Tuesday’s Link Attack: North Korea Steps Up Rhetoric; Elderly Suicide; Shin Soo Choo
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: February 19th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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S. Korean President Issues Warning to North
Voice of America

In a farewell speech to the nation six days before leaving office, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday warned Pyongyang its missiles and weapons are taking the North “closer and closer to a dead-end.”

Lee alerted his compatriots to hastily prepare for reunification of the Korean peninsula. The president asserted that “even though the North Korean regime is refusing to change, its citizens are quickly changing and nobody can block that.

However, there is no outside evidence of any citizen protests in isolated North Korea which human rights advocates describe as one of the world’s most repressive states.

North Korea threatens South with “final destruction”

North Korea threatened South Korea with “final destruction” during a debate at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday, saying it could take further steps after a nuclear test last week.

“As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea’s erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction,” North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong told the meeting.

Jon’s comments drew quick criticism from other nations, including South Korea, France, Germany and Britain, whose ambassador Joanne Adamson said such language was “completely inappropriate” and the discussion with North Korea was heading in the wrong direction.

Some Chinese Are Souring on Being North Korea’s Best Friend
New York Times

Beds shook and teacups clattered in this town bordering North Korea, less than 100 miles from the site where the North said it detonated a nuclear test that exploded midmorning in the midst of Chinese New Year festivities.

“I’m worried about radiation,” said a 26-year-old woman as she served customers in a bookstore here. “My family lives in the mountains close to the border. They felt the bed shake on the day of the test. I have no idea whether it is safe or not, though the government says it is.”

At home and abroad, China has long been regarded as North Korea’s best friend, but at home that sense of fraternity appears to be souring as ordinary people express anxiety about possible fallout from the test last Tuesday. The fact that North Korea detonated the device on a special Chinese holiday did not sit well, either.

North Korea uses cash couriers, false names to outwit sanctions

Kim Kwang-jin says that when he worked for North Korea’s state insurance company in Singapore in 2003, he stuffed $20 million into two suitcases one day and sent it to Pyongyang as a special gift for then leader Kim Jong-il.

He received a medal for that, Kim Kwang-jin said.

North Korea, sanctioned by the United States since the 1950s and later by the United Nations after its nuclear tests, has been shuffling money for decades from illicit drugs, arms and financial scams and is now more expert at hiding it to fund its weapons programs and its leaders’ opulent lifestyles.

As Families Change, Korea’s Elderly Are Turning to Suicide
New York Times

Even with the explosive growth of suicides in South Korea, the case of the 78-year-old widow was shocking enough to merit attention in the recent presidential election and hand-wringing in the news media.

Rather than quietly taking her life at home as many South Koreans do, the woman staged her death as a final act of public protest against a society she said had abandoned her. She drank pesticide overnight in front of her city hall after officials stopped her welfare checks, saying they were no longer obligated to support her now that her son-in-law had found work.

“How can you do this to me?” read the suicide note that the police said they had found in a purse next to her body. “A law should serve the people, but it didn’t protect me.”

Korean Pastor Tackles Prejudice At Home

Korean-American pastor Peter Chin leads an African American church, and lives in a predominately black neighborhood. It hasn’t always been easy, but in this holiday rebroadcast, Chin tells host Michel Martin how he’s worked through diversity issues with his family, his congregation and himself.

Martial arts skill trumps gun in Newton road rage conflict
Boston Globe

A road-rage rumble that erupted along a quiet Newton street Thursday afternoon pitted one driver carrying a sawed-off handgun against another armed with his championship martial-arts skills.

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ­expert prevailed.

He put the other driver in a chokehold, landed a couple of strikes to his head, and wrestled the gun away, all before the police arrived, according to court documents.

Reds look at Choo in CF to start spring training
AP via Yahoo Sports

Shin-Soo Choo has made 10 starts in center field over eight seasons in the majors. He’ll get a chance to win the job during his first spring training with the Cincinnati Reds.

If that doesn’t work out, the defending NL Central champions will have to do some rearranging.

The Reds traded incumbent center fielder Drew Stubbs to Cleveland for Choo in the offseason, looking for a stronger bat at the top of the lineup. They haven’t had a consistent leadoff hitter for years.

Shin-Soo Choo draws crowd at Reds’ spring training

Shin-Soo Choo drew quite a crowd on the first day of camp.

Twenty-five members of the South Korean media, representing 12 organizations, were at the Reds’ spring training complex to cover him.

They followed his every move — from the batting cages for early work to outfield practice to batting practice on the field. Most of the contingent will spend five days in Goodyear. During the season, however, only one reporter follows Choo.

Conger aims to secure role as backup catcher

Hank Conger probably thought it would happen sooner.

But now, as he enters yet another Spring Training, he’s suddenly 25, heading into his last option year, coming off three straight seasons of being deemed primarily a Triple-A catcher and hoping to finally stick full-time in the Majors as a backup to Chris Iannetta.

