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BANGKOK 19 February 2019 16:13

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  1. About 48 years ago, Pham Ngoc Canh, a Vietnamese man who was sent to North Korea to study during the Vietnam War, met Ri Yong Hui, the woman he’d marry nearly four decades later. Canh was one of 200 students that Vietnam sent to North Korea in 1967 to gain the skills needed for rebuilding the country once the war with the United States was over, according to Reuters. Their love story began several years later after arriving in North Korea when Cahn, who was a chemical engineering apprentice at a fertilizer factory on North Korea’s east coast, spotted Ri working in a laboratory. It was love at first sight for both of them. “From the moment I saw him, I was so sad because I felt it would be a love that could never be realized,” Ri, who is 70 years old now, told Reuters. Cahn was determined to marry Ri the moment he laid his eyes on her.“I thought to myself, ‘I must marry that girl,'” the 69-year-old Vietnamese man said. He recalled how he eventually managed to muster up the strength and courage to approach Ri and ask for her address. “As soon as I saw him, I knew it was him,” Ri said of Cahn. “He looked so gorgeous. Until then, when I had seen so-called handsome guys I hadn’t felt anything, but when he opened the door, my heart just melted.” Unfortunately, things did not end well for the both of them. At the time, Vietnamese and North Koreans were not allowed to date foreigners. But this strict rule did not stop them from being together. Cahn, treading carefully after hearing a comrade had been beaten for being caught with a local girl, decided to dress up as a North Korean, travel for three hours on a bus and walk for two kilometers (1.2 miles) just to see Ri. He did this monthly until he went back to his home country in 1973. “I went to her house secretly, just like a guerrilla,” he said. “I just couldn’t agree with a socialism that stops people from loving each other,” Cahn, a son of a high-ranking cadre, said after he refused to join the Communist Party when he returned to Hanoi, Vietnam. After five years, Cahn was again able to go back to North Korea when he asked to join a trip to the hermit nation in 1978. There, he finally met Ri once again, but the latter became more heartbroken with the thought that they might never see each other. Cahn, desperate to be with Ri, brought a letter he had written in which he’d beg North Korean leadership for permission to marry her. However, he decided to not send the letter and asked Ri to wait for him. Full article
  2. While most men spend hours pondering over the perfect engagement ring before popping the question, John Elliott took a slightly different approach. The 27-year-old decided to hire a ring from a complete stranger to use as part of the romantic proposal he had planned for girlfriend Ashleigh. He splashed out £50 to use Jenni Parker's £7,000 engagement ring after listing the unusual request for a ring online. The unusual idea came about because John wanted Ashleigh to choose her own ring but didn't want to propose without one. The recruiter, who lives in Balham, said: "I wanted Ashleigh to pick the exact ring she wanted and this was the only way to propose without her knowing it was happening. "For the photos, I wanted it to be the calibre of ring she deserves. She said yes!" John listed the ring request on Fat Llama , a website for lending and borrowing all different sorts of items. He admits Ashleigh was a bit sad when she realised she couldn't keep the stunning ring, but says she now knows the kind of ring she wants. He said: "She loved the ring, she was a little sad it was only for the evening but ultimately it gave her a better idea of what she was looking for." Full article
  3. While North Koreans celebrate the Lunar New Year like many of their Asian neighbors, they do some things slightly differently, a new report has claimed. Instead of red envelopes filled with cash, citizens have reportedly been giving crystal meth to one another as a gift, according to The New York Times. Called “Pingdu” among locals, the highly addictive drug is reportedly a popular gift item in the country during birthdays, graduations, and “holidays such as the Lunar New Year.” Experts noted that while methamphetamines are illegal in the country, it is an open secret that North Koreans have been giving the drug as gifts. “Meth, until recently, has been largely seen inside North Korea as a kind of very powerful energy drug—something like Red Bull, amplified,” Kookmin University professor Andrei Lankov was quoted as saying. Lankov, an expert on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) issues, stated that the practice of giving each other crystal meth was common in stories from North Korean defectors. The drug is consumed either through injection or snorting casually, just like smoking a cigarette. Due to the lack of healthcare in the country, some users allegedly use the drug for self-medication as an alternative to other traditional medical options. The alleged practice was first reported last week on U.S. government-funded news outlet Radio Free Asia, citing an anonymous source from the DPRK. According to the source, “Ice has become a best-selling holiday gift item.” It also noted that “most of the buyers are young people, even those still in middle school.” “They usually buy ice to snort together during holidays,” the source explained. “They want to forget their harsh reality and enjoy themselves.” “In the past, ice users would try to be discreet, not wanting others to know that they were buying, but these days nobody seems to care.” As the New York Times pointed out, methamphetamine has long been associated with North Korea. The Nautilus Institute published a report in 2003 that revealed: “the North Korean regime has been involved in illegal drug production and trafficking since the 1970s” and that “these efforts increased in the 1990s as the country’s economic situation worsened… [and] heroin production was supplemented by methamphetamine production.” Based on a 2014 report, the state started manufacturing and exporting methamphetamine in the 1990s as a means to access currency to defy trade restrictions. The report alleged that most of the meth was exported across the northern border to China or handed off at sea to criminal organizations from China and Japan. Full article
