In the East China Sea, a Far Bigger Test of Power Looms
New York Times
In an era when the Obama administration has been focused on new forms of conflict — as countries use cyberweapons and drones to extend their power — the dangerous contest suddenly erupting over a pile of rocks in the East China Sea seems almost a throwback to the Cold War.
Suddenly, naval assets and air patrols are the currency of a shadow conflict between Washington and Beijing that the Obama administration increasingly fears could escalate and that American officials have said could derail their complex plan to manage China’s rise without overtly trying to contain it. As in the Cold War, the immediate territorial dispute seems to be an excuse for a far larger question of who will exercise influence over a vast region.
N. Korea allows Swedish diplomat to meet detained U.S. citizen: reports
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
North Korea allowed a Swedish diplomat to meet with the 85-year-old U.S. citizen who has been detained in the communist country for more than a month, media reports monitored in Seoul said Sunday.
News wire services such as AFP and CNN said a consul met Merrill Newman at a hotel in Pyongyang and delivered medication sent by his family.
The Scandinavian country’s mission in Pyongyang acts as the “protecting power” for Americans in North Korea, and its diplomats provide consular services.
After escaping to South Korea, some defectors now want to return north
Since Son Jeong-hun defected from North Korea in 2002, he has helped other North Koreans escape and resettle in South Korea. That’s why so many people were surprised when he announced earlier this year that he wants to go home.
“No one had ever asked to re-defect to North Korea before,” Son says. “The government said it’s illegal; there’s no way to return.”
Son, who’s 47, wants to go home because he’s ill. He says his liver is failing and he wants to see his family in Pyongyang again before he dies.
Qualcomm employee left beaten after night of karaoke with friends
10 News (San Diego)
A family contacted 10News looking for help after a Qualcomm employee was left beaten with a brain injury after a night of karaoke with friends.
Andrew Oh, 24, is now in critical condition at Sharp Memorial Hospital. His sister Jessie tells 10News the family is struggling to find out how this could happen.
“He’s like the gentle giant,” she said. “We don’t understand why this would ever happen to him.”
Oh’s sister says he went to celebrate his roommate’s birthday last Saturday evening. They went to the Chorus Karaoke Bar in Kearny Mesa. Sometime that night, Oh stepped outside the bar and was later found early Sunday morning unconscious and badly beaten in the parking lot, said his sister, Jessie Oh.
Exchange Program in Spotlight After Korean Student’s Death in Brisbane
Wall Street Journal
Every year, around 50,000 young South Koreans go abroad as part of a popular government-sponsored exchange program—but the program is finding itself under the spotlight after a 22-year-old Korean student was killed in Brisbane, Australia.
Ban Eun-ji, a university student from southern port city of Busan, died Sunday after sustaining severe head injuries in an attack on her way to work as a cleaner at a hotel in Queensland state’s capital, according to media reports. Police have taken a 19-year-old man who they suspect of killing Ms. Ban into custody.
Ms. Ban had been in Australia for six weeks as part of the Working Holiday program, which the government promotes as an opportunity to work and travel at the same time. Nearly three-quarters of all Korean participants in the program choose Australia, partly because it is the only country among 16 that have signed agreements with South Korea that doesn’t limit participation.
South Korea’s schools: Long days, high results
The results of the international school tests – known as Pisa tests – are to be published by the OECD on Tuesday. In previous years, South Korea has been one of the highest achievers. But it means long hours of study.
Hye-Min Park is 16 and lives in the affluent Seoul district of Gangnam, made famous by the pop star Psy. Her day is typical of that of the majority of South Korean teenagers.
She rises at 6.30am, is at school by 8am, finishes at 4pm, (or 5pm if she has a club), then pops back home to eat.
She then takes a bus to her second school shift of the day, at a private crammer or hagwon, where she has lessons from 6pm until 9pm.
Sex, lies and video leaks
Kim’s boyfriend in college had asked her to look into his camera while they were having sex. She obliged as the video was supposed to be viewed between them only.
But after their relationship abruptly ended, her ex-boyfriend decided there was no reason to keep his end of the promise. He posted the video online for random people to watch and download it. He also posted her name and school to make sure that everyone knew who they were watching having sex.
