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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Koihime Musou Girls and Famous Koreans, Part X: Zhang Fei and Jang Keun-suk


Jang Keun-suk (Hangul/Hanja/Romanization: 장근석/張根碩/Jang Geun-seok) was born on September 26, 1987 in Danyang County, Northern Chungcheong Province, South Korea. He is a South Korean actor, singer and model. He is best known for playing the role of band leader Hwang Tae-kyung in the 2009 drama You're Beautiful, with Lee Hongki, Jung Yong-hwa, Park Shin-hye and Uee, as well as the role of Kang Mu-gyul in the 2010 romantic comedy series Mary Stayed Out All Night, with Moon Geun-young and as Seo In-ha/Seo Joon in 2012 Love Rain with Yoona of Girls' Generation. 

He is coming from Indong Jang Clan (인동 장씨/仁同張氏) which is originated from the administrative precinct of Indong-dong, Gumi City, Northern Gyeongsang Province; along with two clansmen: famous statesman and disgraced consortChang Myon (1899-1966) - Prime Minster of Korea and Jang Ok-jeong, Royal Noble Consort Hui (1659-1701) - King Sukjong's Femme Fatale.

Keun-suk started working as a child model at the age of five after he was discovered by a talent agent. At that time, Keun-suk's parents were selling their house and the agent, who was a prospective buyer, saw Keun-suk. Seeing his potential, the agent advised Keun-Suk's parents to allow him to try a career in modeling.

Keun-suk made his acting debut in 1997 HBS (now Channel CGV) sitcom Selling Happiness (Haengbokdo Pabnida). He then continued to work in television as a child actor. In middle school, Keun-Suk heard the music of Japanese pop singer Ken Hirai. He was inspired enough by these bands to start learning Japanese by himself. In junior high school, Keun-suk went to school in New Zealand, where he attended Nelson College in 2003, to learn English and Japanese. Because of his studies in New Zealand, he can carry casual conversations in both languages.

Even though Keun-suk wanted to continue his studies in New Zealand, a job offer brought him back to South Korea, a role in the popular MBC sitcom Nonstop 4. After his work in Nonstop 4, Keun-Suk fell into a self-perceived slump and didn't think his acting was good enough. He decided then to re-devote himself to becoming a true actor.

In 2005, Keun-suk's portrayal of the president's son in the SBS drama Lovers in Prague became a hit and was well regarded by drama fans. In 2006, Keun-suk made the jump to the big screen in the Japanese horror film One Missed Call: Final where he played the role of a deaf boy. Using his past experience with the Japanese language, Keun-suk was able to communicate with his Japanese co-stars with ease. He also learned sign language in preparation for his role.

Back on the small screen, he next played the role of Kim Eun-ho, Hwang Jin-yi's first love in the TV drama Hwang Jin-i. Keun-suk's performance gained the attention of many female fans. In 2007, Keun-Suk was cast in the rock music-themed film The Happy Life. His portrayal of Hyeon-ju allowed Keun-suk to show off his masculine charms, as well as display his skills as a singer. Jang was co-MC with Heechul of Super Junior on SBS's weekly live music show Inkigayo, from 25 February to 7 October 2007.

In 2008, Keun-suk would go on to act in two more music-inspired titles with the feature film Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do and the hit MBC TV drama Beethoven Virus starring opposite Kim Myung Min. He also starred in the KBS drama, Hong Gil Dong, as Prince Lee Changhwi. He starred alongside the baby actor Moon Mason in the movie Baby and I.

Keun-suk's next role in the 2009 thriller The Case of Itaewon Homicide was his first villain role. The film is based on the true story of a murder that occurred at a Burger King restaurant in Itaewon, South Korea. Keun-suk portrayed the role of Pearson who was a disturbed young Korean-American accused of stabbing a student to death. Keun-Suk spoke his lines in English throughout the entire film, a job he did well, according to BeyondHollywood.com: "Jang Keun-suk performs very well as the sullen Pearson."

Film critics and moviegoers also praised Keun-suk for his acting. A movie review posted on LondonKoreanLinks.com said: "The casting is cleverly done with Jang as the ‘innocent’ accused, his popularity allowing the audience to feel some empathy and warmth to an otherwise unattractive character. He does well in this role, a break from his normal cheerful persona and, combined with the fact he has to speak English through most of the film, it’s quite impressive. Its not perfect American accent of course, but it plays a vital part in itself."

In You're Beautiful, Keun-suk played the role of Hwang Tae-Kyung, leader of pop band A.N.Jell, who falls in love with a fellow band member who is a female pretending to be a guy on behalf of her twin brother, played by Park Shin-hye. The show also starred Lee Hong-ki and Jung Yong-hwa as the band's drummer and guitarist, respectively.

Keun-suk was also one of the actors who appeared in the photoshoot "Kolon Christmas Photo Shoot" in 2008, along with co-actors Joo Jin-mo, Song Il-gook, Go Soo, and Park Jae-jung. He also was a host on Tracking Your X Boyfriend. He's also known for his outspoken personality and tectonic dance.

Although he sings for some of his dramas, he has not released any music of his own except for a few songs done for advertisements: "Black Engine" for Mens cosmetics and skin care, and "Touch Holic", "Just Drag" and "Magic Drag" for Samsung's YP-M1 mp3 player from the YEPP line.

Keun-suk did some advertisements in 2010–2011 such as Ole Beauty Candy, Zegda CF, Code Combines CF and Samsung Galaxy Player. His first single as a singer, "Let Me Cry," was released by Pony Canyon in Japan on April 27, 2011. "Let Me Cry" debuted at number 1 on Japan's Oricon single charts, selling 119,149 copies on its first week of release, making him the first non-Japanese act to have the debut single to debut at number 1 on the charts. "This made him win as Best New Artist in the 26th Japan Gold Disc Awards held last January (2012)" .

In August 2011, Jang Keun Suk and Moon Geun Young went to Japan for their Mary Stayed Out All Night Tour. There were a total of 4 Mary Stayed Out All Night Fanmeetings in Japan, 2 Meetings in Tokyo and 2 meetings in Osaka. Their Fanmeeting is the largest FM to date which can accommodate in more than 60,000 people.

By the month-end of September 2011, Jang officially released his first Chinese album, titled The Lounge H Vol.1, in China and throughout Southeast Asia. Jang worked with friend and musician Big Brother (大兄弟/Jung Kurt) to create the duo in Team H. Big Brother took part in writing, producing, re-making songs, and even rapping. The Lounge H Vol.1 has 4 tracks with the leading song "Gotta Getcha." Jang has reportedly written the lyrics for this song himself. The track has a strong beat and powerful rap. The album also includes a music video for "Gotta Getcha" and special backstage clips.

Keun-suk agreed to play the role of the pet character in the Korean movie adaptation of the Japanese drama Kimi wa Petto, based on the manga of the same name. You're My Pet was released in November 2011. On January 18 of 2012, Oricon reported that Jang will release a new album Lounge H (The First Impression was later added to the title) in Japan as part of the two-member group Team H (the other member being DJ Big Brother). To be released on March 21 and only available in Japan, this album will have its own original style with brand new jacket photos and packaging. It was emphasized that this album is not Lounge H Vol.1, which Team H released the year before. The new Japanese album will have seven tracks of rock and electronic genre, including "Gotta Getcha."

