North Korea’s Weapon of Choice: The Fax Machine
Wall Street Journal
North Korea has ramped up the rhetoric against South Korea again through its weapon of choice this year: the fax machine.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Friday a letter from the North’s National Defense Commission addressed to the South’s presidential office was faxed early Thursday via the military communication link between the two sides, threatening a “merciless” attack on South Korea.
The letter objected to the “repeated extra-large provocations to North Korea’s highest dignity taking place in the middle of Seoul” and warned of “a merciless retaliation without warning,” according to ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok.
Kim Jong-un’s Aunt ‘Seriously Ill’
Kim Kyong-hui, the wife of executed North Korean eminence grise Jang Song-taek, and aunt of leader Kim Jong-un, has had long-term treatment in Russia for heart problems but her health apparently continues to deteriorate, sources claim.
A source in Beijing said Kim was in Russia for some 40 days due to heart problems and returned to Pyongyang last month. The source added Kim’s condition is “serious.”
Her brother, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and father, nation founder Kim Il-sung, both died of heart attacks, making it likely that the disease is genetic.
I’ll look after myself: Korean man Min Tae Kim told friends before death
Courier Mail (Australia)
JUST weeks before heading home Min Tae Kim assured friends he would look after himself.
His two-year Australian adventure was coming to an end and friends were planning a welcome home get-together in Seoul.
With his itinerary posted on Facebook his friend ChanKwan Park wrote: “Please be careful until you come back.”
Chinese Respondents Top Materialism Poll
New York Times
A global poll of attitudes toward wealth has found what many domestic critics allege already: Chinese today are just too materialistic.
The survey was conducted by the French market research company Ipsos in September and polled more than 16,000 adults in 20 countries.
Chinese respondents topped the list in measuring success by their possessions, coming in more than double the global average, according to the results published last week. Seventy-one percent of Chinese respondents agreed with the statement “I measure my success by the things I own,” far higher than respondents from its East Asian neighbors South Korea, at 45 percent, and Japan, 22 percent. Respondents from developed economies generally disagreed with the statement. Just over 20 percent of Americans and Canadians agreed and only 7 percent of Swedes.
After 2 years, Jeon finds way home
Korea Joongang Daily
Actress Jeon Do-yeon, one of Korea’s most awarded stars, returned to the big screen for the first time in two years with “Way Back Home.”
In the film, Jeon plays an ordinary homemaker named Song Jeong-yeon, who is duped into carrying large bags of illegal drugs into France but is eventually caught at the border.
Based on the true story of a Korean housewife who got caught at an airport in France in 2004, the film influenced Jeon to strive toward realism.
Spike Lee’s “Oldboy”: Revenge is a dish best served Korean
Spike Lee’s Oldboy, a remake of the 2003 Korean film of the same name, is lacking a crucial element of the original Park Chan-wook version: it’s not Korean. It’s one thing to make a revenge movie—but only a Korean director can make a revenge meditation, a laser-sharp focus on a base, reptilian urge with that offers no redemption or satisfaction that justice has been done. Vengeance is part of the Korean collective unconscious, an ultra-distilled form of rage so unique that the Korean language has its own, nearly untranslatable word for it: han. In the han universe, characters don’t suffer or become evil because of early trauma: they suffer because life is horrible.
This is the driving force behind Park’s “Revenge Trilogy,” of which Oldboy is the second installment. Winning the 2004 Gran Prix at Cannes, the film became a cult classic worldwide, aided by the vociferous support of Cannes jury member, Quentin Tarantino. Based loosely on the Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo, Oldboy tells the lurid tale of a slovenly everyman, Oh Dae-soo, who is abducted and held captive in a private prison. When Oh is finally released 15 years later, for reasons as mysterious as his imprisonment, he is importuned by a smelly homeless man who hands him a cell phone and a wallet stuffed with cash. The cell phone rings. Oh answers it. It is his captor, daring Oh to find out what why he was imprisoned. What ensues is a glorious duet of mutual vengeance between two men, each of whom is simultaneously captor and prey.
Shin-Soo Choo’s special skill
ESPN Insider (Subscription Required)
If you find it strange that the Yankees offered the same number of contractual years to Shin-Soo Choo as they did to Robinson Cano, it’s worth remembering that Choo possesses a skill that does not disappear as quickly as defense or speed or fastball velocity.
The man has an acute ability to take a walk, and the folks who can do this tend to age well — a tremendous talking point for his agent, Scott Boras, especially as he talks to American League teams, who can envision Choo going through his golden years as a designated hitter.
Choo is 31 years old and his outfield range is generally regarded as below average but playable, at this stage is in his career. His declining power against left-handed pitchers has raised concerns.
Kim Jong-un Looks Pensive at Memorial Ceremony
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared somber at a ceremony Tuesday marking the second anniversary of the death of his father Kim Jong-il.
