Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Film about Yongsan disaster attracts large audience


A Korean film depicting a 2009 incident known as the "Yongsan disaster" has broken the 70,000 mark for audience numbers, official statistics showed Tuesday.

The documentary, entitled "2 Doors," had attracted 70,031 viewers, a large number for an independent film, on Monday, the 68th day since its opening, data from the Korean Film Council showed.

Civic activists coming to watch the film in groups accounted for a large portion of the audience, according to the movie's distributor.

The Yongsan disaster began when a 30-strong group of former residents evicted from a redevelopment zone in Seoul's Yongsan area occupied a dilapidated building to launch a sit-in protest in January 2009, demanding proper compensation for their forced relocation. A fire broke out when police raided the building to disperse the protesters, resulting in the deaths of six people, including a police officer.

The movie does not defend either side of the disaster but focuses on the fear temporarily shared by the protesters and those who tried to quell them. (Yonhap)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Korea: Typhoon causes blackouts and property damage

Korea was hammered by the powerful Typhoon Bolaven Tuesday morning, with power supply cut to tens of thousands of households nationwide and strong winds and torrential downpours causing massive property damage and flight cancellations, officials said.

The most powerful storm in a decade toppled trees, street lights and power lines, cutting power to more than 50,000 households, including 33,105 households on the southern island of Jeju, as of 7 a.m., the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

Two Chinese fishing boats with 34 crew members aboard capsized Tuesday in waters off Jeju Island's southern port of Seogwipo, according to the Coast Guard. Six people were rescued but 28 others remain missing.

Seven apartment complexes in regions in South Jeolla province and Jeju Island were destroyed, while five apartment buildings in Jeju Island were inundated, forcing 15 people to evacuate, the NEMA said.

Further property damages have been reported with four cars in Jeju's Seogwipo, the first area of the country struck by the typhoon, destroyed and a church steeple collapsed, the agency added.

At 9 a.m., a previously issued typhoon advisory was upgraded to a typhoon warning in Seoul, home to about 10 million people, as the storm is forecast to pass along the port of Incheon, west of the capital city, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.

All elementary and secondary schools in Seoul were closed, while almost other municipal and provincial governments across the country have also enforced temporary school closures.

All domestic flights from Jeju International Airport and Seoul's Gimpo Airport have been canceled for the day, and Incheon International Airport, the gateway to Seoul, has also suspended all flights scheduled for Monday afternoon.

President Lee Myung-bak held an emergency video conference with officials from the state weather agency and local governments overseeing regions in the typhoon's course and instructed local governments to keep their guard high against Typhoon Bolaven and take every possible step to minimize damage.

Lee told officials to make sure that there won't be human casualties by evacuating those living in areas prone to flooding and landslides, and to try to minimize damage to crops and other agricultural products ahead of the harvest season, the spokesman said.
(Yonhap)
Korea was hammered by the powerful Typhoon Bolaven Tuesday morning, with power supply cut to tens of thousands of households nationwide and strong winds and torrential downpours causing massive property damage and flight cancellations, officials said.

The most powerful storm in a decade toppled trees, street lights and power lines, cutting power to more than 50,000 households, including 33,105 households on the southern island of Jeju, as of 7 a.m., the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

Two Chinese fishing boats with 34 crew members aboard capsized Tuesday in waters off Jeju Island's southern port of Seogwipo, according to the Coast Guard. Six people were rescued but 28 others remain missing.

Seven apartment complexes in regions in South Jeolla province and Jeju Island were destroyed, while five apartment buildings in Jeju Island were inundated, forcing 15 people to evacuate, the NEMA said.

Further property damages have been reported with four cars in Jeju's Seogwipo, the first area of the country struck by the typhoon, destroyed and a church steeple collapsed, the agency added.

At 9 a.m., a previously issued typhoon advisory was upgraded to a typhoon warning in Seoul, home to about 10 million people, as the storm is forecast to pass along the port of Incheon, west of the capital city, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.

All elementary and secondary schools in Seoul were closed, while almost other municipal and provincial governments across the country have also enforced temporary school closures.

All domestic flights from Jeju International Airport and Seoul's Gimpo Airport have been canceled for the day, and Incheon International Airport, the gateway to Seoul, has also suspended all flights scheduled for Monday afternoon.

President Lee Myung-bak held an emergency video conference with officials from the state weather agency and local governments overseeing regions in the typhoon's course and instructed local governments to keep their guard high against Typhoon Bolaven and take every possible step to minimize damage.

Lee told officials to make sure that there won't be human casualties by evacuating those living in areas prone to flooding and landslides, and to try to minimize damage to crops and other agricultural products ahead of the harvest season, the spokesman said.
(Yonhap)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

India Threatens Action Against Twitter

The Indian government is threatening to take action against Twitter, if the social media website fails to remove material officials fear could further inflame ethnic tensions.

The directive comes after rumors spread over the Internet that Muslims would carry out attacks to avenge ethnic clashes in the northeastern state of Assam, where 80 people have been killed and 300,000 displaced since July. The false reports caused thousands to flee cities across India and return home to Assam last week.

On Thursday, the government called on Twitter to immediately remove "inflammatory and harmful" material. There was no immediate reaction from Twitter, which has some 16 million users in India.

India has so far blocked access to more than 300 separate Internet items, including content on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Al Jazeera television and the British newspaper Daily Telegraph. Websites such as Facebook and YouTube were also affected.

The government has also limited the use of text messages following the recent violence in Assam between members of the Bodo tribe and Bengali Muslim settlers.

On Thursday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States is in constant contact with American companies who may need assistance in dealing with the Indian government's directive. She told reporters in Washington, that "as the Indian government seeks to preserve security, we urge them to also take into account freedom of expression in the online world."

Do you know : Kim Jong-il Personality Cult 'Cost $40 Million' !



North Korea has spent at least US$40 million on the personality cult surrounding ex-leader Kim Jong-il since he died in December last year. With yet more statues to be built, the figure is likely to keep growing.

The money would buy the impoverished country 130,000 tons of maize, which could feed the entire population of 24 million for 13 days.

