North Korea’s Kim dashes early hope but U.S. still seeks change: Clinton
North Korea’s missile tests and menacing rhetoric have disappointed U.S. expectations that young leader Kim Jong-un would be different than his father but Washington still hopes to persuade Pyongyang to change course, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.
“With a new young leader we all expected something different,” Clinton said in a town hall-style session put together by the State Department and broadcast worldwide. “We expected him to focus on improving the lives of the North Korea people, not just the elite, but everyone.
“Instead he has engaged in very provocative rhetoric and behavior,” she said of Kim, who took over his impoverished, isolated Northeast Asian nation when his father, Kim Jong-il, died in December 2011.
Outgoing South Korean Leader Creates Furor With Pardons
New York Times
With less than one month left in office, the departing president, Lee Myung-bak, of South Korea granted special pardons on Tuesday to political allies, a longtime friend and dozens of others who have been convicted of corruption and other crimes. The pardons ignited a rare quarrel between the country’s outgoing president and president-elect.
The office of the incoming president, Park Geun-hye, had warned Mr. Lee for days not to “abuse his presidential power” by granting pardons in his last days in office that would “go against the will of the people.”
Mr. Lee ignored that appeal. “This is not an abuse of presidential authority,” Mr. Lee was quoted by his offices as saying during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “It is carried out according to law and procedure.” His office said Mr. Lee noted that far fewer people have been granted presidential clemency during his five years in office than under his predecessors.
Google releases detailed map of North Korea, gulags and all
Until Tuesday, North Korea appeared on Google Maps as a near-total white space — no roads, no train lines, no parks and no restaurants. The only thing labeled was the capital city, Pyongyang.
This all changed when Google, on Tuesday, rolled out a detailed map of one of the world’s most secretive states. The new map labels everything from Pyongyang’s subway stops to the country’s several city-sized gulags, as well as its monuments, hotels, hospitals and department stores.
Four More North Korean Defectors Return To North Korea
Another case of a North Korean couple that escaped North Korea for South Korea and had returned to North Korea has occurred.
North Korea’s state-run media, KCNA, held a press conference for the couple and their daughter on the 24th, as well as four other female defectors who had defected to South Korea and then returned to North Korea.
Samsung takes over U.S. medical equipment firm
South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics Co. said Tuesday it has acquired a U.S. medical equipment firm as part of efforts to bolster its healthcare business.
Samsung Electronics America acquired NeuroLogica, a leading computed tomography (CT) company headquartered in Danvers, Massachusetts, the company said in a press release. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Samsung’s U.S. unit will control the U.S. medical equipment maker, which develops medical imaging products and portable CT scanners.
Election Day in Flushing, Queens: From the DREAM Voter to the Poll Workers’ Dream of Decent Work
On January 21st, Barack Obama took oath as President of the United States for his second term in office. In many ways, the victory of his second term cannot be extricated from the story of who voted for him and why. Among the factors was America’s changing demographics due to immigration, and the news media have already offered plenty of hypotheses on the preliminary exit polls that showed the growing Asian-American electorate greatly favoring Obama, in the range of 72 to 73 percent.
But a new set of findings released by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) shows that a higher percentage of Asian-American voters may have chosen Obama than previously expected, at 77 percent. AALDEF’s report, based on an exit poll of Asian-American voters in 14 states who cast ballots in the November 2012 presidential election, revealed many other trends and differences among Asian-American voters. The exit poll project sent hundreds of trained volunteers around the country, and they surveyed 9,096 voters in an effort to document Asian-American voter disenfranchisement as well as to analyze the factors that weighed in on their voting choices. According to Glenn Magpantay, director of AALDEF’s Democracy Program, most exit polls only survey a small proportion of Asian-American voters or only poll those who can speak English. But AALDEF’s survey is multilingual and conducted in 12 languages (English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bengali, Urdu, Gujarati, Khmer, Hindi, Punjabi, Arabic, and Tagalog). Their poll promises a more nuanced view of voters, broken down by age, ethnic group, geographic location, and political party affiliation.
