This photo of Kim Jong Un riding a ski lift is North Korea’s way of flipping off Europe
This photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sitting alone on a ski lift might not look like North Korea flipping Europe a giant middle finger. But that’s exactly what it is.
I’ll explain. Kim is thought to have developed a love for skiing when he went to boarding school (under a fake identity) in Switzerland. One of his pet projects since taking power two years ago has been building a giant ski resort, something that does not immediately serve the world’s poorest country but would be meant as a show of national greatness. So Kim made it a top national priority to build the resort, Masik Pass, and work has been proceeding feverishly.
But Kim’s pet project hit a major snag this August: ski lifts. Kim just could not get his hands on any ski lifts. North Korea doesn’t have the technology to build its own. And the countries that make them all tend to be in the West, where new sanctions imposed in March make it illegal to sell luxury goods to the Hermit Kingdom. North Korea tried offering millions of dollars to Austrian and French companies to import ski lifts, but both said no.
N. Korea may stage provocation against Seoul around March: think tank
North Korea may stage provocations against South Korea early next year as part of efforts to further ensure internal unity following the execution of leader Kim Jong-un’s once-powerful uncle and his associates, a Seoul think tank said Tuesday.
The North executed Jang Song-thaek on charges of treason, along with other officials in early December. The shocking series of purges sparked concerns over potential instability in the isolated country.
“There is a possibility that the North could attempt provocations at a time when the defense posture is slackened right after the end of military exercises,” between South Korea and the United States, said the Institute for National Security Strategy, which is run by the National Intelligence Service.
S. Korean FM to visit U.S. to discuss N. Korea, regional issues
South Korea’s top diplomat plans to visit Washington in early January for talks with U.S. officials on key regional issues, including North Korea, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Tuesday.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior U.S. officials, foreign ministry spokesperson Cho Tai-young said.
Yun and Kerry last had a face-to-face meeting in September in New York.
N.Korea Calls Back Diplomats Close to Jang Song-taek
Hong Yong, North Korea’s deputy chief of mission to UNESCO, returned to Pyongyang on Monday as part of a wider recall of diplomats who had been close to executed eminence grise Jang Song-taek. Hong follows Pak Kwang-chol, the ambassador to Sweden who returned to North Korea last Friday.
Before Jang was executed, the regime recalled Jon Yong-jin, Jang’s brother-in-law and ambassador to Cuba, and Jang Yong-chol, his nephew and ambassador to Malaysia.
“The ongoing purge of Jang’s associates is an ominous sign,” a source said. “It seems the regime is recalling any diplomats who are branded as Jang’s associates to Pyongyang.”
It’s Not Easy Being Asian-American
Last week, in a piece for Asian Fortune News, advocates Sharon Choi, Francine Gorres and Tina Ngo argued that many young Asian-Americans constantly struggle with their bi-cultural identities, expected to adhere to multiple sets of norms, none of which quite fit.
“Giving our young people opportunities to share their cultural backgrounds and learn about the experiences and traditions of others is important to youth being able to shape and understand their unique identities,” they wrote.
The issue Choi et al raise is an important one, particularly for many first or second-generation Asian-American millennials who feel they have to live up to two different sets of expectations. On the one hand, we’re encouraged embrace American culture and shed ties to our Asian heritage. On the other hand, we’re expected to maintain our ethnic identity and keep our parents’ traditions alive. Failure to live up to either set of expectations can sometimes lead to fear of rejection or ostracism — even an identity crisis of sorts.
10 Sexiest K-Pop Videos of 2013
Girl-on-girl kissing. Grinding. No shirts. This year saw K-pop videos provoke more than ever.
Typically, K-pop skews more cute than raunchy, opting to tease rather than let it all hang out. But 2013 was K-pop’s sexiest year by far. From camera angles highlighting the idol’s best assets to choreography that made viewers weak at the knees, the scene upped its raciness while still maintaining its stars’ dignity, unlike — not to name names — select stars of the West.
End your 2013 on a sizzling note with the year’s 10 sexiest K-pop videos.
Korean Cash Takes Broadway Bows
New York Times
SEOUL, South Korea — Only one Korean theater producer has a Tony Award for best musical, a Broadway honor that is coveted the world over. Yet the 2013 trophy for “Kinky Boots” sits inconspicuously here on Kim Byeong-seok’s cluttered bookcase, amid cheap memorabilia from “Cats,” “Grease” and “42nd Street.”
For Mr. Kim, of the entertainment giant CJ E&M, status symbols of Broadway are beside the point.
He put $1 million of his company’s money into the $13.5 million “Kinky Boots” in hopes of getting the attention of top New York producers — seven-figure investments are rare these days — to develop relationships for future ventures. CJ now has the inside track to mount the first Asian production of the hit show, which features songs by Cyndi Lauper, who has a strong fan following here. The goal is to open “Kinky Boots” next fall in Seoul, a hotbed of Western musicals with heart-tugging plots and charismatic characters, like this musical’s fearless drag queen, who saves a shoe factory.
Japanese from Osaka’s Koreatown pursues dream to become K-pop star
Although Asuka Suemoto has no Korean ancestry, she dreamed of becoming of a pop singer in South Korea while growing up in Osaka.
