North Korean Leader Tightens Grip with Removal of Top General
New York Times
North Korea’s state media on Thursday confirmed the removal of a hard-line general as its military chief, the latest sign of a military overhaul in which the country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, has replaced nearly half of his country’s top officials in the past two years, according to South Korean officials.
The firing of Gen. Kim Kyok-sik and the rise of Gen. Ri Yong-gil to replace him as head of the general staff of the North’s Korean People’s Army was the latest in a series of high-profile reshuffles that Kim Jong-un has engineered to consolidate his grip on the North’s top elites.
Since taking power upon the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in late 2011, Kim Jong-un has replaced 44 percent of North Korea’s 218 top military, party and government officials, the South’s Ministry of Unification said in a report. He engineered this and other reshuffles to retire or sideline the old generals from his father’s days and promote a new set of aides who will owe their loyalty directly to him.
Don’t go to the land of death, North Korean ‘slave labourer’ urges tourists
A woman who spent nine years in a North Korean slave labour camp has urged tourists not to visit the reclusive state.
As Kim Jong-un, the country’s ruler, oversees final preparations for Thursday’s opening of North Korea’s first ski resort, Kim Young-soon said it was wrong “to pay into the coffers of the regime.” A British company is offering Christmas in Pyongyang, but Ms. Kim, 77, said: “Why give money to a leader who cares nothing for his people?”
As a young woman Ms. Kim danced for Kim Il-sung, then the country’s leader and grandfather of the current leader. A friend of hers was the secret mistress of Kim Il-sung’s son, Kim Jong-il, and after gossiping about their relationship Ms. Kim was sent to the infamous Yodok prison camp – with her parents and son, who were deemed guilty by association.
S. Korea, U.S., Japan hold joint naval drill
South Korea, the United States and Japan began a two-day drill in waters off the Korean Peninsula, Seoul’s defense ministry said Thursday, amid heightened tensions with North Korea, which angrily responded to the trilateral joint exercise involving an American aircraft carrier.
The drill, which was delayed for a few days due to a typhoon, started in waters off the peninsula’s southern coast as part of routine trainings, mobilizing the nuclear-powered, 97,000-ton carrier USS George Washington as well as Aegis destroyers of South Korea and Japan.
The training also includes the guided-missile USS Antietam CG-54 cruiser and guided-missile USS Preble DDG 88 destroyer. Fighter jets, anti-submarine helicopters and early warning aircraft will also be included.
South Korea Risks Overplaying Its Hand with Japan
Wall Street Journal
While his many detractors would never admit it, former President Lee Myung-bak oversaw an impressive rise in South Korea’s international profile. This rise, combined with Korea’s economic and technological achievements, have created a new confidence among the Korean public—polling data shows many perceive the country as increasingly influential on the international scene.
The Park Geun-hye administration is now acting on that confidence in its diplomatic dealings, but it is in very real danger of overplaying its hand when it comes to relations with Japan.
So far, Seoul has snubbed most of Tokyo’s advances for high-level meetings and stuck to a line that Japan needs to do more to address historical grievances first.
Seoul warns of frayed ties over Japan’s Yasukuni visit plans
South Korea warned Japan Thursday that their bilateral relations will face even more difficulties if Japanese politicians go ahead with their plans to visit the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in October.
“Visits to the Yasukuni shrine by ranking Japanese political leaders will not only jeopardize the South Korea-Japan relations but also cause severe difficulties in the steady development of ties among countries in the region,” Cho Tai-young, the spokesman of the South Korean foreign ministry said in a briefing. “I urge them not to pay the visit.”
The call came as two cabinet members of the conservative Shinzo Abe administration — Yoshitaka Shindo and Keiji Furuya — are reported to be planning a visit to the war shrine during the country’s autumnal festival next week.
Samsung Set for $1.4 Billion Windfall After Seagate Stock Sale
Samsung Electronics Co. will reap a $1.4 billion windfall from its decision two years ago to accept stock in Seagate Technology Plc (STX:US) as partial payment for selling its computer hard-disk drive business.
Samsung sold the unit in April 2011 for $687.5 million in cash and $687.5 million in stock. Since then Seagate’s shares have more than doubled and Samsung agreed to sell part of the stake back to the Dublin-based company.
