A retired building inspector in Los Angeles was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for taking bribes during his 37-year tenure at the Department of Building and Safety, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Samuel In, who retired in 2011, was also ordered to pay the city $30,000. In pleaded guilty to felony bribery charges last year.
“I have disgraced my family and myself,” In told the court in an emotional plea for leniency, according to the Times. Continue Reading »
U.S.-South Korea Begin War Games as Family Reunions Continue
The U.S. and South Korea began annual military exercises — denounced by the North as preparations for war — that coincided with the first reunions of families separated by the Korean War in more than three years.
The Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises began today as scheduled, U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Kim Yong Kyu said by phone. The two sets of drills, one based on computer simulations and the other involving field training, will draw thousands of additional U.S. troops into the country, according to USFK. The two allies say the drills are routine and defensive.
North Korea had initially threatened to pull out of the family reunions if the military drills weren’t canceled. Instead, the agreement to hold the reunions led to two rounds of high-level talks between the two countries, and today South Korea offered negotiations on providing assistance to stop the spread of the foot-and-mouth disease in the North.
California Korean Community on ‘East Sea’ Movement
The U.S. state of California.
Home to the largest population of Korean-Americans and Japanese-Americans in the country. Some may see this as the next ground for a political battle over how to refer to the body of water between Korea and Japan in school textbooks.
Virginia State will soon require the Korean-preferred title of “East Sea” to be used alongside the “Sea of Japan” in its textbooks, while in New York a similar bill has also been proposed.
But the issue has not stirred up much attention yet in California.
“LA The president of the Korean American Federation in Los Angeles says the greater L.A. area has been, and still is* busy trying to protect the so-called “comfort women” memorial statue in Glendale Central Park from being removed. So right now is not the most suitable time to raise another issue and divert attention – whether it be the East Sea bill, or anything else.
‘Korean to be first Asian US president’
It wasn’t long ago that Koreans barely had a voice in American politics. Now, they’re quickly emerging as one of the most influential among Asian politicians, so much so that one notable legislator says the first U.S. president of Asian descent will be Korean.
“I think of all Asian-American ethnic groups, I would say at this stage based on our history and trajectory, the first U.S. president of Asian descent will be Korean,” Mark Keam, a third-term delegate of the Virginia state Legislature who co-sponsored Virginia’s East Sea bill, said in an interview with The Korea Times.
There are several reasons, he said, but one of the foremost is because the growing Korean population in the U.S. is creating a larger pool of solid potential politicians.
“In the ‘80s, I didn’t run across a single Korean in Washington D.C. You just didn’t see any,” said Keam, who first began his political career as a college intern on Capitol Hill. “That’s 25 to 30 years ago. Now, things are a lot different.”
A Yu turn for a long-shot Senate candidate
Eugene Yu, the Korean American businessman who joined the crowded race for U.S. Senate, said Saturday he would instead challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow.
Yu always faced long odds in the race to replace Saxby Chambliss, with three sitting congressmen and two other prominent Republicans in the mix on the GOP side. The Augusta businessman may have decided he had a better shot challenging Barrow, one of the most targeted Democrats in the House, than maintaining an expensive statewide bid.
Barrow, seen as one of the most vulnerable moderate Democrats in the nation, faces heated competition every two years. This election is no different. Yu now joins businessman Rick Allen, long-time GOP aide John Stone and state Rep. Delvis Dutton in the GOP contest to unseat Barrow, who was first elected in 2004.
Sentencing begins in convenience store food stamp fraud cases
Two Korean citizens have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a food stamp fraud scheme and may face deportation, the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore announced this week.
The cases were part of a food stamp fraud sting that implicated 10 convenience store owners in the Baltimore area in September. Authorities said the defendants, eight of whom have pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud or wire fraud so far, would illegally redeem food stamps in exchange for cash.
Hyung Cho, 40, of Catonsville, was sentenced to 38 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and his mother Dae Cho, 67, of Catonsville, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The Cho’s, who operated K&S Market, a convenience store at 3910 West Belvedere Avenue, were both ordered to forfeit more than $371,000 and pay restitution of $1.4 million. They did not have legal immigration status, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and have “agreed not to object to any proceedings that may be brought to remove them from the United States upon completion of their sentence.”
Justices refuse appeal from killer set to die
Houston Chronicle (Texas)
A convicted killer facing execution next month for a Dallas-area slaying 11 years ago has lost an appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Anthony Doyle is set to die March 27 for the 2003 beating death and robbery of 37-year-old Hyun Mi Cho. She was delivering a doughnut and burrito order to a house in Rowlett. Her body was found in a trash can behind the house. Doyle was 18 at the time and on probation for theft. He also had a juvenile record.
The high court Monday, without comment, refused to review his case.
Doyle told police he intended to rob the woman and struck her with a baseball bat when she told him she had no money. Evidence showed he took her car and used her credit cards.
Girls’ Generation Achieves All-Kill and Sweeps Charts All Over the World
Girls’ Generation has finally returned with a new single “Mr.Mr” and have been sweeping music charts not only in Korea but all around the world.
On February 24, Girls’ Generation released their fourth mini-album online. In just a mere hour upon release, “Mr.Mr” was the #1 song on seven different music charts including Melon, Mnet, Olleh Music, Bugs, Genie, Soribada and Monkey3. In a couple more hours, “Mr.Mr” rose to the top on Naver and Daum Music as well.