On February 23 of 2012, HS Media (韩星经纪) revealed on their official Weibo that Team H had won its first awards with their debut EP Lounge H Vol. 1. At the 2012 IFPI Hong Kong Record Sales Awards, based on the highest album record sales, the album was to be awarded the Best Selling Album and the Best Korean Album. Since mid-October 2011, the album had been sold in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong with impressive sales results, breaking through platinum.

The TV melodrama Love Rain, starring Jang and Girls' Generation's Yoona and made by drama PD Yoon Seok-ho, was aired on KBS2 every Monday and Tuesday at 21:55 from March 26 to May 29. By the end of May 2012, Jang released another Japanese album, now titled Just Crazy. It is his official debut full-length album and it made history on the Oricon charts. "The album debuted at No. 1 on the Oricon daily singles chart with 53,000 copies sold. It again topped the weekly singles chart with 88,009 copies sold." Jang Keun-suk is the first male international solo artist ever to reach the top of both the Oricon daily and weekly charts, and second overall after BoA with her "Listen To My Heart" to accomplish this feat. He is also the first artist in over 17 years to have topped both charts with the first single ("Let Me Cry") and the first studio album.

On June 10, Jang released a Japanese cookbook titled, Love Recipe. It features twenty recipes, essays, and photo shoots. His song, 200 Miles, is also featured as the opening of Fairy Tail the Movie: The Phoenix Priestess.


Jang Keun-suk's Fairy Tail the Movie OP song

Koihime Musou Girls and Famous Koreans, Part IX: Zhang Xun and Jang Jeong


Jang Jeong (Hangul/Hanja/Nickname: 장정/張晶/JJ) is a South Korean professional golfer who plays on the U.S.-based LPGA Tour. She is also a member of the LPGA of Korea Tour. She was born in Daejeon Metropole on June 11th 1980. She is a member of Indong Jang Clan (인동 장씨/仁同張氏), a clan which is originated from the administrative precinct of Indong-dong, Gumi City, Northern Gyeongsang Province.

Jang Jeong started playing golf late, at the age of 13. Like her fellow Daejeon native Pak Se-ri (whom she knew quite well when they were both junior players), she quickly became one of the top amateur players in the country. Among her big early successes was a victory at the 1997 Korean Open and membership on the 1998 World Amateur Championship team, representing Korea; she also finished fourth individually in that event.

In 1999, she came over to America to try her luck on the LPGA. Only 19, she qualified for the tour on her first try. Her rookie year of 2000 was a fairly successful one. She managed 5 top tens, including a second place at the Safeway Championship. In this tournament, JJ was vaulted into the lead when Kim Mi-hyun had a triple bogey on the second to last hole. But Mi-hyun managed a clutch birdie on 18, and then beat her good friend Jang in a playoff after several more holes. Jang also had a 65, her career best score, in 2000.

The next couple of years, she struggled to match the form she showed in 2000. In 2001 she had some injuries from practicing too much (sounds like the kind of injury a Korean player would get!). She only managed a single top ten. 2002 was a bit of a comeback year for her. The highlight of the year was no doubt her great fourth place finish at the British Open, which included a fantastic 66 on the third day. This contributed to her career best money total, and a finish of 34th on the money list.

2003 proved an even better year for JJ. She managed top 21 finishes in all four Majors, and was in position to contend at the US Women's Open on Sunday when a disastrous 8 on a par 3 hole scuttled her chances. She still wound up 6th, however. That and 5 other top tens contributed to her career bests in scoring average and position on the money list (25th).

As good as 2003 was, 2004 was a real breakout year for Jeong. She managed an impressive 9 top tens during the year, and once again notched top 25 finishes in all four Majors. She had by far her best finish on the money list, 12th, which was only one spot behind Pak Se-ri in 2004. She also had her second career 2nd place finish, broke her best professional round by three shots when she shot a 62 at the Longs Drugs Challenge, and had her first sub-71 scoring average for a season. Indeed, you could argue that she established herself as an elite player on tour with her performance in 2004.

But as great as her 2004 season was, her 2005 season was far, far better. Although her scoring average was not quite as good, she improved in almost every other category. She credited her improvement to a new, intense workout regimen that saw her driving distance increase noticeably. Thanks in part to that, in 2005 she notched an incredible 15 top tens, 8 of which were top fives. She put herself in contention often. She broke a million dollars in earnings for the season and finished fifth on the money list for the year, making her the top Korean on tour in 2005. Most notably of all, she won her first event, and it was a doozy: the 2005 Women's Weetabix British Open, the final Major of the year. Thus she joined Pak Se-ri, Grace Park Ji-eun and Birdie Kim Joo-yeon as the only Koreans to ever win Majors. She also led Korea to a second place finish in the Women's World Match play event, and contributed to Korea's tie with Japan in the Pinx Cup at the end of the year.

In 2006, JJ picked up where she left off, playing perhaps a little worse on average, but still putting together a fair number of good finishes. But for a long while, she seemed unable to get that second win. At the ShopRite she played well, but nobody was going to beat Lee Seon-hwa that week. She had a three shot lead at Corning going into the final round, but had a terrible Sunday and finished out of the Han Hee-Won/Meena Lee playoff. Her luck finally turned around at the Wegman's LPGA. She hung back the first two rounds, but on day three she surged to the lead, then battled tenacious rookie Brittany Lang on Sunday, coming out eventually with her second win.

Later in 2006, JJ achieved another milestone. Invited to play in the Japan Women's Open, a major on the JLPGA tour, she won in wire to wire fashion. She was one of the few in the field who handled the terrible conditions the players faced, conditions similar to the ones she had dealt with at the 2005 British Open. She ended up collecting 14 top tens on the LPGA tour in 2006, the most of any Korean player. JJ continued to be one of the very best Korean golfers in the world for a second straight year.

JJ started 2007 off more slowly than she had in years past. Her putting, normally one of her strengths, was the main culprit. But as the summer progressed, she started to return to form: she garnered a top five in defense of her title at Wegman's, made a top ten at the US Women's Open, and nearly won the Evian Masters, losing in a playoff. Once again, she was among the top Koreans on tour.

JJ started slowly again in 2007; she did not make her second top ten until she defended her title in Rochester in late June. She did not do that well at the Majors, other than the US Women's Open, where she finished tied for eighth. But she did much better in the second half of the year. The highlight was when she got into a playoff for the title at the Evian Masters, losing to Natalie Gulbis on the first playoff hole. She would not win during the season for the first time since 2004, but still made over a million bucks and finished 7th on the money list.

She also played on the Kyoraku and Lexus Cup teams. At the Kyoraku, the two teams were tied at the end of the week, requiring a playoff. On the third playoff hole, JJ needed to make a short par save to keep the match going, but missed, allowing Japan to capture the cup for the first time in years.

In 2008, JJ struggled with a persistent wrist problem that greatly hampered her all season. Doctors were worried about operating on it, for fear of making things worse. Despite these problems, she had another strong season. She nearly won the second event of the year, finishing second, and had three more straight top three finishes in May, narrowly missing collecting her third and possibly fourth victories during that stretch. In the end, she did not win in 2008, but still made over a million dollars for the year and finished 12th on the money list, the best finish for a veteran Korean in 2008.

