January 24, 2017

Soo Kyung Bae's thigh gap

Definition: "thigh gap" is ideal, a desired defined gap between the upper thighs when standing with your feet together.

National University of Singapore design student Soo Kyung Bae Thigh Gap Jewellery probes and mocks this trend.thigh-gap-jewellery-soo-kyung-bae_dezeen_936_1.jpg

April 29, 2016

Some coffee in Korea is not that of connoisseurs: busan edition with Jay Song

BUSAN, South Korea -- South Korea's cities are overrun with cafés. According to the Samsung Economic Research Institute, the number of coffee shops here jumped from about 6,000 in 2008 to 9,400 in 2011. Other studies put the number as high as 17,000 in Seoul alone. There are so many coffee shops in the South Korean capital that the Fair Trade Commission set a limit on the distance between new coffeehouse chains to at least 500 meters.

In addition to Starbucks, which is run by Shinsegae, 40 percent of the nation's cafés are run by the top five Korean brands: €”Caffe Bene, Hollys Coffee, Ediya Coffee, Angel-in-us and Tom n' Toms.

A common complaint amongst both expats and an increasing number of Koreans is that chain coffee is cheaply roasted, weak in strength and lacking in taste. This is driving Korea's coffeeholics to seek out better alternatives in smaller roasting companies and independent cafés.

Considering that last year 63 percent of the coffee consumed in Korea was dispersed from a powdery packet, it will take time for a stampede to rush towards indie coffee shops. Even Jay Song has her doubts.

The simple fact is that price is, sometimes, more important than taste.

Continue reading "Some coffee in Korea is not that of connoisseurs: busan edition with Jay Song" »

April 22, 2016

Fresh Off the Boat's

Outside of its social responsibility and outside of representation, Fresh Off the Boat's responsibility is to itself. To keep it real. To tell its own story. To be specific to itself. And in its specificity lies universality. When we eavesdrop on someone's story that contains no generalities or stereotypes, a crystal clear picture emerges.

It isn't just about "lots of Asian-Americans own restaurants" but more about "Eddie Huang's father owns a steakhouse called Cattlemen's Ranch -- he doesn't serve chop suey and all his employees are white and he has a very positive relationship with each of them. And that restaurant is failing." My white, third generation, three-eighths British, one-eighth Swedish, and half Italian-American boyfriend and I both are able to relate to being a fish out of water, to a failing business, and to good work relationships.

In Home Sweet Home-School, Eddie gets straight A's and his (white) friend gets straight C's. Both pump the air with victory. And then later, a (white) family assembles at Cattlemen's Ranch and you can overhear them launch their meals with, "Cheers to our son for getting straight C's!"

"That was never my experience," said Orion. "C's were never OK."
"Really?" I asked. "It felt like white kids could get C's and not get beat with a belt when I was growing up!" Now I'm learning.

April 12, 2016

Language learning: case, Korean

Click Korean by Seoul National University.

The program consists of 20 units, each comprised of the following 6 sections: Introduction, Vocabulary, Dialogue, Grammar and Expressions, Reading and Culture. Many websites do not teach you the pronunciation rules. Click Korean covers preliminary material, which are specially designed for people who have not been exposed to the language before. The creation of Hangeul and its formation are explained in brief and the vowels are presented. The consonants and basic pronunciation rules of Korean are presented too.

Sogang Korean Program is much more detailed, in-depth and complicated. So, if you have little or no exposure to Korean language before, go for Click Korean.

February 22, 2016

Age begins at one

Korea is one of the few countries that counts a newborn as being age 1 from birth. The tradition originates from China and was widely used in Asia.

From birth, a Korean starts as a 1-year-old and grows older by a year each year as the calendar changes. A 20-year-old, therefore would be 21 years old in Korean age, even if they have had a birthday that year. It's also the reason a newborn baby who came into the world just two short months ago could already be recognized as 2 years old.

Korea's civil law has been counting age based on one's birthdate since 1962. But Korean age is still widely used socially as the preceding measure in comparing each other's ages. Age remains one of key factors defining hierarchy and relations both personally and professionally in Korea.

Some say the Korean age calculation dates to agrarian society where seasonal changes and the length of a year were prioritized. Some also say it is based on an idea that the nine months spent inside a mother's womb is counted.