Overseas reactions and interests are also getting higher and higher. “Mr. Mr” was ranked #2 in Thailand, #5 in Malaysia, #14 in Hong Kong, #21 in Taiwan, #52 in the Philippines and #63 in Indonesia, making “Mr.Mr.” enter the Top 100 chart in six different countries within an hour after release.
Shortly afterwards, “Mr.Mr” was ranked #2 in Thailand, #3 in Vietnam, #4 in Singapore, #5 in Malaysia, #6 in Indonesia and Kazakhstan, #14 in Hong Kong, #21 in Taiwan, #55 in the Philippines, #97 in Sweden and #99 in Macao within two hours upon release.
South Korea Puts Anger Aside After Olympic Skating Disappointment
New York Times
Kim Yu-na was a perfect heroine for her country. Like postwar South Korea, she rose from a humble start, skating on a tatty rink as a 6-year-old, to win gold for a nation that had felt sidelined in a sport dominated by Western athletes.
So when she was dethroned in Sochi by a Russian teenager in a much-debated decision, it was not surprising that Ms. Kim’s country, which has long tied international sports achievements to self-worth, reacted with anger.
A popular novelist said he would remember these Games as the “Suchi Olympics,” using the word for “humiliation.” A petition on Change.org calling for an investigation by the International Skating Union drew more than 1.9 million signatures, most of them from South Koreans. And many online commentators said Ms. Kim had been cheated of a gold medal because her country was “small and weak.”
Yuna Kim Has Not Had Plastic Surgery, and Koreans Love Her For It
When the Olympic judges placed South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim second to Russian Adelina Sotnikova yesterday, her fans wouldn’t have it: Nearly two million have already signed a petition to have the judging re-opened. American skating enthusiasts might know Kim for her artistic style or her signature “camel spin”, but in South Korea—where she’s known as “Queen Yuna”—there’s another reason women love her: Unlike most Korean celebrities and “pop stars”, she appears not to have had plastic surgery—even though she has the kind of eyelids that would send many Korean girls running to the doctor.
“Most Korean girls want plastic surgery,” said Lee Tea Yang, a trader in Seoul. “Yuna Kim made a new era. There has never been a star like her.”
Though statistics are hard to verify, South Korea consistently ranks in the top few countries worldwide for per capita plastic surgery. One of the most popular procedures is “double eyelid surgery”, in which doctors use a combination of cutting and stitching to create a crease in Asians’ typically flat upper eyelids, giving the eyes a larger, rounder, arguably Westernized appearance.
South Korea Had the Most Last-Place Finishes in Sochi
Wall Street Journal
After a respectable 14 podium appearances in Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics, South Korea’s outlook was bright coming into the 2014 Games. The Koreans weren’t able to live up to expectations, earning only eight medals in Sochi, but they were the best in the world in one unfortunate category: finishing last.
For the third consecutive Olympics, The Wall Street Journal awarded lead, tin and zinc medals to the three worst performers to complete a given event (based on time or score of last-place finishers in every Olympic event; no disqualifications or non-finishers were counted). South Korean Olympians finished in the bottom three places in an astounding 19 different events, more often than any other participating country.
Canada came in second with 16 medals, with the U.S. (15) earning the third most not-so-precious medals. Since the U.S. and Canada have large Olympic delegations, it isn’t entirely surprising to see such large pools of Olympians finish all over the field of competition: These two countries earned 28 and 25 real Olympic medals respectively in Sochi.
Defection row overshadows South Korean Viktor Ahn’s skating victory for Russia
South China Morning Post
It was a night when Viktor Ahn should have been out celebrating becoming the most successful short track speed skater of all time but instead he was quizzed from all sides at the Sochi Olympics about why he defected to Russia.
Ahn confirmed his place among the greatest Winter Olympians when he won the 500 metres individual event then returned to the ice about 45 minutes later and helped Russia win the 5,000m relay. Ahn also won gold in the 1,000m at Sochi and now has six Olympic gold medals in total – more than any speed skater either in short track or the more traditional long course.
If the skater formerly known as Ahn Hyun-soo, who won three golds for South Korea at the 2006 Turin Olympics, thought he would clarify his position once and for all at a packed news conference starting after midnight he was clearly mistaken.
Far from Sochi, North Koreans hone skiing skills
For North Korean skiers, Sochi was a distant dream. The country didn’t send a single athlete to the Winter Olympics and has never won a downhill medal. But as the rest of the world watches this year’s Olympic pageant wrap up in Russia, North Koreans are flocking to the slopes of a lavish new ski resort all their own — and many have a gold medal in mind four years from now, when the winter games will be held in South Korea.
Of course, that’s a tall order.
Even by official estimates, only about 0.02 percent of North Korea’s 24 million people have ever strapped on ski boots. But with the blessing of leader Kim Jong Un, who has made building recreational and sporting facilities a priority, in part to boost tourism as a source of hard cash for the economically strapped nation, skiing is now almost a national duty for those who have the time, money or opportunity to hit the slopes.
South Korea Awaits 2018 Games With a Different Plan
New York Times
The sun was shining once more by the Black Sea and the jackets were off with the Olympic flame still a few hours away from being extinguished.