“It was natural to be around Korean culture,” says Suemoto, who was born and raised in the city’s Ikuno Ward, where one in four residents is said to have roots in the Korean Peninsula.
This fall the 23-year-old took a big step toward making her dream come true with her first appearance at the K-Pop World Festival, a Korean music contest, held in the city of Changwon, in southern South Korea.
Chang-Rae Lee charts a rocky course toward freedom in his dystopian novel ‘On Such a Full Sea’
Since his first novel, “Native Speaker,” in 1995, Chang-Rae Lee has been absorbed by questions of identity and culture, proximity and marginalization, “nativeness” and migration, risk.
His writing is supple and poised; his understanding of human nature, richly nuanced. A new book by Lee is cause for giddy expectation.
His latest, “On Such a Full Sea” (Riverhead, 368 pp., $27.95), is both a detour and a confirmation: a detour because, as a dystopian vision, it is unlike his previous narrative forms; a confirmation, because despite that difference, his prodigious talents are still everywhere evident.
‘Songs of the Dragons’ confronts with humor and fury
With “Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven,” the Apollinaire Theatre Company reaffirms its reputation as the home of the area’s most provocative contemporary theater. Young Jean Lee’s confrontational comedy looks at racism and identity politics with an unflinching combination of humor and fury. Danielle Fauteux Jacques directs the play with a light hand, and yet elicits fearlessly transparent performances from her ensemble.
Lee has built her career around squirm-inducing experimental plays that rip open accepted assumptions around Christianity (“The Church”) and race relations (“The Shipment”). “Songs of the Dragons” explores Lee’s own experience with racism and stereotypes as a Korean-American, and, in keeping with Lee’s style, leaves the audience feeling both amused and unsettled.
“Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven,” opens in utter darkness and the audience spends the first few minutes listening to a director offering suggestions about the intensity with which one actor should slap another across the face. After a few minutes of listening, we watch a video of the repeated slaps, with the playwright as the recipient. It’s a disturbing introduction: Is this passive acceptance of violence a symbol of self-hatred? Before we have a chance to let that idea sink in, the lights change and we are greeted by a perky Korean-American woman (Nicole Dalton) who delivers a speech that is one part shocking and two parts hilarious, opening with the assertion that most Asian-Americans are slightly brain damaged from having grown up with Asian parents, and culminating with the statement that “The wiliness of the Korean is beyond anything. You may laugh now, but remember my words when you and your offspring are writhing under our yoke.”
Free agent pitcher Lim Chang-yong hoping for another shot at majors: agent
South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong, recently non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs, is hoping for another shot at Major League Baseball (MLB), his Seoul-based agent said on Tuesday.
Kim Dong-wook, head of the local agency Sports Intelligence who recently signed on as Lim’s agent, said going to South Korea or Japan is not an option for his client at this point.
Kim was responding to a recent statement by the South Korean club Samsung Lions that they’d open contract negotiations with Lim if he is unable to land with a team in the United States.
Athletes in less popular sports dream Olympic glory
Figure-skating megastar Kim Yu-na and speed-skating champion Lee Sang-hwa are expected to dictate the media attention on Korean athletes at next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Korean athletes competing in less popular sports, however, are vowing to let their presence be known on the world stage.
Korea’s bobsledders are talking about medaling at the Olympics after winning the America’s Cup in March, which represented the first international title ever won by a Korean team.
The team of Won Yun-jong and Jung Jung-lin snatched the gold in the two-men race there.
Korean Sporting Icons Serve as Beacons of Hope in 2013
Athletes occupied the top three spots in a poll of 300 Chosun Ilbo reporters to determine which Korean celebrities had given the nation the most cause for joy in 2013.
Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, who had 14 wins in his debut season in Major League Baseball, topped the list with 43.01 percent of the votes.
Kim Yu-na, who won this year’s World Figure Skating Championships in Canada in March after returning to competition following a two-year layoff, came second with 8.6 percent.
Dining on dog in the South Korean capital
New York Post
Tomorrow night, I’m going to eat dog.
That is, if I take up a local friend-of-a-friend’s invitation to visit what he assures is Seoul’s “best restaurant for dog.” I debate my RSVP while navigating the hip enclave of Garosu-gil, Seoul’s SoHo equivalent, sipping a $6 Dutch cold-press coffee. Older Koreans believe that dog can cure illness and enhance sexual virility, while the younger ones wouldn’t mind seeing it disappear altogether. Me? I’m both intrigued and horrified. WWBD — what would Bourdain do? — I ask myself.
“OK,” I text him, “let’s go for it.”
Please, don’t hate me. Seoul may be a beautiful juxtaposition of urban cityscape and mountain greenery, but at first glance, the Korean capital feels like a homogenous, uniform mass. Most blocks seem like barely modified remixes of the one before, heavily populated with overpriced coffee shops — from Starbucks behemoths to indie cafes. No wonder I’ve grown famished for truly local, off-the-Google-map gems.
Aria Korean American Snack Bar: Hidden in Plain Sight
San Francisco Weekly
I’m taking a deep breath as I write this, because if there is one hole-in-the-wall in San Francisco that I genuinely (and completely selfishly) don’t want to become popular, it’s Aria. This tiny, ugly, clumsily laid out, two-table “Korean American Snack Bar” run by a sweet, late-middle-age couple on a gross stretch of Larkin Street is unfailingly delicious, yet I’ve never once had to wait for a table to open up.
