Tag Archives: south korea


So Yeon Ryu Wins Canadian Women’s Open, SKoreans Finish 1-2-3


Oh, the sweet smell of victory.

“I smell like champagne right now, but I’m still so happy,” said a beaming So Yeon Ryu, who received the celebratory dousing after clinching the win at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open on Sunday.

It’s been two years since the 24-year-old pro from South Korea won a tournament, but she did so handily, finishing at 23 under to break the Canadian Women’s Open 72-hole record for scoring in relation to par by five shots, according to the Golf Channel. Though Ryu said she was a little disappointed that she fell short of Annika Sorenstam’s LPGA Tour record of 27 under, she still savored the long-awaited victory.

“I’ve been waiting so long for the champagne,” she said. “I was ready to get champagne. I put champagne on Inbee [Park] maybe more than five times. Finally, she gave it to me.”

Ryu celebrated with her fellow Korean competitors, Na Yeon Choi, who finished at 21-under, and Park, who finished at 18-under—as they respectively placed 1-2-3 in the tournament. The trio of champions also happen to be close friends; Ryu and Choi will be Park’s bride’s maids at the latter’s wedding in October, the Associated Press reported.

That friendship did not stop the three from trying to outplay each other, however. On the back nine Sunday, Choi nipped away at Ryu’s five-shot lead, cutting it down to one of a birdie and a Ryu bogey. After that, though, Ryu steadied herself through the rest of the holes to claim her third LPGA title.

“Na Yeon almost chased me down, so I was pretty nervous at that moment,” Ryu told the Golf Channel. “The really good thing is I did trust myself. I was focused on my game.”

South Koreans have now won the last three LPGA tournaments after a slow start to the season, according to the Golf Channel. Inbee Park had the only South Korean LGPA title of 2014 coming into August. Mirim Lee won the Meijer LPGA classic on Aug. 10, and Park followed up with a win at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.


Photos via Golf Canada/Bernard Brault


SKorea Beats Japan, Advances to Int’l Championship in Little League World Series


The South Korean Little League World Series team is headed to the International Championship game after edging out a very strong Japanese team 4-2 Wednesday in .

The matchup of the top two international teams did not disappoint. World Series defending champion Japan came in with a dominant pitching staff, while South Korea came in boasting one of the top offenses in the tournament thus far.

Scoreless into the third inning, pitcher and first baseman Choi Hae-chan helped his own cause with a two-run home run to right center field to give Korea the lead. Japan responded immediately by tying the game with two runs of their own in the bottom of the third, one off a sacrifice fly by Shingo Tomita and another off a wild pitch.

Both teams remained scoreless until the top of the sixth (the final inning per Little League rules), when Hwang Jae-yeong lifted a solo homer to score the game-winning run off of Suguru Kanamori. Sin Dong-wan added an insurance run with a double to center field.

In the bottom sixth, Hwang Jae Young struck out the first two Japanese batters before giving up a single. The next batter, Kanamori, flied out to center field to end the game.

South Korea now holds a 9-0 Little League World Series record, while Japan broke its 12-game win streak.

Japan isn’t completely out of it as it will play Mexico tomorrow for a chance to get back into the International Championship game on Saturday, where South Korea awaits.

At the time of publication, the top two U.S. teams are set to slug it out in an highly-anticipated game, featuring a potent offense in Nevada and the superstar Mo’ne Davis-led Pennsylvania team.

The winner of the International Championship will face the winner of the U.S. Championship game, also Saturday, for the World Series Championship game on Sunday.

Meanwhile, you can watch a couple of South Korea’s spectacular bat flips from the tournament. Mind you, they’re both on flyouts.

Photo courtesy of Korea Little Baseball Association

Pope Francis waves to Catholic worshippers as he arrives to lead a mass at Gwanghwamun square in central Seoul

Pope Francis Wraps Visit to SKorea With Message of Reconciliation


While it was the images of Pope Francis riding around in a Kia Soul that went viral last week when he first arrived in South Korea, it was his calls for forgiveness and reconciliation that resonated on Monday before he left the country.

“Let us pray, then, for the emergence of new opportunities and dialogue, encounter and the resolution of differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people,” he said during a Mass in Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul.

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“Peter asks the Lord: ‘If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ To which the Lord replies: ‘Not seven times, I tell you, but 70 times seven,’” he continued. “Unless we are prepared to do this, how can we honestly pray for peace and reconciliation?”

