South Korea hoists national flag at weightlifting event in Pyongyang as tensions ease
South Korean weightlifters marched with their national flag Thursday at the start of an international competition hosted by bitter rival North Korea — something of a milestone for two countries that were trading war threats this spring.
It’s the first time South Korean athletes have attended an international sports event in North Korea, government officials in Seoul said. Both countries consider themselves the only legitimate government on the Korean Peninsula, which is still technically in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The concession by North Korea at the Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship this week comes during a mellowing in animosity as the countries pursue diplomacy.
A Human Moment From the Most Isolated Place in the World
During my recent trip to North Korea, one particularly memorable moment took place at the DMZ from the DPRK’s side, where I saw both the North Korean and South Korean flags straddling the 38th parallel. I carefully struck up a conversation with a North Korean military officer in his mid-50s. At first, he scowled and demanded that I, a Korean-speaking American, stand away from him. I kept near him, pretending that I had no wiggle room amidst the dozens of fellow tourists who were also at the DMZ.
After his military colleagues cleared the area, the officer casually covered his mouth with a folder, looked away from me, and in a low voice started asking me questions about my life in America. After all, he couldn’t have his colleagues see him be so friendly with a foreigner, much less an ethnic Korean American. He asked me what life was like in America, what my parents did, and how I learned to speak Korean in America. His questions were rooted in sheer, nonjudgmental curiosity. For 10 minutes, we stood by each other in a crowd while looking in opposite directions, and carried this clandestine conversation in Korean while having both of our mouths covered. After telling me that he full-heartedly wishes that the two Koreas reunify so that all Korean people, hanminjok, can live together in peace, he asked me:
“Do I look like your father?”
I didn’t really know what he was asking, so when I asked him to ask his question again, he said:
“Well, I know that we’re hanminjok, but I’m curious if I look like a Korean man in the United States. Am I as tall as him? Same face?”
What’s next for the Kaesong Industrial Complex?
The agreement that emerged from the second meeting of the Inter-Korean Joint Committee for the Kaesong Industrial Complex on Sep. 11 can be understood as a mutually beneficial compromise, in which the North gave ground on the timeframe for resuming operations at the complex, and the South won systemic improvements including workers’ safety and access to the complex.
But from the outset, the meeting was no smooth sailing. Starting with a general meeting at 10 am on Sep. 10, North and South did not find middle ground until 6 am on Sep. 11, after a twenty-hour marathon round of negotiations that lasted until morning. During the negotiations, two general meetings were held, the joint committee chairs made contact five times, and the chairs of the subcommittee on entrance and sojourn met separately on three occasions. The reasons for this unusually long slog appear to be the pressure of trying to resume operations at the complex before Chuseok (the Korean harvest festival) and a political consideration that the South had to achieve something to coincide with Park Geun-hye‘s return from a trip to Russia and Vietnam.
It appears that the main point of dispute was the issue of guaranteeing workers’ safety in connection with entrance to and sojourn in the complex. South Korea requested that an observer be present when South Korean workers are questioned on suspicion of violating the complex’s laws. The South made clear that it did not want a repeat of what happened in 2009, when an employee of Hyundai-Asan at the complex was detained for a long period of time without being given access to a attorney.
South Korea: Families struggle with harvest festival cost
A poll of more than 1,200 people found that 11.6% would not buy presents for the annual celebration, says one of the country’s largest supermarkets.
Choi Choon-seok of South Korean hypermarket Lotte Mart expects “a noticeable trend toward inexpensive and practical presents” as households grapple with the continuing recession, says The Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
People buying presents are likely to spend an average of 196,000 won ($180; £115) on gifts of fruit and healthy food for others, but half of the people polled would like to receive gift vouchers in return.
It is traditional for South Koreans to celebrate the Chuseok holiday in the company of their families with a home-made meal, Songpyeon rice cakes, and ancestral rites.
Store owner gets 18 months in jail for sexually assaulting employee
Times Colonist (Canada)
A 58-year-old convenience store owner convicted of sexual assault causing bodily harm to one of his young employees has been sentenced to 18 months in jail plus two years’ probation.
In June, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman found James Hak Cho guilty of the offence, which took place at the store in March 2011.
Cho was acquitted on the charge of administering a stupefying drug to commit the sexual assault.
Oklahoma Man Stranded In South Korea With Rare Disease Returns Home
A national campaign finally pays off, bringing an Oklahoma man back home. Sean Jones has been stuck in a South Korean hospital for months.
