Get to Know 17-Year-Old Singer & Model Skye Daru


Talented, intelligent, driven and beautiful. It’s hard to imagine anyone who could fill such a description, but 17-year-old model and singer Skye Daru effortlessly fits the part.

The ridiculously talented teen– who is of Filipino, Indian and Persian descent– first started modeling at the age of six. Of course that wasn’t the only thing she excelled at. Having a passion for music as well as modeling, Daru picked up the piano at the age of five and found a love for drums in the 5th grade.

By the time she was a freshman in high school, Daru had a Ford modeling contract under her belt. And even with her impressive list of achievements, Daru’s vast skill set was no where near done opening doors for the ambitious girl.



…”the side of me you’re gonna see is the side you don’t know…”

A photo posted by Hayley Skye Daru (@skyedaru) on


A photo posted by Hayley Skye Daru (@skyedaru) on


  It was during a photoshoot that Daru was discovered as a singer. “It was a holiday shoot and all of the models there were asked to sing ‘Jingle Bells’ in a particularly weird voice,” Daru told Teen Vogue.  “I didn’t want to sound stupid, so I sang in my actual voice. After the director heard me, he immediately asked that I sing him something else, so I broke out some Guns N’ Roses. He then let my agency know that I had some raw potential, and after that they brought in a manager and producer for me.” Now, in addition to a number of pop songs available on iTunes, Daru has recorded a 6-song EP which will be released in the Fall. The debut single “Wildside” is said to be about Daru embracing her life between music and modeling.”    



And if you thought juggling two careers as a teenager was difficult, you’ll be shocked to discover that Daru has been able to remain a full-time student. Talk about impressive time management skills!

Daru admits that because she occasionally misses school for photoshoot and gigs, her principal tried placing her on the truancy list. She avoided this by maintaining straight A’s and remaining in the top 10% of her class despite her hectic work schedule.

Like we said, this is one seriously driven girl.


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Chinese Artist Cai Guo-Qiang Creates Stairway to Heaven Fireworks


A recent video of a fireworks display has gone viral. The stunning 80-second art installation, a towering ladder made of fireworks, reached 1,650 feet (500 meters) into the sky.

Created by Cai Guo-Qiang, Sky Ladder was showcased in June in Quanzhou City in China’s southeast Fujian Province. The firework and gunpowder studded wire ladder was carried up by a large weather balloon. Referred by some as a “stairway to heaven,” the project started off as a dream for Cai 21 years ago. His first attempt was in 1994 but it was never launched due to strong winds. Cai tried again in 2001 when Shanghai hosted the APEC Summit, but was restricted aerial access due to the September 11th attacks.

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Sky Ladder
 is dedicated to Cai’s grandmother who just celebrated her 100th birthday. The beautiful fireworks show was a way Cai wanted to thank his grandmother for supporting his dream of being an artist.


The Chinese contemporary artist currently lives and works in New York City. Over the years, Cai has travelled the world to work on projects and exhibitions, many of them incorporating gunpowder and fireworks with various mediums. The pieces are incredible, inspiring both awe and suspense when it comes to working with explosives. Check out some of his other dazzling installations, including the opening and closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008:


Making of Gunpowder Drawings in Cai Guo-Qiang: Peasant Da Vincis Brazil, 2013 from Cai Studio on Vimeo.


2008 Beijing Olympics (2008北京奧運會開閉幕式焰火) from Cai Studio on Vimeo.


Black Rainbow: Explosion Project for Valencia (黑彩虹:瓦倫西亞爆破計劃 ), Spain, 2005 from Cai Studio on Vimeo.


Inheritance: Exploding Jan Hoet’s Portrait (遺產:爆破楊 • 荷特肖像), S.M.A.K., Gent, 2003 from Cai Studio on Vimeo.


Transient Rainbow (移動彩虹), MoMA, New York, 2002 from Cai Studio on Vimeo.


Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Cityscape Fireworks (APEC大型景觀焰火表演), Shanghai, 2001 from Cai Studio on Vimeo.

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Latest Korean Hair Trend: Heart-Shaped Bangs


I once thought that the only girl who could boldly pull off heart-shaped bangs was my favorite childhood cartoon character, Sailor Moon. I stand corrected.

