Friday, December 19, 2014

Two year-end movies to warm your heart

Source: The

The year end is just around the corner. Two recently released heart-wrenching movies are being recommended for the season. The two movies share one thing in common, that both are documentaries based on the daily lives of real people.

The first is "My Love, Don't Cross That River," a story revolving around an old couple that has been together for as long as 76 years. The other is "The Hospice (목숨)." It deals with patients in a hospice preparing for their final moments in life. It's long been believed in both the box office and among movie-goers that documentaries can rarely succeed. These two films, however, have broken those perceptions and are on a steady rise.

"My Love, Don't Cross That River" tells the story of an old couple who have loved each other for their whole lives. The protagonists are husband Jo Byung-man, 98, and wife Kang Kye-yeol, 89. Wherever they go, the couple wears Hanbok in matching colors and walks with hands tightly clasped.



"My Love, Don't Cross That River" shows the romantic daily lives of an old couple.

In the spring, the couple picks beautiful flowers together and pins them in each other's hair. They play with the water in the streams in the summer and in the fall, enjoy the autumn foliage together, even throwing leaves at each other. In the winter, they make snowmen together.

With the passage of time and age, Jo becomes increasingly weak and separation draws near. "I really wish I could go with you," the wife cries in the movie, bringing tears to viewers' eyes.


"The Hospice" shows the lives of patients and their families at a hospice. It's sad, yet heart-warming.

"The Hospice" tells the story of patients at a hospice who, on average, have 21 days left to live. They are all a special someone to their fathers, mothers, spouses or children. The movie pictures the final moments of the patients in their deathbeds, a time that nobody can avoid, moving the hearts of viewers.

The message that the two movies both pursue is the true meaning of life. It reminds us of things that we have forgotten, but which were never meant to be.

Director Jin Mo-yeong of "My Love, Don't Cross That River" said, "It seems that people of all ages and sexes have sympathy for the love story of the old couple. They've recommended the movie to their parents and family, drawing even bigger audiences."

Director Lee Chang-jae of "The Hospice" said, "Thinking about death and having only 21 days left to live is both sad and scary. However, the movie shows happiness and love as much as it scares you. This movie will give you the time to turn your eyes to things that you have missed out on for some time, such as the preciousness of yourself, your family and your acquaintances."

Both movies bring you to the intersection of life and death, encouraging you to think about "how to live."

Major theaters across the country will be screening both documentaries.

Joseon royal food returns to Seoul

Royal Joseon cuisine. as seen in the hit soap opera "Jewel in the Palace," has now made a comeback in Seoul.

An event to bring back the original form of Korean cuisine and cooking as enjoyed in the royal Joseon palaces, and aimed at developing various new menu items based on the royal traditions, was held at the Samcheonggak, a restaurant in Samcheong-dong in northern Seoul on December 15. For the "Royal Set Menu by Daejanggeum" event, the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine demonstrated eight different dishes, out of a possible 70, which it has been cataloguing to make them more accessible to the general public.

 An event to bring back royal cuisine is held at the Samcheonggak, a traditional restaurant in northern Seoul, on December 15.
An event to bring back royal cuisine is held at the Samcheonggak, a traditional restaurant in northern Seoul, on December 15.

Han Bok-ryeo, president of the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine, gives a royal Joseon cooking demonstration, as chefs and journalists look on.
Han Bok-ryeo, president of the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine, gives a royal Joseon cooking demonstration, as chefs and journalists look on.

The institute introduced a set menu for six people that was based on food seen in the drama. Some 40 chefs and journalists attended the event, watching how the set menu was organized and enjoying the food afterward.

The institute intends to publish a cook book, "Royal Set Menu by Daejanggeum," next year and distributed two sample chapters of the book in both Korean and English at the event. The book introduces the history and values related to royal cuisine and explains how to cook the food in an easy way so that beginner chefs can actually follow the instructions and cook the food at home.

