Breaking Kim Jong Un: How North Korea became a meth hub
Extradited from Thailand, the five suspects appeared before a New York court last month to face charges of a sensational plot: smuggling crystal meth from enemy number one, North Korea.
The five men — from China, the UK, the Philippines and possibly Slovakia — stand accused by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of conspiring to sell 40 pounds of 99 percent pure methamphetamine to an undercover agent. The group pleaded not guilty. They will appear in court in early December.
You wouldn’t guess it, but North Korea — run by the world’s most infamous authoritarian regime — happens to be a colossal supplier of a highly potent but moderately priced form of crystal meth, experts say.
TV drama from South saturates black market in North Korea, bringing hope, and risk
Chilling reports in early November that Pyongyang had publicly executed scores of citizens — some for the crime of watching South Korean videos — seemed to mark a disturbing turn in the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un. But if history is any guide, even the threat of death is unlikely to quell North Koreans’ hunger for illicit entertainment from south of the border.
“The spread of South Korean media — above all, South Korean videotapes and DVDs — inside North Korea might be the single most important development of the last ten years,” said Andrei Lankov, a history professor at Seoul’s Kookmin University.
Constant surveillance, heavily guarded borders and thorough indoctrination in North Korea have made it one of the world’s most secretive and least understood countries. But the “iron curtain” which once sealed off 24 million North Koreans from the rest of the world is frayed, thanks to the spread of illegal cell phones — and the ease of obtaining South Korean pop culture.
Dog Poop Slaying Suspect Chung Kim Had Long History of Murder Threats, Prosecutors Say
The way police told it, 76-year-old Chung Kim simply exploded. The couple who lived upstairs with their five children dumped dog poop on the back porch of his Abrams Road condo, so he pulled out a handgun and murdered them in cold blood.
In a series of jailhouse interviews, Kim gave a different version of events. He admitted to shooting the man, 31-year-old Jamie Stafford, but said that it was self-defense. Stafford had charged him with the gun, which Kim had managed to wrestle from his grasp. He maintained that he didn’t shoot the woman.
Scottsdale teen Eric Kim scores perfect score on AP calculus test
If you walk around Basis Scottsdale, it’s not rare to find a smart student. Newsweek Magazine recently ranked the school as the number three high school in the country.
However, one student has recently stood out from the rest. Eric Kim was one of more than 100,000 students to take the AP Calculus BC exam. The exam involves two sections. The first section involves 45 multiple choice questions. The second is a free response section where students must show their work and explain how they came to their answer.
Eric was one of only 11 in the entire world to receive a perfect score on the entire test.
Korean Air to offer full-course hanjeongsik meals starting in 2014
Korean Air Lines Co. on Wednesday unveiled a new, full-course traditional Korean meal, known as hanjeongsik, that will be served to first-class passengers on long-distance flights starting next year.
South Korea’s largest flag carrier has prepared the meal service in cooperation with Cho Hee-sook, a culinary expert on traditional cooking.
The company said the meal will have a fruit appetizer, walnut porridge and fresh salad with special fermented soy bean “doenjang” dressing that will be followed by a main course made either of spicy seasoned pork or salmon.
Hanjeongsik literally means a complete full-course meal in Korean.
21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis
Photographer Kiyun asked her friends at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus to “write down an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.”
The term “microaggression” was used by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” Sue borrowed the term from psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce who coined the term in the ’70s.
Wonder Girl’s Sohee Will Not Be Renewing Her Contract with JYP
JYP Entertainment has published a press release that revealed that Wonder Girls’ Sohee will not be renewing her contract with the agency once it expires on December 21 of this year. They cite the reasons for this split due to her desire to focus on acting. Meanwhile the same press release has stated that fellow Wonder Girls members Sunye, Yenny and Yubin have agreed to renew their contracts pending some minor detail clarifications.
We had previously reported in our JYP contract length article that the contract for the original Wonder Girl’s members will end in December of this year. In what seems to be an attempt to put speculations about the future of the Wonder Girls to rest, JYP Entertainment posted a press release on December 11 to clarify what was happening with the contracts for the individual Wonder Girls members.
80s, 90s nostalgia spills over to pop music
Even as we live in the high-tech, cutting edge digital era, retro has always been part of the cultural code, various culture industry insiders have said.
But the trend toward retro in Korea prevails this year. What fueled this trend undeniably is “Reply 1994,” a drama currently airing on a cable network. Koreans’ move from rural communities to the cities is popular fodder for stories, and the drama recaptures that in a 1994 setting.
