Tuesday’s Link Attack: North Korea Steps Up Rhetoric; Elderly Suicide; Shin Soo Choo
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: February 19th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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S. Korean President Issues Warning to North
Voice of America

In a farewell speech to the nation six days before leaving office, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday warned Pyongyang its missiles and weapons are taking the North “closer and closer to a dead-end.”

Lee alerted his compatriots to hastily prepare for reunification of the Korean peninsula. The president asserted that “even though the North Korean regime is refusing to change, its citizens are quickly changing and nobody can block that.

However, there is no outside evidence of any citizen protests in isolated North Korea which human rights advocates describe as one of the world’s most repressive states.

North Korea threatens South with “final destruction”
Reuters

North Korea threatened South Korea with “final destruction” during a debate at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday, saying it could take further steps after a nuclear test last week.

“As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea’s erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction,” North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong told the meeting.

Jon’s comments drew quick criticism from other nations, including South Korea, France, Germany and Britain, whose ambassador Joanne Adamson said such language was “completely inappropriate” and the discussion with North Korea was heading in the wrong direction.

Some Chinese Are Souring on Being North Korea’s Best Friend
New York Times

Beds shook and teacups clattered in this town bordering North Korea, less than 100 miles from the site where the North said it detonated a nuclear test that exploded midmorning in the midst of Chinese New Year festivities.

“I’m worried about radiation,” said a 26-year-old woman as she served customers in a bookstore here. “My family lives in the mountains close to the border. They felt the bed shake on the day of the test. I have no idea whether it is safe or not, though the government says it is.”

At home and abroad, China has long been regarded as North Korea’s best friend, but at home that sense of fraternity appears to be souring as ordinary people express anxiety about possible fallout from the test last Tuesday. The fact that North Korea detonated the device on a special Chinese holiday did not sit well, either.

North Korea uses cash couriers, false names to outwit sanctions
Reuters

Kim Kwang-jin says that when he worked for North Korea’s state insurance company in Singapore in 2003, he stuffed $20 million into two suitcases one day and sent it to Pyongyang as a special gift for then leader Kim Jong-il.

He received a medal for that, Kim Kwang-jin said.

North Korea, sanctioned by the United States since the 1950s and later by the United Nations after its nuclear tests, has been shuffling money for decades from illicit drugs, arms and financial scams and is now more expert at hiding it to fund its weapons programs and its leaders’ opulent lifestyles.

As Families Change, Korea’s Elderly Are Turning to Suicide
New York Times

Even with the explosive growth of suicides in South Korea, the case of the 78-year-old widow was shocking enough to merit attention in the recent presidential election and hand-wringing in the news media.

Rather than quietly taking her life at home as many South Koreans do, the woman staged her death as a final act of public protest against a society she said had abandoned her. She drank pesticide overnight in front of her city hall after officials stopped her welfare checks, saying they were no longer obligated to support her now that her son-in-law had found work.

“How can you do this to me?” read the suicide note that the police said they had found in a purse next to her body. “A law should serve the people, but it didn’t protect me.”

Korean Pastor Tackles Prejudice At Home
NPR

Korean-American pastor Peter Chin leads an African American church, and lives in a predominately black neighborhood. It hasn’t always been easy, but in this holiday rebroadcast, Chin tells host Michel Martin how he’s worked through diversity issues with his family, his congregation and himself.

Martial arts skill trumps gun in Newton road rage conflict
Boston Globe

A road-rage rumble that erupted along a quiet Newton street Thursday afternoon pitted one driver carrying a sawed-off handgun against another armed with his championship martial-arts skills.

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ­expert prevailed.

He put the other driver in a chokehold, landed a couple of strikes to his head, and wrestled the gun away, all before the police arrived, according to court documents.

Reds look at Choo in CF to start spring training
AP via Yahoo Sports

Shin-Soo Choo has made 10 starts in center field over eight seasons in the majors. He’ll get a chance to win the job during his first spring training with the Cincinnati Reds.

If that doesn’t work out, the defending NL Central champions will have to do some rearranging.

The Reds traded incumbent center fielder Drew Stubbs to Cleveland for Choo in the offseason, looking for a stronger bat at the top of the lineup. They haven’t had a consistent leadoff hitter for years.

