Dennis Rodman Under Investigation for Gift Giving in North Korea
Author: Young Rae Kim
Posted: January 24th, 2014
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Dennis Rodman may in trouble with the United States government for violating U.S. sanctions for bringing luxury goods into North Korea on his highly publicized trip.

According to the Daily Beast, the U.S. Treasury Department is investigating whether or not Rodman broke the import sanctions during his time in the secluded nation.

Rodman’s latest trip occurred around the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The NBA Hall of Fame member is reported to have showered the dictator with over gifts totaling over $10,000, according to the Weekly Standard. Continue Reading »

Friday’s Link Attack: Japan’s Renewed Dokdo Claims; Korean American Foster Parents Needed; K-Pop Rankings
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: January 24th, 2014
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In ‘open letter,’ N. Korea urges inter-Korean dialogue
Yonhap News

North Korea called again for inter-Korean talks Friday, this time in the form of an “open letter.”

“It is our determination to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity, completely halt hostile military acts, realize the reunion of separated families and relatives, resume the tour of Mt. Kumgang and reenergize multi-faceted north-south cooperation and exchanges,” the powerful National Defense Commission said in what it says is an open letter to South Koreans.

The move came after the South Korean government rejected the North’s dialogue offer, with “unacceptable” pre-conditions attached, earlier this month.

SEE IT: Marco Rubio stares down the barrel of a North Korean soldier’s camera lens
New York Daily News

Marco Rubio came face to face with a North Korean soldier Thursday at the DMZ but his Communist counterpart didn’t see the Republican as much of a menace, ditching a gun for a camera to snap the Senator’s pic.

Rubio (R-Fla.) appears somewhat dumbfounded as he stares through the thick glass at the “the edge of freedom,” that separates Kim Jong-un’s territory from South Korea.

The GOP star hit Korea on the last stop of his weeklong Asia tour, that also included stops in the Philippines and Japan.

S. Korea chides Japan for renewed claims to Dokdo
Yonhap News

South Korea criticized Japan Friday for renewing territorial claims to its easternmost islets of Dokdo, urging Tokyo to heed international warnings against its nationalist actions.

Seoul’s reaction came after Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida reiterated his country’s claims to the islets in an address to parliament and after the Tokyo government opened a website promoting its claims to the islets.

“Such groundless claims and useless attempts repeated over time only show the world that Japan is still under the spell of imperialism,” the foreign ministry here said in a statement.

It also shows how hollow Japan’s so-called active pacifist policy is, the ministry said, referring to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hard-line policy seen as being aimed at exerting more diplomatic and military power in the region.

Virginia Senate passes bill on East Sea name
Yonhap News via GlobalPost

Virginia’s state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill supported by the Korean-American community endeavoring to publicize the name East Sea for the body of water between Korea and Japan.

The 31-4 vote Thursday represents a significant victory for ethnic Koreans in the state against high-profile lobbying by the Japanese Embassy in Washington.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dave W. Marsden (D-Fairfax), would require all new textbooks for Virginia schools to use the name East Sea as well as the Sea of Japan.

Noticing worries
The Economist

LAST month a business student at Korea University in Seoul posted a large bulletin on a wall in the university grounds. In bold black pen, Ju Hyun-woo recounted the week’s events: thousands of railway workers dismissed for striking; the suicide of a farmer in protest at the construction of electricity pylons near his village; and the conservative ruling party’s proposal to expel an opposition politician for questioning the legitimacy of the president, Park Geun-hye. Mr Ju asked readers: “How are you all feeling nowadays?”

Answers came in thick and fast, and most people said they were not fine. Within a few days dozens of handwritten posters—known as daejabo—were pinned up next to his, on issues ranging from high gas bills to gay rights. Now Mr Ju reckons almost 1,000 have been tacked onto university walls around the country. Students in Japan, America, China and Chile have followed, posting pictures of their posters on the “Can’t be OK” Facebook page, which gathered 260,000 followers in a week.

Social media have long been a haven for anonymous dissenting voices in South Korea. But Mr Ju says he wanted to “take responsibility” for his poster: he signed it and stood in front of it for ten hours, engaging passers-by. Breaking with a tradition of politically charged, militant daejabo, used in the past by Korean students to demand change, Mr Ju left readers to come up with their own grievances—and answers.

Seeing none, Korean-American community works to recruit foster parents
Southern California Public Radio

Recruiting foster parents in Los Angeles County is tough. Finding Asian caregivers, particularly Koreans, even more so.

Not one of the thousands of foster homes in Los Angeles County is Korean-speaking — which can make a stressful situation even worse for a foster child who only knows that language.