He went to the country to teach English, but he got a rare brain disease there, and ended up in intensive care. South Korean doctors treated him, but they wouldn’t let him go until he paid all of his medical bills.
Now he’s back in Oklahoma, thanks to $50,000 in donations from around the world.
G-Dragon’s Favorite Songs From YG Entertainment
Of the three companies that dominate Korean pop—SM, JYP, and YG—it is the music of YG Entertainment that is most likely to sound familiar to American ears. Founded in 1996 by Yang Hyun-suk, former member of seminal pop group Seo Taiji and Boys, YG has always emphasized hip-hop and R&B as its musical foundation. From the start, the company enlisted Korean-American musicians, like early hitmaker Perry, to produce tracks that were in line with stateside trends, thus staying ahead of the curve in the domestic market.
It was the flashy music videos and aggressive rap singles of the late ’90s and early aughts by YG artists like Jinusean and 1TYM that initially attracted a young G-Dragon to the label. In 2006, YG further evolved as a K-pop powerhouse when GD debuted as the leader of influential boy band Big Bang, followed three years later by girl group 2NE1. And, of course, longtime YG artist PSY brought his label international recognition last summer with the explosion of “Gangnam Style.”
All of these international hits are no accident—YG is known for granting more freedom to its artists than rival K-pop powerhouses, creating space for a unique talent like GD to grow. So, to get a window into G-Dragon’s musical upbringing and the history of his label, here are G-Dragon’s Favorite Songs from YG Entertainment.
Q&A: f(x) Reacts to Topping K-Pop Hot 100 & World Albums Chart (Exclusive)
Girl groups were in short supply at KCON 2013. Though, given f(x)’s whirlwind 2013, they likely would have more than sufficed even without a last-minute addition of Crayon Pop at the American K-pop convention.
Despite being away from the K-pop scene for over a year, the female quintet saw their domestic and international popularity maintained with new single “Rum Pum Pum Pum” hitting No. 1 on the K-Pop Hot 100. Meanwhile, its accompanying full-length album, “Pink Tape,” not only topped Billboard’s World Album chart, but also placed on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart — meaning a Billboard 200 entry wasn’t too far away.
Falling in line with past singles such as “Pinocchio (Danger)” and “NU ABO,” the 12 tracks on “Pink Tape” also mix fizzy electro-pop, icy harmonies and strange, yet addictive, hooks. One could argue the quirky confections on the LP represent the contrasting personalities of the five f(x) members — on display as the quintet sit down for an interview with Billboard hours before opening KCON’s grand finale K-pop concert.
‘Sympathy For Mister Vengeance’ Remake Taps ‘Paradise Now’ Helmer
Hany Abu-Assad has been hired to helm the English-language remake of Park Chan-wook’s Sympathy For Mister Vengeance. The Dutch-Palestinian director best known for his Oscar-nominated 2005 pic Paradise Now also recently won the Jury Prize at Cannes for his latest film, Omar. Mister Vengeance follows a man seeking a black market kidney for his sister whose plan unravels in violence and revenge.
Dodgers’ Ryu Hyun-jin shaky in loss to Diamondbacks
Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers suffered his sixth loss of the Major League Baseball (MLB) season on Wednesday in a shaky outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.
Ryu pitched six innings and allowed 10 hits and three runs, as the Dodgers lost 4-1. The lefty didn’t walk a batter and had one strikeout.
The South Korean dropped to 13-6 in his rookie season, and his ERA went up from 3.02 to 3.07. He also fell to 7-3 with a 2.23 ERA in 14 starts at home.
Dodgers will have to watch Hyun-Jin Ryu carefully down stretch
Los Angeles Times
That’s not a good review. It’s a so-so one. Not too good, not too bad.
Hyun-Jin Ryu made his first start in 12 days Wednesday after skipping a turn with a stiff back, and when asked to review his performance, Manager Don Mattingly said:
That should scare the living daylights out of the Reds, Cardinals and Braves.
“Really kind of what Hyun-Jin does,” Mattingly said. “Obviously he gave up a couple early. For the first time pitching in  days, I thought he was pretty sharp.”
Pretty sharp. Yep, a regular five-star review.
Ryu lasted six innings Wednesday, allowing three runs on 10 hits. If that’s pretty sharp, I have a pretty thick head of hair.
MLB Scouts Interested in Yoon Seok-min, Oh Seung-hwan
Two high-profile pitchers in the Korean Baseball League have been drawing considerable interest from overseas recently — Oh Seung-hwan of the Samsung Lions and Yoon Seok-min of the Kia Tigers.
