Tag Archives: south korea


S. Korea Lifts Travel Ban on Japanese Journalist Charged with Defaming President

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

South Korea announced that it has lifted the travel ban on Tatsuya Kato, a Japanese journalist charged with defaming South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Reuters reports.

On Tuesday, South Korean prosecutors said that the lifting of the ban was made on “humanitarian consideration” to allow Kato to see his family. Kato’s mother is reportedly in poor health, and he has been apart from his family for eight months.

Kato, the 48-year-old former Seoul bureau chief of Japan’s Sankei Shimbun, was indicted back in October for publishing an article in August that speculated on President Park’s whereabouts during the Sewol ferry sinking, which killed more than 300 people. The article supposedly contained details from a Chosun Ilbo column and rumors from Korea’s financial industry that said Park’s absence during the maritime disaster was due to her meeting an unidentified man in an alleged secret meeting.

The presidential office denied the claim, while Seoul prosecutors said Kato’s article was based on “false information.” Although Kato was not placed under arrest, he was barred him from leaving the country. The indictment has since led to fierce criticism of South Korea’s press freedom and concern over bilateral relations from Japanese officials.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, responded saying the case was “irrelevant to ROK-Japan relations” and “not appropriate to make the issue into a diplomatic problem.”

The Sankei Shimbun welcomed the lifting of the travel ban but continued to demand that South Korea drops its charges against Kato.


Featured image via Kyodo


A Cube Entertainment Begins Global Auditions in Los Angeles

South Korea-based A Cube Entertainment is looking for their next generation of singers, actors, dancers and models as they begin their global audition process for 2015 in Los Angeles. Do you think you have what it takes to be part of the company that represents girl group A Pink and ballad singer Huh Gak?

A Cube is specifically looking for young talent around 11 to 20 years old (born between 2003 and 1994). From now until April 22nd, Los Angeles-based applicants must complete the following steps for the online audition:

Fill out the official application and send it to globalaudtion@a-cube.co.kr, along with a headshot and any relevant media (recordings, links to videos, etc.). Subject of the email must be [Name/Age/Sex].

A Cube Entertainment will announce the results individually by email, and for those who passed the online audition, A Cube will work out a time and place for an in-person audition.


For those interested who are not based in Los Angeles, stay tuned for more details on A Cube Entertainment’s 2015 Global Audition circuit.


Image via A Cube Entertainment. H/T to Koreaboo for additional audition details.


Korean Parents Shell Out $640 for Japanese Backpacks

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Buying school supplies can get pricey, especially if you’re a parent of an elementary student in South Korea. According to YTN, many Korean parents are paying up to 698,000 won (US $640) to purchase randoseru, Japanese leather backpacks, for their children starting elementary school.

Randoseru is derived from the Dutch word “ransel,” which translates to “backpack.” Traditionally, they’re made of firm leather and are built to last through all six years of a child’s elementary school life. Children have used these sturdy bags since 1885 when the prestigious private school Gakushin made them a school requirement.

Following the footsteps of North Face jackets, randoseru is the latest financial backbreaker for parents. Parents from even low-income households are purchasing these premium backpacks, afraid that their child might be ostracized or bullied in school.

Korean brands are also selling children’s backpacks for jaw-dropping prices. Fila Korea sells premium backpacks with printed images of Disney princesses and Marvel superheroes, with the price starting at 169,000 won ($154). Bean Pole Kids sells their latest designs for about 200,000 won (US $183) and even accepts reservations via their webpage to avoid large crowds.

2014110428080_0_1500x1500Bean Pole Kids’ coral leather backpack. Price: 155,000 won 

It’s not just backpacks that are expensive. Parents are splurging on pencil cases that cost about 80,000 won (US $73) and pens that go for more than 30,000 won (US $27).

For parents who can’t afford these expensive school supplies, there’s a workshop that teaches them how to sew backpacks and pencil cases by hand, according to MBC.

“Children nowadays are very aware of a product’s value,” said a YTN reporter. “They ask their classmates, ‘What neighborhood do you live in? What car does your father drive?’ They all know.”

One contributing factor to Korean parents’ excessive spending on their children’s schoolbags is South Korea’s low birthrate. As the number of one-child families continues to grow, the backpack market is targeting parents who wish to buy their only child the best of everything, and it’s working. Last year, children’s backpack market grew to 300 billion won, according to the Joongang Daily.



