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Six day ultimatum – Cambodia to Laos.

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Six day ultimatum – Cambodia to Laos. | The Thaiger

Cambodia’s PM has issued a six-day “ultimatum” to Laos – to remove a group of troops who have allegedly trespassed across their border, or face a military response.

“We don’t want to have a dispute with Laos, but we also cannot allow the situation remain like this anymore,” said PM Sen, adding that he was running out of patience with “the invasion” by Laos troops.

New York Post is reporting that at least 30 soldiers are said to have crossed over from Laos in April. They were allegedly trying to stop Cambodian military engineers from building a road in the area.

PM Sen says that officials had ordered the troops to leave, but they “did not retreat.” He also claims to have called the Laotian PM several times over the past few months and received no response.

Cambodia and Laos share a 540 kilometre land border, most of it unguarded.

This is a rare territorial fracas between the typically friendly countries. Both countries have communist governments. But it appears that Cambodian officials have grown tired of Laos’ alleged advances into the nation following reports that they had refused to leave an area in Stung Treng province.

At least 30 soldiers were said to have crossed over from Laos in April. They were allegedly trying to stop Cambodian military engineers from building a road in the area.

Sen said Friday that officials had ordered the troops to leave, but they “did not retreat.” He also claimed to have called the Laotian prime minister several times over the past few months — and got no response.

PM Sen said “I want to go to Laos to speak clearly about whether or not the forces will be withdrawn.”

In the meantime, Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh and generals Pol Saroeun — commander-in-chief of the military — and Kun Kim, his deputy, have been ordered to prepare for battle.

“If a situation happens, please don’t blame Cambodia,” PM Sen said ominously.

SOURCES: Cambodian Daily & NY POST

PHOTO: Getty Images

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Entertainment

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival

The Thaiger

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The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | The Thaiger

On the streets, in parks and garages, seven Cuban youngsters spent seven months practising K-pop moves to secure a spot on their dream stage: an appearance in South Korea to imitate their idols. 13 final teams from 80 countries are competing in the 2019 event.

At the grandly titled and government-funded Changwon K-pop World Festival contestants from around the globe perform imitation dances or sing cover versions of the genre’s biggest hits, with thousands of fans cheering them on.

In terms of global heft, South Korea is overshadowed by its much larger neighbours China and Japan, but the event is a way for Seoul to derive soft power from one of the country’s biggest cultural exports. In terms of pop-power, South Korea’s K-Pop is now a recognised world-wide music phenomenon with bands like BTS and Blackpink figuring amongst the other big-hitters on the Billboard charts and outselling their western counterparts with millions of albums and downloads.

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | News by The Thaiger

Finalists for this year

Cuba’s Communist government is one of North Korea’s few remaining allies: when President Miguel Diaz-Canel, successor to the Castro brothers Fidel and Raul, visited Pyongyang last November he was only the third foreign head of state to do so since leader Kim Jong Un inherited power in 2011.

But rather than geopolitics, Havana performer Karel Rodriguez Diaz – whose mannerisms and sleek hairstyle could easily be mistaken for those of a K-pop star – is more motivated by high-tempo beats and superslick dance moves.

“We never had a place with a mirror or a choreographer who could teach us the steps” but they kept on practising, he said.

His team-mate Elio Gonzalez added: “We are so excited to represent not just Cuba but also the whole of Latin America.”

Some 6,400 teams from more than 80 countries entered the competition, according to organisers, with 13 groups from places as diverse as Kuwait and Madagascar winning through to the final in Changwon, where they appeared on stage waving their national flags.

“This is like watching the Olympics, a K-pop Olympics,” said the event’s host Lia, a member of K-pop group ITZY.

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | News by The Thaiger

The Korean Wave

K-pop – along with K-drama soap operas – has been one of South Korea’s most successful cultural exports to date. A key part of the “Korean Wave” which has swept Asia and beyond in the last 20 years, the K-pop industry is now estimated to be worth $5 billion, with boyband BTS its latest high-profile exponent, becoming the world’s most successful band in the past 12 months, selling out stadium concerts within minutes, around the world.

The South Korean government has financed a variety of K-pop themed events in what CedarBough Saeji, a visiting professor at Indiana University Bloomington in the US, said was a form of long-term “soft power diplomacy”.