“Being in a non-Korean home is just shocking to them,” said Mike Oh, a county social worker who works with Asian-American foster children. “We’ve had a lot of calls from the foster parents saying that the child appears to be traumatized, and not eating, not sleeping.”

Asian Americans and the ‘model minority’ myth
Los Angeles Times

Previews of Amy Chua’s forthcoming book, “The Triple Package” (co-written with husband Jed Rubenfeld), detonated a social media uproar among Asian Americans. Many were infuriated by the New York Post’s report that Chua, the self-styled Tiger Mom, was identifying eight superior “cultural” groups in the United States: Jewish, Indian, Chinese, Iranian, Lebanese, Nigerian, Cuban and Mormon. For Asian Americans, the problem is about another Chua production that seems to perpetuate the “model minority” myth and, in particular, the notion that Asians are culturally — even genetically — endowed with the characteristics that enable them to succeed in American society.

Before the mid-20th century, the Tiger Mom did not exist in the national imagination. Instead, Americans believed that Chinese culture was disgusting and vile, viewing U.S. Chinatowns as depraved colonies of prostitutes, gamblers and opium addicts bereft of decency. Lawmakers and citizens deployed these arguments to justify and maintain the segregation, marginalization and exclusion of Chinese from mainline society between the 1870s and World War II. Those efforts were more than effective: to have a “Chinaman’s chance” at that time meant that one had zero prospects.

There is danger in offering culture as a formula for success, because our ideas of culture are hardly fixed. The history of Americans’ views about Chinese immigrant behaviors shows that “culture” often serves as a blank screen onto which individuals project various political agendas, depending on the exigencies of the moment.

English teacher extradited from Armenia over teen sex tape
Korea Herald

A 29-year-old American accused of having sex with a teenage girl and posting a video of it online was extradited from Armenia to South Korea on Wednesday, the Ministry of Justice said.

The ministry has been tracking down the suspect’s whereabouts since 2010, when he fled to China as the video stirred a firestorm of criticism in the Korean online community.

“The urgency of each case decides how fast the extradition will take place. In this case, it only took three months, whereas it could take up to three years for other cases,” a prosecutor in charge of the case told The Korea Herald.

Chang-rae Lee: By the Book
New York Times

The author of “On Such a Full Sea” has been rereading the classics he tackled in college — “big, complex works which I found arresting and difficult then and find arresting and difficult now.”

What’s the best book you’ve read recently? And your vote for best book of the last year?

Two first fictions dazzled me in the last couple of years, the novel “Mr. Peanut,” by Adam Ross, and “Battleborn,” a story collection by Claire Vaye Watkins. “Mr. Peanut” is a hybrid wonder, being at once a detective story, an arch gloss on that genre and a bravura romance, totally upended, that employs the possible murder of one’s wife as a means of revealing the manifold facets of truest, desperate love. All this is driven by the edgy sparkle of the prose, which acts not only as a mirror or lens but as an accelerant, lighting up every layer of his characters’ consciousnesses to a degree that feels almost dangerous. Watkins’s “Battleborn” is equally potent even though the stories range widely in setting, time and voice, the modalities coming at you with a ferocity and intelligence that seems like a magic trick. But there’s nothing artificial about these stories, for as you read them an indelible picture begins to emerge of a certain sensibility, maybe borne from the desert West — toughened, resourceful, both hellbent and eternally hopeful.

Korean American dude on the upcoming season of Survivor

His name is Woo, and he’s a martial arts instructor. His dad is a Tae Kwon Do expert, and he was brought up in the Tae Kwon Do tradition. He looks like a surfer dude, and in fact, he teaches surfing for a living. This season, the contestants will be broken down into three tribes: Brawn, Beauty, and Brains. Woo will be part of the Brawn Tribe.

Should be a fun season. I like this female contestant‘s quote:

Reason for Being on SURVIVOR: The chance to experience a once in a lifetime journey and to show everyone that just because I have huge boobs and a pretty face does not mean I am dumb, it just means I look better when I am winning.

I may have to cheer for her just for that.

Korean rock band forays into US, UK
Korea Times

Korea’s top rock band YB has signed a promotional contract with the former manager of Guns N’ Roses as part of an effort to make it into the American and British music markets.

The band’s domestic management said Tuesday that the five-member group, led by vocalist Yoon Do-hyun, will release its first English album in February and promote it with the help of Doug Goldstein, a former manager of the legendary American rock band.

Goldstein saw potential for YB’s success in Western countries after reviewing its music and performances, according to the band’s management.

Male And Female Idol Groups Ranked By Entertainment Reporters

ENews tvN recently ran a survey amongst 30 Korean entertainment
reporters to get them to rank male and female idol groups according to
various categories.

Find out where your favorite idol group is ranked in different categories like vocal skills and dancing skills.

