Tag Archives: music

November Issue: Smashing Pumpkins' Jeff Schroeder's Infinite Booklist

Photo credit: Jeff Liu

We featured Smashing Pumpkins guitarist Jeff Schroeder in the November issue of KoreAm. Aside from recording music and touring with the band, Jeff is also finishing his graduate studies in comparative literature at UCLA.

He took time out of his busy schedule to share some of his favorite avant-garde Asian American works of fiction and poetry.

Crossings by Chuang Hua (1968)
Crossings is one of the earliest works of Asian American experimental writing and is the only novel Hua published. Influenced by William Faulkner, Virginia Woolfe and Marcel Proust, it chronicles the protagonist’s numerous travels across borders of both space and time. I’ve read Crossings many times, and with each reading, I discover new themes. I find this book important because it provides a necessary artistic representation of hyphenated identity that is different from the more sociological bent of other forms of scholarly writing.

Dictée (1982) and Exilée/ Temps Morts (2009) by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
Upon its publication in 1982, Dictée was overlooked by the mainstream literary press and scholars of Asian American literature. The book—which mixes poetry, fiction, historical writing and visual art to explore the themes of war, immigration and transnational identity— experienced a renaissance in the mid-‘90s and today is considered the most well-known work of avant-garde Asian American writing. Exilée/Temps Morts is a more recent collection of the late Cha’s out-of-print writings. Her passages on the acquisition of new language, explorations of the Korean War and interest in the French avant-garde strongly connect with my interests. Continue reading

Thursday's Link Attack: 2NE1, Steven Yeun, Hines Ward

Black, Korean leaders to commemorate 20th anniversary of L.A. riots
Los Angeles Wave

Seeking to create a multicultural Los Angeles that exists in lasting harmony, Korean-American and Black community leaders are spearheading a committee to commemorate next year’s 20th anniversary of the 1992 civil unrest.

South Korean students’ ‘year of hell’ culminates with exams day
CNN

Most South Korean students consider their final year in high school “the year of hell.” It is when all students are put to the ultimate test.

About 700,000 test applicants sat down in classrooms across the country Thursday to take their college entrance exams — also known as the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT).

The stock markets opened an hour late, buses and subway services were increased and police cars offered rides for students, all to ensure they made it on time.

Younger students gathered in large groups outside school gates, some having arrived at 4a.m. to mind a good spot, waiting to support their school seniors. Cheers exploded throughout the school grounds as test applicants arrived, most being guided by their anxious parents.

Englewood Cliffs may get new councilman tonight
Bergen County Record (N.J.)

Gloria Oh was elected councilwoman for Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Once Oh, the highest vote-getter Tuesday and first Korean-American to win office in the borough, and Aversa are sworn in Jan. 1 the Democrats will hold all but one council seat.

World, Get Ready For 2NE1: MTV Iggy’s Best New Band In The World!
MTV Iggy

The meteoric rise of 2NE1 could be a fable, foretold by the epic video for their recent single, “I Am The Best.” Dark gives way to light, as a mysterious hooded creature appears in the distance. As the camera swoops in, flashbulbs pop, synths and beats explode, and BOOM! the ladies of 2NE1 take the stage, twirling in tight black pantsuits and sensual abandon. “I am the best!” they sing, and you can almost hear their millions of fans around the world screaming in concurrence, reveling in the awesome, almost otherworldly presence of this dazzling and fierce foursome. If they aren’t the best, then they are certainly something approaching perfection.

Clap Your Hands to the Geek
Hyphen

Adam Warrock — the Korean American attorney turned pop culture-obsessed rapper who won 2011’s Kollaboration Atlanta, the city’s annual Asian American talent show — is nothing if not hard to define. Whether rapping about This American Life’s Ira Glass or X-Men, he’s aware of the pitfalls of being boxed into the nerdcore genre, a school of hip-hop that focuses on themes like sci-fi and comics. While he also raps about race and identity, he doesn’t want to be labeled strictly as an Asian American artist either.

