Domestic Politics, Pyongyang-Style [OPINION]
New York Times
ON Monday, North Korea declared that it had nullified the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, a new level of bellicosity that raised, at least on paper, the potential for the resumption of armed conflict on the peninsula.
The fiery rhetoric seemed to foreign observers a desperate attempt to force the United States and South Korea to restart stalled talks on denuclearization, in the hope of extracting aid and concessions. But recent history suggests that it was motivated less by international politics than by domestic concerns: North Korea’s new hereditary leader, Kim Jong-un, may have been stoking fears of a foreign threat primarily to dampen political unrest at home.
The belligerent talk, and the nuclear test North Korea conducted last month, its third, are part of a pattern that began in the 1990s when the North Korean economy collapsed following the end of the cold war.
PM visits western border island, calls for high alert on N.K. provocations
Amid heightened inter-Korean tensions, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won on Thursday visited the country’s western border island of Yeonpyeong that was bombarded in a North Korean artillery attack in 2010 to encourage soldiers and residents there, his office said.
Tensions have been simmering on the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks as North Korea has been escalating its war of words over tougher U.N. Security Council sanctions that punish its third nuclear test on Feb. 12, and ongoing Seoul-Washington annual joint military exercise.
Chung’s visit drew particular attention, as Pyongyang’s media reported earlier Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently guided artillery exercises targeting Yeonpyeong and a nearby island near the Yellow Sea border.
Wall Street Journal
As inter-Korean military tensions rise, two South Korean islands in the Yellow Sea are drawing attention again. Lying just south of the disputed maritime border called Northern Limit Line (NLL), Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong have been a tinderbox for the two Koreas recently—and now Pyongyang has openly placed them in the crosshairs of North Korea’s artillery scopes.
Location: Yeonpyeong is only about eight kilometers, or five miles, from the North Korean coast. Baengnyeong, which lies to the northwest of Yeonpyeong, is almost as close.
Race In America: Asian-Americans & Race
FOX News Philadelphia
It’s a headline that got us talking: A Vermont newspaper decided to run a poster with the words “Fry Rice” on it.
The daily reportedly did this in support of its’ local sports team in a game against Rice Memorial High School.
The problem? The font or print used is associated with Chinese calligraphy.
Some Asian-American readers were offended, saying the “play” on words was both racist and insensitive.
Bank of Korea’s Suh Young Kyung Shuns Schoolgirl Outfit
When Suh Young Kyung joined the Bank of Korea in 1988, officials at the central bank told her to wear a schoolgirl’s outfit. She refused.
Hired with one other woman and 50 men, Suh has risen to be the most senior female executive in the institution’s history. As director of the financial-markets division, she’s in charge of open-market operations to regulate liquidity in the banking system, reporting to Governor Kim Choong Soo and monetary-policy board members.
“They tried to force me to wear the same uniform as high- school graduates while giving money to my male colleagues to buy a suit every season,” Suh said in an interview, wearing a navy tweed jacket and white blouse with black pants. “The BOK was entirely dominated by men when I started.”
Koreans Travel Long Distances For Their Kimchi
Patch.com (Cupertino, Calif.)
For many Korean American families, keeping culture and tradition alive may mean driving on a regular basis to Santa Clara County. Numerous stores in our area cater to the Korean American community, offering them the necessary ingredients they need to cook traditional dishes.
“We get customers (from) as far as Fairfield, Pleasanton, and the Concord areas. Even as far south as Monterey,” said Steve Kim, the owner of Super Kyo Po Plaza in Santa Clara, one of the largest Korean supermarkets in the Bay Area.
He said approximately 1,000 customers come through his doors each day. “They make it a day where they eat out at a restaurant then do other things here, and also do their shopping.”
Korean students balance military service, academics
Stanford Daily (Stanford Univ.)
While his peers worry about what major to declare or their summer plans, Peter Moon ’15 currently faces a different, more complicated decision — whether he will serve in the South Korean military, and when.