In 2009, JJ finally took time off to get that much needed wrist operation. As a result, she missed much of the season. She was back in action in time for the Wegman's in Rochester in June. She only played a few events the rest of the season, her best finish being a 12th place in Portland. She was back on tour full time in 2010, but the wrist still periodically caused her trouble. Still, she made enough money to finish 41st on the money list, easily recapturing full status on tour. Her best result came at the Evian Masters, where she finished 8th.

JJ missed the entire 2011 season, but it was far from an uneventful year for her. In April, she married Lee Jun-sik, a former Korean PGA member who had retired from the game to become a golf instructor. A few months later, they announced that they were expecting, and the happy couple had a daughter, Seul Samantha Lee, in late October.

JJ played a few times in 2012 when she was not suffering from a wrist problem or taking care of her newborn son. She achieved three top 15s as her best finishes and made about $100,000 all year, finishing 78th on the money list. She maintained her full status for 2013. In 2013, JJ made only five cuts all year, although one of those was a top five at the ShopRite Classic. She finished 91st on the money list, good only for partial status for 2014.

Koihime Musou Girls and Famous Koreans, Part VIII: Zhao Yun and Jo In-sung


Jo In-sung or Zo In-sung (Hangul/Hanja: 조인성/趙寅成) is a South Korean actor. He is best known for his leading roles in the television series What Happened in Bali (2004) and That Winter, The Wind Blows (2013), and in the films A Dirty Carnival (2006) and A Frozen Flower (2008).

Jo In-sung was born in July 28th 1981 and raised in Cheonho-dong, Seoul Gangdong-gu, South Korea. As a native Seoulite, he is originated from Hanyang Jo Clan (한양 조씨/漢陽趙氏) where a Confucian Scholar, Jeong-am Jo Gwang-jo (1482-1519) originated from the same clan as Jo In-sung.

Jo first studied Modeling and Events Management at Chunnam Techno University. He later enrolled as a Theater and Film major at Dongguk University, but was expelled in 2007 due to inadequate class attendance.

Jo made his entertainment debut in 1998 as a model for clothing brand Ziozia. In 2000, he began his acting career by starring in the teen drama School 3 and in the second season of the sitcom Nonstop. In 2001, he first drew notice in a supporting role in the television drama Piano, co-starring Go Soo as his stepbrother. He was cast in his first drama leading role in 2002, as an illiterate actor in Shoot for the Stars opposite Jeon Do-yeon.

Meanwhile, on the big screen, Jo starred in three romance-themed films in 2003, notably Kwak Jae-yong's The Classic, with Son Ye-jin and Jo Seung-woo. In 2004, he returned to television in What Happened in Bali, alongside Ha Ji-won and So Ji-sub. Aside from its high ratings, the drama netted Jo a Best Actor award at the Baeksang Arts Awards, and several more trophies from the SBS Drama Awards, even minor ones like Best Kiss and Best Tears. In 2005, he starred opposite Go Hyun-jung in her comeback drama Spring Day, a remake of the Japanese drama Hoshi no Kinka ("Heaven's Coins").

Jo collaborated with renowned director Yoo Ha in his next two films: 2006's A Dirty Carnival, in which he played a charismatic small-time gangster who seeks a happier life; and 2008's A Frozen Flower, a Goryeo-period film where his royal bodyguard character is caught in a love triangle between the king and the queen.

In 2008, he appeared in two episodes of the MBC comedy variety show Infinite Challenge on March 15 and 22. These episodes were about wrestling training in order to encourage South Korean national team before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

On April 7, 2009, Jo enlisted for his two-year mandatory military service; he reportedly wanted to join the Air Force to follow in the footsteps of his father, who served as a non-commissioned officer. He served 25 months in the Air Force and the Air Force military band, and was discharged on May 4, 2011. Upon the expiry of his contract with talent agency SidusHQ, Jo joined IOK Company in March 2012.

He then paired up with Song Hye-kyo to star his first television series in seven years, That Winter, The Wind Blows, a remake of the Japanese drama Ai Nante Irane Yo, Natsu ("I Don't Need Love, Summer"). He later reunited with Winter's writer and director in the 2014 romantic comedy It's Okay, That's Love opposite Gong Hyo-jin.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Koihime Musou Girls and Famous Koreans, Part VII: Wei Yan and Michelle Wie


Michelle Wie (Korean/Hangul/Hanja: Wie Seong-mi/위성미/魏聖美; born October 11, 1989 in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA) is an American professional golfer who plays on the LPGA Tour. At age 10, she became the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur championship. Wie also became the youngest winner of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links and the youngest to qualify for a LPGA Tour event. She turned professional shortly before her 16th birthday in 2005, accompanied by an enormous amount of publicity and endorsements. She won her first major at the 2014 U.S. Women's Open.

Wie was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the only child of immigrant parents from South Korea who came to the United States in the 1980s. Her father, Wie Byung-wook/위병욱, is a former professor of transportation management at the University of Hawaii. Her mother, Bo, was South Korea's women's amateur golf champion in 1985, and competed in a Miss Korea beauty pageant. Her paternal grandfather, Dr. Wie Sang-kyu/위상규, a resident of Jangheung County, Southern Jeolla Province, was an emeritus professor at Seoul National University. Coincidentally, Michelle Wie is originated from Jangheung Wie Clan (장흥 위씨/長興魏氏). When she was born, Wie was a dual citizen of South Korea (by jus sanguinis) and the United States by (jus soli). She renounced South Korean citizenship in February 2013.

Wie graduated from Punahou School in Honolulu in June 2007. On December 19, 2006, she announced that she would be attending Stanford University, where there are family ties. Her paternal grandfather was a visiting professor, and an aunt and uncle are both graduates. She enrolled in September 2007 as a freshman, but as a professional golfer, Wie was not eligible under NCAA rules to play for Stanford's golf team. During her first three years at Stanford, she attended only during the fall and winter quarters, running from late September through mid-March each year. She took leaves of absence during the rest of the year to play professional golf.

Wie completed her studies at Stanford in March 2012 with a major in communications. She participated in the university's graduation ceremony in June 2012.

After passing LPGA Qualifying School in December 2008, Wie declared that she still planned to play in tournaments against men. However for the second consecutive year, she did not receive a sponsor exemption to play in the Sony Open in Hawaii where she had played four years in a row from 2004 through 2007. Her first tournament as an LPGA member was the season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay where she shot 66, 70 to move into a tie with Angela Stanford going into the final round of the tournament. Wie held a three-stroke lead with eight holes remaining, but ended up losing to Stanford by three strokes.

It was reported in early March, 2009, that Wie had left the William Morris Agency, the Hollywood talent agency that had represented her since she turned pro in 2005, and would be signing with sports agency IMG.

At the second major of the year, the LPGA Championship, she finished tied for 23rd, her best finish in a major since 2006. During this tournament she also scored her first recorded hole-in-one as a professional. However, the day after her final round of the LPGA Championship, she failed to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open due to a mediocre performance at a sectional qualifying tournament.

In August, at Rich Harvest Farms golf course in Sugar Grove, Illinois, Wie was a captain's pick for the United States team in Solheim Cup competition, where she led the American squad to victory with a 3-0-1 performance, the best record on the American team.

On November 15, 2009, Wie won her first professional individual tournament, the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico, a limited field event on the LPGA Tour, posting a score of thirteen under par 275 for a two-stroke margin over fellow American Paula Creamer, and beating Shin Jiyai, Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel by two strokes. She then finished second in the Ladies European Tour season-ending Dubai Ladies Masters tournament on December 9–12, 2009, shooting a 15-under-par 273, which put her three shots behind winner Kim In-Kyung.

