Tag Archives: Los Angeles

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Hyun-Jin Ryu Doesn’t Want The Giants to Win The World Series

by STEVE HAN

After spending two years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hyun-Jin Ryu seems to have grown enough animosity towards his team’s division rival San Francisco Giants, ahead of this year’s World Series.

Ryu returned to South Korea recently after the Dodgers’ early exit from the postseason. At a press conference in Seoul, he told reporters that he wants the Royals to win the World Series, only because he doesn’t want to see the Giants take home their third title in the last five years. The last time the Dodgers won the World Series was in 1988.

“I want the Royals to win,” Ryu said. “It would be better than the Giants winning it.”

Ryu holds a 4-4 career record versus the Giants in particular. While he has experienced mixed success against the rivals in the last two seasons, Ryu has admitted in the past that Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is the toughest player to face in the major leagues.

The 27-year-old finished the regular season with a 14-7 record and a 3.38 ERA. Despite missing the last three weeks of the regular season with a shoulder injury, Ryu made a return in Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The left-hander held the Cardinals to just one run on five hits in six strong innings on his return, but the Dodgers still lost 3-1. The Dodgers were eventually eliminated after four games.

“I was injured on three separate occasions this year,” said Ryu, who pitched 152 innings this season. “I couldn’t pitch many innings this season because of injuries. I want to pitch over 200 innings next year. I’ll need to stay healthy to achieve that goal.”

Photo courtesy of Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News.

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Seoul Mayor Takes Cues From Los Angeles’ Emergency Preparedness

by REERA YOO

This past weekend, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon visited Los Angeles to tap the city’s expertise on emergency preparedness, reported The Los Angeles Times.

Park, a potential presidential candidate who began his second term as mayor of Seoul in July, visited Los Angeles’ emergency operations center, the Los Angeles Fire Department, Dodger Stadium and the site of Korean Air’s future downtown skyscraper to learn more about the city’s disaster plans.

Recalling the Sewol ferry disaster, which killed more than 300 passengers in April, Park stated that he was looking to Los Angeles’ expertise on handling crises to ensure Seoul is better prepared to respond to emergencies.

“Many mistakes and systematic problems were involved in that accident,” Park told the L.A. Times. “As manager of this big metropolitan city, I’m really in charge. I feel a strong sense of responsibility.”

He added that Los Angeles would serve as a valuable guide for Seoul due to its predisposition to natural disasters such as earthquakes and fires.

In addition to surveying disaster plans, Park also spoke with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti about increasing trade and tourism between the two cities. The two mayors will discuss more initiatives when Garcetti visits Seoul in November.

According to The Korea Herald, Park also met with Hollywood producers and directors during his trip to promote Seoul as a film site for future movies, particularly for the third installment of Star Trek, which is slated to be released in 2016.

Photo courtesy of Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times

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Korean Business Charged With Money Laundering in L.A. Fashion District Raid

by JAMES S. KIM

Kidnapping, ransom and money laundering. It sounds like something out of a movie or television show, but in reality, it was one of the eye-opening stories coming out of Los Angeles’s Fashion District last Wednesday as nearly 1,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security agents and local law enforcement raided several businesses, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Aptly-titled “Operation Fashion Police,” the raid targeted businesses that were allegedly aiding cartels in getting money from drug sales into Mexico.

Q.T. Fashion owner Andrew Jong Hack Park, 56, of La Canada-Flintridge, business manager Sang Jun Park, 36, of La Crescenta were among those arrested on Wednesday on charges related to money laundering and smuggling goods.

While it was a perfectly functioning wholesaler of mostly maternity clothing, Q.T. Fashion also had dealings with the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico. The cartel was holding a drug distributor hostage, and his family approached Q.T. Fashion to be the broker and send $140,000 in ransom money. Through a series of financial moves, the money made its way into Mexico, and the indictment said that the victim was released the day Q.T. Fashion received the money.

It’s one of the more extreme examples of drug cartels utilizing businesses throughout L.A. to convert their earnings into pesos through “trade-based money laundering.”

“We have targeted money laundering activities in the Fashion District based on a wealth of information that numerous businesses there are engaged in Black Market Peso Exchange schemes,” said Robert E. Dugdale, the Assistant U.S. Attorney who oversees the Criminal Division in the Central District of California. “Los Angeles has become the epicenter of narco-dollar money laundering with couriers regularly bringing duffel bags and suitcases full of cash to many businesses.”

