Tag Archives: south korea


Clara Named the Second Most Beautiful Woman in the World by ‘MODE Lifestyle Magazine’


South Korean model and actress Clara Lee was listed as the second most beautiful woman in the world on Oct. 28 by MODE Lifestyle Magazine.

Following American actress/model Tania Marie Caringi, Clara took second place on the magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful Women in the World 2014″ list. Meanwhile, German model Cristina Maria Saracut ranked third.

Aside from the top three, the list included Hollywood actresses Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson, Brazilian Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio, South African model Candice Swanepoel and American singer Beyonce.

According to MODE, Clara is the magazine’s first Asian cover model. “[Clara] has a refreshing image and bright personality. Her stellar performances in Korean movies, modeling and acting caught the attention of our U.S. judges, which led to her high ranking on the list,” said a magazine representative.

In response to the impressive title, Clara commented, “I’m grateful that people not only in Korea but also overseas are looking at me prettily with a good heart.  I want to make sure to relay my thanks to my fans both domestic and foreign through this opportunity.”

She also tweeted photos from the magazine.

The 28-year-old celebrity comes from a unique background. Although she was born in Switzerland and educated in the U.S., she holds British citizenship. She starred in her first movie, Five Senses of Eros, in 2009 and skyrocketed into fame after throwing a ceremonial first pitch in a Korean professional baseball game in form-fitting leggings.

Clara NEWSis(Photo courtesy of NEWSis)

Clara has also appeared in numerous music videos, such as Jay Park’s “Joah” and Tei’s “Same Pillow.” She currently has more than half a million followers on her Facebook page.

You can view MODE’s “100 Most Beautiful Women in the World 2014″ list here.

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SKorean High School Seniors Receive Touching Video Messages from Their Mothers


It’s a well-known fact that South Korean high school students endure tremendous amounts of stress as they prepare for their College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), a standardized test that plays a crucial role in the college admission process. A few months ago, the Busan Police decided to relieve some of this stress by surprising a class of high school seniors with kind and reassuring words.


On July 29, 100 days prior to the 2015 CSAT, the Busan Police paid a visit to Dadae High School’s third year students under the pretense of giving a safety lecture. In the clip, an officer turns on what at first appears to be an alcohol safety video. However, the video soon reveals itself to be a compilation of warm encouragements from the students’ mothers, who tell their children to not worry too much about the upcoming exam, wishing them happiness.

The students were shocked and touched by their mothers’ words, and many bursted into tears. You can watch the video below, but make sure you have a box of tissues nearby.

Every year, on the day of the national exam, South Korea’s stock markets, public offices and banks open an hour later than usual. Rush-hour schedules for buses and subways are also extended in order to avoid traffic jams on the test day. In addition, family members and younger students often flock outside the test centers to cheer on the examinees.

The 2015 CSAT will take place on Nov. 13. According to Allkpop, the Busan Police published the video along with an article on their Facebook page and wrote, “Good things come and come again. … Now there really isn’t much time left. Hwaiting, Republic of Korea’s examinees!”


The Mystery of Kim Jong-un’s Disappearance May Be Solved


South Korea’s spy agency claimed Tuesday that it has solved the mystery behind Kim Jong-un’s six-week public absence, reported Yonhap.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told legislators in a closed-door briefing that Kim underwent an operation between September and October to remove a cyst from his right ankle, according to Lee Cheol-woo of the ruling Saenuri party and Shin Kyong-min of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy.

“Give his obesity and excessive activities, the trouble could recur despite the surgery, said Lee, referring to Kim’s frequent inspection tours of military units, factories and construction sites.

The NIS added that a European doctor was specially invited into the communist country to perform the operation.

North Korea has a long-standing relationship with a small group of French doctors, according to the New York Times. These doctors have previously treated top North Korean officials and have even treated Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il.

After disappearing from public view on Sept. 3, Kim reappeared on Oct. 14, supporting himself with a cane, ending wild speculations about Kim’s critical illness and a possible military coup.

The NIS also disclosed that North Korea has expanded five of its political prisoner camps, including the Yodok camp, said Lim Dae-seong, Lee’s aide who also attended the briefing.