On August 29, 2010, she posted a three-shot win over a full field at the CN Canadian Women's Open, held at St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for her second career professional victory. In her next LPGA event two weeks later, she finished second in the 54-hole P&G NW Arkansas Championship shooting 201 (−12) and losing to Yani Tseng by one stroke after giving up an overnight three-stroke lead.

On April 19, 2014, Wie won her third LPGA Tour event, the LPGA Lotte Championship. She was four strokes behind Angela Stanford after 54 holes but shot a 67 to Stanford's 73 to win by two strokes.

On June 22, 2014, Wie won her fourth LPGA Tour event and first major championship, the U.S. Women's Open. She was tied for the lead with Amy Yang after 54 holes at two-under-par. She double-bogeyed the 16th hole to fall within one shot of Stacy Lewis, but birdied the next hole and parred the last hole for a final round par-70 to win by two strokes over Lewis.

Koihime Musou Girls and Famous Koreans, Part V: Dong Zhuo and Taeyang (Big Bang)


Dong Young-bae (Hangul/Hanja: 동영배/董永培; born 18 May 1988 in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province), better known by his stage name Taeyang (태양/太陽, meaning Sun) or Sol (in Japan), is a South Korean singer, dancer, songwriter, lyricist, recording artist, model and actor. After appearing in Jinusean's music video "A-yo", Taeyang began training under YG Entertainment at the age of 12 alongside fellow member and leader G-Dragon. After six years of vocal and dance training, he made his debut in 2006 as a member of popular Korean boy band, Big Bang. He is a member of Gwangcheon Dong Clan (광천 동씨/廣川董氏), a clan which is originated from Hebei Province, China.

His second studio album Rise became the highest ranking effort to enter the Billboard 200 by a male Korean soloist which makes him the highest charting Korean male artist by stepping foot on the American Billboard 200 chart at number #112. Taeyang's second album RISE also debuted at #1 on Billboard World Albums chart, as well as the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart, and his title track "Eyes, Nose, Lips" charted at #1 on Billboard Kpop Hot 100 Chart.

Taeyang's first appearance in the entertainment industry was with Maddie in the hip-hop group Jinusean's music video "A-yo". The collaboration eventually lead him to successfully auditioning into the group's record label YG Entertainment, where he met fellow trainee G-Dragon and former trainee (now a member of 2PM) Jun. K. G-dragon and him were later coined as GDYB. In 2003, Taeyang provided the rap verse in singer Wheesung's single "Player" on the latter's second album.

the plan was scrapped by their record label. Instead, they were joined by four other trainees (T.O.P., Daesung, Seungri, and Hyun Seung) to form the group Big Bang. The group's formation was documented on television as a documentary. Before their official debut, however, Hyun Seung was dropped and their final lineup consisted of five members. Choosing the stage-name Taeyang (Korean: 태양, meaning sun), Taeyang abandoned the idea of rapping to focus on singing. Their first album, Since 2007, was a fair success, and included Taeyang's first solo song "Ma Girl." The group achieved mainstream success with the release of the song "Lies" (Korean: 거짓말; Revised Romanization: Geojitmal) from their 2007 mini-album Always, which topped several charts upon its release. The singles, "Last Farewell" (Korean: 마지막 인사; Revised Romanization: Majimak Insa) from the mini-album Hot Issue and "Day by Day" (Korean: 하루하루; Revised Romanization: Haru Haru) from Stand Up, became chart-toppers as well.

He later flew to Japan to promote the group's Japanese albums. After Big Bang's activities have ended, he went back to the studio to prepare for his next solo activities. Taeyang released his first digital single "Where U At", followed by another digital single, "Wedding Dress". Promotional videos were filmed for both "Where U At" and "Wedding Dress." "Wedding Dress" was voted No. 3 on an online poll for a Dutch radio station.

Taeyang's first full-length album Solar was released on 1 July 2010. Two versions of this album – the "Regular Edition" and the "Deluxe Edition" – was released. The regular edition contained 11 songs, while the deluxe edition limited to 30,000 copies had 12 songs, including "Only Look at Me" and "Prayer" from Hot. On the first day Taeyang's solo album "Solar" released, 1 July, deluxe edition of the album had sold out its 30,000 circulated copies. The album was later released on iTunes, charting at the number-two spot on the iTunes' Top R&B-Soul albums chart in the United States and number-one in Canada's, making him the first Asian musician to do so. Two singles were released for promotions: "I Need A Girl" featuring bandmate G-Dragon and Sandara Park, and "I'll Be There." At the end of 2010, I Need A Girl (4 Weeks) I'll Be There (1 Weeks) Only Look at Me (3 Weeks) Korean Song Music Chart's Win. Taeyang won the "Best Male Artist" award at the 2010 Mnet Asian Music Awards at the end of the year and the Seoul Music Awards Best Male Artist award.

Taeyang's new single "Ringa Linga" was released on 9 November 2013. Taeyang ranked #33 in The Critic's List of "100 Most Handsome Faces of 2013". On the May 17th 2014, YG announced that Taeyang's new album will be released on June 2 with the possible title, 'Rise'. After 'Rise' was released on June 2, it achieved an "All-Kill" in Korea (#1 on all charts) and was #1 on the iTunes Album Chart in 10 countries (top 50 in 21 countries). At its peak, 'Rise' was #1 on iTunes R&B/SOUL Album Chart in 19 countries to include USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Russia, Hong Kong, and Denmark (top 50 in 25 countries). Rise became the third highest charting K-pop album, and also the highest charting K-pop album by a solo artist, on Billboard by debuting at #112 on Billboard Hot 200, #1 on Billboard World Albums Chart, and #1 on Heatseekers Albums Chart.


Taeyang's New Single - Eyes, Nose, Lip (눈, 코, 입)


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Koihime Musou Girls and Famous Koreans, Part IV: Chen Gong and Jin Joong-kwon


Jin Joong-kwon (Hangul/Hanja: 진중권/陳重權; Born: April 27th 1963 at Gonghang-dong, Seoul Gangseo-gu) is a Korean leading social critic and actor, coming from Yeoyang Jin Clan (여양 진씨/驪陽陳氏) - a clan which is originated from the Commune of Janggok-myeon, Hongseong County, Southern Chungcheong Province. His ancestral home, Yeoyang is an old name of Janggok-myeon Commune.

He graduated from Seoul National University with an aesthetics degree in 1986 and received a masters on 'Structural Semiology of the Soviet Union' from the same school in 1992. He then studied aesthetics, interpretative theories and linguistic philosophy at Free University Berlin but returned to Seoul during his doctoral program. He currently teaches at Chung-Ang University, DongYang University and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), contributes columns to various print and Internet media outlets and writes books. He is also one of the founding members of the critical journal Outsider. In the previously mentioned controversial review of the blockbuster D-War, he made a number of straightforward attacks.

Born in Seoul in April 27th 1963, he graduated from SNU in '86, then served his military duty and completed a graduate course at the same school. He worked for literary and cultural organizations for two years before going off to Germany to study further in 1993. He spent all his student years in social movements but was disillusioned by society becoming increasingly distorted. His move to Germany was sort of an escape. He settled in at Free University Berlin.

