Friday’s Link Attack: Kenneth Bae’s Prospects Not Good; Rodman Says ‘Not a Traitor’; East Sea Naming Fight in VA
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: January 31st, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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N. Korean diplomat says jailed American should serve out his sentence
Yonhap News

An American Christian missionary who has been detained in North Korea for more than a year should serve out his sentence, Pyongyang’s top envoy to Britain said, in a remark suggesting that the isolated country may not free him anytime soon.

Kenneth Bae was arrested in November 2012 while leading a group of tourists. He was accused of unspecified anti-state crimes and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, though he has been hospitalized in recent months due to illness.

North Korea’s ambassador to Britain, Hyun Hak-bong, said in a video interview posted Thursday that Bae would be freed when he serves out his prison term.

Koreas can discuss date for family reunions: N. Korean diplomat
Yonhap News

North Korea’s top envoy to Britain dangled the possibility of progress in staging reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War as he renewed Pyongyang’s demands that Seoul cancel its annual military drill with the United States.

Hyun Hak-bong said in a video interview posted Thursday that the two Koreas can discuss a date for staging the family reunions, breaking the silence the North has kept since South Korea proposed earlier this week to hold the reunions for the aging Koreans.

“As for the practical and exact date, it could be exchanged and discussed between the two sides … Now, we are working on that,” Hyun said in the interview with Sky News, a 24-hour news channel in Britain. Still, he did not elaborate.

Dennis Rodman: ‘I’m Not a Traitor’
TIME.com

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman offered a sort-of apology for his antics during recent trips to North Korea on Friday, in a wide-ranging CNN interview conducted in the rehab facility where he’s being treated for alcohol abuse.

“I don’t go to the camps, I don’t do anything,” Rodman said of his visits to the isolated country. “I’m not a traitor.”

The interview came after Rodman’s last interview with CNN host Chris Cuomo raised eyebrows and even outrage when Rodman angrily defended his “friend,” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and suggested an American imprisoned there may have been detained justifiably (he later apologized for the latter remark).

Rodman, speaking with Cuomo more calmly this time, expressed remorse about how his drinking has affected his family.

Va. textbook bill on alternative Sea of Japan name heads toward a partisan showdown
Washington Post

Two little words. They looked like an easy way to make a lot of people happy.

On the campaign trail, Terry McAuliffe (D) said that as governor, he’d make sure that new school textbooks note that the Sea of Japan is also known as the East Sea.

The promise was important to Northern Virginia’s large Korean American community, who see the Sea of Japan designation as a painful relic of Japanese occupation.

Korean ambassador meets Virginia politicians
AP via Yahoo News

A debate between Japan and South Korea over what to call the body of water that separates their countries is being played out in the Virginia Capitol.

At issue: whether textbooks approved by the state board of education should note that the Sea of Japan is also called the East Sea.

South Koreans want the change and the sizeable Korean American community in Virginia has put pressure on state lawmakers to make sure it’s a legislative priority this year. The Japanese do not want the textbook requirements changed.

Seniors’ truce good at eatery
Queens Chronicle (New York)

The truce is holding between Korean-American seniors and the McDonald’s at Northern and Parsons boulevards.

That’s the status report from Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), who last week brokered a deal so that the seniors will not monopolize space in the McDonald’s during peak business hours.

Many seniors use the eatery for social gatherings, where they spend many hours and few dollars with their elderly friends.

Police: High-end drug and prostitution ring busted on Super Bowl week
CNN

The 18 operators of a high-end escort service allegedly banking on Super Bowl week to deliver “party packs” of cocaine and prostitutes have been charged with drug and sex trafficking, New York authorities said Thursday.

The nearly year-long undercover investigation discovered that in addition to selling the “party packs,” the ring allegedly laundered the illegal proceeds through front businesses that included a clothing wholesaler, a wig wholesaler, a limousine service and a beauty supply wholesaler, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

The ring targeted wealthy customers in New York for large events, authorities said. Last week, a text message was blasted to frequent customers noting that “new sexy & beautiful girls R in town waiting for u.” The enterprise also ran numerous advertisements on the Internet and on public access television.

The Future of L.A.’s Thai Town and Koreatown Communities Ride on a ‘Promise’
KCET

Earlier this month, President Obama announced the first five recipient areas of his Promise Zone Initiative, a formal partnership between the federal government, local communities, and businesses intended to help shrink poverty and expand the rosters of the middle class. The initiative enables those areas to receive a share of a $500 million investment in existing federal funding, addressing the areas of job growth, economic stability, education, affordable housing, and public safety.

Aside from San Antonio, Philadelphia, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, Los Angeles was named, specifically a swath of the densely-populated central part of the city, which includes the communities of Hollywood, East Hollywood, Koreatown, Westlake, and Pico-Union.

