Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2013 Korean Food Bazaar, May 4th.

Advance notice for the 18th annual Korean Food Bazaar (바자회), scheduled for May 4th from 10:30 to 4:00 at the Korean Central Church of Pittsburgh (피츠버그한인중앙교회) in Shadyside (map). We went last year; it was good.

"The Passion of Gamelan and Pop Sunda" at Pitt, April 12 and 13.

Poster from the Asian Studies Center.

Pitt will host a concert on April 12 and 13 featuring its University of Pittsburgh Gamelan orchestra and several visiting Indonesian musicians. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes today about Pitt's program and the upcoming collaboration this weekend:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pitt News on Philippine Nationality Room stuck in development hell.

Philippine Nationality Room Pittsburgh
A look at the room from Popi Laudico. It was "designed to incorporate the look of the traditional Philippine Bahay na Bato circa 1820".

The Pitt News---student paper at the University of Pittsburgh---has a lengthy article on the proposed Philippine Nationality Room, stalled and doomed by years of in-fighting.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pitt student visits North Korea for spring break.

Young Pioneer Tours Pittsburgh
Photo in a North Korean school's language lab, via the Young Pioneer Tours Facebook page. Guides for English study are posted on the wall.

Flipping through the Citizen-Standard, which serves three eastern Pennsylvanian counties, brings us to a timely piece by Evan Terwilliger, a University of Pittsburgh student who just spent a week in North Korea. Cutting to the chase:
Many of the popularly-held beliefs that I took into the country turned out to be completely unfounded. For one, the average DPRK citizen is extraordinarily normal. They're not robots. They get through the day one day at a time and, just like us, have pride and support for their country. The biggest fear of the average citizen is being misrepresented in the global media. I had to admit it: the very notion of content and happy communists threatens the foundation of a capitalist society like ours. A couple of times, I was asked what the average American thinks of the DPRK. I was asked about my views of the government and the ongoing tension between our countries. We met up with one tour guide in Pyongyang. He said to me: "Evan, I know I'm from the DPRK; I know you're from America. But remember this: all around the world. . .children is children, life is life, and love is love." Over a few drinks, we agreed that nobody actually wants war. Everybody wants a peaceful world. I proposed a cheer to peace. We drank through the night.
The Young Pioneer Tours Facebook page has more pictures and posts.

For a couple takes on the latest North Korean situation---and especially on Western media's interpretation of it---written by expats living in the South, visit Roboseyo, Scroozle's Sanctuary, and the category on the topic at The Marmot's Hole. And for a thoughtful look at life in North Korea (and one with a local touch), former St. Vincent's College professor Richard Saccone's Living with the Enemy: A Year in North Korea is worth a read.

Tibetan film Old Dog at IUP, April 10.

Pittsburgh Old Dog

The Tibetan film Old Dog will run on April 10 as part of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania 2013 Foreign Film and Music Series. From last year's Brooklyn Film Festival website:
A Tibetan sheep herder sells his father's prized Tibetan mastiff to a dealer without his father's approval. When his father finds out, he must travel into a frontier town to retrieve the dog that he raised for 12 years and is deeply attached to. The relation between father and son is turned upside down, and the mastiff has to be guarded at all times from dog-nappers and dealers who constantly harass the family with ever increasing offers. "Old Dog" is a poetic story about Tibet's changing society, where old values are in direct conflict with new.
There are two showings, at 5:30 pm and 8:00 pm, in Sprawls Hall. The shows are free and are funded in part by the IUP Student Activity Fee.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pirates get Hyun-Jin Ryu's second MLB start on Sunday.

From the Pirates' website.

The Korean press had long been speculating when star pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu would make his Major League debut. In January, the Hankook Ilbo, among others, forecast it for April 6th or 7th against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Welcome, Xia.

Red Pandas are from Asia. The Pittsburgh Zoo just put one on display. That's all the motivation we need to post a cute video.

Pittsburgh's red panda "Xia" is two years old and comes from a zoo in North Dakota. From KDKA:
[Zookeeper] Bamrick says she behaves like a house cat, friendly on her own terms. Despite her appearance, the red panda is not related to cats, raccoons, or foxes.

