South Korea’s new president: Plenty on her plate
PARK GEUN-HYE’S campaign advertising described her as a “prepared female president”. Having narrowly defeated the Democratic United Party (DUP) candidate, Moon Jae-in, on December 19th, two-thirds of her slogan will be realised with her inauguration on February 25th. The “prepared” part, however, is less clear.
South Korean presidents-elect appoint transition teams to help smooth their way into office and many of their members then take up posts in the new government. With her appointments, Ms Park seems to be trying to bridge the political divide. Her transitional team, consisting of nine subcommittees, is headed by Kim Yong-joon, a former head of South Korea’s Constitutional Court.
South Korea budgets for sunnier ties with reclusive North
South Korea has increased its budget to fund North Korea-related projects this year, government data showed on Thursday, with a new president seeking closer relations due to take office in Seoul and signs of an opening from Pyongyang.
The two Koreas remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce, not a treaty, and relations plunged under South Korean President Lee Myung-bak who cut aid dramatically after the shooting of a South Korean tourist in the North in 2008.
U.S. Congress Passes Welfare Act for N.Korean Children
The U.S. Congress on Tuesday passed a bill promoting the welfare and human rights of North Korean children in third countries. A full session of the House of Representatives unanimously passed the North Korean Child Welfare Act of 2012.
The bill urges the U.S. government to facilitate protection of North Korean children in China and other countries by reuniting them with their families or through adoption.
Is North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un A New Dad?
There’s media speculation that Kim Jong-un may have added another title to his roles as new North Korean leader and new husband – could he be a new father?
Notoriously secretive North Korea apparently released an image of Kim’s stylish wife, Ri Sol-ju this week, attending a New Year’s event. She’s trim and glamorous in her purple suit, standing next to her saluting husband.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo posted the image of Ri on its news site next to another one of Ri snapped on December 21; there, she’s certainly not trim. Ri is shown wearing a modest red and black long sleeved gown, possibly covering a swelling mid-section – it does appear that she’s pregnant.
South Korea Rejects Extradition in Attack on Japanese Shrine
New York Times
A South Korean court sided with China on Thursday in a fight between Beijing and Tokyo over the custody of a Chinese man accused of an arson attack at the Yasukuni Shrine for Japan’s war dead.
The man, Liu Qiang, 38, completed a 10-month prison term in South Korea in November after hurling four petrol bombs at the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul. His attack in January last year left burn marks on the embassy wall but hurt no one.
Mr. Liu had told South Korean police that his late maternal grandmother, a Korean, was one of Asia’s so-called “comfort women,” who were forced into sexual slavery for Japan’s Imperial Army during World War II. He said that he attacked the Japanese Embassy to show his anger at Tokyo’s refusal to apologize and compensate properly for the wrongs done against the women.
One more victim of Japan’s wartime sex slavery dies
One more Korean woman who was forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II died Friday, a civic group said, raising concerns that the aging victims may die before receiving compensation or apologies from Tokyo.
At the age of 92, Hwang Kum-ju died earlier in the day, according to the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.
Her death put the number of South Korea’s government-registered surviving victims of Japan’s enforced sexual enslavement at 58, the council said. Initially, a total of 234 victims were on the list.
South Korea’s Smartphone Film Fest Accepting Submissions
South Korea’s Olleh Smartphone Film Festival is now accepting submissions from overseas for its newly added international competition section.
Shorts shot with a smartphone running less than 10 minutes are eligible, regardless of genre. Candidates should submit videos between Feb. 1 and 28 through the official Web site (www.ollehfilmfestival.com). Prizewinners are entitled to cash gifts amounting to 50 million won (about $46,910) and brand new smartphones.
The Midas Behind ‘Gangnam Style’
Rapper Psy captured the worldwide fame with over 1 billion people listening to his dance hit “Gangnam Style” on YouTube. Everyone was surprised by the global success of a chubby man in his 30s, who does not fit the sleekly doctored image of most K-pop stars.
But Yang Hyun-suk (43), the CEO of Psy’s management company YG Entertainment, had faith. Yang says he has targeted the global market since he opened YG Entertainment back in 1997. “Psy’s success?” asks Yang. “The door we’ve been knocking on has finally opened.”
Yang himself is a pop icon in Korea. He got his start with the group Seo Tai-ji & Boys, which transformed the landscape of Korean pop music in the 1990s and later opened his own talent agency, whose artists are now making inroads into the W23 trillion (US$1=W1,069) global music industry.
No hoppy ending in sight for local breweries
The local scene has been dominated over the past few decades by two breweries – Hite-Jinro and Oriental Brewery. Oriental Brewery, established by the Doosan Group in 1952, is responsible for the OB, Cass and Cafri lagers. Hite-Jinro produces Hite and Max.
The domestic beer market is estimated to be worth around 4 trillion won ($3.76 billion). OB accounts for around 55 percent of local production while Hite-Jinro dominates almost all of the remaining 45 percent. The duopoly has done little to satisfy consumers, and imports are surging as a result.
There is little question as to why Cass, Hite and Max aren’t impressing. They are the reasons behind Korea’s unflattering titles like “The land of the bland,” “Home to the piss of the devil” and “Where beer tastes like cASS.” But what is less certain is why fuller, more assertive brews haven’t taken bites out of the market.
Cal’s Suh wins Silver Belle after final-round 67
Hannah Suh of San Jose, Calif., won the Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle on Dec. 30, finishing the 54-hole event at 6-under 210 at the ASU Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz.
Suh shot a final-round 67 (-5) to move from 15th to first in the final day of the tournament. The event is open to female amateurs between the ages of 13 and 23.
Suh is a freshman at California, who opened her first season by finishing T-2 with teammate Jacqueline Williams at the Washington State Cougar Cup. The Golden Bears won the team title.
Post-Steelers, Hines Ward stirs lots of pots
For Hines Ward, the route to a post-football career has taken some pretty diverse turns.
Already a “Dancing With the Stars” champion, Mr. Ward has filled the months since his retirement from the Pittsburgh Steelers in March with a hefty slate of work. His first choice was a common one for former pro athletes: doing commentary for NBC Sports in various capacities. Pittsburgh affiliate WPXI-TV gave him “The Hines Ward Show,” a weekly potpourri of football analysis and interviews.