Tag Archives: south korea


Dogs Get Botox and Plastic Surgery in South Korea

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

It’s no secret that South Korea is the world’s capital for plastic surgery. Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported that about 20 percent of women in South Korea have gotten “some form of cosmetic work” done.

But it seems like doing touch-ups on their own faces and bodies are no longer enough for some Koreans. According to the Chosun Ilbo, there has been a rise in pet owners putting their pets, mostly dogs, under the knife for some nips and tucks, including botox.

“Plastic surgery for pets in the past were for medical reasons but the result also brought better looking dogs, so there is a growing customer base getting a plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons on their dogs,” one unnamed veterinarian told the Chosun Ilbo, according to Kotaku.

The price tags for these pet cosmetic procedures can be as cheap as $60 or go up to thousands of dollars. Some of the most popular ones include tail shortening, ear trimming, wrinkle straightening, fat and stretch marks removal and double eyelid surgery. That’s right, double eyelid surgery. When was the last time you looked at a pair of puppy dog eyes and thought they didn’t look adorable enough?

puppy eyes

Before you condemn the entire country for this trend, many South Koreans are opposed to plastic surgery for pets. In a survey conducted by Korean veterinarian magazine Daily Vet, about 63 percent of respondents said cosmetic surgery for pets should be banned. Among thousands of comments on the Chosun Ilbo article’s webpage, the vast majority of commenters expressed their disapproval regarding the trend.

“Do people who make their dogs get these procedures think their pets are some kind of decoration or ornaments?” one netizen commented. “Dogs are not dolls. They’re so selfish.”

Another commenter wrote, “What is the difference between this and forcing your own children to get plastic surgery?”

However, there seems to be a difference in opinions between veterinarians and animal rights activists. One veterinarian named Dr. Yoon told the Chosun Ilbo that cosmetic surgery for pets was “medically safe” and claimed that it is within “owner’s right” to make their pets beautiful. Many animal rights activists have called cosmetic surgery a form of “animal abuse,” adding that animals can’t voice their opinion on the procedures done on them. 

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South Korea Declares Itself Free of MERS Danger

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

South Korea on Tuesday declared a de facto end to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak that has killed 36 lives and infected 186 people since May, reports Agence France-Presse.

Addressing a meeting of government officials in Seoul, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said there has been no new MERS case in the past 23 days, adding that the last potential patient released from quarantine earlier this week.

“After weighing various circumstances, the medical personnel and the government judge that the people can now be free from worry,” Hwang said. “I ask the public to shake off all concerns over MERS and to resume normal daily activities, including economic, cultural, leisure and school activities.”

More than 16,000 people were quarantined in hospitals and homes during South Korea’s MERS outbreak, the biggest of the virus outside Saudi Arabia. Thousands of schools in the Seoul were closed at the peak of the outbreak.

South Korea’s tourism industry was hit particularly hard by the spread of the disease, with the number of foreign visitors plummeting by over 40 percent in June compared to last year’s statistics.

Although MERS is considered to spread poorly, experts claim that South Korea’s crowded emergency rooms and patients’ habit of “doctor shopping“— the practice of seeking care at multiple hospitals to treat the same illness—may have contributed to the widespread transmission.

According to the Korea Herald, the Korean health ministry announced on Tuesday that it will now require all hospital visitors at medical facilities to register upon entry in order to reduce the risk of hospital-to-hospital transmission. It will also establish a new system that offers care that is usually provided by the patients’ family members.

See Also


South Korean Schools Reopen Despite Widespread MERS Fear

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Jersey City Unveils Renovated Korean War Memorial

by ALEX HYUN | @ahyundarkb4dawn

To commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War, Jersey City unveiled its newly refurbished Korean War memorial on Monday, reports the Jersey Journal.

The monument was vandalized last year with its floodlights destroyed and granite etchings of soldiers’ names defaced, drawing the ire of veterans. What made the vandalism even more unfortunate was the fact that the responsibility of maintaining the monument lies with the Korean War veterans of Jersey City, not the city itself.

