Tag Archives: south korea

Pikachu Parade via Segye

Pikachu Parade in Seoul Draws Mobs

by REERA YOO

Hundreds of South Koreans flocked to Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) this past weekend to catch a Pikachu, or at least a snapshot of one.

The Pikachu parade, which was a part of a two-day Pokemon Champions Day, celebrated the first Korean pro-gamer to win the Pokemon Video Game World Championships. While a similar event was held in Yokohama, Japan back in August, it didn’t attract a mob of people waiting to pounce on 10 adorable Pikachu mascots like Seoul’s parade did.

According to the Korea Times, the crowd turnout at the plaza was so huge that it prompted safety concerns, which led to two of the four parades to being cancelled.

“The police were worried about the crowd and how it could have led to a possible stampede,” said an event organizer. “So we decided to hold 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. parades only, and cancelled the 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. shows.”

Here are some photos from the event:

 

e3npadr5n2cwsch6ctdq(Photo courtesy of Yonhap)

Selfie sticks are a must when playing Pokemon snap.

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(Photo courtesy of Destructoid)

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(Photo courtesy of furymanura)

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(Photo courtesy of furymanura)

Below is a short clip of Yokohama’s Pikachu parade. Be amazed by the adorable synchronization.

Featured photo courtesy of SEGYE

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Asiana’s San Francisco Route Suspended For 45 Days

by STEVE HAN

South Korea’s Asiana Airlines will suspend its services to San Francisco for 45 days over a jet crash that killed three people in the U.S. city last year, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The review committee banned Asiana from operating its Incheon-San Francisco route for 45 days, which begins from a date of the airline’s own choosing, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced. Asiana, which previously said a 90-day suspension would cause a loss of $18.9 million in sales, has 15 days to appeal the decision.

In a statement released in response to the ban, Asiana said it will definitely appeal the decision, arguing that over 170,000 passengers use its Incheon-San Francisco route annually and that suspending it for 45 days will create problems for travelers. It also emphasized that last year’s crash was not caused by the airline’s violation of safety-related rules.

Although Asiana reportedly expected nothing more than a fine from the South Korean government,  Kwon Young-bok, head of South Korea’s aviation security department, said that the penalty isn’t as severe as an accident involving casualties could lead to a suspension of up to 90 days.

“The committee decided to reduce the duration by 50 percent, which is the maximum reduction allowed under the law, considering the sincere and dedicated evacuation efforts by the flight’s crew that helped minimize casualties,” Kwon said.

Asiana’s Flight 214, a B777-200ER jet, carrying 307 people, crashed while landing at the San Francisco airport in July 2013. The crash killed three and injured more than 180 people.

Photo courtesy of Reuters

South Kore Ship Sinks

Sewol Ferry Captain Avoids Death Penalty

by STEVE HAN

Families of the victims from the South Korean ferry disaster cried in anger as the ship’s captain who failed to carry out proper rescue operations avoided death penalty at Tuesday’s trial.

Ferry Sewol’s captain Lee Joon-seok, 69, was found guilty of gross negligence and received a 36-year sentence in prison, but he was acquitted of murder in the trial that spanned five months. Prosecutors had sought death penalty for Lee for homicide, but the presiding judge Lim Joung-youb convicted him of failing to save the passengers in an emergency and sentenced him to 36 years in prison, which is the maximum sentence the law in South Korea allows for that specific charge.

 

Although the judges agreed that Lee’s negligence played a role in the sinking of the ferry which led to more than 300 deaths, they said that he was not the only one responsible for the fatal crisis and that his negligence did not amount to an intent to kill. Investigations have revealed that a combination of illegal redesign of the ferry and cargo overloading also contributed to the disaster.

Most of the victims were teenagers aged between 16 and 17 from South Korea’s Danwon high School, who boarded the ferry for a field trip to Jeju Island.

The victims’ families who attended that trial anguished over the verdict as some of them began weeping.

“It’s not fair,” one woman told the AFP news agency. “What about the lives of our children? [Lee and his crew members] deserve worse than death.”