Featured image via Daimaru


Benu Chef Corey Lee Announces Tour Dates for New Cookbook

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Acclaimed chef Corey Lee will be hitting the road later this month to promote his new cookbook Benu, which was named after his three Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco.

The cookbook isn’t just your run-of-the-mill collection of recipes: The picture-heavy, 256-page hardcover work is presented as a 33-course tasting menu that includes Lee’s anecdotes and essays that showcase the inspirations for Benu’s cuisine.

Publisher Phaidon announced the dates for Lee’s book tour on Monday, just a few weeks after Lee was nominated for another James Beard Award for 2015. The events will feature book signings, conversations with other famous chefs and dishes highlighted in the Benu cookbook.

Benu 1

Benu 2

Benu 3

Benu 4

Angelenos can look forward to seeing Lee next Wednesday with one of the most prolific Korean American chefs out there—Roy Choi will sit down with Lee for a chat after the reception, followed by a book signing in Santa Monica. On April 29, Lee will hit New York City and reunite with his mentor from The French Laundry, Thomas Keller.

Lee will then head to Asia in May, stopping by Hong Kong and Seoul before hitting the final leg of his tour in Toronto. The last event on May 27 will feature a conversation with another well-known Korean American chef—Momofuku’s chef and founder, David Chang.

For more information on Lee’s tour, you can take a look at the full schedule on Phaidon’s website. Tickets are available for his events in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong. Tickets for Seoul and Toronto are TBA. You can also find more information on purchasing Lee’s cookbook, Benu, at the above link, as well as Amazon.

Benu was awarded three Michelin Stars by the 2015 Michelin Guide back in October 2014, and the recent James Beard Award nomination isn’t his first: He won the Rising Star Chef of the Year award while he was at The French Laundry in 2006.


Images via Phaidon Press


Fashion Doppelgangers in South Korea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

After fussing over your outfit of the day, don’t you hate it when you spot someone wearing the same exact clothes as you? According to one Nate Pann blog titled, “The Reality of Fashion Forward Korea,” South Koreans run into this issue quite often.

The post became popular after sharing photos of Koreans wearing the same exact articles of clothing. Here are some pictures below:

9li8cG6P_1427307200_d51b70d59c3fbc705620a70913fcc6a5_mcHqmfQU5vWPJRnHKPIKrERNothing screams friendship more than matching sneakers.

f1There must have been a shoe sale.

995a4b3cba24bfd035495377618ab9f9_1427329578_8596I spy quadruplets.

IrKqD2Y6_1427307199_d51b70d59c3fbc705620a70913fcc6a5_MMgw4iCLmMcHrhCZUY3PMYECThe Plastics wore pink on Wednesdays. These girls roll with matching denim jackets.

CkMp2tED_1427307200_d51b70d59c3fbc705620a70913fcc6a5_SGTWpKyEfThere’s a glitch in the Matrix!

EMrOh2cD_1427307201_d51b70d59c3fbc705620a70913fcc6a5_OEVGIeShlUJARACrDlYtTTI found Waldo. Now, I must kill him… There can only be one.

pJOEiatX_1427307201_d51b70d59c3fbc705620a70913fcc6a5_5YK9zv4rGGTMBNorth Face, North Face jackets everywhere.

Although these photos are humorous, many of the post’s commenters criticized South Korea’s fashion sense, despite the country being renowned for its bold street style and runway chic looks.

The top comment read, “Koreans have no individuality. As soon as one thing trends, everyone goes and buys it and throws it out as soon as something else trends. We just care too much about trends and what others think.”

Another commenter wrote, “You can tell just with the Honey Butter Chips craze. People are trend crazy.”


All images via Nate Pann


Seoul to Strengthen Education on ‘Comfort Women’

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

The South Korean government announced on Wednesday that it will make efforts to further educate its elementary school students about Japans’s sexual enslavement of thousands of women during World War II.

According to the Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s education and gender equality ministries will distribute supplementary textbooks that teach elementary and secondary school students about the victims of Japan’s wartime sex slavery, who are euphemistically referred to as “comfort women.” In addition to these new textbooks, the ministries plan to distribute teaching aids, including videos and PowerPoint files, to 193 education offices and 800 public libraries starting this month.

