N Korea ridicules Ban’s pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions

De­fec­tor im­pressed by Seoul po­lit­i­cal protests

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SEOUL:

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.

Im­pressed

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

MUM­BAI:

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

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