WHO Director-General Dies

May 23rd, 2006

Dr. Lee Jong Wook, the first Korean to lead an international organization, died unexpectedly yesterday due to complications from a previous surgery. He obtained a medical degree from Seoul National University, then enrolled at the University of Hawaii to study public health earning a Master’s degree. Lee joined WHO in 1983. He began his term as Director-General of WHO on 21 July 2003, having been elected two months before. Many nations expressed their sorrow for the sudden loss. “We feel deeply grieved over the loss of an outstanding leader of the WHO and an intimate friend of China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. Lee played a key role in the fight against SARS and bird flu, which both particularly affected China. A particularly strong tribute came from North Korea. “The contribution Dr. Lee made in promoting the health and welfare of people around the world will be praised not only by us today but also by future generations and will be remembered forever,” North Korean Ambassador to Geneva Lee Chol said. The late WHO chief visited North Korea twice. The Korean government wants to bury Lee in a national cemetery and is considering a posthumous decoration for his contribution to global health. The WHO will hold a funeral ceremony in Geneva today. (source: Korea Times)

First New York Contemporary Korean Paintings Auction

April 2nd, 2006

Thus far, the only Korean art auctioned at Sotheby’s New York has been ceramics or traditional paintings. In a few instances, works by leading, internationally known artists Park Soo-keun or Paik Nam-june turned up. Last Friday was the first time so many works by living Korean artists made a collective appearance in an auction in New York. Korean artist Lee U-fan’s “Untitled, 1982″ sold for US140,000 after fierce bidding, about twice the price the auction house had expected. Adding fees, the picture fetched $168,000, the highest price for a Korean work on the day. (source: Chosun Ilbo)

Expanded Suffrage

March 27th, 2006

For the first time foreigners who have lived in Korea for three years or longer since they obtained permanent residency, will be allowed to vote in the local elections on May 31 if they are 19 years or older. The government revised the election law last August to allow foreigners voting rights. The law enables 6,579 foreigners, including 6,511 Taiwanese, 51 Japanese, 8 Americans, 5 Chinese and 2 Germans. Next month, the National Election Commission plans to invite foreign voters to its training institute to brief them on voting procedures and details of the local elections. (source: Korea Times)

35 People Injured at Lotte World

March 27th, 2006

After a 28-year-old man was killed on a rollercoaster ride, Lotte World in Jamsil decided to offer free admission to alleviate its tainted image. More than 60,000 people gathered at Lotte World early Sunday morning, overloading the park’s maximum capacity of 35,000 and forcing operators to close entrance just ten minutes after opening at 9:30 a.m. The injuries occurred when some of the outside crowd attempted to force their way in, trampling people ahead of them and breaking several windows at the entrance. Most of the 35 who were transferred to nearby hospitals were treated for minor injuries, the police said. The park operators can be criminally charged should law enforcement authorities confirm the park operators overlooked safety standards in pushing ahead with its “free admission'’ promotion. (source: Korea Times)

Fight Cancer! With Korean Cuisine…

March 24th, 2006

In the past few years, research has shown that ingredients of the Korean staple are effective against cancer. Kimchi was once avoided because it was once thought to cause gastric cancer because of its salts and spices. As a matter of fact, capsaicin in chilies, which makes them so spicy, regulates the growth of helicobacter pylori and as a result prevents gastric cancer. The major ingredients in kimchi are mostly cancer-preventing vegetables: garlic, ginger, green onion, and radish, while the lactobacilli produced during fermentation are effective for the prevention of colon cancer. Bean paste has been shown to delay menopause and osteoporosis in women as well as prevent cancer because of its high protein content. (source: Chosun Ilbo)

Koreans Love to Drink

March 22nd, 2006

For the 5th year in a row, the traditional liquor soju produced by Jinro is the world’s top-selling spirit. The Russian vodka brand Stolichinaya ranked second with 55 million boxes, followed by another vodka brand Moskovskaya and San Miguel Jin of the Philippines. The international trade magazine Impact said Wednesday that Jinro sold last year some 65 million boxes or 5.8 billion liters of soju, retaining the top place for the fifth consecutive year. Jinro said soju sales have increased thanks to steady growth in the domestic market and rising demand in Japan. (source: KBS News)