AP Photo: Runners at the Pyongyang marathon from 2013.
The world’s most secretive country is opening up the streets of its capital city for runner-tourists from around the globe to compete in its annual marathon.
North Korea will welcome amateur runners, as well as internationally renowned, invitation-only athletes, for the first time in history to its annual Pyongyang marathon on April 13, the Associated Press reported. The races include a full marathon, a half marathon and a 10-kilometer run.
Much of North Korea is still off-limits to foreign tourists, but the communist regime has used Pyongyang to boost tourism, and this latest move to open up the marathon to recreational runners from abroad seems further proof of that strategy. Of course, most tourists must abide by strict regulations and are constantly monitored by authorities.
South Korea Exchanges Artillery Fire With North Over Sea Border
South Korea returned artillery fire after North Korea lobbed shells over the two countries’ western sea border, pushing tensions to their highest in months.
About 100 North Korean shells landed over the disputed sea border during planned live-fire drills, while South Korea fired back about 300 shells, the South’s Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok said at a briefing. Residents on the South Korean islands of Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong were moved to shelters.
The incident yesterday came a day after North Korea said it may conduct a “new form” of nuclear test, and after South Korea President Park Geun Hye in a speech last week in Germany proposed building closer links with the North to spur reunification. North Korea fired artillery shells at Yeonpyeong in November 2010, killing two marines and prompting South Korea to return fire and mobilize fighter jets.
Kim Jong-un Makes Sister His Chief of Staff
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister Kim Yeo-jong has been his chief of staff since last year, a source said Sunday. The source said Kim Yeo-jong was appointed chief secretary of the Workers Party early last year.
Before Kim Yeo-jong’s promotion, the chief secretary was Kim Chang-son, who is now chief of protocol. This is the first time that a member of the Kim family has assumed the post of chief secretary.
The party secretariat is in charge of purchasing and providing daily necessities for the leader and his family and also handles the delivery of official reports from the party, the Cabinet, the powerful National Defense Commission and other key state organizations.
Corpse surfaces during “Avengers” shooting
A dead body floated to the surface of the Han River under Mapo Bridge in Seoul, where the American movie crew was filming a sequel to Hollywood Blockbuster “The Avengers,” police said Sunday.
“A security member of the movie crew aboard a boat found the body floating and reported it to the police at around 2:10 p.m.,” said an officer at Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
A police team retrieved the badly decomposed body, which was later identified as a 21-year-old man surnamed Yoon. He was reported missing by his family on March 10, after sending a mobile text message expressing his despair.
Blocking all lanes on the bridge for nearly 12 hours from early in the morning, the American crew shot for “The Avengers: The Age of Ultron” Sunday, the first day of their two-week stint here in Korea.
THE CAMPAIGN TO “CANCEL” COLBERT
On Thursday night, the official Twitter account for “The Colbert Report” committed the comedic sin of delivering a punch line without its setup. The offending tweet, “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” was meant to be a satirical analog to the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, whose creation was announced earlier this week by the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder.
The joke, which originally aired on Wednesday’s episode, is not particularly complicated: Daniel Snyder created a charitable organization for the benefit of a community and used a racial epithet for that same community in the organization’s name—so here’s an absurd fictional extrapolation of Snyder’s own logic. Everyone who hates both racism and Daniel Snyder laughs.
Stephen Colbert, Racism and the Weaponized Hashtag
Wall Street Journal
Last Wednesday, Stephen Colbert — in his persona as “Stephen Colbert,” the rock-ribbed right-wing pundit of his Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report” — aired a segment satirizing the decision by Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, to set up a fig-leaf nonprofit foundation designed to “help address the challenges that plague the Native American community.” His newly launched Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation has distributed winter coats and shoes to several tribes, purchased a backhoe for Nebraska’s Omaha Tribe and claims to have over forty other projects in process to help build a brighter future for Native Americans.
For a franchise reportedly worth $1.8 billion with operating profits of over $100 million annually, handing out shoes and buying a $100,000 backhoe is a cheap price to pay to defray ongoing negative PR from the many Native Americans who have been pushing for the team to change its 77-year-old name — which many people see as a corrosive ethnic slur and a reminder of a centuries-long history of broken promises and genocide.
S. Korean game developers to go global with Google Play
The mobile application market powered by U.S. Google Inc. will assist South Korean game developers in tapping deeper into overseas markets, the local unit of the Internet giant said Monday, on the back of the platform’s foray into the contents industry.
“The Google Play ecosystems in Korea rely on great Korean developers making great apps,” said Chris Yerga, who oversees the platform business, adding that 17 out of the top 20 most downloaded apps in the country were games.
The Internet giant said Google Play, its mobile application market brand that was rolled out in 2012, will provide local developers with new business opportunities as the platform is used in more than 190 countries.