The latest hair craze among South Korean women have nothing to do with color or accessories. In the Gangbuk District of Seoul, South Korea, girls everywhere have been styling a new hair trend that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and it is surprisingly cute. Korean girls everywhere are parting their bangs in the middle with the ends connecting into a heart. It seems Kendall Jenner’s record breaking Instagram photo of heart shaped hair may have started a  hair movement half way across the globe.

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Now, you can find Korean girls all over Instagram sporting this look, with each girl putting a slightly different spin on it. While many girls have been testing this look just for pictures and Instagram, others have been trying this look out in public.

Although this gives off a very cute appearance, is the look a little too drastic to be worn on an everyday basis? Any chance this hair trend will make its way into America? Check out these photos and let us know what you think about this new Korean hair trend.

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heart bangs double

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A Look Into the Most Popular Asian-Inspired Tattoos


Remember when rub-on tattoos were in? You could stop by any arcade quarter machine and come out with a colorful heart or butterfly on your arm. And if you were lucky, your temporary tattoo would even have glitter.

Childhood memories aside, it wasn’t until years later that I realized an odd trend among these sticker-sized tattoos. Aside from hearts and butterflies, there was never a shortage of Yin Yang symbols, Chinese scripts and Maori tribal bands. Even though these symbols did not speak to us culturally, from an early age we have been ingrained with and accustomed to these images.

And it’s not just temporary tattoos. Asian-influenced tattoos are very popular, but many people don’t even realize the significance behind the images they are permanently etching onto their skin. Having these choices in every tattoo parlor seems to have created a fetish for what some see as “exotic Asian symbols.” Problematic? Absolutely. Fixated solely on the tattoo image, some forget that there is a story and deeper meaning that comes along with the images.

Knowing the symbolism behind these popular tattoos can help give an identity to these images. With that being said, here are ten of the most common Asian-influenced tattoos that can be seen today, as well as the history behind how they came to be.




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The koi fish is a form of Japanese Carp that has a variety of symbolic meanings. Koi fish are known in Japanese culture because of their nature to swim upstream. Depending on their color, the koi fish can represent anything from power and perseverance, to bravery and independence.




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Chinese characters have been a popular tattoo choice within the last decade. However, the ironic aspect to this tattoo choice is that it is only popular among Westerners. Chinese people rarely tattoo Chinese characters on their own skin, however Western culture enjoys it for its elegant appearance and mystery. The characters that are often used are Hanzi which is a form of traditional Chinese characters used in Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong and other countries outside of China. There are also simplified Chinese characters that use less strokes. This form of written language is used in Mainland China, Malaysia and Singapore.




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The lotus flower is associated with various religious beliefs. In Hindu culture, the lotus is called padma and is used to represent divine beauty and purity. Its unfolding leaves expresses a spiritual awakening. In Buddhism, it also represents a purity of the mind, spirit and body. The widely accepted symbolism of this flower reflects the human cycle of life. As an analogy for the journey of life, the lotus flower begins at the bottom of a muddy pond and eventually blossoms to the surface as a beautiful lotus flower. Overcoming impure thoughts and actions, the lotus flower is there to remind oneself to be a better person.




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An extremely classic and common tattoo symbol, the Yin Yang is widely recognized. The Yin Yang is also known as Taijitu and is popular in Asian countries that follow Taoism. Being an important part of Chinese culture, this symbol ultimately represents the unity and balance between males and females. The white Yin represents females, while the black Yang represents males.




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Geisha tattoos are often misunderstood. The common misconception with these images is that Geishas were prostitutes. In actuality, a Geisha represented womanhood and femininity. They represented the power of beauty, intelligence and grace. Being the desire of every man, Geishas embodied a subtle but dignified strength. This is why so many women choose to tattoo Geisha women as a symbol of womanhood and power. With their red robes meaning fertility and attraction, many women look to the Geisha symbol as a means of empowerment.




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In many East Asian countries, the dragon has been a historic symbol of protection, power and wisdom. Although Western culture often portrays dragons negatively, in Eastern folklore, the dragon is seen as a noble creature that brings about good luck. In Chinese culture, like the Yin and Yang, the dragon is a representation of balance. Popular among both men and women, the dragon is often marked to symbolize order and balance in ones life.




