Korea Falls to USA in Soccer Friendly
Author: Steve Han
Posted: February 3rd, 2014
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The South Korean national soccer team put in yet another uninspiring performance, losing 2-0 to the United States as former MLS scoring champion Chris Wondolowski scored a brace for the Americans.

Both teams played without many of its regular starters, most of whom are playing club soccer in Europe. Mikkel Diskerud of Norway’s Rosenborg BK was the only American currently playing outside of the MLS, while Korea’s roster consisted of players based in the domestic K-League and the Japanese league.

Wondolowski put the U.S. ahead with just over three minutes into the game, scoring off of a blocked shot inside the penalty area with a header. Continue Reading »

Park Ji-Sung Considering Return to Korean National Team for World Cup
Author: Steve Han
Posted: January 8th, 2014
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Park celebrates his goal against Greece in the 2010 World Cup.

South Korean national team soccer coach Hong Myung-bo will meet with Park with hopes of bringing him back ahead of the 2014 World Cup. The 32-year-old midfielder abruptly announced his international retirement three years ago.

“I never heard that Park won’t play for the national team directly from the player himself,” Hong said, according to Sports Chosun. “I plan to meet with him to see what his stance is.”

The former Manchester United star’s father, Park Sung-jong, who often serves as his son’s spokesperson, told the media shortly after Hong’s comments that he and his son had been “waiting for a chance to speak to Hong,” according to Sports Seoul.

“So far, no one has asked Ji-sung directly [about returning to the national team],” said the player’s father. “[Hong and] Ji-sung have a very close relationship. They’ll have a chance to share each other’s thoughts more honestly. Until recently, all the talk about Ji-sung returning to the national team has been through the media.” Continue Reading »

Thursday’s Link Attack: Kim Jong-Un Wants Improved Relations; SKoreans’ ‘Mixed Feelings’ About Reunification; Asian Hangover Cures
Author: James S. Kim
Posted: January 2nd, 2014
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North Korean Leader Says He Wants Better Ties With South
New York Times

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, on Wednesday called for improving relations with South Korea and boasted of his regime’s tightened grip on power in his first public speech since the purge and execution of his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, last month.

“North and South Korea should create a mood to improve relations,” Mr. Kim said in a nationally televised New Year’s Day speech. “It’s time to end useless slandering, and the North and the South should no longer do things that harm reconciliation and harmony.”

Mr. Kim began delivering a New Year’s Day speech after coming to power two years ago, reviving the practice of his grandfather Kim Il-sung. During the rule of his reclusive father, Kim Jong-il, the country’s main state-run newspapers issued a joint editorial to mark the day.

Decoding Kim’s New Year’s Speech
Wall Street Journal

Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech was closely watched because it offered a rare chance to see the North Korean leader speak, even if he probably contributed little or nothing to the message he delivered.

The speech itself didn’t turn up much that was new other than a colorful reference to his purged uncle, Jang Song Thaek, as “factionalist filth” and heavy reinforcement of the ideological fallout from Mr. Jang’s demise. Mr. Kim said it was imperative to “ensure the purity of Party ranks” and “establish the monolithic leadership system in the Party.”

The delivery of the speech–from behind a dais with seven microphones–was also the same as last year, as was Mr. Kim’s tendency to fidget while speaking. Possibly with that in mind, there was one notable difference in presentation this year: the amount of time Mr. Kim spent on camera.

S.Koreans Have Mixed Feelings About Reunification
Chosun Ilbo

A majority of South Koreans believe that reunification is in the national interest, but only a few think it will benefit individuals. This was the outcome of a poll conducted by the Chosun Ilbo.

Some 57.2 percent of respondents said reunification will be beneficial to the national interest and 39.4 percent it will not. But a whopping 66.3 percent do not expect it to benefit individual South Koreans directly, more than double the 30.9 percent who said it will.

About a half or 48.6 percent of respondents are concerned that the cost of reunification could overwhelm the potential benefit. Some 31.8 percent said the benefit will outweigh the cost, while 15.5 percent said the cost and benefit will be about equal. Some 4.1 percent gave no answer.

S. Korea unveils video promoting ownership of Dokdo
Yonhap News

South Korea on Wednesday released an on-line video clip publicizing its sovereignty over a set of islets off its east coast that is also claimed by Japan.

The video, which includes historical evidence purporting to show that the islets, called Dokdo, are Korean, was posted on a foreign ministry website (http://dokdo.mofa.go.kr) at midnight Tuesday. It will also be uploaded on YouTube.

“The video was produced to widely spread the firm truth that Dokdo is South Korean territory in terms of history, geography and international law,” ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a briefing.

South Korea military to fight to keep ban on sex by academy cadets

South Korea’s military said on Thursday it would fight a court ruling quashing its move to kick an officer candidate out of the elite Army Academy for having sex with his girlfriend while on leave.

An appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the Academy abused its authority to discipline cadets when it expelled a candidate for having sex with his girlfriend while on a weekend leave. It ruled that his conduct did no harm to the institution’s honor.

The Academy maintains rules against sexual relations as part of its code of conduct that also bans drinking, smoking and marriage and it intends to take the case to the Supreme Court, a spokesman for the Army told a news briefing.

Lee Min-ho Rides Wave of Popularity to Leading Movie Role
Chosun Ilbo

Lee Min-ho established his credentials as a character actor rather than just another pretty face in SBS’ TV drama “The Heirs,” which emerged as the most popular TV drama in the second half of last year.

