Tag Archives: south korea

korea-talks

North/South Talks Over Asian Games In Incheon Collapse

by TONY KIM

Though sports is often seen as a way to offer nations in conflict a way of reaching across the aisle, a recent breakdown in talks between North and South Korea over the upcoming Asian Games dealt a bit of a setback to the goals of sports diplomacy.

The North Korea delegation participating in talks with the South over the 2014 Asian Games to be hosted in Incheon, South Korea, reportedly walked out of the most recent session, accusing its Korean counterpart of being insincere, according to a report in the Korea JoongAng Daily.

“North Korea was not happy with the way the talks were conducted,” an official from the Unification Ministry was quoted as saying by the South Korean newspaper.

The first round of talks, proposed by North Korea, focused on logistical issues, such as transportation methods and determining the size of the athletic and cheerleading team Pyongyang wound send to the event.

Yesterday, Kwon Kyung-sang, secretary general of the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee, and Son Kwang-ho, vice chairman of North Korea’s Olympic Committee, met in Panmunjom, a village located in a demilitarized zone, as part of their respective three-member delegations. Not only did the two sides fail to hash out an agreement, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA indicated the country is considering boycotting the event. North Korea had planned to send 700 athletes and cheerleaders to Incheon.

One of the main points of controversy was choosing an agreeable transportation method for the athletes and cheerleaders. Traveling by boat may be ruled out, since South Korea has prohibited North Korean vessels from entering its waters after the North allegedly sunk the South’s Cheonan warship in May of 2010. The North’s officials have long maintained they were not responsible, though an investigation by the South implicated them.

Another possible issue may have been South Korea’s unwillingness to pay for the North’s travel expenses as it did during the Sunshine Policy administrations of former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, according to the Ministry of Unification. The ministry suggested that the South this year would only a pay a portion, an amount that abides by international regulations for less-developed countries.

Additionally, the size of North Korea’s flags has also reportedly been an issue, as the South Korean delegates declared them to be too large. According to AP, an anonymous South Korean official said the objections were out of concern for the safety of the North Korean cheerleaders.

A follow-up meeting has not been set by either side to further discuss logistics of the Asian Games, which begins on Sept. 19.

Photo via AFP

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Helicopter Searching for Sewol Victims Crashes, Killing 5 Firefighters

by JULIE HA

Just one week away from the 100-day anniversary of the Sewol sinking in South Korea, another ripple of the tragedy occurred.

On Thursday, a helicopter carrying five firefighters searching for the 11 remaining bodies of the South Korean ferry victims crashed near an apartment building and school in the southern city of Gwangju, reports the Associated Press.

The helicopter was returning to its headquarters from its search mission when the crash occurred, fire officials told the Associated Press. A female teenager on the ground was also hit by flying debris and suffered minor injuries.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known and is being investigated.

Seven people, including the five firefighters, have been killed in the search operations for the ferry victims. Two divers died while participating in the dangerous underwater search of the vessel.

South Korea news station YTN showed a video of the crash captured by a nearby driver’s black box camera in his car:

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that today marked the 100-day anniversary of the Sewol sinking, but it is July 24, one week from today. KoreAm regrets this error.

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SKorean Electronics Giant LG Shows Off Transparent and Rollable TVs

by HAEIN JUNG

“Life’s good” when you can turn off your transparent TV and have it blend in with your wall. Or when you can roll up your TV and carry it to another room.

South Korean electronics giant LG—which stands for its motto “Life’s Good”—has announced that it has developed a prototype of an 18-inch television that is transparent and another TV that is so thin it can be rolled up like a taquito for your convenience, according to the Wall Street Journal blog.

“We are confident that by 2017, we will successfully develop an ultra HD (high-definition) flexible and transparent OLED panel of more than 60 inches,” said Kang In-Byung, LG Display’s head of research & development, as reported by the WSJ blog.

What does this mean for the consumer? Moving will be much easier, lunch breaks more entertaining, and the gigantic television screens we love today will become less of a hulking presence in the living room.

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The transparent TV relies on OLED technology, using an organic light-emitting diode. The company’s first OLED TVs debuted early last year. Since OLED does not require a backlight, it allows screens to be brighter, more energy efficient, and unlike the previous generation’s plasma TVs with glass displays, OLED won’t be susceptible to glare, according to a report by Fox News.

The rollable TV is made from polyimide film, a material that’s much thinner than conventional plastic and gives it the flexibility needed to roll it into a tight cylinder, ABC News reported. Once rolled up, the latter has a 2.4-inch diameter, but that apparently does not take away from the high-definition display.

Photos courtesy of WSJ blog

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Chan Ho Park To Be Honored At SKorean All-Star Game

by STEVE HAN

Retired pitcher Chan Ho Park, South Korea’s pioneering major leaguer, will be honored Friday at the Korean Pro Baseball’s All-Star Game in Gwangju’s Champions Field.

