Tag Archives: Seoul


Miss Korea 2014: ‘The Crown Feels Very Heavy’


Today Ewha University student Kim Seo-yeon beat out 49 other contestants to be crowned this year’s Miss Korea at the Olympic Hall in Seoul, according to the Korea Herald. The 22-year-old will go on to represent Korea at the London Miss Universe contest, where contestants from 50 different nations will vie against each other in the highly competitive beauty pageant.

According to the official Miss Korea website, Kim’s goal is to become a news anchor, and she is currently majoring in business administration at Ewha, a prestigious private women’s university in Seoul. Her hobbies include playing the piano and violin.

“The crown feels very heavy,” said Kim, after 2013’s Miss Korea, Yoo Ye-bin, passed on the crown to Kim. “I was not able to make it here through my efforts alone. Thank you to the organizing committee for its efforts. Thank you also to my supportive family and friends. I will carry the responsibility as a representative and work hard.”

Miss Korea-Herald South Korea Miss Korea:AP

Kim Seo-yeon, during the pageant’s competitions. Photos: left via Korea Herald, right via AP.

Shin Soo-min (Kyungbuk) and Lee Suh-bin (Gyeonggi) won second place honors, and Ryu So-ra (Gyeongnam), Paek Ji-hyeon (Daegu), Lee Sa-ra (America) and Kim Myung-son (Jeonbuk) were named third place finishers. Park Ga-ram (Kangwon) won the Friendship Award, Lee Sa-ra (America) won the Best Manners Award, Joo Ka-il (Gyeongnam) won the Photogenic Award, Ko Eun-bi (Gwangju) won the Entertainment Award, and Huh Jin (America) won the Popularity Award.

Girls’ Generation’s Sooyoung and TV personality Oh Sang Jin co-hosted the pageant.

Check out the crowning in the video below.

Photo via mydaily. 

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Korean American’s Facebook Appeal Damages Father’s Political Campaign


No one saw it coming. South Korean attorney and TV personality Koh Seung-duk was entering the June 4 local elections as the heavy favorite for Seoul’s superintendent of education, well ahead of his two rivals in polls. That’s until his 27-year-old daughter Candy Koh, who lives in New York, posted a dramatic appeal on her Facebook page to the citizens of Seoul—urging them not to vote for her father.

In her Facebook post on May 31, Candy described her father as a man who never “acknowledged his children’s experience [let alone] supporting their pursuit of education.” The superintendent of education is deemed a powerful post in South Korea, a nation that’s obsessed with education, and Koh’s daughter explained that a father who disregards his own family should not be given the power to be in charge of overseeing the education of children in the South Korean capital.

“I am not a citizen of your city, but I write you today out of urgency and dire concern for the future of your city’s education system,” the Facebook post read. “When his candidacy came to my attention recently, I could not, in good conscience, stay silent as his child. Seoul’s citizens deserve to know the truth about the person they may be choosing.

“I have next to no memories of his being present to teach me or my brother anything, even when I was old enough to have such memories. When my mother brought me and my brother to the U.S. to send us to a school in New York, Koh [Seung-duk] stayed in Korea and also decided to stop contacting us altogether.”

With only a few days to go before the election, the post went viral in South Korea and sparked scathing criticism of Koh Seung-duk. In response, the candidate, who divorced Candy’s mother in 2002, held a press conference soon after and accused one of his opponents, fellow conservative Moon Yong-rin, of using his daughter as a political tool to hurt his campaign. He also suggested that he was a humble man who had suffered “consequences” from being the son-in-law to Candy’s powerful maternal grandfather, Park Tae-joon, a founder of Korean steel giant POSCO, according to the Korea Joongang Daily. 

“I am having suspicions that my daughter’s post was made out of collusion between the late Park Tae-joon’s son and Moon’s campaign team,” said Koh, during the press conference.

He rejected his daughter’s accusation that he never contacted his family, saying he would meet his children during their visits to Korea and talked on the phone or by text messages. “It may be possible that she didn’t feel it was quite enough [from me as a father],” he said.

When criticism from the Korean public didn’t stop, Koh offered a dramatic public apology. During a speech on the busy streets of Seoul, he screamed a high-pitched “I’m sorry!” and raised his hand. The image of his apology quickly became a meme, as his photo was Photoshopped to depict him as a rockstar and comic book superheroes.

“It had come down to the last few hours of campaigning for him to say an apology to me, but it’s just really bad acting,” Candy Koh told Al Jazeera.