He has plenty of reasons to be pensive after the purge and execution of his uncle Jong Song-taek and his cronies, but his mien at the event contrasted with the untroubled expression he wore as he toured a planned ski resort just after Jang was executed.
Kim was the first to appear at the memorial and sat in the center of the rostrum of guests. He applauded as he listened to speeches and eulogies by Kim Yong-nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, and military Politburo chief Choe Ryong-hae.
How Dennis Rodman can help the North Korean people
Dear Mr. Rodman:
I have never met you, and until you visited North Korea in February I had never heard of you. Now, I know very well that you are a famous, retired American basketball player with many tattoos. I also understand that you are returning this week to North Korea to coach basketball and perhaps visit for the third time with the country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, who has become your friend.
I want to tell you about myself. I was born in 1982 in Camp 14, a political prison in the mountains of North Korea. For more than 50 years, Kim Jong Un, his father and his grandfather have used prisons like Camp 14 to punish, starve and work to death people the regime decides are a threat. Prisoners are sent to places like Camp 14 without trial and in secret. A prisoner’s “crime” can be his relation by blood to someone the regime believes is a wrongdoer or wrong-thinker. My crime was to be born as the son of a man whose brother fled to South Korea in the 1950s.
Kim Jong-un’s Wife Reappears in Public
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju made her first public appearance in 62 days on Tuesday when she accompanied her husband to the mausoleum of his father and grandfather.
The visit to the Kusumsan Palace of the Sun, where the bodies of nation founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il lie embalmed, came on the second anniversary of the latter’s death.
Rumors were rampant in the wake of the execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle Jang Song-taek that she had also fallen victim to the purge, but her appearance on Tuesday puts them to rest.
Young North Korean defectors find unlikely home
AP via Salon.com
The kids call him “uncle,” but he’s more of a mom and dad rolled in one. From one child that he began caring for in 2006, Kim Tae-hoon’s brood has grown to nine boys, all defectors from North Korea who have found their first real experience of family in his house.
As a single, 37-year-old raising nine youngsters, he’s a novelty in this conservative society. Local media have dubbed him “Bachelor Mom,” and he’s something of a celebrity, appearing on a popular TV lecture series to talk about life with the kids.
But he’s also an unusual success story in the South’s long struggle to assimilate North Korean defectors, who are often ignored or even resented amid perceptions that they’re uneducated, brainwashed burdens on society.
“He’s like a mom and a dad,” says Lee Eok-cheol, a first-year high school student who grins as he plays with a Rubik’s Cube in the living room of Kim’s home in Seoul. “I’m getting all the love here that I didn’t get growing up.”
Seoul Protests Mention of Disputed Islands in Tokyo’s New Security Strategy
Reuters via Voice of America
South Korea on Wednesday lodged a protest against Japan’s new security strategy, which includes a reference to disputed islands known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.
The Japanese cabinet approved the policy package on Tuesday. The plan consists of a national security strategy, defense program guidelines and a five-year defense build-up plan.
South Korea’s foreign ministry said the National Security Strategy (NSS) part of the package included a description of “our territory, Dokdo,” which it said should be removed.
“Our government severely remonstrates with the Japanese government for including a description of our territory, Dokdo, in the National Security Strategy which was announced on December 17th. And we urge the Japanese government to delete it immediately,” said South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young.
Seahawks shutout makes one Korean American woman 35K richer
Korea Times US
A car dealer in Federal Way, Washington and the Seattle Seahawks made one Korean American woman and 11 others $35,000 richer.
Jet Chevrolet, located 25-miles south of Seattle, had a promotion last weekend – if the Seahawks shut out the New York Giants, 12 people would split $420,000 equally, and Yujin Oliver was one of the lucky ones.
Jet Chevrolet says they are glad it happened, because “the hype has been crazy since it happened,” and they took out an insurance policy on the shutout money giveaway anyway. Instead of the $420,000, it cost the dealer only about $7,000.
Jim Johnson, one of the owners of the dealership, however, admitted, “We never expected that we’d actually be giving away the money.”
He obviously hasn’t heard of World Furniture Mall in Plano, Illinois, and electronic retailer BrandsMart. According to ESPN, World Furniture had to give away about $300,00 worth of furniture, and BrandsMart in 1999 had to fork over about $425,000 worth of items.
Torrance native helps spread message of hope to North Koreans
Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.)
The situation in North Korea was never a foreign one to Amiee Kim.
Growing up in Torrance, her Korean parents had always told her about the aftermath of the Korean War, people they knew who were torn from their families, and stories about North Korean children her age. They expressed a hopelessness for the people there, a belief that Kim carried with her all the way through college.
One day when she was walking between classes at the UCLA, she noticed a flier advertising a speech by a North Korean defector.
“I did a double take,” Kim said. “I was completely floored that I could get the chance to hear a North Korean defector talk about his experiences.”
