5 Things About North Korea’s Latest Missile Launch
Wall Street Journal
1. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE LAUNCH?
Around 5.42 p.m. local time Thursday, North Korea fired what South Korea initially thought were four KN-02 type short-range missiles with a range of about 160 kilometers into the sea from its launch site in Kittaeryong in the southwest of the country. On Friday, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the missiles were Scud-type weapons, of which North Korea has a few variants with ranges from 300 km to 700 km. The longer-range types could potentially reach any target in South Korea and western Japan.
2. WHY DID NORTH KOREA FIRE THE MISSILES NOW?
North Korea test fires short-range missiles into the sea a few times a year, usually during military drills. Winter exercises are ongoing in the North. The launches are also seen by officials in Seoul as a protest against military exercises in South Korea. The U.S. and South Korea began their annual drills this week, which will run through April. “With the exercises underway, we see the firings as a calculated, provocative act,” South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Friday, also noting that a North Korean ship breached the west coast inter-Korean maritime border earlier this week. South Korea doesn’t always publicize military provocations from the North but did give details of missile launches last year around the time of drills in the South.
North Korea condemns Australian judge behind U.N. rights report
North Korea on Friday condemned an Australian judge who led a U.N. investigation that concluded that North Korean security chiefs and possibly its leader should face justice for torture and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.
North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency, citing a pro-North Korean politician from Brazil, said the judge, Michael Kirby, had manipulated evidence at the behest of North Korea’s old enemy, the United States.
“(Kirby’s) mission is to manipulate ‘evidence’ on the orders of Washington, lie about (North) Korea and oppose the republic under an international alliance that is controlled by the United States,” KCNA said.
North Korean state media often uses comment from small, foreign support groups to criticize the United States and South Korea.
North Korea’s human rights atrocities continue, and the world doesn’t act
CLIVE CROOK, who for many years was a senior editor at The Economist, wrote the other day that he used to think his finest moment at the magazine was in June 2000, when he approved what became one of the most memorable covers in the publication’s history — a photo of North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong Il, “looking wonderfully absurd” as he waved stiffly to an audience. The headline: “Greetings, earthlings.”
Now, having read the new UN report on the Kim regime’s institutionalized barbarity, Crook feels a “pang of shame” at the thought of that cover. North Korea jokes no longer seem so funny.
Indeed. It has been known for years that North Korea is a totalitarian hellhole ruled by megalomaniacs who have turned the country into a vast concentration camp. Millions of North Koreans have died from starvation caused by their government’s deranged policies; millions more have been victimized by its fanatical efforts to repress any hint of independent thought, and by its merciless assaults on human dignity. But the report issued by the UN panel this month, after a year-long investigation that gathered evidence from more than 320 victims and witnesses, paints such an extensive and meticulous portrait of evil that it compares in significance, as the Washington Post observed, to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s devastating history of the Soviet labor camps, “The Gulag Archipelago.”
Jang Purge Yet to Hurt North Korea-China Trade
Wall Street Journal
When North Korea purged dictator Kim Jong Un’s uncle in December one question raised was whether the move would impact economic ties with China. Jang Song Thaek was seen as a key interlocutor with Beijing and a proponent of business links.
Initial data shows there’s been no immediate negative effect on the trade relationship between the countries.
Trade volume between North Korea and China rose 16% on-year to $546 million in January, according to the Korea International Trade Association, which compiles data based on Chinese customs statistics.
Among the litany of crimes attributed to Mr. Jang before his execution was an accusation that he sold off coal and other resources “at random.” That suggested North Korea would seek to renegotiate export deals with its only big trade partner, China.
Fewer and Fewer Children Born in Korea
Some 436,600 children were born in Korea last year, the smallest number recorded since 2005, Statistics Korea said on Thursday. Compared to 2012, the number dropped 9.9 percent from 484,550.
The total fertility rate, the number of children that would be born to a woman in her lifetime, stood at 1.19 children last year, even fewer than the 1.3 recorded in 2012.
The number of newborns is likely to drop below 400,000 in 2030 and to below 300,000 range in the 2050s if the trend continues.
Yoon Yeon-ok at Statistics Korea said, “The number of women of peak childbearing age between 29 and 33 declined by 360,000 compared to the previous year, while more women remain single or marry later in life.”
Poor construction blamed for deadly gym collapse: police
Police on Friday blamed shoddy construction and poor materials for last week’s deadly gymnasium collapse that killed 10 people, mostly college students, and injured 128 others.
The roof of the gymnasium at the Mauna Ocean Resort in Gyeongju, a historical tourist city 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, caved in on some 560 incoming freshmen of the Busan University of Foreign Studies on Feb. 17 during a welcoming party.
Announcing the interim results of their investigation into the tragedy, officers at the Gyeongju Police Station said that the collapse was the result of overall poor construction and lax management of the building.
Under siege by ultrafine dust
Seen from a subway train crossing a Han River bridge on a morning commute, Seoul remained in a thick fog of fine dust.
On the street, commuters were walking without masks, looking like disarmed soldiers going to war.
Many of them may have regretted listening to the weather forecast about the clouds of dust receding.
