Tag Archives: south korea

Mangoplate

Mangoplate, Korea’s ‘Yelp on Steroids,’ Raises $6.1 Million

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

 

South Korea’s most popular restaurant discovery company Mangoplate is eyeing expansion both domestically and throughout Asia after securing a $6.1 million Series A round of funding, according to TechCrunch.

Since emerging from a Seoul-based accelerator program two years ago, Mangoplate has raised $7.2 million in total from investors, including Qualcomm Ventures, Softbank Ventures Korea and YJ Capital.

Available in both Korean and English, Mangoplate is currently estimated to include around 40 percent of Korea’s restaurants and is aiming to double that to 80 percent within a year.

The company prides itself on personalization, as it relies on algorithms and data gathering to present restaurant deals to a user based on their location and cuisine preferences.

“Lots of companies claim to use big data but just crawl [through] Naver and blogs,” Mangoplate co-founder Joon Oh told TechCrunch. “Mangoplate really is a big data-driven personalization service, it’s like Yelp on steroids.”

The company is also planning to expand into the rest of Asia in 2016. Oh said the company is eyeing markets that share similarities to Seoul, including Singapore and Hong Kong, but emphasized getting a strong footing in the domestic market was a top priority.

Before Mangoplate, there was Naver’s Wingspoon, but the Korean government ordered Naver to shut it down back in 2013. Until then, Wingspoon had been the go-to food discovery service in Korea, but it eventually drew criticism for fake reviews and restaurants abusing the system.

Mangoplate has since filled the void. To address the concerns people had with Wingspoon, Mangoplate apparently has a “number of systems in place to detect specific behavior,” said Lee, including sign-in via Facebook or Kakao to rate and review.

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Korean Startup Ybrain Targets Brain Disorders with Health Care Tech

Samsung’s ‘Safety Truck’ Allows Drivers to See the Road Ahead

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YBrain

South Korean Startup Ybrain Targets Brain Disorders With Health Care Tech

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

 

Wearable technology isn’t just relegated to fitness tracking and reading text messages off a $10,000-plus gold Apple Watch. Tech companies are exploring different opportunities to integrate devices with improving how we go about our lives, and healthcare is an open field.

South Korean health care startup Ybrain is going for our noggins—specifically, what’s impairing our memory. Their devices tackle some of the most degenerative brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and they may be available for consumer use by as early as next year.

“Our ambition is to challenge one of the toughest problems humanity faces today,” Ybrain CEO Kiwon Lee told Forbes. “Cancer is nearing a cure. But we don’t yet have a cure for Alzheimer’s, even with today’s most advanced medical technology.”

The devices work though a “very non-invasive form of brain stimulation” that is much more favorable to taking pills to combat symptoms, according to Lee. The wearable band for Alzheimer’s patients has two sensors embedded in the front, providing electronic signals at 2 mA at regular intervals to stimulate brain activity and combat the effects of the disease. Ybrain’s goal is to eventually get the synapses to function optimally on their own “more naturally without any failure.”

Ybrain began clinical trials last year on Alzheimer’s patients, and results were promising—Business Korea said the devices were the “best solution for combatting Alzheimer’s at [that] time.” After raising $4.2 million in funds last summer, Ybrain began clinical tests for similar treatment for clinical depression and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is characterized by memory problems beyond those associated with normal aging and may signal a serious decline of dementia in the future.

The Korean company plans to release two devices: the Brain Wellness and Brain Fullness. The former will be geared towards treating brain disorders, while the latter will be an option for those who want to enhance normal brain functions and condition their brain to work at a higher level. In other words, “brain fitness” is going to be a thing.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 5.22.05 PM(Screenshot captured from Ybrain.com)

Ybrain plans to follow up the initial line of headsets with ones that can treat depression and a number of other mental health conditions, including addiction, trauma, eating disorders and schizophrenia—all while being worn at home.

Further use of the technology could significantly lower the cost of research and treatment. Ybrain is developing a diagnostic platform that collects data from headset users, then relays the information to doctors and medical researchers. Usually, Lee said, devices can only be operated by experts.

“When we started the company we felt that everyone should be able to use it by themselves,” he continued. “Our device is connected to our platform, so brain management, neuromodulation can be operated remotely and closely studied to assess brain wave patterns.”

Ybrain’s products are expected to hit the market next year.

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Featured image via Be Success

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U.S. Taekwondo Practitioners Plan DMZ Peace Walk

by KARIN CHAN
karin@iamkoream.com

A group of U.S. taekwondo masters is organizing a peace walk across the demilitarized zone that divides North and South Korea, reports the Voice of America.

