With the entirety of the South Korean music industry suffocated by the waves of K-pop, musicians who aren’t brought up through the behemoth entertainment company system have it incredibly tough if they want to find any niche to lock on to. For one Korean teenager, though, she is finding success in an area of music that is slowly fading away: Korean traditional music.
Song So-hee, who turns 17 years old on Oct. 20, recently gained attention for her appearance in a commercial for a Korean telecom company, where she sings a variation of a pansori, or traditional Korean narrative song. It’s quite a departure from the norm, as such advertisements usually feature celebrities or pop singers.
Song has appeared on several Korean television shows in the last few years, and she has been considered a prodigy in the genre. She told the Chosun Ilbo that she hoped her appearance in the commercial would help raise awareness of traditional Korean music. It appears as she will have plenty of opportunities to do so, since she has received several offers to appear on shows and in advertisements. Continue Reading »
Photo via sportsseoul.com.
A South Korean court sentenced Korean American singer Daniel Chae of DMTN (formerly known as Dalmatian) for distributing and using marijuana, according to allkpop.com. The singer, who came to Korea at the age of 16 to pursue a career in the music industry, was sentenced to one year in jail and a fine of approximately $6,700.
The court stated today that Chae “acted as the intermediary in the selling of marijuana 12 times and sold marijuana four times.” The statement also said that despite previous denials, Chae tested positive for marijuana after a hair strand test.
Chae and his lawyer had asked for leniency earlier in the investigation. His lawyer argued that growing up in the U.S. gave Chae a “more relaxed attitude towards marijuana.” The court, however, responded by saying that acting as the intermediary, selling and smoking marijuana is still a crime, despite “weak recognition.” Continue Reading »
Jang Ki-ha and the Faces
Over 40 South Korean artists will perform at MU:CON SEOUL 2013 to showcase their talent in the Hongdae and Gangnam district of Seoul before a panel of music experts from around the world.
Jang Ki-ha and the Faces, No Brain, Rainbow, Kim Ye-rim and Soul Dive among many others will perform at the event, which will be hosted by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Korea Creative Content Agency. A select group of artists will earn a chance to perform at MIDEM and South by Southwest, the largest showcases in Europe and North America, respectively.
Korean American musicians, including Linkin Park’s Joe Hahn, guitarist Jeff Schroeder of Smashing Pumpkins and swinger-songwriter Lee Sung-yol will also attend the event to speak about the future of indie music. Continue Reading »
North Korea Puts Troops on War Footing and Warns of ‘Horrible Disaster’
Pyongyang has put its forces put on high alert after U.S. warships entered the South Korean port of Busan in preparation for a joint military exercise with Seoul and Tokyo.
On Monday Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Pyongyang regime, called the exercise a “bellicose attempt to escalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula […] by openly threatening it with nukes,” referring to the presence of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. (The U.S. has a policy of neither confirming nor denying whether its ships are equipped with nuclear armaments.)
A North Korean military spokesman said that the U.S. would be “wholly accountable for the unexpected horrible disaster” that faced its “imperialist aggression forces.”
Nine years inside a North Korean prison camp
The Telegraph (U.K.)
Kim Young Soon, who is now director of Free NK Gulag, was sent from her home in Pyongyang to the Yodok prison camp when she was 34-years-old.
Her crime was knowing that, the late leader, Kim Jong-il was having an affair with one of her friends.
North Korean authorities accused her of “gossiping” and sent her to Yodok along with her husband, parents and son, who were deemed guilty by association.
Why North Korean tweets are off-limits in the South
Christian Science Monitor
On the 28th floor of Samsung’s headquarters here is a door marked “Restricted Access,” the warning emphasized by two slashing diagonal red lines.
It does not guard the company’s plans for a next-generation smart phone, however, nor any other commercial secrets. Instead, the shelves and filing cabinets behind the door are filled with North Korean government work reports, recent editions of the ruling party’s daily newspaper, and other publications from Pyongyang.
That is forbidden fruit to ordinary South Koreans, who are banned from reading them. Scholars at Samsung’s Economic Research Institute, which holds the small archive, need special clearance from South Korea’s intelligence agency to be able to consult the documents.
How was Hangul invented?