Erring on the safe side, they should heed severe yellow sand warnings for March.
3 hurt in vehicle collision north of Esparto
A portion of a northern Yolo County road had to be closed Wednesday morning while emergency crews extricated and then lifeflighted a motorist to a hospital following an accident.
The California Highway Patrol reported the accident occurred around 11:30 a.m. on County Road 19, just west of I-505.
Hae Jung Cho, 61, of Millbrae was driving a 2006 BMW X3 on northbound I-505 approaching CR-19, according to the CHP, at the same time Tommy Saeteurn, 29, of Winton was driving a 2002 Acura TL on westbound CR-19, approaching I-505.
Cho exited I-505 at CR-19 and proceeded up the off-ramp to the intersection. However, Cho failed to stop at the stop sign as he made a left turn toward westbound CR-19, and directly into the path of the Acura.
Saeteurn was unable to avoid the BMW, causing the front of the Acura to collide with the right side of the BMW.
‘Son of God’ Courting Korean Americans
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are engaged in a full-court press to encourage Korean Christians living in the U.S. to see their upcoming film, Son of God, which has already been the recipient of a big marketing push in the Hispanic community.
LightWorkers Media, the production company founded by Burnett and Downey, recently hosted two screenings of the film with Korean subtitles, and the events attracted 800 influential members of the fast-growing community, including Korean journalists and faith leaders, The Hollywood Reporter learned on Tuesday.
Marketers for Son of God, a film about the life of Jesus based on the TV miniseries The Bible, also have visited at least 20 Korean churches and businesses distributing 3,000 posters and 10,000 flyers advertising the movie, which distributor 20th Century Fox will open wide on Friday.
Director-playwright hopes to jump-start Asian-American theater scene in Philly
FOR ALL of the Philly theater universe’s often breathtaking diversity, Asian-American artists and productions are scarce almost to the point of non-existence.
But Rick Shiomi is hoping to change that.
Shiomi is the founder and former longtime guiding light of the St. Paul, Minn.-based Mu Performing Arts, an organization dedicated to Asian-American theater. He is currently in the midst of a part-time, four-month residency funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and presented under the aegis of the Asian Arts Initiative and Center City’s Interact Theatre.
His time here, which began earlier this month, has Shiomi overseeing a series of readings of plays written by Asian-American authors. The works all deal with themes specific to the various cultures under the “Asian-American” umbrella. It’s the first volley in what he hopes will be a successful campaign to bring the local Asian-American community into Philly’s theatrical mainstream.
Huffington Post launches Korean edition
The Huffington Post, an online news site based in the United States, opened a Korean edition of the website (www.huffingtonpost.kr) Friday.
The Korean site is Huffington’s 11th international edition and the second Asian edition. A Japanese edition was launched in May.
The online news provider launched the Korean edition in partnership with Hankyoreh Media Group, a liberal newspaper. The content of the news site, however, will be provided independently from the Hankyoreh by a separate team of editors at the Huffington Post Korea. The editor in chief of the Korean edition is Sohn Mi-na, a freelance travel writer and former announcer on a local news channel.
Korean Skating Union: The ‘Biggest Loser’ in Sochi?
It was South Korea’s Winter Games of Discontent.
Coming off a historic performance at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, South Korea was supposed to assert itself as a winter sports power in Sochi, as it gets ready to host the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
Instead, the Korean contingent had the most disastrous Games imaginable. After taking home 14 medals, including six golds from Vancouver, South Korea totaled just eight medals (three golds) in Sochi, finishing 13th in the medal standings. The Wall Street Journal even piled on by naming the nation the biggest loser in terms of last-place finishes.
The raging controversy over Yuna Kim’s loss to Russian figure skater Adelina Sotnikova certainly affected South Korea in the medal standings, with the perception that Kim was robbed of a gold because of nebulous politics. But in the big picture, that merely affected the placement of one medal.
The true cause of South Korea’s downfall in Sochi can be summed up in the loss of one athlete: Viktor Ahn.
Koreans in Japan abused: U.S. report
Korea JoongAng Daily
A U.S. government report released Thursday shed light on social discrimination and harassment against ethnic Koreans in Japan, especially by right-wing civic groups in the midst of the growing anti-Korea sentiment under the nationalist administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The U.S. Department of State on Thursday released its annual report on human rights situations worldwide, titled “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013,” describing human rights violations in each country last year in detail.
In its section on Japan, the report states that entrenched societal discrimination against foreign nationals in the country, particularly against ethnic Koreans, was observed and recorded.
“During the year , ultra right-wing groups held a series of demonstrations in predominantly Korean neighborhoods in Tokyo,” the report said.
Dennis Rodman’s exploits have always drawn a chuckle or groan or both at times, but his latest feat was arguably the most controversial. It is also apparently a comedy gold mine, as Rodman’s “hoops diplomacy” mission to North Korea is getting the silver screen treatment, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
20th Century Fox has bought the rights for Diplomats, which is being described as “a two hander that takes its cues from the antics of the 6-foot-7 former NBA player.” Ride Along director Tim Story will direct, while Peter Chermin is set to produce through his Fox-based Chernin Entertainment, the studio behind The Heat.
