Tag Archives: south korea

Protest

29 NKorean Defectors and Five Guides Arrested in China

Above photo: Demonstrators stage a rally at the Chinese Embassy in Seoul to protest China’s policy of arresting North Korean defectors in 2012. Source: Los Angeles Times

by JAMES S. KIM

An activist group for North Korean defectors confirmed the arrest of 29 North Korean defectors and five guides in China, reports the Chosun Ilbo. It is said to be the largest arrest of North Korean defectors and guides recorded so far.

The individuals, who were divided into two groups, were arrested between July 15 and July 17, said the newspaper. Kwon Na-hyun, speaking on behalf of the activist group, said that 20 defectors were arrested in Qingdao, Shandong Province, and nine others in Kunming, Yunnan Province, as they made their way through an established escape route to Southeast Asia. Of the guides arrested, one of them, Na Su-hyun, 39, was a former North Korean defector who has a South Korean passport. The South Korean consulate general in China is expected to visit Na.

“Nine of them left for Kunming [from Qingdao] on July 14, because it would have been dangerous if all 29 defectors traveled together,” Kwon told the Chosun Ilbo. The defectors are being held in Tunmen, a town close to the North Korean border, and they face almost certain deportation.

Voice of America reports that the group of North Koreans consisted of four families, including a couple in their 60s and others in their 20s and 30s, as well as a 1-year-old baby.

The South Korean government apparently learned of the arrest on July 16 and is in the process of negotiating with the Chinese government for their release. A Seoul official told Voice of America that Beijing was very reluctant to release the North Koreans to South Korea. Meanwhile, China has not publicly commented on the issue.

Beijing’s policy for years has been to send North Korean defectors back, citing its border treaty with Pyongyang and illegal immigration problems as a whole. Instead of classifying them as refugees or asylum-seekers, the Chinese government classifies them as illegal economic migrants subject to deportation.

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Seoul Transforms Urban Eyesores Into Creative, Artistic Spaces

by RUTH KIM

An unused factory, a vacated government building, an abandoned commercial space—all are considered eyesores for a city. But, more and more, such sites in Seoul are being replaced by “creative spaces” that that may be ushering in an artistic renaissance for the city, while also fighting urban blight.

Sindang Creative Arcade, for example, today is home to artists who do work in pottery, textiles, photography and other crafts, and have access to 41 workstations. But before this transformation, the place was described as a “dungeon” located in the underground shopping center of the Joongang Traditional Market in Sindang-dong, which had teemed with small businesses a decade ago but had long been empty.

The Sindang Creative Arcade is one of nine “creative spaces” created by the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture, an arm of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Each creative space boasts a central theme that inspires the project. The Yeonhui Writer’s Village hosts writers’ rooms and a literary media lab, while the Seongbuk Art Creativity Center, built at an old community health center, focuses on healing-by-art programs.

Artist Ann Hyun-suk led the Folding Zip House project last year at the Seongbuk Center. It was a campaign with both artistic, as well as economic and humanistic value, as participants worked to transform old, donated clothes into sleeping bags for the homeless, according to the Korea Herald. The project promoted healing for everyone involved, from the citizens who donated their clothes for a good cause to the homeless who came “to realize that they are not neglected,” said the article.

Such projects represent an effort “rooted in a ‘culturenomics’ goal,” according to a statement from the Seoul foundation. The strategy is to recycle “underutilized urban facilities and resources,” while also supporting artists and benefiting Seoul citizens at large. The overarching goal: to transform Seoul into a “creative cultural city.”

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Before and after photos of the underground section of the Joongang Traditional Market (via Korea Herald).

Artists can access these creative spaces by submitting an application and paying a minimal fee, while also committing to certain obligations, such as helping set up public programs, according to the Korea Herald article.

“Artists are foremost in need of a space where they can engage in artistic endeavors,” Ahn Kyung-hee, one of the artists in residence at the Sindang Creative Arcade, told the Korea Herald. And once these artists can realize their artistic aspirations in these spaces, they can foster a creative relationship with the public.

 

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As part of the Folding Zip House Project, led by the Seongbuk Art Creativity Center, donated clothes were made into sleeping bags

for the homeless. The sleeping bags were displayed at the center’s gallery prior to their distribution. (Via Korea Herald)

Top photo via HansHostel.net

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South Korea and U.S Sign Agreement Governing Return of Korean Artifacts

by HAEIN JUNG

Authorities from the U.S. and South Korean governments today signed a landmark accord meant to facilitate the return of cultural assets that were seized during the Korean War.

South Korea’s Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency under the Department of Homeland Security, signed the memorandum of understanding at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., Yonhap reported.