L.A.’s Promise Zone, which encompasses an irregular-shaped area stretching from Franklin Avenue to Pico Boulevard, and between Highland and Union avenues, includes a predominantly low-income, yet culturally rich section of urban L.A.; though with a majority Latino population, it also includes two of the city’s designated Asian enclaves: Thai Town and Koreatown. Both share well-patronized and well-acclaimed ethnic eateries (many of which are open well into the late night hours), spas, and dense, pedestrian-oriented, transit-accessible corridors. The zone also includes pockets of other Asian immigrant groups, namely Filipinos (in East Hollywood and the Historic Filipinotown-adjacent parts of Koreatown and Westlake) and Bangladeshis (among the already-diverse immigrant multitudes residing in Koreatown).

Seollal a time for exploring Korean traditions
JoongAng Daily

The Lunar New Year holidays, or Seollal in Korean, kick off today. And while Seollal means a time for family and tradition, it also brings a wealth of activities where you can learn about and participate in Korean culture.

Those who are brave enough to fight the cold weather can venture outdoors to museums, concerts, restaurants, and even ski resorts to experience some traditional games and other rituals they don’t get to do everyday.

For Koreans who want to experience how their ancestors spent the Lunar New Year, many museums have prepared all-inclusive experiences. Some of the events even provide free traditional food and beverages.

South Koreans Flex Smartphone Muscles
Wallstreet Journal

First time on Seoul’s subway system? Don’t expect a lot of eye contact.

Here, almost everyone is busy playing games like Cookie Run, or sending messages on their oversized smartphones.

Those eyeballs add up. In 2013, South Korea jumped ahead of the U.S. in revenue generated from app sales on Google Inc.’sGOOG +4.13% Play mobile store, according to research and analysis firm App Annie, which tracks app purchases.
That makes South Korea, a country of 50 million people, the second-most lucrative country in the world by that metric, just behind Japan.

By app downloads, which doesn’t take into account the amount of money spent, South Korea also ranks second on Google Play, behind the U.S., whose population is six times that of Korea’s.

4,323 Korean churches in U.S: Christiantoday.us
Korea Times

90 more Korean churches sprang up last year to bring up the total to 4,323 Koreans churches in the United States.

According to Christiantoday.us, California has the most Korean churches with 1,358, which accounts for 31.4% of the total in the U.S. New York came in second with 446, followed by New Jersey (258); Virginia (211); Texas (210); Washington (208); Georgia (197); Illinois (190); Maryland (161); and Pennsylvania (161), in order.

The Korean population was tabulated to be 1,706,822 in the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau report – which means for every 394 Koreans, there’s a Korean church.

Dia Frampton wins hearts
New Straits Times

The cafe was filled with fans who came to see her sing.

Frampton who was first runner-up during the first season of the reality show, The Voice, impressed the crowd with a number of songs. She sang hits songs like Losing My Religion, Heartless and Inventing Shadows.

Her fans could not stop cheering when the singer, who is of Dutch and Korean parentage started to sing.
When she sang The Broken Ones the crowd started singing along and clapping.

Korean Julia Sun-Joo Lee Brings New Face to Black Literature
Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Dr. Julia Sun-Joo Lee has gotten used to the strange looks that sometimes greet her on the first day of class.

“My students may initially be surprised to see me in the classroom,” says Lee, who teaches African-American Literature at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“But I always say that African-American literature is not just limited to African-Americans. It is American literature and is so much a part of the history of this country. It shouldn’t be ghettoized.”

Show US
Korea Times

Next up for the South Korean National Soccer Team, who got humiliated against Mexico on Wednesday night in Texas 4-0, is the United States.

The U.S. side is supposed to be tougher and is ranked higher than both Mexico and Costa Rica. The current FIFA ranking has the U.S. at No. 14, while Mexico is No. 21, Costa Rica is No. 32, and South Korea is No. 53.

S. Korean manager Hong Myung-bo all of sudden has a lot to prove.

Here is the U.S. Soccer News release:

The U.S. Men’s National Team will open its 2014 schedule playing before of a capacity crowd of 27,000 fans when it hosts the S. Korea for an international friendly at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., on Saturday, Feb. 1. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes Radio and UniMas. Fans can also follow the match live on Twitter @ussoccer.

Choo isn’t afraid to take one for the team
MLB

Ian Kinsler set a Rangers record last season in getting hit by eight pitches. That gave him 57 for his career, the most in Rangers history, before he departed for Tigers.

Now Shin-Soo Choo has seven years to catch Kinsler. The odds seem to be on his side.

The Rangers signed Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract, and one of the reasons is they love his ability to get on base. Choo’s knack for getting in the way of a pitch has done wonders for his on-base percentage, especially last season.

Choo was hit by 26 pitches in 2013, the most in the Major Leagues. It was the 33rd time in Major League history that a batter was hit by at least 26 pitches. The record is 51 by Hughie Jennings in 1896 for the Baltimore Orioles. The modern-day record is 51, set by Ron Hunt of the Expos in 1971. The Rangers record is held by Alex Rodriguez, with 16 in 2001.

