Tag Archives: Seoul

visit korea panda

1,600 Pandas Arrive in South Korea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Thousands of adorable papier-mâché pandas are invading South Korea, but the reason behind their visit is a bit heartbreaking.

French sculptor Paulo Grangeon first began the panda project back in 2008. The World Wildlife Fund had invited the artist to handcraft 1,600 papier-mâché panda bears to represent the 1,600 real pandas left in the world, hoping to raise public awareness of the wildlife conservation.

Since then, the 1,600 Pandas+ project has toured around the globe, with over a thousand miniature pandas displayed in open public spaces in Italy, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong and more.

This year, Lotte Department Store and Lotte World Mall partnered with Grangeon to create a new tour called “1,800 Pandas+,” which will serve as a symbolic reminder on the importance of protecting endangered wild species. The new tour is essentially a continuation of 1,600 Pandas+ and represents the 200 increase in the population of wild giant pandas since 2008.

The main exhibition of 1,800 paper pandas is scheduled to be displayed in the garden area near Seokchon Lake in Seoul from July 4 through July 30.

If you can’t wait that long for pandas, then don’t worry. Much like a flashmob, a traveling pack of paper pandas are set to pop up in various cities and national landmarks across South Korea. They’ve already made appearances at Jeju Island, Seoul Plaza, Gangnam Station and Dongdaemun Plaza.

Check out the photos below:











The next panda flash mob is scheduled to appear at Cheogna Lake Park, according to South Korea’s official 1,600 Pandas+ Instagram.

You can view the current panda tour schedule below:

To learn more about the 1,800 Pandas+  in South Korea, visit the official tour site.

See Also


“Ho Yoon Shin Creates ‘Empty’ Sculptures Out of Paper”

“Keun Young Park Creates Stunning Mosaics Out Of Tiny Bits Of Paper”

“Soo Min Kim Transforms Starbucks Paper Cups Into Art”


Photos via Visit Korea

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lgbt group police

Seoul Police Reject Application for LGBT Pride Parade

Pictured above: Korean LGBT supporters snap a group photo after submitting their application for the 2015 pride parade. 

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Seoul police stations have banned the annual gay pride parade organized by the Korea Queer Cultural Festival (KQCF), after conservative Christian groups attempted to book the same venues as the LGBT festival committee.

Seoul reportedly began holding pride parades in 2000, with only 50 attendees, according to Oh My News Korea. Since then, KQCF has grown to be one of Asia’s largest LGBT festivals and now includes more than 20,000 participants.

However, last year, the Seoul metropolitan government allowed anti-LGBT groups to hold rallies during the 2014 KQCF Pride Parade, which led to major traffic jams and delays. Hundreds of non-affirming Christians lied down on the ground to prevent parade attendees from moving through the streets, according to the Korea Observer.

KQF-christians-block-roadAnti-LGBT and non-affirming Christians protest during 2014 KQCF Pride Parade. (Photo via ZoominKorea)

Although Seoul government officials have already approved KQCF’s request to hold this year’s pride parade, the festival organizers are still required to receive police approval.

Last month, the KQCF committee attempted to reserve the Seoul Plaza through the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency for the 2015 parade, but failed after an anti-LGBT group called, “Love Your Country, Love Your Children Movement” applied for the same venue.

The KQCF organizers then tried to register the parade through the Namdaemun Police Station, which made the controversial decision to accept applications for rallies that are to be held on June 28 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Love Your Country, Love Your Children Movement again lined up outside the police station on May 20, nine days before the Namdaemun police would even accept applications. The LGBT community spread word about the Christian group’s efforts via social media and quickly joined the line.

Both groups camped outside the station for more than a week, with individuals taking turns going to the bathroom. Several individuals and non-profit organizations donated food to the LGBT supporters standing in line.


11266463_847561355335690_7848132988918419455_nLGBT supporters stand in line outside Namdaemun Police Station (Photos via KQCF)

Despite the LGBT community’s efforts, the Namdaemun Police Station issued a prohibition notice on May 30, banning street marches from both advocates and opponents of the pride parade.

“Rallies may be banned wherever two or more rallies are planned by groups with conflicting goals and on Article 12 where rallies may be banned whenever there is a possibility of inconvenience to pedestrian and vehicle traffic,” the prohibition notice stated.

In response, the KQCF released an official statement on Sunday, saying that Namdaemun Police Station’s “reasoning is not justifiable” and that its decision suppresses the freedom of speech by sexual minorities while “instigating hatred and violence” toward them.

“Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and Seoul Namdaemun-gu Police Station should withdraw its ban on outdoor rallies on May 30th 2015 at once, and should guarantee the Pride Parade of KQCF to be held safely and peacefully,” the committee said in its statement.

“The KQCF Organizing Committee has already begun to seek the support of civil society, human rights, cultural, and women’s groups to support the KQCF in the eight days before the decision rendered by Namdaemun-gu Police Station. Our work will continue.”

Although South Korea remains largely intolerant toward homosexuality, a recent 2014 survey showed that Koreans in their 20s and 30s are becoming more open-minded regarding LGBT rights and issues.

See Also


“Study: South Koreans Becoming More Open-Minded About LGBT Issues”

“Dr. Esther Oh’s Column: LGBTQ Youth, The Challenges of Coming Out”

“Korean LGBT Activists Protest at Seoul City Hall”


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Chloe Moretz and Eric Nam to Star in ‘We Got Married’

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Hollywood actress Chloe Moretz is set to appear in the Korean mock-marriage reality TV show We Got Married, starring opposite Korean American singer Eric Nam.

We Got Married is an enormously popular show that pairs up celebrities and allows them to experience the many charms and quirks of married life. Since its launch in 2008, We Got Married has expanded and created spinoffs, in which Hallyu stars are paired up with celebrities from other Asian countries. According to the Korea Herald, Moretz is the first Caucasian celebrity to participate in the show.

chloe-moretz(Photo via Pop News Herald/Naver)

In 명동!! w @chloegmoretz! Thanks @laneige_kr

A photo posted by 에릭남 Eric Nam (@realericnam) on

After arriving in South Korea on May 19, Moretz met up with Nam to film the upcoming episodes of We Got Married. Nam gave the 18-year-old actress a fun tour of Seoul, complete with visits to a shoe store in Hapejong, a LINE Friend store in Garosu-gil and Seoul’s popular shopping district, Myeong-dong.

The two stars seemed to enjoy their date, evidenced by their cheerful selfies shared on Instagram.

On Thursday, Moretz was seen wearing a vibrant traditional Korean hanbok, alongside her older brother Trevor

In addition to We Got Married, Moretz will be making guest appearances on SNL Korea 6, fashion and beauty show Follow Me 5 and an interview on Pikicast.


Featured image via Pop Herald/Naver

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5 Facts About Teachers’ Day in South Korea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Today is a special day for teachers in South Korea. On May 15, Korean teachers and students annually observe Teachers’ Day (스승의 날), a holiday that traces back all the way to the early 1960s.

For those of you unfamiliar with the holiday, prepare to be schooled! Here are five facts about Teachers’ Day in South Korea.


1. Origin story: Get well, teacher

eu35LJ24(Photo via Oh Kpop)

Teachers’ Day in South Korea is said to have originated in Seoul back in 1963 after a team of Red Cross youth members began visiting their sick ex-teachers in hospitals. These visits gradually evolved into an annual observance that was held on May 26.

2. Date change and cancellation

200605150014_00Students at the Department of Korean Classics of Kyungsung University massage their professors’ shoulders.  (Photo via Chosun Ilbo)

In 1965, the date for Teachers’ Day changed to May 15 to commemorate the birth of King Sejong the Great, the creator of the Korean alphabet. South Korea shut down national ceremonies celebrating the holiday between 1973 and 1982, but later resumed them afterward.

3. Carnations, parties and “love cards”

Teachers'_Day_Gifts_South_Korea_05_2013Korean students give handwritten letters to an English teacher. (Photo via Join Chase)

On Teachers’ Day, Korean students traditionally pay respect to their teachers by presenting carnations, the same kind children give to their parents on Parents’ Day (May 8). Students also craft handmade “love cards” containing messages of gratitude toward their teachers.

Colleges and universities with an ample budget tend to throw special parties or performances for their professors. Special dishes are prepared and awards are given to the most outstanding educators in their fields.

4. Bribery

gift-on-tableA teacher’s desk laden with gifts from students on Teachers’ Day (Photo via Teachers Page)

Many schools in South Korea either close or have a half-day on Teachers’ Day, as many parents use the holiday as an excuse to give teachers expensive gifts that are considered to be bribes. Some schools choose to organize outings for their teaching staff to prevent this problem. Current and former students often visit their teachers during the day to pay their respects.