In the end, the victory went to progressive candidate, Cho Hee-yeon, a little known sociology professor who beat both Koh, who had been popular even among liberals prior to the Facebook controversy, and Moon.

Notably, Cho was one of 14 liberal candidates—out of a total of 17 candidates—who won their races for local education chief seats this week, marking a major shift politically from the 2010 election, when liberal won only six posts, according to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reported that some are attributing the shift to voters’ desire for a change from the status quo, and particularly, greater concern for children’s safety and overall welfare in the wake of the Sewol ferry tragedy. President Park Geun-hye is from the nation’s conservative party.


Despite Disapproval From Officials, South Korea’s Gay Pride Parade Will Go On

Organizers in South Korea have announced they will host the nation’s annual gay pride parade in June despite disapproval from city officials, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A Seoul district office initially approved the 2014 Korea Queer Festival, which is entering its 15th year, but then revoked the permission, fearing the parade might stir further controversy amid the aftermath of last month’s ferry tragedy, which has drawn heavy public criticism of the South Korean government.

The organizers of the parade say officials are being pressured by Christian groups that oppose offering civil rights for sexual minorities, though the district-office spokesman insist that the protests had no impact on the cancellation. A number of sporting, government and promotional events in South Korea have been canceled in South Korea recently as its citizens are still mourning the Sewol ferry’s sinking on April 16, which took more than 300 lives.

Nevertheless, even though website of the district office is filled with complaints by opponents of the gay rights movement, the event will go on, the organizing committee has assured. It will be happening in the Sinchon district of Seoul, a hipster-filled region where several of the country’s top universities are located.

Many South Koreans are averse to accepting homosexuality, according to last year’s poll conducted by the Pew Research Center. Only 39 percent of those surveyed said homosexuality should be accepted while 59 percent still opposed the idea. Some Christian groups even protested the 2012 concert by pop star Lady Gaga, saying that the artist is in Korea to spread pro-gay propaganda.

However, the percentage of South Koreans who believe society should accept homosexuality more than doubled from 2007. The level of awareness has risen rapidly with the mainstream media’s coverage of the LGBT culture and public figures who have come out as gay.


More Than 200 Injured in Seoul Subway Crash

Photo courtesy of Segye Ilbo

About two weeks after the tragic sinking of a ferry that left hundreds dead or still missing, South Korea suffered another serious transport accident Friday when a subway train in Seoul crashed and injured 240.

There were no immediate deaths, but one person is reportedly being treated for a brain hemorrhage. Most of the injured passengers in the accident, which occurred at about 3:30 p.m. local time at the Sangwangsimni station in the eastern part of Seoul, sustained minor abrasions, according to emergency officials.


The accident was caused by a signal failure that led to an incoming train crashing into another train that was stopped at the station, said fire department official Kim Kyung-su and Seoul Metro official Chung Soo-young at a news conference. About 1,000 passengers were reportedly evacuated from the trains.


“I fell forwards maybe two or three meters,” Lee Dong-hyeon, a 26-year-old office worker, told Reuters. “It was like tipping over when running really fast.”

The metro system in the city is a prevalent form of transportation in the everyday lives of Seoulies, as the South Korean capital ranks the highest in population density among cities of developed countries. About 4.5 million passengers reportedly use the metro system operated by the city of Seoul.

South Korea is still mourning the country’s worst maritime disaster from April 16, when more than 300 people died or went missing after a ferry capsized. Most of the passengers on board were high school students en route to Jeju island for a school-organized trip.

The ferry disaster prompted the South Korean prime minister to resign and President Park Geun-hye to offer a formal apology for failing to provide adequate rescue operations.

A Gallup Korea poll conducted before the train accident on Friday revealed that President Park’s rating dropped since the sinking of the ferry by 11 percent to 48 percent.



Wednesday’s Link Attack: Obama May Return Ancient Korean Seals; Sandra Oh Prepares for ‘Grey’s’ Departure; Legal Experts Outraged by Comfort Women Suit

“Disgusting!,” Cry Legal Experts: Is This The Lowest A Top U.S. Law Firm Has Ever Stooped?

Would any self-respecting U.S. law firm represent a client who suggested the Jews deserved the Holocaust? Probably not. As a matter of honor, most law firms would run a mile, and even the least honorable would conclude that the damage to their reputation wasn’t worth it.