Woo-jin Jung, a Korean American taekwondo grandmaster and publisher of the Taekwondo Times, said the peace walk is an effort to help promote positive engagement between the two Koreas, regardless of the dividing border.

“We plan on sharing different techniques with North Korean athletes and hold a seminar in Pyongyang,” Jung told VOA.

Last week, the 73-year-old grandmaster met with taekwondo officials in Pyongyang, including Chang Ung, who heads the International Taekwondo Federation and represents North Korea on the International Olympic Committee. Jung said North Korea supports the peace walk, adding that he’s also expecting a positive response from the South Korean government.

Both Koreas had approved of a similar walk back in May. About 30 international female activists, including American feminist Gloria Steinem and Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee, traveled through the heavily fortified DMZ, where they were allowed to march at specific checkpoints. However, some criticized WomenCrossDMZ, the organizers behind the march, for not addressing the human rights violations against women in North Korea.

This is not the first time Jung has attempted to foster goodwill between the two Koreas through martial arts. In 2007 and 2011, Jung helped coordinate U.S. tours for two North Korean taekwondo demonstration teams.

See Also

 

Korean Humanitarian Uses Taekwondo to Empower Syrian Refugee Children

[VIDEO] Adorable 3-Year-Old Taekwondo Devotee Recites Student Creed

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Featured image via Woo-jin Jung/Facebook

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Christian believers beat drums during a protest opposing the homosexuality and same-sex marriage near the venue where thousands of supporters participating to celebrate the 16th Korea Queer Festival in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, June 28, 2015. The banners in foreground read: "Oppose homosexuality and same-sex marriage." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Christian Groups Drum Up Protest Against Seoul’s LGBTQ Pride Parade

by KARIN CHAN
karin@iamkoream.com

A drum line of anti-gay activists loudly played traditional Korean drums near Seoul Plaza on Sunday in an attempt to drown out the 16th Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF).

As thousands of LGBTQ supporters marched toward the reconstructed Gyeongbokgung Palace, non-affirming Christian groups protested Seoul’s annual gay pride parade, holding placards and shouting slogans like “Homosexuals rights are not human rights” behind rows of policemen. Other anti-gay protesters held cultural demonstrations, such as ballet and body worship performances.

“Our prayers will open the sky and the homosexuals will fall, we will be blessed with victory,” said Lee Young-hoon, head of the anti-LGBTQ organization Christian Council of Korea, Buzzfeed reported.

Despite boisterous protests from anti-gay demonstrators, festival attendees were having a blast inside the grassy Seoul Plaza. LGBT advocates sang and danced as local bands and dance teams performed on stage. Cardboard cutouts of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed visitors of the U.S. embassy booth for a photo opportunity. Several booths also sold LGBTQ souvenirs, including gay literature as well as rainbow-colored flags, pins and soft drinks.

According to the KQCF organizers, about 20,000 people attended the last day of the three-week-long festival—although, Seoul police estimates the number to be closer to 6,000.

Seoul’s annual LGBTQ festival had much to celebrate this year, as the Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in a historic 5-4 ruling last Friday. Festival attendees cheered as floats decorated with dancers and banners reading “marriage equality” and “solidarity under the rainbow” drove around city hall.

“What happened in the U.S. was incredible … I hope that I [sic] and my girlfriend will be able to celebrate the same here one day,” Suzy Lee, one of the festival participants, told Agence France-Presse. “But we know it will take many, many years here in the South.”

The European Union Representative Department and embassies from 16 countries—the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, France, Belgium, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Israel—attended the KQCF opening ceremony on June 9, despite the MERS scare in South Korea.

“We see this as part of our policy on global human rights,” U.S. diplomat Anthony Tranchini told Voice of America. “The fact that we are here supporting a Korean festival which has been around for 16 years, with about a dozen other embassies—I think we all really just want to show that we are supportive of LGBT human rights here in Korea.”

kqcf opening ceremonyForeign embassies stand on stage at the KQCF festival (Photo via KQCF)

Ahead of this year’s KQCF, Seoul police stations banned the pride parade, citing conflicting permit applications. A Seoul court overturned the ban about two weeks before the parade’s scheduled date. Judge Ban Jeong-woo’s decision ruled in favor of the LGBTQ festival because the right to freedom of assembly must be upheld.