Samsung exited its 22-year-old business making hard drives to focus on consumer electronics, memory chips and medical technology. The world’s biggest smartphone maker will sell back 32.7 million of its Seagate shares for $1.51 billion. It will keep another 12.5 million shares, valued at $561 million based on yesterday’s prices.
Jane Kim Steps In To Help Mid-Market Tenants Facing Eviction
Following on yesterday’s breaking news about the 100+ people getting evicted from two buildings on Market between 6th and 7th, Supervisor Jane Kim is hoping to get the word out to tenants that there may be help for them after all.
Kim’s office spoke to SFist yesterday and they feel as though there may be some solutions no one has talked about yet. They’d like to hear from as many tenants as possible before going forward.
In addition to a meeting this morning in which Kim is discussing some legislation to protect non-profits from eviction (public comment is at 11 a.m. at City Hall, Room 250), she’s joining a meeting with tenants of 1049 and 1067 Market Street tonight, Wednesday, at 8 p.m. in the 4th Floor lobby of 1005 Market.
‘Grandfather’ of Korean cinema sees life through a lens
“Film is my passion,” the 77-year-old said. “And you must follow your passion.”
Affectionately known as the “Grandfather of Korean cinema”, a large number of Im’s acclaimed productions have focused on what he sees as the erosion of Korean culture in a society that has seen rapid change in recent decades.
With giant posters of him displayed all over the city, Im has been an omnipresent force at this year’s 18th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), which is screening 71 of his movies while making him the subject of a series of seminars and panel discussions.
Margaret Cho brings new show to S.F.
Margaret Cho, the comedian, actress and singer, is one of San Francisco’s most celebrated natives. Although her parents, who owned a bookstore in the city, have relocated to San Diego, Cho, 44, says she still feels a connection to her hometown, even if that connection involves a needle.
Currently in the midst of an international comedy tour called “Mother,” Cho called from the road to talk about her tour – which plays the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium on Saturday – her new albums, her revived TV series and her thoughts on San Francisco.
2AM to Grant K-Pop Christmas Wishes with First Solo U.S. Concert
When Billboard caught up with 2AM in Los Angeles, the K-pop boy band famous for their ballads commented that “in L.A. and the U.S.A., the fans are more passionate.” The quartet will see those “passionate” fans soon with their first-ever solo concert in the United States. 2AM’s “Nocturne in Christmas” show will take place at Los Angeles’ Club Nokia L.A. Live venue on December 15. Merry Christmas, K-pop fans!
Fans can also get up close and personal with the foursome at a “high touch” event held prior to the concert. At these engagements, attendees get to give the 2AM guys a high-five. Based off of boy band B.A.P’s high touch event in New York, expect a handful of fans to be bawling after meeting the idols.
2AM last visited America to perform as one of the headliners at KCON 2013. The boys not only belted out singles like “One Spring Day” and “Can’t Let You Go Even If I Die,” but also performed Bruno Mars’ Hot 100 No. 1 hit, “Just the Way You Are” (below).
G-Dragon was a surprise guest in Justin Bieber’s first Korean concert
On the 10th, Justin Bieber’s first Korean concert as part of his ‘Believe Tour’ opened at the Olympic Park’s gymnasium in Seoul. After performing his hit songs for about fifty minutes, he said he would introduce a guest. At that time, G-Dragon made a sudden surprise appearance to perform his song “Crayon.”
G-Dragon was welcomed warmly by the crowd as all of his Korean fans got on their feet. The response to G-Dragon seemed even more enthusiastic than when Justin Bieber was performing! It was very reminiscent of G-Dragon’s own concerts.
After his “Crayon” performance, G-Dragon said before leaving, “As Bieber will show you a better performance, I hope you will have fun until the end.”
Kim Jang-hoon gives out Hangeul T-shirts in New York
Pop singer Kim Jang-hoon promoted Hangeul in the United States with an event giving out T-shirts emblazed with the Korea alphabet in New York, Wednesday.
The event was to celebrate Hangeul Day, which falls on Oct. 9 each year.
