With several hit singles and a slew of musical accolades already in tow, the New Jersey-raised K-pop singer reflects on her journey from the object of netizen outrage to respected rising star.
by STEVE HAN
How could this happen? Why is a U.S. citizen going to sing our national anthem? What if she starts singing the American anthem instead? She only came here to make money!
Those were just a few of the jabs South Korean netizens hurled at Ailee, after the young Korean American singer was chosen to perform the Aegukga on opening day of the Korean professional baseball season in April 2012.
Baseball is arguably Korea’s most popular professional sport, and for K-pop artists, singing the country’s national anthem on the season’s first day is considered a high privilege. So, when news of the selection of Ailee—a fresh-faced K-pop singer whom most Koreans at that point only knew from her appearance on the MBC reality show Singer and Trainee—went public, netizens lit up the blogosphere with scathing criticism.
“I was really, really proud to sing the Korean anthem because I’m Korean!” recalled Ailee, 23, during an interview in February at the InterContinental Hotel in Los Angeles. “But I got a lot of unexpected criticism. I was really hurt. I mean … really, really hurt.”
But when the moment of truth came, the singer stepped up to the mike behind home plate and did what she had been doing throughout her young career—she sang from the heart. It may have been the anthem of her parents’ motherland, but it had deep meaning for her as a Korean American, too. Continue Reading »
North Korea says Korean-American sentenced to labor had smuggled in anti-Pyongyang literature
North Korea delivered its most in-depth account yet of the case against a Korean-American sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor, accusing him late Thursday of smuggling in inflammatory literature and trying to establish a base for anti-Pyongyang activities at a border city hotel.
Still, the long list of allegations included no statement from Kenneth Bae, other than claims that he confessed and didn’t want an attorney present during his sentencing last week for what Pyongyang called hostile acts against the state.
Since the sentencing came during a period of tentative diplomatic moves following weeks of high tension and North Korean threats of nuclear and missile strikes on Washington and Seoul, outside analysts have said Pyongyang may be using Bae as bait to win diplomatic concessions in the standoff over its nuclear weapons program. North Korea repeated its denial of such speculation in the new statement, but the pattern has occurred repeatedly.
Disgraced spokesman leaves blemish on Park’s U.S. visit
President Park Geun-hye’s first official visit to the United States ended in one of the worst ways possible Friday with her spokesman being fired amid allegations that he had sexually assaulted a woman during the trip.
The allegations sparked public outrage in South Korea and dealt a serious blow to Park just as she was beginning to regain public confidence through her handling of tensions with North Korea and what appeared to be a successful five-day visit to the U.S.
“(He) completely poured cold water over the accomplishments of the U.S. visit,” said one presidential official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It’s causing an extreme burden to state affairs.”
Dennis Rodman says heading back to N.Korea
AFP via Google News
Basketball hall-of-famer Dennis Rodman said he plans a second trip to North Korea to try to use his budding friendship with leader Kim Jong-Un to free a jailed American, in an interview aired Friday.
The flamboyant basketball legend, approached by celebrity news website TMZ as he walked on a Los Angeles street Thursday, said he would return to North Korea on August 1 on a mission to release jailed tour organizer Kenneth Bae.
“I’ll be back over there. I’m going to try to get the guy out,” the heavily tattooed Rodman said in between waving to well-wishers.
Woman pleads guilty to hitting and killing teen
AP via San Francisco Chronicle
An associate professor at the University of Montana has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge filed after her car veered onto a sidewalk and struck and killed an 18-year-old Missoula man.
Yoon Hee Cho, 38, pleaded guilty Thursday in Municipal Court to careless driving resulting in death and to driving on a sidewalk.
The plea agreement calls for Cho to spend 30 days on house arrest and pay $5,000 into the Chance Geery Memorial Fund in lieu of a fine.
Cho was charged in the death of Geery, who was struck on April 1 as he was walking and holding hands with his girlfriend.
Palisades Park man linked to ID and credit card fraud ring to be deported to South Korea
Bergen County Record (N.J.)
A Palisades Park man involved in a massive identity theft and credit card fraud ring was transferred Thursday to immigration officials for deportation to South Korea after a federal judge determined that the 31 months he has already spent in jail would satisfy his sentence.
Osung Kwon, 37, pleaded guilty in 2012 to using a social security card and counterfeit driver’s license he obtained through a borough-based black market enterprise to defraud banks and credit card companies of almost $400,000. He has been in prison since he was arrested in September, 2010.
Speaking through a translator, Kwon, who was wearing shackles and a green prison jumpsuit, apologized to U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden and pleaded for a lenient sentence.
Witnesses tried to save 4-year-old after he was struck by Jeep
First he heard a thud. Then screams. Then Jim Sugent saw a 4-year-old boy lying in the middle of Stevenson Avenue in Alexandria.
Police say the child, who was identified Friday as Jacob Choi, had run into oncoming traffic May 4 and was struck and killed by the driver of a 2010 Jeep Commander. The driver, who is 84, has not been identified by police. He has not been charged in the accident, which remains under investigation, police said.
