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.
In a scene reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps, inmates were forced to haul dead bodies, which were burned in a furnace and used as fertilizer. Images via United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
A North Korean defector’s sketches that depict scenes of torture and starvation, many of them graphic and disturbing, are part of the recently released 400-page report to the United Nations human rights panel.
Kim Kwang-il, 48, spent nearly three years in a North Korean prison camp for illegally crossing the border and smuggling pine nuts to China, and after escaping to South Korea in 2009, he published a book that included illustrations of the crimes he witnessed and was subjected to.
One drawing depicts a few of the poses prisoners would be forced to stand in for long periods of time, from the “flying airplane” (middle) to the imaginary “auto-bike.” According to Kim, prisoners are forced to hold their positions until they sweat enough to fill up a glass beneath them. Continue Reading »
‘Abundant evidence’ of crimes against humanity in North Korea, panel says
A stunning catalog of torture and the widespread abuse of even the weakest of North Koreans reveal a portrait of a brutal state “that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” a United Nations panel reported Monday.
North Korean leaders employ murder, torture, slavery, sexual violence, mass starvation and other abuses as tools to prop up the state and terrorize “the population into submission,” the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights (COI) in North Korea said in its report.
The commission said it would refer its findings to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for possible prosecution. It also sent a letter warning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he could face prosecution for crimes against humanity, and said other options include establishing of an ad hoc tribunal by the United Nations.
South Korean Lawmaker Jailed on Treason Charges
New York Times
A South Korean court sentenced an opposition lawmaker to 12 years in prison on Monday for forming a “revolutionary organization” and conspiring to start an armed revolt to overthrow the Seoul government in the event of war with North Korea.
Lee Seok-ki, a politician affiliated with the far-left United Progressive Party, became the first South Korean lawmaker convicted on charges of plotting treason since the country’s past military dictators used them to silence dissidents decades ago.
The arrest of Mr. Lee, 51, in September and his subsequent court hearings drew intense public attention in South Korea, where an ideological conflict rooted in fear of the Communist North shows no sign of easing more than 60 years after the end of the Korean War in 1953.
New Jersey lawmakers cause international stir with bill to rename ‘Sea of Japan’
What does a sea on the other side of the Earth have to do with New Jersey?
To five state legislators from Bergen County who represent a large and politically active Korean-American community, the answer is simple: plenty.
For that reason, the lawmakers — all Democrats — want the state government to call the body of water between Japan and the Korean Peninsula both the “East Sea” and the “Sea of Japan.”
Western nations know the sea primarily as the Sea of Japan.
On Monday , the lawmakers introduced a bill (A2478) that would require the state and all its political subdivisions, “to the extent practicable,” to refer to the contested body of water between Korea and Japan as the East Sea.
Fresno man, 73, pleads guilty to money laundering and fraud
Fresno Bee (Calif.)
A 73-year-old Fresno man pleaded guilty Monday to six counts of laundering money in a fraud investment scheme, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said.
Court documents showed that in 2002, Kwan Yong Choi asked investors to invest in his company, Sun Min Trading Inc., which sold souvenirs to the White House, Wagner said. Choi said the business would make 30% profit, and 10% would go to a charity called “International Christian Mission Center,” which was supposedly affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency. Furthermore, Choi promised investors 20% profit every quarter.
But Choi spent the money on personal business expenses, including payments on homes, cars and credit cards. Choi admitted investors lost about $2 million in the scheme, Wagner said.
Strategic bidding lands couple a Closter home
When buying a home runs head on into a bidding war, the first impulse may be to flex your financial muscles and knock out the competition.
Dentist Dr. John Rhee and his wife, Inae, a former kindergarten teacher, took the opposite approach.
The ex-Ramsey homeowners, both in their 40s, offered less than the $929,800 asking price for a five-bedroom colonial with mason/stucco exterior in Closter, and still came out on top.
2010 Champion Yuna Kim Taking Olympics Like a Job
Don’t judge Yuna Kim’s workouts by her body language. Nothing could be more misleading.
