Orphaned sisters separated 40 years ago in Korea reunited working in same Florida hospital

Adopted out of a Korean orphanage as children, sisters Meagan Hughes, left, and Holly Hoyle O'Brien found each other again while working on the same floor at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota. STAFF PHOTO / DAN WAGNER

The Guardian:

Two orphaned sisters separated decades ago in South Korea have been reunited after being hired at the same hospital in Florida. The women, now both in their 40s, were stunned to learn that they were related, having not seen each other since the early 1970s.

Both women had suffered tragic losses and spent time at orphanages in South Korea before being adopted by American families.

As a very young child, Eun-Sook – now known as Meagan Hughes – had been taken from her alcoholic father by her mother. But the woman left Hughes’ half sister, Pok-nam Shin, known as Holly Hoyle O’Brien, who was two years older, in the care of the father.

When the father died, O’Brien, then aged five, ended up in an orphanage in Pusan, 200 miles (335km) south of the capital, Seoul. In 1978, aged nine, she was adopted by an American couple who gave her the new name and took her to be part of their family in the state of Virginia.

Her half sister, Hughes, also has memories of a Korean orphanage but recalls little of her biological mother or what happened to her. In 1976 she was also adopted by an American family, growing up in New York state, about 300 miles (480km) from her sister.

Earlier this year, O’Brien was hired at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida, working as a nursing assistant on the fourth floor. Three months later, Hughes was hired to work on the same floor.

The two women worked the same 7am-7.30pm shift and struck up a friendship quickly.

The coincidences began stacking up. Both had “abandonment” listed on their orphanage paperwork and both had been adopted by American families.

O’Brien told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune: “I was like, this is too good to be true. I said we’ve got to do the DNA test, it’s the only way we’ll get the truth out of the whole thing.

She ordered DNA kits from Canada and the women did mouth swabs, which were sent back to Canada in early August.

The match was positive.

I’m like, this can’t be,” O’Brien told the paper. “I was trembling, I was so excited. I was ecstatic.

Her half sister was just as surprised: “When I heard from Holly, my first reaction was like, ‘Oh my god.’ I was in shock, I was numb. I have a sister,” Hughes said.

Visa photos of Holly Hoyle O'Brien , left, and Meagan Hughes for their adoption and entry into the United States. STAFF PHOTO / DAN WAGNER

Visa photos of Holly Hoyle O’Brien , left, and Meagan Hughes for their adoption and entry into the United States. 

iPhone “Pause” app is designed around your brainwaves and Tai Chi to help you relax

Your phone may be a constant source of distraction, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Amid endless notifications and bombardment of visual stimuli, it may be hard to conceive your smartphone as a place of peaceful refuge. However, ustwo (the creators of the massively popular Monument Valley game) set out to turn that conception on its head.

Introducing Pause, ustwo has created an app that aims to help you relax to a calmer state of mind. Pause brings “focused attention” to your iPhone’s screen, and is grounded in cognitive psychology and physiology resulting in a patent-pending technique to activate the restoration process and relaxation response.

Pairing up with PauseAble, the app is inspired by Tai Chi with slow and continuous movements. Essentially, it’s Tai Chi for your thumb, using a mix of sound and stimulation to keep your attention away from distracting and stressful thoughts.

Learn more about the app at its website here, and purchase it for $2 USD on the App Store.

Newly established Japan Ninja Council promises to be your one-stop website for all things ninja

RocketNews 24:

When you think of “cool Japan,” it’s hard to overlook ninjas, those stealthy spies and assassins with more tricks up their sleeve than a magician in a parka. And yet it seems these timeless icons of Japanese culture have largely been overlooked by the national government’s Cool Japan in favor of AKB48 spin-offs and abacuses.

So instead, a band of 11 Japanese governors and mayors have assembled to create the Japan Ninja Council (JNC) with the sole aim of reminding everyone how cool ninjas are. Having officially launched on 9 October they aim to collect every bit of information on ninjas, including their history and culture, and provide it to anyone who wants to learn more about these elusive figures.

All 11 founding fathers of the JNC took part in an opening ceremony last Friday to celebrate its birth. They include the governors of Kanagawa, Shiga, and Saga Prefectures along with the mayors of Odawara, Ueda, Iga, Koga, and Ureshino.

The council will be led by its president, Mie Prefecture Govenor Eikei Suzuki, and vice-president, former Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Hiroshi Mizohata. Rounding out the group is prominent kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo the Eleventh in a supporting role.

▼ Most members decided to look the part for the council’s launch

Unfortunately since they decided to launch on a Friday before a long weekend, nothing much has happened yet. The JNC website “ninja-official.com” is up but only has a brief history of ninjas and a video about a ninja weapons show in Iga. It is a fairly cool video though.

Japan Ninja Council
Official WebsiteTwitter

Check out PlayStation Japan’s new ad for Pro Evolution Soccer 2016

Japanese ads frequently miss the mark, often being overly bizarre or simply cringe-inducing, but sometimes the marketing gurus hit the back of the net, as with this latest TV spot from PlayStation Japan.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 (known in Japan as Winning Eleven) was released to most of the world in mid-September, but only came to Japan on October 1, which means that the marketing campaign is still in full swing over here.

New study suggests Japanese people born in late winter at higher risk of suicide


RocketNews 24 (by Audrey Akcasu):

While Japan is famous for its animation, food, pop-culture, it’s also infamous for its extremely high suicide rates. Many Japanese students and salarymen succumb to the pressures of school and work by taking their own lives. There is little knowledge about what factors increase the risk of suicide, but recent research has found that people, namely adolescents, born between January 1 and April 1, are 30 percent more likely to commit suicide.


April 1 may be a day of jokes and pranks for some, but in Japan, the beginning of April means a new fiscal year and the start of a new school year. Since school always starts on the first Monday of April, federal law states that students will enter first grade if, and only if, they are six years old by April 1 of that year. Born on April 2? You wait until the next year to start school.

A research team in Osaka, headed by Associate Professor Tetsuya Matsubayashi, in collaboration with an American team from Syracuse University, hypothesized that the students born between January 1 and April 1, the youngest in the cohort, are at a higher risk of suicide.

They base their hypothesis on the idea that this group is developmentally behind their peers, who can be nearly a year older. While it doesn’t seem like much, in childhood, a year can make a big difference in mental, physical and emotional abilities. Because of this, kids born in that young group are more likely to fall behind their older, more developed, peers in both academics and sports. This disadvantage, the researchers argue, is enough to significantly increase pressure and stress in school for some students, which could eventually push them to suicide.

▼ Developmental disparities are still, if not more, apparent in high school.


The teams used information from people born between 1974 and 1985 and looked at those who committed suicide between the ages of 15-25, then separated their findings based on birthdate. They found that there were 30 percent more suicides of students born in the last week of March (March 26-April 1), the youngest kids, compared to students born in the first week of April (April 2-8), the oldest kids.

There have been some other studies, though not so many, comparing April-born and March-born people, including one which found that March-born people earned four percent less income than their older counterparts.

Upon announcing their results, Matsubayashi emphasized his belief that Japan needs to drop this current way of determining when students start school and return to the old way, a way that many other countries are starting to adopt again: kids should start school when they are developmentally ready. In “the old days” of Japan, that meant being in good health and knowing right from left. While those standards of readiness may have to be tweaked, the proposal, in general, makes sense. We’ll be on the look-out for any developments on this front, but a change like this will take some time, if ever implemented.