Riding on the success of the drama, which recently came to an end, Lee has now been cast in a new movie that is set in the 1970s, when a real estate development boom swept across Gangnam.

South Korean Films Dominated Domestic Box Office in 2013
Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s genre-defying jail-cell dramedy “Miracle in Cell No. 7” was the country’s biggest box-office draw last year, which saw nine of the 10 top-grossing movies coming from local producers.

The film — starring one of South Korea’s top character actors, Ryu Seung-ryong, about a handicapped parking-garage attendant incarcerated for rape and murder and the efforts to clear his name — pulled in 91.43 billion won ($86.6 million), according to the Korean Film Council.

That makes “Miracle,” directed by Lee Hwan-kyung, the third most successful film in South Korean history. It trails behind “Avatar” (2009), the Hollywood 3-D science-fiction epic from James Cameron, and “The Thieves” (2012), Korean director Choi Dong-hoon’s all-star comic action-thriller.

Lee Seung-gi, Yoon-a Dating
Chosun Ilbo

Singer and actor Lee Seung-gi and Yoon-a of Girls’ Generation recently began dating, Lee’s agency confirmed on Wednesday.

Their relationship was first revealed on Wednesday when an Internet news outlet released a photo of Lee picking up Yoon-a at her home immediately after he returned from a concert in Japan in October.

They reportedly started dating in September and enjoy going for drives along the Han River and around Mt. Nam.

Korean community welcomes Shin-Soo Choo to town
Dallas News

Shin-Soo Choo has come to Texas. And he already has plenty of fans here.

The 31-year-old free agent outfielder has signed a seven-year contract with the Texas Rangers. He brought his wife, Won Mi Ha, and two young sons, Kunwoo and Moo-bin, with him to a news conference Friday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Several fellow South Koreans were there to welcome them, including Michael Lee, immediate past chair of the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber, many members of the local Korean media and a few members of the Korean Society of Dallas.

Yuna Kim not preparing ‘special skills’ for Sochi Olympics
NBC Sports

For Yuna Kim, defending her Olympic gold medal is not of the utmost importance in Sochi.

The South Korean figure skater will try to enjoy her second Olympics, she said before what’s likely to be her final home competition this weekend.

Kim, expected to retire after the Olympics, is set to compete at the South Korean National Championships.

South Korea look to old guard in World Cup year
Gulf News

South Korea need an infusion of old heads to balance the lack of experience in their squad for this year’s World Cup in Brazil, according to head coach Hong Myung-bo.

The Asian football powerhouse will begin their eighth consecutive World Cup finals campaign against Russia, who they lost 2-1 to in November, on June 17, before clashing with Algeria (June 22) and Belgium (June 26).

Hong, a member of the Korean team that reached the last four of the 2002 World Cup on home soil, said he was close to finalising his squad for the prestigious event.

The morning after: Asia’s top hangover cures

It’s a self-induced ailment that transcends culture and language barriers. The hangover.

Whether you’ve binged on sake or baijou, the result is too often the same: pounding headache, mouth like a Russian wrestler’s jockstrap, urge to spend the day close to something white and made of porcelain.

Though hangovers might be universal, cures for the brown bottle flu are not.

Some boozers swear that a greasy breakfast does the trick. But if you find yourself in an Asian city New Year’s Day with nary a greasy English fry-up in sight, these local hangover cures should make you feel half-human in no time.

Team Korea is Underdog at World Cup
Author: Young Rae Kim
Posted: December 11th, 2013
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The odds are against Korea in the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, at least according to the sports betting company William Hill. Korea, who is placed in Group H, with Belgium, Russia and Algeria, is the second-least favored team of its group to advance to the round of 16. Algeria is the least favored to advance to the next round.

William Hill placed the odds for Korea making it out of group play at 15-8, meaning that an $80 bet on Korea would yield a $150 return, if Korea were to beat the odds.

For the outright World Cup winner, the British bookmaker pegged Korea at 500-to-1, which are better odds than just six other countries.

FIFA has Korea ranked 54th, the lowest of the group, while Belgium is ranked 11th, Russia is 22nd and Algeria 26th. However, the underdog Korea, have surprised the FIFA rankings before, and may very well do so again in Brazil. In 2010, Korea escaped out of the Group H, consisting of Argentina, Greece and Nigeria, with a win, a draw, and a loss. And of course there is the miraculous 2002 World Cup run, where Korea reached the semi-finals on its home turf. Continue Reading »

It Could Be Worse: South Korea Draws Upstart Belgium Group for World Cup 2014
Author: Steve Han
Posted: December 6th, 2013
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The World Cup draw is a big deal for teams that spend years to qualify for the quadrennial showdown. When FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, unveiled the eight groups for 32 teams that will head to Brazil next summer for the tournament, South Korea wound up in Group H with Belgium, Russia and Algeria.

Although Korea is ranked lower than its three opponents in the FIFA rankings, many Koreans still breathed a sigh of relief as they avoided soccer’s traditional powerhouses, including host nation in Brazil, reigning champion Spain and perennial contender Germany. While Korea gears up to play in its eighth consecutive World Cup, neither Belgium nor Russia made it to the 2010 tournament and Algeria got eliminated early in the group stages. In that same tournament, Korea advanced to the round of 16 before getting knocked out by eventual semifinalists Uruguay.

At least on paper, the competition in Group H should be relatively manageable for Korea. It certainly could’ve been worse, as evidenced by the United States, which ended up in the so-called Group of Death with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Continue Reading »

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