U.S. Bemoans North Korea Nuclear ‘No Show’
Wall Street Journal
North Korea didn’t earn a mention in the State of the Union speech this year but U.S. diplomatic coordination over its nuclear program continued in Seoul on Wednesday.
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Glyn Davies met with South Korea’s point man on the isolated country’s nuclear program, Cho Tae-yong, as part of a regular swing through Northeast Asia to confer with officials in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Davies said the U.S. continues to be frustrated by the North’s “no-show on nuclear issues.”
“What we need is not just change in attitude, but change in direction, in fact, concrete steps from North Korea,” Mr. Davies told reporters.
While the U.S. and South Korea are seeking action from North Korea to show its willingness to denuclearize, satellite imagery in recent months suggests the North is making good on a pledge last year to restart its plutonium-producing reactor north of Pyongyang.
NKorea Warns of Tensions Over US-SKorea War Games
AP via ABC News
North Korea’s propaganda machine is churning out near-daily denunciations of the United States and South Korea for a series of soon-to-start military maneuvers, warning nuclear war could be imminent and saying it will take dramatic action of its own if further provoked.
North Korea’s increasingly shrill opposition to the annual joint drills named Foal Eagle looks very similar to the kind of harsh language that preceded the start of the same exercises last year and led to a steep rise in tensions on the Korean Peninsula. That round of escalation culminated in threats of a nuclear strike on Washington and the flattening of Seoul before the maneuvers ended and both sides went back to their corners.
It appears the first stages of this year’s battle have already begun — though some experts say they don’t think it will be as high-pitched as last year’s.
Foreign minister slams Japan for ‘justifying past atrocities’
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se lambasted Japan Wednesday for “justifying its past wartime atrocities,” vowing to make greater efforts to counter Japan’s persistent nationalist behavior.
“After admitting to Japanese soldiers’ involvement, Japan has recently denied it and tried to justify its past atrocities,” Yun said during a visit to a shelter for South Korean victims of the sexual slavery.
Historians say up to 200,000 women, many of them Korean, were coerced into sexual servitude by the Japanese army at front-line brothels during World War II when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony.
The House of Sharing shelter on the outskirts of Seoul is currently home to seven out of dozens of still living South Korean women drafted by Japan.
Why is South Korea plugging unification?
Unification has become something of a buzzword in South Korea this month. President Park Geun-hye emphasised it in her New Year press conference, the opposition Democratic Party did likewise, and journalists, pundits and government officials have followed suit.
But with relations on the peninsula as opaque and as tense as ever, many are wondering what has prompted this latest surge in interest.
If there is one thing the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made clear when he executed his uncle, it is that he is no more willing to tolerate challenges to his authority than his father or grandfather.
South Korea’s Underground Seat Fight
New York Times
Last September, a 55-year-old man lit some scrap paper on fire and threw it into a Seoul subway car as he left the train. He had just been cursed at and kicked by senior citizens for sitting in a seat designated for “the elderly and the infirm.”
The man, whom we know only by his surname of Kim, was sentenced on Jan. 14 by a Seoul court to one year and six months in prison. One news article reporting the results of his trial garnered more than 1,000 comments in just one day, most of which were from sympathetic younger people complaining about being forced to give up their seats on the subway to senior citizens. Mr. Kim is hardly young, but his frustration resonated with the younger generations.
The Seoul subway’s designated-seating section has become a curious backdrop of intergenerational conflict in South Korea. In the 40 years or so since full-scale industrialization began, the social divide between generations has widened. Senior citizens grew up during Japanese occupation and the Korean War, and lived through the era of breakneck economic growth that followed, building a modern country from the ground up in just a few decades, most of the time under a military dictatorship. Most younger South Koreans have come of age in a time of relative affluence and freedom, and like many younger people in East Asia, have gradually become more independent-minded than their elders and less attached to the traditional Confucian values that have been the basis of Korean society for centuries.
South Korea approves $7 billion nuclear project
South Korea has approved funding for two new nuclear plants to boost its nuclear power industry struggling to emerge from the shadow of Japan’s Fukushima disaster.
The project costing $7bn was approved on Wednesday, only two weeks after Asia’s fourth-largest economy announced a policy shift to cut its reliance on nuclear power in the wake of radiation cleanup conerns in Japan.
South Korea still plans to double its nuclear capacity over the next two decades as its state-run industry builds at least 16 new domestic reactors and pushes for overseas sales.
The plants are due to be completed by the end of 2020.
Checks on Korean Flights to U.S. to Be Streamlined
Inspections on U.S.-bound flights out of Korea will be streamlined from Friday, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Tuesday. At present, passengers boarding those flights must undergo two checks, one at customs and another in front of the boarding gate.
The inspection process compels passengers to buy liquid products at airport duty free shops at least an hour before boarding in order to undergo the second check. That has caused 2.4 million U.S.-bound passengers annually to wait 30 to 40 minutes in front of the boarding gate.
