Photo via Los Angeles Times
The musical genre known as gangsta rap reached its zenith in the mid- to late-90s and was spawned from the gang culture of Southern California. But what people may not know is that many of the area’s up-and-coming rappers got their first big break thanks to a man named Wan Joon Kim, a North Korean native and founder of Cycadelic Records, a stall at the Compton Fashion Center indoor swap meet.
The Los Angeles Times published this delightful profile over the weekend, and talked about how Kim, 79, and his wife Boo Ja would come to befriend local rappers such as Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, the now-deceased member of legendary gangsta rap group N.W.A.
[Wright] would bring Kim his 12-inch singles. Boo Ja Kim treated rappers like her children and would scold: “Eric, pull your pants up!” Continue Reading »
North Korea promotes military official to key rank after removing army chief
North Korea said Tuesday that it had promoted a little-known general to a key military rank, a day after it announced that it had relieved its army chief of all his government posts.
The secretive state’s top two military commissions have decided to give the title of vice marshal to Hyon Yong Chol, according to a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
North Korea Unlikely to Put on Friendlier Face After General’s Removal
Wall Street Journal
Experts in Japan say the implications of the removal of a high-ranking North Korean general are difficult to interpret, but it could indicate the regime is heading into a period of instability, while its new leader, Kim Jong Eun, tries to strengthen his grip on the military.
What it doesn’t suggest is that the regime will relax its hard-line foreign policy, and could actually take a tougher stance to the outside world.
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un seems to tighten grip
Los Angeles Times
Seven months after taking power in one of the world’s most-closed societies, youthful Kim Jong Un appears to be consolidating his grip on North Korea, whose only two previous leaders were his late father and grandfather. At the same time, he appears to be putting his own, less hermetic, stamp on the nation’s culture.
Answers to bigger questions — whether to expect any meaningful change in North Korea’s relations with the outside world or its ability to feed and clothe its own people — remain far from clear.
With surging numbers, Asian-Americans look for congressional gains
Three times as many Asian-Americans have been running for Congress in 2012 than in the past two elections, a nonpartisan political group says, and it’s a development that portends greater changes in demographic trends and reflects the recent political awakening of a minority group long confined to the margins of American society.
“It’s extremely exciting,” says Gloria Chan, president and CEO of the Asian Pacific Institute for Congressional Studies. “We could really stand to gain seats and affect the balance of power in Congress.”
CHP: Freeway chase starts after cellphone violation
Orange County Register
A 42-year-old man was arrested Sunday after he led the California Highway Patrol on a chase after an officer tried to pull him over for a cellphone violation, authorities said.
Young Kim, of Chino Hills, was arrested on suspicion of felony evading, driving under the influence and felony DUI, according to a CHP news release.
Pol’s sex ads rub DA wrong way
New York Post
Queens Assembly candidate Myungsuk Lee, whose Korean-language newspaper runs ads from “massage parlors,” some of which also peddle prostitution, could be in some legal trouble.
Queens DA Richard Brown says he’s meeting with his vice squad “on this matter” after The Post yesterday exposed the ads and the massage parlors.
Offices for Lee’s newspaper, the Korean American Times, and his campaign are located in the same building where several of the massage parlors that advertise in his pages are based — and where a Post reporter was solicited for sex when he paid for a massage last week.
South Korea decides to scrap research whaling plans, yielding to vocal criticism
A South Korean official says the government has decided to scrap a much-criticized plan to hunt whales for scientific research.
The presidential Blue House official said the president and prime minister made the decision at a meeting Tuesday. The official declined to be identified because it had not yet been announced formally.
South Korea’s announcement earlier this month that it would allow research whaling drew protests from non-whaling nations and environmentalists. The critics suspected the plan was a cover for commercial whaling.
Asian ‘Jersey Shore’ strips group of ‘model minority’ label [VIDEO]
Coined as “Jersey Shore for Asians,” the show is drawing negative criticism for its focus on the cast’s heavy drinking, frequent partying, and blown-up drama.