The defending champion figure skater from South Korea is approaching the Sochi Olympics like a job. So when she appears to be uninterested in practice, well, forget about it.
Kim gets it done. There’s little or no flair and she expresses virtually no emotion. Kim seems to be a totally different skater in training than when she is performing. She wasn’t particularly pleased with everything Sunday, cutting short her run-through halfway through the music.
A Battle for Gold and Posterity
New York Times
Kim Yu-na had arrived on a long flight from South Korea to defend her Olympic figure skating title. This was her first practice, near dusk on Thursday, and dozens of reporters and photographers recorded every jump and spin and mop of the brow. The whir of cameras made a hushed, clattering sound like cards in the spokes of a bicycle tire.
Afterward, Kim was asked about her presumed top challenger, 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya, whose poise, youthful jumping, blurring spins and gymnastic flexibility helped lift Russia to a team gold medal and made her an international sensation.
Women’s skating does not begin until Wednesday, but expectation has been growing since last month when an emergent Lipnitskaya won the European championship. This is probably the most eagerly awaited competition of the Winter Games.
Yuna Kim is an even-money favorite for a second gold, Julia Lipnitskaia close behind
Are you the type of person who needs to sweeten the pot when the women’s figure skating competition takes place in Sochi on Wednesday and Thursday? Or are you maybe the type of guy who knows a guy who knows a thing about that thing over in Russia?
Well, you’re in luck!
Proving once again that sports bettors never met any action they didn’t like, it’s possible to place a bet on the gold medal winner in women’s figure skating. If that’s the type of thing that interests you, Bovada says that reigning Olympic champion Yuna Kim of South Korea is an even-money favorite (1/1) to repeat as the gold medal winner with 15-year-old Russian wunderkind Julia Lipnitskaia close behind at 6/5.
A Wink and Then a Nod
New York Times
The period during which Alex Chan and Sue Choe were on the Match.com dating site about four years ago wasn’t long, but somehow they both found that window, opened it and climbed through.
“When I met her I was about to discontinue my subscription,” said Mr. Chan, who had invested some time on the eHarmony site before giving Match.com a try.
Ms. Choe, a vice president of D. E. Shaw, a hedge fund for which she does professional and organizational development, had recently left a long-term relationship. “After that ended, I thought, I don’t know how to meet people anymore,” she said. She added that her brother had met his wife through the same site in 2004.
Taking advantage of a promotion the site was running, she joined.
K-PoP: Enter the Tiger, An Unsatisfying Evening with Amy Chua
With the sincerest intent of pretending to be open-minded, I attended Tiger Mom Amy Chua and (her sidekick co-author/husband/fellow Yale Law Professor) Jed Rubenfeld’s “discussion” last week. They were in Pasadena to promote their latest book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits blah blah blah.
I wanted to listen with an open heart, but I’ll be the first to admit I came in skeptical of the simplistic nature of it all. How three traits can explain success. How The Elite Eight — Mormons, Cubans, Nigerians, Indians, Jews, Lebanese, Persians, and Chinese — are masterful practioners of these “cultural practices.”
And to top it all off: I was hungry. Starvin’ like Marvin Hungry. How long would I last?
The interview began at 7:01pm. By 7:08, Rubenfeld had already casually name-dropped Yale Law School like a 1990’s 10th grader mentioned her Guess? jeans.
Strings of Astonishment
Clara-Jumi Kang had a devil of a time with her own fiddlestick once. She had posed for a cosmetics advertisement, and in Korea, that was not a ver–––y seemly thing to do, so she was criticised for it. But Kang, a veteran and winner of countless violin competitions, simply shrugged that off.
“What’s wrong with doing a little posing? I needed a new fiddlestick for my violin. And the best violin bows cost thousand and thousands of dollars. So I did what I had to do.”
