Domestic Politics, Pyongyang-Style [OPINION]
New York Times
ON Monday, North Korea declared that it had nullified the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, a new level of bellicosity that raised, at least on paper, the potential for the resumption of armed conflict on the peninsula.
The fiery rhetoric seemed to foreign observers a desperate attempt to force the United States and South Korea to restart stalled talks on denuclearization, in the hope of extracting aid and concessions. But recent history suggests that it was motivated less by international politics than by domestic concerns: North Korea’s new hereditary leader, Kim Jong-un, may have been stoking fears of a foreign threat primarily to dampen political unrest at home.
The belligerent talk, and the nuclear test North Korea conducted last month, its third, are part of a pattern that began in the 1990s when the North Korean economy collapsed following the end of the cold war.
PM visits western border island, calls for high alert on N.K. provocations
Amid heightened inter-Korean tensions, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won on Thursday visited the country’s western border island of Yeonpyeong that was bombarded in a North Korean artillery attack in 2010 to encourage soldiers and residents there, his office said.
Tensions have been simmering on the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks as North Korea has been escalating its war of words over tougher U.N. Security Council sanctions that punish its third nuclear test on Feb. 12, and ongoing Seoul-Washington annual joint military exercise.
Chung’s visit drew particular attention, as Pyongyang’s media reported earlier Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently guided artillery exercises targeting Yeonpyeong and a nearby island near the Yellow Sea border.
Wall Street Journal
As inter-Korean military tensions rise, two South Korean islands in the Yellow Sea are drawing attention again. Lying just south of the disputed maritime border called Northern Limit Line (NLL), Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong have been a tinderbox for the two Koreas recently—and now Pyongyang has openly placed them in the crosshairs of North Korea’s artillery scopes.
Location: Yeonpyeong is only about eight kilometers, or five miles, from the North Korean coast. Baengnyeong, which lies to the northwest of Yeonpyeong, is almost as close.
Race In America: Asian-Americans & Race
FOX News Philadelphia
It’s a headline that got us talking: A Vermont newspaper decided to run a poster with the words “Fry Rice” on it.
The daily reportedly did this in support of its’ local sports team in a game against Rice Memorial High School.
The problem? The font or print used is associated with Chinese calligraphy.
Some Asian-American readers were offended, saying the “play” on words was both racist and insensitive.
Bank of Korea’s Suh Young Kyung Shuns Schoolgirl Outfit
When Suh Young Kyung joined the Bank of Korea in 1988, officials at the central bank told her to wear a schoolgirl’s outfit. She refused.
Hired with one other woman and 50 men, Suh has risen to be the most senior female executive in the institution’s history. As director of the financial-markets division, she’s in charge of open-market operations to regulate liquidity in the banking system, reporting to Governor Kim Choong Soo and monetary-policy board members.
“They tried to force me to wear the same uniform as high- school graduates while giving money to my male colleagues to buy a suit every season,” Suh said in an interview, wearing a navy tweed jacket and white blouse with black pants. “The BOK was entirely dominated by men when I started.”
Koreans Travel Long Distances For Their Kimchi
Patch.com (Cupertino, Calif.)
For many Korean American families, keeping culture and tradition alive may mean driving on a regular basis to Santa Clara County. Numerous stores in our area cater to the Korean American community, offering them the necessary ingredients they need to cook traditional dishes.
“We get customers (from) as far as Fairfield, Pleasanton, and the Concord areas. Even as far south as Monterey,” said Steve Kim, the owner of Super Kyo Po Plaza in Santa Clara, one of the largest Korean supermarkets in the Bay Area.
He said approximately 1,000 customers come through his doors each day. “They make it a day where they eat out at a restaurant then do other things here, and also do their shopping.”
Korean students balance military service, academics
Stanford Daily (Stanford Univ.)
While his peers worry about what major to declare or their summer plans, Peter Moon ’15 currently faces a different, more complicated decision — whether he will serve in the South Korean military, and when.
A dual American-South Korean citizen, Moon — among fellow undergraduates — anticipates serving in the South Korean military in order to maintain his South Korean citizenship status. He is currently deciding whether he will take time off during his undergraduate career or immediately following his senior year to serve.
‘Our Homeland’ Filmmaker Yang Yong-hi on North Korea, Japan and Divided Selves
Wall Street Journal
It has been almost a decade since Yang Yong-hi obtained her South Korean citizenship, but the Tokyo-based filmmaker still doesn’t know where she belongs.
