Thursday, June 30, 2011

27 years of North Korean labor camp life... audio interview

Kim Hye Sook with her paintings
Kim Hye Sook was taken to a North Korean slave camp with her family when she was 13. After 27 years of slave camp life - she was married in the camp, had kids... but they all died - she escaped to South Korea in 2008.

She had no idea what was happening to her 30 years ago as a 13 year old girl. Her uncle told her that her grandfather had escaped to South Korea, and that was a reason good enough to send her whole family to a slave camp... and die.

According to her testimony, all prisoners were forced to do very hard labor all day, with only 50g of food a day. Violence was commonplace, and they were under such harsh supervision that even suicide was a difficult task.

Listen to the interview by BBC here... these testimonies are just endless.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy video : Army dad surprises his kids

Too busy these days to put a post on, but here's a heart-warming video about a military dad coming back home after fighting overseas as a giant box. Kids thought it was a present... well, it is a present - a good one.

Monday, June 27, 2011

KARA's Hara & B2ST's Junhyung in a relationship

Junhyung(left), Hara(right)
Get ready to be devastated, all KARA fans and B2ST fans. Hara and Junhyung have been in a relationship for a month. From Allkpop,

On June 28th, Cube Entertainment announced, “They had a senior/ junior relationship until they began dating. They’ve been dating for about a month now. When Hara was going through some difficult times, Junhyung consoled her. Because of their busy schedules, they’ve only been able to go out to eat and other dating activities three times so far.”
DSP Media also announced, “They do have good feelings towards one another, but they’re still getting to know each other.  It’s only been a month so far.  Please watch over them for a bit more.”
An associate of the two revealed, “The KARA and B2ST members are all close to one another because they’ve been promoting around the same time.  They depend on and look to each other for consolation.  Ahead of their Japanese comeback, their relationship has gotten a lot deeper through support meetings.”

North Korean refugees in America commit murder-suicide

This is an extremely saddening story. On June 20th, World Refugee Day, a North Korean family, that escaped from North Korea, came to the US, and settled in Rochester, NY, a year and half ago... was found dead. Police is suspecting a murder-suicide case.

The Seo Family, had little money, little education, no relatives, no one to truly relate to. All they had was language problems, shocking culture differences, and sorrow for whatever and whoever left behind in North Korea when they escaped with their lives at stake.

What a tragic end... I really hope the best for the children left behind, and hopefully this will lead to a better understanding of North Korean refugees living abroad.

Read the article here, by Angela Hong of 13WHAM at Rochester. It's a well-written article.

North Korean educational cartoon for children

Arm the No. 2 Pencils!
If this isn't ridiculous beyond belief, I don't know what can be.

This video is named "Pencil Artillery Shells", and it is made for elementary school students in North Korea. Here's the brief summary of the story :

the Protagonist comes back home after being scolded by a friend that he should do his homework first. Today's homework is learning how to use a protractor. However, the protagonist didn't pay attention during class, so instead he doodles things on his notebook (an American soldier's helmet) and falls asleep.

In his dream, an American fleet invades North Korea. The protagonist and his friends try to defend by firing artillery shells made of pencils, but the protagonist doesn't know how to use protractor to aim. Overwhelmed by the evil American fleet, he wakes up from the dream. He says something along the line of "I must study hard and pay attention in class so I can be a great soldier to fight against the Americans". The rest is math lessons.

In the credit, it appears that "Children's Film Creation Group", which received Kim Il-Sung Medal (one of the highest honors available), made this video. Propaganda at its peak, really. Check out the video.

Shocking video footage of malnourished North Korean children and soldiers

Found this on Perhaps the first video footage (in English, too) of interviews with homeless children (Kotjebi) and soldiers of North Korea, where the entire society is being cracked from inside with famine and poverty. The journalist, who filmed and gathered information over months, escaped to China with this footage. More information can be found on the ABC article here.