“You better bring your jacket to Pyeongchang,” said Kim Jin-sun, head of the organizing committee for the 2018 Games in South Korea. “Much colder than Sochi.”
As the Russians and the members of the International Olympic Committee begin recovering from the sleepless nights that surely accompanied their wild, seven-year ride to Sochi’s closing ceremony, the cosmic question is where the Winter Games go from here in a world of climate instability, declining winter sports participation numbers in the West and spiraling costs and scale for Olympic organizers?
Rangers like what they are seeing with Choo
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)
Scouting Shin-Soo Choo has become an easier task over the years. He’s established himself as an on-base machine with speed and power.
In the beginning, though, nobody knew how Choo would pan out. Just ask Jim Colborn, the Rangers’ senior adviser for Pacific Rim operations.
“The big problem with scouting him is that he’d walk about three times a game,” said Colborn, a scout for the Mariners at the time.
“They’d never give him anything good to hit and he’d take his walks. So it was tough to grade him.”
Whiz Now Open Serving Philly Cheesesteaks in Koreatown
For all those times you’re in Koreatown and have a hankering for a cheesesteak sandwich as opposed to, say, a sizzling bowl of soon tofu: Whiz opened in the neighborhood last Saturday, Feb. 15, a small shop on the corner of 6th Street and Oxford Avenue, or right around the corner from craft beer bar Beer Belly.
This location is no coincidence, as the shop is brought to you none other than Beer Belly’s owner Jimmy Han and executive chef Wes Lieberher. You could have guessed as much just by the artwork: MR44, who did the mural at Beer Belly, collaborated with artist Swanski to create a beautiful piece outside Whiz.
N. Korean diplomat says jailed American should serve out his sentence
An American Christian missionary who has been detained in North Korea for more than a year should serve out his sentence, Pyongyang’s top envoy to Britain said, in a remark suggesting that the isolated country may not free him anytime soon.
Kenneth Bae was arrested in November 2012 while leading a group of tourists. He was accused of unspecified anti-state crimes and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, though he has been hospitalized in recent months due to illness.
North Korea’s ambassador to Britain, Hyun Hak-bong, said in a video interview posted Thursday that Bae would be freed when he serves out his prison term.
Koreas can discuss date for family reunions: N. Korean diplomat
North Korea’s top envoy to Britain dangled the possibility of progress in staging reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War as he renewed Pyongyang’s demands that Seoul cancel its annual military drill with the United States.
Hyun Hak-bong said in a video interview posted Thursday that the two Koreas can discuss a date for staging the family reunions, breaking the silence the North has kept since South Korea proposed earlier this week to hold the reunions for the aging Koreans.
“As for the practical and exact date, it could be exchanged and discussed between the two sides … Now, we are working on that,” Hyun said in the interview with Sky News, a 24-hour news channel in Britain. Still, he did not elaborate.
Dennis Rodman: ‘I’m Not a Traitor’
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman offered a sort-of apology for his antics during recent trips to North Korea on Friday, in a wide-ranging CNN interview conducted in the rehab facility where he’s being treated for alcohol abuse.
“I don’t go to the camps, I don’t do anything,” Rodman said of his visits to the isolated country. “I’m not a traitor.”
The interview came after Rodman’s last interview with CNN host Chris Cuomo raised eyebrows and even outrage when Rodman angrily defended his “friend,” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and suggested an American imprisoned there may have been detained justifiably (he later apologized for the latter remark).
Rodman, speaking with Cuomo more calmly this time, expressed remorse about how his drinking has affected his family.
Va. textbook bill on alternative Sea of Japan name heads toward a partisan showdown
Two little words. They looked like an easy way to make a lot of people happy.
On the campaign trail, Terry McAuliffe (D) said that as governor, he’d make sure that new school textbooks note that the Sea of Japan is also known as the East Sea.
The promise was important to Northern Virginia’s large Korean American community, who see the Sea of Japan designation as a painful relic of Japanese occupation.
Korean ambassador meets Virginia politicians
AP via Yahoo News
A debate between Japan and South Korea over what to call the body of water that separates their countries is being played out in the Virginia Capitol.
At issue: whether textbooks approved by the state board of education should note that the Sea of Japan is also called the East Sea.
South Koreans want the change and the sizeable Korean American community in Virginia has put pressure on state lawmakers to make sure it’s a legislative priority this year. The Japanese do not want the textbook requirements changed.
Seniors’ truce good at eatery
Queens Chronicle (New York)
The truce is holding between Korean-American seniors and the McDonald’s at Northern and Parsons boulevards.
That’s the status report from Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), who last week brokered a deal so that the seniors will not monopolize space in the McDonald’s during peak business hours.
Many seniors use the eatery for social gatherings, where they spend many hours and few dollars with their elderly friends.
Police: High-end drug and prostitution ring busted on Super Bowl week
The 18 operators of a high-end escort service allegedly banking on Super Bowl week to deliver “party packs” of cocaine and prostitutes have been charged with drug and sex trafficking, New York authorities said Thursday.
The nearly year-long undercover investigation discovered that in addition to selling the “party packs,” the ring allegedly laundered the illegal proceeds through front businesses that included a clothing wholesaler, a wig wholesaler, a limousine service and a beauty supply wholesaler, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.
