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Fat mags give women skinny on life

Tomes stuffed with everything from TV gossip to recipes for shrimp salad to news from Iraq

Apr 29,2003
What do housewives or working moms like to read to forget about their daily hassles, rid themselves of boredom and trivial worries of the future? They peruse yeoseongji, thick (400 to 700-page) women’s magazines packed with stories of the latest current affairs, celebrity gossip and real-life stories of people both ordinary and extraordinary.
These magazines are often found at banks or hair salons, for those waiting their turn in line. Because of their thickness, they are even used by ajumma as pillows while taking a nap. These magazines are part tabloid, part lifestyle, part fashion and beauty. Here are some recent excerpts from the most popular women’s magazines.

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Female reporters tell all from Iraq

With the war in Iraq wrapping up, no one wants to miss out on anecdotes from those who were standing in the line of fire. Two female reporters, one from a daily newspaper and the other from a TV station, reported on the situation from Amman and Baghdad.
Lee Jin-suk, the MBC reporter who also covered the Gulf War in 1991, was back reporting from the battlefront in Baghdad. Speaking of the dangers she encountered, she said: “When I entered Baghdad, believe it or not, I was very happy to be inside the war zone.” She goes on to say, “What people regard as great courage was actually something that was natural for me to do. I just had to do it.”
The Minister of Labor, Gwon Gi-hong, discussed in an in-depth piece how he and his wife founded a welfare foundation for disabled children six years ago, after raising a son with cerebral palsy.
The couple express anguish at their discovery that their 6-month old infant (now in his late 20s) had the illness, and describe efforts to find him treatment. In some cases, Korean parents commit suicide or abandon children when they find out the child has brain disease. But this couple decided to publicize their situation and go on to establish a non-profit welfare center to support and help other disabled people.
Another article discusses Lee Yeong-ae, the popular actress who recently emerged from a 2-year long reclusive life to emcee a TV show on helping people with rare diseases.
Ms. Lee had been rumored to be living in North Korea ― for reasons no one can fathom. It’s an assertion she denies.

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Soccer star’s mom is a jailbird mom

The doleful story of soccer sensation Ahn Jung-hwan’s mother, Ahn Hae-ryeong, imprisoned for fraud since last October, headlined this month’s issue.
Ms. Ahn, who raised the World Cup star alone, was convicted and jailed for fraudulently licensing her son’s character to merchandisers, as well as for accumulating gambling debts.
The interviewee, a Buddhist nun named Myosimhwa, who previously wrote a story about a phenomenon where a dead spirit clings to a living one, said Ms. Ahn confessed to her of a desire to become a Buddhist nun. The soccer star recently announced he will pay half of his mother’s 400 million won ($324,000) debt.
The recent nuptials between American actor Wesley Snipes (“Blade” and “One Night Stand”) and the Korean mother of his two children, who, it turns out, happens to be the daughter of TV producer Park Cheol, is the subject of another write-up. Mr. Park is well known in Korea for his many hit TV dramas, but it had been unknown up to now that his daughter had been dating and living with the Hollywood actor for more than four years.
It’s always interesting to see how the rich and famous decorate their homes. In another report, the actress and entrepreneur Kim Yeong-ae shows off her newly furnished abode in Gugi-dong, north Seoul. This spacious villa was formerly the residence of presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang, which caused a stir when she purchased the property. Mr. Lee had to give up the villa when it was revealed to be “too extravagant” for his public image. Unlike most folks who remodel a home after they buy it, Ms. Kim added only a few pieces of furniture and a home theater.

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On the road with SK chair’s wife

April has been a cruel month for the SK Group. Not only has the chairman of the No. 2 jaebeol (now No. 3) been imprisoned for accounting fraud, but the stock value of the group’s trading arm, SK Global, plummeted more than 30 percent. Chairman Chey Tae-won’s wife, Roh So-young ― also the daughter of former president Roh Tae-woo ― is the subject of a feature story this month, where she is shadowed on her daily jaunts to her husband’s jail cell and public hearings. The couple has been the subject of many rumors, including Chairman Chey’s alleged affair with actress “K” and her conception of his son.
Primadonna Lee Tae-won, the lead of the internationally acclaimed musical “The Last Empress,” chats about her life and love in another piece. A graduate of New York’s prestigious Juilliard School, Ms. Lee soared to fame 6 years ago by taking the musical’s lead role as last empress of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
She describes being shell-shocked at her inability to bear children, and tells of her bitter divorce while in Britain for the musical “The King and I.” Ms. Lee, now single, says she is once again dating, a man four years her junior whose identity she is careful not to divulge.
The magazine also reports on the seven healthy habits of New Yorkers. By order of importance, they are: go outdoors more, eat organic food, live simply, exercise, take vitamins, develop a personal stress-relief method, and finally, sleep well. While these maxims are already well-known, this article informs readers about how religiously some health-conscious New Yorkers adhere to them.

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Actress adopts baby boy

The top story of the Women’s Joong -Ang, a monthly, was actress Yun Seok-hwa’s public adoption of a baby boy on April 3. Her decision to adopt a 3-week-old infant came after she participated in a reality show on being a caretaker for babies who are put up for overseas adoption. In a candid interview, Ms. Yun, a 47-year old stage actress, producer of musicals and publisher of the music magazine, “Auditorium,” describes the life-altering experience of adopting and raising Su-min.
The article notes that last year, only 41 percent of all adoptions were by Korean families, with the rest coming from abroad. After several failed attempts at getting pregnant, including artificial insemination, Ms. Yun decided at last to adopt a child. She describes her immediate love for the infant, for as soon as she held him, the baby stopped crying. She is quoted as saying, “His life saved me. This young child gave me immense consolation after all of my failed attempts.” Ms. Yun urged readers to consider adoption, saying “Life is precious and mighty. It is a gift from heaven.”
Shim Eun-ha, a popular actress in the 1990s, left the world of show business three years ago after the much-hyped breakup of her engagement to a divorced businessman. Since then, according to a magazine report, she has devoted her time to learning about and practicing Korean landscape painting. Early this month, Ms. Shim displayed four of her paintings at an art gallery in Gwanghwamun, Seoul. The show led to speculation of an imminent comeback, for she is one of her generation’s most beloved actresses.
Choi Hwa-jeong, a 40-something former actress who is now a popular deejay and emcee, revealed in an article how she dropped from 64 kilograms (141 pounds) to 52 kilograms in only 2 months. The driving force behind her suddenly svelte figure is none other than a professional body-slimming institute. By altering her eating habits and undergoing odd treatments like low-frequency electric waves and body wraps, Ms. Choi was able to rid her body of 8 kilograms of body fat.
Ms. Choi describes her diet regimen in six stages: detoxification, fat breakup, figure revision, cellulite removal, facial improvement and strengthened elasticity. Ms. Choi says that by exercising lightly, and undergoing facial treatments as well as body slimming procedures, she has not experienced the “yo-yo” effect of returning to her former weight.


by Choi Jie-ho


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