The human rights crisis you aren’t hearing about
San Francisco Chronicle
Rarely do we hear about the horrendous human rights abuses that have been perpetrated for decades in North Korea’s political prison camps, where torture, public executions, and starvation rations are reportedly commonplace. One reason for this lack of public awareness has been the dearth of information. For a long time, North Korea was sealed as tight as a drum. But as cracks begin to show, more news comes streaming out. One of the most horrifying – and compelling – stories to emerge is that of Shin Dong-hyuk.
Price of Rice is Soaring in North Korea
Wall Street Journal
One problem with North Korea’s chronic food shortages is that they’re, well, chronic – so bad so much of the time that people tune out. As one North Korean official said in a recent report by Good Friends, “Every year we say this is the worst year, but this year is the absolute worst in our history.”
Now, there’s a market signal that the official may not be exaggerating.
Brother of South Korean President Is Charged With Bribery
New York Times
The elder brother and mentor of President Lee Myung-bak was arrested on bribery charges early Wednesday, further weakening the political leverage of Mr. Lee, a lame-duck leader already grappling with setbacks in both domestic politics and foreign policy.
Tokyo spearheads protests against monuments for Korean women
The Japanese government has ordered its diplomats in the U.S. to step up efforts to block the erection of monuments here for Korean women forced to serve as sex slaves for Japan’s imperialist troops during World War II, a source said Tuesday.
South Korea hints at scrapping whaling plan
AFP via Google News
South Korea said Wednesday it may scrap its fiercely criticised plan to resume “scientific” whaling if experts come up with non-lethal means to study the mammals in its waters.
“We may not conduct whaling for scientific research if there is another way to achieve the goal,” Kang Joon-Suk, a senior official of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told reporters.
Studying and Struggling, 7,000 Miles From Home
Voices of New York (CUNY Graduate School of Journalism)
Hyuk “Jim” Ji spoke only a few words of English when he came alone to New York at the age of 16. Still, he excelled academically at North Babylon High School on Long Island, spending long hours poring over his schoolbooks, as he had in Korea.
“I’m not saying I’m smarter, but I already have good study habits ingrained in me,” he explained.
For Ji, it was everything else that was hard – making friends, understanding American teenage slang, adjusting to the habits of his Latino host family.
“In Korea I would go to school, take classes after school, go to a private tutor, and then go study,” he said. “I didn’t really know how to socialize outside of academics … at first I didn’t have my own friends.”
Living the Hite Life With the Cast of K Town
“The moment I heard you were a reporter, I said I’m not going to answer one more of your goddamn questions.”
Steve Kim may just be another Korean guy at S Bar with a faux-hawk and 400 Twitter followers, but he’s acting the part of entitled reality star remarkably well. We’re at Palm Tree L.A., a little slice of fiber-optic candy-colored Vegas cheese unassumingly hidden on the fourth floor of a nondescript building on Wilshire Boulevard, sitting around a manic, blacklit explosion of fruit platters, Hite beer, and Johnny Walker Black. It’s the final shooting day on the reality television show on which Steve is a primary cast member. The cameras are off for now and the mood is relaxed, if not a little weary, five hours into what constitutes a workday for this crowd. So Steve’s sudden burst of anti-journalist vitriol was a little out of nowhere, especially in response to my offhand inquiry about karaoke plans. This guy can’t possibly be for real, right?
2NE1 ― pushing boundaries, defying expectations
From day one, K-pop foursome 2NE1 have been all about breaking rules and surprises.
Their larger-than-life stage presence and natural charm were already enough to make them stars but their uncanny ability to produce something fresh and out of the ordinary with every new release — catching fans and casual listeners off-guard without exception — has placed them in a league of their own.
Girls’ Generation most popular among foreign K-pop fans
South Korean group Girls’ Generation was the No. 1 choice for foreigners participating in a South Korean contest for emulating the choreography of popular K-pop groups, the organizer said Tuesday.
After analyzing video footage sent in by the participants of the “2012 K-pop Cover Dance Festival,” contest organizer Korea Year Committee said that Girls’ Generation was emulated in 155 instances, the largest number.
