SKorea rejects NKorea’s conciliatory gesture
South Korea rejected North Korea’s offer to take a series of steps to ease tension that included canceling Seoul’s regular military drills with Washington, saying Friday that Pyongyang must take nuclear disarmament steps first.
The North’s powerful National Defense Commission on Thursday proposed the rivals halt military actions and mutual vilification to build better relations. The North, however, strongly hinted it would maintain its nuclear weapons program and urged South Korea to cancel its upcoming springtime drills with the United States.
The North’s overture is a sharp departure from its repeated threats of nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington that raised tensions a year ago. Analysts say Kim Jong Un’s government hopes that improved ties with South Korea could help attract foreign investment to boost the communist nation’s lagging economy.
China urges Koreas to improve ties amid Pyongyang’s ‘peace offensive’
China called on both South and North Korea Friday to take steps to nurture better cross-border relations, with Pyongyang’s “peace offensive” raising fresh concerns that tension on the peninsula may rise sharply again ahead of joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.
North Korea has proposed this week that both Seoul and Pyongyang stop military provocations and mutual slandering to improve bilateral relations, but demanded the cancellation of upcoming South Korea-U.S. military exercises.
South Korea brushed off the North’s proposal that strongly indicated that Pyongyang won’t give up its nuclear weapons program, questioning its sincerity. Some Seoul officials described the North’s latest reconciliatory gesture as a “camouflaged peace offensive.”
North Korea’s Rare Earths Could be Game Changer
Voice of America
A recent geological study indicates North Korea could hold some 216 million tons of rare earths, minerals used in electronics such as smartphones and high definition televisions.
If verified, the discovery would more than double global known sources and be six times the reserves in China, the market leader.
British Islands-based private equity firm SRE Minerals Limited announced the study results in December, along with a 25-year deal to develop the deposits in Jongju, northwest of the capital, Pyongyang.
#HowIMetYourRacism: How Asian-Americans on Twitter are telling Hollywood to back off
Southern California Public Radio
In recent months, some Asian-Americans have taken to Twitter to call out incidents in the media they see as racially insensitive, or downright racist — most recently the Kung Fu movie-inspired episode of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”
And they’re getting attention.
Asian-American viewers and others unleashed the #HowIMetYourRacism hashtag after watching the show’s most recent episode — which aired Jan. 13 — in which its white stars dressed up as Asian grandmasters who drank tea, ate noodles, killed flies with chopsticks — all the while Asian extras hovered in the background.
Breaking Brian Shin: portrait of a Bay Street master and suburban drug dealer
Brian Shin seemed like the ideal employee. He worked long hours, dressed sharply and exuded sufficient swagger to fit in on Bay Street. His pedigree—a bachelor’s in commerce from U of T, a master’s in taxation from the University of Waterloo and work experience at the tax firm Deloitte—made him overqualified for his job at Lannick, a corporate recruiting firm. In two years, he placed roughly 100 managers and executives, and contributed $700,000 to the bottom line, making him one of the company’s top recruiters. He earned a salary of $130,900.
Shin was handsome, his hair neat and cropped short on the sides, and he was persistent and passionate in his work. He had a soft touch, too. When the mother of one of his former clients was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Shin made a point of offering his condolences. His boss, Joseph Diubaldo, considered Shin the best employee he’d ever hired.
In January 2012, Shin invited Diubaldo out for coffee, something they’d done regularly. But this time was different: Shin seemed agitated, and Diubaldo guessed that something was wrong. Then, Shin dropped a bombshell. For nearly half his life, he told Diubaldo, he had trafficked marijuana. He’d started in Grade 9 and worked his way up the food chain for 14 years—keeping his double life secret from his family all the while—and at his peak dealt upwards of 500 pounds of weed a year and handled $1.8 million in cash. He recounted how, in the summer of 2009, he’d been arrested at his stash house, how his parents, heartbroken at the news, had bailed him out, and how he was now awaiting trial. Working as a headhunter, he said, was a way to cover his legal bills, but the guilt of lying was gnawing at him. He was desperate to confess before Diubaldo read about him in the news.