Still, some anti-gay protesters tried to disrupt this year’s pride parade by laying on the ground, a popular method Christian groups used at last year’s KQCF. However, no major violent clashes were reported by Korean media.

See Also

 

Marriage Equality Resonates Among Korean Americans

Gay Rights Activists in Korea Step Up to Support LGBTQ Youth

Korean Americans Oppose Gay Marriage More Than Any Asian Group: Survey 

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Featured image courtesy of AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

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Far From Being Forgotten: Learning Lessons From the Korean War

 

This article was published in the June 2000 issue of KoreAm Journal by then-assistant editor (and current contributing editor), Jimmy Lee. Some portions of the article have been edited for relevance and to include additional information.

by JIMMY LEE

In high school U.S. history class, it was the war that broke out in Korea on June 25, 1950—after World War II and before Vietnam. There weren’t any deeper examinations into the subject after that. But the Korean War is not even officially over, yet it’s regarded as the “Forgotten War.”

As for me, a 1.5-generation Korean American, the history of the Korean War held no interest compared to my thirst for soaking up all things American.

But as we put this issue together, it struck me for the first time that the Korean War is not so distant after all. My father was 9 years old and my mother was only 5 when their lives were changed forever. And when my mother described how she fled Seoul—running away from artillery shells, holding my grandmother’s hand—this part of history suddenly hit home.

Nothing could ever be the same again. During the fighting that lasted three years, millions of people died—mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters—and countless other lives were drastically altered.

So for this June 2000 issue, KoreAm commemorates the 50th anniversary of the start of the Korean War by remembering the past and looking at the present and how the Korean War has affected our lives today.

It Began With a Division

 

When North Korean forces attacked the South, the leader of the North, Kim II Sung, a communist guerilla fighter, claimed to be unifying a country divided. After World War II ended in 1945 and Korea gained independence from Japan, Korea was split into two regions, along the 38th parallel, with the North controlled by the Soviet Union and the South by the United States.

The United States had helped to put in power in the South Syngman Rhee, a fierce anti-communist who had spent most of t!” last few decades in the United States. Rhee, who turned out to be an authoritarian, however, was a guise the United States used to bait Kim to start a war.

Kim feared that the South would merely be a puppet of the United States, so he started the war to liberate Korea from imperialist western powers.

But there were other parties involved, namely China and the other emerging superpower, the Soviet Union. Prior to the invasion Kim consulted with Soviet leader Josef Stalin and Chinese Premier Mao Zedong for their support. One promise Kim gave Stalin was that he would be able to capture the South before the United States could intervene, and thus, prevent a drawn-out war.

But some scholars now believe Soviet leader Josef Stalin orchestrated the war to measure the strength of the United States as the Cold War was taking shape.

“As the chief architect behind the war, Stalin had been looking at the logistics of invading South Korea for some time,” says Prof. Soh Jin Chull of South Korea’s Wonkwong University. “Kim II Sung became the designated loyal ‘executor’ of the war and China’s Mac Zedong became the ‘guarantor’ of a successful military campaign.

In the end, whether by a Communist conspiracy or American baiting, millions of lives were caught between the crossfire of egos and politics.

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A Nation Forever Changed

 

The signing of the armistice in 1953 ended the fighting but not the war. And without an end, it’s hard to see the what the marks left on the Korean peninsula are. First, with North Korea cut off from the rest of the world, it’s difficult to assess what impacts the Korean War has had on its people. But its inability to capture the South and unite the country contributed to its retreat into what it is now -which is, other than having a sizable military and famine, we’re really not sure.

In the South, the legacy of the Korean War is a bit more distinguishable. Korea has grown into one of the leading economies in the world today, ranking in the top 15. Contributing to its rise as an “Asian Tiger,” one of several Asian countries whose economies grew dramatically during the ’70s and ’80s, is the support provided by the United States over the last 50 years.

With the presence of U.S. military forces, agreed upon with the signing of the Mutual Defense Agreement between the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), Korea had been able to direct its resources towards building up its industries and bringing in foreign investment, rather than using most of its money to assemble a military to protect itself from a potential attack by the North. Despite the financial crisis of 1998, the Korean economy is back to being robust.

And with all the American troops stationed in Korea, a nation that had been ethnically homogenous for thousands of years was no longer. An influx of western culture was then inevitable—rock and roll, McDonald’s, etc.

But the presence of these soldiers has also fostered less desirable industries. Prostitution catered for U.S. soldiers, legalized and regulated by the government, has flourished, creating a new class of women looked down upon by the Korean people.