When the ferry capsized, Lee was reportedly one of the first to escape before abandoning his passengers. He reportedly told the passengers to stay inside the ship even as the ship began to tilt. Most of the 172 passengers who were rescued within hours after the ferry sank stayed outside against Lee’s instructions.

The death toll has reached 295 over the last seven months while nine are still missing. The last body was recovered last month, but the South Korean government announced Monday that it will cease all search operations as the weakening body of the ferry and the forthcoming winter could potentially jeopardize the lives of the rescue divers.

Aside from Lee, the ferry’s chief engineer, identified by his last name Park, was sentenced for 30 years and the 13 other crew members were given up to 20 years for abandoning the passengers and violating the maritime law.

Photo courtesy of Park Chul-hong, Yonhap/AP

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5 Fun Facts About Pepero Day

by REERA YOO

Today is Nov. 11, meaning it’s Pepero Day! For our readers who are unfamiliar with Pepero Day, it’s an unofficial holiday similar to Valentine’s Day observed in South Korea and is celebrated by exchanging boxes of the chocolate-covered cookie snack with friends, co-workers and lovers.

Here are five fun facts about the holiday:

1. Origin Story: “I want to be tall and skinny like a Pepero”

10401793_786306214737003_1605449459_aPhoto courtesy of  jixtina0108 via Instagram

While the exact origins of Pepero Day are unknown, they are usually traced back to a 1983 tale of two female middle school students sharing a box of Peperos in hopes of becoming tall and thin. The two girls reportedly claimed that eating Pepero sticks on Nov. 11 at 11:11 A.M in exactly 11 seconds would make a person tall and slender, sparking a fad among schoolgirls in the Yongnam Area and skyrocketing sales.

Many South Koreans, however, are skeptical of this story and argue that the holiday date originated due to the snack’s shape resembling 1’s. Others claim that Lotte, the manufacturer of Pepero, invented the holiday as a marketing tool, but the confectionary company has repeatedly denied this allegation.

2. Pepero’s nine flavors

pp555555(1)Photo courtesy of Lotte and The Korea Times

According to Lotte’s official website, Peperos are currently sold in nine different flavors: chocolate, strawberry, almond, peanut, white cookie chocolate, melon, nude (chocolate in the center), nude tiramisu cheese, and nude lemon cheese.

3. Premium Pepero Gift Sets

peperoday24Photo courtesy of Cute in Korea

Every year it seems like Pepero Day packages become more extravagant. While a basic box can cost as little as 800 won (about 75 cents), premium gift baskets, which sometimes include plush animals, can go up to 55,000 won ($50). Grocery and stationary stores usually deck their aisles with colorful and impressive displays on the week of Pepero Day.

pepero1Photo courtesy of littleredstreethouse

4. D.I.Y Pepero

peperoday31Photo courtesy of Cute in Korea

Since premium gift sets are expensive and often don’t taste very good, a popular trend among young students is to make homemade Peperos. South Korean department stores sell cute chocolate molds and icing supplies for low prices, making it very easy to decorate personalized Pepero sticks. Some decorators choose to go all out and make a Pepero cake.

tumblr_lvevwvWo1A1r6jmrco1_500Photo courtesy of 26.media.tumblr.com

5. Pepero Alternatives

There are two alternatives to celebrating Pepero Day for those who aren’t fond of the biscuit snack. Since Garaetteok Day, a holiday that commemorates Korean farmers, is also observed on Nov. 11, some Koreans choose to gift their loved ones garatteok, white rice cake, over a box of sweets.

Another alternative is packaging rolled up money in Pepero boxes, a trend that’s quickly becoming popular among older couples and husbands who don’t want to be seen carrying extravagant premium Pepero gift packages.

peperoday52Photo courtesy of Cute in Korea

However you decide to celebrate (or not celebrate) this yummy holiday, we wish you a Happy Pepero Day!