Jacob’s mother, whose name and address were not released, ran into traffic after her son and also sustained injuries, but they were not serious, police said.
Star Trek’s John Cho a boldly going actor worth shouting about
“I get called Harold the most,” Cho says. “I think maybe Harold & Kumar fans don’t know my name and Star Trek fans do know my name … Harold fans are vocal!”
And of course there’s Star Trek, now two films into the franchise with Star Trek Into Darknessset to boldly go to theatres galaxywide on May 17. Cho plays Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu in the prequel reboot series, the promotion of which has brought him to Toronto. (His introduction at a Monday night screening of Into Darkness included reference to him as “the MILF guy.”)
This makes three hit franchises that Cho has been active in so far, and he’s just entered his 40s. He’s also busy with TV series, most notably the sci-fi drama FlashForward and the recent sitcom Go On, and his early career in the 1990s included much stage work, as a member of East West Players, an Asian-American theatre company in L.A.
Tokimonsta Live at KCRW on Morning Becomes Eclectic 05.09.13
LA native Tokimonsta has a unique take on electronic dance music and is notably the first female to join the groundbreaking Brainfeeder crew, led by Flying Lotus. We’re treated to one of her energetic live performances on Morning Becomes Eclectic at 11:15am.
Choo staying calm in contract year
When new Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo arrived in Cincinnati at the start of the regular season, a book was waiting for him at Great American Ballpark. The text was written in Korean, Choo’s native language. A fan had sent it, he said.
It wasn’t a baseball book. It was about the games we play between our ears. Choo read about keeping a narrow focus, about thinking “simple things,” about accepting that he can’t please everyone.
“When you stop, you see everything,” Choo told me recently, in the cramped visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field. “I really want to explain it to you, but it’s hard to say. I’ve already read it three times.”
Mets could go after Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in offseason
New York Daily News
Almost anything would be an upgrade for the Mets, considering that the state of their outfield is as bad as predicted — even if reserve Mike Baxter has a knack for the big moment, as he showed again Thursday night.
Who’s better: Henderson or Aldo?
ESPN Insider (subscription req’d)
Lightweight champion Benson Henderson and featherweight champ Jose Aldo are two of the most popular fighters in mixed martial arts.
In their most recent fights, Aldo dispatched Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision in February at UFC 156, and Henderson beat Gilbert Melendez in a split-decision victory in April during UFC on Fox 7.
Although the two fight in different weight classes, Aldo has hinted at a jump in competition. Should Aldo beat top contender Anthony Pettis at UFC 163 in August, there’s a real chance these two champs could soon meet in the Octagon.
Mom’s Cooking Comes Between a Husband and Wife
The New York Times
Sometime KoreAm contributor Sung J. Woo writes a Mother’s Day piece for the New York Times.
My mother and I don’t fight often nowadays, because I’m 41 and she’s 72 and we lead separate lives. I see her once every two weeks. She makes me lunch, we shop at Costco, she makes me dinner, then she sends me off with grocery bags full of her cooking.
We’ve been on this schedule for the last eight years, since my father passed away. But on this evening, near the end of my visit to her senior apartment, I could tell we were going to argue.
“Just take it,” she said.
“It’s just one more.” There was an edge to her voice. “Why are you being difficult?”
Have American Parents Got It All Backwards?
This is a guest column by Korean American professor, Christine Gross-Loh, author of Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us.
The parent I used to be and the parent I am now both have the same goal: to raise self-reliant, self-assured, successful children. But 12 years of parenting, over five years of living on and off in Japan, two years of research, investigative trips to Europe and Asia and dozens of interviews with psychologists, child development experts, sociologists, educators, administrators and parents in Japan, Korea, China, Finland, Germany, Sweden, France, Spain, Brazil and elsewhere have taught me that though parents around the world have the same goals, American parents like me (despite our very best intentions) have gotten it all backwards.
We need to let 3-year-olds climb trees and 5-year-olds use knives.
South Korean superstar Psy was all “Gentleman” about being called “herpes” by the Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong.
Armstrong recently posted a photo of Psy on Instagram, and wrote that the Korean rapper is “the herpes of music,” because, “once you think it’s gone, it comes back.#herpes #flareup #pleasegoaway.”
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.
Just six days after Psy’s surprise appearance, Dodger Stadium was graced by another K-pop star when Tiffany Hwang of supergroup Girls’ Generation threw the ceremonial first pitch before Monday night’s game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Hwang, a Southern California native from nearby Diamond Bar, threw to Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, albeit somewhat off the mark.
Hwang said the newly-arrived lefty pitcher was now her favorite player on her hometown team.
“It’s great to see a fellow Korean on a team I’ve supported since I was young,” she told iamKoreAm.com before the game. “I hope he does well.”
Hwang’s pitch was a memorable one, unlike most ceremonial first pitches which become forgotten as soon as the actual game begins. It was actually more of a “throw” than a pitch, as she tossed the ball right through the middle of first base and home plate, prompting hysterical laughter from the crowd.
“It went terrible,” she said. “But [Ryu] said it was okay!” Continue Reading »