by JAMES S. KIM
The “alpha” of a herd or pack is the undistinguished leader, the dominant individual who charts the course for the rest of the group. We’ve heard plenty about alpha males, testosterone and all, but hardly ever about alpha females, and yes, they do exist.
They are the ones Mnet America look to document in their aptly titled Alpha Girls television and web series. The show follows the lives of four Asian and Asian American women who, in their respective fields, are the ones blazing new paths in very non-traditional career paths and features artist Mina Kwon, music producer Tokimonsta, designer Lanie Alabanza-Barcena aka Miss Lawnie and professional fashion model Soo Joo Park.
Mnet America marked the series’ launch Wednesday evening with the starlets themselves, minus Park, who was out of town for Paris Fashion Week. The others joined producers Daniel “DPD” Park and Danny Park at the Greystone Manor in West Hollywood, along with industry folk and fans, for a special debut screening and night of celebration. Continue Reading »
This week’s video takes you into the actual domicile of Tokimonsta, and also inside the mind of the L.A. music producer. Continue Reading »
SF plane crash pilots focused on centering jet
San Francisco Chronicle
The pilots trying to land Asiana Airlines Flight 214 knew 500 feet from the ground that they were coming in off course – and they focused on correcting that problem while assuming that the plane’s airspeed was being controlled automatically, investigators said Tuesday.
By the time the pilots realized the plane’s speed had dropped dangerously low, investigators said, it was too late to correct. The main landing gear and tail struck the rocky seawall at the base of San Francisco International Airport’s Runway 28L, breaking into pieces and sending the plane into a devastating spin.
Two flight attendants and a 16-year-old girl were flung out of a gaping hole at the rear of the jet where the tail section had been. The teenager died and the flight attendants were found alive, but critically injured, surrounded by galley materials, newspapers, magazines and cabin carpeting. Another girl was found dead next to the burning hulk of the aircraft, although it’s not clear whether she was thrown from the plane or evacuated.
SFO crash: NTSB reveals chaotic details of pilots’ confusion; two flight attendants ejected
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.)
As the families of the two girls killed in the Asiana Airlines crash went through the heartbreaking task of formally identifying their children, new details emerged about cockpit confusion along with the astounding revelation that two flight attendants survived after also being ejected from the disintegrating aircraft.
National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman on Tuesday described the chaos of the final seconds before and after Saturday’s crash of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday morning.
Among the details she revealed were that two flight attendants who were seated in the back of the plane were thrown onto the tarmac in the crash.
“They were found down the runway and off to the side of the runway,” Hersman told reporters. “Those flight attendants survived, but they obviously have gone through a serious event.”
Investigation Deepens Mystery of Asiana 214 Crash
The pilots aboard Asiana flight 214 that crashed at San Francisco International Airport told investigators that they sensed the airplane was descending too fast and lifted the nose of the aircraft seconds before touchdown.
Investigators with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation interviewed the pilots of the Being 777-200 in the U.S. on Monday.
The first officer told investigators that he informed the pilot 54 seconds before landing that the aircraft was descending too quickly. And the pilot, Lee Kang-kuk, told investigators that he lifted the aircraft after determining 34 seconds prior to touchdown that the plane was flying at too low at an altitude of just 150 m.
Korean Culture May Offer Clues in Asiana Crash
Investigators combing through the debris and data recordings from the Asiana Airlines jet that crashed in San Francisco Saturday may learn more about what happened inside the cockpit of the Boeing 777 aircraft by studying an unlikely clue: Korean culture.
South Korea’s aviation industry has faced skepticism about its safety and pilot habits since a few deadly crashes beginning in the 1980s. But despite changes, including improved safety records, Korea’s aviation sector remains rooted in a national character that’s largely about preserving hierarchy—and asking few questions.
“The Korean culture has two features—respect for seniority and age, and quite an authoritarian style,” said Thomas Kochan, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “You put those two together, and you may get more one-way communication—and not a lot of it upward,” Kochan said.
Park expressed regret over TV anchor’s slip of tongue about Chinese jet crash victims
South Korean President Park Geun-hye expressed strong regret Wednesday over a slip of the tongue that a local TV anchor made about Chinese victims in the recent Asiana Airlines plane crash in San Francisco.
While delivering breaking news on the jet cash, the Channel A cable TV anchor said Sunday that it was a relief from the South Korean perspective that the two fatal victims in the accident turned out to be Chinese, not South Koreans.
South and North Korea Fail Again to Agree on Reopening Shuttered Complex
New York Times
South Korean factory managers returned Wednesday to a shuttered industrial park in North Korea for the first time in two months as the two governments tried again but failed to agree on terms for reopening the complex, once an iconic symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation.