Lim added that the NIS also believes that North Korea recently executed several people who had been close to Kim’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, who was suddenly executed in December 2013 for treason.


A Body Found in Sunken Sewol Ferry After Six Months


Rescue divers recovered a victim’s body on Tuesday inside a capsized Sewol ferry 195 days since the date of the tragedy off South Korea’s southwestern coast, according to the task force in charge of the search.

The heavily decomposed body, believed to be that of a woman, was found inside the bathroom on the fourth floor of the ferry at around 5:25 p.m. local time. The rescue team said the divers will lift out the body as soon as the currents slow down. Death toll now stands at 295 while nine victims are still missing in the waters.


The last body was reportedly found 102 days ago on July 18 when a rescue diver found a 56-year-old female cook in the ferry’s cafeteria.

The 6,825-ton Sewol ferry, carrying 476 people, sank on April 16 after failing to handle a sharp turn. Aside from the 172 passengers who were rescued on the day the ferry sank, the rest of the passengers were either found dead or remain missing.

Families of the missing victims have been living at a nearby school gym in Jindo since the ferry sank, waiting desperately for over six months to learn the fate of their loved ones. They have already refused to allow the ship to be lifted above sea level due to concerns over the bodies getting swept out to the waters.

Officials ensured that the search operation will continue until all of the missing victims are found or told otherwise by their families, but concerns are growing at an alarming rate as the search may be virtually impossible in the blistering conditions of Korea’s freezing winter.

The Sewol ferry was on its way to Jeju Island, South Korea’s flagship tourist destination, when it sank six months ago. Most of the 476 passengers on board were teenagers who were students at South Korea’s Danwon High School on a field trip. The vice principal of the school, who accompanied the students, was one of the passengers rescued, but he took his own life two days later after reportedly writing that living through the guilt of leaving the students behind would be “too much to bear.”

Considered as one of the worst maritime disasters ever, the Sewol disaster evoked a national outrage in South Korea over its government’s inadequate response, especially after the investigators revealed that the sinking was caused by a combination of cargo overloading, illegal modification of the vessel and poor helmsmanship of the ferry’s crew members.

South Korea’s central government has been accused of failing to monitor the Korea Shipping Association, a lobby group, which approved the safety of Sewol, even though officials overloaded the ferry with cargo and lied about it in the ferry’s departure report.

Some families of the victims took to the streets and began fasting indefinitely to urge the South Korean government to pass a special law to fully investigate the cause of the disaster. The public scrutiny prompted the resignation of South Korea’s prime minister. South Korean President Park Geun-hye also controversially dismantled the country’s coast guard over the disaster and sparked her opponents to criticize her for diverting responsibility from her own regime.

The ferry’s captain, Lee Joon-seok, is now standing trial as he is charged with negligent homicide for telling the passengers to stay in the capsizing ship without any effort to rescue them. Prosecutors have sought the death penalty for Lee, 68, and harsh penalties for 14 other crew members, who abandoned the ship after telling the passengers to stay put in their cabins.

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Korea Coast Guard

rock icon

South Korean Rock Icon Shin Hae-chul Passes Away


Shin Hae-chul, a veteran singer and rock icon of the Korean music scene, tragically passed away on Monday at 8:19 p.m. KST after suffering a cardiac arrest, said hospital officials.

According to Yonhap, Shin had been in critical condition since suffering a heart attack on Oct. 22. He was admitted to an intensive care unit at the Asan Medical Center in southern Seoul and underwent a three-hour surgery. However, the singer never woke from his six-day coma.

Shin had reportedly visited the hospital twice a few days prior to his heart attack, complaining of chest pains. Although he was hospitalized on both occasions, he was released shortly each time.

His agency KCA Entertainment said in a statement that they are unsure of the cause of Shin’s heart attack, adding that singer did not have any health problems prior to the cardiac arrest.

“Although many hoped for his recovery and the medical staff did their best, he couldn’t make it. We express deep condolences to the bereaved family,” KCA said.

Shin debuted in 1988 at the MBC College Music Festival with the modern rock song “To You.” Nicknamed “King of Darkness” by his fans, the charismatic rocker released more than 30 studio albums and experimented with various genres including jazz, ballads, modern rock and techno.

