January Issue: Korean Reggae Pioneers Make Music for the Soul
Author: KoreAm
Posted: January 21st, 2014
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , January 2014
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Windy City is: (left to right) Kim Ban-jang on drums and lead vocals, Ra Guk-san on percussion and chorus, Beck Jung-hyun on the melodica and keyboards, Shin Jae-won on the didgeridoo, percussion and chorus, Oh Jin-woo on guitar, and Noh Sun-tek (squatting) on bass guitar. Photo courtesy of Windy City.

Reggae Jjigae

Windy City cooks up music for the soul.


One name is synonymous with reggae. In fact, all you need to say is “Bob”—for Robert Nesta Marley, who wrote such immortal songs as “Redemption Song,” “Could You Be Loved,” and “Jammin”—and instantly, the genre of world-famous Jamaican music unfurls before you.

In Korea, there is another name.

Windy City.

This is Korean reggae, and it is finding fans beyond the ROK to festival stages around the world. The prospect of the music of his homeland finding voices in Korea impressed Damian Marley, global reggae superstar and son of the legendary Bob.  Backstage at Reggae Sumfest last July, the premier reggae festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Damian Marley, when informed about bands like Windy City catching fire, coolly responded, “Nice.”

When Daniel Frankton, head of publicity for the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in Mendocino, Calif., the second U.S. destination for the band’s recent tour, saw YouTube videos of Windy City under the Buk Han Mountains, around a campfire with Nyahbinghi drums and a pot bubbling, he remarked, “That could be up on Bobo Hill in Jamaica. A totally different culture, yet a similar lifestyle.” He described his first impression of the band as “really moving.”

Formed in Seoul in 2004, the six members of Windy City combine a host of musical influences, including funk, R&B, Latin, jirubak, or Korean jitterbug, with reggae to create a unique version of the island rhythms. Backed by a cornucopia of instruments, Windy City (the name is an homage to soul legend Curtis Mayfield’s record label) features Kim Ban-jang on drums and lead vocals, Ra Guk-san on percussion and chorus, Beck Jung-hyun on the melodica and keyboards, Shin Jae-won on the didgeridoo, percussion and chorus, Oh Jin-woo on guitar, and Noh Sun-tek on bass guitar. Continue Reading »

Jay Park, Hyuna to Perform at South By Southwest Music Festival
Author: Young Rae Kim
Posted: January 9th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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K-pop stars Hyuna and Jay Park will be performing in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in March, along with a handful of other Korean music acts.

The annual SXSW festival features music, film and interactive arts and is the largest of its kind. The music festival showcases not only artists from the United States but brings in talent from all across the globe.

Last year, Korean girl group, f(x) became the first K-pop act to be invited to SXSW and they headlined the “K-POP NIGHT OUT at SXSW.” Continue Reading »

Friday’s Link Attack: SKorea Doubts North’s Sincerity; Another Girls Generation Member in a Relationship; Chang-Rae Lee
Author: Young Rae Kim
Posted: January 3rd, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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S. Korea doubts sincerity of North’s peace offensive
Yonhap News

South Korea expressed doubt Friday over the North Korean leader’s rare peace offensive as it urged Pyongyang to make serious efforts to denuclearize itself.

“We have no choice but to question the sincerity” of Kim’s conciliatory gesture, unification ministry spokesperson Kim Eui-do said in a comment.

The comment came two days after leader Kim Jong-un called for “a favorable climate” to improve ties with South Korea and pledged to make aggressive efforts to strive for better relations in his New Year’s message.

The ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, cited Pyongyang’s track record of carrying out provocations and slandering South Korea as a reason for caution on its peace offensive.

A Dog of a Story: Why Kim Jong Un Probably Did Not Feed His Uncle to 120 Hounds

Kim Jong Un’s late uncle was “worse than a dog,” according to the blustery state media account of his purge. But was he killed by a pack of half-starved dogs?

That’s the claim of Beijing-linked Hong Kong newspaper, Wen Wei Po, which on Dec. 12 reported that the instead of being executed by a firing squad, as is typical, Jang was stripped naked, thrown in a cage with five of his associates, and devoured by 120 hounds as Kim Jong Un and 300 officials watched. The dogs preyed on the prisoners “until they were completely eaten up,” according to the Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper, who picked up the story on Dec. 24.

Female perspective still in short supply in Pennsylvania Legislature: Patty Kim
Penn Live

I quickly observed a female perspective is still in short supply. Women make up about one in six House members and are even rarer in leadership. I was surprised at some early advice from a seasoned colleague: “Don’t carry a purse.” To me, it showed that the women who have gone before me had to “downplay” that they were females in a male-dominated arena. I’ve heard stories about how women staffers and legislators were poorly treated in the years before I arrived. I appreciate those pioneering women who had to endure a lot to make it easier for me, so that in 2013, I unselfconsciously carry a purse.