The person who spoke was Shin Dong-hyuk, the only North Korean believed to have been born in a political prison camp who escaped to share his story. Liberty in North Korea, a nonprofit organization that works to rescue and resettle refugees and spread awareness about the human rights issues in North Korea, had brought Dong-hyuk to UCLA. That night shook what Kim understood about North Korea and challenged her to delve further into the issue.
In 2010, Kim applied to be an intern with LiNK.
US? Meh, Girls Generation Still Big in Japan
Wall Street Journal
They were tipped for success in the U.S. that never materialized. Never mind, K-Pop’s undisputed goddesses are still milking it in a market that arguably matters more–Japan.
Girls’ Generation’s new album last week entered Japan’s official Oricon weekly album chart, the country’s equivalent to the Billboard tally, in top spot. The group’s third LP in Japan “LOVE & PEACE” sold nearly 130,000 copies between Dec. 9 and 15, edging out local acts Radwimps and Luna Sea.
Backed by one of Korea’s largest entertainment companies, Girls’ Generation has been one of the country’s most successful pop acts after their debut in 2007. The clicks and views of their diehard fanbase helped the group win the Video of the Year award at the first-ever YouTube Music Awards early November.
South Korea Breaks Record 200 Million Admissions
According to data released Dec. 17 by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), theater admissions in South Korea crossed 200 million, setting a new record for local cinema.
Last year, local admissions reached about 195 million for the first time, and the number was expected to exceed 200 million in 2013.
This can be attributed to how ten movies brought in over 5 million admissions. Miracle in Cell No. 7 raked in 12.8 million admissions, while Snowpiercer and The Face Reader both drew in more than 9 million.
Kim Yuna says she’s only human
After all, two-time world figure skating champion Kim Yu-na, the “Ice Queen” with a perfect stage presence, is only human, saying that she is not a natural born talent, and neither is she always perfect.
“I get tired too, just like everybody else. Sometimes I tell people that, but all I get is people saying that being vulnerable and weak is just not like me.”
“I rarely get the response of emotional support I want. But sometimes I need it,” said Kim in an interview with a television program Sisa Magazine 2580 of Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on Sunday.
She had the interview on Dec. 5, right after the Golden Spin of Zagreb in Croatia ㅡ a tune-up ahead of the Sochi Olympics in February.
“People expect that I’ll be just perfect on ice, and that’s not the case. I make mistakes, too. When I review my performance, sometimes I feel I did awful. That’s the whole part of the process of what people see when I’m performing,” she said.
Tenderloin Korean Hole-in-the-Wall Aria Doubles Its Menu for Winter
I’m taking a deep breath as I write this, because if there is one hole-in-the-wall in San Francisco I genuinely (and completely selfishly) don’t want to become popular, it’s Aria. This tiny, ugly, clumsily laid out, two-table “Korean American Snack Bar” run by a sweet, late-middle-age couple on a gross stretch of Larkin Street is unfailingly delicious yet I’ve never once had to wait for a table to open up.
And now they’ve doubled the size of the menu, so I feel compelled to share as I eat my way through it. Both types of Korean fried chicken are always excellent — as is the dukboggi, a hot and spicy rice cake that comes swimming in a sauce that’s like a hot, seasoned tomato soup. (They have a strangely enchanting density I’ve been assured is in fact somewhat challenging to pull off.) Kalguksu, or knife-cut noodles, might not be the exact same thing as ramen, but they’re good for what ails you. I’m excited by the japchae (a dish of sweet potato noodles with stir-fried vegetables) as I am by the sundae (which would be pan-fried Korean sausage, not ice cream). Even the oyster and mushroom porridge calls out to me, to be kept in mind for the next cold snap.
The spicy squid, served on hot skillet, was not only a flavor bomb but had a fascinating texture: firm and chewy, but not rubbery. As Aria serves street food and not formal Korean cuisine, you don’t get bowl after bowl of banchan to accompany your order — although pan-fried fish cake, daikon kimchi and the like are available a la carte — but thus far there has not been a single misstep.
South Korean Leader Warns of Possible ‘Provocations’ From North
New York Times
President Park Geun-hye ordered the South Korean military and police on Monday to increase vigilance, especially along the disputed western sea border with North Korea. She warned that the North might attempt armed provocations after the recent purge and execution of Jang Song-thaek, who was believed to have been the North’s second most powerful official.
“Given the recent series of incidents in North Korea, there is uncertainty over the direction in which the political situation there will develop,” Ms. Park’s office quoted her as saying during a meeting with senior aides. “We cannot rule out contingencies like reckless provocations from the North.”
Ms. Park’s warning over what she called “the gravity and unpredictability of the current situation” came as officials and analysts in the region were scrambling to determine what Mr. Jang’s execution might mean for the stability, internal politics and foreign policy of North Korea, an opaque, nuclear-armed nation with an inexperienced leader, Kim Jong-un, who is believed to be 30 years old.
