Tag Archives: North Korea

Friday's Link Attack: Steven Yeun, Priscilla Ahn, Dan Choi

‘The Walking Dead’: The cast and new showrunner react to Frank Darabont’s ouster
Entertainment Weekly

“The Walking Dead” will air its season 2 debut in October sans series creator Frank Darabont. The cast, which includes KA Steven Yeun, talks to EW about Darabont’s firing and new showrunner Glen Mazzara, former executive producer of “Crash.”

“It is a sad situation,” says Steven Yeun, who plays former pizza delivery guy Glenn. “We all absolutely love Frank. And at the end of the day, this show still has Frank written all over it. Frank created it on television, and I think what it did do was make all of us as a cast come together and realize we got to carry on this vision, and we’re going to do it to the best of our abilities. We are dying for this show. People are working out in the 100 degree weather everyday, three days in a row, screaming, crying, bleeding. That is all we can do, and that’s what we’re aiming to do.”

Choi slams GOP crowd for booing gay soldier

Here’s a quick update on the case of Stephen Hill, the gay soldier who received a distinctly chilly reception from the GOP presidential field — and was booed by a handful of members of the audience — at the debate last night.

Former Army Lt. Dan Choi, who was discharged because he is gay and became a leading opponent of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” tells Salon he was appalled by the response of both the audience and the candidates to Hill’s question about whether they would try to reverse the repeal of DADT.

“Any soldier who courageously stands for truth and not comfort should be applauded, supported and respected. Stephen Hill serves our country,” Choi said in an email. “Those who boo our honorable soldiers do not support our troops.”

From Seoul to NU starter: Seung Hoon Choi’s amazing move
Lincoln Journal Star

The Nebraska offensive lineman continues to garner media attention following his start last week against the Washington Huskies. This profile is similar to the one written by the AP earlier this week but also reveals that Choi faced racial taunts from opposing players in high school as well.

But Choi was a quick learner. He was also a weight room junkie. “A strength freak,” Farup said.

By his senior year, Choi could bench press upward of 400 pounds. He stood 6-feet-2 and weighed 320. The guard next to him on Lincoln Christian’s line weighed about 140.

Choi started to figure out the language and the game. His aggression on the field began to pick up.

When Farup heard the story about some Washington players calling Choi “a fat Asian” this past weekend, it hardly surprised him that Choi responded by pushing back even harder.

“Our senior year, there was a game where one of the of opponents got after him racially,” Farup said. “Man, that poor kid. (Choi) just drove him all night long. He did everything legal, everything above board. But man, he got upset and he let that kid have it.”

Three enduring acts coming to the [Philadelphia] region

Chances are you don’t know Priscilla Ahn. But you have heard her music on the TV shows “Psych,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Brothers and Sisters.”

You also heard her songs in the films “Bride Wars” and “Disturbia,” as well as in a national Jeep Wrangler commercial. Now, it’s time to put that music to a face (and a couple of albums).

Ahn, who uses her Korean mother’s maiden name, was born in the United States and lived locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania, before moving to Los Angeles to make it as a pop singer.


China Questions 5 South Koreans Detained Near Its Border With the North
New York Times

Five South Koreans, including three journalists affiliated with the mass-circulation daily JoongAng Ilbo, have been detained and questioned by the Chinese authorities along China’s border with North Korea, the South Korean government and the newspaper said on Friday.

Chung Yong-soo, a senior journalist specializing in North Korea, a photographer and a video journalist were near the Tumen River, which forms the northeastern border between China and North Korea, when they were stopped by the Chinese police on Sept. 20, said Chung Chul-gun, a JoongAng spokesman.

South Korean Bank Chief Apparently Kills Himself, Police Say
New York Times

The head of a South Korean savings bank appeared to have jumped to his death on Friday, police officials said, as prosecutors expanded their investigation into an alleged corruption scandal by raiding his and six other banks and seeking to arrest a former senior aide to President Lee Myung-bak.

Jeong Gu-Haeng, president of Jeil 2 Savings Bank, was found dead after apparently jumping from his office on the sixth floor of the bank’s headquarters in downtown Seoul, a police spokesman said, insisting on anonymity until his agency made an official announcement. People who were entering the bank witnessed Mr. Jeong falling, the spokesman said.

MIT Names Korean Scientist as Top Innovator
Chosun Ilbo

MIT has named Korea’s Kim Dae-hyeong as one of the world’s most promising scientists for his pioneering work in developing electronic skin, which allows for the measuring of heart beats and brain waves when it is attached to any part of a person’s body. The journal Science introduced the technology last August.

Sue-Jean Choi earns Scura’s Chance for Success scholarship

For many years, Realtor Jackie Scura of Re/Max First Choice in Parsippany has awarded her Jackie Scura’s Chance for Success scholarship to a local high school senior. This choice is about much more than academic achievement. Each year Scura looks for the candidate who she feels exemplifies the sort of work ethic which has brought her success in her own life and career. This year’s recipient is Sue-Jean Choi.

