Tag Archives: south korea

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100-car Pileup Near Incheon Leaves 2 Dead, Over 60 Injured

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Two people were killed and at least 60 were injured on Wednesday morning as more than 100 vehicles piled up on a bridge near South Korea’s Incheon International Airport, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The collision occurred at 9:34 a.m. on the Seoul-bound lanes of the Yeongjong Bridge, which connects Yeongjong Island, where the country’s main airport is located, to Seoul. Police said the pileup began after an airport limousine bus rear-ended a taxi that had already collided into a vehicle in the adjacent lane.

The crash was most likely caused by the dense fog and icy road conditions. According to Yonhap, drivers could see only about 10 meters in front of them, and the pileup spanned 1.3 kilometers.

Two people were killed while seven remain in serious conditions, a firefighter told the Associated Press. He added that among the injured were seven Chinese, three Thai and two each from the Philippines and Vietnam. Other injured foreign nationals included a Swiss, Bangladeshi, Russian and Japanese.

The bodies of the two victims were identified only as 51-year-old Kim and 46-year-old Lim. While Kim’s body was transported to Myongji Hospital in Goyang, a northern Seoul suburb, Lim’s was sent to Incheon’s Na-Eun Hospital.

The Incheon Seobu Police have created a task force to determine the exact cause of the pileup and plan to look into a nearby CCTV footage.

The Seoul-bound lanes of the bridge were closed after the collision, but was reopened for traffic at 3:12 p.m.

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Featured image via the Korea Herald

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‘Ode to My Father’ Grosses Over $2 Million in North America

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Ode to My Father, a South Korean postwar melodrama, grossed more than $2 million in ticket sales after screening in North American theaters for just five weeks, said the U.S. branch of CJ Entertainment & Media on Tuesday.

Directed by JK Youn (Haeundae)Ode to My Father depicts the life of an ordinary man named Deok-soo, who makes sacrifices to support his family through the tumultuous period after the Korean War. As a young child, Deok-soo gets separated from his father and youngest sister during the Hungnam Evacuation of 1951, in which thousands of refugees fled to the south by U.S. navy vessels. Deok-soo’s last words to his father was a promise to always protect his family. As he matures, his promise leads him to dangerous jobs, such as mining in the German coal mines and doing engineering work in a war-torn Vietnam.

According to Yonhap, the melodrama is currently the fourth-highest grossing South Korean film in North America after blockbuster Admiral: Roaring Currents; Kim Ki-duk’s quiet drama Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring; and monster flick The Host. The film is screening in 18 North American theaters in Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington, D.C.

Over the weekend, Ode to My Father also became the second most watched Korean film in Korean box-office history after it surpassed the 13 million viewer mark, according to the Korea Film Council. This milestone comes only two months after the film released domestically mid-December.

While the tearjerker has mesmerized millions of South Korean moviegoers, American viewers may not be as enamored with its overly melodramatic scenes and bullet-point structure, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

You can watch the trailer for Ode to My Father below:

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Featured image courtesy of CJ Entertainment

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South Korea Samsung Electronics Listening TV

Samsung’s Eavesdropping Smart TVs Raise Concerns

by YOUKYUNG LEE, AP Technology Writer

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Watch what you say in your living room. Samsung’s smart TV could be listening. And sharing.

At least that’s what you’d conclude in reading Samsung’s privacy policy for smart TVs. Voice recognition technology in Samsung’s Internet-connected TVs captures and transmits nearby conversations. The policy warns, “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

In a blog post Tuesday, Samsung said it is removing that sentence and clarifying the policy “to better explain what actually occurs.”

For the voice command feature to work, the TV listens for predefined commands such as changing the channel or the volume. That speech isn’t stored or transmitted, according to Samsung. But the remote control also has a microphone that can not only respond to those commands but also search for content, such as requests to recommend a good movie. The speech is translated by third-party software into text and sent back to the TV as a command.

Although Samsung initially declined to name the software company, the blog post identifies it as Nuance Communications Inc. The TV also transmits other information including its unique identifier, both to provide the service and to improve the feature.

Samsung said voice recognition on the remote must be activated by pressing a button. It’s similar to how Siri and Google Now voice assistants work on smartphones. If the feature isn’t activated, there’s no threat of eavesdropping, Samsung said. Users will see microphone icon on the screen when it is on. Users can disable the feature, but voice control would then be limited to predefined commands.

The South Korean company said it takes consumer privacy “very seriously.”

“We employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use.”

It is not the first time that smart TVs sparked privacy concerns. In 2013, the owner of a LG Electronics smart TV revealed it was sending information about his viewing habits back to the company without consent and without encrypting data.

LG has also experimented with displaying targeted ads on its smart TVs, which requires collecting and utilizing user data, such as their location, age and gender.