Shin-Soo Choo draws crowd at Reds’ spring training
Cincinnati.com

Shin-Soo Choo drew quite a crowd on the first day of camp.

Twenty-five members of the South Korean media, representing 12 organizations, were at the Reds’ spring training complex to cover him.

They followed his every move — from the batting cages for early work to outfield practice to batting practice on the field. Most of the contingent will spend five days in Goodyear. During the season, however, only one reporter follows Choo.

Conger aims to secure role as backup catcher
MLB.com

Hank Conger probably thought it would happen sooner.

But now, as he enters yet another Spring Training, he’s suddenly 25, heading into his last option year, coming off three straight seasons of being deemed primarily a Triple-A catcher and hoping to finally stick full-time in the Majors as a backup to Chris Iannetta.

“Everyone I’ve talked to, the biggest hurdle is Triple-A to the big leagues,” Conger said. “That’s definitely one thing I always remember. For me, [the last three years were] a big learning curve. But right now, I feel like I’m ready to try to overcome that next step.”

United and Chelsea set for summer bidding war over South Korean starlet Son
Daily Mail (U.K.)

South Korean star Son Heung-Min is set to become the subject of a bidding war between Manchester United and Chelsea this summer.

The 20-year-old has become one of the rising stars of the Bundesliga this season, following a succession of outstanding performances for Hamburg.

And Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafa Benitez are both interested in bringing the £10m-rated attacker to the Premier League, according to the Sunday People.

FIFA Dashes Korean Teen’s Dreams of Playing for Barca Youth Team
Chosun Ilbo

Teenager Lee Seung-woo has been banned from playing for Barcelona’s youth team after FIFA deemed him underage.

The world governing body of football said on Monday that the 15-year-old violated the rule stating that players have to be at least 18 years old to be eligible for international transfers.

Linkin Park Design New Boots with Sebago
Rolling Stone

Linkin Park have teamed up with the shoe company Sebago for a smartly designed new boot, dubbed the Jungle X, which is on sale now.

Made of a mix of leather, canvas and a Vibram rubber outsole, the black boot was designed by the band and retails for $250. Ten percent of the proceeds will benefit Hurricane Sandy victims via Linkin Park’s charity, Music for Relief.

Samsung Reboots Smart TV
Wall Street Journal

Did the smart TV just get smarter? Samsung Electronics hopes so.

The world’s top manufacturer of television sets on Tuesday unveiled an upgrade to its “Smart TV” series, after recent models got less than stellar reviews.

The new F8000 series TVs have screens measuring 46, 55, 60, 65 and even 75 inches diagonally, and Samsung said their “Smart Interaction” functions have been improved to better interpret viewers’ verbal commands or hand gestures. Previous models could only read one-handed command gestures.

Wednesday’s Link Attack: Asian American Suicides; Korean Plastic Surgery Industry; NK Propaganda
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: February 6th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Clues to timing of NKorea nuclear test seen in US holidays, Kim family dates, South’s politics
AP via Washington Post

So when will it be?

North Korea vowed last month to carry out its third nuclear test but has said nothing about timing. As a result, the building suspense in Seoul has prompted many to look at the dates Pyongyang has chosen for past atomic tests, as well as rocket and missile launches.

Dates and numbers have great symbolic importance to North Korea’s government. So Pyongyang often schedules what Washington calls “provocative acts” around U.S. holidays and important South Korean political events, an effort to send none-too-subtle messages to its main enemies — Washington and Seoul. Pyongyang also uses the tests to give a nationalistic boost to its citizens, often favoring significant milestones of the state, party and ruling Kim family.

South Korean public opinion as Park Geun-hye takes office
The Peterson Institute for International Economics

The South Korean public regards “economic growth” as the top priority for the incoming Park Geun-hye government according to two recent polls. I recently received a short report from the TNS office in Seoul summarizing South Korean public opinion on a variety of issues, and comparing those views to those found five years ago as Lee Myung-bak came into office.

With regard to North-South relations, the delinkage of politics and humanitarian aid continues to have strong support in South Korea. According to a Dong-a Ilbo poll two-thirds of the public support a continuance of humanitarian aid “regardless of the political situation.”

In Propaganda Video, Only North Korea Sleeps Easy
New York Times

North Korea is not known for its subtlety, famous instead for its soaring patriotic rhetoric and threats to turn the capital of its rival, South Korea, into a “sea of fire.”