The video circulated heavily among Internet users almost instantly.
In panic, Kim asked portal sites to delete the video, but it was too late. Soon, her friends and family became aware of it. She then shut herself off from all social aspects of life in shame for many years.
How Korean bureaucrats turned K-pop into a national symbol
If you visit South Korea, you’ll probably hear a triumphant refrain about Korean pop, known as “K-pop,” casting a spell over North America and Europe.
The narrative typically goes like this: Swarms of Western fans have been racing to K-pop concerts in recent years, falling in love with the young, colorful ladies of Girls’ Generation or the muscular, shirtless men of Super Junior. Thanks to their dazzling repertoire of, well, crayon pop songs, multiple concerts have sold out in the US, France and the UK. It’s a signal that the world is increasingly in awe of this homegrown Korean art.
You’ll hear this storyline in Seoul more often than the global triumphs of, say, Samsung or Tae Kwon Do.
Dia Frampton Stars In New Video From The Crystal Method
On Friday Dia Frampton Stars In New Video From The Crystal Method was a top story. Here is the recap: The Voice’s season two contestant Dia Frampton stars in The Crystal Method’s new music video for their latest single “Over It,” which comes from their upcoming self-titled studio album (out January 14.)
MSO sent over these details: The “Over It” video was Directed by Zak Stoltz and it follows Dia Frampton (The Voice/Meg & Dia) through a “Top Chef” style baking competition where the odds are stacked in her competitors’ favor as they use their sexuality to sway the judges.
Avett Brothers cellist Joe Kwon explains the band’s famous energy
The Avett Brothers released their eighth full-length album, “Magpie and the Dandelion,” on Oct. 15, and it debuted at No. 5 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart. Rick Rubin, who has worked with artists from Mick Jagger to Jay Z, produced the record, making it his third album with the band. With influences of country, bluegrass, rock ‘n’ roll, folk and punk, the Avett Brothers play a style of music most commentators label as Americana.
Unique to the band’s sound and character is cellist Joe Kwon, who was born in Korea; grew up in High Point, N.C.; graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; and now lives in Durham. A few days before the Avett Brothers planned to perform on the “Late Show With David Letterman,” Joe found time to speak with me about the band’s new album, his passionate command of the cello, his artful endeavors in food and photography, and his new love of woodworking.
SISTAR’s Hyorin Makes Solo Debut With ‘One Way Love’ & ‘Lonely’
The K-pop girl group leader lets her fluttery vocals take center stage for two safe, but satisfactory singles.
After Hyorin landed K-Pop Hot 100 No. 1s with her girl group SISTAR, sub-unit project SISTAR19 and a special solo single, the K-diva is finally making her proper solo debut, promoting two singles: “Lonely” and “One Way Love.” If the objective was to launch the 22-year-old as a solo star with a unique palette of vocals colors and tones, well, mission accomplished.
The first taste of the Incheon native’s debut comes via the acoustic-leaning pop/R&B number “Lonely.” The production, while dreamy, is nothing particularly special or original for K-pop, but the vocal lines highlight Hyorin’s fluttery, hushed approach.
Running success from South Korea
The Star (Malaysia)
Running Man, another phenomenal export from South Korea, features a mix of reality TV, variety show, games and competition. Get to know the current members of the running team.
LEE KWANG SOO, 28
Who: Outside of Running Man, this runway model-turned-entertainer has acted in films such as The Scent (2012) and TV drama The Innocent Man (2012), mostly in comedic roles. For Running Man, his most well-known show, he won the award for Variety New Star in 2010 at the SBS Entertainment Awards and then a New Star Award at the same event a year later.
Running Man persona: Aptly nicknamed Giraffe due to his 1.9m height, he is massively popular and often gets the loudest fan cheers outside of South Korea, such as in Macau and Vietnam – hence he is known as the Asian Prince. On the flip side, he tends to betray his teammates for his own gain, so he is nicknamed The Betrayer as well.