Hearing that there was a need for Korean-speaking volunteers, I contacted the project and was dispatched on November 6th to monitor poll site JHS 189 in Flushing, where the community demographics necessitate language assistance in Chinese, Korean, and Hindi/Bengali. I waited outside the school with a clipboard in my hands, along with three law school student volunteers and Peter Lee, a staff member from MinKwon Center for Community Action who was supervising the afternoon shift of volunteers.
Facebook Artist David Choe Launches New Gig With Porn Star Asa Akira
A year after David Choe became the most surprising multimillionaire to emerge from Facebook’s IPO, the bad-boy graffiti artist is making the publicity rounds with a new pornographic podcast featuring porn star Asa Akira. He talks to Lizzie Crocker about anal sex, his new gig, and more anal sex.
South Korea shows off Pyeongchang
Associated Press via ESPN
South Korea began showing off its new snow sports mecca at the opening of the Special Olympics on Tuesday.
Pyeongchang, the once-sleepy hamlet in the mountains east of the capital, will also host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
But the arrival of 3,000 intellectually disabled athletes from around the world also has spotlighted South Korea’s long-criticized treatment of the disabled, who for decades were kept out of the mainstream.
Beer sommelier mixes up beer cocktails and pairs cuisine with boutique ales
The Korean beer market is changing with a surge in imported beers, featuring brews from Belgium, America and Germany among others, widening the options for consumers. But understanding beer styles such as Trappist ale, saison and imperial stout isn’t always easy. That would be why a cicerone, or a beer sommelier, steps in. A cicerone ensures beer is served the right way and that you have the right brew for your meal, whether it be Korean or Western cuisine.
Knife Fight Official Trailer #1 (2013) – Rob Lowe, Jamie Chung Movie
North Korean Leader Vows ‘High-Profile’ Retaliation Over New U.N. Sanctions
New York Times
Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has ordered his top military and party officials to take “substantial and high-profile important state measures” to retaliate against American-led United Nations sanctions on the country, the North’s official media reported Sunday.
North Korea did not clarify what those measures might be, but it referred to a series of earlier statements in which Mr. Kim’s government has threatened to launch more long-range rockets and conduct a third nuclear test to build an ability to “target” the United States.
Absence of N.K. leader’s uncle sparks speculation over internal power game
The absence of Jang Song-thaek, uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at a key national security meeting may be a sign of a renewed power game inside the reclusive communist nation’s leadership, a U.S. expert said Sunday.
Jang, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, did not attend the meeting of top North Korean officials handling security and foreign affairs, in which Kim ordered “substantial and high-profile important state measures,” according to Pyongyang’s official media.
Kim recently convened the meeting, viewed as North Korea’s equivalent of the U.S. National Security Council, to discuss the impact of new U.N. sanctions imposed on his regime for the Dec. 12 rocket launch and Pyongyang’s response. The North’s media stopped short of specifying the date and venue for the meeting.
South Korea’s new leader, Park Geun-hye, was pushed onto political stage by tragedy
The first major tragedy in Park Geun-hye’s life was a shooting that took place at the National Theater in downtown Seoul nearly 40 years ago. She didn’t even witness it. She was studying in Grenoble, France, at the foot of the Alps, when she got a worried call from the South Korean Embassy. The official didn’t give any specifics.
“The person only said that something had happened to my mother,” Park wrote in her 2007 memoir, “and that I needed to return home.”
The details that Park would soon learn redirected her life suddenly and irreversibly, ending her hopes of becoming a professor, flinging her for the first time into the public spotlight, and setting her on a course that would lead to the nation’s top office, the presidency, a job into which she’ll be sworn next month.
South Korea files motion in Cook County to stop adoption
An Evanston couple accused of circumventing South Korea’s adoption procedures have temporary care of a baby girl while they continue to fight for her permanent custody in state and federal courts.
On Thursday, the South Korean government filed a motion to intervene in adoption proceedings that were initiated by Jinshil and Christopher Duquet in Cook County Circuit Court, said Donald Schiller, a lawyer representing South Korea.
