In ‘open letter,’ N. Korea urges inter-Korean dialogue
North Korea called again for inter-Korean talks Friday, this time in the form of an “open letter.”
“It is our determination to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity, completely halt hostile military acts, realize the reunion of separated families and relatives, resume the tour of Mt. Kumgang and reenergize multi-faceted north-south cooperation and exchanges,” the powerful National Defense Commission said in what it says is an open letter to South Koreans.
The move came after the South Korean government rejected the North’s dialogue offer, with “unacceptable” pre-conditions attached, earlier this month.
SEE IT: Marco Rubio stares down the barrel of a North Korean soldier’s camera lens
New York Daily News
Marco Rubio came face to face with a North Korean soldier Thursday at the DMZ but his Communist counterpart didn’t see the Republican as much of a menace, ditching a gun for a camera to snap the Senator’s pic.
Rubio (R-Fla.) appears somewhat dumbfounded as he stares through the thick glass at the “the edge of freedom,” that separates Kim Jong-un’s territory from South Korea.
The GOP star hit Korea on the last stop of his weeklong Asia tour, that also included stops in the Philippines and Japan.
S. Korea chides Japan for renewed claims to Dokdo
South Korea criticized Japan Friday for renewing territorial claims to its easternmost islets of Dokdo, urging Tokyo to heed international warnings against its nationalist actions.
Seoul’s reaction came after Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida reiterated his country’s claims to the islets in an address to parliament and after the Tokyo government opened a website promoting its claims to the islets.
“Such groundless claims and useless attempts repeated over time only show the world that Japan is still under the spell of imperialism,” the foreign ministry here said in a statement.
It also shows how hollow Japan’s so-called active pacifist policy is, the ministry said, referring to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hard-line policy seen as being aimed at exerting more diplomatic and military power in the region.
Virginia Senate passes bill on East Sea name
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
Virginia’s state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill supported by the Korean-American community endeavoring to publicize the name East Sea for the body of water between Korea and Japan.
The 31-4 vote Thursday represents a significant victory for ethnic Koreans in the state against high-profile lobbying by the Japanese Embassy in Washington.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dave W. Marsden (D-Fairfax), would require all new textbooks for Virginia schools to use the name East Sea as well as the Sea of Japan.
LAST month a business student at Korea University in Seoul posted a large bulletin on a wall in the university grounds. In bold black pen, Ju Hyun-woo recounted the week’s events: thousands of railway workers dismissed for striking; the suicide of a farmer in protest at the construction of electricity pylons near his village; and the conservative ruling party’s proposal to expel an opposition politician for questioning the legitimacy of the president, Park Geun-hye. Mr Ju asked readers: “How are you all feeling nowadays?”
Answers came in thick and fast, and most people said they were not fine. Within a few days dozens of handwritten posters—known as daejabo—were pinned up next to his, on issues ranging from high gas bills to gay rights. Now Mr Ju reckons almost 1,000 have been tacked onto university walls around the country. Students in Japan, America, China and Chile have followed, posting pictures of their posters on the “Can’t be OK” Facebook page, which gathered 260,000 followers in a week.
Social media have long been a haven for anonymous dissenting voices in South Korea. But Mr Ju says he wanted to “take responsibility” for his poster: he signed it and stood in front of it for ten hours, engaging passers-by. Breaking with a tradition of politically charged, militant daejabo, used in the past by Korean students to demand change, Mr Ju left readers to come up with their own grievances—and answers.
Seeing none, Korean-American community works to recruit foster parents
Southern California Public Radio
Recruiting foster parents in Los Angeles County is tough. Finding Asian caregivers, particularly Koreans, even more so.
Not one of the thousands of foster homes in Los Angeles County is Korean-speaking — which can make a stressful situation even worse for a foster child who only knows that language.
“Being in a non-Korean home is just shocking to them,” said Mike Oh, a county social worker who works with Asian-American foster children. “We’ve had a lot of calls from the foster parents saying that the child appears to be traumatized, and not eating, not sleeping.”
Asian Americans and the ‘model minority’ myth
Los Angeles Times
Previews of Amy Chua’s forthcoming book, “The Triple Package” (co-written with husband Jed Rubenfeld), detonated a social media uproar among Asian Americans. Many were infuriated by the New York Post’s report that Chua, the self-styled Tiger Mom, was identifying eight superior “cultural” groups in the United States: Jewish, Indian, Chinese, Iranian, Lebanese, Nigerian, Cuban and Mormon. For Asian Americans, the problem is about another Chua production that seems to perpetuate the “model minority” myth and, in particular, the notion that Asians are culturally — even genetically — endowed with the characteristics that enable them to succeed in American society.
Before the mid-20th century, the Tiger Mom did not exist in the national imagination. Instead, Americans believed that Chinese culture was disgusting and vile, viewing U.S. Chinatowns as depraved colonies of prostitutes, gamblers and opium addicts bereft of decency. Lawmakers and citizens deployed these arguments to justify and maintain the segregation, marginalization and exclusion of Chinese from mainline society between the 1870s and World War II. Those efforts were more than effective: to have a “Chinaman’s chance” at that time meant that one had zero prospects.
There is danger in offering culture as a formula for success, because our ideas of culture are hardly fixed. The history of Americans’ views about Chinese immigrant behaviors shows that “culture” often serves as a blank screen onto which individuals project various political agendas, depending on the exigencies of the moment.
English teacher extradited from Armenia over teen sex tape
A 29-year-old American accused of having sex with a teenage girl and posting a video of it online was extradited from Armenia to South Korea on Wednesday, the Ministry of Justice said.
The ministry has been tracking down the suspect’s whereabouts since 2010, when he fled to China as the video stirred a firestorm of criticism in the Korean online community.
“The urgency of each case decides how fast the extradition will take place. In this case, it only took three months, whereas it could take up to three years for other cases,” a prosecutor in charge of the case told The Korea Herald.
Chang-rae Lee: By the Book
New York Times
The author of “On Such a Full Sea” has been rereading the classics he tackled in college — “big, complex works which I found arresting and difficult then and find arresting and difficult now.”
What’s the best book you’ve read recently? And your vote for best book of the last year?
Two first fictions dazzled me in the last couple of years, the novel “Mr. Peanut,” by Adam Ross, and “Battleborn,” a story collection by Claire Vaye Watkins. “Mr. Peanut” is a hybrid wonder, being at once a detective story, an arch gloss on that genre and a bravura romance, totally upended, that employs the possible murder of one’s wife as a means of revealing the manifold facets of truest, desperate love. All this is driven by the edgy sparkle of the prose, which acts not only as a mirror or lens but as an accelerant, lighting up every layer of his characters’ consciousnesses to a degree that feels almost dangerous. Watkins’s “Battleborn” is equally potent even though the stories range widely in setting, time and voice, the modalities coming at you with a ferocity and intelligence that seems like a magic trick. But there’s nothing artificial about these stories, for as you read them an indelible picture begins to emerge of a certain sensibility, maybe borne from the desert West — toughened, resourceful, both hellbent and eternally hopeful.
