Monday, December 31, 2012

Photo of the Day

Korean Wave Hits Global Catwalks

The Korean Wave seems to have lapped over onto the global catwalk, where models from the peninsula, in the words of one magazine, are making strides "armed with a killer walk, crescent-shaped eyes, and stunning bone structure."

Korean models have been cast in the shows of luxury brands such as Alexander Wang, Dolce & Gabbana, Marni, Miu Miu, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, and some of them have even become the "face" of some well-known brands.

From left, Yoo Jae, Park Ji-hye and Park Sung-jin From left, Yoo Jae, Park Ji-hye and Park Sung-jin 
Park Ji-hye (24) made her debut abroad in June, and has taken part in over 30 shows in the world's four major fashion weeks in London, Milan, New York and Paris., which ranks models around the world, listed her as one of the "Top 10 Newcomers."

Kim Sung-hee (26) had her first fashion show abroad this spring and made a lasting impression. She became the first Asian to advertise Miu Miu. She also modeled for Italy's Benetton and French cosmetics chain Sephora.

Lee Kyung-eon at model agency ESteem, said, "Kim's unique Asian look and adroitness and her versatile expressions on stage make her a magnet to the eye."

Among male models, Kim Won became the first Asian male model to be featured in the 2013 Spring/Summer Prada fashion show in Milan in June. The 25-year-old also did shows for Costume National, Etro and Perry Ellis,.

Park Sung-jin (22) took part in shows for Marc by Marc Jacobs and Tommy Hilfiger. Yoo Jae (23), who was the first Asian male model on Calvin Klein's fashion show in February last year, had a prolific year with shows for Bottega Veneta, Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabbana.

Kim Won (left) and Kim Sung-hee 
Kim Won (left) and Kim Sung-hee

What is it about Korean fashion models that has captured the industry? Dongduk Women's University professor and sometime model Kim Dong-soo said, "When I talk with foreign model agencies, the feedback I get is that Korean models are more active and lively than Japanese and more sophisticated than Chinese. Another strength lies in walking. Korean models go abroad after very rigorous training in Korea, so it makes them stand out."

Aile Model Company CEO Jeong Jin-hee said, "Korean models know how to make up for their lack of linguistic proficiency with their expressiveness. Their greatest strength is that they know how to express the feel of the clothes with their body." Choi Joo-soo of Choi Entertainment said, "These models who lead the Korean Wave in the modeling industry, are not popular just because they are Asian but because of their unique character and charm."

Top International News of 2012

The year 2012 was more than usually full of ups and downs around the world. Major world powers elected new leaders, and while in some countries the new faces were no different from the old, in others the results signaled important shifts. The global economic crisis showed no signs of abating and cast especially dark clouds over southern Europe. Civil wars and conflicts plagued the Middle East, killing tens of thousands of innocent people.

◆ Obama Re-Elected

Pitching a slogan of "forward," U.S. President Barack Obama was re-elected for another four-year term. Obama beat off a challenge from Republican Mitt Romney, who sought to judge the administration for failing to deliver on its economic pledges. He won the support of a wide variety of voters but faces a Senate dominated by Republicans.

U.S. President Barack Obama 
U.S. President Barack Obama

◆ China, Japan Have New Leaders

Chinese Communist party Chief Xi Jinping

The Chinese Communist Party elected Xi Jinping as the country’s new leader in mid-November, the first change in leadership in a decade there. The fourth generation of China's leaders headed by Hu Jintao will step down in March of 2013. China is expected to emerge as one of two global superpowers along with the U.S. over the next 10 years. But the new Chinese leader faces formidable tasks, including the huge gap between rich and poor and social unrest in China.

 Conservative Shinzo Abe, the chairman of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party and proponent of strengthening Japanese military power, won by a landslide in general elections to return as prime minister. Abe briefly served five years ago but has since drifted significantly to the right. Pundits say Japanese voters shifted with him because they face a drawn-out recession and territorial disputes with neighboring countries.

Abe's election win is expected to dampen relations with Korea, since he is trying to justify the country's World War II atrocities. He has proposed scrapping past official apologies including one by former Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993 which acknowledged the existence of sex slaves from Asia and to a certain extent the role the Imperial Army played in their enslavement.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

◆ Territorial Disputes Flare Up in Asia

After Japan announced in September it had bought the disputed islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China from a private owner, bilateral relations chilled and even veered close to armed confrontation.

Marking the 75th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre on Dec. 13, when Japanese soldiers entered China and embarked on a vicious campaign that included mass rapes and killings of thousands of Chinese, a Chinese plane entered disputed airspace near the contested islands. And when China bolstered its territorial claims in the South China Sea, the Philippines turned to the U.S. and Japan for support, while Vietnam turned to India.

Japanese maritime patrol ships prevent a Hong Kong boat from approaching the disputed islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China in August.

 ◆ Fiscal Crisis in Southern Europe Worsens

The fiscal crisis in southern Europe that began in 2009 continued to sap global economic growth this year. In June, Spain applied for 100 billion euros in emergency aid for its troubled banks, and the European Central Bank sought to put out the fire through outright purchases of risky sovereign bonds issued by troubled governments in the region.

The crisis also caused a political turbulence in the region. In France, the Socialists under Francois Hollande regained power for the first time in 17 years. More worryingly, in Greece parties of the extreme right gained a significant foothold. But the region has yet to see the end of the dark tunnel, with unemployment among young people soaring to 55 percent in countries like Spain and Greece.

A riot policeman blocks demonstrators from barging in the Barcelona Stock Exchange building in Spain in March.

◆ 'Arab Spring' Turns Bloody

Democracy movements in Middle Eastern countries either faced crises or escalated conflicts between rival groups, demonstrating just how difficult the political transition process can be.

The Islamist Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as Egypt's fifth president, but clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of a referendum proposed to revise the constitution. Meanwhile, civil war in Syria intensified leading to the death of more than 40,000 people. The "Arab spring" that saw falls of many autocratic governments in the region has turned into an "Arab winter."