John Kerry Compares Kim Jong Un to Saddam Hussein, Says Uncle’s Execution Shows ‘Ominous’ Sign of Instability
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking exclusively to ABC’s Martha Raddatz for “This Week,” compared the reported arrest and execution of the uncle of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to the actions taken by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and said they were an “ominous sign of the instability” in North Korea.
“It really reminded me of a video that we saw of Saddam Hussein doing the same thing, having people plucked out of an audience, and people sitting there sweating, and nobody daring to move or do anything,” Kerry said during an interview in Vietnam yesterday.
Kerry told Raddatz that the actions taken by the mysterious young leader of the secretive regime show his true nature.
The Dear Leader’s Heinous Act [OPINION]
New York Times
Today, on the second anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death, only two of the seven officials who walked alongside his hearse at the state funeral, and his heir, Kim Jong-un, remain. Five have been stripped of their titles, sent to labor camps, or executed — as in the case of Jang Song-thaek.
Mr. Jang had been seen as the No. 2 wielder of power in North Korea in recent years and as a top henchman of both the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, his father-in-law, and of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, his brother-in-law, for the past four decades. The news that he was executed on Thursday, for plotting a military coup against his nephew, the new Dear Leader, Kim Jong-un, is exceptional and especially frightening since he was a member (by marriage) of the Kim family.
During that snowy winter two years ago when Kim Jong-il died, I was living in the suburbs of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, for almost six months. I remember vividly the bone-aching chill of the Siberian winds, as well as the abruptness with which the news of the death was told to us. I was teaching English on an official exchange in a locked compound, guarded by armed soldiers. That year, all the universities around the country were shut down in preparation for the regime change, and students had been sent to the fields to build their “prosperous nation,” but the 270 sons of the elite, 19 and 20 years old, had been sent to this fortified campus to wait out an impending political storm.
N. Korea troops pledge loyalty en masse as Seoul on alert
Agence France-Presse via Google News
Tens of thousands of North Korean troops pledged their loyalty to leader Kim Jong-Un Monday as Seoul put its forces on alert for “reckless provocations” after its communist rival staged a political purge.
The mass rally in Pyongyang came ahead of Tuesday’s second anniversary of the death of longtime leader Kim Jong-Il, whose sudden demise thrust his young son to the helm of the secretive state.
Kim has been making efforts to demonstrate his firm grip on power following the shock execution Thursday of his uncle Jang Song-Thaek, prompting both Seoul and Washington to warn that vigilance is needed against any surprises by the nuclear-armed regime.
Kim Jong Un’s former classmates say he really is ‘dangerous, unpredictable, prone to violence’
The U.S. government reached alarming conclusions about the personal character of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un based on interviews with people who knew him when he was a student in Switzerland, former U.S. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell revealed on CNN over the weekend.
The official U.S. assessment of Kim’s character is perhaps not, on its face, very surprising. After all, the North Korean leader, like his father, certainly gives the impression of a wild-eyed despot who appears to buy into his own highly official cult of personality. But North Korea-watchers have long debated whether this is merely a pose, a performance calculated to rally North Koreans and intimidate the outside world. This assessment suggests that Kim’s antics are not entirely about rational decision-making but are at least in part driven by a personality just as crazy as it appears.
Reports have long conflicted over how much time Kim spent as a study-abroad student in Switzerland, where he posed as the son of a driver for the local North Korean embassy. Most reports suggest he attended Swiss boarding school between 1998 and 2000, when he would have been 15 to 17 years old, although Campbell asserts that he “spent seven or eight years out of North Korea in Switzerland.”
One of President Obama’s most radical Interior nominees is confronted by Sen. John Barrasso
If Rhea S. Suh is confirmed by the Senate, she would have the power to block natural gas recovery and eradicate resource production on vast swaths of America’s federal lands, the coastal continental shelf, and astonishing amounts of private property.
Suh is President Obama’s nominee for assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks in the Department of the Interior.
She would control two major bureaucracies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (9,000 employees and more than 150 million acres) and the National Park Service (21,989 employees and 84.4 million acres, including more than 4.3 million acres in private ownership).
Asian Americans want immigration reform, too
If a budget can pass the House quickly, then anything’s possible–even immigration reform. Like the budget, it would need concerted Democratic and Republican support. Certain GOP voters expect not only fiscal conservatism, but also immigration reform.
A study released Wednesday by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) of one group shows 67% of Republican respondents support immigration reform. These numbers rise above the average because they are from an ethnic group with arguably the largest stake in the debate.
