Designer Handbag Rentals Available in Korea

Story by Y. Peter Kang.

A new service in South Korea allows women to flash the latest high-end handbag without forking over a lot of dough.

MBC reports that a luxury goods rental service has customers depositing their own upscale handbagwith a broker which then entitles them to pick out a handbag for a fee of about $20 to $30 per week. If the customer’s bag is rented by another customer, they get a percentage of the rental fees. If they don’t add a bag to the pool, they can still rent a bag for a higher fee of about $50.

Members are reportedly happy with the service.

“I think it’s a great thing, to be able to change up your bag for the price of a cup of coffee,” one customer told MBC. “It’s fresh and new.”

MBC reported that peer-to-peer rental services were first popularized in the United States following the Great Recession of 2008. One notable example of a P2P rental service that has taken off is Airbnb, a site in which homeowners can rent out rooms to cost-conscious travelers.

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

Does the Korean Entertainment Industry Place Too Much Pressure? Reality Show Contestant Commits Suicide

Story by Y. Peter Kang. 

A cast member of a South Korean blind-date reality show was found dead of what appears to be suicide on Wednesday as the show was being shot on Jeju Island, according to the Korea Times.

The 29-year-old office worker, surnamed Jeon, was found dead in a bathroom of her room at a bed-and-breakfast inn. The show’s crew reportedly forced their way into the locked bathroom after a fellow cast member became concerned.

Police found a note next to her body which stated, “I am very sorry to my mom and dad. I don’t want to live anymore because life is too tough.”

Shooting for the dating show, called Jjak, began on Feb. 27 and documents the activities of 10 or more men and women who live in a “love village” for one week. The final show was set to be filmed on the day of Jeon’s death.

Prompted by public outcry, SBS said it would not air the episodes in which Jeon appeared.

Many argued that producers often cause excessive stress to those who appear on the show by only choosing good-looking candidates with superior background. Jeon was regarded as an ordinary office worker.

 

“Even celebrities come under a great deal of stress when details of their private life are exposed. The cast members of Jjak are just ordinary people. They can be under huge pressure and stress,” said Kim Ju-wan, a netizen, commented on the show’s bulletin board.

The broadcaster said in a statement, “We apologize once again, and we will do our best to prevent similar cases from taking place ever again.”

 

 

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

Traditional Korean Instrument Could Win SportsCenter Contest

Story by Ruth Kim. 

Traditional Korean gayageum player Luna Lee is one step away from winning ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Fan Jam contest.

The “Fan Jam” contest challenged participants to come up with the best original cover of its iconic “da-da-da, da-da-da” opening theme song. The competition began with eight contestants who showcased a variety of talents, from solo electric guitar to beat-boxing.

Lee, who iamkoream.com featured in a Video of the Week playing Jimi Hendrix, is going head-to-head against acoustic guitarist Trace Bundy. The winner will receive a trip to ESPN headquarters in Connecticut to perform as its “house band” for the day. Voters, who can vote for their favorite cover until Thursday on the SportsCenter Facebook page, determine the winner.

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Although both musicians play acoustic instruments, the distinctive sounds each have their own merit. The extremely technically-skilled acoustic work exhibited by Bundy is clean, classic guitar playing at its finest with virtuoso-like finger-tapping. However, the unique and authentic sound of Lee’s gayageum, a 12-string Korean zither, accompanied by a rock-and-roll track, holds its own in the competition.

Lee released her eponymous debut album, featuring music by Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, in November. Check out her YouTube channel here.

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com  

Asians in Fashion: Park Shin Hye Pays Tribute to Audrey Hepburn

The March issue of Marie Claire Korea is certainly one to look forward to. What are we most excited to see? Park Shin Hye’s gorgeous looks as she pays homage to Audrey Hepburn– the film and fashion icon during Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Clearly, Hepburn’s legacy is one that has endured long after her death in 1993. In fact, the American Film Institute named Hepburn third among the Greatest Female Stars of All Time.

Although it is impossible to recreate a legend, we are awfully impressed with Park Shin Hye’s stunning tribute spread titled “My Fair Lady.” For the spread, the South Korean actresses reenacts iconic Audrey Hepburn styles from Roman HolidayFunny Face, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Park Shin Hye not only shows her versatility as a model, she points out that she is a force to be reckoned with. The 24-year-old artist has been quickly rising to fame and is most known for korean dramas You’re BeautifulFlower Boys Next Door and Heirs. In fact, her role in You’re Beautiful shot the actress into worldwide popularity.