Although Japanese teams are focusing more on Oh — in part because he holds the better record this season — U.S. Major League scouts reportedly consider Yoon to be the superior pitcher.
Scouts say Oh might be able to close for a lower team in MLB, but Yoon’s experience as a starting pitcher will ultimately raise his value higher. Both players will become free agents after this season.
Engineer Turns Entrepreneur With Online Bakery Service
Wall Street Journal
Yoo Min-joo, a 28-year-old engineering major, didn’t imagine running a start-up even as his college friends had huge success with their own–Ticket Monster, a daily deals site known locally as TMon.
But it was when he started writing a book about TMon that he thought that he could do something similar. The book told the story of five young Korean guys building a company that was acquired by LivingSocial of the U.S. in August 2011.
“I introduced them to each other and closely watched how they came up with ideas, executed their plans and how the business grew rapidly,” said Mr. Yoo in an interview. At the time, he was working at SK Hynix, a semiconductor maker.
This artist will make you question reality
Korean artist Kang-hoon Kang clearly likes to mess with our minds. His hyper-realistic paintings will make you wonder if “this is real life” or not (and you won’t even need to go to the dentist!) Check out his work above, and for more spectacular art visit his website.
Feminism and Race: Just Who Counts As A ‘Woman Of Color’?
Recommitting Feminism to Multiracial Solidarity
Roxane, Jill and Mikki-
After I shared an article that addressed the conspicuous lack of women of color on magazine covers, a friend exclaimed, “Let’s not forget there is a lack of our Latina and Asian sisters.” That comment, while coming from someone with all the best intentions in the world, prompted me to ask a series of awkward and sobering questions: When people say “women of color,” am I included in that equation, or does it not apply to Asian American women? What about Hispanic women? Do they have more of a claim to that label than Asians do? Or do they also not count? Do people really want to hear from someone who looks like me when they engage in conversations about racial justice?
Advocates for a more inclusive feminism cannot be content with calling attention to the tendency of feminist circles to focus solely on the issues that matter to privileged, white women. We must also rethink the ways we use the term “women of color.” Our community needs conversations that explicitly demonstrate how the struggles of Asian, Latina, and other women who fall outside the black-white binary are inextricably linked with the oppression of others. While I thoroughly appreciate the discussions that came from #solidarityisforwhitewomen, we must work even harder to ensure solidarity with all women who experience life at the intersections of race and gender.
North Korea’s Ten Principles Show Regime Rigidity
Wall Street Journal
Retired NBA superstar Dennis Rodman returned from another highly publicized visit to North Korea on Saturday without hospitalized Korean-American prisoner Kenneth Bae in tow. But he did have one piece of exciting news.
According to Mr. Rodman, youthful “compadre” Kim Jong Un “wants to really actually change things” in the country he inherited from his father, Kim Jong Il, at the end of 2011.
Other news tells a different story. Seoul-based website Daily NK exclusively revealed recently that Pyongyang has updated and confirmed its “Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System.” This move offers some of the strongest evidence yet that Kim Jong Un is steering a similar course to his father.
Student takes on Michelle Rhee
School reformer extraordinaire Michelle Rhee has begun a three-city event where she is hosting town halls in what she says is an effort to have a “real talk” with teachers, who for years have viewed her as anything but a friend. (The same could be said of one of her traveling companions on this tour, Connecticut educator Steve Perry, who is famous for referring to teachers unions as “roaches.”)
Rhee and her panel began their tour in Los Angeles earlier this week and will go to Birmingham on Sept. 12 and then Philadelphia on Sept. 16. One of the more interesting moments of the Los Angeles town hall was when a University of Southern California student, Hannah Nguyen, called out Rhee on her “school reform” movement.
It turns that Hannah Nguyen is a former big supporter of Rhee’s brand of reform, once belonging to Students for Education Reform. She changed her mind after looking at what really happens in schools and now is involved with Students United for Public Education.
S. Korean Rebellion Plot Turns Spotlight on Spy Agency
Voice of America
On September 4, South Korea’s parliament for the first time voted to prosecute one of its lawmakers for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government in favor of North Korea. The lawmaker and the North Koreans are denying the allegation and instead accusing South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, of fabricating it for political purposes.
Seoul’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) last week arrested Lee Seok-ki and three other members of his Unified Progressive Party for treason and violating the National Security Law.