You might think we’re talking about Latino Americans. The study–conducted in New York, New Jersey, and Virginia–is actually of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
#BBCtrending: #NotYourAsianSidekick goes global
“Be warned,” the Chicago-based rights activist and freelance writer Suey Park tweeted early on Sunday. “Tomorrow morning we will be having a conversation about Asian American Feminism with hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. Spread the word!!!!!!!” Her very deliberate attempt to create a debate about the way Asian-American women “have to be SMART and PRETTY to be heard and “are objectified by Asian men and White men” was hugely successful. In less than 24 hours, the hashtag has been used more than 45,000 times around the world.
The conversation, which started with discussion of how Asian women are stereotyped, soon spread to cover racism (“Oh look. More bitter liberal non-whites expressing anti-white attitudes,” tweeted one user, who was roundly criticised), the under-representation of Asian-Americans in media, dating patterns between racial groups and attitudes towards mental health. Cartoons and humour were shared and the debate also spread around the world, having particular resonance in other Western countries with large Asian minorities. One user in Toronto quoted men who say “I’ve always wanted a Chinese woman to cook for me” with the reply “I’ve always wanted laser beam eyes, sadly you’re still alive.” Another An L in Sydney tweeted: “Change in social attitudes towards Asian women is a long way off, but opening up the conversation is a great start.” The British-Asian blogger Sunny Hundal said the debate had resonance in the UK because just like Asian-Americans “we see our faces on social media, but when we turn on the TV we see only limited stereotypes.”
Young Asian-Americans Spend Too Much Money
According to a Nielsen report released last week, Asian-Americans are the most prolific spenders in the United States. Last year, the average annual expenditure among them totaled a whopping $61,400, nearly 40% more than that among millennial households. This spending power is partly due to a strong household income. As the study notes, Asian-American households, on average, are more likely to have incomes of $100,000 or more than general U.S. households.
As Asian-Americans become increasingly wealthy, they have become more materialistic, opening the floodgates to expensive brands from Louis Vuitton to Swarovski. While many Asian families still insist on economic prudence, others are more concerned about satisfying their immediate wants, which seems to run counter to what Asian cultures traditionally preach about spending. Our early hardships collectively taught us to invest in the future, not in the present, but new trends suggest these values are slowly dying.
An examination of Chinese culture, for instance, can partly explain why older generations are stingier with their money than millennials typically are. Those older than 50, who save more than 60% of their income, spend less because they vividly recall the financial difficulties stemming from history-changing events like the Great Famine and the Cultural Revolution, as Keith B. Richburg of the Washington Post points out.
Steve Kim convinced he’s part of winning ticket
The Daily Journal (Illinois)
Steve Kim wants to make sure the next generation of Illinois children have some of the same opportunities he has had.
Kim, 43, is a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, the running mate of Dan Rutherford.
Rutherford, the Illinois treasurer, is one of four Republican candidates for governor. The March 18 primary will pick one to run against incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn.
Meet Latin America’s Teenage Korean Pop Fanatics
If you want to get a sense of what Mexican teenagers are up to these days, here’s an unexpected place to start: A Korean bakery in downtown Mexico City.
Every Sunday, dozens of teens — mostly female — convene here to eat Korean snacks and geek out about their favorite boy bands. They’re known as los k-popers – a growing subculture of Mexican kids who are crazy for Korean pop music.
“K-Pop really changed my life,” says Samantha Alejandra, 18. “I’m addicted to it.”
Kim Yu-na signs up for nat’l championships as final Olympic tuneup
Figure skating star Kim Yu-na will enter the upcoming national championships as her final prep event before the 2014 Winter Olympics, officials said Monday.
The Korea Skating Union (KSU) said Kim, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion, has signed up to compete at the 2014 national championships, to be held from Jan. 3-5 in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, northwest of Seoul.
It will be Kim’s final competition before the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia in February. She will attempt to become just the third woman to repeat as the Olympic figure skating champion.
South Korea’s Rise Through Ranks Raises a Sport’s Profile
New York Times
The recent World Sledge Hockey Challenge featured the United States, Canada and Russia, the top three finishers in this year’s world championships, in one of the final international events before the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.
The fourth team at the tournament was more surprising.
South Korea is not known as a hockey power, but has risen quickly in sledge hockey as it prepares to host the Winter Games and Paralympics in 2018.
South Korea first competed in the world championships in 2008 and qualified for the Olympics in 2010, finishing sixth. Only two years later, the South Koreans claimed silver in the world championships in Norway, raising the hopes for the Sochi Games and beyond.
Breaking Kim Jong Un: How North Korea became a meth hub
Extradited from Thailand, the five suspects appeared before a New York court last month to face charges of a sensational plot: smuggling crystal meth from enemy number one, North Korea.
The five men — from China, the UK, the Philippines and possibly Slovakia — stand accused by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of conspiring to sell 40 pounds of 99 percent pure methamphetamine to an undercover agent. The group pleaded not guilty. They will appear in court in early December.
You wouldn’t guess it, but North Korea — run by the world’s most infamous authoritarian regime — happens to be a colossal supplier of a highly potent but moderately priced form of crystal meth, experts say.
