S. Korean workers quit troubled joint factory zone
Dozens of South Korean workers returned from a jointly run factory park in North Korea on Saturday as part of an evacuation of the flagship project following months of military tensions.
The move plunges into doubt the future of the Kaesong complex — once a rare symbol of cooperation across the world’s most heavily militarised border, and a crucial source of hard currency for Kim Jong-Un’s isolated nation.
The workers’ return came on the same day that the North announced it would put a Korean-American arrested in November on trial for trying to overthrow the communist regime — a move sure to add to frictions with the West.
N.Korea Demolishes Border Villages to Stem Defections
North Korea is demolishing villages near the border with China along the Duman River and forcing residents to move south in order to prevent defections.
A government source here said on Friday, “North Korea has been forcibly relocating villagers along the Duman River to places further from the border.” The source added soldiers have been mobilized to demolish homes in some of the villages.
In one village in Onsong, North Hamgyong Province, around a hundred homes were reportedly demolished. The Duman narrows as it passes Onsong, making the area a popular spot for defectors to cross into China.
Kim Family ‘Has US$1 Billion in European Banks’
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s family has stashed away at least US$1 billion in secret European bank accounts, the Washington Times reported last Thursday quoting a U.S. intelligence official.
The unnamed official told the paper that the Kim family’s money sits in bank accounts in Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg. U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen recently said Washington is trying to track down the slush funds amassed by the North’s ruling family.
South Korea reopens painstakingly restored 14th century gate destroyed by arsonist 5 years ago
AP via Washington Post
Five years after being torched by a disgruntled elderly man, the stone and wood southern gate to the old walled capital of Seoul has been painstakingly restored to its late 14th Century glory by a small army of master craftsmen using traditional tools.
From the hand-carved stones of the walls flanking Sungnyemun gate, to the finely wrought touches on the inner beams of the graceful, upwardly curving roof, each detail of what’s considered the country’s top treasure is meant to harken back to the day the gate was completed in 1398. On the ceiling beneath the center archway two large whiskered and horned dragons are rendered in vibrant yellow, green, blue, pink and orange scales.
Andrew Choi of Springfield charged with producing child pornography
A 35-year-old Springfield man has been accused of recording young boys as they performed sex acts during online video chats, authorities said.
Andrew Choi, 35, was arrested Friday and charged with production of child pornography, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia.
Cavalry chaplain can relate to military stresses
Bellingham Herald (Wash.)
Chaplain Capt. Rick Pak is his own best example in the stories he uses to help veteran Stryker soldiers cope with the stresses of juggling combat deployments with family lives at home.
Having trouble adjusting as newlyweds? Pak’s been there.
Have each spouse pick a destination for a date. He took his wife, Sara, to a gun range. She took him for a pedicure.
Or maybe the family doesn’t feel the same as it did before a deployment. Pak went through that, too, when his daughters, 7-year-old Samantha and 5-year-old Addyson, were not as warm with him when he returned from Afghanistan last winter.
Hate aimed at ethnic Korean residents continues, but one man changes
Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
When its hatemongers were holding a demonstration in the Shin-Okubo district on the Sunday in March, counter-demonstrators gathered on the opposite side of the road holding placards. Some shouted, “Zaitoku (meaning Zaitokukai), go home.”
The skirmish line has been repeated since February.
Meanwhile, a 39-year-old man was watching the protest from the crowd of onlookers as if he was concealing himself.
The man, whose name is withheld, had participated in demonstrations on behalf of Zaitokukai and other rightist citizens groups 65 times. It was the first time that he witnessed the demonstration from the outside. What he saw made him feel like crying.
Adoptees selected for North Korean mission
Asian American Press
In August 2013, three Minnesotans will travel to North Korea as part of a peace delegation through Nodutdol, a New York-based organization focused on Korean community development.