Roy Choi’s POT at the Line Hotel in LA Coming in 2014
Los Angeles, get ready for POT, the upcoming restaurant from chef Roy Choi at the Line Hotel. The Line is located in LA’s K-Town and is owned by the Sydell Group, the team behind New York City’s NoMad Hotel. Choi will be doing all the food and beverage at the Line, and in addition to POT there will be POT Lobby Bar (based on “classic hotel bar[s] in Korea for international travellers”), a cafe inspired by bakery traditions of Taiwan, Korea, El Salvador, Mexico, and “supermarket birthday cakes,” and a more casual restaurant called Commissary.
POT itself is named for Korean hot pot (and not the kind of pot you smoke) and will serve “hot pots, blood soups, bbq” and more. According to Eater LA, no official opening date has been announced, but expect it shortly after the new year. Everything coming up Roy Choi these days, with a bestselling book that just came out and now a hotel’s worth of restaurants opening soon.
Louis Vuitton Publishes Seoul Travel Guide
French luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton has published a new city guide for Seoul, highlighting features as the “fiery” tempers of Koreans.
The book is filled with observations of the city from the perspective of foreigners. Louis Vuitton has been publishing city guides since 1998. They have covered 13 major cities like London, New York, Paris and Tokyo. Seoul and Beijing were newly added in this edition, which is available in Korean, English and French.
Q&A with Christine Sun Kim: Connecting the Hearing to the Non-Hearing Through Art
San Francisco Weekly
Christine Sun Kim is a 33-year-old, New York-based visual, sound, and performance artist who uses sound as a medium in her work. She will be in San Francisco for a month-long is residency at Southern Exposure in January.
This writer was able to take a workshop with Kim recently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she directed participants in creating, “A Choir of Glances.” In this workshop, (during which participants wore earplugs and were not allowed to speak), participants translated words into facial expressions and sounds, ending with a live performance: Kim faced her choir and directed them in a choreography of improvised sounds and facial expressions. It felt like a joyful work.
China’s Airspace Claim Inflames Ties to South Korea, Too
New York Times
South Korea’s foreign minister warned on Wednesday that China’s recent attempt to police the sky over a vast area in the East China Sea was worsening tensions in a region already strained by territorial disputes.
China’s so-called air defense identification zone covered not only a group of islands that both Japan and China claim but also a submerged rock that both China and South Korea want to control.
The dispute over the submerged rock has never been as fierce as China’s dispute over the islands with Japan, but the new air patrol zone drew strong protests from South Korea, threatening to heighten tensions with Beijing. Seoul said it would not recognize the Chinese zone and would maintain its jurisdictional right to waters around the rock, which is called Ieodo in Korea and Suyan Rock in China.
Brisbane teen ‘looking for thrill kill’
9 News (Australia)
The teen accused of fatally bashing a South Korean student in a Brisbane park had fantasised about murder since he was a child, police will allege.
Detectives believe Alex Reuben McEwan, 19, was hunting for a random victim when he attacked 22-year-old Eunji Ban in an inner-city park as she walked to work as a hotel cleaner in the early hours of Sunday morning, the Courier-Mail reports.
McEwan, an apprentice spray painter, was arrested late on Monday after a tip-off to police.
He was allegedly wearing a fresh plaster cast for a broken hand he sustained in the attack.
Culturally mixed, united in learning
A fourth grader, Kaya, didn’t have a care in the world while playing soccer with friends after classes Tuesday on the grounds of Seoul Itaewon Elementary School.
Merrily and slightly roughly, Kaya and fellow fourth graders were kicking, running and scoring goals, shouting out mostly in Korean but with a mix of English
Kaya, who would only give his first name, was born to an Indian father and a Korean mother.
Tokyo, Seoul clash over artifacts taken to Japan during colonial period
South China Morning Post
There is growing anger in South Korea over an exhibition of ancient Korean artefacts that are on loan from a museum in Tokyo, with a Japanese legal expert warning that “emotional” demands by the media are likely to strain ties that are already at breaking point.
“Both countries have ratified the conventions that cover these artefacts so the situation seems to be more legal than nationalistic, but the South Korean media is becoming more and more emotional and that is certain to accelerate the nationalistic tendencies,” said Toshiyuki Kono, a professor in the faculty of law at Kyushu University and an expert in the trade of ancient artefacts.
Under the headline “Stolen national treasures come home for 90 days”, The JoongAng Daily on November 21 said visitors to an exhibition of treasures from the Gaya period at the Yangsan Museum, in South Gyeongsang province, were “stunned” that the items were only on loan from the Tokyo National Museum.
