Dennis Rodman is still not done talking about North Korea.
Ever since the former basketball star’s trip to the secretive nation last month, Rodman has been making headlines, declaring Kim Jong-un to be his new best pal (with whom he’s making travel plans) and publicly announcing that the controversial leader only wants President Obama to give him a ring and have a little chat.
And now, in the most recent bit of tantalizing, gossip-worthy news, Rodman reveals Kim and North Korean First Lady Ri Sol-ju’s bundle of joy is, in fact, a girl. Continue Reading »
Analysts worry that NKorean nuke test signals willingness to sell atomic material, expertise
AP via Washington Post
North Korea’s nuclear test last month wasn’t just a show of defiance and national pride; it also serves as advertising. The target audience, analysts say, is anyone in the world looking to buy nuclear material.
Though Pyongyang has threatened to launch nuclear strikes on the U.S., the most immediate threat posed by its nuclear technology may be North Korea’s willingness to sell it to nations that Washington sees as sponsors of terrorism. The fear of such sales was highlighted this week, when Japan confirmed that cargo seized last year and believed to be from North Korea contained material that could be used to make nuclear centrifuges, which are crucial to enriching uranium into bomb fuel.
The dangerous message North Korea is sending, according to Graham Allison, a nuclear expert at the Harvard Kennedy School: “Nukes are for sale.”
China Cites Risk of New Tension as U.S. Bolsters Missile Defenses
New York Times
China said Monday that the United States’ decision to strengthen antimissile defenses in response to threats from North Korea risked deepening regional tensions, underscoring Beijing’s caution on further pressuring the North despite its third nuclear test.
Earlier this month, China backed a United Nations Security Council resolution imposing banking, trade and travel sanctions on North Korea after it held the test on Feb. 12.
China’s warning was in response to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement on Friday that the Pentagon would spend $1 billion to put in place more ballistic missile interceptors to counter the growing reach of North Korea’s weapons.
63-year-old Sookja Kim struck, killed on Mosholu Parkway
News 12 (Bronx, N.Y.)
Police are investigating after a 63-year-old woman was struck and killed in the middle of Mosholu Parkway.
According to authorities, a 22-year-old man was driving near Bainbridge Avenue when he hit Sookja Kim at around 4 p.m. Sunday. She was rushed to Saint Barnabas Hospital, but pronounced dead on arrival.
The K-Pop effect: South Korea’s obsession with beauty
World News Australia
I generally tend to take sweeping statements about a populace with a bucket of salt. Before I left for South Korea, one of my colleagues (himself of Korean descent) had this warning for me: “They’re very superficial,” he said, shaking his head in dismay. “They’re completely obsessed with looks.”
He told me tales of the schoolgirls who would get given plastic surgery as graduation gifts; the mother-daughter teams that would cash in on the two-for-one clinic discounts; the pervasive desire to ‘look more western’. Nicole Kidman, he said, with her high nose, big eyes, slim jaw and white skin was considered the pinnacle of beauty.
In reality, that pinnacle is much closer to home and it’s shaping a generation with a penchant for plastic.
The Walking Dead: Steven Yeun Goes Sockless On Jimmy Kimmel
On Monday night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn on The Walking Dead, was a guest. After Steven Yeun walked out, Jimmy Kimmel said his suit looked nice but he also pointed out that Yeun wasn’t wearing socks.
Steven Yeun said, “Yes, this is a point of contention for a lot of people.” When Kimmel asked for who, Yeun replied, “Mostly just people who hate ankles.” Yeun added, “You know why I wear this, it’s actually pretty funny, it is comfortable, the ankle stuff is actually really comfortable, because you’re free.” Yeaun went on to explain that he was wearing the suit at the request of his father, because his dad wanted him to put his best foot forward at all times.
Psy’s Title Trouble
Wall Street Journal
After the ridiculous success of “Gangnam Style,” one of Psy’s next tracks is already creating a buzz—for controversial reasons.
The tuxedoed rapper wrote on a South Korean social-networking site Monday that he plans to change both the title of the song “Assarabia” and the lyrics of its chorus. He didn’t say why, but a spokesman for his record label YG Entertainment 122870.KQ +2.73%, said it was because the word is hard for non-Korean speakers to pronounce. (In Korean, “assarabia” indicates excitement.)