But even by those standards, the latest volley of North Korea propaganda is noteworthy. Posted recently on YouTube, a video by one of the North’s propaganda agencies shows an animated version of Manhattan in flames — part of a dream in which a young Korean man envisions a glorious future of rocket launchings and the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The background music to the scenes of launchings and destruction: an instrumental version of “We Are the World.”

How much disparity is there among Asian Americans? Plenty
Southern California Public Radio

The details in a newly issued report on the disparities within California’s Asian American population are an eye-opening antidote to the “model minority” myth. They depict a diverse population that’s deeply divided along lines of social class, educational attainment, language and more.

Based on census and other federal data, the report from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center tracks Asians Americans in several regions including Southern California, home to the largest population of Asian Americans in the state.

A few basics: As it’s been reported lately, immigration from Asian countries to California now exceeds that from Latin America. Accordingly, the state’s general Asian and Pacific Islander population has been on the rise. Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian American population of California grew 34 percent, followed by its Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population at 29 percent. Both surpassed the growth of the Latino population.

Asian American Women Over 65 Are More Likely to Commit Suicide Than Anyone Else, Study Finds
PolicyMic

While talking about suicide in the United States may bring to mind high-profile cases like the tragic and untimely death of Aaron Schwartz, it turns out that the demographic most likely to end their lives is not who you might expect. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention published their findings from 2004 and 2007 that Asian American women ages 65 and older have the highest suicide rate than any other racial group at 6.5 per 100,000. Another finding from the CDC states that Asian Americans 18 years and older have the second highest percentage of individuals dealing with serious psychological disorder at 1.9%.

So what does all this mean?

Students push for Korean Studies
Yale Daily News (Yale Univ.)

A group of students has been working since September 2012 to raise awareness of the lack of a major in Korean studies at Yale — but students have undertaken similar efforts for at least the last decade.

The Council on East Asian Studies currently allows undergraduate EAS majors to concentrate in Chinese or Japanese studies but offers no concentration in Korean studies. Though former CEAS chair Mimi Yiengpruksawan told the News in 2002 that the council hoped to set up the Korean studies track by the fall of 2003, the council has struggled to establish the concentration for at least the past decade due to insufficient resources. A newly formed student group, called the Korean Studies Initiative at Yale, has gathered over 200 signatures on a petition released to students online Jan. 29 to urge the University to invest the teaching resources necessary for the program’s establishment.

Korean plastic surgeon shares his views on industry regulations
South China Morning Post

As the debate over how to regulate the beauty industry rages on in Hong Kong, a top plastic surgeon from South Korea was recently invited by Chinese University’s faculty of medicine to share his experiences on industry regulations with local doctors.

Dr Hong Joon-pio, director of the plastic surgery department at the ASAN Medical Centre in Seoul, says the cosmetic surgery industry is largely regulated by market forces in South Korea. “The way we achieve excellence is through competition and cutting-edge surgeries,” he says. “In Korea, plastic surgeons never want a monopoly. It’s never an issue. The plastic surgery market is so busy that they don’t have time for that [kind of] discussion.”

Westlake Village’s Danielle Kang better prepared for second season on LPGA Tour
Ventura County Star (Calif.)

Midway through her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, Danielle Kang had a heart-to-heart chat with her longtime swing coach Brady Riggs.

The Westlake Village resident had just missed back-to-back cuts.

“When I got on the LPGA Tour, I hyped it up in my mind so much that I was putting more pressure on myself than needed to be,” Kang said. “I was thinking too much and feeling like every shot needed to be perfect. When I was having success as an amateur golfer I just went out, got my yardage and hit my shot. So Brady told me to forget all the stuff I had been thinking about and just go back to hitting shots and having fun.”

Croatia outclass South Korea in London friendly
Reuters via Yahoo Sports

An inspired Croatia swept past South Korea 4-0 in a friendly played at Fulham’s Craven Cottage on Wednesday to help build confidence ahead of a politically-charged World Cup qualifier next month against Balkan arch-rivals Serbia.

