Tag Archives: china

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South Korea Pledges $1 Million to Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

South Korea has pledged $1 million in aid to Nepal after the country was struck with a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on Saturday morning, reports Yonhap News Agency.

More than 4,000 people were killed and at least 7,180 were injured in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake, which struck near the country’s capital city of Kathmandu, according to the Associated Press. Tens of thousands are estimated to be left homeless.

Multiple aftershocks, including one registered at magnitude 6.7, crippled Nepal’s transportation network and caused sporadic power outages nationwide, making it difficult for relief teams to search for survivors under the rubble and deliver food, fuel, blankets and medical supplies. Conditions are reportedly far worse in mountain villages, where some roads and trails have become blocked by landslides.

“There are people who are not getting food and shleter. I’ve had reports of villages where 70 percent of the houses have been destroyed,” Udav Prashad Timalsina, the top official for the remote region of Gorkha, told the Associated Press.

The South Korean embassy in Kathmandu has already established a hotline for people to use to contact the mission as well as a help desk at the Kathmandu airport to assist Korean nationals wishing to leave the country by plane. According to Yonhap, about 650 South Koreans are living in Nepal and some 800 to 1,000 are believed to be visiting the country.

“The embassy has been bombarded by phone calls from South Korea asking the staff to contact relatives living or traveling in the country,” said Ambassador Choi Yong-jin.

PYH2015042707690034100_P2South Korean Red Cross prepare to send supplies to Nepal. (Photo via Yonhap)

On Sunday, the Korean Red Cross said it will give Nepal $10,000 in relief funds and provide thousands of blankets and emergency kits. It is also preparing to send a team of medical workers to the quake-hit country.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s foreign ministry announced on Monday that it will deploy a 40-member disaster relief squad in addition to pledging $1 million in humanitarian aid to Nepal.

Other Asian countries that have sent rescue workers, medical teams and other contributions to Nepal include China, India, Singapore, Malaysia and even the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan. Taiwan has also offered to send a 20-man rescue team, but Nepal turned down the assistance, despite the island’s extensive experience in responding to natural disasters.

Taiwanese Vice Foreign Minister Andrew Kao said Taiwan will still send an advanced team to Nepal in case of medical assistance. Taiwan has also pledged $300,000 in aid and its Red Cross has already started a fundraising campaign to raise $1 million for Nepal’s post-disaster reconstruction.

This is Nepal’s most devastating earthquake since 1934, when the nation was struck by a magnitutde-8.0 quake that all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

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Featured image of Abir Abdullah/European Pressphoto Agency

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South Korea to Join China-Led Infrastructure Investment Bank

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

South Korea announced on Thursday that it will join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as one of its founding members, despite Washington’s opposition to the new multinational lender, reports the New York Times.

South Korea’s finance ministry said in a statement that becoming a member of the AIIB will help bolster the country’s influence in the international banking sector and help domestic firms secure deals in large-scale construction, telecommunications, transportation and other regional infrastructure projects.

Seoul’s decision comes a week after developed European economies France, Germany and Italy announced that they will be joining Britain in seeking membership. Australia is also expected to follow suit. More than 20 countries have said that they plan to become AIIB members.

China has already pledged to foot the bulk of the initial $50 billion needed to get the bank running, with donations from other members expected to increase the overall fund to more than $100 billion.

However, the United States has expressed doubts about the proposed multinational lender, which Washington sees a threat to the Wold Bank. The Obama administration has also raised concerns about the China-led institution meeting the rigorous standards of governance and transparency in enforcing environmental and labor standards.

Critics claim that Washington is simply opposing the AIIB because it is afraid that the new bank will undermine institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, where the U.S. wields great influence.

The question of joining the bank had also forced South Korea to delicately balance its ties with the U.S, its primary military ally, and China, its largest trading partner.

According to the Yonhap, AIIB participants have agreed that voting rights should commensurate with the amount of donations made, with Asian countries receiving 75 percent of voting rights and the rest going to countries outside of Asia.

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Featured image by Takaki Yajima/Reuters

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Defector Kills 4 People in China After Fleeing North Korea

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han
steve@iamkoream.com

A North Korean army deserter allegedly shot and killed four elderly residents as well as robbed a villager’s home in the border town of Nanping, China after escaping his country, according to local media reports.

