The odds are against Korea in the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, at least according to the sports betting company William Hill. Korea, who is placed in Group H, with Belgium, Russia and Algeria, is the second-least favored team of its group to advance to the round of 16. Algeria is the least favored to advance to the next round.
William Hill placed the odds for Korea making it out of group play at 15-8, meaning that an $80 bet on Korea would yield a $150 return, if Korea were to beat the odds.
For the outright World Cup winner, the British bookmaker pegged Korea at 500-to-1, which are better odds than just six other countries.
FIFA has Korea ranked 54th, the lowest of the group, while Belgium is ranked 11th, Russia is 22nd and Algeria 26th. However, the underdog Korea, have surprised the FIFA rankings before, and may very well do so again in Brazil. In 2010, Korea escaped out of the Group H, consisting of Argentina, Greece and Nigeria, with a win, a draw, and a loss. And of course there is the miraculous 2002 World Cup run, where Korea reached the semi-finals on its home turf. Continue Reading »
The World Cup draw is a big deal for teams that spend years to qualify for the quadrennial showdown. When FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, unveiled the eight groups for 32 teams that will head to Brazil next summer for the tournament, South Korea wound up in Group H with Belgium, Russia and Algeria.
Although Korea is ranked lower than its three opponents in the FIFA rankings, many Koreans still breathed a sigh of relief as they avoided soccer’s traditional powerhouses, including host nation in Brazil, reigning champion Spain and perennial contender Germany. While Korea gears up to play in its eighth consecutive World Cup, neither Belgium nor Russia made it to the 2010 tournament and Algeria got eliminated early in the group stages. In that same tournament, Korea advanced to the round of 16 before getting knocked out by eventual semifinalists Uruguay.
At least on paper, the competition in Group H should be relatively manageable for Korea. It certainly could’ve been worse, as evidenced by the United States, which ended up in the so-called Group of Death with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Continue Reading »
South Korea Cautious on North Political Shuffling
Voice of America
South Korea’s ministry in charge of relations with North Korea is urging caution over reports of a power shuffle in Pyongyang. Seoul’s spy agency said leader Kim Jong Un removed his uncle as second in charge and had two of his aids executed prompting a media frenzy of speculation.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service late Tuesday said it believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle was dismissed, and two of his assistants executed, on charges of corruption and disloyalty.
The uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was vice chairman of North Korea’s powerful National Defense Commission and mentor to the young leader after his father, Kim Jong Il, died two years ago.
A quiet party apparatchik rises in North Korea, but perhaps not for long
The man who has most to gain from the apparent decline of Jang Song Thaek, the second-most powerful figure in North Korea, is a party apparatchik who has been around the ruling Kim dynasty for decades but kept out of the limelight until three years ago.
Choe Ryong Hae now appears to be the most influential adviser to Kim Jong Un, the mercurial 30-year-old who heads the secretive nuclear-armed nation. That had been Jang’s role, but South Korea’s spy agency said on Tuesday that he had been removed from his official posts.
That fate could soon befall Choe as well, as Kim surrounds himself with more aides of his generation, according to analysts and defectors from the regime, often the only source of information for palace intrigue in Pyongyang.
Biden in Seoul After Urging China to Resolve Territorial Dispute
Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Seoul today after telling China’s leaders their declaration of a new air defense zone has raised tension throughout Asia.
Biden talks this morning with South Korean President Park Geun Hye on the final leg of a weeklong trip to Asia that has taken on greater significance as the U.S. seeks to navigate a territorial dispute between China and two American allies, South Korea and Japan.
China’s growing influence in a region that increasingly drives the global economy means it must take a bigger role in maintaining stability, Biden said in a speech yesterday in an address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing and the U.S.-China Business Council.
US ambassador wins Korean-American Club Award
U.S. Ambassador to Korea Sung Kim will receive the first Korean-American Club Award at the club’s year-end gathering on Dec. 9.