More charges filed against Long Grove man in fatal DUI crash
Daily Herald (Chicago, Ill.)
A Lake County grand jury on Wednesday approved additional counts of reckless homicide against a Long Grove man accused of being intoxicated during a crash that killed a woman in September.
Stephen E. Tomczyk, 22, of the 3200 block of Middlesax Drive, was already facing three counts of reckless homicide for the crash that killed Jeewon Kim, 47, of Buffalo Grove on Sept. 5, 2013.
With the charges added Wednesday, Tomczyk now faces six total counts of reckless homicide.
“Hawaii Five-0′s” Daniel Dae Kim on a career in paradise
For Daniel Dae Kim, working in paradise has been twice as nice. He played Jin-Soo Kwon on the series “Lost,” and now he stars on another show filmed in Hawaii. He plays Detective Chin Ho Kelly on CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0.”
Kim joined “CBS This Morning” and discussed his career, being able to work in Hawaii and his family with the co-hosts.
Growing up, Kim actually wanted to be a lawyer, not an actor. He told the co-hosts that, as an undergraduate, he wanted to be an attorney and study political science. He said he did one of those things and “ended up being an actor instead.”
“When I wanted to be an attorney, I think I wanted to be a litigator; I wanted to be in a courtroom,” he said, “and there are a lot of similarities between that and what I do today.”
PSY and Snoop Lion Slow Dance to G-Dragon’s Song at a Noraebang
Looks like we got a sneak preview of PSY‘s upcoming music video! Is that G-Dragon and Snoop Lion we see?
That’s right, it looks like G-Dragon and Snoop Lion (formerly known as Snoop Dog) will feature in PSY’s music video. In the photo we see the three at an old fashioned noraebang. They are wearing similar looking checkered suits, and PSY and Snoop Lion are getting very close with two very happy looking Korean women.
It had been previously reported that Snoop Lion was in Korea to film one of the PSY’s music videos. When PSY announced that he will most likely make a comeback in either February or March, it was also revealed that Snoop Lion would feature on one of his tracks. Later, YG Entertainment announced that PSY will film his music video in mid-January and that they are shooting for a early March comeback.
First Korean Indie band concert in LA
Korea Times US
America has Nine Inch Nails, and Korea has 10cm.
The Korean acoustic folk indie band 10cm will hold a solo concert in Los Angeles on Jan. 31. It will be the first concert hosted by a Korean indie band in the world’s biggest music market.
The venue is Club Nokia.
Making their debut in 2010, the duo act ㅡ vocalist Kwon Jung-yeol and guitarist Yoon Cheol-jong ㅡ had a meteoric rise to fame with several hit songs including “Tonight I’m Afraid of the Dark,” “Give a Hug” and “Fine Thank You and You?”
Reality Show Catapults Kim Hee-ae into Fashion Icon Status
Actress Kim Hee-ae is shaping up as a hot fashion icon, with the clothing, bags and accessories she shows off in a cable channel reality program frequently selling out nationwide.
tvN’s “Sisters Over Flowers” features episodes of a 10-day backpacking trip to Croatia and Turkey by four veteran actresses — Kim, Kim Ja-ok, Lee Mi-yeon and Yoon Yeo-jeong.
The trend started with a long black padded coat from Burberry Brit that retails for over W2 million (US$1=W1,063), which Kim wore in the first episode. Despite its expensive price tag, the coat soon vanished from department store shelves across the country.
Report: Park Ji-sung’s return ‘possible’ in March
Former national men’s football team captain Park Ji-sung could return to play in one of South Korea’s tune-up matches ahead of this year’s FIFA World Cup, the squad’s head coach said Thursday.
On the sidelines of the team’s training camp in the World Cup host nation, Hong Myung-bo said the former Manchester United midfielder may put on a South Korean uniform to face Greece on the road in March.
“It can happen,” Hong said. “There are many possibilities.”
