‘Survivor’ Winner Yul Kwon Welcomes Baby Girl With Wife Sophie Tan
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: February 27th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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“Survivor: Cook Islands” star Yul Kwon is a dad … again!

The reality show contestant-turned-TV host told PEOPLE.com that he and his wife Sophie Tan celebrated the birth of their daughter on Monday.

“Kaylin weighed in at over 8 pounds, most of which I’m convinced is made up of baby poop,” Kwon told friends in an announcement, adding that daughter Genevie, 2, “is delighted with her new role as Big Sis, although I don’t think it’s hit her yet that she’s no longer the center of the universe.” Continue Reading »

Wednesday’s Link Attack: Michelle Rhee, Yul Kwon, Dumbfoundead
Author: Linda Son
Posted: May 16th, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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Activist targeting U.S. schools, backed by big bucks
Reuters via Chicago Tribune

Rhee has emerged as the leader of an unlikely coalition of politicians, philanthropists, financiers and entrepreneurs who believe the nation’s $500 billion-a-year public education system needs a massive overhaul. She has vowed to raise $1 billion for her national advocacy group, StudentsFirst, and forever break the hold of teachers unions on education policy.

Michelle Rhee, ‘Parent Trigger’ Supporters Are Behind Huge L.A. Lawsuit to Strip Teachers of Job Protection
LA Weekly

California’s teachers have long been protected by a series of state laws — lobbied into existence by powerful teachers unions — that make the ineffective ones almost impossible to fire.

Now, in the largest state lawsuit of kind, a new organization called Students Matter, advised by the key players behind the controversial “Parent Trigger” law, alleges in L.A. Superior Court that strict tenure and seniority rules are ruining the K-12 system:

Q & A With Roy Choi: Slinging Tacos at Midnight, Calling Out Jamie Oliver + Choi’s Vegetable Moment
LA Weekly

Squid Ink: So I hear you’ve become a vegetarian?

Roy Choi: Let’s go back to my post, because it was really just a diary entry. I didn’t realize that people cared that much. I’ve been doing Kogi for three years now and a lot of shit has blown up — but food has been my voice. And people have been responding to it. I’ve just been myself. Everything you eat is everything I say and everything I am. So I feel like I’ve been talking to the public for a long time, even though I haven’t been using words. I didn’t know that it was going to get picked up, or that people even cared that much. But if you look at the post, I never used the word “vegetarian.” And I never said I was quitting cooking. And those seem to have been the two focal points.

North Korea’s Gulag: New evidence reveals a vast, cruel network of prison camps.
Wall Street Journal (subscription req’d)

A new report by South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission provides further vindication. It documents the suffering of Pyongyang’s roughly 200,000 political prisoners, held in a network of labor camps across the country.

Woman To Testify Against Cousin in Dentist Murder Trial
Patch (Glen Burnie, Md.)

In opening statements, prosecutors said Hickman will testify that she hired her cousin, 25-year-old Dante A. Jeter, and two other unnamed men to kill dentist Albert Ro to cover up the fact that she was embezzling funds from the business, WBAL reported.

Guilty plea entered in slot machine scheme
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Danny Ahn pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson to three charges: trafficking in, production and use of counterfeit access devices; fraudulent transactions with access devices; and conspiracy to commit access device fraud. Dawson set an Aug. 22 sentencing date.

‘Korean Zombie’ turns in Fight of the Year candidate at UFC on FUEL TV 3
Las Vegas Sun

In two UFC wins last year, “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung arguably pulled off both the Submission of the Year and the Knockout of the Year.

Jung may have proven victorious in 2012’s Fight of the Year Tuesday night in Fairfax, Va. Jung submitted heavily favored Dustin Poirier with a d’arce choke at 1:07 of the fourth round in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 3.

Asian Art Museum exhibits ‘Phantoms of Asia’
San Francisco Examiner

Among the show’s most notable pieces is Choi Jeong Hwa’s large 30-by-24-foot Breathing Flower sculpture in the Civic Center Plaza; its motorized, bright-red fabric leaves simulate the movement of a live lotus, an important symbol in Asian cosmology. Growing in muddy water, the lotus rises and blooms during daytime, closes at night and rises again at dawn. Similarly, Choi’s lotus emerges from the cityscape, seemingly out of nowhere.