The ministry said it reached the agreement with the U.S. government after assessing the level of security in Korean airports.
Christopher Chung tapped to fill vacant council seat in Palisades Park
Bergen County Record (N.J.)
The council seat left vacant by Jason Kim, the first Korean-American to serve on the governing body and who resigned earlier this month, will be filled by Christopher Chung.
Chung, 46, who has served on the Board of Education for the past several years, was sworn in on Tuesday night after council members chose him among three names submitted by the Democratic Municipal Committee.
Mayor James Rotundo said Chung, who is also Korean-American, would be an asset to the council.
“He’s young, and he’s energetic,” said Rotundo, calling him a hard worker as well.
Seollal dilemma in New York
For the past few years, certain Korean parents in New York have fought hard to get public schools to recognize ”Seollal,’’ or Lunar New Year, as an official holiday. Now that the new city mayor says he, too, wants schools off for the major Asian holiday, many Korean parents are beginning to have second thoughts.
”Another holiday? I didn’t ask for it. Maybe stay-at-home moms want their children home for Lunar New Year, but not working moms,’’ says Nancy Choi, 42, a dentist with two daughters in elementary school. ”Who’s going to watch the kids when we’re all at work?’’
Like Choi, many working parents aren’t welcoming the idea of Lunar New Year becoming an official school holiday.
”There are already enough holidays aside from all the winter snow days,’’ wrote Kim Jee-ae on Mizville.org, a popular online community for Korean women in the U.S. ”These parents behind the campaign aren’t considering people like us who have to go to work.’’
Meet Carol Kim
San Diego City Beat
Carol Kim believes she’s the first Korean-American to run for elected office in San Diego County, and, to a large extent, she owes the opportunity—along with at least some of her guiding philosophy—to her father.
Kim’s parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea in the mid-1970s, after her dad, the son of a low-income single mother from a small fishing village, graduated from college with a degree in chemical engineering and was offered a job in the Midwest. When he and his new bride arrived in Los Angeles with $350 to their names, he learned the job had fallen through. Kim’s mother, who came from a comfortable middle-class family, had been a supervising nurse in Korea, but her license didn’t translate to her new country. Suddenly, they were stuck in L.A. with no prospects.
Kim’s dad started his new life in the U.S. as a day laborer, her mom on the lowest rung at a nursing home. But, in her off time, Kim’s mother made baby pillows and blankets using remnants from a fabric store, which they’d sell at a swap meet. That eventually led to their own clothing retail store, which led to a clothing-manufacturing business and a comfortable life for Kim and her three younger siblings. Kim graduated from UCLA with an English degree, later earning a master’s in education, and went on to a career in teaching and social services.
A Piano Made Out of People: The Magik*Magik Orchestra Celebrates Five Years
In 2010, S.F. indie rocker John Vanderslice wrote the outline of a song called “Convict Lake.” He had just a few chords, some lyrics, and a vocal melody. His demo recording of the song sounds monochromatic, almost empty. Between the percussive strikes of acoustic guitar and the hesitant wisp of vocals, there are chasms of silence. It’s the skeleton of a song, far from a finished product.
Then Vanderslice gave the demo to Minna Choi.
The final version of “Convict Lake,” which appeared on Vanderslice’s 2011 album White Wilderness, bears the same dragging tempo, the same chord structure, and the same vocal melodies, but everything else about it is bigger, deeper, more colorful: There’s a slurring clarinet, flashes of piano, a winking brass section, and the effortless upward lift of orchestral strings. The song has acquired a tremendous new dimension, new melodies and counter-melodies, a richness that wasn’t even hinted at in the demo. It’s as if “Convict Lake” leaped from black-and-white to multicolored high-definition.
Documentary by Ramsay Liem to pass along survivors’ stories from a ‘forgotten war’
Boston College Chronicle
One of the ironies of referring to the Korean War as “the forgotten war,” says Professor Emeritus of Psychology Ramsay Liem, is that it technically has never ended, since no formal treaty between the antagonists has ever been signed.
But for many Koreans, the war is not forgotten, says Liem, co-producer and co-director of a recent documentary that depicts the human costs of military conflict through personal accounts by four Korean-American survivors.
“Memory of Forgotten War,” which Liem produced and directed with his sister-in-law Deann Borshay Liem, was shown at Boston College earlier this month. The program also featured a Q&A with the filmmakers and cultural music and dance presentations that included BC student performers.
FIGURE SKATING/ Asada-Kim rivalry will end in Sochi
Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
Their competitive lives have been so intertwined that perhaps it is only natural that figure-skating rivals Mao Asada of Japan and Kim Yu-na of South Korea sound synchronized in their responses to reporters.
Before the Skate America competition last October, Asada was in a Detroit restaurant, surrounded by a dozen or so reporters who wanted to know if she considered Kim a rival she desperately wanted to defeat.
After bursting out with a laugh, Asada said: “We have been competing together since we were in junior competition, so in my teens I had a strong sense that she was my rival. But now, I myself have become more of an adult so I feel that I want to express what I have done until now through my skating.”
