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From The Asian Reporter, V29, #12 (June 17, 2019), page 2.

S. Korean businesses growingly adopt unmanned services

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Robots are coming to South Korea’s vibrant coffee culture, where crowds of lunchtime customers queuing at cafés are a daily sight. Cafés are among many businesses that could be transformed by automated services in the tech-forward nation — a notion both exciting and worrisome as jobs become scarcer. The Dal.komm Coffee franchise has 45 outlets, in malls, cafeterias, schools, and an airport, where robot baristas take orders remotely through a mobile app or kiosk cashier and then brew and serve fresh coffee. Customers are sent a four-digit code and can retrieve their drinks from a pickup box. South Korean industries, including restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, banks, and manufacturers are relying increasingly on robots and other automation. But not without protest: many Koreans, especially the young, are struggling to find work.

Fake "Made in Vietnam" labels used by Chinese companies

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam’s government says it is taking more steps to prevent Chinese companies from using illegal "Made in Vietnam" labels to avoid high tariffs that have been imposed by the United States on Chinese goods. The customs department says textiles, fisheries, farm products, tiles, honey, iron, steel, and plywood are among the Chinese products that are most often being relabelled and then exported to a third country. Vietnam’s government portal said the customs department has ordered its offices to be more aggressive in checking the certificates of origin of products. In one case, U.S. customs officials found a shipment of Chinese plywood relabelled to make it appear that it originated in Vietnam. Speaking at the national assembly, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh warned of serious consequences if such subterfuges cannot be controlled. "It will sabotage Vietnamese brands and products and it will also affect consumers. We could even get tariff retribution from other countries, and if that happens, it will hurt our economy," the government website quoted Minh as saying. The U.S. is Vietnam’s largest export market, while it imports the most from China. In a spiralling trade war, the U.S. is imposing 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods. Beijing has counterpunched by targeting $110 billion worth of American products.

Nepal Everest cleanup drive yields garbage, bodies

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A Nepal government expedition to Mount Everest has removed 24,200 pounds of garbage and four dead bodies from the world’s highest mountain, officials said. Tourism Department official Danduraj Ghimire said the cleaners spent weeks collecting food wrappings, cans, bottles, and empty oxygen cylinders. Some of the garbage was flown to Kathmandu and handed over to recyclers in a ceremony officially concluding the cleanup campaign. Officials called it a successful mission but said more trash still needs to be collected. Some is covered by snow and only is exposed when temperatures rise. Officials have not been able to estimate exactly how much garbage is on the mountain. Most was at Camps 2 and 3, at which climbers can rest along the way from the base camp to the 29,035-foot summit. Ghimire said the four bodies were exposed by melting snow, carried to base camp, and flown to a hospital in Kathmandu for identification. Climbers struggling to make it down the mountain alive sometimes are unable to carry out the bodies of teammates who die. More than 300 climbers have died on Everest since it was first conquered in 1953. It is unclear how many bodies are still on the mountain, and officials said they have no records. Hundreds of climbers and their guides and porters spend weeks on Everest every spring, the best climbing season. A tent city rises at the base camp at 17,400 feet for three months between March and May.

Four die in non-air-conditioned train car in India

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Four people returning from a Hindu pilgrimage died while travelling in a non-air-conditioned coach on an Indian train during a summer heat wave. Temperatures during the day soared to 118º Fahrenheit. Railway official Manoj Kumar said the four, who were between 69 and 81 years old, were part of a group returning to the southern state of Kerala after visiting the holy city of Varanasi in northern India. Kumar said the four fell sick in their coach and the doctors who attended to them at Jhansi station found them dead. They were sent for autopsies. Travelling in air-conditioned coaches is too expensive for many poorer Indians. Schools and colleges were closed due to the heat wave, and people were advised to stay indoors during daytime.

Human-rights group locates North Korean execution sites

SEOUL, South Korea — A human-rights group says it has identified hundreds of spots where witnesses claim North Korea carried out public executions and extrajudicial state killings as part of an arbitrary and aggressive use of the death penalty that is meant to intimidate its citizens. The Seoul-based Transitional Justice Working Group said its research was based on interviews with 610 North Korean defectors who helped locate the sites with satellite imagery. The group didn’t reveal the exact locations of the 323 sites because it is worried North Korea will tamper with them, but said 267 of them were located in two northeastern provinces near the border with China, the area where most of the defectors who participated in the study came from. North Korea’s public executions tend to happen near rivers, in fields, and on hills, and also at marketplaces and school grounds — places where residents and family members of those sentenced are often forced to attend the killings, the report said. The group also said it documented 25 sites where the dead were allegedly disposed of by the state and also found official locations that may have documents or other evidence related to the killings.

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