There at the language school, he met a Japanese woman, Kyoko Miwa who is three years his senior and tied the knot. He barely made ends meet with the 500,000 won book royalty payment coming from Seoul and by teaching at a Korean school in Berlin. With no medical insurance in the foreign country, hospital bills for his five month pregnant wife was piling up. So as he still jokingly says, he returned to Korea because of his wife.

Few people will attract both admirers and opponent as Professor Jin. He has many fans but also many who detest him. He has two strengths. He is reasonable and satirical. Ex-president Park Chung-hee, the Cold War mentality, male chauvinism, Fundamentalist Christianity, totalitarian moves among the leftists, Hwang Woo-suk and D-War are just some of the social idols Jin has taken issue with in the past few years. In a battle of common sense and reason, Jin is always present. He subdues his opponents with his acute, logical satire.

He has translated a number of aesthetics and Marxism related works and his own books include 'Aesthetics Odyssey', 'Dancing Death' and 'Slow Art Reading'. He says the critiquing culture in Korea is focused on character attacks, and not on logical opinion-based criticism. To provide a venue for sound debates, he launched the bimonthly magazine 'Outsider' in without late 1999 in which anyone, whether it be a progressive, liberal or conservative, can share views. The magazine began as a project to mature the Korean society and share that process with the public.

He also advocates the unbreakable freedom of ideology. He blasts the country's long history of censoring dissenters. He urges self-reflection to intellects and condemns liberalists with little self-consciousness. He doesn't hesitate to point out differences even with like-minded people. He says a person is free to state his own reasonable opinion, and tolerance is necessary for conflicting ideas. He has opponents all around him, but his free spirit flies on.

Koihime Musou Girls and Famous Koreans, Part II: Lu Xun and First Lady Yook Young-soo (1920-1974) - an interview from the Korea JoongAng Daily)


We have known a little bit about the brief biography of President Park Geun-hye's mother, Yook Young-soo (Hangul/Hanja: 육영수/陸英修) in two posts:


In August 24th 2011, a reporter from Korea JoongAng Daily, Choi Sang-yeon/최상연 has interviewed Lee Ae-joo/이애주, a representative of Saenuri Party about the darkest moments of Yook Young-soo's assassination that made by Moon Se-kwang a.k.a. Nanjou Seikou in 29th Anniversary of Gwangbokjeol (1974).

When Yook was killed in a botched assassination attempt on the late president on the Aug. 15 Liberation Day in 1974, she was hurriedly rushed to the hospital in Wonnam-dong, Seoul Jongno-gu, with her husband. At the time, Lee was a nurse at the hospital and assisted doctors as they tried in vain to resuscitate the slain first lady. 

Lee still vividly remembers the first lady’s death.

In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, Lee recalled Yook’s arrival at the hospital just nine minutes after she was shot in the head by assassin Moon Se-kwang at 10:23 a.m. Yook’s brain surgery began at 11 a.m. and lasted for over five hours. 

Lee was the head nurse in the VIP ward of Seoul National University Hospital for 35 years until 2005. There, she cared for Korea’s heads of state, except for Roh Moo-hyun and Syngman Rhee.

The peaceful morning on a national holiday was turned into a nightmare when Yook was shot. The ceremony she had been attending was broadcast live across the country. 

Lee recalled the traumatic day. 


CSY = Choi Sang-yeon
LAJ = Lee Ae-joo

CSY: How did the surgery go? 
LAJ: The bullet entered Yook’s head. The bullet didn’t exit her skull, but was lodged inside her brain. 
The bullet hit the biggest vein on the right side of brain. When the surgery began 30 minutes after the assassination, blood was spurting out. Yook’s blood type was AB, which is a rare blood type and tough to get at hospitals in Korea. 
Our staff went to hospitals nearby and the Red Cross Blood Service to secure an extra supply of AB blood. But we didn’t have enough. 
At that time, we stored blood in a 400-milliliter bottle and a total of 149 bottles were used during her surgery. 

CSY: Why was the surgery so difficult? 
LAJ: After undergoing the five-hour surgery, Yook’s surgeon deemed that the situation wasn’t good. He asked me to get a new bed sheet to cover the patient. Knowing that she would pass away soon, tears rushed to my eyes. When I arrived with the bed sheet, the first lady’s face was wrapped with compression bandages from her forehead to her nose. Her body and the area around her mouth had become swollen because of the bandages. 

CSY: What was the reaction of Dr. Shim Bo-seong, who was in charge of the surgery?
LAJ: Shim lamented that the surgery hadn’t gone well. A day after the surgery, he told medical staff that he could’ve saved her if the bullet had hit just 5 millimeters from the vein. He passed away not long after retiring. 

CSY: Was Dr. Shim the president’s official doctor? 
LAJ: No, he wasn’t. He was in charge of the surgery because he was the chief of the hospital’s neurosurgery department at the time. Shim was actually scheduled to play a round of golf on that day, but the arrangement had been canceled because of rain. At the time of the shooting, he was watching the Liberation Day address on television at home. When he saw Yook’s shooting, he realized that he should be on standby and he rushed to the hospital. At that time, he was living in Sinseol-dong, Seoul Dongdaemun-gu, which was near the hospital. 

CSY: What happened after the surgery? 
LAJ: Yook was changed into a new patient gown and moved to the intensive-care ward, which was located next to operation room. I wasn’t really paying attention because the surgery hadn’t gone well. 
Someone behind me patted my shoulder. I turned around and it was President Park Chung Hee. He had a look that was mixed with 100 feelings. The look in his eyes contained many feelings, but there were no tears. He just looked at her. 
Our staff left the room so that the two of them could say goodbye. Park stayed with her for about 20 to 30 minutes and returned to the Blue House with his family. Keeping his head down a bit, he walked down the [hallway] with his mother-in-law, his hand holding her shoulder tightly. 

CSY: Where was Yook taken next? 
LAJ: Not long after the president left, the sky turned red. It was red with a strong violet color. Our staff thought that was when Yook passed away and it turned out that was right. Yook had relied on artificial respiration to keep her breathing. Not long after the sky turned red I received a phone call that she passed away. Her body was moved to the Blue House at 7:30 p.m. 

CSY: Many people have heard the story of the first lady’s underskirt. How was it found?
LAJ: An official at the Blue House called that evening, asking our staff to send Yook’s belongings. But her belongings were already thrown away. 
When Yook arrived at the hospital, she was wearing a hanbok [traditional Korean dress] decorated with a small waterdrop pattern. Her hanbok had been ripped open to change her into a patient gown and the hair on her head shaved in preparation for the surgery. Her shaved hair and ripped hanbok were classified as trash. Our staff searched everywhere to find them. When we eventually found them, I saw that her hanbok underskirt had been mended in three places. We cried again because the state of the dress implied that she had lived a frugal life - even as the first lady. 

CSY: Did President Park usually use Room 301 - the VIP room?
LAJ: He had actually been scheduled for eye surgery in early October 1979, but was never admitted to the hospital. I went to Dongdaemun market to buy bed sheets, toothpaste and a toothbrush for him. I did that because I didn’t want to be scolded for not giving him domestic products. I also bought a patient gown to fit his 165-centimeter height and slippers - all made in Korea. He called the hospital on Oct. 15 and was assassinated on Oct. 26.

