Obama Juggles Itinerary in Bid to Ease Tensions Between Two Asian Allies
New York Times
When President Obama brings together the estranged leaders of Japan and South Korea for a peacemaking session in The Hague on Tuesday evening, it will be the culmination of three months of intense behind-the-scenes American diplomacy.
The unusual effort included a phone call from Mr. Obama to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; a follow-up lunch that the American ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, had with Mr. Abe; a decision to put both Tokyo and Seoul on Mr. Obama’s itinerary when he visits Asia next month; and a plan to resolve this neighborhood quarrel on the ultimate neutral ground: a stately Dutch city accustomed to litigating international disputes.
“The diplomacy of northeast Asia is a little like junior prom: Cathy won’t sit with Jamie, but maybe she would if Sally comes over and sits with them,” said Michael J. Green, a senior adviser on Asia in the George W. Bush administration. “The U.S. can never solve these problems, but we can be quite effective in managing them.”
S. Korea urges N. Korea to stop provocations
South Korea called on North Korea Tuesday to stop provocative remarks and actions, criticizing the communist country for tinkering with a nuclear card.
Seoul’s call came one day after Pyongyang’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ri Tong-il, warned that his country will take additional “nuclear measures,” slamming the United States for conducting annual military drills with the South.
The envoy said during a news conference that his country “is ready to take a series of additional nuclear measures to demonstrate the power of the self-defensive nuclear deterrent,” warning that whether it would take those measures is entirely “up to the U.S.’ attitude down the road.”
North Korea Urged U.S. Changes Citing Talks With South
North Korea called on the U.S. to stop isolating it politically, militarily and economically, citing the totalitarian regime’s recent engagement with South Korea as proof of a commitment to relieving tensions.
In dealings with neighboring countries starting last month, North Korea participated in the first high-level talks with South Korea since 2007, allowed family reunions between the two Koreas and made plans to hold talks next week with Japan for the first time since November 2012.
“The DPRK did not hesitate to accept the request from South Korean authorities on holding the separated families’ reunion,” even though “in view of the harsh conditions of the political environment,” the situation “was not mature yet,” Ri Tong Il, a top North Korean diplomat at the United Nations, told reporters yesterday in New York. He referred to his country by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Court Ruling on Korean Tycoon Sparks Media Criticism
Wall Street Journal
South Korean media are abuzz over a four-year-old court ruling that allows a convicted tycoon to pay off a $23 million fine with just a month-and-a-half of prison labor, questioning the fairness of a decision that values his daily work behind bars 10,000 times higher than that of a regular convict.
The controversy erupted again when Huh Jae-ho, 71, the former chairman of now-defunct Daeju Group, returned home over the weekend to be taken to a prison labor facility after four years of living overseas to avoid paying the fine for tax evasion and embezzlement.
Handing down a suspended jail term against Mr. Huh, a local court in 2010 ordered him to pay the 25.4 billion won ($23 million) fine or do prison labor for 50 days–which valued his daily labor at 500 million won, compared with the usual 50,000 won a day for ordinary convicts.
Feds: Leaker’s plea spares secrets
Arguing that the move will prevent further damage to national security, prosecutors are urging a federal judge to approve a 13-month sentence for a former State Department contractor who has admitted leaking the contents of a highly-classified report on North Korea to Fox News.
In a filing Monday, the Justice Department urged U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to accept the sentence the prosecution and lawyer for defendant Stephen Kim agreed on prior to his surprise guilty plea last month to a felony charge of disclosing closely-held national security information. Prosecutors also said the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies “concurred” in the plea deal and proposed 13-month sentence.
“The agreement reflects a fair resolution of the defendant’s criminal culpability especially when balanced against the further harm to the national security that would likely result from a trial,” prosecutors wrote in a 13-page memo.
Chinese Records Shed More Light on Sex Slaves
China’s state archives in Jilin Province on Monday added to a wealth of proof on Monday that the Japanese Imperial Army forced Asian women to serve as sex slaves during World War II.
