Newly signed Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo with wife Mia (Won-mi Ha) and sons Alan (right) and Aiden, at Rangers Ballpark on Dec. 27. Photo via Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The Texas Rangers latest acquisition, Shin-Soo Choo, is setting his sights on the World Series to live up to the expectations of a seven-year, $130 million signing.
Choo, 31, said during his introductory press conference in Arlington, Texas, on Friday that he has now realized his lifelong dream of signing a big contract. Now, his goal is winning a title as the Rangers’ left fielder and leadoff hitter.
“Today is a special day for me,” Choo said, according to MLB.com. “Thirteen years ago, I was an 18-year-old kid who didn’t know anything. I came here to play baseball and worked really hard. Today is my dream come true. My next dream is to win the World Series.” Continue Reading »
Fort Lee man haunted by 15 hours he spent locked in police van
He avoids getting into cars if walking is an option. He deactivated his Facebook account, in part, after finding himself the subject of public discussions. And nearly three years after being locked in a Fort Lee police van overnight in freezing temperatures, Kevin Jun’s faith in police officers remains shaken.
Jun is one of three young men who will split a $360,000 settlement from the borough for surviving that harrowing night. Sure, he acknowledged, there are some who claim they, too, would spend a night in a van for $120,000. But as someone who continues to suffer post-traumatic stress, including from anxiety and fear of cramped spaces, Jun said no amount of money could convince him to relive the ordeal.
How South Korea’s Newspapers Reported Abe’s Shrine Visit
Wall Street Journal
South Korea’s major newspapers found a common issue to rain fire on regardless of their political color on Friday: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s surprise visit to Yasukuni Shrine.
All devoted ample front page space to Mr. Abe’s visit, noting the angry government responses from South Korea, China and disappointment expressed by the U.S.
South Korea’s biggest newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, used most of its first three pages to cover the news. It provided a detailed description of how Mr. Abe entered the shrine and offered explanations of what it would mean for his approval ratings, Japanese politics and the reaction from international society.
Celebs get suspended jail terms for gambling
A Seoul court handed out a suspended prison sentence to comedian Lee Soo-geun and other entertainers indicted for illegal online sports gambling.
Seoul District Central Court handed down a six-month prison term, suspended for one year to Lee, singer Tak Jae-hoon and Tony An, a former member of now-defunct legendary K-pop group, H.O.T.
The court found them guilty after the prosecution indicted them on Nov. 14 for gambling hundreds of millions of won on illegal betting sites on English Premier League football games from 2008 to 2012.
According to prosecutors, Tony An bet the most, 400 million won, followed by Lee with 370 million won and Tak with 294 million won.
“Sports Toto” is the only legal sport betting site in Korea, operated under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Its upper betting limit is 100,000 won per game, while illegal sites have no such limits.
South Korean Figure Skating Championships sell out in 15 minutes
Yuna Kim‘s star power in South Korea has lasted much longer than 15 minutes, but that’s how long it took for tickets to sell out for her final competitive event in her home country.
The South Korea Figure Skating Championships tickets went on sale Friday at 1 p.m. local time and sold out by 1:15, according to Asian news outlet arirang.
The competition takes place Jan. 3-5 in Goyang, near Seoul. Overall, 3,100 tickets were sold. On Monday a remaining 800 tickets will be released, arirang reported.
Korean Restaurant Makes NYT’s Top 10 List
New York eatery Hanjan, run by Korean-American chef Hooni Kim, placed fifth on a list of the top 10 restaurants of 2013 in the Big Apple by the New York Times on Wednesday. Hanjan captivated New Yorkers’ tastes with its traditional Korean sauces.
Kim, who also runs Danji, another popular Korean restaurant in the city, opened Hanjan near Korea Town in Manhattan last December. Danji became the first Korean restaurant around the world to receive a star rating by the prestigious Michelin Guide in 2011.
Korean Teen Pledges Future to Barca
Lee Seung-woo, who has recently been playing for Barcelona’s youth team, will sign a long-term contract with the prestigious Spanish club.
Lee’s father Young-jae said on Thursday, “At the request of the team, I went to Spain from Dec. 11 to 23. We agreed to renew the contract for five years, and will sign the papers in February.”