The eight Asian American cast members, however, represent the young members of the community more realistically and in a way the public is not used to seeing, say creators of the series.
Eugene Choi, co-creator and producer of the show [and intermittent KoreAm employee], said that the show is depicting a portion of Asian Americans who are underrepresented in the entertainment industry.
On Campus: New dean of UW School of Human Ecology named
Wall Street Journal
UW officials announced last week that University of Arizona professor and director Soyeon Shim has been selected as the new dean of the School of Human Ecology.
Shim started as a faculty member at Arizona in 1990 and served as director of the university’s Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences and as an associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
She earned a doctorate in human ecology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in human ecology from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.
Far East movement, in the West
Asia One (Singapore)
A common complaint among actors was that Asians were often cast as the subservient, submissive ones. Or they were relegated to being, well, gongfu masters, a la Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.
Today, Asians are regularly added to the mix in TV series and movies – on telly, for instance, they appear in a whole gamut of roles, ranging from Glee hottie Harry Shum Jr to C. S. Lee, who is excellent as the creepy intellectual Vince Masuka on Dexter; and Kal Penn and Charlyne Yi, doctors in the now-defunct series House.
And Asian celebrities my paper spoke to say that, increasingly, they are spotting greater opportunities in theWest.
Replay overturns Choo’s leadoff homer
Indians leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo hit a ball off Rays pitcher Alex Cobb to deep center field in the first inning that was originally called a home run during Monday’s 3-2 win for Cleveland at Tropicana Field. After a quick replay review, the umpires ruled that the ball had hit padding just below the yellow line, changing the call to a double.
Choo would score later in the inning on a passed ball that got by catcher Jose Molina with two outs to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead.
Cafe Livre Morphs Into Spanish Fly Gastropub in Koreatown
Los Angeles Times
Café Livre, the popular bistro in Culver City, closed its doors July 1. Two days later, executive chef Farid Zadi and his wife, director of operations Susan Park, reappeared at the Spanish Fly, a new gastropub in Koreatown.
Partnering with owners Gene and David Park, they’re revamping the menu of what briefly was the Green Bee Restaurant and Bar.
Move Over Bieber — Korean Pop Music Goes Global
With their synthesized bubble-gum pop sound, flashy outfits and video art, K-pop groups such as Girls’ Generation, Big Bang and 2NE1 are carefully-selected, slickly-produced acts that can feature as many as 17 members.
These “manufactured” girl and boy bands are creating a frenzy among their young fans by selling out concerts within minutes worldwide, breaking through billboard music charts and even being featured on postage stamps in Korea.
The industry’s revenues hit about $3.4 billion in 2011, according to the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), a government group that promotes the country’s cultural initiatives. K-pop’s exports also rose to $180 million last year — jumping 112 percent compared to 2010. Exports have been growing on an average annual rate of nearly 80 percent since 2007.
U.S. soccer player proud of Korean heritage
Twenty-nine-year-old Riley is proud of his mother being Korean. His dream is to play in Korea, her native land, and, needless to say, live there with her as well.
The right full back was born in 1982 in Colorado Springs, Colorado to a Korean mother and an American father. After they divorced when he was one, he was raised by his single mother in the U.S. His mother lives in Denver, Colorado, working as a hotel housekeeper.
Where to Stay in Seoul for Less than $50 USD a Night
If you’re traveling to Korea and wondering where to stay in Seoul, finding an affordable place to stay might be difficult. But it shouldn’t be! Korea has tons of places to stay that are very budget friendly. All the locals know what’s up, and lucky for you we’ll let you in on the know! Here’s a number of accommodations that will fit pretty much anyone’s budget.
Tate’s Tanks Take To Task Sung Hwan Kim
The Korean performance artist Sung Hwan Kim is the first artist to be commissioned for an installation in ‘The Tanks’, Tate Modern’s new galleries permanently dedicated to performance and film. The exhibition is supported by Sotheby’s and is unveiled from 18 July to 28 October.
