girlfriend, they killed his uncle, they just fed him to the dogs … They were standing right behind me.”

 

When asked to clarify, Rodman repeated, “He was standing right there.”

The 52-year-old developed a friendship with Kim when he first visited Pyongyang last year. He has made several trips to the secretive state since and even took a group of retired NBA players there. They hosted an exhibition game earlier this year for Kim’s birthday. Rodman even sang “Happy Birthday” to Kim.

Kim reportedly became an avid fan of basketball and the Chicago Bulls as he grew up watching Rodman win three NBA titles alongside Michael Jordan in the 1990s when he was studying abroad in Switzerland.

Rodman added that the North Korean leader, whom he calls his “lifelong friend,” is eager to speak to U.S. President Barack Obama and that he “loves Americans.”

“He really, really wants to talk to Obama. He can’t say it enough,” Rodman said. “He’s saying that he doesn’t want to bomb anybody. He said, ‘I don’t want to kill Americans.’ He loves Americans.”

This isn’t the first time Rodman stirred controversy with an unexpected comment about North Korea. In January, he told CNN that North Korea shouldn’t be blamed for detaining Kenneth Bae, a Korean American man who has been imprisoned in the country for over a year.

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North Korea Unveils No. 2 Man To Replace Leader’s Executed Uncle

North Korea has named Hwang Pyong-so as the de facto No. 2 man in charge and replacement for leader Kim Jong-un’s executed uncle, Jang Song-thaek who was purged last December.

KCNA, North Korea’s state-run media, reported that Hwang is the newly appointed head of the army’s political department and will serve as the second-in-command in North Korea after Kim.

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It was previously believed that Choe Ryong-hae, not Hwang, would assume the role of the communist regime’s unofficial No. 2 after he became the vice chairman of the National Defense Commission following the execution of Jang, who was once a political mentor of Kim Jong-un.

However, Choe disappeared from public sight in recent months, which prompted rumors that he has lost his trust of the leader. But KCNA reported he is suffering from serious health problems.

Just days before the newly announced appointment, Hwang was promoted to the rank of vice marshal, a rank shared with Choe and four others.

Hwang’s appointment is the latest in an ongoing leadership reshuffling in North Korea. In February, North Korea promoted a number of key military officials, including the chief of its rocket unit, a department that oversees and operates the country’s missile program.

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SKorean Ferry: Search at Difficult Stage, NKorea Sends Condolences

Image via NoCut News: A table set by the families of the South Korean ferry victims

Hopes of finding survivors from the capsized South Korean ferry are dwindling as the death toll reached 159 as of 9 a.m. PST on Wednesday, according to Yonhap News Agency.

As the tragedy reached its one-week mark, 140 people are still missing as divers continue searching through cold and murky waters. Most of the victims were students from Danwon High School who were on a four-day field trip to South Korea’s Jeju Island.

Authorities told the Associated Press that the search operation has now reached a difficult stage of having to break down cabin walls in order to get to certain parts of the ship, where many of the missing are believed to be. They are reluctant to start a “salvage” operation, essentially searching for corpses, trying to be sensitive to families of the missing, some of whom still hold on to hope of finding survivors.

However, other families of the missing want the government at this point to do whatever they can to bring back bodies before they decompose even more.

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“It inflicts a new wound for the parents to see the bodies decomposed,” Pyun Yong-gi, whose 17-year-old daughter is among the missing, told AP.

Many of the retrieved bodies reportedly have had broken fingers, presumably from victims attempting to climb the walls to escape as the ferry was sinking.

“We are trained for hostile environments, but it’s hard to be brave when we meet bodies in dark water,” Hwang Dae-sik, one of the search divers, told Reuters.

It is still unclear what caused the ship to capsize. Investigators are looking at factors, such as wind, ocean currents, freight, modifications made to the ship and the fact that it turned just before it began listing, according to AP. Tracking data indicated that the ship made a 45-degree turn, AP reported, and that it turned 180 degrees in the course of three minutes around the period that the ferry began to list.

The vessel’s captain, Lee Joon-seok, who was reportedly among the first to escape, and at least eight other crew members have been arrested on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Investigators have also searched the offices of Chongjaejin Marine, the ferry’s operator.

Meanwhile, North Korea joined many other foreign governments in offering its condolences in a message sent recently through the two Korea’s Red Cross organizations. “North Korea expresses its deep condolences to many passengers who died or went missing after the ferry Sewol capsized, especially the young students,” the message from North Korea read, according to the JoongAng Ilbo.

Pyongyang stayed silent for a week after the ferry Sewol sunk on April 16 near the island of Jindo, off of the Korean peninsula’s southeastern coast. The last time one of the two Koreas sent its condolences to another was in December 2011, when the South sent its sympathies to the North over the death of its leader Kim Jong-il, the father of current leader Kim Jong-un.

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