Latest news, in-depth features and opinion on South Korea, covering politics, economy, society, K-pop and Seoul’s relationships with North Korea, Japan, China and the United States.

Just how lethal is the coronavirus? South Korea may have the best answer
Within a month of confirming its first case of the new coronavirus on January 20, South Korea had tested nearly 8,000 people suspected of infection. A little over a week later, that number had soared to 82,000 as health officials mobilized to carry out as many 10,000 tests each day. (Where did the coronavirus come from? How to prevent infections? Here’s what we’ve learned so far about the coronavirus.)  Neighboring Japan, on the other hand, tested only a fraction of that number, with fewer than 2,000 people checked on any given day since the beginning of its outbreak in late January.  So far, more than 6,000 cases have been confirmed in South Korea and over 1,000 in Japan, if you include the
Secretive church linked to South Korea’s outbreak may have ties to Wuhan
Members of the Christian sect linked to a cluster of coronavirus cases in South Korea held meetings in Wuhan until December, only stopping when they realized that their community had been hit by Covid-19, the previously unknown disease caused by the virus. The South China Morning Post has learned that the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the epidemic, has around 200 members, most of whom are currently under quarantine outside the city. “Rumors about a virus began to circulate in November but no one took them seriously,” said one member, a 28-year-old kindergarten teacher. “I was in Wuhan in December when our church suspended all gatherings as soon as we
Will ‘Parasite’ make it past China’s film censors?
Chinese film fans still don’t know if, or when, they will get to see Parasite, the South Korean film that made history by winning the 92nd Academy Award for best picture, along with three other Oscars. Some expressed doubts the film would be shown in China given its unflinching criticism of social inequality and extreme poverty, and its amoral storyline. It wouldn’t be the first Korean film to fall foul of Chinese censors. Korean directors have not been shy about depicting their country under dictatorship, and are likened to French filmmakers in their stylistic portrayal of sex and gore. Chinese censorship rules ban the explicit portrayal of sex, violence, sensitive political issues, practic
K-pop star ‘liked’ a tweet about Hong Kong. His Chinese fans are not amused
K-pop singer Choi Siwon — from the popular boy band Super Junior — has apologized to his 16 million Chinese fans for “liking” a post on Twitter about the Hong Kong protests. Choi, 33, liked – and later unliked – a Tweet from the South Korean newspaper Chosun on Sunday which linked to an interview with Chow Pak-kwan, the 21-year-old Hong Kong protester who was shot by a police officer at point-blank range on November 11.  Mainland internet users called for Choi to leave Super Junior. He is another public figure from the Asian entertainment world who has sparked an online backlash from nationalistic Chinese over alleged support for the anti-government protests in Hong Kong. Many commenters on
The surprising place some Korean women are going for a career boost
It takes less than two hours to fly from Seoul to Shanghai. The capital of South Korea and one of China’s largest cities are separated by a mere 500 miles, but the differences between the two Asian giants are clear. South Korea is a democracy that elected its first female president, Park Geun-hye, in February 2013. China, meanwhile, is a one-party state that has never had a woman president or premier. The all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, which currently has seven members, has never had any women either. China is not a feminist paradise. Indeed, it was ranked 103 out of 149 countries for gender parity in a 2018 report by the World Economic Forum, falling from 57th place in 2008. And
Why China’s falling out of love with K-beauty
Just a few years ago, South Korea’s beauty industry could do no wrong in China. Lipsticks worn by actress Jun Ji-hyun in the 2014 hit K-drama My Love From The Star sold out almost immediately thanks to Chinese fans, despite being on screen for just seconds. As part of the K-wave – along with K-pop, K-fashion and K-dramas – South Korean beauty trends set the agenda in China. Propelled by savvy marketing campaigns and viral skincare and make-up tutorials, the industry racked up $13.1 billion worth of sales worldwide in 2018, according to market research company Mintel. But today, the tide is turning. The Chinese beauty market is huge. It’s the world’s second-largest, according to Euromonitor,
Chinese TV station accused of ripping off South Korean show
If you’ve never heard of Korean TV show Master in the House, here’s a summary: four famous Korean actors spending two days and one night with famous figures from various fields, the so-called “masters,” in the hope of learning from them. If you’ve never heard of Chinese TV show My Brilliant Masters, here’s a summary too: four young artists visit the homes of virtuosos in different fields to live with them and take “extracurricular classes for life, setting up positive values.” The main difference: the Korean show debuted in December 2017, while the Chinese one was first broadcast on March 30. The South Korean company behind the original series says that it’s never sold the format overseas. N
What’s stopping peace in Korea? It’s not who you’d think
What do South Koreans see as the biggest barrier to peace? A nuclear-capable neighbor run by an all-powerful leader who has actively suppressed dissent to consolidate his control. But that country isn’t North Korea – it’s China. First the first time, China has surpassed North Korea as the country presenting the biggest barrier to peace on the Korean Peninsula, according to a new poll of South Korean citizens. In the survey, released on Tuesday by the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies (IPUS) at Seoul National University, 46% of respondents viewed China as “the most threatening country to peace on the Korean Peninsula.” That’s a dramatic increase from 2016, when that number was just
North and South Korean leaders meet in Pyongyang
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has arrived in Pyongyang for his third face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Moon is the first president from the South to visit the North’s capital in 11 years. Will the summit revive US-North Korea diplomacy, or end up more show than substance?
Korea’s divided lives
The inter-Korean summit kicked off on Tuesday with a warm embrace between North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in. But despite the smiles and handshakes, North and South Korea remain officially at war. The citizens of the two nations cannot freely travel between the two. On the contrary, those who wish to defect from the North face an arduous journey via China, Laos and Cambodia. AFP photographer Ed Jones is one of the few journalists based in South Korea who regularly visits the North. He’s taken a series of matching portraits of the people from both nations, shot between 2016 and 2018. Jones layers his images one on top of each other – with North on top and South below, of