Guest Post By E. Lee: Kim Jong Il, Passings, And Visiting North Korea

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Editor's Note: As always, a part of this blog's intent is to showcase different views from the APIA community, and I hope this guest post continues that tradition regardless of what your beliefs are and what you think after reading it.

I will always remember the moment when I learned of Kim Jong Il’s death - it felt like time stood still. Sunday evening, December 18, 2011, more than two days after he was proclaimed dead I saw the news on my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

I experienced a mixed bag of thoughts and emotions from sadness to ambivalence as well as concern. I braced myself for the imminent news coverage and the potential bias and ignorance in reporting on the life and death of the leader of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea aka North Korea) and all things North Korean. It makes me wonder when reporters state that we know very little about North Korea yet position themselves as the final authority on the DPRK and then we consume the news as absolute truth.

In my quest to decipher how the media reported on the life and times of Kim Jong Il, I found the following quotes put things into perspective.

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General

The UN chief, who is South Korean, "extends his sympathy to the people of [North Korea] at this time of their national mourning," said a statement read to reporters by UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

Ban "reaffirms his commitment to peace and security on the Korean peninsula", Haq said.

"The United Nations system will continue to help the people of North Korea. The Secretary-General is closely following the situation."
Alain Juppe, French Foreign Minister
The death of a man is never something to be cheered, but it is the sad suffering of a people that is important.
I had the opportunity to visit the DPRK this summer (2011) with a peace delegation of overseas Koreans. We spent 11 days in the northern half of our country of origin meeting with leaders of the Women’s and Youth Leagues, visiting factories, collective farms, and museums as well as a church, amusement park, Kim Il Sung University, hospitals and a baby home. This was the ninth peace delegation of overseas Koreans to visit North Korea.

Prior to arriving in Pyongyang, our delegation gathered in Beijing for final preparations. We learned that our first stop when arriving in North Korea would be Mansudae, the large, bronze statue of Kim Il Sung, where we would lay flowers, bow and pay our respects. With this in mind we decided to forgo our comfortable travel clothes for more formal and professional attire. However, when our guide met us at the airport we went straight to the hotel and had dinner instead of visiting Mansudae. It didn’t feel right – almost like I was being disrespectful of the North Korean culture and people. It was getting dark and we asked about visiting the statue of Kim Il Sung. With preparations for the 100th anniversary in 2012 of Kim Il Sung’s birth, there was a fair amount of construction and renovation near Mansudae, so we would not have the opportunity to visit. There was clear disappointment amongst the group.

There is a question as to whether the public mass mourning for Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader, is genuine. Grief is a very cultural and sometimes rather individual experience. I’m not sure it’s my place to call into question whether or not someone’s grief, whether displayed publicly or privately, is genuine. In addition, I’m not sure how useful it is to debate something we cannot prove. With the friends and family I have lost, I have expressed my grief to fit the situation: from barely shedding a tear at the funeral to crying myself to sleep for weeks and months after a long-time friend’s sudden death. I also attended a funeral for someone I had never met and when friends asked if it was strange since I didn’t know the deceased, I explained that it was the most natural place to be and one of the most beautiful memorial ceremonies I’d attended. Because of our shared community and history, I felt a connection with this brother I had never met. Grief has caught me off guard on more than one occasion, and if anyone had questioned how I grieved it would have been like pouring salt in my wounds.

Koreans both North and South are nationalistic. The 2002 World Cup co-hosted by South Korea and Japan resulted in spontaneous street cheering. I was in Seoul during the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and experienced the biggest tailgating party ever. Entire streets would shut down and fans would gather by the thousands at 3am in the rain to cheer on the South Korean national football team. Entire photo exhibits are dedicated to the South Korean World Cup teams.