ON OCTOBER 9th South Koreans celebrate the 567th birthday of Hangul, the country’s native writing system, with a day off work. South Korea is one of the few countries in the world to celebrate its writing system. The public holiday, originally introduced in 1945, has been reintroduced this year after being discontinued in 1991 at the request of employers. The day commemorates the introduction of the new script in the mid-15th century, making Hangul one of the youngest alphabets in the world. It is unusual for at least two more reasons: rather than evolving from pictographs or imitating other writing systems, the Korean script was invented from scratch for the Korean language. And, though it is a phonemic alphabet, it is written in groups of syllables rather than linearly. How was Hangul created?
Before 1446, Koreans had no writing system of their own. The educated elite wrote in hanja, classical Chinese characters, to record the meaning—but not the sound—of Korean speech. The Chinese script, however, was poorly suited to languages with complex grammars like Korean; though a leading scholar of the 7th century formalised Korea’s Idu script, a mixture of hanja and special grammatical markers, including new characters for Korean names, only the privileged few with a Confucian education could understand it. In 1443 King Sejong noted that using Chinese characters for Korean was “like trying to fit a square handle into a round hole”. He disliked the fact that so few of his subjects could express their concerns to him. “Saddened by this”, he proclaimed, “I have developed 28 new letters. It is my wish that people may learn these letters easily and that they be convenient for daily use”.
Felon who took cameraman hostage to go to trial for auto theft
Honolulu Star-Advertiser (Hawaii)
The 48-year-old felon, who was arrested 21 years ago for taking a television cameraman hostage, will be tried in December for allegedly trying to steal a car.
Ulysses Kim on Monday entered a plea of not guilty to charges of first-degree car theft and first- and second-degree terroristic threatening. His new criminal trial will begin the week of Dec. 9 in Circuit Court.
Kim is being held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, unable to post $50,000 bail.
Police said Kim on Sept. 23 entered the car of a 58-year-old man in Waipahu and tried to steal it.
The man confronted the suspect, who then tried to flee, but the man held on to him until police arrived.
Fish from west Africa being illegally shipped to South Korea, say activists
The Guardian (U.K.)
There is new evidence that large quantities of fish from west Africa are being “stolen” from communities heavily dependent on fishing, and loaded on to illegal vessels bound for South Korea.
Satellite technology suggests that a 4,000-tonne fishing vessel is currently transporting illegally caught fish from Sierra Leone to Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, feeding high demand for seafood in Asia.
The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), which uncovered the case, said it was part of the biggest trade in illegally caught fish in the world
Gun Recovered from Hudson River May Be One Used in Long Island Office Shootings: Police
NBC New York
A gun recovered from the Hudson River Wednesday may be the one that was used in the deadly workplace shooting on Long Island two weeks ago, police say. Two people were shot in the offices of Savenergy in Garden City on Sept. 25, one fatally, by Sang Ho Kim, a Queens man described as a disgruntled business associated, according to police.
Kim fled upstate after the shootings and his body was found five days later in the Hudson River, near Bear Mountain Bridge.
Korean American Travels from Medical School to Broadway
Michael Lee always thought he was destined to become a doctor, like his father and brother. He duly went to the prestigious Stanford University School of Medicine but soon felt that something was missing in his busy days of lab work and tests.
With one year remaining in medical school, he decided to audition for the musical “Miss Saigon” and landed a part.
Bong Joon-ho Hints at ‘Snowpiercer’ Discord
BUSAN — South Korean director Bong Joon-ho made it abundantly clear that he is not happy with having his hit film “Snowpiercer” recut by The Weinstein Company.
Speaking both before and after a gala screening of the dark sci-fi drama at the Busan festival on Monday night, Bong made a point of calling out to any North Americans, Brits and Australians to let them know that this would be only chance to see the film as he intended it to be watched.
While Bong’s English-language picture now has firm release dates in France (October), Taiwan and Japan (February), he said that the final cut of the film in English-speaking territories lies with The Weinstein Company. “We are still in discussions about the cut, but it is clear that this is the only director’s cut you will be able to see,” Bong said.
Crowd-Sourced Film on Samsung Debuts
Wall Street Journal
When South Korean director Kim Tae-yun said he wanted to make a film about workers who came down with leukemia and other rare diseases during the time they worked at Samsung Electronics Co. factories, just about everyone told him he would struggle to secure financial backing.
Two years later, the film has premiered at the ongoing Busan International Film Festival‒in part thanks to crowd-sourced funds from nearly 7,000 individuals who paid for more than a quarter of the billion-won ($932,700) budget. Close to half was self-funded and the rest has been made as IOUs.
