Tag Archives: south korea


Condom Company’s Actions Elicit Strong Response From K-pop Fans


It seems fans of SNSD and EXO aren’t really into the whole “no glove, no love” policy we seem to unabashedly promote here in the U.S.

Case in point: When Durex, the condom company, cheekily congratulated the K-pop young loves, SNSD’s (Girls’ Generation’s) Taeyeon and EXO’s Baekhyun, on their recently revealed romantic relationship, it was wasn’t exactly greeted with the kind of response the company thought it would get.

The British condom company on Thursday posted on its Korean Twitter account @durexmania, “Korean media outlet Dispatch leaked news that SNSD Taeyeon and EXO Baekhyun are in a relationship. We congratulate your love! We, Durex, will cheer you on!!”


Photo via hellokpop

As touching as the gesture was, it unleashed a wrath of fury from swarms of fans. Apparently, they don’t like the idea of their young idol stars associated with condoms.

There is no reasoning with an angry mob. The negative response was so strong that Durex quickly retracted its earlier statement and issued an apology, stating: “We previously wrote we are rooting for Taeyeon and Baekhyun’s love. They have to endure public scrutiny and wrath from their fans for it, and we understand that it must be difficult. We support all types of love. We realized how much this comment has hurt everyone. Sorry.”

It seems these two idols certainly have fan protection behind them.

Image via The Guardian

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World Cup: Post-Game Thoughts On Korea’s Draw With Russia


Despite taking the lead with Lee Keun-ho’s go-ahead goal in the 68th minute, South Korea settled for a 1-1 draw with Russia in its first game at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil on Tuesday. Korea is now tied for second place in Group H behind Belgium which defeated Algeria 2-1 earlier that day. Korea takes on Algeria this Sunday at 3 p.m. EST.

Here are three thoughts on the game.

Expect Korea to get better as the tournament progresses. Many Team Korea fans may be disappointed that their team couldn’t hold on to the lead with only about 15 minutes remaining, but head coach Hong Myung-bo has a track record of building a stronger team as these tournaments progress. In his first international tournament in 2009, the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, Hong led Korea to the quarterfinals after losing 2-0 to Cameroon in the first game of the group stages. At the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, Korea only managed a draw against Mexico in its very first game, but went on to beat Switzerland, the U.K. and Japan to win a historical bronze medal. Korea’s renowned Japanese physical trainer, Seigo Ikeda, also worked with the previous two teams. He’s famous for designing a training program for players to gradually peak with more games.

Han Kook-young is a real find. Before the tournament began, Han—Korea’s defensive midfielder—was considered to be the weak link of the team. In his World Cup debut, the 24-year-old midfielder anchored Korea’s defense with a first class performance against the Russians. To put his pleasantly surprising performance into perspective, Han ran a total of seven miles in the game, outworking the Russians whose individuals averaged six miles. What makes Han’s fine performance in Brazil even more special is the heartbreak he suffered in 2012 when he broke his foot days before the Summer Olympic Games and missed the competition altogether. Han, who is currently playing professionally in Japan, is drawing interest from several European clubs. If he maintains his level of performances against Russia for the rest of the tournament, he could soon be on his way to Europe.

Team Korea’s stars—Ki Sung-yueng and Son Heung-min—delivered when it counted most. Head coach Hong Myung-bo emphasizes “balance” between attack and defense as the most important factor for his team to play the way he wants. Two players with critical roles of striking that balance is Ki and Son. Ki completed 84 percent of his passes throughout the game. His contribution to Korea’s ball circulation as well as his smooth touches in the defensive half helped his team free itself from Russia’s high press. Also, even though Son couldn’t score, he played an instrumental role in spearheading Korea’s attack by getting to the end of passes and making electric runs into dangerous areas. Even though it was Lee Keun-ho who scored Korea’s goal, Son’s overall performance was impressive enough for him to earn the Man of the Match honor after the game.