Rodman first visited North Korea last year, apparently befriending Kim Jong-un. He returned in January, bringing along a group of former NBA players and organizing a basketball game in Pyongyang. Highlights from the visit include Rodman’s bizarre rendition of “Happy Birthday” and a meltdown in front of the press, which was blamed on alcohol. Continue Reading »
Separated Koreans part again in tears with no hope of reunion
Hundreds of South Korean and North Koreans burst into tears as they bade farewell, perhaps for good, to each other on Tuesday at a North Korean mountain resort after their first reunions since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Some of them sang doleful Korean folk songs as their long-lost relatives from North Korea were told to take buses at the end of their final reunions that lasted only about 50 minutes at Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort on the North’s east coast.
“Brother, brother, how can I live without you?” Park Jong-soon, a 68-year-old South Korean, wailed as she grabbed her 88-year-old North Korean brother’s hand sticking out of a bus window.
As tearful Korean reunions end, more seen unlikely
The 88-year-old North Korean man stretched his arms out the bus window to grasp the hands of his South Korean sister one final time before the end of rare reunions Tuesday between hundreds of family members separated for decades by war and politics.
“Brother, brother, my brother! How can I live without you?” the sister, Park Jong-soon, cried out from the parking lot at the North’s scenic Diamond Mountain resort, according to South Korean media pool reports.
Wiping away tears, Pak Jong Song shouted back: “Stay healthy! We’ll see each other again if we’re healthy.”
South Korea Committee to Prepare for Reunification with North
Voice of America
South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye, has announced a committee to prepare for reunification with North Korea. President Park said unifying with the north would be an economic bonanza, but analysts say the south would face a heavy financial and legal burden.
President Park announced the plans to create a blue print for reuniting South Korea with the North on Tuesday.
In a televised speech marking her first year in office, Park said she would form a preparatory committee directly under the presidential office. She said the committee will expand dialogue and private exchanges with Pyongyang.
N. Korean patrol ship violates sea border amid family reunions
A North Korean patrol ship violated the tensely guarded western maritime border several times Monday night, but it retreated after repeated South Korean military warnings, Seoul’s defense ministry said Tuesday.
The North Korean vessel crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a de facto maritime border, at around 10:46 p.m. Monday, and sailed to a location about 23.4 kilometers west of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea.
The ship returned to its territory at around 2:25 a.m. Tuesday after the South Korean military broadcast warnings 10 times, the defense ministry’s spokesman said.
“The North Korean ship’s NLL violation is seen as part of military drills or an inspection of (the South Korean military),” Kim Min-seok said in a briefing. “It is believed that (the North Korean vessel) intended to test the South Korean military.”
Jang Song-taek ‘Killed for Sleazy Past’
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle was executed chiefly for his role overseeing a thinly disguised prostitution ring for the nomenklatura, the Kim family’s former sushi chef claims.
Kenji Fujimoto claimed Jang Song-taek was eliminated because of his role supplying young women for a “pleasure brigade” for former leader Kim Jong-il, because his son detested his father’s womanizing.
Fujimoto told the U.K.’s Daily Mail on Saturday that when Kim Jong-un returned to North Korea aged 18 from study abroad, he “found himself exposed to his father’s ‘pleasure brigade,’” which are groups of beautiful young women who sing, strip and perform massages or sexual favors.
North Korea Cloaked in Darkness
Wall Street Journal
One of the most stunning—and revealing—photos ever taken of North Korea was a 2002 satellite image of the peninsula at night, shown by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a Pentagon briefing.
The photo showed the lights of South Korean conurbations, and even large clusters of fishing boats, in stark contrast to an almost entirely black North Korea. Other than a small spot of light in the showcase capital Pyongyang and the outline of the country, North Korea wouldn’t have been visible at all.
“South Korea is filled with lights and energy and vitality and a booming economy; North Korea is dark. It is a tragedy what’s being done in that country,” Mr. Rumsfeld said.
Foreigners with Korean ancestry on rise in S. Korea
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
The number of foreigners in South Korea with Korean ethnic background surpassed the 200,000 mark for the first time last year, thanks in part to increased inflow of ethnic Koreans from China, data showed Monday.
According to the data by the Ministry of Justice, there were 233,269 foreign nationals with Korean ancestry residing in the country in 2013, a 24.3 percent jump from a year earlier.
The figure accounted for 14.8 percent of the total number of foreigners living in South Korea, the data showed.
South Korea’s ‘Running Man’ in Australia
Cast and crew of popular South Korean variety show Running Man have touched down in Australia to film a Down Under special.
The program, in which contestants are pitted against each other in a race against time to solve a series of physical challenges and puzzles in landmarks and cities, has a strong following in its native South Korea, and has been translated into English, Spanish and Arabic.
The variety show has previously visited countries such as Thailand, Macao and Vietnam but the upcoming Australia special will be the first episode of Running Man that takes place in a country outside of Asia.
S. Korean athletes return home from Sochi
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
South Korean athletes returned home Tuesday after two weeks of thrilling competition at the winter games in the Russian city of Sochi.
