Tag Archives: south korea


Super Junior’s Sungmin Marries Kim Sa-eun

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Sungmin of Super Junior tied the knot with musical actress Kim Sa Eun on Dec. 13 at The Raum in Yeoksamdong, Seoul.

About a thousand guests, including family, friends and celebrities, attended the wedding. Musical actor Yoo Jun-sang and comedian Hong Rok-gi officiated the ceremony, and congratulatory songs were sung by Sungmin’s fellow band mate Ryeowook as well as Kim Ah-sun, Seo Ji-young and Lee Gun-young. According to Allkpop, one of the highlights of the event was when the married couple sang a duet during the reception.

KBS2’s Entertainment Relay documented the wedding in an exclusive report that revealed photos taken during the ceremonies. Here are some of the photos below:





Sungmin and Kim first met as co-stars in the musical The Three Musketeers in late 2013 and went public with the relationship in October this year.

After the wedding, the couple flew to Maldives for their honeymoon.

All photos via Daily Kpop News and KBS2.

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‘My Love, Don’t Cross That River’ Tops Korean Box Office

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

A documentary about the lifelong love of an elderly couple topped South Korea’s box office on Friday, knocking down epic blockbusters Exodus: Gods and Kings and Interstellar to second and third place, respectively.

Directed by Jin Mo-young, My Love, Don’t Cross that River follows a couple, known as the “100-year-old lovebirds,” living in a sleepy mountain village in the Gangwon province. Similar to characters in a fairy tale, the elderly couple loves each other dearly, wears traditional Korean clothes every day and falls asleep while holding hands. For 15 months, the camera documents the peaceful life of the 98-year-old husband and 89-year-old wife until the husband passes away.

According to the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), the documentary has sold more than 420,000 tickets in 465 theaters across South Korea as of Thursday. It also became the first indie film to draw 100,000 viewers during its first week run and went on to exceed the 300,000 mark on its 13th day of opening.

My Love, Don’t Cross the River originated as part of KBS’s television documentary program in 2011 and was later expanded into a feature, which premiered at the the DMZ International Documentary Film Festival.

Despite having a meager production budget of 120 million won (USD $108,600), the film has already collected 488 million won in ticket sales, according to the Wall Street Journal. Industry officials now expect the tear-jerker to surpass Old Partner, a 2009 documentary about an old farmer and his 40-year-old ox, which set the box office record for Korean indie films.

You can watch the My Love, Don’t Cross That River trailer with English subtitles below:

Photo courtesy of the KOFIC


South Korea Refuses to Share 2018 Winter Olympics with Japan

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han

South Korea announced Friday that it will not share its right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang with Japan after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suggested the idea of co-hosting to reduce cost.

IOC officials proposed the option of hosting bobsled and luge events of the 2018 Games in Japan to Pyeongchang’s organizing committee and recommended utilizing existing facilities rather than pouring resources into building new ones. This proposal sparked an angry response from South Koreans, many of whom still resent Japan over conflicting views on politics and history.

“There was no possibility of moving some events overseas, as the IOC suggested to Pyeongchang,” Cho Yang-ho, chairman of the Pyeongchang organizing commitee, said in a statement, according to the New York Times. “It was difficult for Pyeongchang to adopt [the IOC’s ideas] because the construction for all game venues has already started.”

The IOC’s proposal to South Korea came on Monday after its landmark decision to allow host cities of the Olympic Games to move competitions to towns in nearby countries in order to prevent potential bidders for future events from going into further debt. The Russian city of Sochi’s total budget of $51 billion for the 2014 Games has reportedly scared off potential bidders.

Although the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s estimated cost of the Pyeongchang Games is at $10 billion, the IOC suggested that utilizing the facilities in Nagano, Japan, which hosted the 1998 Games could save billions for Pyeongchang.

In 2002, FIFA made the unprecedented decision to allow South Korea and Japan to co-host the World Cup. The rivalry between the two countries was so fierce that it caused serious organizational and logistical problems. As a result, FIFA officially banned co-hosting bids in 2004. It’s safe to say that co-hosting the Winter Games with Japan will create similar conflicts as the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Photo courtesy of Snowalps.com

South Korea Gangnam Startups

Gangnam Becomes Hot Spot for Korean Startups

by YOUKYUNG LEE, AP Technology Writer
Follow @YKLeeAP

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The uber-trendy Seoul neighborhood made famous by the “Gangnam Style” K-pop hit is known for status-conscious people, plastic surgery clinics and Ivy League prep schools. Now it’s making a name as a bustling center for tech startups.

Many young South Koreans, some educated overseas, are going to Gangnam to start mobile or Internet businesses. Venture capitalists from Silicon Valley and Japan are opening offices in the area to find promising Korean services or apps to bet their money on. Hardly a day passes in Gangnam without a meeting or event related to startup businesses.

