Monday, September 13, 2010

“400-milliion-won luxury girl” 4억명품녀

As part of Korea's "tradition" of Nyeo (녀, girl) phenomenon, here's another controversial scoop that led to another  nyeo/girl term, the  “400-milliion-won luxury girl” (4억명품녀). In my previous entry, I also featured Rude Girl (경희대 패륜녀) as one of the examples.

A jobless daughter of rich parents can freely brag about her luxurious life on a cable TV program. But it could become a wholly different matter when the issue of gift tax is raised.

Appearing on’s “Tent in the City” that was aired on Tuesday, the 24-year-old girl, Kim Kyung-ah, bragged that her outfit and accessories she was wearing were worth more than 400 million won ($343,000).

Introducing herself as jobless, she said “pocket money” given by her parents has enabled her to buy luxury clothes, accessories and travel overseas at any time.

In a self-filmed clip at her house, Kim boasted that her car was worth more than 300 million won and other designer-brand clothes along with accessories on display at her home in an upscale district in southern Seoul.

Her bragging caused a huge stir on the Internet and irked many. And a question was raised among netizens whether the girl, now famously known as the “400-milliion-won luxury girl,” is subject to any gift taxes.

Following the episode, the National Tax Service (NTS)’s website was bombarded with articles by angry citizens, who called for an intense tax audit of her parents.

“Her lavish spending was impossible without financial support from her parents,” an article read. “The authorities need to audit them to check whether they took appropriate steps to hand down their wealth to the daughter.”

Under the law, the maximum amount in gifts to the second generation without paying tax is set at 30 million won. At a session of the National Assembly, NTS head Lee Hyun-dong promised lawmakers it will look into the case.

However, as the tax authorities are moving to launch a tax audit to find any irregularities in maintaining her spending spree, the 24-year-old woman ate her words.

She said she was not as rich as shown by the program and insisted she just “acted” based on a script provided by staff, indicating that the non-fiction program was, as a matter of fact, fabricated to attract viewers’ attention.

But the program’s producer,, an entertainment-only channel, is balking at her allegation, saying the program was not scripted and her lavish spending shown in the episode was clearly “real.”

For its part, the state broadcasting regulator said it will open an investigation into the program this week to check their clashing claims.

by Park Si-soo

Related Article
Korea's Paris Hilton
By Ryu Jeong-hyun (Intern Reporter)

Rude Girl 경희대 패륜녀:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

'Pretty' men sweep electronics commercials

Television commercials for domestic appliances like refrigerators, ovens and laundry products are obviously aimed at women. What marketers can’t decide, however, is whether it’s better to have the products endorsed by beautiful women or men just as pretty.

It wasn’t long ago when famous actresses like Song Hye-kyo and Ko Hyun-jung were dominating the television advertisements for ``kimchi’’ refrigerators, which are specially designed for maintaining the Korean staple dish of fermented cabbage.

But it now seems that major consumer electronics makers like Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have decided they would rather use male celebrities to lure female customers.

Actor and singer Lee Seung-gi is now appearing in television advertisements for Samsung’s ``Zipel’’ kimchi refrigerators, and midsized maker Winiamando has a pair of movie hunks in So Ji-sub and Yoo Seung-ho touting its kimchi refrigerators.

Completing the male sweep is LG, which recently signed the footballing duo of Cha Du-ri and Ki Sung-yueng, both playing for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League, to appear on television commercials for its ``Dios’’ brand of kimchi refrigerators later this month.

Male celebrities are competing with their female counterparts in the advertisements for kitchen appliances as well. Alex, a singer and renowned foodie, has been the local spokesman for French appliances maker Tefal.

In his recent movie, ``The Man from Nowhere,’’ actor Won Bin played the role of a retired secret agent who embarks upon a blood-splattering revenge mission for a kidnapped child. But he’s all-sweet in the commercial for Cuckoo’s new rice cooker, ``Pink Rose,’’ buying flowers, doing the dishes, and casting his patented doe-eyed stare at the rice cooker as he waits for his imaginary girlfriend to return from work.