Watch the video here... you can also download it too. Starving plight of N Koreans revealed

Classic K-Pop : Kim Gun-mo's Beautiful Goodbye(아름다운 이별)

From now on, I will post some K-Pop oldies (well, not all that old - mostly from the 90s) now and then. Some of these folks are still in the field, some are not. But I believe that these artists contributed very important effort for K-Pop to be what it is today. You know what - honestly, these are just my favorite songs.

김건모 (Kim Gun-mo)
Kim Gun-mo is now 43 years old and began his career in 1992 with his first album, "Sleepless night, it rains" <Kim Gun Mo>. Since then, he has put out 12 albums, winning 22 prestigious awards. His 3rd album, <A wrong encounter> sold 2.8 million copies, setting the most number of albums sold record in Korea. He is known for his techno-isque, ballad style of music and his very unique voice.

In other words, you really can't talk about Korean music without looking into this guy. Below is one of my favorite songs by Kim Gun-mo.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Korean War led to Obama's presidency?

While surfing the web this morning, I stumbled upon this article. It may be a little bit of stretch, but interesting and informing article nevertheless. Below is the translation.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Big Bang's Daesung found responsible for the motorcyclist's death

Big Bang's Daesung
Hey, a quick update before I get off work. Big Bang's Daesung was found responsible for the death of the motorcyclist he ran over after the motorcyclist was already involved in a car crash. For the past month or so, the problem has been whether the motorcyclist was already dead after the initial accident, or Daesung ran over the still-alive-but-injured motorcyclist. Today, police stated that the cause of death was due to the second accident.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

K-Pop : 2PM - Hands Up (subtitles)

2PM, a K-Pop Hiphop group, has released the video for their new song, Hands Up. It's currently topping the music charts in Korea. It's HD so put that full screen up!

Nevada Political ad scares voters with China

This has been going around for a while. I saw it first on AngryAsianMan( and then on AsktheChineseGuy( I thought it was worth sharing. This is the political ad for Nevada congressional candidate, Mark Amodei.

I'm just going to quote AngryAsianMan on this one :
This campaign ad is racist bullshit. Amodei has figured out the best way to get voters on his side is to scare the crap out of them, and his campaign appears to have taken a few cues from that other freaky future China commercial, only with crappier special effects. (I guess campaign donations alone don't get you very good CGI.) Unfortunately, I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more of these ads -- from both sides -- as China becomes politicians' favorite boogeyman. 
Then, NMAtv does it again to lighten things up. (how the hell do they make these videos so damn fast?)

Ban Ki-Moon to be UN Chief for second term

Kudos to you, Ban Ki-Moon. He was reelected unanimously by the UN General Assembly to be UN's secretary-general for second term. Here's the AP news article.
The U.N. General Assembly voted unanimously Tuesday to give Ban Ki-moon a second term as secretary-general, praising him for strengthening the role and visibility of the world body in difficult circumstances.
The 192-member assembly gave the 67-year-old South Korean diplomat another five years at the helm of the U.N. by voice vote. They applauded loudly as assembly president Joseph Deiss banged his gavel and proclaimed Ban's appointment to a new term starting Jan. 1.
Ban said earlier this month that he wanted a second term. He faced no opposition and was recommended by the Security Council for the new term, also by voice vote, last Friday.
He received the endorsement of all regional groups at the U.N., and their chairs joined in sponsoring the General Assembly resolution that was adopted.
 Full article here : Ban Ki-moon Elected For Second Term As U.N. Chief

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tiffany from SNSD(Girl's Generation)'s past photo shocks Korea?

I think you can figure out which picture the old one is.
I am not quite sure what to say about this. Recently, a major TV network MBC released this old photo of Tiffany from Girl's Generation. Tiffany (real name : Stephanie Hwang), is an America-born Korean. To me, she seems like a pretty typical Korean American, tanned and all. Then...

BAM, transformation. Must have blown some banks with the skin cosmetic products and plastic surgeries.

Okay, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe if you exercise and eat right you can totally change like that. Right, ladies?

Source : 티파니 과거사진에 네티즌 "충격 vs 과거엔 누구나.."