Korean-American TV Host Yul Kwon Charts Success in Autobiography
Chosun Ilbo

Yul Kwon’s autobiography charts the personal struggles and rise to fame of the 37-year-old Korean American who became the first Asian winner of CBS’s reality TV show “Survivor: Cook Islands” in 2006 before going on to become a TV host in the U.S.

TV host seeks bigger Asian presence in US media
The Korea Times

But Kwon, host of recent public television miniseries “America Revealed” ­ which explored the infrastructure powering the world’s top economy – seems proudest of a more modest development: being seen as a regular guy.

“I got a lot of positive feedback,” the 37-year-old said of the show in an interview in Seoul, Tuesday. “What was great was that they didn’t mention that I was Korean or Asian. They just said ‘you’re a great host.’

Yul Kwon, From Bullying Target To Reality TV Star

Kwon’s early life involved a host of challenges. He was born in 1975 in New York to South Korean immigrants. He tells Tell Me More host Michel Martin he had a severe lisp as a kid, so many people assumed he was a foreigner who could not speak English properly. Kwon says he grew increasingly quiet to avoid being teased or beaten up.

Move of the Day: Choo leads off

Choo was followed by second baseman Jason Kipnis in his usual slot, then Asdrubal Cabrera, then Carlos Santana. If that sounds to you like every good Indians batter, stacked up in a row, you’d be right. But with Choo’s .362 OBP (pre-game) up front, it gave manager Manny Acta some big-inning potential, and when Minnesota’s Jason Marquis got into trouble in the fifth, there was no easier out for him to get, and they cranked a trio of home runs before Ron Gardenhire could get him off the mound.

From Kimchi to Infinity
Hyphen Magazine

It all st arted with the kimchi dispute of 1996. Distressed by the increasing popularity of Japanese-made kimchi, the Korean government launched a protectionist campaign to create an international standard for authentic kimchi. Since then, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak has waged an international campaign of “gastrodiplomacy,” with the aim of propelling Korean cuisine to epicurean heights around the world.

BMW Eyes Korea’s Fledgling Electric Car Market
The Wall Street Journal

BMW will be entering the local electric car market around the same time as Hyundai, which plans to sell an Elantra-sized compact electric car from 2014. Kia Motors aims to introduce an electric version of its Ray mini car in 2013, depending on Korea’s progress in building charging stations for electric vehicles.

K-Town Girl by dumbfoundead x Breezy Lovejoy
Channel APA

Rappers dumbfoundead x Breezy Lovejoy join forces once again for music video. This time it’s for the single “K-Town Girl”. The video takes you to some of the local Los Angeles K-Town establishments. From drinking to partying, it’s got it all for the K-Town girls. They come real with their description of the girls of K-Town. The late night partying affords them drink and dancing in the streets.

Thursday’s Link Attack: Yul Kwon, LA Riots, Filmmaker Dennis Lee
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: April 19th, 2012
Filed Under: BLOG
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Oikos classes to resume Monday, some in building where students were slain
San Jose Mercury News

Oikos University will resume classes Monday, three weeks after a gunman killed seven people there.

Most classes will be held in the same Oakland building where police say former nursing student One L. Goh, 43, killed six former classmates and a receptionist. But nursing students likely will be spared the additional trauma of returning to the scene of the massacre, said the school’s president, Jongin Kim.

Seoul boasts of missile able to hit anywhere in North Korea

South Korea has added to its arsenal a cruise missile that can hit anywhere in the North, the Defence Ministry announced on Thursday, a day after Pyongyang said it was ready to retaliate in the face of international condemnation over its failed rocket launch.

Panetta: ‘We’re within an inch of war almost every day’

The United States is prepared for “any contingency” when it comes to dealing with North Korea, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told CNN.

“We’re within an inch of war almost every day in that part of the world, and we just have to be very careful about what we say and what we do,” Panetta said Wednesday on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

Kim Jong Un Runs North Korea on the Cheap
The Atlantic

Say what you will about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the kid knows how to pinch a penny. Since coming to power in December, the 28-year-old leader has had big (platform) shoes to fill. But he’s already on track for a banner year of fiscal austerity. Just look at his track record this week:

Recollections of the riots, 20 years later
Southern California Public Radio

As the evening continued and audience members got up to speak, an older black woman who remembered the Watts riots of 1965 remembered being at the gym when she heard the verdict and going home right away, sensing something bad was about to happen. A Korean American woman talked about how she felt that twenty years after the riots, there’s still a lack of sympathy for the Korean immigrant business owners who lost livelihoods in the fires and looting.