According to local news outlets, Shin’s passing came as a shock to not only fans but also to many veteran artists, such as Seo Taiji, PSY and Lee Seung-hwan, who were all good friends with the rock icon.

Shin passed away at the young age of 46.

Photo courtesy of Koreaboo

South Kore Ship Sinks

South Korean Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty for Sewol Ferry Captain

by HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean prosecutors on Monday demanded the death penalty for the captain of a ferry that sank earlier this year, killing more than 300 people, blaming his negligence and failure to rescue passengers in need for the massive loss of life, a court official and news reports said.

Prosecutors also requested life sentences for three other key crew members during a trial at the Gwangju District Court in southern South Korea, a court official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media about the sentence requests. He said prosecutors asked for sentences of up to 30 years for 11 other crew members.

The 15 crew members tasked with the ship’s navigation were among the first people rescued from the ship when it began badly listing, a source of the fierce public anger directed at them. Most of those who died in the disaster were students from a single high school who were en route from Incheon, west of Seoul, to the resort island of Jeju on April 16.

“The captain made no rescue efforts after issuing a broadcast asking passengers to stay in their cabins. … He didn’t organize any rescue operations after leaving the ship,” Yonhap news agency quoted prosecutors as saying during the trial on Monday. Other South Korean media also carried the comments, but the court official said he couldn’t confirm them.

Capt. Lee Joon-seok and the three key crew members — a first mate, a second mate and the chief engineer — were indicted in May on homicide charges. Eleven other crew members were indicted on less serious charges.

Court officials have said the court will issue verdicts on the 15 crew members in November.

The death penalty is the maximum legal sentence in South Korea, but the country has a de facto moratorium on capital punishment and has not executed anyone since December 1997. South Korean courts, however, still occasionally issue death sentences.

Kook Joung-don, a lawyer for the relatives of the victims, said they were “angry” because they thought the overall requested punishment for the crew members was not strong enough. But Seoul-based lawyer Kwon Young-gook said he was skeptical about whether authorities were trying to make the crew members bear the entire responsibility for the disaster.

The sinking, one of South Korea’s deadliest disasters in decades, caused nationwide grief and fury, with authorities blaming overloading of cargo, improper storage, untimely rescue efforts and other negligence for the incident.

More than six months after the sinking, the bodies of 294 people have been recovered, while 10 others have not been found. A total of 476 people were aboard the ship, with 172 of them rescued.

Lee has apologized for abandoning the passengers, but said he didn’t know his action would lead to so many deaths.

Many student survivors have said they were repeatedly ordered over a loudspeaker to stay on the sinking ship and that they didn’t remember any evacuation order being given before they helped each other flee the vessel.

Lee has said he issued an evacuation order for passengers. But he initially told reporters days after his arrest that he withheld the evacuation order because rescuers had yet to arrive and he feared for the passengers’ safety in the cold, swift waters.

The defense in the trial has denied any collusion among the crew members, saying they were confused, injured and panicked.


Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report. Photo courtesy of Park Chul-hong/Yonhap and AP. 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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LINK ATTACK: Naomi Ko, Jeremy Lin Goes Undercover, ‘World War Z’ North Korea

North Korea’s Ebola Response Mirrors World War Z
Although the current Ebola outbreak is far from a zombie apocalypse, many readers have been comparing North Korea’s closure of its borders to the events in Max Brooks’ 2006 dystopian novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.

Korean Adoptee Heather Schultz Starts the Search for Her Birth Family
“I remember thinking this is what mothers do — they leave you,” said freelance writer and editor Heather Schultz. Schultz, who is currently on a three-week trip to South Korea, discusses her early childhood as a Korean adoptee and how she came to discover her birth family’s stories.

heatherschutlz(Photo credit: Heather Schultz)

South Korea Launches “Happy Education” Policy to Shorten Study Hours
President Geun-Hye Park launched a “Happy Education” policy that aims to prevent students from measuring their success solely based on academics by placing a one semester ban on exams for 13-year-old students.

The South Korean Ferry Tragedy Has Exposed a Political Divide
More than six months after the Sewol ferry disaster, extreme right-wing groups are now protesting against Sewol victims’ families’ ongoing sit-in protests.