“This is the first MOU between a U.S. agency and an agency from the Republic of Korea concerning the cooperation, protection, recovery, restitution of cultural property,” said Tom Winkowski, the principal deputy assistant secretary for ICE, before signing the agreement with CHA’s Rha Sun-hwa.

The agreement follows the discovery and eventual return of nine Korean seals that were removed from the country by an American soldier during the Korean War 60 years ago. Family members of the deceased American Marine lieutenant turned the seals over to U.S. authorities last November. ICE officials said the soldier had found the seals in a ditch near the Deoksugung Palace, which had been ransacked by Chinese and North Korean soldiers.

The new memorandum will help govern information sharing between the agencies and is “also intended to enhance the investigations of looted, stolen cultural property which would lead to the return of these objects to their rightful country or owner,” Winkowski said.

Rha from CHA also noted that the accord is meaningful in that it will expand relations beyond military and economic cooperation into the cultural realm.

“I am hopeful that today’s signing will serve as an exemplary case to other countries holding Korean cultural properties and an opportunity to recognize the value of many Korean cultural objects from the place where they are originated from,” Rha said, according to Yonhap.

Among the artifacts were three national seals of the Korean Empire, the Hwangjejibo (Seal of Emperor), a royal seal and the rest signets used to stamp books or paintings by the Joseon Dynasty’s Royal Court, according to ICE. Rha said that the emperor’s seal is considered “priceless to South Korea as it represents the national dignity and pride of South Korea and its citizens.”

The items were returned to their homeland when President Barack Obama visited South Korea for a summit with President Park Geun-hye this past spring.

Photo courtesy of ICE

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Man With Knife Breaches JYP Headquarters, Demands Meeting with CEO

by TONY KIM

Authorities arrested a 34-year-old man for trespassing into the JYP Entertainment main headquarters in Seoul yesterday and threatening its employees with a knife, according to South Korean media.

The man, identified by the police only by his surname Choi, gained entrance into the complex by closely following an employee entering the building and managed to make it  to a recording room on the third floor, despite employees’ attempts to block him, reported the Korea Herald. Once there, he demanded to meet with JYP CEO J.Y. Park while wielding a 30-centimeter kitchen knife, police said.

The Herald reported that, after a secretary told him he could not meet with Park, Choi threw the knife. It was unclear from the news reports if he was trying to throw the knife at someone. No one was injured in the incident.

Police believe that Choi was enraged about the company’s lack of response to a job application he had sent it two years ago. “I sent in an application to enter JYP Entertainment two years ago, yet I didn’t receive any response or meet with Park . Therefore, I decided to come myself,” Choi told police.

JYP Entertainment, founded and led by J.Y. Park, is considered one of the “big three” record companies in South Korea. Its roster of artists have included the Wonder Girls, Rain and 2PM.

Photo via hanintel

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North/South Talks Over Asian Games In Incheon Collapse

by TONY KIM

Though sports is often seen as a way to offer nations in conflict a way of reaching across the aisle, a recent breakdown in talks between North and South Korea over the upcoming Asian Games dealt a bit of a setback to the goals of sports diplomacy.

The North Korea delegation participating in talks with the South over the 2014 Asian Games to be hosted in Incheon, South Korea, reportedly walked out of the most recent session, accusing its Korean counterpart of being insincere, according to a report in the Korea JoongAng Daily.

“North Korea was not happy with the way the talks were conducted,” an official from the Unification Ministry was quoted as saying by the South Korean newspaper.

The first round of talks, proposed by North Korea, focused on logistical issues, such as transportation methods and determining the size of the athletic and cheerleading team Pyongyang wound send to the event.

Yesterday, Kwon Kyung-sang, secretary general of the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee, and Son Kwang-ho, vice chairman of North Korea’s Olympic Committee, met in Panmunjom, a village located in a demilitarized zone, as part of their respective three-member delegations. Not only did the two sides fail to hash out an agreement, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA indicated the country is considering boycotting the event. North Korea had planned to send 700 athletes and cheerleaders to Incheon.

One of the main points of controversy was choosing an agreeable transportation method for the athletes and cheerleaders. Traveling by boat may be ruled out, since South Korea has prohibited North Korean vessels from entering its waters after the North allegedly sunk the South’s Cheonan warship in May of 2010. The North’s officials have long maintained they were not responsible, though an investigation by the South implicated them.

Another possible issue may have been South Korea’s unwillingness to pay for the North’s travel expenses as it did during the Sunshine Policy administrations of former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, according to the Ministry of Unification. The ministry suggested that the South this year would only a pay a portion, an amount that abides by international regulations for less-developed countries.

