Extra! Korea

December 31, 2009

(Updated) Choi Hyun-mi, possibly the sexiest North Korean refugee boxer you’ll ever see

Filed under: North Korea, sports — extrakorea @ 1:51 pm

The Chosun Ilbo brings us the story of Choi Hyun-mi, a North Korean defector who is now the World Boxing Association women’s featherweight champion.

Born in Pyongyang, Choi showed early talent in sports. She joined the boxing team at the prestigious Kim Chul-joo Educational University in Pyongyang in 2003 at the age of 13. The team had been formed in anticipation of women’s boxing becoming an official event in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

But her life was to change completely in February 2004, when her father, who worked for an international trade company, arranged a family trip to China. They never went back. Choi’s father was the first to arrive in South Korea through Thailand and Cambodia, and five months later, Choi followed with her mother and elder brother. “Adapting to South Korea was a quick process,” she says. “Once I became familiar with life here, my boxing gloves naturally came out of the box again.”

She soon dominated the amateur boxing circuit in the South, but necessity — the prize money for the winner of an amateur competition is a mere W50,000 (US$1=W1,171) — forced her to go professional in her second year of high school in 2007. Then her manager, whom she had trusted, forced her into a 12-year “slave contract,” which meant that even when she became WBA world champion in October 2008, she nearly had to miss the defense bout because she did not have enough money.

Fortunately, she got a more honest promoter, and will be attending university (Sungkyunkwan, I believe) this coming spring. But she will continue to box.

Here she is winning a World championship match:

In victory …

With a messianic aura around her head …

And looking sexy in high heels …

Finally, here’s a video about her. Interestingly, it briefly mentions how she and her family experienced the prejudices against North Koreans in South Korea.


Here is another video that I found. It mentions how she supported her family through her boxing because her father couldn’t find a job, and that North Koreans are looked down upon “because of their poverty and social awkwardness” (1:19). Another item of interest is the image at 0:49. “I’m going to kick your ass, and then hug my Hello Kitty doll.”

On a side note, I didn’t know that AlJazeera could be so good. I thought it was Al-Q’aida TV, but these videos felt like BBC World.

December 30, 2009

Hiring Indians really is about paying teachers less

Filed under: education, languages — extrakorea @ 6:23 am

First and foremost, I must point out that the writer of this story is Kang Shin-who, whom Brian has accurately described as Korea’s worst journalist, because he has put words in people’s mouths, among other things.

So now we know that we have to take a large grain of salt with this story, which continues from news this past November that the Korean government was thinking about hiring teachers from India. Immediately, there was speculation as to whether this was to put more qualified teachers into classrooms, or to save money by hiring teachers from a developing nation. Well, it looks like those questions have been answered:

Officials at the city and provincial education offices, which are in charge of hiring native English speakers, formed a consensus that they might not give Indian English teachers the same wages given to other native speaking teachers.

[ snip ]

“It would be tough for Indian teachers to compete with other native English speaking teachers, unless they take lower salaries,” he added.

Officials are taking the “I really don’t want to, but circumstances are forcing me” line, but I’m sure that they’ll be happy to pocket the difference.

Big white man can dance

Filed under: music — extrakorea @ 12:26 am

I saw this video via Seoul Beats. You know what they say about not judging a book by its cover. To my surprise, he just killed it. That will teach me not to be superficial. Remember that scene near the end of the movie Napoleon Dynamite ? It’s like that. Here’s the list of what he does:

Seung Ri – Strong Baby
Super Junior – Sorry, Sorry
2PM – Again & Again, I Hate You
2NE1 – Fire
Brown Eye Girl – Abracadabra
SNSD – Geine
Kara – Mister
G-Dragon – Heartbeaker
SHINee- Ring Ding Dong
TaeYang – Wedding Dress
2PM – Heartbeat

December 29, 2009

Police hope minors will use computer program to report pedophiles

Filed under: crime, youth — extrakorea @ 7:01 am

The Chosun Ilbo and JoongAng Daily bring us news of the latest gadget in the struggle to stamp out “wonjo kyoje” (원조교제), so-called “compensated dating” in which men pay schoolgirls for sex. We found out this past July that solicitation for such will become a punishable offense, even if no sex takes place.

