Sung Kang Remembers Paul Walker
Author: James S. Kim
Posted: December 5th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Photo via Epoch Times

There has been a huge outpouring of support and tributes from fans and individuals in Hollywood following actor Paul Walker’s death last Saturday, and fellow co-star Sung Kang offered what he would remember most about Walker in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News.

Kang, who played the role of Han, a member of a street racing gang, in various installments of the Fast & Furious franchise, said he would remember Walker’s heart the most, which was unusual for people in Hollywood.

“But with Paul, every memory I have with him … he made sure that every time he had a minute with you, he was going to give 100 percent of his heart. He was going to try his best,” Kang said. Continue Reading »

Friday’s Link Attack: Korean Adoptees; Interracial Marriages; Sung Kang; Crayon Pop Goes No. 1
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: August 16th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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N.Korea arms ship faces possible $1 mln fine: Panama
AFP via Google News

The Panama Canal authority said it will impose as much as a $1 million fine on the North Korean freighter caught with an undeclared shipment of Cuban weapons.

“It is a flagrant violation of safe passage through the Panama Canal and we have little tolerance for this kind of activity,” canal administrator Jorge Quijano said on Thursday.

“It is going to be sanctioned,” he said, adding that authorities were still mulling the size of the fine.

“It’s obvious that there were containers that had not been declared, not to mention what was inside them.”

U.N. Requests More Funding for North Korea Aid
Wall Street Journal

The United Nations says its humanitarian aid work in North Korea is seriously underfunded, calling on donors to contribute $98 million to help pay for food and sanitation projects in the country.

The appeal came in an e-mail late Thursday from Ghulam Isaczai, U.N. Resident Coordinator, according to reports in the Associated Press and South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

The U.N. initially asked for $150 million in aid for 2013, but received only $52 million. Without the needed money, Mr. Isaczai warned, recent improvements in North Korea’s health and nutrition “could be quickly reversed.”

Adult, Adopted, Seeking a Voice
Daily Beast

Baby Veronica’s story opens up a Pandora’s box of questions about the adoptive process in the United States. The Supreme Court’s decision forces us to ask, who has a right to raise a child? How do we define a family? Where do questions of identity and race, inclusion and exceptionalism, and adoption and disruption factor into these stories?

Enter Gazillion Voices, an online magazine that launched this month and aims to be a platform for the overlooked voices who might finally be able to contribute to these ongoing questions. It’s the brainchild of Kevin Haebeom Vollmers. As Vollmers jokingly points out in the Kickstater video for the magazine, his name suggests he is a middle-aged white guy. In fact, Vollmers is a Korean-American and adoptee. He was taken to Minneapolis from Korea when he was 7 years old. He founded Land of Gazillion Adoptees (LGA), a media company that takes from Minnesota’s claim as the land of 10,000 lakes and gives voices to the hundreds of thousands of international adoptees living in the state. This month he expanded LGA to include Gazillion Voices as a subscription-based monthly online magazine that shares the work of LGA with a larger community of adoptees.

South Koreans mark Korea Liberation Day at San Pedro’s Friendship Bell
Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.)

Overlooking the ocean that separates their two countries, about a dozen Korean-Americans gathered Thursday to observe the 68th annual Korea Liberation Day by ringing San Pedro’s iconic Korean Friendship Bell.

The day marks Korea’s liberation — at the end of World War II — from Japanese colonial rule and included remarks by Ki-Sun Bang, South Korea’s deputy consul general of Los Angeles, and Jae-Hyun Choi, president of the National Unification Advisory Committee.

This year’s ceremonial bell ringing also served as a reminder of the landmark’s restoration project, set to resume within weeks for a final phase of work that will include polishing the 17-ton copper bell.

Korea is no longer a Confucian society [OPINION]
Korea Herald via The Nation

Moderation, then, is a universal virtue, whether Confucian or Christian. Korea has traditionally been labelled as a Confucian society. A true Confucian society should be populated by those who are moderate, temperate and restrained. In reality, however, Koreans have a reputation for being impetuous and quick-tempered. Foreigners point out that Koreans are very emotional, and easily aggravated and manipulated. It is true that when provoked, most Koreans do not seem to be able to control their feelings, and often resort to extreme outbursts, violent reactions or emotional eruptions.