According to the Korean-American Club on Thursday, Kim has contributed to the development of U.S.-Korea relations by serving as the U.S. special envoy for the six-party talks, chief of political military affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and director of the Office of Korean Affairs in Washington.
“Kim has joined the ranks of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and has improved national prestige,” the Korean-American Club said in a statement.
North Korea’s Prison Camps Expanding, Amnesty International Says
Satellite images of one of North Korea’s largest political prison camps suggests its inmate population is expanding, Amnesty International said Thursday in a report detailing rape and torture in the North’s notorious gulag.
The report by the London-based rights watchdog included rare testimony from a former camp guard, as well as from former inmates about the brutality prevalent in the prison system.
“For Amnesty International, which has been investigating human rights violations for the last 50 years, we find North Korea to be in a category of its own,” said Amnesty’s East Asia researcher Rajiv Narayan.
Korea’s Domestic Cold War
Foreign Policy in Focus
They’re the last three hunger strikers standing. Actually, they’re sitting—just outside the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea. The weather is turning cold, and they’re bundled up against the wind.
The three men are legislators. Two of their number have already collapsed and ended up in hospital. In November, the government attempted to ban their political party—the United Progressive Party, the third largest in the country—for essentially being a proxy for North Korea. The party leader, meanwhile, is on trial for treason under South Korea’s National Security Law.
Elderly suicides in South Korea: Poor spirits
THEIR son-in-law’s visit was a customary show of filial piety for late November. But the homemade kimchi he brought to last his ailing in-laws through the winter would not be needed. “I don’t want to be a burden on my children”, wrote the 82-year-old in a note he left in the sealed house, along with two funeral pictures and a will. Media outlets were quick to note the parallels with the death of an elderly couple in “Late Blossom”, a rare Korean film on growing old that was a box-office hit in 2011.
That year more than 4,000 South Koreans over the age of 65 committed suicide: a rate five times higher than in 1990, and nearly four times the rich-country average (see chart). Yet these “silent suicides” rarely get the attention that teenage ones do, says Ahn Yong-min, a psychiatrist at Seoul National University (SNU) and head of the Korea Association of Suicide Prevention. Young deaths are seen as a cry for help and attract plenty of government funds, though their number is on a par with the OECD average. Attempted suicides among the old are ten times higher. It does not help that self-inflicted harm is not covered by the health-care system.
The World’s Largest Vessel Enters The Water In South Korea
Shell has just floated the hull of the world’s largest vessel out of its dry dock in South Korea. It’s so massive that if you stood it up, it would be 1,601 feet tall, reaching higher into the sky than the Empire State Building.
The vessel, called the Prelude, will actually be used more as a floating island than a ship. It won’t be able to travel under its own power. Shell plans to tow it and anchor it about 300 miles off the coast of western Australia for 25 years.
There, the 600,000-ton Prelude will serve as a liquefied natural gas, or LNG, facility, which lets the company tap into the natural gas deep at sea. The gas will then be chilled into a liquid, which makes the gas easier to store and ship.
Daniel Dae Kim still making waves in ‘Hawaii Five-0′
Daniel Dae Kim feels he’s more than justified in “trumpeting” his TV series Hawaii Five-0.
“Our show goes beyond a typical procedural in that it really does try to give the characters personal lives,” Kim says.
“That’s the stuff that kind of keeps me going, as I discover more about (Chin Ho Kelly, his character).
Amanda Seyfried Declares Love for Korean Saunas During Overseas Trip
Amanda Seyfried says she often goes to Korean “jjimjilbang” spas in Los Angeles, the actress told South Korean press Wednesday. The actress also shared other beauty secrets during the promotional tour for Japanese cosmetics brand Cle de Peau Beaute.
“I had the most amazing welcome to anywhere I’ve ever been, in Korea. And I think I have the best fans in Korea… I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said about the reception at the airport on Tuesday, which happened to be her 28th birthday.