The explanation hasn’t convinced some in the media; a tweet from Voice of America’s Seoul bureau chief noted that some people in the Middle East might find the title offensive.
CAAMFest 2013 Interviews: Deann Borshay Liem and Ramsay Liem of ‘Memory of Forgotten War’
Suntae Chun cannot forget. Or, rather, will not forget.
“June 24th was a Saturday,” Chun recalls without hesitation. “I was a member of the swimming team. So whole school went to picnic. Twenty-seven of us went to Ongmyon Reservoir … We spend evening swimming.” We see a black and white photo of a youthful Chun and his teammates languidly posing in their swim trunks. “Next morning,” however, “big war broke out.”
“And then,” Minyong Lee adds, “everything fell apart.”
That war, and the countless lives and families that fell apart as a result, is the focus of the documentary Memory of Forgotten War. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem and professor emeritus at Boston College (and Borshay Liem’s brother-in-law) Ramsay Liem, Memory of Forgotten War features four elderly Korean American immigrants — Chun, Lee, Hee Bok Kim, and Kee Park — all of whom vividly remember a war officially designated in the U.S. as “forgotten.” Indeed, their harrowing stories of death, separation, persecution, and immigration tumble forth with startling clarity and tense emotion, offering an intimate look at a divided nation caught in the throes of a Cold War that never thawed, a Korean War that never ended.
S. Korean soap opera hugely popular in Cuba
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
A comical South Korean soap opera about the daily lives of a couple and their neighbors has become hugely popular in Cuba, according to Korean officials there.
Cubans are glued to their TV sets when the drama “Queen of Housewives” is broadcast on the state-run TV Canal Habana four times a week, according Korean officials at the Havana office of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.
The 2009 MBC mini-series that began airing on Feb. 26 was the first Korean drama ever to be shown in the Caribbean nation.
Hank Conger’s throwing woes prompt Angels to go shopping
Los Angeles Times
Sail a few throws into left field, bounce a few to second base, and suddenly there’s a new guy in the clubhouse poised to take your job.
That’s the cold, hard reality for Angels catcher Hank Conger, whose throwing woes prompted the Angels to sign veteran catcher Chris Snyder to a minor league deal Monday, a move that will probably push Conger, a first-round pick in 2006, to triple-A Salt Lake, where he has spent most of the last three years.
“I’ve learned that nothing is really handed to you, whether it’s a starting or backup job,” Conger, 25, said. “It’s been tough. You don’t want to feel like you’re letting a lot of people down.”
Reds’ Shin-Soo Choo not concerned by his missed time
Shin-Soo Choo hasn’t played since Friday because of back spasms, but the Reds center fielder doesn’t see any reason for concern at this point.
“There’s no reason to push it right now,” Choo said. “It’s spring training. If it were the regular season, I wouldn’t be missing games right now, I’d be playing. But right now, there’s no reason to take any chances.”
With just two weeks until Opening Day, Choo said he’d be ready in time for the start of the season. While Choo hasn’t had serious problems with his back before, he said he has had some tightness in his back before. He said he woke up with pain in his back on Saturday morning and hasn’t played since. However, every day since the first day, it has improved.
After Worlds, Kim Yu-na Is Already Thinking About Olympics
Kim Yu-na, the reigning Olympic and world champion in ladies’ figure skating, sported a black suit, tie and fedora during the exhibition gala of the 2013 World Championships in London, Ontario, Canada on Monday. She appeared 22nd out of 24 skaters and was greeted with thunderous applause before skating to “All of Me” by Michael Buble.
But Kim won’t have much time to bask in the spotlight and returns home on Wednesday to begin preparations for the Sochi Olympics after some rest. She seems likely to renew her contract with current coaches Shin Hye-sook and Ryu Jong-hyun.
“I feel comfortable with them since they’ve been coaching me since I was young,” Kim said.
Gov’t to Expand Grandmother Babysitting Program
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family will expand a program that pays elderly women to babysit their grandchildren.
Following a KBS report on the program last week, the ministry has decided to implement the program in other regions of the nation from the second half of this year.
Under the program, elderly women will receive 400-thousand won monthly from the government if they babysit grandchildren 12 months old or younger for ten hours a day. The program will benefit families of two working parents with at least two children.