Although the questions were direct ones that Asada does not normally get, she did not change her relaxed expression.
Russia pin hope on South Korean-born Ahn
South Korean-born Ahn Hyun-soo’s defection to the Russian team will not only stir up raw emotions at the Sochi Games but it could also allow the hosts to capture their first ever Olympic medal in short track skating.
South Korea and China have come to dominate the sport popularised by North American skaters after its debut at the Albertville Games in 1992.
But the 28-year-old, who won four Olympic medals at the 2006 Turin Games, took on Russian citizenship two years ago and became Viktor Ahn when he fell out with the South Korean federation over failing to win a spot for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
“It was difficult to train in (South) Korea,” Ahn, who has come back from injuries to be ranked among the top four in all three distances, told Reuters.
“For the 2010 Olympic Games, I missed this great competition. That’s why the Sochi Olympics have become my new big goal, which I have been pursuing for all these years.”
The absence of some of short track’s biggest names in Sochi has also shaken up the field.
New Santa Monica Butcher A Cut Above The Rest
Santa Monica Mirror (Calif.)
On a bustling curbside of Santa Monica Boulevard in Mid-City Santa Monica stands a newly opened, slightly unconventional butcher shop.
After opening its doors to the public in mid-December, A Cut Above has drawn attention for its quality meats as well as a wide range of options for its customers.
Owned by Andrew Yoon and Eddy Shin, former college roommates, along with Yoon’s wife, Cindy, the butcher shop carries an energetic vibe and trendy decor.
The owners are accompanied by a staff of young chefs, workers, and servers, who add on to the modern atmosphere. The shop also doubles as a deli, with some seating available for those who decide to purchase one-time meals instead of cuts to take home.
Meet Susie Woo
CSUF News (Cal State Fullerton)
When Susie Woo completed her doctorate in American studies at Yale in 2009, her dissertation on Korean War adoptions and military brides earned distinction.
Today, she is completing a revised manuscript on her doctoral research and weaving what she’s learned into the courses she is teaching at Cal State Fullerton.
“Between 1950 and 1965, nearly 15,000 Korean adoptees and military brides entered the United States as the children and wives of predominantly white, middle-class families,” Woo said, adding that her research “traces the roots and routes of this forgotten immigrant group.”
It argues that U.S. servicemen, missionaries and social workers in postwar South Korea “tethered Americans at home to Koreans in sentimental, material and, eventually, familial ways that unraveled the U.S. government’s ability to contain its political objectives ‘over there,’ ” she said. “Private U.S. citizen involvement intimately changed the lives of Korean civilians, transformed South Korea’s welfare system, and challenged U.S. conceptions of race, kinship and nation during the Cold War/civil rights era.”
Chef Roy Choi embodies state’s most essential skill — fusion: Joe Mathews
Los Angeles Daily News
Californians have fallen in love with the recipes of L.A. chef Roy Choi, the man best known for creating the Korean barbecue taco.
But does California have a recipe to cook up more Roy Chois?
It’s an urgent question. Choi probably comes closer than any living Californian to embodying the skills needed by our state today.
Like Steve Jobs, who combined existing technologies into something new and irresistible (and that you could hold in your hand), Choi has stitched together unlikely ingredients to create the iPhone of food: the Kogi taco. Such skill is sometimes called invention, but the more accurate name for it is fusion. And California runs on it.
The University of Louisiana at Monroe honored three-time All-American point guard E.J. Ok after the women’s basketball game on Saturday. Ok’s jersey was retired and will soon be hung in the rafters next to men’s basketball great, Glynn Saulters.
Ok first attended the school — then called Northeast Louisiana University — in 1982 and led her team to three trips to the NCAA tournament, putting NLU’s basketball program on the map. In 1985, the 5-foot-6 guard, then known as Eun Jung Lee, took her team to the Final Four and ended the season ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press basketball poll.
Ok was named Southland Conference Player of the Year all four years she was at NLU and still holds many career records, including total assists and free throws made, local newspaper News-Star reported. She is second in in school history in career points with 2,208, behind Lisa Ingram’s 2,601. She was a Naismith Award finalist her senior season. Continue Reading »
Two professional hockey players who were born in Canada were granted South Korean citizenship last Tuesday, Yonhap News reports.
With the hopes of fielding a strong ice hockey team in time for the 2018 Olympics hosted by Korea in Pyeongchang, the government has relaxed restrictions on dual citizenships for “qualified” foreigners.
Brian Young, 28, and Michael Swift, 27, were naturalized via an expedited reviewing process that allows multiple citizenships for “talented foreigners, such as chiefs of government agencies, legal institutions and universities as well as leaders in fields of business, sports and science.” Continue Reading »
Jackpot or Crackpot? Park on Korean Reunification
Wall Street Journal
The demure Park Geun-hye rarely startles. Yet South Korea’s president did just that on Jan. 6. In her first press conference after almost a year as president, Ms. Park raised eyebrows by calling Korean unification a “jackpot”. The usual fear of vast costs has it wrong, she argued. Rather, this will be “a chance for the economy to make a huge leap.”