Park, 41, retired in 2012 after 17 seasons in the major leagues. The highlight of his career includes nine seasons he spent with the L.A. Dodgers, during which he was a National League All-Star in 2001. Park also reached the World Series in 2009 with the Philadelphia Phillies, and pitched for the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 season. His 124 wins in the major leagues set a record for the most wins by an Asian player.

“I’m proud that I’ve played for as long as I did,” Park told KoreAm in an in-depth interview upon his retirement two years ago. “There were a lot of obstacles.  The early years in the minor leagues and struggling in Texas later on … it was tough. I’ve been at a crossroads so many times, and thought about quitting and going back to Korea. But I stayed patient and endured everything.  That’s what makes me proud.

Hideo Nomo, Park’s former teammate in L.A. and Japan’s pioneering major leaguer, will also be honored the same day in a separate ceremony in Japan.

“Nomo and Park are both true pioneers,” said Peter O’Malley, the former Dodgers president, in a released statement. O’Malley was responsible for signing the two Asian pitchers from their respective countries in the early 1990s. “Today, there have been 40 players from Japan and 14 from South Korea who have played in the major leagues. I am very proud of their leadership and their ongoing commitment to youth baseball in Japan and South Korea” he said.

Park became South Korea’s first ever major leaguer when the Dodgers signed him out of Hanyang University in 1994. Including Park, there have been 14 players from South Korea who have played in the major leagues since then. One of them is current Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, to whom Park served as a mentor back in 2012, when the two played for Korea’s Hanwha Eagles.

Today Park is reportedly developing a baseball training center and entertainment complex in Korea.

To read more of KoreAm‘s interview with Park, where he speaks frankly about the highs and lows of his career, the support of the Korean American community and his baseball legacy, click here.

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SKorean Soldier Who Shot Comrades Set Off By Past and Recent Bullying

Above photo: Major General Lee Sang-hun of the Marine Corps briefs reporters on the investigation into Sgt. Lim’s deadly rampage. Image via NEWSIS/Korean JoongAng Daily. 

by JULIE HA

The South Korean army sergeant who opened fire on his fellow troops this past June was repeatedly mocked by his comrades, an experience that recalled painful bullying he faced as a youth, investigators revealed, according to the Daily Mirror.

Armed with a rifle, the 22-year-old soldier, whom authorities identify only as Sergeant Lim, killed five and wounded several others on June 21 at an outpost in Gangwon Province, near the heavily armed border with North Korea. An intense manhunt followed, as Lim escaped into the forest and was eventually captured after a failed suicide attempt.

On Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Seon Jong-chul of the South Korean Army police told reporters that Yim grew enraged after discovering drawings on the back of his unit’s border patrol log that portrayed him as various cartoon characters, including SpongeBob SquarePants. Other soldiers were similarly caricatured, but Lim still felt targeted and set out to get back at them.

“Other troops saw it as a small joke, but (Lim) said he had been greatly distressed by it,” said Seon, as quoted by the Mirror. He added that the cartoons “triggered a flashback” to high school bullying that Lim had endured.

“It turned out that Lim also planned to kill his friends in high school after he was bullied,” said Seon, according to the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Defense Ministry officials earlier stated that Lim was initially placed with a group of soldiers considered unfit for frontline duty, after results of a personality test from last April. However, another round of testing done this past November declared that he had shown enough improvement to serve on the frontline.

Yim, who was just a few months away from completing his two years of mandatory military service, as required in Korea, faces multiple charges of murder, attempted murder and stealing military equipment. After his capture, he was treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest.

Military officials released on Tuesday a note Lim had left before trying to take his own life.

“Killing someone is a serious [crime] regardless of whatever they did to me,” read the note, according to a translation in the JoongAng Daily. “But if anyone was in my shoes, living would have been a torture just like dying. I’m to blame, but ‘they’ are to blame as well.

“There is a saying that recklessly throwing a rock can kill a frog,” the note said. “They did not consider how their behavior, like teasing a dog or killing bugs without guilt, would be painful to others.”

The newspaper said that the military is holding Lim’s division commander, battalion commander and company commander responsible for the incident and thereby has dismissed them from their duties.

The JoongAng Daily also reported that the seven soldiers injured in the two-day manhunt for Lim were actually wounded by friendly fire and that Lim did not engage with his pursuers.

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300-Year-Old Korean Mummy Gets Modern-Day CT Scan

by HAEIN JUNG

Scientists have performed an autopsy of a Korean man and found that he suffered from a condition known as Bochdalek-type congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Why is this news? Because that diagnosis was just made to a 300-year-old mummy dating back to the 17th century Joseon Dynasty, Live Science has reported.