Koihime Musou Girls and Famous Koreans, Part I: Liu Bei and Yoo Jae-suk

In this column, we will introduce to Koihime Musou Girls and their respective famous Koreans either based on their Surnames or same Given Names. For the first post, I will introduce Liu Bei (유비/劉備) and her distant relative, Yoo Jae-suk.


Yoo Jae-suk (Hangul/Hanja/Romanization: 유재석 or 류재석 (in North Korean Format)/劉在錫/Yu Jae-seok; born on August 14, 1972), is a South Korean comedian and television comedy show host. Nicknamed the "MC of the nation" (국민 MC), a vote by South Korean "netizens" proclaimed him the most popular Korean comedian for five consecutive years beginning (2004-2008). He has hosted several variety television shows in South Korea, including the popular programs MBC's Infinite Challenge/무한도전 and SBS' Running Man. Nicknamed "The Grasshopper", due to early appearances dressed as a grasshopper and green clothes, he is now known for his quick wit and appeal across a wide range of demographics. He has established himself as one of Korea's top comedians and TV personalities.

Yoo Jae-suk was born as the eldest child out of three (he has two younger sisters) on August 14, 1972 in Suyu-dong, Seoul Gangbuk-gu, South Korea. He is a member of Gangneung Yoo Clan (강릉 유씨/江陵劉氏), originated from Gangneung City, Gangwon Province. Yoo attended the Seoul Institute of the Arts, but was unable to graduate due to his busy schedule as an up-and-coming comedian.

His television debut was on the KBS Comedian Festival (for college students) in 1991, performing a parody of a commercial with Choi Seung-gyung (Hangul: 최승경). His dancing to a cover of the song "Step by Step" by New Kids on the Block was one of his early memorable moments. In 2002, after nine hard years as a relatively unknown comedian, he hosted a program called Live and Enjoy Together (Dong-guh-dong-lak), thanks to a recommendation by Choi Jin-sil. The program became instantly popular and, since then, Yoo began to host many other variety programs. His potential was fully realized when he co-hosted a program called The Crash of MCs (MC 대격돌 – 공포의 쿵쿵따) with Kang Ho-dong, Lee Hwi-jae a.k.a Lee Young-jae and Kim Han-seok.

His first Grand Prize award was for a program called Happy Together Friends. The show's concept was for TV personalities to try and find their school friends (five of them) out of many (false friends) who are sitting behind a desk. The show was intended to bring back nostalgic memories about one's days in school, and the show became very popular. This Grand Prize was especially memorable, not just because it was Yoo's first, but because it was from the broadcasting station where he made his debut.

He hosted the show X-Man, which soon grew to be one of the most popular and most viewed shows in Korea. During that time, he became increasingly popular and many programs began to nickname Yoo as the "MC of the Nation." However, after a few years, the program was canceled due to falling ratings as well as an absence of new and innovative ideas. Yoo went on to host various replacement shows, New X-Man, Old TV (in which guests would re-enact classic TV serials), and Haja! Go! (Let's Do It) for SBS, which were all shortly canceled due to low ratings on Sunday evenings. However, X-Man has found success in international syndication.

Yoo is a part of the cast of the top-rated comedy variety program Infinite Challenge (무한도전), as the host-in-chief since 2005 and together with Jung Hyung-don and Noh Hong-chul, Yoo is being the program's founding members. The program wasn't popular when it first aired and its average ratings were very low (roughly 5 percent). After Kim Tae-ho took a role as new PD, the program underwent several changes both in its concept and the cast. New members added to the cast of Infinite Challenge, such as Park Myung-soo, Haha, and Jeong Jun-ha in 2006. By the time Season 3 aired in 2006, the concept and format of "variety & reality program" became very popular, and Infinite Challenge became the forerunner of many programs that followed with the same or similar format. Since December 2, 2006, the program has received the highest ratings of prime-time lineups for Saturday evening.

Infinite Challenge is seen as Yoo's favorite and best program not only he met his wife, Na Kyung-eun (나경은), during season 2, but with the rising popularity of the show and it's significant effect on the general public, Yoo was able to gain even more popularity. He ended up winning a total of three Grand Prizes (2006, 2007 and 2009) with the program. His love to this program reflected during 1-on-1 talk with fellow co-host, Jung Hyung-don, on "Pause" special (S04E300) that aired on October 20, 2012, as he said "I think my life on television and variety shows will be tied to the fate of Infinite Challenge" and added, "When will we ever get to do another program like this? No matter how hard you try, it's going to be impossible to do another film like this."

Yoo also co-hosts Come to Play (놀러와) with Kim Won-hee and Happy Together Season 3 (해피 투게더 3) with Park Myung-soo, Park Mi-sun and Shin Bong-sun. Yoo hosted these talk shows for a long period of time (both over 5 years), and the ratings have been consistently high throughout his tenure. Although Happy Together continues to this day, Come to Play was cancelled in 2012 due to low ratings after its long tenure. Yoo tries his best to differentiate his hosting styles, both based on who his guests are and on their current situation.

After those replacement shows on SBS, on June 15, 2008, Yoo, along with Lee Hyori, Yoon Jong-shin, Kim Soo-ro, Lee Chun-hee, Kang Dae-sung, Park Ye-jin and Kim Jong-kook (since episode 19) are the hosts and family members of Family Outing (Korean: 패밀리가 떴다), part of SBS's Good Sunday lineup. Since then, Family Outing has become one of the top-rated shows in Korea, consistently achieving the highest ratings at the Sunday mid-afternoon time-slot (especially during the first and second quarters of 2009). However, with various problems and scandals regarding the program, and by the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010, a rumor of Yoo not continuing his contract with Family Outing was raised. By the time of his contract expiration, Family Outing rating wasn't the same as that of early 2009, and Season 1 was brought to an end.

On July 6, 2008, Yoo Jae-suk married MBC announcer Na Kyung-eun (나경은) who has also worked with him on the show Infinite Challenge. Yoo and his wife welcomed their first child, a son - Yoo Ji-ho, on May 1, 2010.

Since July 11, 2010, he has hosted a variety show called Running Man together with fellow Infinite Challenge member, Haha, and other entertainers such as Ji Suk-jin, Kim Jong-kook, LeeSsang's Gary, Song Ji-hyo, Lee Kwang-soo and Song Joong-ki (who has since left the show as of episode 41 to focus on his acting career). Although the program did not have a good start in rating, it was later known as one of Korea's most popular program having top stars appeared on the show. The program's popularity is not just in Korea, but rising with massive popularity in other countries too as shown in overseas filming & fanmeetings demand.

In 2012, Yoo Jae-suk and fellow host of Infinite Challenge, Noh Hong-chul, appeared in the music video for Psy's hit single 'Gangnam Style'. In the video, he was reprising the retro disco dancing character he created for the mock-band "Drooping Snail" in Infinite Challenge's West Coast Highway Music Festival special where Psy also appeared. In 2013, Yoo Jae-suk appeared in the music video for Psy's follow-up single, "Gentleman", together with other cast members of Infinite Challenge".