For that matter, the zookeeper says, “It’s not a panda. It’s been classified with the giant pandas, and classified with raccoons and bears. They’ve kind of settled on their own group. If you look back tens of millions of years, they have common ancestry, but today they’re one of a kind.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

North Korean take-out coming to Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen this fall, maybe.

Wonsan Docks North Korea
Popsicles in Wonsan, 2012, from Joseph A. Ferris.

Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen---"a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict"---recently opened in Oakland's Schenley Park. Accompanying news of its relocation from East Liberty and its Iranian menu is that North Korean food will be coming this fall. From the Pitt News yesterday:
While Conflict Kitchen’s current menu features authentic Iranian cuisine, its organizers hope to bring North Korean food to Oakland’s Schenley Plaza soon.

As of now, the Conflict Kitchen’s crew plans to travel to South Korea in August to meet with North Korean refugees and conduct food research. These face-to-face interactions allow for more direct information and a better product. Sayre said that while the crew formally conducted food research on a trip to Cuba, some of the best information and tips they received were from ordinary people they ran into on the street informally. The crew always attempts to experience a country’s food firsthand before bringing it to Pittsburgh, but in some cases, such as North Korea and Iran, field research is not feasible.
And from The Last Magazine in February:
While exploring Cuba, Rubin and Weleski came across the North Korean embassy in Havana and decided to pay the cultural attaché a visit. They discussed regional dishes and found out that North Korea’s food is in many ways similar to that of its bête noire, South Korea. While they acknowledge that a North Korean edition of Conflict Kitchen may be problematic, they nonetheless want to shed light on the human side of the conflict, cooking up coexistence through ethnic dishes regardless of the degree of controversy.
A Pop City Media post from March says they will offer both North and South Korean food, which is useful considering there are tens of thousands of American military personnel there, both symbolizing and actually representing this country's heavy bootprint all across East Asia.

Much of what the restaurant does know about North Korean food has heretofore come from Cuba, via that North Korean embassy. The Pittsburgh City Paper on their preparations up to last fall:
While research hasn’t stretched to visiting the country, Rubin and Sayre did stop by the North Korean embassy in Cuba, or at least rung the doorbell and chatted for 45 minutes with an employee returning from a morning run.
The Los Angeles Times wrote in 2012 of the then-impending Korean menu:
"People are going to be thinking, 'Are we going to be eating twigs and rocks?' " Rubin joked as he repaired the cafe's front counter, where employees dish out food and try to get customers to talk about the conflict du jour.

One thing Rubin learned from the Korean diplomat, who was polite but did not let his uninvited guests into the embassy, is that North Korean cuisine isn't much different from South Korean. The two countries were, after all, one until 1945, the diplomat reminded them in flawless Spanish. He noted, however, that northerners lean toward buckwheat rather than rice noodles.
Wikipedia will give you a quick overview of regional Northern Korean food. The "maybe" in our title is there because talk of North Korean food has been going on since 2010.

Monday, April 1, 2013

"Thai Hana" restaurant coming to Oakland.

This sign for "Thai Hana" recently went up at 3608 Fifth Ave. in Oakland, in what most recently was AJ's Inca Peruvian restaurant.

Thai Hana Pittsburgh

Thai Hana will join an Indian place, a Lebanese place, a pizza place, and a Popeye's on this Fifth Ave. block. Over the past year Miss Saigon 88, Rose Tea Cafe, and Sushi Fuku opened in Oakland and joined a half-dozen other Asian places, so in spite of this blog's focus I am a little sorry to see the Peruvian place go.

Update, 04/24/13: Signage went up.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters at Carnegie Library Oakland, April 7.

The Carnegie Library Oakland branch will show Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters on April 7 as part of its monthly Foreign Film Series. Frequently ambiguous---mindful perhaps of copyright violations---the library's website describes the unnamed film thus:
A look at acclaimed Japanese author and playwright Yukio Mishima, the impossible harmony he created between self, art, and society, and his famously committed public seppuku (ritual suicide).
The movie runs from 2:00 to 4:00. Wikipedia and IMDB have more, and Roger Ebert gave it four stars.