She didn’t elaborate, but cited Jim Rogers in support. The US.. investment guru reiterated his own bullishness on a joint Korean future on Jan. 14: “… South Korea’s capital and technical skills, and North Korea’s labor and natural resources, [can] make Korea grow exponentially.”
Ms. Park’s jackpot talk gained her rare praise from the South Korean liberal opposition. Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil said he was “glad [she] helped break the common misconception that reunification is a cost.” But Mr. Kim added a crucial condition: “Only a gradual and peaceful reunification is a blessing. Reunification by absorption [after] a sudden change in North Korea could be a catastrophe.” Or to be more technical, reunification will be path-dependent.
Are U.S. troops in South Korea still necessary?
Al Jazeera America
After meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Jan. 7 that the United States would send an additional 800 troops to join the nearly 30,000 American service members already stationed in South Korea.
“We remain fully committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea,” Kerry explained, “including through extended deterrence and putting the full range of U.S. military capabilities in place.”
A day earlier, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel discussed with Yun “the importance of maintaining a robust combined defense of the Korean Peninsula as a strong deterrent against provocations from North Korea.”
Prosecutor indicted for peddling influence to help actress
An incumbent prosecutor was indicted Wednesday on charges of abusing his influence to help a female celebrity, prosecution officials said.
The 37-year-old prosecutor, only identified by his surname Jeon, is under suspicion of helping TV personality Lee Yoon-ji, better known by her stage name Amy, settle disputes with a plastic surgeon in 2012. An inspection division of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office (SPO) said it has brought charges against Jeon for violating the attorneys-at-law act.
Jeon first met Lee when he was prosecuting her case involving a psychotropic drug propofol abuse in 2011, the SPO said. Lee was charged for drug abuse and served two months in prison before being released on parole. After her release, Lee allegedly complained about the side effects of a cosmetic surgery she underwent, prompting Jeon to blackmail the doctor to let Lee undergo another operation free of charge, it said.
Jeon also allegedly collected 22.5 million won (US$21,000) in compensation from the clinic on her behalf, which he gave to the 32-year-old TV personality, SPO officials said.
US state universities recruit Korean students
The State University of New York (SUNY) and California State University held a briefing about their admissions policies as they relate to the recruitment of Korean students at the COEX in southern Seoul on Saturday and Sunday.
The session was organized by the Korus Education Institute which provides the Education Abroad program in partnership with American universities. About 200 students and parents attended the event.
The two U.S. state universities are in the process of attracting some 100 Korean students under the Education Abroad program. The deadline for applications is Jan. 23. Students applying to the program can prove their English abilities by taking the Proficiency of English for Academic Purposes (PEAP) instead of submitting TOEFL scores.
The Education Abroad program is one of the international exchange programs selected by 20 state universities in the U.S. such as SUNY and California State University. These universities have officially acknowledged PEAP as a replacement for other English tests.
South Korea’s New Hybrid Media: Wall Posters Gone Viral
For around a decade, South Korea has been a byword for advanced internet connectivity. With the world’s earliest mass adoption of broadband – and at the fastest speeds – this nation of 50 million is regularly cited as the “world’s most wired”. The introduction last year of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) mobile communications means that Koreans now enjoy the world’s fastest wireless network as well.
And despite South Korea’s image as a follower (albeit a fast one), this country has been ahead of the pack on a surprising number of internet innovations. A firm named Saerom developed Dialpad, a VoIP service, three years before Skype came along. And when Facebook and even Myspace were mere minnows, millions of Koreans were already using a social network named Cyworld. Lee Jun-seok, a South Korean entrepreneur and political activist, fondly remembers e-mailing his Harvard classmate Mark Zuckerberg, “We already have Cyworld, a far better and more sophisticated website. Your start-up will fail soon.”
Famous last words, of course. But the most profound effects of Korea’s internet mania have been felt in the realm of politics, rather than business. In 2002, liberal candidate Roh Moo-hyun had been all but written off for that December’s presidential election race, but narrowly won following a last-minute surge led by online fan-club Nosamo (‘people who love Roh Moo-hyun) and the efforts of a then-fledgling ‘citizen journalism’ site named Ohmynews.
Hitches in Compromise at a McDonald’s
New York Times
Maybe it was the snow. Or a lack of communication.
For whatever reason, the compromise between a McDonald’s and a group of older Korean patrons — limiting the hours that the group can linger at the restaurant — seemed to have some loose ends on Tuesday, two days after the agreement was reached.
The compromise, brokered by Assemblyman Ron Kim, called for patrons to limit their loitering to less than an hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the McDonald’s at the corner of Northern and Parsons Boulevards.