Yoo Jae-suk has many nicknames such as....
  • Grasshopper (메뚜기)
  • Nation's Master of Ceremony (국민 MC) (Gookmin MC)
  • Class-President Yoo (유반장) (Infinite Challenge)
  • The 1st-in-command (1인자) (Infinite Challenge)
  • Yooneunim (God Yoo) (유느님) (Infinite Challenge)
  • Detective Yoo (Infinite Challenge)
  • Delinquent Yoo (날유) (Infinite Challenge)
  • Low Nipples Yoo (저쪼아래)(Infinite Challenge)
  • Dook Ma-ae (뚝마에)
  • Jive Yoo
  • Samba Yoo
  • Mr. Sun (해님) (Infinite Challenge)
  • Dumb 덤 (형)(and Dumber) (Family Outing)
  • C-Dragon (Family Outing)
  • Yoo Bom
  • Hubby Yoo (유서방)
  • Yooruce Willis (Hangul: 유르스 윌리스; spoof for Bruce Willis) (Running Man)
  • Yoo Hyuk 유혁(Running Man)
  • Yoomes Bond (Running Man)
  • Seuk T.O.P (Family Outing)
  • Yoobocop
  • Rapper Yoo (Family Outing)
  • Handsome Boy (Family Outing)
  • Manager Yoo (유부장) (Infinite Challenge)
  • Cicada-nem (매미넴; spoof for Eminem) (Running Man)


Take Fivers: President 2MB's video conference with Tokiwadai Girls High School Students


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Korean War Memorial, Seoul Yongsan-gu: 1950.6.25, Lest We Forget.


The grounds of the War Memorial of Korea (Hanja: 戰爭記念館 or 戰爭紀念館) in 29 Itaewon Avenue/Itaewonno, Yongsan-dong 1-ga 8-beonji, Seoul Yongsan-gu were once the headquarters of the Korean Infantry. Many experts from different fields were consulted numerous times and exhaustive research was done in order to complete the exhibits. This memorial is the largest of its kind in the world.

There are 8 main exhibits at the War Memorial: the Hogukchumo Exhibit, War History Exhibit, June 25th War Exhibit, Overseas Dispatched Troops Exhibits, Military Development Exhibit, Large Equipment Exhibit, and the Outdoor Exhibit. The Hogukchumo Exhibit honors the spirit of those who perished fighting on the battlefield. Visitors can learn all about Korea’s war history by visiting the War History Exhibit, June 25 War Exhibit, Overseas Dispatched Troops Exhibits, and the Military Development Exhibit, as well as witness how the Korean military developed over the years. Different kinds of weapons and military equipment are exhibited as well, inside and outside the building. 

Exhibits inside the building display equipment used during the Korean War in such a way as to invite comparison between the items. Large weapontry and equipment used by different countries during World War II and the Vietnam War are also on display. In the Large Equipment Exhibit on the second floor, many kinds of defense industry equipment and both real and model weapons are displayed. In the Bangsan Equipment Exhibit, you can look at weapons and war equipment produced in Korea. In the War Memorial’s Storage Room, 17,800 files and artifacts of war are preserved. Modern damage control and prevention devices have been installed to keep these materials safe from harm.

Besides these, you can also visit the Miniature Exhibit or the Peace Hall. There is a lecture hall at the memorial, and many presentations are held here. If you want to learn more about any specific aspect of war, you can head over to the bookstore to pick up a book or a pamphlet. The shop also sells a variety of military souvenirs that will not only help you remember your time at the memorial but will also remind you of the significant role war has played in world history. The memorial also has a fast food restaurant and stores located outside the building. This memorial is accessible by using either KORAIL-Seoul Metro Line 4 or SMRT Line 6 to Station 428/628: Samgakji Station.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Confucian Confusions in Korea, Part XXII: Dongnae Hyanggyo, Busan Dongnae-gu


Dongnae Hyanggyo (Hanja: 東萊鄕校) in 103 Dongnae Avenue/Dongnaero, Myeongnyun 1-dong 235-beonji, Busan Dongnae-gu is a public Confucian academy endowed by the government during Joseon dynasty Korea. It may have originally been rebuilt in 1605 after the Japanese Imjin Invasion, but was moved several times since. The hyanggyo was moved to its present location in 1815. 

No records tell the exact time of the foundation of Dongnae Hyanggyo, but it is presumed that this was among those erected in the early Joseon period after the Court decided in 1392 (the first year of the reign of King Taejo Yi Seong-gye, the founding monarch of the dynasty) to build and operate Hyanggyo in each of major town across the country. At first a shrine school was built on the outside of the eastern gate in the Dongnae Eupseong (the site of Dongnae High school). 

It was burnt down during the Japanese Imjin Invasion (1592-1598). In 1605, it was rebuilt by Hong Jun, the Dongnae-bu Magistrate and was relocated several times thereafter. The present Hyanggyo is the one erected by the Dongnae-bu Magistrate, Hong Su-man, in 1813, in the 13th year of the reign of King Sunjo. The name of this place, Myeongnyun-dong, originated from Hyanggyo. Its function was a social enlightenment, with a memorial service for the saints and the teaching of Confucianism.

Hyanggyo usually consisted of a Daeseongjeon shrine dedicated to Confucian saints and sages, a Myeongr yundang hall where lectures were given, and Dongjae and Seojae dormitories for students. There were also other auxiliary structures such as warehouses. The two-storied gate of the Dongnae hyanggyo is called Banhwaru, a name denoting the importance of the cultivation of one's virtues, following the sages, and faithful service to the king. 

According to the Gyeonggukdaejeon (a historical book), there were one teacher per seventy students but In the Sokdaejeon, many officers came into being instead of a teacher. Also Hakjeon 7-gyeol (a kind of money) was paid to maintain and manage the Hyanggyo.

After the Gabo Reformation in 1894, its educational function ended as a new educational system went into effect. Now in the Dongnae hyanggyo, the Hyangsa (a festival held twice a year to honor Confucius) is held in February and August of the lunar calendar. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Incheon Chinatown, Incheon Jung-gu: Soju Time for PSY and Snoop Dogg


Incheon's Chinatown area in the administrative precinct of Bukseong-dong (Legal Precincts: Bukseong-dong 1~3-ga/북성동1~3가 and Seollin-dong/선린동), Incheon Jung-gu came into being with the opening of the Jemulpo Port in 1883 and Incheon's designation as an extraterritoriality of the Qing Dynasty. In the past, the area held many stores trading goods imported from China, but most Chinese businesses are now restaurants. 

In 1884, the Qing Empire entered a concession contract for this area and Chinese emigrants moved here. The Chinese residents who live in this area up to today have experienced many hardships, similar to the complicated modern history of Korea. The culture of Chinatown is very unique, combining the culture of China together with Korean Culture.

Today, the Chinese residents of Chinatown are mostly 2nd or 3rd generations of early Chinese settlers. While not all traditional cultures of the first generation have been preserved, the area still harbors many of the flavors of China. For your information, PSY and Snoop Dogg's MV entitled Hangover was taken in this area.

PSY and Snoop Dogg's One Shot inside a Certain Chinese Restaurant at Incheon Chinatown

Nonhyeonpodae Battery, Incheon Namdong-gu: Turbulent Years of Joseon Dynasty (1866~1876), Part III


The Nonhyeonpodae Battery (Hanja: 論峴布袋) in Nonhyeon-dong 415-56 beonji, Incheon Namdong-gu was built in 1879 by General Shin Jung-hee and Governor Lee Gyeong-ha as part of efforts to expand the military facilities and prevent enemy forces from entering Seoul via the coast. After French Byeongin Invasion in 1866 and Shinmi American Invasion in 1871, the Korean government deemed it necessary to reinforce military defenses around the Yeonan area of Gyeonggi.