“When you are covering you get to ‘become’ those idols for the three and a half minutes of the song,” she said, adding that performers will go so far as matching their clothing, accessories and hairstyle to their heroes and heroines.

“The cover dancers of today will be diplomats, news reporters, and business leaders in forty years,” she went on.

“And hopefully they’ll still have a soft spot in their heart for Korea. Korea can’t win the world through hard power – armies, economic bullying – but with soft power even a small country like Korea has a chance.”

The music also provides an artistic alternative for overseas fans, especially those in developing countries, Saeji added.

“The West, especially the United States, has been so dominant culturally for so long, and having a different cultural pole to look to provides hope that one’s own country can experience similar success in the future.”

The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival | News by The Thaiger

Be who you want

Beneath its glitz and glamour, the K-pop industry is also known for its cutthroat competition, a lack of privacy, online bullying and relentless public pressure to maintain a wholesome image at all times and at any cost.

Sulli, a popular K-pop star and former child actress who had long been the target of abusive online comments was found dead on Monday, with her death sending shockwaves through fans around the world.

“I think a day where (people) would be ashamed of the K-show business will surely come,” a South Korean online user wrote in the wake of the star’s death.

“I think an industry that makes money by (making people) sing, dance, undergo plastic surgeries and go on a diet to please the gaze of others since they are teenagers should really go bankcrupt.”

But for Kenny Pham, a finalist from the US at last week’s contest, K-pop’s diversity – with some tunes having dark themes, while others were “cute” or sensual – is what gives him a sense of liberation.

“I like how expressive you could be,” the 19 year old told AFP last week.

“I feel like it’s a place where you could show the passion you have for music, dance or fashion. No one is bashing you for what your likes are.”

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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Business

Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand’s Santa Fe restaurant chain

May Taylor

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Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand’s Santa Fe restaurant chain | The Thaiger

(…or is that a 90% ‘steak’?)

PHOTOS: Wongnai

DealStreetAsia, an investor news site reporting on Asian business, confirms that Singha Corporation has purchased a majority stake in the Thai restaurant chain, Santa Fe. It’s understood that Singha purchased the shares held by Lakeshore Capital for approximately US$50 million or 1.53 billion baht, giving it a 90% stake in the chain seen in most Thai shopping centres.

The Nation reports that Singha will now oversee over 110 restaurants across Thailand in one of the country’s biggest food industry deals of the year. The company first turned its attention to the food industry two years ago, launching Food Factors Company under the Boon Rawd Brewery group.

WongnaiFood Factors aims to make 5 billion baht over 3 years under the stewardship of Piti Bhirombhakdi. The company has an ambitious long-term target of 10 billion baht a year, along with plans to be listed on the stock exchange.

The Santa Fe chain was established in 2003 by Surachai Charn-Anudet’s KT Restaurant Company, with the aim of becoming a major competitor to Sizzler, the American chain brought to Thailand by Minor Food.

SOURCE: The Nation

Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand's Santa Fe restaurant chain | News by The Thaiger

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Economy

TAT says ‘all go’ for tourism discount campaign

Greeley Pulitzer

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TAT says ‘all go’ for tourism discount campaign | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Thailand Shopping and Dining Paradise

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s governor says that the TAT will introduce two domestic tourism promotional measures – a 100 baht nationwide tourism campaign, and “shocking-price weekday” discounts.

The 100 baht campaign will offer some 40,000 products and services at only 100 baht each. Registration is required and will be open on November 11-12 and December 11-12, 2019, for up to 10,000 people each day on the the TAT website, starting at midnight each day.

The weekday discount campaign, valid Mondays to Thursdays will run from November 1 until December 3, offering up to 70% discounts on selected tourism products. The TAT will open an online store offering the same discounts. Eligible purchases made with the government’s wallet app will also receive a 15% VAT rebate.

The TAT says they are now ensuring the readiness of the system to accommodate registrations, after issues found during the previous ‘Chim Shop Chai’ campaign for Thais in a recent successful economic stimulus package from the government. In that campaign the government handed out 1000 baht gift to Thais with the stipulation it had to be spent in another province. 12 million Thais registered for the program.

The governor says he is confident these measures will provide an ongoing economic boost following the success of the Chim Shop Chai campaign, spiking revenue 10-20% during the campaign.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

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