A dual American-South Korean citizen, Moon — among fellow undergraduates — anticipates serving in the South Korean military in order to maintain his South Korean citizenship status. He is currently deciding whether he will take time off during his undergraduate career or immediately following his senior year to serve.
‘Our Homeland’ Filmmaker Yang Yong-hi on North Korea, Japan and Divided Selves
Wall Street Journal
It has been almost a decade since Yang Yong-hi obtained her South Korean citizenship, but the Tokyo-based filmmaker still doesn’t know where she belongs.
Born and raised in Osaka to Korean parents, she was just six when her family was split in two. Her father, a North Korean sympathizer originally from South Korea’s southernmost Jeju Island, sent her three teenage brothers to live in Pyongyang in 1971 as part of a repatriation program organized by Japan and North Korea. Ms. Yang, a girl, was the only child to stay home.
SXSW Film: “And Who Taught You To Drive?” [Interview]
There are few lonelier feelings than being in a foreign country where you aren’t familiar with the culture and don’t speak the language. Now, add to that the pressure of having to take a driving test.
That’s the premise of the entertaining documentary And Who Taught You to Drive? Director Andrea Thiele and writer Lia Jaspers filmed three people taking driving lessons in a foreign country—a Korean mother in Germany, a German in India, and an American in Japan. We sat down with Thiele and Jaspers to talk about the film.
Q: Where did this idea come from?
Choo earns widespread respect in move to Cincinnati
Shin-Soo Choo was wondering how many at-bats he’d be getting in a Cactus League game the other day, so he asked Reds bench coach Chris Speier.
When Dusty Baker found out Choo had gone to Speier and not him, he asked Choo why.
“In Korea,” said Choo, a native of Pusan, South Korea, “[the players] don’t talk to the manager. The manager is like a god.”
Baker laughed. “Man,” Baker replied, “you ain’t in Korea now.”
Ever respectful of leadership and ever genuine in his bid to win and be the best Major League player he can be, Choo has earned instant respect in this Cincinnati clubhouse for the way he’s approached this team and this transition. Acquired from the Indians in a three-way trade in December, Choo has wasted no time working the room, making an effort to get to know each guy on a personal level.
Pete Rose and fiancée Kiana Kim do furniture commercial
It makes sense, if you rationalize it, Pete Rose doing a furniture commercial for greater Cincinnati TV. Even these days, regardless of the salaries some athletes make, you’ll see a lot of players doing cheap-looking commercials for, say, an auto dealership. They’ll do it in exchange for a free lease, usually.
But Charlie Hustle doing Muenchen’s Furniture is throwback to a time when pro athletes supplemented their income by becoming actors in “B” productions because they kind of had to. I’m speaking of the 1960s and 1950s, when the genre was young and the production values were, well, not so valuable.
Korean Fine Dining, Re-interpreted
Wall Street Journal
For those looking for a fine dining experience, the Korean restaurant scene can be admittedly uninspiring. Last week, a local food critic noted on Korea Real Time the lack of innovative cuisines in South Korea, especially among Korean kitchens.
Lucia Cho’s Bicena in Seoul’s Itaewon district is one Korean restaurant that is challenging the status quo.
Asian-Americans and the Politics of Fairness
The fastest-growing U.S. demographic group is highly educated, relatively affluent and, politically, increasingly Democratic.
That’s Asian-Americans, who comprised 3 percent of this year’s electorate, a share that will keep growing. They voted almost three to one for President Barack Obama, according to the exit poll. Yet unlike African Americans or Latinos, Asian Americans are more highly educated — half have at least bachelor’s degrees — and are more affluent than whites.
Why then did they support the more liberal party?
The Pulse: Asian American vote could be a wake-up call to the GOP
Much is still being analyzed regarding the voting demographics for the presidential election. Some seem easily explained.
For example, the monolithic vote for Barack Obama among African Americans. His 93 percent support among blacks is no doubt attributable, in part, to his own race, and would explain why Mitt Romney received not a single vote in 59 Philadelphia divisions.