Featured photo courtesy of Kstargoods

Chocolates

‘Calculus Chocolates’ Offer Sweet Relief for Korean Students

by JAMES S. KIM

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

That is, unless you buy a box from Piaf Artisan Chocolatiers in South Korea. And if your life revolves around studying, like most Korean students during the annual college entrance exam season, a box of Piaf Artisan chocolates might be exactly what you’re looking for.

The latest work from the Seoul-based chocolatier features candies decorated with calculus equations. Assuming the chocolate is delicious, this could very well be the perfect food for thought.

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“I hope these can bring a smile to their faces as they get themselves prepared for the exams,” creator Ko Eun-su told the Wall Street Journal.

Ko, who left a seven-year career as a computer engineer to pursue his passion in chocolate-making, explained that he took the project “very seriously.” But the feedback wasn’t quite what he expected.

“[Customers] said people cracked up when they got these [chocolates],” he said.

The calculus chocolates are sold in box sets of four, nine and 15, and they will run you 13,000 won ($12), 25,000 won ($23) and 39,000 won ($36) respectively. Each box also comes with a helpful booklet explaining the equations.

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You can check out the rest of Piaf Artisan Chocolatier’s creations at their Facebook page.

Images via Piaf Artisan Chocolatier

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South Korea Ends Sewol Ferry Search Operations

by STEVE HAN

Seven months after the Sewol ferry capsized off of Jindo Island, the South Korean government ceased all underwater search operations on Tuesday as the chances of rescue divers finding the nine remaining victims have become remote.

The announcement came 209 days after the Sewol ferry, carrying 476 passengers, sank in April after failing to handle a sharp turn. Although 172 people were rescued, the death toll has since reached 295 while nine are still missing in the waters. Most of the victims were students at Danwon High School, who boarded the ferry for their field trip at Jeju Island in South Korea’s southern coast.

Lee Joo-young, the minister of maritime policies, said that the body of the ferry is in danger of collapsing and that the forthcoming winter in South Korea could jeopardize the lives of rescue divers, most of whom are volunteers.

“A consensus has been reached that we could potentially experience even more sacrifices of life if we were to inconsiderately force the rescue divers to continue the search operations,” said Lee Joo-young, the minister of maritime policies. “We sincerely apologize to the families of the victims for not being able to keep the promise of finding their loved ones.”

The Sewol tragedy, considered as one of the worst maritime disasters in history, has sacrificed the lives of those who volunteered to take part in the search operations. Two civilian divers died in May while carrying out search operations. In July, a helicopter searching for the remaining bodies crashed and killed five firefighers.

Families of the nine remaining victims have been living inside of a nearby school gym, hoping to learn the fate of their loved ones as soon as they can. When the rescue divers found the body of an 18-year-old girl on Oct. 28, the families held a press conference to express their gratitude for the rescuers’ persistence. No bodies were found for 102 days until the young girl’s body was recovered.

“The responsibility for failing to find the remaining nine people is entirely on me,” Lee said. “I am truly sorry for failing to perform my duties.”

Featured image courtesy of Joongboo Ilbo

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3 South Korean Companies on Forbes’ List of the World’s Most Valuable Brands

by REERA YOO

Three South Korean companies made the cut this year on Forbes’ annual list, “The World’s Most Valuable Brands.”

Among the 100 brands listed, Samsung was ranked at No. 8 while its rival Apple topped the list. The other two South Korean companies that made the cut were auto manufacturers Hyundai and Kia Motors, placing No. 71 and No. 80 respectively.

Despite Samsung’s plunge in smartphone sales this year, its brand value saw a 19 percent increase from 2013 and is now valued at $35 billion. The tech giant even bumped one spot ahead of its ranking in Forbes’ 2013 list. Apple, brand valued at $124.2 billion, also experienced a 19 percent increase over the past year.

Hyundai and Kia also made leaps on Forbes’ chart. While Hyundai rose 10 spots from its previous rank with a brand value of $7.8 billion, Kia made the Top 100 for the first time with a brand value of $6.9 billion.

Following Apple, the top five most valuable brands were Microsoft, Google, Coca-Cola and IBM.  You can view the full list here.