Online gaming addictions: Sundance films explore a darker side of the Internet
Deseret News (Utah)

For weeks, the young couple would arrive at an Internet cafe in Suwon, South Korea, shortly after dinner and spend up to 10 hours playing an online game that involved raising a virtual child in a fantasy world.

Meanwhile, their real-life 3-month-old girl was home alone with a bottle. The neglect resulted in the infant’s death and involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents.

In mainland China, desperate parents are forcing their teen children into military-style government rehabilitation camps, hoping to cure the youths of a diagnosed addiction to online gaming, which has blurred their distinction between the real and virtual worlds.

Teen star Ko ready to go as LPGA season begins
AFP via Yahoo News

Lydia Ko has jumped to fourth in the world rankings as the LPGA season begins Thursday, but the 16-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander has not adjusted to her lofty spot.

“Not at all, ” she said. “I don’t think it’s something you kind of get used to.”

Ko will play her first event as an LPGA Tour member starting Thursday at the $1.3 million Bahamas LPGA Classic on Paradise Island.

Two more ski jumpers earn spots at Sochi Winter Games
Yonhap News

Two additional South Korean ski jumpers have earned spots at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, an official here said Friday, doubling the size of the ski jumping squad.

Lee Myung-gyo, director of ski jumping at the Korea Ski Association, said Kang Chil-gu and Choi Seo-u will compete in Russia at the Winter Games set to begin on Feb. 7. The two will join Choi Heung-chul and Kim Hyun-ki, who’d earlier qualified based on their world rankings.

Under the qualification rules by the International Ski Federation (FIS), a country can only have a maximum of five male jumpers. If a country has more than five eligible athletes, then Olympic berths will be reallocated to next eligible athletes from another country.

North Korea Proposes to Resume Family Reunions
Author: Young Rae Kim
Posted: January 24th, 2014
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South Korean Choi Gye-Wol (left) kisses the hand of her North Korean grandson Kim Chol-Bong as her son Kim Young-Nam watches, at a family reunion in North Korea in June 2006. Photo via Al Jazeera America.

North Korea had a change of heart and agreed on Friday to resume a family reunion program proposed by South Korea, the New York Times reports. The program arranges meetings for the millions of Koreans that have been separated by the Korean War, over 60 years ago.

On Jan 9., South Korean President Park Geun-hye suggested that the reinstatement of the reunion program was an important step in rebuilding trust between the two sides. However, the North Korea rejected the proposal stating that “political mood” was not fitting, condemning the joint military exercises by South Korea and the United States.

However on Friday, the North Korean ambassador to the United Nations stated that his country wanted to “mend North-South relations”, while blaming the South for stirring up turmoil recently. Continue Reading »

Wednesday’s Link Attack: Park on Korean Reunification; McDonald’s Dispute Aftermath; Park Ji-Sung World Cup Return Doubtful
Author: Young Rae Kim
Posted: January 22nd, 2014
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Jackpot or Crackpot? Park on Korean Reunification
Wall Street Journal

The demure Park Geun-hye rarely startles. Yet South Korea’s president did just that on Jan. 6. In her first press conference after almost a year as president, Ms. Park raised eyebrows by calling Korean unification a “jackpot”. The usual fear of vast costs has it wrong, she argued. Rather, this will be “a chance for the economy to make a huge leap.”

She didn’t elaborate, but cited Jim Rogers in support. The US.. investment guru reiterated his own bullishness on a joint Korean future on Jan. 14: “… South Korea’s capital and technical skills, and North Korea’s labor and natural resources, [can] make Korea grow exponentially.”

Ms. Park’s jackpot talk gained her rare praise from the South Korean liberal opposition. Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil said he was “glad [she] helped break the common misconception that reunification is a cost.” But Mr. Kim added a crucial condition: “Only a gradual and peaceful reunification is a blessing. Reunification by absorption [after] a sudden change in North Korea could be a catastrophe.” Or to be more technical, reunification will be path-dependent.

Are U.S. troops in South Korea still necessary?
Al Jazeera America

After meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Jan. 7 that the United States would send an additional 800 troops to join the nearly 30,000 American service members already stationed in South Korea.

“We remain fully committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea,” Kerry explained, “including through extended deterrence and putting the full range of U.S. military capabilities in place.”

A day earlier, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel discussed with Yun “the importance of maintaining a robust combined defense of the Korean Peninsula as a strong deterrent against provocations from North Korea.”

Prosecutor indicted for peddling influence to help actress
Yonhap News

An incumbent prosecutor was indicted Wednesday on charges of abusing his influence to help a female celebrity, prosecution officials said.