A rebel army soldier crawls to rescue a citizen shot by government forces near Aleppo in Syria on Oct. 20.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Top 12 tourism spots of the past 50 years

Korea’s top twelve record-setting tourism destinations were revealed by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) at a celebration held on December 11 to mark the 50th anniversary of its establishment.

Out of 28 candidates with a significant record in the tourism sector during the KTO’s tenure, twelve tourism destinations were selected via online and mobile surveys conducted by the KTO.

The Metasequoia Trail in Nami Island, the symbolic backdrop of Winter Sonata, is still a hot spot drawing fans of the drama all year round. It’s a wonderful place to take a stroll with loved ones The Metasequoia Trail in Nami Island, the symbolic backdrop of Winter Sonata, is still a hot spot drawing fans of the drama all year round. It’s a wonderful place to take a stroll with loved ones (photo: Yonhap News).

[Memories of Winter Sonata remain in place]
Nami Island in the Bukhangang is famously known to Korean and non-Korean tourists alike as the filming location of Korean hit drama Winter Sonata. True to its nickname ”Republic of Trees,” Nami Island leads visitors down endless woodland paths. The Metasequoia Trail, in particular, has gained unprecedented popularity since actor Bae Yong-jun and actress Choi Ji-wu were featured walking together here in the popular drama. In addition, a collection of galleries, museums, exhibitions, and craft workshops are prepared with diverse cultural offerings to welcome the inflow of visitors.

[Korea’s first non-verbal musical Nanta]
Korea’s first non-verbal musical performance Nanta, incorporating free rhythmical movements with unique traditional drumbeats, brought fresh attention to domestic and international performing stages. Since its debut in 1997, Nanta has drawn the largest audiences in the history of performing arts in Korea and made its way further into off Broadway in 2004, a first for Asian countries.

The Korean non-verbal musical Nanta was first highlighted on the global stage in 1999 at the Edinburgh Festival and now it has reached audiences in 37 nations including the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, France, Spain, Turkey, Australia, and Japan The Korean non-verbal musical Nanta was first highlighted on the global stage in 1999 at the Edinburgh Festival and now it has reached audiences in 37 nations including the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, France, Spain, Turkey, Australia, and Japan (photo: Yonhap News).

[Jeju’s infinite charms]
Seongsan Ilchulbong and Olle Trail also made their way onto the list. Both are on Jeju Island which was designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2007 and the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. Seongsan Ilchulbong has long won international acclaim. Located at the eastern tip of the island, Seongsan Ilchulbong preserves Korea’s unique marine life including topographic and geographic features and also its scenic landscape draws millions of visitors.

Jeju Olle Trail is 200 kilometers of walking paths, connecting each ten- to 20-kilometer course and leading travelers all along the south coast of Jeju Island. This November, the final track was completed, opening up a total of 430 kilometers on 21 courses. Seongsan Ilchulbong and Jeju Olle Trail have been recognized for their contribution to drawing in the one millionth visitor to Jeju Island this year.

Cheonwangbong is one of mountain peaks in Jirisan National Park, covered in a blanket of snow. Jirisan changes each season, offering something for hikers who seek various aspects of the mountain’s terrain  Cheonwangbong is one of mountain peaks in Jirisan National Park, covered in a blanket of snow. Jirisan changes each season, offering something for hikers who seek various aspects of the mountain’s terrain (photo: Yonhap News).

[First national park of Korea]
Registered in 1967, Jirisan National Park is Korea’s first national park. The mountain has the largest footprint in Korea, spanning an area of 471,758 square kilometers and incorporating one city, four counties, and three provinces -- Gyeongnam (South Gyeongsang Province), Jeonnam (South Jeolla Province), and Jeonbuk (North Jeolla Province).

With more than 4,000 rare species of flora and fauna inhabiting the park alongside national treasures such as Waun Cheonyeongsong (Millennium Pine Tree), Jirisan has raised the profile of biodiversity conservation. In addition, the full scenic view from each mountaintop has captured the hearts of millions of visitors.

Seven more tourism spots were included on the list for their outstanding features. Geumgangsan offered the first chance for South Koreans to visit North Korea in 50 years of division. The sea fountain of Mokpo was recognized for its dazzling water show interplayed by more than 292 LED lights, 73 multidirectional nozzles, and 203 airjets, while Mireuksan Ropeway was recognized for having the longest cable car ropeway in Korea offering a grand view of the whole Hallyeosudo Marine Park.

The list also includes Busan International Film Festival, Busan Songdo Beach, Everland Theme Park, and Incheon Bridge. For more details about each location, click the name to follow the link.


Red Carpet and Riches Still Await Three Heartthrobs on Return from Army

The entertainment world is buzzing as three leading celebrities -- Zo In-sung, Kang Dong-won and Hyun Bin -- have all just returned from their mandatory military service. Movie, drama and commercial film producers are already competing fiercely to get hold of them, and consequently their value is rising even further.

The stars reportedly received scripts for movies or TV dramas three to six months before each of them were discharged. Hyun Bin is said to have received dozens of movie and drama offers, and rumors are circulating that he has already signed five to six advertising deals, with more under discussion.

"Hyun Bin has very short hair now, so he needs some time to let it grow out," his agency said. "He is likely to appear in a drama or film in the latter half of next year at the earliest. For now, he'll just start off by holding an Asian fan meeting prior to his drama 'Secret Garden' being aired in Japan early next year."

Kang Dong-won completed his military service in November and chose "Nameless Gangster" director Yoon Jong-bin's new film as his comeback project. The movie, which still lacks an official title, revolves around a gang of bandits in the Chosun Dynasty and is due to begin shooting early next year.

Kang's agency said he has decided to appear in two movies and is discussing other projects. "Given that a movie takes about a year from shooting to release, his schedule for the next two years is set," it said.

From left, Hyun Bin, Kang Dong-won and Zo In-sung 
From left, Hyun Bin, Kang Dong-won and Zo In-sung

Zo In-sung, who has only appeared in TV commercials since he was released from his military duty in May last year, will return to TV screens with a drama that is scheduled to air in February.