TV drama from South saturates black market in North Korea, bringing hope, and risk
Chilling reports in early November that Pyongyang had publicly executed scores of citizens — some for the crime of watching South Korean videos — seemed to mark a disturbing turn in the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un. But if history is any guide, even the threat of death is unlikely to quell North Koreans’ hunger for illicit entertainment from south of the border.
“The spread of South Korean media — above all, South Korean videotapes and DVDs — inside North Korea might be the single most important development of the last ten years,” said Andrei Lankov, a history professor at Seoul’s Kookmin University.
Constant surveillance, heavily guarded borders and thorough indoctrination in North Korea have made it one of the world’s most secretive and least understood countries. But the “iron curtain” which once sealed off 24 million North Koreans from the rest of the world is frayed, thanks to the spread of illegal cell phones — and the ease of obtaining South Korean pop culture.
Dog Poop Slaying Suspect Chung Kim Had Long History of Murder Threats, Prosecutors Say
The way police told it, 76-year-old Chung Kim simply exploded. The couple who lived upstairs with their five children dumped dog poop on the back porch of his Abrams Road condo, so he pulled out a handgun and murdered them in cold blood.
In a series of jailhouse interviews, Kim gave a different version of events. He admitted to shooting the man, 31-year-old Jamie Stafford, but said that it was self-defense. Stafford had charged him with the gun, which Kim had managed to wrestle from his grasp. He maintained that he didn’t shoot the woman.
Scottsdale teen Eric Kim scores perfect score on AP calculus test
If you walk around Basis Scottsdale, it’s not rare to find a smart student. Newsweek Magazine recently ranked the school as the number three high school in the country.
However, one student has recently stood out from the rest. Eric Kim was one of more than 100,000 students to take the AP Calculus BC exam. The exam involves two sections. The first section involves 45 multiple choice questions. The second is a free response section where students must show their work and explain how they came to their answer.
Eric was one of only 11 in the entire world to receive a perfect score on the entire test.
Korean Air to offer full-course hanjeongsik meals starting in 2014
Korean Air Lines Co. on Wednesday unveiled a new, full-course traditional Korean meal, known as hanjeongsik, that will be served to first-class passengers on long-distance flights starting next year.
South Korea’s largest flag carrier has prepared the meal service in cooperation with Cho Hee-sook, a culinary expert on traditional cooking.
The company said the meal will have a fruit appetizer, walnut porridge and fresh salad with special fermented soy bean “doenjang” dressing that will be followed by a main course made either of spicy seasoned pork or salmon.
Hanjeongsik literally means a complete full-course meal in Korean.
21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis
Photographer Kiyun asked her friends at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus to “write down an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.”
The term “microaggression” was used by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” Sue borrowed the term from psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce who coined the term in the ’70s.
Wonder Girl’s Sohee Will Not Be Renewing Her Contract with JYP
JYP Entertainment has published a press release that revealed that Wonder Girls’ Sohee will not be renewing her contract with the agency once it expires on December 21 of this year. They cite the reasons for this split due to her desire to focus on acting. Meanwhile the same press release has stated that fellow Wonder Girls members Sunye, Yenny and Yubin have agreed to renew their contracts pending some minor detail clarifications.
We had previously reported in our JYP contract length article that the contract for the original Wonder Girl’s members will end in December of this year. In what seems to be an attempt to put speculations about the future of the Wonder Girls to rest, JYP Entertainment posted a press release on December 11 to clarify what was happening with the contracts for the individual Wonder Girls members.
80s, 90s nostalgia spills over to pop music
Even as we live in the high-tech, cutting edge digital era, retro has always been part of the cultural code, various culture industry insiders have said.
But the trend toward retro in Korea prevails this year. What fueled this trend undeniably is “Reply 1994,” a drama currently airing on a cable network. Koreans’ move from rural communities to the cities is popular fodder for stories, and the drama recaptures that in a 1994 setting.
The girl group T-ara is showing off what it does best with the remake of “Do You Know Me?” The song is a 2013 version of the Korean band Sand Pebbles’ song that won it the top prize at the 1977 MBC Collegian Song Contest. One of the original Sand Pebbles’ members recently joined T-ara in the production of the music video.
Arizona Diamondbacks making strong play for Shin-Soo Choo
The Arizona Diamondbacks, fighting a dwindling fan base and apathy in the marketplace, are trying to steal a page out of the Seattle Mariners’ playbook by trying to sign free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
The Diamondbacks are a surprise entrant in the Choo sweepstakes, a high-ranking club official told USA TODAY Sports. Choo would become the highest-paid player in franchise history, eclipsing $100 million. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing.
The Rangers also acknowledged that they are trying to sign Choo.
The Diamondbacks, 81-81, finished 11 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, and drew 2.1 million fans – the second-lowest attendance in the National League.