Pyeongchang Special Olympics Signs off on a High Note
Chosun Ilbo

The 2013 Pyeongchang Special Olympics World Winter Games wrapped up on Tuesday after a week of inspiring competition that drew almost 200,000 spectators to venues in Pyeongchang and Gangneung from Jan. 29.

The Games featured 1,989 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 106 countries, who pushed themselves to the limit and communicated with the rest of the world through sport. Numerous celebrities also participated to support the athletes, including Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi and former NBA All-Star Yao Ming.

Sock Designer Finds Niche Market with Creative Idea
Chosun Ilbo

Hamstrung by the huge financial cost of setting up her own clothing brand, designer Hong Jung-mi came up with the novel idea of making fun and colorful socks and selling them in a vending machine on a busy shopping street. That soon made her name.

Hong worked at a woman’s clothing company for five years after majoring in fashion design but quit to build her own brand. After much deliberation, she chose to focus on making socks which required less of an investment. Her first move was to take a menial job running errands at a local sock-knitting factory to learn the ropes for six months.

Hong was keen to open a shop but again had to curtail her ambitions because of the expensive rent, which led her to consider launching an online store as well as a vending machine.

A foster dog’s journey from South Korea to Seattle
Seattle Times

It’s a miracle that she’s here. Animal Rescue Korea posted a notice about her on the Web. They sent an email out to dog rescue groups in the U.S. about her plight. One responded, Mercer Island Eastside Orphans and Waifs (aka MEOW). Volunteers in Korea raised the money to put her on an a plane to Seattle, and the Mercer Island rescue picked her up on Monday night at Sea-Tac. (Here’s a Youtube video of Peach getting picked up at the airport by Kelly Starbuck, the Mercer Island rescue organizer. The video is set to Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America.”)

Eric’s Top 10 Seoul Cafe Recommendations
Seoulistic

1.) Piano Cafe (피아노 카페)
The first place on the list that I would like to recommend is the Piano Cafe located in Hongdae, a refuge for coffee purists and music lovers. This is my favorite cafe since I ever started coming here. The piano cafe is housed on a hill in the western area of Hongdae and its elegant yet all-embracing interior is full of submissive of wood tones and bright, colorful contrasting details. This cafe brings a perfect fit for the neighborhood with it’s Hongdae-hipster vibe, but let’s not forget about the main intention of this cafe: the reason why this is my personal favorite cafe is because of, well… the piano. Visitors are welcomed to play the piano here in the cafe and show off their piano skills; but if there is no piano player, you will be left with the radio, playing quiet tunes of jazz music accustomed to the seasons of Korea. Behind all that, you get a full array of hand-dripped coffee at a reasonable price If you love the aura of a Mozart-esque atmosphere of a cafe, you will love this cafe as much as I do. If you ever do stop by this cafe, who knows, you might get the chance and see me playing the piano there.

Wednesday’s Link Attack: UN Sanctions NKorea; Asian Americans and Suicide; Fan Death Myth
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 23rd, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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UN Council hits N. Korea with sanctions over rocket launch
AFP via Google News

The UN Security Council ordered tougher sanctions against North Korea for a banned rocket launch, triggering a defiant pledge by Pyongyang to bolster its nuclear deterrent.

The Security Council added North Korea’s state space agency, a bank, four trading companies and four individuals to the UN sanctions list. The council threatened “significant action” if the North stages a nuclear test.

The resolution, proposed by the United States and passed unanimously by the 15-nation council, “condemned” North Korea for what its “ballistic missile technology” test on December 12.

N. Korea vows to end denuclearization talks
Yonhap News

North Korea pledged on Wednesday to end any efforts at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, just hours after the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the country’s December rocket launch, according to North Korea’s state-run news outlet.

“Due to the U.S.’s worsening policy of hostility toward North Korea, the six-party talks and the joint September 19 statement were rendered null and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was put to an end,” the North’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

Asian Americans struggle with suicide
San Francisco Chronicle

“I wanted to just walk across the street and be hit by a car, but finally I didn’t have the courage to do it,” said [Jeannie] Wong, 72, a Western Addition resident who spoke through a Cantonese interpreter.

Wong may feel alone, but many elderly Asians silently suffer from depression and consider suicide, researchers say.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Asian American women ages 65 and older had a higher suicide rate – 6.5 per 100,000 – than any other racial or ethnic group between 2004 and 2007. White women had the next highest suicide rate: 4.3 per 100,000.