The book contains 70 different recipes for royal dishes accompanied by an explanation of the philosophy behind the food and any stories related to the dish. Pictures from the TV show "Jewel in the Palace" are also found throughout the book.

 Soft persimmon is mixed with bamboo shoots.
Soft persimmon is mixed with bamboo shoots.

 Milk porridge
Milk porridge

 (From top, clockwise) Braised short beef ribs, kimchi, noodles in radish and pear water kimchi broth.
(From top, clockwise) Braised short beef ribs, kimchi, noodles in radish and pear water kimchi broth.

Citron fruit salad (right), a sweet traditional cookie.
Citron fruit salad (right), a sweet traditional cookie.

"Culinary tradition is a medium that introduces a country's identity, history and values," said Kang Min-su, chairman of the Korean Food Foundation. "We will continue with our various projects, including the revival of the original form of Korean food."

By Limb Jae-un Staff Writer
Photos courtesy of Korean Food Foundation

 An exhibit of the set menu prepared by the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine.
An exhibit of the set menu prepared by the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine.

Korea, China to study 'comfort women' issue

Korea and China have embarked on a joint study of the "comfort women" issue.

On December 15, the Northeast Asian History Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Jilin Province Archives to conduct research into the issue of the comfort women, people who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army up until the 1940s. Their aim is to investigate the historical facts.

Hong Myeon-ki (right), a senior official at the Northeast Asian History Foundation, and Yin Huai, director of the Jilin Province Archives, sign an MOU to pursue a joint study into the 'comfort women' issue.
Hong Myeon-ki (right), a senior official at the Northeast Asian History Foundation, and Yin Huai, director of the Jilin Province Archives, sign an MOU to pursue a joint study into the 'comfort women' issue.

The Jilin Province Archives is responsible for storing official documents and has many records related to Japanese aggression. Officials at the foundation visited the archives in June and browsed through some of the documents on file there. In return, in August researchers at the archives came to Korea and jointly studied the documents kept at the National Archives of Korea. This is a follow-up measure after Korea and China agreed in July to cooperate on related issues, including a joint study into comfort women-related materials and the exchange of documents.

The two sides recognized the fact that the victimization of the sexual slaves is a violation of the women's rights and is also a universal human rights issue. They agreed to establish long-term, stable research together into the subject.

Researchers from the Northeast Asian History Foundation and the Jilin Province Archives discuss a joint study into sexual slavery during Japanese colonial times.
Researchers from the Northeast Asian History Foundation and the Jilin Province Archives discuss a joint study into sexual slavery during Japanese colonial times.

The foundation also donated a book of testimony given by surviving victims, while the archives donated copies of 25 materials containing evidence related to their captivity, among other things.

The two institutions also decided to continue their joint study and sharing of documents, and to allow each other to browse and copy related material. They also agreed to invite researchers to conduct further studies and to talk more about holding a joint seminar next year.

By Limb Jae-un Staff Writer
Photos courtesy of the Northeast Asian History Foundation

Courtesy :


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Plenty of Places Still Keep Jeju's Old Traces

Jeju is traditionally said to have three things in abundance -- wind, stones, and women represented by the island's famous female divers. This is still true along the island's eastern coast.

There is a park which features nearly 50 stone statues called dolharubang.

The statues sculpted out of volcanic rock serve as spirit guardians as well as a locational sign.

The park also displays other animal-shaped statues and offers various hands-on activities.

For more information, visit the park's website at

Just a stroll from the park, there is Woljeongri Beach where visitors are mesmerized by the pristine beauty of the blue sky and emerald-green sea.

The beach offers a refreshing breeze and a pleasant place to rest for those longing for a little relaxation. Seaside roads lined with cafes and restaurants evoke feelings of comfort in a peaceful setting.

The island's exotic atmosphere attracts many travelers, and these days the number of female visitors is on the rise, creating a demand for female-only guest houses.

Many of the other co-ed guest houses often have rooms and shower facilities reserved only for women.