The announcement follows Japan’s approval of updated textbooks that downplay the country’s wartime aggression and strengthen its claims to the disputed islands in the Sea of Japan.

Existing Korean public school textbooks only briefly mention the victims of wartime sex slavery, sometimes in as little as a single paragraph. According to a survey conducted by a team of school teachers and researchers tasked with penning the supplementary textbooks, about 49 percent of the 152 elementary schoolchildren surveyed said they knew nothing about the subject. Meanwhile, about 24 percent said they were familiar with the topic and only a little over 19 percent said they were knowledgeable.

The supplementary text is expected to be 40 pages long and will be distributed to fifth graders and older after it is approved by the education ministry. All new materials for both teachers and students will then become public to browse or download online.

Although teachers will be encouraged by the government to use the new materials, it is not mandatory for them to discuss the contents of the new textbooks with their students, according to the Korea Herald.

Nam Sang-gu, a Northeast Asian Foundation researcher and one of the writers for the supplementary textbooks, said the new materials not only details the plight of comfort women but also emphasizes the importance of “peacebuilding and overcoming the aftermath of military conflicts.”

“While our goal is to educate our children about what happened and what we should remember so such tragedy does not repeat in the future, we also don’t want them to form a negative sentiment against Japan as a whole,” Nam told the Korea Herald. “In the material we also talk about how there are people in Japan who empathize with the victims and have worked for their rights and compensation.”

Earlier this week, a U.S. congressman told Korean reporters that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to mention the issue of Japan’s wartime sex slavery during his trip to Washington later this month.


Featured image via AFP


South Korea Honors American Nurse Who Founded First Nursing School in 1903

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

The South Korean government posthumously awarded the Order of Civil Merit to Margaret Jane Edmunds, an American nurse who founded the first nursing school in Korea, the Korea Herald reports.

The Order of Merit, which was announced on Tuesday, comes 70 years after Edmunds’ death in 1945. Her descendants will receive the award at the opening ceremony of the International Council of Nurses 2015 Conference in Seoul on June 19.

Edmunds was born in 1871 in Ontario, Canada. She received her nursing education in Michigan and arrived in Korea in 1903 as a Christian missionary, founding the Pogunyogwan Training School for nurses that same year. The first Korean nurses in history—Kim Martha and Lee Grace—graduated under Edmunds’ tutelage in 1906. The Korean Nurses Association noted the backgrounds of the two Korean women: Kim was an abused housewife, and Lee was a servant for an aristocratic family before they pursued their new careers.

After founding Pogunyogwan, Edmunds served as the school’s president for five years, translating English-language nursing textbooks into Korean and introducing the first uniforms for Korean nurses. After marrying American pastor William Butler Harrison in 1908, Edmunds joined his missionary work in the South Jeolla region. They had a son, Charles, who was born in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province in 1911 (and would later serve in the Korean War). They would return to the U.S. in 1928, where Edmunds died in 1945.

The Pogunyogwan Training School for Nurses is now the division of nursing science at the Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

Edit: A previous version of this article contained a typo that incorrectly stated Edmunds was born in 1971. She was born in 1871. We regret this error.


Featured image via UCLA’s Online Archive of Christian Missionaries


South Korea to Double the Number of Korean Restaurants Abroad

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

It’s about to get easier to eat Korean barbecue and bibimbap in your country.

The South Korean government announced Monday that it plans to double the number of Korean restaurants overseas in an effort to develop the country’s restaurant industry and globalize traditional Korean food, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it plans to boost the current number of Korean restaurants from 3,726 in some 40 countries to more than 7,000 in 50 countries by 2020.

By expanding the number of Korean restaurants, the ministry hopes to also increase overseas shipments of traditional Korean food and ingredients.

Seoul will also be putting in efforts to facilitate the training of foreign cooks and other restaurant personnel. Those without a South Korean passport are currently prohibited from receiving any culinary training in the country, as such training requires medical examination certificates. These certificates are only granted to individuals with permanent residence in South Korea.

According to Yonhap, the ministry will be working to revise the related laws to make it easier for foreign cooks to receive medical examination certificates.

Korean cuisine has been rising in popularity and status in the States. There has been a surge of Korean fusion restaurants in recent years, especially in New York and California. Last month, several Korean American chefs were nominated for the prestigious James Beard Awards, which is often referred to as the “Oscars of the food world.”