Jeremy Lin Isn’t the Only Christian Asian-American
Two months ago, producer Christopher Chen released Linsanity, a documentary following Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin’s rise to stardom which explores the basketball player’s commitment to Christianity. The film recently spurred an interesting discussion on Huff Post Live about how Asian-Americans practice their Christian faith on Huff Post Live. All of the guests, including Chen, rapper MC Jin and spoken- word artist Jason Chu, seemed to agree that the Asian–Americans practice of openly embracing theirone’s faith is a relatively new and misunderstood concept in America.
Jang: ‘The Very Definition of Korean Culture’
Food Safety News
We are sitting in one of the thematic conference rooms at the Sempio Foods Company research and development (R&D) center in Osong, south of Seoul, South Korea. Byung-serk Hurh, Sempio’s research director, is drawing a large cooking vessel on a white board as he tries to explain how Jang is made.
In one wing of the R&D complex, lab workers quietly come and go. They move from the labs to a large digital library-like room, where they sit while compiling data. In the other wing are offices and conference rooms designed in a variety of themes, such as a forest, a swimming pool, and even a giant produce farm with lettuce growing from the ceiling.
Public Ouster in North Korea Unsettles China
New York Times
North Koreans had long known Jang Song-thaek as the No. 2 figure in their country, the revered uncle and mentor of Kim Jong-un, the paramount leader. Then on Monday state-run television showed two green-uniformed guards clutching a glum-looking Mr. Jang by the armpits and pulling him from a meeting of the ruling party after he was denounced for faction-building, womanizing, gambling and other acts as dozens of former comrades watched.
The spectacle of Mr. Jang’s humiliating dismissal and arrest was a highly unusual glimpse of a power struggle unfolding inside the nuclear-armed country. But the major impact may be outside, and nowhere is the downfall more unnerving than in China.
North Korea’s ‘reign of terror’ worries South’s leader
North Korea is engaged in a purge amounting to a “reign of terror” that has claimed the scalp of the country’s second most powerful man and risks further damaging relations with the South, President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday.
Park took office in Seoul earlier this year as North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, enraging world public opinion, and threatened to engulf its southern neighbour and its ally, the United States, in a war. The isolated state shelled a South Korean island in 2010 and is widely believed to have sunk a South Korean naval vessel in the same year.
“North Korea is currently carrying out a reign of terror, undertaking a large-scale purge in order to strengthen Kim Jong Un’s power,” Park told a cabinet meeting, part of which was broadcast on television.
Kim Jong Un Dismisses Uncle From Defense Post On State Television
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has dismissed his uncle — who was considered the number two power in the country — from a key defense post. Jang Song Thaek was accused of a long list of criminal and counter-revolutionary acts. He was stripped of all power, and was seen on state television being forcibly removed from a party meeting.
Melissa Block talks with Korea-watcher Victor Cha, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
NTSB to hold investigative hearing on Asiana crash
Five months into a probe into the cause of Asiana Airlines flight 214′s crash landing in San Francisco, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Monday it will hold an investigative hearing this week expected to provide the public with comprehensive information on the incident.
The two-day event beginning Tuesday will be led by NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman at the NTSB’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“We are in a fact-gathering phase,” a senior NTSB official said in a roundtable meeting with Korean reporters here.
How U.S. Veteran Got Into Hot Water in North Korea
Wall Street Journal
In late October, 85-year-old U.S. citizen and Korean War veteran Merrill Newman boarded a Beijing-bound flight in Pyongyang. His journey didn’t go according to plan.
Mr. Newman’s second attempt, made with the blessing of North Korean authorities, went more smoothly. The Palo Alto, Calif. retiree, after spurning a ride home with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Air Force Two, landed back in California on Saturday.
And now he’s putting an end to the speculation about what got him in trouble in the first place. Put simply: Mr. Newman says he had no idea that the Korean War was still such a big deal to the North Korean regime.
THE KOREAN WAR PRISONER WHO NEVER CAME HOME
The New Yorker
Somewhere inside the walls of the Old Cemetery in the central Slovakian city of Žilina lies the grave of a United States Army corporal named John Roedel Dunn. This may seem unremarkable: more than a hundred thousand American soldiers are buried in European cemeteries, on ground considered, by convention, to be American soil. But Dunn’s plot isn’t a war grave, exactly, and the conflict that put him there was fought five thousand miles away. Corporal Dunn was the last Korean War prisoner who never came home.
The ordeal of Merrill Newman, an eighty-five-year-old American veteran who was detained while visiting North Korea in October, provided yet another reminder that the armistice agreement that stopped the fighting did not end the war. The reasons for Newman’s arrest onboard a plane leaving Pyongyang have not been made clear, but the fact that he worked during the war with a unit of anti-Communist guerrillas in the North seems to have been a factor. Before he was released from North Korea and sent home on Saturday, he was dragged before cameras to recite an awkward, forced apology, in which he confessed to “indelible offensive acts against the Korean people.”