Farmer-Legislator Vows To Keep Fighting Korea-U.S. FTA
Wall Street Journal

Mr. Kang, a farmer from Sacheon, South Gyeongsang province, is one of the most recognizable members of the 299-seat parliament. He almost always wears a traditional hanbok, stands on the front line of every protest that his Democratic Labor Party supports and is willing to resort to shoving, fisticuffs and other minor violence to make his point. He has staged weeks-long hunger strikes and chained himself to the door of the main assembly chamber.

Now, the DLP and other opposition parties (including the biggest, Democratic Party) continue to resist any type of compromise with the ruling Grand National Party over the Korea-U.S. FTA. On Thursday, for the second week in a row, the ruling party canceled a plenary session. The next plenary is set for Nov. 24, which gives the parties two more weeks to argue over the FTA.

Q&A – Steven Yeun (Glenn)
AMCTV.com

Q: You stated once that your parents were upset when you told them you were not going to be a doctor or lawyer. Have they come around yet?

A: Oh absolutely. They’re now on full-throttle brag mode. They’re Korean parents, and they just wanted me to have a structured, safe life and when I told them I wanted to do this they were worried that I’d be struggling. This industry is up and down, but right now they don’t have to worry about me.

‘Walking Dead’: Why Glenn is a total stallion [RECAP]
Washington Post

But that didn’t stop Maggie from whipping off her clothes and getting down to some serious Glenn business.

Sure, she later said it was a “one time thing.” But it seems pretty clear that she’s got a bad case of the Glenns and a burning desire for another taste of go-to-town expert. And really, can you blame her?

Glenn, you are an inspiration, a hero, apparently a halfway decent lover, an excellent keeper of pregnancy test secrets and amazingly adept at rope-tying under duress. And for that, we salute you.

Ravens LB Ray Lewis Fined $20K for Hit on Steelers’ Hines Ward
SI.com

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been fined for his hard hit on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, the Carroll County Times reports. NFL Insider Adam Schefter tweets Lewis was fined $20,000 for the hit.

During the game, Lewis’ play did not result in a penalty but the league believed the helmet-to-helmet hit was worthy of a fine. The play left Hines Ward “dazed” and the wide receiver did not play for the remainder of the game.

Korean star pitcher Yoon could be in MLB in 2012
Yahoo Sports

Right-hander Suk-Min Yoon, the 2011 MVP of the Korean Baseball Organization who starred in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, could play in the major leagues as soon as next season, his agent said Tuesday.

Scott Boras, whom Yoon and another WBC standout, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, hired recently, said he would speak with Yoon in the near future about entering the posting system, in which major league teams bid to win exclusive negotiating rights with a player. If Yoon, 25, chooses against posting, he would be a free agent next season. Ryu, 24, can post before the 2013 season and would hit free agency in 2014.

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More US states accept Korean drivers
Korea Times

Florida is the latest among a recent string of U.S. states that agreed to simplify what’s usually considered a complicated process for drivers.

Maryland was the first to ink a deal with Seoul a year ago, followed by Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts and Texas.

Under the new agreement, Korean drivers can acquire a U.S. license by presenting a valid Korean license with proper translation to the motor vehicle authority. The deal only applies to non-commercial motorists and some states require drivers to surrender their Korean license in exchange for a U.S. equivalent.

First Into Seoul? No Thanks
The Asian Lawyer via Law.com

As Korea has inched towards liberalization of its legal market over the past several years, there has been much speculation about which international law firms will be first into Seoul. Now, with the U.S. Congress ratifying a free trade agreement with Korea last month, the time for action is close at hand.

So the race is on, right? Not exactly.

Though a number of firms have been vocal about their desire to enter Korea at the earliest opportunity, many leading Korea practice lawyers privately express reservations about relocating to Seoul, citing everything from children’s school commitments to a preference for the warmer weather, lower taxes, and more expat-friendly environment of Hong Kong, where most international firms currently base their Korea practices.

South Korea’s High-Tech Arsenal
Chosun Ilbo

New high-tech weapons and equipment may be needed to counter the threat of North Korea’s nuclear arms and missiles. But what’s in the arsenal already? Here is a review of 10 high-tech weapons made in South Korea.

