Korea Unveils New Uniform for World Cup 2014
Author: Steve Han
Posted: February 28th, 2014
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Nike and the Korea Football Association revealed the team uniform for the Korean national soccer team when it takes the field in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup this summer.

The outfit features a default red shirt with a blue line around the shoulder area, blue shorts and red socks. The new uniform will make its debut in a friendly with Greece on March 6.

“Looking at the new jerseys, I can now feel that we’re really close to the World Cup,” said Korea’s head coach Hong Myung-bo. “I like it, because I can easily spot the tiger emblem [on the chest], which symbolizes Korean football.” Continue Reading »

Korea Falls to USA in Soccer Friendly
Author: Steve Han
Posted: February 3rd, 2014
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The South Korean national soccer team put in yet another uninspiring performance, losing 2-0 to the United States as former MLS scoring champion Chris Wondolowski scored a brace for the Americans.

Both teams played without many of its regular starters, most of whom are playing club soccer in Europe. Mikkel Diskerud of Norway’s Rosenborg BK was the only American currently playing outside of the MLS, while Korea’s roster consisted of players based in the domestic K-League and the Japanese league.

Wondolowski put the U.S. ahead with just over three minutes into the game, scoring off of a blocked shot inside the penalty area with a header. Continue Reading »

Monday’s Link Attack: North Korean Meth; BigBang’s New Album in Works; Koreans Love Spam
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: January 27th, 2014
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South Korea Proposes Dates for Family Reunions With North
New York Times

South Korea proposed to North Korea on Monday that the two sides hold a new round of family reunions between Feb. 17 and Feb. 22 to allow elderly relatives separated by the Korean War to meet for the first time in six decades.

The South offered to send South Korean Red Cross officials to the border on Wednesday to sort out details with their North Korean counterparts. Both Koreas have suggested that the reunions can be held at the Diamond Mountain tourist resort in southeast North Korea.

“We hope that family reunions will take place smoothly and create a new opportunity for South-North relations,” Kim Eui-do, a spokesman for the South Korean government, said on Monday.

In North Korea, meth is offered as casually as a cup of tea
Los Angeles Times

After the North Korean coal mine where she worked stopped paying salaries, Park Kyung Ok tried her hand at business.

Buttons and zippers, candy and dried squid, fabric, plastic tarpaulins, men’s suits and cigarettes.

“I sold just about everything,” said Park, 44.

But it wasn’t until she started hawking methamphetamine in 2007, she said, that she was able to earn a living.

Methamphetamine, known as orum, or “ice,” is a rare commodity manufactured and sold in North Korea, where most factories sit idle, the equipment rusted or looted. The North Korean government once produced the drug, and others that are illicit in the West. Resourceful entrepreneurs have since set up their own small facilities, and evidence suggests that they are distributing the drug beyond the nation’s borders.

UN not taken seriously by North Korea, says defector Shin Dong-hyuk
South China Morning Post

North Korean defector Shin Dong-hyuk will be in Geneva on March 17, when the United Nations commission set up to look into the human-rights situation in North Korea announces its findings, but he has little faith that anything the UN says will have any impact in Pyongyang.

“Unfortunately, the UN cannot do very much,” Shin, the only person born in a North Korean labour camp to escape to the West, said yesterday in Tokyo.

“The horrible state that is North Korea does not take the UN seriously and history shows us that the organisation has not been able to do one thing to halt the problem in North Korea,” he said.

Japan gov’t distances itself from NHK head’s ‘comfort women’ remark
Straits Times

Tokyo on Monday distanced itself from comments by the new head of national broadcaster NHK, who said the Imperial Army’s system of wartime sex slavery was not unique to Japan.

Mr Katsuto Momii said on Saturday that the practice of forcibly drafting women into military brothels during World War II was “common in any country at war”.

“Can we say there were none in Germany or France? It was everywhere in Europe,” he told an inaugural press conference, according to local media reports.

