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The "Garlic Girls": South Korean curlers a global sensation


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From The Asian Reporter, V28, #5 (March 5, 2018), page 2.

Seoul footing record tab for North Korea at Olympics

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — How much was it worth to Seoul for hundreds of North Koreans to attend the PyeongChang Winter Olympics? Try $2.5 million. According to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, that’s the record amount the nation allotted to pay the bills of more than 400 North Koreans at the Winter Games. Only 22 of those people were athletes. The North’s performers — a 140-member orchestra with vocalists and dancers, an all-female 229-member cheering squad, and a demonstration taekwondo team — were a major attraction at and around the games. That’s because their presence itself is seen as a sign of eased tensions after a rough year and because of the exotic appeal they have due to the general isolation of their country.

Duterte bans reporter from presidential palace compound

MANILA, The Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president has banned a reporter from entering the presidential palace compound to attend news briefings because her online news organization’s license to operate was revoked by the government’s corporate watchdog. President Rodrigo Duterte invoked the Securities and Exchange Commission ruling in banning Rappler reporter Pia Ranada from the Malacanang palace complex, where he, his spokesman, and other top officials hold news briefings. The commission ruled that Rappler violated a constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership of news media. Rappler, known for its critical reporting of Duterte’s presidency, and media watchdogs called the move an attempt to muzzle the press. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. argued that it was not, saying she can report by watching news conferences on television.

Malaysian rapper held for allegedly insulting Islam in video

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian police say an ethnic Chinese rapper has been detained over complaints that his latest music video featuring dancers wearing dog masks and performing obscene moves insulted Islam and could hurt racial harmony. It was the second time in two years that Wee Meng Chee, popularly known as Namewee, was investigated over his music videos. Police say Wee was detained after they received four public complaints that his video marking the Chinese Year of the Dog had "insulted Islam and could negatively impact racial unity and harmony." In the video entitled "Like a Dog," Wee sits on a chair in a public square in the government administrative capital with dancers wearing dog masks around him. Several of them mimic the "doggy-style" sex move.

U.S. fighter jet dumps fuel tanks near fishermen in lake

TOKYO (AP) — A U.S. fighter jet dumped two fuel tanks into a lake in northern Japan, creating a fuel slick, as about 10 fishermen were catching clams in boats below, according to officials. No one was injured. The U.S. Air Force said in a statement that an F-16 jet assigned to Misawa Air Base dumped the external fuel tanks after developing an engine fire while flying above Lake Ogawara. The air force said the aircraft returned safely to the base and there were no injuries to the pilot or people on the ground. Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera said officials spotted parts believed to be from the aircraft in the lake. He said the water surface was smeared with fuel. The local fisheries association and town officials were assessing the impact of the fuel leaking from the tanks. Clams, icefish, and smelt are in season at the lake. Local fisherman Takao Ebina said his colleagues saw huge columns of water rising from the lake’s surface about 330 feet from where they were catching clams. "It’s scary. They might have been hit if the fuel tanks had fallen a bit closer," he said. There have been a series of recent incidents involving the U.S. military on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, including parts of aircraft falling on schools.

Philippine chief justice taking leave, expects impeachment

MANILA, The Philippines (AP) — A Philippine Supreme Court chief justice expects to be impeached by the House of Representatives and will go on indefinite leave to prepare for the trial, according to a spokesman. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will go on leave, but is confident of being cleared of any wrongdoing during the impeachment trial, spokesman Jojo Lacanilao said. Lacanilao stressed the chief justice will not resign amid reports that rival justices demanded she quit in a meeting. Lacanilao said at a news conference that any effort to remove the chief justice outside of an impeachment trial is unconstitutional. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he wanted Sereno and an anti-graft prosecutor impeached, and accused them of allowing themselves to be used to discredit his administration.

Seven workers die in India while cleaning drainage pit

HYDERABAD, India (AP) — Seven workers died of suffocation while cleaning an underground drainage pit at a poultry farm in southern India, according to police. Deputy superintendent of police Chowdesari said the deaths occurred in Morem village in Andhra Pradesh state. After the first worker entered the drainage pit, he shouted for help because he had difficulty breathing. Chowdesari, who uses one name, said the eight other workers entered the pit to help. He said four died on the spot and three others succumbed later in a hospital. A large number of villagers gathered outside the poultry farm and demanded the arrest of farm officials. Police said they are investigating the deaths. Such accidents are common in India, where workers clean deep drainage pits without protective gear.

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