Those earnings were on full display last Wednesday: agents seized over $100 million (about two-thirds in bulk cash) from 75 different raids, most of them concentrated in the fashion district, and arrested nine people. Three L.A.-area homes were also seized on Friday, as they are suspected of being purchased with illicit money.

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Photo via U.S. Attorney’s Office

Cartels have been unable to send shipments of cash back home since Mexico set limits on U.S. currency deposits at banks in 2010. Since then, cartels have increasingly arranged for drug dealers in L.A. to pay local businesses for merchandise that would be sent to a business in Mexico. That business would then sell the merchandise and pay a peso broker, who, after taking a cut, delivers the rest to the cartel.

Only four businesses were listed in the indictment: Q.T. Fashion, Yili Underwear, Gayima Underwear and Pacific Eurotex Corp. Authorities warned, however, that this was just the beginning.

“This is only the first round of cases,” said Thom Mrozek, the Public Affairs Officer for the Los Angeles District Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “W believe there will be more, many more.”

The owners of Gayima Underwear and Yili Underwear, Xilin Chen, 55, and his son Chuang Feng Chen, 24, were arrested and charged with nine felony counts related to money laundering and structuring, as well as lying on naturalization forms. Xilin’s daughter, Alixia Chen, remains at large in China.

Four owners of Pacific Eurotex Corp. were arrested and charged with 10 felony counts. They were accused of hiding $2.6 million in drug money over two years by dividing it into 363 separate deposits, the L.A. Times reports.

A Maria Ferre employee was arrested on suspicion of distributing money and changing clothing tags to read “Made in America” to avoid Mexican tariffs. Three other Maria Ferre defendants are at large in Mexico.

Taiwanese law enforcement also froze a bank account containing nearly $16 million that is allegedly tied to a similar money laundering scheme by Mexican cartels.

As of Wednesday, seven of those arrested had pled not guilty. Two others are set to be arraigned at a later time.

Image via Los Angeles Times

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SEC Charges L.A. Immigration Attorney With Investment Fraud

by REERA YOO

Justin Moongyu Lee, 57, a Los Angeles immigration lawyer, was charged Wednesday with running a fraudulent scheme to recruit Chinese and Korean immigration investors for an ethonal project that was never built.

Lee was indicted by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana on nine counts of wire fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

Justin Moongy Lee (Photo Credit: Korea Times)Justin Moongy Lee (Photo Credit: Korea Times)

According to federal prosecutors, Lee took roughly $47 million from 94 foreigners who each invested $500,000 plus fees in hopes of obtaining green cards under an immigrant investor program that allows foreigners to seek green cards if they invest in projects that create jobs.

Lee misused the investment money by transferring funds to foreign accounts he controlled and filed false paperwork with immigration authorities, said prosecutors. He was also accused of investing in a Philippines mining project with the funds he exploited.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil complaint against Lee’s wifeRebecca Taewon Leeand Thomas Edward Kent for being involved in the same alleged scheme.

“These immigration lawyers exploited a desire by foreign investors to participate in a program that would not only generate them a positive investment return, but also provide them a path to legal residence in the United States,” Michele Wien Layne, regional director of the SEC’s Los Angeles office, said in a statement. “Long after all construction had ceased, they continued to falsely tell investors that they were building the plant.”

The State Bar of California took disciplinary action against Lee, who is no longer allowed to practice law. Each of the nine wire fraud charges in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

George Newhouse, an attorney for Lee’s wife, said his client who managed Lee’s law office was not involved in any kind of fraud. Meanwhile, a message seeking comment was left for Kent’s lawyer, Jacob Shahbaz.

Lee is currently in custody in Korea, where he faces similar charges filed by Korean authorities.

Photo via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Roy Choi to Launch Healthy, Affordable Fast Food Chain

by JAMES S. KIM

Is there anything this man isn’t doing?

In his latest culinary venture, chef Roy Choi is partnering up with San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson to launch a new chain of fast food restaurants called Loco’l. The chefs made the announcement on Monday at MAD4, the fourth annual Copenhagen conference for chefs, cooks and farmers.

“We want to go toe to toe with fast food chains and offer the community a choice,” Choi told Inside Scoop SF.