As one of the most wired places on earth, Seoul has been a crucible for several startup scenes. The government is even aiming to make a town south of Seoul a Korean Silicon Valley. But it is in the 40 square kilometers of land south of the Han river where the growth of Internet and mobile startups has been most evident and the related culture most vivid.

Despite its reputation as a beacon for the shallow and status-obsessed, Gangnam has a special significance in SouthKorea as the place where a globalized youth culture emerged from a generation that had opportunities to travel and study abroad. The present day Gangnam is still seen as the place that brings foreign culture and ideas to the rest of the country.

“Gangnam has the best of the New York city and Silicon Valley,” said Steven Baek, a marketing director at FuturePlay, an incubator for startups.

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Silicon Valley is “tech-centric, with a lot of nerdy and geeky people but it doesn’t have much diversity,” he said. “Gangnam’s benefit is diversity. New York has lots of fun clubs and rich consumer-based culture like Gangnam but it doesn’t have many engineers.”

Another common reason for startups going to Gangnam is that everyone else is there, which makes networking effortless.

Near Gangnam’s Teheran-ro boulevard, many Gangnam startups, venture capitalists and startup incubators have opened offices in the past year, with more arriving in coming months. All three major media companies dedicated to covering startup stories are there too.

Around 2000, South Korea’s first wave of Internet companies dotted this 4-kilometer-long street. After the dot.com bubble burst, most of the big Internet portals and online game firms that survived moved to the south of Seoul, but left a legacy. Engineers and developers live near or in Gangnam and older entrepreneurs from the dot.com era became angel investors and startup mentors such as FuturePlay’s CEO Ryu Jung-hee.

Recent openings of two spaces for startups accelerated the startup boom and revived the Internet scene on Teheran-ro.

D.Camp opened in 2013 and Maru180 earlier this year a few blocks from Teheran-ro to rent cheap spaces to startup companies and investors. These Silicon Valley-style communal work spaces regularly host meet-ups. Maru even has showers and bunk beds. The spaces are designed to enable serendipitous, accidental meetings in communal areas.

Next year, Google is opening its first campus in Asia in Gangnam, giving mentorship and offering spaces for entrepreneurs to hang out. South Korean Internet giant Naver is also opening a startup accelerator center in Gangnam early 2015.

For 35-year-old Johnny Oh, who grew up in a fishing town, Gangnam was a foreign world that filled him with envy and insecurity.

Encouraged by rich cousins from Gangnam, he moved to the area a decade ago and ran businesses dealing with Gangnam’s well-heeled residents, hung out in Gangnam clubs and made Gangnam friends.

When he quit a big telecom firm this summer to start a Cloud-based video editing app to challenge YouTube and Vine, setting up an office in Gangnam was a no brainer.

“They are consumers with far-reaching influence,” he said.

Many mobile apps and services that are developed in Gangnam are not just looking within South Korea.

flitto(Photo courtesy of Flitto)

Simon Lee, a 32-year-old entrepreneur, said his company’s namesake translation app Flitto, which uses volunteers to do translations within minutes, is taking on Google Translate. His two-year-old startup is planning expansion in China next year.

He said being located in Gangnam helps hiring for little-known startups. Public transportation is among the most convenient in Seoul and there are many hangout places like restaurants and clubs for after work hours.

Gangnam’s startup boom reflects a shifting perception on risk taking in South Korea, where the economy is dominated by big family-owned business groups.

Even just a few years ago, the word “startup” was unknown outside the tech circles. That has changed as a growing number of South Korean startup entrepreneurs generate success stories of going public, selling their companies or winning big investments. Last month, a Goldman Sachs-led consortium announced a $36 million investment in Woowa Brothers Corp., operator of a food-delivery app located in broader Gangnam.

South Korea’s government is putting more taxpayer money behind young and risky entrepreneurs, not limited to Gangnam startups. The government plans to use a $181 million budget next year to make angel investments in early stage startups.

Still missing in South Korea’s startup boom are big companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo that snap up local startups.

Samsung, LG, SK and other South Korean conglomerates tend to overlook local startups and believe paying big money to buy a startup is an admission of failure, said Flitto’s Lee.

“Big companies do almost no M&As. They don’t want to admit they are inferior to startups,” he said.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Seoul’s Female Cabbies Get Protective Screens

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to install protective screens in 35 taxis driven by female drivers to prevent assaults from passengers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re doing it on a test basis for now, but if the measure is favorably accepted by the female taxi drivers and passengers, we’ll make it mandatory for all taxis in the city,” said Lee Seung-wook, a city government official.

The protective screens for the taxis are made of clear, polycarbonate that can withstand hammer blows. Each screen costs between 250,000-290,000 won (USD $222-$261), and the government will cover half the cost.

Back in September, about a third of the 462 female cabbies said in a survey that a partition was necessary for protection. Some drivers expressed their fear of working late at night when many passengers are drunk and belligerent. Last month, a Jeonju taxi driver was hit in the face with a soju bottle when he tried to give change to the drunk customer, according to the Korea Bizwire.