Wednesday’s Link Attack: North Korea Tensions; Yuna Kim-Mao Asada Rivalry Coming to End; Roy Choi
Author: Young Rae Kim
Posted: January 29th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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U.S. Bemoans North Korea Nuclear ‘No Show’
Wall Street Journal

North Korea didn’t earn a mention in the State of the Union speech this year but U.S. diplomatic coordination over its nuclear program continued in Seoul on Wednesday.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Glyn Davies met with South Korea’s point man on the isolated country’s nuclear program, Cho Tae-yong, as part of a regular swing through Northeast Asia to confer with officials in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Davies said the U.S. continues to be frustrated by the North’s “no-show on nuclear issues.”

“What we need is not just change in attitude, but change in direction, in fact, concrete steps from North Korea,” Mr. Davies told reporters.

While the U.S. and South Korea are seeking action from North Korea to show its willingness to denuclearize, satellite imagery in recent months suggests the North is making good on a pledge last year to restart its plutonium-producing reactor north of Pyongyang.

NKorea Warns of Tensions Over US-SKorea War Games
AP via ABC News

North Korea’s propaganda machine is churning out near-daily denunciations of the United States and South Korea for a series of soon-to-start military maneuvers, warning nuclear war could be imminent and saying it will take dramatic action of its own if further provoked.

Sound familiar?

North Korea’s increasingly shrill opposition to the annual joint drills named Foal Eagle looks very similar to the kind of harsh language that preceded the start of the same exercises last year and led to a steep rise in tensions on the Korean Peninsula. That round of escalation culminated in threats of a nuclear strike on Washington and the flattening of Seoul before the maneuvers ended and both sides went back to their corners.

It appears the first stages of this year’s battle have already begun — though some experts say they don’t think it will be as high-pitched as last year’s.

Foreign minister slams Japan for ‘justifying past atrocities’
Yonhap News

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se lambasted Japan Wednesday for “justifying its past wartime atrocities,” vowing to make greater efforts to counter Japan’s persistent nationalist behavior.

“After admitting to Japanese soldiers’ involvement, Japan has recently denied it and tried to justify its past atrocities,” Yun said during a visit to a shelter for South Korean victims of the sexual slavery.

Historians say up to 200,000 women, many of them Korean, were coerced into sexual servitude by the Japanese army at front-line brothels during World War II when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony.

The House of Sharing shelter on the outskirts of Seoul is currently home to seven out of dozens of still living South Korean women drafted by Japan.

Why is South Korea plugging unification?
BBC News

Unification has become something of a buzzword in South Korea this month. President Park Geun-hye emphasised it in her New Year press conference, the opposition Democratic Party did likewise, and journalists, pundits and government officials have followed suit.

But with relations on the peninsula as opaque and as tense as ever, many are wondering what has prompted this latest surge in interest.

If there is one thing the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made clear when he executed his uncle, it is that he is no more willing to tolerate challenges to his authority than his father or grandfather.

South Korea’s Underground Seat Fight
New York Times

Last September, a 55-year-old man lit some scrap paper on fire and threw it into a Seoul subway car as he left the train. He had just been cursed at and kicked by senior citizens for sitting in a seat designated for “the elderly and the infirm.”

The man, whom we know only by his surname of Kim, was sentenced on Jan. 14 by a Seoul court to one year and six months in prison. One news article reporting the results of his trial garnered more than 1,000 comments in just one day, most of which were from sympathetic younger people complaining about being forced to give up their seats on the subway to senior citizens. Mr. Kim is hardly young, but his frustration resonated with the younger generations.

The Seoul subway’s designated-seating section has become a curious backdrop of intergenerational conflict in South Korea. In the 40 years or so since full-scale industrialization began, the social divide between generations has widened. Senior citizens grew up during Japanese occupation and the Korean War, and lived through the era of breakneck economic growth that followed, building a modern country from the ground up in just a few decades, most of the time under a military dictatorship. Most younger South Koreans have come of age in a time of relative affluence and freedom, and like many younger people in East Asia, have gradually become more independent-minded than their elders and less attached to the traditional Confucian values that have been the basis of Korean society for centuries.

South Korea approves $7 billion nuclear project
Al Jazeera

South Korea has approved funding for two new nuclear plants to boost its nuclear power industry struggling to emerge from the shadow of Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

The project costing $7bn was approved on Wednesday, only two weeks after Asia’s fourth-largest economy announced a policy shift to cut its reliance on nuclear power in the wake of radiation cleanup conerns in Japan.

South Korea still plans to double its nuclear capacity over the next two decades as its state-run industry builds at least 16 new domestic reactors and pushes for overseas sales.

The plants are due to be completed by the end of 2020.

Checks on Korean Flights to U.S. to Be Streamlined
Chosun Ilbo

Inspections on U.S.-bound flights out of Korea will be streamlined from Friday, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Tuesday. At present, passengers boarding those flights must undergo two checks, one at customs and another in front of the boarding gate.

The inspection process compels passengers to buy liquid products at airport duty free shops at least an hour before boarding in order to undergo the second check. That has caused 2.4 million U.S.-bound passengers annually to wait 30 to 40 minutes in front of the boarding gate.