Kang, 26, has been doing what she “has to do” since her childhood. And it has paid off. Four years ago, she won the gold medal at the 8th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis where she also won five additional special prizes. She was the winner of the Sendai International Violin Music Competition. She has been playing around the world.
Putting modern spin on ‘pansori’
Lee Ja-ram is called a prodigy of “pansori,” a traditional narrative song performed by a singer and drummer. While the form is centuries old, the 35-year-old never shies away from pushing its boundaries.
Lee, who surprised the world with her pansori rendition of Bertolt Brecht classics, is back at it again. This time she is the artistic director and composer behind a pansori re-imagining of the short stories of author Chu Yo-sup.
The show, titled “Chu Yo-sup’s Ugly Woman/Murder” will be staged at Doosan Art Center’s Space 111 later this week. Based on two separate stories, it is highly anticipated because it brings a modern edge not only to pansori but also Korean literature.
In Philadelphia, Korean art comes into its own
Perhaps it’s for the best that the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “Treasures from Korea” will open with prayer: a Yeongsanjae ritual led by Buddhist monks.
A little divine providence couldn’t hurt, given the delicate nature of the works on display, dating from the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) and, for the most part, leaving Korea for the first time. They include works on paper so fragile they can be shown for only 12 weeks at a time, and a 40-foot-high Buddhist banner painting that’s an official national treasure.
Despite its logistical challenges, the museum’s first marquee Korean art exhibition is quite timely, said Hyunsoo Woo, the museum’s curator of Korean art.
South Korea asks for trust; North agrees, lets families have reunions
In stark contrast to the bellicose gesturing that has haunted relations in the recent past, North and South Korea took conciliatory steps in each other’s direction Friday.
Both sides will halt the harsh rhetoric, they agreed at a bilateral meeting on the heavily militarized border that divides them.
They hope that this and other agreements will serve to build trust between Pyongyang and Seoul, Kim Kyou-Hyun, a high South Korean security official, said after the meeting wrapped up.
Pyongyang has been particularly irked by joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, and would like them to cease.
Why was North Korea so quick to agree to family reunions?
Christian Science Monitor
South and North Korea agreed to allow reunions next week of nearly 100 families divided by the Korean War in a breakthrough agreement that appeared to signal Pyongyang’s deepened interest in easing tensions on the peninsula.
North Korea surprised South Korean negotiators Friday by completely dropping its demand that the United States and the South cancel military exercises set to begin during the reunions.
The North, analysts say, may be prioritizing smoother relations with its southern neighbor while it grapples with internal problems after the execution of long-time regent-mentor Jang Song-thaek and the purge of hundreds of his followers.
Kim Jong-un ‘Successfully Tightens Grip’
U.S. intelligence services believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has succeeded in tightening his grip on power through a generational shift in the party and the military.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that two years after he took power Kim has further consolidated its position as sole leader and final decision maker.
He has tightened controls and ensured loyalty through personnel reshuffles and purges, Clapper said.
North Korea Sent Kenneth Bae to Labor Camp to Protest B-52 Flights
Imprisoned American Kenneth Bae was sent to a North Korean labor camp in part due to the regime’s anger over supposed American B-52 bomber flight drills around the Korean Peninsula last week, officials told ABC News.
North Korean officials broke the news by telling Donald Gregg, a former ambassador to South Korea and an ABC News consultant who was on a rare visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
“Rhee Young-Ho, a first vice minister, said that the memory of the B29 air raids are in the [North Korean] DNA,” Gregg told ABC News today during a stopover at the Beijing International Airport while en route back to the U.S. “[Rhee said] to have the B52s which are nuclear capable fly over their air space is seen as a really terrible, terrible threat.”
The Pentagon has acknowledged the “rotational presence” of bombers in the region, but would not confirm the details of the mission that angered the North Koreans.
Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, U.N. Panel Finds
A U.N. Commission of Inquiry has found that crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea and recommends that its findings be referred to the International Criminal Court, two people familiar with the commission’s report have told The Associated Press.