Bilingual classes gives older immigrants better shot at citizenship
Southern California Public Radio

In the civics class she teaches in a Koreatown library, Theresa Jung speaks in Korean before switching seamlessly to English.

“What is this “D” word?” Jung said, gesturing to a page in the textbook. “Democracy!”

The students – mostly in their 50s and 60s – murmured the word. Jung could tell it was hard for some students to say, and tried to loosen them up.

“Say it one more time, Korean-version,” Jung said.

“Demo-crush!” several students said in unison, laughing.

Jung’s class is part of a newly-launched program to teach English and civics to immigrants in Los Angeles County with limited English skills.

We weren’t violent so it wasn’t rape, insist abusers of girl
Gympie Times (Australia)

A PAIR of 16-year-old boys took turns having sex with an underage girl who was “almost comatose” from alcohol – but still believe they didn’t rape her because they were not ‘violent’.

In a case with similarities to the “Roast Busters” scandal, the 15-year-old victim was heavily intoxicated and the two teenagers plotted to have sex with her.

After she was abused by each boy separately and left naked in a bedroom, she was further humiliated by a group who came in with their cellphones lit up and touched her.

BIGBANG to release new album this summer
Korea Times

Popular K-pop boy band BIGBANG will release a new album this summer.

Yang Hyun-suk, president of YG Entertainment which manages BIGBANG, told reporters on Sunday the five-member band will take the stage in support of a new full-length album “somewhere around July or August.”

During the band’s Seoul concert on Sunday, its leader G-Dragon said, “I feel like we have new family whenever we travel to a new country, so we’re very happy.”

Shin-Soo Choo gets on base any way he can
ESPN

Part of Shin-Soo Choo’s impressive ability to get on base is that he isn’t afraid to get hit by a pitch.

Choo posted a .423 on-base percentage, the fourth-best in the majors. He also was hit by a pitch 26 times, the most by any big leaguer in 2013.

“Hit by pitch is part of baseball,” Choo said Friday night. “I can’t do anything. If I get scared about hit by pitch, I might change approach and I can’t do anything. Pitchers can throw inside. I can hit it or I get hit.”

Kim lifts Korea to 1-0 win over Costa Rica
Korea Times

The Korean national football team began the year of the Brazil World Cup with a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Sunday (KST).

Without key European based players such as Son Heung-min and Lee Chung-yong, who will surely be included in the World Cup squad barring injury, lone striker Kim Shin-wook scored the game’s only goal to prove his worth ahead of the global event only six months away.

“Players exceeded my expectation,” team manager Hong Myung-bo said. “Today’s match was important in terms of not only the result but also the performance. I’m glad that we won. Players tried hard and they did it.”

Study time almost over for Olympic team
Korea Times

With the Sochi Winter Olympics just 10 days away, preparation time is almost over for Korean athletes who will arrive at the Black Sea resort town burdened by expectations for a historic medal haul.

A record 66 Korean athletes have qualified for the upcoming Olympics, 18 more than the 48 the country sent to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Games. They have been facing mounting pressure for an impressive performance in Sochi, where the country aims at winning at least four gold medals and add to the build-up for the 2018 Games to be held at the Korean ski town of PyeongChang, Gangwon Province.

Twenty-eight Koreans will compete in the speed and figure skating events, 16 in sledding events and 15 in skiing events. Five Korean women will compete in curling and the country will also send two biathlon athletes. Ice hockey will be the only sport in Sochi where Koreans will not be participating.

In South Korea, Spam Is the Stuff Gifts Are Made Of
New York Times

As the Lunar New Year holiday approaches, Seoul’s increasingly well-heeled residents are scouring store shelves for tastefully wrapped boxes of culinary specialties. Among their favorite choices: imported wines, choice cuts of beef, rare herbal teas. And Spam.

Yes, Spam. In the United States, the gelatinous meat product in the familiar blue and yellow cans has held a place as thrifty pantry staple, culinary joke and kitschy fare for hipsters without ever losing its low-rent reputation. But in economically vibrant South Korea, the pink bricks of pork shoulder and ham have taken on a bit of glamour as they have worked their way into people’s affections.