Kim and Korean students at New York University handed out 600 white T-shirts in Washington Square Park.
The T-shirts had two variations ― one lettered with “nanum,” a word meaning sharing, and the other with Hangeul, both written in Korean.
The Walking Dead Countdown: Will Maggie Get Pregnant? Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan Talk “Beautiful” Season Four
Hmm…Does Diapers.com deliver to post-apocalyptic prisons? The Walking Dead’s Maggie and Glenn might want to start looking into such things, because—and we are only speculating here—we have a sneaking suspicion a baby might be on the way for the show’s core couple.
In anticipation of Sunday’s season-four premiere of TWD, we spoke with Steven Yeun (Glenn) and Lauren Cohan (Maggie), and, acting like a true nervous daddy-to-be, here’s how Yeun responded to a question about whether Maggie might ever get pregnant:
“You know, I think that’s definitely a genuine, um, you know, thing that could be,” Yeun stumbled. “And, um, obviously, I can’t really address that at any point. But you know, there’s genuine fears that go along with trying to live a normal life in that world, and that all applies into what makes it more dangerous, or what makes you more vulnerable, so it’s all cool.”
Daniel Dae Kim is proud of ‘Hawaii Five-0′ for its minority representation
Canadian Press via 660News.com
South Korean native Daniel Dae Kim says skirting Asian stereotypes is something that’s been important to him since he started his acting career, first onstage in classic plays and improv comedy and then in onscreen projects including the film “Crash” and TV’s “Lost.”
And it’s a goal he feels he’s continuing with “Hawaii Five-0,” which is into its fourth season on Global and CBS.
“One of the things I’m proudest of on ‘Hawaii Five-0′ is the fact that we have so much minority representation, and it’s not done in a token way, it’s not done in a stereotypical way,” Kim, 45, said in an interview.
“All of us have interesting characters to play, and that is a great direction for television to go in.”
The case against Shin-Soo Choo
The Mets have turned their attention to the offseason, amid expectations that the Wilpons will be spending like it’s 1998.
And the apple of the Big Apple’s eye appears to be Shin-Soo Choo, the Reds right fielder who was second in the NL in on-base percentage. Choo is a fine player, and I can see why he will generate interest as a free agent, but when I look at Choo I see the next version of Jason Bay — a 31-year-old outfielder with severe flaws coming of a year he is unlikely to replicate.
The biggest problem with free agents — particularly those coming off of great years — is that it’s easy to assume that their most recent season is their true level of performance when it’s most likely not. The Mets can look at Choo’s .285/.423/.462 line and think he will repeat that for a few years, but what if his future performance is more in line with his 2011 performance: .283/.373/.441? Or even worse, 2010: .259/.344/.390.
‘Stun Gun’ Kim stuns Silva with knockout
Kim Dong-hyun lived up to his ”Stun Gun’’ nickname Thursday (KST) at the UFC Fight Night 29 in Brazil, where he knocked out crowd favorite Erick Silva in what arguably was the biggest win of his career.
The welterweight fight had been billed as a clash of styles, with the underdog Kim rated a top-class grappler and the explosive Silva being one of the most feared strikers in his weight class.
Kim has a chance against Silva only if he can take him off his feet, observers had said. If anyone of them claims they pictured the 31-year-old Korean dropping Silva with a left, they are probably lying.
Insider Guide: Best of Seoul
In Seoul, you can shop at brilliantly lit malls at 4 a.m., sing karaoke an hour later, then get McDonald’s delivered to your doorstep for breakfast.
The city’s 10.4 million residents can also brag about the world’s top airport (ice rinks and movie theaters included) and a stunningly efficient public transportation system featuring high-tech details from massive touch-screen displays at subway stations to tickers at bus stops announcing which bus is coming when.
Business travelers like to drop by the centuries-old temples and palaces for a quick walk on the way to meetings in the Jongno financial district, while design fanatics devise their own tours of the latest skyscrapers and stadiums.
Now You See It: Inside North Korea’s tightly controlled society, the truth is rarely simple.