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South Koreans Line Up Crazy Early For McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys


Koreans are going gaga for … Happy Meal toys?!

Kotaku’s compilation of photos shows hundreds of South Koreans lining up at McDonald’s before sunrise in hopes of snagging a toy from the special edition Super Mario 25th anniversary set. GlobalPost believes it’s a “kidult” thing. (Well, the figurines do look pretty fantastic.)

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Some stores ran out of the toys…

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…which prompted some to offer to buy burgers for $1 off of those purchasing Happy Meals for only the toys.

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The U.S. won’t be seeing these 25th anniversary toys, but it’s not a total loss. Mario Kart 8 toys are set to launch stateside after the current How To Train Your Dragon 2 campaign ends.

Images via Kotaku


Korean Translation Service To Help World Cup Tourists In Brazil

A South Korean nonprofit is ready to assist the hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists in Brazil for this year’s World Cup Soccer with real-time language assistance, according to the Associated Press.

Before Babel Brigade, or BBB Korea, started during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan as a way to help foreigners get around without knowing the host country’s language. Much like Portuguese-speaking Brazil, neither Korea nor Japan had many locals who spoke languages fluently other than its own, but the BBB service was able to accommodate foreigners from various countries by having them call a number and get connected to a volunteer interpreter, who could then communicate directly with local restaurants, taxi drivers or doctors’ offices.

This year in Brazil, BBB has dubbed the service Rio Amigo, and it is available around the clock throughout the World Cup, which runs through July 25.  There is even a smartphone app for the service.

The service began with 2,000 volunteers providing assistance in seven language 12 years ago, but it now boasts 4,500 volunteers in 19 languages, responding to over 700 calls per day. Languages include: Portuguese, English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian and Korean.

“I usually don’t turn off my cellphone, but depending on how it goes, I might end up muting it at night during the World Cup,” Alice Moreira, a 29-year-old volunteer interpreter with French-Brazilian dual citizenship, told the Associated Press. “I’m really looking forward to my first call.”

The interpreters are working pro-bono, but the project in Brazil this year cost around $89,000 for printed materials and other overhead, said AP. Korean tech company Samsung is funding the project.

The Rio number to reach an interpreter is: +55-21-3554-0304.

Photo via Getty Images.


Family of SKorean Ferry Victim Files Suit Against Government

The parent of a South Korean ferry victim reportedly filed a lawsuit seeking damages from the government and the vessel’s owners, marking the first litigation move by any of the family members of the nearly 300 killed in the tragedy, according to AFP.

A court spokesman said the suit is seeking 30 million won ($30,000) in compensation from the government and Chonghaejin Marine Co., the company that owned and operated the 6,825-tonne Sewol ferry, which sank on April 16. Although 172 were rescued on the day the ship sank, no survivors were found since. Some 292 bodies have been recovered, and 12 are still missing.

The suit was filed by the mother of an unidentified student from Danwon High School, which had 325 students aboard the ferry for an annual school field trip to Jeju Island. About 80 percent of the school’s sophomore class was killed in the accident.

The suit claims that the ferry’s safety wasn’t ensured because it was overloaded with cargo. Results of the initial investigation into the sinking also revealed that water ballast was reduced to dangerous levels to create space for more cargo, which could have contributed to the ferry failing to handle a sharp turn before it tilted and capsized.

“Chonghaejin Marine Co., owner of the Sewol ferry and employer of the crew, was neglectful in safety education and the state was very lax in the management of operation and licensing,” the suit said, as reported by AFP.

The plantiff said she could raise the claim to as much as 600 million won, as more information becomes available from the ongoing investigation.


‘Well-Dying’ Courses Offered in SKorea to Counter High Suicide Rate Among Elderly


It’s well-documented that South Korea has the highest suicide rate among developed countries. But if you parse the numbers, there’s this equally disturbing discovery: it also has the highest elderly suicide rate. Nearly 5,000 people over the age of 60 took their own lives in 2012, up from 4,300 in 2007.

