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.
Jang Song-thaek, the once-powerful uncle and guardian of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was the man in charge of all economic projects with foreign countries. Kim’s recent decision to oust Jang from power was not only unexpected, but it seems to be causing repercussions within North Korea’s already-suffering economy.
North Korea began selling a large supply of gold to China in recent months to mitigate its steep economic downturn, reports Yonhap News. The regime’s sale of gold is an alarming sign that perhaps indicates North Korea’s desperate attempt to an economic collapse as the country’s 2,000 tons of gold worth at least $8 billion has been considered the last bastion of its hard assets.
Even Kim Il-sung, the deceased founder of North Korea, specifically ordered his descendants to never sell its gold. Continue Reading »
Public Ouster in North Korea Unsettles China
New York Times
North Koreans had long known Jang Song-thaek as the No. 2 figure in their country, the revered uncle and mentor of Kim Jong-un, the paramount leader. Then on Monday state-run television showed two green-uniformed guards clutching a glum-looking Mr. Jang by the armpits and pulling him from a meeting of the ruling party after he was denounced for faction-building, womanizing, gambling and other acts as dozens of former comrades watched.
The spectacle of Mr. Jang’s humiliating dismissal and arrest was a highly unusual glimpse of a power struggle unfolding inside the nuclear-armed country. But the major impact may be outside, and nowhere is the downfall more unnerving than in China.
North Korea’s ‘reign of terror’ worries South’s leader
North Korea is engaged in a purge amounting to a “reign of terror” that has claimed the scalp of the country’s second most powerful man and risks further damaging relations with the South, President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday.
Park took office in Seoul earlier this year as North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, enraging world public opinion, and threatened to engulf its southern neighbour and its ally, the United States, in a war. The isolated state shelled a South Korean island in 2010 and is widely believed to have sunk a South Korean naval vessel in the same year.
“North Korea is currently carrying out a reign of terror, undertaking a large-scale purge in order to strengthen Kim Jong Un’s power,” Park told a cabinet meeting, part of which was broadcast on television.
Kim Jong Un Dismisses Uncle From Defense Post On State Television
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has dismissed his uncle — who was considered the number two power in the country — from a key defense post. Jang Song Thaek was accused of a long list of criminal and counter-revolutionary acts. He was stripped of all power, and was seen on state television being forcibly removed from a party meeting.
Melissa Block talks with Korea-watcher Victor Cha, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
NTSB to hold investigative hearing on Asiana crash
Five months into a probe into the cause of Asiana Airlines flight 214′s crash landing in San Francisco, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Monday it will hold an investigative hearing this week expected to provide the public with comprehensive information on the incident.
The two-day event beginning Tuesday will be led by NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman at the NTSB’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“We are in a fact-gathering phase,” a senior NTSB official said in a roundtable meeting with Korean reporters here.
How U.S. Veteran Got Into Hot Water in North Korea
Wall Street Journal
In late October, 85-year-old U.S. citizen and Korean War veteran Merrill Newman boarded a Beijing-bound flight in Pyongyang. His journey didn’t go according to plan.
Mr. Newman’s second attempt, made with the blessing of North Korean authorities, went more smoothly. The Palo Alto, Calif. retiree, after spurning a ride home with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Air Force Two, landed back in California on Saturday.
And now he’s putting an end to the speculation about what got him in trouble in the first place. Put simply: Mr. Newman says he had no idea that the Korean War was still such a big deal to the North Korean regime.
THE KOREAN WAR PRISONER WHO NEVER CAME HOME
The New Yorker
Somewhere inside the walls of the Old Cemetery in the central Slovakian city of Žilina lies the grave of a United States Army corporal named John Roedel Dunn. This may seem unremarkable: more than a hundred thousand American soldiers are buried in European cemeteries, on ground considered, by convention, to be American soil. But Dunn’s plot isn’t a war grave, exactly, and the conflict that put him there was fought five thousand miles away. Corporal Dunn was the last Korean War prisoner who never came home.
The ordeal of Merrill Newman, an eighty-five-year-old American veteran who was detained while visiting North Korea in October, provided yet another reminder that the armistice agreement that stopped the fighting did not end the war. The reasons for Newman’s arrest onboard a plane leaving Pyongyang have not been made clear, but the fact that he worked during the war with a unit of anti-Communist guerrillas in the North seems to have been a factor. Before he was released from North Korea and sent home on Saturday, he was dragged before cameras to recite an awkward, forced apology, in which he confessed to “indelible offensive acts against the Korean people.”
EXCLUSIVE: Meet the Love Child Rev. Sun Myung Moon Desperately Tried to Hide
When the Washington Times threw its 20th anniversary gala in 2002, conservative luminaries lined up to pay tribute, including Ronald Reagan, who addressed the packed ballroom via video. Afterward, the paper’s enigmatic founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, took the podium. “Even before the term ‘family value’ became a popular phrase, every day of the week the Times was publishing articles highlighting the breakdown in values and what must be done to return to a good, moral society,” he said, through a translator. “Today, family values have become an essential piece of the social fabric in America, even becoming part of the political landscape. We can be proud of the Washington Times’ contribution that promoted and elevated family values to an essential part of society in America and the world!”