And now they’ve doubled the size of the menu, so I feel compelled to share as I eat my way through it. Both types of Korean fried chicken are always excellent — as is the dukboggi, a hot and spicy rice cake that comes swimming in a sauce that’s like a hot, seasoned tomato soup. (They have a strangely enchanting density we’ve been assured is somewhat challenging to pull off.) Kalguksu, or knife-cut noodles, might not be the exact same thing as ramen, but they’re good for what ails you. I’m as excited by the japchae (a dish of sweet potato noodles with stir-fried vegetables) as I am by the sundae (which would be panfried Korean sausage, not ice cream). Even the oyster and mushroom porridge calls out to me, to be kept in mind for the next cold snap.
Tasting notes: Urbanbelly’s new menu
Time Out Chicago
Back in October, Bill Kim announced he was moving Urbanbelly, his tiny BYO Avondale noodle restaurant, to Restaurant Row, where it would share space with BellyQ (1400 W Randolph St), his Asian barbecue spot. The move was the result of the restaurant outgrowing its space and Cornerstone Restaurant Group, which already had a hand in BellyQ, taking an ownership stake in all of Kim’s restaurants. When Urbanbelly reopened in early November, there were other changes, too: a small wine, beer and sake list, a kid’s menu and a few new menu items, cooked in a new wok.
The new space is adjacent to BellyQ and twice as large as the old one. As before, you order at the counter, then grab a seat. The dining room has communal tables and one of the brick walls is covered with plants—it’s a pretty comfortable space to spread out and work through the menu.
AIDS vaccine test results faked
An Iowa State University assistant professor resigned after being accused of spiking rabbit blood to falsely show that an AIDS vaccine was working in the research animals.
Dong-Pyou Han was an assistant professor of biomedical sciences. He resigned in October after admitting responsibility, an ISU spokesman said.
The fraudulent results helped an ISU research team gain millions of dollars in federal money, according to James Bradac, who helps oversee AIDS vaccine grants for the National Institutes of Health.
More N. Korean defectors going back
More North Korean defectors are returning to their reclusive homeland, causing embarrassment for the South Korean government.
This trend could create a negative impression about living conditions here in the minds of the North Korean public, dampening their desire to seek alternatives to the dictatorial and hereditary leadership of Kim Jong-un.
Last week, North Korean media released an interview with a woman who returned home after defecting to South Korea in which she expressed contempt for her two-year stay here.
N. Korean Defectors Celebrate Christmas
Voice of America
North Korea, an atheist one-party state, does not allow celebrations of Christmas or other religious holidays. But, many North Korean defectors do mark the holiday, because they are rescued by Christian missionaries who convert them and bring them to South Korea.
A Christmas service is not unusual in heavily Christian South Korea but most of the Durihana church members are North Korean defectors.
In 14 years the church has rescued about 1,000 defectors, who flee through China to Southeast Asia, and many convert.
Korean scientists create a tool that can help separate fact from fiction on Twitter
Bigfoot was finally discovered in 2009 — at least according to rumors circulating on Twitter. With misinformation rife on social media, users could do with a tool that can sift truth from fiction.
Now Sejeong Kwon and colleagues at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have designed an artificial intelligence system that, they claim, does this correctly around 90 percent of the time. If built into social networks, it could help people avoid embarrassing retweets or reshares of false information.
The system analyzed language used in more than 100 rumors — some later confirmed, others unfounded — that went viral on Twitter over a period of 31 / 2 years. The researchers found that false rumors were far more likely to contain negative terms such as “no” or “not” than positive terms such as “like” or “love.”
Korean noodle shop helps Memphis break character
This Mississippi River city is proud of its barbecue, its fried chicken, its soul food. But the food scene here is often stereotyped because of it.
Those foods are what tourists typically obsess over, standing in line at Central BBQ for smoky ribs or Gus’s Fried Chicken for juicy drumsticks. When told that there’s a place in Memphis that makes standout Korean food like soups and noodle dishes with meat and seafood, some may scoff.
But Crazy Noodle is real, and it might be proof that people in intensely Southern cities like Memphis, where collard greens are made correctly and macaroni and cheese is listed on some menus as a vegetable dish, are welcoming the cuisine of immigrant communities.
Experience Gangnam Style!
Gangnam, in southern Seoul, passes for a hip, savvy place in Korea among international visitors thanks to the popularity of K-pop sensation Psy’s music video “Gangnam Style.”
The song’s popularity is fading into history, but the district has become a tourist magnet, attracting internationals and K-pop fans alike. It has luxury brand stores and fancy restaurants lined along the streets. But, most of all, it is home to major entertainment agencies such as SM, JYP and Cube Entertainment. Some 150 small and big agencies prosper in the area.
Living up to its name, the Gangnam Tourist Information Center in Apgujeong offers K-pop fans unique experiences to feel closer to their beloved stars. While the first floor of its two-story building functions as a normal tourist center, the second is dedicated to “hallyu” or Korean pop culture.