“Everyone I’ve talked to, the biggest hurdle is Triple-A to the big leagues,” Conger said. “That’s definitely one thing I always remember. For me, [the last three years were] a big learning curve. But right now, I feel like I’m ready to try to overcome that next step.”

United and Chelsea set for summer bidding war over South Korean starlet Son
Daily Mail (U.K.)

South Korean star Son Heung-Min is set to become the subject of a bidding war between Manchester United and Chelsea this summer.

The 20-year-old has become one of the rising stars of the Bundesliga this season, following a succession of outstanding performances for Hamburg.

And Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafa Benitez are both interested in bringing the £10m-rated attacker to the Premier League, according to the Sunday People.

FIFA Dashes Korean Teen’s Dreams of Playing for Barca Youth Team
Chosun Ilbo

Teenager Lee Seung-woo has been banned from playing for Barcelona’s youth team after FIFA deemed him underage.

The world governing body of football said on Monday that the 15-year-old violated the rule stating that players have to be at least 18 years old to be eligible for international transfers.

Linkin Park Design New Boots with Sebago
Rolling Stone

Linkin Park have teamed up with the shoe company Sebago for a smartly designed new boot, dubbed the Jungle X, which is on sale now.

Made of a mix of leather, canvas and a Vibram rubber outsole, the black boot was designed by the band and retails for $250. Ten percent of the proceeds will benefit Hurricane Sandy victims via Linkin Park’s charity, Music for Relief.

Samsung Reboots Smart TV
Wall Street Journal

Did the smart TV just get smarter? Samsung Electronics hopes so.

The world’s top manufacturer of television sets on Tuesday unveiled an upgrade to its “Smart TV” series, after recent models got less than stellar reviews.

The new F8000 series TVs have screens measuring 46, 55, 60, 65 and even 75 inches diagonally, and Samsung said their “Smart Interaction” functions have been improved to better interpret viewers’ verbal commands or hand gestures. Previous models could only read one-handed command gestures.

Friday’s Link Attack: North Korea; Michelle Rhee’s Memoir; Exploring the Origins of Budaejjigae
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: February 1st, 2013
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North Korea Covers Tunnel at Nuclear Test Site
New York Times

North Korea has put a cover over the entrance of a tunnel at its main underground nuclear test site to foil American intelligence efforts to determine whether a detonation there is imminent, a South Korean military official and media reported on Friday.

The news comes a day after a South Korean general said “brisk” activity had been spotted at the site. North Korea has said it would conduct a third nuclear test to retaliate against the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous decision last month to respond to a rocket test by tightening sanctions on the country. The North’s media cited the country’s top leader, Kim Jong-un, as ordering his military and government last week to take “high-profile” measures, suggesting that the test might happen soon despite international warnings against it.

China and North Korea: China continues to fret over its troublesome neighbour
The Economist

LIKE an indulgent parent forgiving of the most petulant of childish tantrums, China usually cuts North Korea a lot of slack. So when China on January 22nd signed on to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2087, tightening sanctions on North Korea to punish it for a rocket launch in December, its ally was surprised and outraged. Without naming China, a North Korean statement accused it of “abandoning without hesitation even elementary principles”. By the same token, the outside world saw an encouraging sign: perhaps China will at last take serious steps to rein in its pugnacious neighbour’s efforts to build a nuclear arsenal.

Time for a reboot with North Korea [OP-ED]
Washington Post

Bill Richardson, a former governor of New Mexico, was energy secretary and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration. Mickey Bergman is senior adviser to the Richardson Center for Global Engagement and executive director of the Aspen Institute Global Alliances Program.

At night at the Kobangsan Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea, there is not much to do before falling asleep. There is no network for cellphones or Internet for laptops to connect to. North Korean television broadcasts a limited number of hours a day. It airs a loop of propaganda clips and a replay of a speech by Kim Jong Eun, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung. The young leader is shown saying now that security has been guaranteed by a successful satellite launch and a nuclear test — a combination that, in his eyes, sets sufficient deterrence from foreign hostilities and invasion, a fear deeply ingrained in North Koreans’ consciousness — the nation’s attention can turn to economic growth.

Our delegation heard a similar message from government officials. But while there is great skepticism about what is said in private diplomatic meetings, there is less doubt when the leader speaks to his public directly, carrying a similar message, three times a day every day. The leader is preparing his people for what is coming next.

Pardon me: A departing president proves extravagantly forgiving
The Economist

A MONTH before leaving office, South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, has sparked a political row by pardoning several political allies who had been convicted of bribery and corruption. The move has caused a rift between Mr Lee and the president-elect, Park Geun-hye, and has caused widespread public anger. In the past South Koreans tolerated a certain level of corruption, but slower growth and a perception of rising inequality have changed attitudes towards the culture of political impunity.

Among those pardoned by Mr Lee is Choi See-joong, a former cabinet member and political mentor of the president. Mr Choi was convicted last year of receiving bribes from a property developer and has served less than half his two-and-a-half year prison sentence.