The United States announced plans to deploy an additional 14 missile interceptors, CNN reports.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters today that 14 additional ground-based interceptors will be used to help the nation defend itself against a mounting threats from North Korea and Iran. This will bring the total number of ground-based missile interceptors to 44; the missile expansion will be completed by 2017.
“The reason that we are doing what we are doing and the reason we are advancing our program here for homeland security is to not take any chances, is to stay ahead of the threat and to assure any contingency,” Hagel said.
Sexist Taunt From North Korea Raises Gender Issue for the South’s New Leader
New York Times
When North Korea blamed President Park Geun-hye’s “venomous swish of skirt” this week for tensions on the Korean Peninsula, it brought up an issue that had been mainly unremarked upon in South Korea: Would their leader’s gender color the latest confrontation between the Koreas?
The North Koreans, masters of outrageous propaganda, no doubt picked their phrase carefully for the South’s first female president. “Swish of skirt” was long an insult in Korean culture, directed at women deemed too aggressive, far from the traditional ideal of docile and coy.
Korea fires off short-range missiles: military sources
North Korea fired off short-range missiles into the East Sea on Friday amid heightened tension following its February nuclear test, a military source in Seoul said.
“A North Korean military unit on drill test-fired two shots of short-range missiles, presumed to be KN-02 missiles, into the East Sea” the source said.
The source did not say the exact time of the launching.
“The launch was seen as testing its capability for short-range missiles. It seemed to be conducted on a military-unit level, not at a national level.”
Fast Fashion’s Challenge: Making Money With ‘Made In The USA’
Do Won Chang, founder and CEO of Forever 21, is 58, Korean-American and devoutly Christian. Every Forever 21 shopping bag is stamped with the Bible verse John 3:16.
Chang has also had his share of legal trouble. There have been waves of worker disputes over labor conditions that lasted years at a time and even boycotts. Chang has also been charged with design theft for stealing styles from other designers.
In an interview with CNN, Chang said he really had no interest in fashion; he just wanted to make money. And he has done a good job of that; relying heavily on manufacturing overseas, Chang projects $4 billion in sales this year.
Koreans’ Plastic-Surgery Obsession Baffles Tourists
Tourists cite the obsession with plastic surgery among Korean women as the most puzzling characteristic of the country’s contemporary culture.
Cosmojin Tour on Thursday said in a straw poll of 384 tourists, 48 percent named plastic surgery as the aspect of modern Korean culture they found hardest to understand.
“Many tourists who visited the Gangnam or Itaewon districts of Seoul tell their tour guides that Korean women are beautiful but ask why they look and dress the same,” said a Cosmojin Tour staffer. “For many foreigners, who value individuality and uniqueness, it seems surprising to see Koreans so obsessed with plastic surgery to boost their appearance.”
Banshee: Hoon Lee Talks Season Finale — Everything Gets Brought To A ‘Critical Mass!’
AccessHollywood.com: How does it feel to finally be here, at the end of Season 1, knowing you have a Season 2 as well?
Hoon Lee: It’s really invigorating. The response has been so gratifying, really… To see that hard work being received so well is incredibly satisfying and it just gives us a lot of fuel for Season 2. I think we’re kind of in perfect position because I think we are able to go into Season 2 with confidence – not second guessing ourselves — and still have the experience of Season 1 under our belts.
South Korean TV Star Lee Young-ae Opens New Shop
Wall Street Journal
Ten years ago, the success of a TV series about a cook in an ancient royal court turned actress Lee Young-ae into a superstar and a sought-after celebrity endorser for companies throughout Asia.
Now, Ms. Lee is entering business herself.
This weekend, she opens Lya Nature, a boutique selling organic, chemical-free children’s clothing and other items, just up the street from Seoul’s largest palace, in a neighborhood that’s popular with residents and tourists alike.
Hear 2NE1 and will.i.am’s Long-Awaited K-Pop Collision ‘Take on the World’
It’s finally here.
A year ago at this time, both Girls’ Generation and 2NE1 looked poised to steamroll the American market and shush those that might suggest K-Pop’s increasingly global conquest would stop here. The former had a Snoop Dogg cosign (and Letterman appearance) in their handbags, and 2NE1, having already stormed Times Square in December of 2011, were rumored to be in the lab with known chart terrorist, will.i.am. It was only a matter of time. But then summer arrived and so did “I Love You,” to relatively little fanfare. Girls’ Generation went largely silent, and then came Psy. You know the rest.