A scenic drive along the coastline is one of the best ways to enjoy Jeju Island.

A 4.4 km scenic road in Sagye, Seogwipo which ends at Mt. Sanbang offers breath-taking panoramic ocean and mountain views.

Along the road, there are several great scenic spots for photos.

Among them, there is a stone monument where visitors can take a rest while looking at twin islets in the distance.

Bike paths are also available for those who prefer slower trips.

Mt. Sanbang at the end of the road offers a panoramic view of the seashore and the mountain that rises like a huge folding screen.

The mountain's carbonic spring is said to lower blood pressure and reduce stress on the heart by stimulating capillaries.

Another fascinating mystery of nature there is a spectacular volcanic rock formation called "Jusangjeolli Cliff." A series of pentagonal or hexagonal columnar joints inspires an awe for natural creations.

When the emerald-colored water hits the cliff, the view is so spectacular that it is regarded as one of the great attractions on the resort island.

Jeju's beautiful scenery and pleasant climate are what give the resort island its charm. Visitors are stopped in their tracks by the beauty of Mt. Halla, Korea's highest mountain, and many volcanic formations called "oreum" as well as numerous beaches. The best of the best is probably the emerald-colored sea.

◆ Seongsan Sunrise Peak

Seongsan Sunrise Peak is one of the country's best places to watch the sunrise as the name indicates. It stands 182 m high and offers visitors a view of the ocean, a nearby village and an expansive meadow. On a fine day Mt. Halla comes into view, adding to the scenic beauty.

Visitors can take stairs to the top of the peak to find a 600 m crater. The crater appears as if surrounded by a fortress wall as 99 rocks stand along the edge.

Taking a boat provides a different view of the peak. Excursion ships leave the Seongsan Port and pass by the peak via Udo Island.

◆ Aqua Planet

Near the Seopjikoji promontory visitors can learn about ocean creatures at Aqua Planet. The biggest in Asia, the aquarium not only exhibits tanks full of fish but also provides various education and hand-on programs.

It has a separate section for seals where visitors can see them dance in a huge cylinder tube. An exhibit tunnel shows over 20,000 fish and other creatures, including sharks and stingrays. Visitors may never expect to see penguins here, but Humboldt and African penguins can be found enjoying themselves.

The highlight is the aquarium's main tank, which measures 23 m wide and 8.5 m high. The tank gives visitors the feeling they are seeing the real Jeju ocean as the acrylic window gives the effect of an IMAX screen.

◆ Submarine Trip

Those who want to experience the depths of the beautiful Jeju ocean are recommended to take a submarine tour. Submarine trips are offered at various places on the island but the trip around Seogwipo is the most popular.

Divers stage various performances outside the submarine while fish swim along coral reefs. A must-see spot is a coral colony, which reflects the submarine lights to create stunning reddish color.

More information can be found at

◆ Sea Urchin Soup

Visitors shouldn't leave Jeju without tasting the fresh seafood. There are many local specialties, and one of them is sea urchin soup. Seogwipo is the best place to try the soup, which is traditionally served in times of celebration.

Sea urchins are a good source of vitamins, protein and iron, and are especially good for those suffering from anaemia. They are usually found in the rock beds of the sea and are tastiest when harvested between late May and June.

Sources: The Chosun Ilbo

Chinese Investors Flex Muscle in Korean TV Soaps, Movie


Chinese investors are increasingly putting their money into Korean TV soap and movie productions as they continue to enjoy huge popularity on the mainland and beyond.

That means they can also flex more muscle in showbusiness here.

According to industry sources, Chinese investors get involved in almost all stages of the productions from casting to promotion and naturally take a bigger cut of profits if any productions succeed in China.

A joint film project pursed by CJ E&M, one of the largest entertainment giants in Korea, was halted again recently after 10 years of negotiations with Chinese investors. Industry sources said that it is because producers were unable to cast Kim Soo-hyun or Lee Min-ho, who are the hottest Korean celebrities in China these days.