Moon, the founder of the South Korea-based Unification Church, which had hundreds of thousands of adherents at its peak, claimed to be on a divine mission to salvage humanity by rebuilding the traditional family. Before his death last year at age 92, the self-proclaimed messiah—who was known for marrying off his followers in mass weddings—presided over a multibillion-dollar business empire. And he plowed huge sums of money into politics, launching a vast network of media outlets and front groups that promoted conservative family values and left a lasting mark on the modern-day GOP.
Korean Consul General’s Open House
The Korean Consul General’s official residence in Los Angeles will open its doors to the public for the very first time.
The Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles on Monday revealed its plans to host an open house event around the 20th of this month.
The Consul General’s official residence in Los Angeles was purchased back in 1972, and has been remodeled over the past 11-months at a cost of 2.7 million dollars.
Eugene adoption executive named South Korean consul
The Register-Guard (Oregon)
When Susan Soonkeum Cox first found out that the South Korean government chose her to represent Korean interests in the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon, she felt she had come full circle with her native country.
Cox left South Korea in 1956 and arrived in the United States as a 4-year-old orphan. She grew up about 30 miles north of Eugene in Brownsville and has worked for 30 years at Holt International Children’s Services in Eugene, helping to match foreign orphaned children — many from South Korea — with adoptive parents.
“Now, for the government of Korea to appoint me as an honorary consul, it’s very satisfying,” the 61-year-old Eugene resident said Monday.
G-Dragon’s Tour Video Sates K-Pop Fans
K-Pop lovers in the country have been waiting for December, not because it’s Christmas, but for the screening this month of the “One of a Kind 3D: G-Dragon 2013 First World Tour” at Blitzmegaplex movie theaters in Indonesia.
G-Dragon, born Kwon Ji-yong, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, dancer and fashion icon. The leader of the world-famous South Korean boy band Big Bang, G-Dragon also makes solo appearances and records his own solo albums.
The 25-year-old has released three solo albums: “Heartbreaker” (2009), “One of a Kind” (2012) and “Coup d’Etat” (2013).
Boasting a strong fan base in Asia, G-Dragon undertook an extensive tour from March to September 2013, reaching out to audiences across eight Asian countries, including Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia. His concerts in Indonesia, on June 15 and 16, were packed with hundreds of thousands of young fans.
Tap-Dancing North Korean Soldiers? Yes.
Today’s video postcard from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea features three excerpts from state television broadcast. The TV in our tourist-accessible hotel received 10 channels, only one of which was an official North Korean channel. Presumably there are other channels broadcasting a more diverse range of programming, but our state media network transmitted a nearly continuous stream of patriotic music videos. The subject matter of these dated, grainy, over-acted videos invariably involved soldiers, monuments, or crashing waves.
This video compiles three short clips. The first is a live performance of dancers in soldier attire; the second demonstrates the requisite patriotic fervor and leads into a newscast; the third goes for the heartstrings, showing a wounded soldier, supported by his regiment. And there are even helpful subtitles (in Korean) if you’d like to sing along…
Samsung’s Curved Phone Offered On Discount in Korea
Wall Street Journal
Samsung Electronics Co.005930.SE -0.96% is getting help from South Korea’s largest carrier to drum up sales of the Galaxy Round, the company’s curved-screen smartphone, amid reports of weak demand.
Samsung and SK Telecom Co.017670.SE +0.88% on Tuesday declined to comment on the Galaxy Round’s sales since its launch in October. Samsung has so far been low-key in its efforts to sell the phone and hasn’t disclosed plans to sell it overseas. In contrast, a rival model from LG Electronics Inc.066570.SE +2.27%, called G Flex, is available for pre-orders in Singapore and will go on sale in Hong Kong later this week.
SK Telecom, the only carrier selling the Galaxy Round in Korea, is offering a discount of approximately 100,000 won ($95) to 150,000 won ($142) to anyone buying the phone together with Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, a company spokeswoman said. The Round comes with a price tag of 1,089,000 won and the Gear sells for 396,000 won without a contract.
Merrill Newman, recently released from North Korea after weeks of detainment, returned to his Palo Alto home over the weekend. He reportedly said his stay in North Korea was “comfortable,” according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Newman, an 85-year-old American, added that North Korean authorities kept him in a hotel room, where he was fed traditional Korean food.
North Korean police pulled Newman out of a plane that was set to depart Pyongyang and arrested him in October. Newman, who served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War six decades ago, was visiting the country as a tourist on a 10-day organized tour. Continue Reading »
A North Korean man responsible for undisclosed financial matters of leader Kim Jong-un is seeking asylum in South Korea, in what is being described as the most significant defection in the last 15 years for the communist regime.
Officials in South Korea are reportedly protecting the man who requested asylum two months ago from China after serving as an aide to Jang Song-thaek, the husband of Kim’s aunt who has been a mentor for the North Korean leader and the right-hand man of his deceased father Kim Jong-il. Kim recently ousted Jang from his position.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) declined to comment on the defection of the man, whose name is not yet identified. Continue Reading »