The ministry said it reached the agreement with the U.S. government after assessing the level of security in Korean airports.

Christopher Chung tapped to fill vacant council seat in Palisades Park
Bergen County Record (N.J.)

The council seat left vacant by Jason Kim, the first Korean-American to serve on the governing body and who resigned earlier this month, will be filled by Christopher Chung.

Chung, 46, who has served on the Board of Education for the past several years, was sworn in on Tuesday night after council members chose him among three names submitted by the Democratic Municipal Committee.

Mayor James Rotundo said Chung, who is also Korean-American, would be an asset to the council.

“He’s young, and he’s energetic,” said Rotundo, calling him a hard worker as well.

Seollal dilemma in New York
Korea Times

For the past few years, certain Korean parents in New York have fought hard to get public schools to recognize ”Seollal,’’ or Lunar New Year, as an official holiday. Now that the new city mayor says he, too, wants schools off for the major Asian holiday, many Korean parents are beginning to have second thoughts.

”Another holiday? I didn’t ask for it. Maybe stay-at-home moms want their children home for Lunar New Year, but not working moms,’’ says Nancy Choi, 42, a dentist with two daughters in elementary school. ”Who’s going to watch the kids when we’re all at work?’’

Like Choi, many working parents aren’t welcoming the idea of Lunar New Year becoming an official school holiday.

”There are already enough holidays aside from all the winter snow days,’’ wrote Kim Jee-ae on Mizville.org, a popular online community for Korean women in the U.S. ”These parents behind the campaign aren’t considering people like us who have to go to work.’’

Meet Carol Kim
San Diego City Beat

Carol Kim believes she’s the first Korean-American to run for elected office in San Diego County, and, to a large extent, she owes the opportunity—along with at least some of her guiding philosophy—to her father.

Kim’s parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea in the mid-1970s, after her dad, the son of a low-income single mother from a small fishing village, graduated from college with a degree in chemical engineering and was offered a job in the Midwest. When he and his new bride arrived in Los Angeles with $350 to their names, he learned the job had fallen through. Kim’s mother, who came from a comfortable middle-class family, had been a supervising nurse in Korea, but her license didn’t translate to her new country. Suddenly, they were stuck in L.A. with no prospects.

Kim’s dad started his new life in the U.S. as a day laborer, her mom on the lowest rung at a nursing home. But, in her off time, Kim’s mother made baby pillows and blankets using remnants from a fabric store, which they’d sell at a swap meet. That eventually led to their own clothing retail store, which led to a clothing-manufacturing business and a comfortable life for Kim and her three younger siblings. Kim graduated from UCLA with an English degree, later earning a master’s in education, and went on to a career in teaching and social services.

A Piano Made Out of People: The Magik*Magik Orchestra Celebrates Five Years
SF Weekly

In 2010, S.F. indie rocker John Vanderslice wrote the outline of a song called “Convict Lake.” He had just a few chords, some lyrics, and a vocal melody. His demo recording of the song sounds monochromatic, almost empty. Between the percussive strikes of acoustic guitar and the hesitant wisp of vocals, there are chasms of silence. It’s the skeleton of a song, far from a finished product.

Then Vanderslice gave the demo to Minna Choi.

The final version of “Convict Lake,” which appeared on Vanderslice’s 2011 album White Wilderness, bears the same dragging tempo, the same chord structure, and the same vocal melodies, but everything else about it is bigger, deeper, more colorful: There’s a slurring clarinet, flashes of piano, a winking brass section, and the effortless upward lift of orchestral strings. The song has acquired a tremendous new dimension, new melodies and counter-melodies, a richness that wasn’t even hinted at in the demo. It’s as if “Convict Lake” leaped from black-and-white to multicolored high-definition.

Documentary by Ramsay Liem to pass along survivors’ stories from a ‘forgotten war’
Boston College Chronicle

One of the ironies of referring to the Korean War as “the forgotten war,” says Professor Emeritus of Psychology Ramsay Liem, is that it technically has never ended, since no formal treaty between the antagonists has ever been signed.

But for many Koreans, the war is not forgotten, says Liem, co-producer and co-director of a recent documentary that depicts the human costs of military conflict through personal accounts by four Korean-American survivors.

“Memory of Forgotten War,” which Liem produced and directed with his sister-in-law Deann Borshay Liem, was shown at Boston College earlier this month. The program also featured a Q&A with the filmmakers and cultural music and dance presentations that included BC student performers.

FIGURE SKATING/ Asada-Kim rivalry will end in Sochi
Asahi Shimbun (Japan)

Their competitive lives have been so intertwined that perhaps it is only natural that figure-skating rivals Mao Asada of Japan and Kim Yu-na of South Korea sound synchronized in their responses to reporters.

Before the Skate America competition last October, Asada was in a Detroit restaurant, surrounded by a dozen or so reporters who wanted to know if she considered Kim a rival she desperately wanted to defeat.