When the soap "My Love from the Star" was in the process of planning and was projected not to fare well in China, producers decided to cast Park Hae-jin, who is more popular in China than in Korea, because that was likely to boost the appeal of the soap.

The drama turned to be a huge hit in China, but its producers only earned a paltry W670 million (US$1=W1,068) there by selling them to a Chinese video website, which apparently made more than W100 billion in sales.

All this shows that the desperation of Korean producers to keep a foothold in the Chinese market can come at a high price.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kim Jong-un Was in S.Korean Students' Club at School


/Rodong Sinmun /Rodong Sinmun

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was a member of a 15-member Korean students' club during his time at a Swiss boarding school, TV Chosun reported Thursday. Kim attended boarding school in Bern, Switzerland from 1993 until 2000.
According to agencies that monitor North Korea, 12 South Korean and three North Korean students, including Kim, met at Gstaad, a luxury resort in Switzerland, in February of 1998.
The students from boarding schools in Aiglon, Bern, Cesis, Lugano and Rosey formed a social club. The other two North Korean students were Kim's bodyguard Mun Kwang-chol and one Ri Ryong, whose identity remains unclear.
The students named their social club after the resort. Kim used his alias, Pak Chol, did not interact much with the other members and usually sat in the far corner, according to the South Korean students.
According to the South Korean students, Kim spoke English and German but apparently no French. He liked basketball and skiing and enjoyed playing poker and drinking vodka.
They recalled that Kim at times looked for escort girls to sit next to him while he was enjoying a drink.
One South Korean student later told intelligence officials here that Kim inquired about admission to a school in Rosey before he went to Bern but decided not to attend the school because there were too many South Korean students. Another recalled that Kim went to a ski resort but chose not to ski and just enjoyed the scenery and played poker instead.
South Korean intelligence officials interviewed the South Korean students to assess Kim's personality, TV Chosun said.
According to a report based on those interviews, Kim was "aggressive and active," but "has a hard time controlling his impulses." He was also presumed to experience stress and anxiety due to the potential instability facing his father's regime due to the dire economic situation in his country.
He ended up feeling a "growing sense of crisis" from the pressures of the dynastic succession and the North's increasing isolation and economic misery. This played a part in his execution of his uncle and former eminence grise Jang Song-taek, the report said.

Source : The Chosun Ilbo

90% of Foreigners Would Date a Korean, let's find out the reason


Some 90 percent of foreigners would be happy to date a Korean, a straw poll by a dating site suggests.
Korea's largest matchmaking company Duo and social media side Korspot in a survey asked 1,147 people in North America, Southeast Asia and Europe whether they would to date a Korean -- 505 men and 642 women -- and 90 percent said yes.
For women, the biggest reason was because they were interested in Korean culture and language with 27.4 percent. The second biggest reason was because they thought Korean men seem hardworking and have a great sense of responsibility. The third was that Korean men look "cool."
Among men, 23.2 percent said they are interested in dating Korean women because of their looks. The second biggest attraction was that they act cute, followed by Korean culture and language.
But of the 115 people who said they are not willing to date a Korean, most cited cultural differences, followed by Koreans' perceived work obsession and conservatism.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

I am also waiting here in India : Just Like Apple! Smartphone Shoppers Are Waiting in Line for Samsung's Galaxy S5


On Friday Samsung released its Galaxy S5 smartphone, the Apple rival’s top competitor to the iPhone. And just like each new iPhone does, the Galaxy S5 attracted lines of eager shoppers hoping to be among the first to own the new phone.
Well, it attracted lines in some cities, anyway. 
Here’s the scene in London, spotted by the (slightly-biased) folks at Android Central. “It’s no iPhone line, sure” Android Police officer/writer Richard Devine concluded, “but it’s still damn impressive.”

Just Like Apple! Smartphone Shoppers Are Waiting in Line for Samsung's Galaxy S5
Twitter user Ianus Keller shared this panoramic shot of a long line in the Netherlands:
And the Singapore Times snapped this photo of “hundreds” queued up for the Galaxy S5 in — well, Singapore.