``A lot of women will be willing to trade places with that rice cooker,’’ a Cuckoo spokesman said.

Laundry products are a rare home appliance where actresses are defending their endorsement turf. Samsung and LG have Han Ga-in and Lee Na-young, respectively, promoting their premium washing machines. Apparently, the logic is that women want men to cook for them, but women still can’t trust men to erase the stain on their skirts.

``Electronics makers have long relied on actresses and female models in gender targeting, connecting an image of `high living’ to their domestic appliances products and stoking the desire for self-reward in female customers. But now they seem to believe that using attractive men provides a better way to aim at female customers,’’ said an employee from a Seoul-based advertisement company.

At least the actresses still have their apartment commercials.

By Kim Tong-hyung

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tragedy fails to shake Filipina's belief in Korea

Few have become a symbol of Korea’s multiculturalism like Jasmine Lee.

Lee, who has appeared on television shows such as KBS’ ``Love in Asia’’ and a cameo in the hit film ``Blood Brothers,’’ had no inkling her life would turn out this way when she first arrived in Korea in 1995.

The pretty and dusky Filipina was a 17 year old college freshman in 1994 when she met Lee Dong-ho, then 29, a seaman who was staying in her hometown in Davao, southern Philippines. Despite their age gap, the romance led to marriage a year-and-a-half later.

Their marriage initially encountered opposition from his parents, who did not understand why their eldest son would want to marry a foreigner. Plus language was also a big barrier, so she had to learn quickly.

``I didn’t even have a chance to teach my children English or Tagalog when they were small because I was busy learning Korean. We lived with my husband's parents and grandparents in the same house, and they’re old. We didn't understand each other. It was impossible for me to ask them to learn English, so I learned on my own,’’ Lee, who is now fluent in Korean, said.

At that time, there were no free Korean language classes, so Lee studied Korean from books, watched television dramas, and practiced with her husband and family members.

When she went outside, Lee endured blatant stares and prying questions from Koreans on the street. ``If I tell them I’m married to a Korean, they would always ask, `Why? How did you meet? What does your husband do?’ I always thought, `why do they have to ask those questions?’ It was too stressful to answer those questions,’’ she said.

Lee also had to deal with people’s misconceptions about the Philippines. Instead of getting offended by some Korean people’s negative opinions about her country, she tried to understand where they were coming from.

``I didn't blame them because they only saw the documentaries about poverty in the Philippines. Some people only knew the country was poor and some would tell me there are a lot of pickpockets and beggars,’’ she said.

Becoming Korean

In July 1996, she gave birth to a son Seung-geun, but when she saw the family registry, it only included her husband and son’s name.

``Since I was a foreigner, I was not included. I was living under the same roof, but the government does not recognize me as a person living in that house. Am I a ghost? My child does not have a mother? So I decided to change to Korean citizenship (in 1998),’’ she said.

Even after becoming a Korean citizen, Lee still felt very conspicuous. When her son began going to school in 2002, she did not accompany him to avoid letting people know that his mother is Filipina. By second grade, she ran out of excuses and had to go to her son’s school.

``Children pointed out I was a foreigner, maybe from Africa, and I felt like a clown in a circus. I didn’t want to but I still stood out in the crowd. I was worried my son would hear these comments and deny that I’m his mother, but when Seung-geun saw me, he shouted `Omma,'’’ she remembered fondly.

It was hard at first, with other parents thinking that she was either an English teacher or a housekeeper who visited the school in place of Seung-geun’s real mother.

Her son and daughter also had to endure taunts and nasty nicknames, such as ``Philippine monkey’’ from some classmates, but Lee says her children are tough and would fight back. ``My son is cool about it, but he would fight them if they start calling his mother `wonsoongi’ (monkey),’’ she said.

While it was hard making that first step into Korean society, Lee realized it was necessary to go out more and gain acceptance. Once people became used to her, they even forgot she was a foreigner herself.