Roy Choi of Kogi Featured in Ride-Along Film For Nowness
Roy Choi has become a fixture in the L.A since he burst on to the culinary scene with his Kogi mobiles in 2009. The Korean-American chef has never left us bored; from winning Food & Wine Best New Chef to his rumored vegetarianism he is always breaking the mold.
Nowness did a ride-along with Choi, exploring his ideals of feeding both the belly and the soul in a short film.
Lucky Rice Night Market Coming to L.A.
Lucky Rice, the New York-based Asian food festival whose “culinary council” includes the like of Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, Marcus Samuelsson, and Masharu Morimoto, is moving out west — well, further west that is. On the heels of its Las Vegas event back in June, Lucky Rice laid out plans for its next stop in Los Angeles, announcing an August 4 event at the Helms Bakery complex just east of Culver City.
Ballerina Seo Hee Rises to Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theater
Korean ballerina Seo Hee has become a principal dancer at the prestigious American Ballet Theater. Her appointment marks the first time that a Korean dancer has been promoted to the position within the ABT, which is considered one of the world’s three leading ballet companies.
Seoul’s last 1-screen cinema plays classic finale
AP via Google News
Seoul’s last old-style, one-screen cinema, soon to be knocked down and replaced by a hotel, played its final movie Wednesday — the Italian classic “The Bicycle Thief” — a moment so emotional for the theater operator that she publicly shaved her head in frustration.
The theater, which opened in 1964, had become a place where mostly elderly moviegoers gathered regularly to watch classic Hollywood and South Korean films and indulge in nostalgia for cinematic days gone by.
Arizona slugger who complained of SC racism moves to Charleston
WIS TV (Columbia, S.C.)
Someone start playing Alanis Morissette’s Ironic, because the former Arizona Wildcats outfielder who said he’d never live in South Carolina because of racism is moving to Charleston.
Robert Refsnyder, the College World Series most outstanding player who ended USC’s chances for a third straight national championship, has moved to the Palmetto State to play for the Charleston RiverDogs.
S.Korea Finalizes Line-up for London Olympics
The roster of athletes representing South Korea at the 2012 London Olympics has been finalized. The Korean Olympic Committee on Tuesday announced the list of 245 athletes and 129 officials in 22 sports who will compete at the Olympics later this month.
UN Report: North Korea Defies UN Sanctions
Voice of America
United Nations report has concluded that North Korea continues to “actively defy” international sanctions by attempting to ship arms to Burma and Syria and by importing luxury goods.
The report by a panel of experts says U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea following nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 have slowed but failed to halt banned activities.
But the panel said it has received no new reports of violations involving the transfer of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or ballistic missiles.
For South Korean Tunnel Hunters, a Quixotic Quest to Prove a Threat
New York Times
Mr. Kim, 47, is one of a small but dedicated band of South Koreans who have been hunting for North Korean “invasion tunnels” for years, some for decades. Only four tunnels have ever been detected, all between 1974 and 1990 and all near the border. Not one has been found since, despite thousands of drilling operations not only by the South Korean military but also freelance prospectors like Mr. Kim.
Although broadly dismissed as cranks, the private tunnel hunters are not giving up. And the headlines they generate with their recurring claims tap into the source of one of South Koreans’ greatest fears about North Korea: its penchant for taking its war preparations underground, a reaction to the leveling of its military installations by U.S. air power during the 1950-53 Korean War.
Why South Korea Is in an Uproar over Intelligence Sharing with Japan
Whatever sense it may make for the militaries in Tokyo and Seoul to share information — about North Korea, in particular, and about China’s rising military profile in East Asia — South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s attempt last week to approve the intelligence-sharing agreement without parliamentary review, at what the Korean press calls a “closed-door Cabinet meeting,” has become a self-inflicted wound. Coming as it does in a political year in South Korea — it will elect a new President in December — it’s not one that’s likely to heal soon.
Nashville school board chairwoman faces stiff test
[Elissa] Kim, 38, is the executive vice president of teacher recruitment for the national Teach for America organization, which recruits and trains teachers to teach in urban classrooms across the country. Her campaign has earned several endorsements, notably from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the prominent pro-charter schools political action committee Great Public Schools.