US Ambassador to Korea finally asked about topics not related to North Korea
Stars And Stripes
Think answering questions about how to convince North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons is tough? Try talking on national television about dating your wife.
U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim recently appeared on the popular SBS program “Good Morning Korea,” where the focus was, for once, not on the latest provocation from Kim Jong Un.
During the show, Kim – the first Korean-American ambassador to Seoul – answered questions about everything from how he met his wife (they were introduced by a friend when Kim was worked at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul years ago) to which Korean foods he recommended to U.S. President Barack Obama during a visit to Seoul (bulgogi).
Apple-Samsung row heads to court
Korea JoongAng Daily
The fiercest rivalry in the world of smartphones is heading back to court this week in the heart of the Silicon Valley, with Apple and Samsung accusing each other, once again, of ripping off designs and features.
The trial will mark the latest round in a long-running series of lawsuits between the two tech giants that underscore a much larger concern about what is allowed to be patented.
“There’s a widespread suspicion that lots of the kinds of software patents at issue are written in ways that cover more ground than what Apple or any other tech firm actually invented,’’ Notre Dame law professor Mark McKenna said. “Overly broad patents allow companies to block competition.’’
Russia Eyes Kaesong Industrial Complex
North Korea and Russia will discuss the possibility of Russian companies opening factories in the joint-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex, Radio Free Asia reported Friday.
Russia’s Far East Development Minister Alexander Galushka visited the North for five days last week to explore ways of boosting business cooperation, according to the radio station. Galushka apparently discussed improving business conditions for Russian companies in North Korea, measures to protect Russian investments, and multiple-entry visas.
Other points on the agenda were development of North Korea’s Rajin-Sonbong economic zones, steps to modernize the North’s mines, power plant projects, rail lines connecting Russia and Korean Peninsula and a gas pipeline from Russia to South Korea via the North.
Small Businesses Want 2nd Industrial Park in N.Korea
An association of small and medium-sized businesses wants to build a second industrial park in North Korea along the lines of the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.
The head of the Korea Federation of Small and Medium-sized Businesses, Kim Ki-mun, told a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday that his organization is looking at Haeju or Nampo in North Korea as suitable locations.
The comments have increased hopes here of a breakthrough in chilled relations with Pyongyang. Kim’s idea coincides with the North’s hopes to develop more special economic zones.
6 Stunning Celebrity Couples of Asian Men & Non-Asian Women
Speaking of China
Every week, the entertainment mags churn out list after list of swoon-worthy celebrity and Hollywood couples. But these couples are almost always white…and I can’t remember the last time, if ever, that I’ve seen a single couple of Asian men and non-Asian women on their lists.
If my Pinterest board with real-life couples of Chinese men and Western women has taught me anything, it’s that the community of Asian men and non-Asian women in love is bigger than I ever expected — with plenty of beautiful faces. So it’s no surprise that our community includes some stunning celebrities and their equally stunning partners. Don’t they deserve a little love for once?
Move over, Brangelina! Here are six dazzling couples that could turn heads on the red carpet, while showing the world how lovely it is when Asian men and non-Asian women get together.
Park unveils proposals to N. Korea to lay groundwork for unification
South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday unveiled a package of proposals calling for bolstering exchanges with North Korea as first steps toward building trust between the two sides to lay the groundwork for unification.
Park made the announcement during a speech at the Dresden University of Technology in the former East German city of Dresden. The address was watched closely and televised live amid expectations that she would unveil a new vision for unification of the divided Korean Peninsula.
“Now more than ever, South and North Korea must broaden their exchange and cooperation,” Park said in the address. “What we need is not one-off or promotional events, but the kind of interaction and cooperation that enables ordinary South Koreans and North Koreans to recover a sense of common identity as they help each other out.”
South Korea sends back stray North Korean fishing boat
South Korea on Friday sent back a North Koreanfishing boat that had drifted across a disputed maritime border off the west coast, the defense ministry said, defusing tensions in an area which has been the scene of deadly clashes in recent years.
South Korea’s military had seized the boat after it ignored warnings to retreat, but later confirmed the vessel had experienced engine failure and the three crewmen had no wish to defect to the South, a ministry official said.
The incident came as the North faced renewed pressure from the international community after it fired two mid-range missiles on Wednesday just as the leaders of the South, Japanand the United States pledged to curb its arms ambitions.
South Korea Returns Bodies of Hundreds of Chinese Soldiers
New York Times
South Korea on Friday repatriated the remains of 437 Chinese soldiers killed during the Korean War six decades ago, making a gesture symbolic of warming ties between the two nations.
China sent a flood of soldiers to help its Communist ally North Korea, which invaded South Korea in June 1950. Its intervention saved the North, whose forces had been pushed back toward the country’s northern corner by American-led United Nations forces later that year. The three-year war ended in a cease-fire, leaving the divided Korean Peninsula technically in a state of war.
