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North Korean leader reportedly in “vegetative state”

Jack Burton

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North Korean leader reportedly in “vegetative state” | Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily Express

For days the government of North Korea has been tight-lipped as speculation about the health of the nation’s leader Kim Jong-un’s health spreads. Now the Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Gendai is reporting that a failed surgery has left the 36 year old in a vegetative state.

American celebrity tabloid website TMZ has gone a step further and claimed he’s actually died.

Citing the medical team treating the dictator of one of the world’s last communist nations, and amid conflicting reports about his health, Shukan Gendai has reported yesterday that a Chinese medical team member on the mission to North Korea, briefed its senior writer Kondm Daisuke on the situation.

The medical expert reportedly said that during a visit to the countryside earlier this month, the obese Kim clutched his chest and fell to the ground. A doctor immediately carried out CPR and took him to a nearby hospital for emergency care and quickly requested a medical team from Beijing for assistance.

Prior to the Chinese medical team’s arrival, the North Korean doctors performed heart surgery but there were reported complications due to the dictator’s obesity and the doctor’s anxiety (code for: “He die, you die!”).

Reuters reports that Beijing sent a delegation led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department. The team left Beijing on Thursday for an “unspecified reason,” but is believed to be providing advice on Kim’s health.

Daily NK, a South Korean website run by North Korean defectors, broke the news on Tuesday that Kim was “recovering from a cardiovascular operation.”

The same day, CNN cited a US official as saying that Kim was in critical condition over a week after the surgery, but the South Korean government downplayed the report, saying that it had “not observed any unusual activity in the hermit kingdom.”

But because North Korea is so completely cut off from the outside world that even the best intelligence agencies lack agents on the ground, there was no way to confirm Kim’s current health. Still, the rumours raised concerns in the West about possible successors, with his younger sister Kim Yo Jong eyed as a likely candidate.

Though many experts brush off the idea of a woman as top leader in the male-dominated communist country with strong Confucian traditions, others, point to what they see as a pattern of grooming the 32 year old member of the Kim dynasty as a future leader.

Kim Yo Jong is believed to be the daughter of Ko Yong Hui, the mistress of Kim Jong Un’s father Kim Jong Il, and also the mother of Kim Jong Un and their two older brothers. Their brother Kim Jong Nam was assassinated in February 2017 when he was attacked with VX nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, allegedly at the direction of Kim Jong Un, in 2017, while their other brother Kim Jong Chul was passed over by his father and is not believed to be heavily involved in politics.

In the event Kim dies and his sister takes over, it may not represent a major change or softening in North Korean foreign policy, according to VICE News cited Sung Yoon Lee, an expert on the Koreas at Tufts University.

“It is entirely possible that Ms. Kim will prove even more tyrannical than her brother or father or grandfather.”

SOURCE: Taiwan News

North Korean leader reportedly in

Mock North Korean Twitter feed, DPRK News Service, has gone Pythonesque with this morning’s Tweet.

North Korean leader reportedly in

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Tourism

Pattaya tourism remains open without quarantine

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Pattaya tourism remains open without quarantine | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Pattaya welcomes tourists.

As province after province closes down more sectors, imposes stricter regulations, administers mandatory Covid-19 testing, and enacts quarantines for domestic travellers, Pattaya is taking a different approach: heartily welcoming tourists to their city. Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome spoke yesterday saying that everyone from everywhere is welcome in Pattaya, and will not be required to quarantine or self-quarantine for 2 weeks. The lack of isolation may encourage travellers depressed over cancelled Songkran holiday festivities and trips.

Rather than shutting down completely, the city of Pattaya had called upon all of its employees to work together to create an environment safe for tourism. The staff are deployed throughout to city to implement and enforce Covid-19 safety protocols and monitor them to make sure locals and tourists follow regulations and keep Pattaya safe from Coronavirus spread.

While bars, nightclubs, and massage shops remain necessarily closed by order of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, city officials are working hard to keep popular tourism areas like Koh Larn and Pattaya Beach Road open to travellers to enjoy. City hall is working with volunteers and local police and enacting measures like allowing parking on both sides of the beach roads to try to help tourists and vendors in Pattaya to have a safe and enjoyable Songkran holiday.

This alternative approach stands in stark contrast to most of the rest of the nation where Songkran celebrations were cancelled and semi-lockdowns are in place. 2 days ago 37 Thai provinces imposed a 14 day quarantine on travellers from Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathum and Samut Prakan – areas around Bangkok that are now considered a Red Zone for Covid-19 infections.

Phuket is currently another holdout, with minimal restrictions on tourists visiting, for the time being anyway.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Blog suggests Phuket push July reopening despite Covid-19

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Blog suggests Phuket push July reopening despite Covid-19 | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to reign in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now manacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need teo push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it. The Phuket pilot programme is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years.

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritize the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1st is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening. Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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Road deaths

Driver charged in bus fire that killed 5, injured 12

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Driver charged in bus fire that killed 5, injured 12 | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: The charred remains of the bus that burst into flames late Monday night.

After yesterday’s horrific bus fire left 5 dead and 12 injured, the driver is now charged with reckless driving causing deaths and injuries. The tour bus ended up in flames at 12:30 am, not long after leaving the Khon Kaen bus terminal heading to Bangkok with 33 passengers on board. The bus had originated in Bung Kan and stopped in Udon Thani to add more passengers before stopping in Khon Kaen. The driver reported hearing a sound he thought was a rear tyre exploding right before the wheel caught fire. The blaze reached the engine compartment and from there quickly spread to engulf the entire bus.

The 48 year old driver, Patsadee Kham-on from the Isan province of Maha Sarakham, was burned in the bus fire accident as well. He remains in custody today after being escorted to Khon Kaen Court for a judge to approve his detainment pending further investigation. Police are advocating that bail be refused for the driver.

Among the victims in this crash were a 21 year old man from Sakon Nakhon, as well as a 23 year old woman from Bung Kan and 2 women from Udon Thani. One woman was 28 years old while the younger woman, 23 years old, was travelling with her 6 year old daughter who was also killed in the crash. Police advised that relatives could collect the victim’s bodies at Srinagarind Hospital’s forensic medicine department. They also directed families of the victims to the Ban Haet police station to gather documentation for claiming compensation. Procedures have started by the Office of the Insurance Commission to examine the accident and charred bus and to determine compensation.

The cause of the bus fire has not been officially determined and experts from the Land Transport Department have a pending examination. While investigations continue, compensations from insurance is expected to be 1.5 million baht per death, plus an additional half a million baht as part of the Road Accident Victim Protection Act of 1992. The bus belongs to 407 Pattana Company, and was carrying insurance issued by Viriyah Insurance Plc.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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