Sixty factory managers from the South arrived in the Kaesong Industrial Zone, the factory park in the North Korean border town of the same name, for a day trip to check on their factories, which have been idle since the last of the managers withdrew in late April. North Korea halted production there in early April by withdrawing all 53,000 of its workers, blaming tensions it said were caused by joint American-South Korean military drills.
Former South Korean Spy Chief Charged With Bribery
New York Times
A former national intelligence chief of South Korea was arrested on bribery charges on Wednesday, further tarnishing the image of the country’s spy agency, which has already been accused of meddling in the presidential election in December.
Won Sei-hoon, who served as director of the National Intelligence Service under President Lee Myung-bak from 2009 until the end of Mr. Lee’s term in February, is the latest in a series of former South Korean spy chiefs who have faced criminal indictments after leaving office. Several of them have been imprisoned for corruption and other crimes.
Mr. Won was charged with accepting cash, gold and other gifts totaling 150 million won, or $132,000, from the head of a construction company since 2009. Prosecutors said the gifts were bribes Mr. Won accepted in exchange for peddling influence to help the businessman win construction projects from a state-run power plant and a major supermarket chain.
Visit by U.S. political figure won’t free American jailed in N. Korea: report
Yonhap News via GlobalPost
Even an attention-drawing visit by a high-ranking U.S. political figure won’t help to win freedom for a Korean-American man imprisoned in North Korea, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said Wednesday.
Kenneth Bae, whose Korean name is Bae Jun-ho, was arrested in North Korea in November on charges of trying to overthrow the communist regime. In April, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
In the past, visits by high-profile U.S. political figures like former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton led to the release of Americans jailed in the North.
But the Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper published in Japan, said in an article Wednesday that North Korea now “is taking a totally different path on this latest case.”
How a $1.79 Bottle of Orange Juice Helped Spark the L.A. Riots
The L.A. riots of 1992 were about the acquittal of four LAPD officers who pummeled motorist Rodney King in a “use of force” caught on tape.
Or were they? Keen watchers of L.A. news remember that the fatal shooting of 15-year-old South L.A. girl Latasha Harlins by a Korean American convenience store merchant within two weeks of King’s beating also put tensions south of the 10 freeway on high:
In fact, a new book from UCLA history professor Brenda Stevenson puts the Latasha Harlins case front-and-center when it comes to sparking the 1992 uprising.
The book, titled “The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins: Justice, Gender and the Origins of the LA Riots,” also puts gender at the fore.
Glendale approves Korean ‘comfort woman’ statue despite protest
Los Angeles Times via Glendale News-Press
Despite significant opposition both overseas and locally, the City Council Tuesday approved a 1,110-pound monument honoring Korean women taken as sex slaves by the Japanese army during World War II.
Members of the council received hundreds of emails — many appearing to come from Japan — and listened to dozens of speakers at the Tuesday meeting who claimed the so-called “comfort women” were not indentured servants, but ordinary prostitutes.
Glendale has become the latest American city to set the scene for a decades-old controversy between some Japanese who deny their army abducted up to 200,000 women from Korea, China and other countries as sex slaves and Koreans who want to raise awareness of the human rights violations.
San Francisco supervisor Kim says pledge of allegiance for first time
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.)
San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim said the Pledge of Alliance for the first time at the start of today’s board meeting in what she said was a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling last month to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Kim made headlines early in her tenure as supervisor, which began in 2011, for standing during the pledge but refusing to say the words.
She said she took issue with the phrase “liberty and justice for all,” but changed her thinking after the Supreme Court ruling on June 26 that found unconstitutional the law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
‘CEO’ of Korean prostitution ring in Biloxi agrees to plead guilty
Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.)
An Atlantic City man has agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy to run a Korean prostitution ring in Biloxi by harboring women who were in the U.S. without authorization.
Federal court documents show Chi Sung Jung also has asked to be prosecuted in New Jersey on charges of sex-trafficking and immigration violations. A date for his plea hearing has not been set.
Jung, 52, has been held without bond in New Jersey since February. His request to transfer the case to a federal court in New Jersey was filed in court records Monday.
‘Oldboy’ poster: First look at Spike Lee’s remake of Korean thriller
Los Angeles Times
The first poster for the American remake of “Oldboy” shows the film’s star Josh Brolin climbing out of a steamer trunk.
Hero Complex readers get a first look at the provocative poster, which is not a composite but rather an actual shot from the film, directed by Spike Lee.
Lee has said the film will be even darker than Chan-wook Park’s 2003 original “Oldeuboi,” the highly stylized Korean art house hit, based on a Japanese manga series, about a man who seeks revenge after being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years.
