Steven Yeun & Conan visit a Korean spa in Koreatown

I first saw this Conan O’Brien video posted by a friend on Facebook and immediately re-shared it, and saw a few other friends quickly re-share it. Conan and actor Steve Yeun for some reason decide to go to a Korean Spa in Koreantown in LA. I’ve personally never been to Korea or to a Korean Spa, so I was curious about the video. The video is hilarious.

No doubt, Yeun is making the media rounds lately, since I had already started to blog about the premiere of the 2nd half of the 5th season of The Walking Dead  NPR has a great interview with Yuen (download MP3 here):

The-Walking-Dead-Season-5-Glenn-Yeun-590“Glenn’s the Korean pizza delivery guy turned zombie-killing ladies’ man. … Yeun loves that Glenn is able to own his heritage without it defining him as a character. Besides couple of references to his Koreanness, he’s just like everybody else on the show, doing his best not to get devoured by the undead. And his Asian-American fans are eating it up. … Steven Yeun is now something of a sex symbol, with teenagers to grown women of every race and ethnicity swooning on social media.”

I’m glad that Yeun and The Walking Dead is getting all this media exposure!

Image courtesy of AMC.

North Virginia Courts the Asian American Vote

NPR reports yet another state courting the Asian American vote. As the fastest growing minority in the state, Asian Americans are now 5% of the state and make up significant voting blocks in certain communities. The two ads here are in Korean, airing on Korean language channels in the state.

South Koreans Need Dating Parties to Find That Special Someone

From the NY Times: The difficulties in meeting potential spouses have exacerbated an increasing tendency among South Koreans to marry late. As young women have gotten better jobs, analysts say, many are loath to give them up to shepherd children through a hypercompetitive education system and care for aging in-laws. In 2011, the average age of a first marriage for South Korean women hit 29.14, up from 24.8 in 1990; for men it jumped to 31.8 from 27.9 in 1990. The birthrate sunk to 1.15 children per woman, the lowest among the world’s most developed countries. The dating scene is difficult enough but adding pressure from the government for the sake of population growth? Oy the awkwardness at so many levels is painful.

8Asians Chats With…The Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival

The Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival celebrates its Sweet 16th birthday Nov 6-11 in Toronto and Nov 16-17 in Richmond Hill.

I sat with Aram Siu-Wai Collier, the Director of Programming for this year’s festival to go over some of the highlights and what we can expect, including musical performances, Rum’n’Roti and the festival’s first 3D film screening.

This is part 1 of a 2 part post on the 16th Annual Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival.

Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival: Capsule Reviews, Part 2

The Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival celebrates it’s 15th Anniversary this coming Tuesday, November 8th. Part 2 reviews SURROGATE VALENTINE, BLEAK NIGHT, and

FULL-METAL ALCHEMIST: THE SACRED STAR OF MILOS
(Japan)

Long-time fans of the Elric brothers will have much to look forward to in their latest adventure.
On the trail of an escaped prisoner, the duo find themselves on Milos, a border city with a secret. and blood-soaked past. Deep within its caverns and labyrinths, lies a treasure of great power – the Sacred Star of Milos.

More after the jump.
Continue reading “Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival: Capsule Reviews, Part 2”

War of the Arrows Movie Review: Cinematographically Awesome

http://youtu.be/1WebxC4VDTk

Distributed by Lotte Entertainment, War of the Arrows is directed and written by Kim Han-Min. The film is something I’ve been wanting out of Korean films for a long time: an epic action film that keeps you on your toes but also has a great story line. The original film premiered in South Korea this August under the name: Arrow: The Ultimate Weapon (최종병기 활). Personally, the new English name seems a lot more fitting.

Continue reading “War of the Arrows Movie Review: Cinematographically Awesome”

Does K-Town’s Scarlet Chan Look Korean?

Scarlet Chan - Dave Contreras. Permission given for use.

I don’t usually pay attention to reality shows so when it flashed across my Facebook that Scarlet Chan had written something, I thought, “Hey, neato. Let me comment, even though she’ll never read it.”

I don’t look Korean at all… well according to my mom, but she gave birth to me so her opinion is not valid.

This is a funny statement coming from a Chinese American girl, but considering her K-Town Reality Show is about a group of Asians hanging out in Koreatown, I could see why people might think that Scarlet would be Korean. But it brought up a perfectly good point: how do Asians identify other Asians? Is this something that white people do in a similar fashion?

Ever hear about how Asians all look alike? I’m sure you have. For Caucasians, defining features that differentiate people are often hair color and eyes; yes, I understand that there are other obvious differences, but on a bigger picture level, that’s what you would look at to identify a person. But Asians all have black hair and black eyes, so that methodology doesn’t quite work out.