A recent graduate of Parsippany High School, Choi has shown an exceptional ability to balance education, volunteering and work during her high school career. She has volunteered extensively: as president of Operation Smile, as vice president of the Arcola Korean Youth Group, as a computer teacher at the Southwest Senior Center and by performing more than 50 hours of service in the Key Club.

Soju’s Sojourn: Will Korea’s National Spirit Find Staying Power in the US?
Booze Muse

Korean nationals certainly take pride in soju, their widely consumed national spirit that is ubiquitous in Korean-American communities throughout the country and is enjoyed in a variety of ways—chilled or mixed with a number of beverages, including bek-seju (a strong ginger-spiced wine), yogurt or even beer.

Soju is the second most consumed spirit in the world (according to a recent report by Forbes magazine), but when you bring it up around westerners not hip to Asian drinks, few have even heard of it. This is bound to change, since large producers like Jinro and Charm have been hard at work introducing the spirit to American audiences. “Recently we launched the ‘Kimchi Chronicles’ project with PBS,” explains David Kim of Jinro America via email. “Other than our various ads and sponsorships through local events, we are focusing on selling Jinro to the local mainstream market, such as Albertsons, Restaurant Depot, etc.”

One Roof, Three Generations – Portrait of a Chinese-American Family
New York Times

SEVEN o’clock on a Thursday morning: time for bao, Chinese breakfast buns. Dressed for school in striped leggings and a pink shirt, Mebrat Yong, 9, waited for the baby sitter to arrive at her family’s building in Chinatown with a red shopping bag filled with the steaming treats from her uncle’s bakery a few blocks away. Mebrat was dividing up this day’s buns.

She slipped a plain bun into her Hello Kitty backpack, then set aside another for Gung Gung, as she and her siblings call their 86-year-old grandfather, who speaks only Cantonese and occupies the first floor. She took a half-dozen — one coconut, two plain, one roast pork, one bacon and scallion, one cookie — up to the third floor for her aunt and three cousins, who washed them down with fruit shakes.

Wednesday's Link Attack: Dan Choi, Sex Assault Case, North Korea

The making of Dan Choi
Global Post

When The Rachel Maddow Show came calling to discuss his public defiance of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Lt. Dan Choi answered the call of duty for what would become an all-consuming public role as the face of change within the U.S. military.

On MSNBC’s Maddow Show, the fresh-faced Choi made his debut on national television with three powerful words which he spoke while staring directly into the camera: “I am gay.”

That sentence, stated publicly, broke Army regulations and immediately put the decorated Iraq war veteran’s job on the line. They were just three words, but they sparked an international media firestorm, leading Choi — living with his parents at the time — to perform 18-hour days filled with interviews, appearances and lobbying. They also galvanized a movement that Tuesday ended with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which like so many army regulations has its own acronym, DADT.

“I didn’t know if I could say no to anybody so I just did every interview,” Choi said of his first months as an activist.

He was using his father’s phone, who asked the newly minted superstar, “Are you turning my house into gay headquarters?”

Seung Hoon Choi leaves S. Korea for educational opportunity, ends up in No. 9 Huskers’ lineup
AP via Washington Post

Here’s a nice profile of Seung Hoon Choi, the Korean immigrant walk-on player who started for the ninth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers last Saturday.

Choi’s parents sent him to this country with the belief he would have a better chance at a college education. The family picked Lincoln because an uncle, the brother of Seung’s father, had worked at the university as a researcher and lived here with his two children, Seung’s cousins.

Seung’s older sister, Ju-Youn Choi, preceded him to Lincoln and went on to the University of Washington — the school whose team Choi started against on Saturday.

“Although I am an alum from the University of Washington, I am happier that Huskers got victory,” Ju-Youn wrote from South Korea in an email to The Associated Press.

The only words Choi knew upon his arrival in Lincoln were “yes” and “no,” and homesickness prompted him to beg his mother, unsuccessfully, to let him to go back to South Korea.

Girl describes alleged sexual assaults at the hands of Ace Academy director in Pen Argyl
The Express-Times (Lehigh Valley, Pa.)

A 15-year-old high school girl testified this morning how the director of a Slate Belt foreign study program sexually assaulted her 17 times over a three-month period.

The girl said she recorded in her diary the dates and times that Richard Kim, 33, of Horsham, Pa., allegedly made advances and sexually assaulted her. She said the encounters started with Kim kissing her and eventually progressed into unwanted molestation and oral sex.

‘Hell on earth’: Detailed satellite photos show death camps North Korea still deny even exist
Daily Mail (U.K.)

The North Korean government may deny their existence, but photos taken from space have revealed in unprecedented detail the concentration camps that are used imprison more than 200,000 citizens.

Men, women and children are forced to work seven days a week as slaves and eat ‘rats, frogs, snakes, insects’ and even faeces to battle starvation in the camps.

Previously there have been blurred images taken by satellite but new detailed pictures from South Korea’s Unification Ministry allow a closer look at the sites – and also prove they have grown.

N.Koreans tell US of lives ‘worth less than flies’
AFP via Google News

North Korean defectors Tuesday urged the United States to isolate Kim Jong-Il’s regime as they recounted years in camps where they toiled morning until night and lives were worth less than flies.