The 37-year-old prosecutor, only identified by his surname Jeon, is under suspicion of helping TV personality Lee Yoon-ji, better known by her stage name Amy, settle disputes with a plastic surgeon in 2012. An inspection division of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office (SPO) said it has brought charges against Jeon for violating the attorneys-at-law act.

Jeon first met Lee when he was prosecuting her case involving a psychotropic drug propofol abuse in 2011, the SPO said. Lee was charged for drug abuse and served two months in prison before being released on parole. After her release, Lee allegedly complained about the side effects of a cosmetic surgery she underwent, prompting Jeon to blackmail the doctor to let Lee undergo another operation free of charge, it said.

Jeon also allegedly collected 22.5 million won (US$21,000) in compensation from the clinic on her behalf, which he gave to the 32-year-old TV personality, SPO officials said.

US state universities recruit Korean students
Korea Times

The State University of New York (SUNY) and California State University held a briefing about their admissions policies as they relate to the recruitment of Korean students at the COEX in southern Seoul on Saturday and Sunday.

The session was organized by the Korus Education Institute which provides the Education Abroad program in partnership with American universities. About 200 students and parents attended the event.

The two U.S. state universities are in the process of attracting some 100 Korean students under the Education Abroad program. The deadline for applications is Jan. 23. Students applying to the program can prove their English abilities by taking the Proficiency of English for Academic Purposes (PEAP) instead of submitting TOEFL scores.

The Education Abroad program is one of the international exchange programs selected by 20 state universities in the U.S. such as SUNY and California State University. These universities have officially acknowledged PEAP as a replacement for other English tests.

South Korea’s New Hybrid Media: Wall Posters Gone Viral
Huffington Post

For around a decade, South Korea has been a byword for advanced internet connectivity. With the world’s earliest mass adoption of broadband – and at the fastest speeds – this nation of 50 million is regularly cited as the “world’s most wired”. The introduction last year of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) mobile communications means that Koreans now enjoy the world’s fastest wireless network as well.

And despite South Korea’s image as a follower (albeit a fast one), this country has been ahead of the pack on a surprising number of internet innovations. A firm named Saerom developed Dialpad, a VoIP service, three years before Skype came along. And when Facebook and even Myspace were mere minnows, millions of Koreans were already using a social network named Cyworld. Lee Jun-seok, a South Korean entrepreneur and political activist, fondly remembers e-mailing his Harvard classmate Mark Zuckerberg, “We already have Cyworld, a far better and more sophisticated website. Your start-up will fail soon.”

Famous last words, of course. But the most profound effects of Korea’s internet mania have been felt in the realm of politics, rather than business. In 2002, liberal candidate Roh Moo-hyun had been all but written off for that December’s presidential election race, but narrowly won following a last-minute surge led by online fan-club Nosamo (‘people who love Roh Moo-hyun) and the efforts of a then-fledgling ‘citizen journalism’ site named Ohmynews.

Hitches in Compromise at a McDonald’s
New York Times

Maybe it was the snow. Or a lack of communication.

For whatever reason, the compromise between a McDonald’s and a group of older Korean patrons — limiting the hours that the group can linger at the restaurant — seemed to have some loose ends on Tuesday, two days after the agreement was reached.

The compromise, brokered by Assemblyman Ron Kim, called for patrons to limit their loitering to less than an hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the McDonald’s at the corner of Northern and Parsons Boulevards.

Victim of motorcyle gang beating sues city, biker cops
New York Post

The lower Manhattan ­father who was swarmed and beaten up by a raging motorcycle gang last fall plans to sue the city and two of his alleged attackers, NYPD cops Wojciech Braszczok and Matthew Rodriguez.

Alexian Lien filed the complaint on behalf of his himself, his wife, ­Rosalyn Ng, and their ­2-year-old daughter who were in the family’s Range Rover during the brutal confrontation on Sept. 29, 2013.

“A vicious and unruly mob of motorcycle riders” “attacked and assaulted” Lien and “vandalized his motor vehicle” by smashing a rear window where his toddler was sitting, according to his notice of claim filed on Dec. 24.

Final summons
The Economist

FOR the directorial debut of a former Korean “webtoon” artist, the accomplishment is remarkable. Based on a script he had mulled over since the 1990s, Yang Woo-seok’s “The Attorney” was originally intended as an indie movie for a small audience. But it has beaten Korean box-office records since its release on December 18th—at the end of a year in which Korean cinemas set a new record of over 200m ticket sales (in a country of 50m people). It hit the 1m-admissions mark after just three days, beating the other most popular movies of 2012 and 2013 (“Masquerade” and “Miracle in Cell no. 7”, respectively, which each took four days to do so). Its viewership is also growing at a faster clip than “Avatar”, an American blockbluster from 2009, which attracted the biggest Korean audience of all time (13.3m). On January 19th, just one month after its release, it entered the 10m-admissions club—joining just eight other movies in the history of Korean film.

