In the East China Sea, a Far Bigger Test of Power Looms
New York Times
In an era when the Obama administration has been focused on new forms of conflict — as countries use cyberweapons and drones to extend their power — the dangerous contest suddenly erupting over a pile of rocks in the East China Sea seems almost a throwback to the Cold War.
Suddenly, naval assets and air patrols are the currency of a shadow conflict between Washington and Beijing that the Obama administration increasingly fears could escalate and that American officials have said could derail their complex plan to manage China’s rise without overtly trying to contain it. As in the Cold War, the immediate territorial dispute seems to be an excuse for a far larger question of who will exercise influence over a vast region.
N. Korea allows Swedish diplomat to meet detained U.S. citizen: reports
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
North Korea allowed a Swedish diplomat to meet with the 85-year-old U.S. citizen who has been detained in the communist country for more than a month, media reports monitored in Seoul said Sunday.
News wire services such as AFP and CNN said a consul met Merrill Newman at a hotel in Pyongyang and delivered medication sent by his family.
The Scandinavian country’s mission in Pyongyang acts as the “protecting power” for Americans in North Korea, and its diplomats provide consular services.
After escaping to South Korea, some defectors now want to return north
Since Son Jeong-hun defected from North Korea in 2002, he has helped other North Koreans escape and resettle in South Korea. That’s why so many people were surprised when he announced earlier this year that he wants to go home.
“No one had ever asked to re-defect to North Korea before,” Son says. “The government said it’s illegal; there’s no way to return.”
Son, who’s 47, wants to go home because he’s ill. He says his liver is failing and he wants to see his family in Pyongyang again before he dies.
Qualcomm employee left beaten after night of karaoke with friends
10 News (San Diego)
A family contacted 10News looking for help after a Qualcomm employee was left beaten with a brain injury after a night of karaoke with friends.
Andrew Oh, 24, is now in critical condition at Sharp Memorial Hospital. His sister Jessie tells 10News the family is struggling to find out how this could happen.
“He’s like the gentle giant,” she said. “We don’t understand why this would ever happen to him.”
Oh’s sister says he went to celebrate his roommate’s birthday last Saturday evening. They went to the Chorus Karaoke Bar in Kearny Mesa. Sometime that night, Oh stepped outside the bar and was later found early Sunday morning unconscious and badly beaten in the parking lot, said his sister, Jessie Oh.
Exchange Program in Spotlight After Korean Student’s Death in Brisbane
Wall Street Journal
Every year, around 50,000 young South Koreans go abroad as part of a popular government-sponsored exchange program—but the program is finding itself under the spotlight after a 22-year-old Korean student was killed in Brisbane, Australia.
Ban Eun-ji, a university student from southern port city of Busan, died Sunday after sustaining severe head injuries in an attack on her way to work as a cleaner at a hotel in Queensland state’s capital, according to media reports. Police have taken a 19-year-old man who they suspect of killing Ms. Ban into custody.
Ms. Ban had been in Australia for six weeks as part of the Working Holiday program, which the government promotes as an opportunity to work and travel at the same time. Nearly three-quarters of all Korean participants in the program choose Australia, partly because it is the only country among 16 that have signed agreements with South Korea that doesn’t limit participation.
South Korea’s schools: Long days, high results
The results of the international school tests – known as Pisa tests – are to be published by the OECD on Tuesday. In previous years, South Korea has been one of the highest achievers. But it means long hours of study.
Hye-Min Park is 16 and lives in the affluent Seoul district of Gangnam, made famous by the pop star Psy. Her day is typical of that of the majority of South Korean teenagers.
She rises at 6.30am, is at school by 8am, finishes at 4pm, (or 5pm if she has a club), then pops back home to eat.
She then takes a bus to her second school shift of the day, at a private crammer or hagwon, where she has lessons from 6pm until 9pm.
Sex, lies and video leaks
Kim’s boyfriend in college had asked her to look into his camera while they were having sex. She obliged as the video was supposed to be viewed between them only.
But after their relationship abruptly ended, her ex-boyfriend decided there was no reason to keep his end of the promise. He posted the video online for random people to watch and download it. He also posted her name and school to make sure that everyone knew who they were watching having sex.
The video circulated heavily among Internet users almost instantly.
In panic, Kim asked portal sites to delete the video, but it was too late. Soon, her friends and family became aware of it. She then shut herself off from all social aspects of life in shame for many years.
How Korean bureaucrats turned K-pop into a national symbol
If you visit South Korea, you’ll probably hear a triumphant refrain about Korean pop, known as “K-pop,” casting a spell over North America and Europe.