However in a turn of events, the province of Gyeonggi in South Korea donated $100,000 to Jersey City last year on Veterans Day for the monument to be repaired and improved. The donation is a symbol of the camaraderie shared between U.S. veterans and South Korea, a country that American soldiers barely knew but still defended during the 1950-53 war.

Thanks to the Burns Bros. Memorials, new pictures have been engraved inside the monument. Local developer Fields Development Group have also donated new floodlights. With new floodlights installed and a possible addition for security cameras, Jersey city and its veterans hope to curb future vandalism attempts on the memorial.

“Sixty-two years ago the Korean War ended,” Eddie Paradine, commander of the Korean War Veterans Association of Hudson County, said in his commemorative speech. “And now we can celebrate it by putting the finishing touches on the monument for the 133 soldiers from Hudson county who gave their lives.”

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 33,000 American soldiers were killed in combat during the Korean War. Twenty-one U.N. countries, including Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, later contributed in the defense of South Korea.

“I was born and educated in a free democratic nation and now I’m here with you today, all because of your services and sacrifices of the Korean War veterans,” said Hyung Gil Kim, deputy counsel general of the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in New York. “Ladies and gentleman, I tell you: The Korean War is not forgotten. The Koreans will never, ever forget the services and sacrifice of your brothers and husbands, and your fathers and grandfathers.”

See Also


Two Koreas, U.S. Celebrate Anniversary of Korean War Armistice

Digital Textbook on Korean War to Be Produced for U.S. Schools


Featured image via Visit Hudson

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Pyungkang Hospital 2

Pyunkang Hospital Has the Craziest (Best) Health Commercials

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Are you tired of the same-old medical infomercials that portray people doing fun things in slow-motion while the narrator calmly lists uncomfortable symptoms like diarrhea, acne, diabetes and impotence?

Pyunkang Hospital charges headlong into the wonderful mucous-filled world of sinus infections, atopy and asthma with their wacky and gross commercials. For a clinic that practices traditional Eastern medicine, Pyunkang Hospital has a very non-traditional approach to advertising their services.

Their infamous ads, which sometimes play in movie theaters, often feature an animated character experiencing some kind of allergic distress in a humorous situation.

You can watch an English-dubbed ad to get an idea of what they’re sharing with the world.

You can watch all three seasons (yes, seasons) of the ads below.

Pyunkang Hospital even began airing live-action ads.

This following ad, however, has been garnering criticism for being too gross and blatantly suggestive. *NSFW warning has been issued.*


H/T to Kotaku

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SBS Documentary Reveals Inconsistencies in the Lee Jung-hee Case


by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

A new documentary segment shedding light on the controversy surrounding Lee Jung-hee and her two unnamed American-born sons is raising serious questions about their claims of sexual abuse, which went viral last month.

The SBS-produced program, We Want To Know The Truth, has built a reputation since 1992 for their unbiased investigative reporting on current events, from government to social issues. In its July 25th episode, the show investigated Lee’s allegations of her and her sons being drugged, raped and prostituted by her pastor ex-husband and extended family members, but found a number of suspicious incidents in the case.

For one, the show’s producers discovered that Lee has a deep faith in Korean shamanism and has been corresponding with a mysterious “Shaman Kim.” They also found that Lee’s ex-husband, who was accused of bribing the police and media in order to silence Lee’s story, now makes a humble living delivering pizzas. He claimed had no idea about her latest allegations.

In light of the new details, Korean netizens have become livid over what they now deem a complete scam. Most of Lee Jung Hee’s online supporters have abandoned the #HelpLeeJungHee effort, and the blog that had sought to raise awareness of Lee’s story is being shut down by its eight admins. It remains to be seen what will happen to the funds the online community raised for Lee and her two sons’ legal fees.

On July 16, a Busan court granted Lee full custody of her children, but police booked the mother the following week on suspicion of child abuse. Police claimed that Lee had “brainwashed” her sons with details of sexual assault in order to testify against their father in court and accused the mother of not sending them to school since arriving in Korea last year. Lee was ordered to keep at least 100 meters away from her sons until further notice.


Here are the most important details included in the July 25th We Want To Know The Truth episode. You can view a more comprehensive breakdown here.

