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.

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
K-pop star ‘liked’ a tweet about Hong Kong. His Chinese fans are not amused
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
The surprising place some Korean women are going for a career boost
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,
Why China’s falling out of love with K-beauty
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
Chinese TV station accused of ripping off South Korean show
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
What’s stopping peace in Korea? It’s not who you’d think
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?
North and South Korean leaders meet in Pyongyang
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
Korea’s divided lives
The tragic life of a North Korean defector
For North Korean defector Choi Ran*, Daegu was to be the start of a last new beginning. The South Korean city was meant to be the final stop in a decade-long ordeal, from starvation in the North and forced marriage in China, to cultural isolation in the South. It was intended as the first step in a fresh start with her “husband” – the 49-year-old Chinese cab driver she was sold to in her mid-thirties, and their young son, born in the rural backwaters of China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province. But Daegu proved to be the end for the 45-year-old. In March, just weeks before the family was reunited, Choi was murdered by her lover, a businessman who had funded the expensive reunion and then k
The tragic life of a North Korean defector
North and South Korea win a combined gold medal. Is the war over?
A unified Korean team made up of athletes from the divided North and South has won a gold medal in the women’s dragon boat final at the Asian Games in Indonesia on Sunday. Tearful North and South Korean athletes hugged to celebrate their victory in the women’s 500m dragon boat race. Earlier on Saturday, the team bagged bronze in the women’s 200m, while the men’s team also collected bronze in the 100m race. Hang on. Don’t North and South Korea, like, hate each other? Politically, they’re divided. Technically, North and South Korea are still at war. The Soviet and China-backed North and US-backed South fought the Korean War to a ceasefire in 1953. Since then, South Korea has flourished as a t
North and South Korea win a combined gold medal. Is the war over?
Reunited after six decades, these Korean families get just 11 hours together
Thousands of families were separated in the 1950s after the Korean Peninsula was split into two by the Korean War – a war that has officially never ended. Many on both sides have not seen their closest relatives since. But 89 Korean families were reunited briefly on Monday, in a rare reunion organized by the governments of North and South Koreas. They will be spending 11 hours together over three days in North Korea's Mount Kumgang. Such family reunions are only held when relations between North and South are good. This is the first such event in three years. The two Koreas agreed to arrange the reunion after a landmark meeting between the leaders of the two nations in April. But time is run
Reunited after six decades, these Korean families get just 11 hours together