After bursting out with a laugh, Asada said: “We have been competing together since we were in junior competition, so in my teens I had a strong sense that she was my rival. But now, I myself have become more of an adult so I feel that I want to express what I have done until now through my skating.”

Although the questions were direct ones that Asada does not normally get, she did not change her relaxed expression.

Russia pin hope on South Korean-born Ahn
Reuters

South Korean-born Ahn Hyun-soo’s defection to the Russian team will not only stir up raw emotions at the Sochi Games but it could also allow the hosts to capture their first ever Olympic medal in short track skating.

South Korea and China have come to dominate the sport popularised by North American skaters after its debut at the Albertville Games in 1992.

But the 28-year-old, who won four Olympic medals at the 2006 Turin Games, took on Russian citizenship two years ago and became Viktor Ahn when he fell out with the South Korean federation over failing to win a spot for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

“It was difficult to train in (South) Korea,” Ahn, who has come back from injuries to be ranked among the top four in all three distances, told Reuters.

“For the 2010 Olympic Games, I missed this great competition. That’s why the Sochi Olympics have become my new big goal, which I have been pursuing for all these years.”

The absence of some of short track’s biggest names in Sochi has also shaken up the field.

New Santa Monica Butcher A Cut Above The Rest
Santa Monica Mirror (Calif.)

On a bustling curbside of Santa Monica Boulevard in Mid-City Santa Monica stands a newly opened, slightly unconventional butcher shop.

After opening its doors to the public in mid-December, A Cut Above has drawn attention for its quality meats as well as a wide range of options for its customers.

Owned by Andrew Yoon and Eddy Shin, former college roommates, along with Yoon’s wife, Cindy, the butcher shop carries an energetic vibe and trendy decor.

The owners are accompanied by a staff of young chefs, workers, and servers, who add on to the modern atmosphere. The shop also doubles as a deli, with some seating available for those who decide to purchase one-time meals instead of cuts to take home.

Meet Susie Woo
CSUF News (Cal State Fullerton)

When Susie Woo completed her doctorate in American studies at Yale in 2009, her dissertation on Korean War adoptions and military brides earned distinction.

Today, she is completing a revised manuscript on her doctoral research and weaving what she’s learned into the courses she is teaching at Cal State Fullerton.

“Between 1950 and 1965, nearly 15,000 Korean adoptees and military brides entered the United States as the children and wives of predominantly white, middle-class families,” Woo said, adding that her research “traces the roots and routes of this forgotten immigrant group.”

It argues that U.S. servicemen, missionaries and social workers in postwar South Korea “tethered Americans at home to Koreans in sentimental, material and, eventually, familial ways that unraveled the U.S. government’s ability to contain its political objectives ‘over there,’ ” she said. “Private U.S. citizen involvement intimately changed the lives of Korean civilians, transformed South Korea’s welfare system, and challenged U.S. conceptions of race, kinship and nation during the Cold War/civil rights era.”

Chef Roy Choi embodies state’s most essential skill — fusion: Joe Mathews
Los Angeles Daily News

Californians have fallen in love with the recipes of L.A. chef Roy Choi, the man best known for creating the Korean barbecue taco.

But does California have a recipe to cook up more Roy Chois?

It’s an urgent question. Choi probably comes closer than any living Californian to embodying the skills needed by our state today.

Like Steve Jobs, who combined existing technologies into something new and irresistible (and that you could hold in your hand), Choi has stitched together unlikely ingredients to create the iPhone of food: the Kogi taco. Such skill is sometimes called invention, but the more accurate name for it is fusion. And California runs on it.

Tuesday’s Link Attack: Choco Pies on Black Market in NKorea; Adoptee’s Search for Birth Mother Stalls; Kim Yuna’s Good Draw
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: January 28th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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How Choco Pie infiltrated North Korea’s sweet tooth
CNN

The first time the South Korean factory owner watched his North Korean employees nibble on a Choco Pie, they appeared shocked — even overwhelmed.

He summed up their reaction to the South Korean snack in one word: “Ecstasy.”

Much like what Twinkies are to Americans, South Korea’s Choco Pies — two disc-shaped, chocolate-covered cakes, sandwiching a rubbery layer of marshmallow cream — are ubiquitous, cost less than 50 cents and are full of empty calories.

S. Korea holds live-fire drill despite North’s warning
Yonhap News

South Korea on Tuesday carried out a live-fire drill on its northwestern islands despite North Korea’s warning of “grave consequences,” but the closely-watched exercise ended without clashes with the communist state.

South Korea has carried out live-fire exercises on the frontline islands every two or three months to improve Marine Corps’ readiness. The drills have often been met by protest from Pyongyang.

Ahead of Tuesday’s exercise, the North’s National Defense Commission sent a fax through the western military hotline to National Security Office chief Kim Jang-soo urging President Park Geun-hye to cancel it, defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.

Korea slams Japan over Dokdo
Korea Times

South Korea Tuesday denounced Japan for Claiming Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo in its newly revised teaching manuals for Middle and high schools.