It marks a rare coup for Korean cinema, where independent producers struggle to secure funding without support from major film studios. Critics say close family and business ties between major movie companies and the nation’s biggest corporations prevent films with negative portrayals of those conglomerates from being made.
Nicole of Kara signals exit from K-pop group
After surmounting previous breakup rumors, the popular girl group Kara is seeing fault lines as Nicole has told her agency that she will not renew her contract.
The group’s management agency said that with the Kara girls contract up for renewal in January, Nicole did not resign while other members — Park Gyu-ri, Han Seung-yeon and Goo Hara —signed up for two more years, DSP Media announced Friday.
Another member Kang Ji-young, whose contract is up for expiration in April, is reportedly thinking of going for studies abroad.
Kollaboration Boston Presents Third Annual Showcase
Did you miss it? Kollaboration Boston is officially back for a third year!
“Kollaboration Boston 3,” which will be held this Friday, October 11th, at The Berklee Performance Center, will be showcasing some of Boston’s best Asian American dancers, musicians, vocalists, and more. Seven finalists, including Angel & Will, Daesun Yim, Derek Hsu, Justin Oppus, LuDow, Movement Box, and UPdrifting, will be battling it out for a $1000 Grand Prize and a spot in this year’s “Kollaboration Star 2013″ in Los Angeles!
Guest performers and celebrity judges include Ellen Kim, AJ Rafael, Justin Chiou, and Andrew Rhim!
General admission tickets ($16) and VIP admission tickets ($35), which includes a meet-and-greet with finalists, guest performers and judges, and swag bags from product sponsors, are available. Tickets can be directly purchased from The Berklee Performance Center Box Office (136 Massachusetts Avenue Boston, Massachusetts 02115) for no added fees, or online at www.KollaborationBoston.org (processing fee applies).
Samsung and Google working together on ‘Gear Glass’?
Just a few days ago, I casually polled other people at CNET for their predictions on what Samsung could make next. The Korean company seems willing and able to make anything that anyone else can think of — be it a gold smartphone, a smartwatch, or a flexible phone. The first response I got was that Samsung could come out with a cheap knockoff of Google Glass.
Well, guess what new Samsung product is now rumored to be coming out next spring?
Eldar Murtazin, a blogger, analyst, and sometimes leaker, issued this tweet late Sunday that declared the coming of a Korean version of Google’s augmented-reality eyewear:
Hidden presence in ‘The Square’
An idyllic landscape. A bustling cityscape. Yet, there is something else in these photographs.
Most imperceptibly, two hands hold up a mirror reflecting a bit of the surroundings and still becoming a part of the overall scene.
Photographer Seokmin Ko’s project, called “The Square,” introduces the reflective surface into seemingly normal surroundings in an effort to get people to “reflect on how we are living in the physical world.”
Funtertainment: Kristen Kish Breaks Down a Lobster With Nothing But Her Hands
D Magazine (Dallas, Texas)
Because, well, bad@$$ chef Kristin Kish (winner of Top Chef: Season 10) breaks down a live lobster with her bare hands. Let me repeat that again: BARE HANDS.
From the look of it, she might as well be de-shelling a freaking peanut and not a living, breathing invertebrate with scary pinchers.
At one point, after she’s ripped the lobster’s head off, Zagat’s Chris Walsh asks, “Is it still moving?”
“Just barely,” she replies.
From Carnegie to Kandahar
Driven by gratitude and faith, Anne Pyungan Cho went from piano prodigy to soldier.
by JAMES S. KIM
Making a career change at the age of 30 might raise a few eyebrows. If the career change meant joining the Army, that might raise a few more. If the career change meant joining the Army and leaving behind a career as a classically trained musician, that would downright turn heads.
But that’s exactly what Spc. Anne Pyungan Cho did. When Cho spoke to KoreAm by phone from Afghanistan last month, she was just a few weeks into her nine-month deployment there. A resident of Los Angeles, she works as an automated logistics specialist and supply clerk at Kandahar Airfield. Her decision to trade in evening gowns and concert halls for Army fatigues and the landscape of a war-torn country is one that she says is layered with her love of music, desire to give back to the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as her faith.
Every Sunday, with her own free time, she leads the worship for three different services and practices with the choir on Wednesday and Saturday nights, although fighting might put these on hold. She said she hopes that she is able to help provide fellow servicemembers with some peace and comfort.
“I’m enjoying playing music [here],” said Cho. “Music is really strong—it can move people, it can encourage people.” Continue Reading »