The New York Times reported that after the pope’s appeal, the South Korean government issued a statement asking North Korea to accept a proposal from last week to restart high-level dialogue. In perhaps a more conciliatory tone, Seoul said that if North Korea were to “behave responsibly,” it would be ready to “discuss any subject,” which includes the possible easing of economic sanctions imposed after the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean warship, in 2010. The South blamed the North for shooting a torpedo that sunk the warship, a charge the North has denied.

The high-level talks could also include restarting reunions for Korean relatives who were separated during the Korean War. When the governments met in February, the plan was to schedule one around the Chuseok holiday on Sept. 8, but those plans have so far fallen through, following the way of the talks.

The South Korean Catholic Church had invited a North Korean delegation to the pope’s Mass, but the North rejected the offer.

The pope also met with seven of the 55 surviving “comfort women” on Monday. The women, who were invited to sit in the front row during the Mass, presented a painting by a former sex slave who died in 2004 to Pope Francis. Titled “A Flower That Did Not Blossom,” the painting shows a Korean girl in a traditional hanbok among pink flowers.

Pope Francis 1Pope Francis meets seven comfort women, now in their 80s and 90s, at the Monday Mass.


Pope Francis kisses a child upon arriving for Mass at Gwanghwamun square in Seoul. Reuters / Korea Pool / Yonhap

Prior to Monday, Pope Francis partook in a number of events that began last Thursday. He led a Mass to beatify Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 other Korean Catholics who were killed by Korean rulers through the 18th and 19th centuries, when Catholicism was spreading rapidly and seen as a threat to the Confucianism-based society.

The pope also met dozens of sick and disabled people in a rehabilitation center in Eumseong, along with the grieving family members of those killed in the April Sewol ferry disaster, according to Yonhap News. He baptized a father of a victim at the Vatican Embassy in Seoul, when the man approached him with an impromptu request.

South Korean Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung presented two gifts to the pope after Monday’s Mass: a crown made with a part of a barbed wire fence in the inter-Korean border, and a statue of St. Mary, the symbol of the Cathedral of Pyongyang Diocese. As he left South Korea later that day, Pope Francis imparted one more blessing as his plane left for Rome:

“I invoke divine blessing upon you all as I renew my prayer for peace and well-being on the Korean peninsula,” he said, according to an air traffic controller.

Photos via Reuters/Korea Pool/Yonhap and European Pressphoto Agency


SKorean Bar Slammed After Attempting to Ban Africans Due To Ebola Fear


A bar in the Itaewon district of Seoul sparked public outrage after one of the workers, citing Ebola fears, posted signs saying the establishment was banning African customers.

JR Pub in Itaewon, considered one of the most racially diverse region in the country, posted two signs on Aug. 16 which read, “We apologize, but due to Ebola virus we are not accepting Africans at the moment.”

Following a series of scathing responses on social media, the pub replaced the signs with an apology from the owner, Troy Armado, who said he was oblivious to the original signs that went up allegedly during his absence. But the damage had already been done. Online discussions of boycotting the bar is ongoing among expats.

“I told them I was South African and after some deliberation they told me I could go in,” someone wrote on the Facebook page, HBC/Itaewon Information Board. “Apparently white Africans are okay. Total bollocks.”

Armado said that the sign was put up by a worker without his knowledge.

“I didn’t even know about this,” Armado told Asia news blog Asiapundits. “I just hosted the Gabon ambassador last night [at my other business] … 50 people from Gabon reserved the roof yesterday. I will talk to whoever put up this sign. I will clear everything up.”

An apology posted outside the pub is below. (Image via Asiapundits)


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The Kansas City Royals’ Biggest Fan Is From South Korea


When the Kansas City Royals invited their superfan Sung Woo Lee from South Korea, neither the team nor the man himself expected that his 10-day stay would be this special.

The Royals went on an eight-game winning streak since the day Lee landed in Kansas City, a streak which allowed them to overtake the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central. Lee, seeing his favorite team in person for the first time, tossed the ceremonial first pitch at Monday night’s game and has become something of a celebrity amid the outpouring of Midwestern hospitality.

Lee, who has never visited the U.S. before the Royals flew him in last week, traces back his fandom to the early 1990s, when he caught baseball highlights on Korean TV, which aired CNN’s sports news segments every day. Lee told MLB.com the Royals’ “beautiful K” on their hats “caught my eye,” and from then on would lend his unconditional support of the perennially underachieving franchise, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 1985 in the early 1990s after watching baseball.

Thanks to the Internet, Lee became an active member of the Royals’ online community and met local fans in Kansas City. Those locals, who’ve kept in touch with Lee for years, are the ones who launched a campaign to fly him in from Korea with the hashtag #SungWooToKC on Twitter.

