Tag Archives: south korea


Global Hackathon Seoul Looks to Showcase Local ‘Hacker Culture’

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

The South Korean technology industry is often dominated by its electronic giants, but the headlines are slowly starting to change. Seoul has increasingly become one of the most promising scenes for startups, thanks to government support, including cutback on regulation on tech-related industries to encourage innovation and Park Geun-hye’s pledge to invest $3.7 billion in startups over the next three years.

This summer, South Korea’s capital will also host Global Hackathon Seoul at the COEX (Convention and Exhibition Center) in Gangnam, Seoul—a region that has quickly become a bright spot for Korean startups. The Global Hackathon plans to bring together some 2,000 hackers, from local South Korean developers to their international counterparts.

But the hacking doesn’t refer to the keyboard-slapping nonsense we see in Hollywood movies. There is a much deeper culture to the “hacker mindset” that the Global Hackathon sees in Seoul champions.

“The ‘hacker’ mindset is the art of building or putting things together in order to create a change or facilitate positive disruption in the world,” explains Ted Kim, Chief Operating Officer of London Trust Media, Inc., which owns title sponsor Private Internet Access (PIA). “In general, the hacker ethos is that nothing is impossible—anything can be hacked, created and conquered.”

PIA features a personal virtual private network (VPN) service that protects users when they are online, has been a leading sponsor of other major hackathons including, UCLA’s popular LA Hacks in April.

“As the advent of the Internet did not take the loss of privacy into consideration as a consequence, our goal is to protect the privacy of a society that has forgotten its rights to it. We hope that many hackers at the hackathon will build products that will enhance end users’ privacy,” Kim added. “We believe that supporting the next generation of startups and hackers is a logical next step to further our goal.”

Opportunities abound for startups at these hackathons, where they can showcase their own technology from wearables, virtual reality, cloud services, big data hubs, online security and other innovative ideas, such as KPOP UNITED‘s crowdfunding-based concert ticketing platform. On the other end, there are plenty of businesses and investors looking to work with the brightest and best hackers.

“Hackathons provide a wonderful opportunity for developers and businesses (and their recruiters) alike to meet each other,” Kim said. “Hosting Asia’s premier hackathon in South Korea is monumental because South Korea has been pumping significant funds into its technology startup scene. I wouldn’t be too surprised if many quick hack projects built during the Hackathon end up receiving investment and becoming new South Korean companies.”

KJ Yoo, the executive director of Global Hackathon Seoul, said he hopes the event will convince even more Korean students and recent graduates to look at the burgeoning startup industry for opportunities, rather than relying solely on established companies.

“Seoul already has an incredible infrastructure (fastest Internet/mobile speed), highest smartphone penetration and tech savvy people,” Yoo said. “What we need is a cultural shift. Through Global Hackathon Seoul and other awesome hackathons, I don’t want to just show people but let them experience the hacker culture, and collaborate with really different thinkers of this world. We have an opportunity to import the mindset and innovative trends of the best hacks from around the world.”


Disclosure: Private Internet Access (PIA) and KoreAm Journal are both owned by parent company London Trust Media, Inc.


‘Avengers 2′ Director and Stars to Visit Seoul in April

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Brace yourself, Seoul. The Avengers are coming.

Alongside director Joss Whedon, a few members of the Avengers: Age of Ultron cast—Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo—will arrive in South Korea on April 16 to promote the blockbuster after its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in L.A, said the Walt Disney Company Korea.

The four men will be attending a press conference and an event for Avengers fans ahead of the South Korean theatrical release, which is slated for April 23.

For actors Downey and Evans, who portray Iron Man and Captain America, respectively, this will be their third trip to South Korea while it will be the first for Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk. Evans first visited South Korea when he was promoting Snowpiercer, a 2013 South Korean post-apocalyptic film.

Avengers 2 has been gaining traction in South Korea, as it was partly filmed in Seoul last year and features Korean actress Claudia Kim as a supporting character. The film takes place after the destruction of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. When Tony Stark attempts to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, his plan backfires and the Avengers must reunite to stop the villainous Ultron from eradicating humans.

You can watch the trailer below:



Link Attack: Roy Choi in Watts; Dogs Rescued From Meat Farm; Custom Emoji Keyboard

Video: Roy Choi Wants the Next Food Revolution to Start in Watts

The first location will be in Watts at a site that used to be smoke shop and a barbershop. Choi says that his team wanted to open a location somewhere in South Los Angeles, and they ended up focusing on Watts because of the sense of community they found there. (LAist)

Dogs Rescued from South Korean Meat Farm Brought to San Francisco

Thirteen frightened young dogs and puppies arrived in San Francisco in a van Thursday, some trembling, tails between their legs, others with sad but hopeful eyes, and all of them unaware of how close they came to an agonizing, gruesome death. (SF Gate)


Memoji Keyboard Allows You To Emojify Yourself

Johnny Lin, an ex-Apple engineer, created a way for users to upload their own faces as emoji. Angry Asian Man Phil Yu tries it out.

‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is Doing Shockingly Well in South Korea

Why is the movie such a huge hit in the South Korean film market? Cinema Blend speculates the reasons, from the visuals to the high fashion costume design to director Matthew Vaughn’s popularity in South Korea.

2015 - The Great Tiger (still 1)

23 Most Anticipated Korean Films of 2015

Modern Korean Cinema lists the Korean films they’re most looking forward to this year.

Homebrew and House Parties: How North Koreans Have Fun

“Despite restrictions on money and free time, partying is integral to North Korean culture. But how does it compare to cutting loose in the South?” writes The Guardian.

Jung ho Kang

Korean Star Jung Ho Kang May Be Much Better Than Advertised

“In so many words, clubs just didn’t see many reasons to be optimistic about Kang,” writes Bleacher Report. “But as early as it is, one wonders how many are thinking differently these days.”

Searing Complaint Against Korean Church

The Contra Costa Korean Presbyterian Church is being sued for negligence in their hiring of a youth pastor, who the plaintiff claims repeatedly sexually molester her and her sister.

Shinhan Bank President Cho Yong-byoung Pledges to Solidify Status as Leading Bank

In his inauguration speech on March 18, Shinhan Bank President Cho Yong-byoung emphasized, “I will solidify our status as a leading bank.”

Cho said, “Through ceaseless innovation, we must create new opportunities and values and maintain the highest level of profitability and soundness.”

GM Canada Gets New General Counsel and Assistant GC, Peter Cho

It won’t be Cho’s first time behind the wheel of an automotive law department. He was most recently general counsel, corporate secretary and head of government relations at Volkswagen Group Canada, and has also has worked with Volkswagen Group China and Kia Canada.

Olympic Gateway

K-Town Landmarks Hope to Begin Summer Construction

The Olympic Gateway, a long-projected landmark for Los Angeles’ Koreatown, as well as the Madang project at Da Wool Jung, are expected to begin construction as soon as mid-May.

Korean Calligraphy Exhibition Open at Chicago Korean Cultural Center

On display are about 70 works by students of Kit-beol Village Calligrapher Lee Chul-woo. (Korea Times)

Four Korean American Officers Join Fairfax County Police Department After Graduating Academy

Arthur Cho, John Hong, Seung Meang and Shane Oh were among the 60 new police officers and deputies who graduated from the academy. This is the first time in the history of the department that an academy class had this many Korean-American graduates. (Centreville Independent)



South Korean Actress Byul Kang Kicks Tail in ‘Seoul Searching’

Profile by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Sue-Jin Kim is one of the toughest students at camp—she’s not afraid to talk back or throw a kick at any guy who messes with her. She jumps at the chance to show off her skills in Taekwondo class and especially take on the smooth-talking Sergio Kim (Esteban Ahn), who she sees as a misogynistic idiot.

But like Grace Park (Jessika Van), there’s a reason Sue-jin takes on a strong persona: Guys like Sergio are reminiscent of her abusive father, and Taekwondo allows her to stand up to guys like him.



Established South Korean actress Byul Kang, like Cha In-Pyo as Mr. Kim, added another huge presence to the cast of Seoul Searching. Writer-director Benson Lee raved about the person behind the character who “kicked Sergio’s ass all summer,” in particular praising the 24-year-old’s impeccable English pronunciation.

“She was amazing,” Lee said. “She brought a whole new dynamic to the female cast.”



Cha In-Pyo Headshot

Cha In-Pyo Recalls the 1980s for ‘Seoul Searching’

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Benson Lee knew he needed an experienced actor to portray Mr. Kim, the no-nonsense head counselor of the summer camp in Seoul Searching. The character doesn’t have too much affection for the unruly and disrespectful kids from America, especially Sid (Justin Chon), the punk who takes every opportunity to show up Mr. Kim in class.

What the kids don’t know about Mr. Kim, however, is that he used to be one of the most respected instructors in South Korea before a tragedy involving his son derailed his reputation and tore his family apart. It is a burden that weighs on his mind and heart beneath his gruff exterior.

Veteran South Korean actor Cha In-Pyo fit the bill perfectly, as Lee wanted an actor who could portray the gritty yet broken man with good command of the English language.

Mr. KimCha In-Pyo, right, as Mr. Kim in Seoul Searching.

Cha, who studied at Rutgers University in New Jersey some 25 years ago, spoke to KoreAm via email (in English) back in January about his relationships with Korean Americans and how those experiences resonated with him when it came to Seoul Searching. He also delves into his own memories of 1980s South Korea and expresses his excitement at visiting the Sundance Film Festival for the first time.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

KoreAm: Where did you first hear about this movie and role? Was there something that attracted you to the project?