The commission, which conducted a yearlong investigation, has found evidence of an array of such crimes, including “extermination,” crimes against humanity against starving populations and a widespread campaign of abductions of individuals in South Korea and Japan.
Its report, due for release Monday, does not examine in detail individual responsibility for the alleged crimes but recommends steps toward accountability.
Korean businesses booted from the Exchange Building
Northwest Asian Weekly
The line at The Original Deli in downtown Seattle is usually full of businessmen and women grabbing whatever lunch they can within the short break they have. The mom-and-pop delicatessen, tucked on the first floor of the Exchange Building on Marion St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue, has been a favorite to many over the years. Relationships and stories have emerged since its opening 44 years ago. But that’s all gone now.
The Original Deli went out of business on Feb. 7, after the owners were told to leave when the building began going under major renovations. Deli owner Un “Missy” Bang was heartbroken and clueless as to what the future might hold.
“This is everything we have,” Bang said.
Beacon Capital Partners bought the Exchange Building for $66 million last year and decided to remodel. In the process, it forced two Korean-owned businesses — The Original Deli and The Goodie Box — to close down. Other businesses in the building have not been affected.
Landlords are having to ditch a century-old rental system
MOST South Korean urbanites would leap at the chance to part with $150,000 to rent a smallish flat for three years in Seoul, the capital. These days, however, most Korean landlords would spurn such a measly deposit.
Korea’s unusual rental system, known as jeonse, does not involve monthly rental payments. Instead, tenants provide landlords with a deposit, typically between a quarter and half of the property’s value, to invest for the duration of the lease. Property owners keep the returns and then repay the lump sum at the end of the tenancy.
Average deposits have now risen for 76 consecutive weeks in Korea, the longest streak ever. Thousands of jeonse leases in the capital are now as high as 90% of the value of the house; they sometimes exceed it in areas where property prices have fallen since leases were agreed.
The dangerous myth of “The Triple Package”: What Amy Chua gets wrong about Asian-American communities
Here we go again. Tiger mom Amy Chua is back, reinforcing stereotypes and presenting glib solutions for attaining success. Her new book, “The Triple Package,” jointly authored with husband Jed Rubenfeld, argues that certain ethnic and religious groups — namely Jews, Indians, Chinese, Iranians, Lebanese, Nigerians, Cubans and Mormons – possess qualities that make them more likely to succeed in life. Chua and Rubenfeld claim that these groups have “three cultural forces” — a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control — that drive them to achieve.
Aside from the innately offensive nature of such stereotyping, reviews and commentary have already pointed out that the book props itself up with flimsy data and questionable evidence. It comes as little surprise that Chua’s newest publication is accompanied by skepticism and controversy. Her previous book, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” and its accompanying Wall Street Journal article made unfounded racial assertions and coined a parenting philosophy out of thin air. The terms “tiger mom” and “tiger parenting” entered our vocabulary, becoming shorthand for a strict, no-excuses style of parenting supposedly commonplace and traditional across Asian and Asian American households. This further reinforced the “model minority myth” of Asian American students as stellar accomplishers with an almost supernatural ability to overcome all odds and pull themselves up by their bootstraps to achieve the American dream. In reality, no one had heard of the tiger parenting philosophy before Chua wrote about it because, like the mythical “model minority,” it doesn’t exist.
Classically Trained, Unlikely Rockers
Wall Street Journal
Just months ago, Daniel Chae was working in finance. Now, he is staking his future on an alternative folk-rock band composed of six Korean-Americans. “We found the American dream in music,” says Mr. Chae, 25 years old, who quit a job at a large bond-trading firm in Los Angeles last summer to devote himself full-time to playing electric guitar and violin in the band Run River North.
Formed in 2011, the Los Angeles-based ensemble performs original compositions, many of them about the Korean immigrant experience. Its members are classically trained musicians, thanks to parents who goaded them to study piano and violin. One of them, violinist Jennifer Rim, was barely familiar with pop music until she joined the band.