Korean Street Food - Pojangmacha (포장마차)

A typical street food scene in Korea
Pojangmacha [포장마차] (literally meaning covered wagon) is the central hub of street food culture of Korea. Go out to any busy city street at night (in Korea, of course). In every corner of the street, you'll see a pojangmacha. Says wikipedia :

Pojangmacha refers to small tented restaurants on wheels, or street stalls in South Korea which sell a variety of popular street foods such as hotteoktteokbokkisundaeodeng, and anju (dishes accompanied with drinking). It literally means "covered wagon" in Korean.[1] They are largely divided into two kinds-- one for snacks during the daytime and the other for drinking during the nighttime. The latter most commonly serves soju and anju more appropriate when consuming this alcoholic beverage.
Pojangmacha is a popular place to have a snack or drink late into the night. The food sold in these places can usually be eaten quickly while standing or taken away. Some offer cheap chairs or benches for customers to sit, especially the ones serving late night customers who come to drink soju.

Kim Young-Oak, a Korean American, America's war hero

Kim Young-Oak
Found this out pretty late. But MSN selected very famous war heroes of US history for memorial day a few weeks ago. One of them, surprisingly and amazingly, was Kim Young-Oak, a second generation Korean American during Korean War.

He pretended that he didn't speak Korean so he could join infantry instead of becoming a translator. Over time, he became the first Asian American to command a combat battalion. Hell yeah!

Source :

Sunday, June 19, 2011

North Korea and Cannibalism... and more

North Korean Homeless Children (Kotjebi)
Caleb Mission Church, a South Korean church that specializes in rescuing North Korean defectors, supposedly found and released an official North Korean government's report, documenting cases of cannibalism, black markets, civilian riots, counterfeit currency, drug trading, and so on.

The 791-page long report, named "reference book for law-fighting workers" was released on June of 2009, by then-called Department of People's Security(인민보안성). The church released this report to certain news media on the 19th.

This reference book detailed on 721 criminal cases and how to punish the criminals. Most of the crimes were food-related crimes. The book starts out with a introduction that says "This kind of book is a first one in its kind and is based on actual cases that can happen in people's security activities." One of the cases in the book, is the first documented case of cannibalism in North Korea. Read more below.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

K-Pop Wave (Hallyu) Mystery

Girl's Generation, also known as SNSD (소녀시대)
Hallyu (한류) means 'Korean Wave'. The term was coined by Chinese journalist in 1999, noting the rapidly growing popularity of South Korean culture and entertainment in China. So it's like the British Invasion back in the day, except it's Korean. (source)

This Hallyu trend, especially in the forms of K-Pop and Korean soap operas, has been hugely successful in Asia, especially in China and Japan. Hallyu is responsible for over 1 billion dollars in in annual revenue for cultural exports of South Korea. Now, why do I bring this up?

Recently, especially in the past couple weeks, Korean media and newspapers have been RAGING about how Korean Wave is totally sweeping through Europe and the USA. Read more below.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Awesome Soju commercials - I'm a Singer style

Jyung-Yup(Left), YDH(Middle left), Kim Gun-mo(Right)
A few members of I am a Singer (나는가수다), a musical competition TV program for Korea's top musicians that is becoming more and more immensely popular right now, are putting together a series of Soju commercials for Cham-e-seul. They're actually ridiculously well-done and high-quality.

Basically they're all same songs, just sang and played with their own style. Below is the lyric.

Let's have one more Cham-e-seul~ I'll take you home~ Tell them you're gonna be late~
Do I look like a wolf to you for wanting one more shot of Cham-e-seul?
This night of Cham-e-seul I had with you shall be eternal
I am just too embarrassed to talk soberly
Let's down a shot of Cham-e-seul and we'll go out
Hey, I haven't said this to a girl before
Cham-e-seul really is a heart-opener
Let's have one more shot of Cham-e-seul, it's fresh and clear, like your eyes
One shot of Cham-e-seul, two shots of Cham-e-seul, your heart will open
I'll take you home, don't worry, tell them you're gonna be late
Look at my glass, it's empty! Fill her up with Cham-e-seul~

I know, it's a rather cheesy lyric, but just watch the videos below and you'll enjoy them.