“The dude is just diehard, and he never has a bad word to say about us, even when we were at our lowest of our low, and I was just really happy and honored to meet him,” said Royals pitcher Danny Duffy.

Set to return to Korea tomorrow, Lee has been embraced by the Royals community, which welcomed him with customized gifts and barbecue tailgate feasts in his honor.

“That’s just a credit to this whole community, this whole town,” Lee said, according to the Kansas City Star. “It’s just been this giant hug from this town. It’s been viral and insane.”


Director of ‘Love Child,’ A Documentary On Gaming Addiction in South Korea, On How Technology Shapes Us


In 2010, the story of a South Korean couple who let their 3-month-old baby wither and die from starvation made headlines around the world. The twisted irony behind it was that while these parents were neglecting their child, they were raising a virtual baby via the online fantasy role-playing game, Prius. They would spend more than 10 hours a night at PC bangs (24-hour Internet cafés) that litter the streets of South Korea. They’d sporadically feed their real-life baby, Sarang, when they’d return home from binge gaming sessions in the early morning.

The couple eventually went to trial for negligent homicide, but the father, Kim Jae-Beom, ended up serving only a year in prison, while his wife, Kim Yun-jeon, was placed on probation. In South Korea’s Criminal Code, there is a faulty loophole. It reduces sentencing for those under physical or mental impairment stemming from addiction to alcohol or drugs—in this case, gaming.veatch

Four years later, HBO aired Love Child, a documentary by  Valerie Veatch that aims to raise a dialogue on how technology has permeated our society. More than a stoning of Sarang’s parents, the film is a reflection of society at large. She urges viewers to look at our own technology use, how it shapes us, and where this is all heading. “The story seems so cut and dry,” Veatch says. “You can’t, on one level, argue about it. But the story is complex. Telling it and further creating complexities around the moral anchors of it was an interesting process.”

Veatch has a fascination with the psychological and sociological side effects of technology—in 2012, she co-directed the documentary “Me @ the Zoo,” which steps into the world of internet celebrity Chris Crocker of “Leave Britney Alone” fame. She learned about the case of the Kims in 2010, and couldn’t stop thinking about it. “Telling that story would allow me to explore a lot of things that I like to think about in terms of how technology impacts society,” Veatch says. “In making ‘Me @ the Zoo, I realized that Chris Crocker was dragging this mechanized social media that was driven by ads and an ever-increasingly sophisticated network of industries that supported social media. These platforms are demonized. Then these smart phones came out and all of a sudden everyone’s on Grindr all day long. I was like, ‘What is this?’ How are we using these devices?”

Although Internet addiction is not yet listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Love Child shows that people in South Korea are currently able to seek treatment for their gaming addictions. The South Korean government offers treatment at roughly 200 counseling centers and hospitals, and has trained more than 1,000 internet addiction counselors.

In the documentary, reality is interspersed with hyper-reality. There are interviews with the couple’s defense attorney, the main detective and journalist Andrew Salmon, who followed the case from the start, along with shots of daily life in South Korea—a delivery motorcycle revving its engine as it speeds through moonlit highways, a knife slicing into a watermelon. Then, dispersed throughout the film, are scenes of seemingly alternate world—cotton candy colored skies, an animated baby in a womb, along with several excerpts of the game, Prius.

Veatch believes we’re in the middle of a technological transition, one that’s happening first in Korea. “There are people who are actively studying and thinking in a really deep way about how all of this functions in society,” she says.

The film was screened for Korean audiences. “I was thinking ‘What’s going to happen?’” Veatch says. “But it was amazing. All the young kids were like, ‘Thank you for making this film. You don’t judge it.’ They’re all going to school to create the third generation of the technology we’re watching. So they’re seeing this as a beginning of a conversation. How do we build a better world for technology?”

For the filmmaker, the story affected her in a profound way. “I’ve been trying to be detached but then you can’t be,” she says. “You become deeply intertwined with what you’re doing. It was a dark story to carry. I reflected on why I am telling this story. Is it going to rub people the wrong way? Am I taking something that happened and pointing at it and being awkward?” In the end, she says, she made the film in memory of Sarang. “It’s just acknowledging it’s spirit,” Veatch says. “Putting in layers of the game really helped. It just sort of showed how this is a universal story of our time.”

The couple has weaned off of gaming and is now raising their second child, named Autumn.

The documentary will be airing on HBO throughout August.

Image via Love Child

hunger strike

Families Demand Sewol Inquiry, Refuse to Leave Protest Encampment During Pope’s Visit


The families protesting outside of South Korea’s National Assembly say they only want the truth.