Lee Byung-hun Ripped and Ready to Thrill in ‘Red 2′
A still from “Red 2″ showing heartthrob Lee Byung-hun flashing his six-pack and sculpted physique has been released ahead of the movie’s world premiere on July 18.
Lee is said to have worked out religiously and focused on training for his action scenes for over three months after receiving the script in order to fully immerse himself in the role of a killer.
Brown Eyed Girls Release ‘Recipe’ Single: Listen
In less than five days’ time, long-running K-pop girl group Brown Eyed Girls announced their return to the K-pop scene and dropped a new track, “Recipe.”
Centered around a walking bass line, “Recipe” is a funky, ’90s-inspired track embellished with disco dance elements and guitar riffs. The ladies’ vocals bounce from soft head voice to attitude-soaked rapping. The translated lyrics use food and cooking metaphors to tell a love interest how they’ll flavor the relationship from “hot and sexy” to “sweet and spicy.”
WATCH TOKIMONSTA’S NEW INTERACTIVE STICKERBOOK VIDEO, “CLEAN SLATE”
So it’s the first day back at work after a four day weekend (if you’re lucky), and it’s going about as well as Jay’s Magna Carta release. TOKiMONSTA and Gavin Turek know how real the struggle is, so they’re bringing it back to preschool-era basics with their new interactive stickerbook music video for “Clean Slate.” That’s right; ARTS AND CRAFTS, BITCHES!
In “Toki’s Monstas,” Tokimonsta and Gavin are beamed down to Earth via flying saucer, where they dance all over a number of landscapes with Colorform monster friends—which monster friends they get down with is up to you, as you drag and drop the 27 different cartoon creatures into the video.
Book World: Susan Choi’s ‘My Education’ a smart and witty novel about college life
Just when it seems that there’s no room in the class for another novel about college life, a new hand goes up. I won’t run through the whole roster because you already know the upperclassmen — from Richard Russo’s “Straight Man” to Jane Smiley’s “Moo.” Only two years ago, Jeffrey Eugenides brought the form to new heights with “The Marriage Plot,” a brilliant novel about an English major infected by the plots of 19th-century classics. Kingsley Amis’s “Lucky Jim,” of course, still lords it over them all.
So it takes some nerve to stride into this tweedy group and perform under the anxiety of their influence. What new footnote could be added to David Lodge’s satires of postmodern theory? How many class titles like “Fetishes and Freaks: Strategies of Queering the Gothic” can we giggle over? Who could possibly trace another erotic tension or envious impulse through the groves of academe?
Answer: Susan Choi. She’s never sounded smarter or wittier than she does in her fourth novel, “My Education.” Once again, we’re on a college campus with pompous professors. Once again, we meet an English major donning the mantle of adulthood, thirsty for “new esoterica.” But by the force of her stylistic virtuosity and psychological precision, Choi gives this worn setup all the nubile energy of a new school year.
H Mart readying for move into Central Square this fall
Korean grocery chain H Mart is planning to open in Central Square late this fall with a food court in the space formerly occupied by the Harvest Co-op.
The Cambridge License Commission Tuesday night approved common victualler licenses for H Mart and three restaurants at 581 Massachusetts Ave. James Rafferty, an attorney for the businesses, said they will run a food court with a total of 120 seats in the supermarket.
Harvest Co-op has already moved out of the spot to a new location across the street.
Best of Busan: What to do in Korea’s ‘second city’
Often called “the summer capital of South Korea,” the port city of Busan is just a two-and-a-half-hour train ride from Seoul. The country’s two largest cities, however, are remarkably different places.
In the more low-key Busan, a night out usually means drinking soju with friends on the beach while watching kids play with firecrackers. Or eating hoe (Korean sashimi) — again with soju — at the shiny new fish market.
Korea’s Photoshop Trolls Make the Internet a Better Place
On June 26, a Korean language Facebook page called “We Do Phoshop” appeared online. The site solicited Photoshop requests, and the ensuing ‘shops weren’t exactly what askers had in mind. Or what anyone had in mind, for that matter.
There’s a tradition of these kind of Photoshops online in China. People would ask “Photoshop masters” to make them taller or cooler or whatever. And netizens would whip up trollish Photoshops for internet giggles. But people tended to know what they were getting themselves in for when they made the requests, so the end result isn’t malicious.
That’s what is going on over at the We Do Phoshop Facebook page. Currently, it has around twenty-nine thousand likes and is still taking requests. However, so far, their page appears to be Korean language only — so here’s a look at some of of those requests.