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The ancient Maori have long used tattoos as a cultural symbol and means for important tribal rituals. Rather than being a tattoo of beautification, these tattoos held strong symbolic meanings and stories. Often worn by men, this tattoo was a painful test that showed strength and courage. Each image would illustrate one’s life, their rank, status, age and journey. Being the oldest form of tattooing style to date, the Maori tribal arm band is still very popular among people today.




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The cherry blossom is not only a beautiful tattoo choice, it is inspiring as well. Cherry blossom trees bloom in the spring, but they only have a short life span before they fall. In Japanese culture, these flowers represent the fragility of the cycle of life and remind you to appreciate the beauty around because life is short. In Chinese culture, these vibrant flowers symbolize love and energy.




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Like the dragon, the tiger is a very important emblem to both Chinese and Japanese culture. The Bengal tiger in particular is the most popular choice of animal for tattoo designs. Being one of the most majestic and revered species, people often get this tattoo because like a tiger, we want to embody a raw power and strength. In Chinese folklore, tigers are seen as protectors or guardians.




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A more recent trend in tattoo art, a hamsa hand tattoo is full of cultural and religious meaning. With roots from the religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, the hamsa hand is used to keep its wearer safe from the evil eye or those that try to show envy or harm. Ultimately, this symbol means safety and protection.



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Inspiring Photos of Young Boy Studying by Streetlight Goes Viral, Changes His Life Forever


When Joyce Gilos Torrefranca posted two photos on Facebook of a young boy doing his homework in the dim streetlight of a McDonalds in the Philippines, she had no idea that the child would go on to inspire hundreds of people. She also had no idea that this little bit of social media would soon change the young boy’s life forever.


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The photos were shared on Facebook on June 23rd and since then, they have been shared nearly ten thousand times. In fact, the photos caught the attention of the Filipino news outlet ABS-CBN who decided to find the inspiring young boy.

It didn’t take long to find 9-year-old Daniel Cabrera, who lives with his siblings and their mother Christina Espinosa. Needless to say, the family was no stranger to struggle. Five years ago, their house was destroyed by a fire, leaving the family with no permanent home. The family was forced to stay at the grocery store where Espinosa worked. Even more tragic, Espinosa lost her husband in 2013.

And this is how it came to be that Joyce Gilos Torrefranca found young Daniel Cabrera using the streetlight from a nearby McDonalds to finish his schoolwork on that one faithful night.

“He is a very studious and determined boy,” Espinosa said of her son. “He would insist on going to school even without his lunch money because I have no money to give.”

Cabrera’s inspiring and heartbreaking story spread like wildfire and reminded everyone of the struggle of young children who are poverty-stricken and lack electricity. And viral fame wasn’t the only thing Cabrera received. People everywhere stepped up to help him and his family. It looks like Cabrera will be one step closer to his dream of becoming a policeman with the generous donations of cash, school supplies and even a college scholarship.

“We’re overjoyed. I don’t know what I will do with all of these blessings,” said a stunned Espinosa. “Now, Daniel will not have to suffer just to finish his studies.”

Additionally, McDonalds Philippines gave Cabrera an education scholarship which will cover his school expenses until the end of high school.

“As Filipinos, we are proud to meet a boy so determined to succeed in life,” Kenneth Yang, McDonalds Philippines president and CEO said in a statement. “It is with an open heart that we grant him a scholarship to help him achieve his goals.”

And what about Joyce Gilos Torrefranca, the woman who took the life-changing photos? She remains delightfully surprised that a simple photo could make such a huge difference.

“Thank you guys for sharing the photo,” Torrefranca wrote in a Facebook post. “I hope Daniel’s story will continue touching our hearts so that we will always be inspired and motivated in every situation we face in life.”





5 Easy D.I.Y. Popsicle Ideas Inspired by Asian Desserts


Asia is home to some of the most delicious and interesting desserts. We could just suggest a favorite Asian dessert place, but that’s certainly not as fun as making them yourself!