Demand for W50,000 Bills Still Soaring
Due to explosive demand for W50,000 bills, the amount of new bills printed exceeded W9 trillion for the first time last year (US$1=W1,064).
The Bank of Korea on Thursday said total bills in circulation at the end of last year were worth W63.37 trillion, up 9.03 trillion or 16.6 percent from the previous year.
W50,000 bills accounted for 88 percent of that surge. As of the end of 2013, W40.68 trillion worth had been issued, up 24.2 percent from a year ago.
Eugenia Kim to Launch Shoe Line — For Real This Time
Exciting news on the Eugenia Kim front: The masterful milliner has officially expanded into footwear — high-end footwear, in fact — that for Fall 2014 draws on the dark side of 1970s rock ‘n roll, as well as lessons learned from the designer’s first stab at footwear back in 2003.
Kim’s first shoe launch was a success in many ways — the shoes were bought by big retailers like Saks and even won the designer a CFDA Accessories Designer of the Year award in 2004. Sadly, the shoe line fell by the wayside in 2005 when Kim, whose company was still fairly small, had to produce more volume than her factory could handle. “[The factory] couldn’t produce on time, so after a couple of years I decided to stop and focus on hats,” the designer explained to us in a phone interview Thursday.
“I was in my 20s the first time [I did shoes]. I learned so much during those two years,” Kim says. Now, with more experience under her belt, it’s a great time for the brand to be trying again, she says, in part because she’s noticed a “new vanguard of shoe designers” that she could easily become a part of, but also because she now knows a lot more about production. Kim says she has spent a lot of time working on developing the line — she began working on it in April of 2013 and even took a trip to Italy to visit her new factory, which also manufactures shoes for the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. Thus, the quality is high and the materials (mink fur, pearl cabochon, burnt ostrich) luxe. Prices will range from $535 to $1,095.
North Korean Leader Says He Wants Better Ties With South
New York Times
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, on Wednesday called for improving relations with South Korea and boasted of his regime’s tightened grip on power in his first public speech since the purge and execution of his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, last month.
“North and South Korea should create a mood to improve relations,” Mr. Kim said in a nationally televised New Year’s Day speech. “It’s time to end useless slandering, and the North and the South should no longer do things that harm reconciliation and harmony.”
Mr. Kim began delivering a New Year’s Day speech after coming to power two years ago, reviving the practice of his grandfather Kim Il-sung. During the rule of his reclusive father, Kim Jong-il, the country’s main state-run newspapers issued a joint editorial to mark the day.
Decoding Kim’s New Year’s Speech
Wall Street Journal
Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech was closely watched because it offered a rare chance to see the North Korean leader speak, even if he probably contributed little or nothing to the message he delivered.
The speech itself didn’t turn up much that was new other than a colorful reference to his purged uncle, Jang Song Thaek, as “factionalist filth” and heavy reinforcement of the ideological fallout from Mr. Jang’s demise. Mr. Kim said it was imperative to “ensure the purity of Party ranks” and “establish the monolithic leadership system in the Party.”
The delivery of the speech–from behind a dais with seven microphones–was also the same as last year, as was Mr. Kim’s tendency to fidget while speaking. Possibly with that in mind, there was one notable difference in presentation this year: the amount of time Mr. Kim spent on camera.
S.Koreans Have Mixed Feelings About Reunification
A majority of South Koreans believe that reunification is in the national interest, but only a few think it will benefit individuals. This was the outcome of a poll conducted by the Chosun Ilbo.
Some 57.2 percent of respondents said reunification will be beneficial to the national interest and 39.4 percent it will not. But a whopping 66.3 percent do not expect it to benefit individual South Koreans directly, more than double the 30.9 percent who said it will.
About a half or 48.6 percent of respondents are concerned that the cost of reunification could overwhelm the potential benefit. Some 31.8 percent said the benefit will outweigh the cost, while 15.5 percent said the cost and benefit will be about equal. Some 4.1 percent gave no answer.