Check out the beautiful tribute below.

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Korean Couples Take Matching Outfits to the Next Level

Story by James S. Kim. 

If you’re looking for something other than chocolates and flowers to give to your significant other this Valentine’s Day, take a note from what many young couples are doing in South Korea on a daily basis.

The “couple look,” or publicly advertising a relationship by wearing matching outfits, is quite easy to spot on the streets, beaches and cafes of South Korea. While it can be as simple as a matching T-shirt or shoes, there are couples taking it to the next level, curating entire looks that match from head-to-toe, from jackets and pants to socks and underwear.

The “couple look” culture has understandably spawned a sizable market for specialized retailers, according to AFP. Many online retailers sell couple attire for snowboarding, swimming and running, as well as pajamas and lingerie for the more intimate moments.

There is no substantial data to show how well these businesses are doing, but many young Koreans say donning the couple look is a sweet way of showing affection for one another and even showing off their relationship in public. Married couples have also been getting in on it as a way of reaffirming their love.

Needless to say, things can get complicated if a relationship goes south. Articles of clothing are a bit more permanent than chocolate or flowers, but at least it’s not his-and-hers tattoos.

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This story was originally published in iamkoream.com 

Twin Sisters Find Each Other Through YouTube, Turn Their Story Into A Film

Our generation is often criticized for the amount of social media we indulge in on a daily basis. We are told that we rely on it far too much. We are poked fun at because people think we are unable to go five minutes without looking at our phone. Even worse, we are told that our friendships and relationships are diluted thanks to social media.

It’s no secret that a handful of people have nothing but negative things to say when it comes to the topic of social media, but this is a story that will prove them otherwise.

Because we focus so much on the negative aspects of social media, we’ve overlooked how it has helped us: we’re able stay in touch with old friends and family members living overseas, long-distance relationships have a chance of surviving despite the difficult circumstances, and most importantly, we are able to meet people that may have never crossed our path.

Through social media we can meet our future best friend or love interest. In fact, we can meet some of the most unexpected people imaginable. For 27-year-old Samantha from Los Angeles, that’s exactly what happened.

In February 2013, Anaïs, a French fashion design student living in London, got her first glimpse of Samantha through a YouTube video featuring the aspiring American actress. Shocked by their similar appearances, Anaïs could not help but looking into Samantha’s background and finally sent her a message.

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The twins learned that they were both adoptees, both born in the same country and shared the same birthday.

Convinced that they were related, the two began visiting one another and even spent 10 days in Korea to find out where their separation took place.

The girls decided to document and turn their amazing story into a film. Now, a year later, we finally get our first glimpse of their incredible discovery.

 

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Korean Contestant Dami Im Becomes Australia’s “X-Factor” Winner

To the delight of her many fans, Korean contestant Dami Im won Australia’s X-Factor last night.

The 25-year-old signer was born in South Korea and moved to Australia at the young age of 9. The Sydney Morning Herald notes that Im was teased because of her accent when she arrived in Australia and now suffers from shyness.

Luckily, her humble personality was loved by many. In fact, The Guardian has named Im “the least annoying winner in Australian reality TV history.”

But before she won the love of the public, Im first won over the judges during her audition piece. Though the judges admit to having low expectations, they were blown away when Im belted out Mariah Carey’s “Hero” and were quick to give her a standing ovation.

At one point during “bootcamp”, Im was sent home for forgetting the lyrics.  However, a contestant dropped out and she was able to return to the show and and gain her victory.

The Guardian explains that Im quickly became a fan favorite and for good reason.

Not only was Dami the season’s strongest singer, most consistently exciting performer and most stylish coathanger, but her quietly confident and reserved personality was a stark rejoinder to the usual excitably hammy reality show contestant. Finally, here’s someone who can belt out Purple Rain while wearing lace dragon wings and getting doused in water, and still casually act like it’s no big thing.

 

Im proved to be quite the entertainer. From crazy outfits to outrageous performances, Im clearly became the one to watch.

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Last night, with a hand over her mouth in shock and joy, Im sank to her knees when she was announced the winner. Of course, her achievement was not without difficulties. Im was immediately met with twitter comments all generated towards her race. News.com.au reports that some claim Im was not worthy of the title because  “it’s not Australian X Factor if an Asian wins.” Luckily, even more fans rose to her defense.

