Amid fierce public criticism, South Korean broadcaster SBS announced it was canceling a reality dating show after one contestant recently took her own life.
The 29-year-old woman, surnamed Chun, apparently committed suicide the night before the last day of production of “Jjak” on the resort island of Jeju. Crew members found her in a locked bathroom with a hair dryer cord around her neck.
Passenger jet passed through trajectory of N. Korean rocket, South Korea says
A Chinese passenger jet with more than 200 people on board flew through the trajectory of a North Korean rocket that had been fired minutes earlier, the South Korean government said.
North Korea fired the rocket Tuesday at 4:17 p.m. without giving any navigational warning, Kim Min-Seok, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, said Wednesday.
Seven minutes later, a China Southern Airlines plane carrying 220 passengers from Japan’s Narita airport to Shenyang in China passed through the rocket’s trajectory, he said.
N. Korea snubs South’s offer of Red Cross talks
North Korea on Thursday rejected South Korea’s proposal to hold Red Cross talks to discuss regular reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War as Seoul’s point man on Pyongyang called for the sides to build mutual trust.
The North’s Red Cross said in a message to its South Korean counterpart that an appropriate atmosphere has not been created for the proposed talks, according to the unification ministry.
The North did not elaborate on what it meant by atmosphere, though it may have referred to its displeasure with the ongoing joint military drills between South Korea and the United States.
The ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, expressed regret over the North’s rejection.
U.S. envoy still hopeful for missionary’s release from North Korea
The United States is still hopeful of securing the release of an American missionary being held in North Korea, the U.S. human rights envoy for the country said on Thursday, even though two trips he has had scheduled for the purpose have been canceled.
Ambassador Robert King said there had been no progress on the Kenneth Bae case since his last trip was called off in February.
“We are hopeful; we continue to press,” King told Reuters. “I have had two trips canceled, but we are hopeful that the right circumstances will occur and we will be able to do something.”
Australian Missionary Describes North Korea Detention
Wall Street Journal
John Short, the Australian missionary released by North Korea on Monday, has given his first public account of his detention. Compared with North Koreans caught practicing religion, he got off lightly.
In a statement released to the Australian Associated Press on Wednesday, Mr. Short said he was questioned daily for four hours over a 13-day investigation.
“There were two-hour sessions each morning, which were repeated again in the afternoons,” he said.
Mr. Short, 75, says he was kept in a room with a 24-hour guard and was told he could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Kennedy Urges Japan, South Korea to Resolve Diplomatic Tensions
Japan and South Korea should take the lead in improving relations and the U.S. will do whatever it can to help defuse tensions between its two main Asian allies, Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy said.
“The three countries can work together, will work together, and I think these good relations are in everyone’s interest,” Kennedy said in an interview aired yesterday by Japanese broadcaster NHK. “The two countries really should and will take the lead in this process and the United States, being a close ally of both of them, is happy to help.”
Relations between Japan and South Korea have soured since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in December 2012. Ill-will over a lingering territorial dispute has been aggravated by Abe’s visit to a Tokyo war shrine and comments by his administration about wartime sex slaves, reviving tensions over Japan’s militant past and 35-year occupation of Korea. Abe has not met with Korean President Park Geun Hye during his current term in office.
Va. bill on alternative Sea of Japan name in textbooks heads toward McAuliffe’s desk
Having survived weeks of behind-the-scenes scheming, an obscure textbook bill that elicited threats from Japan and drew busloads of Korean activists to the Capitol was headed Wednesday to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature.
McAuliffe (D) had promised on the campaign trail to support legislation requiring that any new Virginia textbooks note that the Sea of Japan is also known as the East Sea. It was a move meant to win voters in Northern Virginia’s large Korean American community, where “Sea of Japan” is considered a holdover from Japanese occupation.
The promise angered Japan, one of Virginia’s largest trading partners and biggest sources of foreign investment. The Japanese ambassador sent McAuliffe a letter suggesting that the legislation would damage trade relations. The embassy also hired a team of prominent Richmond lobbyists to try to thwart the legislation in the Capitol.