Over the years, when South Korea discovered the remains of hundreds of Communist soldiers in old battle sites, it kept them tucked away in a little-known temporary burial ground north of Seoul, until recently known as “the enemy cemetery.”
Energy Panel Approves Contentious Nominee Rhea Suh
Wall Street Journal
Newly minted Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Mary Landrieu(D., La.) pushed through a controversial Interior Department nominee Thursday over the united opposition of Republicans.
The committee voted along party lines, 12-10, to approve the nominee, Rhea Suh, to be assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Interior Department. Ms. Suh now advances to the full Senate where she needs 51 votes for confirmation. It was the first nomination meeting presided over by Ms. Landrieu.
“I am sorry we are starting this new era of the Committee on such a troubling note,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) told her usual ally Ms. Landrieu. “I expect that we will be able to work together on many issues that come before us—but this particular nomination is simply not one of them.”
Stephen Colbert vs. the Hashtag Activists
So: On Wednesday night Stephen Colbert made sport of Washington football team owner Dan Snyder and his plan to undercut criticism of the team name by founding an organization for the uplift of “original Americans.” Colbert ran though all the reasons why this was funny, then called back to a skit from one of the show’s first episodes, way back from the fall of 2005—a joke about the host being caught on a “live feed” playing a racist Asian stereotype (Ching Chong Ding Dong, from Guanduong), then not understanding why it was racist. Colbert would make amends with his new “Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” He’d played versions of the game since then, dressing up in a sombrero for “Hispanic heritage month.” It’s one of the Colbert character’s oldest gags—he “doesn’t see color,” so he can’t ever be blamed if he accidentally does something horribly racist.
Most of a day later, the official Twitter account of The Colbert Report tweeted a short version of the joke: “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” Bad move. This attracted the ire of a 23-year-old freelance writer and hashtag activist named Suey Park, who gained prominence last year with the #NotYourAsianSidekick micromovement.
Anti-Colbert activist, HuffPost Live host grapple over racism, satire
Josh Zepps is a host on HuffPost Live. He presides over many interesting and civil conversations with guests on a wide variety of topics. Generally they end in a civil manner.
Not so much today, because of the issue: On the other end of the video link was Suey Park, the Korean-American Twitter hashtag activist who drew recognition from her campaign #NotYourAsianSidekick.
This week, she roared again, this time in response to a tweet that came from the account of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert show:
“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”
Like most things that emerge from the Colbert universe, that (as the context of the joke made clear) was satire — satire intended to skewer Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who recently launched the Original Americans Foundation at a time when the name of his squad is under fire for being racist.
The satire wasn’t working for Park, who launched #CancelColbert, not to mention a massive discussion about how we mix race and humor, and whether we should at all.
Texas executes man who killed food delivery woman with bat
Texas executed convicted murderer Anthony Doyle on Thursday as it kept the pace of executions steady while other states have had to postpone capital punishments because they cannot obtain drugs used in lethal injections.
Doyle, 29, was convicted of beating food delivery woman Hyun Cho, a South Korean native, to death in 2003 with a baseball bat, putting her body in a trash can and stealing her car.
Doyle was pronounced dead at 6:49 p.m. CDT (2349 GMT) at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville after receiving a lethal injection. He did not make a last statement, a Department of Criminal Justice spokesman said.
Knife Threat Failed to Halt Korea’s First Female Bank CEO
Facing a desperate, knife-brandishing customer, Kwon Seon Joo knew the value of staying cool under pressure more than two decades before being picked to become the first woman to head a South Korean bank.
In 1992, the now 57-year-old chief executive officer of the country’s fourth-largest lender by assets, Industrial Bank of Korea, was deputy manager of trade finance at a branch in an upscale district of Seoul. Kwon said she agreed to meet a customer presenting forged shipping documents who was demanding a loan because he risked financial ruin after exporting artificial flowers that had been rejected by the recipient. When she refused, he lifted his trouser leg to reveal something tucked in his sock: a knife.
“I was shocked at first, but deep down I was confident that I could resolve the situation with conversation,” Kwon said in an interview at IBK’s headquarters in Seoul last month. She spoke calmly with the man for more than an hour before he walked out with his demands unmet and no one harmed, she said.
Help For Working Women, But Will More Storks Come?
Wall Street Journal
South Korea’s announced more incentives for working women to help boost female employment and improve low birth rates, but it’s unclear if the policies will overcome cultural norms in the workplace.
President Park Geun-hye’s been trying to keep her campaign promise of lifting the total employment rate to 70% by 2017 from 65% currently.
A key to this is getting women to stay in the work force after they start families and have children and on Monday, the Labor Ministry announced that women in their first 12 weeks and the last four weeks of pregnancy may work two hours less, fully paid, starting September.