Kim is known for his interdisciplinary work, incorporating installation, video, performance, music, light and drawing. He interweaves personal history, fantasy, rumour, politics and culture to create a work that responds to the unique architecture of The Tanks.
Kim’s unique way of story-telling plunges visitors into a fantastical world of optical illusions and doubling of imagery that draws on a rich history of performance and film, as he collects and collages encounters, sounds, sculptures and images from his changing homes of Seoul, Amsterdam and New York.
At last: World’s first Hello Kitty Beauty Spa
Hello Kitty Beauty Spa, located at Town Center Jumeirah, is also the first character-branded spa in the Middle East, according to Sharaf Retail, which runs the Hello Kitty spa.
The service aims for the high-spending “Queens” who want to bring along their “Princesses” (as the beauty spa terms its clients) to enjoy “posh pampering” services.
“We’re all about sugar and spice and everything incredibly nice,” gushes the spa’s website. As well as the cutest, it may be the pinkest beauty spa in the world.
by EUGENE YI
There will be one fewer person vying to be Los Angeles’ first Korean American city councilmember next year.
BongHwan Kim announced he will be stepping down from his post as general manager of the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to accept a position as vice president/executive director of civic engagement with the San Diego Foundation, a philanthropic organization.
“The timing of this opportunity at the San Diego Foundation collided at exactly the same moment as my plans to become the first ever Korean American city councilman running on a public participation vision,” he said in a written statement released online this afternoon, declining to further explain his decision to pursue the foundation position. He did not immediately return a phone call for comment.
The announcement came as a surprise to many Korean Americans in Los Angeles. Continue Reading »
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un pictured with mystery woman
The Telegraph (U.K.)
The TV footage showed the woman, apparently in her twenties or thirties, walking next to the leader. She bowed with him before a portrait of Kim Il-sung.
The short-haired woman, clad in a black suit, was also pictured sitting next to Kim at a concert by a state orchestra on Friday.
Some South Korea media reports suggested she was Kim’s younger sister Yo-jong, who is believed to have studied in Switzerland along with him in the 1990s. Others suggested she may be Kim’s wife or lover.
Man gets life without parole in Miracle Mile triple homicide
Los Angeles Times
A Los Angeles jury on Friday spared the life of a former neighbor convicted of killing a 2-year-old boy, his mother and his nanny, finding that he should receive life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2003 murders.
The panel deliberated less than a day before deciding against the death penalty for Robin Kyu Cho, 53, who was convicted last week of three counts of murder for fatally shooting the three people in the family’s Miracle Mile area apartment. The gruesomeness of the murders, in which the 30-year-old mother was bound and gagged with packaging tape and a toddler was shot, shocked Los Angeles’ large Korean community.
Police: Man crashes Japanese embassy gate over disputed islands
A South Korean man crashed a small truck into the front gate of the Japanese embassy in Seoul on Monday in an apparent protest over the ownership of islands claimed by both countries, officials said.
The truck was slightly damaged, and there were no casualties after the 62-year-old hit the gate at 4:55 a.m., Seoul police said. The man was detained for questioning, and police plan to charge him within the next few days, police said.
Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh take the stage in North Korea in performance for leader Kim
Performers dressed as Minnie Mouse, Tigger and others danced and pranced as footage from “Snow White,” ‘’Dumbo,” ‘’Beauty and the Beast” and other Disney movies played on a massive backdrop, according to still photos shown on state TV.
The inclusion of characters popular in the West — particularly from the United States, North Korea’s wartime enemy — is a notable change in direction for performances in Pyongyang. Actors and actresses also showed off new wardrobes, including strapless gowns and little black dresses.
Korea native makes noise with silent Jobs track
Downloadable for 99 cents through iTunes, the track is eight seconds of silence.