What Does The [Korean] National Flag Mean?
Chosun Ilbo

FYI.

South Korea’s wasted youth
BBC News

South Korea’s education system is held up as a model around the world. Some 80% of its high-school students now go on to further education.

But according to South Korea’s president, that academic success is creating its own “social problem” – a youth unemployment rate of 6.7% in October, more than twice the national average, even as parts of the labour market are hungry for workers.

South Korea’s Exam Suicides
Al Jazeera via YouTube

Dumbfoundead Gets Personal and Professional with 'DFD'

by Linda Son

Rapper Dumbfoundead, a.k.a. Jonathan Park, released his sophomore solo album “DFD” on Nov. 1 to an overwhelmingly positive reception from fans. Currently, “DFD” continues to impress with a 5-star rating on iTunes with hundreds of positive reviews. The album showcases the Korean American rapper’s life and individual sound and the 13 tracks make up a more mature album where Park reflects on his past relationships and experiences.

Park said in an interview with iamKoreAm.com that his previous solo effort, “Fun With Dumb,” was created while he was distracted by working different jobs. The 25-year old, who sometimes moonlights as a comedian, said “DFD” marks the first time he has fully committed himself to pursuing a career as an MC.

Your new album is titled “DFD” can you tell us why you chose that name for this album and if it holds a special significance?

It’s pretty much the acronym for my full rap name Dumb-Found-Dead. I wanted to shorten it and make it more grown. It can have different meanings as well (Don’t Fall Down, etc.). It’s all up for interpretation.

Where did you draw the majority of your inspiration and creativity for the creation of this album? Continue reading

Wednesday's Link Attack: Dear Leader Death Rumors, K-Pop, Dokdo

Kim Jong-il Death Rumors Rattle Markets
Chosun Ilbo

Rumors of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s death spread through the South Korean stock market on Tuesday, driving share prices down and causing the won to plunge against the U.S. dollar. The KOSPI hovered around the 1,915 point level, similar to Monday’s close, but fell steeply at around 2:20 p.m. when the rumors hit the market. It closed down 0.8 percent (15.96 points) at 1,903.14.

A Playboy queen in chef’s whites
City A.M. (London)

IMAGINE, for a moment, the head chef at a Playboy Club. Whatever image just sprang to your mind, I am fairly certain it is not Judy Joo. A Korean-American former Wall Street banker (she was a sales-trader on the fixed income floor of Morgan Stanley; her husband works for a hedge fund in London), Joo has been executive chef at Park Lane’s revamped Playboy since it opened in June. The New Jersey-born graduate of Columbia University’s School of Engineering left banking and a fat salary to become a chef – taking rather a gamble on many fronts. We meet this most impressive and unlikely Playboy employee.

Q. What made you decide to make the leap from banking to cheffing?

A. I suddenly realised: I’m enjoying being a banker but I don’t love it. I was regularly taking a shuttle from LaGuardia to Boston and found myself grabbing the free cooking magazines in the bus station. I felt like Barrons and the Economist were more like homework. So after a while I was like: why don’t I just do what I love and follow my dream and my passion?

Winter Olympics a Bigger Boost for Korea Than K-Pop
Chosun Ilbo

Foreigners who live in Korea or have visited the country say Pyeongchang’s successful bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics did more to boost Korea’s image than K-pop.

The Corea Image Communication Institute, which looks for ways to improve Korea’s image abroad, surveyed 211 foreign diplomats, academics, CEOs, artists and other opinion leaders from Oct. 10 to Nov. 7, and 55.3 percent said the Pyeongchang bid played the biggest role in improving Korea’s image.

Next were K-pop (18.6 percent) and Shin Kyung-sook’s international bestseller “Please Look After Mom” (16.7 percent). Others cited novelist Lee Oe-soo, figure skating champion Kim Yu-na, English Premier League footballer Park Ji-sung and singer Rain.