K-POP PHENOMENON GIRLS’ GENERATION WANT TO MAKE INSECURE MEN FEEL BETTER
We all know Psy. You’ve probably heard G-Dragon and CL before—on a Diplo or Skrillex beat at the least—and some hundred thousand Lady GaGa fans are about to meet Crayon Pop in stadiums across Middle America and Canada this summer. But there’s no K-pop phenomenon bigger than Girls’ Generation. They remain Korea’s all-time best-selling girl group, their YouTube prowess has trouncedthat of even some of the brightest Western stars, and their tour attendance is astounding. If Korean music is something that’s been brought to your attention sometime in the past half decade, there’s a good chance that had something to do with “Gee,” the undisputed classic of K-pop (watch it above).
After an uncharacteristically long break since their last release—all of two months—and almost a straight year of Japanese records and tours, Girls’ Generation returned late last month with the Mr.Mr. mini-album. We broke bread with all nine (very polite) girls to talk new music, bolstering the flagging confidence of insecure boys, and Korea’s super intense trainee pop regime. Apparently of the 10,000 K-Pop wannabes, only one becomes a star. Steep odds for sure.
Instead of following a tried-and-true formula of slowly rolling out individual songs and their characteristically flashy videos, the all-female Korean pop supergroup 2NE1 went the opposite direction with their new album, Crush. Announced in January—no advance snippets were available—and released digitally in February, 2NE1 dropped two singles simultaneously (the uptempo pair “Come Back Home” and “Gotta Be You”). Though both unsurpisingly lit up the Korean charts, the excitement—as well as an appearance in a January episode of ABC’s The Bachelor—buoyed an entrance into Billboard 200, where 2NE1 sold more copies in the first week than any Korean outfit in history. The only semi-micro-plotted movement in the whole campaign happened when YG Entertainment bumped the digital release three days—meaning that they broke the record in four days, instead of a full seven—so it would come out on the February 27 birthday of CL, 2NE1’s ascendant star. Hold that thought.
Tickets for the Free LA K-Pop Festival Available Online this Saturday
With the LA K-Pop Festival a little more than two weeks away, it has been revealed that tickets will be distributed through Ticketmaster this Saturday at 10am PST on a first come, first serve basis (limit: 2 per person). While the concert is free, a small service fee for Ticketmaster is added.
Physical Ticket Distribution will occur on Saturday March 29 at 10:00am PST at the HwaGae Traditional Market (940 S. Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006) on a first come first serve basis, with up to 5,000 tickets being distributed that day (limit: 2 per person).
Hosted by KBS America and the Los Angeles Korean Association, the event is set for April 12 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The event will start with a day long festival at 10am, followed by a concert at 5:30pm.
Veteran Choo adjusting to left field at Globe Life Park
Dallas Morning News
Shin-Soo Choo on Thursday started a crash course in the art of playing left field at Globe Life Park.
Choo, entering his first season with the Rangers, tried to familiarize himself with the nuances of his new position during an afternoon workout. He also started in left field in the park for the first time in nearly eight years during the exhibition game against Quintana Roo of the Mexican League.
Choo played center field with Cincinnati last season and has fewer career starts in left
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field (60) than the other outfield spots. Choo can apply his experience as a right fielder in that balls will hook and slice toward the left-field line.
“It’s something I’ll have to get used to,” Choo said. “The more I play out there, the more comfortable I’ll be.”
Japan’s Mao Asada breaks Yuna Kim’s world record in women’s short
Mao Asada of Japan set a world record on Thursday to finish first in the short program at the World Figure Skating Championships.
Skating to Chopin’s Nocturne, Asada hit her trademark triple axel at the start of her routine and completed all her remaining jumps to finish with 78.66 points, surpassing the previous record of 78.50 set by Yuna Kim at the Vancouver Olympics.
“As the last competition of this season, I am happy to skate the best short program,” said Asada, a two-time world champion. “My mission here is to perform both programs perfect so already half is done and tomorrow I want to focus on showing everything I have practiced.”
Merkel vows support for Korean reunification bid
AFP via Google News
Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged Germany’s support Wednesday during a visit by South Korea’s president for efforts to unify the Korean peninsular, saying its own reunification gave it a “duty” to help others.
“We would like very much to support Korea in this important issue,” Merkel told a joint press conference with President Park Geun Hye, who is on a state visit to Germany.
“Germany was divided for 40 years, Korea is in such a situation in the meantime” as the 1950-53 Korean War concluded with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, which means the two sides technically remain at war.
South Korea captures a North Korean fishing boat
A day after North Korea test-fired two missiles, South Korea captured a fishing boat from the North that had crossed into South Korean waters, officials say.
The boat crossed the sea demarcation line that separates the two Koreas and was captured by the South Korean navy Thursday, the South Korean Ministry of Defense said.
The action comes as tensions between the two Koreas are rising once again. On Wednesday, North Korea tested two medium-range ballistic missiles, firing them into the ocean.