Senior diplomats from S. Korea, Japan, China hold talks amid strained ties
Ranking diplomats from South Korea, Japan and China met in Seoul on Thursday to discuss closer trilateral collaboration amid frayed ties over historical and territorial issues with Japan.
The meeting brought together Seoul’s Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Lee Kyung-soo, China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin and Asia Bureau Director General Shinsuke Sugiyama from Japan’s foreign ministry.
The eighth meeting of the three countries’ ranking foreign ministry officials comes amid Japan’s unusually chilly relations with China and South Korea.
Park’s Japan Rebuff Has Domestic Roots
Wall Street Journal
Despite polling data showing public support in South Korea for a Seoul-Tokyo summit, President Park Geun-hye has labeled such a meeting “pointless” in an interview with the BBC. This rebuff has as much to do with current domestic political dynamics as it does with historical grievances with Japan.
President Park has declining but solid approval ratings in the low-60 percentage point range. But the key figure is that only 50% approve of her performance on domestic issues following a series of policy missteps and scandals. Thus, the administration has less wiggle room than is imagined when it comes to spending its political capital.
Because of this domestic vulnerability, there is little appetite to take the risk of moving first on Japan for uncertain rewards. Particularly important to understand is that such a move would invite her domestic critics to revive comparisons with her father, Park Chung-hee, and his complicated legacy.
North Korea says SKorean spy arrested in capital
AP via Yahoo News
North Korea’s security agency said Thursday it arrested a South Korean spy in Pyongyang who intended to rally anti-government forces, a claim that intelligence officials in Seoul quickly called ridiculous and groundless.
Pyongyang regularly accuses Seoul and Washington of working to sabotage its secretive, authoritarian system — statements that outside analysts see as a way to strengthen domestic support for leader Kim Jong Un — but specific claims that an individual spy has been captured, especially before an investigation is concluded, are unusual.
The few details in the statement by an unidentified spokesman for the North’s state security ministry couldn’t be independently verified. North Korea said the South Korean man confessed to illegally entering the country, but there was no statement from him and there were no details about his condition or legal representation.
Christian missionaries in North Korea: Inside the front companies Christians set up to reach the Stalinist dictatorship
For nearly two years, Kenneth Bae, an undercover missionary from Lynnwood, Wash., safely shuttled groups of Christians in and out of North Korea’s Rason Special Economic Zone. In November 2012, Bae’s crusade ended abruptly. The owner of Nations Tour, a China-based front company he formed as a cover to evangelize in the world’s last Stalinist state, Bae was arrested by North Korean agents as he passed through the Wonjong border crossing with a small group of European travelers. The 44-year-old Korean-American was charged with possession of “anti-DPRK literature,” convicted of encouraging foreigners to “perpetrate hostile acts to bring down [the] government,” and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.
It is relatively rare that North Korea arrests a foreign national, even rarer when one considers that a company like Nations Tour is hardly unique. The so-called “Business as Mission” movement, which instructs devout Christians to set up companies as vehicles for spiritual outreach, dates back to the 18th century but found new life at the beginning of the 21st. It’s a missionary model that, by definition, assumes a certain amount of risk for those setting out to reach the “unreached.” But the risks haven’t dissuaded the faithful from taking up the cause. Today, there is an extensive, well-financed network of for-profit missions, using shadowy front companies to evangelize in North Korea. Though precise numbers are impossible to pin down, missionary-businesspeople have set up a staggering breadth of enterprises, including tour agencies, bakeries, factories, farms, even schools and orphanages, all in the name of spreading the Good Word.
Fleeing discrimination at home, S. Koreans seek asylum abroad
His name, Ye-da, seemed somehow meaningful – a combination of the Korean words for “Jesus” and “Buddha.” But 23-year-old Lee Ye-da may never again be able to live with the parents who gave him that name. When we arrived at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle International Airport last August, we found it teeming with unfamiliar faces. Making our way to a tourist information booth near the second floor terminal, we saw a young Korean couple – tourists, apparently – chattering as they walked past. In their place appeared Lee Ye-da.
Lee, a South Korean national, lives in France as a refugee. His refugee status was recognized by the French Office for Protection of Refugees and Expatriates (OFPRA) two months before his meeting with the Hankyoreh and seven months after he first submitted his application.
State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim Running For Congress
Honolulu Civil Beat
Donna Mercado Kim, the Hawaii Senate president and longtime lawmaker, will announce her candidacy for Hawaii’s 1st District Seat in Congress today.
Brian Ahakuelo, the business manager of IBEW Local 1260, will also be on hand to endorse Kim’s campaign. The announcement will be in front of Iolani Palace.
A press release for Kim’s campaign initially said she would be the first Korean American elected to Congress. In fact, that honor appears to go to Chang Joon “Jay” Kim, a former politician from California, according to his Wikipedia entry.
BBCN in Los Angeles Hires Saehan’s CFO to Fill Strategy Post
The executive carousel keeps turning among Korean-American banks.
BBCN Bancorp (BBCN) in Los Angeles has hired Daniel Kim as its chief planning officer, effective Nov. 25. Kim, 46, will handle the $6.3 billion-asset company’s strategic planning department, which was created earlier this year, and will advise on acquisitions, revenue diversification and capital management.