The ring targeted wealthy customers in New York for large events, authorities said. Last week, a text message was blasted to frequent customers noting that “new sexy & beautiful girls R in town waiting for u.” The enterprise also ran numerous advertisements on the Internet and on public access television.
The Future of L.A.’s Thai Town and Koreatown Communities Ride on a ‘Promise’
Earlier this month, President Obama announced the first five recipient areas of his Promise Zone Initiative, a formal partnership between the federal government, local communities, and businesses intended to help shrink poverty and expand the rosters of the middle class. The initiative enables those areas to receive a share of a $500 million investment in existing federal funding, addressing the areas of job growth, economic stability, education, affordable housing, and public safety.
Aside from San Antonio, Philadelphia, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, Los Angeles was named, specifically a swath of the densely-populated central part of the city, which includes the communities of Hollywood, East Hollywood, Koreatown, Westlake, and Pico-Union.
L.A.’s Promise Zone, which encompasses an irregular-shaped area stretching from Franklin Avenue to Pico Boulevard, and between Highland and Union avenues, includes a predominantly low-income, yet culturally rich section of urban L.A.; though with a majority Latino population, it also includes two of the city’s designated Asian enclaves: Thai Town and Koreatown. Both share well-patronized and well-acclaimed ethnic eateries (many of which are open well into the late night hours), spas, and dense, pedestrian-oriented, transit-accessible corridors. The zone also includes pockets of other Asian immigrant groups, namely Filipinos (in East Hollywood and the Historic Filipinotown-adjacent parts of Koreatown and Westlake) and Bangladeshis (among the already-diverse immigrant multitudes residing in Koreatown).
Seollal a time for exploring Korean traditions
The Lunar New Year holidays, or Seollal in Korean, kick off today. And while Seollal means a time for family and tradition, it also brings a wealth of activities where you can learn about and participate in Korean culture.
Those who are brave enough to fight the cold weather can venture outdoors to museums, concerts, restaurants, and even ski resorts to experience some traditional games and other rituals they don’t get to do everyday.
For Koreans who want to experience how their ancestors spent the Lunar New Year, many museums have prepared all-inclusive experiences. Some of the events even provide free traditional food and beverages.
South Koreans Flex Smartphone Muscles
First time on Seoul’s subway system? Don’t expect a lot of eye contact.
Here, almost everyone is busy playing games like Cookie Run, or sending messages on their oversized smartphones.
Those eyeballs add up. In 2013, South Korea jumped ahead of the U.S. in revenue generated from app sales on Google Inc.’sGOOG +4.13% Play mobile store, according to research and analysis firm App Annie, which tracks app purchases.
That makes South Korea, a country of 50 million people, the second-most lucrative country in the world by that metric, just behind Japan.
By app downloads, which doesn’t take into account the amount of money spent, South Korea also ranks second on Google Play, behind the U.S., whose population is six times that of Korea’s.
4,323 Korean churches in U.S: Christiantoday.us
90 more Korean churches sprang up last year to bring up the total to 4,323 Koreans churches in the United States.
According to Christiantoday.us, California has the most Korean churches with 1,358, which accounts for 31.4% of the total in the U.S. New York came in second with 446, followed by New Jersey (258); Virginia (211); Texas (210); Washington (208); Georgia (197); Illinois (190); Maryland (161); and Pennsylvania (161), in order.
The Korean population was tabulated to be 1,706,822 in the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau report – which means for every 394 Koreans, there’s a Korean church.
Dia Frampton wins hearts
New Straits Times
The cafe was filled with fans who came to see her sing.
Frampton who was first runner-up during the first season of the reality show, The Voice, impressed the crowd with a number of songs. She sang hits songs like Losing My Religion, Heartless and Inventing Shadows.
Her fans could not stop cheering when the singer, who is of Dutch and Korean parentage started to sing.
When she sang The Broken Ones the crowd started singing along and clapping.
Korean Julia Sun-Joo Lee Brings New Face to Black Literature
Diverse Issues in Higher Education
Dr. Julia Sun-Joo Lee has gotten used to the strange looks that sometimes greet her on the first day of class.
“My students may initially be surprised to see me in the classroom,” says Lee, who teaches African-American Literature at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“But I always say that African-American literature is not just limited to African-Americans. It is American literature and is so much a part of the history of this country. It shouldn’t be ghettoized.”
Next up for the South Korean National Soccer Team, who got humiliated against Mexico on Wednesday night in Texas 4-0, is the United States.
The U.S. side is supposed to be tougher and is ranked higher than both Mexico and Costa Rica. The current FIFA ranking has the U.S. at No. 14, while Mexico is No. 21, Costa Rica is No. 32, and South Korea is No. 53.
S. Korean manager Hong Myung-bo all of sudden has a lot to prove.
Here is the U.S. Soccer News release:
The U.S. Men’s National Team will open its 2014 schedule playing before of a capacity crowd of 27,000 fans when it hosts the S. Korea for an international friendly at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., on Saturday, Feb. 1. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes Radio and UniMas. Fans can also follow the match live on Twitter @ussoccer.
Choo isn’t afraid to take one for the team
Ian Kinsler set a Rangers record last season in getting hit by eight pitches. That gave him 57 for his career, the most in Rangers history, before he departed for Tigers.