K-Pop Takeover by MYX TV

Hey, a pretty neat news coming from the Los Angeles area. MYX TV, 'Asian American Music Entertainment & Lifestyle Network', is hosting a first ever K-Pop dance convention in the U.S., with dance workshops and a showcase with the choreographers of Movement Lifestyle and Poreotics (America's Best Dance Crew season 5 winners).

It's happening this weekend, June 18th~19th, in Beverly Garland's Holiday Inn, North Hollywood. All day. You can check out the schedule here.

Workshop tickets cost $30 to $149, with various goodies and entry to the showcase. More info on tickets here.

This is a very neat event, with K-Pop becoming more and more globalized in Asia, Americas, and Europe these days. If you're interested in K-Pop and are in the area, this is definitely an event to check out.

For more information, check out MYX TV's website here. Video attached below.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Seoul to install over 10,000 free Wi-fi hotspots

City of Seoul has reportedly made contracts with three major telecommunication companies so that by 2015, people will be able to use free wireless internet anywhere in Seoul. (or so they say)

Each wireless zone will have approximately 50 meter radius, and they plan to install 10,430 spots in Seoul by 2015. The area covered by this new service will cover 13.5% of entire Seoul.

These spots will be concentrated in parks, major intersections, and crosswalks. Places that are popular with foreigners, such as Myong-dong, Hong-dae, and Itaewon will be covered extensively.

Public buildings, subways (line 1 through 9), buses, taxi will have free wireless internet service as well.

Interesting, interesting. Surely internet-related services develop uber fast in Korea.

Source : 서울 1만곳에 무료 무선인터넷망 깔린다 (yonhap)

Monday, June 13, 2011

GI Joe 2 film to feature Lee Byung-Hyun once more

Pictured : Lee Byung-Hyun
The film series G.I.Joe is reportedly going to feature Lee Byung-Hyun once again in its sequel. I guess the original film didn't succeed as well as they expected, so they're replacing most of the original film's crew. Lee Byung-Hyun, as Storm Shadow, will stay.

Not a fan of the GI Joe film, and I only got to see it a few nights ago on TV. But his English in the film was surprisingly good (acting too). I may not be a fan of the series, but I'm always down for Asian Americans and Korean folks featuring on popular films. Something to look forward to.

Sources : (Korean)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

North Korea bans divorce for the sake of children?

Original news article : 北 “자녀 위해 이혼 금지” 아동법 채택 (donga)

"Divorce leads to children's unhappiness. Therefore parents must not divorce for the sake of children's development and growth." (DPRK Child's law code 54)

On Sunday, South Korea's Ministry of Unification release some contents of the laws regarding Children's Rights and Women's Rights developed by the government of North Korea.

NK's Children's Law claims to guarantee children's rights and benefits in education, society, and all other fields. It also claims right to life and right to development. It also comprehensively covered human rights, ban on corporal punishment, right to inheritance, ban on human trafficking, child labor, and capital punishment. However, NK's government defined 'a child' as someone up to '16 year old'. (UN considers everyone under 18 as minor)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

South Korea is the laziest nation in Asia? Well..

A while ago, CNNgo had this article published on their website. I don't personally believe in most of things CNNgo posts - often times they are crappy articles. I have seen many articles on CNNgo that were probably written by 'authentic' Koreans, but the articles themselves failed to represent the Korean culture/nation as a whole, and only showed author's personal thoughts. But enough of that...

Third line down the article, it says this :
South Korea has been ranked the 15th laziest country in the world (and the first in Asia) by The Daily Beast. And there's every reason to assume they'll get even lazier.

So I looked up the study by The Daily Beast. How they made this list was pretty simple. They took the 24 countries from the OECD, only the ones with the following scores available : Calories Per Day, Television Viewing, Aversion to Playing Sports, Internet Usage.