The narrative typically goes like this: Swarms of Western fans have been racing to K-pop concerts in recent years, falling in love with the young, colorful ladies of Girls’ Generation or the muscular, shirtless men of Super Junior. Thanks to their dazzling repertoire of, well, crayon pop songs, multiple concerts have sold out in the US, France and the UK. It’s a signal that the world is increasingly in awe of this homegrown Korean art.
You’ll hear this storyline in Seoul more often than the global triumphs of, say, Samsung or Tae Kwon Do.
Dia Frampton Stars In New Video From The Crystal Method
On Friday Dia Frampton Stars In New Video From The Crystal Method was a top story. Here is the recap: The Voice’s season two contestant Dia Frampton stars in The Crystal Method’s new music video for their latest single “Over It,” which comes from their upcoming self-titled studio album (out January 14.)
MSO sent over these details: The “Over It” video was Directed by Zak Stoltz and it follows Dia Frampton (The Voice/Meg & Dia) through a “Top Chef” style baking competition where the odds are stacked in her competitors’ favor as they use their sexuality to sway the judges.
Avett Brothers cellist Joe Kwon explains the band’s famous energy
The Avett Brothers released their eighth full-length album, “Magpie and the Dandelion,” on Oct. 15, and it debuted at No. 5 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart. Rick Rubin, who has worked with artists from Mick Jagger to Jay Z, produced the record, making it his third album with the band. With influences of country, bluegrass, rock ‘n’ roll, folk and punk, the Avett Brothers play a style of music most commentators label as Americana.
Unique to the band’s sound and character is cellist Joe Kwon, who was born in Korea; grew up in High Point, N.C.; graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; and now lives in Durham. A few days before the Avett Brothers planned to perform on the “Late Show With David Letterman,” Joe found time to speak with me about the band’s new album, his passionate command of the cello, his artful endeavors in food and photography, and his new love of woodworking.
SISTAR’s Hyorin Makes Solo Debut With ‘One Way Love’ & ‘Lonely’
The K-pop girl group leader lets her fluttery vocals take center stage for two safe, but satisfactory singles.
After Hyorin landed K-Pop Hot 100 No. 1s with her girl group SISTAR, sub-unit project SISTAR19 and a special solo single, the K-diva is finally making her proper solo debut, promoting two singles: “Lonely” and “One Way Love.” If the objective was to launch the 22-year-old as a solo star with a unique palette of vocals colors and tones, well, mission accomplished.
The first taste of the Incheon native’s debut comes via the acoustic-leaning pop/R&B number “Lonely.” The production, while dreamy, is nothing particularly special or original for K-pop, but the vocal lines highlight Hyorin’s fluttery, hushed approach.
Running success from South Korea
The Star (Malaysia)
Running Man, another phenomenal export from South Korea, features a mix of reality TV, variety show, games and competition. Get to know the current members of the running team.
LEE KWANG SOO, 28
Who: Outside of Running Man, this runway model-turned-entertainer has acted in films such as The Scent (2012) and TV drama The Innocent Man (2012), mostly in comedic roles. For Running Man, his most well-known show, he won the award for Variety New Star in 2010 at the SBS Entertainment Awards and then a New Star Award at the same event a year later.
Running Man persona: Aptly nicknamed Giraffe due to his 1.9m height, he is massively popular and often gets the loudest fan cheers outside of South Korea, such as in Macau and Vietnam – hence he is known as the Asian Prince. On the flip side, he tends to betray his teammates for his own gain, so he is nicknamed The Betrayer as well.
Roy Choi’s POT at the Line Hotel in LA Coming in 2014
Los Angeles, get ready for POT, the upcoming restaurant from chef Roy Choi at the Line Hotel. The Line is located in LA’s K-Town and is owned by the Sydell Group, the team behind New York City’s NoMad Hotel. Choi will be doing all the food and beverage at the Line, and in addition to POT there will be POT Lobby Bar (based on “classic hotel bar[s] in Korea for international travellers”), a cafe inspired by bakery traditions of Taiwan, Korea, El Salvador, Mexico, and “supermarket birthday cakes,” and a more casual restaurant called Commissary.
POT itself is named for Korean hot pot (and not the kind of pot you smoke) and will serve “hot pots, blood soups, bbq” and more. According to Eater LA, no official opening date has been announced, but expect it shortly after the new year. Everything coming up Roy Choi these days, with a bestselling book that just came out and now a hotel’s worth of restaurants opening soon.