Also, I was living in Seoul in 2007 during the Virginia Tech shootings. While the perpetrator, Seung-Hui Cho, had lived in the US most of his life, South Koreans considered him a South Korean by blood and expressed a sense of public shame and President Roh Moo-hyun expressed condolences. In addition, South Koreans apologized to Americans living in Seoul.

When President Roh Moo-hyun left office, he became a tourist attraction in his hometown with thousands of South Koreans visiting in hope of catching a glimpse of the president. When he died in 2009, thousands of South Koreans publicly mourned him. Was the authenticity of their grief questioned?

While in the DPRK, I witnessed a great reverence and devotion for Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. North Koreans wear pins displaying Kim Il Sung, the Great Leader and sometimes both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader. Every room and building display photos of both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il (except the church we visited). Newspapers should not be folded across photos of either Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il. When filming or taking photos of murals or portraits of Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il, I had to ensure not to cut off any of the existing images. Even saying their names in public is inappropriate and instead we referred to Kim Il Sung as the President and Kim Jong Il as the General. If either Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il had visited a factory or restaurant, this was proudly noted on a plaque at the entrance. The management took great pride in directing our attention to the visits by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

We visited the International Friendship Museum which houses gifts from heads of state, progressive, social justice organizations, religious leaders and several South Korean corporations like Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo. Billy Graham, the US evangelist, visited the DPRK twice. He noted that he never bowed to anyone but God but that Kim Il Sung was the first person he bowed to.

We also visited Kumsoosan Mausoleum of Kim Il Sung, the Great Leader, on the anniversary of his death June 7. Visitation to Kumsoosan is by invitation only and is a formal and somber experience. Although the Great Leader had passed in 1994, the mood was that of a funeral. As our bus drove us to the mausoleum, I observed hundreds of North Koreans making their way to the palace to pay their condolences. Whether or not one agrees with the Great Leader’s legacy, it was and is phenomenal to see the impact that one person had and still has on millions of people. We have had the opportunity to witness this now with the passing of Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader, as he lay in state at Kumsoosan and preparations were made for the state funeral. If you have time, take another look at the photos of Kim Jong Il in the glass casket. The casket is surrounded by several red flowers, white chrysanthemums and his military medals. The red flowers are Kimjongilia, a flower cultivated by a Japanese botanist for the Dear Leader’s 48th birthday in 1988. Kim Il Sung also has a flower named for him and yes, you guessed it: Kim Il Sung’s flower is the Kimilsungia. Interestingly, neither flower is the national flower of North Korea. The magnolia is the national flower.

Whether one’s perception of Kim Jong Il is that of a dictator or benevolent leader, he was a human being who is survived by his son and other family members, and it is not my place to question anyone’s path of grief.

To my North Korean brothers and sisters, may you find the peace, comfort and hope that you need at this time. May we all work together for peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula as it is peace that I know you desire.

E. Lee is a 1.X generation adopted Korean American who hopes to see a reunified Korea in her lifetime.

It's The Yellow Peril Dildo Post

Monday, December 26, 2011

I saw (and held) one of these before they went into mass production and let me tell you - this would make a great NYE's gift.

Pick it up down at the site.

Happy Xmas To All

Saturday, December 24, 2011


The Holidays and traveling really do make for a far worse blogger than I could have ever imagined during this time...

But I'm happy to be lazy as a MF too...

So Ho Ho Ho and a Merry Holidays to you all.

Researcher For Vietnam And Cambodia

Monday, December 19, 2011

If you are so inclined.

Full-Time Position Available:
Asia Division
(Cambodia or Thailand base preferred)
Apply Immediately

Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) is seeking highly-qualified applicants for the position of Researcher on Vietnam and Cambodia.