According to an informed source, the North Korean government started repair work on the Towers of Eternal Life that are found at all major crossroads nationwide after Kim's death. It was to change the slogan "Our great leader Kim Il-sung is eternally with us" to "Our great leader Kim Il-sung and dear leader Kim Jong-il are eternally with us."

There are over 3,000 such towers across North Korea. The one in Pyongyang's Kumsong Street stands 92.5 m tall. The source said the cost of removing the towers' granite stone tablets and replacing them is $25 million, or an average of W9.3 million per tower (US$1=W1,131).

A 23-m-tall statue of Kim Jong-il erected in Mansudae on April 13 is estimated to have cost $10 million, which includes the repair cost of the statue of Kim Il-sung which already stood there, the source said. Kim Il-sung is now dressed in a suit, not in party uniform, and sports glasses.
Statues of Kim Il-sung (left) and Kim Jong-il /[North] Korean Central News Agency 
Statues of Kim Il-sung (left) and Kim Jong-il /[North] Korean Central News Agency 
 
A Unification Ministry official said the aim was to depict age difference between father and son. Such work is being carried out across the nation. There are some 80 large statues of Kim Il-sung and over 20,000 smaller ones nationwide.

The source said the regime spent more than $1 million embalming Kim Jong-il’s body because it had to fly in embalmers from Russia and import a special glass casket. Regular maintenance -- the body needs to be retrieved every two weeks to apply antiseptic -- is expected to cost $2.5 million a year.

New leader Kim Jong-un also ordered massive renovation work on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun when he changed its name from Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where the bodies of the older two Kims lie in state. A new marble floor was laid and grass was planted in the square in front of the palace, which cost $4.5 million, according to the source.

The Worker Party Politburo on Jan. 12, two weeks after Kim Jong-il's funeral, announced four major measures to commemorate Kim Jong-il: preserve his body, erect statues, re-name his birthday "Kwangmyongsong Day," and build more towers of eternal life across the country.

North Korea has reportedly spent another $500,000 on new badges with the faces of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, and is creating mosaic murals portraying the first two leaders throughout the country.

Did you Know: Dinning with Emperor


During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was not uncommon for important Western visitors to Korea, such as naval officers, diplomats, businessmen and missionaries, to receive audiences with King Gjong. Some of these audiences even involved dinners at the palace.

Many of these dinners ― especially those that served Korean food ― met with mixed reviews. In 1895, Sallie Sill and her sister, Alice Graham, were invited to the palace for a dinner. It was described as:

“Soup was first served in bowls, to be eaten either with chopsticks or spoons. We had our choice. The soup was almost solid with noodles, chopped meat and cooked eggs. A large brass soup tureen with a little charcoal stove under it was placed in the center of the table. Then came course after course of made dishes. I have no idea of what, nor do I know how they tasted, for I could not make myself eat them. I felt that I ought, and that I was being watched and probably blamed, but if I had known that my head was to come off because of not eating the Korean food, I should have submitted with resignation.”

Despite the women’s great reluctance to eat anything, Alice bravely sampled what looked like a plum pudding. She found that “it was almost entirely made of rich pine nuts”. They also had oranges, peeled chestnuts that were as white as snow, peanuts, pine nuts, dried persimmons (and) bright colored bonbons.”

But not all of the dinners served Korean cuisine. The post office inauguration dinner in December 1884 was catered by a Japanese restaurant that specialized in Western food. We also know that some of the diplomats’ wives baked breads and cakes and provided them to the palace. The palace staff was not above borrowing from its Western neighbors. Food, silverware, crockery and china were all borrowed from the households of Western diplomats. Even missionaries were occasionally called upon for assistance. One American woman recalled attending a dinner party at the palace and was surprised to discover that not only was part of her tableware borrowed, but so too were her recipes and even her cook.

In 1901, American missionaries Rev. Arthur Judson Brown and his wife not only had an audience with Gojong but were also served dinner in “another plain room with low ceiling and common-looking wall-paper, but the dinner itself was superb. The table was set in European fashion with snowy linen, exquisite china, and costly gold and silver vessels. The food was perfectly cooked (the Emperor is said to have a French chef) and it was admirably served. The thirteen courses consisted of: (1) soup, (2) fish with potatoes, (3) cutlet with spinach, (4) frankfurter sausage with string beans, (5) potted cold meat with peas, (6) boiled ham with mashed potatoes, (7) roast chicken with browned potatoes and lettuce salad, (8) asparagus with melted butter, (9) creamed pudding with canned peaches, (10) pineapple ice-cream with cake, (11) Swiss cheese with bread and unsalted white butter, (12) candies and candied fruit. Coffee was served later in the drawing-room. Each guest’s plate was indicated by a card in Chinese characters. I learned afterwards that mine was translated ‘the Bishop’ and that Mrs. Browns was ‘the Bishop’s lady.’”

Brown noted that the emperor never dined with his Western guests and instead was represented by his master of ceremonies, William Franklin Sands ― an American advisor to the Korean court. And, contrary to many accounts, Rev. Brown observed that although there were five different wines present at the table, only two of his Korean hosts partook of them ― the rest preferred a sparkling Japanese mineral water.


Source: The Korea Times's Robert Neff Coloumn
 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quite dishearten by myself to hear :Osaka Mayor Demands Evidence on 'Comfort Women'

Toru Hashimoto Toru Hashimoto 
 
The mayor of Osaka, a strong contender to become the next prime minister of Japan, on Tuesday claimed there is no proof showing that Korean women were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II.

"There is no evidence that comfort women were assaulted and threatened by the [Japanese] military and dragged off," Mayor Toru Hashimoto said.

"Comfort women" is the euphemism used by Japan to refer to the women from Asia and elsewhere who were forced to work in battlefield brothels by the Imperial Army.

Hashimoto was responding to questions by Japanese reporters about President Lee Myung-bak's demand that the Japanese emperor apologize for his country's wartime atrocities if he wishes to visit Korea. "Come to think of it, the use of 'comfort women' may be problematic from an ethical standpoint, but Korea must present proof that they were taken away by force," Hashimoto said.