The girl group T-ara is showing off what it does best with the remake of “Do You Know Me?” The song is a 2013 version of the Korean band Sand Pebbles’ song that won it the top prize at the 1977 MBC Collegian Song Contest. One of the original Sand Pebbles’ members recently joined T-ara in the production of the music video.
Arizona Diamondbacks making strong play for Shin-Soo Choo
The Arizona Diamondbacks, fighting a dwindling fan base and apathy in the marketplace, are trying to steal a page out of the Seattle Mariners’ playbook by trying to sign free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
The Diamondbacks are a surprise entrant in the Choo sweepstakes, a high-ranking club official told USA TODAY Sports. Choo would become the highest-paid player in franchise history, eclipsing $100 million. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing.
The Rangers also acknowledged that they are trying to sign Choo.
The Diamondbacks, 81-81, finished 11 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, and drew 2.1 million fans – the second-lowest attendance in the National League.
Jeremy Lin Isn’t the Only Christian Asian-American
Two months ago, producer Christopher Chen released Linsanity, a documentary following Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin’s rise to stardom which explores the basketball player’s commitment to Christianity. The film recently spurred an interesting discussion on Huff Post Live about how Asian-Americans practice their Christian faith on Huff Post Live. All of the guests, including Chen, rapper MC Jin and spoken- word artist Jason Chu, seemed to agree that the Asian–Americans practice of openly embracing theirone’s faith is a relatively new and misunderstood concept in America.
Jang: ‘The Very Definition of Korean Culture’
Food Safety News
We are sitting in one of the thematic conference rooms at the Sempio Foods Company research and development (R&D) center in Osong, south of Seoul, South Korea. Byung-serk Hurh, Sempio’s research director, is drawing a large cooking vessel on a white board as he tries to explain how Jang is made.
In one wing of the R&D complex, lab workers quietly come and go. They move from the labs to a large digital library-like room, where they sit while compiling data. In the other wing are offices and conference rooms designed in a variety of themes, such as a forest, a swimming pool, and even a giant produce farm with lettuce growing from the ceiling.
Biden Meets with South Korean President
Voice of America
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye on the lastest stop of an Asian tour dominated by tensions over China’s new Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ.
Biden said at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Friday that there should be no doubt about Washington’s commitment to preserving balance in the region. Biden told reporters that “the United States never says anything it does not do.”
At a working lunch, President Park spoke about regional issues, including territorial disputes with China, the threat from North Korea and diplomatic tensions with Japan.
No Stranger to Asia, Biden Deploys Political Experience
New York Times
Greeting Chinese leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. reminded them that he had first been there in 1979, as a young senator, to meet Deng Xiaoping, the reformist Chinese leader. He told President Xi Jinping, 11 years his junior, that he had met enough world leaders to take their measure.
The message was anything but subtle: Joe Biden was not born yesterday, and he is no stranger to Asia. Given the tension, finger pointing and mutual suspicions that he confronted on every stop of his weeklong tour of the region, Mr. Biden’s political instincts, honed over four decades of experience, came in particularly handy this week.
At times, traveling from Japan to China and finally to South Korea on Friday, the vice president seemed less a diplomat or grand strategist than a kindly but stern uncle, called in to smooth ruffled feathers and instruct Asia’s leaders to stop quarreling with one another.
Photos show scale of North Korea’s repressive prison camps — Amnesty
North Korea is showing no signs of scaling back its fearsome labor camp system, with torture, starvation, rape and death a fact of life for tens of thousand of inmates, according to human rights group Amnesty International.
The rights group released satellite images, purportedly showing evidence of expansion, including the construction of new housing blocks and production facilities, at two of the isolated regime’s largest camps or “kwanliso” –15 and 16 — used to hold political prisoners.
“The gruesome reality of North Korea’s continued investment in this vast network of repression has been exposed,” said Rajiv Narayan, Amnesty International’s East Asia Researcher.
‘The other side of North Korea’: A defected smuggler’s extraordinary story
Seongmin was 12 years old when he started smuggling goods in from China. It was the late 1990s, a time when North Korean border communities like his were beginning to change rapidly and in ways we are still trying to understand. The famine that had killed hundreds of thousands of Seongmin’s countrymen was finally winding down, thanks in part to new black markets that provided food where the state could not. The government had either become too weak to stop the smugglers or, perhaps fearing more starvation if they re-sealed the border, simply turned a blind eye.