Films based on real-life events have a special appeal for Koreans. With “The Attorney” counted among Korea’s 10m club, four of its nine members are now historical films. “The Attorney” is based loosely on an infamous court case which took place in Busan in 1981. Twenty-two university students were arrested, tortured and tried on the trumped-up charge of forming a book club to study seditious literature. The “Burim case” has long been seen as a massive frame-up of South Korea’s communist movement, aimed at bolstering support for Chun Doo-hwan, a strongman who had seized power in a coup the previous year. In “The Attorney”, an ambitious solicitor quits a high-earning job advising taxpayers to take on the political case in defence of the innocent students. The part is played by Song Kang-ho, who starred in three movies in 2013; the first two, “The Face Reader” and “Snowpiercer”, sold over 9m tickets each in Korea, earning him the nickname “the 20m man”.


Critics Pick ‘Snowpiercer’ as Korean Film of The Year

South Korea’s film press has voted English-language “Snowpiercer” as the best Korean film of 2013.

The annual Film of the Year Awards are organized by the Korean Film Reporters Association and were unveiled Wednesday at the Korea Press Center in Seoul.

“Snowpiercer” was the English-language directing debut of established Korean helmer Bong Joon-ho, who was also named director of the year. The film stars Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris and Tilda Swinton alongside Korean favourite Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung.

Released in August, the film sold 9.34 million tickets and became a mega hit that belied its language and art-house roots.

Kim’s Convenience might be turned into a TV show
Toronto Life

Before Kim’s Convenience made the jump from Fringe Festival hit to Soulpepper Theatre Company mainstay, nobody knew that the problems of a convenience-store-owning Korean family could be the stuff of compelling, popular theatrical drama. Now, after two years’ worth of successful remounts, the film industry evidently wants a piece.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, Soulpepper announced that it has entered into a partnership with Vancouver-based Thunderbird Films, a company that has produced TV shows like Package Deal and Some Assembly Required. According to a Thunderbird spokesperson, the company is in the process of scripting both film and TV adaptations of Ins Choi’s 2011 play, which takes place almost entirely inside a Regent Park mini-mart run by a gruff Korean pater familias and his wife.

Park Ji-sung to host charity football match before World Cup, return to nat’l team doubtful
Yonhap News

Former South Korean football captain Park Ji-sung will host a charity football match in Southeast Asia only days before the start of the FIFA World Cup, his father confirmed Wednesday, leaving the player’s possible return to the national team in doubt.

Park Sung-jong, the player’s father, said the footballer will host the annual charity event either on May 31 or June 1 in Malaysia or Indonesia. Park Ji-sung launched his own charity organization called JS Foundation in 2011 and has been hosting an All-Star football match to raise funds for children since that year.

“This is something he’d planned to do all along,” the senior Park said. “He is executing plans that he’d made when he retired from international play three years ago.”

If the former Manchester United midfielder commits to his own event, it appears unlikely he will join the national team in Brazil for the World Cup in early June. The tournament opens on June 12, and South Korea plans to travel to the host country early in that month.

S. Korean pitcher Lim invited to Cubs’ spring training: agent
Yonhap News

South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong, recently released by the Chicago Cubs, has been invited to spring training by the Major League Baseball (MLB) team, his Seoul-based agent said Tuesday.

Kim Dong-wook, head of the local sports agency Sports Intelligence, said the 37-year-old right-hander will try to make the big league team again when the Cubs’ camp opens in mid-February in Arizona.

The Cubs non-tendered Lim last month, making him a free agent on paper, but Kim said the Cubs have informed him that they still retain rights to the pitcher.

“We had no plans to move Lim,” Kim said. “He has been invited to the Cubs’ spring training.”

Socially speaking: LPGA’s best

With the 2014 season set to tee off on Thursday at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, we thought we would take a look at some of the LPGA’S best and brightest. In 140 characters or less and Earlybird filter usage, that is.

Fair warning: If you’re currently in an area covered in snow, you might not want to follow any of the women below this week. The pictures of the gorgeous Bahamian beaches and sunny skies might be too much to bear.

Short track: Russia’s Ahn looking to upstage Asian rivals
Global Post

Russia’s Victor Ahn will be looking to upstage his native South Korea and put the Olympic hosts on the medals table for the first time in short track speed skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Ahn, formerly known as Ahn Hyun-Soo, is the only short-tracker to win four medals in one Olympics with his three gold and bronze in 2006 for South Korea before falling out with the team, and after failing to qualify for the 2010 Vancouver Games he switched citizenship to compete for Russia.