South Korea had its largest-ever Winter Olympics delegation, with 71 athletes competing in every sport except hockey.
It ended in 13th place, with three gold medals — one by speed skater Lee Sang-hwa and two by short tracker Park Seung-hi — along with three silver and two bronze medals, coming up just short of its stated goal of winning four gold for a top-10 finish in the medals.
Figure Skating at the Olympics: Justice served
THERE’S something about figure skating that makes it a magnet for scandal. Fans of other pastimes can try to get themselves worked up over performance-enhancing drugs, illicit payments to amateurs or team tax fraud. But when it comes to shock value, nothing can compete with the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding imbroglio or the vote-trading ring at the 2002 Olympics. Judging by commentators’ hyperbolic reaction to the sport’s outrage du jour, Adelina Sotnikova’s victory over Yuna Kim on February 20th at the Winter Olympics, audiences could be forgiven for believing that the upset was a travesty of justice on a par with skating’s worst offences. But what the criticism really demonstrates is that in a discipline whose scoring is inescapably subjective, the media’s appetite for controversy will always trump their obligation to help the public understand what’s really going on in an event that only attracts mass attention once every four years.
Wie’s swing coach says ex-phenom refreshed after winter break
When do I get the 30 for 30 on Michelle Wie’s career? Do I have to wait until she’s done playing or can we start rolling tape on that thing right away?
Wie finished tied for fourth at the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament on Sunday, after swing coach David Leadbetter said he thinks she’s enjoying golf more than she has in a while.
“I think she fell out of love with the game to an extent,” said Leadbetter. He told Wie to take five weeks over the winter.
“I think it’s the first time since she was 5 years old that she has gone that long without touching a golf club,” Leadbetter said. “We had a little boot camp before the start of this year, and you could see she was really refreshed, really ready to go.”
Kakao to offer money transfers
Kakao, the operator of the country’s most popular messaging application KakaoTalk, will run a test of a money transfer service next month in cooperation with banks, the company’s chief executive said Monday.
“We have been working with banks over the past 12 months to start financial services for KakaoTalk. We are now fine-tuning the details of the business partnership,” co-CEO Lee Sir-goo told The Korea Times Monday (KST) on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.
Kakao will partner with 16 commercial banks to allow its users to send and receive small amounts of money through the messaging app. For example, they will be able to transfer money gifts for weddings or condolence money for funerals, Lee said.
U.S.-South Korea Begin War Games as Family Reunions Continue
The U.S. and South Korea began annual military exercises — denounced by the North as preparations for war — that coincided with the first reunions of families separated by the Korean War in more than three years.
The Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises began today as scheduled, U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Kim Yong Kyu said by phone. The two sets of drills, one based on computer simulations and the other involving field training, will draw thousands of additional U.S. troops into the country, according to USFK. The two allies say the drills are routine and defensive.
North Korea had initially threatened to pull out of the family reunions if the military drills weren’t canceled. Instead, the agreement to hold the reunions led to two rounds of high-level talks between the two countries, and today South Korea offered negotiations on providing assistance to stop the spread of the foot-and-mouth disease in the North.
California Korean Community on ‘East Sea’ Movement
The U.S. state of California.
Home to the largest population of Korean-Americans and Japanese-Americans in the country. Some may see this as the next ground for a political battle over how to refer to the body of water between Korea and Japan in school textbooks.
Virginia State will soon require the Korean-preferred title of “East Sea” to be used alongside the “Sea of Japan” in its textbooks, while in New York a similar bill has also been proposed.
But the issue has not stirred up much attention yet in California.
“LA The president of the Korean American Federation in Los Angeles says the greater L.A. area has been, and still is* busy trying to protect the so-called “comfort women” memorial statue in Glendale Central Park from being removed. So right now is not the most suitable time to raise another issue and divert attention – whether it be the East Sea bill, or anything else.
‘Korean to be first Asian US president’
It wasn’t long ago that Koreans barely had a voice in American politics. Now, they’re quickly emerging as one of the most influential among Asian politicians, so much so that one notable legislator says the first U.S. president of Asian descent will be Korean.
“I think of all Asian-American ethnic groups, I would say at this stage based on our history and trajectory, the first U.S. president of Asian descent will be Korean,” Mark Keam, a third-term delegate of the Virginia state Legislature who co-sponsored Virginia’s East Sea bill, said in an interview with The Korea Times.
There are several reasons, he said, but one of the foremost is because the growing Korean population in the U.S. is creating a larger pool of solid potential politicians.
“In the ‘80s, I didn’t run across a single Korean in Washington D.C. You just didn’t see any,” said Keam, who first began his political career as a college intern on Capitol Hill. “That’s 25 to 30 years ago. Now, things are a lot different.”
A Yu turn for a long-shot Senate candidate
Eugene Yu, the Korean American businessman who joined the crowded race for U.S. Senate, said Saturday he would instead challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow.
Yu always faced long odds in the race to replace Saxby Chambliss, with three sitting congressmen and two other prominent Republicans in the mix on the GOP side. The Augusta businessman may have decided he had a better shot challenging Barrow, one of the most targeted Democrats in the House, than maintaining an expensive statewide bid.