Tracking Down Lee’s Ex-Husband


In March 2015, We Want To Know The Truth producers tracked down and met with Lee’s ex-husband, only identified by his surname Huh. They found him living by himself in a small apartment in Busan and working as a pizza deliveryman without any idea of the controversy surrounding him.


Huh told the producers it had been over two years since he’d seen his children. He claimed that Lee had raised the sons for 10 years in the U.S. and “changed little by little” after she returned to Korea in 2006. Coupled with Huh’s violent temperament and incidents of physical (not sexual) abuse to his wife and oldest son, Lee eventually filed for divorce. After a year and a half-long case, the court granted custody of their children to her based on Huh’s history of abuse.

According to Huh, Lee only began accusing him of sexual abuse, drug use and prostitution after he appealed the ruling and asked the court for permission to see his children twice a month. As for being part of a cult, Huh said he was indeed part of a church (not a cult) many years ago, but it’s been eight years he left due to a dispute with his father.

In a series of Nate Pann posts, Lee and her two sons had also accused Huh of filming them getting raped and posting them on the Internet. However, when police conducted a surprise raid on Huh’s apartment and other properties he had ties to, they could not find anything to back those claims. In fact, they found home videos of the family enjoying vacations during the years Lee alleges the abuse took place.


The Mysterious “Shaman Kim”


Huh and Lee’s sister both claimed that Lee has shared a close relationship with a traditional Korean shaman, surnamed Kim, for over 10 years.

Lee apparently believed that Shaman Kim’s ritual healed her from an unknown illness in 2004. Since then, Lee has been calling Kim her teacher. Huh said the family started falling apart at that time, as Lee donated tens of thousands of dollars to the shaman for expensive rituals and ceremonies.

When asked about Shaman Kim, Lee denied her involvement in the case.

Lee and Her Sons’ Odd Behavior


During a walk through her old neighborhood with the cameras rolling, Lee accused a random man of knowing her ex-husband and being one of the many people who raped her and her sons. When the police arrived after responding to the man’s call, Lee gave her younger son a cell phone and instructed to call his brother and “tell him everything is OK.”

Producers, however, became suspicious–knowing that the older brother was unable to communicate with his family at the time since he was receiving treatment at a mental hospital. Their suspicion deepened when the younger son returned after a short conversation on the phone and told Lee that his “brother” said, “It’s OK, the man isn’t a scary person so just sue him later and let’s leave.”

Later on, the producers left Lee and her sons alone in a room under the pretense of taking a five-minute break. As soon as the crew left the room, the trio began discussing whether or not they were “persuasive enough” in telling their stories. After they realized the microphone was still on, the mother and sons became even more visibly nervous.


Psychologists, Experts Weigh In


Psychologists from various universities agreed that Lee’s sons were not like common victims of sexual abuse due to the way they described past incidents. One expert said the children didn’t seem to exhibit any trauma or distress when describing sexual intercourse, adding that the sons may have lifted their descriptions from R-rated movies.

Other psychologists said Lee and her sons all could not explain incidents of rape and drug usage in convincing detail.


The younger son didn’t help ease skepticism when he drew a smiley face at the end of this written testimony. Some psychologists said that either the story or the smiley face is not genuine. Experts unanimously agreed, however, that the testimony the younger son wrote was likely fabricated.

Psychologists also agreed that Lee and her sons were telling the truth regarding their father’s physical abuse and violence, which Huh did confirm.

See Also


Lee Jung-hee Booked on Suspicion of Child Abuse

Lee Jung-hee, Sons Make Online Plea for Help


Screenshots via Koreaboo

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Lee Jung-hee Booked on Suspicion of Child Abuse

Above image: Lee Jung-hee (center) appears in a June 23rd YouTube video with her two sons.

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Lee Jung-hee, a South Korean woman known for being a victim in the “Three Hats Rape Case,” has been booked by the police on allegations of child abuse, according to Yonhap News.