Amid cautious international efforts to engage North Korea, US lawmakers invited two women to share their stories of suffering in a bid to put a greater priority on improving human rights in the communist nation.

Kim Hye-Sook told a congressional panel that she was taken to a prison camp with her family when she was only 13 because, she learned later, her grandfather had defected to South Korea years earlier.

Inmates were forced to work in coalmines for up to 18 hours a day and ate scraps of food, she said, and guards threatened to execute anyone who broke rules — including a ban on prisoners even knowing why they were jailed.

Springfield Sisters Make Chocolate, Write Books
Patch.com (Burke, Va.)

If chocolate is the basis of your food pyramid, you can’t miss Chocolate Chocolate: The True Story of Two Sisters, Tons of Treats, and the Little Shop That Could, by local authors Frances and Ginger Park.

The Park sisters co-own the popular D.C. shop Chocolate Chocolate — a Washington Post editor’s pick — and together have co-authored nine books inspired by their Korean American heritage.

Chocolate, Chocolate is their latest book and first memoir. It chronicles their lives after the death of their father in 1979. Grief stricken, the Park sisters, with their mother as a silent partner, opened a chocolate shop. It has thrived for the past twenty seven years.

[San Francisco Restaurant] Seoul Patch Starts Serving Bulgogi LTs Today
SF Weekly

Not long ago, Eric Ehler, who’d been a cook and sous-chef at Serpentine for three years, took a break from cooking to hang out in Seoul. “I didn’t just love the cuisine of Seoul,” says Ehler, who was born in Korea but had spent his life in the States. “I also wondered: What is this crazy Americanization of everything? Because of the American influence on the country after the Korean War, I saw a lot of foods there like corn dogs wrapped in french fries. Real Korean American food.”

Spotted on the Street | Heewon Kim
New York Times (fashion blog)

The Girl: Heewon Kim, a fashion stylist and the executive director of the store Qlosette, a women’s clothing boutique.

The Location: Mulberry Street between Prince and Spring.

The Look: A demure but striking combination of pretty pink lips and cheeks, framed with a strong, angled bob with bangs.


Rise Seen in North Korean Intimidation
Wall Street Journal

North Korean attempts to hack computers at South Korea’s Health Ministry and related organizations have nearly doubled this year, officials said Tuesday, part of a campaign of intimidation and sometimes violence by Pyongyang that appears to be escalating but gets less attention than military and nuclear provocations.

North Korean hackers have ramped up efforts to obtain health records of individual South Koreans that are maintained in the South’s state-run health-care system, Yoon Seok-yong, a member of the South’s parliament said. Computer systems at the South’s Health Ministry withstood over 14,000 access attempts through the first six months of the year traced to the North, compared with about 17,000 for all of 2010, he said. It is unclear what information, other than basic name and address data, is the focus of the attacks.

Is a Miracle Happening for Oh Kil-nam?
Wall Street Journal

It’s amazing news if it’s true: Oh Kil-nam’s wife and daughters are alive, after 25 years in North Korean concentration camps.

Mr. Oh, a 69-year-old former economist who has tried during all that time to bring attention to his family’s plight, hasn’t heard since the late 1980s whether his wife Shin Sook-ja and their two daughters were still alive inside North Korea’s prison system.

He learned that they were on Tuesday when he read a story in Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s largest newspaper by circulation. (He says the newspaper didn’t call him first.)

Korea beats Oman 2-0 in Olympic football qualifier
Korea Times

Korea opened its final round of the 2012 Olympic regional qualifiers triumphantly, defeating Oman 2-0 in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday.

Midfielder Yoon Bitgaram broke the deadlock with a free kick in the 23rd minute after a tense competition to dominate the field at the Changwon Football Center, while substitute Kim Bo-kyung secured the victory at home in the 74th.

Ji-sung Park: The United cash machine who owes it all to a diet of boiled frogs and antlers!
Daily Mail (U.K.)

At midnight on Sunday, Korean time, millions will tune their televisions or radios into Manchester United kicking off against Chelsea, none of them sure if their main man will even feature.

For this is hero worship, Asian-style, and the man they all adore is Park Ji-sung, the most successful footballer the world’s largest continent has produced.

It is also music to the ears of United’s money men because, increasingly, even the most far-flung fans are translating to cash. What does Park life sound like at Old Trafford? Ker-ching.

Report: Terrell Owens is in Korea for stem cell treatment
Yahoo Sports

Back in the day, an NFL player would tear up his knee and say, “Ah, I’ll just rub some dirt on it and go play.” We’ve evolved past that now. We’re at least to the point where a guy will insist on rubbing some Korean dirt on it before going back out and playing.

Terrell Owens is in Korea right now, according to the Korea Times, looking for a stem cell treatment he couldn’t get here in the states. Owens tore his ACL a couple of months ago, and I guess it’s not healing as fast as he wants it to.

More from the Korea Times.

Two Men Arrested in Killing of TV Reporter in China
New York Times

The police in central Henan Province have arrested two men suspected of killing a television reporter whose microblog posting touched on a scandal involving the illegal reuse of cooking oil, the state media reported Wednesday.