Go With It
On her latest record, L.A. DJ and beatmaker Jennifer Lee, a.k.a. TOKiMONSTA, urges us to do just that. It’s a strategy that’s worked for her so far.
by EUGENE YI
On an unseasonably warm, early spring night in Brooklyn, a fight broke out before the TOKiMONSTA show—one of those elaborate displays of competitive temerity that took 20 minutes to, finally, ignite. It started with a photographer trying to sneak in a bottle of wine, leading to the predictable pas de deux, and ending with a bottle of water being thrown from a passing car at the bouncer. There is no rage like bouncer rage, and as I watched him dash to his car, rev his engine and sear skid marks onto the pavement, I wondered aloud how any show could possibly follow what had just happened.
“No, you can’t go. TOKiMONSTA is sooo good,” said a blonde-bobbed woman behind me, dressed in what could be described as post-hipster understated Americana. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was mere coincidence that a female fan would happen to be doing the exhorting outside a performance by TOKiMONSTA, née Jennifer Lee, from Torrance, Calif., an Asian female DJ/music producer in the largely non-Asian, decidedly male world of L.A.’s beat scene, and electronic dance music at large.
This, of course, raises the usual questions that have framed the majority of the press coverage about TOKiMONSTA. It’s all about the music, and race and gender shouldn’t matter, except, of course, when they do. No one wants to be just a Korean American musician, or just a female musician. But in the reams of coverage she’s garnered over the years, the most common questions have been about the toki (it’s the Korean word for rabbit), and “how does it feel to be a female,” she said during a recent phone interview. There was a hint of weariness when answering the old questions about gender and race—which is completely understandable. Continue Reading »
North Korea says Korean-American sentenced to labor had smuggled in anti-Pyongyang literature
North Korea delivered its most in-depth account yet of the case against a Korean-American sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor, accusing him late Thursday of smuggling in inflammatory literature and trying to establish a base for anti-Pyongyang activities at a border city hotel.
Still, the long list of allegations included no statement from Kenneth Bae, other than claims that he confessed and didn’t want an attorney present during his sentencing last week for what Pyongyang called hostile acts against the state.
Since the sentencing came during a period of tentative diplomatic moves following weeks of high tension and North Korean threats of nuclear and missile strikes on Washington and Seoul, outside analysts have said Pyongyang may be using Bae as bait to win diplomatic concessions in the standoff over its nuclear weapons program. North Korea repeated its denial of such speculation in the new statement, but the pattern has occurred repeatedly.
Disgraced spokesman leaves blemish on Park’s U.S. visit
President Park Geun-hye’s first official visit to the United States ended in one of the worst ways possible Friday with her spokesman being fired amid allegations that he had sexually assaulted a woman during the trip.
The allegations sparked public outrage in South Korea and dealt a serious blow to Park just as she was beginning to regain public confidence through her handling of tensions with North Korea and what appeared to be a successful five-day visit to the U.S.
“(He) completely poured cold water over the accomplishments of the U.S. visit,” said one presidential official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It’s causing an extreme burden to state affairs.”
Dennis Rodman says heading back to N.Korea
AFP via Google News
Basketball hall-of-famer Dennis Rodman said he plans a second trip to North Korea to try to use his budding friendship with leader Kim Jong-Un to free a jailed American, in an interview aired Friday.
The flamboyant basketball legend, approached by celebrity news website TMZ as he walked on a Los Angeles street Thursday, said he would return to North Korea on August 1 on a mission to release jailed tour organizer Kenneth Bae.
“I’ll be back over there. I’m going to try to get the guy out,” the heavily tattooed Rodman said in between waving to well-wishers.
Woman pleads guilty to hitting and killing teen
AP via San Francisco Chronicle
An associate professor at the University of Montana has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge filed after her car veered onto a sidewalk and struck and killed an 18-year-old Missoula man.
Yoon Hee Cho, 38, pleaded guilty Thursday in Municipal Court to careless driving resulting in death and to driving on a sidewalk.
The plea agreement calls for Cho to spend 30 days on house arrest and pay $5,000 into the Chance Geery Memorial Fund in lieu of a fine.
Cho was charged in the death of Geery, who was struck on April 1 as he was walking and holding hands with his girlfriend.
Palisades Park man linked to ID and credit card fraud ring to be deported to South Korea
Bergen County Record (N.J.)
A Palisades Park man involved in a massive identity theft and credit card fraud ring was transferred Thursday to immigration officials for deportation to South Korea after a federal judge determined that the 31 months he has already spent in jail would satisfy his sentence.
Osung Kwon, 37, pleaded guilty in 2012 to using a social security card and counterfeit driver’s license he obtained through a borough-based black market enterprise to defraud banks and credit card companies of almost $400,000. He has been in prison since he was arrested in September, 2010.