``I couldn’t live my life inside the house all the time. I realized the more I hide, the more that people don't know (about multicultural families), the harder it will become,’’ she said.

Stepping out in society

As her social circle widened, opportunities started opening up for Lee. She joined a television quiz show and a New Year's Day singing contest for foreign wives, and worked as a translator for ``Love in Asia,’’ a show depicting the lives of multicultural families.

Her happy family life was featured on the show, a welcome change from the usual sad stories. ``The writers wanted to feature my family because I was different: we were living in Seoul and in the same house with four generations of my husband’s family. Plus I was good at Korean. They said it was a perfect example of multiculturalism,’’ she said.

Soon after, Lee was hired to become a regular panelist on Love in Asia, where she met other foreign wives.

These experiences have given Lee a realistic perspective on what it means to be a multiethnic family. She regularly gives lectures about multiculturalism in Korea for teachers and student leaders.

``Each person has their own biases. We may think we don't have biases but they don't know it yet... I always tell them to discard their biases and prejudices. Some teachers think that they are protecting biracial children but their unnecessary sympathy can make it worse. The children get more annoyed when adults will make them feel that they are different from other kids,’’ she said.

For instance, when her daughter was in first grade, a teacher told the class to be nice to her because her mother is a foreigner.

``It’s wrong for teachers to have this bias that just because she is biracial, then she will be a `wangtta’ (outcast)... My daughter didn’t even tell me about that experience, but now she said it is okay because the other children are looking up to her since she’s been on TV,’’ Lee laughed.

For foreign spouses, she encourages them to make efforts to learn the language and to venture into Korean society, which she says are the keys to being accepted.

``There is a big difference between those who speak and don’t speak Korean. Especially when the children are growing up, they get annoyed when they speak better Korean than their mothers,’’ she added.

Dealing with tragedy

It has been a month since her husband Dong-ho died. He suffered a heart attack while rescuing his daughter, who was caught in a whirlpool in a mountain stream in Okcheon-dong, Gangwon province.

Lee was devastated by her husband’s death and is still coming to grips with it. ``I never realized how important he was in my life until he was gone. His mere presence was a source of comfort for me,’’ she said.

A smile passes her lips, as she recalled how Dong-ho would pick her up at the subway station, and how he took charge of household chores when she started working.