The Minnesota participants are actress and playwright Sun Mee Chomet, attorney Caitlin Kee, and scholar Dr. SooJin Pate. They are three of ten North Americans chosen to participate in the 2013 Korea Education and Exposure Program – Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (KEEPDPRK). The other participants this year are from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, New Jersey, and New York. A documentary filmmaker may also accompany this year’s KEEP-DPRK peace delegation.
Harvey White to Direct American-Japanese-Korean Co-Production ‘On The Mark’
The $20 million production, featuring J-pop and K-pop artists, will film in Las Vegas and Tokyo.
Psy named South Korea tourism ambassador
Psy’s new song, “Gentleman,” has confirmed he’s more than a one-hit wonder — the music video already has 244 million views on YouTube since debuting two weeks ago.
So it makes sense that South Korea is using the gyrating dance-pop sensation for publicity abroad.
Psy has been tapped as South Korea’s tourism ambassador and has just finished taping a series of TV commercials to show off the country, according to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).
He’s certainly a better fit than the former spokesman — Kenny G, the curly-haired American saxophonist, has held the honorary ambassadorship since October 2012.
Benson Lee Goes ‘Seoul Searching’
Filmmaker Benson Lee believes that on the quest for success in America, comparatively speaking, “Asians have done pretty well.”
“They have the highest income [and] spend the most money on entertainment,” Lee says.
But, he says, there’s one drawback: “They’re the least satisfied with their image in the media.”
Lee, born in Toronto and raised in Philadelphia, remembers growing up and loving the films by director John Hughes — the Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles. “I really connected [to them] as a kid,” he says. “But there was a certain aspect of those films I hated, which was always the Asian-American characters.”
Hallyu fuels Korean language boom abroad
The Asia-wide popularity of Korean TV dramas and pop music known as hallyu has caused a boom in Korean language learning in foreign countries, the culture ministry said Monday.
As hallyu has increased people’s interest in Korea and its language, there have been noticeable increases in the number of foreigners taking courses at state-sponsored Korean language institutes abroad or taking the official Korean language proficiency test, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Starting with only 13 in three countries in 2007, the number of King Sejong Institutes offering Korean language education programs has risen to 90 in 44 countries all over the world.
Choo cares for team more than his personal record
Choo Shin-soo, Cincinnati Reds’ starting center fielder and leadoff man, said Friday he was more disheartened by his team’s loss than an end to his on-base streak.
Choo failed to get on base in Friday’s game here against the Washington Nationals at the Nationals Park, and his streak of reaching safely, dating back to Sept. 21 last year, was snapped at 35 games.
Despit going 0-for-4 at the plate, however, Choo is still batting a robust .360 on the season, good for fourth in the National League (NL).
“It was something I have to suffer,” Choo said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency, shruggiong off the end of his on-base streak. “I can’t get on base every time.
Learning new parks part of Choo’s routine
Shin-Soo Choo has been doing extra work in Washington, trying to learn the field since it’s his first time playing at Nationals Park.
Choo said he’s been going out with coach Billy Hatcher early to study the way the ball comes off the walls and screens in Washington, since it’s not just one long wall from left to right. There are several nooks and crannies, and the ball shoots in different directions, which happened Thursday night.
One ball hit the video screen in right-center, but rebounded back in the opposite direction to elude Choo momentarily. The only way to learn those secrets is to go out and practice, and that’s what Choo’s trying to do.
Conger, Trumbo homer to power Angels over Seattle
AP via Seattle Times
Hank Conger and Mark Trumbo each hit two-run homers and C.J. Wilson worked out of a pair of bases-loaded jams to help give the Los Angeles Angels a 6-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners Friday night.
Ex-NFL star struggles but finishes St. Anthony’s Triathlon
Tampa Bay Times
“He’s come a long way,” Ward’s coach, Paula Newby-Fraser, said. “He was just awesome.”
Fraser, the winner of eight Ironman World Championships, is training Ward as part of the “Got Chocolate Milk?” ad campaign.