Here’s another, more modest line from Singapore, shared on Digital Life Singapore’s Facebook page:


It wasn’t all lines and queues for Samsung, however. Whereas almost all Apple stores tend to attract huge crowds on release day, the Galaxy S series isn’t quite there yet in terms of broad, overwhelming appeal — a fact that some Apple fans gleefully pointed out on Twitter.
Here’s Australia-based Apple developer Ryan Jones, sharing a photo from Melbourne.
Here’s James Covington, in Jersey City, New Jersey:
Even in Seoul, South Korea — where Samsung is based, and where almost everybody owns a Samsung phone — the scene was subdued. Jonathan Cheng, who covers Samsung in Seoul for the Wall Street Journal, described the mood as “really, really quiet” in a tweet:
You may remember that Samsung mocked Apple fanboys who waited in line for the iPhone in a series of ads for last year’s Galaxy S4. Those ads were apparently so successful that now Samsung has attracted line-waiters of its own. 
You don’t have to wait in line to follow Yahoo Tech on Facebook


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Amhaeng-eosa: secret royal inspector in Joseon Kingdom


A scene from “Amhaeng-eosa,” an epic drama series in the 1980s

This is the seventh of a 20-part Jangseogak Archives series in collaboration with the Academy of Korean Studies. ― ED.

By Sim Jae-woo (The Academy of Korean Studies)
Professor Sim Jae-woo of the Academy of Korean Studies
These days, news of a modern version of the “amhaeng-eosa” or secret royal inspector prevails throughout the country.

There was a story about a military unit that introduced an undercover system to unearth internal problems in its barracks. Meanwhile, undercover election observers have reportedly worked against fraudulent and manipulated elections.

This shows that the concept of the Joseon Kingdom-style secret royal inspector is still being applied today.

So, who actually were the amhaeng-eosa in the Joseon Kingdom? They were undercover officials directly appointed by the king and were sent to local provinces to punish corrupt officials and comfort the sufferings of people while traveling incognito. The amhaeng-eosa system was one of the most excellent inspection systems in the world, the likes of which is very unique and hard to find in other countries.

In early China, there were royal inspectors appointed by the emperor looking over local provinces, but they did not perform inspections incognito like the Joseon secret royal inspectors did.

The secret royal inspectors were dispatched to local provinces to monitor government officials and look after the populace on behalf of the king. If the inspectors found cases that were unjustly judged, they presided in a retrial to redress wrongdoing. Consequently, they became welcome guests to the public. Amheeng-eosa were the secret officials dispatched by the king in the era but their achievements are worth reviewing from this point of time.

Generally, young and incorruptible officials were recommended for amhaeng-eosa by retainers and were appointed directly by the king, though their positions were not as high a rank as people may think. For their secret missions, they received a letter of appointment or “bongseo” from the king, and a description of their destination for surveillance was written in the letter. The appointed officials were basically required to leave as soon as they received their missions.

The secret royal inspectors kept "horse requisition tablets" called “mapae” and “rulers” called “yuchuk” with them throughout their missions. Mapae was a symbol of the secret royal inspector. There were horses carved on the mapae, meaning the inspectors could commandeer as many horses as were carved on the mapae. The mapae was used not only to ask for horses but also to prove identity. Whenever the inspector made an appearance, a team of royal inspectors reportedly exclaimed: “Now entering, the secret royal inspector,” presenting the mapae in hand. The mapae was used as a stamp of the inspector.

Yuchuk is a brazen ruler and usually two yuchuk were given to the secret royal inspector. One was to measure the implements of punishment for criminals, to restrain the overuse of punishment by checking whether each province implemented the right punishment according to the code of law. The other one was to investigate whether the measurement system for taxation was correctly followed.