But because we have the same color hair and eyes, Asians seem to identify other nationalities with more subtle differences at first glance. Obviously, I haven’t actually done any research into this, and it was just a conversational piece that I had with my wife about identification since usually there are some features that are dominant with certain ethnicities. But back to the question itself: does Scarlet look Korean? And if not, why?

Let’s be honest: This was also a perfect chance to put up a semi-nude shot of Scarlet. Scarlet Chan approved. Boo-yah.

Is Kimchi Still Kimchi Without the Smell?

kimchiAs far back as I can remember, kimchi (김치) has had a role in my daily diet. Our family ate it with every meal and perhaps it was this constant presence that made me unaware of the aroma that came with the dish. It wasn’t until I was in college, when kimchi didn’t have such a big role in my diet, that I began to notice the unavoidably pungent scent that accompanies the dish.

There really is no good way to escape the smell. Even if you’re not consuming it, the scent will overpower you (unless you’re used to it, of course). As much as I enjoy the staple in Korean cuisine, I have to admit that the smell can be quite overwhelming. Now there is someone who promises the taste without the pungent scent. Kim Soon-ja of South Korea has created a freeze-dried kimchi that is absent of the odor that many may find offensive.

I admit that kimchi has a strong scent, but as a person who has a love-love relationship with food, I have come to appreciate the total experience of whatever I am consuming. And for better or worse, scent is a great big part of the whole food-ing experience. The same goes for my enjoyment of kimchi each time I consume it – the scent is part of the whole package. Maybe for some, the lack of scent will open them up to trying it, taking it to more places and so on. But I’d much rather have the kimchi as is, with the pungent scent and all.

Writing about kimchi has me feigning it now. Better go visit the mother so I can get a new batch of home-made goodness!

(Flickr photo credit: Nagyman, used under Creative Commons license)

When Ignorance Is Not Bliss: Jon Gosselin Shares his Korean Heritage with his Kids

“I think it was important to do this for my family, to show them that I care about my heritage, and you should, too,” he says.

The he in the above quote by Jon Gosselin from an episode (“Korean Dinner“) that aired when Jon and Kate were still Jon and Kate Plus Eight, not Jon and Kate plus a whole lotta messiness and ugliness.

The irony of his statement is still hard for me to shake. Let me give you some context. Or rather, read this article for context. During a night when Jon wants to teach his children about their Korean heritage, he makes them a Korean dinner with bulgogi as the main course. But the night that is meant to be a wonderfully educational night into their Korean background is marred by Jon’s fumbling in teaching about it (their Korean background) and Kate’s ignorance and taboo-ish behavior.

I have memories of sitting through this episode myself and being confused as to what Korean heritage Jon was teaching brood of eight about. I’m Korean, spent 9 years of my childhood there in fact, but I must have lived in a different Korea than the one Jon knows about.

While I halfheartedly salute Jon and Kate for trying to teach their kids about their Korean side, I hang my head in disbelief at the butchering of a culture I hold so dear to my heart. And it pains me to know that these kids may grow up thinking being Korean is shopping at a market that smells yucky, eating ruined mochi and wearing chopsticks in their hair.

What’s clear to me is that you can’t “teach your kids about their heritage” in one meal — or one episode of J&K +8. That said, if YOU had a meal with all 8 Gosselin kids, what would you want to impart on them?

Korean High Schooler Tae-hyok Nam is Dodger Blue

I like to think that I bleed Dodger Blue. I love baseball and I LOVE the Los Angeles Dodgers. While I may not be an expert, I know my around a game enough to surprise the boys who think girls do not know anything about baseball. I’m a very passionate fan and I’ve annoyed many a fans who have been unfortunate enough to sit in front of me at games. And I’m proud to say that I’ve even woken up a baby with my cheers while I was baby-sitting (it was unintentional).

Thanks to Ernie, I found out before my boss (who loves the Dodgers more than I do) that the Dodgers signed their first Korean high-schooler (Tae-hyok Nam) to a minor-league deal. Though Nam won’t be seen playing at the beauty that is the Dodger Stadium for a few years, it’s exciting that my team has been able to sign a promising player at a young age. I hope Nam matures into a great player so that he can do the Blue proud!

While we’re on the topic of MLB, let’s discuss something: Asians seem to dominate — read, do well — in baseball. Our office has been having discussions about this for as long as I’ve been working here. What is it in Asian men that help them shine in this sport? Theories from muscle memory to intelligence were thrown around; in any case, I’m glad to see Asian guys shining in professional sports in USA. Hey, whatever it takes to dispel the stereotype that Asians aren’t athletic.

(Flickr photo credit: Nitro101)