“I think he really dug down deep for this one,” Newby-Fraser said. “Now it is on to Kona.”
Ward, 37, plans to do a Half Ironman next then the granddaddy of all triathlons, the Ironman in Hawaii, all in less than one year.
“After all those years in the NFL, you would think that I was in good shape,” Ward said. “But playing football is nothing like endurance sports.”
Inbee Park wins LPGA Shootout
Associated Press via ESPN
Inbee Park was already preparing to congratulate Carlota Ciganda for winning the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout.
Park, the top-ranked woman in the world, was in the middle of a solid final round and still trailed by two strokes after the playing partners both had birdies at the par-5 10th on Sunday.
Everything changed in a two-hole stretch, when Park went ahead with consecutive pars. The 24-year-old South Korean went on to a bogey-free 4-under 67 that put her one stroke ahead of Ciganda, good enough for her third victory this season and fifth in her last 18 starts.
Homeland Meets Hometown: Salt & Fat in Sunnyside, Queens
New York Times
Note that the sauce is boosted with sriracha, togarashi and tobanjan (fermented bean paste). Daniel Yi, the 28-year-old chef and owner, was born in Seoul, grew up in Sunnyside and its eastern neighbor, Woodside (both home to sizable Asian communities), and honed his craft at Riingo and Sapa, where the accents were, respectively, Japanese and Vietnamese. He describes his cooking at Salt & Fat, which opened two years ago, as New American, and in a sense it is exactly, exultingly that: the food of the new America, in which immigrants companionably raid one another’s larders.
I would call it, more specifically, Asian-American, which should not be confused with fusion. Exotic ingredients aren’t being co-opted and sublimated; they’re not thought of as exotic in the first place. If you grow up eating hot dogs with rice, and pizza with kimchi, why not introduce sambal to meatballs, pair a classic French duck breast with litchis, and steep oxtail in dashi before compressing it into a wondrous terrine?
From apartment rooftop comes authentic Alabama barbecue
Whenever people move from place to place, they may adopt new friends, new languages, or new behaviors, but one thing just doesn’t seem to go away — the love for one’s home cuisine. Certainly a newcomer to Korea might find a lot about Korean cuisine that they like, but likely, there would also be days where the cravings for food from back home get the best of even the most seasoned expatriate.
“Unfortunately, Korea gets an F minus when it comes to authentic foreign cuisine,” said Roy Kim, a native of Miami, who has lived in Korea for two years. In his opinion, Korea’s idea of foreign food is merely foreign looking food.
“There’s usually nothing right about foreign food here. Going out for Italian? They serve you sweet garlic bread and pickles… since pasta is foreign, and pickles are foreign to the typical Korean diner’s view, they go together,” he said. He admits that the quality of foreign cuisine is getting better as more and more Koreans go overseas and bring foreign food with them when they return, but he still thinks Korea has a long way to go.
Training to go supersonic with South Korea’s Top Guns
It’s not everyday someone asks you if you’d be prepared to ride in a fighter jet but when my producer put the question to me several weeks ago I jumped at it.
Roaring engines, heat haze on the tarmac, fighter pilots in Aviator sunglasses: What’s not to like?
The South Korean Air Force was offering CNN rare access to its T-50 — a training fighter developed in South Korea in conjunction with U.S. military contractor Lockheed Martin.
LG taking pre-orders for curved OLED TV sets in South Korea
Los Angeles Times
LG on Monday began taking pre-orders for a 55-inch curved OLED TV. The new display, which looks like a flat-screen TV but with a subtle, inward curve, is available for purchase by South Korean customers for $13,500. It will arrive for customers next month.
OLED technology is supposed to provide a more vivid image as well as allow manufacturers to build even thinner TVs. OLED also makes it possible for manufacturers to build curved screens. LG and others in the industry say the advantage of a curved OLED display is that it makes the experience of watching something much more immersive and similar to watching an IMAX movie.