South Koreans face lonely deaths as Confucian traditions fade
Reuters

When South Korean widow Yoon Sook-hee, 62, died after a bout of pneumonia in mid-January, she joined a growing number of old people in this Asian country who die alone and was cremated only thanks to the charity of people who never knew her.

Once a country where filial duty and a strong Confucian tradition saw parents revered, modern day South Korea, with a population of 50 million, has grown economically richer, but family ties have fragmented. Nowadays 1.2 million elderly South Koreans, just over 20 percent of the elderly population, live – and increasingly die – alone.

Yoon’s former husband, whom she divorced 40 years ago, relinquished responsibility after being contacted by the hospital and told of her death. Her only son was unreachable as he had long broken off all contact with his parents.

Suspected North Korean Spy Arrested in South Korea
Voice of America

South Korean officials say a man who defected from North Korea nearly a decade ago has been arrested and charged with spying for Pyongyang.

Authorities say the man, who was not identified, had a job with the Seoul city government supporting North Korean defectors.

A New Opportunity for China-South Korea Relations Under Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping?
Council on Foreign Relations

Following an early ambassadorial visit and a courtesy call on President-elect Park Geun-hye from China’s special envoy Vice Minister Zhang Zhijun, Park has decided to reciprocate by sending her first special envoys to Beijing during the transition. The exchange illustrates a mutual recognition that Sino-South Korean relations had deteriorated under Lee Myung-Bak and Hu Jintao and that Park and Xi have a chance to start out on the right foot this time.

Lauryn Chun makes a Korean condiment a culinary star in ‘The Kimchi Cookbook’
New York Daily News

Lauryn Chun has turned kimchi from a side dish to a main course.

Her primer, “The Kimchi Cookbook,” takes the traditional Korean condiment to new heights, showcasing its versatility as both a simple pickled vegetable and complex flavor enhancer.

“In its most basic state, I really think of kimchi as salted vegetables,” says Chun, who adds seasonings such as chili peppers, garlic and fish sauce.

Check out our profile of Chun in the December 2012 issue of KoreAm.

Will Korean cuisine be the next big thing in Charlotte?
Creative Loafing Charlotte (N.C.)

When my mother first came to the United States in the late 1970s — the young Korean wife of an American soldier who’d just finished his tour near Incheon, Korea, where they’d met — her biggest challenge wasn’t the language barrier. It was the food.

The Southern country cuisine that her Tennessee in-laws prepared was too foreign, and my mother found herself missing the food of her country so much that she refused to eat. Everything was either too coarse, with salty seasoning — why would anyone boil greens with the fat of pigs? she wondered — or thick and meaty. In America, she thought, people didn’t seem to enjoy food simply for what it was. The corn was slathered in butter, the beans drowned in pork and gravy. People here even put salt on their tomatoes and apples.

“It make me so sick to stomach,” she recalls, her English a little rough even after all these years. “You daddy, he and Uncle Don drive to five grocery store to find me what I need to make kimchi.”

Korean-owned winery a hit with the critics
Korea Herald via AsiaOne

A little more than three years ago, Dana Estates, then a Napa Valley new blood and a relative unknown, catapulted to fame when influential wine critic Robert Parker awarded its 2007 Lotus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon the highest score of 100 points.

Owned by Lee Hi-sang, CEO of South Korean conglomerate DongA One Group, the fledgling winery made its first vintage in 2005, making the 2007 its third.

“We took a risk,” Lee, 67, recalled how the decision to produce posh, single-vineyard cult Cabernets was a bold move on his part.

Football Fan Guilty of Racially Abusing Park Ji-sung
Chosun Ilbo

A U.K. court has found a football fan guilty of making a racist comment about Park Ji-sung of Queens Park Rangers.

British media on Tuesday said the West London Magistrates’ Court found Everton fan William Blything guilty of racially abusing Park and Everton’s Victor Anichebe.

He reportedly shouted, “Take down that chink” referring to Park.

Na Hopes Special Olympics Change Views on Disabled
Wall Street Journal

Former two-term lawmaker Na Kyung-won has temporarily suspended her political career, but she remains one of South Korea’s busiest public figures as she tries to change her country in a different way.