South Korea Shuns Moms At Peril As Workforce Shrinks
The failure of South Korea, one of the world’s fastest- aging societies, to tackle a shrinking labor pool threatens to undermine growth and lessen the nation’s odds of producing the next Samsung Electronics Co. or Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) Only half of women aged 15 years or older were working last year and the participation of females with higher education is the lowest among the 34 members of the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development.
“The choice for women between a job and family is still stark,” said Kim Tae Hong, research director at the state-run Korea Women’s Development Institute in Seoul. “Policies alone can’t change the people’s long-held belief that mom is fully responsible for child care.”
Beverly Kim will leave Aria to take over Bonsoiree
Current chef and founder Shin Thompson, who in six years has elevated Bonsoiree from secret underground concept to Michelin-starred brick-and-mortar storefront, is moving on to a new restaurant project, though he will retain majority ownership of his restaurant. Kim and Clark will take over the kitchen in late August after the restaurant closes for two weeks for remodeling.
Alite Designs founder Tae Kim makes gear for ‘urbaneers’
Alite’s signature products, such as the cheekily named Sexy Hotness Sleeping Bag (designed for woodsy intimacy) and the lightweight, innovative Monarch Camp Chair, are made for newbies rather than the extreme athletes most outdoor gear makers sell to. The company is targeting city-dwellers in their 20s and early 30s who are looking for ways to get outside and meet new people. These consumers tend to have grown up in the suburbs, with little to no early exposure to camping. They also tend to like bikes and are devoted to local, organically-grown food. It’s a set that Kim likes to call “urbaneers.”
Girls’ Generation(SNSD) Stamps to Release Beginning of August!
Girl group Girls’ Generation will have stamps that they modeled for, for sale this coming August.
On July 3, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy Korea Post stated, “We are the first to create stamps of celebrities. Due to the popularity of K-Pop and it’s effect on the world, we decided to use Girls’ Generation as models for our first-ever celebrity stamps.”
‘Glee’ star Jenna Ushkowitz to write an inspirational memoir
Tina Cohen-Chang went from Glee‘s mousiest outcast to one of its sassiest, and now Jenna Ushkowitz — the 26-year-old actress who plays her — is penning a motivational memoir. Choosing Glee tells the story of Ushkowitz’s rise to TV musical prominence — from being adopted by a Long Island family at age 3, to starring in the Broadway hit Spring Awakening, and to becoming an integral part of New Directions — all while offering advice to her fans.
Toronto to host first N.K. rights film festival in N. America
From July 6-8 the Innis Town Hall in Toronto will play host to North America’s first North Korean Human Rights Film Festival, organized by some former residents of South Korea.
Two of the event’s co-organizers, Gilad Cohen and Michelle Ragno, took an interest in North Korean human rights after visits to the Korean Peninsula.
Stanford-bound Kim runner-up after 5-hole playoff
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.)
The pros have it easy with just 18 holes on Sundays. Just ask Lauren Kim, who Thursday had to play 42 holes on the Dunes Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club in her quest for a second California Junior Girls State Championship.
“I’m just taking it easy,” Kim said on Friday. “I didn’t actually expect to be this tired because I guess I wasn’t expecting to play 42 holes in one day. But it was exciting.”
The 2009 champion as a 14-year-old, Kim recently graduated from Los Altos and will attend Stanford in the fall. The 17-year-old won her semifinal in 19 holes, but fell victim to a 40-foot wedge shot by Kathleen Scavo in the fifth playoff hole of the title match.
Man jailed for carrying drugs in his shoes
A South Korean man took up a friend’s offer to carry drugs in his shoes, after he was promised a free trip to Singapore and Sydney. But he was caught with the drugs hidden in his shoes at Changi Airport in 2009.
On Tuesday, 43-year-old Kim Gwang Seok was sentenced to a jail term of five years and nine months. Kim pleaded guilty to possessing at least 550.7 grammes of diamorphine, concealed in his shoes.
Where to find Korea’s best bartenders
It turns out that it’s Media Day at Bar Rouge. The Gangnam lounge is celebrating the fact that two of its star bartenders have recently taken top honors at the Diageo Reserve’s World Class Korea bartender competition.