Korean American dude on the upcoming season of Survivor
His name is Woo, and he’s a martial arts instructor. His dad is a Tae Kwon Do expert, and he was brought up in the Tae Kwon Do tradition. He looks like a surfer dude, and in fact, he teaches surfing for a living. This season, the contestants will be broken down into three tribes: Brawn, Beauty, and Brains. Woo will be part of the Brawn Tribe.
Should be a fun season. I like this female contestant‘s quote:
Reason for Being on SURVIVOR: The chance to experience a once in a lifetime journey and to show everyone that just because I have huge boobs and a pretty face does not mean I am dumb, it just means I look better when I am winning.
I may have to cheer for her just for that.
Korean rock band forays into US, UK
Korea’s top rock band YB has signed a promotional contract with the former manager of Guns N’ Roses as part of an effort to make it into the American and British music markets.
The band’s domestic management said Tuesday that the five-member group, led by vocalist Yoon Do-hyun, will release its first English album in February and promote it with the help of Doug Goldstein, a former manager of the legendary American rock band.
Goldstein saw potential for YB’s success in Western countries after reviewing its music and performances, according to the band’s management.
Male And Female Idol Groups Ranked By Entertainment Reporters
ENews tvN recently ran a survey amongst 30 Korean entertainment
reporters to get them to rank male and female idol groups according to
Find out where your favorite idol group is ranked in different categories like vocal skills and dancing skills.
Online gaming addictions: Sundance films explore a darker side of the Internet
Deseret News (Utah)
For weeks, the young couple would arrive at an Internet cafe in Suwon, South Korea, shortly after dinner and spend up to 10 hours playing an online game that involved raising a virtual child in a fantasy world.
Meanwhile, their real-life 3-month-old girl was home alone with a bottle. The neglect resulted in the infant’s death and involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents.
In mainland China, desperate parents are forcing their teen children into military-style government rehabilitation camps, hoping to cure the youths of a diagnosed addiction to online gaming, which has blurred their distinction between the real and virtual worlds.
Teen star Ko ready to go as LPGA season begins
AFP via Yahoo News
Lydia Ko has jumped to fourth in the world rankings as the LPGA season begins Thursday, but the 16-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander has not adjusted to her lofty spot.
“Not at all, ” she said. “I don’t think it’s something you kind of get used to.”
Ko will play her first event as an LPGA Tour member starting Thursday at the $1.3 million Bahamas LPGA Classic on Paradise Island.
Two more ski jumpers earn spots at Sochi Winter Games
Two additional South Korean ski jumpers have earned spots at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, an official here said Friday, doubling the size of the ski jumping squad.
Lee Myung-gyo, director of ski jumping at the Korea Ski Association, said Kang Chil-gu and Choi Seo-u will compete in Russia at the Winter Games set to begin on Feb. 7. The two will join Choi Heung-chul and Kim Hyun-ki, who’d earlier qualified based on their world rankings.
Under the qualification rules by the International Ski Federation (FIS), a country can only have a maximum of five male jumpers. If a country has more than five eligible athletes, then Olympic berths will be reallocated to next eligible athletes from another country.
Jackpot or Crackpot? Park on Korean Reunification
Wall Street Journal
The demure Park Geun-hye rarely startles. Yet South Korea’s president did just that on Jan. 6. In her first press conference after almost a year as president, Ms. Park raised eyebrows by calling Korean unification a “jackpot”. The usual fear of vast costs has it wrong, she argued. Rather, this will be “a chance for the economy to make a huge leap.”
She didn’t elaborate, but cited Jim Rogers in support. The US.. investment guru reiterated his own bullishness on a joint Korean future on Jan. 14: “… South Korea’s capital and technical skills, and North Korea’s labor and natural resources, [can] make Korea grow exponentially.”
Ms. Park’s jackpot talk gained her rare praise from the South Korean liberal opposition. Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil said he was “glad [she] helped break the common misconception that reunification is a cost.” But Mr. Kim added a crucial condition: “Only a gradual and peaceful reunification is a blessing. Reunification by absorption [after] a sudden change in North Korea could be a catastrophe.” Or to be more technical, reunification will be path-dependent.
Are U.S. troops in South Korea still necessary?
Al Jazeera America
After meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Jan. 7 that the United States would send an additional 800 troops to join the nearly 30,000 American service members already stationed in South Korea.
“We remain fully committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea,” Kerry explained, “including through extended deterrence and putting the full range of U.S. military capabilities in place.”
A day earlier, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel discussed with Yun “the importance of maintaining a robust combined defense of the Korean Peninsula as a strong deterrent against provocations from North Korea.”
Prosecutor indicted for peddling influence to help actress
An incumbent prosecutor was indicted Wednesday on charges of abusing his influence to help a female celebrity, prosecution officials said.
The 37-year-old prosecutor, only identified by his surname Jeon, is under suspicion of helping TV personality Lee Yoon-ji, better known by her stage name Amy, settle disputes with a plastic surgeon in 2012. An inspection division of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office (SPO) said it has brought charges against Jeon for violating the attorneys-at-law act.
Jeon first met Lee when he was prosecuting her case involving a psychotropic drug propofol abuse in 2011, the SPO said. Lee was charged for drug abuse and served two months in prison before being released on parole. After her release, Lee allegedly complained about the side effects of a cosmetic surgery she underwent, prompting Jeon to blackmail the doctor to let Lee undergo another operation free of charge, it said.
Jeon also allegedly collected 22.5 million won (US$21,000) in compensation from the clinic on her behalf, which he gave to the 32-year-old TV personality, SPO officials said.
US state universities recruit Korean students
The State University of New York (SUNY) and California State University held a briefing about their admissions policies as they relate to the recruitment of Korean students at the COEX in southern Seoul on Saturday and Sunday.
The session was organized by the Korus Education Institute which provides the Education Abroad program in partnership with American universities. About 200 students and parents attended the event.
The two U.S. state universities are in the process of attracting some 100 Korean students under the Education Abroad program. The deadline for applications is Jan. 23. Students applying to the program can prove their English abilities by taking the Proficiency of English for Academic Purposes (PEAP) instead of submitting TOEFL scores.
The Education Abroad program is one of the international exchange programs selected by 20 state universities in the U.S. such as SUNY and California State University. These universities have officially acknowledged PEAP as a replacement for other English tests.
South Korea’s New Hybrid Media: Wall Posters Gone Viral
For around a decade, South Korea has been a byword for advanced internet connectivity. With the world’s earliest mass adoption of broadband – and at the fastest speeds – this nation of 50 million is regularly cited as the “world’s most wired”. The introduction last year of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) mobile communications means that Koreans now enjoy the world’s fastest wireless network as well.
And despite South Korea’s image as a follower (albeit a fast one), this country has been ahead of the pack on a surprising number of internet innovations. A firm named Saerom developed Dialpad, a VoIP service, three years before Skype came along. And when Facebook and even Myspace were mere minnows, millions of Koreans were already using a social network named Cyworld. Lee Jun-seok, a South Korean entrepreneur and political activist, fondly remembers e-mailing his Harvard classmate Mark Zuckerberg, “We already have Cyworld, a far better and more sophisticated website. Your start-up will fail soon.”