Jesus Henry Christ: Filmmaker Dennis Lee Redefines Normal
Huffington Post

If you are going to make an entrance at a film event, take some pointers from filmmaker Dennis Lee. On the red carpet for Jesus Henry Christ at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Lee was accompanied by the executive producer of his film, Hollywood megastar Julia Roberts. The scene at the premiere was a cacophony of flashlights going off, journalists screaming Roberts’ name and camera operators elbowing one another to get a prized shot of the numerous celebrities — which included Mike Nichols and wife Diane Sawyer — strolling into the Tribeca PAC theater.

But beyond the headlines from that night, and the star power conveyed by leading lady Toni Collette, who plays Henry’s mother in the film, Jesus Henry Christ is that rare cinematic combination of great story, touching performances and beautifully shot cinematography. The latter, incidentally, the work of Roberts’ husband Danny Moder.

Word of Mouth: South Korea’s ‘My Way’ tries to find a way in U.S.
Los Angeles Times

‘My Way’ is billed as the most expensive South Korean film ever. CJ Entertainment America is seeking an art house crowd for it, but reviews haven’t been great.

Ravitch: I don’t understand Michelle Rhee
Washington Post

I am troubled that Rhee thinks that teachers are the biggest problem facing American education. Attacking teachers seems to be her hallmark.

searching for community in columbia’s asian american student groups
Columbia Daily Spectator (Columbia Univ.)

“I don’t know how to befriend Asian Americans,” Julie Ahn says.

Ironically, I first met Julie, who is Korean-American, about three weeks ago as I was coming back from the opening ceremony of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. We struck up a conversation about the Asian American clubs on campus, and her reaction was immediate: “I feel awkward around them. Most Asians here integrate or cluster—and I just feel uncomfortable.”

The British Voice of Kim Il Sung

When walking around Kim Il Sung’s mausoleum at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, visitors are given special headsets to listen to a recorded guide of the facility. In a sometimes emotionally charged recording, the narrator talks the visitor through the multi-room Palace and describes what the visitors are seeing as they walk. To the surprise of many, the voice featured on the English language version of the recording is British. With the DPRK usually employing local English speaking Koreans for its TV and Film productions, it is somewhat interesting that a native English speaker was chosen for the Kumsusan Memorial Palace recording – Paul White. We caught up with Paul to find out more about how he got involved in the project…

1. How did you first become interested in North Korea?

China Halts Repatriation of N.Korean Defectors
Chosun Ilbo

The Chinese government has halted the repatriation of North Korean defectors, apparently in response to South Korean requests and because it is angry that the North went ahead with its rocket launch.

Harnessing K-Pop for tourism

As K-Pop lures more and more foreign travelers to Korea, the government and local entertainment companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

SM Entertainment, one of the country’s largest entertainment companies with acts such as Girls Generation and Super Junior under its label, announced last week that it had acquired BT&I, one of the largest travel agencies in Korea, as a move to increase its global content offerings.

America Revealed: Nation on the Move

Full-length episodes of Yul Kwon’s new PBS show can be viewed online here.

‘No Church In The Wild’ ASL Video: Mark Nakhla, Greg Faxon And Sam Choi Sign To Kanye West, Jay-Z
Huffington Post

Mark Nakhla, along with his two friends, Greg Faxon and Sam Choi, filmed themselves signing — and dancing — along to the Watch The Throne track. Choi, who takes on Frank Ocean’s middle verse, combines sign with dance.

March Issue: ‘Survivor’ Star Yul Kwon Scaling New Heights
Author: Helin
Posted: March 13th, 2012
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , March 2012
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Yul Kwon is back on TV (and literally jumping out of planes) with a new PBS series that explores the elaborate systems that make America hum.

by Helin Jung

After having spent three decades nursing fears of heights, tight spaces and flying, Yul Kwon found himself in late 2010 walking onto a plane, watching with dread as it steadily rose thousands of miles over the corn fields of Kansas, and waiting for the moment when he would have to rock back and forth at the edge of the aircraft’s doorway in preparation for a jump that, for him, could only be described as terrifying.


The scream he let out during the forward throw, that moment when his body was thrust out of the plane and into the wind, was real. So were the subsequent hollers he let out on the way down, and you can hear them all in the upcoming four-part PBS series America Revealed, premiering in April.