Louis Vuitton Publishes Seoul Travel Guide
French luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton has published a new city guide for Seoul, highlighting features as the “fiery” tempers of Koreans.
The book is filled with observations of the city from the perspective of foreigners. Louis Vuitton has been publishing city guides since 1998. They have covered 13 major cities like London, New York, Paris and Tokyo. Seoul and Beijing were newly added in this edition, which is available in Korean, English and French.
Q&A with Christine Sun Kim: Connecting the Hearing to the Non-Hearing Through Art
San Francisco Weekly
Christine Sun Kim is a 33-year-old, New York-based visual, sound, and performance artist who uses sound as a medium in her work. She will be in San Francisco for a month-long is residency at Southern Exposure in January.
This writer was able to take a workshop with Kim recently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she directed participants in creating, “A Choir of Glances.” In this workshop, (during which participants wore earplugs and were not allowed to speak), participants translated words into facial expressions and sounds, ending with a live performance: Kim faced her choir and directed them in a choreography of improvised sounds and facial expressions. It felt like a joyful work.
Coming out is an incredibly significant event for individuals who are prepared to accept and disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It’s a process that has so many layers to consider, and for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community, culture and language can make the process complicated and challenging.
API Equality-LA, an organization that advocates for LGBT equality in the Greater Los Angeles API community, just launched a project today that looks to provide resources for API LGBT individuals who are navigating their own coming out process.
The website, entitled Q&A Space, primarily features personal accounts from LGBT individuals, parents and allies, who have dealt with coming out themselves, or knowing someone close to them who have come out. There is a good mix of written posts and videos of interviews and short films of individuals and their stories. Continue Reading »
Gov’t Has ‘No Plans’ to Join U.S. Missile Defense
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin on Wednesday played down suspicions that South Korea is about to join the U.S.-led missile defense program by the back door.
Kim told reporters South Korea “clearly will not participate in the U.S. missile defense program.” He said the military is not currently considering purchase of SM-3 or THAAD interceptor missiles that form the core of the program.
The SM-3 can destroy North Korean ballistic missiles at an altitude of 150 km and the THAAD at a lower altitude of 100 km.
What’s behind South Korean president’s new strategy on North Korea?
Christian Science Monitor
For nearly 20 years, South Korea and the world’s biggest powers have sought to pry from North Korea a promise – that it would keep – to end its nuclear weapons program.
They have used carrots and they have used sticks. As inducements, the powers offered to build North Korea a nuclear reactor, provided fuel, and gave food. When that failed they have tried punishments, freezing Pyongyang out of the world financial system and imposing sanctions to starve the government there of all sorts of goods.
Yet twin clouds of steam from North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, spotted last month in satellite images, suggest all those efforts have come to naught, and raise questions about how the international community – distracted by Iran and Syria – can deter North Korea’s seemingly insatiable desire for nuclear weapons.
North Korea Slams South’s Claim Kim Wants Reunification by Force
North Korea bristled at comments by the head of South Korea’s intelligence service that leader Kim Jong Un will seek to reunite the two countries by force within three years.
The remarks are a smear campaign against North Korea, and the head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service will “meet the most shameful end” for it, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said today in a statement distributed by the official Korean Central News Agency.
NIS chief Nam Jae Joon commented on Kim’s possible intentions earlier this month, according to South Korean ruling Saenuri party legislator Cho Won Jin. Cho didn’t say how Nam obtained his information.
N.Korea ‘Disguised Civilian Cargo Planes for Military Show’
North Korea flew civilian cargo planes painted in camouflage during a military parade earlier this year in an apparent attempt to make its arsenal seem bigger than it really is, U.S.-based website NK News said Tuesday.
The “Victory Day” parade on July 27 featured three Russian-made IL-76 military cargo planes, but they were actually civilian cargo planes owned by North Korean carrier Air Koryo, according to the NK News. The website claimed that they were recently spotted at an airport in Moscow with remnants of camouflage on their trail wings.
NK News said the ploy was designed to “exaggerate” the North’s military power.
Kim Tours South Korea, Lectures At Top Schools
Queens Gazette (N.Y.)
Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Flushing), the first Korean American to be elected to office in New York state, accepted an invitation by the Overseas Korean Foundation to lecture at the number one women’s college, Ewha Womans University, and the top two high schools in South Korea (Cheong Ju Foreign Language H.S. and Korean Minjok Leadership Academy). His lectures mainly focused on the importance of developing leadership traits like determination, perseverance, and grit among our youth.