In contrast, 39.2 percent of 303 Koreans who were surveyed cited K-pop as playing the biggest part in boosting their country’s image abroad, followed by the Pyeongchang bid with 36.6 percent.

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[VIDEO] South Korea pushes its pop culture abroad
BBC News

Once under the thumb of, and then in the shadows of its more powerful neighbours like Japan, South Korea is emerging in the 21st century as a dynamic, global force. Rajan Datar reports on how it has now become a major exporter of popular culture.

Seoul dismisses Japan’s request to call off Dokdo concert
Yonhap

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday dismissed Japan’s recent request to cancel a scheduled musical concert on South Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo, saying it was “needless” to even consider the request.

S. Korean man sends his cut-off pinky to Japanese embassy
Yonhap News via Korea Herald

An unemployed South Korean man has been booked for investigation after he cut off part of his left pinky and sent it to the Japanese embassy in protest of Tokyo’s territorial claim to South Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo, police said Wednesday.

Rain Chosen as Assistant Instructor at Army Boot Camp
Chosun Ilbo

Self-explanatory.

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Father gets suspended term for beating daughter with bamboo stick
Yonhap via Korea Times

A Seoul appellate court on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling and sentenced the father of a teenage girl to a suspended prison term for beating her with a bamboo stick and forcing her to do long physical workouts.

The father, identified as Choi, 48, was indicted last year on charges of harsh treatment of his 15-year-old daughter. In addition to beating her with a bamboo stick, he was accused of forcing her to run on a treadmill for more than an hour at a time and to perform other workouts as punishment for not studying hard or being wasteful.

Do All Asians Have Flat Butts?
8Asians

I admit that I have a flat butt. Please, no jokes. I’m a little sensitive about it. Once I asked an ex-girlfriend if they thought I had a nice ass and they said I had a wonderful personality. I should have known then that the relationship was doomed.

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November Issue: Smashing Pumpkins Guitarist Jeff Schroeder Rocks the Books

The Scholar Rocker

Jeff Schroeder, the guitarist of The Smashing Pumpkins, gives us the inside scoop on the resurgent band, drops hints about the forthcoming album and explains how a Ph.D. in literature fits into the picture.

story by Oliver Saria
photographs by Jeff Liu

Jeff Schroeder is no James Iha, the original guitarist for The Smashing Pumpkins. He’s better.  Yeah, I said it. He can actually hang musically with Billy Corgan, the tortured genius behind the Pumpkins’ signature guitar- heavy sound. Other ways Jeff isn’t James: Jeff isn’t Japanese American. He’s biracial—Korean and Caucasian. Jeff didn’t drop out of college like James; in fact, he’s finishing his Ph.D. in comparative literature at UCLA. And Jeff, unlike James, is actually on speaking terms with Billy.

I stress their differences to make a larger point: This ain’t the ’90s anymore. And it would behoove fans to remember that, if they happen to catch the band on their 12-city U.S. warm-up tour this fall in preparation for what promises to be a busy 2012 for the reinvigorated band, packed with more tour dates, reissues of their past catalog and a brand new album, Oceania. Be forewarned, though, the Pumpkins aren’t interested in reliving the past.

“We’re not going to be a ’90s retro nostalgia band,” Jeff insists. “We have no desire to do that. We’ve been offered tours with other ’90s bands. We just honestly feel like it’s the kiss of death. Once you’ve done that, you’ve accepted that your moment in the present is over, and all you can do is recreate people’s past fantasies.”

Oddly enough, Jeff was one of those people. As a teenager growing up in Orange County, California, in the early 1990s, he, like many of his peers, loved The Smashing Pumpkins, one of that decade’ s most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands. Continue reading

Tuesday's Link Attack: Harold and Kumar, Yoon Mirae, SNSD

The Harold & Kumar worldview
Philadelphia Inquirer

[Kal] Penn points to shows like Modern Family and Community as evidence that the viewing culture has shifted. [John] Cho says he’s been getting different questions from journalists this time around.

For the first two movies, he says, the characters’ race “was all we talked about. I learned that’s what people clock first, the color of a person. This time, we’re not necessarily talking about the politics of race in America – I’m not sure actors are the best people to talk about that – and when we are, the questions don’t overwhelm the discussion.”