Ms. Na, chairwoman of the organizing committee for the Special Olympics World Winter Games that open in the city of Pyeongchang next week, hopes the event will help change the way her society sees the disabled.


Illustration by Alex Eben Meyer.

Is Your Electric Fan Trying to Kill You?
Slate

Did you know Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings grew up in Seoul? He writes a piece on the Korean fan death myth for Slate.

I actually grew up as a child in Seoul, South Korea, and fans were no laughing matter. Everyone took the Great Fan Menace for granted and had a hard time believing that other cultures were ignorant of it. An apartment of Americans I knew teased their lone Korean roommate by going to bed one summer night in an enclosed room with six electric fans turned on. He pleaded with them not to throw their lives away and slept in the hallway. When, in the morning, all three had survived the ordeal, the Korean roommate was still not convinced. Obviously, he said, they had been playing a practical joke on him and had cracked a window as soon as he was out of the room.

Burning dog sparks public outcry in S. Korea
AFP via Google News

A South Korean animal rights group offered a $2,800 dollar reward Wednesday to catch those responsible for setting a dog on fire in an incident that triggered a public outcry.

CCTV footage of the dog running through a car park while engulfed in flames was shown on national TV news channels and prompted angry discussions on social network sites.

The dog ran into a garage and triggered a fire which gutted the structure in Yongin, a city south of Seoul, on Sunday.

Looking Back, With Nostalgia and Pain
New York Times

At first glance, there’s nothing extraordinary about Yang Seung-woo’s photograph of two boys leaping playfully across mounds of earth (Slide 7). In many ways, it does not fit in well with the rest of the images that make up his project “The Best Days.”

But Mr. Yang sees a lot in that moment, in those carefree steps.

“It represents life and death,” he said.

The setting is a Korean cemetery. The boys are playing around the grave of Mr. Yang’s close friend, a high school buddy who hanged himself after a short, but hard life in South Korea’s gang world and in prison. It was a world — and fate — that almost claimed Mr. Yang, too.

Mr. Yang — who was born in 1966 in Gwangju, South Korea — took the picture in 2004, when he’d already been living in Japan for seven years. He shot it on one of many return visits to his homeland, recalling the life he once lived.

Thursday’s Link Attack: Korea’s Suicide Epidemic; Kim Yuna Favored to Win Worlds; Hanmi Bank Seeks Buyer
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 10th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Google’s Schmidt urges N. Korea to embrace Web
CNN.com

Google’s Eric Schmidt wrapped up a controversial trip to North Korea on Thursday during which he urged the isolated state to embrace the Internet or face further economic decline.

U.S. to send team of ranking officials to S. Korea, Japan next week
Yonhap News

The Barack Obama administration is dispatching an inter-agency team of senior officials next week to South Korea and Japan for consultations with the allies as the two nations deal with power transitions.

Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, is scheduled to arrive in Seoul on Tuesday for a two-day stay, according to his department.

He will go there with Mark Lippert, the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, and Daniel Russel, the national security council senior director for Asian affairs, the department said.

Hanmi Said to Seek Sale
Bloomberg

Hanmi Financial Corp. (HAFC), the second- largest U.S. bank catering to Korean-Americans, is looking for a buyer and hired DelMorgan & Co. to advise on a sale, said three people with knowledge of the matter.

The lender may attract interest from BBCN Bancorp Inc. (BBCN) and Wilshire Bancorp Inc. (WIBC), which like Hanmi are based in Los Angeles and target Korean-Americans, said two of the people, who asked not to be named because the process is private. Hanmi rose more than 8 percent today, giving the firm a market value of about $481 million. It has assets of about $2.8 billion.

At the Front Line of Suicide Prevention in South Korea
Wall Street Journal

Ha Kyoo-seob, president of Seoul National Hospital, has a side job trying to tackle one of South Korea’s biggest social problems as immediate past president of the Korea Association for Suicide Prevention.

He made news earlier this week when, following the latest suicide of a South Korean celebrity, he showed up unannounced in front of the press corps at the Ministry of Health and Welfare and said media sensationalism of such deaths wasn’t helping the nation’s crisis. He laid out data from several studies that showed how the number suicides rise in the wake of a celebrity’s death.

Newspaper editorials followed, but it’s unclear that his warning will forestall another round of gruesome, detailed reporting the next time a celebrity commits suicide.