Under South Korea’s transportation laws, threatening or assaulting a professional driver could result in a five-year prison sentence or a fine of 20 million won (USD $18,000). However, most offenders are only fined about one million won.

Seoul now has one of the highest crime rates in South Korea, according to WSJ. About 38,408 violent crimes occurred in the trendy Gangnam district last year, making it the country’s third-most dangerous region.

The city government decided to test the protective screens on female cabbies first because they are particularly vulnerable to in-vehicle assaults.


2NE1 Performs on ‘America’s Next Top Model’


Back in March, the streets of Seoul were filled with excitement as Tyra Banks landed in South Korea to film a segment of Americas’s Next Top Model. We were even more excited when we discovered that ANTM chose popular K-pop group 2NE1 to make an appearance during the highly-anticipated fashion show for designer Lie Sang Bong.

A source revealed, “2NE1 was asked to be on the show because they are a representative K-Pop group and they are also well-known to be fashionistas.”

After 9 long months, the waiting is finally over. Americas’s Next Top Model aired its final episodes of Cycle 21 this past Friday. The segment included a photo shoot for GUESS at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, as well as Korean barbecue and even more Korean barbecue.

Most exciting of all, 2NE1 went to wish the the remaining contestants good luck before heading out to the runway to perform their popular song, “Crush.”

Check out the performance below as well as the behind-the-scenes footage of the girls interacting with the ANTM contestants.

Originally published on Audrey Magazine


Korean Air VP Resigns After ‘Nutty’ Episode

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Heather Cho resigned as the head of in-flight services for Korean Air amid a surge of public criticism that she delayed a flight over how she was served macadamia nuts, reports the New York Times.

Cho, who is the vice president of Korean Air and the eldest daughter of the airline’s chairman, went “nuts” on Friday when a flight attendant served her nuts without asking beforehand, and in a bag instead of on a plate. The irate executive then summoned the chief flight attendant and interrogated him on in-flight service procedures. When he fumbled, Cho ordered the plane to return to the gate in order to boot him off it. The flight arrived in Incheon, South Korea 11 minutes behind schedule.

The episode triggered a barrage of negative comments from South Korean social media users, many of them demanding a boycott of Korean Air. Some criticized the excessive lifestyle of the chaebols, family-controlled conglomerates that dominate South Korea’s economy, while others compared the Cho family to North Korea’s ruling family.

Cho resigned Tuesday from the airline’s catering and in-flight sales business, and its cabin service and hotel business divisions, according to Korean Air. However, she will be keeping her title as vice president.

“I am sorry for causing trouble to the passengers and the people,” Cho said in a statement. “I seek forgiveness from those who were hurt by what I did.”

Korean Air also issued a formal apology to the flight’s passengers and said there had been no safety hazards involved as the jet was only about 35 feet away from the gate at New York’s JFK International Airport. The company added that it was “natural” for Cho to discipline the flight attendant for not following in-flight service protocol and that the decision to return to the gate was made in consultation with the pilot.

This excuse did not fly with the outraged public.

“No pilot is going to oppose an order from the daughter of the company owner,” said Lee Gae-ho, a lawmaker of the main opposition party, the New Politics Alliance for Democracy.

According to Yonhap, South Korea’s transport ministry said it will investigate whether Cho’s actions had violated the aviation safety law, which bars passengers from causing disturbances, including using violent language or yelling. Korean news outlets reported that Cho had screamed at the flight attendant.

If the ministry finds evidence that proves that she had endangered safety by using threats or violence, she could face up to 5 million won in fine, according to the Korea Times.

Photo courtesy of the Korea Herald


South Korean Contraception Poster Sparks Public Outcry

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

The South Korean government was hit with public backlash for a poster that promotes the use of contraception, according to the Korea Times.

The advertisement was issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare last Friday and was intended to encourage women to use birth control in order to prevent abortions. The poster depicts a young couple from behind, with a man carrying his girlfriend’s pink purse and several shopping bags.

The slogan accompanying the photo reads: “Although you leave everything to men, don’t leave the responsibility for contraception to them.”

However, the paragraph under the slogan states that “contraception is a responsibility for both men and women,” contradicting its previous message.

After the ministry shared the poster on their social media sites, there was outrage among netizens in South Korea. Women criticized the poster for making them look “helpless.”

One female blogger wrote, “This could turn into hatred for women. Why do we have to be seen so selfish and dependent?”

Men were also offended by the poster, claiming that it portrayed their gender as “slaves” and “unreliable in terms of contraception.”

Following the backlash, the ministry took down the poster from its social media platforms. A ministry official said, “The public responses have gone against our original intention to prevent abortion by encouraging adults to actively use contraception.”

This is not the first time the South Korean government has been criticized for its sexist online materials. In late November, the Labor Ministry was criticized after it posted job interview guidelines for women, with one tip suggesting that female job applicants should tell interviewers that they don’t mind “casual jokes about sex.”

Needless to say, that post was deleted as well.

Photo courtesy of South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare