Assignment Asia

Ancient Cultures in a Modern World

Asia is home to some of the world's oldest cultures and ethnic groups. But in modern times many of them are on the verge of fading. In South Korea, female divers called the haenyeo have been scouring the seas for food for more than 1,000 years. Yet today's sea women are ageing, and there's a dearth of new divers. Reporter Jack Barton travels to Jeju Island to meet some of its oldest haenyeo and looked into efforts to stop their tradition from dying. Seafaring tribes long inhabited the waters of Thailand and its neighbors, Myanmar and Malaysia. But modernization and the 2004 tsunami pushed many sea gypsies out of their traditional dwelling place. Even in their new homes on land, however, they are being driven out by a booming tourist trade and property development. Reporter Tony Cheng shows the conditions of the Moken people of Surin, Thailand, who are holding on to their way of life and despite the challenges of living in a modern world. More than a century ago, their ancestors fled western China and settled in Central Asia. But through the years, the Donggan ethnic group managed to keep their Chinese traditions alive. As reporter Han Peng reports from a Donggan community in Kyrgyzstan, the ongoing revival of the Silk Road trade route is linking them closer to their Chinese roots.

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Coping with a Changing Climate

The poorest countries in the world are also the most vulnerable to climate change. But some developing countries are already taking steps to confront it and mitigate its impact. In Bangladesh, climate refugees - people displaced from their communities by natural disasters - have poured into the capital Dhaka, crowding its already congested slums. Yet far from merely suffering, the country is working to become more resilient. Reporter Rian Maelzer travels to areas in Bangladesh that experience some of the worst effects of climate change.

Ancient Cultures in a Modern World

Asia is home to some of the world's oldest cultures and ethnic groups. But in modern times many of them are on the verge of fading. In South Korea, female divers called the haenyeo have been scouring the seas for food for more than 1,000 years. Yet today's sea women are ageing, and there's a dearth of new divers. Reporter Jack Barton travels to Jeju Island to meet some of its oldest haenyeo and looked into efforts to stop their tradition from dying. Seafaring tribes long inhabited the waters of Thailand and its neighbors, Myanmar and Malaysia.

Challenging Gender Norms

Steeped in tradition, many Asian cultures have tightly conservative gender norms. But in some places, people are daring to challenge them. In Turkey, male belly dancing is making a comeback after generations of being kept in the background. It's an art usually associated with femininity. But in Istanbul, men are grabbing the spotlight and breaking stereotypes by swaying their bodies. As Reporter Natalie Carney reports, they are also raising the profile of Turkey's marginalized gay community.

Women Empowerment

Women in many parts of Asia remain vulnerable to abuse, but a few bright spots in the fight for empowerment and equality have emerged. In Pakistan, where thousands of women fall victims to violence every year, a law ensuring their protection was passed in early 2016. Reporter Danial Khan spoke with survivors of domestic violence who have risen above their ordeal and are now finding hope in the new law. Despite the reforms and changes sweeping the country, gender inequality persists in Myanmar, and women are particularly vulnerable to different forms of abuse.

Development

Asia has some of the world's most pressing problems, including poverty and disease. But despite the odds, progress is being made in some parts of the region. Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. The Pakistani government has launched an aggressive vaccination drive, but workers on the ground face security threats, and sometimes, an unwelcoming public. Reporter Danial Khan meets the health workers who confront dangers and challenges in their mission to eradicate polio in Pakistan.

  • 2019-09-20T07:00:00-07:00
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