However, the mission of a secret royal inspector was not an easy job. Although they were the rigorous royal inspectors who even terrified tyrannical officials, they faced many challenges. They traveled wearing ragged robes, broken hats with little money. Sometimes they had to sleep in an old inn, were exposed to danger or even got mysteriously killed while performing surveillance and concealing their identity.

After the completion of their mission, inspectors presented reports to the king called “seogye” and “byuldan.” In seogye, rights and wrongs committed by former and active local officials were written in detail, and the byuldan included indictments of the province that they inspected, the mood of the populace and virtuous villagers for awards. The Joseon Kingdom took actions based on the reports of the inspectors, for instance, taking disciplinary measures against corrupt local officials and conferring awards on virtuous women and exemplary sons.

Of the secret royal inspectors of the Joseon era, Park Mun-su (during KingYeongjo's reign) is considered to be the most famous figure. He had a lot of administrative experience and was thoughtful and caring about the lives of ordinary people, so he insisted that the government help people starving from famine and make a national effort to encourage old maids to marry. It is obvious that such a person must have left a strong impression on the people when serving as righteous a judge and secret royal inspector.
Although the extraordinary works of the inspectors have been known as Park's achievements in many legends and folk tales so far, it is important to remember that there were numerous scholars and officials who served as inspectors besides Park.
Representative figures who served in the Middle Joseon period include Yi Hwang, who is the most prominent Korean Confucian scholar; Park Se-dang, who had advanced views and ended being accused as a samunanjeok (one who causes social agitation by interpreting the dogma of Confucianism samunanjeok from a different standpoint); Nam Gu-man, who was active during Sukjong's reign; Jeong Yak-yong and Kim Jeong-hui who were the greatest scholars of the 19th century; and Uh Yun-jung and Lee Gun-chang during Gojong's reign.

There were a large number of inspectors who tried to share the suffering, joy and sorrow of the people by travelling in rags instead of donning official uniforms.
As mentioned above, various secret royal inspectors were in action during the 500 years of the Joseon Kingdom.

The system was very effective in reducing corruption in provinces and tightening discipline among government officials. Therefore, we need to inherit and develop the secret inspector system and its sprit as an exemplary case for bureaucratic operations.

Currently, the Jangseogak Archives contain many documents about government officials who served as royal inspectors, and even literature related to the 21st King, Yeongjo, who made a special effort to solve the civil complaints of people by sending secret royal inspectors frequently.

In this ideal season for an outing, why don’t you come visit the Jangseogak Archives and see the vivid tracks of the Joseon secret royal inspectors?
Source: The Korea Times

Rice Still the Main Source of Energy for Koreans


Rice is still the main energy source for most of the Asian Countries, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month, though the proportion is dwindling steadily.

Rice accounted for 31.6 percent of energy sources in 2012, down from 42 percent in 1998. Daily calories obtained from rice also decreased 25 percent from 834.2 kcal to 629.4 kcal. People now consume less than two bowls of rice a day.

The main reason is a growing variety of available food and the resulting dietary changes. But we must stick with rice as it gives energy and moreover staple for us.

Who deosn't love Fashion : Kim Jong-un Brings Sunglasses Back into Fashion


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during his visit to the Samji Monument at Mt. Baekdu on Tuesday. /Rodong Sinmun North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during his visit to the Samji Monument at Mt. Baekdu on Tuesday. /Rodong Sinmun

                         North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has made a rare departure from copying the image of his grandfather, nation founder Kim Il-sung, by sporting a pair of sunglasses.
The elder Kim disdained the shades beloved of many of his fellow despots in the latter part of the last century. But his grandson donned a fine pair during a visit to the Samji Monument at Mt. Baekdu on Tuesday.
His father Kim Jong-il had a whole arsenal of tinted spectacles, though they were mostly of the elderly-widower type. Kim Jong-un's are snazzier.
Observers believe that Kim junior, marking his third year in power, is now trying to shape his own distinctive image after being made over into a clone of his grandfather in a bid to lend legitimacy to the young leader.
A source cited rumors that Kim's younger sister Yeo-jong has been coordinating his wardrobe since the ouster and execution of his mentor Jang Song-taek.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

Samsung Posts Solid Q1 Earnings


Samsung Electronics announced preliminary first-quarter earnings on Tuesday with sales totaling W53 trillion and operating profit W8.4 trillion (US$1=W1,052).