Titled “The Steve Jobs Moment of Silence,” each second represents one of the years the Apple founder lived with pancreatic cancer until the disease took his life last October.
The work was directed by a Korean named Kim Hyui-yong, a student at School of Visual Art (SVA) in New York. With “The Steve Jobs Moment of Silence,” which pays respect to the man who profoundly changed the way people across the world live and communicate with others, Kim was recognized by three renowned annual international advertising festivals this year, winning first place at the One Show Festival and the silver prize from the Clio Awards and Art Directors Club.
U.S. General Apologizes for Dispute in Seoul
New York Times
The top United States military commander in South Korea apologized Sunday for an episode last week during which American military police officers handcuffed three South Koreans in a dispute over a parking violation, inciting protests from civic groups.
Although local news media reports indicated that vocal and physical protests by the three South Koreans might have contributed to their handcuffing, the news of American service members manhandling South Korean citizens was almost guaranteed to be seen as outrageous here, where people harbor mixed feelings about the American military presence.
Circumventing local restrictions with alternative blogging tool
David Hwang is the founder of a blog called HwangC. He says while the Korean Internet can be light-years ahead of other countries, it is still light-years behind when it comes to how well it adapts to the global market.
“When Cyworld was at its peak, nobody had ever heard of Friendster, Myspace, Twitter, or Facebook,” he said. “That’s because they hadn’t been invented yet. When Facebook came along, Koreans used to describe it as the American Cyworld.” He argued that if Cyworld, established in 1999, hadn’t been so restrictive, it would be the dominant social networking site in the world, and nobody would have ever heard of “that Mark Zuckerberg guy.”
Hwang believes that a Korean Internet exodus is inevitable not only for social networking sites, but also for blogs.
Mikyoung Kim selected for Sellwood Bridge art project, visits Portland Thursday
Mikyoung Kim, an award-winning landscape architect and artist based in Boston, will piece together earth, water and sky in a block-long installation celebrating the new Sellwood Bridge when it opens in 2016. The Regional Arts & Culture Council announced Kim’s selection for the $500,000 project today.
Her proposed “Stratum Project” will invoke a “series of ecologically inspired geologic sculptural totems,” according to a description. Created from “recycled and formed materials,” the “quilted surface” will represent “earth, water and sky as the gateway to the Sellwood Community.”
2 Men Arrested In Connection With Series Of Burglaries In Koreatown
Los Angeles police say they have arrested two men suspected in a series of burglaries at businesses in Koreatown.
The suspects, identified as 25-year-old Byung Ho Son and 18-year-old Jung Hwan Park, both of Los Angeles, were booked on suspicion of burglary on Thursday.
Pet hotel thrives as Koreans seek canine companions
AFP via Google News
These days younger Koreans are spending more on their pets, enabling the rise of a high-end industry out to ensure that canine companions are just as pampered as their style-conscious owners.
Irion, which means “Come here” in Korean, opened in February 2011 as a one-stop complex offering a veterinary clinic, grooming salon, cafe, shop, daycare centre, an exercise area and “hotel” rooms for dogs and cats.
“I opened Irion because I saw the demand in the industry, to keep pace with the growing animal companion culture in Korea as the economy develops,” Park So-Yeon, head of the DBS company which runs the facility, told AFP.
Spare the rod and save legal hassle
For Korean parents, tapping a child’s hand may not be regarded as a big deal, just a mild form of punishment. But in the U.S., taking the same action can result in a child being taken away from parents or guardians ― one clear example showing just how strict child abuse laws are here.
But experts say many Koreans in the U.S. still practice Korean-style hands-on discipline, ultimately landing themselves in legal trouble.
“It’s surprising how many moms and dads get into a huge mess for doing something that they think is so ordinary,’’ said Park Hae-young, clinical counselor at the Korea American Family Service Center in Los Angeles.