His comments seem at odds with the Japanese government's position as expressed in August 1993 by then cabinet secretary Yohei Kono that "Comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military authorities of the day. The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women."

The rightwing Osaka Restoration Association led by Hashimoto ranked second only after the Liberal Democratic Party in support ratings in a recent poll by the Yomiuri Shimbun. It is expected to become a major force after the upcoming general election.

Hashimoto has frequently expressed rightwing views, calling for Japan to develop nuclear weapons and for schoolchildren to sing the national anthem in class. The anthem, called "Kimigayo," is the same hymn that was used to rally the Japanese behind the imperialist military during World War II.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

LG, Samsung tapping into games





LG Electronics Germany President Song Ki-ju, right, talks to reporters at the company’s booth during Gamescom 2012 at Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany, Wednesday. / Courtesy of LG Electronics
Firms forging ties with game industry to boost


LG and Samsung Electronics appear to be forging stronger ties with the world’s game industry in efforts to promote related electronic devices.

The two companies, which participated in Gamescom 2012, showed a much stronger presence in the biggest game trade show, held at Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany from Thursday to Sunday

As device manufacturers are close in terms of the technological advancement in their respective products, they are attempting to differentiate themselves by strengthening content such as media, software and especially games.

The Korean technology giants also face a revenue decline from Europe due to the ongoing financial crisis and pushing games can be seen as part of marketing efforts to keep consumers interested and offset falling profits as much as possible, according to industry analysts.

“Games can be one feature that companies like Samsung and LG can push to increase content and applications available for their display products to promote sales,” said Jeff Kim, an analyst at Hyundai Securities.

Due to the rise of visual-intensive mobile devices, more and more on-line games are becoming accessible for every platform, making it crucial for LG and Samsung Electronics to acquire as much content as possible.

According to officials from the two firms at the event, they have increased the size of their respective booths vastly over the years.

LG Electronics participated for the second time and is an official sponsor of the trade show. The Yeouido-based firm has supplied over 300 television sets and 100 personal computers to promote the show.

At a meeting with reporters during the event, Song Ki-ju, president of the company’s German office, said that the booth for this year is three times the size of that seen the previous year, and the company plans to “participate every year from now on.”

“Demands for electronics devices are not good due to the crisis, but Germany is relatively solid compared to other countries (in Europe),” he said. “There are 25 million gamers in Germany, and we want to be recognized as a Gamescom partner.”

In the booth, the company’s recently released Cinema 3D TV and related television products got the biggest promotion. A mini-theater that can hold up to 500 people with a three dimensional television continued to play game trailers.

The firms IPS (In-Plane Switching) monitors were also placed at stands, and the largest one was used to host mini-tournaments in which around 50 people gathered around to participate in and cheer.

LG’s professional e-sports team LG IM (Incredible Miracle) was also present and participated in events, further enforcing the image of LG Electronics as a supporter of games.

Most booths at the exhibition featured televisions and computer screens. However, high quality games, which are becoming available for use on all touch-screen devices, were also highlighted. LG touted its high-end smartphone Optimus 4X HD, while its rival displayed its Galaxy series.

Samsung Electronics, which is pushing LED (light emitting diode) screens and Internet wired Smart TVs (which has the game Angry Birds pre-installed), also increased the size of its booth three times from the previous year, according to employees. This is the third consecutive time that the firm has taken part in the trade show.

Models of the Suwon-based company’s Series 7 Gamer Yellow 3D Refresh, a note book optimized for playing games, were placed around the booth in large numbers.

Though Samsung far outsells its rival in terms of mobile devices, in television sales, the gap between the two is less dramatic. LG’s televisions have been selling strongly in both the United States and Europe. Along with the firm’s home appliance division, strong television sales are keeping earnings solid despite the company’s current difficulties in trailing behind Samsung in visual-intensive devices.


Source: The Korea Times
 

Central, East Asia meet in Gwangju



Celebrations of diverse Asian cultures kicked off on August 19 in Gwangju, where cultural organizations from 19 Asian countries have gathered for 2012 ASIA Culture Week. Running until August 28, this year’s festival is designed to bring new attention to ancient routes such as the Silk Road and the Paper Road that historically linked the peoples of Asia through art and trade. The festival was also prepared as an opportunity to reunite artists across Asia and encourage the creation of similarly innovative, cross-border cultural exchanges for the 21st century.

The opening ceremony on August 20 was attended by the culture ministers of six nations -- Korea, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

The six ministers participated afterwards in the Korea-Central Asian Culture Summit, the high point of 2012 ASIA Culture Week, where they adopted and announced a joint declaration outlining plans to cooperate for expanded cultural exchange and sharing of cultural resources. The declaration also included references to the Gwangju Asian Culture Complex, construction on which is scheduled to be completed in 2014, as an important center for research and education for the promotion of cultural diversity and mutual understanding as well as the cultivation of professional personnel in the culture and arts industries.


2012 ASIA Culture Week brought together the culture ministers of six Asian nations  
 The 2012 ASIA Culture Week brought together the culture ministers of six Asian nations on August 20. The annual event takes place every summer as part of “Hub City of Asian Culture” project (photo coutesy of MCST).

Meanwhile, at Asia Munhwa Maru, the 2012 ASIA Culture Week special exhibit “Paper Road” opened on the same day with a colorful and creative performance in which five colors of paint were splattered on a canvas and transferred onto bicycle tires. The performance was designed to suggest the theme of active interaction and exchange among Asian cultures centering in Gwangju.

“Paper Road,” which will run throughout the week, is an exhibit that gathers artists in the digital era and collects their impressions of past East Asian civilizations as expressed through the medium of paper. On display are more than 100 works created by famous graphic artists from Korea, China, Japan, and Taiwan, all of whose works trace the history of the spread of paper in the region, from woodblock printing in China to the paper trade with the West, as well as the popularity of paper-made products used together with ceramics, tea, noodles, and rice.

ceremony of the exhibit  
 The opening ceremony for the exhibit "Paper Road" was based on the theme of lively interaction among Asian cultures with Gwangju as a cultural hub (photo courtesy of MCST).

Visitors to the venue can walk through a forest of posters that depict the lives of various peoples in East Asia and explore through visual art the similarities and differences in their cultures.