Now Shin-Soo Choo has seven years to catch Kinsler. The odds seem to be on his side.
The Rangers signed Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract, and one of the reasons is they love his ability to get on base. Choo’s knack for getting in the way of a pitch has done wonders for his on-base percentage, especially last season.
Choo was hit by 26 pitches in 2013, the most in the Major Leagues. It was the 33rd time in Major League history that a batter was hit by at least 26 pitches. The record is 51 by Hughie Jennings in 1896 for the Baltimore Orioles. The modern-day record is 51, set by Ron Hunt of the Expos in 1971. The Rangers record is held by Alex Rodriguez, with 16 in 2001.
U.S. Bemoans North Korea Nuclear ‘No Show’
Wall Street Journal
North Korea didn’t earn a mention in the State of the Union speech this year but U.S. diplomatic coordination over its nuclear program continued in Seoul on Wednesday.
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Glyn Davies met with South Korea’s point man on the isolated country’s nuclear program, Cho Tae-yong, as part of a regular swing through Northeast Asia to confer with officials in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Davies said the U.S. continues to be frustrated by the North’s “no-show on nuclear issues.”
“What we need is not just change in attitude, but change in direction, in fact, concrete steps from North Korea,” Mr. Davies told reporters.
While the U.S. and South Korea are seeking action from North Korea to show its willingness to denuclearize, satellite imagery in recent months suggests the North is making good on a pledge last year to restart its plutonium-producing reactor north of Pyongyang.
NKorea Warns of Tensions Over US-SKorea War Games
AP via ABC News
North Korea’s propaganda machine is churning out near-daily denunciations of the United States and South Korea for a series of soon-to-start military maneuvers, warning nuclear war could be imminent and saying it will take dramatic action of its own if further provoked.
North Korea’s increasingly shrill opposition to the annual joint drills named Foal Eagle looks very similar to the kind of harsh language that preceded the start of the same exercises last year and led to a steep rise in tensions on the Korean Peninsula. That round of escalation culminated in threats of a nuclear strike on Washington and the flattening of Seoul before the maneuvers ended and both sides went back to their corners.
It appears the first stages of this year’s battle have already begun — though some experts say they don’t think it will be as high-pitched as last year’s.
Foreign minister slams Japan for ‘justifying past atrocities’
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se lambasted Japan Wednesday for “justifying its past wartime atrocities,” vowing to make greater efforts to counter Japan’s persistent nationalist behavior.
“After admitting to Japanese soldiers’ involvement, Japan has recently denied it and tried to justify its past atrocities,” Yun said during a visit to a shelter for South Korean victims of the sexual slavery.
Historians say up to 200,000 women, many of them Korean, were coerced into sexual servitude by the Japanese army at front-line brothels during World War II when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony.
The House of Sharing shelter on the outskirts of Seoul is currently home to seven out of dozens of still living South Korean women drafted by Japan.
Why is South Korea plugging unification?
Unification has become something of a buzzword in South Korea this month. President Park Geun-hye emphasised it in her New Year press conference, the opposition Democratic Party did likewise, and journalists, pundits and government officials have followed suit.
But with relations on the peninsula as opaque and as tense as ever, many are wondering what has prompted this latest surge in interest.
If there is one thing the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made clear when he executed his uncle, it is that he is no more willing to tolerate challenges to his authority than his father or grandfather.
South Korea’s Underground Seat Fight
New York Times
Last September, a 55-year-old man lit some scrap paper on fire and threw it into a Seoul subway car as he left the train. He had just been cursed at and kicked by senior citizens for sitting in a seat designated for “the elderly and the infirm.”
The man, whom we know only by his surname of Kim, was sentenced on Jan. 14 by a Seoul court to one year and six months in prison. One news article reporting the results of his trial garnered more than 1,000 comments in just one day, most of which were from sympathetic younger people complaining about being forced to give up their seats on the subway to senior citizens. Mr. Kim is hardly young, but his frustration resonated with the younger generations.
The Seoul subway’s designated-seating section has become a curious backdrop of intergenerational conflict in South Korea. In the 40 years or so since full-scale industrialization began, the social divide between generations has widened. Senior citizens grew up during Japanese occupation and the Korean War, and lived through the era of breakneck economic growth that followed, building a modern country from the ground up in just a few decades, most of the time under a military dictatorship. Most younger South Koreans have come of age in a time of relative affluence and freedom, and like many younger people in East Asia, have gradually become more independent-minded than their elders and less attached to the traditional Confucian values that have been the basis of Korean society for centuries.
South Korea approves $7 billion nuclear project
South Korea has approved funding for two new nuclear plants to boost its nuclear power industry struggling to emerge from the shadow of Japan’s Fukushima disaster.
The project costing $7bn was approved on Wednesday, only two weeks after Asia’s fourth-largest economy announced a policy shift to cut its reliance on nuclear power in the wake of radiation cleanup conerns in Japan.
South Korea still plans to double its nuclear capacity over the next two decades as its state-run industry builds at least 16 new domestic reactors and pushes for overseas sales.
The plants are due to be completed by the end of 2020.
Checks on Korean Flights to U.S. to Be Streamlined
Inspections on U.S.-bound flights out of Korea will be streamlined from Friday, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Tuesday. At present, passengers boarding those flights must undergo two checks, one at customs and another in front of the boarding gate.