The monks followed us out to the parking lot. It was a cool autumn morning, and there was silence inside the Ryongthong Temple, a hillside complex of Buddhist shrines outside the North Korean city of Kaesong. Centuries ago Kaesong was home to Korea’s kings, and Ryongthong was a bustling religious center. But this morning the temple was empty. There were no ringing bells, no worshippers lighting incense—only two monks in gray robes walking through the complex with ostentatious serenity. Down in the city, loudspeakers on Kaesong’s empty main street were bellowing songs of praise for Kim Jong Un, the young man North Koreans now call the Supreme Leader.
Photographer David Guttenfelder and I had come to the temple with our minders—the anxious government bureaucrats who accompany foreign reporters everywhere they go in North Korea. I briefly interviewed one monk, dutifully scribbling a few banalities in my notebook. “Buddhism helps people be clear, clean, and honest,” he said.
A Buddhist temple in North Korea would seem a natural place for a reporter to ask about freedom of worship. Researchers say six decades of a one-family dictatorship have effectively crushed organized religion here. But if I asked, and one of the monks even hinted at any unhappiness with the regime, I knew he would go to prison, disappearing into a hidden gulag that human rights workers say holds between 150,000 and 200,000 people. So I didn’t ask, and we walked out shortly after.
North Korea rewards athletes with luxury apartments
The North’s KCNA news agency said several athletes, including 2012 Olympic gold medalists Om Yun-chul, An Kum-ae and Kim Un-guk, moved into their luxury new homes along the banks of the Pothong river.
North Korea, which is technically still at war with the South after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty, often rewards successful athletes with a life of luxury for glorifying the impoverished, repressive state.
Weightlifter Om, who won the 56 kilogram weight class at the London Games, was overcome with emotion and paid tribute to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the country’s Songun, or “Military First”, philosophy.
World Bank, Rooted in Bureaucracy, Proposes a Sweeping Reorganization
New York Times
Jim Yong Kim, the genial American physician who took over as the president of the World Bank last year, recently conducted a survey of its 10,000 employees. The survey revealed a “culture of fear,” pervasive “fear of risk” and a “terrible” environment for collaboration at the huge development institution, which lends more than $30 billion a year and works in more than 100 countries.
The bank, which provides a range of services to developing countries, from infrastructure loans to health grants to budget advice, was in danger of becoming a series of regional banks rather than a world bank, Dr. Kim said in an interview at its headquarters, two blocks from the White House. Worse, he feared its internal culture and structural organization might hamper its progress toward its newly made goals of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 and ensuring inclusive growth.
“We could become less than the sum of our parts,” Dr. Kim said.
Report: Patient arrested after attacking hospital staff
ABC News Charleston (S.C.)
Mount Pleasant police were called to East Cooper Medical Center on Hospital Drive after a patient attacked the doctors and nurses who were trying to treat him.
According to a police report, responding officers found the patient, identified as 19-year-old Min Kyun Kim, on the floor with several hospital staff members on top of him, holding him down.
Officers noted a pool of blood around Kim’s head, all over the floor and wall and on the hospital security guards that were trying to restrain him.
Run River North Stays The Course — And Finds Success
Run River North is a band that’s gotten a few more breaks than most on its level. Last year, the Los Angeles-based Korean-American musicians produced a music video from inside their Hondas. The video went viral — and straight to the carmaker. The company rewarded the group with a surprise performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Before the band landed on the popular late-night program, Run River North had already been approached by a major label.
“We got flown out to New York, and wined and dined. We didn’t even know that still happened,” says Alex Hwang, the band’s lead singer and songwriter.
Busan: Why the 2013 Fest Snubbed Hollywood
When the organizers of this year’s Busan International Film Festival announced that Asia’s biggest film event would open with an obscure drama from the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, insiders were quick to grasp the underlying message.
The film, Vara: A Blessing, directed by a Buddhist monk, Khyentse Norbu, not only demonstrates Busan’s role as a showcase for Asian cinema, it also underscores the growing importance of Asian cinema on the global film scene. Indeed, while most international festivals bend over backward to open with a splashy Hollywood tentpole, Busan’s decision to open with Vara underscores the new normal in global cinema: Asia doesn’t need Hollywood as much as it used to.