But as of this afternoon, the wait is over:
Korean Enclave In Duluth Served By St. Andrew Kim
The Georgia Bulletin
A Korean Catholic mission in the heart of Gwinnett County’s vibrant Korean-American enclave of Duluth has more than doubled its membership in 18 months.
St. Andrew Kim Korean Catholic Church is located on a stretch of Duluth Highway known as church row, amidst several other Korean churches. Since August 2011, it has grown from 98 registered families to 228 families.
The community expects to continue to share in the fast growth in Gwinnett, where the Korean population overall is 22,001, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. That reflects a doubling since the year 2000. The Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta estimates that there are 100,000 Korean-Americans in Georgia.
Q&A with Phillip Y Kim, financial industry insider and author of Nothing Gained
Shanghaiist: You have worked in the finance industry for over twenty-five years, why did you decide to write a novel, and what in particular inspired you to write Nothing Gained?
Phillip Y Kim: I’ve always had creative urges, but was too busy over the years working as an investment banker to properly address them. However, I had accumulated many fascinating and intriguing experiences over the years, and the need to put them in writing finally became irresistible. I chose to write a novel because I felt that I could tell a better story by doing more than just presenting fact. Non-fiction would have also involved exposing too many people and embarrassing matters better left undercover!
How Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 Compares With iPhone 5
Wall Street Journal
Samsung finally pulled the curtains back on the Galaxy S 4, its next flagship Android smartphone, at an event in New York today.
In addition to bumping up the size of the screen from 4.8 inches to 5 inches, the guts of the device also received a significant boost — putting it ahead of the major competition in many technical aspects.
Granted, we haven’t seen the Apple’s next iPhone model for 2013, but for the time being the specifications of the Galaxy S 4 are a significant upgrade.
Kim, an American’s idol, wins short at world skating
Because Kim, 22, had been away so long, she lacked the ranking points to skate in her accustomed position, one of the last in the competition order. That she was 14th starter of the 35 women, in a group with decided also-rans, worked in her favor.
“Because I was so used to competing (in the same group) with so many high-level skaters in the past, this time I was not as nervous,” Kim said. “I was just able to focus. If I did end up competing with top skaters right now, I think I would be more nervous.”
She opened with an impressive triple lutz-triple toe combination, which produced the highest score of anyone in the field for the required jump combination. From then on, Kim was in command, no matter that her time away from competition clearly affected her sharpness.
Kim Yu-na returns to big stage
Reigning Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na carved out a singular place for herself at the 2010 Winter Games, so it shouldn’t be surprising that her theatrical re-entry to top-level competition would be singular as well.
The South Korean icon glided onto the ice Thursday for her short program at the world championships in an unaccustomed place, not even midway through the field of 35 in a format where the highest-ranked skaters are deliberately shuffled toward the end of the deck. Three minutes later, it was clear she had retained her seamless blend of the ethereal and the athletic after taking the better part of two seasons away from the sport.
World’s 10 best drinking nations
7. South Korea
In South Korea, booze acts like a pressure valve, allowing people to vent frustrations. Booze also acts as a lubricant, oiling the wheels of business.
And, of course, booze acts like booze, getting people drunk.
South Korea’s strict social protocols seem to dissolve in alcohol, with the most hierarchical of relationships turning to brotherhoods by the end of the night, or early morning. A good session involves rapidly soaking up as many “bombs” (mixtures using “golden ratios” of whiskey and beer) as possible and then speaking (or slurring) what’s left of your mind, preferably to your boss.
Photo via TIME.com
We’ve come to expect news of the ludicrous and outright strange from North Korea — from tunneling into South Korea, facilitating an illegal meth trade in China and, most recently, becoming BFFs with Dennis Rodman — but recent reports of money laundering sound unbelievable.
And yet, as unbelievable as we may think it, it isn’t necessarily unexpected. And it’s already happening.
Reports from Chosun Ilbo connect North Korea with a highly organized crime ring. A defector from the North explained to news sources that diplomats would take forged “high quality $100 bills” and pass them onto embassies around the world for exchange. Continue Reading »