“Price point, culture, design, hospitality, relevance and most of all flavor. We will be using all our sciences and knowledge and sixth sense as restaurateurs/chefs to create a concept people love and a menu they crave, but keep it all in the pocket, keep it all affordable and delicious, and speak to what the people want.”

All items on the menu will range from $2-$6 in order to compete with places like McDonald’s and Burger King. The recipes will be prepared by Patterson, who owns the Coi in San Francisco and has appeared on PBS’s Mind of a Chef. According to LA Eater, dishes will include burgers made with a beef and tofu mixture, salads, rice bowls, and “cross-cultural” items like falafel and tacos–the latter of which Choi knows a thing or two about.

For the lucky NorCal folk, Choi and Patterson plan to open the first Loco’l branch in San Francisco in spring 2015, and Los Angeles will get its own a few months later.

“High-level chefs have an opportunity to do much more than just cook for the few people who can afford it,” Patterson said in a blog post on the MAD website. “We can create real change, in this case, by building a better business. As much as thoughtful articles and speeches and books are important in shifting how we think, they are not going to solve the food problems we have in our country.

“If we can open profitable restaurants that are inexpensive and serve delicious food made with real ingredients; if we bring new options to places that currently lack quality food; if we cook with heart; if we create an environment of warmth, generosity and caring; if we value the people with less money just as much as the ones with plenty, we can make a difference.”

At last year’s MAD conference, Choi emphasized social responsibility among chefs to bring delicious, healthy food to people in need. And as busy as he’s been, especially with the recently opened Commissary restaurant at the Line Hotel in Koreatown, where he also has Pot, Pot Cafe and Pot Bar, the chef appears to be doing his part to carry out that vision.

Last year, Choi opened the 3 Worlds Cafe in South Central Los Angeles, which is often referred to as a food desert because of the lack of healthy food options available in the area. With its fresh juices, smoothies and coffee the goal was to bring healthy, delicious options to a place where chefs and restaurants normally kept away from, as well as provide a place for local youth to frequent.

Choi said Loco’l was the beginning of a “ripple movement,” and like the inspiration for its name, it’s going to be crazy.

“Loco–we are crazy to do this and you’re crazy to believe it,” he said. “Local–it’s about the community and everyone, not just the ones that can afford it. Loco’l.”

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LA Festival Presents K-pop Singing & Dancing Battle

Have you dreamed of taking the stage like your favorite K-pop singers? The Korea Daily (Joongang Ilbo) and the LA Korean Festival Foundation (LAKFF) may have just what you’re looking for to make your daydreams a bit more concrete.

The 4th K-pop Singing & Dancing Battle is back, and it kicks off with a preliminary round on Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Finalists will then compete at the 41st Korean Cultural Festival on Friday, Sept. 19, at the Seoul International Park in Koreatown.

The first-place winner will receive $500 and a smartphone. Two second-place winners will receive $200 each, and popularity prizes in the form of $100 will be awarded to another two teams.

For contest rules and to register, visit this link. You can register until 5 p.m. on Aug. 29 for free. For more information, you can visit www.lakoreanfestival.org, email ukdec2013@gmail.com or call (213) 368-2675/2543. You can also check out the event’s Facebook page.

Preliminary Round
Saturday, Sept. 6
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Korean Cultural Center
5505 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Final Round
Friday, September 19
Seoul International Park in LA Koreatown (Friday night of the Korean Cultural Festival)

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KCON 2014: Presenting Quirky Korean Rocker Jung Joon Young

by TONY KIM

“I like ‘Gangnam Style,’ but how come, in Gangnam, none of the clubs play it?”

Jung Joon Young posed this seemingly earnest question to none other than Psy himself, who was acting as a judge on Mnet’s music talent show Superstar K4. Psy had just asked for the rock musician’s final words before announcing whether Jung made it to the top 12.

After joking around about going clubbing together, Psy declared that Jung had indeed advanced. Instead of rejoicing like most contestants would, however, Jung let out a sigh. Knowing that the show essentially had a lockdown policy for contestants, who aren’t allowed to go out drinking or partying, Jung told Psy, “We can’t go clubbing then.”

That line had Psy in stitches.


This is the clip of Psy announcing Jung Joon Young’s was advancing to the Top 12. Jung would place third in the music reality show.