One example is the Dokdo Island controversy between South Korea and Japan. When Japanese rightwing politicians provoked South Korea over the issue some time ago, the Korean people instantly boiled over. Instead of dealing with the issue calmly and rationally, we immediately staged protest rallies and our president rushed to visit the deserted island. Our hasty, emotional reactions remind us of Voltaire: “A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behaviour is patience and moderation.”

It would be incorrect, therefore, for Westerners to stereotype Korea as a Confucian society. Today’s society is radically different from its predecessor during the Joseon Dynasty, which indeed was heavily influenced by Confucian philosophy. In fact, Koreans no longer subscribe to Confucian philosophy and few Koreans read the works of Confucius. Korean society is a place where Asian and Western culture co-exist, and where a curious mixture of capitalism and socialism prevails.

Marrying two worlds — Interracial couples on love and wedding planning
Northwest Asian Weekly

Jen Nguyen, a Vietnamese American, and Aaron Wightman, who grew up practicing Reformed Judaism, were married last year.

Nguyen was born in the United States to parents who fled Vietnam.

“I spoke Vietnamese as a child and started speaking English as my primary language when I became school-aged,” Nguyen said. “My first visit to Vietnam was with my family at age 16.”

“I returned twice to travel throughout Vietnam as a pharmacist for an organization called the Vietnam Health Clinic,” Nguyen continued. “It was during these trips that I fell in love with Vietnam and was proud to be ethnically Vietnamese.”

Sandra Oh leaves Grey’s Anatomy; Cristina Yang, her character, changed TV

Earlier this week, Sandra Oh, who plays super-surgeon Cristina Yang on Shonda Rhimes’ long-running medical dramedy Grey’s Anatomy, announced that she will be leaving the series at the end of this coming season. Grey’s has been on the air for a decade and has long since become the TV equivalent of old, comfy furniture—as much as you use it, you’d probably only notice it if it up and disappeared—but I want to take this occasion to celebrate Yang, one of TV’s most original and influential characters. Grey’s may be years removed from its buzzy, Emmy-winning start, but in Yang, the loveable, persnickety careerist, Rhimes and Oh have created a complex workaholic who has begat a whole generation of female protagonists, none quite as impressive as she is.

From the first episode, Yang, an M.D./Ph.D. from Stanford, had a bloodthirsty desire to operate, operate, operate, and a disinterest in the dramatic personal lives of her peers.* (This, of course, did not keep her from having a dramatic personal life of her own.) She is hyper-competitive, unboundedly ambitious, and brutally honest, single-mindedly focused on doing just about anything to improve her scalpel skills. In the show’s early seasons, she began an illicit romantic relationship with her boss and mentor, a cardio-thoracic surgeon whom she loved at least partly because of how much he had to teach her. At the time, her apartment was a fetid pig-sty; cleanliness didn’t matter for work, and so she didn’t care about it. More recently, a married Yang, the female TV character most vocally disinterested in having children, had an abortion: Her work is what she wants to devote her life to.

On another TV show, Yang’s combination of qualities—mercenary, scary, and extremely skilled—would have made her the lead character’s enemy, if not a whole litany of other clichés: the type-A Asian, the frigid ballbuster, the unlikeable shrew. Instead, Grey’s respected Cristina’s ambition and wit, laurelled her with humor, swag, and a sex drive, and made her the lead character’s best friend. Cristina Yang and Meredith Grey are devoted to each other and united against frivolity and false-cheerfulness.

Sung Kang Reveals ‘Fast and Furious’ Timeline
Ace Showbiz

When Sung Kang appeared as fan-favorite Han in “Fast and Furious”, “Fast Five” and the latest one “Fast and Furious 6″, some fans had been left confused over why he was still “alive” despite the fact that he was already dead in “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”. Now, Kang has an efficient way to answer this: drawing.

“A wonderful fan (thank you Michele Costanzo) has sent us this, which I think explains it nicely,” he says of the handwritten timeline posted on Facebook. “Ignore the order the films were released in. This is the order you should watch them – 4, 5, and 6 were prequels (back story) leading into Tokyo Drift. This is why you see the deadly crash again at the end of Furious 6.”

Crayon Pop Ride Viral Wave to No. 1 on K-Pop Hot 100

Earlier this week, K-Town spotlighted K-pop’s new viral hit from girl group Crayon Pop. Their “Bar Bar Bar” music video and the signature choreography — the “straight-five engine dance” — has been making the rounds all over South Korea. Now, the song has the ultimate seal of approval, hitting No. 1 on the K-Pop Hot 100 after a six-week climb.

