Former chef and popular TV show host Anthony Bourdain said that Korean American chefs are at the forefront of American cuisine.
In an interview with food author Michael Ruhlman, Bourdain said a “reverse snobbery” currently exists among chefs and food aficionados, which dictates that in order to experience the best and most authentic food, one must seek out hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop restaurants that don’t cater to the mainstream.
“That’s great but when you look at all the people who are sort of driving American cuisine right now, they’re all Korean American,” said Bourdain. “And they don’t care. They may know what straight-up Korean food is but they sure aren’t cooking it. And they’re pushing everything forward and they’re having an effect on the non Korean Americans. Eric Ripert is messing around with kimchi—how can that not be good?” Continue Reading »
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.
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’
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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.
by Y. GOCHUJANG KANG
The godfather of the modern food truck movement gave an earful to the final five “cheftestants” on Bravo’s reality TV cooking competition, lambasting them with gentle profanities for not cooking from the heart.
Roy Choi made an appearance on Top Chef: New Orleans, which aired on Wednesday night, as a judge for a Quick Fire challenge to make a po’ boy sandwich.
Choi politely eyed Nicholas’ fried shrimp po’ boy with mayo, sriracha, fennel and pancetta and seriously considered Shirley’s sautéed catfish po’ boy with mirin, ginger, garlic glaze and cabbage slaw.
“Roy Choi is really quiet,” Shirley nervously tells the confession cam. “He’s breaking apart my po’ boy. I hope he liked it.”
Nina made a fried mahi catfish sandwich with mojo aioli and pickled onions, while Korean American chef Brian Huskey made a lobster po’ boy with gochujang aioli and yuzu with pickled Napa cabbage.
“Why gochujang?” Choi asks quietly, a question many of us have also pondered over the years, no doubt. Continue Reading »
The Ever-Busy Acclaimed Chef Roy Choi Talks About His New Book, a Revealing Memoir Interspersed with Recipes and Capturing the Flavors and Textures of L.A.
by HELIN JUNG
Roy Choi doesn’t sit still. He imbues a sense of propulsion. He is switching between the counter and the stove in the kitchen of a skyscraper, debating the merits of up-and-coming Korean rappers in the back seat of a taxi, getting up from a long table at dinner to step out into the cold and catch a breath, driving through Southern California while discussing his late-night writing regimen, running around the block just because he can.
You chase after Choi. You never quite feel like you’ve got him pinned down. The renowned Los Angeles chef—with already three restaurants and a fourth on the way, along with the Kogi taco truck and a community-based café venture in South L.A.—paused long enough to talk about the launch of his new book, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food, co-written with Tien Nguyen and Natasha Phan. It is the story of his life told through stories and recipes—both wholly devourable, yet ultimately unsatisfying. The more you get of Choi, the more the appetite grows. Here’s a taste.
You used to write for KoreAm. Now you have a book. Tell me about your evolution as a writer.
Back then, I thought I was a writer, but I was horrible. I used too many metaphors. I was going through a lot of stuff, and I felt like I had a voice and I just had to get it out. With the book, I got leaner. It helped me to have a team of co-authors and an editor. I learned to be confident in the power of the message. Letting it breathe. To not describe every single drop of blood in the fight scene. To leave some of that to the imagination. Continue Reading »
N. Korea slams President Park for fueling inter-Korean tensions
North Korea slammed President Park Geun-hye Tuesday for fueling tensions with provocative anti-Pyongyang remarks made during her recent trip to Europe.
The North’s Korean Central News Agency, citing a statement issued by an unidentified spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK), referred to Park by name and accused her of being a hypocrite and only focused on maintaining a confrontational stance with the DPRK.
The DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.
During her recent trip to France, Britain and Belgium, Park, who has made “trust building” the cornerstone of her North Korean policy, called on the isolationist country to get rid of its nuclear weapons and improve human rights.
Syrian regime recruited North Korean pilots – activist group
A British-based Syrian activist group claims Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has recruited 15 North Korean pilots to operate his regime’s attack helicopters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors casualties and developments in Syria’s civil war, cited an opposition-linked website, which claims the North Koreans were brought in due to fears Syrian pilots might defect to neighboring countries.
In the past, there have been reports of Syrian fighter jet pilots defaulting to Jordan with their jets but the reports were never confirmed.
North Korea, a close ally of Syria, is thought to have sold military equipment, including chemical weapons and scud missiles, to the Assad regime in the past.
S. Korea pledges US$5 mln in aid to Philippines
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
South Korea will offer US$5 million in relief aid to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines and send a team of relief workers there, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.
The government decided to provide the Philippines with assistance in cash and relief goods including food, blankets and tents, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The goods will be shipped to the country after the Philippine government’s approval, which is expected to take a day or two, according to the ministry.
Samsung offers US$1 mln in aid to typhoon-stricken Philippines
Samsung Group, South Korea’s biggest conglomerate, said Tuesday that it has decided to offer US$1 million in aid to the Philippines, which has suffered from huge damage by a typhoon.
Typhoon Haiyan cut a wide swath of destruction through the central part of the Southeast Asian country last weekend, taking thousands of lives and leaving thousands of homes destroyed.
The group’s financial aid will be delivered to the country via the Red Cross and World Vision, a nongovernmental humanitarian aid group.
Meanwhile, the group’s flagship unit Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s biggest smartphone maker, will send a 20-member emergency team of its Filipino subsidiary to the areas hit by the typhoon to provide free repair service of home appliances, the group said.