The NIS alleges they plotted an armed rebellion against their own country in the event of war with North Korea.
Angry Asian Man Not So Angry
The Angry Asian Man isn’t always angry. Mostly he just wants to catch people’s attention. Host Michel Martin speaks with blog creator Phil Yu about the blog’s unexpected growth and some of the biggest issues facing Asian-Americans today.
Regional Police Report: Woman Killed in Route 83 Crash; Diamond Heist Investigated
Patch.com (Des Plaines, Ill.)
One Dead, Two Injured in Route 83 Crash
A Buffalo Grove woman was killed in a crash near Route 83 and Westmoreland in Long Grove Thursday evening.
Jeewon Kim, 47, of Buffalo Grove, sustained multiple traumatic injuries in the crash, said Lake County Senior Deputy Coroner Orlando Portillo.
A blue 2011 Honda CRV and a red 2007 Ford F150 collided in the intersection, said Sgt. Sara Balmes with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Kim was driving the Honda CRV.
Henney drawn to ugly character in ‘Spy’
Korea Joongang Daily
Actor Daniel Henney, 34, who became popular in the TV drama “My Name is Kim Sam-soon,” returned to the big screen in the new movie “Spy,” released in Korea yesterday.
Although he has the image of a romantic guy thanks to his TV drama role, his latest character is evil.
Henney plays a charming spy named Ryan, who in a bid to get closer to his target, Cheol-soo, attracts his wife.
“It is not fun when everyone acts as a comical character just because the movie is a comedy, and we need one character that is straightforward,” he said to the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily.
‘Oldboy’ Choi Min-sik Signs on for Luc Besson’s Latest Flick
Choi Min-sik will appear in his first non-Korean film, “Lucy,” the latest flick by French director Luc Besson. It boasts a star-studded cast including Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman.
Choi has been receiving offers from around the world since the huge success in 2003 of “Oldboy,” directed by Park Chan-wook. Filming on “Lucy” will begin this fall, with a release date scheduled for next year.
A number of Korean actors have been expanding their international careers recently, with actors like Lee Byung-hun and Song Kang-ho probably the highest profile as they have both appeared in current Hollywood hits.
Alina Cho Leaves CNN
Alina Cho, who has been with CNN nearly 10 years, parted ways with the network last week. Most recently, Cho had been CNN’s fashion correspondent hosting half-hour specials on the industry.
“I am so thankful for all of the opportunities CNN has given me over the last decade,” Cho tells TVNewser. “I have been given a front row seat to military parades in North Korea, presidential elections and, yes, the Paris runways.”
Cho joined CNN in 2004 after stints at ABC News, affiliate service NewsOne, CNBC, and at local news stations in Tampa and Chicago.
15 Male Korean actors that should get more screen time in Hollywood
As the Hallyu wave gets bigger and bigger, it’s not just idols who are branching out into international markets! For actors, their biggest dream is to act in Hollywood. There are many actors who have started to branch into Hollywood movies, but who can get enough of these Korean hotties? Additionally, there’s also Korean American and other actors who have already established a foothold in Hollywood but they’re not being utilized as much as we would like.
Here is a list of more Koreans we’d like to see more often in Hollywood, in no specific order.
Veteran Pitcher Lim Chang-yong Makes MLB Debut with Cubs
Lim Chang-yong finally made his Major League Baseball debut in a home game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, coming on the Chicago Cubs’ third pitcher in the top of the seventh with one out.
At the age of 37 years, three months, and four days, Lim became the second-oldest player to debut with the club since 1901. He gave up one hit and one walk, but wrapped up the inning with a double play, not conceding any runs in 2/3 innings.
Four Hour Lines at Ramen Burger’s Los Angeles Debut
Saturday morning, ramen lovers and food enthusiasts lined up as early as 6:20 a.m. at Torrance’s Mitsuwa Marketplace to be one of the first to try the newest oddball culinary mashup: the Ramen Burger™. Invented by Keizo Shimamoto and popularized for the last five weeks at Brooklyn’s Smorgasbord weekend food flea market, a mere 500 of the novelty burgers were supposed to be served starting at 11 a.m. Instead, an anxious line of over 800 people encircled the entire building, many for over four hours before getting a chance to grab the neatly wrapped burger.