N Korea and the myth of starvation
One of the most commonly cited cliches is that North Korea is a “destitute, starving country”. Once upon a time, such a description was all too sadly correct: In the late 1990s, North Korea suffered a major famine that, according to the most recent research, led to between 500,000 and 600,000 deaths. However, starvation has long since ceased to be a fact of life in North Korea.
Admittedly, until quite recently, many major news outlets worldwide ran stories every autumn that cited international aid agencies saying that the country was on the brink of a massive famine once again. These perennially predicted famines never transpired, but the stories continued to be released at regular intervals, nonetheless.
In the last year or two, though, such predictions have disappeared. This year, North Korea enjoyed an exceptionally good harvest, which for the first time in more than two decades will be sufficient to feed the country’s entire population. Indeed, according to the recent documents of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations), North Korea’s harvest totaled 5.03 million tonnes of grain this year, if converted to the cereal equivalent. To put things in perspective, in the famine years of the late 1990s, the average annual harvest was estimated (by the same FAO) to be below the 3 million tonne level.
MANDATORY KIM JONG UN HAIRCUTS A BALDFACED LIE?
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s distinctive hairstyle is the ‘do of the day on the Internet, thanks to a viral report that every male university student in the capital is now under orders to get a buzz just like it. But it appears the barbers of Pyongyang aren’t exactly sharpening their scissors.
Recent visitors to the country say they’ve seen no evidence of any mass haircutting. North Korea watchers smell another imaginative but uncorroborated rumor.
The thinly sourced reports say an order went out a few weeks ago for university students to buzz cut the sides of their heads just like Kim. Washington, D.C.-based Radio Free Asia cited unnamed sources as saying an unwritten directive from somewhere within the ruling Workers’ Party went out early this month, causing consternation among students who didn’t think the new ‘do would suit them.
Video shows N. Korea karaoke salons
Bangkok Post (Thailand)
Rare video footage from North Korea has emerged showing men enjoying a night out in a karaoke salon catering to relatively wealthy North Koreans making money from often illicit cross-border trade.
The content of the hidden-camera footage, which could not be independently verified, was released by a South Korean pastor, Kim Sung-Eun, known for helping North Koreans escape to Seoul.
The grainy video included footage of a group of men and women, speaking with North Korean accents, drinking beer, singing, dancing and kissing in a South Korean-style karaoke “room salon”.
“This is a North Korean equivalent of a room salon, in the form of a restaurant combined with a karaoke where women serve male clients,” Kim told reporters in Seoul.
Breaking the Ice in East Asia [EDITORIAL]
New York Times
President Park Geun-hye of South Korea and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan met, at last, on Tuesday. The meeting — with President Obama on the sideline at the nuclear security summit meeting at The Hague — was the result of intense behind-the-scenes American diplomacy in an effort to mend the seriously deteriorated relations between the American allies in East Asia.
Ms. Park and Mr. Abe had not met since each came to power more than a year ago, breaking a tradition of South Korean and Japanese leaders getting together soon after taking office. Ms. Park refused to see Mr. Abe, saying his government showed a “total absence of sincerity” in addressing the suffering Japan inflicted upon colonized Korea during the first half of the 20th century. Mr. Abe made things worse in December by visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including war criminals. There was little chance of the two leaders beginning to mend relations without the American push.
Seoul, Tokyo Must Tackle Their Differences Head-On [OPINION]
The leaders of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan sat down together on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague. The meeting, which took place at the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands, came at the urging of U.S. President Barack Obama.
The three leaders vowed to stand together against threats from North Korea. “Over the last five years, close cooperation between the three countries succeeded in changing the game with North Korea,” Obama said. “Our trilateral cooperation has sent a strong signal to Pyongyang that its provocations and threats will be met with a unified response.”
President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe duly echoed the sentiment.
Korean business leader and shopping center owner Sim dies
Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama)
Sys-Con owner and CEO Su Yong Sim, the Korean businessman who helped revitalize East Boulevard, died Thursday morning after a prolonged illness.
Sim’s company built several major facilities, including the $65 million Hyundai Heavy Industries plant in Montgomery and a $48 million plant for Donghee America Inc. in Auburn.
His holding company bought Stratford Square shopping center on East Boulevard and built a $4.5 million bowling center there. It also bought the shuttered Up the Creek restaurant nearby, remodeled it and opened it as Sushi Yama.
Food waste around the world
The Guardian (U.K.)
Jeong Ho-jin dons a pair of plastic gloves to show off his most proud achievement as a district official in Seoul, and then uses his keys to unlock a large, rectangular contraption that looks like some kind of futuristic top-loading washing machine. Loaded with bins half-filled with decomposing ginseng, lettuce and other meal remnants, this, it turns out, is South Korea’s high-tech solution to food waste.