If teenagers are solicited online, they can make a report via a new computer program called “Youth Keeper.” Under new laws designed to protect minors, which are to come into effect in January, anyone found guilty faces punishments of up to one year in prison or fines of up to ten million won (a thousand won is a little less than an American dollar).

Payment can be defined in a number of ways, from cash to presents such as a place to live.

“We found that more than 90 percent of purchased sex [with minors] took place via Internet chatting or on cyber dating sites. We expect the number of related cases to be greatly reduced following the measure,” said a Health Ministry spokesman.

[ snip ]

It can be downloaded from the websites of various government agencies including the Health Ministry (www.mw.go.kr), the National Police Agency, the Education Ministry, and the Ministry of Gender Equality. Those reporting a case should keep in mind that they may be called in by the police if necessary and that false reports are punishable.

[ snip ]

Users launch the youth protection program and click the “report” icon to report potential crimes.

A screen shot is saved as an image file that can become evidence.

Final reporting is made to the National Police Agency after the user types his or her name and date of birth.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The police should do as is done in other countries, and pose as minors online in sting operations.

December 28, 2009

White girls *heart* the Brown Eyed Girls’ Abracadabra

Filed under: multicultural society, music, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 2:37 am

Thanks to the awesome http://koreannewsfeeds.com/ site, I stumbled upon this video. She says that she didn’t practice very much, and that she’s nervous about her performance, so be kind, people.

Don’t worry, Miss, you’re just as good at “sexy dances” as most Korean girls. That includes Goo Ha-ra (of Kara, one of Brian’s favorites, though it was Rainbow that made me laugh till I cried).

Fast forward to 3:54 (and especially 4:13) of the video to see her mad dance skillz. (Hat Tip)

And here is a young lady singing the song with English lyrics that she wrote with help from this video. She has but one humble request:

Anyway, since this song is hard to sing, BE NICE! You can make fun of my lyrics, but don’t make fun of my singing because it makes me feel bad. 😦 And try not to be a jerk or mean for no reason and don’t be racist either! I only like nice and happy comments. ^^

Sounds reasonable to me.

Notice how both girls used Asian poses. Members of these sites will probably be very happy.


If you want to want to learn the dance (since it’s so difficult ), there’s a tutorial on YouTube:

Hmm, within hours of my posting, somebody took down all of the Goo Ha-ra videos. Looks like someone is trying to hide the embarrassing footage. Oh, well, they succeeded, as least temporarily, though someone might find it again later.

Mao Asada has won the Japanese Championship and is going to the Olympics

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 12:02 am

Previously, I had written about how the Japanese Championships, which took place this past weekend, were Mao Asada’s last chance to go to the 2010 Winter Olympics, due to the bad year that she’s been having. Well, she’s laid all of those bad performances to rest, at least for now. She’s won the Japanese Championships and the right to represent her country in Vancouver.

With a slim, 0.22-point lead from the short programme, she scored her personal best 135.50 points in free skating to win with a total 204.62, in a warning to longtime rival and reigning world champion Kim Yu-Na of South Korea. Asada’s total was also her personal best and closed up on the world record of 210.03 points Kim set in beating Asada into second place at the season-opening Grand Prix in Paris in October.


There’s more from the Chosun Ilbo:

The road to recovery was not easy. Her coach, the legendary Tatiana Tarasova, did not come to Japan, where Asada is based, as she had other skaters to teach in Russia. Asada therefore had to practice and make some alterations to her programs with an assistant coach at the ice rink of Chukyo University in Aichi Prefecture for two months. She simplified the steps leading into her jumps, and the strategy worked.

Her coach didn’t come and help her when she was on the very cusp of not going to the Olympics?

December 27, 2009

Over 26% of Koreans Plan to Buy Imported Cars

Filed under: economics, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 1:18 am

According to this article, over 26% of Koreans plan to buy imported cars. This is a far cry from when I first arrived in Korea. Back then, anyone who bought a non-Korean car was regarded as a national traitor. Such back-stabbers could expect to receive a vindictive tax audit (not to mention many “accidental” scratches).