In the days since the reporter, Li Xiang, 30, was stabbed to death, the Chinese media have speculated that his murder may have been prompted by a posting he sent out about a local factory that processed and resold discarded restaurant grease.

Monday's Link Attack: Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty, NU Lineman Starts, Picture Brides

Choi enters guilty plea to killing three Tenafly residents
Northern Valley Suburbanite (N.J.)

Kang-Hyuk Choi admitted on Friday to the slaying of three Tenafly family members at a plea hearing at Superior Court in Hackensack.

“As I stated earlier, what I did was wrong,” said Choi, though his Korean translator, who appeared before Judge Donald Venezia, answering why he decided to plead guilty. Before Venezia accepted Choi’s guilty plea, he asked if he was sure that he wanted to enter this decision and forgo his right to a trial by jury considering the potential penalties.

Choi faces a minimum penalty of 30 years in prison without parole, and a maximum of 63.7 years in prison without parole, if the sentences were served concurrently. He pleaded guilty to nine charges.

Japanese police fixed records concerning mysterious death of Korean American
Yonhap via Korea Herald

Japanese police fixed their records to rule the mysterious death of a Korean-American man in Tokyo last year a mere accident, the late man’s family and friends here claimed Saturday.

In August last year, Kang Hoon, whose English name is Scott, died three days after he was found lying in an emergency stairwell, blood trickling from his left ear. Japanese authorities initially suspected a Filipino man in his 40s, who had beaten up Kang in an elevator leading to the stairwell, and a Japanese bartender as suspects. But the two were released on lack of physical evidence and police concluded the death was accidental.

But Kang Sung-won, the father, told Yonhap News Agency that he had secured a medical document stating his son’s death was not an accident.

Nebraska lineman Choi gets his first start
Lincoln Journal Star (Neb.)

Seung Hoon Choi looked at the bench on the Nebraska sideline for a moment Saturday before taking the spot where the starting left guard usually sits. For the first time, that spot was reserved for him.

It was the first career start for the walk-on from Lincoln Christian, and the first extensive game action for the junior. He redshirted his first season in the program,then played in one game the past two seasons.

Nebraska line finds success in platoon system
AP via Google News

The Nebraska offensive line finally flexed its muscles after being criticized for not being able to push anyone around.

The ninth-ranked Cornhuskers (3-0) rolled linemen in and out Saturday and relied on power running plays to finish a 51-38 win over Washington. The performance harkened to old-school Nebraska of the 1980s and ’90s.

Vending machines getting high-tech
Chicago Sun-Times

The Ramen Noodle Station, developed by Generation Y entrepeneur and University of Chicago graduate Leonard Kang makes fresh, customized ramen noodles in three minutes.

‘Picture brides’ in Hawaii backed Korea’s independence
Korea Times

Here’s an interesting profile of Esther Kwon Arinaga, a woman who immigrated to Hawaii in 1912 as an 18-year-old “picture bride.”

Esther Kwon Arinaga’s mother arrived at Honolulu Harbor in October, 1912 to marry a Korean immigrant who initially left home for a sugar plantation job in Koloa, Kauai years earlier.

Then an 18-year old bride, Lee Hee-kyung had never met her 26 year-old husband Kwon Do-in before, seeing him only once in a black and white photo shown by a matchmaker.

Lee would probably have had no idea of how eventful her life would be in the forthcoming years: She became actively involved in Korea’s independence movement and was even imprisoned.


Organ trafficking increasing in Korea
Korea Times

“Everything has been screwed up. My last hope is to sell my kidney or liver. So please call me if you’re interested,” a message reads with a cell phone number attached on a website.

Such desperate pleas for human organ trafficking are often seen on the Internet, especially community sites of patients with liver or kidney failure, although human organ trafficking and related activities including posting such messages are illegal.

A 35-year-old man from Incheon, surnamed Lee, is one of those who decided to sell his kidney to repay part of his debts, after suffering from financial difficulties for years.

“My online shopping mall business went bankrupt three years ago, leaving me massive amounts of debt,” he said, adding the sale of his organ was the only way to earn a substantial sum of money at one time.

North Korea envoy ties food aid to human rights
Christian Science Monitor

Diplomacy on North Korea’s nuclear program is rapidly gaining momentum this week in tandem with debate on resuming food aid for the country’s long suffering people.

Robert King, US special envoy for North Korea, arrived here Monday for talks that analysts believe are to persuade reluctant South Korean leaders to go along with food aid to the North. He’s tying his mission to the question of North Korea’s record on human rights, about which he says the US “remains deeply concerned.”

How North Korea responds, Mr. King warns, “will have a significant impact” on US policy vis-à-vis North Korea.

Fell + Cole: A little scoop of San Francisco in Seoul

It’s ice cream — but not as you know it.

“I can have my little San Francisco here,” says Ho-June “Tristan” Choi, the owner of Fell + Cole, a small ice cream shop on a quiet road away from Hongdae’s familiar club crawl.

Fell + Cole opened this past July and claims to be the first in Seoul to offer artisanal ice cream made in small batches using local and organic ingredients, free from stabilizers or additives.

