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From Beijng to Tokyo, from Seoul to New Delhi, LinkAsia takes viewers into media about Asia – from Asia – offering unfiltered insight into one of the most diverse, fast-paced regions of the globe.

 

The LinkAsia blog features in-depth analysis from expert contributors and LinkAsia producers, as well as transcripts from NHK Japan reports.

 

LinkAsia airs Fridays at 9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT on Link TV, and is available online at LinkAsia.org.

LinkAsia News Brief

South Korea Issues Strong Warning Against DPRK Nuclear Test
(LinkAsia: April 27, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
South Korean authorities have a warning for their neighbor to the north, "Don't do it." They suspect that North Korea is planning to test a nuclear device. Seoul says that Pyongyang will pay a heavy economic price if it moves ahead with the test. Here's the story from NHK.

--

NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: April 25, 2012

South Korean Defense Ministry Spokesperson:
The north has made significant preparations to conduct the test. All that remains now is its political decision.

Reporter:
South Korean intelligence authorities confirmed this month that workers in the north have been digging a new tunnel in the region of Punggye-ri. They believe that will be a test site. A senior government official says North Korean leaders will further isolate their country if they carry out another nuclear test. The official points out it will also make it harder for them to develop their failed economy. The North Korean government made a rare public admission recently. State media reported an attempt to launch a satellite into space failed. Many nations consider it a long-range missile test. Still, South Korean officials say this admission could signal a change in political style under new leader Kim Jong-un.

Yul Kwon:
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said that North Korea should be feeding its people, not testing weapons. Those words, along with South Korea's own cruise missile test a few days ago, got North Korea's Central News Agency breathing fire. Now the KCNA often uses violent language, but the specific nature of the threats this time caught the attention of observers. In a dispatch, the agency said that North Korea's special forces were readying to strike: "Their targets are the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors, the arch criminals, and the group of rat-like elements including conservative media destroying the mainstay of the fair public opinion." The last line of the KCNA piece read: "Our revolutionary armed forces do not make empty talk." So who exactly are these "rat-like" media named by the North Koreans? Well, the news agency called out the following: the popular newspaper, Dong-A Ilbo; South Korea's national broadcaster, KBS; and LinkAsia's broadcast partner, MBC; as well as six other media organizations.
 
 

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A Korean Cross-Border Provocation, in Balloon Form
(LinkAsia: April 27, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
Meanwhile, South Korean activists are making provocations of their own. They're continuing to release weather balloons carrying food and pamphlets denouncing Kim Jong-un. Here's NHK with more.

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NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: April 25, 2012

Reporter:
Here is Gangwha Island, near the North Korean border. The NGO members are now preparing for launching balloons with leaflets and chocolate to North Korea.

The NGO is composed of citizens who fled North Korea. They released 10 huge balloons carrying 2,000 packages. The leaflets explain the budget for the missile launch equals the cost of feeding 19 million people for two years.

Kim Seong-min, NGO Leader:
We're sending these chocolate cakes with our prayers for the happiness of the North Korean people.

Reporter:
North Korean authorities have responded with harsh criticism, saying that the balloons are an insult against their leader Kim Jong-un. South Korea's armed forces have deployed vehicles to track the balloons by satellite to observe any retaliation by North Korea. The group says this action is meant to support the Northern civilian population in the wake of the recent leadership transition.

Another group is preparing to launch more balloons next weekend. This time, they will be loaded with pamphlets and radios capable of receiving broadcasts from South Korea.

Yul Kwon:
Activists in South Korea have sent all kinds of stuff in these balloons, including socks. Apparently you can trade one pair of socks for 10 kilograms of corn in North Korea, enough to feed a person for an entire month.
 
 

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China and the Philippines Face Off Over Scarborough Shoal
(LinkAsia: April 20, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
The South China Sea is back in the news. Last week, Chinese and Filipino patrol boats faced off over a reef known as the Scarborough Shoal. Both countries are trying to claim the reef for its valuable commercial fishing grounds and possible oil and gas deposits. Neither country says that it's willing to go to war over this, but that hasn't stopped the Philippines from flexing its muscles. It's currently conducting an annual military exercise with the United States. Our Japanese broadcast partner NHK has the story.

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NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: April 19, 2012

Reporter:
Some 4,500 US troops and 2,300 Philippine personnel are taking part in 12 days of war games. The exercises kicked off on Monday and are designed to strengthen ties and improve joint military capabilities to protect Philippine borders.

The drills include landing practice on the western island of Palawan in the South China Sea.

In addition to the bilateral naval exercises, the capital Manila will host an earthquake simulation with six other nations, including Japan, for the first time.

Bri. Gen. Federick Padilla, US Military:
"This will undoubtedly contribute to the nations in the region having increased level of trust and cooperation to ensure regional stability."

Rear Adm. Victor Martir, Armed Forces of the Philippines:
"We continue to work together for a secure and stable Asia-Pacific region."

Reporter:
This year's exercises have been marked by political tension following a military standoff between the Philippines and China. On Tuesday last week, a Philippine navy ship and Chinese surveillance vessels faced each other at the disputed Scarborough Shoal off the Philippine island of Luzon.

Diplomatic efforts have failed to resolve the eight-day standoff. On Tuesday, the Philippines said it would call on China to jointly take the issue to the international tribunal on the law of the sea in an effort to quickly and peacefully resolve the issue.

The Philippines has far fewer naval vessels and aircraft than China. Officials insist that the joint US-Philippine military exercises are not a show of force directed at China. But regional experts say the message of the war games is clear.

--

Yul Kwon:
The code name for these exercises is Balikatan, Tagalog for shoulder-to-shoulder, to emphasize the closeness between the two nations.
 
 

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Japan Lifts Restrictions on Returning to Damaged Cities
(LinkAsia: April 20, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
Now we all know that Asia is prone to earthquakes, and two decades ago, the Philippines faced its own 7.8-magnitude quake in Luzon that killed more than 1,600 people. And now, a year after Japan's deadly 9.0 earthquake, some evacuees are being allowed to return to the No Go Zone for the first time. Here's the story from NHK.

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NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: April 18, 2012

Reporter:
Japan's central government lifted entry restrictions for the 20-kilometer evacuation zone covering Kawauchi village and Tamura city this month. The government added Minamisoma city to the list.

Residents can visit most of the city, but not the high-radiation areas deemed unsafe for extended periods of time. Overnight stays are not yet allowed.

Resident Yoshikazu Takeuchi went to his home with his wife and mother. After the evacuation, Takeuchi ran his construction materials store at a different location in the city. He says he hopes to reopen the store at its original location now that the entry ban has been lifted.

Yoshikazu Takeuchi, Minamisoma Resident:
"Reconstruction has finally started. I hope we can work together so that people can return to the city and live there again."

Reporter:
Much more work has to be done around the damaged nuclear power plant before residents can return to the city to live. Full-fledged efforts to clean up debris, decontaminate and restore infrastructure have yet to begin.

Katsunobu Sakurai, Minamisoma Mayor:
"We will tell the central government that it's responsible for the lack of infrastructure and for providing compensation for damages from the nuclear accident."

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Yul Kwon:
The city's network of hospitals and clinics is one important part of Minamisoma's infrastructure recovery. At one point after the nuclear crisis, the number of doctors in the Minami-Soma Municipal General Hospital fell from twelve to just four.
 
 

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