Some top idol groups still have not earned a No. 1 on the chart, but Crayon Pop has nabbed the top slot just a year after its debut. It’s atypical to see such a new group earn such an accolade so quickly — most have the uphill battle to prove they belong at the peak of K-pop. But Crayon Pop has the viral factor that even has fellow K-pop stars like SISTAR’s Bora and MBLAQ jumping on the trend.

ABC-TV may air Chinese-American sitcom
China Daily

Restaurateur and VICE TV host Eddie Huang’s recently published memoir Fresh Off the Boat will serve as inspiration for a potential ABC-TV sitcom that if given the green light will be the first Chinese American-focused show on a major US network.

Nahnatchka Khan, creator of the show Don’t Trust the B – in Apartment 23, will serve as executive producer on the pilot with Jake Kasdan of 20th Century Fox TV, and Huang will produce.

“ABC is giving us a chance to talk about Asian America and it’s beautiful,” Huang told China Daily. “It’s the American-born Chinese dream. I hope in the next few years, when Chinese people see the acronym ABC on their televisions, they say ‘American Born Chinese’.”

‘Snow Hunters’: A Beautiful Debut Novel Grounded In History

On the second page of his debut novel Snow Hunters, Paul Yoon vividly depicts the last moments before his protagonist Yohan is liberated from a prisoner of war camp on the Korean peninsula, “where there was always a wind that carried the smell of soil and sickness” from the animals at a nearby farm. Yohan is about to catch a boat to Brazil and start a new life as a Japanese tailor’s apprentice – and as he rides away in a UN truck, he “shut his eyes and dreamed of castles.”

This power of this image is in its simplicity, and as the rest of the book unfolds, that minimalism becomes the story’s driving, masterful force. Every word is purposeful, and there is an air of meditation in Yoon’s modest sentences. While the first draft was over five hundred pages, the final is a mere 208: it’s evident that only the best, most important, prose remained.

Is gluten Korea’s new food focus?
Korea Herald

While the term “gluten-free” is still relatively new to the Korean food industry, this year might witness the gluten-free movement as well as the related wheat-free trend take hold here.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, a gluten-free diet omits all food containing gluten, a natural protein that can be found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale.

While a gluten-free diet originated primarily as a course of treatment for people diagnosed with celiac disease, it appears more people are cutting gluten or wheat from their diets because of theories that it is good for one’s health to eat less wheat or gluten.

Those theories seem to be influencing Korean consumers as well, signaling the spread of gluten-free and wheat-free trends to the Korean market.

Nightengale: Dodgers take page from Yankees
USA Today

“There’s no franchise in any sport anywhere that has had the impact on popular culture or society as large as the Dodgers,” [Dodgers president Stan] Kasten says. “Whether it was Jackie Robinson or Sandy Koufax to Fernando (Valenzuela) to Hideo Nomo to Chan Ho Park to Hyun-Jin Ryu, all those things are part of our legacy.”

Top 10 Korean Street Foods – Part 2
Author: Narae Son
Posted: June 27th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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In the above picture, action film star Sung Kang gets in on the Korean street food action during some downtime in Seoul, where he was promoting the Korea premiere of The Fast and the Furious 6 last May. He’s eating odeng, or fish cake skewers served with broth on the side.

Read on for our Top 5 Korean street foods, click here to see no. 10 to no. 6.

5. Cup rice
This particular street food can be found on the streets of Seoul’s Noryangjin neighborhood, which is known for its countless hagwons, or cram schools. There are so many students circulating in the area, vendors serving cheap (usually under $2), rapidly prepared street food do a brisk business. Continue Reading »

Tuesday’s Link Attack: North Korean Orphans; Sung Kang in Seoul; Far East Movement Plays SF; Ken Jeong
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: May 14th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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South Korea Proposes Border Meeting With North
New York Times

South Korea proposed on Tuesday to hold a border meeting with North Korea to discuss bringing finished goods and raw materials from an industrial park that the two countries jointly operated until last month.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex has been idle since North Korea withdrew all its 53,000 workers, accusing the United States and South Korea of plotting to invade the North. South Korea pulled out the last of its citizens from Kaesong on May 3, severing the last economic ties between the Koreas.

Neither the North nor the South has officially closed the eight-year-old complex, the best-known symbol of inter-Korean cooperation. But its fate has become a test for inter-Korean relations.

