North Koreans seek refuge
Seven people believed to be North Koreans rushed into a Japanese school in the Chinese capital seeking refuge yesterday, the latest in a steady stream of defectors from the Stalinist state. Technically, Chinese police would be allowed to enter them to arrest the refugees. One of the latest defectors carried a note requesting asylum, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told reporters. "There was a memo on a piece of paper in English saying, `We are North Korean. We want to go to South Korea. Help,'" Hosoda said. China treats North Koreans as illegal immigrants and has an agreement with North Korea to send back those it catches. Some 44 North Koreans are believed to be still holed up the Canadian embassy in Beijing while the South Korean consulate protects as many as 130.
Fischer to go to Iceland
Former chess champion Bobby Fischer wants to be released from detention in Japan to go live in Iceland, which has offered him residency, even though he is wanted on criminal charges in the US, a supporter said yesterday. Fischer -- believed by many to be the best chess player ever -- has been sitting in Japanese immigration detention for six months after he was caught trying to board a flight for the Philippines with an invalid passport. He is fighting a deportation order to the US, where he is wanted on charges of violating international sanctions against Yugoslavia for playing chess matches there in 1992.
■ Hong Kong
Graft-fighting boss missing
The Communist Party boss of a county in southeast China had disappeared a few months after saying he had received death threats because of his crackdown on corruption, a Hong Kong newspaper said on Friday.
Huang Jingao, party chief of Lianjiang county in Fujian Province, was taken away by unidentified people on Wednesday and his wife also vanished the same day, the Ming Pao Daily News said, quoting unidentified sources. In August, Huang wrote a letter to the online edition of the People's Daily, the party mouthpiece, saying he had worn a bulletproof vest for six years and was shielded by bodyguards after receiving death threats which he linked to his fight against corruption.
Sale of tobacco banned
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan yesterday became the first country in the world to impose a complete ban on the sale of all forms of tobacco. Smoking was also banned in all public places. There would be no monetary fine for those caught smoking, but they would be let off with a warning, officials said.
A Muslim Little Mermaid?
Unknown perpetrators dressed Denmark's best-known tourist attraction, the "Little Mermaid" statue, in a traditional Muslim robe on Thursday in a protest over possible Turkish EU membership. "Turkey in
the EU?" read a sign hung around the statue, covered from head to foot in the black "burka" worn by many devout Muslim women, Danish broadcaster DR News reported. In Denmark, 49 percent are against opening talks with the mainly Muslim state, according to a Gallup opinion poll. The bronze statue of a naked mermaid sitting on a rock on the seafront in downtown Copenhagen is based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale.
Anger over Hitler cartoons
An artist who depicted Adolf Hitler as a pop-art style cartoon figure at an exhibition near the former Dachau concentration camp said on Thursday he would close the show two weeks after it opened due to public outrage. Walter Gaudnek said his brightly colored artworks aim to provoke people by showing Hitler