“Here, Spam is a classy gift you can give to people you care about during the holiday,” said Im So-ra, a saleswoman at the high-end Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul who proudly displayed stylish boxes with cans of Spam nestled inside.

New Year party offers link to Korean culture
Des Moines Register (Iowa)

The celebration of the Korean New Year on Saturday in Des Moines was a big opportunity for Michelle Cortlandt and her family.

Cortlandt’s two children were both adopted from Korea. Since adopting the children, she said, her family has become a “Korean-American family” that emphasizes connections to the children’s heritage.

The observance of the beginning of the year of the horse was marked with food and festivities and a large crowd at Westminster Presbyterian Church

Friday’s Link Attack: NKorea’s Rare Earths Seen as ‘Game-Changer’; Fatal DUI Crash;Park Ji-Sung’s Return ‘Possible’
Author: Cassandra Kwok
Posted: January 17th, 2014
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SKorea rejects NKorea’s conciliatory gesture
Washington Post

South Korea rejected North Korea’s offer to take a series of steps to ease tension that included canceling Seoul’s regular military drills with Washington, saying Friday that Pyongyang must take nuclear disarmament steps first.

The North’s powerful National Defense Commission on Thursday proposed the rivals halt military actions and mutual vilification to build better relations. The North, however, strongly hinted it would maintain its nuclear weapons program and urged South Korea to cancel its upcoming springtime drills with the United States.

The North’s overture is a sharp departure from its repeated threats of nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington that raised tensions a year ago. Analysts say Kim Jong Un’s government hopes that improved ties with South Korea could help attract foreign investment to boost the communist nation’s lagging economy.

China urges Koreas to improve ties amid Pyongyang’s ‘peace offensive’
Yonhap News

China called on both South and North Korea Friday to take steps to nurture better cross-border relations, with Pyongyang’s “peace offensive” raising fresh concerns that tension on the peninsula may rise sharply again ahead of joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.

North Korea has proposed this week that both Seoul and Pyongyang stop military provocations and mutual slandering to improve bilateral relations, but demanded the cancellation of upcoming South Korea-U.S. military exercises.

South Korea brushed off the North’s proposal that strongly indicated that Pyongyang won’t give up its nuclear weapons program, questioning its sincerity. Some Seoul officials described the North’s latest reconciliatory gesture as a “camouflaged peace offensive.”

North Korea’s Rare Earths Could be Game Changer
Voice of America

A recent geological study indicates North Korea could hold some 216 million tons of rare earths, minerals used in electronics such as smartphones and high definition televisions.

If verified, the discovery would more than double global known sources and be six times the reserves in China, the market leader.

British Islands-based private equity firm SRE Minerals Limited announced the study results in December, along with a 25-year deal to develop the deposits in Jongju, northwest of the capital, Pyongyang.

#HowIMetYourRacism: How Asian-Americans on Twitter are telling Hollywood to back off
Southern California Public Radio

In recent months, some Asian-Americans have taken to Twitter to call out incidents in the media they see as racially insensitive, or downright racist — most recently the Kung Fu movie-inspired episode of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”

And they’re getting attention.

Asian-American viewers and others unleashed the #HowIMetYourRacism hashtag after watching the show’s most recent episode — which aired Jan. 13 — in which its white stars dressed up as Asian grandmasters who drank tea, ate noodles, killed flies with chopsticks — all the while Asian extras hovered in the background.

Breaking Brian Shin: portrait of a Bay Street master and suburban drug dealer
Toronto Life

Brian Shin seemed like the ideal employee. He worked long hours, dressed sharply and exuded sufficient swagger to fit in on Bay Street. His ­pedigree—a bachelor’s in commerce from U of T, a master’s in taxation from the University of ­Waterloo and work experience at the tax firm Deloitte—made him overqualified for his job at Lannick, a corporate recruiting firm. In two years, he placed roughly 100 managers and executives, and contributed $700,000 to the bottom line, making him one of the company’s top recruiters. He earned a salary of $130,900.

