Tag Archives: Seoul

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Chanel to Stage Its First Seoul Fashion Show

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

French luxury brand Chanel has announced that it will be debuting its cruise collection in Seoul on May 4. This will be Chanel’s very first fashion show in South Korea, reports Donga Ilbo.

Bruno Pavlovsky, the president of Chanel fashion, told WWD that show will be held at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), or DDP, a neo-futuristic exhibition hall designed by Zaha Hadid and Samoo. Chanel is no stranger to the DDP as it held its Culture Chanel exhibition “The Sense of Places” at the venue last fall.

As for why the brand chose Seoul as the stage for its May collection, Chanel said the city was a “place where old tradition and state-of-the-art technologies coexist in perfect harmony.”

Seoul is one of three cities Chanel will host its fashion shows. On March 31, the brand will reprise its Paris-Salzburg show in New York before heading to Korea. On Dec. 1, the brand’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld will debut his next Métiers d’arts collection in Rome.


Photo courtesy of Luxuo

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SM Entertainment to Release the World’s First Hologram Musical

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

SM Entertainment will premiere the world’s first hologram musical, School OZ, on Jan. 14 in Seoul, according to Soompi.

Based loosely on The Wizard of Oz, this hologram fantasy musical stars various SM artists, including Changmin of TVXQ, Key of SHINee, Suho and Xiumin of EXO and Red Velvet’s Seulgi. The story will center on the search for Dorothy, who mysteriously disappears before the day of the “Great Knight” championship. The 110-minute show will be screened at the SMTOWN Theatre, taking advantage of the venue’s high-definition screens, projectors and its start-of-the-art sound system.

SM Entertainment will also screen its hologram concert Girl Story, which stars Yoona of Girls’ Generation and SHINee’s Minho, on the same day of the musical’s premiere.

Tickets for both performances will be available starting Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. KST and can be purchased via the app “SMTOWN Theatre” or the agency’s dedicated website.

You can watch the trailer for School OZ below:


Featured image courtesy of Soompi

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick works with fourth graders during Cooking Matters, a nutrition class taught by 18 Reasons, a local partner of Share our Strength at Glen Park Elementary School in San Francisco

South Korea Indicts Uber CEO

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

South Korean prosecutors have indicted the CEO and local subsidiary of Uber for operating an illegal taxi service, becoming the latest roadblock for the ride-sharing app, according to Reuters.

CEO Travis Kalanick and Uber’s partner MK Korea, a domestic rental-car service operator, were charged with violating a South Korean law that prohibits individuals or firms from using rental cars for paid transportation services without appropriate licenses, said the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison or a fine of 20 million won (USD $18,121).

Uber said in its statement on Wednesday that it plans to fully cooperate with the investigation and that it is “confident” that the South Korean court will make a fair and sensible judgement.

“We firmly believe that our service, which connects drivers and riders via an application, is not only legal in Korea, but that it is being welcomed and supported by consumers,” said the California-based company.

On Friday, the Seoul city government passed a measure that offered a financial reward of 1 million won (USD $910) for those who reported Uber’s illegal drivers, according to Yonhap. The decision came after Seoul repeatedly accused Uber of engaging in illegal transportation services, which the company denied.

This year has been a rough ride for Uber as it weathered numerous scandals and sparked protests by cabbies around the globe. The company made headlines earlier this month when a passenger was allegedly raped by an Uber driver in New Delhi.

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Beck Difenbach


Korean American Questioned over Alleged Pro-North Talks

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

A Korean American writer faces another round of questioning over allegations that she made pro-North Korea remarks during a series of on-stage talk shows, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Shin Eun-mi, 53, has recently been under fire for making sympathetic comments toward Pyongyang and praising the North’s communist regime. After she was given a 10-day travel ban, Shin was questioned on Sunday by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA) for seven hours after conservative groups and North Korean defectors accused Shin and her co-host, Hwang Sun, of violating the National Security Law, which prohibits encouraging North Korea’s political ideals.

The writer is also under scrutiny for her memoir titled, Korean-American Ajumma Goes to North Korea, which chronicles three of her six secret visits to North Korea. While her book positively portrays the daily lives of North Koreans, Shin has told reporters that she has “never glorified or encouraged North Korea.”