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And what else can silence the viewers who claim Im was not worthy of the title? Maybe the fact that Im’s song already rose to the number one spot on iTunes in less than 24 hours.

Experts are claiming that Im has a good shot at being the first Asian-Australian popstar and we’re waiting anxiously to see when this happens.

 

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Bribery Scandal in Miss Korea Contest?

Story by Steve Han.

Miss Korea, South Korea’s national beauty pageant, was hit with a bribery scandal after a participant’s mother allegedly paid off a judge to put her daughter at an advantage, according to TV network MBC’s investigate journalism program, Sisa Magazine 2580.

The program claimed that the mother offered money to an employee at the Korea Times, one of Korea’s oldest daily newspapers that also hosts the event, and that other contestants gave luxury goods to judges, such as pearl rings and other bribes.

The scandal is fueling fire to the already controversial event, as many Koreans have criticized the event for awarding contestants based on superficial values.


“One of the senior staff of the contest told me to buy off two judges,” an anonymous contestant from last year told the TV program. “He gave me a bank account and told me to wire money to that.”

The TV program also suggested that it has been an unwritten rule for a contestant to pay 500 million won ($470,000) for first place, 300 million won for second and 100 million won for third.

The Korea Times issued an apology and promised transparency in its future events.

“We feel moral responsibility for failing to prevent that,” the spokesperson said. “Our company will make all-out efforts to make the judging process more transparent and cleaner in the wake of this case.”

Yoo Ye-bin, this year’s Miss Korea winner, denied the accusations that her parents had paid off the judges.

“I was just an average student and my parents don’t have that kind of money,” she said. “One contestant bribing a judge shouldn’t be rationalized. I hope people understand that the judging process of the event is indeed transparent.”

 

This story was originally published on KoreAm Journal.

 

Korean Woman Gets Plastic Surgery to Look Like Miranda Kerr

Story by James S. Kim

Complete makeovers aren’t uncommon. Some of us at some point might need a change in how we do things or in how we look. The question is, then, how far are you willing to change, and what type of person are you willing to become?

For one South Korean woman, it was a question of whom. On a recent episode of Martian X-Files, a Korean reality TV show that spotlights eccentric and unique non-celebrities, one of the guests was a woman who underwent plastic surgery to look like Australian model Miranda Kerr.

The wannabe emphasized that she only had work done on her eyes and nose, according to Soompi. Even from a young age, she said, people would tell her mother that she looked like an “adorable non-Korean child” and asked if her father was from overseas. One time, the guest and her mother got into a taxi. The driver, thinking that they were foreigners, asked where they were from and was surprised when they responded in Korean.

The segment followed the guest as she goes through her makeup ritual. She begins with the universal step one, foundation. The next step is her eyebrows, to which she adds a sharp taper to imitate Kerr’s. She spends the most time on the eyes, then adds some emphasis to her lips to round out the cosmetics portion.

The final step is to add in the colored contacts, given that the hair is the proper style and color. Add in some posing sessions in front of the mirror, and she’s good to go.

So why the obsession with Miranda Kerr, who visited Seoul to great fanfare last June. Some say that Kerr’s appeal is because her looks are a perfect combination of cute and sexy, a look many East Asian young women wish to achieve. For some, by any means necessary.

For those unwilling to go under the knife, here’s an extensive but relatively painless step-by-step makeup tutorial on creating the Miranda Kerr look by YouTube makeup artist Michelle Phan.

This story was originally published by KoreAm Journal

Too Harsh? Korean Parents Introduce “The Study Cube”

A tiny study room about the size of a large portable toilet is becoming a sought after piece of furniture among Korean parents who wish to help their children stay focused while hitting the books.

Last year, South Korea’s environmentally-friendly furniture manufacturer Emok unveiled the Study Cube, a wooden box just big enough to seat one person in front of a built-in desk. The box comes with a bookshelf, whiteboard, LED light, outlet and ventilation grill. There’s even a massage bar under the desk that also serves as a footrest.

“Students can avoid distractions of staying at libraries with the Study Cube,” Emok CEO Choi Ki-ju said. “It will also help them focus on their studies more.”

The Study Cube retails for about $2,200.

Story by Steve Han. This article was originally published in KoreAm Journal.

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