Additionally, the size of North Korea’s flags has also reportedly been an issue, as the South Korean delegates declared them to be too large. According to AP, an anonymous South Korean official said the objections were out of concern for the safety of the North Korean cheerleaders.

A follow-up meeting has not been set by either side to further discuss logistics of the Asian Games, which begins on Sept. 19.

Photo via AFP

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Helicopter Searching for Sewol Victims Crashes, Killing 5 Firefighters

by JULIE HA

Just one week away from the 100-day anniversary of the Sewol sinking in South Korea, another ripple of the tragedy occurred.

On Thursday, a helicopter carrying five firefighters searching for the 11 remaining bodies of the South Korean ferry victims crashed near an apartment building and school in the southern city of Gwangju, reports the Associated Press.

The helicopter was returning to its headquarters from its search mission when the crash occurred, fire officials told the Associated Press. A female teenager on the ground was also hit by flying debris and suffered minor injuries.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known and is being investigated.

Seven people, including the five firefighters, have been killed in the search operations for the ferry victims. Two divers died while participating in the dangerous underwater search of the vessel.

South Korea news station YTN showed a video of the crash captured by a nearby driver’s black box camera in his car:

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that today marked the 100-day anniversary of the Sewol sinking, but it is July 24, one week from today. KoreAm regrets this error.

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SKorean Electronics Giant LG Shows Off Transparent and Rollable TVs

by HAEIN JUNG

“Life’s good” when you can turn off your transparent TV and have it blend in with your wall. Or when you can roll up your TV and carry it to another room.

South Korean electronics giant LG—which stands for its motto “Life’s Good”—has announced that it has developed a prototype of an 18-inch television that is transparent and another TV that is so thin it can be rolled up like a taquito for your convenience, according to the Wall Street Journal blog.

“We are confident that by 2017, we will successfully develop an ultra HD (high-definition) flexible and transparent OLED panel of more than 60 inches,” said Kang In-Byung, LG Display’s head of research & development, as reported by the WSJ blog.

What does this mean for the consumer? Moving will be much easier, lunch breaks more entertaining, and the gigantic television screens we love today will become less of a hulking presence in the living room.

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The transparent TV relies on OLED technology, using an organic light-emitting diode. The company’s first OLED TVs debuted early last year. Since OLED does not require a backlight, it allows screens to be brighter, more energy efficient, and unlike the previous generation’s plasma TVs with glass displays, OLED won’t be susceptible to glare, according to a report by Fox News.

The rollable TV is made from polyimide film, a material that’s much thinner than conventional plastic and gives it the flexibility needed to roll it into a tight cylinder, ABC News reported. Once rolled up, the latter has a 2.4-inch diameter, but that apparently does not take away from the high-definition display.

Photos courtesy of WSJ blog

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Chan Ho Park To Be Honored At SKorean All-Star Game

by STEVE HAN

Retired pitcher Chan Ho Park, South Korea’s pioneering major leaguer, will be honored Friday at the Korean Pro Baseball’s All-Star Game in Gwangju’s Champions Field.

Park, 41, retired in 2012 after 17 seasons in the major leagues. The highlight of his career includes nine seasons he spent with the L.A. Dodgers, during which he was a National League All-Star in 2001. Park also reached the World Series in 2009 with the Philadelphia Phillies, and pitched for the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 season. His 124 wins in the major leagues set a record for the most wins by an Asian player.

“I’m proud that I’ve played for as long as I did,” Park told KoreAm in an in-depth interview upon his retirement two years ago. “There were a lot of obstacles.  The early years in the minor leagues and struggling in Texas later on … it was tough. I’ve been at a crossroads so many times, and thought about quitting and going back to Korea. But I stayed patient and endured everything.  That’s what makes me proud.

Hideo Nomo, Park’s former teammate in L.A. and Japan’s pioneering major leaguer, will also be honored the same day in a separate ceremony in Japan.

“Nomo and Park are both true pioneers,” said Peter O’Malley, the former Dodgers president, in a released statement. O’Malley was responsible for signing the two Asian pitchers from their respective countries in the early 1990s. “Today, there have been 40 players from Japan and 14 from South Korea who have played in the major leagues. I am very proud of their leadership and their ongoing commitment to youth baseball in Japan and South Korea” he said.

Park became South Korea’s first ever major leaguer when the Dodgers signed him out of Hanyang University in 1994. Including Park, there have been 14 players from South Korea who have played in the major leagues since then. One of them is current Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, to whom Park served as a mentor back in 2012, when the two played for Korea’s Hanwha Eagles.

Today Park is reportedly developing a baseball training center and entertainment complex in Korea.

To read more of KoreAm‘s interview with Park, where he speaks frankly about the highs and lows of his career, the support of the Korean American community and his baseball legacy, click here.