The SMPA is currently considering charging her for violating South Korea’s immigration control law, which bars tourists from participating in any for-profit activities. According to investigators, Shin was visiting South Korea under a tourist visa.

Earlier today, President Park Geun-hye voiced her concerns over Shin’s alleged pro-North talk shows.

“It has become a problem as certain people who have made several visits to the North have closed their eyes to the appalling living conditions of the North Korean people or the human rights violations and distorted and exaggerated their certain biased experiences as if they are the real state of affairs in the North,” Park said to her senior secretaries during a meeting, according to Yonhap.


Super Junior’s Sungmin Marries Kim Sa-eun

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Sungmin of Super Junior tied the knot with musical actress Kim Sa Eun on Dec. 13 at The Raum in Yeoksamdong, Seoul.

About a thousand guests, including family, friends and celebrities, attended the wedding. Musical actor Yoo Jun-sang and comedian Hong Rok-gi officiated the ceremony, and congratulatory songs were sung by Sungmin’s fellow band mate Ryeowook as well as Kim Ah-sun, Seo Ji-young and Lee Gun-young. According to Allkpop, one of the highlights of the event was when the married couple sang a duet during the reception.

KBS2’s Entertainment Relay documented the wedding in an exclusive report that revealed photos taken during the ceremonies. Here are some of the photos below:





Sungmin and Kim first met as co-stars in the musical The Three Musketeers in late 2013 and went public with the relationship in October this year.

After the wedding, the couple flew to Maldives for their honeymoon.

All photos via Daily Kpop News and KBS2.

South Korea Gangnam Startups

Gangnam Becomes Hot Spot for Korean Startups

by YOUKYUNG LEE, AP Technology Writer
Follow @YKLeeAP

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The uber-trendy Seoul neighborhood made famous by the “Gangnam Style” K-pop hit is known for status-conscious people, plastic surgery clinics and Ivy League prep schools. Now it’s making a name as a bustling center for tech startups.

Many young South Koreans, some educated overseas, are going to Gangnam to start mobile or Internet businesses. Venture capitalists from Silicon Valley and Japan are opening offices in the area to find promising Korean services or apps to bet their money on. Hardly a day passes in Gangnam without a meeting or event related to startup businesses.

As one of the most wired places on earth, Seoul has been a crucible for several startup scenes. The government is even aiming to make a town south of Seoul a Korean Silicon Valley. But it is in the 40 square kilometers of land south of the Han river where the growth of Internet and mobile startups has been most evident and the related culture most vivid.

Despite its reputation as a beacon for the shallow and status-obsessed, Gangnam has a special significance in SouthKorea as the place where a globalized youth culture emerged from a generation that had opportunities to travel and study abroad. The present day Gangnam is still seen as the place that brings foreign culture and ideas to the rest of the country.

“Gangnam has the best of the New York city and Silicon Valley,” said Steven Baek, a marketing director at FuturePlay, an incubator for startups.

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Silicon Valley is “tech-centric, with a lot of nerdy and geeky people but it doesn’t have much diversity,” he said. “Gangnam’s benefit is diversity. New York has lots of fun clubs and rich consumer-based culture like Gangnam but it doesn’t have many engineers.”

Another common reason for startups going to Gangnam is that everyone else is there, which makes networking effortless.

Near Gangnam’s Teheran-ro boulevard, many Gangnam startups, venture capitalists and startup incubators have opened offices in the past year, with more arriving in coming months. All three major media companies dedicated to covering startup stories are there too.

Around 2000, South Korea’s first wave of Internet companies dotted this 4-kilometer-long street. After the dot.com bubble burst, most of the big Internet portals and online game firms that survived moved to the south of Seoul, but left a legacy. Engineers and developers live near or in Gangnam and older entrepreneurs from the dot.com era became angel investors and startup mentors such as FuturePlay’s CEO Ryu Jung-hee.

Recent openings of two spaces for startups accelerated the startup boom and revived the Internet scene on Teheran-ro.

D.Camp opened in 2013 and Maru180 earlier this year a few blocks from Teheran-ro to rent cheap spaces to startup companies and investors. These Silicon Valley-style communal work spaces regularly host meet-ups. Maru even has showers and bunk beds. The spaces are designed to enable serendipitous, accidental meetings in communal areas.

Next year, Google is opening its first campus in Asia in Gangnam, giving mentorship and offering spaces for entrepreneurs to hang out. South Korean Internet giant Naver is also opening a startup accelerator center in Gangnam early 2015.