Where imperial Japan’s atrocities are concerned, however, at least one top U.S. law firm hasn’t been so choosy. In what is surely one of the most controversial civil suits ever filed in the United States, the Los Angeles office of Chicago-based Mayer Brown is trying to prove that the so-called comfort women – the sex slaves used by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II – were no more than common prostitutes.


Obama may return ancient Korean seals on upcoming trip to Seoul
Yonhap News

The U.S. government may return a set of Korean national treasures, shipped out of the country by an American soldier during the Korean War, when President Barack Obama visits Seoul next week, diplomatic sources here said Monday.

“The two sides are in the final stage of consultations to complete relevant procedures,” a source said.

There is a possibility that the process will finish ahead of Obama’s departure for Asia next Tuesday, added the source.

Korean hair gripe goes to the top

North Korea’s displeasure at a poster in a hair salon that poked fun at their leader’s unusual hairstyle has reached the corridors of power in Whitehall.

The Foreign Office has confirmed it received a letter from the North Korean embassy earlier this week complaining about the picture of Kim Jong-un that was displayed in a London salon’s window emblazoned with the words “Bad Hair Day?”.

Mandarins received the letter earlier this week and are now considering a response, a spokesman said.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 10 Spoilers: Sandra Oh Posts Photo From Last Scenes With Kevin McKidd

Goodbyes aren’t easy and that’s something Sandra Oh is making clear. As the actress prepares for her last season on Grey’s Anatomy, she’s been posting emotional posts on Twitter.

The 42-year-old uploaded a photo of herself along with co-star and on-screen lover Kevin McKidd with the caption, “shooting one of our last scenes,” and a sad face.

“My dearest partner in crime,” McKidd, who plays Owen Hunt, tweeted back. “It’s too much to take! What we gonna do?”


Korean-American Band Talk About Rise to Pop Charts
Chosun Ilbo

The debut album of Run River North, a band consisting of six second-generation Korean-Americans in Los Angeles, has made it to No. 3 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Hwang spoke to the Chosun Ilbo by telephone on Tuesday morning in a mixture of Korean and English.

Run River North are currently on a U.S. tour, stopping in Washington. Another member, Jennifer Rim, who plays the violin, also was on the phone.

Wie ready for LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko Olina

The LPGA Lotte Championship tees off Wednesday morning at Ko Olina Golf Club. The tournament marks a triumphant homecoming for 24-year-old Michelle Wie.

The Punahou graduate is off to her best start as a professional, recording six top-16 finishes to open the season, including a runner-up major finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship two weeks ago.

“I’ve just been working hard the last couple of years,” Wie told KHON2. “Obviously I went through quite a bit of a struggle, and I’ve just been trying to improve a little bit here and there every day, trying not to do anything too drastic. I’ve just been patient. A lot of times it was hard being patient. I knew it was getting better and better, it just wasn’t showing. I feel like I’m improving a little bit here and there which is good.”


ISU receives South Korea complaint over figure skating judging
NBC Olympics

South Korea has officially filed its complaint over figure skating judging at the Sochi Olympics to the International Skating Union, nearly two months after Yuna Kim won silver behind Russian Adelina Sotnikova in a controversial decision.

The Korea Skating Union (KSU) filed a complaint over the makeup of the judging panel for the women’s free skate rather than the results of the competition, according to Yonhap News, reporting that the KSU believes the panel’s composition was in violation of the ISU’s ethical rules.

One of the judges from Sochi is married to a top Russian figure skating federation official and was seen hugging Sotnikova shortly after she won gold. Another was suspended one year as being part of the 1998 Olympic ice dance fixing scandal.

Sneak a Peek at Beverly Kim and John Clark’s Parachute Opening Menu
Chicago Eater

When Beverly Kim and John Clark open Parachute (probably next month), expect a different take on Korean cuisine. Kim and Clark are terming their first restaurant “Korean-American,” fusing the textures and flavor profiles of traditional Korean cooking with creative ingredients available to modern restaurants in Chicago.

“I don’t want to compete with mom-and-pop Korean restaurants,” Kim says. “I definitely grew up with those dishes, those dishes excite me, but with our experiences we can put a twist on it that makes it approachable for non-Koreans and Koreans alike.”

“It might take some time for people to grasp that.”