EXCLUSIVE: Meet the Love Child Rev. Sun Myung Moon Desperately Tried to Hide
When the Washington Times threw its 20th anniversary gala in 2002, conservative luminaries lined up to pay tribute, including Ronald Reagan, who addressed the packed ballroom via video. Afterward, the paper’s enigmatic founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, took the podium. “Even before the term ‘family value’ became a popular phrase, every day of the week the Times was publishing articles highlighting the breakdown in values and what must be done to return to a good, moral society,” he said, through a translator. “Today, family values have become an essential piece of the social fabric in America, even becoming part of the political landscape. We can be proud of the Washington Times’ contribution that promoted and elevated family values to an essential part of society in America and the world!”
Moon, the founder of the South Korea-based Unification Church, which had hundreds of thousands of adherents at its peak, claimed to be on a divine mission to salvage humanity by rebuilding the traditional family. Before his death last year at age 92, the self-proclaimed messiah—who was known for marrying off his followers in mass weddings—presided over a multibillion-dollar business empire. And he plowed huge sums of money into politics, launching a vast network of media outlets and front groups that promoted conservative family values and left a lasting mark on the modern-day GOP.
Korean Consul General’s Open House
The Korean Consul General’s official residence in Los Angeles will open its doors to the public for the very first time.
The Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles on Monday revealed its plans to host an open house event around the 20th of this month.
The Consul General’s official residence in Los Angeles was purchased back in 1972, and has been remodeled over the past 11-months at a cost of 2.7 million dollars.
Eugene adoption executive named South Korean consul
The Register-Guard (Oregon)
When Susan Soonkeum Cox first found out that the South Korean government chose her to represent Korean interests in the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon, she felt she had come full circle with her native country.
Cox left South Korea in 1956 and arrived in the United States as a 4-year-old orphan. She grew up about 30 miles north of Eugene in Brownsville and has worked for 30 years at Holt International Children’s Services in Eugene, helping to match foreign orphaned children — many from South Korea — with adoptive parents.
“Now, for the government of Korea to appoint me as an honorary consul, it’s very satisfying,” the 61-year-old Eugene resident said Monday.
G-Dragon’s Tour Video Sates K-Pop Fans
K-Pop lovers in the country have been waiting for December, not because it’s Christmas, but for the screening this month of the “One of a Kind 3D: G-Dragon 2013 First World Tour” at Blitzmegaplex movie theaters in Indonesia.
G-Dragon, born Kwon Ji-yong, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, dancer and fashion icon. The leader of the world-famous South Korean boy band Big Bang, G-Dragon also makes solo appearances and records his own solo albums.
The 25-year-old has released three solo albums: “Heartbreaker” (2009), “One of a Kind” (2012) and “Coup d’Etat” (2013).
Boasting a strong fan base in Asia, G-Dragon undertook an extensive tour from March to September 2013, reaching out to audiences across eight Asian countries, including Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia. His concerts in Indonesia, on June 15 and 16, were packed with hundreds of thousands of young fans.
Tap-Dancing North Korean Soldiers? Yes.
Today’s video postcard from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea features three excerpts from state television broadcast. The TV in our tourist-accessible hotel received 10 channels, only one of which was an official North Korean channel. Presumably there are other channels broadcasting a more diverse range of programming, but our state media network transmitted a nearly continuous stream of patriotic music videos. The subject matter of these dated, grainy, over-acted videos invariably involved soldiers, monuments, or crashing waves.
This video compiles three short clips. The first is a live performance of dancers in soldier attire; the second demonstrates the requisite patriotic fervor and leads into a newscast; the third goes for the heartstrings, showing a wounded soldier, supported by his regiment. And there are even helpful subtitles (in Korean) if you’d like to sing along…
Samsung’s Curved Phone Offered On Discount in Korea
Wall Street Journal
Samsung Electronics Co.005930.SE -0.96% is getting help from South Korea’s largest carrier to drum up sales of the Galaxy Round, the company’s curved-screen smartphone, amid reports of weak demand.
Samsung and SK Telecom Co.017670.SE +0.88% on Tuesday declined to comment on the Galaxy Round’s sales since its launch in October. Samsung has so far been low-key in its efforts to sell the phone and hasn’t disclosed plans to sell it overseas. In contrast, a rival model from LG Electronics Inc.066570.SE +2.27%, called G Flex, is available for pre-orders in Singapore and will go on sale in Hong Kong later this week.
SK Telecom, the only carrier selling the Galaxy Round in Korea, is offering a discount of approximately 100,000 won ($95) to 150,000 won ($142) to anyone buying the phone together with Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, a company spokeswoman said. The Round comes with a price tag of 1,089,000 won and the Gear sells for 396,000 won without a contract.