Choo Shin-soo’s charity foundation to hold first domestic event in Jan.
South Korean big leaguer Choo Shin-soo will hold his foundation’s first charity event at home early in the new year, the player’s management company here said on Friday.
An official with IB Sports said the newest member of the Texas Rangers and his Choo Foundation will join Child Fund Korea on Jan. 6 in a charity event for underprivileged children and children from multicultural families. The official added that up to four sick children who previously couldn’t afford medical services will receive donations from the Choo Foundation.
Lee Chung-yong Named Player of the Year
Lee Chung-yong of Bolton Wanderers in the English Championship has been voted the Korean footballer of the year by local fans here. He received 49.3 percent of 2,776 votes online in a survey conducted by the Korea Football Association from Dec. 11-25.
The midfielder drew special praise for successfully returning from a leg injury to help Korea qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Rivalries Within North Korean Elite Led to Purge, South’s Spy Chief Says
New York Times
South Korea’s intelligence chief said Monday that Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, who was executed this month, apparently had not plotted a coup as Pyongyang had said, but had fallen victim to intrigue within the country’s elite over lucrative business deals, according to lawmakers in Seoul.
Mr. Jang, 67, who was once believed to be the second most powerful man in North Korea, was executed on Dec. 12 on charges of plotting to overthrow his nephew’s government, four days after he was hauled out of a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party at which he was stripped of all titles. The highly unusual public purge and execution of a member of the North’s ruling family has set off widespread speculation about the possibility of a power struggle within the secretive regime.
US Re-balance to Asia Overshadowed by Tensions With China
The United States moved to pivot military, diplomatic and economic resources toward Asia in 2013, but the policy was sidetracked by bickering among allies and an increasingly assertive China.
Vice President Joe Biden’s December trip to Northeast Asia was meant to focus on reassuring U.S. allies Japan and South Korea of its plans to vastly increase resources to the region.
But China’s sudden expansion of its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) to overlap disputed areas with Japan and South Korea in the East China Sea dominated discussions.
Dennis Rodman leaves North Korea: No Kim Jong Un meet, “awesome” basketball players
Flamboyant former NBA star Dennis Rodman has left North Korea without meeting the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, but with high praise for local basketball players Rodman trained while there.
“They are awesome,” Rodman told CNN while in transit at Beijing Capital International Airport on Monday.
Rodman started his third visit to North Korea last week, spending four days in the isolated nation to assist setting up an exhibition game featuring North Korean players and a dozen NBA veteran players — identities of which are yet to be announced. The friendly game is planned for Kim Jong Un’s birthday on January 8.
Rodman’s latest round of “basketball diplomacy” came less than a week after North Korea announced the dramatic purge and execution of Kim’s uncle, Jang Song Taek, North Korea’s No. 2 leader.
Top Ten K-Pop Christmas songs of 2013!
It is that time of year again when K-Pop artists are releasing special holiday songs with a jolly good cheer for all of their fans, whether it be a collaboration under one agency or creating a cover of a Christmas classic.
As Christmas is just a few days away, I have compiled a list of the top ten Christmas songs of the year! Granted, there weren’t too many choices, but these K-Pop artists really did not disappoint with the songs they released this year. Check out the songs below to amp up your spirits for the upcoming holiday festivities! Create a playlist! Put this playlist on repeat and perhaps play it for your family while you gather around to open presents. Then dance around in your unsightly but endearing Christmas sweaters and warm knitted stockings!
Koreans are No. 1 moviegoers in the world
South Koreans watch more movies than any other people in the world, according to Korean movie theater chain CGV.
South Koreans saw an average of 4.12 movies per person in theaters this year, which is No. 1 in the world for the first time, based on recent data from Britain’s Screen Digest, CGV said.
Britain’s Screen Digest is one of the world’s leading media-focused research companies, and according to their numbers, the United States dropped to the second place with 3.88, followed by Australia (3.75) and France (3.44).
The Korean Film Council confirmed that a South Korean person indeed saw an average of four movies this year – as the number of movie tickets sold in 2013 is expected to reach 200-million this week.