How about taking classic Asian desserts and turning them into icy cold popsicles? Popsicles are great DIY treats for summer because they’re simple to make, look chic and taste heavenly. Check out five simple recipes for popsicles inspired by Asian desserts.



1. Mango Lassi-sicles : (FOOD 52)

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RECIPE: Mango Lassi-sicle 

Lassi is a traditional yogurt-based drink that is extremely popular in India. While traditional Lassi is more of a savory drink with flavors of cumin and spices, sweet lassi (such as our mango Lassi) often contain fruit or sugar. Lassi is a simple, yet delicious blend of water, yogurt, spices and fruit. By turning this drink into a popsicle, you will get an icy dessert with a hot kick to finish.



2. Halo- Halo Pops: (Chow)

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RECIPE: Halo- Halo Ice Pops

Halo Halo is a very popular Filipino dessert. It is traditionally served as shaved ice with evaporated milk. Variations of mixed fruit, sweet beans and jello are mixed in the shaved ice. With the bright tropical fruit pieces and rainbow jello, this dessert will make for one visually stunning Popsicle. This vibrant dessert will be a creamy and colorfully sweet treat during this summer heat.



3. Vietnamese Iced Coffee Pops : (Wanna Come With?)

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RECIPE: Vietnamese Iced Coffee Pops 

Traditional Vietnamese iced coffee is unique from other blends of coffee because of its brewing method. Unlike other coffees, Vietnamese coffee uses a drip style method of brewing with a small, metal French drip filter known as a Phin. The coffee then drips into a quarter cup of sweetened condensed milk over ice. After giving it a stir, the drink is ready to go! Taking a fresh twist on this classic drink can make for a deliciously rich dessert.



4. Matcha Popsicles: (Oh, How Civilized)

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RECIPE: Matcha Pop

Matcha Green Tea has recently been taking over the food and drink scene, and for good reason! Packed with antioxidants and rich in fiber, this tea powder is a natural method of detox. Originating in China, this powder-based tea has now made its way to America and is here to stay. By adding Matcha powder to condensed milk, you are not only going to get an aromatic sweet flavor in your popsicle, you will also be getting tons of health benefits!



5. Thai Iced Tea Popsicles: (The Sassy Life)

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RECIPE: Thai Iced Tea Pops

A popular Thai drink, Thai iced tea is a dessert beverage that uses a strong ceylon tea as its brew. Like many of the other desserts above, thai tea also uses condensed or evaporated milk and sugar. By just pouring these simple ingredients over ice, this flavorful drink is ready to serve. If you want to switch things up for your popsicle version, you can even add some frozen boba (tapioca pearls) to your mix for a cute contrast of color.


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Recent Study Shows Asians Are STILL Underrepresented in Hollywood


We may have welcomed Minho (Ki Hong Lee) from The Maze Runner and Hiro (Ryan Potter) from Big Hero 6 onto the big screen last year, but Hollywood still has a long way to go in its representation of Asians and Asian Americans.

A study released last week by University of Southern California’s Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative showed that a dismal 5.3% of all the characters that appeared in the 100 highest-grossing movies of 2014 were Asian. Meanwhile, 73.1% of the characters were white.

Additionally, over 40 movies of the top 100 did not have a single Asian character with a speaking line. Except in animated movies, the percentage of underrepresented speaking characters has not increased in recent years.

The study looked at gender, race/ethnicity and sexual orientation across 700 highest-grossing movies from 2007-2014 (excluding 2011), both on-screen and behind-the-camera.

As it turns out, the presence of minorities was just as low behind-the-camera as it was on-screen. Of the 779 directors who worked on the top 700 movies, only 19 were Asian or Asian American. And just one of those 19 directors was a woman — Loveleen Tandan, who co-directed Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

Asians are one of the fastest-growing racial/ethnic groups in the United States, and Asian-American buying power is expected to hit $1 trillion by 2018. The presence of other racial/ethnic groups also continues to grow. Yet the overwhelming majority of the characters and content creators in the country are white men.

Do Asians in entertainment exist? Absolutely. Are they being utilized? Absolutely not. We have certainly been making strides over the recent years, but it seems like we will still have to wait until Hollywood– the frontrunner of all trends– finally reflects the diversity of their audience.