So what was going to be a laid-back night with girl talk over Friday night cocktails turns into a fun, inadvertent interview at the bar.
Bartenders Andy Seo, 39, and Terry Kim, 28, who won first and second place at the Diageo Reserve respectively, bring us their signature drinks.
An All-American Korean American 4th of July
Here’s a nice essay from an adoptive mother of two Korean Americans who encouraged her children to know their heritage.
There is laughter around the table. After another helping of dry cuttle fish, after we eat as much food as we can hold, we find a grassy spot under a shady tree, pull out a folk guitar, stretch back on the grass and sing. The familiar melody has me humming along, while the group sings the lyrics in Korean. Most of the time I forget that my husband, our youngest daughter and I are the only ones who are not Asian. At these gatherings all my friends are Korean American, like two of my children. The afternoon leaves me with a contented feeling, a sense of belonging, like I have when I go to a family reunion.
However, my friends within the Korean American community didn’t feel like family in the beginning, way back when we first became involved in 1987, when my kids were then 4, 6 and 10. Two of my children were adopted from Korea. I needed to reach deep with faith, because in giving my kids the opportunity to grow up within an all-Asian group I also had to let go of them a little bit in order to allow them to find their place within the Korean American community.
Ken Jeong in Coke Zero commercial
North Jersey Korean-Americans move toward forming PAC
Bergen County Record (N.J.)
The Korean-American Civic Action Committee was formed in the wake of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s rejection in March of Phillip Kwon, the first Korean-American nominee for the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan organization has yet to be registered with the state, but a kickoff ceremony drew more than 75 to the Palisadium banquet hall Tuesday, and its founders said their goals were clear.
“We felt our Korean community didn’t have an organized voice,” said Andrew Kim, one of the founders and a former president of the Korean-American Association of Fort Lee. “That’s one of the main goals, to have a voice and to educate voters about the issues.”
Love, L.A. style: A Korean-Armenian couple dishes on romance, food, in-laws and ‘the dowry’
Southern California Public Radio
Today’s couple: Aris and InSun Janigian, married 15 years, the parents of two children. Aris, a novelist whose recently published This Angelic Land relates the story of the 1992 L.A. riots through an Armenian American protagonist, was born in the U.S. of Armenian parents; InSun, a homemaker and former jack of all trades, is Korean American and arrived in the U.S. at age four.
Nashville girl prepares for spelling bee
Grace Park has longed to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee for years. On Wednesday, she will finally get her chance.
Grace, 14, of Nashville, caught the spelling-bee bug during a trip to the nation’s capital three years ago, when she and her family stumbled across hundreds of spellers at Washington’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, where the competition was held until last year.
Korean-American quizzed over suspicious apartment deal with Roh’s daughter
Prosecutors appear to have reopened an investigation into a complex cash and real estate deal apparently involving the family of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, as a Korean-American woman underwent three days of questioning over allegations Roh’s daughter bought her New Jersey apartment years ago with cash from suspicious sources.
Margaret Cho to Launch Mother! Tour in August
Stage and television star Margaret Cho will launch a tour of her new show, Mother! at The Art House in Provincetown, Massachusetts, August 11-18.
The all-new stand-up show offers up an untraditional look at motherhood and how we look at maternal figures and strong women in queer culture.
Korean Sound Wave: Girls’ Generation Applies Pop Formula To U.S. Market
New York 1
Girls’ Generation’s carefree and innocent image is a huge hit all over Asia with many of their songs also performed in Chinese and Japanese. That makes English a fourth language for many of the members: An obvious sign of their intelligence and determination.
“They’re kind of like the Korean version of the Pussycat Dolls but more refined, and less sexy but still very cute,” said Entertainment Writer David Yi.
McFarlane honors Ward’s ‘Dark Knight Rises’ role in toy form
McFarlane Toys will be releasing a special figure in November of former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward in his Gotham Rogues uniform, which he wears in a cameo in the upcoming Batman flick The Dark Knight Rises (out July 20).