S. Korea unveils video promoting ownership of Dokdo
South Korea on Wednesday released an on-line video clip publicizing its sovereignty over a set of islets off its east coast that is also claimed by Japan.
The video, which includes historical evidence purporting to show that the islets, called Dokdo, are Korean, was posted on a foreign ministry website (http://dokdo.mofa.go.kr) at midnight Tuesday. It will also be uploaded on YouTube.
“The video was produced to widely spread the firm truth that Dokdo is South Korean territory in terms of history, geography and international law,” ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a briefing.
South Korea military to fight to keep ban on sex by academy cadets
South Korea’s military said on Thursday it would fight a court ruling quashing its move to kick an officer candidate out of the elite Army Academy for having sex with his girlfriend while on leave.
An appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the Academy abused its authority to discipline cadets when it expelled a candidate for having sex with his girlfriend while on a weekend leave. It ruled that his conduct did no harm to the institution’s honor.
The Academy maintains rules against sexual relations as part of its code of conduct that also bans drinking, smoking and marriage and it intends to take the case to the Supreme Court, a spokesman for the Army told a news briefing.
Lee Min-ho Rides Wave of Popularity to Leading Movie Role
Lee Min-ho established his credentials as a character actor rather than just another pretty face in SBS’ TV drama “The Heirs,” which emerged as the most popular TV drama in the second half of last year.
Riding on the success of the drama, which recently came to an end, Lee has now been cast in a new movie that is set in the 1970s, when a real estate development boom swept across Gangnam.
South Korean Films Dominated Domestic Box Office in 2013
Wall Street Journal
South Korea’s genre-defying jail-cell dramedy “Miracle in Cell No. 7” was the country’s biggest box-office draw last year, which saw nine of the 10 top-grossing movies coming from local producers.
The film — starring one of South Korea’s top character actors, Ryu Seung-ryong, about a handicapped parking-garage attendant incarcerated for rape and murder and the efforts to clear his name — pulled in 91.43 billion won ($86.6 million), according to the Korean Film Council.
That makes “Miracle,” directed by Lee Hwan-kyung, the third most successful film in South Korean history. It trails behind “Avatar” (2009), the Hollywood 3-D science-fiction epic from James Cameron, and “The Thieves” (2012), Korean director Choi Dong-hoon’s all-star comic action-thriller.
Lee Seung-gi, Yoon-a Dating
Singer and actor Lee Seung-gi and Yoon-a of Girls’ Generation recently began dating, Lee’s agency confirmed on Wednesday.
Their relationship was first revealed on Wednesday when an Internet news outlet released a photo of Lee picking up Yoon-a at her home immediately after he returned from a concert in Japan in October.
They reportedly started dating in September and enjoy going for drives along the Han River and around Mt. Nam.
Korean community welcomes Shin-Soo Choo to town
Shin-Soo Choo has come to Texas. And he already has plenty of fans here.
The 31-year-old free agent outfielder has signed a seven-year contract with the Texas Rangers. He brought his wife, Won Mi Ha, and two young sons, Kunwoo and Moo-bin, with him to a news conference Friday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Several fellow South Koreans were there to welcome them, including Michael Lee, immediate past chair of the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber, many members of the local Korean media and a few members of the Korean Society of Dallas.
Yuna Kim not preparing ‘special skills’ for Sochi Olympics
For Yuna Kim, defending her Olympic gold medal is not of the utmost importance in Sochi.
The South Korean figure skater will try to enjoy her second Olympics, she said before what’s likely to be her final home competition this weekend.
Kim, expected to retire after the Olympics, is set to compete at the South Korean National Championships.
South Korea look to old guard in World Cup year
South Korea need an infusion of old heads to balance the lack of experience in their squad for this year’s World Cup in Brazil, according to head coach Hong Myung-bo.
The Asian football powerhouse will begin their eighth consecutive World Cup finals campaign against Russia, who they lost 2-1 to in November, on June 17, before clashing with Algeria (June 22) and Belgium (June 26).