Hyun-Jin Ryu put in the best pitching performance of his young major league career, but didn’t get enough from the Dodgers’ bats to get the win, despite strong support from local Korean Americans.
“I was aware there are a lot of Korean Americans here in New York,” Ryu said through a translator, according to AP. “It was definitely encouragement.”
Ryu’s dominance on the hill held the New York Mets to just one run on three hits throughout a career-high seven innings, but the Los Angeles Dodgers needed a late rally in the ninth inning to eke out a 3-2 victory. Ryu was pulled after the seventh inning when the game was tied 1-1.
Last week against the Baltimore Orioles, Ryu surrendered five runs on eight hits but got a no-decision in the Dodgers 7-5 loss. The Orioles exposed Ryu by attacking his first pitch, which has been his biggest weakness even during his seven-year professional career back in South Korea. Continue Reading »
U.S. rejects North Korean demand for nuclear status
Reuters via Yahoo News
North Korea insisted on Tuesday that it be recognized as a nuclear weapons state, a demand the United States promptly dismissed as “neither realistic nor acceptable”.
After weeks of tension on the Korean peninsula, including North Korean threats of nuclear war, the North has in recent days begun to at least talk about dialogue in response to calls for talks from both the United States and South Korea.
The North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper rejected as unacceptable the U.S. and South Korean condition that it agree to dismantle its nuclear weapons and suspend missile launches before talks can begin.
US official: N. Korea food situation ‘fairly difficult,’ door still open for aid
A U.S. special envoy on North Korea said Monday that North Korea’s food plight is “fairly difficult” and that Washington is keeping the door open for food aid.
Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, affirmed that the U.S. draws a line between food assistance and politics.
“If there were a request for assistance, it’s something I’m sure that we would look at,” he said during a roundtable meeting with reporters at the State Department. “We try to keep our humanitarian assistance separate from political considerations.”
Park to deliver rare speech at joint session of U.S. Congress
South Korean President Park Geun-hye will deliver a speech at a joint session of the U.S. Congress during a visit to Washington next month for a summit with President Barack Obama, her office announced Tuesday.
The address, set for May 8 local time, comes only one year and a half after her predecessor Lee Myung-bak also addressed a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives during a state visit in October 2011.
State government lags in hiring Asian-American workers
WBEZ (Chicago Public Radio)
State agencies are starting to plan how they’ll hire more Asian-American workers. Tuesday, a new Asian-American Advisory Council, handpicked by Governor Pat Quinn, meets with agency representatives to identify barriers to Asian-American employment and promotion in the state labor force.
The council will also chart out how they’ll recruit, retain, and promote more Asian-Americans.
The effort comes from the State Asian-American Employment Plan, passed in the General Assembly and signed by Quinn last year.
Asian Americans Are on Ascent, Says Pew Survey
The Tiger Mom has been quiet lately, but I think I just heard her roar. If you read the Pew Research Center’s recent survey on Asian Americans, you can’t help but feel her presence.
Pew finds that Asian Americans are doing well—very well—and that their success seems to stem in large part from the culture’s emphasis on academic achievement and hard work. According to a survey of 3,511 Asian Americans, Pew reports:
Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances, and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work, and career success, according to a comprehensive new nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center.
So the Tiger Mom was right: Sitting on your kids to make high grades and denying them frivolities like sleepovers will make them more successful—and contented—in the long run. So take that, all you let-your-kids-be-free types!
Q&A: Implicit Bias Effect on Asian American Workers
[Marita Etcubañez, director of programs at the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC)]: While many Asian Americans have high educational attainment and work in professional fields, some encounter a glass ceiling that blocks their professional advancement.
This often takes the form of perceptions that Asian Americans have poor communication skills or that they are passive and lack leadership potential. Reliance on stereotypes should not continue to pose barriers to advancement in the workplace.