Two get jail terms for defaming hip-hop singer Tablo
Besides the two, identified only by their surnames Won and Lee, the Seoul Central District Court also sentenced six other members of the Seoul-based Internet cafe to eight to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, for “maliciously” claiming that Tablo, whose Korean name is Daniel Lee Seon Woong, didn’t attend Stanford University.
The eight are among a total of 12 people indicted last year for raising allegations in their online community against the Korean-Canadian rapper that his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University were fake.
A 1998 Victory in the U.S. That Still Resonates in South Korea
New York Times
Pak was one of three South Koreans entered in that United States Open 14 years ago. When the tournament began Thursday, 28 South Koreans were in the field. But that is not the only indication of the transformation of the sport, which 20 years ago was almost exclusively an American club.
Since Pak’s victory in 1998, there have been four more United States Women’s Open champions from South Korea, including the defending champion So Yeon Ryu. All four of those championships have come in the last seven years.
The gentleman’s syndrome
Asia One (Singapore)
In the much-talked-about, much-watched “A Gentleman’s Dignity,” men are portrayed as skincare-conscious 40-something dudes who hang out at cafes and are not afraid to gush over their non-alcoholic beverages or be seen shopping together.
With viewer ratings up in the 20 per cent range, this oft-called male version of “Sex and the City” is a hot commodity, but are the attractive, sensitive, metrosexual leading men in the show a far-fetched image of middle-aged male society or for real?
Japan’s Magnificent Manhole Covers
Rocket News (Japan)
You may want to watch where you walk the next time you’re in Japan. Nearly 95 percent of Japan’s 1,780 municipalities proudly decorate their streets with custom manhole covers, many of which are beautiful slabs of art featuring local symbols such as flora and fauna, landmarks or festivals.
Man found guilty in ’03 Miracle Mile triple murder
Los Angeles Times
Robin Kyu Cho, 53, could face the death penalty for the 2003 killings, to which he was connected through DNA evidence six years after the victims were found shot and killed in the bathroom of the family’s apartment. Cho lived three floors below the victims, on the ground floor of the apartment complex.
Three Asian-American families share a slice of life
The Pew Research Center recently released a comprehensive study profiling Asian-Americans in the United States and found them to be more highly educated and well-paid than any other immigrant group in the country.
Asians are also now coming to the United States in greater numbers than Hispanics and make up about 6% of the population.
The study is overwhelmingly positive – most Asian-Americans have at least a college degree and consider themselves hard-working – but it also showed immense diversity among the group. There are more than 17 million Asian-Americans, and each has a unique story. Here, three immigrant families in the Atlanta area share a slice of their lives.
UT student admits to secretly stalking, recording women
KVUE.com (Austin, Tex.)
Investigators say he used his cellphone to record a woman walking seven blocks, nearly half a mile, to her dorm room. Once they arrived at Roberts Hall, police say Choi admits he grabbed the woman’s backside. He told police he did it because the woman, “looked so good.”
Michelle Rhee: ‘Witchfinder general’ of America’s classrooms flies in to give Gove her gospel
The Independent (U.K.)
“Michelle points out in everything she does that what they [children] need is the most effective teacher who demands the highest standards and is relentless about that,” Mr Gove said.
“If we are ever going to achieve something like social justice we need to transform those [disadvantaged] schools.
Korean temple cuisine reaches New York as a new kind of vegetarian fare
Yonhap News Agency
In the midst of such growing interest in the U.S., Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism, an affiliate of the Jogye Order, came to New York during the week of June 11th to introduce Korean Buddhism through a tasting of its celebrated temple cuisine.
After the first visit in 2010, when over 40 kinds of temple dishes were offered to 300 people in attendance, the setting at Astor Center in Manhattan was more intimate and serene this time, focusing on individual guests as well as each food offered for tasting.