“Korea wants to protect its citizen,” Schiller said. “There is no more vulnerable citizen than an infant child that has been illegally taken out of the country. The U.S. wouldn’t stand for it if it happened here, and Korea is not going to stand for it.”
Police search for suspect in attacks on Asian-Americans
Fox News New York
The NYPD has identified the man they believe is responsible for a series of brutal attacks on Asian Americans in Manhattan.
“(In) the eight robberies and assaults, all of the victims were Asian. All were struck- nose broken, teeth broken; money and cell phones were taken,” NYPD Cmsr. Ray Kelly told Good Day New York on Monday.
Kelly showed viewers a photo of Jason Commisso. The suspect has a long rap sheet including more than 30 arrests, said Kelly.
Commisso allegedly targeted Asian-Americans in East Harlem and parts of the Upper East Side since January 17th.
Michelle Rhee just getting started on shaping California education policy
Michelle Rhee put the nation’s education establishment on alert two years ago when she announced she would form an advocacy group focused on thwarting the power of teachers unions in state and local politics.
The former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor already had a national reputation as a change agent, unafraid of angering teachers and principals in her drive to improve schools serving the neediest children.
Rhee, now married to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, set up StudentsFirst’s headquarters in California’s capital and chose the Golden State as one of 17 she would target.
Celebration connects children to Korean heritage
The Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, N.Y.)
As she’s grown older, Hilary Short has become more and more grateful that her adoptive parents offered her so many opportunities to connect with her Korean heritage — opportunities that not every Korean adoptee she’s encountered has shared.
“It’s hard when you’re adopted and you have two Caucasian parents that don’t really pass that down to you,” said Short, 28, of Brighton. “I think that it keeps you connected, and then maybe you don’t have that identity crisis that some other adoptees have.”
Some of Short’s best memories come from the Korean camps and schools she attended as a youth, and with children of her own now, she wants to make sure that they have the same chance to connect with their roots. So she volunteers with Love the Children of Rochester, a support group for parents who have adopted Korean children. On Saturday, the group held an advance celebration of the Lunar New Year, which is on Feb. 10.
Early Facebook Employees Launch Foundation To Promote Asian American Artists
After helping Facebook become one of the most popular destinations on the Internet, three of the social network’s early employees now have a more benevolent mission in mind. Phil Fung, Julia Lam, and Franklyn Chien launched the A3 Foundation (Asian American Artists), which is focused on promoting and supporting the talents of Asian Americans in television, film, and online digital media. This week, the A3 Foundation partnered with the Sundance Institute to give their vision a new stage.
Fung was recruited to Facebook while he was a graduate student at Stanford University. He still works for the company as an engineering manager on Facebook’s mobile team. Fung walked out of class one day to find Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg holding a sign that said, “Work for Facebook.” Not long after, Fung got an interview and left school to start working for Facebook.
Lam joined Facebook after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles. She worked on many high-impact developer marketing initiatives such as fbFund, the Facebook Developer Garage program, Facebook Presence, and the f8 Developer Conference. Currently, Lam is the co-founder of Optimistic Labs, a startup integrating social good through mobile, as well as an advisor at her alma mater.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O is proud of her Korean roots
Straits Times (Singapore)
Art-punk trio Yeah Yeah Yeah’s feisty frontwoman Karen O says that growing up as a half-Asian kid in New Jersey made her what she is today.
Born Karen Lee Orzolek in South Korea to a Korean mother and a Polish father, the 34-year-old tells Life! in a telephone interview from Los Angeles: “I felt like an outsider, definitely. But I think I enjoyed being an outsider. In my art, I like doing what other people don’t do and I get inspired by doing the opposite of the trend.”
She is proud of how K-pop is making an impact on the global music industry.