Michelle Rhee uses StudentsFirst to sell memoir
Washington Post

Is this putting students first? Michelle Rhee’s new memoir is set to go on sale Tuesday and she is already trying to hawk it, using the website of her school reform organization, StudentsFirst, to attract buyers. The site has a free excerpt, which I found out about when I received the letter below from Rhee.

For my review of the book, click here, and for a review by Bill Turque, my colleague who covered her tenure as D.C. schools chancellor, click here.

G’Day Oppa! Psy’s Double Down Under
Wall Street Journal

When Sydney resident Derrick Dong-gun Kim walks down the street in sunglasses, he attracts double-takes due to his likeness to one Park Jae-sang, better-known as Psy.

That likeness has been pretty good for business.

Mr. Kim now performs at events for around four hours a week under the persona of “SYP,” mimicking the K-Pop star’s “Gangnam Style” success and was flown business class to Phoenix, Arizona to perform at website registration company GoDaddy Group Inc.’s year-end party.

Margaret Cho’s Mom Inspires Her Latest Comedy
Hartford Courant (Conn.)

Comedian Margaret Cho says that growing up under the tutelage of a traditional Korean mother had its pros and cons.

“My mother did not prepare me for the world,” she says, during a recent phone interview. “First, I was named the poetic Korean name, Moran, which was perfect for the kids at school to call me ‘moron’ and set me up for a good quarter- century of therapy. However, I can clean a fish with my bare hands.”

The Korean stew that “M*A*S*H” made
Washington Post

After the Korean War, the unassuming town of Uijeongbu in the suburbs of Seoul was left with two looming legacies: the hit TV series “M*A*S*H” and a quirky yet beloved Korean dish called budaejjigae, or “army base stew.”

“M*A*S*H,” of course, went on to become one of the most successful TV shows in America. Based loosely on the experiences of a real military medical team stationed in Uijeongbu, the show seared the Korean War into the pop-culture consciousness of a generation of Americans.

It might be said that budaejjigae has played a similar symbolic role in Korea. Combining such disparate ingredients as ramen, Spam, kimchi and sometimes even American cheese, this one-pot meal serves as a culinary vestige of the tough years following the Korean War, when locals would make do with leftover rations from U.S. army bases. What resulted, though, is a comforting pot of spicy, savory, pungent stew whose popularity has only grown over the years.

Cha set to remain in South Korea

Fortuna Dusseldorf’s Du-Ri Cha could be set for a permanent stay in South Korea, after the defender fled to his homeland for personal reasons.

The South Korea international has found life tough at Dusseldorf ever since arriving on a free transfer from Celtic last summer, starting just once for the Bundesliga side.

Before making his debut for the club, Cha, 32, spent three weeks in South Korea, reportedly to sort out personal problems. During the winter break the player left for the nation of his birth once again – where he still remains – with Dusseldorf granting him special leave until January 31.

Louis Vuitton Auctions Kim Yu-na Skate Trunk for Charity
Chosun Ilbo

A replica of figure skater Kim Yu-na’s Louis Vuitton skate case was sold for W34 million (~$31,000) at a charity auction in Seoul on Wednesday, the company said Thursday. The proceeds will be donated to UNICEF.

Young Korean Fashion Designer Makes Waves
Chosun Ilbo

Designer Jung Mi-sun is relatively a new face in the fashion industry with only five years in the business. She did not particularly want to become a fashion designer, and made her own brand Nohke J in 2009 just for fun while preparing to study abroad.

“I didn’t initially want to restrict myself to making clothes,” she says. “I made the brand while I was making a portfolio to send to schools abroad. I wanted to try various areas of lifestyle design from furniture to lighting as well as fashion.”

Bullet To The Head Interview with Sung Kang
channelAPA via YouTube

Tuesday’s Link Attack: Google Maps NKorea; Artist David Choe; Jamie Chung
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 29th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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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
Washington Post

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
Yonhap News

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
Open City

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
Daily Beast

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
Yonhap News

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

South Korean President Visits Island Shelled by North Korea
Author: Steve Han
Posted: October 19th, 2012
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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited the island of Yeonpyeong on Thursday and vowed to protect the country’s maritime border from North Korea.

Yeonpyeong, located just south of the disputed Yellow Sea border of the two Koreas, was shelled by North Korea in November 2010. The shelling killed two marines and two civilians. The island is near the Northern Limit Line, the eastern border between the two Koreas which the North doesn’t recognize. North Korea claims it was only responding to South Korea holding a military drill nearby.

“Our troops must safeguard the NLL with their lives until unification,” President Lee said during a lunch meeting with marines and fishermen on the island. “Safeguarding the line well contributes to maintaining peace.” Continue Reading »

South Korean President Says Reunification With North Korea ‘Inevitable’
Author: Steve Han
Posted: September 12th, 2012
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Photo via AFP

Nine months after Kim Jong-un replaced his deceased father Kim Jong-il as the leader of North Korea, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said that reunification with North Korea is just a matter of time.

“It is inevitable that [North and South] Korea will come to peaceful reunification at some point,” Lee told reporters in Oslo during his visit to Norway, according to AFP.

Continue Reading »

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