Hong, a member of the Korean team that reached the last four of the 2002 World Cup on home soil, said he was close to finalising his squad for the prestigious event.
The morning after: Asia’s top hangover cures
It’s a self-induced ailment that transcends culture and language barriers. The hangover.
Whether you’ve binged on sake or baijou, the result is too often the same: pounding headache, mouth like a Russian wrestler’s jockstrap, urge to spend the day close to something white and made of porcelain.
Though hangovers might be universal, cures for the brown bottle flu are not.
Some boozers swear that a greasy breakfast does the trick. But if you find yourself in an Asian city New Year’s Day with nary a greasy English fry-up in sight, these local hangover cures should make you feel half-human in no time.
With Psy and currency swaps, South Korea grabs global influence
Its most recent effort to leverage brand “Korea” – three currency swap deals worth more than $20 billion that were announced this month.
South Korea had the seventh largest currency reserves in the world at the end of August, worth $331.1 billion, according to the Bank of Korea. It can easily afford to match cultural diplomacy with economic muscle as it competes with Japan and China for influence.
K-Pop icons such as Psy, whose “Gangnam Style” hit went viral in 2012, and even Korean food are used by Seoul to build South Korea’s brand, while Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Hyundai Motor Co are firms with global reach.
N. Korea accuses U.S. of fueling military threat
North Korea on Tuesday claimed that the United States is openly threatening the communist country with military force and warned it could respond to such provocations with war.
In a commentary carried by the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), Pyongyang said Washington’s efforts to set up a missile defense system and station unmanned aerial vehicles in Japan by citing North Korea as a threat is utterly ludicrous.
The paper added that with Pyongyang committed to building an economically prosperous country and improving the lives of its people, it does not want tensions but a peaceful environment on the Korean Peninsula.
The photos North Korea didn’t want you to see
As the sole Western journalist covering a unique bicycle race in North Korea last month, I was provided with a personal guide, a car with a driver and the promise that I was free to take any photographs I wanted. As a journalist, it seemed like an incredible opportunity to document a small snapshot of what North Korea was really like.
However, the promise turned out not to be completely true.
At the border, before going back to China, a group of security guards confiscated my camera and erased all images they thought were inappropriate, or did not portray the country in a favorable light.
South Korean Military Agency’s Headquarters Raided in Growing Scandal
New York Times
Military investigators raided South Korea’s Cyberwarfare Command on Tuesday after four of its officials were found to have posted political messages online last year, in what opposition lawmakers have called a smear campaign against President Park Geun-hye’s opponents before her election in December.
Ms. Park defeated her main opposition rival, Moon Jae-in, by roughly a million votes in the election and took office in February. But in a snowballing scandal, prosecutors have since said that agents of the National Intelligence Service posted thousands of Internet messages during the presidential campaign supporting Ms. Park and her governing Saenuri Party or berating government critics, including opposition presidential candidates, as shills for North Korea.
Last week, opposition lawmakers alleged in the National Assembly that the military’s secretive Cyberwarfare Command had carried out a similar online campaign, separately or in coordination with the spy agency, to help sway public opinion in favor of Ms. Park before the Dec. 19 election.
Two Korean-American Women Finalists for Corporate Counsel Awards
Two Korean-American women attorneys are among the 32 finalists for the Los Angeles Business Journal’s 2013 Corporate Counsel Awards.
The award, in its fourth year, is described as a recognition “for exceptional legal skill and achievement for in-house responsibility and leadership as evidenced by the highest professional and ethical standards, and for contributions to the Los Angeles community at large.”
Candice Hyon, a graduate of UCLA and UC Davis Law school, has worked for clothing retailer Forever 21 for the past year. The La Canada native maybe short on experience, but it didn’t take long for her to be touted as a rising star in the industry.
Latest motorcyclist arrested for brutal beating of SUV driver on Henry Hudson Parkway has 18 prior arrests
New York Daily News
Cops have busted another motorcyclist for the vicious attack on a SUV driver who was chased off the Henry Hudson Parkway, police said Tuesday.