The inspection process compels passengers to buy liquid products at airport duty free shops at least an hour before boarding in order to undergo the second check. That has caused 2.4 million U.S.-bound passengers annually to wait 30 to 40 minutes in front of the boarding gate.
The ministry said it reached the agreement with the U.S. government after assessing the level of security in Korean airports.
Christopher Chung tapped to fill vacant council seat in Palisades Park
Bergen County Record (N.J.)
The council seat left vacant by Jason Kim, the first Korean-American to serve on the governing body and who resigned earlier this month, will be filled by Christopher Chung.
Chung, 46, who has served on the Board of Education for the past several years, was sworn in on Tuesday night after council members chose him among three names submitted by the Democratic Municipal Committee.
Mayor James Rotundo said Chung, who is also Korean-American, would be an asset to the council.
“He’s young, and he’s energetic,” said Rotundo, calling him a hard worker as well.
Seollal dilemma in New York
For the past few years, certain Korean parents in New York have fought hard to get public schools to recognize ”Seollal,’’ or Lunar New Year, as an official holiday. Now that the new city mayor says he, too, wants schools off for the major Asian holiday, many Korean parents are beginning to have second thoughts.
”Another holiday? I didn’t ask for it. Maybe stay-at-home moms want their children home for Lunar New Year, but not working moms,’’ says Nancy Choi, 42, a dentist with two daughters in elementary school. ”Who’s going to watch the kids when we’re all at work?’’
Like Choi, many working parents aren’t welcoming the idea of Lunar New Year becoming an official school holiday.
”There are already enough holidays aside from all the winter snow days,’’ wrote Kim Jee-ae on Mizville.org, a popular online community for Korean women in the U.S. ”These parents behind the campaign aren’t considering people like us who have to go to work.’’
Meet Carol Kim
San Diego City Beat
Carol Kim believes she’s the first Korean-American to run for elected office in San Diego County, and, to a large extent, she owes the opportunity—along with at least some of her guiding philosophy—to her father.
Kim’s parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea in the mid-1970s, after her dad, the son of a low-income single mother from a small fishing village, graduated from college with a degree in chemical engineering and was offered a job in the Midwest. When he and his new bride arrived in Los Angeles with $350 to their names, he learned the job had fallen through. Kim’s mother, who came from a comfortable middle-class family, had been a supervising nurse in Korea, but her license didn’t translate to her new country. Suddenly, they were stuck in L.A. with no prospects.
Kim’s dad started his new life in the U.S. as a day laborer, her mom on the lowest rung at a nursing home. But, in her off time, Kim’s mother made baby pillows and blankets using remnants from a fabric store, which they’d sell at a swap meet. That eventually led to their own clothing retail store, which led to a clothing-manufacturing business and a comfortable life for Kim and her three younger siblings. Kim graduated from UCLA with an English degree, later earning a master’s in education, and went on to a career in teaching and social services.
A Piano Made Out of People: The Magik*Magik Orchestra Celebrates Five Years
In 2010, S.F. indie rocker John Vanderslice wrote the outline of a song called “Convict Lake.” He had just a few chords, some lyrics, and a vocal melody. His demo recording of the song sounds monochromatic, almost empty. Between the percussive strikes of acoustic guitar and the hesitant wisp of vocals, there are chasms of silence. It’s the skeleton of a song, far from a finished product.
Then Vanderslice gave the demo to Minna Choi.
The final version of “Convict Lake,” which appeared on Vanderslice’s 2011 album White Wilderness, bears the same dragging tempo, the same chord structure, and the same vocal melodies, but everything else about it is bigger, deeper, more colorful: There’s a slurring clarinet, flashes of piano, a winking brass section, and the effortless upward lift of orchestral strings. The song has acquired a tremendous new dimension, new melodies and counter-melodies, a richness that wasn’t even hinted at in the demo. It’s as if “Convict Lake” leaped from black-and-white to multicolored high-definition.
Documentary by Ramsay Liem to pass along survivors’ stories from a ‘forgotten war’
Boston College Chronicle
One of the ironies of referring to the Korean War as “the forgotten war,” says Professor Emeritus of Psychology Ramsay Liem, is that it technically has never ended, since no formal treaty between the antagonists has ever been signed.
But for many Koreans, the war is not forgotten, says Liem, co-producer and co-director of a recent documentary that depicts the human costs of military conflict through personal accounts by four Korean-American survivors.
“Memory of Forgotten War,” which Liem produced and directed with his sister-in-law Deann Borshay Liem, was shown at Boston College earlier this month. The program also featured a Q&A with the filmmakers and cultural music and dance presentations that included BC student performers.
FIGURE SKATING/ Asada-Kim rivalry will end in Sochi
Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
Their competitive lives have been so intertwined that perhaps it is only natural that figure-skating rivals Mao Asada of Japan and Kim Yu-na of South Korea sound synchronized in their responses to reporters.
Before the Skate America competition last October, Asada was in a Detroit restaurant, surrounded by a dozen or so reporters who wanted to know if she considered Kim a rival she desperately wanted to defeat.
After bursting out with a laugh, Asada said: “We have been competing together since we were in junior competition, so in my teens I had a strong sense that she was my rival. But now, I myself have become more of an adult so I feel that I want to express what I have done until now through my skating.”