The number of violent and criminal acts committed by U.S. soldiers has also proliferated. In 1999, there were 956 reported crimes committed by U.S. soldiers, up from 575 in 1998, according to the Criminal Division of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office. And last year, only 3.5 percent of those cases were tried in a Korean court.

“We are suffering because of the murders and other violence perpetrated by the ‘Keepers of Peace.’ We denounce this situation,” read a statement released on Mar. 22, 2000 and signed by 73 organizations in the South calling for a revision in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in order to guarantee greater accountability for crimes.

Editor’s Note: The SOFA has remained a contentious issue up until the last few years. Anti-American military sentiment has also remained steady, buoyed along by high-profile criminal cases.

Notably in 2002, the drivers of a U.S. military vehicle that fatally injured two 14-year-old South Korean girls were sent back to the States after a U.S. military court found them not guilty. In 2011, a 21-year-old American solider was sentenced to 10 years in prison for rape of a 17-year-old Korean girl. Most recently, the “inadvertent” live anthrax case in May also raised calls for revisiting the terms of SOFA.

A People No Longer the Same

 

As a Korean American, is the Korean War relevant?

Growing up, my mom wouldn’t let me waste anything: toothpaste, food, even paper towels. One paper towel had to go towards at least two cleaning jobs. As a kid, I thought this obsessiveness was freakish, and I found it embarrassing.

“You don’t have to do that, mom,” I would say, “we’ve got plenty of paper towels.”

But then I learned that she was sick in the war, with her parents having to scrimp to get the necessary drugs.

I realize now that survival is a cultural value learned in war. My mom has it. I hope one day that it too was instilled in me.

[The ones] who survived the death and destruction—their stories give voice to our parents’ generation who, only fifty short years ago, came of age in the aftermath of loss and devastation, of families torn apart, and a nation flattened. Nothing could ever be the same again.

The Korean War is far from forgotten.

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Sexual Abuse Survivor Lee Jung-hee, Sons Make Online Plea for Help

Above photo: Lee, center, with her sons.

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

 

A South Korean woman has taken to the Internet to seek justice against her abusive pastor husband and extended family. In a series of posts published on a Nate Pann blog under the username “Please Help Us,” a woman identifying herself as Lee Jung-hee has accused her husband of abuse and rape over the last 20 years, as well as forcing her and their two American-born sons into prostitution for over 10 years.

The Pann blog posts, the first of which was published on June 20, have gone viral among netizens. On Tuesday, Lee and her two sons uploaded three videos to YouTube asking for help and emphasizing that their accusations against their father, whom they called a “devil,” were true.

Wearing surgical masks, sunglasses and hats, the family implored netizens to spread the word about their dire situation. In the video, the two sons reveal that they have attempted to sue over 30 people who had continuously raped them, but claim that the police have been unable to help due to their father’s influence. They also mention that their father has been making efforts to censor any reports about their abuse in Korean media.

“We are running away from our father because he is currently and consistently chasing us, like a coyote chasing a rabbit,” one of the sons says in a video. “None of this is a lie, we are telling the truth.”

“My children were never able to express what they were going through as they were growing up,” Lee writes in her June 24 post. “Now they are old enough to speak. … Give all the punishment to me, and let my children be free of that. They did not do anything wrong, and they have lived truly terrible lives.”

Their story has recently gone viral under #HelpJungHeeLee on South Korean social media and news sites, as well as on Western ones such as Reddit. Some commenters have expressed skepticism regarding the claims made by Lee and her sons, as there is no confirmation from major news outlets or the South Korean government. Lee also did not name her husband in any of her blog posts or videos, although some netizens have floated around an unconfirmed name.

Lee’s posts recount a disturbing story. She writes that she first met her husband as an oppa, or older brother figure, in church. When she moved to America (Los Angeles, Calif. according to one of the videos) some 20 years ago, he pursued her and eventually married her. He first raped her when she was 22, and the beatings and rape soon escalated into a regular occurrence, according to Lee’s second blog post. She became pregnant, and when she told her husband, he arranged for her to get an abortion through a fellow church member.

According to Lee, her husband began selling her as a prostitute in their home and a “camping car” he drove around. This continued for three years, after which she became pregnant again, and her first son was born (now 17 years old).

Lee claims her husband later became a pastor in order to lure other church members into trusting him, so that he can slip drugs into their drinks. Once the church attendants became addicted to the drugs, Lee’s husband would keep them close to his side.

In her blog posts, Lee writes that her own family members knew about the abuse she endured, as they also worked in the prostitution industry. She says that her family even encouraged her husband to continue “taming” her.