Description: Human Rights Watch is seeking a Researcher to monitor the human rights and international humanitarian situation in Vietnam and Cambodia. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, monitoring and documenting human rights abuses by collecting and analyzing information from a wide variety of sources including governments, local media, NGOs, journalists, diplomats, security forces and others in the field; carrying out research in the countries; writing reports, briefing memos, short reports, statements, op-eds, articles, and press releases, as well as submissions to international bodies, on human rights concerns in the countries as needed in a concise and accurate manner, with a quick turnaround time; responding promptly to queries from the media, public, and colleagues in the human rights community; helping to design and carry out local and international advocacy strategies to improve respect for human rights in Vietnam and Cambodia, including by publicizing research findings, briefing government and U.N. officials, etc., and working with local NGOs and human rights activists; working closely with local human rights organizations to ensure that the work of HRW in Vietnam and Cambodia complements and enhances their own work; and developing recommendations to stop or prevent abuses. The position will preferably be based in Cambodia or Thailand.

Qualifications: The successful applicant must be flexible and able to respond quickly to crises and conflicts as they may occur, in coordination with other Asia Division staff. S/he must have strong research and documentation skills and be capable of producing excellent written material under tight deadlines. An advanced degree in international relations, journalism, law or the social sciences and/or experience in human rights work are required, as is a background in human rights concerns in Vietnam and/or Cambodia. Excellent oral and written communications skills in English are essential; knowledge of Vietnamese is desirable and knowledge of Khmer is an asset. Experience living or working in the region is also an asset. The ideal candidate will be highly motivated, well-organized, able to work quickly and well under pressure both independently and as a member of a team, and demonstrate a commitment to international human rights.

Salary and Benefits:HRW seeks exceptional applicants and offers competitive compensation and employer-paid benefits. HRW will pay reasonable relocation expenses and will assist employees in obtaining necessary work authorization, if required; citizens of all nationalities are encouraged to apply.

PLEASE APPLY IMMEDIATELY(no calls or email inquiries, please)by emailing together a letter of interest, resume, references, salary requirements, and a brief writing sample (unedited by others) to Please use "Vietnam & Cambodia Researcher Ref ASI-11-1047-A" as the subject of your email. Only complete applications will be reviewed. It is preferred that all materials be submitted via email. If emailing is not possible, send materials (please do not split a submission between email and regular post) to:

Human Rights Watch
Attn: Search Committee (Vietnam & Cambodia Researcher Ref ASI-11-1047-A)
350 Fifth Ave., 34th Floor
New York, NY10118

Human Rights Watch is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices and, in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool.

Human Rights Watch is an international human rights monitoring and advocacy organization known for its in-depth investigations, its incisive and timely reporting, its innovative and high-profile advocacy campaigns, and its success in changing the human rights-related policies and practices of influential governments and international institutions.

Dumbass White Person Comment...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"The thing I would like best about living in South Korea is that I wouldn't have to eat Korean food if I didn't want too."


Ahh The Holidays

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Yes...they do sneak up on you....and random breaks in blogging...per the usual this year.

Gleek To ABC

Friday, December 09, 2011

Reviews For "New Year's Eve" Suck. If They Had Some Asian American Stars In The Headline Maybe It Wouldn't.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Yup. Once again these MF's tell us that we don't exist on holidays.

First it was Valentine's Day (no headliners).

Now it's New Year's Eve.


Like Harry Shum isn't going to get mobbed on NYE waking up with a face full of lipstick.


iTunes Rewind 2011+Far East Movement (@fareastmovement)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Just in case you're like me and have been hiding under a rock for a while, FM had two songs in the iTunes Rewind 2011 including "Rocketeer" and "Like a G6".

Random Thought: Is Jude Law Racist For Being In A Movie With Yellow Face?

Friday, December 09, 2011


The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition To ABC, CBS, Fox And NBC: You Got 3 Years To Create Asian American Stars

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Throwdown time.

Concerned with the slow progress of TV networks in the area of diversity casting, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC) has released its 2011 report cards grading the networks' past 2010-2011season while simultaneously challenging ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC to castat least one Asian Pacific American actor as the mainstar in a TV show within the next three years.