Since winning Survivor: Cook Islands in 2006, the 37-year-old Kwon, who resides in Virginia with wife Sophie and year-and-a-half-old daughter Genevie, has reappeared on television only in spurts, instead focusing on other aspects of his varied career, which has spanned politics, law, business, media and technology. He will be making a big return to the small screen as host of America Revealed, which explores the elaborate networks and systems—agriculture, transportation, energy and manufacturing—that keep this country humming and asks: How does it all work? Modeled after the acclaimed BBC series Britain From Above, America Revealed is the nation taken in by forest, with frequent swoops down to the trees. Continue Reading »

Object of My Affection
Author: KoreAm
Posted: February 14th, 2009
Filed Under: FEATURED ARTICLE , February 2009
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“A Sock”

By Kyung Sam Hong
Illustrations by Noah Dempewolf

It was a chilly morning, but it made me feel good. My wife and I took a walk along the shore. Below us were shells, clams and sandpipers busy looking for breakfast.

The tide was coming in rapidly, and a gap in the walkway was getting wider second by second. When I came to the gap, I saw that my wife had already crossed it.

“How did you get across?” I asked.

She said she jumped. I couldn’t believe she jumped that far. When I was younger, I could do that, but now I thought I shouldn’t try.

So I walked around the water and met her on the other side. We matched steps, left foot, right foot …

While we walked together, she told me, “My feet so cold.”

I asked why.

“When I jumped over the gap, one of my feet landed in the water, and one of my socks got wet.”

So I told her, “It’s a cold day. Do you want to have one of my socks?”

She said, “If you do that, it would be a very nice thing.” She never says no when I offer to do nice things.

So I stopped in the middle of the road and I took off one of my socks. I held it out to her, and she grabbed it.

When she put it on, she said, “It’s so warm!”

It was only a small thing, but I felt like I had given her a great treasure.

A happy life is being close to your wife or husband, and giving and receiving the little things. It’s not about getting big things, but about taking care of each other every day. That is what I realized.

“Our cell phones”

By Abraham Park

As unglamorous as they may be — Stephanie has an LG Chocolate with horrible Bluetooth reception and I’ve got a little Samsung Juke — our cell phones have served as a lifeline in our relationship for the past year and a half. Thousands of miles separate us, but we’re able to connect for hours each day. We talk about anything and everything, often starting out with how our days were. One day a week, we address a specific agenda of topics, including prayer requests, the health of our relationship and wedding planning. Our calls consist of laughter, tears and everything in between.

Because Stephanie lives with her sister, she doesn’t like to say “miss” or “love” aloud. So we’ve created a secret language, inspired by instant message abbreviations. “I-M-U” is “I miss you.” She’ll whisper it, so I will, too, even though I live alone. Then we’ll start giggling like little children sharing secrets.

Sometimes, when both of us have a lot to do, we stay on the phone and continue with our daily routines. The mundane rituals of life become new and exciting since we’re able to share those moments together. I can hear when she’s doing the dishes, eating, typing, flipping pages of her book. In the end, it’s her I look forward to meeting again and again, each and every day.

“My Immunity Idol”

By Yul Kwon

I don’t think of myself as a particularly materialistic person. I still live in the same small one-bedroom apartment that I’ve rented for the past five years. I still drive the same old car I’ve driven for the last nine. I still wear the same clothes that my mom bought me in high school … just kidding. I may have the fashion sense of a baboon, but I’m not a complete idiot when it comes to age-appropriate attire. (I’m usually off by a decade at most.)

But there is one material object that means a lot to me, not because it helped me gain a small slice of fame and fortune, but because it helped me win true love.

I met Sophie when a mutual friend set us up the week I won Survivor: Cook Islands. I knew early on that she was someone really special, but the first few months of our relationship were — for lack of a better word — rocky. I’d spent my entire life trying to find my soulmate, yet I happened to find her at the worst possible moment to start a relationship. Not only was I constantly traveling, but winning a reality show doesn’t lend itself to be taken seriously by potential mates, at least among the population of women I could actually see raising my kids someday.

Despite my best efforts to convince her that I was committed to our relationship, Sophie remained skeptical. Things finally got to the point where I felt I had to give her some tangible proof of my commitment. I thought about proposing, but figured that such a sudden and dramatic gesture would only make her think I was even more unstable than I already was. So I decided to give her the only real thing that held any sentimental value to me — the hidden immunity idol I found on Survivor that helped me win the game. It’s basically an ugly compass on a leather necklace, but I decided to keep it with the vague notion of giving it to my kids someday. (You know, if my teenage children ever think their dad is old and uncool, I could bust out the hidden immunity idol and suddenly I’d get invited to all sorts of parties with upperclassmen.)