Famous last words, of course. But the most profound effects of Korea’s internet mania have been felt in the realm of politics, rather than business. In 2002, liberal candidate Roh Moo-hyun had been all but written off for that December’s presidential election race, but narrowly won following a last-minute surge led by online fan-club Nosamo (‘people who love Roh Moo-hyun) and the efforts of a then-fledgling ‘citizen journalism’ site named Ohmynews.
Hitches in Compromise at a McDonald’s
New York Times
Maybe it was the snow. Or a lack of communication.
For whatever reason, the compromise between a McDonald’s and a group of older Korean patrons — limiting the hours that the group can linger at the restaurant — seemed to have some loose ends on Tuesday, two days after the agreement was reached.
The compromise, brokered by Assemblyman Ron Kim, called for patrons to limit their loitering to less than an hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the McDonald’s at the corner of Northern and Parsons Boulevards.
Victim of motorcyle gang beating sues city, biker cops
New York Post
The lower Manhattan father who was swarmed and beaten up by a raging motorcycle gang last fall plans to sue the city and two of his alleged attackers, NYPD cops Wojciech Braszczok and Matthew Rodriguez.
Alexian Lien filed the complaint on behalf of his himself, his wife, Rosalyn Ng, and their 2-year-old daughter who were in the family’s Range Rover during the brutal confrontation on Sept. 29, 2013.
“A vicious and unruly mob of motorcycle riders” “attacked and assaulted” Lien and “vandalized his motor vehicle” by smashing a rear window where his toddler was sitting, according to his notice of claim filed on Dec. 24.
FOR the directorial debut of a former Korean “webtoon” artist, the accomplishment is remarkable. Based on a script he had mulled over since the 1990s, Yang Woo-seok’s “The Attorney” was originally intended as an indie movie for a small audience. But it has beaten Korean box-office records since its release on December 18th—at the end of a year in which Korean cinemas set a new record of over 200m ticket sales (in a country of 50m people). It hit the 1m-admissions mark after just three days, beating the other most popular movies of 2012 and 2013 (“Masquerade” and “Miracle in Cell no. 7”, respectively, which each took four days to do so). Its viewership is also growing at a faster clip than “Avatar”, an American blockbluster from 2009, which attracted the biggest Korean audience of all time (13.3m). On January 19th, just one month after its release, it entered the 10m-admissions club—joining just eight other movies in the history of Korean film.
Films based on real-life events have a special appeal for Koreans. With “The Attorney” counted among Korea’s 10m club, four of its nine members are now historical films. “The Attorney” is based loosely on an infamous court case which took place in Busan in 1981. Twenty-two university students were arrested, tortured and tried on the trumped-up charge of forming a book club to study seditious literature. The “Burim case” has long been seen as a massive frame-up of South Korea’s communist movement, aimed at bolstering support for Chun Doo-hwan, a strongman who had seized power in a coup the previous year. In “The Attorney”, an ambitious solicitor quits a high-earning job advising taxpayers to take on the political case in defence of the innocent students. The part is played by Song Kang-ho, who starred in three movies in 2013; the first two, “The Face Reader” and “Snowpiercer”, sold over 9m tickets each in Korea, earning him the nickname “the 20m man”.
Critics Pick ‘Snowpiercer’ as Korean Film of The Year
South Korea’s film press has voted English-language “Snowpiercer” as the best Korean film of 2013.
The annual Film of the Year Awards are organized by the Korean Film Reporters Association and were unveiled Wednesday at the Korea Press Center in Seoul.
“Snowpiercer” was the English-language directing debut of established Korean helmer Bong Joon-ho, who was also named director of the year. The film stars Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris and Tilda Swinton alongside Korean favourite Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung.
Released in August, the film sold 9.34 million tickets and became a mega hit that belied its language and art-house roots.
Kim’s Convenience might be turned into a TV show
Before Kim’s Convenience made the jump from Fringe Festival hit to Soulpepper Theatre Company mainstay, nobody knew that the problems of a convenience-store-owning Korean family could be the stuff of compelling, popular theatrical drama. Now, after two years’ worth of successful remounts, the film industry evidently wants a piece.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, Soulpepper announced that it has entered into a partnership with Vancouver-based Thunderbird Films, a company that has produced TV shows like Package Deal and Some Assembly Required. According to a Thunderbird spokesperson, the company is in the process of scripting both film and TV adaptations of Ins Choi’s 2011 play, which takes place almost entirely inside a Regent Park mini-mart run by a gruff Korean pater familias and his wife.
Park Ji-sung to host charity football match before World Cup, return to nat’l team doubtful
Former South Korean football captain Park Ji-sung will host a charity football match in Southeast Asia only days before the start of the FIFA World Cup, his father confirmed Wednesday, leaving the player’s possible return to the national team in doubt.
Park Sung-jong, the player’s father, said the footballer will host the annual charity event either on May 31 or June 1 in Malaysia or Indonesia. Park Ji-sung launched his own charity organization called JS Foundation in 2011 and has been hosting an All-Star football match to raise funds for children since that year.
“This is something he’d planned to do all along,” the senior Park said. “He is executing plans that he’d made when he retired from international play three years ago.”
If the former Manchester United midfielder commits to his own event, it appears unlikely he will join the national team in Brazil for the World Cup in early June. The tournament opens on June 12, and South Korea plans to travel to the host country early in that month.
S. Korean pitcher Lim invited to Cubs’ spring training: agent
South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong, recently released by the Chicago Cubs, has been invited to spring training by the Major League Baseball (MLB) team, his Seoul-based agent said Tuesday.
Kim Dong-wook, head of the local sports agency Sports Intelligence, said the 37-year-old right-hander will try to make the big league team again when the Cubs’ camp opens in mid-February in Arizona.
The Cubs non-tendered Lim last month, making him a free agent on paper, but Kim said the Cubs have informed him that they still retain rights to the pitcher.
“We had no plans to move Lim,” Kim said. “He has been invited to the Cubs’ spring training.”
Socially speaking: LPGA’s best
With the 2014 season set to tee off on Thursday at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, we thought we would take a look at some of the LPGA’S best and brightest. In 140 characters or less and Earlybird filter usage, that is.
Fair warning: If you’re currently in an area covered in snow, you might not want to follow any of the women below this week. The pictures of the gorgeous Bahamian beaches and sunny skies might be too much to bear.
Short track: Russia’s Ahn looking to upstage Asian rivals
Russia’s Victor Ahn will be looking to upstage his native South Korea and put the Olympic hosts on the medals table for the first time in short track speed skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Ahn, formerly known as Ahn Hyun-Soo, is the only short-tracker to win four medals in one Olympics with his three gold and bronze in 2006 for South Korea before falling out with the team, and after failing to qualify for the 2010 Vancouver Games he switched citizenship to compete for Russia.