But as confusion persists in mixing and using two versions of one's age, most other East Asian countries have decided to abolish the dated aging system. Japan, for instance, enacted relevant laws in 1902 to officially use the universal age count, as did China in the late 1970s. North Korea is also said to be using age based on the date of birth.

January 5, 2016

Jane Chu Illustrations

chuillustrations.tumblr; at Society6, with Korean-influenced design esthetic.


January 2, 2016

Kyung-Sook Shin in Seoul of 1980, 1990.

SINCE the Korean War, Western writing on Korea has focused mostly on the contrast between North and South. But the past sixty years include a number of heartbreaking and overlooked stories of the South, a poor agrarian state that quickly transformed into an industrial powerhouse, and a dictatorial "democracy" that evolved into a sound republic.

Kyung-Sook Shin.jpg

Continue reading "Kyung-Sook Shin in Seoul of 1980, 1990." »

December 19, 2015

Write what you think

SEOUL, South Korea -- WHEN she published her book about Korean "comfort women" in 2013, Park Yu-ha wrote that she felt "a bit fearful" of how it might be received.

After all, she said, it challenged "the common knowledge" about the wartime sex slaves.

But even she was not prepared for the severity of the backlash.

In February, a South Korean court ordered Ms. Park's book, "Comfort Women of the Empire," redacted in 34 sections where it found her guilty of defaming former comfort women with false facts. Ms. Park is also on trial on the criminal charge of defaming the aging women, widely accepted here as an inviolable symbol of Korea's suffering under colonial rule by Japan and its need for historical justice, and she is being sued for defamation by some of the women themselves.

Op-Ed Contributor: South Korea's Textbook Whitewash:
The women have called for Ms. Park's expulsion from Sejong University in Seoul, where she is a professor of Japanese literature. Other researchers say she is an apologist for Japan's war crimes. On social media, she has been vilified as a "pro-Japanese traitor."

Japan's Apologies for World War II:
"They do not want you to see other aspects of the comfort women," the soft-spoken Ms. Park said during a recent interview at a quiet street-corner cafe run by one of her supporters. "If you do, they think you are diluting the issue, giving Japan indulgence."

Continue reading "Write what you think" »

September 10, 2015

On Californian demography

I had to explain that the upper-middle-class suburbs -- mainstream white America -- is the Wild West for Asian-Americans. So for as much as the show may cater to a white audience (i.e., those horrible faux accents), there is something for "us." And for many Asian-Americans -- whether here by adoption, immigration, or born here -- so much of life here as Americans is the desire to be accepted, and the rubrics for acceptance. In that sense, Fresh Off the Boat is universal in its theme.

-- Christine Hyung-Oak Lee

Tags: Korea, California.

May 7, 2015


S&C New York's recent success with Hangul Typography Exhibition at the Art Directors Club last November has achieved international fame and a documentary film that features S&C New York's activities.

[다큐 공감] 뉴욕, 독도 그리고 "너 빼고 다 아는" from Stigma and Cognition on Vimeo.


May 5, 2015

Patterns in Hangul

A 15 minute tour


June 3, 2013

Coffee Shops Everywhere

Coffee Shops Everywhere

Years ago you'd always hear foreigners complaining about coffee in Korea, back when coffee consisted of instant mixes like Maxim. But somewhere along the way, Korea discovered the cafe, and suddenly they're everywhere, to the point where I'm starting to get alarmed at how many cafes are out there. Starbucks is here and it's everywhere, but it has a lot of competition from domestic franchises.

You're never far from a Caffé Bene, or an Angel-in-Us Coffee, or a Hollys Coffee, or a Tom N Toms Coffee, or A Twosome Place. Not to mention all the smaller coffee places out there as well. And they're all far better than instant coffee mix. Many cafes are open 24 hours a day, and due to the vertical lifestyle here it's not rare to see a three-storey cafe offering great views as you sip your coffee.

There's even a term now for women who spend more money on coffee than they do on actual lunch: 됀장녀, though I hear it's kind of dismissive.

Chances are the culprit for this cafe trend is the Korean drama The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince, which introduced the Korean public to the cafe lifestyle, but also inspired many people to open their own cafes.