Kim is chief financial officer, corporate secretary and acting president at Saehan Bancorp, which is in the process of selling itself to Wilshire Bancorp (WIBC). Kim joined Saehan in 2003 from Pacific Union Bank, where he was manager of the accounting, corporate planning and investment departments.
A swipe at profits
SOUTH KOREA is a notoriously competitive society. But how do those who play its fierce status games know when they have won? Probably when they are invited to apply for “the black”, a credit card issued by Hyundai Card, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor. Cast in “liquidmetal”, a trademarked alloy suited to armour-piercing ammunition, the card is heavy. It is also rare. Only about 2,000 have been issued and only 9,999 ever will be. To qualify, a holder needs high social standing as well as high net worth. The card charges a stiff membership fee and offers a variety of benefits: members were, for example, invited to a mock Christie’s auction, featuring works flown in from New York. But the main reason people want the black card is that it is so difficult to get.
That elusiveness is unusual in South Korea, where credit cards are issued promiscuously. The country has the equivalent of 4.4 cards for every member of the labour force. Koreans made 129.7 transactions per person in 2011, according to Yonhap, a news agency, more than any other country. In comparison, Canadians made 89.6 transactions and Americans 77.9.
Best of South Korean Short Films to Stream on Web, Flights
The 11th Asiana International Short Film Festival takes place from Nov. 7-12 in Seoul, but the annual event supported by South Korea’s Asiana Airlines will also screen works online and on flights.
For the first time, 10 films featured in the Korean Competition section will be shown online through Naver TV Store, a channel on Korea’s largest portal site. Winning works are also available for view through Asiana Airline’s in-flight entertainment system.
“We’ve discussed ways to distribute short films by grouping them together [to meet the feature film running time] but this has not been pursued yet,” said veteran actor Ahn Sung-ki, who serves as the festival director. “Currently it is difficult to distribute short films in a consistent, long-term fashion but we are devising ways to do so.”
Trash, illegal flyers dirty Seoul’s main party drag
Korea Joongang Daily
On a recent Friday night, one of Seoul’s most popular thoroughfares, the street in front of Hongik University – known as Hongdae – was flooded with revelers, bar hoppers and college students.
Around 7 p.m., four street cleaners emerged and began the tedious routine of removing trash from the street.
They picked up discarded cigarette butts, paper cups and cans until 9 a.m. when the area was finally cleared.
But as they left, more people flowed into Hongdae and the situation began to change.
Mountain Kim Builds Character and Strength
The Connection (Virginia)
When Tae Kwon Do Grand Master Mountain Kim opened his martial arts school in Vienna about 35 years ago, it was the second of the eponymous Mountain Kim Tae Kwon Do schools in Northern Virginia. Now, there are approximately 20 Mountain Kim martial arts schools in the area, most of which are franchises. The Vienna and the Oakton schools are still owned and run by Mountain Kim’s family. In fact, should you stop by the Vienna school on Dominion Road, it’s not unusual to see the Grand Master there himself. He is not a titular face, either. Mountain Kim is hands-on in the practice studio and in the office.
“Every day, we teach respect, listening to parents, grandparents and teachers,” said Mountain Kim. “We and the parents and the school work together to teach respect, discipline.”
Mountain Kim calls himself “semi-retired,” but his passion for the values that tae kwon do instills in its practitioners is as self-defining as it was in the Grand Master’s earliest years. He says tae kwon do training is very good for children.
A Mysterious Realm of Exquisite Objects
New York Times
Here’s a good question for “Jeopardy!”: One of the world’s longest-running dynasties, it emerged around 57 B.C. and grew to dominate the Korean Peninsula in the seventh and eighth centuries before meeting its demise in A.D. 935.
The answer: What was Silla?
If the name Silla is unfamiliar, it might be partly because no major museum exhibition about this kingdom’s art, craft and culture has been mounted in the West until now. “Silla: Korea’s Golden Kingdom,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, presents more than 130 objects dating from A.D. 400 to around 800, organized by Soyoung Lee, associate curator, and Denise Leidy, curator, in the Met’s Asian art department, with colleagues at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul and the Gyeongju National Museum.
Japan ‘disappointed’ by South Korea summit remarks
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan had outlined its position on the issues and he hoped South Korea would accept that.
He said Japan would continue to seek to build co-operation with Seoul.
President Park Geun-hye said Japan must apologise for war-time “wrong-doings”.
Japan raps S. Korea for islet claims, alarmed at China’s criticism
Japan’s Foreign Ministry in separate reports has criticized South Korea for selectively interpreting historical records to justify its territorial claim to a disputed group of islands in the Sea of Japan, while registering its concern about China’s stepped-up criticism of Japan over a separate island dispute through its state media.
Together the reports, submitted late last month to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s special committee on territorial issues, strongly suggest the ministry’s willingness to seek LDP support in pushing back on information campaigns.
In analyzing South Korea’s recent criticism of Japan, one of the reports says Seoul has interpreted relevant documents and materials over the history of Takeshima, a group of islets controlled by South Korea but claimed by Japan, “in a way that is consistent with its claims to make it look as if the islands are its own territory.”
North Korean Sailors Reported Killed in October Sinking; South Says There Was No Clash
New York Times
A North Korean naval vessel sank last month, killing an unspecified number of sailors, according to North and South Korean news media.