The alleged killings reportedly took place on Dec. 28 at a village near the Tumen River, an area that has been used as an escape route for North Korean defectors for decades. The soldier was later arrested by the Chinese authorities, and it is unlikely he will be repatriated to North Korea given the severity of his crimes.

China is a common route for many North Korean defectors as they often cross into a third country before seeking asylum at the nearest South Korean embassy. The defectors caught by the Chinese authorities are often sent back to North Korea, where they would likely suffer cruel punishments in prison camps.

Since the killings, China has lodged a formal diplomatic complaint with North Korea, according to the country’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

“China’s public security bureau will handle the case according to law,” Hua said, hinting that the army deserter will be prosecuted in China.

The Foreign Ministry gave no additional details about the incident, but South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the suspect injured another Chinese resident of the village in Nanping in addition to killing four in their homes. The soldier reportedly broke into the home of the resident– identified only by his surname Che–ate his food, stole about $16 and wounded the man before making his escape. Reports in China, citing the head of the village, also said that the four people killed were two elderly couples, who lived alone and had children working in South Korea.

In 2013, another North Korean defector killed an elderly Chinese couple in Yanji before stealing $3,210.

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Photo courtesy of AFP

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China Formally Arrests Korean American Aid Worker

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Chinese authorities formally arrested Peter Hahn, a Korean American aid worker who lived near the country’s border with North Korea, on Friday, according to the Associated Press and Reuters.

Hahn, 74, was being held by authorities since November when they detained him on charges of embezzlement and possession of fraudulent receipts. A formal arrest, however, means a more serious situation than criminal detention.

Hahn’s lawyer, Zhang Peihong, told Reuters he believed Hahn was being targeted due to his Christian faith and because he ran a non-governmental organization. He maintained that the charges were “just excuses” but that the formal arrest would make the case difficult.

“I am not optimistic about the case’s prospects now that he has been arrested,” Zhang said. “The charges clearly have no merit.”

Hahn’s staff is also under investigation, including two U.S. nationals and three South Koreans. Chinese authorities have been expelling hundreds of Christian missionaries this year, according to Reuters, along with trying to curb the flow of North Korean defectors. Hahn helped defectors more than a decade ago, according to Zhang, but no longer did so.

Hahn and his wife, Eunice, ran a vocational school, located in the border town of Tumen, and a Christian aid agency that provided supplies and a local school to North Korean poor across the river. Other aid projects in his Tumen River Area Development Initiative included plans to build factories for food processing, fertilizer and bean paste.

Since the detainment, the Chinese police have allowed Hahn to see a doctor regularly, and U.S. consular officials have been able to meet him as well. Eunice Hahn had tried to deliver a letter to her husband through a U.S. diplomat with Christian messages, but Hahn had not been allowed to read it.

Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Economic Journal

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YG to Produce Films and Dramas with Yuehua Entertainment

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

After launching their cosmetics line Moonshot and fashion brand NONAGON, YG Entertainment is now setting its eyes on the film and television industry.

According to Korean news outlet Hankyung, the K-pop giant is currently in talks with Yuehua Entertainment, a Beijing-based talent agency, about co-producing films and dramas. If both agencies agree to move forward with the collaboration, then joint productions are expected to begin in Korea and China simultaneously as early as next year.

YG and Yuehua already have an established partnership as they have previously collaborated in producing the rookie Chinese-Korean boy band UNIQ, which debuted in October with their song “Falling in Love.”

Both companies have been aggressively investing in expanding their businesses overseas. Yuehua opened a subsidiary branch in South Korea after signing a free trade agreement last month and sealed a partnership with Pledis Entertainment, which manages K-pop artists, including Son Dam Bi, After School and NU’EST.

Earlier this week, YG held a press conference to announce the partnership with Chinese instant messaging platform, Tencent QQ, which now has rights to exclusively stream YG artists’ songs in China. According to YG Entertainment representative Kim Sang Ho, the company is also reportedly receiving several investment proposals from Chinese business groups.

With CL preparing for her American solo debut, it looks like YG Entertainment is aiming to expand beyond Asia.

Photo courtesy of Hankyung

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Danielle Kang Wins a Buick Three Days After Her Birthday

by REERA YOO

Danielle Kang got herself a sweet belated birthday present after Thursday’s opening round of the Blue Bay LPGA in China.

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After making a hole-in-one at the 17th hole, Kang won a new Buick LaCrosse, three days after her 22nd birthday. It was a memorable birthday for the golfer as this was the first time she celebrated it since her father died of cancer last year.