Russia warmed up for Sochi by dominating the European championships at the weekend with 28-year-old Ahn taking three titles as the Olympic hosts won ten medals in total including five gold in Dresden, Germany.

Dumpling party marks Korean New Year with hundreds of mandu and dozens of eaters
Washington Post

Grace Hong is pretty sure her mother would be appalled. Not at the fact that she and her husband celebrate the new year with traditional lucky mandu, dumplings made the Korean way. But possibly at every other aspect of their celebration. With 600 dumplings, 60 guests and an unmentionable amount of wine and beer, the annual fete they call Dumplingfest violates most, if not all, of her mother’s holiday traditions.

Hong, 40, grew up in Lyons, N.Y., not far from Rochester. “We were the only Asian family in town,” she says. And every New Year, for a small, family-only gathering, her mother would make duk mandu guk, a traditional Korean soup. She would fill a large soup pot with beef bones and aromatic vegetables to make the rich broth, in which she simmered meat-filled dumplings and glutinous rice cakes, symbols of prosperity.

Listen for sizzle of Korean street food
Boston Globe

On the streets here, find your next meal by listening for the sizzle. Street food is everywhere, and food carts and stalls selling a short list of foodstuffs or specializing in only one item attract long queues at all hours of the day. A pojangmacha — a Korean word that translates as “covered wagon,” and refers to a movable, street-side restaurant draped in tarps — offers more of a complete meal: set menus, a greater number of options, more complicated dishes, and, often, tables for customers.

Street food plays a significant part in Seoul’s culture. Students might stop by their favorite stall for a quick, cheap bite after school or before going out for the evening. Crowds of professionals will descend after the workday ends, and on into the night. And then there are the late comers: taxi drivers and other graveyard shift workers who appreciate a hot meal or snack, at any hour.

Marja Vongerichten, wife of celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, hosted and co-produced the 2011 TV show “Kimchi Chronicles,” a travelogue-style exploration of Korean food, including street food. Marja Vongerichten was born in Korea (her mother is Korean and her father an African-American serviceman) and adopted and raised by a family in the United States. She learned about her culture through Korean food. She is also author of a cookbook based on the series, “The Kimchi Chronicles: Korean Cooking for an American Kitchen.”

This is the Closest Thing to a North Korean Google Street View

Despite North Korea’s notoriously strict limitations on tourists in general (not to mention those slinging around cameras), last autumn, the country’s officials decided to allow Pan to photograph non-military points of interest—so long as it wasn’t “political,” that is. And Pan seems perfectly all right with that. According to his site, his DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea) 360 project is not meant to address “any past, present, or future political issues that may be sensitive.”

Tuesday’s Link Attack: Filial Piety Weakening; OB Sold to Anheuser-Busch; Identity Theft on the Rise; Jamie Chung
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: January 21st, 2014
Filed Under: BLOG
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For South Korea’s old, a return to poverty as Confucian filial piety weakens
Washington Post

There’s a dark side to South Korea’s 50-year rise to riches: The graying generation that is most responsible for that ascent is living in relative poverty.

In a fast-paced nation famous for its high achievers and its big spending on private tutors and luxury goods, half of South Korea’s elderly are poor, the highest rate in the industrialized world.

Some live in crumbling hillside neighborhoods that lack running water. Others wait in line at soup kitchens where there is no young face in sight. The worst-off comb through garbage, collecting cardboard and paper and lugging it to trash yards, where they can receive several dollars for a pile. It’s common in central Seoul to see hunched seniors gathering scraps.

Chinese Shrine to Korean Assassin Irks Japan
Wall Street Journal

Japan, South Korea and China are sparring over a new shrine.

The opening on Sunday of a memorial hall in China to the assassin of the Japanese governor-general of Korea in 1909 has drawn a sharp exchange of words between Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.

The memorial hall was built at the railway station in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, where Korean national Ahn Jung-guen shot and killed Hirobumi Ito on Oct. 26, 1909.

Modeled on the original façade of the station and with a clock showing the exact time of the assassination, the hall is the fruit of a request by South Korean President Park Geun-hye to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing in June last year.

South Korean Trade Official Abducted in Libyan Capital
New York Times

Gunmen have kidnapped a South Korean trade official in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, according to the South Korean government, which advised its citizens Monday to leave the country.

Han Seok-woo, 39, the head of the Tripoli office of the government-funded Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, was on his way home from work on Sunday afternoon when four gunmen stopped his car and abducted him, officials with the South Korean Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Both the ministry and the trade agency said they were trying to gather information on the kidnappers and on Mr. Han’s whereabouts.