Jeong works in one of two districts in Seoul where the high-tech food waste management program is being piloted. The program works by giving each household a card that has a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip embedded in it containing the user’s name and address. They scan their card on a small card-reader on the front of the high-tech bin to get the lid to open, then dump the food waste into the bin and onto the scale at the bottom, which gives a numerical reading of the waste’s weight and disposal cost.
“Before this everyone paid the same flat rate [for disposal] and they would just throw their food waste away without thinking,” said Jeong.
Korean community centre seeks younger crowd
Vancouver Courier (Canada)
Vancouver’s only Korean community centre has undergone a facelift and will officially reopen its doors April 1.The centre, which is located at 1320 East Hastings St. and has housed the Korean Society of B.C. for Fraternity and Culture since 1991, received a grant from the federal government in April 2013 and began renovations the next month. The grant, from the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund, provided $226,602 toward the project and the Korean Society and Korean Senior Society matched it with support from the Korean government and member donations. Vancouver boasts the highest Korean population in the country at over 50,000 people.
BigBang’s ‘Fantastic Baby’ tops 100 mln YouTube views
South Korean boy band BigBang saw the video of its 2012 hit song “Fantastic Baby” surpass 100 million views on YouTube Thursday.
The video, which was first uploaded in March 2012, had slightly more than 100 million views as of about 2 p.m., making it the forth South Korean video to hit the milestone, following Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and “Gentleman.”
BigBang became the first K-pop boy band to do so.
Korean Journalist Seeks To Find Out If Beanballs Hurt
One Korean journalist for KBS worked on a feature on baseball players being hit by pitches, and did some firsthand reporting to find out if it hurts to be hit by a baseball. It does!
The whole video report—which isn’t embeddable—is worth watching, and you don’t need to understand Korean to figure it out: Pitches to the head, whether intentional or not, are causing injuries in baseball. The best part is definitely the high-speed camera footage of baseballs hitting a wash basin and frying pan, set to music that sounds like the Halloween theme.
POT by Roy Choi, a Soulful Ode to Korean Cuisine
As promised, POT is a powerful ode to Korean cuisine by one of the most notable Korean-American chefs in the country. Roy Choi opened POT inside The Line Hotel to the public for lunch yesterday, introducing dishes that seem whimsical and inventive on paper, yet incredibly grounded, flavorful, and intense to a fault on the plate. Think “Boot Knocker” stew, Choi’s take on a dish that Korean mothers make after school’s. Filled with Lil’ smokies, Spam, ramen noodles, and more than a few dollops of red chili flakes, it’s about as rich as the cuisine can get, without getting too serious.
The gently wrapped Kat Man Doo dumplings come dressed in soy, chilies, and scallions for maximum effect, while chewy squid gets tossed with rice cakes, onions, and gochujang. In almost all steps, Choi is taking the cuisine of his motherland and putting an elegant, chefly touch that elevates and refines flavors.
Probably the Worst Diary of Anne Frank Cover Ever
Usually, covers of The Diary of Anne Frank feature black and white photos of its author, Anne Frank. Or, you might see tasteful illustrations. You don’t usually see photos like this!
As recently pointed out by Korean-born Twitter user Che_SYoung, a version of this book was apparently released in South Korea years ago by an unscrupulous publisher:
It looks like a Harlequin romance novel! For the past few years, the image of this cover has been floating around online (as I mentioned, it is supposedly real!), and it even pops up when you Google Image search The Diary of Anne Frank in Korean:
Bojagi workshop offered at LACMA
Korea Times LA
[Korean-born textile artist Lee Young-min] currently holds bojagi workshops and leads a community bojagi project at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The program will take place on April 12, May 3 and June 7. The reservations of the workshops for April 12 have been already filled.
“Many parents with their children are taking part in the workshops. They are all beginners and not skilled but they return home with satisfaction of their completion of bojagi artworks,” she said.
She has organized numerous workshops, classes and demonstrations on Korean arts and crafts around the Bay Area. Recently she demonstrated her bojagi and “maedeup” or Korean knots in Asian Art Museum in San Francisco as part of the Asia Alive Program. Lee also participated in Oakland Museum’s Lunar New Year celebration with her bojagi and maedeup artworks.
Prepare for War in 2015, Kim Jong-un Tells Officers
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has mentioned the possibility of a war breaking out on the Korean peninsula in 2015, it was revealed Tuesday. According to a source, Kim told military commanders earlier this year that an “armed confrontation could take place on the Korean peninsula in 2015″ and ordered them to stock up on strategic supplies and remain combat ready.
The comments were made at about the same time that Kim spoke about improving relations with South Korea during his New Year’s address.
At a loyalty rally in Pyongyang on Feb. 25, Kim also spoke about an “all-out war with the enemy in the name of revolution and final victory.” Last year, Kim told key officials his aim of “reunification through force within three years.”
