A Korean American man from Orange, Calif., has been arrested and charged with the murder of his roommate, a former Army veteran who was set to graduate from college in a few weeks.
Police charged 54-year-old Kwang Chol “K.C.” Joy with the murder of Maribel Ramos, 36, a student at Cal State Fullerton and a sergeant for the U.S. Army who served in Iraq and South Korea. Ramos was last seen on the evening of May 2 when she dropped off a rent check at her landlord’s office, the Orange County Register reports. When Ramos failed to appear at a softball game the following day, her family alerted authorities.
For weeks, people have tried to locate Ramos’s whereabouts and Thursday her body was finally found near a road in an area heavy with brush. Continue Reading »
North Korean academic says detained American called family and asked US to push for amnesty
AP via Washington Post
A North Korean academic says an American sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor has called his family and urged Washington to push for his amnesty.
Ri Gyong Chol, section chief of the North Korean Academy of Social Sciences’ Institution of Law, also told The Associated Press Sunday that Kenneth Bae informed his family on Friday that he couldn’t appeal his April 30 sentence.
Ri’s information came from authorities in charge of Bae’s case. Washington has called for Bae’s release.
N. Korea in dangerous nuclear showdown: US envoy
AFP via Google News
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is playing a dangerous game in his nuclear showdown with the international community, the US envoy seeking to tempt the isolated state back into talks said Thursday.
Glyn Davies said ahead of a tour of South Korea, China and Japan that it was becoming clear that the young Kim is the master dictating policy, including sanctions-busting nuclear bomb and long-range missile tests.
Juliana Redding Murder Update: Kelly Soo Park’s defense claims Redding’s boyfriend could be killer
In a key pre-trial hearing days before Kelly Soo Park stands trial for the 2008 murder of 21-year-old aspiring model Juliana Redding, the prosecution and defense effectively switched roles as Park’s attorneys sought to point to what they say is another possible murder suspect — Redding’s boyfriend.
The defense team is attempting to establish that former Santa Monica resident and surfer John Gilmore could very well have been the killer, instead of Park. Meanwhile, prosecutor Stacy Okun-Wiese voiced her intention to demonstrate Gilmore’s “innocence,” insisting Park is indeed the killer.
Park is accused of beating and strangling Redding, whose body was found in March 2008 in Redding’s Santa Monica, Calif. condo. Redding had moved to Santa Monica from Arizona in order to pursue a career in modeling and acting. She had been featured in Maxim magazine, where she won a “Hometown Hotties” contest.
District Attorney investigates complaint in Hollywood area council race
Southern California Public Radio
The District Attorney’s Office is investigating a complaint that campaign workers in a Hollywood area city council race illegally filled out ballots for voters.
The complaint was filed by the John Choi campaign against his opponent Mitch O’Farrell. According to the campaign, the O’Farrell camp mishandled ballots and outright voted on behalf of constituents in the Little Armenia neighborhood. The O’Farrell campaign denies all the allegations.
“This is the most blatant and widespread case of voter fraud I’ve seen in 20 years of political campaigns,” said Mike Shimpock of the Choi campaign. “They are literally stealing this election. This needs to be stopped.”
LA Catholic Archiocese grooming next generation of elementary school leaders
Southern California Public Radio
Tech-savvy and a skilled fundraiser, Jae Kim is exactly the type of leader the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles wants for its schools.
Last July, Kim became the first person other than a nun to be principal of St. John Chrysostom School in Inglewood. He’s outfitted the 85-year-old school with Wi-Fi, developed a financial plan that includes a rainy day fund and instructed teachers to post grades online.
Kim is part of a new generation of leaders whom the archdiocese is grooming. They’re being cultivated at a critical time for a Church eager to attract and hold onto the next generation.
Crazy, Stupid, Korean Love: On David Choe, Han, and “Unmarriageable” Koreans
I asked a few Korean Americans to elaborate on their “unmarriageable” status as professed by Choe. Aside from a universal sense of self-deprecation and wryness at an all too familiar topic, some responses specifically alluded to the personalities and relationships of their parents’ generation:
“It feels great because now I can tell my mom that it’s not my fault after all! It’s just because I’m Korean American. So, it’s your fault, mom. Your fault.” –C.K.
“My Korean father refused to marry my Korean mother, and abandoned her, pregnant and alone. I was sent away from the motherland, to be raised strangers abroad. But yeah, sure. That sounds great. It’s not like I’ve spent my entire life trying to prove I’m unmarriageable and unloveable.” –K.D.
“If I’m anything like my mother, I completely understand why a man would hesitate to marry me.” –V.L.
South Korean Men Cosmetics-Crazed
Their catchy tunes and sleek moves have helped sell billions of records.
Now, K-pop’s biggest stars are helping cosmetics firms sell makeup – to men.