Another part of 2012 ASIA Culture Week that cannot be missed is the diverse cultural performances. Fourteen Asian countries will introduce their musical instruments and dances, giving visitors the opportunity to recognize each performance’s unique characteristics while also appreciating the harmony of the different styles. The free-of-charge performances will take place once each day on August 22 and 23.

Another highlight of the week was the August 19 marionette performance that depicted a Kyrgyzstani myth. The production was adapted by Kim Kwang-rim, a film producer and professor at the Korea National University of Arts, and directed by Yun Jeong-seop, who oversaw the direction of the Big-O Show at the recently finished Yeosu Expo.

From August 20 to 23, a culture forum will take place under the title, “Culture, Technology and Creativity” with the keynote address to be delivered by famous Korean poet Ko Un and the former culture minister of Japan, Aoki Tamotsu. Panelists in the forum will include well-known scholars in the cultural industry, including Osaka University Professor Sasaki Masayuki, who will discuss issues such as Gwangju’s potential for registration as a City of Media Arts in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

‘Paper Road’ connect artists and people in Gwangju 
The artistic creations displayed in the exhibition ‘Paper Road’ connect artists and people in Gwangju. At this time of every year, visitors to Gwangju can experience diverse Asian cultures at one place (photo courtesy of MCST).

Though the curtain will close on 2012 ASIA Culture Week on August 28, the festivities in Gwangju will continue. In addition to Art Gwangju 2012, which will run from September 6 to 9, the Gwangju World Music Festival on September 7 and 8, and the Asia Content and Entertainment Fair from September 20 to 23 will continue to provide fun cultural offerings for visitors. Gwangju Biennale, one of the city's most popular attractions, will also be held from September 7 to November 11.

Source: Korea.net

Monday, August 20, 2012

India-Korea Connection

Korean Masters Ancient Indian Dance

Keum Bee-na  
Keum Bee-na 
 
Keum Bee-na is the first Korean practicing the traditional Indian dance Odissi. Living in the dance's remote home state of Orissa in east India since early 2005, Keum now shares her story in a recently published book.

Keum's first encounter with Indian dance was Mira Nair's 1996 film "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love," which she saw when she was a university student. "I was mesmerized at first sight, but there was no way to find out what that dance was. I felt a strong urge to go to India no matter what," Keum recalls.

Odissi is one of eight traditional Indian dances recognized by the Indian government and among the most famous together with Kathak and Bharat Natyam. It consists of rounded, circular movements. "It's erotic but subtle. Many people remember it as a belly dance, but there's no shaking of hips," Keum explains. In fact, the lower body remains almost fixed.

It was not easy to master. All Keum had was an image of the dance she saw in the film, and she had no idea what it was and where she could learn it. She went to India for the first time in January 2004 for five weeks. In October that year, she left to study at a Buddhist graduate school in Sri Lanka. During her six-month sojourn in Colombo, she learned that the dance she was looking for was from Orissa. She immediately packed her belongings and went there.

In February 2010, five years after she started learning Odissi, Keum's teacher allowed her to give her official debut performance there. Since then, she has been on stage almost every year in Korea, where she takes refuge from scorching heat of Orissa from April to June.

"I plan to live in Bhubaneswar and continue to learn about the dance while touring for performances," she said. "I hope to perform in North and South America. There are so many things I want to do. I want to publish books on India and Orissa, and the Indian and Orissa languages"  she said.

Bongwa Village Graveyard

Seung’s ‘Bonghwa Village Graveyard’ to feature at Venice architect fest



Architect Seung Hyo-sang will present the burial ground for former President Roh Moo-hyun at the Venice Biennale of Architecture starting Aug. 29.

/ Courtesy of Iroje


The Venice Biennale of Architecture is held on even-numbered years and Korea is ready to present the essence of its architectural talent from Aug. 29.

Seung Hyo-sang, 60, has been invited to this year’s International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia . Seung, who was commissioner of the Korean pavilion in 2008, is the only local architect attending the main exhibition themed “Common Ground.”

He will introduce 10 of his residential works, including “Bonghwa Village Graveyard,” the burial ground and memorial for late President Roh Moohyun. It is the only house for the dead among participating works.

“The concept of burial grounds usually comes from an abstraction of residential areas of the living. The Bonghwa graveyard borrowed the idea from ’woldae,’ or broad stone platforms of the royal shrine at Jongmyo,” the architect said.

This year’s theme of the Korean Pavilion at the acclaimed architecture biennale is “Walk in Architecture.”

Commissioner Kim Byung-yoon, professor at Daejeon University, said he aims to show the dynamism of Korean architecture, using video clips to introduce the story behind the buildings.

The list of participating architects includes Kim Tae-man, Hahn Jong-ruhl, Lee Sang-leem, Park Seung-hong, O Young-wook, Kim Hyun-su, Park Jean-taek and Yun Chang-ki.

Kim to lead Korea at 2013 Venice Biennale

Expectations over what Korea will present at next year’s Venice Biennale have heightened as Kim Seung-duk, 58, was named for commissioner of the Korean Pavilion, Monday.

She said the 2013 Korean pavilion will be a group exhibition featuring interdisciplinary artists. “Collaboration is the key and I will choose artists from various genres including video, music and performance,” Kim said in a press conference at the Artists’ House at Dongsoong-dong, central Seoul.

The Arts Council of Korea, which runs the Korean pavilion, said they chose Kim as commissioner because of the exhibitions she has organized and her international network.

Having studied at New York University and University Paris 1, Kim has extensive curatorial experience in Korea, Europe and the Middle East. She also took the deputy commissioner
role for the 1999 Venice Biennale, accompanying curator Song Misook.

Currently, Kim is director of international exhibitions at Le Consortium and project director for city development projects of Doha, Qatar.

Kim said though she has been living abroad since graduating high school in Korea in the 1970s, she has maintained close connection with the art world here, visiting Korea at least twice a year and contributing to local art magazines. “Korea helped me in growing up as an international curator and I will share my experience to introduce Korean artists at this prestigious event,” she said.