North Korea Launches Two Midrange Missiles
New York Times
North Korea demonstrated its ballistic missile capabilities by launching two midrange missiles on Wednesday, after the leaders of the United States, Japan and South Korea gathered in the Netherlands to discuss the North’s nuclear threats.
In North Korea’s first tests of midrange projectiles in nearly five years, two Rodong missiles blasted off from mobile launching vehicles from Sukchon, north of Pyongyang, early Wednesday and flew 403 miles before landing in the sea between North Korea and Japan, said Kim Min-seok, a spokesman of the South Korean Defense Ministry.
“By launching them from mobile vehicles which are difficult to monitor and allow North Korea to fire missiles from anywhere it wanted, the country appeared to show off its ability to attempt a surprise attack,” Mr. Kim said. “This is a serious provocation against South Korea and the international community.”
North Korea Displays Defiance on Cheonan Anniversary
Wall Street Journal
North Korea marked the fourth anniversary of the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan by repeating its assertion that it wasn’t involved in the incident and demanding Seoul lift related sanctions.
North Korea said Wednesday that South Korea was “beating the worn-out drum of escalating confrontation” with the issue and was hindering the improvement of bilateral ties.
The comments came hours after North Korea launched two mid-range ballistic missiles into the sea east of the Korean peninsula.
On March 26, 2010, the Cheonan was sunk in the Yellow Sea near the inter-Korean maritime border, leaving 40 dead and six missing, who are presumed dead.
Japan and South Korea: Don’t let history dictate the future
Christian Science Monitor
For South Koreans, Ahn Jung-geun is a “national hero” – the independence activist who in 1909 assassinated the Japanese colonial governor of Korea. He struck at the embodiment of a hated imperial power and sacrificed his life for national independence.
To the Japanese, he is a criminal, the man who killed a seminal figure in their nation’s history, a leading light in the modernization of Japan, a four-time prime minister who ensured Japan’s survival in a hostile world.
Those views reflect the opposing historical perspectives that are deeply tied to Japan’s and South Korea’s national identities – and that stand in the way of a needed warming of ties. As two key democratic powers and US allies in an increasingly tense region, their rapprochement would shore up neighborhood stability and present a united front to an assertive China and unstable North Korea. A new kind of statesmanship is required to heal such entrenched divisions.
Wartime Sex Slaves Ask Abe to See Scars to Prove Japan Abuse
Yi Ok Seon, an 86-year-old survivor of Japan’s wartime use of sex slaves, rolled up her trouser cuff to reveal the scar that she said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should come to South Korea to see.
“I still remember vividly what they did to me,” says Yi, describing how military police slashed her right foot after she tried to escape from an Imperial Army brothel.
Yi, one of a handful of former “comfort women” residing at a shelter near Seoul, says she was abducted in 1942 at age 18 in the southeastern city of Ulsan while running an errand. “Beatings would follow if I resisted the rape,” she said. “I was helpless. When I look at my scars now, I am reminded how lucky I am to have survived those years.”
Leland Yee arrested in corruption case
San Francisco Chronicle
State Sen. Leland Yee was arrested on public corruption charges Wednesday morning in a federal investigation that also targeted Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a notorious former San Francisco gangster, officials said.
The arrest of Yee, who represents San Francisco and a part of San Mateo County and is a candidate for California Secretary of State, came amid searches of his office in Sacramento and his home in San Francisco.
Sources told The Chronicle that the predawn, multiagency raids involving hundreds of federal agents and local cops stemmed from a fatal shooting about five years ago.
FBI spokesman Peter Lee in San Francisco confirmed that Yee and Chow had been arrested. Both are to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon.
Dallas-area delivery woman’s killer set to die
AP via Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A suburban Dallas man convicted of the robbery-slaying of a woman delivering doughnuts and tacos to his home 11 years ago is set for execution in Huntsville.
Attorneys for 29-year-old Anthony Doyle are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his punishment set for Thursday evening.
Evidence showed Hyun Mi Cho (hYUN’-mee-cho) was fatally beaten with a baseball bat when Doyle tried to rob her as she made the food delivery to his parents’ home in Rowlett, east of Dallas.
Her body was found in a trash can in a nearby alley.
Wild party cited as cause of Mountain View house fire
San Francisco Chronicle
A fire that destroyed a Mountain View home this month was set by teenagers that had been hosting parties in the unoccupied house for several weekends, Mountain View police said Tuesday.
Twelve juveniles and two 18-year-old men were arrested on various charges of arson, burglary, car theft, drug possession and drug sale, according to police.
More arrests, investigators said, are expected.
Downtown New Haven deli shut over alleged wage violations
New Haven Register (Connecticut)
A downtown deli was shut down Tuesday by the state Department of Labor after an investigation found alleged wage violations by its owners.
The Labor Department said two people worked at J&B Deli Grocery, 1147 Chapel St., for about 60 hours a week without being paid at least minimum wage or overtime.