5. World Teachers’ Day

nha-giao1Vietnamese elementary school students present flowers to their teacher. (Photo via Zing.vn)

South Korea isn’t the only country that dedicates a day to honor their educators. Mexico also celebrates Teachers’ Day, known as Día del maestro, on May 15 by holding cultural events. Vietnam, Singapore, India, Philippines, Venezuela and Poland are among several countries known to celebrate some form of teacher appreciation day by having students prepare small gifts, performances and activities for their mentors.

In the United States, the first week of May is designated as National Teacher Appreciation Week, which was established by the National PTA back in 1985. World Teachers’ Day is also annually celebrated around the globe on Oct. 5.



North Korea Executed Defense Minister: NIS

by HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his defense chief executed with an anti-aircraft gun for complaining about the young ruler, talking back to him and sleeping during a meeting presided over by Kim, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Wednesday, citing what it called credible information.

South Korean analysts are split on whether the alleged bloody purge signals strength or weakness from Kim Jong Un, who took power after his father’s 2011 death. Some aren’t even sure if it really happened. One expert described the reported development, part of a series of high profile recent purges and executions by Kim, as an attempt to orchestrate a “reign of terror” that would solidify his leadership.

National Intelligence Service officials told a closed-door parliamentary committee meeting that People’s Armed Forces Minister Hyon Yong-chol was killed in front of hundreds of spectators at a shooting range at Pyongyang’s Kang Kon Military Academy in late April, according to lawmaker Shin Kyoung-min, who attended the briefing.

Kim Gwang-lim, chairman of the parliament’s intelligence committee, quoted the spy service as saying Hyon had failed several times to comply with unspecified instructions by Kim. The office of another lawmaker, Lee Cheol Woo, released similar information about the NIS briefing.

The NIS didn’t tell lawmakers how it got the information, only that it was from a variety of channels and that it believed it to be true, Shin said. The agency refused to confirm the report when contacted by The Associated Press.

South Korea’s spy agency has a spotty record of tracking developments in North Korea. Information about the secretive, authoritarian state is often impossible to confirm.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said the U.S. can’t confirm reporting of the execution of North Korean officials, but added that “these disturbing reports, if they are true, describe another extremely brutal act by the North Korean regime. These reports are sadly not the first.”

Analyst Cheong Seong-chang at the private Sejong Institute think tank in South Korea questioned the authenticity of the report on Hyon’s execution because the minister still frequently appears in state TV footage.

North Korea typically removes executed and purged officials from TV documentaries, but Hyon has appeared multiple times in a TV documentary on live fire drills between April 30 and May 11, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. North Korea’s state media hasn’t mentioned Hyon since an April 29 report of his attendance of a music performance the previous day.

Hyon was named armed forces minister, the equivalent of South Korea’s defense minister, in June of last year. He was made a vice marshal of the Korean People’s Army in July 2012 before being demoted to a four-star general later that year, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry. Kim, the South Korean parliament’s intelligence committee chief, said Hyon was the North Korean military’s No.2 man after Hwang Pyong So, the top political officer at the Korean People’s Army.

Kim’s purges over recent years are seen as efforts to bolster his grip on power. The most notable was in 2013 when Kim executed his uncle and chief deputy, Jang Song Thaek, for alleged treason. Last month, spy officials told lawmakers that North Korea executed 15 senior officials accused of challenging Kim’s authority.

Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Dongguk University in Seoul, said Kim Jong Un appears to be using purges to keep the military old guard in check because they pose the only plausible threat to his rule. Koh said Kim could be pushing a “reign of terror” to solidify his leadership, but those efforts would fail if he doesn’t improve the country’s shattered economy.


Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, and Matthew Pennington in Washington, contributed to this report. Featured image courtesy of Yonhap News Agency.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

campus seoul

Google Opens First Asian ‘Startup Campus’ in Seoul

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

South Korea’s startup scene is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing in the world, and Google’s “Campus Seoul” is expected to only add fuel to its growth.

Google officially opened Campus Seoul on May 8 after announcing the entrepreneurial center’s launch last August. Seoul is Google’s first Asian start-up campus and third international campus, following two other campuses in London and Tel Aviv. Google also plans to establish campuses in Warsaw and Sao Paulo in the near future.

Campus Seoul will support local entrepreneurs by serving as a “community hub” and foster creative ideas by connecting professionals on a local level. Additionally, the campus gives entrepreneurs access to Google’s extensive international network, which allows them to connect with fellow startups and venture capital firms on a global scale.