Barrow, seen as one of the most vulnerable moderate Democrats in the nation, faces heated competition every two years. This election is no different. Yu now joins businessman Rick Allen, long-time GOP aide John Stone and state Rep. Delvis Dutton in the GOP contest to unseat Barrow, who was first elected in 2004.
Sentencing begins in convenience store food stamp fraud cases
Two Korean citizens have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a food stamp fraud scheme and may face deportation, the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore announced this week.
The cases were part of a food stamp fraud sting that implicated 10 convenience store owners in the Baltimore area in September. Authorities said the defendants, eight of whom have pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud or wire fraud so far, would illegally redeem food stamps in exchange for cash.
Hyung Cho, 40, of Catonsville, was sentenced to 38 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and his mother Dae Cho, 67, of Catonsville, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The Cho’s, who operated K&S Market, a convenience store at 3910 West Belvedere Avenue, were both ordered to forfeit more than $371,000 and pay restitution of $1.4 million. They did not have legal immigration status, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and have “agreed not to object to any proceedings that may be brought to remove them from the United States upon completion of their sentence.”
Justices refuse appeal from killer set to die
Houston Chronicle (Texas)
A convicted killer facing execution next month for a Dallas-area slaying 11 years ago has lost an appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Anthony Doyle is set to die March 27 for the 2003 beating death and robbery of 37-year-old Hyun Mi Cho. She was delivering a doughnut and burrito order to a house in Rowlett. Her body was found in a trash can behind the house. Doyle was 18 at the time and on probation for theft. He also had a juvenile record.
The high court Monday, without comment, refused to review his case.
Doyle told police he intended to rob the woman and struck her with a baseball bat when she told him she had no money. Evidence showed he took her car and used her credit cards.
Girls’ Generation Achieves All-Kill and Sweeps Charts All Over the World
Girls’ Generation has finally returned with a new single “Mr.Mr” and have been sweeping music charts not only in Korea but all around the world.
On February 24, Girls’ Generation released their fourth mini-album online. In just a mere hour upon release, “Mr.Mr” was the #1 song on seven different music charts including Melon, Mnet, Olleh Music, Bugs, Genie, Soribada and Monkey3. In a couple more hours, “Mr.Mr” rose to the top on Naver and Daum Music as well.
Overseas reactions and interests are also getting higher and higher. “Mr. Mr” was ranked #2 in Thailand, #5 in Malaysia, #14 in Hong Kong, #21 in Taiwan, #52 in the Philippines and #63 in Indonesia, making “Mr.Mr.” enter the Top 100 chart in six different countries within an hour after release.
Shortly afterwards, “Mr.Mr” was ranked #2 in Thailand, #3 in Vietnam, #4 in Singapore, #5 in Malaysia, #6 in Indonesia and Kazakhstan, #14 in Hong Kong, #21 in Taiwan, #55 in the Philippines, #97 in Sweden and #99 in Macao within two hours upon release.
South Korea Puts Anger Aside After Olympic Skating Disappointment
New York Times
Kim Yu-na was a perfect heroine for her country. Like postwar South Korea, she rose from a humble start, skating on a tatty rink as a 6-year-old, to win gold for a nation that had felt sidelined in a sport dominated by Western athletes.
So when she was dethroned in Sochi by a Russian teenager in a much-debated decision, it was not surprising that Ms. Kim’s country, which has long tied international sports achievements to self-worth, reacted with anger.
A popular novelist said he would remember these Games as the “Suchi Olympics,” using the word for “humiliation.” A petition on Change.org calling for an investigation by the International Skating Union drew more than 1.9 million signatures, most of them from South Koreans. And many online commentators said Ms. Kim had been cheated of a gold medal because her country was “small and weak.”
Yuna Kim Has Not Had Plastic Surgery, and Koreans Love Her For It
When the Olympic judges placed South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim second to Russian Adelina Sotnikova yesterday, her fans wouldn’t have it: Nearly two million have already signed a petition to have the judging re-opened. American skating enthusiasts might know Kim for her artistic style or her signature “camel spin”, but in South Korea—where she’s known as “Queen Yuna”—there’s another reason women love her: Unlike most Korean celebrities and “pop stars”, she appears not to have had plastic surgery—even though she has the kind of eyelids that would send many Korean girls running to the doctor.
“Most Korean girls want plastic surgery,” said Lee Tea Yang, a trader in Seoul. “Yuna Kim made a new era. There has never been a star like her.”
Though statistics are hard to verify, South Korea consistently ranks in the top few countries worldwide for per capita plastic surgery. One of the most popular procedures is “double eyelid surgery”, in which doctors use a combination of cutting and stitching to create a crease in Asians’ typically flat upper eyelids, giving the eyes a larger, rounder, arguably Westernized appearance.
South Korea Had the Most Last-Place Finishes in Sochi
Wall Street Journal
After a respectable 14 podium appearances in Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics, South Korea’s outlook was bright coming into the 2014 Games. The Koreans weren’t able to live up to expectations, earning only eight medals in Sochi, but they were the best in the world in one unfortunate category: finishing last.