Recently, Lee’s younger son wrote two blog posts—“Hello, I am a 13-year-old kid that wants freedom,” as he introduces himself—claiming he was raped by his father since he was 5 years old, as well as by extended family and strangers his father brought home. The family moved back to Korea when he was 4 years old—first to Seoul and then Busan, where the father became involved in a local church. At some point, the father confiscated his son’s American passports.

Lee’s sons claim that their father dragged them to “sex rooms” all over South Korea where he would solicit them for sex to random clients. Other times, the pastor would force his sons to take aphrodisiacs and rape their mother, while she lay unconscious from ingesting sleeping pills.

The younger son goes into further details about his hellish day-to-day life, saying he was forced to attend an international school so that he wouldn’t learn Korean and be able to communicate the abuse to Korean authorities. After school, his father would immediately bring him home and subject him to physical and sexual abuse. His older brother, who was subject to similar treatment, now receives treatment in a mental hospital due to the trauma.

Lee and her sons escaped from her husband’s custody sometime in or before 2014—it isn’t clear from Lee’s written account. Her husband apparently wanted to fake a divorce and have Lee sue around 10 people who had raped her in the past, hoping to profit from legal settlements. In order to make the fake divorce convincing, he told Lee to “pretend” to run away with their two children.

It was an “opportunity from God,” according to Lee, and she took it. She left her home with her sons and never returned, claiming that she wanted to “hide and live in a small town.”

Upon realizing his family’s escape, Lee’s husband filed an actual divorce suit and demanded custody of the children. In 2014, Lee reported her husband to the police, but the officers apparently did not take her call for help seriously.

Last October, Lee and her sons held a public press conference, but apart from a video on YouTube and a few hard-to-find articles, it’s difficult to find much coverage.

“I tried to contact all broadcast stations, regardless of whether they were big or small,” Lee says. “But my husband pressured the media from the other side, and I was in a position where I could not go on broadcast. All the articles [about our abuse] that were on the Internet were withdrawn in unison.”

In his most recent post, Lee’s younger son says he wishes to have a normal life and a swift end to his family’s terrible situation.

“I don’t want to live with my father or be anything like him,” he writes. “Please help us live. Please help us three live happily.”

To learn more about Lee Jung Hee’s case, visit the #HelpLeeJungHee campaign’s website or follow them on Twitter @HelpLeeJungHee

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5 Reasons to Follow Team Korea at the Women’s World Cup

by STEVE HAN | @RealSteveScores
stevehan35@gmail.com

 

It took the South Korean men’s national soccer team almost half-century and six tournament appearances to get its first ever win at the World Cup, but its women’s team achieved that feat in just its second showing after coming from behind to beat Spain in Ottawa, Canada on Wednesday.

The South Korean women’s national soccer team, the perennial underdogs making its second appearance at international soccer’s biggest stage, defeated Spain 2-1 in Group D’s final game at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup thanks to a fierce second-half comeback. To add to the drama, Spanish forward Sonia Bermudez agonizingly struck the crossbar with the last kick of the game, which could have eliminated Team Korea from the tournament.

As the “Taegeuk Ladies” prepare for its historical round of 16 match versus France this Sunday at 4 p.m EST, here are five reasons for you to follow their run at this year’s Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Team Korea epitomizes the “One Nation, One Team” motto.

 

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Before the World Cup kicked off earlier this month, Team Korea held its training camp in Harrison, N.J. I was fortunate enough to watch the team’s last warmup friendly against the U.S., one of the strong favorites to win the World Cup, and was blown away by the visibly palpable team spirit of the Korean players.

In what was a send-off game for the U.S. before a raucous sell-out crowd of 26,467, the sounds of the Korean players constantly yelling directions and encouragements among each other in a hostile environment for 90 minutes were vividly audible from my seat at the top of the Red Bull Arena.

This group may not have the world’s most skillful players, but their togetherness and team camaraderie allow them to play competitive soccer against the world’s best. In the game against the U.S., Team Korea’s stouthearted performance held the Americans scoreless in a 0-0 draw, which marked the first time the U.S. failed to score a goal at home in 66 games.

 

From this point on, every game at the World Cup is history for this team.

 

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South Korea made its first Women’s World Cup in 2003. While qualifying for the tournament was a plausible feat in itself at the time, the results weren’t pretty once the team got there. After losing 3-0 and 1-0 to Brazil and France, the Koreans suffered a humiliating 7-1 loss to Norway and exited the tournament early.