The first time Seongmin crossed over into China, he says it was simply “out of curiosity.” He lived all of 500 feet from the Tumen River, which separates China from North Korea’s northernmost province, and it was easy enough to cross. He met another child there, who gave him his first piece of chocolate. When he got home, he decided to find something he could bring back to China the next day to trade for more chocolate. So he took the badge of national founder and Eternal President Kim Il Sung that his mother wore on her coat, as all North Koreans were required to do. He’d been told all his life that the badge was any family’s most valuable possession.
More Chinese tourists spend big in S. Korea: report
Chinese tourists are spending more money and staying longer in South Korea than ever before, emerging as the highest-spending overseas visitors to Seoul and some of the most important customers for outlets and shopping centers here, a report showed on Friday.
According to the report compiled by the Hyundai Research Institute, a total of 2.84 million Chinese tourists visited South Korea last year, sharply growing from some 480,000 in 2001.
The portion of Chinese visitors to all overseas visitors surged to 25.5 percent from 9.4 percent over the cited period, the report said.
Asian Americans’ shopping habits make retailers’ eyes light up
Los Angeles Times
In her Tory Burch flats and carrying the requisite Burberry bag, Linda Mar eyes the buttery leather designer purses, pausing to click off the labels: Phillip Lim. Chloe. Prada.
“I want the name brands,” the Taiwanese immigrant says, as she wanders the aisles of Saks Fifth Avenue at South Coast Plaza.
Mar is part of an emerging class of Asian Americans, identified as the “swayable shopaholics,” who now rank as the most prolific and impulsive buyers in the United States, according to a Nielsen report released Thursday.
Rescuers find missing Arcadia woman in Eaton Canyon
Pasadena Star News
A missing Pasadena City College student who sent despondent messages to an ex-boyfriend was found in Eaton Canyon on Friday morning.
Bora Kim, 19, of Arcadia was hoisted out by a helicopter from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, according to Lt. Elisabeth Sachs of the sheriff’s Crescenta Valley station.
Firefighter Brad Idol said Kim was suffering from exposure.
“She was above the second waterfall. I don’t know how she got to the spot where she was at,” Idol said.
Lorde: ‘I love K-Pop, I want Girls’ Generation to teach me to dance’
Lorde has opened up about her love of K-Pop – claiming that she’d to love write for Korean artist Lee Hi and be taught how to dance like Girls’ Generation.
The ‘Royals’ star has been vocal about her love of the genre before, but now in a new interview with Universal Music, she has spoken of her wishlist of collaborations.
“Personally, I really like K-Pop groups,” she said. “I particularly like the musician Lee Hi. I want to try a collaboration with Lee Hi. I also like 2NE1.”
She continued: “It is because their melodies and songs are very interesting. Their melodies are a lot more charming than the Western pop which I grew up listening to. If it is pop music, it should be to that extent.”
Admitting that she doesn’t rate her own dance skills very much, Lorde added: “I think I need to receive a dancing lesson from Girls’ Generation.”
South Korean manhwa seeking to seize manga crown
The Japan News
Look out manga, South Korea is stepping up efforts to spread “manhwa” comics to the rest of the world.
South Korea’s government is promoting manhwa exports by supporting companies distributing comics online and subsidizing translation of the works into English.
“We want to develop South Korea’s manhwa into a global brand and take the place of Japanese manga,” a South Korean government official said.
The South Korean government is encouraging domestic publishers with aspirations of selling comics globally to take part in overseas book fairs. The government set up a program to subsidize exhibition costs and even travel expenses for participants in such events.
Books Special Feature: Maurene Goo on How a Doctor and Lawyer Ended up Writing Young Adult Novels
Scratch the surface of every author, especially those who write for children, and you’ll find a former child booknerd. The kids who escaped their lives in piles of lovingly thumbed-through books. I was that kid. Lydia Kang and Ellen Oh were also that kid. But unlike them—two model Asian American children who earned law and medical degrees before selling their Young Adult (YA) novels to big-time publishers—my path was a little more meandering. A little less the jewel-in-my-parents’-crown and more that worrisome liberal-arts-major-where-did-we-go-wrong-let’s-lend-her-money-kid.
As a teenager, I wanted to be a hard-hitting journalist. But then I went to college and just wanted to write about Chicano literature and postmodernist films. The year after graduation was spent having a grand ol’ time in the midst of extreme aimlessness: working at a big-box bookstore, messing around with coworkers while reading any and all books during my lunch break (The DaVinci Code, anyone?). At some point, I realized I was interested in book publishing and earned a masters degree for it on the East Coast. Back in California, I found publishing jobs few and far between and eventually found my way back to my old flame—writing. I finished writing a young adult novel I had started as a sample for a grad school application, purely for fun, without any goals of getting it published. But as luck would have it, my friend read it and referred me to her agent who eventually sold my book to Scholastic. The book, Since You Asked…, was released this past summer and it chronicles the life of—surprise!—a Korean American teen who has her own newspaper column. It’s amazing to find myself having fulfilled a childhood dream, because it was never a tangible goal at any point in my adult life.