Tackling South Korea’s suicide rate
Australia Network News

Mental health experts have called for a major shift in the way mental illness is tackled in South Korea, where the suicide rate remains the highest in the developed world.

Boyfriend ‘strangled pretty South Korean student he met at church after row over hair she left in the plug hole’
The Daily Mail (U.K.)

A 27-year-old man killed his South Korean girlfriend whom he had met at a church after a ‘petty quarrel about hair being found down the plug hole’, a court heard today.

Daniel Jones allegedly murdered Da In Lee, 22, on Easter Sunday last year and attempted to hide the body under a duvet at his flat in Tipton, West Midlands, before fleeing to Bristol.

Jones admitted to his ex-partner that he had killed Miss Lee, who studied international relations and sociology at Aston University in Birmingham, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

Korean Chef Dreams of Global Chain
Chosun Ilbo

Akira Back, touted as one of the top chefs in Las Vegas, has a wide following among politicians and celebrities such as Bill Clinton and Paris Hilton. He was recently nominated for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards, often called the “food Oscars” and named a “rising star” by American magazine Restaurant Hospitality.

Back is the head chef of the prestigious Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge at the Bellagio, Las Vegas. He said he is constantly sketching and dreaming up news dishes which are delicious and look great. He said his philosophy is to awaken customers to their sense of taste.

Kim Yuna should be favorite to win world championships
SI.com

Kim Yu-na officially qualified for the world championships, not that there was any doubt. The reigning Olympic champion won the South Korean nationals on Sunday, which was just her second competition after almost two years off. Kim fell in her short program but still posted a higher total score (210.77 points) than in her first outing back in December (201.61).

The Korea Skating Union charged admission to its national championships for the first time (not coincidentally, it was Kim’s first appearance there as a senior), and all 4,800 tickets were snatched within minutes of going on sale, according to Yonhap News.

She’s certainly not at her world-record best from the Vancouver Games (228.56), but Kim, 22, and her “Les Miserables” free skate should be favored for gold at worlds in London, Ontario, come March.

So you fancy John Huh?
Sporting Life

John Huh could buck the trends and win this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii according to our expert Ben Coley.

Samsung, LG Unveil Curved OLED TVs
Chosun Ilbo

Samsung and LG both unveiled innovative curved-display OLED TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday. They kept the new products under tight wraps until the launch.

The wide displays are concavely curved five or six degrees, which endures less screen distortion and has a similar effect to an IMAX screen, the two firms claim.

The unveiling was shrouded in secrecy. Samsung put its TV up and distributed a press release only 30 minutes before the opening of the show.

The Movies of Kim Jong Il, Now Available Via Bootlegs and YouTube
LA Weekly

When he died in December 2011, Kim Jong Il left behind more than a dynastic regime and a closet full of drab pantsuits. Kim, who ruled the hermetic North Korea from 1994, when his father, Kim Il Sung, died until his own passing 17 years later, was a noted cinephile and something of a mogul. Films and film theory were hobbies of his, and as the whims of dictators tend to harden into real-world realities, Kim made the leap few less-connected dilettantes ever do: He got movies made — even if he apparently had to kidnap a great director to shoot them.

These films have rarely been screened outside North Korea. But thanks to bootleggers and YouTube, at least three now are readily available for your viewing.

Wednesday’s Link Attack: Pressuring North Korea; Tom Cruise is Korean; Psy’s Super Bowl Ad
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: January 9th, 2013
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New Mexico Ex-Gov. Richardson Pressing North Korean Test Ban
AP via TIME

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Wednesday that his delegation is pressing North Korea to put a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests and to allow more cell phones and an open Internet for its citizens.

Richardson told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview in Pyongyang that the group is also asking for fair and humane treatment for an American citizen detained in North Korea.

“The citizens of the DPRK (North Korea) will be better off with more cell phones and an active Internet. Those are the three messages we’ve given to a variety of foreign policy officials, scientists” and government officials, Richardson said.

S. Korea, Japan to hold first high-level talks since Abe’s inauguration
Yonhap News

Senior diplomats from South Korea and Japan will meet in Tokyo this week to discuss bilateral issues, marking their first meeting since the conservative government of Japan’s Shinzo Abe was launched, Seoul officials said.