Young Chefs Adapt Korean Food for American Palates
Edward Song, who majored in finance at Columbia University, and his two friends offer Porkinator, a taco made with pork and kimchi, and Wonder Bird, a taco with chicken and kimchi. Korilla BBQ has over 18,000 followers on Twitter.
Korean cuisine was first introduced to the U.S. by first-generation Korean immigrants, and now their children are having fun reimagining it. Many of these successful second-generation Korean cooks are young, business-minded graduates of prestigious universities. They strictly try to approach Korean food from American point of view and reinvent it to appeal to the taste of local people.
Teen shares her musical talent with local nursing home
Residents in Bodmann Pavilion, a skilled nursing facility at Maple Knoll Village, are entertained by the musical stylings of a very special volunteer. For the past two months, 13 year old Esther Kim has been visiting Bodmann and playing a variety of songs for residents. Esther’s younger sister, Rachel, often joins in for a few duets.
Bo Xilai ‘Paid Movie Star Zhang Ziyi for Sex’
The disgraced top Chinese official Bo Xilai is now being accused of paying actress Zhang Ziyi to have sex with him on a dozen occasions over the last five years. Anti-Beijing website Boxun on Monday quoted sources as saying that Zhang is being investigated by Chinese authorities and has been barred from leaving the country.
Gallery: What 100,000 people are lining up (in frustration) to see at Yeosu World Expo
Despite being riddled with global superlatives — of the quirky techie variety, including biggest gathering of robots in the history of expos, the world’s largest dome screen, the world’s tallest robot and a laser-shooting robot fish — the ocean-themed Expo 2012 in Yeosu, Korea, has had a rickety start the past few weeks in terms of attendance and operations.
The Demise of a Former Hero
Wall Street Journal
South Korean police said Wednesday they arrested Kim Dong-hyun, a former Suwon Samsung Bluewings midfielder, on charges of armed robbery of a middle-aged woman in a posh neighborhood in southern Seoul on Saturday.
David Choi Teams Up With Macy Gray to Cover Radiohead’s “Creep”
David Choi has recorded an utterly moving take on Radiohead’s classic “Creep” with none other than Macy Gray.
Together, their voices entwine in hypnotic and haunting harmonies, infusing Thom Yorke’s ode to the freaks with a deep sense of soul. Choi’s vulnerability echoes within the acoustic guitar plucks as he delivers each line with a palpable intensity. Meanwhile, Gray sounds simply pristine, stamping the tune with her own blues darkness. This rendition illuminates Choi’s power as a performer, and his ability to duet with the best of them. The YouTube sensation is definitely the real deal, and we can’t wait to hear what he does next.
New World Bank chief is committed to the poor
Business Day (South Africa)
Jim Yong Kim, born in South Korea, has spent his career in healthcare in developing countries. His commitment to the poor cannot be doubted.
South Korean activists detained in China: Seoul
AFP via Yahoo News
Four South Korean activists have been detained in China since March on suspicion of spying after they interviewed North Korean refugees living in hiding there, according to an anti-Pyongyang group.
South Korea’s foreign ministry confirmed the four were arrested in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian on March 29 on charges of “endangering state security.”
Myanmar Vows to Cease Buying Weapons From North Korea
New York Times
South Korea has received assurances from Myanmar that it will no longer buy weapons from North Korea, an aide to President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday.
N. Korea stops sending out GPS jamming signals against S. Korea: source
North Korea appears to have stopped jamming satellite signals in an apparent attempt to disrupt air and maritime traffic navigation systems in parts of South Korea, a high-ranking government source in Seoul said Tuesday.
The North has been blamed for global positioning system (GPS) disruptions that affected hundreds of commercial flights and ships in and out of South Korea since April 28, although no damage was caused as all had backup navigational systems.
In China, English teaching is a whites-only club
Speak a little English and are willing to relocate? Well, you’re probably qualified to be an English-language instructor in China.
As long as you are white, that is.
New Claim in Gambling Monks Scandal
Wall Street Journal
An exiled monk who dropped a bombshell by releasing a video of eight senior monks smoking and drinking while playing poker in a hotel room detonated another explosive on Tuesday.
Seong-ho, whose real name is Jeong Han-young, told a morning radio show that two leaders at the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, including the head monk, went to a “room salon,” or late-night drinking bar in southern Seoul, where he claimed the monks paid for sex.