Party in Koreatown?
Los Angeles Times
The Line hotel, a fashion-forward new hotel at 3515 Wilshire Blvd. in Koreatown, will kick off a “soft opening” on Jan. 1 with rates of $168 nightly.
Before you rush to book — and from the looks of the hotel’s website, it is tempting to rush — bear in mind that the place isn’t finished. In January, while those discounts are offered, the hotel’s two restaurants-to-be, nightclub and pool won’t be open. In fact, there may be some construction on site. (The hotel’s opening has been delayed a few times.)
But in the longer term, the temptations are great. The 388-room lodging is surrounded by a big night-life scene, blocks from a snazzy 24-hour Korean spa, three miles west of downtown, six miles east of Beverly Hills. When they open, the hotel’s restaurants are to be Pot (hot-pot cuisine) and Commissary (vegetarian focus), run by Roy Choi, the prolific purveyor of Mexican Korean street food.
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!
North Korean leader’s ousted uncle alive and safe: South Korean minister
The uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is alive and appears to be safe, South Korea’s unification minister said on Wednesday, a day after the South’s National Intelligence Service said he had been removed from two powerful positions.
Jang Song Thaek, considered the second-most powerful man in the impoverished, reclusive North, was last seen in public in early November at a basketball match between North Korean and Japanese teams in Pyongyang.
“I understand that Jang Song Thaek is not in any physical danger,” Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told lawmakers gathered at an emergency sub-committee meeting in Seoul.
Signs of N.Korean Purge Spotted in September
The government is preparing to deal with the potential impact of the sacking of North Korea’s eminence grise Jang Song-taek for cross-border relations.
An intelligence official here said there are “no immediate signs of major changes in the North” and urged calm, but added that a “huge uncertainty” hangs over in the North Korean regime.
Intelligence officials had been monitoring Jang and his coterie since September. Not only had Jang’s public appearances with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un decreased significantly this year, but there were also rumors of a “bloody purge” targeting Jang’s circle.
NK leader following his father’s path in purging potential enemies: expert
North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, is apparently demonstrating swift ruthlessness in eliminating his potential political rivals with reports that his uncle Jang Song-thaek has been ousted from all of his key posts, a U.S. expert said Tuesday.
Alexandre Mansourov, who has long studied North Korean issues, said Kim seems to be following in his late father’s footsteps. His father, Kim Jong-il, purged his own uncle Kim Yong-ju, regarding him as a threat to his power bid in the mid-1970s, said Mansourov.
“If true, Jang’s removal from power will be a major development in North Korea’s post-Kim Jong-il history,” he told Yonhap News Agency.
South Korea in a daze over Chinese haze
Scientists in South Korea say the country must brace itself for a bank of smog rolling in across the sea from China, it’s reported.
The National Institute of Environmental Research says westerly winds are bearing a cloud laden with high levels of heavy metals such as arsenic and lead. They expect the whole country to be enveloped in what Choson Ilbo newspaper called the “new influx of toxic haze” that blanketed the western island of Baengnyeong at the weekend and went on to obscure the skyline of the capital Seoul.
Korea is the world’s top producer of unhappy school children
By many measures, Korea is doing incredibly well.
Unemployment is ridiculously low.
Exports are booming, driving the country’s record current account surplus.
And according to the just released-numbers from OECD, the Paris-based international think tank, South Korean students are some of the best performing in the world. Young South Koreans are especially far above average in math and reading, as measured by the percentage of students reaching the highest level of proficiency in those subjects according to the study of global student achievement known as the PISA.
But there is one measure of education where Korea is at the bottom of the list: happiness.
Can a Sunken Rock Unite Japan and Korea?
All the drama surrounding China’s declaration of a vast “air-defense identification zone” off its shores centers on the disputed islands known as the Senkaku by Japan, which administers them, and the Diaoyu by China, which challenges Tokyo’s claim. The new zone encompasses the airspace over the islands: Beijing wants any planes in the area to identify themselves beforehand or face unspecified, possibly military, action. Japan scoffs at this demand, as does the U.S., which has accused China of unilaterally trying to alter the status quo by threat of force.
