Is Kim Jong Un Preparing to Become North Korea’s Economic Reformer?
When young Kim Jong Un stood before the assembled throngs in Pyongyang on April 15, insisting that come hell or high water he would persist with his father’s “military first” policies — even in the wake of a humiliating failed missile launch — the young dictator uttered one sentence that was mostly ignored in the speech’s aftermath: “It is the party’s steadfast determination to ensure that the people will never have to tighten their belt again, and make sure they enjoy the riches and affluence of socialism to their heart’s content.”
Talking about “the affluence of socialism” in today’s North Korea is, of course, ludicrous. The economy “Lil’ Kim” inherited from his father is a disaster. Marcus Noland, the deputy director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., and a close North Korea watcher, estimates that per capita income today is “lower than it was 20 years ago and by some reckonings is only now attaining the level it achieved in the 1970s.” He further notes that since a disastrous currency reform three years ago, inflation for basic goods like rice and coal has been running at about 100%, and on the black market, the North Korean currency has fallen by about the same amount. Aping his father’s economic policies, in other words, would be about the stupidest thing Kim could do.
Kim Jong-il calls for peace with South Korea in ‘will’
The Telegraph (U.K.)
Extracts from Mr Kim’s final testament have reportedly been obtained by two think tanks in South Korea, highlighting his requested future legacy for the state as his son Kim Jong-un takes over at the helm.
The late Mr Kim requests North Korea to renounce war with its longstanding opponent South Korea, according to extracts obtained and made public by the Sejong Institute, a South Korean think-tank. However, the alleged will also urges North Korea to wait in its pursuit of peace until a new leader comes to power in Seoul, with a reunification deemed impossible under the current regime of President Lee Myung-bak.
The gulag behind the goose-steps
Looking down on members of a 1.1m-strong army that applauded his every remark, Kim Jong Un giggled with delight during the centenary on April 15th of the birth of his late grandfather, Kim Il Sung. The contrast with his unsmiling father, Kim Jong Il, who died in December, could not have been clearer.
Unlike his father, the mop-haired Mr Kim spoke directly to the nation, in a resonant voice that masked the monotony of his message. His regime invited international television crews to film the festivities. Unexpectedly, it admitted that a mission to put a satellite into orbit in honour of his grandfather had failed. It all made for good television, and some commentators claimed to detect signals from the young ruler of a new openness in the regime.
In South Dallas, Blacks and Koreans Are at it Again, and a Girl’s Scholarship is in the Crossfire
Korean American and African American community groups were at it again in Dallas, this time over a squabble in connection with a local scholarship.
Dorothy Nam Never Runs Out of Energy
Dorothy Nam, host of the EBS radio talk show “Star English,” helps listeners learn English with appearances of English-speaking celebrities, telling their life stories and sharing tips for improving English. Her outgoing and cheerful character makes the show both fun and easy to approach.
Her professional credentials are backed by the many English education programs she has hosted. She already demonstrated her skills with her previous music show on Arirang FM “Evening Groove,” which she hosted live for six years. “I started hosting ‘Star English’ last summer,” Nam said. “The timing was perfect for me. I’m in my early 40s now and I have a lot of experiences that I’d like to share.” She said she finds guests for her current show by tapping into her long list of contacts.
Councilmember Valerie Ervin Recognizes Korean American Day
Patch.com (Takoma Park, Md.)
Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin (D-District 5) will join leaders of the Korean community and Maryland State Delegate Susan Lee Friday to officially celebrate the passage of a key amendment to Montgomery’s Special Days of Commemoration law.
It is an amendment that has officially designated Jan. 13 as Korean American Day. It’s reflective of the first Korean immigrants who arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1903.
The Walking Dead Panel Teases Season 3; Steven Yeun on Post-Apocalyptic Preparedness
Comic Book Resources reports that Steven Yeun isn’t sure how well he’d do in a real zombie apocalypse: “I was raised on the rough and tumble streets of Troy, Michigan… I know how to order a really solid plate of spaghetti — I think I’d be… helpful.”
Korea Gets Two Shots at Palme d’Or
The Wall Street Journal
South Korea scored big at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, with two films chosen to compete for the famed Palme d’Or at next month’s 65th annual celebration on the French Riviera. But compared with recent years, Asia was largely underrepresented in the official selection, which features a strong American presence.
On Thursday the festival announced its lineup, which includes director Hong Sang-soo’s “In Another Country” and “The Taste of Money” from director Im Sang-soo. Mr. Hong’s feature “Hahaha” won the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes two years ago.
Into the Next Stage: Korean Americans 20 Years After the Riots
The Rafu Shimpo
With the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots almost upon us, I’ve done several interviews with various outlets interested in hearing my recollections of the time and perspective on how Korean Americans were impacted by it (a documentary, directed by Christine Choy of “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” fame, is scheduled to air April 29 on the Korean Broadcasting System).
It’s ironic: The “last straw” that made me vow to form MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans) in 1991 was the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I had been incensed that, rather than shedding any new light on the subject, the media had mostly rehashed old news, opened up old wounds, and renewed racial animosity toward Japan and therefore, Japanese Americans. By doing these new interviews, I was risking inflaming racial tensions once again between Asian Americans and African Americans.
But as an outsider, I believe I gave support to Korean Americans and spoke about issues that still plague Asian Americans in general like being misunderstood, being stereotyped, and not speaking up for ourselves.