“I think it was a gift from him,” Kang said.

She added that her birthday felt especially long this year due to the time change. Since China is 12 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time, Kang received birthday wishes from all over the world over the course of two days.

“It was the longest birthday of my life, actually,” Kang told the media. “I went to sleep and then I woke up, and it was still my birthday. We drove in a car, got to the hotel and then I went to sleep, and it was still my birthday … I had a full day of birthday.”

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Chinese Fisherman Killed in Clash with South Korean Coast Guard

by STEVE HAN

A South Korean cost guard shot and killed a Chinese fishing boat captain during a scuffle after the ship was stopped for suspected illegal fishing activities, according to reports.

The 80-ton boat, led by the Chinese captain, was spotted fishing only 90 miles west of the Wandeung island on the western coast of South Korea by a coast guard. When the guard tried to seize the Chinese boat by boarding it, four more Chinese fishing boats reportedly surrounded the South Korean ship, which prompted a violent clash.

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During the scuffle, a South Korean officer started firing warning shots, and one of the bullets hit the 45-year-old Chinese captain in the stomach. He was transported by a helicopter to a hospital in Mokpo, a city in the southwestern tip of South Korea, but was soon pronounced dead.

The Chinese fishermen were using homemade weapons to resist South Korean officers who boarded their ship, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. The Chinese fishermen reportedly took the helmet off of one officer and tried to strangle him.

Violent clashes between Chinese fishermen and South Korean coast guards have been common over the years. A Chinese fisherman stabbed a South Korean officer to death in 2011, and in the following year, a Chinese fisherman was killed by a rubber bullet fired by a South Korean officer.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said China is “deeply shocked and dissatisfied with the violent actions that resulted in the death” of the captain. He added that South Korea should have dealt with the situation in a “serious and sincere and proper” way.

The bilateral relations between South Korea and China have improved since President Park Geun-hye took office last year. Although China’s support of North Korea still leaves its ties with South Korea contentious, it is already South Korea’s No. 1 trading partner. In July, both Park and China’s President Xi Jinping urged citizens of their countries to join forces in their historical disputes against Japan.

However, there are still ongoing political conflicts between the two countries. China still remains reluctant to protect North Korean refugees who flee to its country with the hopes of going to South Korea. The recent agreement between South Korea and the U.S. to deploy American army’s missile system in South Korea also strained the relations between the two East Asian countries as China considers America’s missile program a threat to its security.

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PSY, JYJ and EXO Headline Electric Incheon Asian Games Opening Ceremony

by JAMES S. KIM

South Korea knows how to party, and the host country put on one heck of a show to kick off the 2014 Incheon Asian Games earlier today at the sparkling new Incheon Asiad Main Stadium. The three-hour event marked the beginning of the 16-day games, which will showcase around 10,000 athletes in 36 sports.

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Celebrities and stars kept the ceremony in high gear for all 60,000 people in attendance. Boy band EXO began the festivities with performances of their hits “Growl” and “Wolf.” Opera singer Jo Sumi sang “The Song of Asiad,” based on a poem written by renowned poet Ko Un, and the always-popular “Arirang.”

The crowd went crazy for My Love from the Stars‘ leading man Kim Soo-hyun and fellow actor Jang Dong-gun. Who better to convey a message of togetherness among Asian countries than these two pan-Asian stars?

Well, perhaps, international superstars PSY, JYJ and South Korean actress Lee Young-ae, who is widely known for her role in the hit Korean drama Daejanggeum.

Xiah Junsu, Yoochun and Jaejoong of JYJ took the stage in what had to be an incredibly rare Korean television appearance since breaking away from TVXQ years ago. There was no question the guys still have it–they performed “Empty,” then the official Incheon song “Only One” as South Korean sports legends, past and present, carried the torch around the stadium.

 
After the torch passed from athlete to athlete, including baseball slugger “the Lion King” Lee Seung-yeop, golf superstar Inbee Park, speed-skating icon Lee Kyu-hyuk, basketball legend Park Chan-sook, and then tennis giant Lee Hyung-taek, Lee Young-ae and two children lit the flame to mark the beginning of the games.

To close the performances, PSY hearkened back to 2012 (has it already been that long?) with a signature nothing-held-back performance of “Gangnam Style” and a remix of “Champion,” the latter a collaboration with Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

 
The show definitely wasn’t 2008 Beijing, but it didn’t have to be.

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