Among newly revealed documents is a letter written by a Japanese citizen who lived in China’s Heilongjiang Province in 1941 to a friend in Japan. “Some 20 Korean women were brought here forcibly under the national mobilization law to serve at a ‘comfort station’ in the Japanese army compound,” he wrote.
The 1938 law put the country’s economy on a wartime footing after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
A spokesman for the archives said the specific reference to the “national mobilization law” clearly shows responsibility by the Japanese government.
Suicide Drama ‘Thread of Lies’ a Surprise Hit at South Korean Box Office
Thread of Lies, a local drama about a 14-year-old girl’s suicide, grossed more than $8 million at the South Korean box office, maintaining a stronghold in spite of competition from Noah, 300: Rise of an Empire and other imported films.
The small-budget film ($1.96 million, or 2.1 billion won) debuted first place over its opening weekend of March 14-16. Though it ceded the top spot to Noah over the past weekend, online reservation rates for the film remain strong according to its distributor, Movie Collage.
Korean offices use admissions as their main box office count, and more than a million people had seen the film as of Tuesday, according to the Korean Film Council.
Scalpers cash in on fans of TV star Kim
TICKETS for a meet-and-greet event hosted by Kim Soo-hyun in Shanghai yesterday changed hands for up to 25,000 yuan (US$4,015) as scalpers sought to cash in on fans’passion for the South Korean TV star.
The face value of the best tickets for the show at the Shanghai Grand Stage was just 1,280 yuan.
Scalpers began congregating outside the venue early yesterday morning. One of them, who declined to give his name, said he’s been working as a scalper for 10 years and never has a problem getting hold of tickets for the big events.
He said he was offering seats in the first 10 rows for between 15,000 and 25,000 yuan.
Linkin Park’s New Video is a Game: Exclusive Inside Look at ‘Guilty All the Same’
It’s a music video. It’s a game. It’s Linkin Park’s latest play on technology — a six-minute video game debuting on Tuesday (March 25) that’s based on the band’s latest single, “Guilty All the Same,” featuring Rakim.
Band members Joe Hahn and Mike Shinoda say they want their fans to literally play with their music. Fans can take it apart and remix both the song and the game any way they want, using the tools provided in “Project Spark,” a free software platform created by Microsoft Corp. that lets players make their own video games on Xbox One and Windows 8 computers.
In Linkin Park’s version of the game, the protagonist is a character haunted by guilt. The player navigates the character through a dark, slightly sinister environment that threatens to devour him as he tries to flee from the forces of his own guilt. The level resembles a mashup between the racing mechanic of “Temple Run” and the noir art style of “Badland.” The better the player performs, the richer the soundtrack for the song.
Is ‘Avengers’ shoot worth such a super hassle?
Korea JoongAng Daily
When Disney’s Marvel Studios decided to shoot part of the upcoming “Avengers” sequel in Seoul, the city government and state-run film agencies welcomed the decision with fanfare – and with rosy estimates about potential benefits from the elevation of Seoul’s image and the boost it will give to tourism.
But in the face of unprecedented traffic control on some of the city’s busiest districts for more than 10 days, some are questioning whether the government is offering too much support to the filming of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” at the expense of citizens’ convenience.
The areas that will be blocked off will include major bridges on the Han River such as Cheongdam and Mapo bridges, and important arteries near Gangnam subway station and Digital Media City (DMC) in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, starting from March 30 through April 13.
‘Professional’ Yoon Suk-min adjusting well to life with Baltimore Orioles: interpreter
Justin Yoo, a Korean-American interpreter for the Baltimore Orioles’ South Korean pitcher Yoon Suk-min, has had a front-row seat on the player’s new life in the United States.
After nine mostly successful seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Yoon signed a three-year deal for US$5.575 million with the Orioles last month. Yoon was rushed to the team’s spring training, which had already been underway by the time he inked his contract, and he had to travel to Canada for a few days to receive his work permit before he was able to pitch in games.
Whether due to his lack of preparation or to the stiff competition for a spot on the big league club’s staff, Yoon was optioned to the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tide, after making his second preseason appearance last week.
S. Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong released by Chicago Cubs
South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong has been released by the Chicago Cubs, the Major League Baseball (MLB) team announced Tuesday, possibly opening the door for his return to the native land.
The Cubs’ official website stated that Lim was “granted his unconditional release” on Monday local time. The 37-year-old is now a free agent.
The right-hander with a sidearm delivery made his MLB debut last September, after a call-up from the minors. He had Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his pitching elbow in July 2012 and spent the first half of 2013 in rehab, before making his first minor league appearance in July.
Texas Rangers offer “Korean Discount”
The Texas Rangers, whose outfielder Choo Shin-soo is one of Korea’s biggest sports stars, will offer a heavy ticket discount for the approximately 85,000 Korean Americans residing in Dallas and Fort Worth.
The team has offered a 41 percent discount to Koreans for its monthly home games held at Arlington’s Globe Life Park, according to the Korean Society of Dallas on Monday.
Choo is expected to be a left-fielder for the Rangers, and the club will reserve 500 seats near the third base.
They provided tickets to the organization for the April 1 game at $30, which is 41 percent off the regular price of $51.
by CASSANDRA KWOK
The hottest Korean drama, My Love from the Stars, has taken Asia by storm, particularly in China. From sold-out fan meetings to a boom in sales for food merely mentioned on the recently-concluded SBS drama, Chinese fans just can’t seem to get enough.
China has fallen head-over-heels for Kim Soo-hyun, who plays the title character, a gorgeous, yet mysterious 400-year-old alien who falls in love with a Hallyu actress, played by My Sassy Girl star Jun Ji-hyun.
China’s Jiangsu Satellite TV invited Kim to appear as a special guest judge on game show Super Brain on March 8. The show reportedly paid Kim approximately $500,000 for his eight-hour appearance and spent an additional $500,000 to charter a private jet and hire 600 security guards to control the massive crowds. Continue Reading »
Have the writers of Korean dramas been using the same plots and characters since the genre’s inception? It’s a legitimate question and it’s one that the makers of this video explore in “How To Make A Korean Drama.” Continue Reading »
by Christine Kim
Actress Han Ye Seul returned to Korea yesterday, less than 48 hours after leaving the country.
The young actress expressed her remorse for stirring much chaos and distress but remains adamant that she did the right thing.
“I realized nothing would improve unless I took the action I did, so I would like to believe I did the right thing,” Han said, according to soompi.com. “I made the decision amid extreme stress and fear, and I’m sure there are people who would understand my position. I expect to take a lot of heat and criticism for my decision, but I do hope the people in this industry would take this chance to look back at themselves.”
Han arrived on the filming site of Spy Myung Wol on Thursday morning and apologized to each cast and staff member. Although tension initially filled the air, especially between co-star Eric and Han, the actress and crew reconciled their differences during lunch. Han reportedly kneeled on the ground, seeking their forgiveness.
“There were some difficulties in filming that made me feel sad. However, I later found out that it was all a misunderstanding. After causing this incident, I am thankful that I was welcomed warmly when I returned. Even if I opened my heart to everyone, it wouldn’t be enough. I’ll use all the strength I drew from these difficulties to film my parts,“ apologized a tearful Han.
Accepting her back with open arms and bright faces, the staff encouraged her to work harder. Even Eric supported Han with a “Fighting!” Later, the Shinhwa star tweeted on Twitter, asking everyone to do the same.
Now that filming has resumed, dedicated fans can expect to see the show following its normal schedule and Episode 13 on air.
by Christine Kim
Korean American actress Han Ye Seul said she would return to the set of drama “Spy Myung Wol,” ending a wild sequence of events in which the Southern California native abruptly left the show and hopped on a plane to Los Angeles.
Han, known in the United States as Leslie Han Kim, left the production crew in a state of panic when she unexpectedly fled to the United States. Apparently, Han had grown upset with the poor working environment and subsequently decided not to appear for the scheduled filming on Aug. 14.
Yesterday, KBS and the studio held an emergency meeting and considered replacing Han’s character with a new protagonist. Due to the lack of Continue Reading »