Eager to achieve their pretty-boy looks and smooth complexion, South Korean men are increasingly turning to BB cream foundation and anti-aging products to achieve K-Pop perfection, spending $900 million a year on cosmetics, according to research firm Euromonitor.
South Korea is by far the largest in a growing global market for men’s cosmetics, accounting for nearly a quarter of sales in the skin care market.
Japanese First Lady in Korean Musical Furor
Akie Abe, the wife of rightwing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, came in for a storm of criticism when she said on Facebook that she went to see a Korean musical.
Last Wednesday night, Akie posted the seemingly uncontroversial comment, “I had an enjoyable time watching Korean musical ‘Caffeine’ currently on stage in Tokyo,” with a photo showing her in front of the poster. “Caffeine” has been running since April 25 at the Amuse Musical Theater in Roppongi, Tokyo, which is dedicated to Korean musicals.
But Japanese patriots were incensed by her “careless” conduct as the wife of the prime minister at this “sensitive time.”
Los Angeles Dodgers Rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu Consistently Good in First Eight Starts
Yahoo Sports [Contributor Network]
The Los Angeles Dodgers spent a lot of money on Korean import Hyun-Jin Ryu this winter. So far, he’s making them look awfully smart.
The initial scouting reports weren’t exactly impressive: an average fastball, an average slider and a potentially plus changeup. The reports almost didn’t warrant a six-year, $36 million deal and a $25.7 posting fee. He was nearly a $62 million commitment before even throwing a pitch in the majors. That’s what former No. 1 overall draft picks in the NFL used to get. In a league where contracts are guaranteed, the Dodgers were taking a considerable risk, no matter how deep their pockets are these days.
Hank Conger’s mother marvels at son’s MLB dream
Eun, born and raised in South Korea until immigrating to the U.S. in 1986, came from a culture that preaches studying hard, going to college, obtaining a degree and ultimately working a normal 9-to-5 job.
Draft night brought mixed emotions.
“It was half and half,” Eun said of how she felt to watch her son get selected in the first round. “I was happy, but then another side was like, ‘Aw, he should go to school.’”
But Eun can laugh about all this now. Her 25-year-old son is living out his dream in the Major Leagues, while serving as a backup catcher on the Angels and doing what only one percent of those who aspire to take on his profession actually accomplish. Better yet, he’s playing for a team whose home ballpark resides in Anaheim, a half-hour drive from the Huntington Beach area where Conger grew up.
Margaret Cho: I’d like to be a role model for minority women
From your early days, you often use your family as material in your stand-up — and your mother was the “headliner” in your latest tour. How did your parents and your cultural upbringing influence your career path?
Yes I think so, but what was remarkable was how much it really informed me as a person. I don’t know how Confucian I actually am consciously, but it seems to really have affected me because of my upbringing. I’m very drawn to Korean culture and food now that I’m older and have a more secure sense of my Americanness. There was a period where I wanted to avoid Korean things because they felt so close to home, but now I miss my home so much!
Asian American Literary Pioneers
May is Asian American History Month. As a recent U.S. Census report revealed, Asian Americans are the largest group immigrating to America in the last decade. It goes without saying that Los Angeles and Southern California is central to this, like it is with the Latino population. L.A. Letters celebrates all histories every month but nonetheless this week will focus on a few forgotten early Asian American pioneering poets that paved the way for the stellar contemporary writers mentioned previously in this column, like Sesshu Foster, Amy Uyematsu, Chiwan Choi, Traci Kato-Kiriyama, Edren Sumagaysay, Cathy Park Hong, and musicians and artists like Tracy Wannomae, Alan Nakagawa, DJ Rhettmatic, Prach Ly, and Yayoi Kusama, among countless others.
Asian-American leaders meet with Obama
Top Asian-American leaders met Wednesday with President Barack Obama and senior staff in a meeting that participants called a “meaningful” discussion on immigration, health care and civil rights.
The sit-down with Obama on Wednesday – which came amid Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month – was the first time that the president met with top officials from the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community, participants said.
“The meeting was very productive,” said Deepa Iyer, chairwoman of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and the executive director of the South Asian Americans Leading Together. “I think it really speaks to a recognition of the growing power of our community in the country … we’ve been able to galvanize a strong political base.”
Park’s progress: A first meeting with the American president sparkles
UNTIL she came to Washington, DC, to meet Barack Obama on May 7th and to address both houses of Congress the following day, South Korea’s new leader, Park Geun-hye, had not had an auspicious start to her presidency. Thanks to misguided choices for key posts, it seemed to take her an age to form an administration. Meanwhile, North Korean provocations cranked up regional tensions.