Born and raised in Osaka to Korean parents, she was just six when her family was split in two. Her father, a North Korean sympathizer originally from South Korea’s southernmost Jeju Island, sent her three teenage brothers to live in Pyongyang in 1971 as part of a repatriation program organized by Japan and North Korea. Ms. Yang, a girl, was the only child to stay home.
SXSW Film: “And Who Taught You To Drive?” [Interview]
There are few lonelier feelings than being in a foreign country where you aren’t familiar with the culture and don’t speak the language. Now, add to that the pressure of having to take a driving test.
That’s the premise of the entertaining documentary And Who Taught You to Drive? Director Andrea Thiele and writer Lia Jaspers filmed three people taking driving lessons in a foreign country—a Korean mother in Germany, a German in India, and an American in Japan. We sat down with Thiele and Jaspers to talk about the film.
Q: Where did this idea come from?
Choo earns widespread respect in move to Cincinnati
Shin-Soo Choo was wondering how many at-bats he’d be getting in a Cactus League game the other day, so he asked Reds bench coach Chris Speier.
When Dusty Baker found out Choo had gone to Speier and not him, he asked Choo why.
“In Korea,” said Choo, a native of Pusan, South Korea, “[the players] don’t talk to the manager. The manager is like a god.”
Baker laughed. “Man,” Baker replied, “you ain’t in Korea now.”
Ever respectful of leadership and ever genuine in his bid to win and be the best Major League player he can be, Choo has earned instant respect in this Cincinnati clubhouse for the way he’s approached this team and this transition. Acquired from the Indians in a three-way trade in December, Choo has wasted no time working the room, making an effort to get to know each guy on a personal level.
Pete Rose and fiancée Kiana Kim do furniture commercial
It makes sense, if you rationalize it, Pete Rose doing a furniture commercial for greater Cincinnati TV. Even these days, regardless of the salaries some athletes make, you’ll see a lot of players doing cheap-looking commercials for, say, an auto dealership. They’ll do it in exchange for a free lease, usually.
But Charlie Hustle doing Muenchen’s Furniture is throwback to a time when pro athletes supplemented their income by becoming actors in “B” productions because they kind of had to. I’m speaking of the 1960s and 1950s, when the genre was young and the production values were, well, not so valuable.
Korean Fine Dining, Re-interpreted
Wall Street Journal
For those looking for a fine dining experience, the Korean restaurant scene can be admittedly uninspiring. Last week, a local food critic noted on Korea Real Time the lack of innovative cuisines in South Korea, especially among Korean kitchens.
Lucia Cho’s Bicena in Seoul’s Itaewon district is one Korean restaurant that is challenging the status quo.
Exciting news, everyone!
Filling a long-overlooked hole in the freeze-dried vegetable market is Trader Joe’s recent release of Dried Kimchi. Whaaaaaaattttt??!
The specialty grocery store debuted the new item late last month and we haven’t been this excited for an Asian product made by a mainstream American company since Lay’s started selling Sriracha potato chips. Continue Reading »
North’s Test Re-ignites Debate in South on Nuclear Weapons
Wall Street Journal
North Korea’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 stirred debate on the southern side of the peninsula about Seoul arming itself with nuclear weapons in response.
The debate predictably flared up again this week after Pyongyang staged its third such test on Tuesday.
Several lawmakers from the ruling conservative Saenuri Party as well as right-leaning newspapers have been vocal in calling for the South to respond in kind against the mounting nuclear threat from the North.
What’s Kim Jong Un’s intention with the nuclear test?
On Tuesday, the international community reacted to North Korea’s third nuclear test by calling its action “provocative,” while South Korea’s foreign minister warned that it was a “clear threat to international peace and security.”
It was what Kim Jong Un, the nation’s young leader, wanted.
From the North Korean government’s view, the more pressure the international community places on its nuclear testing, the better. They enjoy the chatter among the world’s leaders and at the U.N. about how North Korea’s nuclear program must be stopped at all cost.
UC student takes Dream Act case to YouTube
San Francisco Chronicle
Terrence Park has done plenty of work – in laundries, in restaurants and tutoring in private homes – to realize his dream of getting a college education.
But the 24-year-old UC Berkeley math club leader and biostatistics major from South Korea said Wednesday that he never dreamed he would reveal his biggest secret – that he is an undocumented immigrant – on YouTube.
Park is the star of a new video in which he reveals that he is a one of an estimated 2.1 million American youths whose undocumented parents brought them to the United States as children. Without passage in Congress of the legislation known as the Dream Act, he and the others could have their dreams dashed.
Driver disarms gunman in Newton road rage incident
A 21-year-old Newton man pleaded not guilty to assault and gun charges Friday after police said he pulled a sawed-off handgun on another driver during a road rage incident in Newton’s Oak Hill neighborhood.