The Overseas Korean Foundation (OKF) is a department of the South Korean government that was founded 17 years ago to build and maintain close connections with Koreans all around the world. Every year, OKF sponsors political and public leaders worldwide to tour and lecture at some of South Korea’s top schools.
China, Spitting and Global Tourism
New York Times
That’s because spitting is a major reason Chinese tourists can feel unwelcome abroad, commentators say. And more are traveling: Chinese will make about 100 million trips next year, up from 82 million last year, and over 90 million this year, Shao Qiwei, the head of China’s National Tourism Administration, said in Chicago last week.
“In recent years the world has more and more opportunities to know China,” Sun Yingchun, a professor at the Communication University of China, wrote in Huanqiu magazine. “But discrimination and prejudice against Chinese people abroad hasn’t diminished,” he wrote. “Even though Chinese people bring tourist business with them they are also castigated by foreigners. Some foreigners don’t feel kindly toward Chinese tourists because they say they are ill-mannered.” He singled out spitting, loudness, line-cutting and littering.
No one agonizes about it more than some Chinese. Sun Yat-sen, the revolutionary leader and first president of the Chinese republic said in a 1924 speech, “Spitting, farting, growing a long fingernail’’ to pick one’s nose, ‘‘not brushing teeth,’’ in these things ‘‘all Chinese people are unrestrained.”
Anti-Bullying Programs Found to Produce Smarter Bullies and More Victims
Efforts to stop bullying in schools have produced unintended results, specifically more kids being picked on by smarter bullies.
Two academics examined bullying data involving 7,001 students from across the country, expecting to find that anti-bullying programs have mitigated this problem.
But Dr. Seokjin Jeong, a researcher and criminologist from the University of Texas at Arlington, and Byung Hyun Lee from Michigan State University were surprised to learn that the programs actually made things worse.
Their study found that students at schools with anti-bullying programs were more likely to be victimized than students at schools with no such programs.
What’s actually behind the low Asian-American obesity rate?
At first glance, it seems like most Asian-Americans pretty much have this whole obesity thing under control, by the looks of new national statistics. An estimated 11 percent of adult Americans of Asian descent are considered obese. Compare that to the nation’s obesity average as a whole, which stands steady at about 35 percent.
It’s the first time obesity estimates for Asian-Americans have been included in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a research program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They haven’t been included before because people of Asian descent only make up about 5 percent of the population (though by 2042, that is expected to climb to 9 percent).
Why are Asian-Americans so much thinner? The answer may not be obvious, some experts say.
UCLA and Pepperdine Students Give K-Town Some Love
Students and staff members from UCLA School of Dentistry and Pepperdine University gave some love to Koreatown.
The UCLA School of Dentistry, in a collaborative partnership with Wilshire Bank, provided free dental care in Koreatown of Los Angeles last Saturday. The event took place at the Wilshire State Bank located at 3200 Wilshire Boulevard, and approximately 40 staff members and students from the UCLA School of Dentistry participated and treated about 250 Koreatown patients. 100 patients will receive follow-up care at the School’s Westwood clinic this Saturday.
Unemployment, Poverty Grow Among Asian Americans in Los Angeles County
Voice of America
More Asian Americans live in Los Angles County than anywhere else in the United States. A recent report by Asian Americans Advancing Justice L.A. found that, from 2000 to 2010, Asian Americans were the fastest growing group in L.A. County. The report also found that the number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in L.A. County who are unemployed and living in poverty continued to grow. Long Beach, California, is home to the largest Cambodian community outside Cambodia.
Several Asian American communities have some of the highest poverty rates in Los Angeles County. Research analyst Kristin Sakaguchi said many people in Asian communities here diverge from the stereotype of Asian American success and easy assimilation.
“A lot of these communities are marginalized and not really focused on,” said Sakaguchi.
PSY And Steven Tyler Are Teaming Up
PSY took over the music listening world with the K-pop electro banger “Gangnam Style,” but the truth is that he looks to classic rockers for inspiration.
In an interview with Italy’s L’Uomo Vogue magazine, the singer said that he collaborated with Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler for a track on his new album.
“When I was in middle school, I literally cried when they were singing ‘Crazy’ or ‘Amazing’ or whatever, they were my lifetime role models, and now I am collaborating with Steven Tyler, what the fuck, man? I love my life,” PSY said.
Tom Hiddleston Dances, Sings His Heart Out On Korean TV Show
He may play the evil Loki in the “Thor” movies, but in real life Tom Hiddleston is all about sprinkles and sunshine — and these videos prove it.