In all seriousness, I knew that there was a pretty good chance this gesture could backfire, too. Sophie could be insulted that I would try to pass off some cheap trinket as a token of true love. She could dismiss me as some poor nut who can’t let go of his days of reality show glory. But with any luck, she could take it in the spirit in which it would be given — as a sign of my willingness to give her the only thing in my possession that meant anything to me, symbolizing my intention to be with her for the rest of my life.

To her credit — and to my enduring happiness — she didn’t run away or laugh in my face as I’d feared. She finally accepted that I loved her, and that has made all the difference in our relationship. We’re now engaged and planning our wedding.

I, however, have been banned from arranging the honeymoon after making the ill-considered suggestion of camping out in the Cook Islands. Apparently, she doesn’t think raw hermit crabs make for a very romantic meal.


By Jane Kim

Our relationship started timidly on the Williamsburg Bridge, despite having known him for years. I was actually quite terrified of being a pedestrian on this particular bridge due to all the cyclists speeding by. For some insane reason, I would rather get hit by a car than a bicycle – think of all the things on a bike that can poke and puncture you! Yes, I told you, it’s insane.

Every time a bike sped by, he would very protectively move to the side so that he’d be “in the way.” That was when I realized I had a crush on this boy, this boy who was my friend.

For years after that, bridges provided a vivid backdrop to our relationship. We spent our first New Year’s together in Glasgow, Scotland. Even though a storm had just passed and the winds were still strong, we walked home, crossing a bridge over the River Clyde. This bridge was lit up in all its glory and the lights reflected off the river. It was a tender moment for us. At that point, I realized he was the most amazing man I’d ever known.

Whenever I walk across a bridge, my heart feels like it’s being hugged. I know he feels the same way whenever he crosses a bridge alone.

With any challenge that we might face in our relationship — distance, careers, family issues — we will cross that bridge when we come to it. And like John says, “We will cross it together because you are my monkey.”

“A Cat Mug”

By Sung J. Woo

Growing up, I never had a pet: no dogs, no cats, not even a goldfish. So when I spent my first night at my girlfriend’s place those many years ago, I had to share our bed with a Siamese cat named JoJo, and I sort of feared for my life. What if the cat decided to claw my eyes out when I was asleep? Or if it just went berserk and chewed off the side of my face? I mean, there was a reason why these creatures were called animals.

Needless to say, I survived the first night and many more, though I’m sorry to say, JoJo did not. She ended up dying of cancer just a couple of months after I met her, and I never really got to know her well.

However, I did get to know Johnny Angel, another Siamese cat who came into our lives soon after JoJo. Seeing how much I adored Johnny, my girlfriend got me a mug with a personalized photo of him. I thanked her and promptly put the mug to good use, to hold my pens and pencils, and didn’t give it much thought until one day when Johnny disappeared. Somehow our front door was left ajar, and he’d snuck out. As a declawed cat who’d always stayed indoors, he didn’t stand a chance of making it out there. We put up posters and stuffed neighborhood mailboxes with a picture of him, but as the days went by, it seemed more likely that we’d never see him again.

Every day, I picked up the mug and stared into his face. Johnny was out there somewhere, lost to us. He was my first pet, and now he was gone, just like that. Even though we walked around the neighborhood every evening and called out his name, we were losing hope. Then two weeks later, we received a phone call. It was a lady who’d seen our flyer in her mailbox, and she was fairly certain Johnny was sitting on her back porch.

I will never forget Dawn, my girlfriend then and my wife now, running towards me with Johnny in her arms. He looked gaunt and stunk to high heaven, but I’d never wanted to hug him more.

Johnny is about to turn 15, and he doesn’t seem all that different from when we first got him 13 years ago. He still dashes down the hallway and leaps up to the table when it’s feeding time, his movements a perfect blend of speed and elegance.

Back in 1996, Dawn and I were just starting out in our relationship. We were in love, which also meant jumping ahead, looking beyond the present, sometimes scaring ourselves of the pitfalls that await every couple. Thank goodness for Johnny, who put our overactive minds at ease. He’s the epitome of calmness: He eats, sleeps, and doesn’t worry about a single thing.

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