Two years after being introduced to Korean television audiences, Jung has gone from being a relative unknown to a scream-inducing rockstar that also enjoys regular roles on popular South Korean TV variety shows. And, he still has that same mischievous humor. Evidence of that emerged at this past weekend’s KCON 2014 in Los Angeles, where Jung couldn’t help but joke around during a media roundtable, after a female interviewer asked him: “If you can change bodies with somebody for one day, who would it be and why?” Then, this exchange ensued:

Your body.

Why?

Because I want to live in a woman’s body for a day.

What would you do?

Touch my body for a day. Just kidding.

Though he is known for his humor, Jung is also recognized for his musical talent; he self-produced his second album, which he said was influenced by personal experiences. That actually made the process of creating the album “easier” and more fun, he said. Jung was able to share some of the music he created on Sunday, as he joined the star-studded list of K-pop performers that graced the KCON concert stage.

This marked the singer’s first time in Los Angeles, though he said the streets were actually quite familiar to him.


Jung Joon Young performs “Emergency Room” in Superstar K4.


Jung collaborates with Superstar K4 winner Roy Kim for “Becoming Dust.”

“My favorite game is GTA,” Jung explained, referencing the popular video game, Grand Theft Auto. “The latest GTA game is based on Los Angeles, so I feel very familiar with this city. When I’m looking around in downtown, these are places that appear in GTA. … I feel like I’m in a game, so yesterday on the streets, I was screaming.”


Check out Jung’s game room in We Got Married. Skip to 3:01.

Jung, who in addition to producing his own albums is also going to act in an upcoming film and also DJ a radio program in Korea, has come a long way from his brief stints with Korean bands like LEDApple and various indie groups.

He said he is thankful for the opportunities he is enjoying these days. Hours before the KCON concert, he told KoreAm that he was quite surprised to have fans in America. “Even though it’s so hot, I’m thankful for the fans that are waiting in line outside,” Jung said. ” Since this is a concert not just for me, but also for everyone, I hope that everyone has a good time.”

Jung’s music video of new title track “TEENAGER.”

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Devotion of K-pop Fans on Full Display at Day 1 of KCON 2014

by JAMES S. KIM

There is no question as to where Hallyu fans stand among the other fandoms of the world. The line that snaked its way around the entire Los Angeles Sports Arena complex yesterday, as KCON 2014 kicked off its first day of festivities under a blazing sun, was the ultimate image of devotion.

Even as a Korean American who’s followed K-pop for a while, I have to admit that seeing the throngs of excited fans in person was quite an eye-opening, even exhilarating, experience. In only four years, the convention devoted to K-pop, K-dramas and Korean popular culture in general has grown exponentially, from about 10,000 attendees at the inaugural convention in 2012 to an expected 40,000 this year, according to the North American arm of South Korea’s CJ E&M, which organizes the convention.

Soon KCON may just rival convention behemoths like San Diego Comic-Con and D23, which attract crowds in the 100,000-plus range.

And, if you think the only draw for KCON goers is the chance to see their favorite artists in person, think again. One may not expect panels like “Speaking the Language of K-Drama” or “Hallyu Culture Shock” to have a chance at a decent draw, but that’s underestimating the devotion and interest level of Hallyu fans.  Websites like Soompi and Dramabeans, as well as every social media outlet, are living testaments to how much fans love to gather and talk about their artists and actors online, and even better, when they have the chance to do so in person. The result was enthusiastic participation at panels like “Oppa/Unnie Debate,” “All About K-pop Reaction Videos” and the crowded K-pop dance workshops.

Of course, it’s another level of crazy that kicks in when the artists themselves show up in person. We had the chance to interview girl group SPICA on Saturday–stay tuned for our exclusive video later this week.

I also had the fortune to be standing in “fan club row” when we all heard a huge scream. And there’s nothing that can compare to a K-pop fan screaming. Lo and behold, boy group B1A4 was on the stage.

KCON also did a fantastic job in terms of fan engagement. Most K-pop stars are kept far away from fans, except for concerts and the occasional meet and greets. It was a different story for local artists and entertainers, including DANakaDAN, Jhameel, Connie Lin, Shin-B and Flash Finger, to name a few, who held conversations and Q&As with their fans at their respective panels.

As Day 2 of KCON kicks off today, look forward to our live tweets (@KoreAm) and our upcoming exclusive interviews with SPICA and the crooning Jung Joon Young, who will both be performing tonight in the second concert/ They are part of a lineup that also includes BTS, CNBLUE and Girl’s Generation.

More pictures, courtesy of KCON 2014:

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