The 2013 Venice Biennale will open on June 1, 2013 and run through November. The council said the list of participating artists will be announced around December.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Korea-Japan Tension Spills Over into Entertainment and Sport

Japanese satellite TV channel BS Nippon said Wednesday it is canceling Korean soap opera "A Man Called God" starring actor Song Il-gook due to growing anti-Korean sentiment in the island country.

BS Nippon planned to air the first episode on Aug. 21, but canceled it fearing complaints from Japanese viewers as Song participated in a patriotic relay swim to the Dokdo Islets to mark Liberation Day.

Actor Song Il-gook swims across the East Sea on Tuesday in a relay from Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province to Dokdo to mark Liberation Day. /Newsis 
Actor Song Il-gook swims across the East Sea on Tuesday in a relay from Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province to Dokdo to mark Liberation Day. /Newsis
Song became popular in Japan thanks to the success of TV series "Jumong."

Meanwhile, the Sankei Shimbun reported that Japanese professional football team Shimizu drew angry phone calls from fans when it announced on Tuesday that it acquired Korean Olympic squad forward Kim Hyun-sung on a short-term loan until January next year.

Korea's stand over Dokdo remain firm

The heart of korea a called Dokdo



South Korea received a letter Japan's prime minister wrote to President Lee Myung-bak about recent tensions over Lee's visit to the easternmost South Korean islets of Dokdo, but there is no change in the country's position on the matter, officials said.

Japanese media reported Friday that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda sent the letter to Lee via Seoul's Embassy in Tokyo, describing as regrettable Lee's Aug. 10 visit to Dokdo and his remarks that Japan's Emperor Akihito should apologize for Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule if he wishes to visit South Korea.

Noda also proposed in the letter that Japan and South Korea jointly take the Dokdo issue to the International Court of Justice, reports said.

Officials at Seoul's presidential office said the embassy received the letter.

"In line with diplomatic practice, we can't say specifically what's in there, but there isn't anything new in it," an official said on condition of anonymity.

The official said the letter made no direct mention about Lee's remarks about Japan's emperor or Tokyo's proposal to take the Dokdo issue to the international court, though its contents can be understood that way.

"There is no change in our position on the Dokdo issue," the official said, accusing Japan of speaking up only on the Dokdo issue while maintaining silence about the issue of the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which China calls Diaoyu and claims as its territory.

Some officials expressed displeasure about Japan disclosing the letter to the press.

South Korea is reportedly studying two options on how to respond to the letter. One option is that Seoul will neither reply nor make any reaction to the letter. Another option calls for South Korea to respond by sending a reply in which it will reiterate its position on the Dokdo issue and refute Japan's sovereignty claim to the islets.

"We will hold further discussions" another official said, noting it is not an issue that should be hastily decided.

South Korea has flatly rejected Japan's proposal to take the Dokdo matter to the international court, saying it makes no sense to refer what is clearly the country's territory to the court.

Japan's claims to Dokdo have long been a thorn in relations between South Korea and Japan. South Korea keeps a small police detachment on the islets, effectively controlling them.

South Koreans see those claims as amounting to denying Korea's rights because the country regained independence from the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule and reclaimed sovereignty over its territory, which includes Dokdo and many other islands around the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap) 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A city who embrace everyone

Interest in Korean War Leads Chinese Students to Incheon

An Ho, a Chinese graduate student studying in Korea, was too busy with his thesis to go traveling this summer. But as he was conducting research on the 1950-53 Korean War, his thesis topic, he learned of a museum dedicated to the war in Incheon and summoned his schoolmate Cheon Yega to pay a visit to the city.

They began their trip by heading to the Incheon Metropolitan City Museum. The nation's first public museum opened in 1946 and displays items related to the city's past and present, including those from the prehistoric period. Having looked around the museum, An said, "It's my first time to Incheon since I arrived in Korea. It was quite interesting to see the artifacts here showing the country's past and the way Koreans used to live." The museum provides guided tours and audio guides.
Their next destination was the neighboring Incheon Landing Operation Memorial Hall, built to commemorate the historic operation during the Korean War. The museum provides a glimpse into the developments of the fratricidal war, through the exhibition of 825 items such as the weapons and daily necessities used at the time, as well as the military uniforms of the participating countries. It helped An deepen his knowledge of the war.
The last stop was the Central Park. Inspired by the artificial canal in Venice, the park was built around the nation's first seawater lake. High rises of various designs surround the park, creating an exotic landscape.
Hungry from the tour, An and Cheon headed for a nearby street lined with restaurants specializing in blue crab stew. Incheon is famous for its freshly caught seafood and the stew is one of the most popular local dishes. It has a unique spicy-yet-sweet flavor due to all the pumpkins used to prepare the stock, and can easily be found at markets in the city.

"In China, stews are not so common. Fried food is much more popular," An said. "Of all the Korean stews, blue crab stew would seem to be the most palatable to Chinese."
Incheon will host the Asian Games from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 in 2014. China first participated in the Teheran Asian Games in 1974. Eight years later, at the New Delhi Games, China outperformed Japan, which had maintained the top spot for eight straight editions of the event, in the overall medal tally to emerge as Asia's No. 1 sporting power. Since then, China has consistently topped the table at Asia's largest sports event and played host twice in 1990 and 2010.

Phoenix Head Island at Korea


Tranquil Fishing Villages, Majestic Sea Views at 'Phoenix Head Island'

The island of Seungbong, whose name translates as "head of phoenix," is located about 42 km southwest of Incheon and is regarded as the most attractive in the Deokjeok Archipelago thanks to its magnificent ocean views. Home to a village of some 200 residents, it is just 3.5 km long and 1 km wide, meaning it only requires three to four hours to look around.

The island is an 80-minute journey from the Yeonan Pier ferry terminal. As there is no public transportation on the island, walking is the best way to travel. Only a 10-minute walk along the scenic ring road from the wharf leads visitors to a calm fishing village, a welcome respite from hectic city life.