  4. If you’re looking to give your backyard barbecue a macabre touch, these charcoal skulls created by Japanese artist Sekisadamu are sure to do the trick. When Sekisadamu came up with the idea for his creepy charcoal skulls, he never really though about commercial potential. He merely wanted something cool to show off at the recently concluded Wonder Festival, in Chiba, Japan. But after posting photos of his creations on Twitter and inviting people to the festival to check them out in person, he got an overwhelming response – over 13,000 likes and almost 9,300 retweets at the time of this writing – and started contemplating the idea of making charcoal skulls for the masses. The Japanese artist has already announced that he has set up a domain name for them and begun procedures to register a trademark on them. So fire up your grill, cause charcoal skulls are coming. Wonder Festival Winter 2019 Menu | Table 7-28-06 | New work | Skull charcoal | 500 JPY / each. | I’ll bring more than 200 of them | They’re made of 100% plant-derived ingredients | I’ll put a heap of them on my bonfire stand, so choose the one you’d like. | I think it’s the first time for this material at Wonder Festival. Please read the instruction manual and use them properly,” Sekisadamu posted on February 7th, along with some pic of his macabre creations. The response was overwhelming, both online and at Wonder Festival Winter, where the Japanese artist sold all of his charcoal skulls. But people were still asking for more on Twitter, and after photos of them went viral on Reddit, demand for the flammable skulls increased even more. Sadly, Sekisadamu announced that international shipping isn’t an option yet, but asked potential buyers to be patient while he works out a way to get his hit product mass-produced. In a recent tweet, the Japanese artist said that while preparing for Wonder Festival Winter, he approached Chinese companies about mass-producing the charcoal skulls, but they declined, without specifying the reason. He believes that it was because the processing of raw materials and the shaping technique are considerably more complicated than regular charcoal. A Reddit user who claims to be the author of this post on Japanese site Grapee said that he spoke to the the artist about making the charcoal skulls, and as far as he understood, Sekisadamu “ground charcoal into powder and mixed it with plant-derived ingredients to form a putty which he then molded into that shape”. Full article
  5. When it comes to cleaning, most people will agree that scrubbing the bathroom is the worst job. But a new rather unusual hack could save you a lot of time - but it's a bit bizarre. People in Australia have been covering their bathrooms in shaving cream, claiming it gets rid of the smell of urine. The clever trick could be the end of getting down on your hands and knees and scrubbing to get rid of that horrible smell, so understandably people are loving it. Hundreds of different people have posted photos of them trying it out on the Facebook group Mums Who Clean, reports Mail Online . They say it works better than product they've used before, believing the chemicals destroy the urine rather than just covering the smell. One member of the group wrote: "I'd just like to say a huge thank you to the beautiful mum who said to use shaving cream in the toilet to get rid of urine smell. I sprayed it everywhere and rubbed it in went back a few hours later to wipe down and the smell has gone. "It worked for me and yes I only paid a couple bucks for the stuff best tip ever! Thank you once again." Another commented: "Anyone who has a house full of young boys will understand why it's spread far and wide and to all of the grout and corners. "I'm leaving it on overnight. I hope it does well!" Full article
  6. A mum has spoken of her pride after her son used his pocket money to make sure every girl received a Valentine’s Day rose. Callum Drew, eight, bought 68 roses for them all so that they would have something to open yesterday. For the past few years he has given out flowers at Lacey Gardens School in Louth, Lincolnshire, from his grandmother’s shop. She died earlier this year, but Callum wanted to keep up the tradition so used money raised from washing cars to buy them silk roses. He said: ‘I just wanted to get some flowers for the girls in year four as I don’t want them to feel let down on Valentine’s Day. ‘I will go around every class and give them their present. I have done it before for the last four years. The girls jump on me and scream because they are happy.’ Callum’s biggest gift is being reserved for his girlfriend, who he says is okay with him treating all the other girls despite it being their first Valentine’s Day together. Callum’s mum, Stacey says she is incredibly proud of her son for his consideration for other people’s feelings. She said: ‘He’s been doing it for four years, he started out with just his class but now he gives roses to every girl in his year – he says that no girl should be left out. Full article