When asked about her favorite physical traits, she said she was grateful for her lips. “I like to wear lipstick because my lips are big, and I know that it’s something women everywhere aspire to, with so many lip injections happening in America. So I’m really grateful for my lips,” said the actress, who appeared wearing bright red rouge and a dusty pink lace dress.
Girls’ Generation makes TIME’s Top 10 Songs of 2013
Girls’ Generation took the fifth spot on TIME’s Top 10 Songs of 2013 list with “I Got a Boy.”
Douglas Polk, who compiled the list, wrote, “The nine-woman South Korean group Girls’ Generation is a ridiculously effective hook machine, and a major phenomenon in Asia, whose biggest pop acts make One Direction and Katy Perry sound like audience-alienating avant-gardists.”
“Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and “The Wire” by Haim were 1-2 on the list.
Hyorin Talks Honestly About Recently Posted Unflattering Pictures
Sistar‘s Hyorin, who recently made her first solo comeback, talked about some issues regarding her unflattering and rather insulting picture taken from one of her performances for “One Way Love” on the SBS “Night of TV Entertainment” that was aired on December 4.
During the interview, Hyorin said, “There are some people who don’t really like the crab dance moves. Maybe I’ve gone too far for them.” When the reporter talked about whether the photographers are her anti-fans and showed her that very unflattering picture, Hyorin replied, “When I see this kind of picture, I’m just so shocked. I think about whether I really did dance like that. It’s an image of myself that I can’t really relate to.” She continued, “Sometimes, I get angry. Why would they take a shot of myself like that when they can perfectly take a picture of when I’m just standing. I think that’s the reason why I don’t push myself harder in performances. Because I’m afraid that if I do, this kind of picture will come up.”
At the end of the interview, the singer sent a video message to the photographers and fellow reporters to which she said, “I really would like it if you can take prettier pictures of me so that I can do better on stage and dance better,” and joked, “or, you can take this kind of pictures if you use photoshop!”
Korea Hopes for Lucky Break in World Cup Draw
The group draw for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil will take place on Friday at the Brazilian resort town of Costa do Sauipe. The 32 countries that qualified will be divided into eight groups.
Broadly speaking, each group will feature one team from each of four pots that were announced Wednesday, although there is an exception this year as there are seven teams in Pot 2 and nine in Pot 4.
The first pot features the eight top seeds, or the top seven teams according to FIFA’s world rankings in October plus host Brazil. These are, in ranking order, world No. 1 Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay and Switzerland.
Mariners may prefer to sign Shin-Soo Choo and Kendrys Morales rather than Robinson Cano
The Mariners aren’t against spending buckets of money this offseason, but they may prefer quantity over quality.
It is no secret that the Mariners have tons of cash on hand and are willing to spend great sums of it in order to turn their perennial also-ran into a frontrunner this offseason. They have been rumored to be in hot pursuit of Robinson Cano, the biggest and most expensive name on the free agent board this winter. Cano is said to be demanding a contract north of $200 million, to which the Mariners are reportedly amenable. But some say the Mariners prefer to spend their money on Shin-Soo Choo and Kendrys Morales instead of Cano, according to the New York Post.
Korea Q&A: Beautiful Fat Korean Selfies
Questions include: “Why do Koreans look so good in pictures?” “What’s it like being fat in Korea?” “Is it safe for a young girl to visit Seoul alone?” “Is there a dating scene for Koreans over 30?” “How do I attract Korean boys?” “What’s an ulzzang (얼짱)?”
Kari asks: “Why did my Korean teacher ask us to take off the flash when we took a picture?”
Generally, Koreans (in particular girls) are quite self-conscious when it comes to pictures. Many don’t like unflattering pictures, especially if they end up on the internet. So Koreans have learned many picture taking tips and tricks to get the best looking pictures. Flash is one of them. The darker the picture, the better they come out (isn’t that why everyone at a club looks so good?). Another is the angle. There’s this crazy phenomenon of videos made by Koreans entitled “the importance of angles.” They all know how to work it!