The denouncement follows the Japanese Education ministry’s Disclosure of new manuals stating that Dokdo is Japanese Territory, rejecting Seoul’s earlier Call to withdraw the Claim.

“Japan Will Face the consequences,” said Cho Tai-Young, a Spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Decision to keep U of I Urbana-Champaign campus open leads to twitter firestorm
Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Ill.)

No disciplinary action is planned against the students who sent racist, sexist and threatening tweets targeting University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise who declined to offer a day off due to the weather on Monday.

The tweets were sent after an email was delivered to all students in the Urbana-Champaign campus Sunday that advised them to bundle up and be careful Monday because of the extreme cold, said University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

Kaler said they notified university police, who determined there was no “threat.” The university is not planning any disciplinary action, characterizing it as “a free speech issue.’’

Sacramento-area woman’s quest for Korean birth mother stalls
Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

Fawn Press-Dawson’s quest to find her birth mother has stalled after two weeks in South Korea.

The 21-year-old from Gold River – whose well-chronicled search has drawn international attention – flew to Seoul with her adoptive mom, Andee Press-Dawson, on Jan. 10, armed with her adoption papers, her birth mother’s name and the knowledge that only a tiny number of Korean adoptees actually find their biological parents.

Last Thursday, Andee came home while Fawn moved into a guest house for Korean adoptees searching for their roots operated by South Korea’s Eastern Social Welfare Society.

Lawsuit filed in collapse of Rittenhouse fire escape
ABC Local

A civil lawsuit has been filed against the owner and landlord of a Center City apartment building where a fire escape collapsed, killing one man and seriously injuring two women.

The suit was filed on Monday on behalf of the families of 22-year-old Albert Suh and 24-year-old Laura O’Brien.

It was just before midnight on January 12th when Suh, O’Brien, and a thirdperson, identified as Nancy Chen, were standing on the fire escape outside their fourth floor apartment, located at 229 South 22nd Street in the city’s Rittenhouse section.

The roommates were throwing a party, and had allegedly stepped out onto the fire escape when the collapse occurred, sending all three plummeting 40 feet to the ground below.

Vienna man sentenced in largest-ever bid-rigging scheme
Fairfax News

Oh Sung Kwon, 48, a Northern Virginia businessman, was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in prison on federal charges stemming from a bribery scheme in which he paid thousands of dollars to an Army official in return for government contracts, as well as a separate scheme involving fraudulent real estate sales and refinances.

Kwon, also known as Thomas Kwon, of Vienna, pled guilty in September 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count each of bribery, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and willful failure to file a tax return. He was sentenced by the Hon. Emmet G. Sullivan. Judge Sullivan also ordered Kwon to pay $1,188,500 in restitution and the same amount in a forfeiture money judgment. Upon completion of his prison term, Kwon will be placed on three years of supervised release.

Kwon was the co-founder and chief executive officer of Avenciatech Inc., a government contractor based in Annandale. He is among 17 people and one corporation that pled guilty to federal charges for their roles in the largest domestic bribery and bid-rigging scheme in the history of federal contracting. The investigation is continuing.

Internet Cafes Get a Makeover
Wall Street Journal

In South Korea, Internet cafes, known as PC Bangs, have long been places of refuge for hardcore video gamers battling it out in games like League of Legends.

But some now feel they’re under attack from a push to make PC Bangs more hygienic, including a complete smoking ban from this year. The core clientele of PC Bangs have long been predominantly male, many of whom enjoy a good smoke while gaming.

Some in the industry are scrambling to find ways to attract new clients by giving PC Bang interiors drastic makeovers and looking for alternative sources of revenue, such as by turning into hybrid restaurants. The changes aren’t being welcomed by regulars of these cafes.

The Bachelor’ week 4 recap: Juan Pablo takes ladies to South Korea
Cleveland.com

The fourth episode of this season’s “The Bachelor” saw Juan Pablo take the ladies outside of the country for the first time. JuanPabs and the ladies flew to Seoul, South Korea. There was a one-on-one date and two group dates.

Lots of kissing, flesh-eating fish, tears, a Korean pop group, eating octopus and, yes, more cattiness. Monday night’s episode had it all. When the episode finished, two more ladies were sent home and the plan to travel to Vietnam was revealed as the remaining ladies sipped champagne.

The group arrived in South Korea for a few days. Juan Pablo can’t even speak English all that well and now, going to Korea, he was forced to try his hand at another language.

The first date card arrived and read, “Pop!”

Korean SNL to meet original SNL
Korea Times

Hosts of the Korean version of Saturday Night Live (SNL) will fly to New York City this week to watch the live taping of an episode of the original SNL.

A spokesman for tvN, a cable channel that produces SNL Korea, said on Monday top comedian Shin Dong-yup and Yoo Se-yoon will depart for NYC on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, at the invitation of NBC, a major American broadcaster that created the widely beloved late-night live television sketch comedy show in 1975.

“The two will visit the live studio for SNL and meet with its directors,” tvN said in a statement. “They will discuss a variety of production issues with the directors. They also plan to participate in events promoting Korean culture.”