James Lim and Moses Kang recruited as officers in Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia has struggled to recruit Asian Americans in law enforcement, officials told WUSA9.
That’s why it was an especially proud moment for the area, when two Asian American officers graduated from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy on Friday.
Loudoun County Deputy James Lim and Arlington County Officer Moses Kang go from recruit to rookie in their respective agencies.
Deputy James Lim, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, “”It’s awesome. I’ve been dreaming about this for a while.”
Fairfax County Major Gun Lee looks on with pride, even though these new officers will be working in neighboring agencies.
US soldiers join Habitat for Humanity project
U.S. troops of the 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) teamed up with Korean soldiers and local community members to renovate a home as part of the Habitat for Humanity program in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday.
According to the 2ID, more than 30 soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment and 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry volunteered to renovate a former cafe into a habitable home for a family in Dongducheon grappling with poverty.
The Habitat for Humanity program has been a staple among units in Korea for 15 years, yet it is new to the city of Dongducheon, north of Seoul. The city is one of the two homes to the “Second to None” division and the other is Uijeongbu.
Korean standout Choo to join Texas Rangers
South Korean star Choo Shin-Soo has agreed to a seven-year contract worth $130 million with the Texas Rangers, a report on Major League Baseball’s website said Saturday.
The signing has not been confirmed by the American League club because Choo must pass a physical before the deal can be completed.
The 31-year-old outfielder, who had been the top prize remaining among free agents, produced a career-best .423 percentage of reaching base over 154 games last season for Cincinnati — fourth-best in the major leagues behind only Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto and Mike Trout.
That figure was boosted by Choo being hit by pitches 26 times, the most of any batter in Major League Baseball last season, and walked 112 times, 29 more than his prior career-high season for bases on balls.
Choo, who rejected a one-year offer for $14.1 million to return to the Reds next season, has batted .288 over nine North American seasons with Seattle, Cleveland and Cincinnati with 104 home runs and 427 runs batted in.
As a leadoff batter last season for the Reds, left-hander Choo hit .285 with 21 home runs, 54 runs batted in and 20 steals.
More Goals Ahead
Lee Young-pyo’s playing days may be over, but his soccer ambitions have only expanded now that he’s retired.
by STEVE HAN
Lee Young-pyo. That name alone is enough to elicit excitement in the hearts of South Koreans, especially those obsessed with its national soccer team. Before Lee turned up, South Korea had never won a game at the World Cup, a winless drought that spanned half a century, back to its first appearance in 1954.
But in his first ever World Cup (and Korea’s sixth) in 2002, the flying fullback was the lynchpin of the team that reached the semifinals and sent European powerhouses packing for home. During that magical run, Lee set up two monumental goals that changed Korean soccer forever. In the group stage, his in-swinging cross found Park Ji-sung for the winning shot that knocked out Portugal. And in the subsequent round of 16 game, it was again Lee’s searching cross to Ahn Jung-hwan, who headed home the game-ending golden goal in extra time that eliminated the Italians.
There was more. Following his World Cup success, Lee took his talents to Europe, where the world’s very best play, and which had previously been a mere fantasyland for Korean players. (Cha Bum-kun enjoyed great success in Germany in the 1980s, but he was more of an anomaly.) For Holland’s PSV Eindhoven, Lee’s step-over dribbling to get past AC Milan’s legendary defender Cafu and then delivering a perfectly placed cross for Philippe Cocu’s headed goal in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinals in 2005 still remains one of the greatest sports moments for a Korean player in European soccer. Continue Reading »
Coveted free agent Shin-Soo Choo reportedly turned down a seven-year, $140 million offer from the New York Yankees, according to a report by Yahoo Sports.
The Yankees were considered the favorites to sign Choo this summer, as they have the deep pockets to offer a lucrative deal, as well as a potentially large Korean American fanbase, which are two of the outfielder’s priorities. But Yahoo Sports reported that Choo and his agent Scott Boras declined the Yankees’ offer and demanded a higher salary, believed to be $153 million over seven years.
It is widely believed now that the Yankees will no longer pursue Choo, as they signed outfielder Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal, a paltry sum compared to the South Korean outfielder’s request. Continue Reading »