Sales were up slightly compared to the same period of 2013 (W52.9 trillion), while operating profit shrank 4.3 percent. But operating profit was up 1.1 percent compared to the previous quarter’s poor results.

The earnings largely met forecasts by analysts.

By division, the mobile business achieved an operating profit of W6 trillion, similar to a year ago. Smartphone sales totaled around 90 million units, setting a new record. Semiconductor and TV sales also boomed.

The latest results confirm that the global smartphone market is approaching saturation and the explosive growth seen two to three years ago cannot be expected any longer.

But analysts said that although Samsung's explosive growth phase is over, the electronics giant will continue to post quarterly operating profits in the W8 trillion range. This suggests that Samsung and rival Apple have now achieved a stable market share where they account for a combined 97 percent of operating profit in the global smartphone market.

But analysts point out that Samsung remains too dependent on smartphones and could face a crisis if it fails to roll out innovative products.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seoul Braces for Disruptions for Filming of "Avengers" Sequel

Commuters and Seoul residents may experience some inconvenience traveling around the city from March 30 to April 14 due to the filming of the sequel to the Hollywood blockbuster "The Avengers."

Traffic will be blocked in several downtown areas such as Mapo Bridge and Gangnam areas to facilitate the filming of car chase and battle scenes, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Tuesday.
It promised to try and minimize the inconvenience to citizens in cooperation with local police.

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" follows the exploits of a team of superheroes as they do battle with a villainous robot. Major battle and chase scenes set in Seoul will take up about 15 to 20 minutes of the two-hour film. About W10 billion (US$1=W1,071) will be spent on shooting in Seoul.
Last month, Marvel Studios, which is producing the movie, said that "key elements" of the superhero film will be filmed in Seoul, and that other locations include Aosta Valley in Italy, Johannesburg in South Africa, London and parts of the U.S.
Seoul will be portrayed as a city featuring cutting-edge technology and ultramodern buildings. The headquarters of a Korean IT institute on a small islet on the Han River will also play a central role as villainous robot Ultron tries to acquire state-of-the-art technology. The superheroes are tasked with protecting the institute and keeping the world safe.

Actress Kim Soo-hyun attends an event on Tuesday to sign a memorandum of understanding between the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Marvel Studios for the filming of the Hollywood blockbuster "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Kim was cast in the film to be released sometime in 2015.
Korean actress Kim Soo-hyun, who drew much attention when she was cast in the movie, will play a scientist at the institute.
The core scene set in Seoul involves Ultron laying parts of the city to waste. It will be shot partly at densely populated areas near Gangnam Subway Station.
"We cannot disclose detailed shooting locations for security reasons, but as some chaotic blast scenes are scheduled to be filmed, safety is our primary concern," said a city official. "We have arranged fire trucks around the areas. A scene in which one of the characters, Iron Man, flies over the Digital Media City in Sangam-dong and Han River Park will show the harmony of nature and the modern beauty of Seoul."
The city government and police are trying to figure out ways to adjust bus routes and create detours to best control traffic during filming.
"We expect that filming the sequel of 'The Avengers' in Seoul will help promote the city,"  said Kang Ki-hong, vice president of the Korea Tourism Organization.
The comic-based film proved a huge hit when the first installment was released in 2012, drawing over 7 million moviegoers here.


Family Reunions Could Be Held Regularly

Family Reunions

Cross-border family reunions could become a regular occurrence if the current event proceeds smoothly, experts speculate.