Photo courtesy of Tech Trends Diary.

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LINK ATTACK: Jamie Chung, Hallyu Beauty Storm, Kim Jong Il’s Former Bodyguard

North Korean Defector: ‘I Was Kim Jong Il’s Bodyguard’
“When Kim Jong Il would arrive in his vehicle, 60- to 70-year old advisors would run away and throw themselves onto the grass. They had dust on their clothes but they wanted to hide from him,” said Lee Young-guk, who was a former body guard to the late Kim Jong Il for 10 years. “They are scared because even when he was happy he would be rude and could chop off their heads.”

Skin Care Products from South Korea Catch on in the United States
Although the beauty market has long been led by European countries, South Korean beauty products are starting to become a popular trend in the States.

Vietnamese Translation Errors Could Affect Prop. 46
“An error in translation for voter materials for Proposition 46, which would require drug and alcohol testing for physicians, could be affecting the way Vietnamese Americans vote on the measure.”

The Super Jamie Chung in Big Hero 6
KoreAm‘s sister publication Audrey Magazine interviews Jamie Chung, the voice actress behind the speed demon GoGo Tomago in Disney’s latest animated film, Big Hero 6. 

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The Odd Friendship Between North Korea and Its First American Surfers
Julie Nelson was one of the first people to ever surf in North Korean waters and led the reclusive country’s first-ever surf camp, which showed North Koreans what a surfboard looks like and even taught some locals on how to swim.

OC Korean American Voter Turnout Increased Twofold Since June
“The number of Orange County Korean American voters who participated in Tuesday’s general elections increased about twofold since June primary elections.”

Son of South Korea Ferry Owner Is Convicted of Stealing Millions
“The eldest son of the South Korean business mogul who controlled the company that ran the Sewol ferry, which sank in April, leaving more than 300 people dead, was convicted of embezzlement on Wednesday and sentenced to three years in prison.”

Asian American Horror Thriller The Unbidden Launches Kickstarter
The Unbidden follows the story of four women haunted by the ghost of a tortured man, who knows their dark secrets from their past and seeks vengeance. Starring an all Asian American cast with Tamilyn Tomita, Julia Nickson, Elizabeth Sung, Amy Hill, Jason Yee and Karin Anna Cheung, this psychological thriller delves into the issue of domestic violence and the morality of retribution.

7 Deadly Spicy Korean Ramens to Try
Think you can handle spicy food? Koreaboo lists seven of Korea’s spiciest instant noodle brands.

South Korean Monk Tends to Souls of Dead Enemy Soldiers
A South Korean Buddhist monk cares for the graves of 769 North Korean soldiers in a forgotten cemetery along the SFXI Highway that runs from Seoul to the barbed wire fences of the demilitarized zone.

Japanese Swimmer Denies Stealing Camera at Asian Games
Naoya Tomita, a Japanese swimmer who was accused of stealing a camera during the Asian Games in South Korea, denied the allegations earlier this week, stating that an unidentified male forcefully put it in his bag.

The Unbelievable Story of a Woman Who Taught North Korea’s Elite Undercover
Suki Kim, an American journalist born in South Korea, talks to Huffington Post about her surreal experience teaching at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

Heard in Seoul: Views on Reunification
Korea Real Time hits the streets of Seoul and asks South Koreans about their thoughts, hopes and concerns for a possible reunification with North Korea.

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A Journey to the Heart of Korean Cheese
“Imsil, in North Jeolla Province, was where Korea’s first cheese was produced in 1964 by Belgian missionary Didier Serstevens, who wanted to bring the community a sustainable income…”

South Korea Tries to Re-brand DMZ as Rare Animal Sanctuary
The South Korean government pushes for the construction of a wildlife sanctuary in the middle of the DMZ as part of a trust-building strategy between the two Koreas.

5 Most Innovative Korean Restaurants in NYC
Korean cuisine has been growing steadily popular among New York foodies. Here are five innovative Korean restaurants in NYC you don’t want to miss.