Industry insiders say that actors generally get paid less after they return from the army, but the three heartthrobs are expected to command their previous fees or even higher.

They are known to get W500 million (US$1=W1,075) per film, W80 million per episode of a TV drama and W800 million for a bundle of two TV commercials on a one-year contract.

"As far as I know, Zo is getting W100 million per episode for his new drama, which is W20 million more than before," a drama production CEO said. Meanwhile, a staffer at advertising agency Cheil Worldwide said the three are being offered W50 million to W100 million more than before they entered the army for some TV commercials.

But it remains to be seen whether they will be as competitive as they were in their heydays as they have left show business for two years and are now in their 30s.

"I think their star power has waned while they were in the military. These days, Kim Soo-hyun, Song Joong-ki, Yu A-in and Park Yoo-chun are rising stars, and people regard the quality of a film or drama as more important than a star's popularity," a production CEO pointed out.

However, Oh Se-kang, deputy director of SBS' drama department, said, "As TV commercials in which they appeared were aired for more than a year, even after they joined the army, viewers haven't lost touch with them. There are not many A-list actors in their early 30s, so they're still very valuable."

Popular culture critic Jeong Duk-hyun said, "Returning from military service can give actors a good chance to change their personas and take on different roles."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

History museum to open Dec. 26

The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History will open on Dec. 26.
                                                / Courtesy of Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism

The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, will finally open next week, after four years of construction.

Located right next to the U.S. embassy, it is one of the major cultural projects of the Lee Myung-bak administration.

The purpose of the $41.3 million museum to open Wednesday is to honor the modern economic and social achievements of Korea.

The glass-walled seven-story museum houses about 43,000 items in a collection covering the period from 1876, when the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) opened its doors to the outer world. It also touches on Japan’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula, the 1950-53 Korean War and the economic growth of the 1970s and 80s.

The seven-story museum houses about 43,000 items in a collection that represents Korea’s economic and social transformations since 1876.

There has been criticism that the museum is devoted to honoring certain leaders, namely the military dictator Park Chung-hee, who is widely recognized as the president that led Korea’s economic miracle after the Korean War.

But the director of the museum refuted such views during a press conference Thursday.

“We tried to show the economic and political advancements of our country with a balanced viewpoint,” Kim Wang-sik, director of the museum said. “This museum is not dedicated to a certain leader by any means.”

The 6,445-square-meter museum was formerly home to the culture ministry.

Visitors will see Korea’s first mass-produced “Pony” car and “GoldStar” radio. The Pony was a small rear-wheel drive automobile produced by Hyundai Motor Company from 1975 to 1990. The museum purchased the car from a collector in New Zealand.

Visitors can also view a photo slideshow capturing the historic meeting in June 2000 at a Pyongyang airport between the late former President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for the first inter-Korean summit since the Korean War.

For foreigners who follows news on Korea, there are editions of U.S. weekly TIME and Newsweek magazines from the 1980s with cover stories on Korea’s economic growth and the 1980 Gwangju democracy uprising.

The museum also shows belongings of all presidents of the Republic of Korea, starting with Syngman Rhee.

The museum will officially open on Dec. 26. Admission is free and it is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 02-3703-9200.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Red Bean Porridge Warms Longest Night of the Year

Red Bean Porridge Warms Longest Night of the Year

Friday marks the winter solstice, or dongji in Korean, the shortest day of the year. Koreans traditionally celebrate this day by sharing a steaming bowl of red bean porridge with their family and neighbors.

In the past, the red color of the porridge was thought to dispel evil spirits, so it became a tradition to eat it on the winter solstice when the night is long. The dish is made by slowly boiling the red beans and adding round dumplings made of glutinous rice flour.

On other occasions, red beans were eaten in the form of porridge, cake, and steamed rice. When an epidemic broke out, red beans were placed in wells in the belief that they would clean the water and dispel the disease. When a neighbor lost a family member, red bean porridge was offered to dispel evil spirits from the household in mourning.

One of the customs still observed is handing out red bean cake to coworkers or neighbors when launching a new business or project or moving into a new place.

At the winter solstice, people clear their debts to make a fresh start for the New Year, so why not invite close relatives or friends and spend time together to look back on the passing year?

Park Geun-hye first female president of South Korea: a Life in Pictures

In this undated handout photo, president-elect Park Geun-hye plays with her father and then-president Park Chung-hee and her mother Yuk Young-soo along with her younger brother and sister in Seoul, sometime in the 1960s. In this undated handout photo, president-elect Park Geun-hye plays with her father and then-president Park Chung-hee and her mother Yuk Young-soo along with her younger brother and sister in Seoul, sometime in the 1960s. 
Left: Park (in white dotted circle) with her classmates on an excursion in middle school; Right: Park plays the guitar sometime in the 1960s, when she was in high school. Left: Park (in white dotted circle) with her classmates on an excursion in middle school; Right: Park plays the guitar sometime in the 1960s, when she was in high school. 
Park leaves Cheong Wa Dae after her fathers funeral in November 1979. He was assassinated by his security chief after a drinking session. Park leaves Cheong Wa Dae after her father's funeral in November 1979. He was assassinated by his security chief after a drinking session. 
Left: Park in her 20s; Right: Park, then chairwoman of the Grand National Party, brings her partys signboard to the new headquarters in March 2004, when she moved it to a tent in a bid to remake the party. Left: Park in her 20s; Right: Park, then chairwoman of the Grand National Party, brings her party's signboard to the new headquarters in March 2004, when she moved it to a tent in a bid to remake the party.

Park backs merit-based appointments (Fist South Korean Female President), What Kind of President Will Park Geun-hye Be?

Park backs merit-based appointments

President-elect Park Geun-hye pledged Thursday to appoint people to important positions based on their merits, not hometowns or school ties.

“I will do my best to end the history of division here by adopting measures for reconciliation and putting a halt to cronyism in public service,” Park said at the ruling Saenuri Party’s headquarters. “I will appoint people from all generations, regions and gender for key government posts.”  

Her remarks addressed one of the key common complaints against past and current governments as the sources of division.