Korean Artist Creates Whimsical Self-Portraits Sans Photoshop


Intricate, whimsical, dreamy and sometimes hauntingly captivating are just a few words to describe the innovative photography of Korean artist JeeYoung Lee. A recent graduate from Hongik University in Seoul, Lee creates simple yet surrealistic worlds that blur the line between reality and fantasy—and without the use of Photoshop!

Although she lives in a tiny 3-by-6-meter studio in the Mangwon-dong neighborhood of Seoul, there’s just no limit to her imagination. In this small space, she creates thematic sets that document her memories, dreams, emotions and whimsies, and then photographs herself in these environments.


The 30-year-old’s self-portraits were recently featured at the Opiom Gallery in France. Her exhibit, titled, “Stage of Mind (Prolongation),” depicts her character with giant ants, trapped in a warped room or being reborn in a huge water lily.

One particular stage, titled, “Treasure Hunt,” took Lee three months to complete. Lee was inspired by moments of her childhood spent at her grandparents’ countryside farm, where she remembers watching the fireflies light up at nightfall. “To me they looked like they were on a treasure hunt,” she said in aninterview with CNN’s Milena Veselinovic, “and I used that as a metaphor to show that finding your ideal is as difficult as searching for a needle in a grassy field.”

The Opiom Gallery describes Lee’s art as photographs of “the invisible,” which take the viewer on a magical and unforgettable journey through her mind. Here’s a peek at more of her unique self-portraits.




Joss Whedon Apologizes for Filming ‘Avengers’ in Seoul

Seoul will be getting a big taste of Hollywood blockbuster action this weekend, as Avengers: Age of Ultron begins filming in the capital on Sunday. But the various road closures aren’t sitting well with many concerned South Koreans, and director Joss Whedon recorded an apology to the residents and commuters who will be dealing with the changes until April 12.

“I’m really grateful and excited to be filming in your city,” the director said. “We’re going to mess it up a bit and inconvenience some people for a few days and I apologize for that. I know what that’s like, I live in Los Angeles, it happens to me all the time and it’s not fun.”


The latest Avengers movie will be shooting several big action and chase sequences in the South Korean capital, where the Avengers will battle supe villain Ultron (played by James Spader) to keep him away from advanced technology being developed at a Korean institute located on an island in the Han River.

“I hope that it will be worth it,” Whedon continued. “We love this movie, we love your city, and having the two of them together will show the city to the world in a light that I don’t think it’s been shown, certainly not in America.”


The Seoul Metropolitan Government and state-run film agencies initially welcomed the decision by Disney’s Marvel Studios to film in the city, speculating about the potential benefits from the elevation of Seoul’s image and boosts in tourism. On the flip side, citizens have voiced their concerns on the Internet, particularly those whose commute is severely affected by the road closures.

“I think it’s a bit ridiculous to say that filming here will boost tourism,” said Lee Min-seob, who works for a finance company in the Gangnam District, to Korea’s Joongang Daily.

“The characters are trying to protect the Earth against attackers and most of the scenes include the demolition and burning down of buildings. Seoul is not even a main location for the film. I don’t know why the city is making such a big fuss.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron opens in theaters on May 1, 2015.




‘America’s Next Top Model’ Filming in Korea

Banks (left) and teenage model Lee Jin-yi.

Supermodel Tyra Banks and the newest contestants of reality TV show America’s Next Top Model were spotted roaming the streets of Seoul, causing a “frenzy” among local media, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Local residents have been reporting on the group’s whereabouts on social media, after host Banks and her crew arrived in Seoul on March 21. The group reportedly visited various city landmarks and popular tourist attractions, including City Hall and Gwanghwamun at Gyeongbok Palace, while filming the 21st iteration of the modeling competition, which will be coed this season.


Various entertainment sites reported that 17-year-old Korean model, Lee Jin-yi, could possibly be a competitor this season. Lee is the daughter of actress Hwang Shin-hye. In addition, K-pop group BtoB will appear on the show as dance judges.

The reality TV show is known for traveling to extravagant locations with the latest trend-setting fashion. Filming of the show will continue for next two weeks under tight security.

Residents of Seoul will be seeing much more than just models wandering their streets as South Korea has been taking center stage for several international productions this year.


In just a few weeks, the filming of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron will be shutting down the streets of Seoul as reports have stated closures of many major roads and specified locations.

Earlier this year, ABC’s reality show The Bachelor filmed several episodes of its season in Korea, with contestants participating in a K-pop performance with idol girl group, 2NE1.

America’s Next Top Model will air on the CW in August.