And, given the GOP primary climate, it’s not hard to understand why 71 percent of Hispanics voted against Romney, who ran as a severely conservative candidate on immigration. That was what the primary process demanded.
S.Korea presidential hopefuls resume merger talks
AFP via Google News
South Korea’s two left-leaning presidential hopefuls on Monday resumed talks aimed at uniting behind a single candidate to take on conservative front-runner Park Geun-Hye.
The talks were suspended last week after independent Ahn Cheol-Soo accused Moon Jae-In, candidate of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), of lacking commitment to political reform.
Ahn and Moon only have one week to decide which one of them will drop out of the race and support the other, with the deadline for candidate registration falling on November 26.
S.Korea to hold drill on island shelled by North
AFP via Google News
South Korea will hold a military drill this week on a border island shelled by North Korea in 2010, marking the second anniversary of an attack that triggered fears of a full-scale conflict.
Friday’s drill will feature field and simulated exercises by marines stationed on Yeonpyeong island as well as other naval forces, a Marine Corps spokesman told AFP.
“The exercise will be held… based on various scenarios of provocations and attacks by the enemy,” he said on Monday.
Obama’s message for North Korea in visiting Burma: Let’s make up
On Monday, President Obama visited a medium-sized Asian country known for its international isolation, brutal military dictatorship and flirtations with nuclear weapons. If that sounds familiar, you are not alone in seeing some parallels between the reforming autocracy of Burma (also known as Myanmar; more on that distinction here), which Obama became the first-ever sitting U.S. president to visit, and North Korea.
Student arrested after Isla Vista stabbing
KSBY (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
A student at UC Santa Barbara was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a stabbing early Sunday that left one person with life-threatening injuries.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Peter Cho at a home in the 800 block of Embarcadero Del Norte in Isla Vista Sunday.
Deputies and campus police officers had responded to a report of a fight at a business in that same area at about 4 a.m. They found a man who had been stabbed six times and another person who had been hit in the head. The stabbing victim was rushed to the hospital and taken into surgery for inuries to his back, wrist, and side. He is currently stable. The other victim was treated and released at the scene.
Man charged with assault after parking lot fight
Westport News (Conn.)
Daniel Kang of Norwalk faces an assault charge after police said he was pummeling another man in the Charles Street commuter parking lot early Thursday.
Kang, 30, was straddling another man lying on the pavement and hitting him repeatedly when he was spotted shortly before 1:30 a.m. Thursday by an officer on patrol, according to the report.
A dream fulfilled: After plenty of studying, years of yearning, 88-year-old from Korea becomes citizen
Marietta Daily Journal (Ga.)
For Kim Kunsoo, America stands for the freedom to dream. At 88 years old, Kim fulfilled his dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.
“I always wanted to live here,” said Kim, as interpreted through his grandson, Brian Kim of John’s Creek.
Born on Aug. 9, 1924 in Korea (now South Korea), Kim longed for freedoms protected by the United States. “Throughout the Korean history, the U.S. was regarded as very high. We always dreamed about coming to the United States,” he said.
Choi wins final LPGA Tour event of the year
AP via Google News
If nothing else, Na Yeon Choi proved to be a big-money player this year on the LPGA Tour.
Choi captured her first major this summer at the U.S. Women’s Open, the biggest purse of the year. She turned a great season into her best one yet Sunday by winning the Titleholders and a $500,000 check, the second-biggest prize on tour.
For someone who has an appointment Monday in Orlando to buy a new house, the timing couldn’t have been better.
How Hines Ward would love one more chance at the Ravens
They are making a big mistake by allowing Hines Ward on the field at halftime tonight of the Steelers-Baltimore Ravens game. It’s wonderful that the Steelers are honoring him as a part of their 80th anniversary celebration. He’s one of their all-time greats. The problem is Ward might not leave peacefully after the ceremony. He might just run out on the Heinz Field lawn and pop Ravens safety Ed Reed.