Shin was handsome, his hair neat and cropped short on the sides, and he was persistent and passionate in his work. He had a soft touch, too. When the mother of one of his former clients was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Shin made a point of offering his condolences. His boss, Joseph Diubaldo, considered Shin the best employee he’d ever hired.

In January 2012, Shin invited Diubaldo out for coffee, something they’d done regularly. But this time was different: Shin seemed agitated, and Diubaldo guessed that something was wrong. Then, Shin dropped a bombshell. For nearly half his life, he told Diubaldo, he had trafficked marijuana. He’d started in Grade 9 and worked his way up the food chain for 14 years—keeping his double life secret from his family all the while—and at his peak dealt upwards of 500 pounds of weed a year and handled $1.8 million in cash. He recounted how, in the summer of 2009, he’d been arrested at his stash house, how his parents, heartbroken at the news, had bailed him out, and how he was now awaiting trial. Working as a headhunter, he said, was a way to cover his legal bills, but the guilt of lying was gnawing at him. He was desperate to confess before Diubaldo read about him in the news.

More charges filed against Long Grove man in fatal DUI crash
Daily Herald (Chicago, Ill.)

A Lake County grand jury on Wednesday approved additional counts of reckless homicide against a Long Grove man accused of being intoxicated during a crash that killed a woman in September.

Stephen E. Tomczyk, 22, of the 3200 block of Middlesax Drive, was already facing three counts of reckless homicide for the crash that killed Jeewon Kim, 47, of Buffalo Grove on Sept. 5, 2013.

With the charges added Wednesday, Tomczyk now faces six total counts of reckless homicide.

“Hawaii Five-0′s” Daniel Dae Kim on a career in paradise
CBS News

For Daniel Dae Kim, working in paradise has been twice as nice. He played Jin-Soo Kwon on the series “Lost,” and now he stars on another show filmed in Hawaii. He plays Detective Chin Ho Kelly on CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0.”

Kim joined “CBS This Morning” and discussed his career, being able to work in Hawaii and his family with the co-hosts.

Growing up, Kim actually wanted to be a lawyer, not an actor. He told the co-hosts that, as an undergraduate, he wanted to be an attorney and study political science. He said he did one of those things and “ended up being an actor instead.”

“When I wanted to be an attorney, I think I wanted to be a litigator; I wanted to be in a courtroom,” he said, “and there are a lot of similarities between that and what I do today.”

PSY and Snoop Lion Slow Dance to G-Dragon’s Song at a Noraebang
soompi

Looks like we got a sneak preview of PSY‘s upcoming music video! Is that G-Dragon and Snoop Lion we see?

That’s right, it looks like G-Dragon and Snoop Lion (formerly known as Snoop Dog) will feature in PSY’s music video. In the photo we see the three at an old fashioned noraebang. They are wearing similar looking checkered suits, and PSY and Snoop Lion are getting very close with two very happy looking Korean women.

It had been previously reported that Snoop Lion was in Korea to film one of the PSY’s music videos. When PSY announced that he will most likely make a comeback in either February or March, it was also revealed that Snoop Lion would feature on one of his tracks. Later, YG Entertainment announced that PSY will film his music video in mid-January and that they are shooting for a early March comeback.

First Korean Indie band concert in LA
Korea Times US

America has Nine Inch Nails, and Korea has 10cm.

The Korean acoustic folk indie band 10cm will hold a solo concert in Los Angeles on Jan. 31. It will be the first concert hosted by a Korean indie band in the world’s biggest music market.

The venue is Club Nokia.

Making their debut in 2010, the duo act ㅡ vocalist Kwon Jung-yeol and guitarist Yoon Cheol-jong ㅡ had a meteoric rise to fame with several hit songs including “Tonight I’m Afraid of the Dark,” “Give a Hug” and “Fine Thank You and You?”