"Since APAMC began meeting with the networks in late 1999, only two new shows have starred Asian Pacific Americans (APAs)," said co-chairs Guy Aoki and Marilyn Tokuda in a Coalition statement, "'Cashmere Mafia' with Lucy Liu and 'Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann (Inaba),' both on ABC. We believe that, without a timetable, the networks will never confront the perceived obstacles to using APAs as the faces of their series. So we have issued a challenge that within three years--by the Fall of 2014--they air a series which stars at least one APA clearly cast as the central character (the star's name usually appears first in the credits when they aren't listed alphabetically)."

For example, the star of "Parks and Recreation" is Amy Poehler, not Aziz Ansari.

The Coalition challenge included a further condition: "Because many actors are part-Asian Pacific and viewers are unaware of what their heritage is, we always encourage the networks to make it clear within the context of their shows that the character is Asian Pacific. However, if all we end up getting are stars who are part-APA but don't look it and who don't play recognizably APA roles, then the goal of more meaningful inclusion will not have been reached."

Last year, the total number of APA regulars amongst the top four networks jumped from 32 to 38--an all-time high. This past season, that number dropped to 31.

Overall, NBC, with a B (up from a B-), ranked highest in this year's APAMC report cards, which marks the 10th anniversary of judging the inclusion of APAsin eight categories: actors, unscripted show participants, writers/producers, directors, development, procurement, executives, and network initiatives.

No other network has ever received this high a grade from the coalition. Out of 12 report cards since 2000, NBC has received the highest overall grade 8 times (5 of them ties with other networks). This past season, the peacock network also had the highest grade for actors, development deals, and writers/producers, and tied for top honors in procurement, executives, and diversity initiatives.

CBS maintained a B- for the third year, ABC slid from B- to C+. Fox fell from C+ to C-, the worst network grade since CBS received the same rating in 2005.

"Last season, NBC had 13 regulars of Asian Pacific descent (boosted by five regulars on 'Outsourced'," Aoki stated. "This was the highest number any network has been able to achieve in the 11years the Coalition has released report cards. Accordingly, we have issued our highest grade in the actors category ever, a B+. NBC is the only network to receive this high a grade, which they also received in 2004."

According to the APAMC report, between 2006 and 2008, ABC either had the highest number of APA regulars or tied for that distinction. But ABC's record has declined noticeably since then. This past season, ABC could claim only 5 regulars and 4 recurring characters, their exact numbers in 2005. Of all four networks, ABC received the lowest grade in the actors category, a D+.

The day after the new "Hawaii Five-0" debuted in September of 2010, theAPAMC encouraged CBS to hire writers and actors from Hawaii in order to truly capture the essence of the people of that state.

"We have been disappointed that most of the APAs used are as suspects or villains and increasingly, most of the guest stars-who often get more screen time than regulars Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park and Masi Oka-are white and from the mainland," Aoki said. A meeting with CBS has been set for next week to address these concerns.

ABC scored best in the unscripted series category for the fourth consecutive year. Since 2008, the network has featuredAPAs in many of their unscripted series, including Carrie Ann Inaba as a judge on "Dancing With the Stars."

CBS made the biggest improvement in reality shows, jumping from a C- to a B- for its profiles of two Asian American CEOs in "Undercover Boss" and many contestants on "The Amazing Race" and "Live to Dance."

"The networks have always struggled with using APA directors on their shows," said Coalition co-chair Tokuda, reporting that Fox had the highest number (11) of APAs directing a total of 28 episodes. Except for one episode of "Traffic Light," however, all of those shows were animated. Still, Fox earned the biggest grade improvement in any category this past season, jumping from a D- to a B-.

However, Fox had no development deals with APAs, receiving an F in that category, as well as an F/Incomplete for its failure to report verified procurement data (they have promised to provide this in the near future). The network also received the lowest grade for diversity initiatives (C-), as the head of the Diversity department left in October of last year and the entire team was eventually dismantled. Fox is now taking a different approach with its "Audience Strategy" department, and we look forward to seeing whether its promising new diversity initiatives bear more fruit at the network than have past efforts.