At the start of his presidency, the incumbent President Lee Myung-bak lost a great deal of credibility when he gave plum jobs to his Korea University alumni and church associates.

Park won the Wednesday election with support of 51.7 percent, showing that the remaining “nearly half” gave their support to her former rival Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party.   

Park also got her diplomatic efforts off.

The President-elect met U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xinsen, Ambassador Bessho Koro from Japan and Russian Ambassador Konstantin V. Vnukov.

Details of the closed-door meeting were not known.

The President-elect’s separate meetings with the envoys came amid heightened security tensions in Northeast Asia after North Korea launched a long-range rocket, and leadership changes in countries concerned with the region.

U.S. President Barack Obama won a second-term last month, while China’s new leader Xi Jinping is set to take over in months. In Japan, rightist leader Shinzo Abe was elected Prime Minister, igniting speculation that Korea-Japan ties could turn further sour if not properly managed.  

On Thursday, Park reaffirmed that she would mobilize diplomatic efforts to bring peace and build partnerships to counter North Korea in a coordinated manner.      

“The presidential election was held in the midst of a shift of the security environment on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea’s launch of the long-range rocket led us to realize the grim situation facing the nation,” the President-elect said.

“Concerns are also growing over regional tensions in East Asia and the global economy… I will live up to my commitment that I will play a role in opening a new era for the Korean Peninsula by building up security and launching trust-based diplomacy.”

Park began her official schedule as President-elect by visiting the National Cemetery in Dongjak-dong to pay tribute to national leaders, who are buried there.

In the visitors’ book, she wrote, “I will begin a new era by bringing about change and reform.”

Park is expected to appoint the head of the presidential transition team and its members as early as next week.

Following Park Geun-hye's election as Korea's first woman president, pundits are wondering what sort of leader she will make. Park played up her supposed womanly qualities during the election campaign, and this apparently persuaded some voters.

But what is a feminine leadership style, and how is Park likely to shape up in comparison with other prominent female leaders?

◆ Margaret Thatcher or Angela Merkel?

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is one yardstick for a feminine leadership style. Known as the "Iron Lady" for her assertive ways, she was re-elected prime minister three times from 1979 to 1990.

But Park is apparently more influenced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an altogether milder presence on the international stage. The president-elect wrote in her autobiography that there are many things she has in common with Merkel, including economic and diplomatic goals, the fact that they both came from conservative ruling parties and that they studied science.

Other pundits compare Park to obscurer figures like former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, whose term ended in 2010, since she seeks to pursue social cohesion. Bachelet is viewed as having played a role in uniting Chilean society, which had remained deeply divided for many years after military dictatorship ended.
◆ Strengths

Female leaders are often said to be somehow more sympathetic and considerate than men. In Korea, men prefer a leadership style based on command and control, while women seek leadership based on social reciprocity. "Unlike men, who are used to authoritarian and male-dominated styles of leadership, women tend to place the importance on human bonds, consideration and cooperation," said Kim Kwang-woong at Seoul National University. "As a result, more importance is placed on sympathy, harmony and persuasion rather than conflict, feuding and command."

Experts claim another strong point of women leaders is that they are less prone to corruption. "Generally speaking, female leaders have a higher chance of being free from corruption than male leaders," said Ka Sang-joon at Dankook University. "Park has no husband or children so people think that all she has to worry about are her siblings."

Park used this as a selling point during her campaign.

◆ Challenges

But Park's leadership will be tested in traditional male domains like national security and crisis management. "When it comes to a woman president, the public is especially jittery about defense and relations with North Korea," Ka said. "Women leaders score high in the areas of welfare and social unity but can appear weak in terms of security and defense," said Lee Nae-young at Korea University.

There are also concerns that most of the officials Park has to deal with are men, which could lead to difficulties in communication. This means a "womanly" leadership style focusing on communication and sympathy could be less efficient.

But experts say Park's own style is fairly gender-neutral. "Park appealed to the public with her warm and soft touch, but she can be adamant when it comes to her principles and places a lot of importance on trust, which are commonly associated with male leaders," said Choi Jin of the Institute of Presidential Leadership.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fashion magazine boutique for aficionados

A visitor reads magazines at Paper Muse, the first fashion magazine boutique in Itaewon, Seoul. The shop stocks about 150 kinds of fashion magazines including international editions of Vogue, rare trends, men’s fashion and children’s magazines.                                       / Korea Times photo by Rachel Lee

Magazine stands in large bookstores are usually swamped with readers looking for specific titles to buy, but who often cannot find the publications they seek. However, for these avid fashion readers, there is now an alternative.

Paper Muse opened in August in a quiet residential part of Itaewon in Seoul and is the perfect place for every fashionista to escape to because the shop holds everything there is to read about fashion.

“I have always been interested in models, photography and fashion magazines in my life, which I believe changed my career from a project manager in the electronics industry to where I am now,” said owner Sung Kyun-won in an interview. “When I was studying in London in 2003, I visited this old book shop called R.D Frank. Since that day, I dreamed of opening a shop like R.D Frank in Korea so I quit my job and dove into this business.”

Paper Muse stocks about 150 kinds of fashion magazines including international editions of Vogue, rare trends, men’s fashion and even children’s magazines. On the shelves are publications from around the world including The BITE, DASH, i-D, Stella, Man About Town, INDUSTRIE and Material Girl.

“Most of the magazines stocked here are from the United Kingdom, which I think is the biggest maker and provider of print journalism, especially in fashion. You will find a variety of stuff that you never heard before like LOVE. It has been a best seller here,” said Sung.

For Sung, magazines have never been disposable. Her massive interest in fashion and photography has led to a collection of about 300 publications at her house.

“I have collected magazines since I was 16. They mean more than just some stuff that I read to catch up with new trends. There are so many excellent ones out there that have amazing stories and beautiful pictures,” said the owner.

Despite such a short period of time since opening, an increasing number of well-known figures in the industry and celebrities are visiting the store as well as fashion students.