The news first appeared on Saturday when the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, had visited a newly built cemetery for the sailors “sacrificed” on board the vessel, a submarine chaser, during “combat duties” last month.
The news agency gave no further details about what happened but quoted Mr. Kim as instructing his navy to “find all the bodies,” hinting at a sizable death toll. Photos of Mr. Kim visiting the cemetery with flowers showed a large mass tomb encircled by what looked like at least a score of headstones bearing the names and photographs of the sailors who had died.
South Korean Businesses Quit Kaesong
Wall Street Journal
South Korean businesses are exiting the Kaesong industrial park in North Korea, making Seoul’s efforts to attract foreign investment to the site an even tougher sell.
At least nine South Korean firms have ended or have decided to end business at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, just north of the inter-Korean military border, because of uncertain investment prospects and financial crunches following a five-month operational halt amid cross-border tensions.
Officials at the Unification Ministry in Seoul confirmed two of 123 South Korean firms in Kaesong had fully withdrawn from North Korea after selling out their business assets there. They withheld the names of the companies—one manufacturing electronics parts and the other textile.
Road Voyeurism Fueling Surge in Black Box Sales in Korea: Cars
In the world of the wired, South Koreans rule: millions got hooked on social networking years before Facebook; their mobile phones went broadband first; and Internet connections are faster than anyplace on the planet.
Now they’re going pedal to the metal on the next hi-tech craze: “black boxes” for cars, devices that automatically record video and audio as well as time, location and speed.
What began five years back as a way to protect local taxi drivers from passengers who run off without paying has caught on with other drivers — 2.2 million black boxes are already in use, more than the number of autos sold in Korea each year. Broadcaster SBS has enough clips from viewers that it aired more than 100 morning show segments on car crashes.
South Korea is stuck with Internet Explorer for online shopping because of security law
South Korea is renowned for its digital innovation, with coast-to-coast broadband and a 4G LTE network that reaches into Seoul’s subway system. But this tech-savvy country is stuck in a time warp in one way: its slavish dependence on Internet Explorer.
For South Koreans who use other browsers such as Chrome or Safari, online shopping often begins with a pop-up notice warning that they might not be able to buy what they came for.
“Purchases can only be made through Internet Explorer,” says one such message on the Web site of Asiana Airlines, one of South Korea’s two major carriers.
Michelle Rhee revolution faces massive threat — and new accusations
Education reform lightning rod Paul Vallas – who courted controversy helming school districts in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Chicago — isn’t on the ballot tomorrow. But a school board election in Bridgeport, Conn. – the latest district to tap Vallas to oversee reforms — could effectively spell his fate. Tomorrow’s vote will offer the latest referendum on the bipartisan, billionaire-backed mainstream education reform movement, and on a multi-year effort by local Democrats – aided by the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Michelle Rhee — to defeat or disempower labor-backed dissenters.
“As I’ve gone around the country, I always point to Bridgeport as one of the signs that the people can beat the power,” former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education and high-profile reform critic Diane Ravitch told activists on a conference call last month. Tuesday’s election is the latest round in a long-running war over ed reform, and who should shape it, in the largest city in one of the country’s most unequal states.
For the sake of shielding Vallas and his agenda, activists allege that the city’s Democratic machine has acted indifferent or even hostile to defeating Republicans tomorrow.
Convicted sex offender is charged
Wilkes Journal-Patriot (North Carolina)
A man is awaiting trial in Wilkes District Court on 41 felony counts of being a sex offender on the premises of a place where children gather.
Leonard Lee Yoon, 73, of 540 Obed Heights Drive in the Pores Knob community is also charged with one felony count of obtaining property by false pretenses for denying that he was a convicted sex offender when he signed a Wilkes YMCA membership form in April, said Lt. Jason Whitley of the Wilkes Sheriff’s Department.
Whitley said 40 counts of being a sex offender on the premises of a place where children gather resulted from Yoon being at the Wilkes YMCA and one count resulted from him being at the Wilkes County Library from April through June.
Why Girls’ Generation and K-Pop Won Big at the YouTube Music Awards
Wall Street Journal
Last night, K-Pop supergroup Girls’ Generation took top honors at the first-ever YouTube Music Awards, winning Video of the Year for their clip “I Got a Boy” — an eclectic, electric mashup of candy-colored visuals that parallels the song’s peppery stop-start aesthetic. In doing so, they beat out a fairly impressive list of video music titans — including Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, One Direction and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis — sending shockwaves of self-congratulatory glee across the K-Pop fanscape.
That’s because, given the YTMA’s parameters, the Girls’ victory was literally a win by, for and about the fans: Unlike the Grammys and the MTV Video Music Awards, nominees for the YTMAs were selected solely by algorithm, based on likes, shares, views and other metrics of “fan engagement,” and, according to YouTube, winners were chosen based on how many fresh shares the nominated videos got in the month-long runup to the actual event (with YouTube keeping the vote-with-your-browser window open right up to the actual show itself).
Kimchi advertised in New York Times
Korea Times US
An ad for kimchi, South Korea’s representative side dish, is featured in the Nov. 4, 2013 edition of The New York Times. Actress Kim Yun-jin, known for her role in popular TV series “Lost,” modeled for the ad arranged by South Korean Prof. Seo Kyung-duk, an active promoter of Korea.