“We’ve made it a policy to choose Asian films as the opener and closer,” says festival director Lee Yong-kwan. “In the past, we chose mainstream works, but we felt it was more important to showcase the diversity of Asian cinema this year.”
Busker Busker Sweeps K-Pop Hot 100 With Eight Top 10 Entries
More than a year after the release of Busker Busker’s smash-hit “Cherry Blossom Ending,” which achieved an unmatched feat by hitting No. 1 K-Pop Hot 100 in both April 2012 and 2013 (an unmatched feat), three-piece ensemble Busker Busker’s highly-anticipated sophomore album was released on Sept. 25. It has dominated the chart with every track on the album zooming and battling their ways to the top slots. Eight out of the nine tracks entered the Top 10 with the lead single “Love, At First” debuting in at No. 1. Busker Busker’s chart dominance is as follows:
No. 1 “Love, At First”
No. 2 “Too Much Regret”
No. 3 “Love Is Timing”
No. 4 “Your Lips”
No. 6 “Night”
No. 7 “Cool Girl”
No. 8 “Beautiful Age”
No. 9 “Autumn Night”
No. 11 “Juliette”
Hong Kong K-pop contestant, 14, left in tears after organisers offer plastic surgery
South China Morning Post
Aspiring singer Shimali De Silva was surprised when she got through to the finals of an international Korean pop talent competition last year.
Her surprise quickly turned to shock, however, when organisers of the K-Pop Star Hunt took her to see a plastic surgeon, who told her, “You’re 14, but you look 30″, and proposed major changes to her appearance.
“They told her she was too dark and her nose was not proper,” the Hong Kong teenager’s mother Ruanthi recounted to the Sunday Morning Post last week.
Odd couple: Ryu, Uribe become best of friends
Manager Don Mattingly is puzzled, too.
Members of Korean media who have followed pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu since he was a teenager are tickled, but they are not completely surprised the rookie’s best friend on the team is Juan Uribe, a player many think he wouldn’t have much in common with.
“It’s like the Odd Couple, him and Uribe get along so well,” Mattingly said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Ryu, 26, is from South Korea and knows only a few phrases in English. The Dominican-born Uribe, 34, is one of the most popular players in the league and primarily speaks Spanish and knows English, but he doesn’t know a word of Korean.
Much-maligned footballer Ki Sung-yueng vows to apologize to ex-coach
South Korean footballer Ki Sung-yueng, heavily criticized over writing derisive online comments toward his former national team head coach, vowed on Monday to make a personal apology.
The midfielder for Sunderland in English Premier League arrived at Incheon International Airport Monday to join the national team’s training camp this week. South Korea is scheduled to host Brazil on Saturday and Mali on Oct. 15.
Ki, once a fixture on the national team, is back on the squad for the first time under the current head coach Hong Myung-bo, who succeeded Choi Kang-hee in June.
Cubs’ reliever Lim Chang-yong expresses confidence vs. MLB bats
Yonhap News Agency
The Chicago Cubs’ reliever Lim Chang-yong said Monday he was never afraid of Major League Baseball (MLB) hitters in his first U.S. season, adding that his confidence will help him put up better numbers next year.
The 37-year-old right-hander returned home Monday following a short stint with the National League (NL) club in September.
Lim made six appearances after getting called up from the Triple-A Iowa early September. He allowed three earned runs in five innings on six hits and seven walks. He struck out five batters and didn’t have a win-loss record.
The Greenwood Korean joint breaking Seattle’s culinary apartheid
Restaurateur Steven Han is the young, successful owner of a collection of Japanese restaurants in Seattle, places where cool kids and aficionados eat. He is a sort of Asian Ethan Stowell — about the same age with three restaurants to Stowell’s six.
Stowell’s restaurants are all Italian even though he is not explicitly Italian. Similarly, Han’s restaurants (Umi Sake House, Kushibar, and Momiji) are all Japanese, even though he happens to be Korean.
In casual conversation late last year, I asked Han why, being a first-generation Korean-American, he has never attempted to add a Korean restaurant to his empire. Two of his places are in Belltown, one in Capitol Hill. All are polished, efficiently run, and reasonably respect the traditions behind the food they serve.