Asian-American Sung Kang, from ‘Fast Five’ to ‘Bullet to the Head’
GMA News (Philippines)
Coming into the project, Kang says that he was excited about the opportunity to work with both Stallone and director Walter Hill. “I pretty much grew up watching Sylvester Stallone movies. One of the first movies my father took me to was ‘Rocky.’ So getting to work with him was a pretty amazing experience, definitely one of those things on my bucket list,” he smiles. “And from the get-go, Walter Hill was so open to ideas; he was such an ally for me as an actor in that respect.”
Crime Stopper: Interview with The Mentalist’s Tim Kang
The Morton Report
When he is not chasing after criminals on The Mentalist, the actor keeps busy working on some projects of his own. “I started a production company last year called One Shoot Films [OSF], and we’re in the process of finishing up our first short film,” enthuses Kang. “It turned out really well and we’ll be entering it into [film] festivals within the next couple of months.
“Next up, I’m planning to shoot a feature film with the production company and work with other production companies and filmmakers to come up with our own content. Our goal is to go back to that quality I spoke of when I did that play with Janos. We want to tell stories that are, of course, entertaining, and at the same time give the work a little more attention that we typically don’t have the time to give it.
Check out KoreAm’s September 2011 cover story on Tim Kang.
Korean film on 1948 Jeju massacre wins main prize at Sundance
A Korean film about the Jeju Island massacre in Korea in 1948 has won the prize for best foreign film at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival, one of the world’s most authoritative indie film festivals.
“Jiseul,” directed by O Muel claimed the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic world cinema Saturday (on U.S. MST) at the Sundance Awards in Park City, Utah, making it the first Korean film to win a main prize at the festival.
In Hollywood, as in the NBA, Asian-Americans Are Still Rare
Asian-Americans were tagged years ago as the “new Jews” because of their disproportionate degree of academic success and their prominence in the medical profession. But one area of American life where Asian-Americans have not successfully followed in the footsteps of their Jewish peers is the film industry. As Neal Gabler memorably documented in An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, Jewish immigrants largely created the American film industry, by starting studios like Universal, 20th Century Fox, and Paramount.
Whereas, not all that long ago, Hua Hsu described Wayne Wang’s 1982 film Chan Is Missing as “still the pinnacle of Asian-American filmmaking.” Attending Sundance this year I saw nothing likely to unseat it.
But there was, at least, Linsanity, a documentary that is itself about a sort of Asian-American exception.
Hines Ward to appear as zombie on ‘Walking Dead’
“It was an amazing experience,” said Mr. Ward, who will be a zombie extra when AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” returns to haunt Sunday nights Feb. 10. “Just being in makeup preparing me for my role was cool. I actually scared myself when I looked in the mirror for the first time after.”
IronE Singleton, the actor who played the character T-Dog — played being the operative word, as poor T-Dog went out in a blaze of glory a few months back, saving one of his friends in a zombie attack — attended the University of Georgia on academic and football scholarships.
Hines Ward honored with Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award
It would at first glance seem odd to honor Hines Ward with the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award when much of his life is ahead of him.
Ward is 36 and just one year into what Chuck Noll would call his life’s work. Yet his first life was so filled with achievement that it deserves some recognition.
Where do we start? Most prolific receiver in Steelers history, Super Bowl MVP, two-time Super Bowl champ, top eight in receptions in NFL history, three-time Steelers MVP, first Korean-American Super Bowl winner, a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and “Dancing With The Stars” champion, among others.
Two adoptees return for Special Olympics, hoping to meet biological parents
The upcoming Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, a South Korean alpine town, will be a homecoming of sorts for two American athletes.
Henry Meece, who will take part in snowboarding, and Tae Hemsath, who will compete in snowshoeing, are both South Korean adoptees representing their adopted home from Jan. 29-Feb. 5 at the sporting competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
This is the first trip to South Korea for both since they left the country years ago. Meece, 23, was adopted when he was six months old and grew up in Portland, Oregon. Hemsath, 37, grew up in New York after getting adopted in 1978.
Beverly’s Pak the Toughest Mudder of them all for a second straight year
The Salem News (Mass.)
Junyong Pak proved that winning the World’s Toughest Mudder championship last year was no fluke by going out and doing in again. The 34-year-old Beverly resident won the 24-hour nonstop endurance event last month at Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.