  7. One of the candidates to be the mayor of a US city has made it to the final round of an election - even though he died in December. In a three-horse primary in Edmond, Oklahoma, Charles Lamb finished second behind Dan O'Neil, who described it as "sort of awkward". Mr Lamb, who had been mayor since October 2011, put his name forward for re-election before he died. When he passed away, it was too late to remove his name from the ballot or to add anyone else. Were he to win on 2 April, a mayor would be appointed by Edmond City Council. Mr O'Neil, who served one term as mayor from 2007-2009, said there were "people advocating for his election for their political reasons ... they want to be mayor". A Facebook campaign supporting Mr Lamb was led by Edmond resident Michelle Schaefer, who referred journalists' questions to councillor Nick Massey. Ms Schaefer has reportedly said she would like Mr Massey to be mayor. Echoing Mr O'Neil, Mr Massey also said it was an awkward situation, adding that had Mr Lamb not sought re-election, he would have run for mayor himself. While he would be "honoured" to accept the position, Mr Massey said he would not be calling for people to vote for Mr Lamb. However, he added: "If you like the direction the city has been taking over the last six, seven, eight years, you might consider voting for Charles and let the city council decide who to appoint." Full article
  8. A 10-year-old boy in east-central China broke down in tears when his mother turned down his attempt to buy her a diamond ring. The scene, which was caught on video, took place inside a jewelry store at a shopping mall in Tianmen, Hubei province on Monday. In the video, the boy is seen letting his mother try a ring, which he planned to buy using money he had collected over the Spring Festival. “He said he wanted to buy a diamond ring after seeing his classmates’ mothers all wear diamond rings,” a store employee said, according to the Global Times. However, the boy chose a ring worth 8,800 yuan ($1,300) — which naturally deterred his mother from accepting his kind offer. As such, he burst into tears. To save her son’s money, the mother deliberately picked a more expensive ring that costs 50,700 yuan ($7,485). “Mom likes this one. You can save more money and buy this one for me later,” the employee quoted her as saying. Full article and video
  9. The small town of Belushya Guba, in northern Russia, is in a state of emergency, with locals afraid to leave their houses because of dozens of polar bears roaming the streets in search of food. Located on one of the two islands that make up the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, Belushya Guba is home to roughly 3,000 people, many of whom are terrified to leave their homes and send their kids to school, because of the dozens of bears running around in the streets and even entering buildings in search of food. While polar bear sighting aren’t exactly uncommon in the remote town, the scale of this invasion is reportedly unprecedented. Over 52 sightings have been reported in only three days, with up to 10 bears seen in the settlement at any given time. “I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there have never been so many polar bears in the vicinity,” local administrator Zhigansha Musin told Russian news agency TASS on Saturday. He added that the hungry animals had also taken over a military garrison where they “literally chase people”. “The people are scared, they are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are broken,” Alexander Minayev, the deputy head of Novaya Zemlya, told TASS. “Parents are afraid to let the children go to school or kindergarten.” Polar bear activity in and around Belushya Guba started increasing in December, and the animals have reportedly become more aggressive ever since, attacking people and entering residences. Polar bears are considered an endangered species in Russia, and despite the threat they currently pose to the people of Belushya Guba, the government has refused to issue licenses to shoot the most aggressive specimens. Instead, a team of experts and a special task force have been sent to the island to monitor the situation and protect the local population. However, killing some of the bears may be a last resort, if scare tactics prove unsuccessful. Fences and loud noises, such as gunshots and car horns have so far failed to keep the animals away. Full article
  10. A hungry Slovenian politician has stepped down from parliament after admitting he stole a sandwich because he had been ignored by staff at the checkout counter for several minutes. Darij Krajcic, 54, a member of the ruling List of Marjan Sarec List [LMS] party, told Slovenian media he went to a shop in Ljubljana, the country’s capital, to purchase some food but became annoyed after apparently being ignored by the staff, the BBC reported. Krajcic said he felt like he was being “treated like air.” Krajcic said he was in a hurry at the time, and decided to test the store's security by walking out and shoplifting the sandwich. However, he ended up regretting the “social experiment.” "So, I left the shop with the sandwich, walking slowly, very slowly," Krajic told Euronews. He said that no employee appeared to notice. Krajcic later told fellow parliament members about the sandwich incident and some lawmakers found it amusing, the BBC reported. However, on Thursday, Brane Golubovic, the head of LMS’ parliamentary faction, said Krajcic’s actions were "unacceptable" and condemned them. Full article
  11. A worker at a plant in Michigan died over the weekend after falling into a tank of sulfuric acid, officials said. The incident took place on Saturday at the Michigan Seamless Tube plant in South Lyon, located west of Detroit. Fire Chief Robert Vogel told the Detroit News that 54-year-old Daniel Hill was fully submerged in the 10 percent to 12 percent sulfuric acid solution as co-workers tried to pull him out. "He was completely submerged and was 100 percent covered in burns," he told the Detroit News. "The gentleman was trying to get out. They ran and grabbed him and pulled him out." Employees placed him under a safety shower before he was transported to the hospital. "He was speaking when we were there," Vogel told the Detroit News. "He was walking and talking. Unfortunately, he passed. It was pretty extreme burns." Officials told Fox 2 that Hill was transported to the hospital but died later that day. The Centers for Disease Control says that sulfuric acid is destructive to the skin, eyes, teeth and lungs. Any "severe exposure" may result in death. Full article