Cha In-Pyo: One day in the summer of 2013, Benson Lee contacted me via email, asking me if I would be interested in taking the role of Mr. Kim in Seoul Searching. I read the script first and I was interested, so I decided to meet him in person.

Benson looked like a nice and confident man, and he seemed to know what exactly he had to do to make the project real. However, at that point, the investment for Seoul Searching was not yet available and none of the cast was decided, so I was not sure if Benson would actually be able to accomplish all the necessary steps for pre-production and actually get to shoot the movie.

However, I told him that day that I would like to be the part of his movie. I had some doubt that he would actually come a long way to make it happen, but he came back exactly a year later and said, ”Let’s shoot the movie.”

The script was attractive to me because of two reasons: First, it’s a teen style story, yet it also embraces the parents-sons and daughters relationship. Second, there is no stereotyped villain in this movie. Everyone has a reason to be who they are.

What was your first impression of your character? Are there any aspects that really stuck out to you?

Mr. Kim is a typical Korean father. Being a father of three children myself, including one high schooler, I could understand why Mr. Kim had to be Mr. Kim. Every father hopes and tries to give best things for their children.

But the problem is, fathers don’t actually know what the best thing is for their children. This is where the conflict between father and son/daughter begins, especially in the 1980s. Korea was not as rich as now. So it was natural for the most fathers to think that good education is the only way to ensure children’s bright future.

That’s how education became the best thing for children, and most fathers drove their children like cattle into tough competition to get into a better college. Fathers thought it was love. But, love is not love if the beloved doesn’t feel it’s love.

SAMSUNG CSCFrom L to R: Actors Cha In-Pyo, Justin Chon, Esteban Ahn and Teo Yoo.

What was it like working with Benson Lee and being part of the vision he had for Seoul Searching?

I believe good directors need to be able to endure pressures. Benson, as a director and the producer of this project, proved himself to be a man with strong will and endurance.

I believe making a movie is all about making friends. You have to make many good friends who will listen to your direction and accomplish them accordingly. Benson became a good friend to many actors and crew members through Seoul Searching.

Personally, he became a good friend of mine. Benson and I get together once in a while to drink good scotch.

What was it like working with a diverse cast, which also had Koreans from all over the world?

It’s always exciting to work with people from different backgrounds. When you are on the set to shoot the movie, there is no Korean style or American style. There is only one style. That is the director’s style. I think Benson did a good job to break the possible barrier from the cultural diversity.

How do you think the film will be received in Korea?

I honestly have no idea. Hopefully, this film finds a good distributor both in America and Korea. I personally hope that this film will finds audiences among the 10 million Korean diasporic population and consoles their identity.

endlesslove2014-1Endless Love (2014)

What were some of the themes in the movie that you connected with the most?

The miscommunications due to the language barrier actually damaged the relationships in everyone’s families in the movie. I felt a sort of compassion towards them, because back in the old days, when I went to college in New Jersey, which was about 25 years ago, I had Korean American friends who had the same problems as the characters have in the movie. Seeing them not being able to communicate with their parents, I remember I felt compassion for my friends.

How does the setting South Korea during the 1980sadd to the tone and feel of the movie? Are there any particular memories you associate with this time period?

I went to college during the mid-80s in Korea. At that time, Korea was under a military dictatorship, and many college students participated in daily demonstration against government. Some got killed, some got kidnapped and tortured, and everyone was hurt by the military violence. I suggested to Benson that we should include some of the scenes to describe the political situations in Korea at the time, and Benson agreed to do so, but due to the low budget, he couldn’t.

What do you remember about 1980s Korea?

The smell of tear gas, first girlfriend, songs by Lee Moon-sae.

Will you be attending the Sundance Film Festival? If so, what are you most excited about for the experience?

Yes, I am attending, and this is my first visit to Sundance. My wife and I were the MCs for the closing ceremony for the Pusan Film Festival in 2006. Since then, I haven’t been to any film festivals ’til now. So, I am really excited to be at Sundance. What makes it more exciting about Sundance is that you don’t need to wear a tuxedo!


* * *

Here’s what Director Benson Lee had to say about Cha:

Benson Lee: Cha is an actor I’ve always really admired. He was in a movie that blew me away, called The Crossing. It’s about a North Korean father who has to leave North Korea just to get medicine, like penicillin, for his dying wife, and the story evolves into this very tragic story about how his wife dies and all he has left is his son. It was one of the most gut-wrenching performances I’ve seen, and he was so good in it.

 Crossing2008Cha In-Pyo in ‘The Crossing’ (2008)

I just knew that he was one of the major contenders for the role. But on top of that, his English is also very good, because he studied at Rutgers University in New Jersey. His English is very good, and to be frank, it’s hard to find Korean actors who have that command of the English language, and he was just perfect. He himself is known as a humanitarian in Korea, and he’s involved with lots of humanitarian work and has his own nonprofit. He’s a very benevolent person. We needed that from Mr. Kim, but Cha could also show the grittier side to Mr. Kim too.