With the debate on immigration reform taking center stage, it is also important to highlight the challenges faced by immigrant workers, who are often fearful of bringing claims even though many of their workplace rights are protected under U.S. law regardless of immigration status.
Opinion: Koreans are ‘good,’ ‘bad’ and everything in between
Editor’s Note: World-renowned chef, author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Los Angeles’ Koreatown in “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” with self-described “bad Korean” Roy Choi and David Choe. Grace Lee is a Los Angeles-based independent filmmaker of fiction and documentary films that have explored identity. Her new film is “American Revolutionary” about Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs.
(CNN) – Over the years, I’ve envied the achievements of the “good Koreans”: their Ivy League credentials, their fluency in the Korean language and their dedication to their golf game and families – no matter what.
Even into my 30s, I regularly pondered whether it was too late to go to medical or law school so I could provide for my parents in their twilight years, or at least give them something to brag about to other Korean parents.
I went to graduate film school instead and made films on topics such as zombies, street food and electoral politics. My latest documentary, “American Revolutionary,” is about a 98-year-old Chinese-American woman in Detroit who devoted her life to the civil rights and black power movement.
My career may sound exciting to the average reader. But these pursuits do not come with job stability or a 401(k). Bad Korean.
Korean woman reported missing in Saint John
CBC News (Canada)
The Saint John Police Force’s major crime unit is asking for the public’s help in locating a missing woman.
Yeonhee Choi, 45, who is from Korea, was reported missing after leaving her home on Prince Street on the city’s lower west side on Monday at 6 a.m.
Choi is described as being approximately five-feet, four-inches tall, with short dark hair and two piercings on both ears.
Roy Choi Takes Anthony Bourdain on a Ride Through K-Town
Los Angeles Magazine
The second episode of “Parts Unknown” featured local Chef Roy Choi. Amidst scenes full of sexy street art, scorching spice and L.A. history, the two bad boys took a ride through K-Town together to explain why Korean food hasn’t changed much, even though it’s existed in L.A. and other parts of the U.S. for decades.
This morning, we caught up with Choi to see just how the episode came together.
Wait, first, how did you meet Anthony Bourdain?
I met him as he walked into Ham Ji Park on “The Layover” shoot (in 2011), in a cobalt blue button down shirt, and we connected mid-conversation like we knew each other from an alternate life.
Margaret Cho: Babies scare me more than anything
Excerpted from “No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood” edited by Henriette Mantel. Available from Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2013.
I don’t have children, and I am not sure if I have wanted them or never wanted them. It’s weird not to be able to decide. Kids are great, and many of my friends now have almost-grown-up kids, like in their late teens and early 20s, and I see these tall beings I once held in my arms, and I am alarmed, amused, and I want to cry, just for the passage of time and how it grows us like plants. I think about how, during all these years they’ve grown up, I must have grown down. That’s awful to realize.
Korean children get a lot of fuss made over them, I guess because life was tough in the old country, and it was a big deal if you survived. There’s a big party thrown when you are 100 days old, followed by another when you make it to one whole year. My parents took a lot of pictures of me at these parties, although I don’t remember a thing as I was really drunk at both. From the pictures I see the cake, though — all these big multicolored rice cakes, each pastel stripe a steamed layer of pounded and steamed rice flour, not sweet like birthday cake but a delicious treat all the same. It looks like a chewy Neapolitan ice cream, or a gay pride flag made of carbs. It’s the best and I want it, but I think wanting that cake isn’t enough reason to have a baby.
Debate: Who is game’s best leadoff hitter?
Dave: Shin-Soo Choo
The Cincinnati Reds center fielder is off to a stunning start, getting on base more than Joey Votto (his .521 OBP leads the majors, thanks in part to an amazing nine hit by pitches already) and adding some power (three homers, six doubles). It’s no fluke, of course: Choo has a career .385 OBP and he thrived after moving to the leadoff spot last year in Cleveland. And while he’s not known as a burner, he’s averaged 19 steals over the past four seasons. The question with him is how he does against left-handers. So far, so good (OBP over .400), but last year he had just a .318 OBP. If we’re talking all-around game, sure, I’ll take Jackson and his terrific glove over Choo and his questionable range. But for pure leadoff skills, Choo is my guy.