Such alarming figures have prompted the spread of “well-dying” courses, where the elderly can learn about how to appreciate life and make peace with their mortality, according to a recent article in Bloomberg.

Park Kyung-rye, 80, enrolled in one of these “well-dying” classes after having suicidal thoughts. The widower, a retired house cleaner with no pension, told Bloomberg that her “loneliness” pushed her to the edge. But, through the class, she joined about 20 other senior citizens in activities like writing their autobiographies, recording video messages to their families and even visiting a crematorium.

“I rediscovered life in the light of death,” she told Bloomberg. She also promised to “live as happily as possible until a natural death claims me.”

The South Korean government is funding these “well-dying” courses (a play off of the expression “well-being), which are cropping up throughout the country, in the hope of reversing the elderly suicide trend. But it’s a trend that’s being unfortunately fueled by alarming poverty rates among seniors.

While intense education pressure is often blamed for suicide among young South Koreans, experts point to poverty as a  major cause among senior citizens, the Bloomberg report said. The poverty rate among the elderly was 49 percent in 2012, making it the highest among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members. The OECD estimates that 37 percent of Korea’s population will be older than 65 by 2050, bringing even more of an urgency to the issue.

“We’re headed for one unhappy society that’s both aged and suicidal,” Lee Jung Min, professor of labor economics at Seoul’s Sogang University, told Bloomberg. Lee went on to warn that, if this trend continues, the nation will see ripple effects in multiple aspects of society.

Financial Times article noted that, as South Korea has emerged as a more materialistic and highly competitive society, more traditional values like filial duty seem to be falling away. It cited a 2010 government survey that reported only 36 percent of respondents saw it as their obligation to care for their parents. In 1998, that figure was 90 percent. Meanwhile, the Times article said that spending for South Korean children’s education is climbing at a dramatic rate, often leaving little money for elder members of the family.

Caring for the elderly population emerged as a major issue in the 2012 presidential election, and President Park Geun-hye promised in her campaign to boost social spending, including for seniors. Only one-fifth of senior citizens receive a regular pension, said the Bloomberg article, citing OECD figures, while 70 percent receive a minimum old-age payout. Recently, Korea’s parliament agreed to increase this monthly allowance to 200,000 won, which amounts to less than $200.

Photo via Family Edge/mercatornet.com



Link Attack: Kim Jong-un Upset at Weather Guys; Korean Spa In Dallas; SKorean Prime Minister Nominee, Take Two

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un gets angry at the weather guys
Washington Post

Another week, another bit of absurdity from the world’s most isolated state. A report in the Rodong Sinmun, a state-run newspaper, shows North Korea’s porky despot giving “field guidance” to the national hydro-meteorological service. Although it’s written in awkward communist jargon, the report makes clear that Kim Jong Un was not pleased.

He said that there are many incorrect forecasts as the meteorological observation has not been put on a modern and scientific basis…


North Korea Threatens ‘Plot-Breeding’ U.N. Rights Office With ‘Punishment’

North Korea on Monday threatened a planned U.N. field office in South Korea set up to investigate human rights abuses in the isolated country, saying anyone involved would be “ruthlessly punished”. The United Nations in March called for the field office to monitor human rights in North Korea following the release of a 372-page U.N. Commission of Inquiry report that detailed wide-ranging abuses, including systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.

Get a Big Dose of Korean Culture While You Relax and Avoid the Heat at King Waterpark
Dallas Observer

If you haven’t been to King Spa & Sauna, you’re missing out on one of the most unique cultural experiences in Dallas. Called jjimjilbangs in Korea, these sometimes gender-segregated, sometimes co-ed bath houses offer an opportunity to detoxify (whatever that means) in ornately decorated saunas, eat Korean food, have a massage, sleep, maybe even sing a little karaoke while you’re there.