South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) expects that Campus Seoul participants will attract more investment by targeting the global market from the beginning of establishing their startups. Previously, Google and the MSIP joined forces to support the K-Startup program, which attracted more than $23 million (USD) in investment and created 77 startup companies from 2012 to last year, according to Business Korea.

South Korea is quite fitting to house the first Google Campus in Asia. The country already boasts a reputation for being the perfect place to test next-gen IT technology, since it has the highest smartphone penetration rates and Internet of Things (IoT) utilization rates. The government is also pouring money into the startup scene, and the trendy neighborhood of Gangnam has become the brightest spot in the country for new tech businesses.


Featured image courtesy of Google’s Asia Pacific Blog 

SW Day 6

Pic of the Day: The Force Awakens in South Korea on ‘Star Wars Day’

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Yeah, we know. Star Wars Day was Monday. But if the Force is with you, Star Wars Day is every day.

South Korea held its first official Star Wars Day earlier this week, highlighted by a number of events in Seoul, including an imperial march through the streets of Myeong-dong that ended up in front of a Uniqlo store. The clothing retailer had been running a “Disney and Family Week” campaign leading up until Children’s Day on May 5, according to Asia Today.

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One blogger also attended a ceremony for newly christened Jedi Knights, with lightsabers and all, at the local CGV cinema.


Here are a few key Star Wars terms and phrases in Korean for your reference.

May the Force be with you.
포스가 당신과 함께 하기를
(Pronounced: Poh-soo-ga dang-shin-gwa hahm-geh ha-gee-reul)

(Pronounced: Kwang-sun-gum)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
스타워즈: 깨어난 포스
(Pronounced: Star Wars: Geh-uh-nan poh-soo)

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
이것들은 네가 찾는 드로이드들이 아니다.
(Pronounced: Ee-guht-deul-eun neh-gah chah-neun deu-roi-deu-deul-ee ah-ni-da)

Also, stormtroopers dancing to the classic “Nobody” by the Wonder Girls.

The Force will be with you, always.


Featured image via Naver

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Chanel Stages Its First Fashion Show in South Korea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

French fashion house Chanel staged its resort fashion show at Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza on Monday night, the same night as the Met Gala. Despite this overlap, there were plenty of Hollywood celebrities seated in the front row, including actresses Kristen Stewart and Tilda Swinton as well as Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

This was Chanel’s first fashion show in South Korea, and creative director Karl Lagerfeld brought his A-game. Decorated in colorful polka dots, the venue was reminiscent of a large Twister board, especially with models strutting down a winding, rainbow-spotted catwalk.


오방색 물방울 무늬가 둥둥 뜬 DDP로 여러분을 초대합니다! ❤️ #ParisSeoulChanel


A photo posted by Vogue Korea (@voguekorea) on

Lagerfeld paid homage to the show’s host, featuring resort wear resembling hanbok, or traditional Korean garb. Models also wore black braided wigs inspired by South Korea’s Chosun dynastry.

“The concept is a modern, international version of typical Korean mood, how we see it for the modern 21st century but with inspiration from the past,” the designer told the Korean media at the show, according to Reuters. “I love traditional Korean clothes, materials, patterns.” 

Model Soo Joo Park, who was recently named the first Asian American ambassador for L’Oreal, opened the colorful show.  


A video posted by G-DRAGON (@xxxibgdrgn) on

@kimssung2 #sunghee #chanelcruiseseoul @wilhelminamodels @romanyoung @nomadmgmt A photo posted by Jonathan Yee (@yeejonathan) on

  @jihyeparkjhp @thesocietynyc @nomadmgmt #chanelcruiseseoul   A photo posted by Jonathan Yee (@yeejonathan) on

Several Hallyu celebrities also attended the event. BIGBANG’s G-dragon and Taeyang, 2NE1’s CL, Girls’ Generation’s Yoona, Super Junior’s Choi Siwon and f(x)’s Krystal were among the K-pop stars who watched the show from their front row, candy-colored seats. Actors Park Shin-hye, Jung Ryeo-won, Han Ye-seul and Lee Jong-suk were also spotted at the star-studded fashion event.

#KarlLagerfeld at #ChanelCruiseShow 서울.. A photo posted by YOONA (@officialyoong) on


Welcome to KOREA Karl photo by @shootingthestyle A photo posted by CL (@chaelincl) on


@xxxibgdrgn #ChanelCruiseSeoul   A photo posted by CHANEL (@chanelofficial) on


Featured image via Elle Korea/Instagram