Japanese Aide Visits North Korea
New York Times

A political aide to the prime minister of Japan made a sudden, rare visit to North Korea on Tuesday. Japanese officials refused to say what he was doing there.

Japan and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic ties. Talks between the two governments, which resumed last August after a four-year hiatus, were broken off again in December after North Korea tested a rocket.

Kyodo News, a Japanese news agency, reported that the adviser, Isao Iijima, was met at the airport at Pyongyang, the capital, by a North Korean official identified as Kim Chol-ho, a vice director in the Foreign Ministry. Such a reception would suggest that Mr. Iijima, who is a senior adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was there on official business.

Orphaned and homeless in North Korea

The first time Yoon Hee was abandoned, she was an infant.

She was born in a village near North Korea’s sacred Mount Baekdu, where the country’s lore claims its founder, Kim Il Sung, led the fight for independence and his oldest son, Kim Jong Il, was born.

But the similarities between Yoon Hee and her homeland’s rulers end there.

See the CD 13 Candidates Debate in the Elysian Valley (Los Angeles)

On Tuesday, voters will have what is likely a last chance to see the two candidates in the runoff election for the Los Angeles City Council District 13 seat together. John Choi and Mitch O’Farrell will face off at Dorris Place Elementary School at 6:30 p.m.

The 90-minute conversation will take place in the school’s auditorium at 2225 Dorris Place. Sponsored by the Elysian Valley-Riverside Neighborhood Council, the event will feature pre-prepared questions asked by community members.

According to organizer Jeff Klein, the event will be moderated by Tracy Stone and Steve Appleton of the EVRNC. Klein, who chairs the EVRNC’s Outreach Committee, told us in an email that candidates will have four minutes to answer each question, which will cover Metrolink, the Los Angeles River, business/economic development and other issues related to the Eastside and Los Angeles in general.

U.S. Firms See Opportunities in South Korea
Wall Street Journal

Just over one year on from the implementation of the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, American companies see plenty of opportunities for export growth in South Korea, U.S. Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez said.

In Seoul as part of a trade mission with U.S. companies and for meetings with South Korean government officials, Mr. Sanchez said the benefits of the FTA are being seen but it would take a few more years for the full impact to come through.

“There’s been nearly a 50% increase in U.S. auto sales here (since the FTA started in March 2012), orange juice is up 160%. I could name probably another four or five sectors that are doing well,” he said in an interview.

College Admissions and the Asian-American Parent
Huffington Post

The Ivies, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Berkeley. Maybe Duke, if all else fails… maybe.

That’s the “List” — the typical college list for parents of high-achieving Asian-American students. With over four thousand colleges to choose from, why do so few make the cut?

As one guidance counselor lamented to me, Asian-American parents just don’t show up for information sessions featuring lesser known or liberal arts colleges, regardless of the quality of the school. Yet when it comes to the big name schools, you can’t find a seat. He asked me for advice. While not all Asian-Americans limit their college choices to the List, for those that do (and other parents as well), here is what I have to offer.

We all fall prey to the lure of brands from time to time, and education is no exception. It seems that for many Asian-American parents, only the luxury brands of higher education will do. It would serve us well to stop and think about the purpose of brands, the calculated effort to promote group think and distort reality (as a trademark attorney by training, I have seen this up close). These two goals are out of place, but persist, in the education world.

The Fast and the Furious stars to walk on the red carpet in Seoul
BNT News via Yahoo Philippines

On May 13th at Time square CGV in Seoul, the red carpet event for upcoming movie \’The Fast and the Furious 6, 2013\’ was held with main actors in it. Korean-American star Sung Kang is walking on the red carpet.

Psy to perform in final round of ‘American Idol’
Yonhap News

South Korean rapper Psy will perform during the final round of “American Idol Season 12″ this week, his local management agency said Tuesday.

Psy will perform his new hit single “Gentleman” as a special guest on the American reality singing competition being aired Thursday (American Pacific time) on Fox TV live across the United States from Los Angeles, YG Entertainment said.

Interview: Korean American Comedian Danny Cho Tells it Like it is
Busan Haps

Growing up in L.A., comedian Danny Cho is fluent in Spanish, Korean, English and most importantly, comedy. The Korean-American funny guy returns to Korea this weekend for a show in Seoul on the 17th and then another in Busan on the 18th. In an exclusive interview, Haps talks with Cho about comedy, Spam, Jean Claude Van Damme’s masterpiece, and Gwenyth Paltrow’s imminent demise.