Reality Show Catapults Kim Hee-ae into Fashion Icon Status
Chosun Ilbo

Actress Kim Hee-ae is shaping up as a hot fashion icon, with the clothing, bags and accessories she shows off in a cable channel reality program frequently selling out nationwide.

tvN’s “Sisters Over Flowers” features episodes of a 10-day backpacking trip to Croatia and Turkey by four veteran actresses — Kim, Kim Ja-ok, Lee Mi-yeon and Yoon Yeo-jeong.

The trend started with a long black padded coat from Burberry Brit that retails for over W2 million (US$1=W1,063), which Kim wore in the first episode. Despite its expensive price tag, the coat soon vanished from department store shelves across the country.

Report: Park Ji-sung’s return ‘possible’ in March
Korea Times

Former national men’s football team captain Park Ji-sung could return to play in one of South Korea’s tune-up matches ahead of this year’s FIFA World Cup, the squad’s head coach said Thursday.

On the sidelines of the team’s training camp in the World Cup host nation, Hong Myung-bo said the former Manchester United midfielder may put on a South Korean uniform to face Greece on the road in March.

“It can happen,” Hong said. “There are many possibilities.”


Demand for W50,000 Bills Still Soaring
Chosun Ilbo

Due to explosive demand for W50,000 bills, the amount of new bills printed exceeded W9 trillion for the first time last year (US$1=W1,064).

The Bank of Korea on Thursday said total bills in circulation at the end of last year were worth W63.37 trillion, up 9.03 trillion or 16.6 percent from the previous year.

W50,000 bills accounted for 88 percent of that surge. As of the end of 2013, W40.68 trillion worth had been issued, up 24.2 percent from a year ago.

Eugenia Kim to Launch Shoe Line — For Real This Time
Fashionista

Exciting news on the Eugenia Kim front: The masterful milliner has officially expanded into footwear — high-end footwear, in fact — that for Fall 2014 draws on the dark side of 1970s rock ‘n roll, as well as lessons learned from the designer’s first stab at footwear back in 2003.

Kim’s first shoe launch was a success in many ways — the shoes were bought by big retailers like Saks and even won the designer a CFDA Accessories Designer of the Year award in 2004. Sadly, the shoe line fell by the wayside in 2005 when Kim, whose company was still fairly small, had to produce more volume than her factory could handle. “[The factory] couldn’t produce on time, so after a couple of years I decided to stop and focus on hats,” the designer explained to us in a phone interview Thursday.

“I was in my 20s the first time [I did shoes]. I learned so much during those two years,” Kim says. Now, with more experience under her belt, it’s a great time for the brand to be trying again, she says, in part because she’s noticed a “new vanguard of shoe designers” that she could easily become a part of, but also because she now knows a lot more about production. Kim says she has spent a lot of time working on developing the line — she began working on it in April of 2013 and even took a trip to Italy to visit her new factory, which also manufactures shoes for the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. Thus, the quality is high and the materials (mink fur, pearl cabochon, burnt ostrich) luxe. Prices will range from $535 to $1,095.

Park Ji-Sung Considering Return to Korean National Team for World Cup
Author: Steve Han
Posted: January 8th, 2014
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Park celebrates his goal against Greece in the 2010 World Cup.

South Korean national team soccer coach Hong Myung-bo will meet with Park with hopes of bringing him back ahead of the 2014 World Cup. The 32-year-old midfielder abruptly announced his international retirement three years ago.

“I never heard that Park won’t play for the national team directly from the player himself,” Hong said, according to Sports Chosun. “I plan to meet with him to see what his stance is.”

The former Manchester United star’s father, Park Sung-jong, who often serves as his son’s spokesperson, told the media shortly after Hong’s comments that he and his son had been “waiting for a chance to speak to Hong,” according to Sports Seoul.

“So far, no one has asked Ji-sung directly [about returning to the national team],” said the player’s father. “[Hong and] Ji-sung have a very close relationship. They’ll have a chance to share each other’s thoughts more honestly. Until recently, all the talk about Ji-sung returning to the national team has been through the media.” Continue Reading »

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