After testing a nuclear device shortly before Ms Park’s February inauguration, the North continued by threatening war and, last month, by denying South Korean managers entry to the Kaesong industrial complex. This last surviving instance of North-South co-operation now stands empty. South Korean shares have signally failed to take part in this year’s Asia-wide rally. Ms Park brought with her to America many titans of corporate South Korea partly to reassure foreign investors.
In Washington, however, it was all smiles and warm glances. Mr Obama was visibly taken by Ms Park’s “focus and discipline and straightforwardness”. Perhaps partly because of this rapport between the two leaders, things went better than Ms Park’s advisers dared hope.
Korean Newspapers Mixed on Park’s U.S. Trip
Wall Street Journal
All the major South Korean newspapers on Thursday picked President Park Geun-hye addressing Congress for their front-page photos. Despite generally positive notes on her U.S. trip, not all of them were happy with her diplomacy.
Hankyoreh, a left-of-center newspaper, was skeptical of the summit, saying that it “didn’t reach a level to produce a solution for the recent crisis in Korean peninsula.” It said top leaders sent out a clear message that they “will firmly react to North Korea’s provocation yet door is still open for conversation.” The paper also said top leaders failed to work out an active message to solve the crisis.
Korean-American students respond to tensions
Huntington News (Northeastern Univ.)
In response to intensified threats from North Korea against South Korea and the United States, Korean-American students at Northeastern are feeling wary but largely nonplussed.
“The US media makes it sound much more severe than it is,” Katherine Yom, a freshman international business major, said. “If you look at South Korean media, they’re really not concerned about it.”
Yom, a performance coordinator for Northeastern’s Korean American Student Association (KASA), said tensions between the North and South have become a way of life for Koreans and their families overseas.
“It’s something that’s been going on for years,” she said. “They’ve always threatened the South, especially when there’s a new president.”
Rancho Cucamonga man found guilty of murdering mother, faces insanity phase in trial
The Inland Daily Bulletin (Calif.)
After deliberating for a day and a half, a jury panel found Luke Kang guilty of fatally beating his mother with a golf club last year.
Jurors announced they’d reached a verdict Wednesday afternoon in West Valley Superior Courthouse. Kang was convicted of willful, deliberate and premeditated murder in the first degree and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.
They also found the allegation that Kang, 28, used a deadly weapon when he attacked his mother on Feb. 22, 2012, at their home in the 11500 block of Stoneridge Drive in Rancho Cucamonga to be true. Because Kang previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, the same jury panel will have “to determine whether the defendant was or was not legally insane at the time of the crime,” Judge Colin J. Bilash said.
Jurors will come back for the second portion of the trial – the sanity phase – on Wednesday. Testimony in that phase is expected to last three to four days, Bilash said.
Why are there so few Asian Americans in LA politics?
Southern California Public Radio
When L.A. voters go to the polls later this month, they could be making history. That’s because, if he’s elected, candidate John Choi could be the first Asian-American elected to the city council in 20 years. But even then, he’d only be the second ever to hold a seat on the council.
In a city where 1 in 8 people are Asian-American, why is it hard for them to have a permanent place at LA’s political table?
“Our communities are very geographically dispersed,” says An Le, director of community engagement at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. “We don’t make up enough of a voting bloc in one council district to have one dominant Asian-American candidate that can win a race in the city.”
Do Endorsements for John Choi and Mitch O’Farrell Reveal Answers for Tri-Hipster Area Voters?
Is L.A. City Council District 13 candidate John Choi a pawn of downtown City Hall interests? Does rival Mitch O’Farrell really have the support of CD 13′s community activists? Will residents be screwed no matter who gets elected?
All important questions as the contentious CD 13 race heads into the final stretch, and endorsements from Choi’s and O’Farrell’s rivals may provide some revealing answers… For months now, many CD 13 community activists have been saying that O’Farrell and Choi are two totally different candidates.
In their eyes, O’Farrell, a longtime field deputy for Councilman Eric Garcetti, knows CD 13 inside and out and will better look after the interests of regular folks. They say Choi, who’s supported by the Democratic party machine in Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor honcho and kingmaker Maria Elena Durazo, will be more concerned about pleasing downtown power players.
Obituary: Heeyul “Helen” Cho Lee
Heeyul ‘Helen’ Cho Lee died unexpectedly of sepsis beginning from a pacemaker implant surgery site Saturday, May 4, 2013. She was 81.
Beloved wife of Kee Hyung Lee of Moorestown, she is survived by stepchildren, Choony Mu and Jacqueline de la Houssaye; two beloved grandchildren, Maxine and Madeleine; and many nieces and nephews.
Helen graduated from Ewha Woman’s University Medical College in Seoul, Korea and received her M.D. degree in 1957. Helen practiced medicine in various locations until 1977 when she began her private practice in general medicine in Burlington for over 30 years.
Heeyul had a keen sense of humor and enjoyed joking with her friends.