Author Catherine Chung: ‘I Want To Embrace The Things That I Am’
Catherine Chung went from mathematics to writing, though she says words were always her first love. She was named one of Granta’s New Voices in 2010, and her first novel, Forgotten Country, received honorable mention for a PEN/Hemingway Award last year.
In Forgotten Country, Chung writes of a family with a curse that stretches back generations — from their time in Korea to their life in America. Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, each generation of the family has lost a daughter.
“I tried to pull my hand out of my mother’s grasp, but she held on. She had lost her sister; she had lived in the aftermath of war. This was always what it came down to, in the end. My grandmother had told me once that my mother had never gotten over the death of my aunt. ‘Never talk of it,’ my grandmother had said. ‘Never bring it up.’ “
Could the Royals land a Korean pitcher this winter?
Kansas City Star
There is an interesting prediction about the Royals at the MLB Trade Rumors site.
In a post about the top 50 free agents, the web site predicted the Royals would land two pitchers this winter:
Toronto’s Josh Johnson (no surprise to hear that) and South Korean Suk-Min Yoon.
Yoon, 27, is a right-hander who was the MVP of the Korean Baseball Organization in 2011.
However, this past season, Yoon had a shoulder problem for the KIA Tigers and finished with a 4.00 ERA in 87 2/3 innings. He moved to the bullpen from the rotation. He also pitched in the World Baseball Classic earlier this year, allowing two earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 5-0 loss to the Netherlands.
Oh Seung-hwan to Start Seeking MLB Club
Samsung Lions’ relief pitcher Oh Seung-hwan will start trying to negotiate a deal with foreign clubs as he looks to potential suitors in Japan and the U.S.
Oh is hoping to find a place for himself in U.S. Major League Baseball, where several clubs have reportedly expressed interest in him. But he apparently sees Japan as his most realistic next destination.
The righty played a crucial role in the Lion’s victory at this year’s Korean Series, which ended last week. Now baseball fans hope he can prove himself as a successful pitcher in the MLB like Los Angeles Dodgers’ Ryu Hyun-jin.
Glenview boutique owner driven by passion for fashion design
Glenview Announcements (Illinois)
Ask Grace Yoon why she decided to open up her Glenview women’s boutique, Ella Louvi and she’ll say her goal was to share her creativity — her clothing designs — with her customers.
“Owning the store isn’t my first passion,” said Yoon, who opened Ella Louvi last July, just months after she and her former business partner, Stella Chun closed their successful store, Stella + Grace. “I love my customers, and I love helping them pick out beautiful outfits, but designing my own line of clothing is my dream.”
Yoon, who came to the states with her family when she was nine years old grew up in the city and in Glenview.
Increase in Activity Reported at North Korean Nuclear Test Site
New York Times
North Korea has increased activity at its main underground nuclear test site, digging new tunnel entrances in what could be preparations for another nuclear test, a Washington-based research institute reported Thursday.
The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, which based its conclusion on analysis of commercial satellite images of the site in Punggye-ri in northeastern North Korea, said there was no sign that a test was imminent.
The report came a day after North Korea’s Foreign Ministry reaffirmed that the isolated country would continue to expand its nuclear arsenal, despite warnings from the United States that it will not engage in the dialogue that Pyongyang is seeking until the North moves toward denuclearization.
Mother: Reunion with US man jailed in North Korea ‘emotional
The mother of American Kenneth Bae, who is imprisoned in North Korea, told the BBC his health had improved following two months of medical treatment.
But Myunghee Bae said her worst fear was that he would get sent back to a labour camp.
The Korean-American was arrested last November and sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour in May.
Mr Bae, described as a tour operator and Christian missionary, was accused of plotting sedition.
It’s Now Dr. Kim Jong Un, Thanks to Malaysian University
Wall Street Journal
A Malaysian university has given North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un a new title – Dr. – offering the controversial figure its first degree to a foreign head of state.
Mr. Kim Jong Un might seem like an unlikely recipient for a university’s degree. But, despite grabbing world-wide headlines through a series of nuclear missile tests and threats to strike U.S. cities, he received an honorary doctorate in economics from Kuala Lumpur-based HELP University.
Paul Chan, vice chancellor and president of HELP, said the award was meant to build “a bridge to reach the people” of North Korea. He said Mr. Kim accepted the degree through his ambassador in a ceremony that was held Oct. 3 in North Korea’s embassy in Malaysia.
‘Choco Pie’ on table for campaign to address N. Korean human rights problem
Call it the “Choco Pie Project.”
The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) plans to give away free Choco Pies near the White House next week in a bid to enhance public awareness of the human rights conditions in the communist nation.
The event will take place at Farragut Square on Wednesday, coinciding with the opening of two-day public hearings by a special panel of the U.N. Human Rights Council looking into the human rights abuses in the North.
Faced with overwhelming pressures, South Korean women have gone on baby-strike
Mothers with young children spend nearly five times as long looking after their family and home as fathers do, calculates Jayoung Yoon of the Korea Labour Institute. But at least the ratio is getting better. In 2009 men gave about half an hour a day more of their time to domestic chores than they had done ten years earlier, and women shaved off roughly 20 minutes. In the Korean sex wars, the front line moves slowly.