 
 
After passing the village, the island's only beach, Iilre Beach, appears to the right. The sea road along the beach leads to a forest where towering black pines offer shade from the scorching sun. At the other end of the forest is a walking path with an ocean view that leads to Mok Islet, one of the island's top attractions. Further along the path, visitors can see a rock shaped like a candlestick with an expanse of sea and sky in the background.

A few minutes' more walk leads intrepid explorers back to the ring road, and then to Jurangjuk Park. Travelers can take a rest here as it is equipped with a pavilion and amenities such as picnic tables, water fountains and restrooms.
 
 
A 20-minute trek along the seashore in front of the park takes visitors to Namdaemun ("South Gate") Rock, which represents some of the island's most beautiful scenery. Its fame comes from the fact that the rock -- which looks like a gate or an elephant, depending on where the viewer stands -- can only be viewed when the tide recedes.

 
 
Shortly afterwards, a fan-shaped rock comes into view along the seashore to the right, and the walk comes to an end back at the fishing village. As a lot of people visit on weekends, advance booking is recommended for ferry tickets. These can be purchased online at http://island.haewoon.co.kr.

Korean Movies Find New Recipe for Success



A series of successful domestic films at the box office hints at the changing face of Korean cinema. "The Thieves," which was released on July 25 amid great expectations with its heist movie plot and star-studded cast, has attracted almost 10 million viewers in only three weeks. "The Grand Heist" also drew one million moviegoers earlier this week despite its lack of rave reviews.

The trend has been developing since the start of the year. Domestic films drew 44.17 million spectators in the first half of 2012, up 34.6 percent from the same period last year. This even beats the previous record high of 41.48 million viewers in the first half of 2006.

In total, 18 Korean movies have now drawn more than one million viewers each so far this year, compared to 16 over the same period in 2011 and 13 in 2010. So what is the driving force behind this trend?

◆ Diversification of Genres

Local moviegoers used to prefer comedies or action movies, but these days their interest is spread more evenly across the genres. Although romantic comedies and melodramas were in the past regarded as unlikely to score a huge hit at box office here, "All About My Wife" and "Architecture 101" attracted more than four million viewers each this year. Meanwhile, "Unbowed," a courtroom drama based on a true-life incident, proved its commercial success by selling 3.42 million tickets.

"Ten years ago, moviegoers were divided into two distinct types: people who like Hollywood movies, and those who like Korean movies. But as many people have become familiar with a variety of genres of American movies and dramas, local audiences tend to prefer domestic films that contain elements of Hollywood genres tailored to Korean tastes," said film critic Jeon Chan-il.

◆ Star-Studded Casts

"The Thieves" has 10 lead actors, while "The Grand Heist" has 11. Even melodramas and romantic comedies, which used to rely on one leading actor and actress, now often have three or four actors in starring roles. At the same time, it is increasingly common to see major stars play supporting roles.

"In the past, many viewers were attracted to movies based on their plot, but now they like character-oriented movies with a good story. Movies that have many leading characters or supporting characters with distinct personalities are also getting popular," said Kim Ho-sung, CEO of production company REALise.

◆ Mature Audiences

As producers have raised the target age group from teenagers and people in their 20s to those in their 30s and over, movies are naturally attracting a more diverse audience.

According to ticket sales data for "The Thieves" compiled by Korea's largest movie site Maxmovie, 26 percent of those who watched the movie were in their 20s, 40 percent were in their 30s and 31 percent in their 40s. In the case of "Architecture 101," 24 percent were in their 20s, 45 percent in their 30s and 28 percent in their 40s. The bulk of viewers who went to see "All About My Wife," or 45 percent, were also in their 30s.

The combined number of spectators in their 30s and 40s now far outstrips those in their 20s, and this demographic can be seen as playing a leading role in Korean movies' raging success at home.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Movie Buff : 'The Thieves' is rocking

The Thief

 
 
Choi Dong-hoon's "The Thieves" is set to become sixth Korean film to attract 10 million spectators.

"A total of 9.24 million moviegoers have seen the movie as of Sunday," said its distributor Showbox Mediaplex on Monday. The flick was released on July 25. "We expect the figure to surpass 10 million by Thursday."

If so, it will become the first Korean film to achieve the feat in three years after "Haeundae" by Yoon Je-kyoon in 2009. The first domestic film to attract such a large audience was "Silmido" by Kang Woo-suk in 2003.

Choi is credited with the immense success of "The Thieves." His three previous films were all commercial hits -- "The Big Swindle" attracted 2.12 million viewers, "The War of Flower" had 5.68 million, and "Woochi: The Taoist Wizard" sold 6.13 million tickets at the box office.

The Chosun Ilbo asked Choi on Monday whether he thought "The Thieves" would prove to be this popular. "No film director thinks about how many spectators their film will draw when making a movie," he said. "Because it was a crime film, I thought the reviews would be split, so I can't still believe that the film has been such a huge success. I even doubted if the figures by the Korean Film Council were correct, so I checked them again and again."

With the exception of "Woochi: The Taoist Wizard," all the other films he has directed revolve around criminals. "This is the kind of material I like to see as a cinemagoer. People have a boundless curiosity about crimes, accidents and so forth. Nobody wants such things to happen to them personally, but they still want to see them in a dramatic setting," said Choi.
Actor Lee Jung-jae (left) hugs a fan at an event to welcome the 10 millionth viewer of the film  
Actor Lee Jung-jae (left) hugs a fan at an event to welcome the 10 millionth viewer of the film "The Thieves" at the Time Square plaza in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul on Monday. Also attending the event were director Choi Dong-hoon (second left), and actresses Kim Hye-soo (second right) and Kim Hae-sook.
This is the first film Choi has worked on with his wife and producer Ahn Soo-hyun. "Initially, we didn't like the idea of collaborating because we were worried that it would cause arguments. But there are actually a lot of positives to working together. Whenever I doubted myself as a director, she gave me very valuable advice. We stuck to our principle of respecting each other's work, and she is very good in keeping work and private matters separate. That made everything a lot easier. We are husband and wife, but also friends, so it was fun working together," said Choi.

Ahn, who joined in the middle of the interview, said, "As we used to work on different films, there were times when we couldn't see each other for three months at a stretch. This time, it was good because we worked in the same place and got to see each other all the time."