For the third consecutive Olympics, The Wall Street Journal awarded lead, tin and zinc medals to the three worst performers to complete a given event (based on time or score of last-place finishers in every Olympic event; no disqualifications or non-finishers were counted). South Korean Olympians finished in the bottom three places in an astounding 19 different events, more often than any other participating country.
Canada came in second with 16 medals, with the U.S. (15) earning the third most not-so-precious medals. Since the U.S. and Canada have large Olympic delegations, it isn’t entirely surprising to see such large pools of Olympians finish all over the field of competition: These two countries earned 28 and 25 real Olympic medals respectively in Sochi.
Defection row overshadows South Korean Viktor Ahn’s skating victory for Russia
South China Morning Post
It was a night when Viktor Ahn should have been out celebrating becoming the most successful short track speed skater of all time but instead he was quizzed from all sides at the Sochi Olympics about why he defected to Russia.
Ahn confirmed his place among the greatest Winter Olympians when he won the 500 metres individual event then returned to the ice about 45 minutes later and helped Russia win the 5,000m relay. Ahn also won gold in the 1,000m at Sochi and now has six Olympic gold medals in total – more than any speed skater either in short track or the more traditional long course.
If the skater formerly known as Ahn Hyun-soo, who won three golds for South Korea at the 2006 Turin Olympics, thought he would clarify his position once and for all at a packed news conference starting after midnight he was clearly mistaken.
Far from Sochi, North Koreans hone skiing skills
For North Korean skiers, Sochi was a distant dream. The country didn’t send a single athlete to the Winter Olympics and has never won a downhill medal. But as the rest of the world watches this year’s Olympic pageant wrap up in Russia, North Koreans are flocking to the slopes of a lavish new ski resort all their own — and many have a gold medal in mind four years from now, when the winter games will be held in South Korea.
Of course, that’s a tall order.
Even by official estimates, only about 0.02 percent of North Korea’s 24 million people have ever strapped on ski boots. But with the blessing of leader Kim Jong Un, who has made building recreational and sporting facilities a priority, in part to boost tourism as a source of hard cash for the economically strapped nation, skiing is now almost a national duty for those who have the time, money or opportunity to hit the slopes.
South Korea Awaits 2018 Games With a Different Plan
New York Times
The sun was shining once more by the Black Sea and the jackets were off with the Olympic flame still a few hours away from being extinguished.
“You better bring your jacket to Pyeongchang,” said Kim Jin-sun, head of the organizing committee for the 2018 Games in South Korea. “Much colder than Sochi.”
As the Russians and the members of the International Olympic Committee begin recovering from the sleepless nights that surely accompanied their wild, seven-year ride to Sochi’s closing ceremony, the cosmic question is where the Winter Games go from here in a world of climate instability, declining winter sports participation numbers in the West and spiraling costs and scale for Olympic organizers?
Rangers like what they are seeing with Choo
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)
Scouting Shin-Soo Choo has become an easier task over the years. He’s established himself as an on-base machine with speed and power.
In the beginning, though, nobody knew how Choo would pan out. Just ask Jim Colborn, the Rangers’ senior adviser for Pacific Rim operations.
“The big problem with scouting him is that he’d walk about three times a game,” said Colborn, a scout for the Mariners at the time.
“They’d never give him anything good to hit and he’d take his walks. So it was tough to grade him.”
Whiz Now Open Serving Philly Cheesesteaks in Koreatown
For all those times you’re in Koreatown and have a hankering for a cheesesteak sandwich as opposed to, say, a sizzling bowl of soon tofu: Whiz opened in the neighborhood last Saturday, Feb. 15, a small shop on the corner of 6th Street and Oxford Avenue, or right around the corner from craft beer bar Beer Belly.
This location is no coincidence, as the shop is brought to you none other than Beer Belly’s owner Jimmy Han and executive chef Wes Lieberher. You could have guessed as much just by the artwork: MR44, who did the mural at Beer Belly, collaborated with artist Swanski to create a beautiful piece outside Whiz.
South Korea Gives Aid to North Amid Family Reunions
New York Times
South Korea on Friday approved a shipment of $988,000 worth of medicine and powdered milk for North Korea and promised more humanitarian aid as the two Koreas continued emotional reunions of families separated by the Korean War six decades ago.
The Seoul government’s approval of the aid shipment by two civic relief groups came a day after the two countries began the family reunions in an event widely seen as easing tensions on the divided peninsula. President Park Geun-hye has promised to increase humanitarian aid if the North improves ties with the South through “trust-building” projects like family reunions, which were last held more than three years ago.
The family meetings, held in the Diamond Mountain resort in southeast North Korea, highlighted the urgency for such reunions for Korea’s “separated families,” which were torn apart during the three-year war that ended in 1953 with the peninsula still divided.