NPR’s FROM THE TOP to Feature 18-Year-Old NYC Guitarist, 4/29, 5/4-5
18-year-old guitarist Bokyung Byun from New York City, New York, will appear on an upcoming episode of From the Top, the hit NPR radio program featuring America’s best young classical musicians and hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley. Broadcast from Athens, Georgia, the show will air nationally the week of April 29, 2013 and on WQXR-FM 105.9 on May 4, 2013 at 6:00 AM and May 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM. The episode was taped before a live audience at the Hodgson Hall on March 3, 2013; the live taping was presented by the University of Georgia Performing Arts Center.
18-year-old Bokyung Byun is originally from South Korea. Currently, she lives in New York City, New York, and attends Juilliard where she studies with Sharon Isbin. Bokyung participated in the Aspen Music Festival in 2012 and the Guitar Foundation of America Festival in 2007. Bokyung enjoys exploring different culinary tastes, and would like to introduce guitars and guitar music to larger audiences. On the broadcast, Bokyung Byun performs “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” by Francisco Tárrega.
Specialty coffee stars putting down roots in Bay Area
San Jose Mercury News
Now two of the leading figures in the specialty coffee movement are putting down roots in the Bay Area, injecting more talent into what is already a thriving scene for high-end coffee, particularly in San Francisco.
Trish Rothgeb, 46, and Nicholas Cho, 39, are the people behind Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, a small company formerly headquartered in Redwood City but now anchored by a pop-up retail store on Pacific Avenue in the bustling Polk Gulch neighborhood of San Francisco. They sell beans online and in a growing number of retail outlets, including Bi-Rite Markets.
Cho is a champion barista, former owner of an acclaimed coffee shop in Washington, D.C., and a leading thinker and writer about coffee. He is also the exclusive U.S. importer of Kalita coffee equipment.
The pair moved to the Bay Area in 2010 and opened up their Pacific Avenue cafe in October. They are in negotiations to open a full-time retail shop nearby.
Going Against Type
Hak-ju Lee, the Tampa Bay Rays’ top-rated prospect, is poised to shatter every stereotype about Asian shortstops.
by STEVE HAN
If history is anything to go by, Hak-ju Lee is fighting a battle that has never been won.
South Korean shortstop Lee is the Tampa Bay Rays’ top-rated prospect, but his much-vaunted potential clashes with reality. There is a whispered understanding among American baseball insiders that Asian ballplayers lack the mobility and arm strength to excel as shortstops in the major leagues.
Indeed, no Korean middle infielder has signed with a big league franchise until Lee, who joined the Chicago Cubs from Chung-Ahm High School in 2008 for $1.15 million, before getting traded to the Rays in 2011. He has been honing his skills in the minor leagues, while waiting to be included in the Rays’ major league roster one day.
Until Lee’s signing, Japan was the only Asian country that produced major league shortstops over the years, and only Kazuo Matsui managed to make any kind of impact. But even Matsui, who signed with the New York Mets in December of 2003, struggled to adapt. The four-time Gold Glove award winner in Japan was moved to play second base in just his second year with the Mets after a series of errors at the start of the season. Continue Reading »
The Cincinnati Reds have won six of their last seven games, and are in first place in their division in large part due to the bat — and bruised body — of recent acquisition Shin-Soo Choo.
Their recent surge to a National League Central Division-leading 11-8 record has been inspired by Choo, as the Korean outfielder and leadoff hitter has reached base in 11 of his last 12 plate appearances. During that span, he’s logged four walks, three singles, two doubles, and was twice hit by a pitch. In the last two games — both wins over the Miami Marlins — Choo had five hits, three runs and one RBI.