In battle for 6th District’s votes, Coffman, Romanoff target Koreans
Fifty-eight- year-old Alex Choe runs a dry cleaners in Firestone, doesn’t feel confident in his English skills and, until shaking GOP Rep. Mike Coffman’s hand last year, had never met an elected federal politician.
That Choe, who lives in Aurora, has emerged as an attractive person to glad-hand for Coffman and his Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff, reveals two important traits of their looming November battle: The 6th Congressional District race could be won in the thousands of votes, and Aurora’s diverse micro-ethnic populations suddenly matter.
“I am sure the Korean-American vote won’t be discounted this year because it’s such a close race,” Choe, president of the Korean Society of Denver, said in an interview through an interpreter. “I am undecided. … I don’t want to make hasty decisions.”
More Korean court translators needed
Korea Times US
California state court authorities are planning to carry out a policy to expand translation services for minorities, including Koreans.
During a public hearing this week, residents and court employees came out to discuss the Statewide Language Access Plan (LAP) for California Courts, which was launched last month by the state’s legislation and judiciary committee.
The LAP outlines the need for a more comprehensive translation service. The committee said its aim is to provide those who do not have English proficiency — currently 20 percent of Californians, or 7 million people — with services to break the language barrier.
Maj. Kurt Chew-een Lee, Asian-American Marines trailblazer dies at 88
Maj. Kurt Chew-Een Lee, the first Asian-American U.S. Marine Corps officer, rose through the ranks beginning his career from World War II to the Vietnam War.
During the Korean War, he became commander of a machine gun platoon, to the shock of his men who had never before seen a person of Chinese ancestry. Some even questioned his loyalty as U.S. forces were battling Chinese forces, which had joined the conflict on the side of North Koreans.
In a November 1950 clash, Lee and his men were outnumbered in a surprise attack by Chinese forces. His actions there and in another clash would earn him a bevy of military honors, including the second highest military decoration, the Navy Cross.
Is This Pickup Artist Actually… Helping People?
“Once you go Asian, you can’t go Caucasian. Once you go yellow—hello!” JT Tran told his audience of hopeful men.
This was in a Manhattan conference room on Valentine’s Day, and JT was running a weekend-long bootcamp with a simple mission: to help Asian men get some skin in the dating game, and maybe even get laid.
The class’s methods and language were taken straight from the pickup artists’ world. And yet, the course also resembled a rollicking post-grad symposium on race. Yellow fever. That infamous OKCupid survey that showed Asian women overwhelmingly preferred white men. The culture clash between an Asian upbringing and a Western world that has different expectations for success. And the ease with which people speak racistly of Asian men—like the way Lorde and her Asian boyfriend were recently torn into on Twitter.
Laboring in a dating world that seems stacked against his kind, JT, whose name is Jerry and who bills himself as a transformational figure in the Asian community, is a man on a mission to transform the Western image of Asian men from asexual nerds into shagworthy dating material—all through the science and/or art of picking up women.
South Korea Sets World Cup Wheels in Motion
Wall Street Journal
The lost man of South Korean soccer returned to the national side on Wednesday to help fire the team to a 2-0 win over Greece in Athens and rekindle optimism over the upcoming World Cup.
Park Chu-young, who hadn’t played for the national team for more than a year, latched on to a lob over the Greek backline to volley South Korea ahead on 18 minutes. Park joined English Premier League side Arsenal in 2011 but had almost zero game time before a recent loan move to second tier team Watford.
Greece hit the goal frame three times in the first half but conceded a second goal from Son Heung-min 10 minutes into the second half and never mounted a sustained fightback.
Women Everywhere in Food Empires But No Head Chefs
Over the past decade, David Chang has built Momofuku from a small ramen bar in Manhattan’s East Village to an eight-restaurant empire with roughly 500 staffers in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Here’s what else he’s done:
He’s earned two Michelin stars and four James Beard Awards. He’s accrued nearly 100,000 Twitter followers. He’s disrupted the French-Italian pastry monopoly by starting, with Christina Tosi, a chain of Milk Bar bakeries that tout haute junk food over croissants and cannolis. And he co-founded a quarterly food magazine called Lucky Peach, one of whose publications was titled “The Gender Issue.”