The other driver, whom police did not identify, wrestled the gun away after employing some calm talk and martial arts skills, police said.
Byung Jin Kang was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail at his arraignment in Newton District Court on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and illegal gun possession.
For ‘Last Stand’ Director, a Tough Hollywood Debut
Wall Street Journal
Hollywood is a rough place when you’re the new guy in town, even for a celebrated filmmaker.
Kim Jee-woon was well out of his comfort zone directing his debut Hollywood movie, “The Last Stand,” starring governator Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first leading role in a decade. At a Seoul press conference this week, Mr. Kim described the experience as “lonely,” “difficult” and “controlled.”
K-Pop Meets Country Music (and New Jersey)
On these shores, Korean pop music—more popularly known as K-Pop—is perhaps most identified with the club-ready electronic beats and slickly tuxedoed look of global phenomenon (and newly crowned “King of YouTube”) PSY. So why is K-Pop duo 2YOON heel-toeing in a barnyard in their new video? Why are they wearing overalls? Why is there a saloon in the background? And more important: what’s with their new K-Pop-goes-country sound?
Country music and K-Pop may seem like strange bedfellows right now, but musicians and producers are betting that this unlikely union could yield the next chart-busting hit. Meaning: we could start hearing American-music influences in one of the world’s most popular and dynamic pop genres.
Conger looking to stick in majors
San Gabriel Valley Tribune (Calif.)
Hank Conger made his first career Opening Day roster two years ago. He would like to do so again – and stick around this time, too.
The 25-year-old catcher knows what he needs to do.
“In this organization, we really take pride on our defense,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 thing as a catcher, our defense. As long as we keep focusing on improving on the defensive part, hopefully things work out.”
South Korea Digests White House Kimchi Recipe
Wall Street Journal
For the past week, South Korean netizens and media have been chewing over the revelation of a White House kimchi recipe with pride, humor and a bit of debate.
On Feb. 6, the Twitter account of First Lady Michelle Obama dispatched word that the White House cooks had taken a new harvest of Napa cabbage grown in the South Lawn garden and made kimchi out of it.
Lee Young-ae Promotes Bibimbap in NYT Ad
Actress Lee Young-ae has been featured in a full-page ad in the New York Times promoting bibimbap, the healthful Korean dish of rice with assorted vegetables.
The ad was paid for by enthusiastic promoters of Korean cuisine including Seo Kyoung-duk, a public relations expert and professor at Sungshin Women’s University.
China’s patience with North Korea wearing thin
Associated Press via Google News
China’s patience with North Korea is wearing thin, and a widely-expected nuclear test by the latter could bring that frustration to a head.
Beijing signaled its growing unhappiness by agreeing to tightened U.N. sanctions after North Korea launched a rocket in December, surprising China watchers with its unusually tough line, which prompted harsh criticism from Pyongyang.
And while China isn’t expected to abandon its communist neighbor, it appears to be reassessing ties a year after new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took office. The question is for how long China, itself under new leader Xi Jinping, will continue to back North Korea’s nettlesome policies.
South Korea’s path to internet mastery
The National (United Arab Emirates)
Less than two decades ago, just a small number of South Koreans had access to the internet, in stark contrast to the current situation where almost all of them enjoy the fruits of the Web.
Even in 1998, the number of internet users was only seven per 100 people. South Korea lagged behind other countries in ratings by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of computer ownership and internet usage, implying Koreans had low levels of information utilisation skills.
The government recognised this as a major modernisation challenge as the world leading economies, such as the United States and Japan, were in the forefront of developing their information and communication technology (ICT) sectors. Numerous reports pointed to ICT as a crucial driving force for economic growth.
Brazil Carnival honors South Korea, Korean immigrants
AFP via Global Post
With samba music and allegorical pageantry, the Brazilian Carnival pays glowing tribute this year to South Korea’s ancient culture and technological prowess, and to 50 years of Korean immigration.
Friday, South Korean popstar Psy was a star guest at Carnival celebrations in the northeastern city of Salvador, wowing the crowd with his “Gangnam Style” hit that made Internet history last December by clocking more than one billion views on YouTube.
Book review: ‘Radical: Fighting to Put Students First’ by Michelle Rhee
Jennifer Howard, a former contributing editor of Book World, is a senior reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
If you are, have been or might soon be the parent of a school-age child in Washington,you have an opinion about Michelle Rhee, who ran the city’s public schools from 2007 to 2010. In a town full of divisive personalities, Rhee polarized opinion more than any other public figure I can remember, with the exception of a handful of officials. (Here’s looking at you, Marion Barry.) Either you admire her do-whatever-it-takes attempts to overhaul a system that had become a national embarrassment, or you loathe her as a power-mad, union-busting, school-closing dictator who trampled over teachers, parents and public servants.