Victim of motorcyle gang beating sues city, biker cops
New York Post
The lower Manhattan father who was swarmed and beaten up by a raging motorcycle gang last fall plans to sue the city and two of his alleged attackers, NYPD cops Wojciech Braszczok and Matthew Rodriguez.
Alexian Lien filed the complaint on behalf of his himself, his wife, Rosalyn Ng, and their 2-year-old daughter who were in the family’s Range Rover during the brutal confrontation on Sept. 29, 2013.
“A vicious and unruly mob of motorcycle riders” “attacked and assaulted” Lien and “vandalized his motor vehicle” by smashing a rear window where his toddler was sitting, according to his notice of claim filed on Dec. 24.
FOR the directorial debut of a former Korean “webtoon” artist, the accomplishment is remarkable. Based on a script he had mulled over since the 1990s, Yang Woo-seok’s “The Attorney” was originally intended as an indie movie for a small audience. But it has beaten Korean box-office records since its release on December 18th—at the end of a year in which Korean cinemas set a new record of over 200m ticket sales (in a country of 50m people). It hit the 1m-admissions mark after just three days, beating the other most popular movies of 2012 and 2013 (“Masquerade” and “Miracle in Cell no. 7”, respectively, which each took four days to do so). Its viewership is also growing at a faster clip than “Avatar”, an American blockbluster from 2009, which attracted the biggest Korean audience of all time (13.3m). On January 19th, just one month after its release, it entered the 10m-admissions club—joining just eight other movies in the history of Korean film.
Films based on real-life events have a special appeal for Koreans. With “The Attorney” counted among Korea’s 10m club, four of its nine members are now historical films. “The Attorney” is based loosely on an infamous court case which took place in Busan in 1981. Twenty-two university students were arrested, tortured and tried on the trumped-up charge of forming a book club to study seditious literature. The “Burim case” has long been seen as a massive frame-up of South Korea’s communist movement, aimed at bolstering support for Chun Doo-hwan, a strongman who had seized power in a coup the previous year. In “The Attorney”, an ambitious solicitor quits a high-earning job advising taxpayers to take on the political case in defence of the innocent students. The part is played by Song Kang-ho, who starred in three movies in 2013; the first two, “The Face Reader” and “Snowpiercer”, sold over 9m tickets each in Korea, earning him the nickname “the 20m man”.
Critics Pick ‘Snowpiercer’ as Korean Film of The Year
South Korea’s film press has voted English-language “Snowpiercer” as the best Korean film of 2013.
The annual Film of the Year Awards are organized by the Korean Film Reporters Association and were unveiled Wednesday at the Korea Press Center in Seoul.
“Snowpiercer” was the English-language directing debut of established Korean helmer Bong Joon-ho, who was also named director of the year. The film stars Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris and Tilda Swinton alongside Korean favourite Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung.
Released in August, the film sold 9.34 million tickets and became a mega hit that belied its language and art-house roots.
Kim’s Convenience might be turned into a TV show
Before Kim’s Convenience made the jump from Fringe Festival hit to Soulpepper Theatre Company mainstay, nobody knew that the problems of a convenience-store-owning Korean family could be the stuff of compelling, popular theatrical drama. Now, after two years’ worth of successful remounts, the film industry evidently wants a piece.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, Soulpepper announced that it has entered into a partnership with Vancouver-based Thunderbird Films, a company that has produced TV shows like Package Deal and Some Assembly Required. According to a Thunderbird spokesperson, the company is in the process of scripting both film and TV adaptations of Ins Choi’s 2011 play, which takes place almost entirely inside a Regent Park mini-mart run by a gruff Korean pater familias and his wife.
Park Ji-sung to host charity football match before World Cup, return to nat’l team doubtful
Former South Korean football captain Park Ji-sung will host a charity football match in Southeast Asia only days before the start of the FIFA World Cup, his father confirmed Wednesday, leaving the player’s possible return to the national team in doubt.
Park Sung-jong, the player’s father, said the footballer will host the annual charity event either on May 31 or June 1 in Malaysia or Indonesia. Park Ji-sung launched his own charity organization called JS Foundation in 2011 and has been hosting an All-Star football match to raise funds for children since that year.
“This is something he’d planned to do all along,” the senior Park said. “He is executing plans that he’d made when he retired from international play three years ago.”
If the former Manchester United midfielder commits to his own event, it appears unlikely he will join the national team in Brazil for the World Cup in early June. The tournament opens on June 12, and South Korea plans to travel to the host country early in that month.
S. Korean pitcher Lim invited to Cubs’ spring training: agent
South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong, recently released by the Chicago Cubs, has been invited to spring training by the Major League Baseball (MLB) team, his Seoul-based agent said Tuesday.
Kim Dong-wook, head of the local sports agency Sports Intelligence, said the 37-year-old right-hander will try to make the big league team again when the Cubs’ camp opens in mid-February in Arizona.
The Cubs non-tendered Lim last month, making him a free agent on paper, but Kim said the Cubs have informed him that they still retain rights to the pitcher.