The mummy figure, unearthed last year, was luckily well preserved, so medical experts were able to use the latest radiological imaging technologies and CT scans to diagnose the man with the hernia condition, also known as CDH, which usually occurs at birth and can threaten the life of an infant, according to the scientific journal Plos One.

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CT scans showed several of the man’s organs, including his liver, stomach and colon, were herniated, and confirmed a hole in his diaphragm, a typical defect of the condition.

Yi-Suk Kim of Ewha Womans University, who led the research, reportedly also looked for other severe complications of CDH that could have possibly led to the man’s death, but surprisingly, no evidence was found, the Live Science article said. However, the man—believed to be 45 at the time of his death and standing about 5-foot-3—likely suffered chest and abdomen pain, and possible shortness of breath, said researchers, according to Live Science.

According to Plos One, this marked the first reported time where a “CT-assisted diagnosis” was made of a “pre-modern historical case of CDH.”

The mummy’s careful preservation—he was buried in a royal tomb—granted researchers and archaeologists the opportunity to examine the remains on such a detailed level. Archaeologists also concluded the man was married based on his topknot hairstyle.

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Images via livescience.com.

Sewol Documentary

Sewol Ferry Disaster To Be Made Into A Film

by JAMES S. KIM

A private committee in South Korea is raising funds for a documentary on the Sewol ferry disaster, according to Yonhap News. Director Im Jong-tae announced plans to release A Goose’s Dream on the first anniversary of the disaster, which would be April 16 next year.

The committee plans to raise 400 million won (approximately $393,000) through crowdfunding until Oct. 10. Around 300 million won will go towards production costs, and another 100 million won to advertising.

Im told the Korea Times that the two-hour film will delve into a variety of topics, from what actually happened during the sinking to the ongoing rescue efforts, as well as corruption in South Korean society as a whole. Im said film would also be a tribute to the victims.

The title of the documentary refers to a song performed by Lee Bo-mi, a student at Danwon High School who was one of the 293 people who died in the accident. She apparently had aspirations to become a singer. You can listen to a segment of Lee practicing the song below.

The Sewol sank off South Korea’s southwest coast on April 16 earlier this year, leaving 293 dead, many of them high school students who were on a field trip to Jeju Island. As of last Friday, 11 people remain missing as rescue efforts continue.

For more information on A Goose’s Dream, you can stay up-to-date with the film’s Facebook and Daum pages.

Image via Facebook

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SKorean Artists Try to Carry Out the Dreams of the Young Sewol Victims Posthumously

by HAEIN JUNG

Of the 325 high school students aboard the Sewol ferry that sank off the Korean coast in April, only 75 survived. With the deaths of these 250 teenagers, their hopes and aspirations died with them. However, in a touching tribute, various South Korean artists are trying to carry out these youths’ artistic dreams posthumously, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In honor of Sewol victim Park Ye-seul, who aspired to become a fashion designer, for example, Seoul’s Seochon Gallery is featuring 40 of the late student’s designs in an exhibition that opened July 4. Titled “Park Ye-seul Exhibition, Danwon High School, 2nd Grade 3rd Class 17th Student,” the display has already been visited by over 5,000 people. The artwork ranges from Park’s childhood crayon doodles to some more recent, developed sketches of shoe designs.

“I hope visitors can take a moment to think about Ye-seul’s dreams and remember the tragedy, and also take the opportunity to reflect on the surviving children and their dreams,” Jang Young-seung, head of Seoul’s Seochon Gallery, told the Hollywood Reporter.

Fashion designer Lee Gyeom-bi is also helping to bring Park’s dreams to fruition by creating two pairs of high heels based on the student’s designs, the article said.

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Park Ye-seul’s shoe design sketch. (via Korea Times)

Meanwhile, K-pop songwriter Yoon Ilsang, who had previously composed a song titled “Budi” (“Please”) to honor the victims, is working on creating a digital album of  the songs written by deceased student Kim Se-yeon, a budding film score composer and head of her school’s theater group. Yoon is hoping to release the album in August, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Other artists, including singer Shin Yong-jae and the band Sinawai’s Shin Dae-chul, are also working on similar projects with music composed by some of the deceased students, including an unfinished love song by teens Lee Da-un and Nam Hyeon-cheol.

The Seochon Gallery will exhibit Park Ye-seul’s artwork indefinitely, and the Korea JoongAng Daily reports that the gallery would like to add more works of art from other victims, so the people who perished in the Sewol tragedy—and their dreams—are not soon forgotten. “Although those children have not come back, it is our duty to make them live in our hearts,” said gallery head Jang Young-seung, as quoted by the Korea Times

Image at top: A poster of the art of fallen Sewol victim Park Ye-seul, an aspiring designer.