Russia warmed up for Sochi by dominating the European championships at the weekend with 28-year-old Ahn taking three titles as the Olympic hosts won ten medals in total including five gold in Dresden, Germany.
Dumpling party marks Korean New Year with hundreds of mandu and dozens of eaters
Grace Hong is pretty sure her mother would be appalled. Not at the fact that she and her husband celebrate the new year with traditional lucky mandu, dumplings made the Korean way. But possibly at every other aspect of their celebration. With 600 dumplings, 60 guests and an unmentionable amount of wine and beer, the annual fete they call Dumplingfest violates most, if not all, of her mother’s holiday traditions.
Hong, 40, grew up in Lyons, N.Y., not far from Rochester. “We were the only Asian family in town,” she says. And every New Year, for a small, family-only gathering, her mother would make duk mandu guk, a traditional Korean soup. She would fill a large soup pot with beef bones and aromatic vegetables to make the rich broth, in which she simmered meat-filled dumplings and glutinous rice cakes, symbols of prosperity.
Listen for sizzle of Korean street food
On the streets here, find your next meal by listening for the sizzle. Street food is everywhere, and food carts and stalls selling a short list of foodstuffs or specializing in only one item attract long queues at all hours of the day. A pojangmacha — a Korean word that translates as “covered wagon,” and refers to a movable, street-side restaurant draped in tarps — offers more of a complete meal: set menus, a greater number of options, more complicated dishes, and, often, tables for customers.
Street food plays a significant part in Seoul’s culture. Students might stop by their favorite stall for a quick, cheap bite after school or before going out for the evening. Crowds of professionals will descend after the workday ends, and on into the night. And then there are the late comers: taxi drivers and other graveyard shift workers who appreciate a hot meal or snack, at any hour.
Marja Vongerichten, wife of celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, hosted and co-produced the 2011 TV show “Kimchi Chronicles,” a travelogue-style exploration of Korean food, including street food. Marja Vongerichten was born in Korea (her mother is Korean and her father an African-American serviceman) and adopted and raised by a family in the United States. She learned about her culture through Korean food. She is also author of a cookbook based on the series, “The Kimchi Chronicles: Korean Cooking for an American Kitchen.”
This is the Closest Thing to a North Korean Google Street View
Despite North Korea’s notoriously strict limitations on tourists in general (not to mention those slinging around cameras), last autumn, the country’s officials decided to allow Pan to photograph non-military points of interest—so long as it wasn’t “political,” that is. And Pan seems perfectly all right with that. According to his site, his DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea) 360 project is not meant to address “any past, present, or future political issues that may be sensitive.”
For South Korea’s old, a return to poverty as Confucian filial piety weakens
There’s a dark side to South Korea’s 50-year rise to riches: The graying generation that is most responsible for that ascent is living in relative poverty.
In a fast-paced nation famous for its high achievers and its big spending on private tutors and luxury goods, half of South Korea’s elderly are poor, the highest rate in the industrialized world.
Some live in crumbling hillside neighborhoods that lack running water. Others wait in line at soup kitchens where there is no young face in sight. The worst-off comb through garbage, collecting cardboard and paper and lugging it to trash yards, where they can receive several dollars for a pile. It’s common in central Seoul to see hunched seniors gathering scraps.
Chinese Shrine to Korean Assassin Irks Japan
Wall Street Journal
Japan, South Korea and China are sparring over a new shrine.
The opening on Sunday of a memorial hall in China to the assassin of the Japanese governor-general of Korea in 1909 has drawn a sharp exchange of words between Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.
The memorial hall was built at the railway station in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, where Korean national Ahn Jung-guen shot and killed Hirobumi Ito on Oct. 26, 1909.
Modeled on the original façade of the station and with a clock showing the exact time of the assassination, the hall is the fruit of a request by South Korean President Park Geun-hye to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing in June last year.
South Korean Trade Official Abducted in Libyan Capital
New York Times
Gunmen have kidnapped a South Korean trade official in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, according to the South Korean government, which advised its citizens Monday to leave the country.
Han Seok-woo, 39, the head of the Tripoli office of the government-funded Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, was on his way home from work on Sunday afternoon when four gunmen stopped his car and abducted him, officials with the South Korean Foreign Ministry said Monday.
Both the ministry and the trade agency said they were trying to gather information on the kidnappers and on Mr. Han’s whereabouts.
Bergen Dem Chairman Stellato backs Roy Cho in CD 5 race
There has been speculation for months about whether Bergen Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato would ultimately back Roy Cho, the Korean-American attorney from Hackensack who is the sole declared candidate to challenge Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R – 5).
The answer apparently came in the middle of the glittering Rockleigh Country Club ballroom at the Bergen Democratic Party annual Victory Gala on Thursday. And the message was conveyed not completely in English.
In an interview with reporter Yoojin Sung of Korean Radio Broadcasting, Stellato’s comments, later translated into Korean, show support for Cho’s candidacy.
China, South Korea face familiar woes in English quest
Japan isn’t alone in its struggles with teaching English. China and South Korea have experienced similar frustrations, but their responses and results have been quite different.
It’s easy to compare the three nations because of their similarities: English is completely different from their native languages; they’ve all had limited immigration and haven’t been completely colonized by an English-speaking Western power; and all three currently share low birth rates (though China has had an only-child policy that is just starting to be relaxed).
The most obvious difference between the three countries is scale. China’s population is 1.35 billion while Japan and South Korea’s are 127 million and 50 million, respectively. This is relevant to the number of English speakers education systems are producing — all three have a high-stakes college entrance exam on which English is a required subject. In 2013, 9.12 million students sat China’s exam, the Gaokao, 650,000 sat Korea’s College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT) while 570,000 sat Japan’s National Center Test. Furthermore, one of the requirements for an undergraduate degree in China is passing the College English Test (CET); in 2013, 9.38 million students sat this exam.
What’s Unnerving About Angela Buchdahl? She Talks About God
Jewish Daily Forward
What has made some people nervous about Angela Buchdahl becoming the senior rabbi at Central Synagogue – one of the two largest Reform synagogues in New York and one of the biggest in the United States – is not that she’s the first Asian-American rabbi. It’s not that she’s a woman or, at 41, so young to lead a congregation whose membership will soon number 2,400 families. It’s not that she’s been working primarily as a cantor for most of her career. It’s not even that she’s the mother of three young children, though that has given some in her congregation pause, Buchdahl said. No, it’s because she talks about God.
“We become very nervous talking about God in the Jewish community,” Buchdahl tells Haaretz. “I made people on the search committee a little nervous about it.”
God is at the center of Buchdahl’s life. Born in South Korea and descended from a Korean king, she has prayed every night since she was a young girl in Tacoma, Washington, with a Korean-Buddhist mother and American-Jewish father. And in her new role at Central Synagogue, she is trying to put God at the center as well.
AB InBev to Pay $5.8 Billion for Korea’s Oriental Brewery
Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI) agreed to pay $5.8 billion for South Korea’s Oriental Brewery Co. Ltd., regaining control of a company that became the Asian nation’s biggest brewer under KKR (KKR) & Co. and Affinity Equity Partners Ltd.
AB InBev will fund the acquisition with internal resources, according to a statement from the companies today. The Leuven, Belgium-based maker of Budweiser and Corona will receive about $320 million in cash when the transaction is completed.
AB InBev, the world’s biggest beermaker, is buying back a business it sold to KKR in 2009 for $1.8 billion when it sought to cut debt following InBev NV’s $52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch Cos. KKR subsequently sold 50 percent of the asset to Affinity. Since then, Oriental Brewery has become South Korea’s largest beermaker and more than doubled earnings, boosted by its Cass brand.
Living someone else’s life
Property theft can easily be punished as long as evidence points in one direction, hopefully the right one. But what happens in cases of identity theft?
As the online community continues to grow rapidly, netizens are finding themselves hesitant about uploading personal information online, where it can be easily stolen with none being the wiser.
Some websites have developed strategies to prevent this from happening by disabling the right-click button and requesting users to place watermarks on their photographs, but stealing photos and another person’s life still isn’t all that difficult.
3 Arrested in Massage Parlor Prostitution Sting
Bridgeport police arrested three women on Wednesday night during a sting operation at an illegal massage parlor, called the American Asian Modeling Studio.
The officers, dressed in civilian clothes, went to the Asian Modeling Studio at 3853 Main Street at about 10 p.m. on Thursday to conduct an undercover operation.
They said they spoke with to a woman through a barred door and received a price quoted price for massage and sexual services, but were told to come back because the woman working that night was busy with another client, police said.
Skokie Celebrates Korean Culture With 60-Event Series
Skokie Patch (Skokie, Ill.)
Taste kim chi, learn about what it was like for a teen boy to leave Korea when his parents opened a store in the U.S., learn a beloved Korean folk tale and more as “Coming Together in Skokie & Niles Township” launches Sunday, Jan. 26 and continues with programs for about two months.
“It will be a great opportunity for people to experience and learn Korean culture,” said Tom Suh, president of Korean American Association of Chicago (and Chicagoland) at a preview of the event Thursday.
This is the fifth “Coming Together” program, said Susan Van Dusen, who was one of five women who founded the event five years ago; it has previously focused on the Indian, Assyrian, Filipino and Greek cultures. It has grown every year, but has taken a big leap forward this year by including events at the Morton Grove, Lincolnwood and Niles libraries, and venturing into area schools with programs.
Jamie Chung On Once Upon A Time: ‘I Would Go Back In A Heartbeat’
Jamie Chung has a new primetime drama for NBC, but don’t count her out of future episodes of ABC’s “Once Upon A Time.”
“I think it would be really disappointing to leave the audience with this giant question mark,” Jamie told AccessHollywood.com, following the NBC “Believe” panel (her new show) at the Television Critics Association Winter Tour on Sunday. “I would go back in a heartbeat. I am committed to this show, but I don’t think that door is shut, so I’m hoping that there is something we can do to kind of answer more questions.”
Jamie plays Mulan on “Once,” and in recent episodes, her feelings for another, female character – Aurora (played by Sarah Bolger) – were alluded to.
North Korea to Play Asian Games
Wall Street Journal
The North Koreans are coming again.
Pyongyang said late Monday that both its men’s and women’s soccer teams would participate in the Asian Games to be held in Incheon, South Korea, later this year.
The announcement marks a continuation of interaction on the sports field even as ties between the two Koreas remain unstable. Last week, North Korea warned of an “unimaginable holocaust” if South Korea went ahead with military drills with the U.S. planned to begin next month.
South Korea rejected the North’s demand to cancel the drills.
Chef Sang Yoon’s prime rib with horseradish creme fraiche on THE Dish
Chef Sang Yoon was born in South Korea, schooled by some of the finest chefs in the U.S. and Europe, plays hockey and has been called “the godfather of the gastro-pub scene.”
Yoon began his culinary career as a teenager in San Francisco with Jeremiah Tower and Julian Serrano. He then attended the Culinary Institute of America and then spent two years working in Northern Italy and France.
He bought his first restaurant in 2002. It is a renovated dive bar called Father’s Office. It features the Office Burger, which was named one of the world’s best by Esquire magazine. The burger is controversial because Yoon does not allow any substitutions or ketchup in his restaurants.
WE: Chang-rae Lee’s “On Such a Full Sea.”
“More and more we can see that the question is not whether we are ‘individuals,’ ” Chang-rae Lee writes in “On Such a Full Sea” (Riverhead), his new, dystopian novel. “The question, then, is whether being an ‘individual’ makes a difference anymore.” It seems doubtful, in Lee’s sombre future. Afflicted by swine- and bird-flu epidemics and a profound change in the climate, America, now known simply as the Association, has split into three separate social groups. At the top sit the Charters, a small professional class that has corralled the country’s remaining resources and withdrawn into gated villages. Catering their dinner parties and keeping their cars perpetually waxed are the “service people,” who live in the land beyond, known as the counties.
MINTING JULEP: HOW A FORMER STARBUCKS EXECUTIVE IS USING HER BEST CUSTOMERS TO HELP IMPROVE THE BEAUTY-PRODUCT BUSINESS
She is reimagining the entire enterprise of selling beauty merchandise to women, from product design to the transaction experience. During her four years at Starbucks, Park developed a keen understanding of just how crucial the happiness of the customer is at every turn. “It’s about thinking through every step of the customer journey,” she says.
When she launched Julep, Park’s first move was to open a small chain of beauty parlors. These brick-and-mortar outposts–carefully designed to encourage social interaction via communal spaces with movable furniture–function as mini labs in which to test products on actual customers. Park trained facialists and vernisseurs (a term that is to manicurist as barista is to coffee pourer) to listen closely to reactions and report back. Julep uses that info to tweak details such as colors, packaging, and scents.
Big ambition, big pressure: Seoul’s new art museum is in the spotlight
South Korea’s $230 million National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) opened in November with a towering ambition — become what the MoMA is to New York and the Tate is to London.
The museum couldn’t be in a better location to attract attention — it sits just across the street from Gyeongbokgung, Seoul’s main royal palace, and adjacent to a neighborhood that’s one of Seoul’s most popular among tourists.
Other than Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, a private art museum owned by Samsung, Seoul has no other large museum housing Korean contemporary art.
Korea’s Teddy Bear Museum Makes the World a Cuter Place
Sometimes the world isn’t very adorable. If only it looked a bit more like this! You know, like it were filled with teddy bears.
As recently noted by Korea Realtime, South Korea’s Jeju Island is home to all sorts of interesting museums.
There’s a sex museum, a computer museum, and a teddy bear museum, which features teddy bear versions of famous works of art and celebrities.
SKorea rejects NKorea’s conciliatory gesture
South Korea rejected North Korea’s offer to take a series of steps to ease tension that included canceling Seoul’s regular military drills with Washington, saying Friday that Pyongyang must take nuclear disarmament steps first.
The North’s powerful National Defense Commission on Thursday proposed the rivals halt military actions and mutual vilification to build better relations. The North, however, strongly hinted it would maintain its nuclear weapons program and urged South Korea to cancel its upcoming springtime drills with the United States.
The North’s overture is a sharp departure from its repeated threats of nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington that raised tensions a year ago. Analysts say Kim Jong Un’s government hopes that improved ties with South Korea could help attract foreign investment to boost the communist nation’s lagging economy.
China urges Koreas to improve ties amid Pyongyang’s ‘peace offensive’
China called on both South and North Korea Friday to take steps to nurture better cross-border relations, with Pyongyang’s “peace offensive” raising fresh concerns that tension on the peninsula may rise sharply again ahead of joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.
North Korea has proposed this week that both Seoul and Pyongyang stop military provocations and mutual slandering to improve bilateral relations, but demanded the cancellation of upcoming South Korea-U.S. military exercises.
South Korea brushed off the North’s proposal that strongly indicated that Pyongyang won’t give up its nuclear weapons program, questioning its sincerity. Some Seoul officials described the North’s latest reconciliatory gesture as a “camouflaged peace offensive.”
North Korea’s Rare Earths Could be Game Changer
Voice of America
A recent geological study indicates North Korea could hold some 216 million tons of rare earths, minerals used in electronics such as smartphones and high definition televisions.
If verified, the discovery would more than double global known sources and be six times the reserves in China, the market leader.
British Islands-based private equity firm SRE Minerals Limited announced the study results in December, along with a 25-year deal to develop the deposits in Jongju, northwest of the capital, Pyongyang.
#HowIMetYourRacism: How Asian-Americans on Twitter are telling Hollywood to back off
Southern California Public Radio
In recent months, some Asian-Americans have taken to Twitter to call out incidents in the media they see as racially insensitive, or downright racist — most recently the Kung Fu movie-inspired episode of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”
And they’re getting attention.
Asian-American viewers and others unleashed the #HowIMetYourRacism hashtag after watching the show’s most recent episode — which aired Jan. 13 — in which its white stars dressed up as Asian grandmasters who drank tea, ate noodles, killed flies with chopsticks — all the while Asian extras hovered in the background.
Breaking Brian Shin: portrait of a Bay Street master and suburban drug dealer
Brian Shin seemed like the ideal employee. He worked long hours, dressed sharply and exuded sufficient swagger to fit in on Bay Street. His pedigree—a bachelor’s in commerce from U of T, a master’s in taxation from the University of Waterloo and work experience at the tax firm Deloitte—made him overqualified for his job at Lannick, a corporate recruiting firm. In two years, he placed roughly 100 managers and executives, and contributed $700,000 to the bottom line, making him one of the company’s top recruiters. He earned a salary of $130,900.
Shin was handsome, his hair neat and cropped short on the sides, and he was persistent and passionate in his work. He had a soft touch, too. When the mother of one of his former clients was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Shin made a point of offering his condolences. His boss, Joseph Diubaldo, considered Shin the best employee he’d ever hired.
In January 2012, Shin invited Diubaldo out for coffee, something they’d done regularly. But this time was different: Shin seemed agitated, and Diubaldo guessed that something was wrong. Then, Shin dropped a bombshell. For nearly half his life, he told Diubaldo, he had trafficked marijuana. He’d started in Grade 9 and worked his way up the food chain for 14 years—keeping his double life secret from his family all the while—and at his peak dealt upwards of 500 pounds of weed a year and handled $1.8 million in cash. He recounted how, in the summer of 2009, he’d been arrested at his stash house, how his parents, heartbroken at the news, had bailed him out, and how he was now awaiting trial. Working as a headhunter, he said, was a way to cover his legal bills, but the guilt of lying was gnawing at him. He was desperate to confess before Diubaldo read about him in the news.
More charges filed against Long Grove man in fatal DUI crash
Daily Herald (Chicago, Ill.)
A Lake County grand jury on Wednesday approved additional counts of reckless homicide against a Long Grove man accused of being intoxicated during a crash that killed a woman in September.
Stephen E. Tomczyk, 22, of the 3200 block of Middlesax Drive, was already facing three counts of reckless homicide for the crash that killed Jeewon Kim, 47, of Buffalo Grove on Sept. 5, 2013.
With the charges added Wednesday, Tomczyk now faces six total counts of reckless homicide.
“Hawaii Five-0′s” Daniel Dae Kim on a career in paradise
For Daniel Dae Kim, working in paradise has been twice as nice. He played Jin-Soo Kwon on the series “Lost,” and now he stars on another show filmed in Hawaii. He plays Detective Chin Ho Kelly on CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0.”
Kim joined “CBS This Morning” and discussed his career, being able to work in Hawaii and his family with the co-hosts.
Growing up, Kim actually wanted to be a lawyer, not an actor. He told the co-hosts that, as an undergraduate, he wanted to be an attorney and study political science. He said he did one of those things and “ended up being an actor instead.”
“When I wanted to be an attorney, I think I wanted to be a litigator; I wanted to be in a courtroom,” he said, “and there are a lot of similarities between that and what I do today.”
PSY and Snoop Lion Slow Dance to G-Dragon’s Song at a Noraebang
Looks like we got a sneak preview of PSY‘s upcoming music video! Is that G-Dragon and Snoop Lion we see?
That’s right, it looks like G-Dragon and Snoop Lion (formerly known as Snoop Dog) will feature in PSY’s music video. In the photo we see the three at an old fashioned noraebang. They are wearing similar looking checkered suits, and PSY and Snoop Lion are getting very close with two very happy looking Korean women.
It had been previously reported that Snoop Lion was in Korea to film one of the PSY’s music videos. When PSY announced that he will most likely make a comeback in either February or March, it was also revealed that Snoop Lion would feature on one of his tracks. Later, YG Entertainment announced that PSY will film his music video in mid-January and that they are shooting for a early March comeback.
First Korean Indie band concert in LA
Korea Times US
America has Nine Inch Nails, and Korea has 10cm.
The Korean acoustic folk indie band 10cm will hold a solo concert in Los Angeles on Jan. 31. It will be the first concert hosted by a Korean indie band in the world’s biggest music market.
The venue is Club Nokia.
Making their debut in 2010, the duo act ㅡ vocalist Kwon Jung-yeol and guitarist Yoon Cheol-jong ㅡ had a meteoric rise to fame with several hit songs including “Tonight I’m Afraid of the Dark,” “Give a Hug” and “Fine Thank You and You?”
Reality Show Catapults Kim Hee-ae into Fashion Icon Status
Actress Kim Hee-ae is shaping up as a hot fashion icon, with the clothing, bags and accessories she shows off in a cable channel reality program frequently selling out nationwide.
tvN’s “Sisters Over Flowers” features episodes of a 10-day backpacking trip to Croatia and Turkey by four veteran actresses — Kim, Kim Ja-ok, Lee Mi-yeon and Yoon Yeo-jeong.
The trend started with a long black padded coat from Burberry Brit that retails for over W2 million (US$1=W1,063), which Kim wore in the first episode. Despite its expensive price tag, the coat soon vanished from department store shelves across the country.
Report: Park Ji-sung’s return ‘possible’ in March
Former national men’s football team captain Park Ji-sung could return to play in one of South Korea’s tune-up matches ahead of this year’s FIFA World Cup, the squad’s head coach said Thursday.
On the sidelines of the team’s training camp in the World Cup host nation, Hong Myung-bo said the former Manchester United midfielder may put on a South Korean uniform to face Greece on the road in March.
“It can happen,” Hong said. “There are many possibilities.”
Demand for W50,000 Bills Still Soaring
Due to explosive demand for W50,000 bills, the amount of new bills printed exceeded W9 trillion for the first time last year (US$1=W1,064).
The Bank of Korea on Thursday said total bills in circulation at the end of last year were worth W63.37 trillion, up 9.03 trillion or 16.6 percent from the previous year.
W50,000 bills accounted for 88 percent of that surge. As of the end of 2013, W40.68 trillion worth had been issued, up 24.2 percent from a year ago.
Eugenia Kim to Launch Shoe Line — For Real This Time
Exciting news on the Eugenia Kim front: The masterful milliner has officially expanded into footwear — high-end footwear, in fact — that for Fall 2014 draws on the dark side of 1970s rock ‘n roll, as well as lessons learned from the designer’s first stab at footwear back in 2003.
Kim’s first shoe launch was a success in many ways — the shoes were bought by big retailers like Saks and even won the designer a CFDA Accessories Designer of the Year award in 2004. Sadly, the shoe line fell by the wayside in 2005 when Kim, whose company was still fairly small, had to produce more volume than her factory could handle. “[The factory] couldn’t produce on time, so after a couple of years I decided to stop and focus on hats,” the designer explained to us in a phone interview Thursday.
“I was in my 20s the first time [I did shoes]. I learned so much during those two years,” Kim says. Now, with more experience under her belt, it’s a great time for the brand to be trying again, she says, in part because she’s noticed a “new vanguard of shoe designers” that she could easily become a part of, but also because she now knows a lot more about production. Kim says she has spent a lot of time working on developing the line — she began working on it in April of 2013 and even took a trip to Italy to visit her new factory, which also manufactures shoes for the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. Thus, the quality is high and the materials (mink fur, pearl cabochon, burnt ostrich) luxe. Prices will range from $535 to $1,095.
North Korea: Kim family’s former sushi chef says uncle was executed over ‘pleasure brigade’
The Telegraph (U.K.)
Kim Jong Un’s uncle may have been executed for his taste in young women and role in maintaining a “pleasure brigade” for Kim Jong Il, a former chef for the North Korean leader has said.
Kenji Fujimoto, a sushi chef who worked for the Kim family between 1989 and 2001, has said Jang Song Thaek was given the task of recruiting women – some as young as 15 – to please the late dictator.
Mr Jang, the uncle to the young leader, would often abuse his position in the talent hunting process, and that may provide some insight as to why he was executed on 12 December 2013, he told NK News.
How is South Korea doing these days?
Guardian Weekly (U.K.)
“How are you all doing nowadays?” The question has been bothering South Korea ever since early December when Ju Hyun-woo, an economics student at Korea University, put up a dazibao – a handwritten poster commonly used by opponents of the dictatorship in the 1980s, taking a cue from the propaganda messages that flourished in China under Chairman Mao.
Appealing to his generation, thought to be largely apolitical, Ju asked: “Is it OK for you to ignore social issues since it is not your business?”
He went on to mention a strike by Korail staff, who fear the national rail operator may be privatised, and the way the state has been operated since Conservative president Park Geun-hye was elected in December 2012.
Korean cartoons on former sex slaves to go on display at French festival
Cartoons about former Korean sex slaves to the Japanese military during World War II will be exhibited at the world’s largest comic strip and cartoon festival, the Seoul government said Tuesday.
Some 20 cartoons and four videos including animations by local artists telling tragic stories of the former sex slavery victims will be featured in a special exhibition of the 2014 Angouleme International Comics Festival, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said.
The gender ministry sponsored the festival scheduled to run from Jan. 30- Feb. 2. in the southwestern French city of the same name.
North Korean Refugee Flow Still Suppressed
Wall Street Journal
The number of North Korean refugees arriving in South Korea held steady last year, reflecting continued tightened North Korean border controls since the rise to power of Kim Jong Un.
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said Tuesday 1,516 North Korean refugees arrived in the South last year, up by 14 people from 2012. That brings the total official number of escapees to 26,124, the ministry statistics show.
While many North Koreans leave their homeland for good every year, the number arriving in South Korea tumbled 44% between 2011 and 2012. Activists and recent refugees attribute the decline to Pyongyang’s border crackdown following Mr. Kim’s succession in late 2011.
Key Obama Aide Tipped as Envoy to Korea
Mark Lippert, a key aide to U.S. President Barack Obama and chief of staff to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, is a strong candidate to succeed outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Sung Kim.
Kim is set to become a deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs.
Sources in Washington on Monday said Kim may be summoned back to the U.S. before his term ends in August of this year, because the current deputy assistant secretary James Zumwalt is likely to be appointed ambassador to Vietnam.
As Asian-Americans Age, Their Children Face Cultural Hurdles
New York Times
Two thick blankets wrapped in a cloth tie lay near a single pillow on the red leather sofa in Phuong Lu’s living room. Doanh Nguyen, Ms. Lu’s 81-year-old mother, had prepared the blankets for a trip she wanted to take. “She’s ready to go to Vietnam,” Ms. Lu said.
But Ms. Nguyen would not be leaving. The doors were all locked from the inside to prevent her from going anywhere — not to the coating of snow that had fallen that day outside Ms. Lu’s suburban Philadelphia home, and certainly not to her home country, Vietnam.
Ms. Nguyen has Alzheimer’s disease, and Ms. Lu, 61, a manicurist who stopped working two years ago when her mother’s condition worsened, is her full-time caretaker. In Vietnam, if a couple has children, the children must stay home and care for their parents, Ms. Lu said.
Palisades Park councilman steps down due to illness
Jason Kim, the first Korean-American to be elected to the Borough Council, has resigned his elected post citing health issues, but has taken a full-time job as deputy director of the borough library.
Kim resignation took effect Friday. On Monday, he said his decision to leave after reelection to a fourth term and days after being sworn in was not an easy one, but one he said he needed to make for his family. He declined to say what sort of health problems led to his resignation.
“I’m not going to quit everything, but I’m going to take it easy for a bit, but I still have a mission to help the Korean community, and Palisades Park,’’ said Kim. “… I may come back when they need me again, but right now my health issues have scared my family, and family always comes first.”
North Jersey Korean Americans celebrate another year of community’s emergence
The sounds of traditional Korean musical instruments boomed from a fifth-floor meeting room at the Bergen County Administration Building on Monday while about 100 people gathered to celebrate Korean-American Day.
The day marked the 111th anniversary of Jan. 13, 1903, when the first large group of Korean immigrants arrived in what is now the United States. There were 103 Koreans who made the journey, which ended in Hawaii, a U.S. territory at the time.