The 32-year-old English actor channeled his inner Michael Jackson as he busted out his dance moves on a Korean television show, knocking over chairs and almost ripping his tuxedo pants while doing so.
But that’s not all …
The Art of Breaking Taboos
Wall Street Journal
For South Korea, Kim Ki-duk presents a dilemma. The internationally acclaimed director is one of the country’s best-known filmmakers. His films have collected a host of awards at some of the world’s most prominent festivals, including the top prize at last year’s Venice Film Festival for “Pieta.”
But his work often finds a warmer reception abroad than at home. Mr. Kim, whose other films include “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring” (2003) and “3-Iron” (2004), has hardly been a box-office darling—or even the critics’ favorite—in South Korea. (He once threatened to stop releasing his films in the country.) He is known for courting controversial subjects. His latest film, “Moebius,” offers a stark example.
The film—which is devoid of dialogue—follows an adulterous husband, his vengeful wife, their teenage son and the woman whose relationship with the husband puts the story in motion.
Suk-Min Yoon rumors: Twins interested in Korean pitcher
The Minnesota Twins will have scouts at Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon’s upcoming showcase and are interested in signing him, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.
Strengthening the Twins interest is the fact that Yoon is a free agent and will not require a posting fee to sign with an MLB team. However, Yoon is represented by agent Scott Boras, who is known for driving up prices of his clients.
The 27-year-old has pitched for the Kia Tigers since 2005, working as a starter up until 2013, when a shoulder injury caused him to lose velocity on his fastball and moved to the bullpen. He would likely be looked at first as a starting pitcher by MLB teams.
The Chicago White Sox Should Acquire Shin-Soo Choo
Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn must find someone to bat leadoff and play center field if they are going to be competitive in 2014 and beyond.
Since the farm system is not prepared to help out in either capacity for at least two more seasons, and Avisail Garcia is seemingly the only outfielder with any long-term upside, Hahn needs to sign Shin-Soo Choo to a free-agent contract. It is a signing that must be made, actually. There is simply no other choice right now.
Let’s take a deeper look at why Choo makes so much sense for the White Sox:
Park In-bee Under Pressure to Seal Golf Title
Wall Street Journal
As the U.S. women’s professional golf tour winds down with its late-season swing through Asia, this weekend’s KEB-Hana Championship in South Korea should have been a comfortable victory lap for Park In-bee in front of her home supporters.
Instead, she’s looking over her shoulder.
The 25-year-old Seoulite blitzed the field by winning the first three major tournaments this year and appeared to be cruising toward becoming South Korea’s first winner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s Player of the Year award.
S. Korea’s Park teeing it up one last time this week
Grace Park is coming out of retirement this week for a special farewell appearance in her South Korean homeland.
Park, 34, will tee it up Friday in the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship at Sky 72 Golf Club’s Ocean Course in Incheon, South Korea. She will be paired with fellow South Korean legend Se Ri Pak and American Cristie Kerr.
Park announced her retirement at the Wegmans LPGA Championship in 2012. She hasn’t played in an LPGA event since but was offered a sponsor exemption to play this week. She’s considered one of South Korea’s pioneers of women’s golf, having joined Pak, Hee Won Han and Mi Hyun Kim as trailblazers making impacts in the United States and internationally in the LPGA ranks.
Asia’s parents suffering ‘education fever’
Zhang Yang, a bright 18-year old from a rural town in Anhui province in China was accepted to study at a prestigious traditional medicine college in Hefei. But the news was too much for his father Zhang Jiasheng.
Zhang’s father was partly paralysed after he suffered a stroke two years ago and could no longer work. He feared the family, already in debt to pay for medicines, would not be able to afford his son’s tuition fees.
As his son headed home to celebrate his success, Zhang Jiasheng killed himself by swallowing pesticide.
Zhang’s case is an extreme. But East Asian families are spending more and more of their money on securing their children the best possible education.
In richer Asian countries such as South Korea and emerging countries like China, “education fever” is forcing families to make choices, sometimes dramatic ones, to afford the bills.
Ginko Trees in Seoul – Pretty, But The Stench is a Problem
Wall Street Journal
When the Seoul Metropolitan Government first named the gingko tree as its official tree more than 40 years ago and started to plant it widely along city streets, one problem was overlooked: the stench.
The trees help cut pollution and dust in the city, cast shade in sizzling summer, and are loved by Seoul citizens most of the year, but turn into a headache in autumn.