The Korean-American Fusion Burger
Umami Burger from bopNgrill
The Umami Burger from Chicago’s bopNgrill is a kind of culinary autobiography of Korean-American owner William Song. After combining Asian flavors with the classic American dish, the Cordon Bleu-trained chef lent his creation an extra personal dimension – and deep, complex flavors – by topping it with sun-dried tomato confit and truffled duxelles, or finely chopped mushrooms with garlic, onion (and his addition, truffle oil). Song says mushrooms in particular pack an umami punch, and pairing them with the tang of sun-dried tomatoes really brings out flavor. “You go to these burger joints all over America and they put sautéed mushrooms on top,” Song says. “That’s what we’re doing – just more detailed.” Note, though, that this burger requires a little extra prep time, about 25 to 45 minutes for the duxelles alone, but the patient cook will find it worth the wait. “Cook it slow so all the flavors can meld,” Song says.
50 Instagram Pictures to Make You Love Seoul
Life in Seoul is full of small beautiful moments that make every day a wonder. Thankfully the citizens and visitors of Seoul appreciate this and have used the app Instagram to capture and edit some of the “if you blinked, you would have missed it” visuals of Seoul. Here are 50 of the Seoulistic staff’s favorite Instagram photos of the city, history, life, and food of Seoul.
A rendering of Terminal 2 at Incheon International Airport. Image via Gensler
Incheon International Airport, one of Asia’s busiest, started construction last Thursday on a second passenger terminal, which is scheduled for completion by the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
The new terminal, which will cost $2 billion, encompasses the third part of the airport’s three-phase construction project. It will include a passenger terminal, new railways and roads and a second traffic center by 2017, the Korea Herald reports.
The 72-gate, 7.4 million-square-foot terminal’s design was inspired by the Asian Phoenix, according to Keith Thompson of the global design firm, Gensler. The terminal will feature indoor gardens, a koi pond and natural lighting that travelers can enjoy while shopping, dining or just relaxing. These will join the various facilities already available in the airport, which include hundreds of shops, a hotel, a skating rink, a golf course and a casino. Continue Reading »
Arizona Surgeon Shares Trauma Expertise With Korea
The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare taps Dr. Peter Rhee to help the Asian country set up a long overdue trauma system.
by JAMES S. KIM
Dr. Peter Rhee first caught the media spotlight more than two years ago, after the January 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six and critically injured Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The chief of Trauma Critical Care and Emergency at the University of Arizona Medical Center, Rhee—in his scrubs and white coat—was often the person updating the American public on the condition of Giffords, who had been shot in the head in an assassination attempt. She had a “101-percent chance” of surviving her wounds, he confidently told relieved American viewers at televised news conferences. “She will live.”
Apparently, it wasn’t just Americans who were watching Rhee at that time. Across the ocean, South Korean government officials were also tuning in, paying particular attention to this Korean American surgeon, who served as the face of trauma care at his Arizona hospital. The Korean government took an interest because, despite the nation being an economic, technological and cultural powerhouse that boasts socialized health care, it still lacks a trauma system.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare reached out to Rhee, and for the past two years, the trauma surgeon has participated in several exchanges with South Korea to help improve the latter’s health system. Earlier this year, Rhee hosted a group of 40 physicians and nurses from Seoul who had come to visit Tucson in a cross-country medical tour. He spent a few days teaching them about the trauma program he headed, and then himself traveled to South Korea this past May to consult with officials there. Continue Reading »
McDonald’s Korea has come under public scrutiny recently after a delivery man informed his customer of allegedly having spit in his hamburger.
About two weeks ago, a college student in Seoul, identified only by his last name Kim, placed an order for two hamburger combos. He reportedly had to wait longer than 40 minutes for the food to arrive. Naturally, waiting 40 minutes for a food delivery would not sit well with Koreans who are fully attuned to the country’s longstanding ppali ppali culture. To make matters worse, it was reported that Kim had to give the driver directions to his residence four times.
The tone or details of the phone conversation between Kim and the delivery man is unknown, but a little less than an hour after the food was delivered, Kim received a text message from an unknown sender that read, “Did you like eating my spit?” Continue Reading »