Since that day, the community has grown to about 1.7 million nationwide, according to 2010 U.S. Census. In Bergen County, there are about 58,000 people of Korean descent, according to 2012 estimates from the U.S. Census. They represent the largest Asian community in the county.
Adopted girl and her mom head from Sacramento to Korea in search of birth parents
Dawson was born Aug. 9, 1992 at a home for unwed mothers in Andong, the “spiritual capital” of South Korea, three hours southeast of Seoul. Her birth mother, a 23-year-old former store clerk, named her Kwon Hee Joo – “Joyful and Pretty Kwon” – and prayed she would be adopted by a family that could give her a good home.
She found that home in Sacramento, and now the Jewish girl from Gold River has left for South Korea determined to find the young woman who gave her up. She wants to explore her own identity, and also to let her birth mother know she made the right decision.
Accompanied by her adoptive mom, Andee Press-Dawson, Fawn boarded United Flight 853 to Tokyo Friday, switching to United Flight 881 for Seoul. “I have such great parents and such an amazing older brother, David, who was also adopted from Korea,” Fawn said, “but something was always missing. Last October, I told them this was just something I had to do. I’m at the stage where I’m trying to find my own identity.”
Big Bang’s Tour Highlights Band’s Enduring Popularity in Japan
Big Bang’s concert at Kyocera Dome in Osaka on Monday showed how K-pop is still washing through Japan. The concert was an unscheduled last stop on their tour of the country but tickets still sold out.
The boy band launched their tour with a gig at Seibu Dome in Saitama on Nov. 16 and continued to Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Tokyo and Sapporo, drawing about 770,000 fans.
“Only a few top Japanese bands such as Mr. Children and EXILE have had such large-scale tours,” the band’s agency YG Entertainment said.
Drunken Tiger Talk Hip Hop’s Early Days in South Korea: “It Was a Secret Society”
Today, one of K-pop’s signature charms are its acts boasting the quintessential rapper—CL of 2NE1, Yubin of Wonder Girls, etc. But hip hop has only been a part of South Korea’s mainstream for a little more than a decade. Korean-American rappers Tiger JK and Yoon Mi Rae—who, along with their longtime collaborator, New Zealand MC Bizzy, comprise Drunken Tiger—are two of the country’s most respected rap artists. The real-life couple are known for leading the then-underground genre into the conservative nation’s consciousness in the late ’90s.
“Back in the day it was crazy underground,” Tiger JK tells Fuse News for this week’s FUSE LOVES SEOUL: From K-Pop to Hip Hop special. “Hip hop existed, but it was almost a secret society thing. [People would say things like], ‘I heard there’s somebody or a group of people that dress funky, they sag their pants, all their clothes are baggy and they battle.’ It was really crazy because you don’t hear them on the radio.”
Find out more about Drunken Tiger and their continuing quest to break into Korean pop tonight on Fuse News at 7:30/6:30C. Head back here after the show for the full interview.
Magik* Magik Orchestra maestro Minna Choi discusses concert, When We Were Young
Artistic Director of San Francisco-based, Magik* Magik Orchestra, Minna Choi formed the orchestra a mere five years ago and this year will celebrate it’s success with a grand fundraiser – “When We Were Young”. Choi wasn’t much older than five herself when a music teacher spotted her knack for picking out melodies on the piano. A natural talent that has been nurtured with a childhood of piano lessons and a love of pop music, it was not until her first job out of college at a New York studio that she felt the confidence to charge producers for her skills. This prompted Choi to return to formal schooling again and in 2007 she came home to the Bay Area to study at The San Francisco Conservatory of Music where Magik came into being.
What inspired the name Magik* Magik Orchestra?
Classical music seems to always have unpronounceable names. I wanted a name that was playful, whimsical and most importantly easy to pronounce. Also around the time I was dreaming of Magik, I saw a photo of myself as a 5 or 6 year old in a Yamaha Music School group photo with a banner above saying “Music Is Magic”.
Why did you come up with the idea of “When We Were Young”?
Almost every year, we have wanted to do a Magik celebration concert. But this year was the first time that our organization has hit a stride. We now have the bandwidth and creative time to see what is the next step. That we decided is education and outreach to children that we hope to do more intentionally. We get hundreds of requests but only a handful are educational. And I don’t think it’s because there is no demand. We hope to raise some funds so we can do some workshops and be proactive about marketing and letting people, schools, parents know that we are here.
MLB takes formal step for big league clubs to sign S. Korean pitcher
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
Major League Baseball (MLB) has requested a status check on South Korean star pitcher Yoon Suk-min, baseball officials here said Tuesday, a formal administrative step before a big league club can sign any professional player from Korea.
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said it informed MLB that Yoon is eligible for free agency after being asked about the 27-year-old’s status in the top domestic league.
The request is the second of its kinds after MLB first tendered a status check to the KBO in October when Yoon was still under contract with the Kia Tigers during the postseason.
Bobsledders Book Tickets to Sochi
Korea secured two berths in the four-man bobsleigh event at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Monday due to its strong performance at the America Cup.
At the eighth round of the Cup, the final event of the season, Korea ranked eighth overall due to the combined scores of its two teams.
Pilot Won Yoon-jong steered Team A to fourth place while Kim Dong-hyun guided Team B to seventh.
Bibimbap Recipes That Put All Other Comfort Foods To Shame
We’re big fans of comfort food — we’ve eaten more grilled cheese sandwiches than we care to admit — which is why we love bibimbap. It gives us all the comfort of a bowl of mac and cheese, with the added bonus of not putting us into a food coma.
It’s the simplicity of bibimbap that makes it so special. This typical Korean dish is made up of nothing more than a bowl of white rice, topped with seasoned vegetables, and a chile pepper paste. It’s also sometimes accompanied with an egg and thin slices of meat. That’s it.
Yet somehow, when it all comes together, it tastes like the type of comfort food we’ve always wanted without even knowing it. Maybe it’s the perfect bits of crisp golden rice mixed into the bowl. Maybe it’s the piping hot stone bowl it’s served in. Or maybe it’s all the chile paste we can liberally add in. We’re not sure, but we know you’ll like it.
Photographer creates ‘Google street view’ of North Korea
A Singaporean photographer has offered up one of the most unique glimpses yet of life inside North Korea. He’s done it by capturing hidden corners of the country in a series of 360° photographs. And what’s more, the country’s authorities don’t seem to have a problem with it.
Last autumn, Aram Pan, originally from Singapore, was authorised to travel to North Korea. Once inside the country, he stitched together several photos of the same places to create unique 360° images, allowing people to navigate virtually anywhere inside the picture. Enthusiasts of the project are already comparing ‘DPRK 360′ [the name of Aram Pan's photography project. The initials DPRK stand for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea] to a North Korean version of Google street view. The photographer explains on his site that his work doesn’t seek to tackle politically sensitive subjects, but rather encourages the public to interest themselves in the country and ‘uncover its mysteries’.
His work shows that despite the draconian restrictions which stifle freedom of expression in North Korea, there is still a certain degree of coverage tolerated — so long as it’s not political.