His range is amazing, and he actually became a very good friend of mine through this movie, and he was a total pleasure to work with.

* * *

Justin Chon on working with Cha In-Pyo:

Justin Chon: I grew up watching his dramas. My parents would always have dramas on in the house. It was really amazing working with such a Korean icon. He’s been around forever, and he’s an OG. He’s been through it all. The fact that he’s still around means he’s so phenomenal.

Working with him was such an honor, and also so cathartic as well. My parents love that I’m an actor and they’re proud of me, but the fact that I got to work with Cha In-Pyo all of a sudden really legitimized me. It was so awesome, I loved it. It was surreal as well.

People [bring up] the moment I worked with Robert De Niro or Al Pacino, but for me, working with Cha In-Pyo was on another level with the cultural significance.

He always made me feel comfortable and never made me feel inferior or that I needed to respect him. He garnered that respect just by being who he is. I absolutely loved working with him. At the end of the day, he’s just a beautiful human.


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France Chosen Over South Korea to Host FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

FIFA announced earlier today that France will host the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup instead of South Korea.

South Korea, France, England, New Zealand and South Africa initially expressed their interest in hosting the two events. However, the candidates were narrowed down to two countries last October, when France and South Korea submitted their official bid documents to FIFA.

Following a unanimous decision, the FIFA executive committee awarded the hosting rights to France, bringing the tournament back to Europe after Germany served as host in 2007.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is considered the most important international competition in women’s soccer, and it is the biggest single-sport event played by women. The championship has been held every four years since 1991, when its inaugural tournament took place in Guandong, China.

Canada will be hosting the 2015 championship from June 6 to July 5, 2015, with 24 teams competing.

Japan is the current champion of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and was the first Asian team to achieve this feat. There have been six tournaments so far, with Germany and the U.S. being two-time champions.

You can watch the host country announcement below:



Uber Korea Employees Charged with Operating Illegal Taxi Ring

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

South Korean authorities arrested nearly 30 people in a raid at Uber South Korea’s offices, Yonhap News reports. According to police, the employees were booked on suspicion of operating illegal taxi services in the country through the UberTAXI app.

The 32-year-old head of Uber Korea was arrested on Tuesday along with other company officials, including drivers and heads of six different car rental firms. A spokesperson for the company said they were cooperating with authorities, but denied any wrongdoing. Police also seized over 400 items as evidence.

Uber launched its UberTAXI service in October, despite Seoul officials cracking down on its other services in the city. The battle has gone back and forth, with Seoul apparently preparing their own GPS-enabled taxi app and offering rewards for reporting illegal Uber drivers as they continued their crackdown.

Uber responded earlier this month by suspending Uber X, their ride-sharing platform, and offering its UberBLACK service, which only employs professional chauffeurs, in an apparent effort to avoid a complete ban. In a statement, Uber said they were committed to cooperating with the city.

South Korean authorities still cite several concerns with Uber, saying its services threatened the cab industry and posed a risk for passenger safety since drivers aren’t screened and cars may not be insured. They also claim card information and phone numbers could be leaked.

Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Travis Kalanick, who resides in the U.S., was also charged a second time for conducting an illegal business. He was indicted without physical detention on charges of establishing and running Uber Korea in December.

So far, Kalanick has refused to come to South Korea and stand trial, but authorities said they are planning to summon him again; if he continues to ignore the summons, police said they plan to seek an arrest warrant.



Minority Share Deal with South Korean Group Could Value Dodgers at $3 Billion

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

The New York Yankees have been baseball’s most valuable team for 17 years, according to Forbes in 2014. The pinstripes were valued at $2.85 billion, while the Los Angeles Dodgers came in second with a value of $2 billion.

But valuations can change quickly in the sports business. A potential deal with South Korean investors for a minority stake in the team places the valuation of the Dodgers at $3 billion, according to unnamed sources with knowledge of the negotiation.

Guggenheim Baseball Management purchased the Dodgers three years ago from Frank McCourt for a little over $2 billion in cash ($2.3 billion including the surrounding real estate). The recent negotiations with the South Korean investors have brought up some differing numbers, however. The Korea Joongang Daily reported in January that the South Korean group was looking into buying 20 percent of the team for about $370 million, which would value the team at $1.85 billion. But one of the partners on the Dodgers told the Los Angeles Times in December 2012 that Guggenheim valued the team at $3 billion.

Forbes pointed out that the $3 billion valuation was probably more accurate, based on a recent sale of a small stake in the Chicago Cubs that brought the team’s value up to $1.8 billion from the $1.2 billion Forbes had estimated a year ago.