I knew reform couldn’t wait but that as a freshman member in the minority party I needed to focus on what I could do by example. One of the first communications I received was a letter stating that simply by virtue of being sworn in I would receive a raise above what legislators in the previous session had been paid. I returned that $1,776 “adjustment” to the Pennsylvania Treasury and introduced legislation to eliminate these “COLAs”. To ensure my office’s operations are transparent, I post all my expenses on my website (they can be viewed under “expense reports”).

Tech exec Ken Cho keeps raising the bar
Austin Business Journal

Software maker People Pattern Corp. has been five years in the making for CEO Ken Cho.

The Austin-based startup, which earlier this week completed a $4.5 million Series A round of funding, is Cho’s third company and is based on an idea he began discussing with University of Texas professor Jason Baldridge in 1998. The concept blends proprietary data with open data from social media to develop specific audience data for marketers.

The result is People Pattern, which launched last March and already claims several major enterprise customers. The company employs eight workers with a tool designed for chief marketing officers to quickly determine how well ad campaigns are working.

Buena Park’s “Koreatown” Shopping Center Readies for Kickoff
Orange County Business Journal

A new Korean-American shopping center in Buena Park is expected to officially launch on Jan. 10, according to Korea Herald Business Daily, a Korean-language newspaper.

The center, called Village Circle on Beach, has a dozen or so tenants lined up, including a number that are expected to open in coming weeks, with most focused on Korean-American customers. The area around the center has been dubbed Orange County’s “Koreatown” in the ethnic press.

Operations effectively began in late 2013, when Japanese discount goods chain Daiso opened. Los Angeles-based Open Bank started its first OC branch there in December.

Allen Suh: The chef
Creative Loafing

For almost anyone in the business of entertaining people — whether as a chef, concert promoter or otherwise — there comes a moment when taking a risk implies an uncertain variation on that famous maxim from Field of Dreams: If you build it, will they come?

For chef Allen Suh, his version was something along the lines of: If you open a ramen shop inside of a small breakfast diner in a sleepy residential neighborhood on Mondays and Tuesdays, historically two of the slowest weeknights for any restaurant, will they come?

Suh spent eight years working his way up the restaurant food chain: late nights spent watching “Iron Chef,” a gig at a hibachi grill, classes at Le Cordon Bleu, and working in the celebrated kitchen at Restaurant Eugene. He also spent four years as executive sous chef at One Flew South, which has the unusual distinction of being one of the most celebrated airport restaurants in the world. All of that experience still couldn’t guarantee that people would actually show up.

Diving Into the Wreck ‘On Such a Full Sea,’ by Chang-rae Lee
New York Times

Watching a talented writer take a risk is one of the pleasures of devoted reading, and “On Such a Full Sea” provides all that and more. It’s a wonderful addition not only to Chang-rae Lee’s body of work but to the ranks of “serious” writers venturing into the realm of dystopian fantasy. Colson Whitehead, Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood (in her recently concluded MaddAddam trilogy) have all tackled this genre. Doris Lessing’s “Mara and Dann” is a classic, as is Anthony Burgess’s “Clockwork Orange.” Further back in time, one has only to think of Orwell, Huxley and Wells, even Jack London and Mary Shelley. As the author of such carefully realist fiction as “Native Speaker” and “A Gesture Life,” Lee has always been preoccupied by the themes of hope and betrayal, by the tensions that arise in small lives in the midst of great social change. His marvelous new book, which imagines a future after the breakdown of our own society, takes on those concerns with his customary mastery of quiet detail — and a touch of the fantastic.

Top 10 Asian American achievements of 2013
Northwest Asian Weekly

Each year, certain people are recognized for their accomplishments in the Asian American communities. There were many incredible feats this year, so we grouped them into 10 accomplishments.

1. President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye in August. Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, representing the people of Hawaii from the moment they joined the Union.

2. U.S. Senate Confirmations: It was a big year for U.S. Senate confirmations. Pamela K. Chen became the first openly gay, Asian American person to preside on a federal bench when she was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Raymond T. Chen became the first Asian American to serve on the Federal Circuit in more than 25 years with his U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit confirmation.

Srikanth Srinivasan was confirmed as the first circuit court judge of South Asian descent to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Korea’s favorite TV shows
Korea Times

Koreans’ favorite TV programs are the “Infinite Challenge” (무한도전), followed by recently ended drama series “Princess Aurora” (오로라 공주), despite being under heavy criticism throughout its 150 episodes, according a Gallup Korea survey.

Both shows are distributed and syndicated by Korea’s Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

The results came from a Gallup Korea poll conducted December 16-19. A total of 1,207 people in Korea, at least 19-years of age and older, were asked about their favorite TV programs, and MBC’s Infinite Challenge again came in first at 10.4%.