The highest percentage of those surveyed, some 22 percent, said safety was the most important factor that figured into their purchase of a car, followed by design and fuel efficiency.

This is good news for Toyota, who plan to sell more cars in Korea.

December 26, 2009

I bought a penguin hat

Filed under: food, hard to categorize — extrakorea @ 2:12 pm

Yes, after ridiculing them in this post, I bought a penguin hat, a blue one, to be precise.

I really wanted one to send to my family back home, so much so that I bought a cake just for myself. After eating a sliver, it’s now in my freezer, where it will stay for who-knows-how-long, unless I see a homeless person starving outside of my apartment building. Brian will probably be annoyed with me, as my behavior is sure to encourage the continued tradition of selling cutesy hats every Christmas.

One thing I don’t understand is why all of the chains (Paris Baguette, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts, etc.) offer the same deal: buy a cake and get a free hat. They’re all competing to offer the same product to the same demographic. Why not buy-a-dozen-donuts-and-get-big-mittens-that-look-like-bear-paws? Or buy-a-mini-cake-and-six-pastries-and-get-a-scarf-that-looks-like-candy? Honestly, I would have bought a box of donuts (which I would have given away) just for another hat to send home. But no, you have to buy a cake.

Neither Brian nor Zen Kimchi took a picture of the cake I bought, so here is the container and cake:

As Zen Kimchi pointed out, unlike Baskin Robbins cakes in North America, which are a combination of cake and ice cream, the ones here are just ice cream. At first I was annoyed by this (and still am). However, cake goes stale, so my cake should keep better.

Update on Na-young’s recovery

Filed under: crime, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 1:18 pm

A couple of days ago, I wrote this post about the ongoing recovery of Na-young, the little girl whose violent rape shocked the entire nation.
Now Korea Beat has translated an article, which looks very similar to the one that I posted about, which isn’t surprising, considering that it’s from the Korean-language version of the Joongang Ilbo. Here are a couple of excerpts, though, that were not included in the article I originally posted about:

After her story was reported on October 31st, the nation reached out to her. A medical equipment business adapted an adult colostomy bag to her child’s body. Prof. Han Seok-ju of Severance Children’s Hospital offered to perform surgery to restore her anus. If it works she can discard the colostomy bag. Na-young’s father said, “the interest and kindness of strangers saved my daughter.”

[ snip ]

She said she like studying math. Her grades were nearly the same as before the incident. She scored over 90 on her latest test. She laughs and her depression has disappeared, and she has begun holding hands with people. The picture Na-young showed to this reporter was titled “change”.

Though she previously wanted to be a chef, her new dream is to be a doctor. I asked her the reason. “I was sick and the doctor helped me.” Prof. Shin said, “Na-young is now 70% recovered. The only thing left is to go through puberty.”

Na-young sent a picture and card to Prof. Shin and attorney Lee Myeong-suk, the human rights director of the Korean Bar Association (대한변호사협회). In neat handwriting she wrote, “Teachers! Thank you for taking care of me so well.” Next to her, her father smiled. “That’s what Na-young is going to write to everyone who helped her and supported her.”

December 25, 2009

Report: North Korean currency reform was idea of Kim Jong-il’s son

Filed under: economics, Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 8:41 am

According to this article, the Great North Korean Currency Reform* was the brainchild of Kim Jong-il’s son, Jong-un.

The currency reform was suggested by a team under Kim Jong-un and the senior Kim approved the suggestion, the Open Radio for North Korea reported quoting an “internal source” in North Korea.

The radio said Kim Jong-un’s team judged that North Korea’s economic measure on July 1, 2002 was not proper to be applied for the “Kim Jong-un era” and asserted that the junior Kim, dubbed as the heir to his father, forced the measure to collect cash circulated in the private sector.

The currency reform was designed to create a basis for reform and openness under Kim Jong-un by raising the value of the North Korean currency and countering inflation, the report said.

If true, then Kim Jong-un is responsible for the worst unrest in North Korea in a long time. If he does succeed his father, then the agony that North Koreans have been suffering might look like Disneyland under the new regime.

* Described in detail by Kushibo (here, here, here, here, and here) and One Free Korea (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here)

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