North Korea building disaster reveals regime vulnerability
It may have taken the collapse of an apartment block in an exclusive district of the North Korean capital to reveal the Achilles heel of young leader Kim Jong Un’s secretive regime.
Last week’s accident killed the families of people important enough for North Korea to issue an obsequious and unprecedented public apology in a bid to quell public anger, some analysts said.
The 23-story building in Phyongchon, central Pyongyang, was part of a construction boom driven by Kim that includes apartment blocks, roads, bridges and the Masik Ski Resort that has become synonymous with his policy of finishing projects at lightning speed.
Fire At South Korean Bus Terminal Kills 6
A fire in a construction area at a bus terminal near Seoul killed six people and injured 38 on Monday, emergency officials said.
The fire was suspected to have started during welding work in the basement of the building in Goyang city, just north of Seoul, said Ha Jong-keun, an official at an emergency office in Gyeonggi Province which governs the city.
The terminal building also has a multiplex movie theater and a shopping mall, but witnesses told local media that not many people were at the scene at the time of the fire, reported about 9 a.m. Ha said the fire was put out in 20 minutes.
Ferry disaster overshadows South Korean elections
South Korea’s opposition parties are expected to reap an election bonanza from seething public anger over the government’s mishandling of the ferry disaster as campaigning for next month’s local polls opened on Thursday.
The June 4 polls are the first nationwide elections since President Park Geun-Hye took office 16 months earlier and are widely seen as a referendum on her performance.
Prior to the April 16 ferry disaster which left more than 300 dead and missing, the elections were seen as a walkover for her ruling Saenuri Party as many middle-of-road voters threw their weight behind the conservative party on hopes it would improve the sluggish economy.
Can new PM give Pres. Park a way out of the Sewol crisis?
President Park Geun-hye’s nomination of former Supreme Court Justice Ahn Dae-hee for Prime Minister on May 22 is raising questions about whether the choice can save her and the ruling Saenuri Party from the crisis over the response to last month’s Sewol ferry sinking.
Ahn himself is seen by many as a potential rudder for the “human reforms” Park has declared, and a key presence for spearheading a future drive to reform government.
What Korea can learn from Japan’s lost decade
The Korea Herald
South Korea can avoid possible economic risks by seeking to gradually transform its economy through structural reforms, rather than depending solely on monetary policies, according to a senior Japanese economist.
Such is the lesson that Korea can learn from Japan, despite their complicated historical ties, said Naoyuki Yoshino, professor of economics at Keio University, in a recent telephone interview with The Korea Herald.
“Korea can learn from Japan’s mistakes in the past,” he said from Tokyo, where he now heads the Asian Development Bank Institute, a policy-oriented think tank focused on development issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
Japan contacted by North Korea’s secret police before Stockholm summit
Japan Daily Press
As Japan and North Korea prepares for their second bilateral talks in 16 months, it was reported that the communist state’s intelligence agency has already reached out to Japan. The move by the State Security Department to contact Japan is welcomed as a sign of its country’s willingness to reopen the investigation on abducted Japanese nationals decades ago.
Keeping (And Losing) Faith, The Asian American Way
Are Asian Americans in a state of religious confusion? And are Asian American Protestants fleeing their religion?
Consider the example of Lisa, a 20-year old second-generation Vietnamese American from Houston: “I really don’t think I have a religious preference,” she says “I believe that someone is up there, and I’m pretty much screwed up in the head,” she continued with a laugh. “You know ‘cuz I went to Catholic school until I was in 8th grade, and when my parents got divorced I went to [Buddhist] temple for like about 5 or 6 years. So I got the aspects of both religions, and I think that both of them have good aspects, and both of them have bad aspects. And I do what [my parents] ask me to do, but in my own mind I really don’t have like a set religion y’know?”
IN THE mid-1990s posters plastered on the subway in Seoul, South Korea’s capital, exhorted local girls to marry farmers. Young women had left their villages in droves since the 1960s for a better life in the booming city. Sons, however, stayed behind to tend family farms and fisheries.
The campaign was futile. Last year over a fifth of South Korean farmers and fishermen who tied the knot did so with a foreigner. The province of South Jeolla has the highest concentration of international marriages in the country—half of those getting married at the peak a decade ago. In those days, the business of broking unions with Chinese or South-East Asian women boomed, with matches made in the space of a few days. Not long ago placards in the provinces sang the praises of Vietnamese wives “who never run away”. Now, on the Seoul subway, banners encourage acceptance of multicultural families.
Adam Carolla, Has-Been Comedian, Says Asians (And “Chicks”) Aren’t Funny
“Where are the Asian comedians? Maybe there just aren’t any!” said comedian Adam Carolla, formerly of The Man Show, in a recent interview with Salon. In Carolla’s America, humorless Asians nonetheless “beat the rigged system” and now “pass white people” in every other area of life except comedy. Which they have no business trying. Because, you know: unfunny.
“How did Asians pass white people? They got lucky?” he told Salon’s Daniel D’Addario, in an interview in which he also bemoaned “the gay mafia.” Carolla added, “I would go ahead and say: The Asians beat the rigged system and did better than white people. You don’t think that’d be something to look into? Do you think we decided to rig the system against certain ethnicities?”
Food truck king Roy Choi adds authentic flavor to ‘Chef’ film
The Salt Lake Tribune
If you’re going to make a movie about a food truck, then it makes sense to hire Los Angeles chef Roy Choi as your technical consultant.
Choi, 44, became king of the food truck world after launching his Kogi food truck, which fused Korean BBQ and Mexican flavors and created LA’s mobile food craze.
That’s why writer/director Jon Favreau called on Choi to help him with “Chef,” the story of Carl Casper (played by Favreau), who rediscovers his passion for food — and life — when he launches a food truck. (See review on XX).
Daily life in North Korea
There is a popular saying, “Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance”. This oft-quoted statement might sound lofty and uplifting, but, alas, it is patently false. As experience of the 20th century politics demonstrates well, it is quite possible to organise a state in a way that precludes the existence of any visible resistance – at least, for a long, long time.
A good example of such a resistance-less regime is the Soviet Union at the height of Joseph Stalin’s rule, from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. While the government was highly repressive and executed about one million real and alleged political criminals (not including the many who perished in prison camps), the Soviet Union of this period saw no organised resistance to speak of – the uprising of the national minorities on the distant periphery was the only exception. Many were unhappy, but they were seldom willing to express their hostile attitude to the state.
Korean American adoptee shares his journey with UW students
The Daily (University of Washington)
Dan Matthews, a Los Angeles-based rapper, visited the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Theatre (ECT) on Thursday. Matthews promoted his documentary about meeting his biological family in Korea, and performed for the UW students afterward.
The documentary, titled “aka DAN,” chronicles how Matthews’ pursuit for identity as an Asian American adoptee led to his music career and search for his biological parents.
“Although the documentary is a story about adoption, it also focuses on the meaning of family. You don’t need to be a Korean adoptee to understand or relate to the story,” Matthews said.
The History Behind Korea’s Secret Gold Temple
Working in South Korea, I am not only lucky enough to fly over to neighboring countries like Japan and Taiwan without crossing hemispheres, but also able to compare heritage between the countries of East Asia, especially with regards to that of my new home on the peninsula. When travelling in the Kansai region of Japan for example, I was struck most by colours — the orange hue of Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) in Kyoto, the gold sheen of Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺), and often wondered back to the red and green temples I’d see on a regular basis in and out of Seoul. Perhaps most temples in Japan look the same too, so the ones that stood out in Kansai were those different to the island nation’s usual brown and white style. These were the famous ones that drew in the tourists.