“We had no plans to move Lim,” Kim said. “He has been invited to the Cubs’ spring training.”
Socially speaking: LPGA’s best
With the 2014 season set to tee off on Thursday at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, we thought we would take a look at some of the LPGA’S best and brightest. In 140 characters or less and Earlybird filter usage, that is.
Fair warning: If you’re currently in an area covered in snow, you might not want to follow any of the women below this week. The pictures of the gorgeous Bahamian beaches and sunny skies might be too much to bear.
Short track: Russia’s Ahn looking to upstage Asian rivals
Russia’s Victor Ahn will be looking to upstage his native South Korea and put the Olympic hosts on the medals table for the first time in short track speed skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Ahn, formerly known as Ahn Hyun-Soo, is the only short-tracker to win four medals in one Olympics with his three gold and bronze in 2006 for South Korea before falling out with the team, and after failing to qualify for the 2010 Vancouver Games he switched citizenship to compete for Russia.
Russia warmed up for Sochi by dominating the European championships at the weekend with 28-year-old Ahn taking three titles as the Olympic hosts won ten medals in total including five gold in Dresden, Germany.
Dumpling party marks Korean New Year with hundreds of mandu and dozens of eaters
Grace Hong is pretty sure her mother would be appalled. Not at the fact that she and her husband celebrate the new year with traditional lucky mandu, dumplings made the Korean way. But possibly at every other aspect of their celebration. With 600 dumplings, 60 guests and an unmentionable amount of wine and beer, the annual fete they call Dumplingfest violates most, if not all, of her mother’s holiday traditions.
Hong, 40, grew up in Lyons, N.Y., not far from Rochester. “We were the only Asian family in town,” she says. And every New Year, for a small, family-only gathering, her mother would make duk mandu guk, a traditional Korean soup. She would fill a large soup pot with beef bones and aromatic vegetables to make the rich broth, in which she simmered meat-filled dumplings and glutinous rice cakes, symbols of prosperity.
Listen for sizzle of Korean street food
On the streets here, find your next meal by listening for the sizzle. Street food is everywhere, and food carts and stalls selling a short list of foodstuffs or specializing in only one item attract long queues at all hours of the day. A pojangmacha — a Korean word that translates as “covered wagon,” and refers to a movable, street-side restaurant draped in tarps — offers more of a complete meal: set menus, a greater number of options, more complicated dishes, and, often, tables for customers.
Street food plays a significant part in Seoul’s culture. Students might stop by their favorite stall for a quick, cheap bite after school or before going out for the evening. Crowds of professionals will descend after the workday ends, and on into the night. And then there are the late comers: taxi drivers and other graveyard shift workers who appreciate a hot meal or snack, at any hour.
Marja Vongerichten, wife of celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, hosted and co-produced the 2011 TV show “Kimchi Chronicles,” a travelogue-style exploration of Korean food, including street food. Marja Vongerichten was born in Korea (her mother is Korean and her father an African-American serviceman) and adopted and raised by a family in the United States. She learned about her culture through Korean food. She is also author of a cookbook based on the series, “The Kimchi Chronicles: Korean Cooking for an American Kitchen.”
This is the Closest Thing to a North Korean Google Street View
Despite North Korea’s notoriously strict limitations on tourists in general (not to mention those slinging around cameras), last autumn, the country’s officials decided to allow Pan to photograph non-military points of interest—so long as it wasn’t “political,” that is. And Pan seems perfectly all right with that. According to his site, his DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea) 360 project is not meant to address “any past, present, or future political issues that may be sensitive.”
For South Korea’s old, a return to poverty as Confucian filial piety weakens
There’s a dark side to South Korea’s 50-year rise to riches: The graying generation that is most responsible for that ascent is living in relative poverty.
In a fast-paced nation famous for its high achievers and its big spending on private tutors and luxury goods, half of South Korea’s elderly are poor, the highest rate in the industrialized world.
Some live in crumbling hillside neighborhoods that lack running water. Others wait in line at soup kitchens where there is no young face in sight. The worst-off comb through garbage, collecting cardboard and paper and lugging it to trash yards, where they can receive several dollars for a pile. It’s common in central Seoul to see hunched seniors gathering scraps.
Chinese Shrine to Korean Assassin Irks Japan
Wall Street Journal
Japan, South Korea and China are sparring over a new shrine.
The opening on Sunday of a memorial hall in China to the assassin of the Japanese governor-general of Korea in 1909 has drawn a sharp exchange of words between Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.
The memorial hall was built at the railway station in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, where Korean national Ahn Jung-guen shot and killed Hirobumi Ito on Oct. 26, 1909.
Modeled on the original façade of the station and with a clock showing the exact time of the assassination, the hall is the fruit of a request by South Korean President Park Geun-hye to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing in June last year.
South Korean Trade Official Abducted in Libyan Capital
New York Times
Gunmen have kidnapped a South Korean trade official in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, according to the South Korean government, which advised its citizens Monday to leave the country.
