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 »
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 »
Charting the New Frontier
Think YouTube artists are just kids who croon popular covers from their bedrooms? Think again. Singer/songwriter/video producer David Choi is a pioneer in the YouTube music scene, and he’s helped pave the way for independent artists to be seen, heard and compensated.
by ADA TSENG | photographs by BRIAN KONG
David Choi is jet-lagged. He’s just flown back to Los Angeles from Korea, after being invited to attend the YouTube Music Awards in Seoul, and he has the KoreAm Journal cover shoot the next day, which leaves only 24 hours for a juice cleanse that will hopefully undo some of the bodily damage that a trip to Korea can bring—late nights, mouthwatering gluttony and all. A master of social media, Choi Instagrams his Chomp Eatery bottle of leafy green liquid for his fans. Over 3,000 people “like” this photo, but according to the comments, they seem more interested in his watery eyes, his hint of a smile, his unkempt brows and his spiky hair, rather than his diet.
The boyish Choi is 27, but could arguably still pass for a teenager, especially sitting cross-legged on the floor of his Los Angeles home with a cozy blanket wrapped around his shoulders, waxing poetic about the importance of not letting the practical rules of songwriting (or the world in general) stunt your creativity and apologizing when he rambles wistfully off topic.
For any skeptics who might still assume YouTubers are naïve college kids who record themselves in their dorm rooms for fun (or for vanity), David Choi may just prove you wrong.
Music runs in his blood. If he hadn’t found fame on YouTube—Choi’s videos have more than 117 million views, and his two channels have more than a million subscribers combined—he would have found a way to work in the music industry some other way. Continue Reading »
Breaking Kim Jong Un: How North Korea became a meth hub
Extradited from Thailand, the five suspects appeared before a New York court last month to face charges of a sensational plot: smuggling crystal meth from enemy number one, North Korea.
The five men — from China, the UK, the Philippines and possibly Slovakia — stand accused by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of conspiring to sell 40 pounds of 99 percent pure methamphetamine to an undercover agent. The group pleaded not guilty. They will appear in court in early December.
You wouldn’t guess it, but North Korea — run by the world’s most infamous authoritarian regime — happens to be a colossal supplier of a highly potent but moderately priced form of crystal meth, experts say.
TV drama from South saturates black market in North Korea, bringing hope, and risk
Chilling reports in early November that Pyongyang had publicly executed scores of citizens — some for the crime of watching South Korean videos — seemed to mark a disturbing turn in the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un. But if history is any guide, even the threat of death is unlikely to quell North Koreans’ hunger for illicit entertainment from south of the border.
“The spread of South Korean media — above all, South Korean videotapes and DVDs — inside North Korea might be the single most important development of the last ten years,” said Andrei Lankov, a history professor at Seoul’s Kookmin University.
Constant surveillance, heavily guarded borders and thorough indoctrination in North Korea have made it one of the world’s most secretive and least understood countries. But the “iron curtain” which once sealed off 24 million North Koreans from the rest of the world is frayed, thanks to the spread of illegal cell phones — and the ease of obtaining South Korean pop culture.
Dog Poop Slaying Suspect Chung Kim Had Long History of Murder Threats, Prosecutors Say
The way police told it, 76-year-old Chung Kim simply exploded. The couple who lived upstairs with their five children dumped dog poop on the back porch of his Abrams Road condo, so he pulled out a handgun and murdered them in cold blood.
In a series of jailhouse interviews, Kim gave a different version of events. He admitted to shooting the man, 31-year-old Jamie Stafford, but said that it was self-defense. Stafford had charged him with the gun, which Kim had managed to wrestle from his grasp. He maintained that he didn’t shoot the woman.
Scottsdale teen Eric Kim scores perfect score on AP calculus test
If you walk around Basis Scottsdale, it’s not rare to find a smart student. Newsweek Magazine recently ranked the school as the number three high school in the country.
However, one student has recently stood out from the rest. Eric Kim was one of more than 100,000 students to take the AP Calculus BC exam. The exam involves two sections. The first section involves 45 multiple choice questions. The second is a free response section where students must show their work and explain how they came to their answer.