At Reunions, Abducted Fishermen Stick to North Korea Script
Wall Street Journal
In the early 1970’s, just as South Korea’s economy was catching up with North Korea following the devastating civil war of 1950-1953, Choi Yong-chol took a job as a skate fisherman
From South Chuncheong province on the Yellow Sea coast, the Choi family, like many in rural South Korea, struggled to make a living. Skate fishing offered stable employment but was physically demanding and potentially dangerous: there were plentiful accounts of boats that disappeared at sea.
One day in February 1974, while close to the maritime border with North Korea, Mr. Choi’s boat and another nearby were approached by a North Korean coast guard vessel. The North Korean ship opened fire, sinking one of the boats and forcing Mr. Choi’s ship to North Korea with its crew, according to accounts from the time.
For many others, reunions put on shelf forever
While about 200 separated family members from South and North Korea are enjoying their long-overdue reunions at Mount Geumgang, many more here have to look to them with envy.
One of those is Jang Sa-in, a 74-year-old who lives in Sadang-dong, southern Seoul.
Jang pulled out a letter from his older brother from the North. He was told through a source that Sa-guk died last year.
“I never knew that time would pass so fast. Now I turned 80 and I still can vividly describe the scenery in our hometown… I suppose you already entered your 70s. I believe you and your sisters have served mother well so far,“ Jang read haltingly during an interview Thursday.
Humanity at its very worst
THE gruesome sketches need little explanation. They are based on the memories of Kim Gwang-il, a North Korean who spent more than two years in a prison camp before eventually escaping through China and Thailand to South Korea. The pictures show prisoners held in stress positions, skeletal bodies eating snakes and mice, and prisoners pulling a cart laden with rotting bodies. But none of the pictures, he says, was nearly as graphic as the reality of being forced to live in the camp.
Mr Kim was one of over 80 defectors, refugees and abductees who publicly testified before a commission of inquiry (COI) set up by the UN’s Human Rights Council in March 2013 to investigate systematic human-rights violations in North Korea. It interviewed another 240 victims confidentially (many fear reprisals on family members still in North Korea). After a year-long investigation, on February 17th the commission delivered its 400-page report.
The report, written by a three-member UN panel headed by Michael Kirby, an Australian former judge, is extraordinary in its detail and breadth. It includes a catalogue of cruelties meted out by the North Korean regime to its main targets: those who try to flee the country; Christians and those promoting other “subversive” beliefs; and political prisoners, estimated to number between 80,000 and 120,000. The regime is accused of crimes that include execution, enslavement, starvation, rape and forced abortion.
S. Korea raps Japan for casting doubt on comfort women testimony
Kyodo News via GlobalPost
South Korea “cannot accept” Japan’s move to re-examine testimony by South Korean women that led Tokyo to officially apologize in 1993 for the forcible recruitment of women into sexual servitude during World War II, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official said Friday, according to Yonhap News Agency.
“Our government cannot accept Japan’s attempt to question the forcible recruitment and management of comfort women even after the country acknowledged it in the past,” the unidentified official was quoted as saying in response to remarks made by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Thursday.
In Tokyo on Friday, Suga, the top government spokesman, shrugged off the reported comment by the official, saying at a press conference it is “natural for the Japanese government” to re-examine the accounts of 16 South Korean women.
Korean Americans push to rename Sea of Japan in state legislatures
A high-stakes struggle between Asian powers over territory and resources in the Sea of Japan has opened a new front in unexpected locations: American state legislatures. Now, the centuries-old feud between South Korea and Japan will soon impact some schoolchildren in the United States.
Korean American activists have pushed legislation in three states that would require new school textbooks to note that the Sea of Japan is also called the East Sea, the Korean name for the hotly disputed body of water.
Earlier this month, the Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation that would require textbooks to include both names by a wide margin. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who said during his 2013 campaign that he supported the measure, is likely to sign it once it reaches his desk.
Miky Lee tries to rise to challenge at South Korea’s CJ Group
Miky Lee, vice chairman of CJ Group, beams as she greets a visitor in the executive lounge of South Korea’s biggest purveyor of food, home-shopping services, TV programs and movies. The 55-year-old granddaughter of Samsung Group’s founder shows no sign that it’s been a traumatic few months.
Settling in for her first major interview, Lee opens up about how she’s leading the shaken Samsung offshoot after CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay Hyun, her younger brother, was arrested in July.
“I’m now working longer, talking to more people, taking care of a lot more things, including the balance sheet,” she says in a room dominated by a portrait of Lee Byung Chull, her grandfather. “CJ will get back on track.”
Navy chief sentenced to 5 years for attacking S. Korean woman
Stars and Stripes
A U.S. Forces Korea chief petty officer was sentenced last week to five years in prison for attacking a South Korean woman outside her Itaewon apartment last fall.
The Seoul Central District Court identified the 35-year-old man as Chief Petty Officer Christopher Wayne Chatman. The U.S. military refused to confirm the man’s identity because he was tried in a South Korean court, but released a statement that said, “This behavior does not reflect the high standards of conduct expected of U.S. servicemembers.”
According to USFK and Commander Naval Forces Korea, Chatman was convicted Feb. 13 of indecent assault resulting in bodily injury of a South Korean citizen. In addition to his prison sentence, he must complete a 40-hour treatment program for sexual violence offenders.