Han Seok-woo, 39, the head of the Tripoli office of the government-funded Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, was on his way home from work on Sunday afternoon when four gunmen stopped his car and abducted him, officials with the South Korean Foreign Ministry said Monday.
Both the ministry and the trade agency said they were trying to gather information on the kidnappers and on Mr. Han’s whereabouts.
Bergen Dem Chairman Stellato backs Roy Cho in CD 5 race
There has been speculation for months about whether Bergen Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato would ultimately back Roy Cho, the Korean-American attorney from Hackensack who is the sole declared candidate to challenge Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R – 5).
The answer apparently came in the middle of the glittering Rockleigh Country Club ballroom at the Bergen Democratic Party annual Victory Gala on Thursday. And the message was conveyed not completely in English.
In an interview with reporter Yoojin Sung of Korean Radio Broadcasting, Stellato’s comments, later translated into Korean, show support for Cho’s candidacy.
China, South Korea face familiar woes in English quest
Japan isn’t alone in its struggles with teaching English. China and South Korea have experienced similar frustrations, but their responses and results have been quite different.
It’s easy to compare the three nations because of their similarities: English is completely different from their native languages; they’ve all had limited immigration and haven’t been completely colonized by an English-speaking Western power; and all three currently share low birth rates (though China has had an only-child policy that is just starting to be relaxed).
The most obvious difference between the three countries is scale. China’s population is 1.35 billion while Japan and South Korea’s are 127 million and 50 million, respectively. This is relevant to the number of English speakers education systems are producing — all three have a high-stakes college entrance exam on which English is a required subject. In 2013, 9.12 million students sat China’s exam, the Gaokao, 650,000 sat Korea’s College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT) while 570,000 sat Japan’s National Center Test. Furthermore, one of the requirements for an undergraduate degree in China is passing the College English Test (CET); in 2013, 9.38 million students sat this exam.
What’s Unnerving About Angela Buchdahl? She Talks About God
Jewish Daily Forward
What has made some people nervous about Angela Buchdahl becoming the senior rabbi at Central Synagogue – one of the two largest Reform synagogues in New York and one of the biggest in the United States – is not that she’s the first Asian-American rabbi. It’s not that she’s a woman or, at 41, so young to lead a congregation whose membership will soon number 2,400 families. It’s not that she’s been working primarily as a cantor for most of her career. It’s not even that she’s the mother of three young children, though that has given some in her congregation pause, Buchdahl said. No, it’s because she talks about God.
“We become very nervous talking about God in the Jewish community,” Buchdahl tells Haaretz. “I made people on the search committee a little nervous about it.”
God is at the center of Buchdahl’s life. Born in South Korea and descended from a Korean king, she has prayed every night since she was a young girl in Tacoma, Washington, with a Korean-Buddhist mother and American-Jewish father. And in her new role at Central Synagogue, she is trying to put God at the center as well.
AB InBev to Pay $5.8 Billion for Korea’s Oriental Brewery
Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI) agreed to pay $5.8 billion for South Korea’s Oriental Brewery Co. Ltd., regaining control of a company that became the Asian nation’s biggest brewer under KKR (KKR) & Co. and Affinity Equity Partners Ltd.
AB InBev will fund the acquisition with internal resources, according to a statement from the companies today. The Leuven, Belgium-based maker of Budweiser and Corona will receive about $320 million in cash when the transaction is completed.
AB InBev, the world’s biggest beermaker, is buying back a business it sold to KKR in 2009 for $1.8 billion when it sought to cut debt following InBev NV’s $52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch Cos. KKR subsequently sold 50 percent of the asset to Affinity. Since then, Oriental Brewery has become South Korea’s largest beermaker and more than doubled earnings, boosted by its Cass brand.
Living someone else’s life
Property theft can easily be punished as long as evidence points in one direction, hopefully the right one. But what happens in cases of identity theft?
As the online community continues to grow rapidly, netizens are finding themselves hesitant about uploading personal information online, where it can be easily stolen with none being the wiser.
Some websites have developed strategies to prevent this from happening by disabling the right-click button and requesting users to place watermarks on their photographs, but stealing photos and another person’s life still isn’t all that difficult.
3 Arrested in Massage Parlor Prostitution Sting
Bridgeport police arrested three women on Wednesday night during a sting operation at an illegal massage parlor, called the American Asian Modeling Studio.
The officers, dressed in civilian clothes, went to the Asian Modeling Studio at 3853 Main Street at about 10 p.m. on Thursday to conduct an undercover operation.
They said they spoke with to a woman through a barred door and received a price quoted price for massage and sexual services, but were told to come back because the woman working that night was busy with another client, police said.
Skokie Celebrates Korean Culture With 60-Event Series
Skokie Patch (Skokie, Ill.)
Taste kim chi, learn about what it was like for a teen boy to leave Korea when his parents opened a store in the U.S., learn a beloved Korean folk tale and more as “Coming Together in Skokie & Niles Township” launches Sunday, Jan. 26 and continues with programs for about two months.
