(From L to R, top to bottom) ART HK 12, Seoul Diagonal Tower by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, The Chan-Zuckerbergs, China's War for Talent, Vintage Viet Cong Posters

@The Diplomat reports the Obama Administration has appointed its first Ambassador to Burma. Derek Mitchell, an inside-the-Beltway native, will be America’s ambassador to Burma, the first in 22 years. Or as President Obama put it poetically: “As an iron fist has unclenched in Burma, we have extended our hand.”

@TIME Magazine reports there’s a war for tech and engineering talent taking hold in China. Expect massages, foosball tables and other perks if they really want you.

@Can’t say I didn’t see this one coming. The Korea Times reports a survey of 3,600 people in nine countries shows K-pop Inc. will probably not see lasting success. Too much hypersexual dancing perhaps?

@Art sold well for an impressive swath of galleries represented at the Hong Kong Art Fair (ART HK 12). Even Arario Gallery reported selling an “undisclosed number of smaller pieces, ranging from USD 10,000-50,000.”

@Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan tied the knot at the end of a very eventful week: Chan earned her medical degree, Zuckerberg’s Facebook IPO was the largest in tech history, although it did disappoint a bit by closing 9.5 percent down from its opening price. It’s also something of a fairy tale ending for Mr. Zuckerberg.

@Looking to vacation in Southeast Asia? Know your fruits before you go.

@And if you are Southeast Asia-bound, you might want to rethink fish pedicures.

@On the other hand, if you’re headed to Beijing and looking for some bizarre eats, be sure to get your sneak preview here. (via Fili Nation)

@Are the Norks getting soft? I’m talking about their agreement to release 3 Chinese fishermen, who were detained for 12 days and at one point were held for ransom.

@And for South Korea, Dezeen has done a very nice job of rounding up the future of Seoul’s positively 22nd century skyline.


@Child of the Sixties Forever has a collection of Viet Cong posters from that decade. Which makes me wonder. Will we be looking back at today’s North Korean propaganda with equal bemusement?

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(From L to R, top to bottom) Chinese supermodel Ming Xi, a peaceful protest in Dalian, a Geisha of nylon and styrofoam, modern architecture in Korea, a basketball brawl, and KARA's new Japanese commercial

@Evan Osnos witnessed history in the making, as Vice-President Joe Biden made the rounds in Beijing, all the while doling out some quirky, off-hand comments to his Chinese counterparts.

@Peter Foster of the Daily Telegraph reports on a middle-class protest in northeast China that ended peacefully, where everybody went home safely after getting what they wanted.

@FP Passport summarizes the ugly but mesmerizing brawl between two basketball teams. Hopefully this isn’t an augury of U.S.-China relations.

@Speaking of ugly, self-entitled reviewers on Yelp can now have their fifteen minutes of fame, thanks to a new satirical Tumblr.

@Change of topic: the Beijinger has an inspiring story of two expats who founded a shelter for visually impaired orphans in 2002.

@More inspiration: 15-year-old Madison Gunst won the first annual K-Pop contest in New York, and her K-pop idol Jang Woo-hyuk wants to meet her!

@On the subject of K-pop, girl group KARA is now starring in a Japanese television commercial for a diet, vinegar drink, but something tells me that’s not the only reason they stay so enviably thin.

@More diaphanous women: Chinese supermodel Ming Xi smiles shyly for Bonae’s Blog in Central Park.

@dezeen magazine showcases a nature-centric, modern residence in Gyeonggido, Korea, away from the madding crowds of Seoul. Very nice.

@Trendland profiles a Brazilian sculptor with a sense of fun when its comes to nylon rope and Styrofoam.


@I just started a new Tumblr, #KoreanPeopleProblems, and frankly speaking, it’s been very cathartic. Very.


K Popped | Madison Gunst

by Liz on August 18, 2011

in Books & Entertainment

What is a star? And how are they different from mere mortals? Perhaps stars are mortals, blessed with heightened energy and a powerful dedication to their art. They live without fear, are always trying new things, and never give up easily.

If so, a star was born this Tuesday in Central Park. And she’s only fifteen years old.