For the last 14 years she used the last name Ba, a shortened version of her real name. It was only in June when Dong-ho decided to file the paperwork necessary for Jasmine to change her surname to Lee. But in a twist of fate, Lee received the approval to carry her husband’s last name a week after he died.

```It’s his last gift for me,’’ she said, sadly. ``There were many times before when we wanted to change my name but didn't do it. Now that we did, he couldn't even wait for me to become a real Lee.’’

Lee is not sure what the future holds for her family but she wants to keep making her husband proud. ``I do want to continue what I’m doing. (My husband) was really proud of what I was doing,’’ she said.

by Cathy Garcia

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hot peppers linked to cancer cell growth

This may be shocking to Koreans who consider red peppers as part of their daily dietary intake not just for health reasons and for the taste but also for its cultural significance in Korean cuisine.

Red pepper flakes and pastes have created a huge boom in East Asia for their effect in dissolving fat and leading to possible weight loss. However, those who eat them habitually for health or diet’s sake may have to think twice — a group of international researchers claim that capsaicin in the pepper may be linked to skin cancer.

According to Prof. Lee Ki-won of Konkuk University and fellow scientists at Seoul National University and the University of Minnesota, the substance has the ability to act as a carcinogen promoter, especially at the stage when a tumor is being formed.

The researchers applied capsaicin, the pungent substance that makes peppers hot, onto the skin of mice regularly for a set period of time, and found that the regular application made them more susceptible to skin cancer, with some of them developing larger tumors than others.

They also concluded that capsaicin has the potential to induce inflammation that could possibly affect cancer development.

However, the researchers said that capsaicin did not cause skin cancer in all the animals tested.

Capsaicin is widely consumed worldwide in foods containing chili peppers and others. Many use it as topical cream to treat pain.

Ann Bode, one of the researchers, said to multiple press outlets that the study results should raise concern that an over-the-counter pain reliever could increase skin cancer risks.

The ground-breaking finding was published as the cover story of the “Cancer Research” magazine’s September edition, but is expected to trigger fresh controversy over the substance.

Some studies in the past suggested that capsaicin induces cell deaths in cancer cells when administered to a cancer patient.

Some reports have claimed that the substance promotes stomach and liver cancer and also induced duodenal adenocarcinoma in mice. It is also said to enhance the metastasis of breast cancer cells by reducing the expression of relevant genes.

Prof. Lee of the Konkuk University said, “It is true that chili peppers are good for the body. The study will evolve into which part of the food does good and which doesn’t.”

By Bae Ji-sook (

Monday, September 6, 2010

An Invitation to the Hallyu Dream Festival 2010

Get ready for 3 straight days of all your favorite Hallyu stars at the Hallyu Dream Festival in Gyeongju! Festivities will take place in the Gyeongju Citizen Stadium and the Gyeongju Indoor Stadium from September 10th~12th and will include a mix of cultural contents celebrating the fashion, music, and drama that have come to define Hallyu worldwide.

Main events include “Meet Hallyu Stars” and ““Lee Yeong-Hui Fashion Show” and culminate with the Hallyu Dream Concert, a series of stupendous performances featuring 23 of today’s hottest groups such as: Super Junior, 2AM, 2PM, 2NE1, Seven, 4Minute, Beast, Son Dam-bi, Kara, After School, MISS A, FT Island, Chosinseong, Da Vichi, T-ara, MBLAQ, U-Kiss, Secret, Flower, Seo In-guk, Shinee, Iru, and Nine Muses. If you’re a fan of K-Pop, this is one event you can’t miss out on!

At the festival, there will also be a wide variety of side events such as the “Reenactment of Queen Seondeok,” a queen of the Silla Dynasty (57 BC-935 AD); “Rice cake & Liquor Festival”; and a number of performances and exhibitions celebrating the many fascinating aspects of Korean culture past and present.

In celebration of ‘Visit Korea Year 2010~2012,’ the festival seeks to bring locals and internationals together in appreciation of Korean culture and arts. As an added bonus for international visitors, the Visit Korea Year Committee will be offering a limited number of FREE tickets. Those interested in free passes to this exciting Hallyu extravaganza are asked to apply for tickets at the official site of the Visit Korea Committee ( by September 7th.

More Info