Inside, just before the line was allowed to descend upon the food stall taken over by Shimamoto’s team, a mass of media rushed to capture the scene and interview staffers on the back story. Jeffrey Shimamoto, Keizo’s brother, seemed to be behind the operation’s business end, with a hint that a longer term presence in L.A. was in the store for the future. There was also a heartfelt moment when Keizo Shimamoto served his mother, who lives in Southern California, a ramen burger for the first time.
Giraffe’s Baby-Making Record Puts Koreans to Shame
Wall Street Journal
A giraffe is putting South Koreans to shame for their ultra-low birthrate.
Jang-soon, a giraffe based at a safari park just outside Seoul set a world record on Sunday after she gave birth to her 18th calf, park operator Samsung Everland said.
Until Sunday, Jang-soon had shared the record of 17 offspring born in a controlled environment with a giraffe named Lamba at Paris zoo, which died in 2005.
Sharon Lee Crafts Chic Wallpaper Inspired by Korean Folk Art
Los Angeles Confidential
After cutting her teeth working for White House interior decorator Michael S. Smith, artist/designer Sharon Lee opted to strike out on her own last year and hasn’t looked back. A Los Angeles native, Lee, 29, turned to her Korean American roots to craft a line of contemporary art—and new home goods—based on elements found in her culture’s folk art, oddly underrepresented in the realm of pan-Asian-inspired works. We caught up with the innovative talent at her home studio in West LA to talk about her new hand-screened wallpaper collection, being a Korean American artist, and what her future in the design world holds.
How did your interest in fine art develop?
SHARON LEE: I have been an artist all my life and have explored every medium under the sun—drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and ceramics, along with set, costume, jewelry, and interior design. At UCLA School of the Arts I studied with Catherine Opie, under whom I created Dollhouse, a series of large-scale conceptual photographs exploring Asian stereotypes.
What was it like working as a designer for Michael Smith?
SL: It was an incredible experience where I gained a first-rate design education. I was exposed to many innovative designers and artists. When I had the idea to create a wallpaper line based on my artwork and go out on my own, the company was very supportive.
Korean Smokers Turn to Sucking Tobacco
Wall Street Journal
South Korea’s increasing crackdown on smoking appears to be spurring some tobacco fans to turn to a Swedish powder variety.
Steam-cured tobacco pouches known as ‘snus’ have begun appearing around South Korea since earlier this year, with their importers saying they present an alternative less damaging to health.
The moist powdered tobacco is packaged in a teabag-like pouch and is tucked under the upper lip to give off nicotine. Because it is ingested through the gums, advocates say it’s an easy way to quit smoking with no lung cancer risks. But critics, including the World Health Organization, say tobacco in any form poses grave health threats.
Dennis Rodman had plenty of announcements to make after his second trip to North Korea, even though he was unable to help free imprisoned American citizen Kenneth Bae.
Rodman revealed the name of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s newborn daughter, which has been unconfirmed. “I held their baby Ju Ae and spoke with Ms. Ri [Sol Ju, Kim's wife] as well,” he told British newspaper The Guardian, before adding that Kim is “a good dad.”
Kim also asked Rodman to train North Korean basketball players ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics, according to the former NBA star. An avid basketball fan, Kim invited Rodman to a basketball game in Pyongyang, and had dinner with him when the ex-Chicago Bulls forward made his second trip to North Korea after a visit in February. Continue Reading »
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the second time on his return trip to the world’s most secretive country, according to North Korea’s news agency.
Kim reportedly welcomed Rodman and exchanged pleasantries with the ex-Chicago Bulls forward. Kim told Rodman that he’s welcome to visit Pyongyang “anytime to rest and spend pleasant days,” according to KCNA. In return, Rodman thanked Kim for taking time out of his “busy schedule” to greet him and presented the Kim family with a gift.
According to KCNA, Kim and Rodman then watched a basketball game between local teams Amrokgang and April 25 over dinner. Continue Reading »
North Korea will display South Korean flag and play its national anthem in Pyongyang next week for the first time ever, according to the South Korean Ministry of Unification.
The North has long been averse to displaying the South’s flag and playing its national anthem, which effectively prevented inter-Korea sporting events from being held in Pyongyang. Hence, international soccer matches between the two Koreas had to be held in China instead. On the contrary, the South has always allowed the North Korean flag and anthem whenever necessary.
However, 41 South Korean nationals will travel to Pyongyang next week to participate in the Asian Cup Weightlifting Championships after North Korea agreed to display the South’s flag and playing its anthem at the event. The North also guaranteed the safety of the South Korean delegation, which includes 22 athletes, coaches and weightlifting federation representatives. Continue Reading »