When asked about his future plans, Choi was tight-lipped, saying merely that he is "a young director who still has a long way to go."

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

Monday, August 13, 2012

Korea: New Guidebook Highlights Seoul's Unique Style


Seoul has become the first city in Asia with a localized edition of Britain's premium travel guide StyleCity.

Published by Thames & Hudson, the guidebook has sold more than 500,000 copies since its launch in 2003 in 11 cities. It focuses on cities that boast a unique culture, character, and exciting travel activities, including London, Paris, New York, and Rome.

 
 
The premier issue of StyleCity Seoul features must-see sights that were selected by British travel writer Martin Zatko during his two-month visit to the city. It highlights unique locations in six areas around Seoul, with each section organized into sleep, eat, drink, shop and retreat.

Zatko concluded that Seoul's most distinctive characteristic is the coexistence of modern facilities engineered by Korea's rapid economic development and the renaissance of its traditional culture.

The area consisting of Samcheong-dong, Bukchon, Buam-dong, and Seongbuk-dong is described as the city's artistic nexus, where traditional beauty is represented by stylish cafes, restaurants, and art galleries.

 
 

Page 3 of North Korea : Kim Jong-un's Wife No Stranger to S.Korea

I am pretty sure, many of us always want to hear news from North Korea as its been aloof from the rest of the world. So today's news is none other than the head of the new reign Kim Jong Un's wife.

The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was apparently raised in a middle-class home, studied in China and is no stranger to South Korea. The National Intelligence Service told the parliamentary Intelligence Committee on Thursday that Ri Sol-ju was born in an "ordinary family" in 1989 and attended the Kumsong Arts School in Pyongyang and majored in singing in China.

She visited South Korea's Incheon in 2005 to attend an Asian athletics competition as a member of the North's cheering squad, and sang at a baseball stadium in the city. She also participated in a gathering of South and North Korean university students at Incheon City College. Ri said in an interview at that time that she was "deeply moved" to see young students gather to sing songs about reunification.

Left: Ri Sol-ju performs as a member of the North Korean cheering squad during an Asian athletics competition in Incheon in 2005.; Right: Ri Sol-ju waves on her way back to North Korea at Incheon International Airport in 2005. /Yonhap Left: Ri Sol-ju performs as a member of the North Korean cheering squad during an Asian athletics competition in Incheon in 2005.; Right: Ri Sol-ju waves on her way back to North Korea at Incheon International Airport in 2005. /Yonhap 
 
In December 2005, South Korean reporters went to Kumsong Arts School where Ri was studying. She told them that she wanted to join a state-run troupe of performers after graduation.

A North Korean woman with the same name also attended a tree-planting ceremony hosted by South Korea's Red Cross at the North's Mt. Kumgang resort in March 2003, and also attended an inter-Korean meeting of teachers at the resort in 2004 hosted by the South's Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union.

South and North Korean youngsters smile at a tree-planting ceremony hosted by South Koreas Red Cross at the Mt. Kumgang resort in March 2003. The girl in circle is assumed to be Kim Jong-uns wife, Ri Sol-ju. /Yonhap 
South and North Korean youngsters smile at a tree-planting ceremony hosted by South Korea's Red Cross at the Mt. Kumgang resort in March 2003. The girl in circle is assumed to be Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju. /Yonhap 
 
Ri married Kim in 2009 and continued performing as a singer for the Unhasu Orchestra. The Chosun Ilbo reviewed footage of performances by the orchestra and found that Ri first appeared at a concert in October 2010 marking the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party. She then appeared in a series of concerts celebrating the New Year in 2011, where she sang one to two songs each time.

Her last performance was at a Lunar New Year's performance on Feb. 17, 2011 watched by former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Jong-un and Chinese diplomats.

"It is extremely rare in North Korea for the future first lady to perform on stage," said an informed source. "She may have gotten engaged to Kim in 2009 rather than getting married to him that year."

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walks arm-in-arm with his wife Ri Sol-ju during the completion ceremony of an amusement park in Pyongyang on Wednesday. /[North] Korean Central TV-Yonhap 
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walks arm-in-arm with his wife Ri Sol-ju during the completion ceremony of an amusement park in Pyongyang on Wednesday. /[North] Korean Central TV-Yonhap 
 
Ri next appeared in the North Korean state media on July 7, when she was spotted sitting next to Kim at a performance by the newly-created Moranbong troupe. The NIS believes the couple had a child in the meantime.

It said the regime appears to have decided that she should be seen by Kim's side to project a "stable image" of Kim as a leader.

Fun to learn : Successes and Pitfalls of Star Power in Advertising

The decision by Coreana Cosmetics to hire actress Kim Ha-neul as a poster girl is paying off handsomely thanks to the tremendous popularity of the hit SBS soap "A Gentleman's Dignity" in which she stars alongside heartthrob Jang Dong-gun. The pink lipstick Kim uses in the drama has become such a hit that 20,000 of the products have sold so far across the nation, which is faster than the company can supply them.

Coreana has had to ramp up production to meet demand. "We paid hundreds of millions of won in modeling fees, but sales of the lipstick alone more than made up for that," said a company staffer.

Businesses are very cautious about choosing models for their products. It may seem that hiring the most popular star to endorse a product would guarantee its success, but things do not always turn out that way. Advertisers must carefully consider the type of product they are selling, whether it goes well with a particular model, how well-known the model is among the target consumer group, and how to differentiate the product from rivals.

From left, Kim Ha-neul, Jeon Ji-hyun and Kim Yu-na 
From left, Kim Ha-neul, Jeon Ji-hyun and Kim Yu-na

One example of a successful pairing of product and model is actress Jeon Ji-hyun and Elastine shampoo, by LG Household and Health Care. Jeon was the poster girl for Elastine from 2001, when the product was introduced, until 2011. Although relatively unknown back then, her fresh appearance and long hair was a perfect match with the product and turned it into an instant hit. Elastine has been the best-selling shampoo since its debut and still holds that position with consumers associating that product with the actress. In turn, Jeon was able to consolidate her fresh image.

