N Korea ridicules Ban’s presidential ambitions
Defector impressed by Seoul political protests
North Korea yesterday mocked outgoing United Nations SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon over his apparent ambitions to run for South Korean president, calling him an opportunistic “chameleon in a human mask” who’s dreaming a “hollow dream.”
The North’s state-run Uriminzokkiri website said Ban’s alleged presidential ambitions were absurd because the way he handled his job as UN chief for the past 10 years has left him living in “criticism and shame.” The article said Ban had a bad reputation in South Korea’s domestic politics because he’s an opportunist who “sets sail wherever winds blow and changes colors by the circumstance.”
“There is an old saying that you stretch your feet no longer than your blanket will reach, and his harboring presidential ambitions despite living in all sorts of criticism and shame could only described as an incomparably hollow, silly dream,” Uriminzokkiri said.
Ban, who steps down as UN secretary general at the end of the year after two five-year terms, has not officially declared an ambition to run for South Korean president, but he has not denied his interest either. In a meeting with South Korean reporters in New York earlier this week, Ban said he was ready to “burn” his body in devotion for South Korea, his strongest hint yet of a presidential bid.
The spotlight is on Ban because there’s a possibility South Korea could hold a presidential election in the coming months. The country’s oppositioncontrolled parliament on Dec. 9 voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal. South Korea’s Constitutional Court has up to six months to decide whether Park should permanently step down or be reinstated. Her presidential powers are suspended until then, with the prime minister assuming the role of government caretaker. If Park is formally removed from office, a presidential election must be held within 60 days.
If he does make a run for the presidential Blue House, Ban is likely to represent a new conservative party created by defectors from Park’s Saenuri Party. More than 30 anti-Park members of Saenuri have announced plans to leave the party next week and create a new party.
A high-profile North Korean defector told South Korean lawmakers yesterday that the massive protests that led to the impeachment of President Park Geunhye still feel strange to him but he sees the demonstrations as the country’s strength. Thae Yong Ho, the former North Korean deputy ambassador to London, said in a closed-door briefing to lawmakers that he was impressed with the South’s democracy because its government continued to function despite the protests, according to the office of Lee Cheol Woo, one of the legislators who attended the event.
Thae also saw as remarkable that powerful individuals linked to the scandal that brought down Park were grilled by lawmakers on live TV, Lee’s office said. The briefing was also attended by Lee Byoung Ho, the director of South Korea’s spy agency, the lawmaker’s office said.
South Korea’s opposition-controlled parliament on Dec. 9 voted to impeach Park over the corruption scandal that saw millions of people protest in past weeks. The impeachment suspended Park’s powers and pushed the prime minister into the role as government caretaker until the country’s Constitutional Court decides whether she should permanently step down or be reinstated. — AP
Fathers in rural India are the target of a new campaign to stop traffickers ensnaring young girls into the sex trade as research yesterday showed the average age of girls forced into prostitution had dropped with some as young as eight.
An 18-month study, led by the My Choices Foundation in partnership with major anti-trafficking groups across India, found the average age of girls being trafficked had fallen to age 10 to 14 in recent years from 14 to 16 in the past. But a key finding was the role of fathers with researchers discovering traffickers were convincing fathers to give away their daughters by promising to arrange a marriage without the need to pay a dowry to the boy’s family or a job in a city.
Once the girls were gone, however, families rarely found out what had happened to them with no communication at all. “Girls aged 14, 12, and sometimes even eight have been trafficked,” Vivian Isaac, program director with My Choices Foundation told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, as announcing the launch of “The Good Father Campaign” next year.
“They are taken care of or ‘reared’ until a certain time before being pushed into the sex trade.”
Of an estimated 20 million commercial sex workers in India, 16 million women and girls are victims of sex trafficking, according to non-government organizations working in India.
The study, titled Preventing Sex Trafficking in India,found 90 percent of trafficked girls came from the most marginalized communities and the decision to let a girl leave was usually taken by the father who was often uneducated.
Researchers found 78 percent of girls sold for commercial sexual exploitation were from the eastern state of West Bengal where the state capital is Kolkata.
Official data in 2014 showed that West Bengal accounted for about a fifth of India’s 5,466 cases of human trafficking with the state both a source and a transit location for women and children trafficked into the sex trade. Reports of human trafficking in India rose 25 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year, with more than 40 percent of cases involving children being bought, sold and exploited as slaves, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
Isaac said the study would be used to build advocacy programs to highlight the risk of trafficking to fathers in rural India who often had no idea of the dangers. Researchers found during work in the field that parents were also reluctant to report a missing girl to the police fearing stigma or enmity with a neighbour who brokered the deal. “They hope for the best. They believe their daughter will find a good job in Mumbai,” said Isaac. — Reuters
SEOUL: A high-profile North Korean defector Thae Yong Ho, No 2 at the North’s embassy in London, arrives for the National Assembly’s intelligence committee in Seoul yesterday. — AP