Bergen Dem Chairman Stellato backs Roy Cho in CD 5 race

There has been speculation for months about whether Bergen Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato would ultimately back Roy Cho, the Korean-American attorney from Hackensack who is the sole declared candidate to challenge Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R – 5).

The answer apparently came in the middle of the glittering Rockleigh Country Club ballroom at the Bergen Democratic Party annual Victory Gala on Thursday. And the message was conveyed not completely in English.

In an interview with reporter Yoojin Sung of Korean Radio Broadcasting, Stellato’s comments, later translated into Korean, show support for Cho’s candidacy.

China, South Korea face familiar woes in English quest
Japan Times

Japan isn’t alone in its struggles with teaching English. China and South Korea have experienced similar frustrations, but their responses and results have been quite different.

It’s easy to compare the three nations because of their similarities: English is completely different from their native languages; they’ve all had limited immigration and haven’t been completely colonized by an English-speaking Western power; and all three currently share low birth rates (though China has had an only-child policy that is just starting to be relaxed).

The most obvious difference between the three countries is scale. China’s population is 1.35 billion while Japan and South Korea’s are 127 million and 50 million, respectively. This is relevant to the number of English speakers education systems are producing — all three have a high-stakes college entrance exam on which English is a required subject. In 2013, 9.12 million students sat China’s exam, the Gaokao, 650,000 sat Korea’s College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT) while 570,000 sat Japan’s National Center Test. Furthermore, one of the requirements for an undergraduate degree in China is passing the College English Test (CET); in 2013, 9.38 million students sat this exam.

What’s Unnerving About Angela Buchdahl? She Talks About God
Jewish Daily Forward

What has made some people nervous about Angela Buchdahl becoming the senior rabbi at Central Synagogue – one of the two largest Reform synagogues in New York and one of the biggest in the United States – is not that she’s the first Asian-American rabbi. It’s not that she’s a woman or, at 41, so young to lead a congregation whose membership will soon number 2,400 families. It’s not that she’s been working primarily as a cantor for most of her career. It’s not even that she’s the mother of three young children, though that has given some in her congregation pause, Buchdahl said. No, it’s because she talks about God.

“We become very nervous talking about God in the Jewish community,” Buchdahl tells Haaretz. “I made people on the search committee a little nervous about it.”

God is at the center of Buchdahl’s life. Born in South Korea and descended from a Korean king, she has prayed every night since she was a young girl in Tacoma, Washington, with a Korean-Buddhist mother and American-Jewish father. And in her new role at Central Synagogue, she is trying to put God at the center as well.

AB InBev to Pay $5.8 Billion for Korea’s Oriental Brewery

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI) agreed to pay $5.8 billion for South Korea’s Oriental Brewery Co. Ltd., regaining control of a company that became the Asian nation’s biggest brewer under KKR (KKR) & Co. and Affinity Equity Partners Ltd.

AB InBev will fund the acquisition with internal resources, according to a statement from the companies today. The Leuven, Belgium-based maker of Budweiser and Corona will receive about $320 million in cash when the transaction is completed.

AB InBev, the world’s biggest beermaker, is buying back a business it sold to KKR in 2009 for $1.8 billion when it sought to cut debt following InBev NV’s $52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch Cos. KKR subsequently sold 50 percent of the asset to Affinity. Since then, Oriental Brewery has become South Korea’s largest beermaker and more than doubled earnings, boosted by its Cass brand.

Living someone else’s life
Korea Times

Property theft can easily be punished as long as evidence points in one direction, hopefully the right one. But what happens in cases of identity theft?

As the online community continues to grow rapidly, netizens are finding themselves hesitant about uploading personal information online, where it can be easily stolen with none being the wiser.

Some websites have developed strategies to prevent this from happening by disabling the right-click button and requesting users to place watermarks on their photographs, but stealing photos and another person’s life still isn’t all that difficult.

3 Arrested in Massage Parlor Prostitution Sting
NBC Connecticut

Bridgeport police arrested three women on Wednesday night during a sting operation at an illegal massage parlor, called the American Asian Modeling Studio.

The officers, dressed in civilian clothes, went to the Asian Modeling Studio at 3853 Main Street at about 10 p.m. on Thursday to conduct an undercover operation.

They said they spoke with to a woman through a barred door and received a price quoted price for massage and sexual services, but were told to come back because the woman working that night was busy with another client, police said.

Skokie Celebrates Korean Culture With 60-Event Series
Skokie Patch (Skokie, Ill.)

Taste kim chi, learn about what it was like for a teen boy to leave Korea when his parents opened a store in the U.S., learn a beloved Korean folk tale and more as “Coming Together in Skokie & Niles Township” launches Sunday, Jan. 26 and continues with programs for about two months.