Madison Gunst of Florida took some 2,000 viewers by surprise with her thrillingly exacting performance of K-pop sensation Jang Woo Hyuk’s ‘Weekend Night/ Jumalbam,’ right down to the robotic, chest gyrations and head slides. A complete dancing diva in the making, Kunst arrived on-stage, fashionably late, but did not leave her audience disappointed.

Gunst is a seamless fusion of b-boy cockiness and pretty-girl-next-door. Not something you see everyday. She’s a rare prodigy, not just in dancing talent, but also in her taste in music. Her favorite K-pop singers are G-Dragon, Jang Woo Hyuk (“of course!” she giggled), and loves anything “that moves and grooves” her.

Her seeming preference for guy bands showed that she was something of a tomboy too. But I guess that goes back to the cocky assurance of her inner b-boy.

The 1st Annual New York K-Pop contest was part of a larger event organized by the Korean Cultural Service in New York, in conjunction with the Korean Food Foundation. It was a lovely summer day, not too hot, just about right, and some of my favorite Korean restaurants were doling out free food for hours on end, drawing in grazers from near and far.

It was a worthwhile outing, one that took me by surprise by the sheet talent on stage, some as young as twelve. I actually stopped by on assignment, but also realized something I’ve always suspected. Korean pop culture is globalizing, and no one really knows why, but if you’re young, full of hope, and have your whole life of ahead of you, you don’t need an explanation.

You just dance.


(from L to R, top to bottom): KamKam's Dressed Up Furniture, Sung Yeon-ju's edible fashon, Chalmer Johnson's last book, Anna Wintour in China, Monsoon in a tea cup, K-pop group 2PM, and a somewhat disarming North Korean security guard.

@The New York Times has a very succinct summary of the work and life of Dr. Chalmers Johnson (1931-2010), the renowned Asia scholar and Korean War veteran, whose work on Japan, China and the United States is all too relevant today.

@David Pilling of the Financial Times captures Dr. Johnson’s scholarly essence in a neat package of an editorial: “”The road ahead for Asia need not run west.”

@Speaking of roads not needing to run west, Shanghaiist reports Anna Wintour’s road ran east ahead of the Thanksgiving holidays, where she met with her counterpart, Angelica Cheung of Vogue China.

@Fashion à la Global Asianista: trust a young and fabulously talented South Korean artist to take food to new, glamorous heights. Sung Yeon Ju’s website had crashed at press time, so try here and here for a taste of her delicious creations.

@The New York Times takes seriously the conclusion of Monsoon:The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power: that the global system’s center of gravity is shifting rapidly, and not just because more honeymooners are heading for the Maldives.

@Contemporist suggests you get a new wardrobe, literally, from Korean design studio Kamkam’s adorable Dressed-Up Furniture series. It’s furniture, except it feels like clothes.

@Fast Company gives Taiwanese music mogul Jay Chou a coveted spot on their annual Most Creative People in Business list. (via Shanghaiist)

@Little Red Book dissects a viral marketing campaign in China, that (spoiler alert!) turned out to have a false albeit convincingly ridiculous protagonist. The young woman in question had placed a personal ad seeking eligible bachelors, stating “People who are working in CNPC, Sinopec or other worldwide top enterprises or banks are preferable.” Chinese netizens speculated she was beautiful and (obviously) very snobby.

@Richard Ehrlich chronicles the rise and rise of Korean popular culture in Thailand. “For most Thai fans, a slightly longish haircut — often permed, even for males — is all you need to project the ultimate symbol of coolness. Thais who are obsessively following the fad are easily identified by the puffed-up, coiffed, unisex hairstyle, which self-consciously sweeps long straight locks diagonally down across half of the face.”

@On the subject of K-pop, if you’re in New York, mark your calendars: on Dec. 2, Wired Rebels and My Ninja! are throwing a back-to-the-K-pop-90s partay at hip Indian restaurant Pranna. For tickets, see here. (via Angry Asian Man)

@…and on the Angry Asian Man front: Asian America’s leading blogger condemns the North Korean attack on South Korean civilians at Yeonpyeong Island, then goes slightly weak in the knees at the sight of a hot North Korean security guard. For shame!