SEOUL: Most North Koreans who break out do so by crossing the river border. Meet some of those who made it to Seoul:Song Byeok lost his father in the riverSong Byeok, 48, was a propaganda artist. His father drowned trying to cross the Tumen river in 2000. When the artist finally left North Korea in 2001, he brought photos of his family with him."We left that August to find food," Byeok recalled, describing the first attempt. "We were from a town further inland, and we weren't sure where the river was high and where it was low. I didn't know at the time but the river was swollen because of the rainy season. I thought we had to cross it anyway."All I could think about was getting to China to buy food.I took off my clothes and tied them into a rope to strap us together. I told my father not to let go. As we approached the middle of the river, the strap felt lighter. I looked back and saw my father drifting away."I was devastated. He was going under the water and couldn't get out. I rushed … [Read more...] about Special Report: The Cold Frontier, Part Five
Fake military id
caption An internet cafe in Wuhan, China. source REUTERS/Stringer The Chinese state is setting up a vast ranking system system that will monitor the behaviour of its enormous population, and rank them all based on their “social credit.” The “social credit system,” first announced in 2014, aims to reinforce the idea that “keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful,” according to a government document. The program is due to be fully operational by 2020, but is being piloted for millions of people already. The scheme is mandatory. At the moment the system is piecemeal – some are run by city councils, others are scored by private tech platforms which hold personal data. Like private credit scores, a person’s social score can move up and down depending on their behaviour. The exact methodology is a secret – but examples infractions include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many … [Read more...] about China has started ranking citizens with a creepy ‘social credit’ system — here’s what you can do wrong, and the embarrassing, demeaning ways they can punish you
The 34-year-old is alive, his village is intact and he is able to make a living -- albeit a meagre one -- in his homeland as a farmer. Abdullah's Rohingya Muslim minority are disappearing fast from Myanmar. Some one million of them -- around two-thirds of their entire stateless community -- have been forced over the border to refugee camps in Bangladesh by successive waves of persecution. The latest has expelled some 700,000 Rohingya since August, when the army launched a campaign of violence that the UN says amounted to "ethnic cleansing". Abdullah's village of Shan Taung is near the temple-studded town of Mrauk U, not far from the epicentre of the most recent crackdown in northern Rakhine but partly sheltered from its worst excesses by a range of forested mountains. He is among the 500,000 Rohingya that the UN estimates remain in Myanmar, some confined to camps after previous rounds of violence while others are spared by wealth, luck or -- like the villages in Abdullah's area -- … [Read more...] about Fear and isolation for Myanmar’s remaining Rohingya
It’s not every day that a country of over 51 million people goes online virtually overnight. But that’s been the case in Myanmar, which until recently had one of the world’s lowest internet penetration rates but is now largely plugged into the digital age. And as many will attest, Facebook is the internet in Myanmar. The dailyReport Must-reads from across Asia - directly to your inbox Yet Facebook is also fanning the flames of communal conflict, violence perpetrated by state security forces and others that United Nations officials say qualifies as “crimes against humanity”, “ethnic cleansing” and potentially even “genocide” against the nation’s Muslim Rohingya minority. Marzuki Darusman, chair of the United Nations’ Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, recently said that Facebook has played a “determining role” in a humanitarian crisis that has seen over 600,000 Rohingya flee across … [Read more...] about Is Facebook contributing to genocide in Myanmar?
The "Victoria's Secret" police list has laid bare the failure of the military regime's anti-corruption and reform attempts. The "list" may not be a complete surprise but it is by all means embarrassing.Last week, the Department of Special Investigation, police and soldiers raided the Victoria's Secret massage parlour to rescue victims of alleged human trafficking and the sex trade.The officers found 113 women allegedly working as sex workers at the parlour. They also found a list of "special guests", among them officials from the Royal Thai Police and Revenue Department who allegedly received discounted or free services at Victoria's Secret.The list included officers from virtually every department at Wang Thonglang police station near where the parlour is located, from patrolmen to investigators and a superintendent.Other bureaus in the police force were also registered on the "secret" guest list including crime suppression, metropolitan, immigration and, ironically enough considering … [Read more...] about Corruption is embedded in the sex trade