Meet Justin Kim, the First Korean Male Contestant on ‘America’s Next Top Model’


Looks like we’re definitely tuning in to America’s Next Top Model Cycle 22! The popular reality television show is featuring a Korean male contestant and it goes without saying that he’s an absolute dreamboat.

Justin Kim may only be 23-years-old, but the Korean model already has quite a few eyes on him. According to Model Mayhem, he has done editorial, erotic, fitness, lifestyle, swimwear and promotional modeling. Kim, who stands over six feet tall and hails from Springfield, Virginia, has nearly 7K followers on Instagram, and we can only imagine how much his fanbase will grow with ANTM. After all, he is already being named a fan-favorite.


That three-piece.

A photo posted by Justin Kim (@seoulful_j) on


Strange seeing myself in something published. A photo posted by Justin Kim (@seoulful_j) on


JUSTINKIM x RANDOLPHGARRETT – [4/8] Sport Fashion. #justinantm #simplyrgp #nike #nikeprocombat A photo posted by Justin Kim (@seoulful_j) on


womancrushwednesday. #tyra #justinantm #antm #cycle22 #oppoxantm #oppo #wcw A photo posted by Justin Kim (@seoulful_j) on


Kim joins Adam Smith from Cycle 21 on the rather short list of Asian male contestants to compete on ANTM*.  This certainly aligns with the idea that mainstream media has not yet recognized the appeal of Asian men. Too many times have we seen Asian males stereotyped with “traditionally unappealing” traits.

“When I was growing up, I was very much influenced by what I saw, and more importantly what I didn’t see on television.” said the winner of reality TV show Survivor: Cook IslandsYul Kwon. Kwon went on to point out that whenever he saw an Asian man on television, the character was a kung-fu master who could kick ass but couldn’t speak English, or a computer geek who could figure out algorithms but couldn’t get a date.

It’s 2015 and yet these negative stereotypes still exist. Hopefully, with more Asians entering mainstream media platforms, the world can finally accept that Asians are just as diverse as any other ethnicity. After all, we are human too.


*A previous version of this story named Justin Kim as the first Asian male contestant on ANTM


Feature image courtesy of Justin Kim’s Instagram.




Discover One of Asia’s Coolest Cities in ‘Picture Taipei’

Story by James S. Kim 


Taiwan is more than just a land flowing with milk tea, honey boba and night markets. A team of filmmakers behind the short film Picture Taipei is aiming to change that view and showcase the city for what it is—a beautiful, bustling, artsy city with its features prime for young folk to discover and experience.

After filming for four weeks in March, the film is in post-production, and the cast and crew are taking to Kickstarter to ask for help in finishing a passion project that took them overseas on a fulfilling journey of their own.



Picture Taipei is a love letter to the city through the eyes of Aimee, a Los Angeles native whose life is stale in areas where it isn’t falling apart—there’s no viable future in her dead end job, and she catches her boyfriend cheating.

Aimee sees an article on Buzzfeed, “26 Remarkable Places for Solo Travel,” which had Taipei, Taiwan as the top result. On a whim, she quits her job and books a ticket to Taipei, and her journey to rediscovering herself begins as she meets new friends and goes through a series of adventures.

“I think people become more prescient when they’re traveling,” says Aileen Xu, who stars as Aimee. “When you’re going about your day-to-day life, most of us are on auto-pilot. We can’t help it, we don’t realize what’s really around you.

“When you travel the world, it really becomes more beautiful,” she continues. “You’re paying more attention to it, seeing the world with fresh eyes and learning more about yourself and how to live an authentic life.”


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The story went through many rewrites as director Jason Poon and the team all contributed their own voices and experiences. Whatever adventures Aimee goes through, however, would still be against the backdrop of Taipei.

“The story could have taken place anywhere, but we really wanted to highlight Taipei,” Xu explains. “It’s such a young, cool, artsy city. It’s the ‘Portland of Asia’—not flashy like Shanghai or Tokyo, but very muted and hip with an interesting culture.”