At 39, Cho is also substantially older than his Harold & Kumar character. But perhaps because of how the franchise’s audience skews, both actors feel like they’ve gained insight into the way younger people see the world, an experience that’s left them with surprisingly optimistic worldviews.

The success of the movies, Cho says, “speaks to a different tone in the country. For the first movie, it was months and months of justifying why there was a Korean guy and an Indian guy in a theatrical motion picture. There’s no need anymore. It’s been done.”

Redistricting offers Asian-Americans a political opportunity to gain fair representation
New York Daily News

Redistricting — the redrawing of political district lines — takes place every 10 years, after new Census data are released.

Elected officials and political insiders pay close attention to this arcane process of map-drawing, because they understand well that new district lines could result in major shifts of political power.

As civil rights advocates, we see redistricting as the once-in-a-decade chance for communities of color to secure political influence that is commensurate with their numbers.

New York City’s changing demographics, fueled by rising immigration, will now provide Asian-Americans a real opportunity to gain fair representation through redistricting.

Get It In by Tasha Reid (aka Yoon Mirae)
channel APA

Coming out of Korea is Tasha Reid’s (aka Yoon Mirae) homage to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill with the music video for her single “Get It In.” Opening up into an unparalleled world of music and virtual mayhem, it features action packed bloody scenes with swordplay as she take on multiple enemies. She’s showing that she’s a true woman warrior.

Tasha, as the protagonist and heroine, controls the confines of her existence with the swing of her sword, kicking ass and fighting off tuxedo suited villains. Once she passes the underlings, Tasha faces the big boss Tiger JK of Drunken Tiger (who is her real life husband). He makes his defiantly late entrance, proceeding into a storm-struck battle of the-hip hop beaux. Complete with wire work and special effects, this is one high value big production.

With Park Gone, Korea Loses Its Trailblazer
Wall Street Journal

The search for three missing South Korean mountain climbers at Annapurna, one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas, ended Saturday after 12 days without success.

Park Young-seok, one of the country’s most renowned summiteers, and two fellow climbers went missing on October 18. His last message via satellite phone said his team had a hard time climbing down due to heavy avalanche.

Since the last contact, the Korean Alpine Federation and local Sherpas launched a risky search operation, believing that they might have been trapped in a crevasse, to no avail. The search team only found a rope and climbing nail buried under snow, both believed to belong to the missing climbers.

On Sunday, a memorial service was held at the Annapurna base camp at an altitude of 4,200 meters. It was attended by the search team and family members who flew in from Korea.

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Korea’s Diabetes Death Rate is Highest in OECD
Chosun Ilbo

Korea’s rate of diabetes-related deaths is the highest of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations.

Diabetes-related deaths per 100,000 persons were 35.5 in South Korea, more than twice the 13.7 average of OECD nations. Japan’s rate is 5.9 and England’s is 7.5. Korea’s rate is almost twice that of Germany’s 16.6 and significantly higher than the U.S.’ 20.9 even though both of those nations have high numbers of diabetes-related deaths.

Defector uses balloons to send socks to North Korea
Los Angeles Times

The oblong helium balloon rose into an ink-colored sky Saturday, released by a dozen hands just south of one of the world’s most fortified borders, its precious cargo bound for North Korea.

Yet unlike countless balloon launches that shower the north with pamphlets and political screeds criticizing Kim Jong-il’s secretive regime, this one carried a different kind of payload: socks.

In all, hundreds of pairs of foot coverings were lifted heavenward by 10 balloons: little pink baby footies and large black and blue ones for growing children and adults -– all headed for impoverished residents facing another winter.

The socks also carried a message: Hang on for dear life.

How to rock Ajumma style
Korea.net

Are you an ajumma (아줌마)? Ajumma is the familiar term for “married woman”, but also the general moniker in calling an older woman, regardless of marital status. It’s not just a name, though. It’s much more than that; it’s a title, a state of mind, a complete lifestyle. All Korean women seem to be born with the ajumma gene which surfaces naturally after 3 months of becoming one, and whose traits become stronger and stronger as time goes by.