“One of my regular customers is fashion designer Park Seung-gun. He comes here pretty often. And the other day actress Kim Min-hee popped in the store and bought a copy of Twin magazine,” said Jung.

A 30-year-old man surnamed Park who works in the fashion industry was visiting the book shop with a colleague to browse new editions and do research.

“I absolutely love this place and have frequently visited here since my friend living in this area first introduced me to it a month ago. This place is ideal for people like me who constantly need a vast amount of information and ideas keep up to date with the industry,” said Park. “And you know these days people tend to read stuff online and on iPads but I find it never feels the same as seeing the original stuff, I mean, the actual copies,” he added.

“I hope to see an increase in sales in the near future but to be honest, I would like to collect all the magazines stocked here and take them to my house instead of selling them. I love magazines that much,” Jung added. The owner also said that she plans to open an online shop next year.

For more information about Paper Muse, visit or call (02) 6406-6818. 

Similar but unique wedding rituals of 5 countries

A Chinese ceremonial headdress from the 19th century is on display at a special exhibition called “Wedding Rituals” at the National Folk Museum of Korea through Feb. 11.                 / Courtesy of National Folk Museum of Korea

Modern weddings in Korea are quick and simple: a speedy ceremony and then rushing to the meal afterwards. But in the past weddings were days-long festivals among families and friends that embraced cultural elements.

The diversity and uniqueness of wedding rituals from Korea, China, Japan, Nepal and Vietnam can be seen at a special exhibition at the National Folk Museum of Korea through Feb. 11.

The museum has studied various wedding rituals of 25 tribes in five countries for five years including field investigations and interviews. A total of 863 items from the Beijing Folk Arts Museum and the National Museum of Japanese History and individuals from the different nations are on display.

“While doing the research, we found similarities among the five countries in traditional wedding rituals,” exhibition curator Choi Eun-soo said.

Technology including transparent display methods and miracle glass is used to effectively show the documents and photos.

In the exhibition hall, four video screens showing flamboyant wedding outfits from the five countries capture the attention of visitors.
"Hwarot," a traditional Korean bridal robe from the early 20th century

The first part of the exhibition includes invitations, engagement and wedding gifts and books and documents usually exchanged before the wedding. The curator said that the five countries share cultural practices such as exchanging letters containing the birth dates of the bride and groom to check their marital compatibility with a fortune teller.

Gifts were exchanged before the wedding ceremony although they vary by nation. In Nepal, household goods such as bowls and dishes are popular wedding presents. In China, the bride’s family gives stationery such as brushes to the groom while a groom’s family offers jewelry set to the bride.

The traditional Vietnamese wedding ceremony can’t start without a gift of “Trau Cau” which symbolizes love and loyalty. Trau Cau is ground areca nut, which is synonymous with marriage. Chewing it with lime paste is a custom in daily life, which turns teeth black. The traditional Japanese wedding ceremony also begins with the presentation of a gift box which carries letters along with some money for buying an obi belt, regarded as a luxurious, expensive item for kimono. “It’s very similar to the Korean wedding culture,” the curator said.

The second section shows wedding items such as paintings, decorations and utensils used for the ceremony. Ornaments such as a wild goose figurine in Korea, a pheasant and a snapper in Japan, Trau Cau in Vietnam, a spirit tablet in China and a leaf-shaped silver statue in Nepal are used to signify the harmony and loyalty of the couple.

The third section features bridal chambers using high technology. Transparent glass creates moving images of a bride and a groom entering the chamber after a wedding ceremony in the Japanese bridal room. After the images fade, the actual room appears behind the screen.

“Most of the countries we researched have not preserved traditional wedding rituals very well. Modern ceremonies are more prevalent. Koreans hold their traditional wedding ceremonies in Korean House and other places although the format is simplified,” Choi said. One traditional element, “pyebaek” or the couple’s greeting of the groom’s family, still remains in the modern Korean wedding ceremony.

The last exhibit highlights various modern and traditional wedding garments from the five countries. A variety of wedding dresses includes those designed by the late iconic designer Andre Kim. There are also models wearing “hanbok” (traditional Korean costumes) from wedding ceremonies in the 1940s in Pyongyang, North Korea. “In the 1940s, North Koreans put more emphasis on hair accessories,” the curator said. In Japan, the robes are marked with a family symbol.

The highlight of the exhibition is a multimedia table which shows various images of newlyweds and related stories attached to photos. Tapping on the photo, the related stories pop up on a wide screen. The table can be used by six people at the same time. The technique was developed by KAIST professor Kim Jung-hwa. The content includes 700 photos of 97 couples who married between 1933 and 2012 along with their stories.

Admission is free. For more information, call (02) 3704-3114 or visit 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Kim Jong-un Marks 1st Anniversary in Power

North Korea marks the first anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il's death on Monday and the first year of his third son Jong-un's rise to power.

North Korea has been in a frenzy of celebration over the backward country's recent rocket launch. Since the rocket took off on Wednesday, massive rallies have been held across the country almost every day and the state media have stressed that the launch accomplished Kim senior's last wishes, thus legitimizing his son's rule.

Thursday's Rodong Sinmun covered the rocket launch on four of its six pages, and on Friday the daily reported that Kim Jong-un had given a written order to the satellite control center to launch it and inspected the center later.

Wise to the possibility of failure since the last launch in April tanked, the state media had not announced the launch in advance.

A South Korean government official on Friday said the regime's excitement is understandable since Kim Jong-un has accomplished nothing else in his first year in power.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un smokes a cigarette while waiting for the launch of a rocket last Wednesday on the outskirts of Pyongyang. A copy of the letter (right corner) apparently written by Kim shows his approval of the rocket launch. /Rodong Sinmun-Yonhap 
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un smokes a cigarette while waiting for the launch of a rocket last Wednesday on the outskirts of Pyongyang. A copy of the letter (right corner) apparently written by Kim shows his approval of the rocket launch. /Rodong Sinmun-Yonhap
The regime had long touted 2012 as the year when the North would become "a powerful and prosperous nation," but amid an ongoing food shortage and dire economic straits, the propaganda phrase has quietly been allowed to die.