Although the questions were direct ones that Asada does not normally get, she did not change her relaxed expression.
Russia pin hope on South Korean-born Ahn
South Korean-born Ahn Hyun-soo’s defection to the Russian team will not only stir up raw emotions at the Sochi Games but it could also allow the hosts to capture their first ever Olympic medal in short track skating.
South Korea and China have come to dominate the sport popularised by North American skaters after its debut at the Albertville Games in 1992.
But the 28-year-old, who won four Olympic medals at the 2006 Turin Games, took on Russian citizenship two years ago and became Viktor Ahn when he fell out with the South Korean federation over failing to win a spot for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
“It was difficult to train in (South) Korea,” Ahn, who has come back from injuries to be ranked among the top four in all three distances, told Reuters.
“For the 2010 Olympic Games, I missed this great competition. That’s why the Sochi Olympics have become my new big goal, which I have been pursuing for all these years.”
The absence of some of short track’s biggest names in Sochi has also shaken up the field.
New Santa Monica Butcher A Cut Above The Rest
Santa Monica Mirror (Calif.)
On a bustling curbside of Santa Monica Boulevard in Mid-City Santa Monica stands a newly opened, slightly unconventional butcher shop.
After opening its doors to the public in mid-December, A Cut Above has drawn attention for its quality meats as well as a wide range of options for its customers.
Owned by Andrew Yoon and Eddy Shin, former college roommates, along with Yoon’s wife, Cindy, the butcher shop carries an energetic vibe and trendy decor.
The owners are accompanied by a staff of young chefs, workers, and servers, who add on to the modern atmosphere. The shop also doubles as a deli, with some seating available for those who decide to purchase one-time meals instead of cuts to take home.
Meet Susie Woo
CSUF News (Cal State Fullerton)
When Susie Woo completed her doctorate in American studies at Yale in 2009, her dissertation on Korean War adoptions and military brides earned distinction.
Today, she is completing a revised manuscript on her doctoral research and weaving what she’s learned into the courses she is teaching at Cal State Fullerton.
“Between 1950 and 1965, nearly 15,000 Korean adoptees and military brides entered the United States as the children and wives of predominantly white, middle-class families,” Woo said, adding that her research “traces the roots and routes of this forgotten immigrant group.”
It argues that U.S. servicemen, missionaries and social workers in postwar South Korea “tethered Americans at home to Koreans in sentimental, material and, eventually, familial ways that unraveled the U.S. government’s ability to contain its political objectives ‘over there,’ ” she said. “Private U.S. citizen involvement intimately changed the lives of Korean civilians, transformed South Korea’s welfare system, and challenged U.S. conceptions of race, kinship and nation during the Cold War/civil rights era.”
Chef Roy Choi embodies state’s most essential skill — fusion: Joe Mathews
Los Angeles Daily News
Californians have fallen in love with the recipes of L.A. chef Roy Choi, the man best known for creating the Korean barbecue taco.
But does California have a recipe to cook up more Roy Chois?
It’s an urgent question. Choi probably comes closer than any living Californian to embodying the skills needed by our state today.
Like Steve Jobs, who combined existing technologies into something new and irresistible (and that you could hold in your hand), Choi has stitched together unlikely ingredients to create the iPhone of food: the Kogi taco. Such skill is sometimes called invention, but the more accurate name for it is fusion. And California runs on it.
South Korea Proposes Dates for Family Reunions With North
New York Times
South Korea proposed to North Korea on Monday that the two sides hold a new round of family reunions between Feb. 17 and Feb. 22 to allow elderly relatives separated by the Korean War to meet for the first time in six decades.
The South offered to send South Korean Red Cross officials to the border on Wednesday to sort out details with their North Korean counterparts. Both Koreas have suggested that the reunions can be held at the Diamond Mountain tourist resort in southeast North Korea.
“We hope that family reunions will take place smoothly and create a new opportunity for South-North relations,” Kim Eui-do, a spokesman for the South Korean government, said on Monday.
In North Korea, meth is offered as casually as a cup of tea
Los Angeles Times
After the North Korean coal mine where she worked stopped paying salaries, Park Kyung Ok tried her hand at business.
Buttons and zippers, candy and dried squid, fabric, plastic tarpaulins, men’s suits and cigarettes.
“I sold just about everything,” said Park, 44.
But it wasn’t until she started hawking methamphetamine in 2007, she said, that she was able to earn a living.
Methamphetamine, known as orum, or “ice,” is a rare commodity manufactured and sold in North Korea, where most factories sit idle, the equipment rusted or looted. The North Korean government once produced the drug, and others that are illicit in the West. Resourceful entrepreneurs have since set up their own small facilities, and evidence suggests that they are distributing the drug beyond the nation’s borders.
UN not taken seriously by North Korea, says defector Shin Dong-hyuk
South China Morning Post
North Korean defector Shin Dong-hyuk will be in Geneva on March 17, when the United Nations commission set up to look into the human-rights situation in North Korea announces its findings, but he has little faith that anything the UN says will have any impact in Pyongyang.
“Unfortunately, the UN cannot do very much,” Shin, the only person born in a North Korean labour camp to escape to the West, said yesterday in Tokyo.