For old time’s sake, you know?
“It’s probably a good thing I’ll be in a suit and tie instead of a uniform,” Ward said.
Top Chef Seattle episode recap: Kristen Kish from Kentwood still in the hunt
Kristen Kish, the Kentwood native competing on Top Chef Seattle, cruised through the first episode from Seattle.
While not on the top team, her team was nowhere near the bottom and had nothing to worry about when elimination was being discussed.
Kish is one of the 15 contestants who started on the show. I say started because we’ve added three contestants. The first twist of the season was to have three contestants who were booted from previous seasons be the judges of the Quickfire challenge only to then turn around and join the chefs as competitors for the grand prize.
Where the Chefs Eat: Chego’s Roy Choi
Where the Chefs Eat is an ongoing series in which we ask a local chef to give us his or her favorite dining options. This week, Roy Choi, chef and owner of Chego, A-Frame, Sunny Spot and the fleet of Kogi BBQ trucks, tells us his favorite spots to eat these days.
Roy Choi lives in Koreatown, and most of the eating he does is in and around his neighborhood in family-owned Korean and Mexican restaurants.
For Korean comfort food: “Seongbukdong is a small place with really amazing food,” Choi says. “They have a few signature items, like spicy braised mackerel, and kimchee rice porridge. It’s peasant food, completely delicious.”
After Psy’s Gangnam Style, here come Korea pop princesses Girls’ Generation
The Guardian (U.K.)
Almost two months after a portly 34-year-old armed with a catchy chorus and a comical line in choreography soared to the top of the British pop charts, the world doesn’t appear to have had its fill of Gangnam Style.
Psy, the Korean rapper whose viral video sensation (the YouTube view count stands at 738 million and rising) spawned myriad copycat videos by everyone from the US navy to pupils at Eton, became the first Korean artist to gain household-name status outside K-pop’s main hunting ground of Asia.
It now seems certain that he has blazed a trail. Girls’ Generation , a nine-member Korean girl group who had racked up millions of sales throughout east Asia long before Psy made “air” horseriding socially acceptable, are poised to release their first album recorded entirely in English.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited the island of Yeonpyeong on Thursday and vowed to protect the country’s maritime border from North Korea.
Yeonpyeong, located just south of the disputed Yellow Sea border of the two Koreas, was shelled by North Korea in November 2010. The shelling killed two marines and two civilians. The island is near the Northern Limit Line, the eastern border between the two Koreas which the North doesn’t recognize. North Korea claims it was only responding to South Korea holding a military drill nearby.
“Our troops must safeguard the NLL with their lives until unification,” President Lee said during a lunch meeting with marines and fishermen on the island. “Safeguarding the line well contributes to maintaining peace.” Continue Reading »
Catching Up With…Dia Frampton!
“I’m excited to start touring again. I’d just like to tour with as many great bands as possible,” she enthused. “I’d like to go worldwide. That’s a really big, big dream. I know that The Voice aired in a lot of different countries; I’ve got people on my Facebook page from [countries like] Singapore [and] Australia, and it just made me want to be able to tour in all these different places.”
Authentic: K-Pop Without Nips And Tucks
Wall Street Journal
Just when South Korea appeared ready to cement its position as one of the world’s capitals of plastic surgery, a backlash appears to be forming. Or at least a marketing opportunity.
YG Entertainment, one of the top music and entertainment producers in the country, is planning to launch a new girl group on to the K-pop scene with a twist – the members of the group will commit to not having any kind of plastic surgery.
YG said the group will debut next year and declined to announce its members except for one: Kim Eun-bi, a teenage singer who made it to one of the final rounds of the popular “Superstar K” audition-contest show last year.
Zakaria: Why all of South Korea went silent
Those of you who watched our recent education special saw the exhausting study habits of South Korean students. The culmination of that pressure was last week when almost 700,000 South Korean high school students took the test they had spent all those hours working toward.