The lower part of Nonhyeonpodae Battery was built with broken stones, while the middle and upper parts were built with trimmed stones. The uppermost part was finished with sealing. When the Podae was first built, it was named Hogupodae (호구포대), following the name of the area. Today, however, the name has changed to Nonhyeonpodae Battery. Two gun platforms still remain as indicators of the original structure.

Bold and Beautiful Baekje, Part X: Introduction to King Onjo, the Founder of Baekje Kingdom


King Onjo (Hangul/Hanja: 온조왕/溫祚王; ?-28 CE; Reigned: 18 BCE–28 CE) was the founding monarch of Baekje (백제/百濟), one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. According to the Samguk Sagi (삼국사기/三國史記), he was the ancestor of all Baekje kings and progenitor of the Royal House of Buyeo (부여/扶餘) which is later changed its surname and designated ancestral seat: Buyeo Seo Clan (부여 서씨/扶餘徐氏) - originated from Baekje's Last Stand; Buyeo County a.k.a Sabi, Southern Chungcheong Province.

He was the third son of King Chumo-Dongmyeong (Jumong), the founder of the northern Korean kingdom Goguryeo. He was the younger half-brother of Yuri-myeong, who became Goguryeo's second king, and younger brother of Biryu, described in some records as the founder of Baekje.

Dongmyeong had three sons: Yuri-myeong, Biryu, and Onjo. When Yuri-myeong, born from Dongmyeong's previous wife in Dongbuyeo which was Lady Ye, came to Goguryeo and became the heir to the throne, Biryu and Onjo moved south to found their own kingdoms.

According to the Samguk Yusa, Biryu founded his kingdom at Michuhol (미추홀/彌鄒忽) but his didn't last long. The modern-day location of Michuhol is in debate—it has been identified as Incheon Metropole for a long time, but recently it is suggested as Asan, Southern Chungcheong Province. Onjo found his kingdom in Wiryeseong (present-day Seoul Special City), and named it Sipje (십제/十濟).

Biryu's people joined Sipje after Biryu's death and Onjo renamed it to Baekje. After that, the capital city of Baekje was moved southward from Habuk Wiryeseong because the Malgal were located at the North and Nangnang was located to the East. Both capital cities correspond to land within current Seoul. In 3 BCE and 8 BCE, the Malgal tribes attacked from the north, and both times, Onjo directly led his armies and won victories over the invaders. In 5 BCE, Onjo moved the capital city to a more defensible location south of the Han River, renaming it Hanam Wiryeseong, and sent a messenger to the king of the Mahan confederacy telling him of the recent action.

At this time, Onjo already had plans of conquering Mahan and Jinhan. By 7 CE, he was already preparing his armies for war and finally attacked during 8 CE. In 8 CE, he secretly took his armies across the border, laying the deceit that he was going to hunt in the forests. Soon, all of Mahan except for two fortresses were conquered. The citizens of the last two Mahan fortresses surrendered to Onjo and were given mercy. The Mahan King, however, committed suicide and left a letter for Onjo, asking him to take in Mahan's people with kindness and mercy. Onjo respected the Mahan King's last request and took his people in.

Baekje had expanded greatly, and several fortresses were being built every year. Peace lasted for 8 years until 16 CE, when a former Mahan general caused a rebellion. Onjo directly led an army of 5,000 and successfully destroyed the rebellion. Soon after this, the Malgal tribes invaded again during 22 CE, but were once again defeated by Onjo and his army.

King Onjo died of natural causes in 28 CE, during the 46th year of his reign. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Daru. King Onjo laid the foundations for a powerful dynasty that would last for 678 years and 31 rulers (Downfall: 660 CE - during the reign of King Uija).

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Namo Palbeon Daebosal, Part XXIV: Baengnyulsa, Gyeongju, Northern Gyeongsang - The Martyrdom of Ichadon


The Baengnyulsa or Baengnyul temple (Hanja: 栢栗寺) is a Korean Buddhist temple located on the slopes of Mount Geumgang in Dongcheon-dong 406-beonji, Gyeongju City, Northern Gyeongsang Province, South Korea - The Capital of Silla Kingdom. It is a branch temple of Bulguksa temple, the head temple of the 11th district of the Jogye Order. The foundation date is unknown but is speculated to be around the time when the Silla Kingdom united the Three Kingdoms of Korea in 692 according to both an oral story and a document on a Buddha statue. Baengnyulsa is also believed to be the Jachusa temple which is associated with Ichadon's martyrdom.

The statue which is not handed down today was said to be created by a Chinese artisan and the temple was created by the time. It is called Daebi Gwaneumsang (大悲觀音像), literally meaning "a statue of the greatly sympathetic Guan Yin". In Samguk Yusa, the statue had a mysterious episode occurring in 693, the second year of the Silla King Hyoso. However, the statue disappeared during the Imjin War, Japanese invasions of Korea in the end of the 16th century.

On the other hand, the temple is strongly suggested as the Jachusa temple (자추사/刺楸寺), where the beheaded head of Ichadon, the first martyr for Buddhism in Korea, was flown to and fallen. The Jachusa temple was established on the site to commemorate him in 528, the following year of his martyrdom and the 15th year of King Beopheung's reign. Its name, Jachusa was said to be changed to Baengnyulsa with the meaning of "pine nut and chestnut temple". In the Silla period, if a sound or meaning of a word was same as another word, Silla people sometimes easily changed names. The sound of Ja in the Jachusa is similar to jat, or pine nut which has the same meaning to baek (栢) while chu (楸) refers to chest nut which meaning is the same as yul (栗).


Ichadon's Introduction
Ichadon (Hangul/Hanja: 이차돈/異次頓; Born: 501 – Martyred: 527), also known as Geochadon (거차돈/居次頓) or by his courtesy name Yeomchok (염촉) or Yeomdo, was a Buddhist monk and advisor to the 23rd Monarch of Silla Kingdom, King Beopheung.

Early in his reign, Beopheung had desired to promulgate Buddhism as the state religion. However, officials in his court opposed him. In the fourteenth year of his reign, Beopheung's "Grand Secretary", Ichadon, devised a strategy to overcome court opposition. Ichadon schemed with the king, convincing him to make a proclamation granting Buddhism official state sanction using the royal seal. Ichadon told the king to deny having made such a proclamation when the opposing officials received it and demanded an explanation. Instead, Ichadon would confess and accept the punishment of execution, for what would quickly be seen as a forgery.

Ichadon prophesied to the king that at his execution a wonderful miracle would convince the opposing court faction of Buddhism's power. Ichadon's scheme went as planned, and the opposing officials took the bait. When Ichadon was executed on the 15th day of the 9th month in 527, his prophecy was fulfilled; the earth shook, the sun was darkened, beautiful flowers rained from the sky, his severed head flew to the sacred Geumgang mountains, and milk instead of blood sprayed 100 feet in the air from his beheaded corpse. The omen was accepted by the opposing court officials as a manifestation of heaven's approval, and Buddhism was made the state religion in 527 CE. Ichadon's body was then taken to the Geumgang mountains and buried there with respect. His martyrdom led to the construction of Heungnyun monastery, Silla's first state-sponsored temple.