The gingko trees and their yellow leaves make for beautiful scenery but the nuts they drop get crushed by pedestrians, making for slippery streets and foul odors.
Cho presses Japan over sex slavery
Cho Yoon-seon, Minister of Gender Equality and Family, returned to Seoul on Sunday after wrapping up her five-day visit to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee meeting.
During her visit, the minister called on the international community to act to resolve the decades-old issue of sex slaves during World War II.
On Saturday, Cho visited the “comfort women” monument set up in Bergen County, New Jersey to honor hundreds of thousands of wartime victims who were forced into sex slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during the war.
S. Korea raises “comfort women” issue at U.N. human rights panel
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
South Korea’s gender equality and family minister on Friday raised the issue of women brought into sexual slavery for the Japanese military during World War II at the human rights panel of the U.N. General Assembly.
Although Cho Yoon Sun, the minister, did not specifically name Japan, she called on “the responsible government” to apologize and take responsible measures in her speech at the Third Committee, which oversees social and humanitarian affairs.
With the advancement of women on the committee’s agenda, the South Korean minister, speaking in English, devoted a substantial portion of her address to “the issue of the comfort women.”
Tabloids brimming with anti-Korea diatribes
For 11 consecutive days from the start of this month, every front page of the Yukan Fuji, a nationally circulated evening tabloid published by the Sankei Shimbun, was embellished with at least one negative reference to South Korea. Some headline excerpts:
•“S. Korea blasts into 20-year-long economic panic. President Park strays from her public commitment. Samsung shares plunge again.” (Oct. 1)
•“S. Korea’s President Park makes self-destructive remark in diplomacy with Japan.” (Oct. 2)
•“S. Korea’s President Park accelerates (her) tyrannical rule.” (Oct. 3)
•“List of toxic foods produced in S. Korea — insecticide found in ‘fresh cucumbers’ ” (Oct. 4).
•“Anti-Japanese radiation propaganda boomerangs on S. Korea’s own marine products industries.” (Oct. 5)
•“Kara breakup drama; final curtain goes down on the Hanryu boom” (Oct. 6)
And so on.
Int’l sex trafficking – Korea’s open secret
By the time Lee, a 30-year-old Korean sex worker in Melbourne, called for help in 2010, she’d been forced into prostitution in two foreign countries and piled up a huge amount of debt.
She says loan sharks, bar managers and even clothing shop owners in Busan conspired to induce her to borrow $20,000. They sent her to brothels in Japan and Australia, where she was forced to have sex with up to 10 clients a day.
Hong, a 26-year-old North Korean defector, thought she would be working in a karaoke bar singing with customers and borrowed $6,000 for a broker to arrange a working holiday visa and for travel expenses last year.
Fond Recollections of Dictators, Colored Later by the Lessons of History
New York Times
MONICA MACÍAS calls herself the daughter of dictators. Two of them.
Her father was Francisco Macías Nguema, the first president of Equatorial Guinea, whose rule was marked by the execution of thousands. But the man who became her guardian, and father figure, was even more infamous: Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea and creator of a real-life Orwellian dystopia of gulags and near-total information control.
Ms. Macías landed in Mr. Kim’s care when her father asked Mr. Kim to oversee three of his children’s educations. Like many in the cold war-era third world, the African leader looked up to Mr. Kim. Soon after, Mr. Macías was overthrown and executed, but Mr. Kim fulfilled the promise, educating the children at some of the North’s best schools.
S. Korean gov’t doing poor job of managing N. Korean defectors: lawmaker
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
South Korea is not keeping proper tabs on North Korean escapees, a local lawmaker said Monday, fueling criticism that policymakers are not interested in properly caring for these marginalized citizens.
Rep. Kim Sung-gon, of the main opposition Democratic Party, said as of this May 25,560 North Korean defectors have arrived in the country. The lawmaker said in a report released ahead of the unification ministry’s parliamentary audit set for Tuesday, that of all defectors Seoul was aware of the whereabouts of 23,075 of them, with there also being discrepancies in the information held by different agencies.
Kenneth Bae’s mother thanks N.K. for allowing meeting with son: report
The mother of an American man jailed in North Korea for unspecified anti-government crimes has expressed her gratitude to the North Korean government for allowing her to meet her son in Pyongyang, a news report said Saturday.
Kenneth Bae, a 45-year-old Korean-American known as a Christian missionary, was arrested in North Korea last November on charges of unspecified anti-government activities. In April, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
THE BOSS: You’d Better Have a Plan
New York Times
MY parents emigrated from South Korea to the United States when my father enrolled in graduate school here for a Ph.D. in physical chemistry. My mother makes the woman who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” look like a kitten. She had strong ideas on how to raise children and pushed my older sister, Lydia, and me.