☞ Go to the official site of the Visit Korea Year Committee (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Go to the website of Hallyu Dream Festival (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ For more information on the festival (Korean)
☞ Korea Travel Phone +82-53-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

Courtesy of:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Virtual Reality as a way to study English?

An article from a newspaper today says that Korean students learn English through Virtual Reality. I'm not sure if this would be a good way to learn English or any other language. It could also end up as another means of studying a language not necessarily effective. Korea, a country that craves too much for "learning" English, seems to be developing more "creative" teachniques in learning the said language.

In the article this was the situation: While buying a subway ticket in Boston, a Korean elementary school student asks an agent what direction she should take. Following the instruction, the student takes the train at the platform. The early teen checks a tour guide on the move to learn when she has to get off. She leaves at the right stop near the hotel where she is supposed to stay.

This does not take place in the United States but in a class at a primary school in Daejeon, about 100 kilometers south of Seoul. The latest technology creates the above-mentioned virtual reality.

``Virtual reality is a real-time interactive program designed to teach English more efficiently at schools,’’ said Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) official Lee Jun-seok who developed it over the past few years.
(Full article:

The idea might be noble but I am doubtful if it would be successful. Based on the article I could already pinpoint a lot of discrepancies as to its applicability and effectiviness.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Typhoon Kompasu in Korea

Just when I thought that the typhoon that happened yesterday in Korea wasn't so strong, news from TV, broadsheets, internet say that the damages were quite big. This tree in the picture is right in front of my dorm. Some smaller trees were also uprooted. I never knew that it was that strong. I slept really well. I guess I've experience the strongest typhoons in the world knowing that the Philippines is in the typhoon belt. However, I guess Seoul had more damages interms of money since many business transactions were cancelled like flights, ships and more.

In article from Korea Times, Thursday morning, the typhoon disrupted Seoul metro operations, causing massive power outages and grounding domestic and international flights. The seventh typhoon of the year pounded the western coast and central parts of the country earlier than forecast by the weather agency, shattering signboards and uprooting trees. It was the strongest tropical storm to hit Seoul in a decade, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).  Kompasu, which means “compass” in Japanese, forced commuters to suffer the worst transportation chaos in years. The maximum wind speed reached nearly 30 meters per second in the capital.

1 in 3 male Seoulites positive about taking cosmetic surgery

I found this interesting article today. A proof of plastic surgery's popularity in Korea. Many people thought that it's only "applicable" to females but according to this article it's not anymore as the point of view is already changing. I even have one very close Korean male friend who had nose and eye lid surgeries. He said it's ok he just want to look good. Anyway, here's the article

If you think cosmetic surgery is only for women, it’s time to reconsider. According to a report by the Seoul city government, the number of older males reacting favorably to cosmetic surgery has more than doubled in the past two years. This apparently reflects the growing trend of “lookism” or an “aggressive approach to look better in other people’s eyes.”

The administration surveyed 22,600 males in Seoul and found 30.5 percent of those in their 20s and 30s as well as 16.1 percent of those over 50 years old responding that it’s okay for men to undergo plastic surgery for aesthetic purposes. The noticeable change was among the older generation: while the figure rose to about 9.8 percent among the younger males, it marked an over two-fold increase from 2008, when only 8.6 percent approved of it.

Twenty-nine-year-old Chung has gone under the knife three times ㅡ twice for a nose implant and once for double eyelid surgery. He said he doesn’t feel embarrassed at all.

“Before, I always thought I was the unattractive one. When good looking guys confidently flirted with girls, I always couldn’t stop staring at them. But after surgery, I feel equally confident. I could talk to any girl and some of them tell me that I look nice. It helped my business and in other aspects in life,” he said. “I recommend it to other people. Why stress when you can change it?”