Eric was one of only 11 in the entire world to receive a perfect score on the entire test.
Korean Air to offer full-course hanjeongsik meals starting in 2014
Korean Air Lines Co. on Wednesday unveiled a new, full-course traditional Korean meal, known as hanjeongsik, that will be served to first-class passengers on long-distance flights starting next year.
South Korea’s largest flag carrier has prepared the meal service in cooperation with Cho Hee-sook, a culinary expert on traditional cooking.
The company said the meal will have a fruit appetizer, walnut porridge and fresh salad with special fermented soy bean “doenjang” dressing that will be followed by a main course made either of spicy seasoned pork or salmon.
Hanjeongsik literally means a complete full-course meal in Korean.
21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis
Photographer Kiyun asked her friends at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus to “write down an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.”
The term “microaggression” was used by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” Sue borrowed the term from psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce who coined the term in the ’70s.
Wonder Girl’s Sohee Will Not Be Renewing Her Contract with JYP
JYP Entertainment has published a press release that revealed that Wonder Girls’ Sohee will not be renewing her contract with the agency once it expires on December 21 of this year. They cite the reasons for this split due to her desire to focus on acting. Meanwhile the same press release has stated that fellow Wonder Girls members Sunye, Yenny and Yubin have agreed to renew their contracts pending some minor detail clarifications.
We had previously reported in our JYP contract length article that the contract for the original Wonder Girl’s members will end in December of this year. In what seems to be an attempt to put speculations about the future of the Wonder Girls to rest, JYP Entertainment posted a press release on December 11 to clarify what was happening with the contracts for the individual Wonder Girls members.
80s, 90s nostalgia spills over to pop music
Even as we live in the high-tech, cutting edge digital era, retro has always been part of the cultural code, various culture industry insiders have said.
But the trend toward retro in Korea prevails this year. What fueled this trend undeniably is “Reply 1994,” a drama currently airing on a cable network. Koreans’ move from rural communities to the cities is popular fodder for stories, and the drama recaptures that in a 1994 setting.
The girl group T-ara is showing off what it does best with the remake of “Do You Know Me?” The song is a 2013 version of the Korean band Sand Pebbles’ song that won it the top prize at the 1977 MBC Collegian Song Contest. One of the original Sand Pebbles’ members recently joined T-ara in the production of the music video.
Arizona Diamondbacks making strong play for Shin-Soo Choo
The Arizona Diamondbacks, fighting a dwindling fan base and apathy in the marketplace, are trying to steal a page out of the Seattle Mariners’ playbook by trying to sign free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
The Diamondbacks are a surprise entrant in the Choo sweepstakes, a high-ranking club official told USA TODAY Sports. Choo would become the highest-paid player in franchise history, eclipsing $100 million. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing.
The Rangers also acknowledged that they are trying to sign Choo.
The Diamondbacks, 81-81, finished 11 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, and drew 2.1 million fans – the second-lowest attendance in the National League.
Jeremy Lin Isn’t the Only Christian Asian-American
Two months ago, producer Christopher Chen released Linsanity, a documentary following Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin’s rise to stardom which explores the basketball player’s commitment to Christianity. The film recently spurred an interesting discussion on Huff Post Live about how Asian-Americans practice their Christian faith on Huff Post Live. All of the guests, including Chen, rapper MC Jin and spoken- word artist Jason Chu, seemed to agree that the Asian–Americans practice of openly embracing theirone’s faith is a relatively new and misunderstood concept in America.
Jang: ‘The Very Definition of Korean Culture’
Food Safety News
We are sitting in one of the thematic conference rooms at the Sempio Foods Company research and development (R&D) center in Osong, south of Seoul, South Korea. Byung-serk Hurh, Sempio’s research director, is drawing a large cooking vessel on a white board as he tries to explain how Jang is made.
In one wing of the R&D complex, lab workers quietly come and go. They move from the labs to a large digital library-like room, where they sit while compiling data. In the other wing are offices and conference rooms designed in a variety of themes, such as a forest, a swimming pool, and even a giant produce farm with lettuce growing from the ceiling.
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.