Now here’s what Chang hasn’t done: Tapped a woman to lead one of his restaurants as chef de cuisine or higher. It is a peculiar omission, given the diversity of his staff, even at upper echelons of his company.
Obama enjoys Korean food
U.S. ambassador to Korea Sung Kim said U.S. President Barack Obama likes Korean food very much.
Appearing on a morning show “Good Morning” of SBS, the envoy said, “President Obama enjoys Korean food so much that he voluntarily orders the food himself. I don’t feel the need to recommend Korean food for him.”
“When President Obama visited Korea in 2012, he knew that the hotel where he stayed was offering Korean food as room service. At that time, he (Obama) told me that he would eat “bulgogi” for dinner.
Korean poet Kim Hyesoon is poking American art’s holes
In the introduction to Kim Hyesoon’s All The Garbage of the World, Unite!, translator Don Mee Choi recounts a great example of the type of problem translated works often run into. An American literary journal, after showing interest in one of Choi’s Korean-to-English translations of a Kim poem, requested that the word “hole” be replaced with something else, on the grounds that “hole has negative connotations in our culture.” Choi had used the word in reminding her reader that, during the Korean War, 250,000 pounds of napalm were dropped by the American military each day, turning her country into a mass of holes where once there had been houses, mountains, rice fields. She told the magazine she “didn’t have time to think about it.”
Kim is no stranger to stodgy literary types. At the time she began writing, classical forms in the hands of aristocratic men had long dominated Korean poetry. “I often felt as if my tongue were paralyzed,” Kim has said. “For me the vast open field of the unknown and the prison existed simultaneously.” Over time, poetry in her country has slowly opened up with the rise of free verse, feminism, and activism.
A small garden party in the suburbs of Richmond gave Steve Kim his start in the hot sauce business.
The year was 2010 and Kim, a failed restaurateur, served his modest dinner party his favorite Korean foods, including a home-made ssamjang, or hot sauce to accompany ssam lettuce wraps. A photo spread of the party appeared in a local magazine and included the hot sauce. Friends requested samples from Kim and demand grew and eventually spawned a small business, according to the Washington Post.
Now, the KimKim Korean hot sauce is an award-winning regional favorite and is found in many hipster cafes and some select Whole Foods stores in the greater Washington, D.C., area. Continue Reading »
A recent survey showed that a large number of Chinese tourists felt slighted by South Korean people during their visit to the country, according to news reports.
“My trip to South Korea was my first and also the last time,” one tourist said, according to the Want China Times.
About one-quarter of respondents to a poll conducted by South Korean business newspaper AJU Business Daily said that they had a bad impression of Korea after visiting and 37 percent said they felt looked down upon during their stay.
They said they could feel hostility from Koreans in their manner of speech, as well as facial expressions and body language. Continue Reading »
After Missiles, Seoul Seeks More Reunions
Wall Street Journal
When South Korea told North Korea that it shouldn’t link military exercises and family reunions, it meant drills now ongoing in the South.
Clearly it also means military activity in the North.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry has responded to North Korea’s series of missile launches over the last few days with harsh words about “provocations,” but over at the Unification Ministry there’s a new move for more meetings between families torn apart by the Korean War and North Korean abductions.
The ministry, which coordinates inter-Korean affairs, said Wednesday it had sent a proposal for working-level talks to take place in a week.
The North Korean defectors who want to return home
In the past two decades thousands of North Koreans have fled their homeland, seeking refuge in the South. So why are some now deciding to return?
Kim Hyung-deok met his wife at South Korea’s top university, has two children and a successful career. He has a house in the countryside outside Seoul and a taste for sharp suits.
Hyung-deok was born in North Korea, but about 20 years ago escaped to the South. He is one of about 25,000 to do so in the past two decades.
It is a long and dangerous journey, but once defectors arrive South Korean citizenship is guaranteed.
U.S. calls for ‘urgent’ restraint to ease Japan, South Korea tensions
The United States appealed to Japan and South Korea on Tuesday to work urgently to reduce the tensions between them, saying its two main allies in Asia could not afford to let their troubled history interfere with ensuring regional security.