It was a wild scene outside test centers as younger kids cheered on the heroic test-takers as they arrived. Police motorcycles even whisked the late ones to school.
But when it came time for the high schoolers to begin the grueling nine-hour exam, silence was the order.
40 Korean foods we can’t live without
Street food, comfort food, spicy stews for masochistic mouths: These 40 dishes are essential to the Korean heart, soul and digestive tract
Single Women a Growing Problem
One in five women in Korea in her 30s is single, while in Seoul the ratio is one in three, according to Statistics Korea. Although there are no specific data on the total number of single women, experts believe around 40 percent of working women in their 30s are single, which is in line with what the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service estimates.
A report released on Wednesday by state-run Korea Development Institute on Korea’s low birthrate shows that Asian countries like Korea have a lot of women in their 30s who are single.
According to the KDI report, the six countries with the lowest birthrates among 222 countries are all in Asia, including Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Those countries saw more and more women enter the workforce since the 2000s and are seeing a surge in single women in their mid-30s. As of last year, 21.9 percent of women between 35 to 39 were single in Japan, 21 percent in Taiwan, 17 percent in Singapore and 12.6 percent in Korea. The problem is not only that many highly educated women are single, but they do not want to have children.
O’s nearing deal with Korean reliever Chong
The Orioles are closing in on signing right-handed reliever Tae-Hyon Chong out of South Korea as the two sides — which were involved in heavy negotiations on Monday — have agreed to terms, according to a baseball source.
The exact length of the deal and money involved was not immediately known, as exact details were still being hammered out in the preliminary agreement. With the deal not yet official, the Orioles had no comment on Chong, who would need to undergo a physical examination before anything can be made official.
A 33-year-old submarine-style pitcher, Chong closed out South Korea’s gold medal win over Cuba in the 2008 Summer Olympics, and his poise on the big stage was a major plus for the Orioles.
What a potential Chong signing really means
The jury is out on whether Chong will be able to make it as a late-inning reliever in the big leagues. Some believe his unorthodox style will befuddle hitters no matter where he is pitching. And he has had plenty of success on the international level (he closed out both medal games in the 2008 Summer Olympics).
But he’d be the first person ever to leap from Korea’s baseball league to the majors and some believe that’s way too much of a jump. That he’ll be a Double-A level reliever, nothing more.
Whether he makes it is only part of the plot here. The fact is the Orioles are the team that is on him. And Dan Duquette is the one with the major connection to South Korea. He had connections there when he was in Montreal and Boston and now his first noteworthy signing will be a guy from South Korea.
Yeonpyeong Remains Rattled a Year After Attack
Wall Street Journal (subscription req’d)
A year after North Korea attacked this South Korean island, most of the destroyed homes and buildings have been rebuilt and the rhythms of daily life restored. But an enormous amount of anxiety and tension remains under the surface.
Residents become anxious and even frightened by loud sounds such as the hammering at houses being rebuilt, but especially when the small military post on the island tests its artillery guns every few months.
Korean American Actor Will Yun Lee Wins Best Ensemble Acting Award
Being an Asian American in Hollywood is challenging, says Will Yun Lee who recently shared in the award for Best Ensemble Acting at this year’s Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival for the film Where the Road Meets the Sun. But it is getting better, Lee adds, and more opportunities are opening up every day.
Crystal Kay aims for spring break vibe in Zushi
The Japan Times
The Japan Times published a Q&A with Crystal Kay, the biracial Korean American who just so happens to be a Japanese pop superstar.
Crystal Kay has been an exciting singer to watch mature in the music industry. Since her debut at 13 years old, this Yokohama native has wowed fans with her powerful vocals and a compelling personal story of being a mixed-race singer (Korean-American) in Japan.