Lydia and I learned to play piano, violin and guitar and took tennis, swimming and ice-skating lessons. If I got a 100 on a test, my mother wanted to know why I hadn’t gotten extra credit. Her teachings have been helpful in my professional life.
My father gave me math and science lessons. When I was about 4, he bought an early computer and wrote basic scripts for me to type so I’d feel I had programmed it myself. I’d watch my dad go to work every day and decided I wanted a job. After seeing him get his shoes shined, I pitched the idea that I should do it, and he agreed. I was probably terrible at it, which meant he put up with badly shined shoes. Later, his approach to any problem I had was to suggest I think about it differently. I’ve heard his voice when facing challenges.
Victim snaps pictures of crook in attempted robbery
Just a few snaps of a camera phone made a big difference in cracking an attempted robbery case. A suspect has been arrested for trying to rob Clarksville military supply store Army Town at gunpoint. The victim was able to get valuable clues to police when he shared pictures of the crook in his getaway vehicle.
Adam Yoon, of Clarksville, said a man in a mask burst into his Tiny Town Road business last week and pointed a gun at him.
“He aimed the gun at me and said, ‘Give me the money!’” said Yoon.
Yoon said he turned around and bolted out the back of the store with the masked man chasing behind him.
Google Jousts With Wired South Korea Over Quirky Internet Rules
New York Times
South Korea is one of the world’s most digitally advanced countries. It has ubiquitous broadband, running at speeds that many Americans can only envy. Its Internet is also one of the most quirky in the world.
A curfew restricts school-age children from playing online games at night; adults wanting to do so need to provide their resident registration numbers to prove that they are of age.
Until last year, commenters on the Web were legally required to use their real names. A simple Web search in Korean can be a fruitless experience, because the operators of many sites, including some government ministries, bar search engines from indexing their pages.
Punk Band No Brain Sign Deal with Famous U.S. Producer
No Brain, a Korean punk rock band that emerged from Seoul’s hip Hongik University area, have signed a recording contract with world renowned record producer Seymour Stein.
“No Brain [are] unique in performance. I think they have universal appeal,” said Stein, who serves a vice president of Warner Bros. Records and co-founder of Sire Records. He made the comments on Friday while delivering a lecture at MU:CON Seoul 2013, a world music market hosted by the Korea Creative Contents Agency.
The recording will take place in Los Angeles, he added.
IU Went on a Shocking Diet to Prepare for Her Comeback
IU revealed the shocking diet she underwent in order to prepare for her current comeback.
On October 12, KBS‘s “Entertainment Weekly” aired a special interview with IU through the program’s corner “Guerrilla Date.” The singer confirmed that she gained a lot of weight while filming KBS’s drama “You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin.” IU also stated that she was most concerned with her weight as she prepared for her comeback.
Korean Franchises, Food Makers Expand in U.S.
Korean bakery franchises, coffee chains and food manufacturers are expanding their outlets in the U.S.
Paris Baguette on Sunday opened a four-story outlet in Manhattan’s Times Square, the second one in New York City after one in Koreatown in mid-town Manhattan. Next month, the bakery franchise plans to open two more, in mid-town and on the Upper West Side.
Caffé Bene has eight outlets in the U.S., including one in Times Square which opened in February 2012 and another near the Fashion Institute of Technology that opened in July this year.
Down 0-2 in NLCS, Dodgers place their fate in Hyun-Jin Ryu’s hands
Los Angeles Times
For the Dodgers to advance to the World Series, they’ll have to do to the St. Louis Cardinals what the Cardinals did to them.
“We have to beat their ace,” Adrian Gonzalez said. “It’s that simple.”
So, come Monday at Dodger Stadium in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, Hyun-Jin Ryu will be asked to replicate the performances of Cardinals starters Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha in the first two games of the series.
Kelly kept up with Zack Greinke in Game 1 to set the stage for the Cardinals’ 13-inning, 3-2 walk-off victory. Wacha blanked the Dodgers for 6 2/3 innings in Game 2, allowing the Cardinals to beat Clayton Kershaw, 1-0.
Former NFL star Hines Ward completes triathlon
Former Pittsburgh Steelers star Hines Ward added a new title to his resume Saturday. Not content with the titles of football and dancing star, Ward now is an Ironman.