“It will be a great opportunity for people to experience and learn Korean culture,” said Tom Suh, president of Korean American Association of Chicago (and Chicagoland) at a preview of the event Thursday.
This is the fifth “Coming Together” program, said Susan Van Dusen, who was one of five women who founded the event five years ago; it has previously focused on the Indian, Assyrian, Filipino and Greek cultures. It has grown every year, but has taken a big leap forward this year by including events at the Morton Grove, Lincolnwood and Niles libraries, and venturing into area schools with programs.
Jamie Chung On Once Upon A Time: ‘I Would Go Back In A Heartbeat’
Jamie Chung has a new primetime drama for NBC, but don’t count her out of future episodes of ABC’s “Once Upon A Time.”
“I think it would be really disappointing to leave the audience with this giant question mark,” Jamie told AccessHollywood.com, following the NBC “Believe” panel (her new show) at the Television Critics Association Winter Tour on Sunday. “I would go back in a heartbeat. I am committed to this show, but I don’t think that door is shut, so I’m hoping that there is something we can do to kind of answer more questions.”
Jamie plays Mulan on “Once,” and in recent episodes, her feelings for another, female character – Aurora (played by Sarah Bolger) – were alluded to.
North Korea to Play Asian Games
Wall Street Journal
The North Koreans are coming again.
Pyongyang said late Monday that both its men’s and women’s soccer teams would participate in the Asian Games to be held in Incheon, South Korea, later this year.
The announcement marks a continuation of interaction on the sports field even as ties between the two Koreas remain unstable. Last week, North Korea warned of an “unimaginable holocaust” if South Korea went ahead with military drills with the U.S. planned to begin next month.
South Korea rejected the North’s demand to cancel the drills.
Chef Sang Yoon’s prime rib with horseradish creme fraiche on THE Dish
Chef Sang Yoon was born in South Korea, schooled by some of the finest chefs in the U.S. and Europe, plays hockey and has been called “the godfather of the gastro-pub scene.”
Yoon began his culinary career as a teenager in San Francisco with Jeremiah Tower and Julian Serrano. He then attended the Culinary Institute of America and then spent two years working in Northern Italy and France.
He bought his first restaurant in 2002. It is a renovated dive bar called Father’s Office. It features the Office Burger, which was named one of the world’s best by Esquire magazine. The burger is controversial because Yoon does not allow any substitutions or ketchup in his restaurants.
WE: Chang-rae Lee’s “On Such a Full Sea.”
“More and more we can see that the question is not whether we are ‘individuals,’ ” Chang-rae Lee writes in “On Such a Full Sea” (Riverhead), his new, dystopian novel. “The question, then, is whether being an ‘individual’ makes a difference anymore.” It seems doubtful, in Lee’s sombre future. Afflicted by swine- and bird-flu epidemics and a profound change in the climate, America, now known simply as the Association, has split into three separate social groups. At the top sit the Charters, a small professional class that has corralled the country’s remaining resources and withdrawn into gated villages. Catering their dinner parties and keeping their cars perpetually waxed are the “service people,” who live in the land beyond, known as the counties.
MINTING JULEP: HOW A FORMER STARBUCKS EXECUTIVE IS USING HER BEST CUSTOMERS TO HELP IMPROVE THE BEAUTY-PRODUCT BUSINESS
She is reimagining the entire enterprise of selling beauty merchandise to women, from product design to the transaction experience. During her four years at Starbucks, Park developed a keen understanding of just how crucial the happiness of the customer is at every turn. “It’s about thinking through every step of the customer journey,” she says.
When she launched Julep, Park’s first move was to open a small chain of beauty parlors. These brick-and-mortar outposts–carefully designed to encourage social interaction via communal spaces with movable furniture–function as mini labs in which to test products on actual customers. Park trained facialists and vernisseurs (a term that is to manicurist as barista is to coffee pourer) to listen closely to reactions and report back. Julep uses that info to tweak details such as colors, packaging, and scents.
Big ambition, big pressure: Seoul’s new art museum is in the spotlight
South Korea’s $230 million National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) opened in November with a towering ambition — become what the MoMA is to New York and the Tate is to London.
The museum couldn’t be in a better location to attract attention — it sits just across the street from Gyeongbokgung, Seoul’s main royal palace, and adjacent to a neighborhood that’s one of Seoul’s most popular among tourists.
Other than Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, a private art museum owned by Samsung, Seoul has no other large museum housing Korean contemporary art.
Korea’s Teddy Bear Museum Makes the World a Cuter Place
Sometimes the world isn’t very adorable. If only it looked a bit more like this! You know, like it were filled with teddy bears.
As recently noted by Korea Realtime, South Korea’s Jeju Island is home to all sorts of interesting museums.
There’s a sex museum, a computer museum, and a teddy bear museum, which features teddy bear versions of famous works of art and celebrities.