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Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun contributed to this story from New York. Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Robot vacuum sucks up hair

Robot Vacuum Cleaner Attacks Korean Housewife’s Hair

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Well, that sucks. A robot vacuum cleaner “attacked” a South Korean housewife in her sleep last month by sucking up her hair. The incident required a few paramedics to untangle her hair from the vacuum’s nozzle, according to Korea Biz Wire.

The woman, a 52-year-old resident of Changwon, South Korea, laid down on the floor to take a nap while the robot vacuum was running. She later woke up in agony when the robot began sucking her hair into its nozzle. The vacuum only stopped running one to two minutes after it ingested the woman’s hair.

Unable to free herself from the machine, the housewife called 119, South Korea’s emergency number. Paramedics responded to the call and managed to extricate her hair from the nozzle. The woman sustained only minor injuries.

According to the Changwon Fire Service Headquarters, the robot vacuum’s sensors, which allows the machine to detect dirt while avoiding obstacles like furniture and cables, misidentified the woman’s hair as dust.

Since it’s commonplace for people to sit or nap on clean floors in South Korea, it’s likely that more Korean households will pay more caution to their vacuum cleaners following this accident.

After all, it only takes one Roomba to start a Terminator uprising.

421101hPhoto via Warner Br/Everett/REX 

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Featured photo via Changwon Fire Service Headquarters/Korea Biz Wire

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Olympic Swimmer Park Tae-hwan’s Doctor Indicted for Negligence

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

South Korean prosecutors announced on Friday that a doctor who allegedly injected a banned substance into Olympic swimmer Park Tae-hwan was indicted on charges of professional negligence, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The indictment comes after Park, a four-time Olympic medalist and one of South Korea’s most decorated athletes, tested positive for testosterone in a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) test in September, ahead of the Asian Games. Park claims that he had asked the doctor, identified only by his surname Kim, if the injection contained any banned substances. Kim, however, failed to fully disclose the name, ingredients, risks or side effects of the shot he administered in July.

After news of Park’s failed doping test broke last month, the swimmer and his management agency filed a formal complaint to the private clinic where the swimmer received the injection, leading to a prosecutorial probe.

Although prosecutors believe that Kim might not have been aware that testosterone was a banned substance, they claim that the doctor had “the professional obligation to confirm the contents and risks of all drugs prescribed to patients,” citing precedents in South Korea and Japan. They also said that modification of Park’s hormone levels via injection constituted “bodily harm.”

Park received at least one dose of Nebido as part of an anti-aging procedure back in July, according to the Chosun Ilbo. The Korean newspaper also reported that the swimmer submitted a tape recording of the conversations he had with Kim.

Even if Kim is found guilty of professional negligence, Park may still face suspension for the failed doping test. Under WADA’s World Anti-Doping Code, Article 10, athletes do not have to face sanctions if they prove that they bear no fault or negligence in their positive drug tests. However, the one exception to this rule is when a personal physician or trainer administers a prohibited substance without disclosure to the athlete.

The code also emphasizes that “athletes are responsible for their choice of medical personnel and for advising medical personnel that they cannot be given any prohibited substance.”

If Park is suspended, then he will be stripped of all the medals he won at last year’s Incheon Asian Games, which took place after samples were collected for the drug test. The swimmer will also become ineligible to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as the Korean Olympic Committee stipulates that any athlete suspended for positive drug test results may not be part of a national team for three years, starting on the day the suspension ends.

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Featured image via Koogle.tv

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South Korea’s Ridiculous Game Addiction Ad

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Have you ever mistaken your grandma for an ax-wielding warrior? If your answer is “yes,” then you might have video game addiction, according to this ridiculous South Korean ad.

Earlier this week, Kotaku reported that South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare released a public service announcement about the dangers of video game addiction. People were apparently not happy with it. The 25-second ad started airing about two weeks ago in public areas with large screens in South Korea, but due to complaints, the ministry was forced to re-edit and rerelease the video.

In the original ad, the announcer asks viewers a series of yes or no questions, such as whether or not the viewer hears video game music when he/she is not playing a game or if an object has ever looked like a game character. While these questions are being asked, the ad shows scenes of a young man seeing hallucinations of video game avatars and a woman tapping on an imaginary mouse with a dazed expression.

The ad then ends with the statement “Game Addiction: It destroys more than whatever you fantasize about” flashing on a black screen.

Since the public complained about the PSA depicting violence, the welfare ministry cut out the part where the young man punches the grandma, as you can see in the edited version below. It’s too bad that the ministry couldn’t edit out the absurdity of the video.

Terrible ads aside, South Korea has been struggling with serious issues concerning game addicts for years.