On the day of his father's funeral, Kim Jong-un, who pledged economic reconstruction after adopting his grandfather's old slogan "feed the people with rice and meat soup," told senior officials to come up with new economic measures. He apparently tried to implement some economic reforms, but they seem to have floundered, a South Korean security official pointed out.

All the while he has been busy purging party, government and the excessively powerful military to tighten his grip, including demotions for the top military officers who escorted the Kim Jong-il's hearse.

Nonetheless he seems worried about overthrow attempts, and security around him was tightened significantly, with armored vehicles deployed at his residence.

North Koreans suffered severe flood damage this year, but Kim did not go to any of the affected areas, apparently for security reasons.

First Greenland film to be screened in Korea

Poster of “Inuk”

“Inuk,” the first Greenlandic film to be screened in Korea, had a VIP premier at the Lotte Cinema, Sangam-dong, Seoul, Saturday. This premier was hosted by Greenland Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist who visited Korea for talks on developing the arctic nation’s environmental policies as well as the opening up of polar shipping routes.

The film “Inuk” is a road movie about a young boy called Inuk, living in a miserable home environment caught between a violent stepfather and an alcoholic mother in Nuuk, the capital city of Greenland. He is sent to a social welfare facility, where he goes sealing with Ikuma, a hunter. “Inuk” is the first feature film of director Mike Magidson that reflects the present Greenland which stands at the crossroad between the modern and the traditional by tracking the changes of a boy who overcomes his wounds and is re-born again. The movie has gained enormous attention despite the conspicuous absence of big name stars.

“We don’t produce many films in Greenland because our film industry is not developed. But, this Greenlandic-language film has been awarded many international movie awards, and I am very happy that the premier of this film takes place during my visit to Korea. It is the absolutely perfect end of the schedule of visiting Seoul,” said the prime minister.

Ole Jorgen Hammeken who starred as the hunter, Ikuma, said “I was born in the capital Nuuk, and was raised in the modern way, but through the filming of this movie, I started to agonize about cultural transition between our ancestors and us, and became aware of where we came from.” The actor also said the film would resonate with Korean audiences because it deals with universal issues such as teenagers’ angst and family discord.

Director Lee Myung-se, known for the film, “Nowhere to Hide,” Kim Dong-ho, honorary director of the Busan International Film Festival, fashion designer Lie Sang-bong, Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil, and Peter Lysholt Hansen, Ambassador of Denmark to Korea attended the premier.

“This is a great opportunity to present the beauty of Greenland to Korea. To give wider publicity to this film, we are planning to make its debut in wide release in Korea,” said Mininnquaq Kleist, the head of department of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Greenland.

Before the preview of the film, there was a performance by Greenland band Nive Nielsen and the Deer Children, and a food tasting event served by Greenland-born chef Jeppe E. Nielsen that featured raw prawns, shrimp and grissini with smoked halibut.

“Inuk” is expected to go on general release at the beginning of next year following discussions with distributor company, Peter Pan Pictures.

Face the sun or else

More people suffering from vitamin D deficiency
A woman is wearing a huge mask and cap in this file photo. Overprotection against sunlight, however, is making people suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
/ Korea Times file

Huge masks and broad brimmed cap have been the symbol of middle aged women here, who try to avoid sunlight as much as they can while taking a walk for exercise. Ultraviolet rays are harmful, of course, but the people here seem to have gone too far in protection against sunlight.

An analysis showed that Koreans are increasingly suffering from vitamin D deficiency, mostly due to their lack of exposure to the sun.

According to data by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRAS), around 16,000 people were treated for vitamin D deficiency last year, marking an average 81.7 percent increase each year since 2007 when around 1,800 people were treated.

Around 2.1 billion won was spent on treatment last year, up 644.1 percent from 280 million won in 2007.

By gender, there were 4,140 men treated last year compared to 613 in 2007. In the case of women, the figure stood at 12,490 last year, up 939.1 percent from 1,202 in 2007. “The annual growth is steep among women,” HIRAS noted in the report.

A deficiency of vitamin D hampers growth or leads to bone deformities, known as rickets or osteomalacia. The vitamin determines the metabolism of calcium and phosphorous. When there isn’t enough of it, the calcium and phosphorous fail to accumulate in the bones, weakening them as a consequence. The bones can bend as they lack strength, and can easily break due to a fall in bone density.

One can get vitamin D through food, supplements, or breast milk, but exposure to sunlight leads to the synthesis of most vitamin D. The report attributed the rising number of patients to the lack of exposure to sunlight. “The vitamin D deficiency is increasing recently as people from all age groups have notably decreased their outdoor activities during daytime, due to studies or work. In the case of females, the overuse of sun block which screens their skin from sunlight is also estimated to have made them suffer the deficiency,” HIRAS said.

To prevent a deficiency, one should try to maintain an adequate level of vitamin D in daily life. The service said that exposing oneself to the sun after lunch helps a lot. “Especially in winter, people tend to focus on indoor activities as they refrain from going out due to the cold weather. However, one should keep in mind that absorption of vitamin D through diet has limitations. Taking supplements that contain vitamin D will also help,” the service said. However, overexposure to sunlight isn’t recommended, it warned.

It added that breast feeding mothers should take special heed to get enough vitamin D as a deficiency will lead to a deficiency in their baby as well.

When u go to d Korean resturant and looking for Fried chicken

Korea, “Big Winner of 2012”

Korea has been selected as the “Big Winner of 2012” by Canadian Business, Canada’s oldest economic magazine.

Published in Toronto, Canadian Business said in its latest publication that Korean companies simply ran 2012, ranking it along with the reelected Barack Obama of the United States and the new chancellor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, who happens to be Canadian.

Samsung Electronics dispatched Apple, Hyundai Motor won over Honda and Psy proved to be more popular than Justin Bieber.

The magazine put particular emphasis on the popularity of Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” mentioning that it has posted the largest-ever search count on Youtube along with the horse-riding dance.

It also said Samsung Electronics successfully beat out Apple in the sales of smartphones and that LG Electronics is holding its position as the leader on home electronics.