Pognae Baby Carrier

Some baby carriers are bulky, heavy, and just not cute. The new Pognae Baby Carrier ($89) from PognaeUSA, however, comes in your choice of four patterns and three solids. The carriers are made in South Korea, and thanks to the new APA businesswoman-owned PognaeUSA they are now available in America. As part of the company’s grand opening, all carriers are just $89–but hurry, the normal prices will be $110-$120 depending on which style you prefer.

Koreans Biggest Drinkers in Asia
Chosun Ilbo

Koreans drink more alcohol than any of their Asian neighbors, according to the World Health Organization. According to a report the WHO released in February on the annual average per capita consumption of alcohol by country, Koreans consume 14.80 liters to rank 13th in the world and No. 1 in Asia. The results were based on data gathered from 2003 to 2005.

But in terms of hard liquor consumption, few out-drink Koreans, with many families habitually downing a few shots of soju with their evening meal or to unwind after work. This issue came to the fore once again when the WHO warned of Europeans’ unhealthy drinking patterns during a regional conference held in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku last Wednesday.

Check out our April 2011 feature story on Koreans and drinking.

Friday's Link Attack: Robbery Suspects, Cheezburger Founder Ben Huh

2 arrested in burglary of McLean home
Washington Post

Two people have been accused of breaking into a McLean home, demanding money from the occupants and then striking a woman in her 70s, Fairfax County police said.

Jasmine Nadine Vanderplas, also known as “Thundershield,” 30, and Tae Won Kang, 29, were arrested in an apartment in the 7400 block of Lee Highway in Falls Church on Wednesday night, police said. Neither has a fixed address.

The pair have been charged with robbery and abduction.

Boy convicted of causing store owner’s death
San Francisco Chronicle

A 14-year-old boy has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and robbery for causing an Oakland store owner to die of a heart attack after a violent confrontation over two bottles of vodka, authorities said.

The defendant, whose name was not released because of his age, admitted last week to the crimes in the death of Dong Suk Kang, 57, owner of the Oak Knoll Market at 7980 Mountain Blvd.

Kang, who lived in San Bruno, died of an apparent heart attack after he got in his car to chase the juvenile outside his store.

The teenager, a freshman at Youth Empowerment School, was prosecuted by Alameda County authorities as a juvenile.

Ben Huh: A big cheez in the world of memes

Ben Huh is not your stereotypical Korean American success story. Though hardworking parents, wrenching cultural change and education featured heavily in his path to success, a doctor’s practice, say, or a partnership in a top law firm did not.

Instead, Huh chose a road that took him through personal ruin, a “street MBA” and then a fortune on the back of comedy cat pictures with wackily misspelled captions.

Thanks to a gamble four years ago on then-cult Web site I Can Has Cheezburger?, Huh is now CEO of the fast expanding Cheezburger company. Incorporating sites ranging from Totally Looks Like, which connects stars with their animal or cartoon lookalikes, to the wildly popular FAIL Blog, with its endless supply of faux pas, misspellings and Jackass-style mishaps, to the titular I Can Has Cheezburger?’s selection of cutesy cat shots, Cheezburger thrives on spotting internet “memes” and trends and turning them into Web sites that revolve around pictures, videos and other user-generated ephemera.

Check out our January 2011 feature story on Huh here.

Korean Community leader instrumental in bringing non-stop flight to Seoul from Seattle
Northwest Asian Weekly

Kenny KwangSul Lee arrived in Seattle in 1976 with one suitcase, one duffle bag, 200 American dollars, and many dreams.

“When I first came to the U.S. … my American Dream was [to] make a lot of money by working very hard and [to] buy a big mansion and establish a big company and be a CEO.”

Lee obtained a college degree, opened businesses, bought a house, and raised a family. But unlike other immigrants Lee also became a public figure, committing years to public service and leading Seattle’s growing Korean community. He is on his third term as the president of Seattle-Washington State Korean Association.

Spy agency detains N. Korean defector for assassination plot

South Korea’s spy agency has detained a North Korean defector for an alleged assassination attempt against a fellow defector acting as an anti-North Korean activist, an intelligence official said Friday.

The suspect, identified by his last name Ahn in his 40s, was taken into custody for plotting to kill Park Sang-hak, who has led a high-profile campaign to send anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North for years.

The leaflets include stories of the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East in hopes of inspiring North Koreans to eventually rise up against North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Unparalleled Difficulty: Writing about Aid for North Korea

A few months ago, I naively embarked on a mission to write about a topic that I found to be quite fascinating: the different ideologies of Korean American humanitarian and social justice organizations that aim to assist the people of North Korea. A brutal regime may be the dominant lens through which many view North Korea, but there are alternative schools of thought on the DPRK and solutions for helping its citizens. While I once thought all of these organizations generally had the same goals, a series of events and experiences (including writing failure) revealed to me the politically charged nature of doing good for North Korea — and how subjective “good” can be.

Flexing Some Korean Muscle
New York Times

THE Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec looks good on paper. With 429 horsepower, the R-Spec’s Tau V-8 outguns even the 420-horsepower twin-turbocharged V-8 in the 2013 Audi S6. At $47,385, the R-Spec costs less than a V-6-powered Infiniti M37. And with four logos on the trunk, the Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec has 100 percent more trunk badges than a Cadillac CTS.