“There is an urgent need to show prudence and restraint in dealing with difficult historical issues. It is important to handle them in a way that promotes healing,” Washington’s top diplomat for the East Asian region, Daniel Russel, said in prepared testimony for a U.S. Senate hearing.
Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said strategic cooperation between the United States, Japan and South Korea was essential for future security in Northeast Asia, given the threat posed by North Korea and other “regional uncertainties,” a reference to concerns about an increasingly assertive China.
Korea raises sex slavery issue at UN
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se urged Japan, Wednesday, to take responsibility for forcing Korean women into sexual slavery during World War II and make sincere efforts to resolve the matter.
In a keynote speech to the 25th regular session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, Yun denounced Tokyo’s recent move to revise its 1993 apology over “comfort women,” a Japanese euphemism for sex slaves, calling it “contrary to the U.N.’s repeated recommendation to resolve the issue.”
This was the first time since 2006 that the nation’s top diplomat attended the UNHRC session, and also marked the first time for a Korean foreign minister to make a speech there on the issue of women who suffered sexual enslavement by the Japanese imperial army.
Remembering Ahn’s Assassination – In Model Form
Wall Street Journal
In his latest China’s World column, WSJ’s Andrew Browne explores the significance of China’s move to set up a museum commemorating Ahn Jung-geun, the Korean assassin of the first Japanese resident-governor of Korea in 1909.
The move has delighted South Koreans, who see Mr. Ahn as one of the heroes of Korean history.
Mr. Ahn is also celebrated at a memorial hall at the foot of the Mt. Nam in central Seoul. Erected by the Park Chung-hee government in 1970 and partially funded through donations from the public, it was renovated in 2010 to commemorate the 101st anniversary the assassination in Harbin, China of Hirobumi Ito. There’s a 3m-high statue of Mr. Ahn in front of the hall.
South Korea’s Sexist Military [OPINION]
New York Times
The Korea Air Force Academy recently decided that it would grant its highest academic award for graduating seniors, the presidential prize, not to the valedictorian but to the salutatorian. Traditionally the prize is given to the student with the highest grade-point average, but the administrators said they chose the runner-up this year because he had performed better than the valedictorian in nonacademic areas like physical fitness and leadership, and in military studies.
But to many South Koreans, the real reason for the choice was obvious: The valedictorian was a woman and the salutatorian a man.
South Korea first allowed women into the military in 1950 during the Korean War. Back then, female soldiers mainly held administrative and support positions. Women began to take on combat roles in the 1990s when the three military academies, exclusive to men, began accepting women. In 2013, female soldiers numbered more than 8,200 in a total military force of 639,000 soldiers.
Running mate adds business focus to Rutherford bid for governor
As an immigrant from South Korea, Steve Kim was introduced to American culture through childhood conversations about politics with his father over the daily newspaper. But it would take several years and a college internship before Kim realized his personal politics were decidedly Republican.
While doing research for a Democratic congressman in Ohio, Kim found himself in disagreement with the party’s plans to tax and regulate businesses. Kim’s mom owned a dry cleaner in Skokie, and to him, lower taxes and less government involvement just made sense.
It’s a stance Kim has continued to champion as a candidate for lieutenant governor and running mate to Treasurer Dan Rutherford in the GOP primary for governor. He argues that Republicans for too long have ceded the support of immigrant communities to Democrats.
Girls’ Generation & BIGBANG Top, PSY Tumbles Down Forbes Korea’s Celebrity List
Is Girls’ Generation made up of nine Oprah Winfreys? According to Forbes, that may be true. The full list for Forbes Korea’s “2014 Power Celebrity 40″ shows the nine-member girl group reclaiming the No. 1 slot from PSY, who topped last year. The “Gentleman” rapper falls to No. 13 this year.
The Forbes Korea list is created based on exposure, professionalism and domestic and overseas earnings. The ranking methodology is similar to the U.S. Forbes “Celebrity 100″ list that Oprah topped last year with Lady Gaga in the runner-up position.