Run River North is no K-Pop confection—its music will never be confused with flamboyant Korean pop like Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” The group’s soothing melodies are more in line with Simon and Garfunkel’s, and they appeal to a diverse audience. Last year, Run River North was signed by an indie label after appearing on ” Jimmy Kimmel Live” and playing to sold-out crowds at Los Angeles’s legendary Troubadour nightclub. The band’s self-titled debut album is set for release this month.
Karen O Performing ‘Her’ Song at Oscars
Karen O will perform “The Moon Song” from “Her” during the Oscars, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced Thursday.
“The Moon Song” was written by Karen O and “Her” director Spike Jonze and is a best original song nominee. The upcoming performance marks the first time the Yeah Yeah Yeahs front-woman will perform the track for a global television audience.
The three other Oscar-nominated songs in the original song category are “Let It Go” from Frozen, “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 and “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom — all of which are also set to be performed on the show.
Girls’ Generation mulls album release delay after losing video footage
Yonhap via GlobalPost
Girls’ Generation, one of the most popular South Korean pop groups, may postpone the release of its new album after footage for the video of the album’s title track was accidentally deleted, the group’s management agency said Friday.
The K-pop group originally planned to end a one-year hiatus with the release of its fourth mini-album titled “Mr.Mr.” on Feb. 24. Before the official release, the group was scheduled to release the title track “Mr. Mr.” on local online music services such as Melon, Naver Music and Genie on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the group was scheduled to resume local broadcasting activities on cable TV network Mnet’s music program, “M!Countdown.”
U-Kiss Is One Of The Most Popular K-Pop Groups In The World, So Why Aren’t They Huge In Korea?
In the lobby of New York’s Best Buy Theater on a night in mid-January, 100 fans are getting ready for some high fives from their favorite boy band. They’re there for a “high touch” session, a type of meet-and-greet popular in Asia where — in lieu of a standard autograph session common in the States — artists hold out their hands to give high fives to a passing line of stunned, crying superfans.
As the group enters the room, the screaming starts. The thought of hand-to-hand contact with six pristinely made-up, extremely attractive young guys sends the fans into overdrive; the noise level skyrockets.
These are KissMes — fans of U-Kiss, a K-pop boy band in town for their first-ever concert in New York City, the start to a short three-city U.S. tour. The fans’ moniker is a spin on the group’s name, which is an acronym for Ubiquitous Korean International Idol Super Star. U-Kiss debuted in South Korea in 2008 and are known for their English-speaking members, as well as their catchy mix of tunes that perfectly encapsulate both Korean ballad pop sounds and equally slick American R&B. Like other group acts in Korea, U-Kiss incorporate visually compelling dance moves and aim to please with their fan service — little gestures and interactions that get fans squealing.
Olympic champion Yuna Kim takes Lipnitskaia mania in stride
The defending Olympic champion in women’s figure skating is not concerned by the rapid emergence of Russian teenage sensation Julia Lipnitskaia.
Yuna Kim was considered an overwhelming favorite to win a second straight gold after her triumph at the 2010 Vancouver Games, but her apparent stranglehold on the Olympic title has been thrown into some doubt by the performance of Lipnitskaia, who dazzled last week in helping Russia win gold in the team competition.
The South Korean arrived in Russia on Thursday and has already practiced twice ahead of the ladies’ short program starting on Wednesday.
“It will be a great opportunity for her as the Olympics are taking place in her home country,” Kim told reporters. “Thinking about who may or may not do well won’t help me at all. What’s important is I do everything I’ve been preparing so hard to do.”
Lonely at the top for South Korea’s Lee
Yahoo Eurosport UK
Speed skater Lee Sang-hwa cut a lonely figure on Friday as the Olympic 500 metres champion reflected on South Korea’s struggles at the Sochi Winter Games.
The top speed skating nation at the 2010 Vancouver Games with three gold and two silver medals, South Korea have endured a Games to forget on the ice so far in Russia with Lee’s victory on Monday the Asian nation’s only medal in the sport in Sochi.