The business is operated by John and Cheong Rhee of Hamden. A stop-work order was posted on the store’s door.
The department alleged in a press release that the deli owners were paying workers in cash, were not keeping required payroll records, failed to make legal deductions and could not show proof of carrying workers’ compensation coverage, which is required in Connecticut.
U.S. Warns Seoul Of Exporters’ Concerns About Free Trade Deal — The Ball’s In South Korea’s Court
The U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Sung Kim, a Korean-American who visited North Korea 13 times for negotiations before his current appointment, likes to warm up relations with influential South Koreans over games of tennis on the spacious grounds of the ambassadorial residence.
It was on one such occasion that he and Korea’s finance minister, Hyun Oh-seok, talked over grave problems surrounding the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in 2012 after several years of arduous talks that showed deep, enduring problems on both sides.
Hyun didn’t reveal the outcome of the tennis game but did say he and Sung Kim had “met frequently” to try and arrive at “an effective outcome” to troubles over KORUS. “It may be a natural force to have issues over trade,” he said in response to my question after he gave a luncheon speech at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club on March 25 that omitted any mention of trade problems.
2NE1 to Appear On “America’s Next Top Model”
Exciting news! The fabulous ladies of 2NE1 will be appearing on the final stage of the American reality survival program “America’s Next Top Model” season 21.
“America’s Next Top Model” is filming in Korea for Seoul’s fashion week, and according to broadcast and fashion industry sources, 2NE1 will be appearing on the final stage of the show’s activities in Korea. The final fashion show of the program will take place on April 2 at Banpo, and 2NE1 will be guests at that show. One source sated, “2NE1 was asked to be on the show because they are a representative K-Pop group and they are also well-known to be fashionistas.”
How Crayon Pop Came to Open for Lady Gaga
Korean girl band Crayon Pop will open an upcoming North American tour by Lady Gaga to promote her third album “Artpop” released in November last year.
The five-member girl band attracted Gaga’s attention when she came across their music video by chance during a break from practice.
Although Gaga initially asked Crayon Pop to open all 29 concerts in the North American tour, they could only agree to one month as they had prior commitment to work on their new album.
Q&A With Actor Hoon Lee
Don’t diss “Banshee” star Hoon Lee on Twitter, even if you’re just kidding.
Lee had tweeted about an upcoming guest appearance on an episode of “The Black List” and I replied, tongue in cheek, “You’ve been on my black list for years.” I was rewarded with a fan of Lee’s telling me to “Back the fuck up!”
After I assured the tweeter that I was only kidding and that I was writing a profile about him, she gushed, “Mr.Lee is an awesome actor! He takes you into the heart of the character.” She added, “and he’s CUTE as hell!” Others had similar thoughts.
After watching two seasons of Cinemax’s hit show “Banshee,” it’s easy to see why Lee has so many fans. Apart from his ample acting chops, Lee is the most imposing Asian male presence ever in an American series. The man is as muscular as an action figure and can hold the menacing gaze of a panther. Lee’s cut enough to go shirtless, but for “Banshee” he takes it to another level: He squeezes into tight skirts. Job, Lee’s character (pronounced the biblical way), is a cross-dressing hair stylist and genius computer hacker who snaps lines like, “Suck my tit!”
Police Produce Anti-Gang Documentary
Santa Barbara Independent
A documentary meant to dissuade at-risk teens from buying into the false gang life promises of quick cash and eternal loyalty premiered last week at the Edwards Stadium Theater in Santa Maria to a packed house of lawyers, judges, teachers, and city councilmembers, along with community leaders, area residents, and nonprofit groups. The 40-minute film, titled Life Facing Bars, was commissioned by the Santa Maria Police Department and created by Matt Yoon, a 2013 Cal Poly journalism graduate. It’s been uploaded to YouTube, and had attracted more than 25,000 views as of Monday afternoon.
Yoon said he was producing videos for his church last year when he was approached by Lieutenant Daniel Cohen. Interested in the prospect of interviewing ex-gang members — and needing to complete a senior project for his major — Yoon agreed to join forces for the unique crime-prevention venture and was soon headed to Kern Valley State Prison and Santa Barbara County Jail for notably unrestricted access to the facilities and their inmates.
LG Offers Fresh Peek at Its New Smartwatch
Wall Street Journal
LG Electronics has released fresh photographs of the G Watch, in an effort to sustain interest in the device that it hopes will help it make inroads into the steadily expanding market for smartwatches.
The South Korean smartphone maker is co-developing the smartwatch with Google and has said earlier that it expects to launch the device in the second quarter of this year. Google also has another smartwatch in the works dubbed the Moto 360.
While both LG and Google hope their smartwatches will be better than earlier offerings, it remains in question whether the G Watch will have a much bigger appeal than existing devices such as Samsung’s Gear watch and Sony Smartwatch, as it will function as an accessory to smartphones rather than as an independent product.