This would give more families separated by the Korean War the chance to meet relatives from the other side of the border. Experts are encouraged because for the first time North Korean officials refrained from nitpicking over the arrangements.
North Koreas pre-eminent mathematician Cho Ju-kyong meets his mother during family reunions in Seoul in 2000.
North Korea's pre-eminent mathematician Cho Ju-kyong meets his mother during family reunions in Seoul in 2000.

Seoul is likely to resume limited humanitarian aid of rice and fertilizer if Pyongyang is willing to expand the family reunions. Chung Sung-jang at the Sejong Institute said, "The government needs to consider expanding aid to fertilizer and farming equipment if the reunions are broadened or separated families can exchange letters regularly."

Seoul can also expect more cooperation if it agrees to resume package tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort, he added.

The package tours were a significant cash cow for the North before a South Korean tourist was shot dead there in 2008 and they were suspended. Whether the North will apologize for the shooting and pledge to prevent a recurrence remains to be seen.

Pyongyang is keen for Seoul to end a ban on cross-border trade and new investment in the North imposed in 2010 after the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

"The North could revive the issue of South Korean prisoners of war who are still held there or developing special economic zones to lure investment from the South," said Cho Han-bum of the Korea Institute for National Unification.

But unless palpable economic benefits for the North materialize soon, some pundits worry, the mood could swing back to icy again.


Camellia World: Jangsa Island Proves Perfect Location for Out-of-This-World Date


It was a contemptuous stare from my girlfriend of four years that ultimately prompted me to book a trip to Jangsa Island in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province where the SBS TV drama "My Love from the Star" was shot.

The look in question came after she watched an episode from the hugely popular TV show. I could see she was comparing me to actor Kim Soo-hyun.

Thanks to Kim's character, and especially his supernatural powers, many women are now demanding more from their boyfriends. They used to want to have their own Prince Charming, then the trend was for someone more masculine and macho, but now women want their partners to have the power of a superhero! What more can I do? I can't turn into an alien like Kim's character.

Kim took Jeon Ji-hyun, the lead actress in "My Love from the Star," to Jangsa Island using his extraterrestrial powers. It was a beautiful scene in a stunning natural setting, in which Jeon confesses her love to Kim.

When I arrived at the ferry terminal in Tongyeong it was early morning but the lines were already long. People were taking photos in front of posters of the popular drama, enjoying their escape from reality as they pretended to be either Kim or Jeon. There were a large number of tourists from China, reflecting the explosive popularity of the soap there.

A 40-minute ferry ride south of the port takes you to the island, which looks like a long snake. Tourists have two hours to enjoy the island until the ferry leaves to take them back. As they must depart from a different dock, tours of the island are designed to lead from one dock to the other for maximum convenience.

The famous camellia tunnel path comes into view within five minutes of setting foot on land. This 60-m road boasts over 100,000 naturally grown camellia trees, with the oldest dating back 250 years. It was the first place that Kim and Jeon visited on the island. Now, it is no longer peaceful but bustling with tourists.

However, its untarnished beauty remains intact. Red camellia flowers grow in profusion against a low stone wall along the path to captivate visitors’ attention. Along the way to the departure dock, there are over 1,000 types of plants growing in natural harmony. Although the island is currently uninhabited, the buildings that housed its former tenants until they left some 30 years ago remain in place.

Jangsa Island stands about 100 m above sea level, making it a great spot to take pictures with the sea as a striking backdrop. Rainbow Bridge, which lies at the heart of the island, is perhaps the best place to take photos as you can combine the blue sea and green ridge of the island.

Although Jangsa Island belongs to the administrative boundary of Tongyeong, it is closer to Geoje. You can take a ferry from either place to get there. For detailed schedules, contact Tongyeong ferry service (055-645-2307), Jangsa Island ferry service (055-637-8282), Nambu ferry service (055-632-4500) or Daepo cruise service (055-633-9401). The fare includes entry fee to the island, and ranges from W25,000 to W29,500 (US$1=W1,069) -- not too steep a price to emulate Kim and keep your sweetheart happy.

Credit goes to
 Hwang In-sik, a reporter at Digital Chosun