Four years ago, ‘Empress Lee’ was joined by all the Korean medallists to address the media.
On Friday she sat alone.
“In Vancouver, I was with my fellows skaters seated side by side in the news conference, but here I’m alone today and that makes me feel sorry,” Lee told reporters in Sochi.
Korean curling team hits Great Wall
Korea’s female curlers lost to China 11-3 after their worst performance at the Ice Cube Curling Center, Friday (KST), moving further away from their hope of reaching the semifinals on their first Olympic appearance.
Buoyed by a win over Russia hours earlier, Korea looked to establish a bridgehead to the semifinal over China but failed to beat the world No. 5 due to a lack of strategy and too many mistakes.
China went ahead in the second end, where it scored three, after giving up the first end without any points. Korea, the world No. 10, cut the deficit to 3-2 in the second end, but the tension didn’t last long.
In the fifth end, China added three points as Korea started to lose its concentration and determination to win. After scoring just one more point in the next end, Korea fell to 11-3, the biggest loss so far at the Sochi Games.
Park Ji-sung won’t return for World Cup
Park Ji-sung, former captain of the South Korean men’s national football team, won’t return for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the team’s head coach said Friday.
Hong Myung-bo, who will lead South Korea to its eighth consecutive trip to the World Cup this summer, said Park told him he will not come out of international retirement for one last hurrah. “I had a heart-to-heart with Park Ji-sung,” Hong told reporters at Incheon International Airport upon returning from his trip to the Netherlands. Park is currently playing for PSV Eindhoven in the top Dutch league. “He said his knees are worse than he’d feared and that will prevent him from playing for the national team,” Hong said of the veteran with a history of knee injuries. “And I decided to respect his decision.”
Park’s status for the big tournament has been a hot potato in South Korean football so far this year. The 32-year-old said he would no longer play for the national team in January 2011 and has repeatedly said he won’t change his mind.
12 Things Never to Say to an Asian Woman
1. Where are you from?
This is usually followed by an intense stare as the person, most likely a dude, is trying to figure out if I’m Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, or something else “exotic.” When I say New Jersey (the most exotic of the states), this leads to question #2.
2. No, really where are you from?
Let’s get to the point. You want to know where my family is from. Taiwan. Are you happy now? Where are you from? Because I’d really like to know so I can avoid going there.
North and South Korea to hold ‘high-level’ meeting
North and South Korea will hold a “high-level meeting” Wednesday ahead of planned family reunions of people from the two countries, Seoul said Tuesday.
“No agenda was set prior to this meeting,” Kim Eui-do, a spokesman for the South Korean Unification Ministry said. “But we expect that there will be comprehensive dialogue on the smooth operation of these family reunions, holding the family reunions on a regular basis and other important areas of interest.”
The talks will start Wednesday morning at the Panmunjom Peace House, which is on the South’s side of the heavily militarized border, Kim said.
Pyongyang said last week it may back out of the reunions of the families — who were separated by the Korean War in the 1950s — if South Korean forces participate in annual joint military exercises with the United States later this month.
North Korea claims Kenneth Bae not a political pawn? Prove it
North Korean officials said months ago that American prisoner Kenneth Bae would not be used as a political pawn. Their latest action suggests they’ve changed their mind.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced Sunday that North Korean officials had rescinded a second invitation for a special American envoy to fly to Pyongyang to meet with Bae. According to this Associated Press news story, the cancellation “signals an apparent protest of upcoming annual military drills between Washington and Seoul and an alleged mobilization of U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 bombers during training near the Korean Peninsula. North Korea calls the planned drills a rehearsal for invasion, a claim the allies deny.”
North Korean leaders would be wise to let Bae — imprisoned for 15 months now — return to his family before his health deteriorates any further. Bae is not a public official or representative of the U.S. government. He entered the country numerous times as a tour operator before he was detained in November 2012. He is a father, husband, son and brother, and a man of faith who has apologized (possibly under duress) to the North Korean regime for whatever crimes they claim he committed.