Any tough mudder competition is not for the faint of heart. It requires mental and physical toughness along with stamina, strength and fitness under extremely challenging conditions. The 100-mile course over 30 military-style obstacles at Englishtown was designed by British Special Forces to test even the most superbly conditioned athlete.
When he won the inaugural event a year ago, Pak took home $10,000, but this time the prize money was increased to $15,000.
South Korea helps young emigrate, Singapore wants them back
Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
Times are hard for young job seekers in South Korea. So hard, in fact, that the government is now helping them find work overseas.
The real unemployment rate among South Korea’s twentysomethings is 20 percent, so the government is searching abroad for 30,000 internships and 50,000 jobs for its beleaguered youth.
French Deputy Minister to Visit Land of Her Birth
France’s Korean-born deputy minister for small business and digital economy will visit Korea in March for the first time since she was adopted by a French family 40 years ago.
Born in August 1973, Fleur Pellerin was found on the streets of Seoul when she was three or four days old and sent to an orphanage. She was adopted six months later.
North Korea issued a statement vehemently denying claims that its young leader, Kim Jong-un, has undergone plastic surgery in order to look more like his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung.
The rogue state said press speculation — fueled by a recent Chinese report — was “sordid hackwork by rubbish media,” according to AFP.
In a rare move by Pyongyang, a Korean American was given an honorary North Korean citizenship in the hopes of spurring future investment, according to news reports.
Sang-Kwon Park, chief executive of Pyeonghwa Motors, a joint venture of the Unification Church-owned Pyonghwa Motors of Seoul and the North Korea-run Ryonbong General Corp., said he received the citizenship last month, making him the second Korean American to receive the honor and first since Kim Jong-un came into power, according to AFP.
“This means that North Korea has acknowledged the trust they had put in me. They were also encouraging me to start new projects in the North, more freely and aggressively,” Park told Yonhap News.
Korean American Chin-kyung Kim, the president of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology was the first to receive honorary citizenship in August of 2011.
Mr Park also confirmed reports the Unification Church planned to sell its entire stake in the automotive company, as well as a hotel in Pyongyang, to North Korea. In return, he asked Pyongyang to allow him to start a new business, probably in distribution.
Pyeonghwa Motors, which started production in 2002, has been in the black for the past five years, Mr Park said.
U.S. warns North Korea over ‘provocative steps’
The top U.S. diplomat on East Asian policy, Kurt Campbell, warned North Korea on Wednesday against taking “provocative steps” amid concerns Pyongyang may conduct a nuclear test following last month’s rocket launch.
When asked about the North’s potential third nuclear test, Campbell replied, “We are very clear in our position that provocative steps are to be discouraged.”
South Korea accuses North Korea of launching cyberattack against conservative Seoul newspaper
Associated Press via Washington Post
South Korea said Wednesday that North Korea was behind a cyberattack last year against a conservative Seoul newspaper critical of Pyongyang.
North Korean hackers distorted the website of the mass-circulation JoongAng Ilbo newspaper and deleted some data from the paper’s news filing and production system last June, the National Police Agency said in a statement.
The paper quickly restored the system and its newspaper production was done without any major problem. A picture of a grinning cat and the words, “Hacked by IsOne,” were also posted on the paper’s website at the time.
North Korea: Tweeting Its Way to the Future?
New York Times
Twitter in North Korea? It sounds about as likely as snow in the tropics.
Yet the fiercely isolationist state, headed by Kim Jong-un, the 30-ish, third-generation scion of its founding family, does appear to have a Twitter account: @uriminzok. It’s even following three other users, as the British newspaper The Guardian spotted.
Meet Jimmy Dushku, the lone American followed by North Korea on Twitter
New York Daily News
The 25-year-old from Austin, Tex. says he has no idea why he’s the chosen one. North Korea follows only two other accounts on Twitter — both propaganda-related. Dushku says he’s a normal guy, a young entrepreneur and an extreme Coldplay fan.