Linking up Europe and South Korea ‘not easy’
Deutsche Welle (Germany)
Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to pay a state visit to South Korea today, November 12, where he will meet with President Park Guen-hye. The two leaders met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg in September and have a full agenda for their two days of discussions in Seoul, including ways of improving bilateral ties, ensuring peace and stability on the fractious Korean peninsula and stepping up cooperation and exchanges.
Putin, however, is particularly keen on a project that could bring major economic and geo-political benefits to Russia: the long-debated plan to connect the furthest reaches of Western Europe with Busan, the South Korean port on the very tip of the peninsula, by railway.
This route would primarily follow the existing Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to the Russian Far East before crossing into North Korea on the short stretch of border that the two nations share, continuing south, traversing the so-called Demilitarized Zone that is the border between North and South and finally ending up in Busan, the largest container ship hub in Asia.
How to Cure South Korea’s English Fever?
Wall Street Journal
How much should a country pay to master the English language?
Based on the economics and outcomes of English tuition in South Korea today, the country is throwing excessive amounts at the task with meager results.
According to Swiss-based language learning company EF Education First, the average South Korean gets nearly 20,000 hours of English education from kindergarten through university. Much of that tuition comes at private institutes known as hagwon that Korean kids flock to stay ahead in the nation’s hyper-competitive educational race.
Ailee’s Agency Takes Legal Action Regarding Distribution of Singer’s Nude Photos
Ailee’s agency, YMC Entertainment, has taken concrete moves in order to take legal action in regards to the distribution of the singer’s nude photos.
A representative from YMC Entertainment stated to a local news source on November 12 KST, “CEO Jo Yoo Myung has personally appointed a lawyer in the U.S. However, we cannot currently reveal specific plans as we are still in the process of closely examining the facts.” The reason for appointing a U.S. lawyer is due to the difficulty of investigating from South Korea, as all sources of the photos are located overseas.
A source from the foreign affairs department of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency also commented, “The foreign affairs department doesn’t always take on every investigation involving foreigners.” Pointing to the lengthy and difficult process of obtaining help from U.S. law enforcement agencies and embassy, the source stated, “It will be hard to expect a proper investigation in the case of Ailee.” The source continued, “But if [the agency] appointed a U.S. lawyer, the speedy procurement of the identity of Ailee’s ex-boyfriend might be possible. It will depend on how much ‘Allkpop’ cooperates.”
Super Junior wows European fans
Super Junior held a successful first concert in London, where about 10,000 fans gathered, SM Entertainment said Monday.
The popular K-pop boy band performed at Wembley Arena in London its signature “Super Show 5.” The audience included not only British fans but also those from France, Germany, Poland, Hungary and other parts of Europe.
The group started off with “Mr. Simple,” which is the lead track from its fifth full-length album, and continued on with such popular songs as “Sorry Sorry” and “Sexy, Free & Single.” All together, the members performed 23 songs.
Samsung Debuts Online Drama Series
Samsung will begin airing a web-only soap opera this week in an effort to ride interest in TV dramas and connect with the country’s smartphone-obsessed youth.
Samsung Group spokesman Kevin Cho said the series is a new step for the company’s social engagement program, targeting South Korea’s twentysomethings with a story about penniless young jobseekers living together and the hardships they face in getting a job.
South Korea’s largest conglomerate by revenue appears serious about the production quality, recruiting an outside studio and K-Pop stars for the six-episode “Infinite Power.”
Video: Rob Gronkowski mocks Asian fan at watch party
Richie Incognito and Riley Cooper are among the NFL players who have come under fire for racially insensitive incidents this year. Rob Gronkowski may be next.
TMZ has posted a video of the Patriots tight end mocking an Asian fan. (See below.) The incident was reportedly filmed during a fan event last weekend. Gronkowski was scheduled to attend a watch party Sunday at Bar Louie in Foxboro.
When an Asian man wearing a Gronkowski jersey began dancing, the Pro Bowler said into the microphone: “They told me he could only cook fried rice.” Gronkowski later referred to the Asian fan as “Leslie Chow” after Ken Jeong’s character in The Hangover.
Sobban: A Korean-Southern diner
Wall Street Journal
There are fewer than 40 seats inside Sobban, the Korean-Southern diner set under the horseshoe-bowed roof and soaring plate windows of a vintage Arby’s. That hasn’t stopped the crowds that (mostly) wait patiently to try this exciting new restaurant — one whose time most definitely has come.
You could argue that Atlanta has emerged as one of the country’s (if not the world’s) great towns for Korean food, and many of the area’s best chefs find inspiration from the restaurants and markets throughout the Northern suburbs. We’re ripe for a Western-style restaurant like this, which assumes a certain level of familiarity and comfort with Korean flavors on the part of the customer, both in terms of its chile heat and its twangy funk of fermented vegetables.
This restaurant also has some budding star power behind it: Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor of Heirloom Market BBQ. This project seems more like Lee’s baby, and she oversees the menu. It feels one part derived from Korean family recipes and home cooking, one part Southern farm-to-table, and one part rock ’n’ roll new Asian in the manner of Miso Izakaya or Octopus Bar.
Chef Roy Choi Soups Up Instant Ramen With American Cheese
Thought you’d never look at another package of instant ramen again after college? What if American cheese was involved?
In his new cookbook, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food, chef Roy Choi of L.A.’s famous Kogi taco truck (among a slew of other popular restaurants) shares this souped-up instant ramen recipe that will forever change the way you look at your 2 a.m. college dinner (or 2 p.m. breakfast).
“Making instant ramen is spiritual, important and methodical for Korean-American kids,” Choi tells Tasting Table. “It’s our peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”