September Issue: A Case For Humanitarian Aid To North Korea

In this photo, taken this past February, several malnourished 1-year-olds at an orphanage in North Pyongan Province are being hydrated intravenously, but with only a saline solution, as “there was no glucose solution or other therapeutic food to treat malnutrition,” according to Mercy Corps’ David Austin. Saline—which will keep an individual hydrated, but provides no nutritional value—was all that was available at this orphanage, outside of the World Food Program and UNICEF catchment area. Photo by David Austin.

When Apples Fall Far From The Tree

A case for humanitarian aid to North Korea

by Christine Hong

Humanitarian relief efforts have faced doubts about whether they are actually reaching the people of North Korea who need them most. The difficulties are tied to political debate, in the United States and South Korea, and the wariness of philanthropic interests to contribute money or resources to any effort that can be exploited by the North Korean regime.

David Austin is a program director for Mercy Corps, which has provided food assistance, agricultural development, medical relief and cultural exchanges for more than 12 years in North Korea. The agency’s core projects and relationships stem from apple orchards planted in Gwail County, South Hwanghae Province. Having worked with the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture and with the U.S. Department of State Interfaith Cooperative Initiative, Austin brings to bear experience that demonstrates how humanitarian efforts are reaching their mark in North Korea, that is, connecting aid with individuals and communities, and addressing the causes of suffering.

Christine Hong: Tell me about the work of Mercy Corps in North Korea. 

David Austin: Mercy Corps, like other U.S. NGOs such as World Vision or Samaritan’s Purse, does humanitarian assistance. We mostly stay away from development work. There are some strict guidelines on doing work in North Korea that are set up by the Department of Commerce. We focus on humanitarian work around food security and medical relief, and we’ve been working on apple orchards for about 10 years. We first got involved in North Korea back in the late ’90s. As an organization, we’ve been going back two or three times a year. We’ve brought in a lot of medical equipment in hospitals. We helped five hospitals in South Hwanghae Province, in Haeju City, and in Gwail County, with X-ray machines, ultrasound equipment, patient monitors, and medicine on various occasions. It depends on what the need is.

CH: Can you speak about some of the challenges of arguing for humanitarian food aid for the people of a country with which the U.S. has been at war for 61 years? Continue reading

Thursday's Link Attack: Planet B-Boy, NK Tourism, Hines Ward

Doctor sentenced to 20 years for killing pregnant wife
Yonhap News

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) — A local court sentenced a doctor to 20 years in prison for killing his pregnant wife during a quarrel and trying to cover up the murder.

The court found the 31-year-old man surnamed Baek guilty of strangling his nine-months-pregnant wife in January after the two had a fight over the husband’s heavy computer gaming habit.

“Baek is to be blamed for strangling his wife who was expected to give birth to his child only one month later as well as for causing the death of the baby,” said Judge Han Byung-yui of the Seoul Western District Court in a verdict.

The heavy sentence also reflected Baek’s attempts to cover up his crime and falsely claim his innocence in his wife’s death, the verdict stated.

North Korean Tourism: On Board the First Cruise Ship to Sail the Closed Shores

Aboard the Man Gyong Bong, fresh coffee was served, along with dried fish and local beer. Karaoke parties pepped the night life.

That said, turn on a faucet and there was usually no water — and cabins were more like dormitories. Welcome to North Korea’s first cruise ship.

If all goes according to the plans of North Korean authorities, the 21-hour cruise on the converted freighter from the down-at-the-heels port city of Rajin to the northeastern part of North Korea, which is known for its scenic Mount Kumgang, will boost tourism and provide this isolated country with an immediate injection of much needed foreign currency.

Planet B-Boy on Hulu
channel APA

If you missed the film “Planet B-Boy” directed by Benson Lee a few years back. You have a chance to watch it FREE on Hulu. The film focuses on five crews representing France, Japan, South Korea, and the United States in their quest to win the Battle of the Year. Here’s a synopsis of the documentary:

Hines Ward’s Philosophy Rings True

“It’s one game. It’s not the Super Bowl.”

Those are the words uttered by Hines Ward when reflecting back on his team’s thumping at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, a rivalry and divisional match-up that made a great statement on week one in the NFL. In fact, the shellacking was only outdone by the Chiefs-Bills match-up that was slightly more lopsided in score. Both the Steelers and the Chiefs were playoff teams last season. And yet both suffered absolutely humiliating losses one week into the birth of a new season.

Ravens Safety Bernard Pollard has final word in spat with Hines Ward
Baltimore Sun

Hines Ward, the Steelers receiver who has a history of late hits against the Ravens, got his comeuppance on Sunday in Baltimore. Not once, but twice.

Early in the game, he tangled with Ravens safety Bernard Pollard and was rendered helpless. Later, he was hammered by linebacker Jarret Johnson after one of Ben Roethlisberger’s interceptions.

Pollard, new to the Ravens, had heard about Ward’s questionable tactics. When Ward tried to take him down by the facemask on one play, Pollard latched onto Ward’s helmet and drove him backward several yards.