But relying too much on star power can lead to the merchandise becoming overshadowed by the celebrity. An example is actor Kim Soo-hyun, who suddenly became a star with the lead role in the MBC costume drama "The Moon that Embraces the Sun." During the first six months of this year, Kim appeared in ads for more than 10 products ranging from coffee, sportswear, jewelry, beer and electronic products. Because he spreads himself so thinly, consumers are often confused.

Now many businesses are trying to avoid this pitfall by turning to popular athletes. They are not only fresh faces but also felt to embody trustworthiness, the spirit of challenge and strapping health. Daewoong Pharmaceutical hired soccer legend Cha Bum-kun, his son and star soccer player Cha Du-ri and his brother to advertise its health supplements, and the ads proved successful.

Figure skating star Kim Yu-na appeared in 136 ads until June this year and raised the brand image of every product she has endorsed.

"Sports stars have a stronger image of trustworthiness than other models, and their personal stories of challenge and success have a positive impact on the product they endorse," said Park Jae-hang of advertising company Innocean Worldwide. "Rather than hiring them for a single ad, it could be more beneficial to form long-term sponsorship deals with them in order to boost the corporate image by giving an impression that the company endeavors to foster sports."

Make-A-Wish Korea Makes 2,000th Dream Come True

Make-A-Wish Korea, which grants wishes for children with incurable diseases, received an e-mail on June 2 from the mother of an 18-year-old who has been bedridden for the last three years.

"My son really likes Youn-ha and his only joy in life seems to be listening to her daily evening radio broadcasts," his mother Choi Hae-young (46) wrote. "Would it be possible for him to meet her just once?" The youngster has lived with his hearing-impaired mother all his life.

Kim Do-young has been collecting the siger's CDs, posters and photos.

Kim's wish, which marks the 2,000th wish for the foundation, came true when he met her on Thursday at the Han River Park in Yeouido.
Kim Do-young poses with singer Youn-ha (second left) and a guitar at the Han River Park in Seoul on Thursday. Kim Do-young poses with singer Youn-ha (second left) and a guitar at the Han River Park in Seoul on Thursday.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation was created in the U.S. in 1980 and the first wish it granted was for a seven-year-old boy in Arizona who had leukemia and dreamed about being a police officer. Make-A-Wish Korea was set up in 2002, becoming the 26th member of the foundation.

Over the last 10 years, the foundation made it possible for a girl with cancer, whose dream was to be a diplomat, to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and a high-school science buff with leukemia to fly to Microsoft’s headquarters to meet Bill Gates.

Actress Kim Tae-hee is most favored by those who apply to the foundation and granted the wishes of around 20 children from 2008 to 2012.

Kim's other wish is to go to university, so he spends four to five hours a day preparing for the college entrance exam.

Source: Choisun Ilbo

Saju of a man



By Janet Shin

Take a look at people who work in the same occupation and you can notice that some are quite content while others are not. Likewise, in our daily routines, we are sometimes satisfied while other times bored. Needless to say, the consequences in life do not always correspond to the amount of effort and one does not always get what he or she is longing for.

A man once used to be a waiter at a nightclub but became a lawyer. He entered a top ranking university to study law at 40 and passed the bar exam. His new occupation, however, didn’t bring him honor and money as he couldn’t please his clients. Instead, his unusual life story became interesting material for newspaper articles. Before long, a film about hilarious gangsters and a leader was released. It was “My Boss, My Hero” in 2001. And then, it continued to other titles in the series, like “The Mafia, The Salesman” in 2007. He thinks his life intrigued filmmakers and they used it as a basis for their works after his story was printed.

Life does not unfold as one expects or plans. For this reason, many people are lost on the voyage of life. Life sometimes pushes them to the edge of a cliff and even thrusts them off the precipice. They suddenly see themselves in a place where they have never been or don’t know where to go.

I often compare saju to a compass. It can be appreciated more because it reveals not only where to go but where we are from. Saju becomes a lighthouse in the vast ocean and a street lamp in a dark secluded road. When people ask me to read their saju, I see that it provides lucid answers. They are captivated because their solution is out of the box in many cases.

I read the saju of the lawyer. At that time, he was disoriented not knowing what to do and how to continue. Without perceiving an inner substance told by saju, his life would have seemed a successful one, having reached a certain position everyone else might highly approve of.

His saju didn’t show a life in the legal profession. It was actually closer to that of mobsters. He was born with yang metal energy having lots of friend stars. And there was no career star or fire element to refine him. It denotes that he, being born as a raw metal, would hardly be smelted. The career star is required for a profession, such as a lawyer, prosecutor or judge, which is lacking in his saju. So he would never be successful in legal circles. In lieu of the career star, he has many friend stars in his stems and expression and money stars in the branches. This is a typical saju structure for businessmen. I told him that a profession as a lawyer is not his calling. Alternatively he may make a good businessman. However, he should be aware of the fact that he will barely settle in whatever occupation he is engaged. Each pillar that represents his expression and money stars is not constant. It is the reason why he has kept changing vocation. In order to acclimatize, his business will have to maintain relationships with gangsters, which is his destiny.

Several months later, he informed me that he was managing passenger ships on the southern coast of Korea. And while running this business, as anticipated, he was dealing with many gangsters who derive benefits around the transportation industry. He added that he didn’t have any difficulty supervising them. Sometimes they were rather supportive, because there was no one like him, who could deal with not only the law but also people who commit illegal acts. He sounded very vibrant.

Information: Are you interested in learning more about the ancient Chinese teaching about the “Four Pillars of Destiny?” For further information, visit Janet’s website at www.fourpillarskorea.com, contact her at 010-5414-7461 or email janetshin@hotmail.com.
The writer is the president of the Heavenly Garden, a saju research center in Korea, and the author of “Learning Four Pillars.”

The writer is the president of the Heavenly Garden, a saju research center in Korea, and the author of “Learning Four Pillars.”

Are you interested in learning more about the ancient Chinese teaching about the “Four Pillars of Destiny?” For further information, visit Janet’s website at www.fourpillarskorea.com, contact her at 010-5414-7461 or email janetshin@hotmail.com.

Nationality for freedom fighters’ descendants



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