In 2010, a 3-month-old infant died from neglect after her parents spent hours playing video games at an Internet cafe. Another similar case occurred in April of last year when an unemployed father left his 2-year-old child to starve as he played video games for days.

Due to these incidents, South Korean legislators continue to propose game addiction laws that regulate video games as addicted substances, much like alcohol or drugs. In 2011, South Korea passed the “Shutdown Law” which prohibits adolescents under the age of 16 from playing online games from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Of course, these policies have sparked debate in the gaming community, where many consider gaming as an art and argue that addictive behavior is more likely a symptom of existing mental health issue rather than a direct cause of video gaming.

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South Korean Soldier Gets Death Penalty Over Killing His Comrades

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han
steve@iamkoream.com

A South Korean army deserter who fired shots at unarmed comrades near the country’s border with North Korea has been sentenced to death by the military court on Tuesday, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The 23-year-old sergeant, known only by his last name Lim, killed five and wounded seven of his comrades by detonating a grenade and firing shots in June of last year near the northeastern coast of South Korea. He also escaped from his unit with a rifle and a stash of ammunition before a siege by thousands of troops caught him.

At the time of the capture, Lim had botched a suicide attempt.

“Capital punishment is inevitable for such a hideous crime that shot the innocent,” said the chief judge of the general military court in a verdict. The judge also added that it “is necessary to hold [Lim] responsible for causing a security vacuum in military zones and to ring an alarm bell against brutal crimes.”

Lim claimed that bullying by his comrades motivated his rampage, which had been rejected by the court. A psychiatric test conducted on Lim in November showed that he was “generally normal,” although he was struggling to adapt to life during his military service, which is compulsory for all able-bodied men in South Korea.

One of the victims in the shooting was a staff sergeant in Lim’s unit. The military law in South Korea stipulates that a soldier could face capital punishment for killing a superior officer.

Lim’s defense lawyer said that he plans to appeal the ruling on the basis that the court dismissed Lim’s claims on being bullied.

Some 60 convicts are on death row in South Korea, but the country’s court hasn’t executed anyone since 1997.

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Photo courtesy of Eto.cr.kr

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K-pop Star: The Top Dream Job for S.Korean Pre-Teens

Kim Si-yoon and Yoo Ga-eul, right, practice singing with other aspiring K-pop artists at DEF Dance Skool in Seoul. (Photo courtesy of Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

As K-pop continues to expand overseas and generate millions in revenue, thousands of South Korean children are polishing their dance and vocal skills in hopes of becoming the next K-pop star.

Reuters reported last week that a recent survey showed that 21 percent of Korean pre-teens wanted to be K-pop stars when they grow up, making the profession the top dream job among South Korea’s youth. It’s almost hard to believe that about a decade ago, entertainment was considered an inferior career path that was only suitable for high school dropouts. But now, parents are eyeing K-pop as a viable career choice.

According to the New York Times, there are thousands of cram schools dedicated to cultivating the next generation of K-pop idols. Families spend hundreds of dollars on their children’s dance and vocal lessons in hopes of getting them accepted into one of Korea’s top three talent agencies: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment.

“Competition is very intense, and there are so many good kids,” said Park Sook-hee, whose 9-year-old daughter, Kim Si-yoon, is currently preparing for her auditions to get into a reputable agency.

Kim wakes up every morning at 7:30 a.m. After school, she undergoes hours of voice and dance training at cram schools before going to bed at midnight. Despite this overwhelming schedule, the young aspiring K-pop star understands that she must make sacrifices to realize her dream.

“It is tough,” Kim told Reuters, as she prepared to practice a dance routine, despite a bad cold. “So I am trying to have fun and when I make efforts, I can perform better.”

Once admitted into a talent agency, potential K-pop stars follow an intense training program, which includes dance, vocals, language, and broadcast etiquette lessons. Many trainees even drop out of school to keep up with the rigorous schedule. However, training at an agency does not guarantee a debut. With so many young and talented performers vying for a spot in the next idol group, K-pop labels have the power to cut or replace whoever they think is not suitable to debut. As a result, trainees either quit or wait years for the chance to perform on stage. JYP artist G.Soul, for example, recently made his debut last month after 15 years of training in the U.S.

Still, the potential perks from K-pop stardom are enticing, especially the paycheck. South Korea’s National Tax Service recently reported that the average annual income for singers swelled to 46.74 million won (USD $43,000) in 2013. That’s more than a 72 percent increase since 2010. In addition, the Bank of Korea revealed that overseas sales garnered from Korean dramas and music nearly doubled in just five years.

With Hallyu branching out into international markets, K-pop stars now have even more opportunities to travel outside of Asia and meet fans from around the globe, which is another powerful incentive for Korean pre-teens to pursue a career in K-pop.

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