Kim Yu-na gets favorable draw
Korea Times

Figure-skating megastar Kim Yu-na is about as sure-fire a gold-medal candidate as there is among the athletes booked for the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Now, observers think her odds improved even further after she was placed in the fourth group of skaters competing in the women’s individual competition that begins on Feb. 20.

In the Olympics, athletes in figure-skating appear in reverse order of the world rankings.

While Kim, the reigning Olympic champion, is clearly the woman to beat at Sochi, her world ranking slipped to No. 15 as she missed several scheduled appearances during the 2013-14 season after suffering a foot injury in September.

On a sled and a prayer, Korea’s ‘Miracles on Asphalt’
Reuters

For South Korea’s “Miracles on Asphalt” bobsleigh team, having ice on the track is a big problem.

Chilled to the bone by the biting cold of the Taebaek Mountain range, officials from the Korea Bobsleigh Skeleton Federation use shovels and mops to smash and sweep ice from the ‘push track’, which simulates the action at the start of a run.

The Alpensia Ski Resort in Pyeongchang, which is to host the 2018 Winter Games, has no proper ice track and athletes have to push their sleds on rails to practice the all-important start.

Despite the inadequate facilities, South Korea will compete in the skeleton at the February 7-23 Sochi Games, as well as sending two teams in both the men’s two- and four-man bobsleigh events and a two-woman bobsleigh team.

Lydia Ko’s profile expected to soar in the USA
Stuff (New Zealand)

Lydia Ko is already a huge name in golf, but one of the world’s leading golf writers predicts she could follow the likes of Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie and have an appeal that transcends the sport.

Two months after turning professional, 16-year-old Ko is the talk of the US golf scene as she heads to Christchurch to defend her New Zealand Women’s Open title at Clearwater, starting on Friday.

The start of her rookie season at the Bahamas Classic this week when she finished seventh equal made headlines as did her switch from Kiwi coach of 11 years Guy Wilson to David Leadbetter, the self-proclaimed “world’s leading golf instructor”.

Entire Family of Kim Jong-Un’s Executed Uncle Also Killed, Sources Say
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 27th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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The family of the executed uncle of Kim Jong-un, including children and the North Korean ambassadors to Cuba and Malaysia, have also been executed at the behest of the North Korean dictator, according to Yonhap News.

News of Jang Song-Thaek’s execution dominated headlines about North Korea last month, after the former second-in-command fell out of Kim’s favor, allegedly attempting a coup.

“Extensive executions have been carried out for relatives of Jang Song-thaek,” an anonymous source told Yonhap. “All relatives of Jang have been put to death, including even children.” Continue Reading »

Monday’s Link Attack: North Korean Meth; BigBang’s New Album in Works; Koreans Love Spam
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: January 27th, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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South Korea Proposes Dates for Family Reunions With North
New York Times

South Korea proposed to North Korea on Monday that the two sides hold a new round of family reunions between Feb. 17 and Feb. 22 to allow elderly relatives separated by the Korean War to meet for the first time in six decades.

The South offered to send South Korean Red Cross officials to the border on Wednesday to sort out details with their North Korean counterparts. Both Koreas have suggested that the reunions can be held at the Diamond Mountain tourist resort in southeast North Korea.

“We hope that family reunions will take place smoothly and create a new opportunity for South-North relations,” Kim Eui-do, a spokesman for the South Korean government, said on Monday.

In North Korea, meth is offered as casually as a cup of tea
Los Angeles Times

After the North Korean coal mine where she worked stopped paying salaries, Park Kyung Ok tried her hand at business.

Buttons and zippers, candy and dried squid, fabric, plastic tarpaulins, men’s suits and cigarettes.

“I sold just about everything,” said Park, 44.

But it wasn’t until she started hawking methamphetamine in 2007, she said, that she was able to earn a living.

Methamphetamine, known as orum, or “ice,” is a rare commodity manufactured and sold in North Korea, where most factories sit idle, the equipment rusted or looted. The North Korean government once produced the drug, and others that are illicit in the West. Resourceful entrepreneurs have since set up their own small facilities, and evidence suggests that they are distributing the drug beyond the nation’s borders.

UN not taken seriously by North Korea, says defector Shin Dong-hyuk
South China Morning Post

North Korean defector Shin Dong-hyuk will be in Geneva on March 17, when the United Nations commission set up to look into the human-rights situation in North Korea announces its findings, but he has little faith that anything the UN says will have any impact in Pyongyang.

“Unfortunately, the UN cannot do very much,” Shin, the only person born in a North Korean labour camp to escape to the West, said yesterday in Tokyo.

“The horrible state that is North Korea does not take the UN seriously and history shows us that the organisation has not been able to do one thing to halt the problem in North Korea,” he said.

Japan gov’t distances itself from NHK head’s ‘comfort women’ remark
Straits Times

Tokyo on Monday distanced itself from comments by the new head of national broadcaster NHK, who said the Imperial Army’s system of wartime sex slavery was not unique to Japan.