The burden of child-rearing poses a formidable obstacle to women’s professional ambitions. Women in their 20s now have higher labour-force participation rates than men, but many drop out in their 30s. They typically return in their mid-40s, though often not to the kinds of corporate jobs they held down before marriage. Instead they work for themselves or their families, often with lower pay and perks (see chart 1).
The 54th parallel
SITTING IN SEOUL’S Tapgol Park under the bronze statue of a patriotic hero, an elderly gentleman reads his newspaper with the aid of a pocket magnifying glass. When asked, he spells out his name (“Mr Jeon”) in the Chinese characters familiar to Korea’s pre-war generation.
In his younger days Mr Jeon worked as a carpenter and builder. Now 87, he is a regular member of the park’s greying congregation: “There’s no other place to go for an old person like me.” He and his companions spend their time complaining about their ailments and corrupt politicians. “In the daytime this spot is packed.”
South Korea is ageing faster than any other country in the OECD. Last year almost 12% of the population were aged 65 or over. By 2030 that proportion will double. The number of South Koreans of working age will peak in just three years’ time, according to the OECD’s Randall Jones and Satoshi Urasawa. By 2040 their number will drop by about a fifth.
Korean-Americans undertake campaign to help accused intelligence analyst
Korean-Americans are taking part in a campaign to help Stephen Kim, who has been waging a battle in the courts since US prosecutors charged him with violating the Espionage Act by leaking material related to national security in 2010.
“We’ve decided to hold our first fundraiser in Flushing, New York, on November 21,” said Lee Myung-seok, former president of the Korean-American Association of Queens, New York on Oct. 22. “We’ll establish a committee for helping Stephen Kim, and we’ll launch rescue committees in each major city.”
“We’re also planning to send petitions to the White House, the Justice Department, and major media outlets,” Lee said.
Wilmette man’s Barrington Hills home invasion trial begins
Prosecutors and witnesses described two hours of armed violence in a Barrington Hills home nearly five years ago as the trial of a Wilmette man on charges of home invasion and kidnapping got underway in Cook County Circuit Court today.
Kuhn Kim, 28, of the 1600 block of Sheridan Road, is also charged with armed robbery, aggravated battery and other crimes in a 22 count indictment stemming from the Dec. 5, 2008 incident.
The bench trial before Judge Kay Hanlon in Rolling Meadows branch court began following lengthy psychiatric examinations and several incidents in which Kim violated conditions of his $1.5 million bond, including a case of reckless driving and possession of drug paraphernalia. He has been in Cook County jail since his bond was revoked last year.
District man sentenced to 40 years in prison for 2010 fatal shooting of Fairfax man
A District man was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday for the 2010 slaying of a man who authorities say was shot in the face in Southeast Washington.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Russell F. Canan sentenced Marlon Williams, 34, in the Sept. 13, 2010, killing of Min Soo Kang, 37, of Fairfax County. According to prosecutors, Williams was identified after he stole Kang’s 2010 Cadillac Escalade after the shooting. The vehicle was equipped with OnStar GPS tracking, which enabled police to locate the vehicle. Prosecutors said that Williams’s prints were found in the vehicle.
Prosecutors said Williams shot Kang about 4:30 a.m. in the 3500 block of Croffut Place SE. Kang was shot multiple times in the chest, face, finger and forearm.
Seoul, San Francisco Mayors Pledge to Strengthen Ties
Voice of America
In South Korea, the mayor of Seoul has met with his counterpart from San Francisco to strengthen sister city relations, and discuss encouraging Internet-based business.
San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon affirmed nearly four decades of sister-city relations with pledges to strengthen economic, cultural and education exchanges.
Mayor Park praised San Francisco’s reputation for innovative business and said he hoped its Korean-American community could act as a bridge across the Pacific.
High-security isolation for South Korea’s exam-setters
AFP via NDTV.com
Every October, hundreds of South Korean teachers and professors are sequestered – like jurors in a mafia trial – in a secret, guarded compound: prisoners of their country’s obsession with education.
For one month, they are kept in complete isolation under conditions that resemble house arrest, with everything down to their food waste subject to rigorous examination.
Their sole task is to compile the annual college entrance exam – the importance of which in the minds of stressed-out students and their often equally stressed-out parents is almost impossible to exaggerate.
What’s it like to live on $26 a week?
Prince George Citizen (British Columbia)
As a registered dietitian, Erica Kang knows what it takes to eat a healthy, balanced diet, but this week she didn’t consume nearly enough calories and was short many vitamins and nutrients.
Kang didn’t slack off her regular eating routine because she wanted a break nor was she on the latest diet craze, instead she took part in the Welfare Food Challenge to both raise awareness about low social assistance rates in B.C. as well as learn what’s it’s like to live on a food budget of just $26 a week.
“Even for somebody trained, with five years of schooling, I wasn’t able to manage what was an adequate diet for my needs,” Kang said after completing the challenge this week.
Plastic Surgery Perfected With 3-D?
Wall Street Journal
3-D technology is helping plastic surgeons make more-precise cuts and easing patients’ anxiety by giving them an advance look at their future faces. The WSJ’s Kurt Achin reports from Seoul, South Korea.