In their return to the World Cup after 12 years, the new-look Team Korea’s goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi and forward Park Eun-sun are the only two players on the current team to have played in the 2003 tournament. Monday night’s win over Spain not only gave Korea its first victory at the World Cup but it also sent the team to the knockout phase of the tournament—a place that the players and their fans have long considered as the “promise land.”

With the win against Spain and qualification to the round of 16, the Korean women have already achieved their goal at this year’s World Cup. That makes every passing second of their next game on Sunday a part of history for them.

 

Ji So-yeon is one of the world’s best female soccer players.

 

The true strength of the South Korean team, as written above, is the players’ ability to play collectively. But that’s not to say that this team lacks star power. The 24-year-old Ji So-yun, who plays professionally for England’s Chelsea LFC, has already become the greatest women’s player Korea has produced and is also one of the best players in the world. Soccer America even selected Ji, who became the PFA Player of the Year in England this season, as one of its 20 players to watch in Canada.

 

Team Korea has arguably overcome more odds, prejudice and obstacles than any other team at the World Cup.

 

When Jeon Ga-eul—the closest Team Korea has to a star player besides Ji So-yun—was given the mic to bid her farewell to the fans at a special event in Seoul before leaving to Canada for the World Cup, she couldn’t complete her speech. “It’s been a lonely journey for us to live as female soccer players in Korea,” said Jeon as her voice slurred before she burst into tears.

The KFA, South Korean soccer’s governing body, reportedly boasts an annual budget of $80 million, invested an approximated total of over $10 million in men’s national team in 2011, according to Sports Chosun. The KFA’s total expense on the women’s national team? Just $700,000. The fact that the South Korean women’s team survived as one of the 16 best teams in the world at the World Cup is a miraculous achievement.

Lee Elisa, South Korean lawmaker and former chief of the country’s national training center for athletes, once said in an interview: “I’ve always said that if the KFA invest just one-tenth of what they spend on men’s soccer into women’s soccer, our women’s national team will win the World Cup.”

 

Team Korea is not guaranteed to play at the next Women’s World Cup.

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The chance to play at the World Cup, a quadrennial event which showcases the world’s best teams, doesn’t come easy. The process of qualifying for the World Cup in Asia is a lot tougher for the women’s team than it is for the men’s team. The competition within Asia in women’s soccer is far tougher; Japan is the defending world champion at this year’s World Cup, and the likes of Australia, China and North Korea all have more international pedigree than their men’s national teams.

Luckily for the South Koreans, their arch rival North Korea (a team they’ve beaten only once in 16 games) were banned from competing for qualification, which allowed them to finish fourth at the Asian qualifying (which sends its top five teams to the World Cup) this time around. So enjoy watching South Korea’s improbable run at the World Cup this year, because their place in the next tournament four years later is far from guaranteed.

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All images via Naver

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‘My Love, Don’t Cross That River’ Wins Documentary Award at L.A. Film Fest

 

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Here’s one more reason to watch possibly the most popular South Korean documentary of 2015: My Love, Don’t Cross That River and its director, Jin Mo-young, recently won the Documentary Award at the 21st Annual Los Angeles Film Festival.

https://twitter.com/LAFilmFest/status/611261422136197120

On Wednesday, the L.A. Film Fest announced the winners of this year’s festival at the Awards Cocktail Reception. Jury awards were given for U.S. Fiction, World Fiction, Documentary, Zeitgeist, LA Muse and Nightfall, as well as Best Short Fiction and Best Short Documentary. Audience awards went to Best Fiction Feature Film, Best Documentary Feature Film, Best Short Film and Best Web Series.

My Love, which follows an elderly South Korean couple known as the “100-year-old lovebirds,” made its North American premiere at the L.A. Film Fest this past weekend. The documentary captures the peaceful life of a 98-year-old husband and 89-year-old wife in their mountain village home in the Gangwon province until the husband passes away. Since its premiere in South Korea, the film has broken domestic box office records.

Other Asian American filmmakers to garner festival awards included Takeshi Fukunaga, who won the U.S. Fiction Award for Out of My Hand, and Viet Nguyen, who won the inaugural Nightfall Award for independent filmmakers for Crush the Skull.

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Among short films, the Best Short Fiction honor when to Drama, directed by Tian Guan, and the Shorts Jury gave a special mention to actress Kaori Momoi for her role in Oh Lucy!, directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi.

You can check out the full press release for the L.A. Film Festival Jury Award winners here.

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