The South Korean men’s national soccer team will face the United States in a friendly match on Feb. 1 in Carson, Calif., as both teams prepare for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The preparation match for the quadrennial showdown in next summer’s World Cup will be a rematch for Korea and the U.S. since they played to a 1-1 draw at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Both teams are expected to field lineups consisting of those playing in their respecting domestic leagues, since the date is not an official match-day sanctioned by FIFA, the governing body for international soccer. Europe-based players are not expected to participate.
“As a team that has qualified for Brazil, the Korea Republic will be another great benchmark for us,” U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. “They bring a different style of play than we have seen in the last two years, and that gives us a chance to grow.” Continue Reading »
Seoul, Beijing Find New Common Ground Against Tokyo
Wall Street Journal
History quite literally shapes the present in northeast Asia, where leaders refuse to let the past rest in peace as they tap into this infinite source of conflict – so much so that Japan seems unable to escape the diplomatic quagmire that it’s in with China and South Korea.
But while the source of the current strain between Japan and its neighbors tended to be territorial rows or about mid-20th century aggression by the imperial army and how the current Japanese leaders continue to offend, Seoul and Beijing have recently decided to go further back in time to denounce Japan, possibly driving the schism deeper between Asia’s top economic powerhouses.
On Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye thanked a visiting senior Chinese official for the progress made for a monument in Harbin, China, commemorating the 1909 assassination of Hirobumi Ito, who presided over the Korean Peninsula as governor when it was a colonial protectorate of Japan’s.
Japan envoy urges attention on Tokyo efforts to help comfort women
South Korea should acknowledge Japan’s efforts to help Korean women sexually victimized by Japan in the early 20th century, Japanese ambassador to Seoul said Tuesday, calling for cooperation in resolving the tricky issue.
“Acknowledging Japan’s efforts and taking a cooperative attitude are important in order to solve the issue of comfort women for Japanese soldiers,” Koro Bessho said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency to mark his one year on the job.
The Japanese government made efforts in the 1990s to help the female victims, establishing an Asian women’s fund to help them, sending apology letters to each of the victims and providing medical support for them, Bessho said. “But such efforts have not been properly assessed in South Korea.”
Seoul unveils lists of Korean victims of anti-Japan uprising, massacre
South Korea on Tuesday made public decades-old official lists of Koreans killed by colonial Japan during its independence movement in 1919 and victims of Tokyo’s massacre following a powerful earthquake four years later.
According to the National Archives of Korea, a registry recently found in the country’s embassy in Japan showed detailed information about 630 Koreans killed during the March 1 national uprising against its colonial rule in 1919.
The Korean Peninsula was under Japan’s brutal colonial rule from 1910-45.
Currently, a total of 391 people are officially recognized as victims of the independence movement.
The Fall of the House of Moon
: Sex rituals, foreign spies, Biden offspring, and the Unification Church’s war-torn first family
In Jin [Moon] had assumed control of the U.S. church at a precarious moment for Moon’s religious empire. Her father had come to the United States from Korea nearly 40 years earlier, aiming to “subjugate” America as the first phase in a plan to establish a new world order. Moon had gone on to amass extraordinary political influence, building a vast network of powerful right-wing organizations and forging alliances with every Republican presidential administration since Ronald Reagan’s. In 2004, he and his wife even staged an elaborate coronation ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, which at least a dozen lawmakers attended.1 Republican Roscoe Bartlett bowed down before the couple, and Democrat Danny Davis carried in one of two golden crowns that were placed on their heads. Moon then informed the audience that “kings and presidents” had declared him “humanity’s savior” and that Jesus, Buddha, Hitler, and Stalin had been “reborn as new persons” through his teachings.
But in recent years, Moon’s plans to remake America and salvage humanity had run into trouble. Followers had drifted away; his political influence had ebbed. With his ninetieth birthday approaching, he increasingly looked to his children to preserve his life’s work.