Korean Messaging Service Kakao Gets Ready For A $2 Billion IPO
Korean messaging leader Kakao is negotiating with Morgan Stanley and Samsung Securities Co. to file for an IPO in Koea, according to the WSJ. The seven-year-old company is mostly known for its dominant messaging app, KakaoTalk. 133 million people are using the app. It is also the primary platform for mobile games.
KakaoTalk is the undisputable winner in South Korea. But with a population of 50 million people, the company needs to find new areas to grow. Similarly, Kakao is launching new products to improve engagement from its existing user base.
The company’s revenue mostly comes from its mobile gaming platform. Many Korean developers use Kakao as a platform to launch their games. The company is now profitable thanks to this revenue stream.
Priscilla Ahn, ‘This is Where We Are’: Exclusive Album Premiere
Acoustic folk artist Priscilla Ahn released “This is Where We Are,” her latest studio album, last summer in Japan and Korea, but the Georgian delayed the release of the LP in her native United States until 2014. Now, the album is officially dropping in America later this month — and Billboard has the exclusive premiere.
“This recording process was different from most, as we only worked two days a week,” Ahn says of the album, her third release in the States. “I discovered that this is the most ideal way for me to record. I always get a little antsy after spending too long in a studio. So we would work together for two days, and then spend a week working on our own and coming up with new ideas for our next meeting.”
Ahn says she wrote the majority of the album “alone in the desert” — though she was “most definitely in an air-conditioned hotel room,” rather than the middle of nowhere. The album also differs from past releases in that it has more of a synth-pop edge than her previous albums. In particular, Ahn is fond of opening track “Diana,” which has minor electronic influences.
The Underdogs Talk Producing New Girls’ Generation Single ‘Mr.Mr.,’ Working in K-Pop: Exclusive
The duo further explains their process, adding, “We work with a Korean translation. We do the full record, we write it completely in English, sing demo and give them the vocal arrangement. Then there’s a Korean translator that translates it to sound cool and still relevant in Korea.”
Mason and Thomas add they are confident in the act’s international charm (the girls have recorded in English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese) can make the track appealing to non-speakers. “I think just Girls’ Generation appeals across the board and across the world,” Mason says. “The YouTube Award they just won is a testament to the size of their audience and how many people are listening and watching. It’s crazy.”
Chinese fried chicken businesses saved by Jun Ji-hyun
AI (avian influenza) has hit the poultry business in China, at least its fried chicken restaurants. But it was saved by hallyu (Korean wave) beauty Jun Ji-hyun’s line “When it snows, I gotta have Chi-maeck (chicken and beer),” in recent a hit drama “Man from Another Star,” Xinhua reported Wednesday.
China’s big cities such as Shanghai saw a sharp increase in their sales with customers not minding lining up for up to three hours to buy a bucket of fried chicken.
It also reported about a Hunan resident who has suffered irritated skin due to her fried chicken-only diet for eight straight days.
“Right before the Lunar New Year’s Day, we suffered a major dent in sales because of the outbreak of AI. This sudden happiness is a never-expected-surprise for us,” a local restaurant owner was quoted as saying.
South Koreans Pay Respects to Graceful Yuna Kim
Wall Street Journal
After a sleepless night, many South Koreans are thinking of Yuna Kim.
The 2010 Olympic champion looked in a good position to win gold again in Sochi. Expectations for this most popular South Korean skater were sky high as she went into the free skating competition in first place on Thursday.
Kim delivered a seemingly flawless performance. But her score of 144.19 wasn’t enough to see off the surprise challenge of 17-year-old Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova, who scored 149.95 points Thursday. Sotnikova’s total of 223.59 secured her the gold medal. Kim scored 219.11 and had to settle for silver.
“A gold medal wasn’t really important to me and being able to perform in the Olympics is meaningful enough. I made no mistake today and I am satisfied. I did everything I could,” Kim told reporters after the result.
How Sotnikova Beat Kim, Move by Move
New York Times
Sotnikova’s combination had a much higher base value because she chose to do the most difficult double jump, the double axel. She received high marks for her good flow, height and distance. She added a 10 percent bonus by executing the combination in the second half of the program.
The double jump Kim chose is one of the easiest, so it has a low base value. The entry was simple, and the jump ended with little speed.
Footwork and Layback Spin
On two elements, the footwork and the layback spin, Sotnikova had a difficulty level of 4, while Kim had a level 3. This meant that Kim had nearly a point deficit in the base value for the two elements combined. In her layback spin, Sotnikova changed positions with ease while maintaining speed and intensity, and the judges rewarded her with higher marks. She received nearly two points more than Kim did for the two elements
S. Korea secures at least silver in men’s team pursuit speed skating
South Korea on Friday secured at least the silver medal in the men’s team pursuit speed skating event at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The men’s trio of Lee Seung-hoon, Joo Hyong-jun and Kim Cheol-min staged a comeback to knock off the reigning Olympic champ Canada in the eight-lap showdown at Adler Arena Skating Center. South Korea will take on the Netherlands in Saturday’s final.
The team pursuit event became a medal sport in 2006 and South Korea will earn its first medal in the event.