The magazine said that Korea has finally abandoned its image in the global market as a copycat with its advanced technologies.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

New Spark

Female stationmaster adding cultural flavor to Seoul Station

Kim Yang-sook

Kim Yang-sook, who was tapped as the first female stationmaster of Seoul Station in its 112 year history, is moving to upgrade the station facilities and make it a place where passengers enjoy more cultural events.

She is leading renovation projects to make the nation’s largest railroad station more appealing to visitors, with her colleagues fully supporting her.

 “She is a calm person and sometime sentimental. But once she starts working, she becomes a real mover and shaker,” said Park Doo-ho, one of her coworkers who is a director of the Management and Human Resources Department at the Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail). 

“It was a big thing that she became the first female leader of the station as men tended to dominate the railroad sector so far,” Park said. “Nobody opposed her appointment because everyone knew that she was the right person thanks to her rich experience in public relations and culture.”  

He said everyone at Korail was satisfied with her performance so far ― she assumed the leadership post about a month ago.

“She definitely has strength as a woman leader. She sometimes views things that men would not think of, especially in terms of public relations,” he said.

When Korail officially announced Kim’s appointment last month, Kim told reporters that: “I am excited and nervous as many people think of Seoul Station as a symbol of Korail. I will do my best to make the station more luxurious by establishing right systems and introducing diverse traditional cultural events.”

More than 300,000 passengers use the station every day. It accounts for 16 percent of Korail’s total revenue.

“I want to create a convenient and unique atmosphere featuring distinct Korean characteristics. For example, I want to have Korean classical music played in the station so that people come to the station and enjoy some cultural events,” she said.

The 44-year-old plans to improve the design of the station from the beginning of next year. The plans include renovating Seoul Station Plaza in order to change it into a cultural space.

As part of this effort, Kim organized a music concert in the station last Saturday.

She began her railroad career in 1987 after her father suggested to her that Korail was a respectable job.

“At the time, I was studying the college entrance exam but my father asked me to take Korail’s employment exam,” she said, admitting that she was regretful at first that she didn’t go to the university.”

But she just focused on her work and held a series of posts, including stationmaster of SeoDaejeon Station and the head of Korail’s culture and public relations department.

Recipe for diabetes patients: tofu beef sandwich

Courtesy of Vita Books

You will need 20 grams of chopped beef, 60 grams of tofu, some “silpa,” or small green onion, carrot, and some salt and oil.

For seasoning of the beef, you will need 5 grams of soy sauce, 5 grams of pear juice and some minced garlic and pepper.

For “choganjang” sauce, you will need 3 grams of soy sauce, 3 grams of vinegar, 0.1 gram of aspartame, and 10 milliliters of kelp stock.

Step by step

1. Season the beef.

2. Chop “silpa” and carrot and mix it with the seasoned beef to prepare filling for the sandwich.

3. Cut tofu into slices and season it with a small bit of salt.
4. Put the filling on a slice of tofu and cover it with another slice of tofu. Roast it until it turns yellowish in a pan with oil.3. Cut tofu into slices and season it with a small bit of salt.

5. Serve with “choganjang” sauce.3. Cut tofu into slices and season it with a small bit of salt.


You can get deeper taste by adding kelp stock to sauces. Kelp stock is made by boiling 5 grams of dried kelp and 2 grams of “gadarangeopo,” or dried bonito, in water and straining it through a sieve.

This is an excerpt from “Best Recipes
to Fight Diabetes” by professor Cha Bong-soo at the Severance Hospital of Yonsei University Health System, the Nutrition Team at the hospital, and CJ Freshway, published by Vita Books.

'Bike City' Sees Parade of Santas Cycle for Charity

Over 2,000 people in Santa Claus costumes appeared in Changwon, known as the city of bicycles in South Gyeongsang Province, on Sunday. They took part in a cycling parade that the southern city organizes annually to raise funds for those in need. In its fourth year, the parade this year was designed to help teenage breadwinners.

After an opening ceremony, the red-robed participants rode bicycles along the 9 km course throughout the city. Performers led the way, spraying artificial snow in their tracks. All the donations and proceeds from a charity bazaar went to the Community Chest of Korea, a charity organization.

Game developer NCSoft donated W10 million to the CCK's provincial chapter and 500 bikes to the city. Hyundai Wia, a locally-based automotive parts manufacturer, delivered bicycles to 14 households who rely on adolescents as the main income earners.

Visitors to the parade venue enjoyed various activities, such as writing down their hopes and dreams for the year ahead, taking pictures with Santa, making clay dolls and having caricatures of themselves drawn.

"I hope the event serves to raise awareness of those less fortunate than ourselves," said Cho Ki-ho, the city's vice mayor, at the opening ceremony. He urged the participants to pursue more efforts to promote a society that actively helps its underprivileged communities.

"As well as being for a good cause, this event aims to encourage people to ride bicycles in the winter [when Korea faces a bigger threat of power outages due to surging power demand]," said Kim Jong-oe, head of a local bicycle riders' association. "We hope the event will grow to attract more participants, not only from the city but also from around the world."

N.Korea's Mighty Arms Industry Dates Back 40 Years

North Korea's successful rocket launch on Wednesday was the result of 40 years of investment in the arms industry, experts say. The North began pouring its national resources into developing its weapons in 1966 following the second Workers' Party conference, which led to an official decision to pursue defense and economic development in tandem.

Close to a million people work in North Korean arms production, according to unofficial estimates. The regime takes special care of them by giving them priority in food rations.

"The families of people working for in arms production got food rations even during the worst famine" in the mid to late 1990s, said one North Korean who defected in 2005.

Scientists and technicians celebrate after the launch of a rocket in Pyongyang on Wednesday. /Yonhap 
Scientists and technicians celebrate after the launch of a rocket in Pyongyang on Wednesday. /Yonhap 
North Korea plucked the elite among students from top engineering schools such as Kim Chaek University of Technology and Pyongyang University of Science and Technology and put them to work at various research institutes to develop weapons. The leading institute is the Second Academy of Natural Science, which is the North Korean equivalent of the South's Agency for Defense Development. The North has some 3,000 missile experts alone, according to one military source here.