The issue dominated U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Tokyo today — and will do the same when he travels to Beijing tomorrow. The Japanese have been pushing the U.S. — which has recommended that American airlines respect China’s rules even if the U.S. military will not — to take an even tougher stand against Beijing. If he really wants to undercut China, though, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should be focusing on another island entirely.
Lawyers for ex-State Dept. worker Stephen J. Kim urge Holder to drop leak charges
awyers for a former State Department employee accused of leaking sensitive defense secrets are urging Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to drop criminal charges, saying that the case might never have been pursued under current Justice Department guidelines on leak investigations.
Defense attorneys for former State Department arms expert Stephen J. Kim argue that the Department of Justice should abandon its case for multiple reasons — but largely because the new leak policy would have stopped investigators from obtaining some of the evidence they are now using to prosecute Kim.
Asian-Americans outspend other US households, Nielsen study shows
South China Morning Post
The spending habits of the mainland consumer have been well dissected, as have the buying preferences of their travellers. But what about their peers who go abroad and stay there?
Nielsen yesterday released the results of a study done on the consumption habits of Asian-Americans who come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Korean and Japanese.
It found that Asian-American households outspend US households in general by an average of 19 per cent. They are also the number one demographic among online shoppers.
Seventy-seven per cent of Asian-Americans had made an online purchase within the past year, as against 61 per cent of all Americans.
Twelve per cent of Asian Americans spent US$2,500 or more a year on internet shopping, almost double the amount for the general population in the United States.
U.S. Senators Say South Korea Should Not Hire China Firm
New York Times
Two leading senators have asked the Obama administration to warn South Korea against allowing Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications firm, to build large parts of a next-generation network for the capital city of Seoul, arguing that it could give the Chinese government a way to enter the networks of a major American ally.
The issue appears almost certain to come up when Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrives in Seoul later this week, the last stop on his Asian trip.
At a moment when the United States is already protesting China’s establishment of an “air defense zone” over disputed territory in the East China Sea, the Huawei issue is bound to be another irritant in an increasingly contentious discussion with the government of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.
Holiday Burdens from Korea
For those Koreans who live in the United States, it’s the price you have to pay for having friends or relatives in Korea. Sometimes you have no choice but to participate in the Black Friday frenzy.
Their requests keep on barging in every year, and it’s really no different than an uninvited guest popping up at your front door completely unannounced.
Only identified by last name and age here, 25-year old Los Angeles resident Kim says she had to buy five Coach brand purses last Friday at the Citadel Outlets. “It’s true that I saved as much as 60% since it was Black Friday, but they are not mine,” she explained. ”I was just doing favors for friends and relatives in Korea.”
Another Korean American, 36-year old Park, says she gets nervous when she gets text messages during this time of the year, especially on Kakao Talk, because of such requests. “They’ve either been here [before] to know, or heard about Black Friday sales through the media and they don’t hesitate to ask,” she says. “It’s not like I don’t have enough to do as it is, but it’s difficult to say ‘No.’”
Hotel Boom in South Korea Sparks Concern
Wall Street Journal (subscription req’d)
A record number of foreign tourists visiting South Korea in recent years has fueled in Seoul what property developers are calling the biggest hotel boom in the country’s history. But some industry participants say an overreliance on visitors from China and Japan leaves South Korea vulnerable to future overcapacity.
South Korea has seen its international profile as a tourist destination rise significantly in the past few years, helped by the splash Korean pop culture has made overseas.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Asia’s fourth-largest economy leapt past 11 million for the first time last year, according to the Korean Tourism Organization, marking the fourth consecutive year of double-digit percentage growth. By comparison, Japan, a neighbor almost four times the size of South Korea with similar climes, took in 8.36 million foreigners last year, according to Japan Tourism Marketing Co., a Tokyo-based tourism industry consultancy.
Amanda Seyfried puts on a stylish show in South Korea while Justin Long the supportive boyfriend waits in the wings
Daily Mail (U.K.)
She’s known as a screen siren, but Amanda Seyfried can also add ‘muse’ to her list of titles.
On Wednesday, Amanda Seyfried attended the Muse party in Seoul, an event that promoted cosmetic brand Clé de Peau Beaute.
As the official muse for the make-up brand, Seyfriend was the guest of honor at the shindig and held a press conference to welcome the media and fans.
At the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Korea will try to break out of its comfort zone as its women’s curling team looks to sweep its way to the country’s first ever medal in a non-skating event.
Korea earned its first Olympic berth in curling with a Top 4 finish at the World Women’s Curling Championships in Canada last year. Just last month, Korea won its first ever international tournament outside of Korea at the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships in Shanghai, China.