Ex-U.S. envoy visits Pyongyang: state media
Donald Gregg, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, arrived in North Korea, Pyongyang’s state media reported Monday, a trip seen to help facilitate the release of a Korean-American man detained there.
In a brief report, the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Gregg, now chairman of the U.S. Pacific Century Institute, and other members of the institute are visiting Pyongyang.
The KCNA did not give specifics on the purpose of their visit to the communist state, but the report came one day after the U.S. said it was disappointed by the North’s decision to cancel its invitation to Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues.
Amb. Robert King had planned to travel to the communist state sometime this month to discuss the release of Kenneth Bae, but Pyongyang canceled its invitation for King, citing an annual joint military drill between the U.S. and the South.
Time Running out on Former Sex Slaves’ Quest
A single picture captures the regret, shame and rage that Kim Gun-ja has harbored through most of her 89 years. Dressed in a long white wedding gown, she carries a bouquet of red flowers and stares at the camera, her deep wrinkles obscured by makeup and a diaphanous veil.
A local company arranged wedding-style photo shoots as gifts for Kim and other elderly women at the House of Sharing, a museum and nursing home for South Koreans forced into brothels by Japan during World War II. Kim and many of the other women never married, giving the pictures a measure of bitterness.
“That could have been my life: Meet a man, get married, have children, have grandchildren,” Kim said in her small, tidy room at the nursing home south of Seoul. “But it never happened. It could never be.”
Japanese soldiers stole her youth, she says, and now, “The Japanese are waiting for us to die.”
South Korea’s LGBT Community Is Fighting For Equal Rights
Last September, two men held South Korea‘s first same-sex wedding on a bridge in Seoul, to the applause of hundreds of guests and the soaring voices of a choir. The ceremony carried no legal weight — same-sex unions are not recognized in South Korea — but the couple and their legal advisers are now moving forward with a legal challenge that they hope will put South Korea in the vanguard of same-sex equality in Asia.
The cause is being helped by the fact that the Kims are high-profile professionals from South Korea’s glamorous film industry. Kim Jho Gwang-su, 48, is a prominent director, while producer Kim Seung-hwan, 29, is CEO of Rainbow Factory, a production house known for its LGBT output. “We realized we could be an example to others and that it was selfish not to use our positions as public figures to push for change,” Kim Seung-hwan told TIME.
Change has been a long time coming for this socially conservative nation. Homosexuality is not illegal in South Korea (or expressly legal), but before the late 1980s the country was ruled by dictatorial regimes and citizens enjoyed few civil liberties, never mind sexual rights. A small and tentative LGBT movement emerged in the 1990s, but even in the year 2000, when prominent actor Hong Seok-chun came out as gay — the first Korean entertainer to do so — he lost all his TV, film and radio contracts.
Why South Korea is really an internet dinosaur
SOUTH KOREA likes to think of itself as a world leader when it comes to the internet. It boasts the world’s swiftest average broadband speeds (of around 22 megabits per second). Last month the government announced that it will upgrade the country’s wireless network to 5G by 2020, making downloads about 1,000 times speedier than they are now. Rates of internet penetration are among the highest in the world. There is a thriving startup community (Cyworld, rolled out five years before Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, was the most popular social network in South Korea for a decade) and the country leads the world in video games as spectator sports. Yet in other ways the futuristic country is stuck in the dark ages. Last year Freedom House, an American NGO, ranked South Korea’s internet as only “partly free”. Reporters without Borders has placed it on a list of countries “under surveillance”, alongside Egypt, Thailand and Russia, in its report on “Enemies of the Internet”. Is forward-looking South Korea actually rather backward?
State Rep. Patty Kim makes re-election bid official
State Rep. Patty Kim formally announced Monday she’ll seek another term representing the capital city.
Kim, a Democrat and former Harrisburg Councilwoman, represents the 103rd District: Harrisburg, Steelton, Highspire, Paxtang Borough and part of Swatara Township.