Film Review: ‘Wedding Palace’
On a completely different note is the AAIFF closing night feature Wedding Palace by Christine Yoo. This is the fictional story of Jason Kim (Brian Tee, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), a Korean American in L.A. whose family is cursed (the origins of which are shown in an imaginative hand-drawn/CGI animation blend), meaning that the 29-year-old must marry by his 30th birthday. A relationship with a long-term girlfriend doesn’t work out; neither do set-ups orchestrated by his meddling parents (in one fun scene, Jason and his parents are in a Dating Game-style show to assess potential brides). Eventually, a business trip to Seoul leads Jason to the seemingly perfect Na Young (Hye-jung Kang, Oldboy), but of course several wrenches are thrown in along the way to their budding relationship.
North Korea mocks South over artillery fire claims
Stars & Stripes
North and South Korea traded insults Thursday, a day after South Korea responded to what it determined was artillery fire from the North – the latest chapter in the tense relationship between the two countries.
Once again, experts are left scrambling for explanations of what it all means.
‘X-Men’ miniseries coming from Frank Cho
Frank Cho has announced that he is writing and illustrating an X-Men miniseries.
The Liberty Meadows creator listed his upcoming projects for the next 12 months on his website Apes and Babes.
“I can’t say too much right now, but this miniseries will have three of the hottest women in the Marvel Universe,” said Cho of the title.
Lydia Ko advances; Jihee Kim ousted at Women’s Am
Los Angeles Times
Korean Kiwi Lydia Ko, 14, advanced on Wednesday in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Golf Championship with a win over Lauren Dobashi. Meanwhile, defending champion Danielle Kang of Southern California remained alive in her repeat bid.
Returning to help Korean kids through KKOOM
It all started when Aimee Jachym returned to South Korea for a year-long volunteer program, having left her country of birth at just four months old.
Her year out soon turned into a vocation as the Korean-American adoptee founded the Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission to help orphans still living here to a better life.
Souvenirs from the World’s Most Dangerous Border
Der Spiegel (Germany)
Given that North and South Korea are still technically at war, the wall between them is officially a cease-fire line. With its watchtowers and guns, the demilitarized zone is the world’s most dangerous border, no matter how popular it may be with tourists.
Koreans Overcome Differences By Way of Cuisine
Voice of America
There is an increasing number of North Korean defectors who are opening North Korean restaurants and even a cooking school in their new home in South Korea. Check out our May 2011 story on a North Korean restaurant in Northern Virginia.
Teaching Korean students to dream big
Korean students from top U.S. and Canadian universities have helped less fortunate young people here reach for their dreams this summer.
The newly established Teach for Korea has offered free tutoring and mentoring to economically disadvantaged students from four Seoul schools. Graduates and students from world-renowned U.S. institutions including Cornell, Columbia and Pennsylvania Universities are helping with the non-profit project.
The Frontline: Film Review
The Frontline, one of Korea’s biggest blockbusters this year, depicts the bitter struggle between North and South to gain foothold of a hill at the tail-end of the 1950s civil war. Jang Hun’s (Rough Cut, Secret Reunion) even-handed direction and Park Sang-yeon’s traditional but finely-tuned screenplay instills the right measure of humanist anti-war sentiment and personal heroism, turning the fates of a small company of men confined to one hellish location into an expose of how impersonal military operations literally makes mountains out of molehills.
50 must-visit traditional markets in Korea
With all the online shopping in Korea these days, sometimes you miss some good old-fashioned haggling. That, and actually seeing what you’re buying.
The Small and Medium Business Administration and the Agency for Traditional Market Administration (ATMA) recently selected 50 must-visit traditional markets in Korea, based on criteria such as memorable food, colorful attractions and entertainment.
Surprisingly, only two on the list — Namdaemun Market and Dongdaemun Market — are located in Seoul.
China’s New Wealth Spurs a Market for Mistresses
New York Times
Jian, a 42-year-old property developer in the booming southern metropolis of Shenzhen, had acquired just about everything men of his socioeconomic ilk covet: a Mercedes-Benz, a sprawling antique jade collection and a lavishly appointed duplex for his wife and daughter.
It was only natural then, he said, that two years ago he took up another costly pastime: a beguiling 20-year-old art major whose affections run him about $6,100 a month.