May 26, 2013

MJ Choi opens up about k hiphop dance

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A: My name is MJ Choi. I am the director and instructor of I LOVE DANCE. I started dancing late in my life and after a couple of years of dance training, I founded I LOVE DANCE in 2006.

MJ Choi 943018_327848937318135_1533243060_n.jpg

Q: What prompted you to start I Love Dance and teach K-Pop classes?

A: I originally started teaching Hip-Hop classes in NYC in 2006 thinking that I wanted to help beginner to learn how to dance. Back then, K-POP really wasn't as popular as it is now. In fact, I don't think we even used the term K-POP much. When I first started, I had a small group of Korean students who were interested in taking Hip-Hop classes. But as you know, we've had this explosion of K-POP popularity in the past few years. So my classes somewhat naturally transitioned into K-POP Dance as more and more students showed growing interest.

-- Asian in NY's i-love-dance-third-annual-student-showcase-2013.

Continue reading "MJ Choi opens up about k hiphop dance" »

May 14, 2013

Kimchi goes all-American

"If we would call something 'fermented,' consumers would have a shock and wonder whether we were feeding them something they're not supposed to eat," says Saumya Dwivedi, a senior research specialist at IFF.

Instead, when leading focus groups Ms. Dwivedi sticks to the adjectives she hears consumers use as they describe the fermented flavors they taste: tangy, pickled, briny.

Chef Paul Virant is the author of a book for home fermenting, "The Preservation Kitchen." The menus at his two high-end, Chicago-area restaurants center around fermented flavors. His team cans about $35,000 worth of produce, or about 4,000 jars, each year.

The sour notes generated during fermentation help balance the flavors of his cooking, he says, which includes Brussels-sprout kimchi and duck confit with fermented rutabaga. "People are pleasantly surprised when they try it," he says.

Mmm, the Flavors of Fermentation, WSJ, ELLEN BYRON April 10, 2013

April 7, 2012

Kye ( Gye ), social credit of Korean America

Lending Support to Kyes : Immigrants' Credit Associations Need to Be Encouraged--for Everyone's Financial Health
October 24, 1993. Ivan Light, a professor of sociology at UCLA, is the co-author of "Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Koreans in Los Angeles, 1965-1982." (Los Angeles: University of California, 1988).

When Jung-Hie Park sought to collect $50,000 owed to his kye , a popular financial institution in the Korean community, he turned to California courts for adjudication. Without examining the merits of his claims, Superior Court Judge Edward M. Ross ruled in September that kyes were an "illegal lottery" whose debts could not be collected in an American court.

Although Ross' decision may be appealed, it highlights the difficulty that American law encounters when attempting to digest foreign saving and credit institutions like the kye . In the language of anthropology, the Korean kye , the Mexican tanda , the Chinese hui , and the Vietnamese ho are examples of the rotating savings and credit association, a popular financial institution of the Third World

Continue reading "Kye ( Gye ), social credit of Korean America" »

January 3, 2012

Kim Chi, artisanal ?

The first offerings of artisan kimchi comprise the most popular recipes: napa cabbage and daikon (the long, white East Asian radish).

Open the mason jar just a tad and the pungent aroma of kimchi wafts out.
Napa Cabbage Kimchi. Leaves of cabbage marinated in a sauce of red chiles, onion, scallion, chives, salt, sugar, garlic, ginger, anchovy sauce, oysters, salted shrimp, beef stock, sesame seeds and rice flour.

Daikon Kimchi. Crunchy cubes of daikon are easier to eat without dripping the sauce, made of red chiles, onion, scallion, chives, garlic, salted shrimp and beef stock. All flavors combine on the palate: chile flavor (and heat), garlic and approximation of citrus, which isn't an ingredient.


Lauryn Chun, a former wine consultant and founder of Mother In Law's Kimchi, spent nine years ferrying kimchi from her mother's restaurant--Jang Mo Gip in Garden Grove, a city in Orange County, California--to her home in New York City. Her friends couldn't get enough of it. Then the light bulb went on--BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY!--and she began to produce artisan kimchi locally, using her mother's recipe plus napa cabbage and daikon grown by a Korean farmer in New York's Mid-Hudson Region.

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