Lee Hyori Declares Everyone ‘Miss Korea’ in First Single in 3 Years
This year marks a decade in the K-pop industry for Lee Hyori. Despite spending the last three years on hiatus, the K-diva is back with the lovely new single “Miss Korea,” a pre-release before unveiling her fifth album on May 21.
“Miss Korea” is an understated, jazzy ditty. While many K-pop fans remember Lee Hyori rocking fierce hip-hop and dance sounds in singles like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Get Ya,” the song is a nice way to remind fans of the singer’s talent first and foremost. Plus, this is likely to be enjoyed by both older and younger generations with its classic, acoustic production.
Psy’s ‘Gentleman’ tops 300 mln YouTube hits
The video for South Korean rapper Psy’s new single “Gentleman” has been viewed more than 300 million times since it was posted on YouTube last month, the global video-sharing Web site said Thursday.
The video, released on April 13, recorded 300.256 million hits as of 11:10 a.m. Thursday. The milestone was reached 26 days after its release and 17 days after the new video broke the 200 million mark on April 22.
YG Entertainment Teases ‘Who’s Next?’ as Mysterious ’2NE1 Loves’ Videos Surface
Some mysterious online media has left K-pop fans both scratching their heads and wagging their tongues with anticipation.
Major K-pop label YG Entertainment (home to popular acts PSY, BIGBANG, 2NE1, Lee Hi and more) revealed a graphic with almost all their artist names, a May 28 date and the question ‘WHO’S NEXT?’ (See the full graphic here). An updated graphic soon followed with almost all the names faded except for 2NE1, CL, Taeyang, Kang Seung Yoon and “YG NEW ARTIST.” Online K-pop fans–aka “netizens”–have many theories for “who’s next.”
One thought is that new material is coming from one of the current artists on YG’s roster. Fans may hear the first music from Kang Seung Yoon, who signed on to be a trainee with the company after appearing on singing competition “Superstar K” in 2011. It may also refer to 2NE1’s delayed album (that was originally schedule for April). New music from BIGBANG member Taeyang is said to be coming early this year as well.
South Korea’s No. 1 national treasure reopens after five years
After a massive, five-year restoration project involving 35,000 workers, scientists, historians and artisans, Sungnyemun, Korea’s top-ranked national treasure, finally reopened to the public this week.
Commonly known as Namdaemun or the Great South Gate, Sungnyemun is considered the most important historical and cultural treasure in South Korea for its 600-year-old history as well as its symbolic role as protector of the king and capital, which was why it was given the official title of the number one national treasure by the government’s Cultural Heritage Administration.
Following a Buddhist ritual known as cheondo, meant to rid the building of bad luck, the May 4 celebration was marked by a military band parade, music, dancing, prayer ceremonies and free admission to all four royal palaces in Seoul.
Kakao Moves Beyond Chat Rooms
Wall Street Journal
Kakao Corp., the company behind the smartphone chat app popular in Asia, has launched a new app in a bid to expand its mobile revenue.
Since it introduced Kakao Talk in 2010, the South Korean company has diversified into mobile games and commerce. Its new offering, called Kakao Page, works like an e-reader. Within the app, users can store video clips, pictures, comics, and reading material featuring professionals from various fields, ranging from song writers to hair stylists. Download fees vary depending on the content. The app, launched about a month ago, is available on the Google Play store but is only offered in Korean.
The Kims’ downtown Bellevue apartment building. Photo via Patch
A former Microsoft programmer was sentenced today in Bellevue, Wash., for killing a man he believed was having an affair with his wife, according to news reports.
Sung Ho Kim, 45, will serve 13 years in prison for second-degree murder, six months longer than was recommended by both prosecutors and the defense, for the November 2011 death of Jin Young Kim (no relation), who worked for his wife, the Seattle Times reports. Kim pleaded guilty to the charge in April.
In November of 2011, Kim went to the downtown Bellevue apartment where his wife ran a business, and began arguing with the victim, telling him to leave his job and stay away from his wife. The victim said he couldn’t be fired because he had signed a contract, but allegedly said he would go if given $500,000. Continue Reading »
In early 2012, Luke Kang was charged with murdering his mother with a golf club. Kang, a resident of Rancho Cucamonga, was accused of bludgeoning his 60-year-old mother and was arrested at the scene. More than a year after the brutal attack, court proceedings began Wednesday.
Kang, 28, reportedly suffers from mental health problems and is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to murder charges, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports.
Neighbor Eric Nash was the witness who called authorities after Kang’s father Ezra asked Nash for help. Nash told the courtroom on Thursday that he walked inside the Kang home and encountered a grisly crime scene. Kang’s mother Hannah was lying on the ground, breathing but unable to speak, with massive head injuries.
“I just held her hand and told her help was on the way,” Nash testified. Continue Reading »