Production took place over four weeks when the team traveled to Taipei earlier this year. Xu described it as a “surreal” but amazing experience, despite uncertainties with the budget and navigating legal obstacles with the Taipei Film Commission. But as with Aimee, the trip was not without its lasting memories.




“The four weeks in March was probably my favorite and most memorable travel experience ever,” Xu says. “[We were] going for a purpose, not just wandering around. We were going there to work, to meet people and work with actual Taiwanese filmmakers and create something we could be proud of.”

Proceeds from the Kickstarter campaign will go towards covering post-production and remaining production costs, including editing, marketing film festival fees, equipment rentals and location fees. The minimum goal of $15,000 won’t cover everything, but the hope is to raise enough to cover as much as possible.

You can follow the latest Picture Taipei updates on their Facebook page.



From left: Director of Photography Andy Chen; Director Jason Poon; Aileen Xu; Producer Marc Liu; Executive Producer Samuel Wang


Aileen Xu is a singer, songwriter and producer who currently runs Lavendaire, a video blog series on YouTube where she addresses topics such as personal growth and lifestyle design. Picture Taipei was something right up her alley—through Lavendaire, Xu shares weekly bits of inspiration on becoming your best self and the steps to making it happen. You can view her videos on her Picture Taipei experience below.




Director Jason Poon has worked with hip-hop artists including Snoop Dogg, Xzibit and Kendrick Lamar and international brands like Adidas, Red Bull and Nike. On YouTube, Poon has worked with the Fung Brothers (even collaborating on their “Bobalife” music video, where Xu makes an appearance as a singer), and his other videos have highlighted the Chinese community in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley. His “Night Market” series in 2013 was themed around Taiwanese-style night markets.



Director of Photography Andy Chen is a member of the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600. He has worked on many different types of media, including short films Emma and I (2013), The Wheels Keep on Turning (2013), From the Outside Looking In (2014) and Exhale (2015). They have all premiered at the Cannes Film Festival over the last three years.

Producer Marc Liu was still a student at University of Southern California in 2009 when he cast then-freshman Xu as the lead singer in a culture night musical production. Since graduating, Liu founded Third Estate Media, a film production company, in 2009 and joined clothing line Akufuncture in 2013. Through the years, he kept in touch with Liu, supporting her Lavendaire work, and when Picture Taipei began coming together, he didn’t have to look far for a lead actor.

Executive Producer Samuel Wang is a designer and entrepreneur who started Akufuncture in 2009. He has been honored by the Los Angeles Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles chapter of Taiwanese American Professionals. Wang is passionate about his Taiwanese roots and bridging the gap between L.A. and Taipei.


All photos courtesy of the Picture Taipei Kickstarter





A Brief Look Into Asia’s Olympic History


Last week, the International Olympic Committee announced its selection to have Beijing host the 2022 Winter Olympics over the competing Almaty, Kazakhstan. The votes came down to a neck to neck win, with Beijing receiving 44 votes to Alamty’s 40. The 2022 events will be spread across three clusters over 100 miles in Beijing, using the Bird’s Nest stadium for Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as it did seven years ago at the 2008 Summer Olympics. The Water Cube will become the Ice Cube and the city is looking into upgrading to a high-speed train system that will take riders from venue to venue in as little as 20 minutes and as much as 50 minutes.

Beijing’s win for the 2022 Winter Olympics bid puts China as the third East Asian country to host the Olympics consecutively. The upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. This will put a big spotlight on Asia as three of its most influential countries prepare for the world stage and showcase its tourism and personality. Let’s hope this will also provide an opportunity for Asian stereotypes to be broken and culture to be celebrated.

In anticipation for the games, here are some fun facts about Asia and its Olympic history:



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Pyeongchang 2018 will be the first winter Olympics in world history to be held in mainland Asia.





Photo courtesy of traveldreamscapes

Japan has hosted two winter Olympics. The first was the 1972 Winter Games in Sapporo and the second was in 1998 in Nagano.





In 2020, Tokyo will be the first city in Asia (the fifth city in the world) to host the Summer Olympic Games more than once. It hosted the 1964 Summer Olympic Games.



Beijing will be the largest city to host the Winter Olympics.




Beijing is also the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games.



Almaty would have brought the Olympic games to Central Asia for the first time.