The two-time Super Bowl winner finished one of the world’s most challenging triathlon courses in 13 hours, 8 minutes and 15 seconds.
Ward was the 1,680th athlete to cross the finish line after a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a full 26.2-mile marathon. He swam a 1:20:01, biked a 06:21:12 and finished off with a 5:12:56 run.
Pitcher Yoon Suk-min leaves for U.S. in hopes of starting gig in MLB
Former MVP-winning pitcher Yoon Suk-min left for the United States on Monday in pursuit of his first Major League Baseball (MLB) contract, saying he would like to earn a starting job.
The 27-year-old right-hander for the Kia Tigers in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said he plans to stay in the U.S. for about three weeks to discuss future options with his agent, Scott Boras, and also to go through his offseason training program.
With nine KBO seasons under his belt, Yoon, who has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen throughout his career, is eligible for free agency this winter.
Don’t Go Pro, Lydia Ko
Amateur sensation Lydia Ko is turning pro and has asked the LPGA Tour to waive its age limit.
The 16-year-old from New Zealand already is a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour — both wins at the Canadian Women’s Open — and last year became the youngest winner in LPGA history. She also contended at the Evian Championship last month in the year’s fifth and final major championship.
The LPGA Tour confirmed that it received a petition from Ko asking that it waive its minimum age requirement of 18.
How ‘hanbok’ is influencing biggest fashion names
Compared with the Japanese kimono and Chinese cheongsam, Korea’s traditional dress — known as hanbok, and worn by women and men — has remained under the international fashion radar.
So much so that when Lee Young Hee, among South Korea’s most renowned hanbok designers, showed her collection in Paris for the first time in 1993, most of the fashion press alluded to her silhouettes as “kimonos” — to the horror of both the designer herself and everyone back in Seoul.
Why Koreatown Is L.A.’s Hottest Neighborhood
Conde Nast Traveler
Nobody walks in L.A.” So sings the one-hit wonder band Missing Persons, but they clearly never hung out in L.A.’s Koreatown. The three-square-mile district just west of downtown has recently exploded into a hub for creative types and a magnet for hipsters—and it’s actually pedestrian-friendly. Come November, the cool quotient goes up again with the opening of The Line hotel (from the team behind Manhattan’s NoMad), which brings the city’s best Korean-American tastemakers together to create the nabe’s next hot spot. The Line (213-381-7411; doubles from $240) will feature two restaurants (both helmed by Korean BBQ master Roy Choi), a swank retro-themed lounge from L.A. bar scene VIPs the Houston Brothers, as well as an outpost of local design shop Poketo from Angie Myung. But the hotel isn’t the only place these folks are making waves; they’re the force behind K-Town’s rise in general. That’s why we tapped them, along with another trendsetter, LACMA curator Christine Y. Kim, to share their personal picks for the area’s musts:
Frugal Find: Isaan Station in Koreatown
Los Angeles Magazine
Like its spicy grilled meats and tonsil-searing salads, the cuisine of Isaan, in northeastern Thailand, has caught fire in L.A. The eight-month-old Isaan Station, located in Koreatown’s neon-lit nightlife zone, puts a stylized spin on the region’s street food scene. Thai hip-hop blares and campy vintage radios decorate the walls, but the kitchen stays true to Isaan’s rustic classics. Goong chae nam pla is shrimp sashimi bathed in chili and garlic, sliced beef nahm dtok nue, or waterfall beef salad, arrives gritty with crushed roasted chilies, and a cockle salad unites shaved lemongrass and volcanic prik kee noo peppers.
Enoch Shin, owner of Turbo Tire in Oakland, Calif., says energy consumption at his shop fell 40 percent after he switched over to a more modern and efficient lighting system. Photo via New American Media.
by ARUNA LEE of New American Media
SAN FRANCISCO — Korean small businesses in California are challenging the naysayers who claim that economic growth coupled with sound environmental practice is not possible. Thanks in large part to government and private incentive programs, they have come to the fore in implementing emerging technologies beneficial for the environment and their bottom line.
In fact, many owners are “going green” precisely because of the economic benefits.
“Korean businesses have adopted green technologies largely in order to reduce their energy bills,” says Jason Lee, secretary general of the Korean Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. The city is home to one of the largest Korean communities in the country.
Statewide there are just over 450,000 Koreans residing in California, according to recent census figures. Many are small business owners, accounting for roughly 2 percent – or 63,365 – of all small businesses in the state, data from the census show. In 2007, the latest date such figures are available, they tallied nearly $33 billion in economic activity. Continue Reading »