In late June, Lee and her two sons (17 and 13 years old) posted a series of disturbing blog posts on Nate Pann under the username “Please Help Us.” Lee, who revealed her full name, accused her pastor ex-husband of physical abuse and rape over the past 20 years. She also accused him of drugging and prostituting their sons, who are apparently American-born, for the past decade. Lee’s story soon sparked an international social media campaign under the hashtag #HelpLeeJungHee.

On July 16, the Busan Domestic Relations Court granted Lee full custody of her two sons, rejecting Lee’s ex-husband’s appeal for a new trial regarding their divorce. However, police booked Lee on Thursday under the suspicion of alleged child abuse. Police claimed that Lee had “brainwashed” her sons with grisly details of sexual assault in order to prep them for testifying in court, according to Yonhap. They added that she did not send her children to school despite the fact that her sons arrived in Korea late last year from the United States.

After ruling that Lee’s presence was harmful to her sons’ mental health, police ordered the single mother to keep at least 100 meters away from the hospital her sons are residing at until further notice.

Recently, there were rumors that Lee and her sons were kidnapped and forcibly admitted to a mental hospital by their extended family after leaving court. However, police debunked these rumors and clarified in an online statement that Lee and her sons had agreed to undergo psychiatric evaluations at a hospital in Gyeonggi province.

On Thursday, SBS crime documentary series We Want to Know released a preview of an upcoming episode that delves into the case of Lee Jung Hee. You can watch the teaser below.

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

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dmz train

Across the DMZ: A Reunion Tale Retold on Audio

Pictured above: Imjingang Railroad Bridge, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Jeon Han/Korea.net)

Special to iamKoreAm.com

It’s been more than 60 years since Korea officially separated into two states.

Politics split the nation, but it was the people who ended up paying the price. Families were splintered by the Korean War and generations of Korean sons and daughters went on to live their lives never knowing whether their blood relatives beyond the DMZ still existed.

However, in 2005, a rare opportunity arose when the Red Cross tried to reunite some of these separated families through satellite video—if only for a brief two hours.

Mary Chi-Whi Kim, a poet, writer and professor at Savannah College of Art and Design, wrote a piece for the New York Times Magazine in 2006 recounting the experience of meeting her aunt, Bo Ok, for the first time this way.

Bo Ok is Mary’s father’s older sister, and the firstborn in the family. Bo Ok had headed north before the Korean War to pursue an expanded education, the article states. Mary’s father had not seen his sister since he was 14 and a boy living in South Korea.

It’s been seven years since the article, “Far Across the DMZ,” was published in the Times, but NPR’s Snap Judgment—a weekly non-fiction storytelling radio series and podcast—recently adapted the family reunion tale into an audio narrative.

“We don’t normally do these kinds of stories because Snap Judgment is a storytelling show that features a beginning, middle and end,” producer Davey Kim told KoreAm in a phone interview. “This story didn’t have all of those components, but it still resonated with me about what it’s like to have a family reunion five decades down the line, and I took this on as a side experimental story because it deviates from our usual material.”

The 15-minute segment, which first aired July 10 on NPR’s 300 member stations across the country, recounts the video reunion between Mary’s father, Chin Kyll, and Bo Ok. While it sounds as if Mary herself provides narration, her voiceover is actually taken from an extended interview with Kim.

“Mary Kim did a fantastic job and it sounds like she was narrating the story,” said Davey Kim. “But in actuality, I interviewed her for four hours and I cut those four hours of interview tape into the narrative.”

Mary discusses how her aunt appears on video, what she says about the North Korean regime, how her father had read a letter to his sister which he prepared beforehand, and Mary’s own realizations as an adult listening to her Korean immigrant father pour forth his emotions and memories to his sister.

Her aunt, Mary says in the segment, does not look as she expected her to look.

She is seen on video wearing 12 military medals on her black hanbok and had “plump cheeks,” much to Mary’s surprise.

“I had no idea how she might appear” she says. “I expected to see a living skeleton because of North Korea’s tendency to starve its own people.”

The segment, which features interspersions of Korean spoken by the character of Chin Kyll (voiced by Davey’s Father, Yongnam Kim), includes the episode where Mary’s father reads a six-page letter to his sister, describing his family’s life in the United States. In real life, that moment had lasted for an hour and a half—or 75 percent of the time allotted for the occasion.