“Politicians are receiving Botox or double eyelid treatments as well as actors becoming instantly more attractive and it has influenced ordinary people to consider plastic surgery,” Park Yong-nam, a plastic surgeon, said. “Many people think appearance is one of the crucial factors for competitiveness. It boosts one’s self confidence, which is positive for life overall,” he added.

Meanwhile, the city administration’s report suggested some interesting figures showing the changing trends and patterns of general ideas of males nowadays. While the younger generation prefers buying a car over a house, the older ones were more eager to own a house. Only 0.2 percent of the males in their 20s and 30s and 3.8 percent of those over 50 expected their children to support them during their post-retirement lives.

About 46.4 percent of single men in their 20s and 30s consult with their mothers when dealing with various problems but only 10.3 percent sought their fathers’ help.

The researchers said the number of males in Seoul marked 4,974,000, accounting for 49.5 percent of the total, a 6.6 percent fall from two decades ago.

The ever-accelerating aging population will change the demographics ㅡ in 2030, the largest age group will be those over 60 years old, numbering 1.2 million or 26.8 percent of the total.

Currently, the largest portion is 30-somethings accounting for over 19.1 percent, followed by 40-somethings and 20-somethings, marking 16.4 percent and 16.2 percent, respectively.

By Bae Ji-sook

relates blog

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Y20 not G20 ^^

I just want to feature this article in my blog. It's my first time to be sort of featured in a national broadsheet in Korea, the Joong Ang Daily. The first time was in a local campus newspaper in SNU. haha

‘의장국’ 한국팀 리더 노현영

“Y20 덕분에 이번 방학이 행복했습니다. 이렇게 순수한 열정으로 혼신의 힘을 다한 적이 없었던 것 같아요.”

한국팀의 리더 노현영(21·여·고려대 정치외교학과 3학년)씨는 Y20 대표단을 대표해 공동선언문(코뮈니케)을 발표했다. 주요 20개국(G20) 정상회의처럼 Y20에서도 한국팀이 의장국을 맡아 회의를 이끌었다. 노씨는 다른 팀원과 교대로 의장 역할을 맡아 코뮈니케 작성을 주도했다. 토론 과정이 쉽지는 않았다. 이슈 하나하나마다 첨예하게 찬반 토론이 오갔다. “만장일치가 돼야 코뮈니케를 채택할 수 있거든요. 참석 국가 모두 만족할 만한 타협점을 찾으려니 힘들었어요.”

노씨가 가장 기억나는 쟁점은 토빈세(국제 투기자본의 단기성 외환 거래에 부과하는 세금)에 대한 논쟁이었다. G20 정상회의에서와 달리 Y20에선 토빈세가 핵심 쟁점이었다. “유럽연합(EU)·일본·러시아는 토빈세 부과에 찬성했지만 미국·국제통화기금(IMF)·호주 등은 반대했어요. 결국 표현 수위를 미세하게 조정하며 타협점을 찾았어요. ‘~해야 한다’는 표현을 ‘~하는 것을 장려한다’로 바꾸는 식이었죠.”

노씨는 “마치 실제로 국제외교 무대에 서 있는 것 같아 가슴이 벅찼다”고 말했다. 총 6명으로 구성된 한국팀의 또 다른 재주꾼은 필리핀 유학생 마곤니시아 제레미아(25·서울대 국제대학원)다. 그는 “동아시아 전공이어서 한국 대표를 지원했다”며 “한국인이 아니면서 한국을 대표하고 뛰어난 Y20 참가자들과 함께 토론하며 많은 것을 얻었다”고 말했다. “특히 기후변화 이슈에 대해 다양한 국적의 학생들이 선진국·개발도상국으로 나뉘어 의견을 개진한 것이 기억에 남는다”고 했다.

전수진 기자

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gwangju Special: Hub City of Asian Culture

Another lifetime benefit of becoming a member of World Students Korea is a free trip to different parts of the country. This time we went to Gwangju. Known as the city of light based on its Chinese character Gwang (광,光?, which means "light" and Ju (주, 州) which means "province.

Brief Information About Gwangju:

Gwangju is the 6th largest city in South Korea. Used to be the capital of South Jeolla Province until 2005 and was once a major political and economic centre of Korea ever since.57BC being an administrative centre of Baekje during the Three Kingdoms Period. It’s a 3.5 to 4-hour bus ride from Seoul with one 15-minute break after 2 hours so it’s not tiresome at all. The roads are good and buses are more than good so nothing to worry about it. Since I already featured the May 18th Uprising and the Gwangju World Music Festival in my two other entries, I will feature the newest project of the city.

Gwangju: Hub City of Asian Culture
According to the guide who explained to us about the project in detail, so far this is the biggest cultural project in Korea. It seeks to promote awareness of Asian Culture through different venues and ways in the cultural complex, Asian Culture Complex, which is currently being made in the center of Gwangju City. “Western” culture has been known and popular throughout the world even in Asia. This project would aim to put Asian Culture in the limelight in a world class arena at the same time preserve and let everyone know about it through exchanges. There are five main institutions that will be built, each catering to different sorts of cultural expression. Cultural Exchange Agency, Asian Culture Information Agency, Cultural Promotion Agency, Asian Arts Theatre and Edu-Culture Agency for children. For more information visit

The project is expected to finish on 2014. Although I'm not going to be here anymore at that time, I hope I could come back and witness it. It was raining that day but good we were able to accomplished all the scheduled sights and activities. I enjoyed the food since it was "authentic" Korean food. we went Gwangju's most famous restaurants. Lunch was in a very cozy place 에루화, while dinner was bibimbap in 예향촌 another popular restaurant in Gwangju.