For Korean students, it is Harvard, MIT all the way
Korea Times US
No matter how trends change, it is still Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology all the way for Korean students.
That has held true even as the number of Korean students heading overseas for their studies has dwindled due to the ongoing economic downturn.
Despite a small reduction in the number of students heading to foreign countries, the ranks of those choosing top universities in the United States are still going strong.
Family’s future in Canada uncertain due to work permit wait
CBC News (Canada)
A man who brought his family to Winnipeg from South Korea five years ago says their future in Canada is uncertain due to immigration bureaucracy.
Kyung Sung Kim says he has been waiting for Citizenship and Immigration Canada to renew his work permit since it expired 2½ years ago.
While Kim, a carpenter, has been allowed to continue working in the interim, he said waiting so long to get his work permit renewed has been difficult for his family.
German game developer calls addiction bill ‘joke’
Khaled Helioui, CEO of Bigpoint, a Germany-based game developer, argues that a proposed bill on game addiction will hurt Korea’s gaming industry.
“This bill could be quite a big threat to the online game industry,” Helioui said during a recent interview. “The government might be putting at risk something they have built over the last 10 years.”
The bill was proposed by Rep. Shin Eui-jin of the ruling Saenuri Party on April 30 and places Internet games in the same category of addictive activities as drugs, alcohol and gambling.
Chinese Tourists in Seoul Spend Most on Shopping
Most Chinese tourists stay in Seoul for six days and spend an average of $250 a day, according to a recent survey. The results are based on a poll of 2.22 million Chinese who visited the country in 2011.
The results showed that 91.1 percent stayed in the capital for an average of six days and spent $250 a day, mostly on shopping.
Their favorite destinations were Myeong-dong (69.2 percent) and Dongdaemun market (66.7 percent).
‘Snowpiercer’ Wins Big at South Korean Film Critics Awards
Bong Joon Ho’s sci-fi blockbuster Snowpiercer won best film at the 33rd Korean Association of Film Critics (KAFC) Awards on Monday. It also took home best director and best cinematography.
Set in a dystopian future, Snowpiercer is one of the year’s highest-grossing films, with over 9.3 million admissions. It is most expensive Korean film to date. Bong’s first English-language film — starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton — it was also sold to a record 167 countries.
Hallyu is more than K-pop: Korean jazz artists gaining global attention
Korea Times US
Jazz is not a style of music for everyone’s taste and seldom sees commercial success — at least in Korea where K-pop is dominating the music industry.
Under this mercantile environment unfavorable to diverse musical genres here, some jazz musicians are turning their eyes to overseas fans, making a splash in the international jazz scene. Jazz songstress Nah Youn-sun and duo Winterplay are solidifying their strong fan bases around the world.
Son Heung-min Ranked Among Top Rated Young Players in Europe
Bayer Leverkusen’s Son Heung-min has been named one of the five top rated players aged 21 or under in Europe’s top five leagues this season by WhoScored.com.
The site, which collects statistics on the English, French, German, Italian and Spanish leagues, announced its verdict on Friday.
Its top five players were Brazil’s Neymar of Barcelona, Switzerland’s Ricardo Rodriguez of Wolfsburg, Italy’s Luca Antei of Sassuolo, France’s Paul Pogba of Juventus, and Son.
Cal’s Kim competing at Q-School this week
The 2012-13 Haskins award winner Michael Kim is competing in second stage of Web.com Tour Q-School, Nov. 19-22. The California junior will compete as an amateur at Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, Calif.
Kim is exempt into second stage of Q-School after his 17th-place finish in June at the U.S. Open at Merion, which earned him low-amateur honors.
Kim and fellow first-team All-Americans – Daniel Berger and James Erkenbeck – are also competing in second stage this week. Berger, who turned professional after his sophomore season at Florida State, will play at Southern Hills Plantation in Brooksville, Fla., and Erkenbeck, who graduated from New Mexico, will play with Kim out in California.