Pak To-chun, the party secretary for munitions, Ju Kyu-chang, the director of the party's Machine-Building Industry Department and Paek Se-bong, the chairman of the Second Economic Committee, are the leading officials in arms development. They are sometimes referred to as North Korea's "missile troika." Pak became secretary for munitions in 2010 when Jon Byong-ho, considered a key player in the North's arms industry, retired.

Friday, December 14, 2012

t do you think about " Pre-party glamour "

This photo shows L’Oreal’s 3D-effect Color Riche Le Nail Art Stickers (12,000 won), which is available in six designs. The stickers are perfect for those who need a quick makeover just before partying.      / Courtesy of L’Oreal Korea
All women want to look good whenever they go out.

As the party season is just around the corner, many of them start to worry about their party looks.

With the constant round of working late and after-work socializing, women often end up worrying about their looks even before heading off to parties.

Now here are five must-have items recommended to freshen up the make-up bag and glam up the party looks.
This is a scene at “First Thursdays Afterwork” orginized by HSK Events and held last year at Banyan Tree Seoul. Many women wish to stand out from the crowd and look their best especially during the Christmas party
season. The right makeup will glam up the overall party styling. For more information about the party, visit                                                                                                  / Courtesy of HSK Events

Ways to look your best for the parties


Now that the streets are decorated with sparkling Christmas lights, some women’s hearts are fluttering with festive feelings, and, as these begin to flow, attention turns to party frocks.

Perhaps more than other times of the year, many women wish to stand out from the crowd and look their best. They’ve chosen their dress with shoes to match, but for a complete look, they shouldn’t forget the artistry of makeup.
Golden Gloss No.55
from Yves Saint
“The three most important things to remember about party makeup are time, place and situation,” makeup artist, Kim Hwal-ran of Musee Neuf in Gangnam, southern Seoul, said last week in an interview.

“Don’t try to highlight every part of your face. Focus on one area that you feel confident about. If you are confident about your lips, for example, put on some shimmering gloss to shine out at parties.”

Golden Gloss No.55 from Yves Saint Laurent Christmas 2012 collection is a must-have item to pop into a clutch bag. This limited edition lip gloss, available in two colors Arctic Blue and Polar Pink,
Chanel’s Joues Contraste in Star Dust (58,000 won)
              / Coutesy of Chanel Korea
causes a subtle mother-of-pearl sparkle on the lips, while protecting them with a formula of nourishing oils.

“It’s my favorite gloss so far. Not sticky at all and I am impressed with the staying power of the product (was over eight hours and going strong) and the amazing color — is so natural looking but also has fine gold sparkles,” Ashley Shone, a 25-year-old office worker in London, said Thursday in an email interview.
Bobbi Brown Mini Brush Set (110,000 won)
  / Courtesy of Bobbi Brown Korea
Kim Sun-a, a freelance makeup artist based in London, recommends two necessary makeup items for working women who attend parties straight after work.

“It’s hard to put a lot of effort into your makeup especially if you do not have time to go home and get ready. It can be frustrating for women,” Kim said Wednesday in an email interview. “I recommend L’Oreal’s 3D nail sticker
Laura Mercier’s Artist’s Palette for Eyes (75,000)
                            / Courtesy of BMK
and Chanel’s Joues Contraste in Star Dust. Both of them are perfect for a quick make over.”

L’Oreal’s 3D-effect Color Riche Le Nail Art Stickers, released in December, are available in six designs. It is a new solution for women who don’t want to leave their nails bare.

Applying them is very simple; choose a sticker size that best suits the nails, then peel them off the paper and position the sticker at the base of the nails. Once applied, smooth it across the rest of the nail. File the self-adhesive part, and it’s done.

“I seldom apply nail polish because I have to wait for the nail polish to dry. When I first applied these nail stickers, I thought they were very gentle and safe to use on bare and even gelish nails. They do not hurt my nails, even when I am peeling them off, I love it,” said Lee Min-sun, a wedding planner, said Friday in an interview.

With such vibrant nails, blush can help highligh a woman’s face. Chanel’s Joues Contraste in Star Dust is the latest powder blush from the Chanel Holiday 2012 Makeup Collection: Eclats Du Soir De Chanel. It’s a pale, soft pink with a multi-colored iridescence and a gorgeous subtle satiny sheen finish.

“We need to add a subtle glow and luminescence to our complexion especially in party makeup. This product just blends extremely well and looks very natural,” said Kim Sun-a. “The powder leans towards being more of a highlighter than to primarily adding color to the cheeks. Unless you keep layering, the pink is so soft, even for pale complexions.”

Arguably the most fun part is applying eye makeup. For those who want to look perfect but don’t know what color eye shadow would look best, below is a palette of a  dozen eye shadow colors, hand-selected by Laura Mercier, in shimmer and matte finishes.

Laura Mercier’s new Artist’s Palette for Eyes consists of two rows. The top one features a range of dark to light shimmer shades in Chocolate, African Violet, Sable, Guava, Cameo, and Sunlit. The bottom row includes light to dark matte finishes in Vanilla Nut, Plum Smoke, Cafe au Lait, Coffee Ground, Deep Night, and Rich Coffee. There’s enough variety to do several different looks from basic wash to smokey and the dark colors can make liners used wet.

“One thing to remember when dressing your eyes is the eyeliner and eye shadow should be the same color. If you are using shades of blue, try navy eyeliner, it will look very sophisticated and modern,” said Kim Hwal-ran.

Ideal for gift: Bobbi Brown’s Mini Brush Set

There’s no reason why the make-up brushes have to be big and boring. Bobbi Brown’s cute Mini Brush Set will freshen up the make-up bag, and it is the perfect size for popping in a handbag or for partying. Contains a mini blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner and lip brush. The blush brush is dense enough to pick up color and blend it in very well. The eye shadow brush is the perfect size for applying lid color and highlight to small Asian eyes.