Jason Brown, 40, is the ninth person charged in the case.
He was slapped Monday with gang assault and felony assault charges for his alleged role in the terrifying beatdown.
Astronaut Agency Is Lost in Space, Opposition Says
Wall Street Journal
South Korea’s much-lauded space-development project came under fire at the National Assembly Monday, and fired back Tuesday.
Choi Jae-cheon, a lawmaker from the major opposition Democratic Party, complained during an annual audit session that the Korean Astronaut Program—after spending more than $20 million in taxpayer money to produce the country’s first space traveler back in 2008—has failed to lead to meaningful follow-up research.
“The fact that the symbol of (Korea’s) space science has gone to the U.S. to take an M.B.A. course, not working in the space industry,” Mr. Choi said, “demonstrates (the Korea Aerospace Research Institute) fails to nurture science talents in a systematic way.”
DMTN’s Daniel Appeals His One-Year Sentence
Daniel of idol group DMTN, who was sentenced to one year of prison, recently submitted his appeal to the Suwon District Court.
After his submission reaches the high court and a date is determined, Daniel’s lawyer will be notified within fourteen days.
Daniel, who admitted to his charges during the first trial, is claiming unfair sentencing in his appeal.
Hines Ward on His Emotional Ironman Finish
After 8 solid months of training for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, race day finally arrived. It was a blur for me, filled with intense emotions. Was I ready? I HAD to be. My coach had done her best to turn me into an endurance athlete and with the support from my Become One teammates I was going to face the grueling 140.6 miles of the Ironman World Championship head on.
I woke up at 3:30 a.m. after barely getting any sleep – thoughts were racing through my mind all night and I was feeling super-anxious. When I finally got out of bed I stretched for 20 minutes and then met my teammates to go for body marking (writing my race number on my arm). We headed to the transition area and made sure our bike tires were pumped to the right pressure and that our water bottles and nutrition packs were full.
I went back to my room one more time before the race to try and relax and go through my race strategy in my head, and all I could think about was the finish line. I had my sights set on it since the first day of training. It seemed so close but so far away.
Do Ho Suh Turns Household Appliances Into Ghostly Specimens
Have you ever dreamed about the unlikely lovechild of a jellyfish and your fridge?
Artist Do Ho Suh’s upcoming exhibition transforms household appliances into polyester fabric forms, turning the clunky utilities into ghostly specimens. The sculptures will go on view in the aptly titled exhibition “Specimen Series,” at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Hong Kong.
The Korean-born, United States-based artist, consistently returns to themes of architecture, personal space and the home in relation to feelings of belonging, conformity and isolation. For this particular exhibition, Suh focuses on the mechanical objects we expect to encounter — though don’t necessarily see — around the home, from a refrigerator to a toilet. He depicts these cumbrous commodities as glowing exoskeletons that look more like alien forms than working appliances.
Students design gowns based on old Korean hanbok
San Francisco Gate
Move over, Tim Gunn. Make way for Abra Berman.
In a challenge to rival any on TV’s “Project Runway,” the Art Institute of California and the Asian Art Museum are asking fashion students to create gowns for patrons to wear at the opening night gala for “In Grand Style – Celebrations in Korean Art in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910),” this week.
Unlike the reality TV show, the students are not assigned to use bizarre materials like plastic garbage bags or hardware store finds for the full-length dresses.
Korea’s Cop Cats Will Arrest You with Cuteness
A police station in Seoul, South Korea is filled with more than just cops. There are two feline friends on duty—namely, sleep and snack patrol. It’s a heartwarming story how they got there.P
Meet Mango and Mango Kobun. According to the Seoul Police, a young man brought Mango to the station this past June. The cat, then about one month old, had seemingly been thrown away in a dumpster. If the cat’s owner weren’t found, the animal would have to be put to sleep.