Girls’ Generation tops the chart after an exciting 2013 that saw its Korean-language album “I Got a Boy” released — with its title track earning a two-week K-Pop Hot 100 No. 1 — plus Japanese album “Love & Peace,” the group’s first Chinese-language single and a big international spotlight after winning the YouTube Music Awards’ maiden video of the year honor.
‘Frozen’-Crazy South Korea Spawns Countless K-Pop Covers of ‘Let It Go’ (Video)
Disney’s Oscar-winning animation Frozen has become nothing short of a phenomenon in South Korea. Since its local release on Jan. 15, the film has grossed more than $75 million here, making South Korea the movie’s most successful market outside the U.S.
It has also sold more than 10 million tickets — a record for an animated film in the country — meaning approximately one in five South Koreans have watched Anna on her adventure to break the wintery spell.
“I believe the film’s Broadway musical appeal attracted audiences,” said prominent local film critic Jeong Ji-ouk, noting the popularity of live musicals in Korea.
UC Berkeley plans to hold K-pop conference
Korea Times US
An in-school club at UC Berkeley will hold a two-day convention on the colorful and diverse aspects of the K-pop community. Under the theme “[Be] CHROMATIC,” KPOPCON will be held on March 8 and 9, in and around the university campus in Northern California.
“KPOPCON strives to gather fans from all backgrounds to celebrate the continuously evolving K-pop community in a social, creative, and academic setting,” said its organizer K-Popular. “While enjoying the hallyu content provided during the workshops, we hope fans will find their creativity and dreams.”
Since the student club launched the K-pop event in 2012, it has been providing a platform for studying the phenomenon academically as well as organizing dance competitions and fan meet-ups.
Opportunistic S. Korea beats Greece in pre-World Cup friendly
Opportunistic on offense and fortunate on defense, South Korea defeated Greece 2-0 in their pre-World Cup friendly match on Wednesday.
South Korea solved the usually stingy Greek defense once in each half, as forward Park Chu-young scored his first international goal in more than two years, and winger Son Heung-min added insurance later at Karaiskakis Stadium. The 61st-ranked South Korea improved to three wins and a draw all-time against the No. 12 Greece.
2014 Is the Year of the Night Market
The decades-old tradition of the night market (covered last year in Transpacific Routes) — the evening outdoor marketplace events in Asian cities known worldwide for their array of street food and haggle-happy merchandise vendor stalls — is still a nascent concept on this side of the ocean, but it’s already quickly writing its own history here.
After the initial 626 Night Market hit the streets of Pasadena in April 2012 — an event that was as heavily criticized as it was attended — the organizers worked out the logistical kinks with a larger location at the Pasadena civic center, before settling at their current home at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia last year. In June 2013, summer weekend Little Saigon Night Market premiered, as well as the inaugural San Diego Night Market in that city’s pan-Asian Convoy District.
Now, in 2014, even more night market events are setting up in the Southland, with the recent announcement of the KTown Night Market coming to L.A.’s Koreatown in April and the now-experienced 626 Night Market operators taking their show to the 714 (949, technically) and the 213 with events at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa in May and the Staples Center parking lot in Downtown Los Angeles in June. Later this summer, Asian American arts and entertainment organization Kollaboration and the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce are planning to bring the night market experience to that city as well.
Early Korean Literature Goes Digital and Free
The Korea Times reports that the Literature Translation Institute (LTI) of Korea, to ensure that Korean modern literature is available to every “digital person” in the world, has placed 20 works of early-modern Korean fiction online, which can be accessed either as PDF files or through apps for smart phones, tablets, and other mobile Internet devices.
Charles Montgomery writes that “These twenty works are the equivalent of a free collection of modern colonial fiction of Korean that can give an overseas reader a snapshot of the first ‘modern’ Korean literature and its styles, themes, and discontents.”
LTI Korea President Kim Seong-Kon told Montgomery that, “The authors were chosen carefully to include all aspects of Korean life at the time, from the lives of peasants in villages, to the lives of stifled intellectuals in cities, the stories of the men and women who lived through the colonial era and in the industrialization era.”