College-bound graduate seeks help for buying an assistance van
The Issaquah Press (Washington)
Local volunteers hope to make a college transition easy for one student.
Jae Kim graduated from Issaquah High School this year and is excited about starting Bellevue College in January. She has cerebral palsy, and while Issaquah High School provided assistance in transportation, she will need to find her own way to future education.
In response, a group of local residents have started a campaign to raise $50,000 to buy Kim and her family a gently used van, complete with lift assistance. They hope to find help from the community to take this large worry off Kim’s entry into college.
Kangta to represent ‘voice’ of Korea
Kangta, a former member of Korean boy band H.O.T., will attend the “Voice of World” concert as a representative of Korea.
The world-wide event, organized by China’s Zhejiang TV, has invited judges and contenders of a survival audition program “The Voice,” whose regional editions have been aired throughout countries like the U.S., U.K., Germany, China as well as Korea.
Kang, 34, a former judge of the first and second season of “Voice of Korea,” will attend the special event with his mentee and second season winner Lee Ye-jun, to be held on Saturday at the Wukesong stadium in Beijing, China.
MUSIC VIDEO: Never Shout Never Ft. Dia Frampton – “Under The Mistletoe”
Under the Gun Review
Earlier today, Never Shout Never partnered up with Alternative Press to release a music video for “Under The Mistletoe,” which is the first single off their brand new EP, titled The Xmas EP. You can view it for yourself by following the jump.
Throughout the tender tune, Dia Frampton aids frontman Christofer Drew on vocals, resulting in a warm, easy-to-listen-to arrangement that even goes so far as to rival more established holiday carols. In addition to “Under The Mistletoe,” this EP also features three classic Christmas sing-alongs to put you in the holiday spirit.
South Korean Web Giant Naver to Support Indie Cinema
South Korea’s biggest online search engine Naver has signed a pact with the Association of Korean Independent Film & Video (KIFV) to promote local independent films, the partners announced Wednesday.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) covers online services, as well as offline events, such as local independent film festivals.
The two parties will in January launch what they called an “online theater” for screening indie films. They will also create a database for independent filmmakers and actors. They will also co-sponsor local genre events, including the Seoul Independent Film Festival that kicks off Thursday, and the Seoul Independent Documentary Film & Video Festival that will take place in March. Films featured in the festival will be shown on Naver.
Asia TV Success Stories: Korean Dramas, Asian Animation
Aside from Hong Kong’s kung fu movies, Korean dramas and Asian animation are the two genres of local content that have the most success crossing borders within Asia.
Long-running Korean series play everywhere from Mongolia to the Middle East, Eastern Europe to Mexico, which otherwise have little connection with Korean culture. Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun recently reported that all four terrestrial and six satellite channels in Japan were airing Korean drama, amounting to more than 93 hours of Korean content per week.
MBC’s historical medical drama “Jewel in the Palace” this year celebrates its 10th anniversary, a decade in which South Korean TV drama exports have climbed in value from just $8 million in 2001 to $155 million in 2011, the latest data available. Most are sold as completed shows, but others have been sold as formats.
‘Oldboy’ movie review: Spike Lee’s remake of a 2003 Korean cult film makes some fixes
There’s a nice Hitchcockian quality to the new “Oldboy,” Spike Lee’s remake of Korean director Park Chan-wook’s cult film of revenge and regret. Which is kind of weird, considering that the source material is not Hitchcockian in the least.
It’s a strange, yet not entirely unsatisfying, fit. In trying to adapt the source material — not just the 2003 film, but the late 1990s Japanese manga series on which it was based — Lee and writer Mark Protosevich (“The Cell”) have jettisoned some details while significantly reshaping others, all the while keeping the essential outlines of the baroque and quite frankly bizarre tale of punishment and redemption intact.
“Oldboy” is grand opera shoved into the shoebox of a murder mystery.
As in the original, Lee’s “Oldboy” revolves around a man (Josh Brolin, here given the Everyman moniker of Joe) who wakes up after a bender to find that he’s been imprisoned in what seems to be a seedy, windowless hotel room where he’s fed, through a hole in the locked door, the same carryout Chinese dumplings every day for the next 20 years. (In the manga, it was 10 years; in the first film, 15. I guess that’s inflation for you.)