The Coalition singled out CBS President Nina Tassler, praising her for convening a second meeting with her show runners and the APAMC to discuss ways to include more people of color (POC) in their series. In the 2011-2012 season, CBS will have at least 10 APA regulars, the highest in its history. Unfortunately, this includes the heavy-accented restaurant owner played by Matthew Moy in "2 Broke Girls," which many in the community feel sets back the cause. Fox's numbers also look better for this new season with the inclusion of three Asian Indian/half -Asian Indian regulars as part of the main family on "Terra Nova." Also, the network once again includes an Asian American doctor--played by Charlene Yi--in "House."

Despite losing five regulars on the now-cancelled "Outsourced," NBC only slipped from 13 to 12 as it included 7 new API regulars on 7 new series.

Although the road to reflecting reality has been an ongoing challenge, since the 1999/2000 meetings, the networks have implemented many initiatives to increase the presence of POC before and behind the camera. Although the programs do not guarantee employment, they provide access and a means to getting a foot in the door in areas POC have historically been denied.

APAs have gained ground as writers, with some elevated to producers, co-producers and executive producers on such series as "ER," "Lost," "NCIS: Los Angeles," "Prison Break," "Law & Order: SVU," "Bones," "Medium," "The Walking Dead" and "Body of Proof."

"For actors," Tokuda stated, "winning a place in the network showcases is like harnessing the brass ring. The exposure can lead to solid agency representation, multiple auditions and, in some cases, an ongoing mentorship with casting executives. People like Carrie Ann Inaba ("Dancing with the Stars") and Liza Lapira (21, "Traffic Light") were discovered in the showcases."

Graduates of directors programs have gone on to direct shows like NBC's "Community" and the Julia Roberts film Fireflies in the Garden.

Vote + Jeff Yang(@originalspin) + Cluefly + 10K

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Help Jeff Yang win 10K for his new startup called Cluefly. It's a site where the crowd can ask, answer and uprank questions on hot-button topics like race, gender, sexuality and identity — and have "certified" answers validated by experts -- the Factcheck Desk for the Internet.

Check out all the info at and if you want to vote (you can vote as many times as you want) *click here.

And if you are so inclined check out all the video pitches here.

*Note that if you click on the links at they will go to a survey/vote that is no longer available - apparently this was a glitch - use the link provided in the post.

Home:Word Magnetic North & Taiyo Na Official Music Video (@magnorth, @taiyona, @samkangmusic)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Leave It Up To Us To Make Sleeping Better Through Your iPhone/iPad/iPod

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

I've heard of these for a while but had no idea the folks behind this were mostly Asian - and if you go to the company page for Lark you'll see a lot of happy Asian faces.

They must sleep well.

@slantyapolis: Twitter Finally Sexes Me Up

Monday, December 05, 2011

While I've made posts on twitter (see the sidebar for example), and have pushed posts to it via an account - albeit without making it's existance known instead people searching via the blog contact address - I've never really let it sex me up - until now.



Random thoughts.

Probably still me being lazy.

That's An Old Pot Stash

Monday, December 05, 2011

From The Seattle Times:

Looks like very early residents of China had a penchant for smoking marijuana.

Archaeologists who dug up a 2,700-year-old tomb of a shaman near Turpan out in far west Xinjiang province found a curious pouch. News reports call it the oldest stash of marijuana on Earth.

The cannabis was "superbly preserved by climatic and burial conditions," according to an article in the scientific Journal of Experimental Botany.

Olivia Munn Goes FHM

Monday, December 05, 2011

Named one of the funniest people? Check.

Cover of FHM?

Double check.

Want To See It: Tran Anh Hung's Norwegian Wood

Friday, December 02, 2011