Poirier expects to dismantle ‘Korean Zombie’ Jung
Dustin Poirier believes he can draw out the Chan Sung Jung that slugged his way to a “Korean Zombie” nickname.
“He likes to get in there and throw punches, so I think if he gets hit on the chin, it’s going to go back to a brawl,” says Poirier, who will face Jung on Tuesday for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. “I’m expecting to pick him apart.”
Shin-Soo Choo is Tribe’s newest leadoff hitter
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Acta put Choo in the leadoff spot that time to get him some extra at bats. This time around, Acta is more interested in Choo’s .361 on base percentage.
“We need somebody to get on base,” said Acta. “Choo has a good on base percentage. The league average is .319.”
Jessica Jung First Pitch Fail: Korean Singer Makes Terrible Throw (VIDEO)
Thanks to 23-year-old Jessica Jung, baseball fans everywhere now have a new video instructing the proper mechanics of how not to throw a baseball.
Jung is a Korean-American singer and dancer best known for her work in the nine-girl group, Girls’ Generation. Escorted to the mound by two mascots of the Seoul-based LG Twins, Jung prepares her pitch with a long wind-up before unleashing her best heat.
Udine 2012 Review: UNBOWED
Following its release earlier this year during the lunar day holiday, Unbowed met with much the same reaction as last year’s Silenced. They were both incendiary courtroom dramas based on real events that became big commercial and critical hits while also serving to open up long overdue national dialogues about Korea’s justice system and its rampant cronyism. In fact, in the space of just a few months there were three high profile Korean courtroom dramas that connected with audiences, the other being The Client (2011), itself a strong feature which also alluded to problems in the country’s legal system but was mostly a generic (and fictional) piece.
CIA agent on using his wife to smuggle equipment … and how ALL North Koreans are obsessed with porn
The Daily Mail (U.K.)
He learned about blood feuds from Afghan tribal leaders and he learned that al Qaeda terrorists and enemy agents from North Korea all have a weakness for porn.
Crumpton said: ‘I never met a North Korean that did not like pornography.’
Telling interviewer Lara Logan what he would have to do in his line of work, Crumpton said: ‘Supplying porn to a North Korean official to entice them to spy for America, along with money or whatever else it might take. Well, for me the answer was yes, I was willing to do that.’
Here are some videos we’re watching this week at KoreAm.
Girls’ Generation – TTS Twinkle Music Video
Girls’ Generation’s new subgroup, TTS, or Taetiseo, returns with the insanely catchy song “Twinkle.” The group is comprised of members Tiffany, Taeyeon and Seohyun. The music video has the feel of retro Hollywood glamour and also features members of SM Entertainment’s newest boy band, Exo.
Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm (BRAD)
When this freshman first arrived at U.C. Berkeley, his dorm room was just not up to par. After three months and several hundred dollars, the freshman was able to transform his entire room to be automated. The lights, blinds and music could be controlled by voice, smartphone app or computer command and he has his room prepped for all sorts of tasks such as homework mode, sleep mode and even romantic mode, which turns on mood music as well as starts up the dim disco ball. The most interesting feature for this student’s dorm is the installation of the emergency party button.
Linspiration for the Class of 2012
When New York’s Stuyvesant High School invited New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin to speak at the graduation ceremony for the class of 2012, he politely declined their pleas but made it up to them by offering a few words of wisdom for the graduating class.
DEA forgot man in holding cell for 5 days without food or water
Daniel Chong, a U.C. San Diego student, was detained for five days without food or water by the Drug Enforcement Administration, who forgot about the 24-year-old admitted pot smoker. Chong, who tells his tale in this video, is now filing a $20 million lawsuit against the DEA.
Dog Guards Owner’s Bike from being Stolen
They’ll be your best friend and they’ll guard your house. In China, they’ll also guard your bicycle. A man left his bicycle in the care of his golden retriever, who sat with his paws on it while waiting for his owner. When the bicycle owner returned for the bike, his loyal dog also hopped on the back of it and the two rode away together.
If you have more videos you’d like us to see, email email@example.com.