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Kim Young-sam to get doctorate from Russia
Korea Joongang Daily

Former President Kim Young-sam, who played a key role in building ties with the former Soviet Union, is slated to be awarded an honorary doctorate from the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences today.

The degree comes 25 years after Kim’s pioneering visit to the Soviet Union, the first for a South Korean political figure, which helped pave the way for bilateral ties between Seoul and Moscow.

The Shipment, The Pit, Barbican, London – Review
Financial Times

The playwright Young Jean Lee habitually sets out to challenge herself and her audience. With The Shipment, which begins as a stylistically diverse mix of discrete scenes and routines before changing gear into drama, she, a Korean-American artist, sets out to make a theatre piece about African-American identity and experience, and dares us to… what exactly? To move past the aggressive accusations of racism in the opening spoken segment, a mock-stand-up comedy sequence that leads into a first-half “minstrel show”? To consider seriously the glib final twist in the more or less naturalistic drama that takes up the latter half of the performance? To be disconcerted out of our preconceptions?

Park Nominates Former Journalist as New South Korean Premier

South Korean President Park Geun Hye nominated a former journalist as prime minister to lead a government shakeup prompted by public anger over the Sewol ferry sinking. Moon Chang Keuk, who worked at JoongAng Ilbo newspaper and teaches journalism at Seoul National University, was picked to replace Prime Minister Chung Hong Won, presidential spokesman Min Kyung Wook said today at a televised briefing. Chung offered his resignation to assume responsibility for the April 16 sinking that left about 300 people dead or missing, most of them high school students on a field trip.

Can fans unravel the Babel of the world’s TV dramas?


A Korean TV show about an alien who arrived on Earth 400 years ago and falls in love with a modern actress becomes one of the top series watched in Hebrew and Arabic. A Thai drama about a sharp-tongued woman who ends up being the maid of a Hong Kong mafia member strikes a chord with Spanish speakers.

Viki, a site where dramas, telenovelas, comedies and movies from the globe are translated by fans, gives a glimpse into the cross section of the world’s entertainment interests. It’s where its 22 million monthly users find TV shows that have never made it on their local television sets.

Night Market Comes to Monterey Park
LA Weekly

The city of Monterey Park has approved the first long-term city-sponsored night market in the Southland. KCM Agency, the Korean-American event production and marketing force behind Kollaboration and K-town Night Market has signed an agreement to host six-hour long public nighttime soiree at Barnes Park every third Friday of the month.

In conjunction with Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce, KCM also plans to operate the first ever public beer and wine garden in Monterey Park, with three percent of its profits going to the Monterey Park American Legion Post.


Spider-Man Statue In South Korea Gets Removed For Having An Erection


This article contains images and content that some may find objectionable.

Spider-Man does whatever a spider can. According to one South Korean artist, Spider-Man also gets morning wood.

The Lotte Shopping Center in Busan, South Korea installed a statue of the classic superhero on the side of its building last year, according to Kotaku. Aside from the awkward pose, the sculpture by artist Eunsuk Yoo bears another difference to most other depictions of the web-spinning character: a very visible erection.


Images of the sculpture have gone viral as South Koreans have voiced their complaints. The fact that the sculpture was installed above the shopping center’s playground and rest area didn’t help. Yoo was apparently told to either take the statue down or “modify” it, which we can only assume means removing the bulge.  The artist decided to remove the sculpture completely.


“My reason for (making the sculpture),” Yoo wrote on his Facebook page, “was that I wanted to apply the natural physical phenomenon to a superhero depict what’s natural in the morning without lies and superficial-ness in a comical way.”

“…I understand that a piece that could be interpreted as lewd can be offensive at a place like a shopping mall. It’s disappointing, but I’ll reach out to the public with a better work next time.”

How this statue even got approved (or, er, erected) in the first place is beyond us.


Images via Kotaku