Ken Jeong jokes about screen rants
Xpose Entertainment (Ireland)

Ken Jeong never feels “comfortable” recording his rude quotes for The Hangover fans in case they play them to their young children.

Ken Jeong has joked he doesn’t mind his young twin daughters watching his foul-mouthed on-screen rants because “they’re jerks”.

The comedy actor is famed for his role as flamboyant Chinese gangster Leslie Chow in The Hangover films. His character is famed for his funny one-liners and Ken is often asked to record voicemail messages by enthusiastic fans, although he doesn’t always feel comfortable doing it.

Macy’s San Francisco Union Square: Far East Movement – Interview & Concert

As you may or may not have heard, as part of the celebration for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Macy’s announced the hosting of Far East Movement (“FM”) for a series of performances and appearances across the country “geared toward highlighting and celebrating the unique influence of Asian-Pacific Americans on American culture and pop music.”

I had the great pleasure of dropping by Far East Movement’s Macy’s San Francisco Union Square performance on Saturday, May 11th. Prior to their performance, Nicki Sun (who also previously help host a Verizon-sponsored Lunar New Year Union Square performance back in February) asked the members of Far East Movement (FM) about how they got started and other interesting questions.

What in the world is a Refsnyder?
Pinstriped Bible

If you haven’t been following along with Tanya’s daily Baby Bomber Recap, and I think that you should, a man named Rob Refsnyder has come out of nowhere to be the organization’s best hitter by a large margin. He has been phenomenal this season so far and is currently hitting .382/.486/.504 across two levels.

He started his professional career at Low-A Charleston and hit a moderately underwhelming .241/.319/.364 as a 21-year-old. He repeated the level this season, but soon rocketed himself to High-A Tampa after only 13 games. Refsnyder has taken his .370/.452/.481 batting line in Charleston and has actually hit better since his promotion; he has a .391/.512/.522 line in 18 games for Tampa. So far this season he has had an 18-game hitting streak, accumulated five three-hit games and currently has four consecutive two-hit games.

Check out our profile of Rob Refsnyder from the August 2012 issue of KoreAm:
August Issue: Baseball Star Robert Refsnyder Transitions From World Series Hero to Pro Player

Pen pals from 50 years ago meet for first time
Asahi Shimbun (Japan)

Teenage pen pals a half century ago, a South Korean man and a Japanese woman never forgot each other and their postal friendship that developed at a time their two nations were enduring tense relations.

Kim Joong-suck, 66, who lives in Seoul, and Sumiyo Endo, 65, who resides in Shimizu Ward of Shizuoka city, met for the first time on May 13 when relations are again rocky between their two nations. But when the two finally greeted each other in front of JR Shimizu Station, there were only smiles. Kim showed Endo photos of a grandchild in elementary school. Endo told Kim that her first grandchild was born in November.

She was eager to meet Kim because she had been concerned about the awkward way their pen pal relationship ended.

“I thought she would be an active person based on her letters,” Kim said. “I am so glad to see that she has not changed.”

KoreAm On the Scene at the ‘Bullet to the Head’ Screening
Author: KoreAm
Posted: March 15th, 2013
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , March 2013
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Sung Kang, with KoreAm publisher James Ryu and Warner Bros.’ Rick Ramirez.

Colleagues and friends of Sung Kang celebrate the actor’s latest role, going toe to toe against Stallone.


KoreAm Journal and Audrey Magazine hosted an advanced preview screening of Warner Bros. Pictures’ Sylvester Stallone action flick, Bullet to the Head, at CGV Cinemas in Los Angeles’ Koreatown on Jan. 31. The honorary guest of the night was Stallone’s co-star, Korean American actor Sung Kang, who plays Detective Taylor Kwon, a New Orleans cop who enlists hitman Jimmy Bobo (Stallone) to help him track down the bad guys who killed both their respective partners.

At the event, Kang told KoreAm about the lessons Stallone and director Walter Hill taught him about being the quintessential “alpha male,” both onscreen and off. It’s about exuding confidence; even when an alpha male doesn’t know what’s going on, he acts like he does.

“I’m always running around, feeling like I have to explain myself to everybody,” said Kang. “But alpha males tend to be very quiet. They just stand there, and everyone else gravitates toward them. At the same time, there’s a sense of respect, because the alpha male has earned it.” Continue Reading »

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