I’m a Washingtonian with school-age children who are not currently enrolled in D.C. Public Schools. I watched, closely but from the sidelines, as Rhee set about the overhaul she describes in “Radical.” Her supporters and detractors could probably agree on one word to describe her: formidable. There’s no whiff of regret in “Radical.” By her reckoning, Rhee came in to do a difficult and politically dangerous job, and she did it the way she thought it needed to be done. Once she couldn’t do it effectively anymore, she moved on to bring her message of “radical improvement” to the national stage.
‘Walking Dead’: Steven Yeun’s Glenn is beating heart of AMC series
Los Angeles Times
Yeun’s amiable nature is familiar to fans of AMC’s hit zombie series. As Glenn Rhee, he functions as a likable everyman, the closest thing to a romantic hero in an unrelentingly brutal apocalyptic world.
“Steven is the heart of the show,” said Glen Mazzara, the “Walking Dead” executive producer who’s set to leave the series at the end of this season. “Everybody loves that character; everybody’s rooting for that character. He may be tortured and sensitive, but he’s always a hero.”
Chan-wook Park has a lot riding on blood-filled ‘Stoker’
Los Angeles Times
In a high-tech bungalow on a back corner of the 20th Century Fox lot, the South Korean auteur Chan-wook Park is chiseling his opus as the clock ticks toward 9 p.m.
Park, the toast of Asian cinema and hero to hordes of genre-film enthusiasts, is editing “Stoker,” a coming-of-age Gothic thriller starring Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman. It’s his first film in the U.S. and first in English. For hard-core fans of the director’s blood-spattered Korean work — including “Oldboy,” the 2004 Cannes Grand Prix winner being remade by Spike Lee — his arrival on the shores might be compared, with less exaggeration than you may think, to the landing of the Beatles.
Shin-Soo Choo on center field: I’ll try
Shin-Soo Choo admits moving to center field is a process.
“I’m not comfortable there yet,” he said. “At the major league level, I played 99 percent of my games in right field. I’ll try. I’ll work on it this spring training. We’ll see how they’re thinking. If they’re not (happy), somebody else will be playing in center field.
“I’ll try the best I can.”
Wie, Webb and Ko headline class field
Canberra Times (Australia)
Fading star Michelle Wie will become a “wasted talent” if she can’t succeed this year, New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko has the all-round game to avoid the same pitfalls and become a future champion, while legend Karrie Webb is the woman to beat.
That’s the opinion of former Australian Open champion and ABC commentator Jane Crafter ahead of the Australian Women’s Golf Open, at Royal Canberra from February 14-17.
Think Young, Play Hard: Lydia Ko
ON WINNING THE LPGA TOUR’S CN CANADIAN WOMEN’S OPEN AT AGE 15
I’m not sure it has sunk in–even now. In the moment I didn’t think it was that amazing. The experience to me was just putting together one good round after another. But when I saw it on paper, my name as the champion, I thought Wow, this is really what I’ve done.
ON BEING A TEENAGER
My three best friends don’t really know what I’ve done on the course. It doesn’t matter to them. Two of them live in Korea, so we stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. We talk about Korean TV and hip-hop music. My favorite right now is the group BigBang. It has good-looking guys.
K.J. Choi wins award for charitable service
K.J. Choi, who has supported relief efforts worldwide as well as programs to help Korean communities, was named recipient of the Golf Writers Association of America’s (GWAA) Charlie Bartlett Award on Wednesday.
The award, named for the first secretary of the GWAA, is given to a professional golfer for contributions to the betterment of society.
“Although I feel that I haven’t done that much, I am honored to be recognized for my actions,” Choi, who will be honored at an awards dinner in Augusta, Georgia, the week of the Masters, said in a statement.
Why Do Koreans Eat So Much Kimchi?
Kimchi is Korea’s representative food. It’s delicious, healthy and it goes good with everything. And Koreans eat it pretty much everyday, for pretty much every meal. It can’t be THAT good can it?! Find out why Koreans eat so much kimchi!
In addition to being super healthy and uber delicious, kimchi goes perfect with all Korean food. And pretty much 99% of the Korean population eats it pretty much everyday at every meal. That’s because Koreans need that fresh feeling in their mouth. No joking… they NEED it! So even if they’re not eating Korean food, non-Korean restaurants in Korea will serve SOMETHING that will give that fresh feeling (i.e. pickles, pickled radish, etc.).