“Our community needs someone fighting for them in the State Capitol, and I want to continue to be their voice,” Kim said.
She still has work to do, particularly with respect to income inequality, according to the statement.
To that end, Kim has introduced bills that would increase minimum wage, and expunge records of non-violent offenders who have successfully and productively re-entered their communities.
Brentwood girl one of 40 finalists for $100,000 prize in science research
Brentwood High School Senior Joyce Kang is one of 40 finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search, a competition that challenges high school students to conduct innovative and unexplored research possibilities and possibly win $100,000.
Not your typical high school project; Kang’s project explores the development of a high-performance hybrid super capacitor.
The 40 finalists were chosen from among more than 1,800 applicants. Kang is the only finalist to come from the state of Tennessee.
She will attend the final round of judging and compete for more than $630,000 in prizes, including the $100,000 grand prize.
Girls’ Generation Announces Comeback Single ‘Mr.Mr.,’ New Album
Girls’ Generation has announced its return to the K-pop scene with a 40-second teaser video for new single “Mr.Mr.” that will lead off their new album.
Filimed on a chilling hospital video set, the nine members are seen in glitzy dresses and pricey jewelry as they wear oxygen masks, hold hands with a male model and check the vital signs of a teddy bear. The black-, white- and pink-themed visual is soundtracked by a crunchy, electronic/hip-hop-hybrid beat with an addictive, repetitive “Mista mista” hook.
Anticipation is high to see what the group can accomplish after an exciting 2013.
The outfit’s “I Got a Boy” video earned nearly 85 million YouTube views as well won the group Video of the Year at the inaugural YouTube Music Awards, where it competed against the most watched and shared videos of the year from Justin Bieber, One Direction, Miley Cyrus and more. The new single will also prove whether the act can garner enough U.S. views to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 after the chart added YouTube views to its formula. (The rule was not in place when “I Got a Boy” was released.)
S. Korean women’s curling team beats Japan in Olympic debut
The South Korean women’s curling team defeated Japan 12-7 in its opening round robin match at the Sochi Winter Games on Tuesday, making a successful Olympic debut.
Led by skip Kim Ji-sun, the South Koreans handily prevailed over the mistake-prone Japanese with five points over the final three ends at Ice Cube Curling Center.
South Korean curler Lee Seul-bee (C) throws the stone as teammates Shin Mi-sung (L) and Gim Un-chi (R) watch during their round robin match against Japan at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Feb. 11, 2014. (Yonhap)
South Korea is scheduled to face Switzerland in the day’s second match at 7 p.m. here (midnight in South Korea).
South Korea Pained By Victor’s Bronze
Wall Street Journal
For South Koreans, the sight of a former favorite son winning a medal in Sochi on Monday was bittersweet.
Victor An took bronze in the men’s 1,500 meter short-track speed skating event for Russia. Only three years ago he was skating for South Korea. At the 2006 Olympics in Turin, he won three golds and a bronze for the nation under the name Ahn Hyun-soo.
But in 2010 he fell out with the Korean speed skating federation when a knee injury kept him from qualifying for the Vancouver Olympics. South Korea, fertile ground for competitive speed skating with plenty of up-and-coming candidates, had little room for injured athletes.
So Mr. Ahn chose Russia as his new homeland. Russia welcomed him. He changed his name to Victor An.
Ryu Hyun-jin checks in with slimmed down look
The Los Angeles Dodgers opened their spring training camp with much slimmer Ryu Hyun-jin.
Ryu still won’t reveal just how much he exactly weighs, but he did say it’s significantly less than last year at this time, as he checked in on Sunday. And, he even kept up with four other pitchers, including Clayton Kershaw, during a 20 minute run around the complex drill, unlike last year.
“Looks to me like he wants to be even better. That’s a good sign,” General Manager Ned Colletti said.
Ryu also said he’s more comfortable this spring. “I know the faces, and I have friends here. The first day doesn’t feel like the first day like last year, when I didn’t know anybody,” he explained.