N. Korea appears to struggle to shed negative image
North Korea actively received foreign guests and increased exchanges with the outside world this year, Pyongyang watchers said Tuesday, raising speculation that the North is trying to shed its negative image triggered by last month’s rocket launch.
The watchers said there have been an unusually large number of foreigners visiting Pyongyang, beginning on Jan. 7 with the arrivals of an economic trade-promotion delegation from China, and the four-day tour by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.
Toxic Smog Blankets Korea
Toxic smog has blanketed Seoul, Daegu, Jeonju and other parts of the country since Saturday. The smog carries more heavy metal particles than the Mongolian sandstorms that plague the country in spring.
Analysis at a weather station in Bulgwang-dong, Seoul showed that the smog carried 5 to 11 times higher levels of arsenic and 8 to 26 times higher concentration of selenium than last year’s sandstorms, the National Institute of Environmental Research said Tuesday.
Getting ‘inked’ got Daniel Henney into role
The Straits Times via AsiaOne
Korean-American heart-throb Daniel Henney found it really hard to play a bad boy in the American police procedural on television, Hawaii Five-0 recently.
For starters, the character Michael Noshimuri is an ex-convict.
“He’s very different from who I am, it was quite stressful,” recalls Henney, 33, a former model and clean-cut spokesman for brands such as Olympus and Daewoo.
Hollywood’s no breeze for director
Korea JoongAng Daily
Director Kim Ji-woon introduced “The Last Stand,” his debut piece in Hollywood, on Monday at a press conference where he discussed the difficulties of working abroad.
At the Q&A session held at the London Hotel, Kim said he encountered problems but overcame it all by drawing on his years of experience in the Korean film industry.
Kim said more than anything the film was meaningful not only because it was his first time working on a Hollywood flick but also since “The Last Stand” is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first film since 2003.
KT’s Android App Offers K-Pop Fix
Wall Street Journal
Thanks to South Korean carrier KT Corp., fans of Korean pop music in 46 countries will be able to get their fix on their Android handsets.
The “Genie” app is the first global K-pop mobile service out of South Korea, home to big stars such as Psy and his monster hit “Gangnam Style.” It first launched in South Korea nine months ago.
Users in the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand can now download and purchase various K-pop content including music files, video clips and photos using the app, which can be downloaded free of charge from the Google Play Store. The app allows the respective music companies to set their own pricing.
U.S. Speedskating considering punishment for Simon Cho
Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)
Officials at U.S. Speedskating have started to convene a disciplinary committee to decide sanctions against short-track speedskater and confessed saboteur Simon Cho, now that they have received the full report on a skate-tampering incident and allegations of coaching abuse that have rocked the federation.
The entire 84-page report from international law firm White & Case was released last week, explaining in greater detail the conclusions that had been reached earlier — that Cho tampered with a rival’s skate at the world championships in Poland two years ago and that it was unclear whether former national short-track coach Jae Su Chun ordered him to do it.
South Korean team pumped for World Baseball Classic
I’m going to plant the Korean flag on the pitcher’s mound in the finals.” (Seo Jae-eung, KIA Tigers)
On Jan. 15 at the Renaissance Hotel in Seoul’s Gangnam district, the Korean national baseball team, led by head coach Ryu Jung-il, revealed its team uniform and showed its readiness to achieve victory in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), which will take place in March 2013.
“If we can achieve that unique Korean teamwork, we will reach an even higher level of performance in this tournament than in the first and second WBC,” Ryu said.
Busan Welcomes Dragons of the Sea
Wall Street Journal
Busan Aquarium has something to celebrate: the first successful captive breeding of weedy sea dragons in Asia.
The weedy sea dragon, a relative of the seahorse native to waters around southern Australia, is an endangered species that is threatened by damage to its natural habitat of seaweed and kelp beds, as well as poaching.
The baby dragons born in Busan come from an adult pair brought to South Korea from Melbourne Aquarium in 2011. The breeding process can take up to six months and involves the female attaching up to 200 eggs to a male for incubation. Only a fraction will hatch.