Leftist Leaders Accused of Trying to Overthrow South Korean Government
New York Times
Agents from South Korea’s National Intelligence Service raided the homes and offices of an opposition lawmaker and other members of a far-left opposition party on Wednesday, detaining three of them on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.
The highly unusual raids and charges of treason triggered a political firestorm in a country already rocked by accusations of meddling in domestic politics by the country’s powerful intelligence agency.
Opposition politicians said that in conducting the raids, the conservative government of President Park Geun-hye was resorting to a Communist witch hunt to divert attention from its political scandal involving the spy agency.
Grand Jury Indicts Goldman Banker in Rape Case
East Hampton Star (N.Y.)
A grand jury in Riverhead indicted Jason Lee, a Goldman Sachs financial advisor, for rape in the first degree this afternoon.
Mr. Lee has been free on $20,000 bail since Aug. 21, when a 20-year-old foreign student told detectives he had assaulted her following a pool party at a rented East Hampton house. He is additionally charged with assault in the third degree and sexual misconduct, both misdemeanors. The assault charge means that the grand jury believed that Mr. Lee used a weapon, reportedly his forearm, to injure the young woman, who is said to have returned to her native country.
North Korea’s Olive Branch to U.S. May Not Bear Fruit
Wall Street Journal
With U.S. diplomat Robert King headed to Pyongyang this week, the focus turns from North Korea’s rapprochement with its southern neighbor to its still-tense relationship with the United States. There’s reason to be optimistic that trans-Pacific relations will improve, but many roadblocks still remain.
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched a full-scale charm offensive with the South, striking a deal on family reunions and agreeing to reopen a joint industrial zone. All the while, the North has issued official statements heralding a “hard-won atmosphere of dialogue between the north and the south.”
But the decision to meet with Mr. King, U.S. President Barack Obama‘s special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, is Pyongyang’s first public move so far to court the U.S., following months of saber-rattling since the North’s nuclear test in February.
South Korean hospital won’t transfer American home until $40K bill is paid: reports
New York Daily News
The family of an American man stranded in a South Korean hospital is asking for donations to bring him home.
Sean Jones, a young teacher from Oklahoma City, has been hospitalized since May with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a rare autoimmune disease that causes swelling in the brain.
Jones’ family wants him transferred to an American hospital for continued treatment, but Yonsei University Severance Hospital in Seoul reportedly refuses to release him until his bill of nearly $40,000 is paid.
Friends and family have set up a Facebook page and a Giveforward.com account to raise money for medical costs. So far they have raised about three-quarters of the goal, Sean’s mother, LaTanya Dodd, told The Korea Herald.
Jail, stigma await South Korean men who refuse military service
Reuters via GlobalPost
Sentencing a young man to 18 months in prison in July for refusing to do his mandatory military service, the judge in the South Korean city of Suwon burst into tears.
The judge had handed down verdicts that day in five other criminal cases without emotion, but the case of Im Chang-jo, a 21-year-old Jehovah’s Witness, brought out her sympathies.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, followers of a Christian denomination that claims about 8 million evangelical members worldwide, are well known for refusing military service and blood transfusions.
But Im, his brother, and hundreds like them have paid a heavy price for their beliefs in South Korea, a U.S. ally technically still at war with North Korea, its unpredictable relative with nuclear ambitions and one of the world’s largest armies.
[Exclusive] Former American Idol Contestant HeeJun Talks About Upcoming Debut
HeeJun made his claim to fame as a popular American Idol finalist for season eleven. He won over the judges and the audience with his frank sense of humor and husky voice. After finishing ninth in the season and touring the United States with other contestants, Heejun signed on with Korean agency Polaris Entertainment. Now HeeJun is gearing up for his official solo debut with “Bring the Love Back,” a catchy electronic dance track featuring rapper Pusha T.
For this exclusive interview with Soompi, Heejun shared his candid thoughts on life after American Idol, his family at Polaris Entertainment, and what he likes to sing at noraebang.
CallMeN00NA: How has the transition been from American Idol contestant to solo artist?