Speaking through a translator, Kwon, who was wearing shackles and a green prison jumpsuit, apologized to U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden and pleaded for a lenient sentence.
Witnesses tried to save 4-year-old after he was struck by Jeep
First he heard a thud. Then screams. Then Jim Sugent saw a 4-year-old boy lying in the middle of Stevenson Avenue in Alexandria.
Police say the child, who was identified Friday as Jacob Choi, had run into oncoming traffic May 4 and was struck and killed by the driver of a 2010 Jeep Commander. The driver, who is 84, has not been identified by police. He has not been charged in the accident, which remains under investigation, police said.
Jacob’s mother, whose name and address were not released, ran into traffic after her son and also sustained injuries, but they were not serious, police said.
Star Trek’s John Cho a boldly going actor worth shouting about
“I get called Harold the most,” Cho says. “I think maybe Harold & Kumar fans don’t know my name and Star Trek fans do know my name … Harold fans are vocal!”
And of course there’s Star Trek, now two films into the franchise with Star Trek Into Darknessset to boldly go to theatres galaxywide on May 17. Cho plays Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu in the prequel reboot series, the promotion of which has brought him to Toronto. (His introduction at a Monday night screening of Into Darkness included reference to him as “the MILF guy.”)
This makes three hit franchises that Cho has been active in so far, and he’s just entered his 40s. He’s also busy with TV series, most notably the sci-fi drama FlashForward and the recent sitcom Go On, and his early career in the 1990s included much stage work, as a member of East West Players, an Asian-American theatre company in L.A.
Tokimonsta Live at KCRW on Morning Becomes Eclectic 05.09.13
LA native Tokimonsta has a unique take on electronic dance music and is notably the first female to join the groundbreaking Brainfeeder crew, led by Flying Lotus. We’re treated to one of her energetic live performances on Morning Becomes Eclectic at 11:15am.
Choo staying calm in contract year
When new Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo arrived in Cincinnati at the start of the regular season, a book was waiting for him at Great American Ballpark. The text was written in Korean, Choo’s native language. A fan had sent it, he said.
It wasn’t a baseball book. It was about the games we play between our ears. Choo read about keeping a narrow focus, about thinking “simple things,” about accepting that he can’t please everyone.
“When you stop, you see everything,” Choo told me recently, in the cramped visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field. “I really want to explain it to you, but it’s hard to say. I’ve already read it three times.”
Mets could go after Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in offseason
New York Daily News
Almost anything would be an upgrade for the Mets, considering that the state of their outfield is as bad as predicted — even if reserve Mike Baxter has a knack for the big moment, as he showed again Thursday night.
Who’s better: Henderson or Aldo?
ESPN Insider (subscription req’d)
Lightweight champion Benson Henderson and featherweight champ Jose Aldo are two of the most popular fighters in mixed martial arts.
In their most recent fights, Aldo dispatched Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision in February at UFC 156, and Henderson beat Gilbert Melendez in a split-decision victory in April during UFC on Fox 7.
Although the two fight in different weight classes, Aldo has hinted at a jump in competition. Should Aldo beat top contender Anthony Pettis at UFC 163 in August, there’s a real chance these two champs could soon meet in the Octagon.
Mom’s Cooking Comes Between a Husband and Wife
The New York Times
Sometime KoreAm contributor Sung J. Woo writes a Mother’s Day piece for the New York Times.
My mother and I don’t fight often nowadays, because I’m 41 and she’s 72 and we lead separate lives. I see her once every two weeks. She makes me lunch, we shop at Costco, she makes me dinner, then she sends me off with grocery bags full of her cooking.
We’ve been on this schedule for the last eight years, since my father passed away. But on this evening, near the end of my visit to her senior apartment, I could tell we were going to argue.
“Just take it,” she said.
“It’s just one more.” There was an edge to her voice. “Why are you being difficult?”
Have American Parents Got It All Backwards?
This is a guest column by Korean American professor, Christine Gross-Loh, author of Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us.
The parent I used to be and the parent I am now both have the same goal: to raise self-reliant, self-assured, successful children. But 12 years of parenting, over five years of living on and off in Japan, two years of research, investigative trips to Europe and Asia and dozens of interviews with psychologists, child development experts, sociologists, educators, administrators and parents in Japan, Korea, China, Finland, Germany, Sweden, France, Spain, Brazil and elsewhere have taught me that though parents around the world have the same goals, American parents like me (despite our very best intentions) have gotten it all backwards.
We need to let 3-year-olds climb trees and 5-year-olds use knives.