For 35-year-old Johnny Oh, who grew up in a fishing town, Gangnam was a foreign world that filled him with envy and insecurity.

Encouraged by rich cousins from Gangnam, he moved to the area a decade ago and ran businesses dealing with Gangnam’s well-heeled residents, hung out in Gangnam clubs and made Gangnam friends.

When he quit a big telecom firm this summer to start a Cloud-based video editing app to challenge YouTube and Vine, setting up an office in Gangnam was a no brainer.

“They are consumers with far-reaching influence,” he said.

Many mobile apps and services that are developed in Gangnam are not just looking within South Korea.

flitto(Photo courtesy of Flitto)

Simon Lee, a 32-year-old entrepreneur, said his company’s namesake translation app Flitto, which uses volunteers to do translations within minutes, is taking on Google Translate. His two-year-old startup is planning expansion in China next year.

He said being located in Gangnam helps hiring for little-known startups. Public transportation is among the most convenient in Seoul and there are many hangout places like restaurants and clubs for after work hours.

Gangnam’s startup boom reflects a shifting perception on risk taking in South Korea, where the economy is dominated by big family-owned business groups.

Even just a few years ago, the word “startup” was unknown outside the tech circles. That has changed as a growing number of South Korean startup entrepreneurs generate success stories of going public, selling their companies or winning big investments. Last month, a Goldman Sachs-led consortium announced a $36 million investment in Woowa Brothers Corp., operator of a food-delivery app located in broader Gangnam.

South Korea’s government is putting more taxpayer money behind young and risky entrepreneurs, not limited to Gangnam startups. The government plans to use a $181 million budget next year to make angel investments in early stage startups.

Still missing in South Korea’s startup boom are big companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo that snap up local startups.

Samsung, LG, SK and other South Korean conglomerates tend to overlook local startups and believe paying big money to buy a startup is an admission of failure, said Flitto’s Lee.

“Big companies do almost no M&As. They don’t want to admit they are inferior to startups,” he said.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Seoul’s Female Cabbies Get Protective Screens

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to install protective screens in 35 taxis driven by female drivers to prevent assaults from passengers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re doing it on a test basis for now, but if the measure is favorably accepted by the female taxi drivers and passengers, we’ll make it mandatory for all taxis in the city,” said Lee Seung-wook, a city government official.

The protective screens for the taxis are made of clear, polycarbonate that can withstand hammer blows. Each screen costs between 250,000-290,000 won (USD $222-$261), and the government will cover half the cost.

Back in September, about a third of the 462 female cabbies said in a survey that a partition was necessary for protection. Some drivers expressed their fear of working late at night when many passengers are drunk and belligerent. Last month, a Jeonju taxi driver was hit in the face with a soju bottle when he tried to give change to the drunk customer, according to the Korea Bizwire.

Under South Korea’s transportation laws, threatening or assaulting a professional driver could result in a five-year prison sentence or a fine of 20 million won (USD $18,000). However, most offenders are only fined about one million won.

Seoul now has one of the highest crime rates in South Korea, according to WSJ. About 38,408 violent crimes occurred in the trendy Gangnam district last year, making it the country’s third-most dangerous region.

The city government decided to test the protective screens on female cabbies first because they are particularly vulnerable to in-vehicle assaults.


2NE1 Performs on ‘America’s Next Top Model’


Back in March, the streets of Seoul were filled with excitement as Tyra Banks landed in South Korea to film a segment of Americas’s Next Top Model. We were even more excited when we discovered that ANTM chose popular K-pop group 2NE1 to make an appearance during the highly-anticipated fashion show for designer Lie Sang Bong.

A source revealed, “2NE1 was asked to be on the show because they are a representative K-Pop group and they are also well-known to be fashionistas.”

After 9 long months, the waiting is finally over. Americas’s Next Top Model aired its final episodes of Cycle 21 this past Friday. The segment included a photo shoot for GUESS at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, as well as Korean barbecue and even more Korean barbecue.

Most exciting of all, 2NE1 went to wish the the remaining contestants good luck before heading out to the runway to perform their popular song, “Crush.”

Check out the performance below as well as the behind-the-scenes footage of the girls interacting with the ANTM contestants.

Originally published on Audrey Magazine