Tuesday's Link Attack: NK Defectors, Sung Kim Confirmation Delayed

Suspected North Korean defectors found off Japanese coast
The Guardian (U.K.)

Coastguard officials in Japan are questioning nine suspected North Korean defectors after they were found drifting off the country’s west coast, on Tuesday morning.

The group – three men, three women and three young children – were found by a coastguard helicopter 15 miles off the Noto peninsula, in Ishikawa prefecture, after a tip-off from local fishermen.

They were collected by a coastguard vessel and taken to Kanazawa for questioning. Their eight-metre boat bore Korean characters along its sides and was stocked with rice and pickled vegetables, Japanese media reports said.

A man claiming to represent the group told local media that they had come from North Korea and had intended to travel to South Korea. The man reportedly described himself as a member of the Korean People’s army, and said the eight other people on board were his relatives.

Hawkish senator obstructs confirmation of Sung Kim
Korea Times

The U.S. State Department is trying to persuade a senior Republican senator to lift a hold on the confirmation of Sung Kim, the nominee to become a new ambassador to South Korea, congressional sources said Monday.

Jon Kyl (R-AZ), assistant minority leader in the Senate, has been blocking the confirmation process for more than a month, according to the sources. He is known as a staunch conservative on foreign policy.

The article goes on to say that it was unclear exactly why Sen. Kyl is holding up the confirmation.

Police not ruling out foul play in former Cal golfer’s death
Oakland Tribune

Police have not ruled out foul play in the death of Diane Kwon, a 21-year-old former golf star found dead last week in a shopping center parking lot.

Kwon, a graduate of Kennedy High School in Fremont, was not shot or stabbed, Sgt. Chris Mazzone said. Authorities are trying to determine her cause of death, which they are treating as “suspicious,” he said.

The Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau is performing an autopsy and a toxicology report, which takes four to six weeks to complete.

“We’re waiting for those reports to come back to find out the cause of death,” Mazzone said.

About 11 p.m. Sept. 5, a passer-by discovered Kwon on the ground near her car, behind a building formerly occupied by Barnes & Noble in Fremont Plaza, 3950 Mowry Ave., police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Father’s relief as Chris Jeon, ‘dude with the AK47′, calls from Libya
The National (U.A.E.)

At first, it did not sink in. Front line? Front of what line? A concert or movie queue? A beach volleyball game? No, the caller said, your son is at the front line of the Libyan civil war with rebel fighters trying to oust a notorious despot.

Peter Jeon was stunned. “A friend said Chris was on the news, so we went on the internet,” said Mr Jeon, an orthodontist in Orange County, California. “Obviously, we were shaken.”

Moon Bloodgood Q&A
Men’s Fitness

This former dancer turned actress and star of TNT’s post-apocalyptic thriller Falling Skies talks no small amount of trash while running circles around you in the gym or beating you to a pulp on Xbox Live. That’s right, Moon Bloodgood is perfect.

Dave Gibbons Is a Church Misfit
O.C. Weekly

Check out this O.C. Weekly cover story by former KoreAm staffer Michelle Woo about Korean American pastor David Gibbons.

Newsong was on its way to becoming Orange County’s next big megachurch—then its pastor decided to pull back and go small.

Raising Kang: Single mother, single goal
Casa Grande Dispatch (Arizona)

Here’s a nice profile of a Latina single mother raising her son Michael Kang in Arizona.

Hawaii, it happens, is a part of Kang. His father is Hawaiian-Korean. His mother is Hispanic. He takes a bit of gentle ribbing from his classmates about his ethnic diversity. For Kang, that’s all just background noise, though. Military life has always been his focus.

How Korean Pop Conquered Japan
The Atlantic

In Japan—a country that has prided itself on producing and exporting its own fantastical pop culture—Korean entertainment has come to gobble up massive portions of melodrama and musical market share. Not only do Korean dramas air frequently on TV, but in the past year Korean pop groups like Girls’ Generation and KARA have shattered sales records and become primetime fixtures on Japanese television programs, thanks to a mish-mash of Western club-friendly and a sped-up tempo appropriate for an arcade. This boom in Korean entertainment isn’t just about units moved or appearances on talk shows; Korean media, especially pop music, has exploded in the Land of the Rising Sun because the K-Pop architects have embraced everything that the Japanese music industry has shunned for years.

Scholar fights for Korean studies in US
Korea Times

[Professor Kim Yung-hee], currently director of the Center for Korean Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is wrestling with a fresh challenge.

The class size of Korean studies there is shrinking.

“These days it is hard to find students who are interested in Korean studies as a major. As a Korean literature professor, this is my primary concern,” said Kim. “The arts and literature department is not a priority in many U.S. universities. I think this is the case for Korea, too. I understand many Korean parents encourage their children to attend either law or medical school in the hope that they can land high-paying jobs easily after graduation.”

Students’ lack of interest in Korean studies came as a bit of a surprise, considering the number of undergraduate students taking Korean language courses at the University of Hawaii has continued to increase. Approximately, 300 to 400 students attend the course every semester.

Seoul revival as students embrace Korean language
The Australian

Good Korea move: 89 students have signed up for a new Korean language program at the University of Western Australia, which is riding a wave of teenage obsession with Korean pop groups and television.