Why K-pop Idols Flee From Their Groups
The Joongang Daily explores the numerous reasons why K-pop idols choose to depart from their groups.

Why I Changed My Korean Name and Why I Changed It Back
“Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, I loved my name. … Butchered in foreign tongues, ‘Seonjae’ did not have the beauty and power that accompanied it back in Seoul.”

Rainbow House Aids Abused Women
Rainbow House, a shelter for abused women in Flushing, was founded by a Korean pastor, Rev. Keumhyan Yeu and provides meals and a full-time social worker to families struck by domestic violence.


Naomi Ko of Dear White People on Avoiding the Asian Representation Trap
Visibility Project interviews Naomi Ko, who talks about what it means to be a millennial of color and how the feature film Dear White People deconstructs racial stereotypes.



Japan Could Deploy Minesweepers off SKorea in War with North, U.S. Admiral Says
“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to let Japan’s military fight overseas could open the way for the country to deploy minesweepers in South Korean waters in the event of a war with North Korea, a senior U.S. admiral said on Friday.”


Top 10 Weirdest Places in South Korea
Korea Observer compiles ten bizarre places in South Korea, including the Suwon Toilet Museum and Love Castle, a sex museum in Gyeongju.

Whistle-blower Sees Little Change in South Korea 10 Years After Exposing Cloning Fraud
Whistle-blower Ryu Young-joon, who exposed groundbreaking cloning research as fraud, speaks for the first time about the fallout he faced from his tip-offs and discusses how South Korea is still tied down by values that allowed cloning fraudster Woo Suk Hwang “to become an almost untouchable national hero.”


Conductor Kristjan Jarvi on Giving ‘Gangnam Style’ a Classical Spin
Grammy-nominated conductor Kristjan Jarvi programs the viral song “Gangnam Style” to Pablo de Sarasate’s late 19th-century classic song “Zigeunerweisen.”

Cured of Ebola, Nina Pham Gets a Hug From Obama
Nina Pham, a nurse who caught Ebola while caring for a diagnosed patient in Dallas, was released Friday after making a complete recovery from the deadly virus. She met with President Barack Obama at the White House, where she received a thank-you for her medical service as well as a hug.


Jeremy Lin Goes Undercover as Adidas Store Employee
NBA star Jeremy Lin is back with another prank. In his latest video, Lin poses as an Adidas store employee in Taipei and interacts with several unsuspecting customers.

As Decades of Korean Adoptions Dwindle, Identity Issues Remain
“What I hope the legacy of Korean-American adoptees is,” Korean adoptee Joy Lieberthal said, “is that we’ve elevated the level of conversation of what it means to be Asian, Asian-American, Korean, Korean-American.”

Defense Secretary Hagel Meets With Korean Defense Minister At Pentagon

U.S. to Indefinitely Maintain Wartime Control of South Korean Military

The United States agreed to delay returning its wartime control of the South Korean military until its ally is determined fully equipped to fight North Korea, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

During the Korean War in the early 1950s, the U.S. assumed control of South Korea’s military to fight North Korea and to stand opposed to communism. Although the U.S. returned the peacetime control to South Korea in 1994, it still holds obligations to control the South Korean military in the event of another war.

Many South Koreans, mainly postwar generations, began protesting against the pledge, highlighting that allowing the U.S. wield such power is a slight to their national pride.

The opposition prompted the U.S. to initially accept South Korea’s request in 2007 to return its power by 2012. But in 2010, the handover of wartime control was postponed to 2015 after a South Korean warship was allegedly torpedoed by North Korea. South Korea requested another delay after North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket in 2012, followed by its third nuclear test earlier this year.

In Thursday’s meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and South Korean defense minister Han Min-koo agreed to take a “conditions-based approach” that will “focus on South Korea achieving critical defensive capabilities against an intensifying North Korean threat.” South Korean officials said the return of wartime control of the military is now expected to take place in the mid-2020s.

The new delay, which is essentially indefinite, will likely evoke heavy criticism from South Korea’s liberals. Many in South Korea have argued for years that further delaying the transition of wartime military control will be detrimental to inter-Korea relations.

Photo courtesy of AFP