Mission Serves Free Beer, Spicy Pork, Good Will: Review
Mission Chinese is proof that an excellent restaurant can keep things affordable even while coddling the customer a bit. It offers those once familiar vestiges of a bygone era: Bar stools with lumbar support, superb service, the Smashing Pumpkins playing at reasonable levels and the acceptance of plastic, including the American Express card.
There’s even air conditioning. Mission keeps you cool while pickled carrots scorch your interior.
The chef is a philanthropic kind of guy. Born in South Korea and adopted by Oklahomans, Danny Bowien opened his first Mission Chinese in San Francisco in 2010, where he’s raised more than $124,000 for that city’s Food Bank.
Rob Refsnyder, Yankees draft pick from Arizona, tweets that South Carolina doesn’t ‘accept Asians playing baseball’
New York Daily News
The fifth-round pick of the Bronx Bombers, who was born in South Korea, says he was being heckled by South Carolina fans during College World Series which prompted his Twitter comments.
Long journey a memorable one for Refsnyders
Fox Sports Arizona
It’s been sports, sports and more sports — or at least has felt that way — for the Refsnyder family since they officially adopted their son, then a 3-month-old from Seoul, Korea.
Clint said his son, the Wildcats’ starting right fielder and arguably one of their best hitters, showed promise and potential as a 5-year-old when he’d emulate athletes on television.
Matching wits with Michelle Wie in Waterloo
CBC Sports (Canada)
I was psyched to see I was paired with Michelle. Even though I was the local girl, I knew, deep down, the crowds were there to watch her. But I feel like I won the crowd over with my play on the back nine. I fed off the crowd. I took it all in and embraced the crowd. The fans seemed to cheer equally for everyone in our group.
Michelle is used to attracting big crowds, so I think she is numb to it. But I definitely was not. I feed off the fans, especially Canadians! I get pumped up and it gets the adrenaline going.
Documentary reveals divided lives
The Korea Herald
The film that Ahn directed along with Eugene Chung focuses on Korean families who are now living in the U.S., divided from their North Korean relatives by the Korean War.
The narrative follows the diverse stories of five Koreans who emigrated to the U.S., leaving loved ones behind in North Korea.
N. Korea honours girl who died saving Kim portraits
AFP via Google News
North Korea has bestowed a posthumous award on a 14-year-old schoolgirl who drowned in a flash flood while trying to save portraits of the communist dynasty’s late rulers, official media said.
Han Hyon-Gyong’s heroism earned her the Kim Jong-Il Youth Honour Award, and her school will be renamed after her, the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said Tuesday.
World’s 10 most innovative airlines
Korean Air topped the list for sourcing its own organic farm on Jeju Island for in-flight meals, and for its “attentive service amenities,” including a female-only lounge at Incheon Airport, female-only bathrooms on aircraft and the world’s first onboard duty-free store. (They should have also included those face air-mist things they stock in the bathrooms … we’re so addicted.)
7 Places for Must Eat Spicy Rice Cakes (Tteokbokki) in Seoul
Tteokbokki, ddukbokki, dukbokki – one of the hardest to spell Korean street foods is also one of the most popular. But walk the streets, and you’ll find everyone and their grandma’s selling the stuff. Don’t worry, we’ve compiled a go-to list for the most famous places to eat spicy rice cake in Seoul by tapping Korean bloggers.
100 Favorite Dishes: 84 – Mool Naeng Myun at Yu Chic Naeng Myun
The season for cold noodles is upon us. A metal bowl filled with a heap of pitch-black arrowroot noodles, the kind you slurp loudly and chewy profusely, is one of the most invigorating things you’ll find in town. Even at the finest Koreatown spas, the ones where old dudes sit in saunas until their skin is as red as clay, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to order a bowl of naneng myun before someone hands you a towel.
“Loves Gonna Getcha” Ft. Dynamic Duo, Kero One and Dumbfoundead
While on tour in the US, Dynamic Duo and Kero One all worked on the track “Love’s Gonna Getcha.” The guys stopped in L.A. for a minute to record the track and they’re offering it free for download online.