Mr Katsuto Momii said on Saturday that the practice of forcibly drafting women into military brothels during World War II was “common in any country at war”.

“Can we say there were none in Germany or France? It was everywhere in Europe,” he told an inaugural press conference, according to local media reports.

Bilingual classes gives older immigrants better shot at citizenship
Southern California Public Radio

In the civics class she teaches in a Koreatown library, Theresa Jung speaks in Korean before switching seamlessly to English.

“What is this “D” word?” Jung said, gesturing to a page in the textbook. “Democracy!”

The students – mostly in their 50s and 60s – murmured the word. Jung could tell it was hard for some students to say, and tried to loosen them up.

“Say it one more time, Korean-version,” Jung said.

“Demo-crush!” several students said in unison, laughing.

Jung’s class is part of a newly-launched program to teach English and civics to immigrants in Los Angeles County with limited English skills.

We weren’t violent so it wasn’t rape, insist abusers of girl
Gympie Times (Australia)

A PAIR of 16-year-old boys took turns having sex with an underage girl who was “almost comatose” from alcohol – but still believe they didn’t rape her because they were not ‘violent’.

In a case with similarities to the “Roast Busters” scandal, the 15-year-old victim was heavily intoxicated and the two teenagers plotted to have sex with her.

After she was abused by each boy separately and left naked in a bedroom, she was further humiliated by a group who came in with their cellphones lit up and touched her.

BIGBANG to release new album this summer
Korea Times

Popular K-pop boy band BIGBANG will release a new album this summer.

Yang Hyun-suk, president of YG Entertainment which manages BIGBANG, told reporters on Sunday the five-member band will take the stage in support of a new full-length album “somewhere around July or August.”

During the band’s Seoul concert on Sunday, its leader G-Dragon said, “I feel like we have new family whenever we travel to a new country, so we’re very happy.”

Shin-Soo Choo gets on base any way he can
ESPN

Part of Shin-Soo Choo’s impressive ability to get on base is that he isn’t afraid to get hit by a pitch.

Choo posted a .423 on-base percentage, the fourth-best in the majors. He also was hit by a pitch 26 times, the most by any big leaguer in 2013.

“Hit by pitch is part of baseball,” Choo said Friday night. “I can’t do anything. If I get scared about hit by pitch, I might change approach and I can’t do anything. Pitchers can throw inside. I can hit it or I get hit.”

Kim lifts Korea to 1-0 win over Costa Rica
Korea Times

The Korean national football team began the year of the Brazil World Cup with a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Sunday (KST).

Without key European based players such as Son Heung-min and Lee Chung-yong, who will surely be included in the World Cup squad barring injury, lone striker Kim Shin-wook scored the game’s only goal to prove his worth ahead of the global event only six months away.

“Players exceeded my expectation,” team manager Hong Myung-bo said. “Today’s match was important in terms of not only the result but also the performance. I’m glad that we won. Players tried hard and they did it.”

Study time almost over for Olympic team
Korea Times

With the Sochi Winter Olympics just 10 days away, preparation time is almost over for Korean athletes who will arrive at the Black Sea resort town burdened by expectations for a historic medal haul.

A record 66 Korean athletes have qualified for the upcoming Olympics, 18 more than the 48 the country sent to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Games. They have been facing mounting pressure for an impressive performance in Sochi, where the country aims at winning at least four gold medals and add to the build-up for the 2018 Games to be held at the Korean ski town of PyeongChang, Gangwon Province.

Twenty-eight Koreans will compete in the speed and figure skating events, 16 in sledding events and 15 in skiing events. Five Korean women will compete in curling and the country will also send two biathlon athletes. Ice hockey will be the only sport in Sochi where Koreans will not be participating.

In South Korea, Spam Is the Stuff Gifts Are Made Of
New York Times

As the Lunar New Year holiday approaches, Seoul’s increasingly well-heeled residents are scouring store shelves for tastefully wrapped boxes of culinary specialties. Among their favorite choices: imported wines, choice cuts of beef, rare herbal teas. And Spam.

Yes, Spam. In the United States, the gelatinous meat product in the familiar blue and yellow cans has held a place as thrifty pantry staple, culinary joke and kitschy fare for hipsters without ever losing its low-rent reputation. But in economically vibrant South Korea, the pink bricks of pork shoulder and ham have taken on a bit of glamour as they have worked their way into people’s affections.

“Here, Spam is a classy gift you can give to people you care about during the holiday,” said Im So-ra, a saleswoman at the high-end Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul who proudly displayed stylish boxes with cans of Spam nestled inside.

New Year party offers link to Korean culture
Des Moines Register (Iowa)

The celebration of the Korean New Year on Saturday in Des Moines was a big opportunity for Michelle Cortlandt and her family.

Cortlandt’s two children were both adopted from Korea. Since adopting the children, she said, her family has become a “Korean-American family” that emphasizes connections to the children’s heritage.

The observance of the beginning of the year of the horse was marked with food and festivities and a large crowd at Westminster Presbyterian Church

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