Ajummas have their own distinctive style, something that also seems to be automatically released upon marriage, but if you’re an ajumma who just isn’t fitting in, or in need of some extra oomph, here are a few tips to make your outer (and inner) ajumma shine!

What does the United States think of Girls’ Generation?
CNNGo

With the girls’ U.S. album being released today, we asked a selection of Americans across the country what they make of all the K-Pop fierceness.

Winner of Taiwanese “Emmy”: “I’d like to thank my iPhone”
via Yahoo News

During the recent Golden Bell Television Awards last month in Taipei — Taiwan’s equivalent of the Emmy awards — Huang Ming-chan, who won one of the top prizes in the director categories, gingerly walked up to the stage and snapped a cellphone photo of himself (over the shoulder) while approaching the podium.

The 40-something director then took another cell phone from his other jacket pocket and started reading congratulatory email messages and smiling to himself, totally ignoring the audience before finally addressing the 5,000 people in the auditorium — and on national TV — by reading his acceptance speech from the screen of his iPhone.

Fort Lee man pleads guilty for role in Palisades Park-based fraud ring
Bergen County Record

This is the case that never ends. That’s what happens when 53 people are involved in an identity theft ring.

A Fort Lee man was among four people who pleaded guilty Tuesday in connection with an identity theft and bank-fraud ring that was the target of a federal investigation last year, authorities said.

Byung Jang, 47, pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to conspiracy to commit credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a statement.

Asian Americans now country’s fastest growing racial group
Los Angeles Times

Increased immigration from South Asia helped fuel the rapid growth in the number of Asian Americans over the last decade as well as an influx of Asians to states such as Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data released Wednesday.

November Issue: Reintroducing the Godfather of Korean Rock

South Korean rocker Shin Joong Hyun has been compared to Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. So why have so few heard of him? A recently released anthology aims to rectify the oversight.

by Christina Lee

In 1972, Shin Joong Hyun wrote the song that ended his career.

“Beautiful Rivers and Mountains” is a 10-minute procession, though Shin and his band—simply called The Men—sound bleary-eyed at first. A bass guitar trembles on its own pulse to a militaristic beat, and Shin practically whispers as he and bandmate Park Guang-su sing (lyrics here are translated from Korean), “Blue sky, white clouds / A light breeze fills up my mind.” Shin’s guitar then blares and quickly disperses like radio signals as The Men depict the countryside they’re seeking: the brilliant red sun, the salty ocean waves. “We will live together in the far future / forever here with new dreams / I want to make that happen,” Shin and his band sing.

This was more than just a call to return to greener pastures.  Between the lines, then-South Korean President Park Chung-hee and his authoritarian government heard fighting words from Shin. A few weeks prior, Shin had declined two requests from the Blue House—South Korea’s White House—to write propaganda anthems praising Park’s dictatorship. Instead, Shin wrote and recorded “Beautiful Rivers and Mountains,” a paean to the country’s natural beauty, and premiered it on national television.

Park’s government acted swiftly. Even though Shin, then 34, was one of South Korea’s biggest rock stars, his music was decreed too vulgar or noisy, and he was banned from performing.  Then, in 1975, Shin was arrested for marijuana possession, taking him out of South Korea’s burgeoning rock scene.

After his release, Shin fled the country. But first, he sold his instruments to support his wife and kids. “I felt like I was giving away a piece of my skin,” the musician, now 73, recalled in an email interview from Seoul, where he resides.

It would turn out that he lost even more than that. Continue reading

Kollaboration 11 Featuring G.NA

Kollaboration 11 is back in Los Angeles and will be better than ever!

With a new home at the Nokia Theatre in downtown L.A., this year’s show will feature some of the best emerging talent in the Asian Pacific American community. Special guest performers include symphonic quintet Ensemble Memo, singer-songwriter Clara C, comedian Paul “PK” Kim, not to mention headline act G.NA.

This year’s competitors are: Continue reading