Infinite Challenge was at the top of the poll every month last year, except in February, and its rating was the highest in October with 13%.

Girls’ Generation Soo Young is in a Relationship with Actor Jung Kyung Ho
Yahoo Philippines

Soo Young of Girls’ Generation admitted that she is ina relationship with actor Jung Kyung Ho.

Girls’ Generation is in love! It has been only two days that YoonA admitted her relationship with Lee Seung Ki, but Soo Young also got caught dating her actor boyfriend, Jung Kyung Ho.

The two were once suspected in last year, but denied to be in a relationship. However, one medium in Korea caught them enjoying a date on Christmas and announced that the two are seeing each other.

Boyfriend Announces US Showcases in Dallas and Chicago

Any Best Friends in the house? Great news, six-member boy group Boyfriend has just announced their US showcase tour, “Boyfriend First US Showcase Live in USA“!

On March 11th and March 13th of next year, Boyfriend will be performing at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, IL and Verizon Theatre in Dallas, TX, respectively. The showcases will begin at 7pm and doors will open at 6pm.

Tickets will go on sale on January 7th at 10am 7pm CST on axs.com for Dallas and etix.com for Chicago. Ticket prices include many opportunities for VVIP and VIP ticket holders to have autograph sessions and hi-touch sessions with the boys themselves, so don’t miss out!

Lim Hyun Gyu to headline UFC event in Singapore
Korea Times

Korean MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter Lim Hyun Gyu will face former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s main event this Saturday in Singapore.

Lim (12-3-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) got his chance as a last-minute replacement, but the stage doesn’t get much bigger – this will be the first MMA event to be streamed exclusively on the UFC’s ‘Fight Pass’ digital network.

The subscription service, which is accessible on a free trial through February 28, is currently available in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

The UFC is the largest MMA organization in the world and the event is reportedly close to selling out the 6,000-capacity arena at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

The 28-year old striker Lim, standing 6′ 2″ tall, was mighty impressive in his last two knock out wins, and the 26-year old Belgian champ Saffiedine, more known for his defense, will be making his long-waited UFC debut.

Local GoFundMe Campaign Raises Money for Family Performing Missionary Work
Bayside Douglaston Patch

An online campaign dedicated to raising money to help fund a family’s missionary work has, so far, raised $4,180.

Oakland Gardens’ John Hyun Yoon created a GoFundMe page titled “Send the Yoon Family to the Nations,” with the goal of raising a total $34,000. So far, 50 people have donated to the fund.

The page reads:

Lately, God has really been challenging our faith to trust Him to be our everything and follow Him. We have decided to take action and follow Him into a life of missions and dependency on Him.

Korean noodles? In Memphis?
Dallas Morning News

This Mississippi River city is proud of its barbecue, its fried chicken, its soul food.

Those foods are what tourists typically obsess over, standing in line at Central BBQ for smoky ribs or Gus’s Fried Chicken for juicy drumsticks. But there’s a place in Memphis that makes standout Korean food. Crazy Noodle might be proof that people in intensely Southern cities like Memphis, where collard greens are made correctly and macaroni and cheese is listed as a vegetable, are welcoming the cuisine of immigrant communities.

Owner Ji Choi estimates that 60 percent of her customers are regulars. It’s a hidden gem for tourists seeking to avoid the barbecue and the out-of-towners.

Forecast of the Week: Rain is Back with New Album
Author: James S. Kim
Posted: December 31st, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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It’s been a long time, but once again, Rain is back.

The South Korean pop star is set to ring in the new year by releasing his sixth full-length album, his first in four years and the first since his two years of military service. “Rain Effect” will hit shelves on Thursday, four days earlier than expected, his management company Cube Entertainment said.

The 31-year-old, whose real name is Jung Ji-hoon, unveiled teaser videos earlier today for two tracks on the album, “30 Sexy” and “La Song.” The two tracks look and sound completely different, but looking at his track record, Rain is completely capable of pulling off both styles.

Since being discharged from mandatory military service in July, Rain has been keeping himself quite busy. Other than preparing for his sixth album, he has been in Alabama filming for The Prince, an action thriller with an ensemble cast, including Jason Patric, Bruce Willis and John Cusack. Due to the filming schedule, Cube Entertainment pushed up the release date from Jan. 6 to Jan. 2. Continue Reading »

Mashing Up the Best Songs of 2013
Author: James S. Kim
Posted: December 17th, 2013
Filed Under: Video of the Week
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As the year comes to a close and people start getting tired of the Christmas songs on repeat over the radio, it’s time to reminisce about the songs that we got sick of hearing during this past year. Singer/songwriter Daniel Kim from Vancouver is back with his annual “Danthology” (get it?) music mix series, splicing together 68 of the most popular songs of 2013 Continue Reading »

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