“The horrible state that is North Korea does not take the UN seriously and history shows us that the organisation has not been able to do one thing to halt the problem in North Korea,” he said.
Japan gov’t distances itself from NHK head’s ‘comfort women’ remark
Tokyo on Monday distanced itself from comments by the new head of national broadcaster NHK, who said the Imperial Army’s system of wartime sex slavery was not unique to Japan.
Mr Katsuto Momii said on Saturday that the practice of forcibly drafting women into military brothels during World War II was “common in any country at war”.
“Can we say there were none in Germany or France? It was everywhere in Europe,” he told an inaugural press conference, according to local media reports.
Bilingual classes gives older immigrants better shot at citizenship
Southern California Public Radio
In the civics class she teaches in a Koreatown library, Theresa Jung speaks in Korean before switching seamlessly to English.
“What is this “D” word?” Jung said, gesturing to a page in the textbook. “Democracy!”
The students – mostly in their 50s and 60s – murmured the word. Jung could tell it was hard for some students to say, and tried to loosen them up.
“Say it one more time, Korean-version,” Jung said.
“Demo-crush!” several students said in unison, laughing.
Jung’s class is part of a newly-launched program to teach English and civics to immigrants in Los Angeles County with limited English skills.
We weren’t violent so it wasn’t rape, insist abusers of girl
Gympie Times (Australia)
A PAIR of 16-year-old boys took turns having sex with an underage girl who was “almost comatose” from alcohol – but still believe they didn’t rape her because they were not ‘violent’.
In a case with similarities to the “Roast Busters” scandal, the 15-year-old victim was heavily intoxicated and the two teenagers plotted to have sex with her.
After she was abused by each boy separately and left naked in a bedroom, she was further humiliated by a group who came in with their cellphones lit up and touched her.
BIGBANG to release new album this summer
Popular K-pop boy band BIGBANG will release a new album this summer.
Yang Hyun-suk, president of YG Entertainment which manages BIGBANG, told reporters on Sunday the five-member band will take the stage in support of a new full-length album “somewhere around July or August.”
During the band’s Seoul concert on Sunday, its leader G-Dragon said, “I feel like we have new family whenever we travel to a new country, so we’re very happy.”
Shin-Soo Choo gets on base any way he can
Part of Shin-Soo Choo’s impressive ability to get on base is that he isn’t afraid to get hit by a pitch.
Choo posted a .423 on-base percentage, the fourth-best in the majors. He also was hit by a pitch 26 times, the most by any big leaguer in 2013.
“Hit by pitch is part of baseball,” Choo said Friday night. “I can’t do anything. If I get scared about hit by pitch, I might change approach and I can’t do anything. Pitchers can throw inside. I can hit it or I get hit.”
Kim lifts Korea to 1-0 win over Costa Rica
The Korean national football team began the year of the Brazil World Cup with a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Sunday (KST).
Without key European based players such as Son Heung-min and Lee Chung-yong, who will surely be included in the World Cup squad barring injury, lone striker Kim Shin-wook scored the game’s only goal to prove his worth ahead of the global event only six months away.
“Players exceeded my expectation,” team manager Hong Myung-bo said. “Today’s match was important in terms of not only the result but also the performance. I’m glad that we won. Players tried hard and they did it.”
Study time almost over for Olympic team
With the Sochi Winter Olympics just 10 days away, preparation time is almost over for Korean athletes who will arrive at the Black Sea resort town burdened by expectations for a historic medal haul.
A record 66 Korean athletes have qualified for the upcoming Olympics, 18 more than the 48 the country sent to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Games. They have been facing mounting pressure for an impressive performance in Sochi, where the country aims at winning at least four gold medals and add to the build-up for the 2018 Games to be held at the Korean ski town of PyeongChang, Gangwon Province.
Twenty-eight Koreans will compete in the speed and figure skating events, 16 in sledding events and 15 in skiing events. Five Korean women will compete in curling and the country will also send two biathlon athletes. Ice hockey will be the only sport in Sochi where Koreans will not be participating.
In South Korea, Spam Is the Stuff Gifts Are Made Of
New York Times
As the Lunar New Year holiday approaches, Seoul’s increasingly well-heeled residents are scouring store shelves for tastefully wrapped boxes of culinary specialties. Among their favorite choices: imported wines, choice cuts of beef, rare herbal teas. And Spam.
Yes, Spam. In the United States, the gelatinous meat product in the familiar blue and yellow cans has held a place as thrifty pantry staple, culinary joke and kitschy fare for hipsters without ever losing its low-rent reputation. But in economically vibrant South Korea, the pink bricks of pork shoulder and ham have taken on a bit of glamour as they have worked their way into people’s affections.
“Here, Spam is a classy gift you can give to people you care about during the holiday,” said Im So-ra, a saleswoman at the high-end Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul who proudly displayed stylish boxes with cans of Spam nestled inside.
New Year party offers link to Korean culture
Des Moines Register (Iowa)
The celebration of the Korean New Year on Saturday in Des Moines was a big opportunity for Michelle Cortlandt and her family.
Cortlandt’s two children were both adopted from Korea. Since adopting the children, she said, her family has become a “Korean-American family” that emphasizes connections to the children’s heritage.
The observance of the beginning of the year of the horse was marked with food and festivities and a large crowd at Westminster Presbyterian Church