“We initially had more than 100 and we had to put a cap on [numbers]. Nobody expected so many students,” Associate Professor Kyu-suk Shin said. Korean has been in low demand in Australia, despite official rhetoric about its importance.

Pizza on Jesa Table?
Ask a Korean! (blog)

This photo is generating an interesting online controversy in Korea. As the Korean covered previously, jesa is a traditional ritual in which the family gets together to commemorate the ancestors. (A jesa held on chuseok and other holidays are called charye [차례].) Jesa follows a strict guideline in all aspects, including what to put on the table and the order in which those items will be arranged.

Needless to say, pizza does not really fall under that guideline — hence the controversy.


Monday's Link Attack: NK Famine, Moon Bloodgood, Hines Ward

WFP captures heartbreak of North Korean hunger
CNN International

A four-year-old boy looks straight into the camera. His eyes are dull, his tiny legs crossed underneath him. Choi is an orphan, severely malnourished and too weak to stand.

This is just one of the heartbreaking sights captured on film by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) as they traveled around North Korea last month delivering aid to the most needy.

The most deprived are children — WFP estimates a third of those under the age of five in North Korea are severely malnourished, and says it will only worsen if more aid is not delivered soon.

Actress Moon Bloodgood strives to be a role model
Color Magazine

Most celebrities don’t want to think of themselves as a role model.

Moon Bloodgood relishes the idea.

“I wish people thought of me that way, especially young Asian/American girls because it’s so important to have someone like you that you can see in movies or on television and think, she’s just like me,” Bloodgood said. “I don’t know if people even realize I’m Korean – well, my mom is Korean and my dad is Dutch-Irish – but I’m very proud of my heritage. I’ve gone to Korea several times and I identify more with my Korean side than my Dutch/Irish side. I know from experience how good it feels when you see someone of Asian heritage up there on the screen, because there weren’t many of them when I was growing up.”

‘Panda 2′ helmer rings in coin

Female directors have been gaining ground in recent years — mostly on the specialty scene. But when it comes to blockbusters, it’s still a man’s world. Tell that to Jennifer Yuh Nelson, director of Paramount-DreamWorks Animation’s global hit “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

Ban on Styrofoam to Hurt Korean Businesses
Korea Times via New America Media

Korean grocery stores and restaurants in California told the Korea Times that the passage of SB568, which sought to impose a statewide ban on the use of polystyrene takeout packaging, would more than double their operating costs.

“Take out accounts for upwards of 30 percent of business for most Korean restaurants,” said the owner of one eatery in LA’s Koreatown, adding that while options to using polystyrene are available, the costs are formidable. “There’s a good chance [if the bill passes] that take out places will take a big hit in sales as they will have to raise prices to offset the costs of using alternative packaging.”

10 Best Korean Movies With English Subtitles
Screen Junkies (blog)

I bought the DVD for “Chunhyang” so I could watch it with my mother. When I told her what it was about, she said, “Pansori sucks!” We never watched it. Check out this list, “Oldboy” is noticeably absent.

If you enjoy watching Asian films, check out these ten best Korean movies with English subtitles. Some of them can be downloaded online, and all of them are available for purchase over the Internet.

Concept Korea IV Presentation: Doho, Lie Sang Bong, Resurrection by Juyoung, Son Jung Wan, and Steve J & Yoni P

Concept Korea IV, a collaborative effort between the CFDA and (this season’s Concept Korea winners) Korean designers Doho, Lie Sang Bong, Resurrection by Juyoung, Son Jung Wan, and Steve J & Yoni P was pretty fantastic. We zigzagged our way through the crowd to get a closer look at the designs and along the way we were nearly knocked over by America’s Next Top Model runway coach Miss J. Alexander, who was on his way to greet designer Juyoung. Also there? Model Hyoni Kang and actress Vanessa Hudgens, who stopped by to pose for some pictures.

Abducted son of SKorean businessman freed in Lima
AFP via ninemsn

The son of a South Korean businessman was freed after a gang held him for 19 days demanding a $1.8 million ransom, police said Sunday.

“Kyoung Kim Hee, 18, was released about midnight in a neighborhood on Lima’s south end, and is now with his loved ones,” said General Felix Murga, the police investigating unit chief. Police said they did not believe a ransom was paid.

Hines Ward on Ravens game: ‘We’ll remember everything’
CBS Sports

“It leaves a taste in your mouth,” Ward said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The 2-point conversion [when the Ravens led, 27-7]. The passing at the end …

“We’ll remember everything.”

Celtic’s Ki Sung-yeung & Sunderland’s Ji Dong-won Score Goals
Arirang News

Two Korean footballers Ki Sung-yeung and Ji Dong-won playing for different Premier League clubs each scored a goal for their teams on Sunday. Ki Sung-yeung who currently plays as a central midfielder for Scottish Premier League club Celtic hammered in a drive from 25 yards in the second half of the game adding a goal to Celtic’s 4 to nil victory over Motherwell.

Ji Dong-won scored his first goal for Sunderland in a 2-1 loss to Chelsea in the English Premier League.