The one-day Vice-Ministerial Strategic Dialogue meeting, set for Thursday in Tokyo, will be led by South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young and his Japanese counterpart Chikao Kawai, ministry officials said.

Abe sent his special envoy to speak with South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye last week in an effort to mend strained relations between the two nations. Park is set to take office next month.

Upstate New York man arrested in brutal beating of Queens cabbie
New York Daily News

An upstate New York man has been arrested for the brutal beating of a Queens cabbie in the early hours of New Year’s Day after a dispute over the fare, police said Friday.

Andrew Mcelroy, 28, of Buffalo, allegedly punched yellow cab driver Kichun Kim, 53, “numerous times in the face and head with a closed fist,” a police source told the Daily News.

Kim, who lives in Bayside, was still in a coma Friday at Kings County Hospital Center, sources said. Kim is a member of a literary club run by a local Korean-language newspaper and is a published poet, sources said.

Hundreds of Copycats Follow Celebrity Suicides
Chosun Ilbo

Korea has the highest suicide rate among the OECD countries. According to estimates by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 15,000 people kill themselves every year, and about 100,000 are admitted to emergency rooms following a suicide attempt.

But the number of suicides increases 30 percent over the two months after a celebrity commits suicide, according to a study.

Ha Kyoo-seob of the Korean Association for Suicide Prevention on Tuesday said analysis of suicide data for a period after 2005 released by Statistics Korea shows that an average of 2,632 people killed themselves in the two months after five celebrities took their own lives over the period. That is an increase of 607 suicides, or 30 percent, from the average of 2,025 at normal times.

Samsung’s Dominance Is Worrying for Korea
Chosun Ilbo

Samsung Electronics achieved staggering earnings in 2012 with sales totaling W201 trillion and operating profit of W29 trillion (US$1=W1,063). Sales were up a 21.9 percent and operating profit a massive 85.8 percent compared to 2011.

Samsung managed to rise to the top of the global mobile phone market by rolling out hit products despite a global slump and a nasty patent dispute with Apple.

But the bumper earnings also fuel concerns about the increasing imbalance in Korea’s economy and industry. Last year, six of the top 10 listed Korean companies saw their operating profits shrink. Samsung Electronics’ net profit last year accounted for an estimated 30 percent of the combined net profits of the top 30 businesses in Korea.

Korean Pop Star Psy To Appear In Super Bowl Ad
NPR

Psy took YouTube by storm with the viral sensation “Gangnam Style.” He will appear in a Super Bowl ad for Wonderful Pistachios — one of the biggest processors of the nuts. The commercial will include an alternate version of Psy’s hit song.

Tom Cruise to Receive Honorary Busan Citizenship
Hollywood Reporter

Tom Cruise will become an honorary citizen of Busan, officials of the South Korean city announced Tuesday.

The actor will receive honorary citizenship when he visits the southern port city this week to promote Jack Reacher. Busan Mayor and Busan Film Festival chairman Hur Nam-sik will present special citizenship certificates to Cruise as well as the film’s director, Christopher McQuarrie, and its lead actress, Rosamund Pike. The ceremony will be held Thursday at the Busan Cinema Center, the main venue of the Busan Film Festival.

Choi Min-sik And Hwang Jung-min Star In Korean Thriller NEW WORLD
Twitch Film

What’s this? An upcoming Korean thriller featuring a pair of the country’s most talentable and reliable performers in the lead? Yes, please.

Choi Min-sik, the star of Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, should need no introduction around these parts as is work has won him acclaim both at home and around the globe for years now. And while Hwang Jung-min may lack the name recognition of Choi his body of work is very nearly as impressive, the brooding star of Ryoo Seung-wan’s The Unjust having compiled an impressive resume over the past decade or so.

Record earnings for South Korean league
Reuters

South Korean baseball underlined its continuing growth by posting a record $33 million in revenue last year, local media reported on Wednesday.

Winning gold at the Beijing Olympics and finishing runners-up at the 2009 World Baseball Classic boosted baseball’s popularity and attendances crossed the 7 million-mark for the first time last year, Yonhap News agency reported.

The league pocketed 35 billion won ($32.9 million) in 2012, bettering the 34 billion it earned a year earlier, the report said citing figures from the marketing wing of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).

 

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