More Details on Han Ye Seul and Teddy’s Relationship in Woman Sense Magazine
The December 2013 issue of women’s magazine Woman Sense revealed further details behind actress Han Ye Seul and YG Entertainment hip hop producer Teddy Park’s relationship. The article contains information from multiple unnamed sources close to the couple. The reporter stated that the magazine spent two months covering the story in order to verify the couple’s relationship, which was ascertained through various channels.
The two met through a mutual acquaintance at the beginning of this year, and became a couple after May. Han Ye Seul and Teddy share something in common; both grew up in the US (California). A source close to the couple stated, “Teddy and Han Ye Seul are serious about one another. Both are working in different fields, and naturally that led to curiosity about each other’s work. Furthermore, they share similar feelings having lived overseas for a long time.”
Han Ye Seul has been on hiatus from entertainment activities for a while, but Teddy’s been actively producing for 2NE1 and G-Dragon, so their dates are usually early in the morning to fit Teddy’s schedule. Another close source explained, “Teddy usually starts working late at night. He works on songs almost every day as he produces most of YG artist’s songs. He goes on dates with Han Ye Seul after he finishes work early in the morning.”
LPGA’s Koreans Make Statement With Golf, English
AP via ABC News
This kind of conversation was rare five years ago on the LPGA Tour. For starters, it involved Vin Scully.
So Yeon Ryu was chatting on the putting green when the topic of her name came up. The LPGA makes sure everyone pronounces it correctly as “Yoo.” So why is it that Scully referred to rookie left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as “REE-yoo?”
“Oh, the Dodgers’ pitcher? He’s a really good guy,” she said. “Maybe that can be a nickname for him.”
Fresh from the street
Korea Times US
One of Seoul’s biggest attractions as a food destination is that its culinary offerings are not confined to restaurants. An amazing variety of food is available at the food carts and trucks that are a common sight along the streets of leisure and business districts, providing pleasure and refuge for the city’s famously overworked citizens.
It could be said that the city’s street-food culture was more vibrant from the 1960s to the early 1990s. But vendors now struggle to compete with franchised fast-food chains, the dull but relentless juggernauts that now dominate the inexpensive eating industry.
If any of you end up feeling lonely this Christmas, Crayon Pop is back with a new song to mark the holidays and is inviting you to spend it with them. The new single, “Lonely Christmas,” was released today, along with a teaser for the accompanying music video. Like their first smash hit, “Bar Bar Bar,” the song is catchy, quirky and helmet-y. Continue Reading »
When the scandal erupted after K-pop star Ailee’s nude photos were leaked on the Internet, her agency, YMC Entertainment, said that the photos were taken four years ago when the singer was defrauded by a con artist who promised her a lucrative modeling deal for an underwear company. Many refused to believe the agency’s elaborate explanation, saying that it was a mere cover-up to salvage the the star’s image.
But the New York edition of the Korea Times reports that the police report for the scam was indeed filed in 2009, when Ailee, 20 at the time, resided in New Jersey. The copy of the report published by the newspaper shows that the scam was arranged via Facebook.
Ailee testified at the time that her close friend, only identified as Kim, spoke to her via Facebook’s chat option. Kim’s account was allegedly hacked by a third person at the time, but the conversation led to Ailee sending photos of her nude photos. Continue Reading »
Teen heartthrob, meet the heartbreaker.
G-Dragon and Justin Bieber, arguably two of the most iconic global pop figures, will be releasing a song together sometime next year. G-Dragon dropped the news this past Friday at the 2013 Mnet Music Awards (MAMAs) in Hong Kong, saying that he had already finished recording the song with Bieber, according to Mnet America.
The Big Bang star, who collaborated with several Western stars for his latest album, including Missy Elliott, Diplo, Baauer, Sky Ferreira, and Boyz Noize, said the new song was not a big project, but rather “an album where artists with the same heart decided to have fun.”
“It was less burdensome than a big album, so I’ll be able to show a better song to the fans if you have anticipation for it,” he continued. “I’ll reply with an album that will meet those expectations.” Continue Reading »