Basically they looked at which countries had its citizens sitting on their asses being couch potatoes, watching tv, not playing football, and playing World of Warcraft while doing all that. So... amusing to read, but no credibility or scholastic value to it. (Not every country was studied, and they only looked at very limited factors only if they were available). Below is what their list says about South Korea.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

2011 K-pop Cover Dance Festival Auditions begin

The committee of 'Visit Korea Year" is hosting 2011 K-Pop Cover Dance Festival. Following the international boom K-pop has been receiving, anybody regardless of nationality or location can apply, and those who make it past the preliminary gets a free trip to Korea.

What is Cover Dance? Think cover songs, except as dances. Cover Dance festival basically measures your team to emulate popular K-pop dances. If you like K-pop enough, then maybe you want to actually dance the same dance as the Korean Pop star with the same experience.

So how do I apply?

Colbert Report : Kim Bojang-ils

Remember this blog post, North Korea claims they're the 2nd happiest nation in the world? Stephen Colbert took on that subject, and North Korea trying to smuggle luxurious tap-shoes.

Website : I'm not racist but... is a new website that is going on my favorites. This guy searches facebook posts for "not racist but" things people post on their facebook to show how not racist they are. See for yourselves.

It's funny, because we people of color hear these things too often still.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Documentary : Inside Undercover in North Korea

Inside Undercover in North Korea is a documentary by National Geographic, aired in 2007. Some of you I'm sure have had the chance to watch this documentary, but if you haven't, it's worth a watch.

It gives you a pretty good glimpse of history, politics, military, propaganda, and daily lives of North Koreans. Below is a screenshot I saw from Freedom North Korea Radio that gave me chills down my spine. I will list the links to the documentary below as well.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sung-Bong Choi, "The Korean Susan Boyle"

This happened as I was agonizing over my sickness over the weekend. This is clip from Korea's Got Talent, basically Korean version of American Idol. This dorky looking young man, Sung-Bong Choi, grew up in an orphanage, ran away when he was THREE after getting beaten up there. He's been living on the street, selling gums and things. His sad, sad life story goes on and on. Just when you think this is enough to make you cry, he sings. Opera. Video has English subtitle.

Now you'll understand why words are going around town that Sung-Bong Choi is "the Korean Susan Boyle".

And best of my luck to Sung-Bong Choi, after what he's been through his whole life. I really hope that this opportunity will really turn his life around for the better.


Hooray Nataliedee

Hi all, I've been really sick over the weekend. I was hospitalized for a couple days with high fever and other lovely stuff... I still have fever and am not very coherent yet. I see that somebody posted some interesting comments that I would like to make a point to, but I better do that later when I'm not like... trippin' balls over tylenol and all these mysterious drugs. Cheers.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pictures of North Korea... the reality

First thing I thought when I saw this was :
Midgar's Lower Town from FF7
These are a selection of pictures from Joo Sung Ha's blog, a journalist from Donga newspaper. I've picked a set of pictures that North Korea government wants you to see, and a set of pictures that show what North Korea really is like. Decide for yourselves.

Source: 주성하의 북한 Real Talk

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Korean Drinking : Soju bomb / Korean 'bomb' drinks

One of the many popular ways of drinking alcohol in Korea is obviously, dropping a drink in another. Think Irish car bomb, Jager bomb, Sake bomb... etc etc.

It is called Bomb(폭탄) Drink(주) = Bomb drink, 폭탄주. There are generally two ways to do this.

1. Soju + Beer
2. Western liquor (usually whiskey) + Beer

       More after the jump.

Tea World Festival 2011 at COEX, Seoul

For all expats and Koreans that love tea, there's a perfect event to go to in Gangnam, Seoul.

Tea World Festival (국제차문화대전) is the biggest tea festival in Korea since 2003 when it began.

This event goes from June 2nd to June 5th. They open at 10am, and close at 6pm. Location is at Coex Hall B, so if you're taking subway, just get off at Samsung station Line 2. Entrance fee is only 3,000 won! Check it out.

Tea World Festival Website: Korean and English.