Mary recounts how her father unleashes 50 years of repressed feelings regarding his separation from Bo Ok, sharing painful memories he had stored inside him all these years.

In response, Mary recounts, her aunt speaks only flattering words about the North Korean leadership and discusses her disdain for the United States. Bo Ok reveals how her leg was severed by a bomb during the war while her husband’s legs were injured and had to be amputated. Despite this, her aunt describes how the North Korean government had aided her own family, five children in all.

“We don’t have many years left now. All I want is to see our country unified…But we need to kick out the American bastards, then finally, we can meet and live happily together,” Bo Ok, voiced by Davey Kim’s mother, Mikyung Kim, says. “Such a good life in this socialist community wouldn’t exist in a capitalist nation.”

“I couldn’t tell if she was believing her own words,” Mary says, as she recounts seeing Bo Ok’s eldest son seated beside her, with cheeks resembling “cliff-like hollows.”

With time quickly running out from their reunion, Chin Kyll proposes that he and his sister sing a song over the satellite feed: Tong Il Jang, or “We Are One,” a composition created by South Koreans to meld the national anthems of both Koreas.

During the song, time unfortunately runs out on the satellite feed and the siblings’ reunion ends as the computer screen fades to black.

Ten years have passed since that video reunion with Bo Ok. While her father is not as hopeful in his sister’s fate, fearing that she may have met her end, Mary harbors a different sentiment. She still clings to the hope that her aunt is alive, and that one day, the family will reunite, despite the long odds.

“The reality is that many Koreans on both sides of the DMZ unfortunately will not be reunited in this lifetime,” Davey Kim said. “There are certainly cases where families have reunited and have gone on to live good lives but the reality is that this isn’t the case for everyone—this is the universal Korean story that I wanted to tell.”

To listen to the Snap Judgment segment in its entirety, click here.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 9.51.53 AM

Dead South Korean Agent Left Note Denying Spying on Civilians

Pictured above: The National Intelligence Service Headquarters in Seoul. (Screenshot captured via JTBC/YouTube)

by KIM TONG-HYUNG, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean government agent who was found dead in an apparent suicide left a note denying suspicion that the National Intelligence Service has been spying on South Koreans by intercepting cellphone and computer conversations, police said Sunday.

The 46-year-old NIS agent was found dead Saturday in his car parked on a hill in Yongin, just south of Seoul.

In his note revealed by police on Sunday, the agent said that the intelligence service “really didn’t” spy on civilians or on political activity related to elections. He apologized to colleagues and NIS senior officials, including director Lee Byoung Ho, saying that overzealousness in doing his job might have created “today’s situation.”

The intelligence service told lawmakers on Tuesday it had purchased hacking programs capable of intercepting communication on mobile devices and computers in 2012 from an Italian company, Hacking Team, but that it used them only to monitor agents from rival North Korea and for research purposes.

The revelation is sensitive because the NIS has a history of illegally tapping South Koreans’ private conversations. The NIS is planning to reveal to lawmakers the details of how the programs were used to quell suspicions that it had been unlawfully monitoring civilians.

In the note he left behind, the agent also said that he destroyed surveillance material on the activity of North Korean agents because the data had created “misunderstandings.”

Police officials, who had initially refused to release the details of the note, didn’t reveal the name of the agent or what his duties were for the NIS. Phone calls to the NIS office rang unanswered Sunday.

The controversy surrounding NIS emerged earlier this month when a searchable library of a massive email trove stolen from Hacking Team, released by WikiLeaks, showed that South Korean entities were among those dealing with the firm.

Two NIS directors who successively headed the spy service from 1999 to 2003 were convicted and received suspended prison terms for overseeing the monitoring of cellphone conversations of about 1,800 of South Korea’spolitical, corporate and media elite.

On Thursday, South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered a new trial for another former spy chief convicted of directing an online campaign to smear a main opposition candidate in the 2012 presidential election, won by current President Park Geun-hye.

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North Korea Sentences 2 South Koreans to Life on Spying Charges


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

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