Meeting Harold: A Q&A with John Cho
Yale Daily News
Q. Can you describe your experiences as an Asian-American actor in the entertainment industry, where Asian-Americans are typically underrepresented?
A. It’s really a change. Asians are looking to conquer the entertainment industry in a way that Asians have excelled in so many of the other professions. And now I notice them a lot. And you know Asians are over-represented on the studio side and executive side. So it’s really progressed a lot in the last 15 years since I started acting, but I’m very encouraged by it, and I hope the trend continues upward.
South Korea’s Favorite Wedding Rumor Resurfaces
The Wall Street Journal
For years, rumors occasionally surfaced in South Korea and Russia about a romance between a South Korean man and the daughter of Russian President-turned-Prime-Minister-turned-back-to-President Vladimir Putin. On Friday, they hit a fever pitch when a news agency reported the couple would be married next month. The news became the top story on South Korean web sites during the afternoon.
Korean Man Denies He Is to Wed Putin’s Daughter
A Korean man said to be about to marry Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s daughter on Friday denied the reports. “I’ve known Katya [Putin] for more than 10 years, but I have no marriage plans. I’m only 26 so it’s a bit too early for me to be thinking about marriage,” the man, whose surname is Yoon, told the Chosun Ilbo.
“Reports of an impending marriage are false.”
Q&A with Anthony Kim: Using data to help teachers make better decisions
The Hechinger Report
Anthony Kim is the CEO of Education Elements Inc., a California-based for-profit technology company that helps schools shop for and use educational software. He’s a behind-the-scenes leader in the blended-learning movement, where students learn from both computers and teachers. Before founding Education Elements at the end of 2010, Kim started the online virtual school, Provost Systems, which he ultimately sold to EdisonLearning.
Salt Lake Bees: Hank Conger says jump from high school to minors a difficult one
Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Ut.)
Life in the minors: a seemingly tangled web of league transactions, long road trips, and the goal of making it to the big leagues.
It’s a boy’s childhood dream, and though exciting, it’s a life that not many truly understand. Salt Lake Bees’ Hank Conger said the journey can be “grinding and monotonous.” Especially when you are young, on the road, and playing every single day. The 24-year old, who went 3-for-4 at bat and scored one run in Wednesday’s 6-4 victory over Las Vegas, is well aware of both the hardships and thrills that accompany the following of those boyhood dreams.
From fans to food to free time: foreign K-League players adapt to Korean life on and off the field
Yonhap News Agency
When Bas van den Brink arrived in South Korea last year to join the K-League, the Dutchman was still recovering slowly from an ankle injury. His new club, Busan IPark, wanted to show him to the fans quickly. The defender, who came from the more laid-back environs of the Australian league, apparently returned to action too soon and did not impress. Soon, his contract was canceled and he returned down under.
It was a sharp lesson in adapting to a new culture, one quite different in Korea, according to foreign players.
Since becoming a K-League player, Derek Asamoah, 30, a Ghanaian international now with K-league’s Pohang Steelers, trains harder and more often than ever before. He acknowledges that he is prepared to train and play even when he is not at his optimal condition because in Korea, players often go that extra yard for the team.
‘Chocolate Rain’ the song for Kang
Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama)
Biscuits outfielder Kyeong Kang quickly took the lead for unusual intro music this season when he strolled to the plate to the tune of a viral internet video. “Chocolate Rain,” a 5-year-old song that has almost 79 million views on YouTube, isn’t one of Kang’s favorites. He doesn’t like it at all.
“I don’t know who picked it,” Kang said. “Somebody else did.”
The song first introduced Kang last year at high-Class A Charlotte, Biscuits first baseman Mike Sheridan said. Kang’s teammates substitute “Kyeong Kang” every time the song uses “chocolate rain.”
“We’re all big fans of it,” said Sheridan, who said he’s innocent of putting it on this year’s list. “I think it relaxes him at the plate and makes him hit better.”
Kang stuck with it — blame baseball superstition — after getting a hit and an RBI in his first start with it.
World-renowned pianist set to perform at church in Harding Township
Observer-Tribune (Chester, N.J.)
World-renowned concert pianist, and Harding Township resident Min Kwon, will give area residents a taste of her impressive piano-playing skills.
“A Rising Star Concert,” a piano recital, will be presented by Kwon and her graduate students at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, in the Fellowship Hall of the First Presbyterian Church of New Vernon, 2 Lee’s Hill Rd.
Kwon is a concert pianist and associate professor of music at Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts. She is also a member of the church.
Son’s Parties and Privilege Aggravate Fall of Elite Chinese Family
New York Times
Although Communist Party insiders say it was Bo Xilai’s populist reign in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing that ultimately brought him down, Bo Guagua’s high living clearly irritated party leaders, who named the son, a 24-year-old student at Harvard, in the official statement describing the reasons for his father’s fall from power.
One former government employee with party ties said the leadership tolerated a certain level of corruption among top officials or their relatives as long as it was kept out of public view. He said Mr. Bo’s collegiate antics, splashed across the Internet, were emblematic of an ambitious, cocksure family who often ignored the party’s conservative standards of public behavior.
South Korean bullfighting is for bulls only
Reuters via Yahoo News
There is no blood, nor much gore. No matador, either, or even his colorful cloak. In South Korea, bull fights bull.