HeeJun: It’s been hard. When you’re in American Idol, you’re like Beyonce. Wherever you go people recognize you, pull a seat for you, reserve a hotel for you, and everything is set to go. But once you’re out of the contest, you’re on your own. It’s really hard to survive because you’ve never been on your own. It’s a wild, wild industry, and you might feel like you’re lost. I think I was lucky enough to find a good company. I hustled my way out and you have to do that to make it through after American Idol.
Crayon Pop Hoping to Become the Next Psy
The Korean music industry has been dominated lately by tons of group singers, both men and women, who perform with either sex appeal or lovable cutesy images. But one rookie “girl group” called Crayon Pop is bucking the trend with a completely flipped image: unique, quirky and to some extent bizarre.
The women, all in their 20s, stand out just by their wacky fashion: vividly colored polo shirts buttoned up to the neck, trainer pants topped with a pleated miniskirt, white gloves and a big motorcycle helmet.
Their song “Bar Bar Bar” has been No.1 on the Billboard K-Pop Hot 100 chart for weeks and is running red hot on the Internet, quickly picking up clicks on YouTube. New parodies are uploaded every day.
Shin-Soo Choo joins the 100-100 club
Hardball Talk (NBC Sports)
It’s not a crazy-special club — we’re not talking Barry Bonds territory here — but round number-lovers among you will enjoy noting that last night Shin-Soo Choo joined the 100-100 club, hitting his 100th homer.
He topped the century mark in stolen bases on Sunday when he snagged two, giving him 101 for his career.
Choo will be a free agent this offseason. Not too many guys with his power, speed and on-base ability will be available. I presume he’s gonna make a mint.
Anthony Pettis, Benson Henderson meet in UFC title rematch
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson were destined to meet again.
Somewhere. Sometime. Somehow.
The moment Pettis launched himself horizontally off the cage fence and delivered a high-flying, gravity-defying, electrifying kick to Henderson’s face in the fifth and final round of their epic battle in December 2010, mixed martial arts fans started looking forward to the rematch.
It took time for the stars to align, but at long last Henderson gets a chance to erase “that Pettis stain on my soul” and Pettis gets his shot at an Ultimate Fighting Championship title.
Concrete Canvas: David Choe’s Love Affair with Denver
David Choe lives a crazy life and paints in amazing places. Denver is lucky enough to be one of them. Choe is an art school drop out, world renowned street-artist, law breaker, radio talk-show host and unexpected Facebook millionaire investor. Street art has taken him around the world. Today, his unbelievable murals line 13th and Champa in the alley behind the Denver Center of Performing Arts.
Choe painted four of the six jaw-dropping murals in 2012, which have lasted the test of time. Choe returned to Denver this year and added two more paintings to the wall. They are inspired, electric, colorful and chaotic. It’s as if they want to jump off the concrete. An ordinary grey wall is now a gallery commemorating the fast life and times of David Choe.
VIDEO: This Samsung ad that’s so bad … it’s become a smash hit!
New York Daily News
This is the latest Samsung ad that’s so bad … it’s become a smash online hit!
Actors in the leaked 3-minute clip promoting the tech giant’s new 840 EVO Series Solid State drive have been widely labeled as “the world’s worst.”
Actors have come under fire for their wooden acting and apparent inability to convince viewers of their excitement about the computer.
Openly gay and outspoken LGBTQ activist, Daniel Choi, has been found guilty of a criminal misdemeanor and charged $100 fine for handcuffing himself to the White House gate in November 2010 to protest the since-repealed “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. The sentence was lighter than anticipated; Choi could have received as much as a six-month jail term.
Choi, a former U.S. Army lieutenant and Iraq War veteran, was dismissed from the military because of his sexual orientation as a result of the policy which banned gays from service. During his trial, Choi told the court that, “All I want at the end of this day is to return to the U.S. military,” the Washington Post reports.
Choosing to represent himself rather than seeking legal counsel, Choi’s behavior during his trial was described as “erratic.” Continue Reading »