  12. Building up the courage to confess your feelings to your crush and asking them out on a date can be a nerve-wrecking experience, but thanks to the unique services offered by Japanese company Kokunavi, it doesn’t have to be. If you’re too shy to approach your crush, you can just pay them to do it on your behalf. True to its name – a mashup between the Japanese word “kokuhaku” (confession of love) and “navigation” – Kokunavi is committed to helping shy people make their feelings known to their crushes without having to go through the emotionally distressing experience of actually confessing their crush. Basically, Kokunavi will have someone else approach the client’s crush and convey a romantic message on their behalf. Think of it like having a friend deliver a love letter to your high school crush, if that friend charged a lot of money to do it. Kokunavi offers three different package, with the Simple Course being the cheapest, most basic option. For 29,000 yen ($260), the Japanese company will have someone convey the client’s message to their crush, and then come back with their response. But people who don’t mind spending a little extra to increase their chances of hooking up with their crush can opt for Kokunavi’s Support Pack Course, which includes two or three meetings with the company’s expert staff, during which clients will receive advice on wording their confession of love, as well as on the right time and place to have it delivered. This superior package is priced at 59,000 yen ($530). Finally, the Premium Package consists of four or five meetings with Kokunavi staff to go over all the things included in the Support Package, as well as data analysis of the company’s previous projects, to figure out which confession delivery method has the higher method of success. Or, as the company describes this package, “as long as you know who you want to confess our love to, we can help you plan everything else”. On its official website, Kokunavi assure potential clients that there’s no shame in using their services to confess to their crush, and uses testimonials to show how their effective their methods can be. “I’m really glad I went to Kokunavi for help, my love confession was successful, and I was really impressed at their professional techniques,” one 25-year-old woman allegedly said. Full article
  13. A dog owner in China ended up in the hospital after his excited husky jumped all the way from the 2nd floor of his house to greet him, landing on his head and breaking his neck. The 67-year-old man, surnamed Liu, was returning to his house in Yongzhou City, China’s Hunan province, on Monday, after visiting some relatives, when something heavy fell from above and landed on the back of his head. Liu was knocked down and rendered unconscious by the impact, and his family immediately called an ambulance. Speaking with Sina News about the incident, Liu recalled that his first thought after waking up in the hospital was that the wall of his house had collapsed on top of him, but he later learned that he had been hit by his pet husky. Apparently, the 60-pound pooch was so excited to see Liu come home that he jumped from the second floor of he house, landing on top of him. “On the sixth day of the New Year, we were returning home together,” Liu told Sina News. “Just when we were about to reach the front door, we were suddenly stunned by something falling from the sky.” Liu ended up at the First People’s Hospital of Zhangzhou City, where a spine exam revealed that the impact of the dog hitting his head had caused a cervical spine fracture. The 67-year-old will now have to undergo surgery to his spine to fix the damage, but claims that he doesn’t blame the dog. Still, to make sure that this sort of accident doesn’t happen again, the man’s family have chained the dog in the yard. Full article
  14. Theresa May is hardly in a parliamentary sweet spot - but now she's found herself in a new jam. Although it's her arch opponent Jeremy Corbyn who is well known for his love of the preserve, the prime minister reportedly declared to cabinet ministers her technique for dealing with gone-off jars of it. The Daily Mail says she told top MPs gathered in Downing Street on Tuesday that she scrapes the mould off to tuck into the lower layers. A Whitehall source is quoted as saying the prime minister described what's left as "perfectly edible" and encouraged shoppers to use "common sense" when it comes to binning out-of-date food. The tip came during a discussion on how to reduce food waste. Her spokesperson later clarified it was "a matter for the individual" whether to follow the practice. Mrs May has previously given a glimpse into her culinary tastes. Full article
  15. This is the moment tourists slip and slide their way along the Great Wall of China after a hazardous layer of ice formed on the site’s stony surface. The incident took place on an unspecified stretch of the huge 13,170-mile landmark located in northern China and was filmed by onlookers and shared on social media. In the footage, a young woman is seen sliding on her bum down a stony slope to her laughing friend, who had also fallen over. Meanwhile, dozens of people cling onto the handrails to prevent them from sliding down the incline. In the next scene, scores of people are seen trying to walk up the icy slope with many of them edging themselves along the handrails at either side of the wall. According to local media, snowfall in the region formed a thin and perilous layer of ice on the stones, making conditions difficult for visitors to the ancient site. Full article and video
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