“It will be a great opportunity for people to experience and learn Korean culture,” said Tom Suh, president of Korean American Association of Chicago (and Chicagoland) at a preview of the event Thursday.

This is the fifth “Coming Together” program, said Susan Van Dusen, who was one of five women who founded the event five years ago; it has previously focused on the Indian, Assyrian, Filipino and Greek cultures. It has grown every year, but has taken a big leap forward this year by including events at the Morton Grove, Lincolnwood and Niles libraries, and venturing into area schools with programs.

Jamie Chung On Once Upon A Time: ‘I Would Go Back In A Heartbeat’
Access Hollywood

Jamie Chung has a new primetime drama for NBC, but don’t count her out of future episodes of ABC’s “Once Upon A Time.”

“I think it would be really disappointing to leave the audience with this giant question mark,” Jamie told, following the NBC “Believe” panel (her new show) at the Television Critics Association Winter Tour on Sunday. “I would go back in a heartbeat. I am committed to this show, but I don’t think that door is shut, so I’m hoping that there is something we can do to kind of answer more questions.”

Jamie plays Mulan on “Once,” and in recent episodes, her feelings for another, female character – Aurora (played by Sarah Bolger) – were alluded to.

North Korea to Play Asian Games
Wall Street Journal

The North Koreans are coming again.

Pyongyang said late Monday that both its men’s and women’s soccer teams would participate in the Asian Games to be held in Incheon, South Korea, later this year.

The announcement marks a continuation of interaction on the sports field even as ties between the two Koreas remain unstable. Last week, North Korea warned of an “unimaginable holocaust” if South Korea went ahead with military drills with the U.S. planned to begin next month.

South Korea rejected the North’s demand to cancel the drills.

Chef Sang Yoon’s prime rib with horseradish creme fraiche on THE Dish
CBS News

Chef Sang Yoon was born in South Korea, schooled by some of the finest chefs in the U.S. and Europe, plays hockey and has been called “the godfather of the gastro-pub scene.”

Yoon began his culinary career as a teenager in San Francisco with Jeremiah Tower and Julian Serrano. He then attended the Culinary Institute of America and then spent two years working in Northern Italy and France.

He bought his first restaurant in 2002. It is a renovated dive bar called Father’s Office. It features the Office Burger, which was named one of the world’s best by Esquire magazine. The burger is controversial because Yoon does not allow any substitutions or ketchup in his restaurants.

WE: Chang-rae Lee’s “On Such a Full Sea.”
New Yorker

“More and more we can see that the question is not whether we are ‘individuals,’ ” Chang-rae Lee writes in “On Such a Full Sea” (Riverhead), his new, dystopian novel. “The question, then, is whether being an ‘individual’ makes a difference anymore.” It seems doubtful, in Lee’s sombre future. Afflicted by swine- and bird-flu epidemics and a profound change in the climate, America, now known simply as the Association, has split into three separate social groups. At the top sit the Charters, a small professional class that has corralled the country’s remaining resources and withdrawn into gated villages. Catering their dinner parties and keeping their cars perpetually waxed are the “service people,” who live in the land beyond, known as the counties.

Fast Company

She is reimagining the entire enterprise of selling beauty merchandise to women, from product design to the transaction experience. During her four years at Starbucks, Park developed a keen understanding of just how crucial the happiness of the customer is at every turn. “It’s about thinking through every step of the customer journey,” she says.

When she launched Julep, Park’s first move was to open a small chain of beauty parlors. These brick-and-mortar outposts–carefully designed to encourage social interaction via communal spaces with movable furniture–function as mini labs in which to test products on actual customers. Park trained facialists and vernisseurs (a term that is to manicurist as barista is to coffee pourer) to listen closely to reactions and report back. Julep uses that info to tweak details such as colors, packaging, and scents.

Big ambition, big pressure: Seoul’s new art museum is in the spotlight

South Korea’s $230 million National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) opened in November with a towering ambition — become what the MoMA is to New York and the Tate is to London.

The museum couldn’t be in a better location to attract attention — it sits just across the street from Gyeongbokgung, Seoul’s main royal palace, and adjacent to a neighborhood that’s one of Seoul’s most popular among tourists.

Other than Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, a private art museum owned by Samsung, Seoul has no other large museum housing Korean contemporary art.

Korea’s Teddy Bear Museum Makes the World a Cuter Place

Sometimes the world isn’t very adorable. If only it looked a bit more like this! You know, like it were filled with teddy bears.

As recently noted by Korea Realtime, South Korea’s Jeju Island is home to all sorts of interesting museums.

There’s a sex museum, a computer museum, and a teddy bear museum, which features teddy bear versions of famous works of art and celebrities.

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