“We want to know how our children died. That’s all,” Park Yong-woo told the Washington Post.

The math teacher’s daughter drowned in the April 16 ferry sinking that took the lives of 304 people, including two-thirds of a high school class that was on a school trip.

For three weeks, Park, other victims’ families and their supporters have been camped out in tents set up on Gwanghwamun Plaza in central Seoul in an effort to pressure lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow for a comprehensive and independent inquiry into the tragedy. Many of the protestors are also participating in a hunger strike; today marks the 24th day into the strike, the Post reported.

The proposed legislation has been stalled in the National Assembly, as the dueling political parties continue to clash over what legal powers the inquiry should have, according to AFP. With heavy public criticism of the government over the ferry accident—for lax safety regulations that reportedly led to a severely overloaded ferry and ineffective rescue operations by the Coast Guard—there is a feeling among the protestors that the truth might never be revealed.


Above: Sit-in protesters, including relatives of the Sewol ferry disaster, striking workers and disabled people hold a joint press conference urging Pope Francis to pray with them at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul. Photo via AFP.

But the families’ persistent presence in the public square is becoming a growing concern for some lawmakers, as the nation gets ready to welcome Pope Francis, whose visit marks the first papal visit in 25 years. One ruling party member controversially compared the protestors to “homeless people” recently, complaining that it’s “not desirable” to have them camped out outside the National Assembly.

But protestors have said they will “fight back” if authorities try to remove them from the Seoul plaza, where Francis is scheduled to hold an open-air mass on Aug. 16, expected to draw huge crowds.

AFP reported that the protestors have been in touch with the Catholic Church about their presence in the plaza. Park, the grieving father, also told reporters that he sent a letter to Pope Francis that read, in part: “Holy Father, please cry with us here together. Please pray for us and protect us from being swept off the square in the name of preparing your mass.”

The preparatory committee for Francis’ visit said the Catholic leader is expected to meet with bereaved families and survivors of the ferry disaster.

Top photo: In this July 22 photo, Sewol victims’ families taking part in hunger strike, receive intravenous therapy, upon the advice of a medical team. Photo via The Hankyoreh.



dog soup

During Sambok Holiday, North and South Koreans Eat Similar Summertime Superfoods


It’s the Korean holiday you likely never heard of: Sambok.

Beginning around mid-July, Sambok spans three days, divided by 10-day and 20-day intervals, respectively. Traditionally, Korean farmers would take a break during this period due to the heat and focus on rejuvenating their tired bodies.

Certainly, next to Chuseok (Harvest Day) or Seollal (Lunar New Year), this traditional farmers’ holiday is not exactly celebrated today, even in Korea. However, you’ll know it’s Sambok when you see droves of people flocking to their favorite restaurants serving samgyetang, a Korean soup with chicken and ginseng, and even dog meat soup.

And apparently it’s no different in North Korea. The Daily NK recently reported how North Korean media often write articles in July about the different foods to eat during Sambok, a period known in Korea as the three hottest days of the summer.

Last July, the North’s Central News Agency reported, “With the start of Sambok upon us, many restaurants are serving customers foods to revitalize their bodies and increase their appetites against the heat.” The article then described why samgyetang, dog meat soup and other summertime superfoods are so beneficial. 

Sam means “three,” and according to the North Korean news article, bok means “to lie face down because the summer days are so hot that even a frog cannot endure it, lying flat with its stomach stuck to the humid earth.”

In the North, other popular dishes to eat during Sambok include steamed chicken and boiled rabbit, which is stuffed with chestnuts, dates, black soybean, and milk vetch root, according to the Daily NK article. The rabbit dish first became popular in the 1970s as part of North Korea’s “Kid Plan,” said the news site.

For North Koreans who can’t afford these dishes, yujigo, which consists of sticky rice, oil, eggs and sugar, is a popular alternative.

An anonymous defector told the Daily NK, “North Korean women work hard to make sure their husbands get to eat revitalizing foods. The most well-known food for revitalization is steamed chicken, but different regions have different specialties.”

Meanwhile, in South Korea, patjuk, or red bean soup, is also a well-known favorite during Sambok for its purported medicinal properties, which is said to fend off heat and illness. Patjuk was traditionally believed also to drive away evil spirits because these spirits avoid the color red. Jangoegui,or roasted eel, is also widely eaten because the vitamin A and E it contains is supposed to aid in blood circulation and prevent skin wrinkling.

This year Sambok began on July 18, with the second day yesterday, and the final day on Aug. 7.

Picture via The Waygook Effect