Lottery addict arrested
Police arrested a bank official for allegedly swindling investors out of millions of dollars and spending more than US$3 million on lottery tickets, police said yesterday. The 45-year-old head of a Community Credit Cooperative branch in Seoul allegedly promised high interest rates and collected 8.7 billion won (US$7 million) from nine investors since 2000, police officer Kim Kyung-man said. The accused, identified only by his surname, Kim, put the money into his bank accounts, gave US$2.8 million back to investors as interest, and spent the rest — including US$3.2 million on a sports lottery. Kim spent more than US$8,000 on lottery tickets in one day, the officer said. He won a total of US$80,000 in the lottery spree but now has only US$12,000 left. Kim told police he kept buying lottery tickets to make up for the loss of his customers’ money.
Hamburger joint opens
While the government has little appetite for “US imperialism,” its people are finally able to get a taste of that iconic American food the hamburger at the country’s first fast-food restaurant. The Samtaeseong restaurant opened in the capital Pyongyang last month in cooperation with a Singaporean firm, Choson Sinbo, a Japan-based newspaper for ethnic North Koreans, reported on the weekend. The regime has long restricted or banned what it calls the Western or “US imperialist influences” on its people. The restaurant — which serves such fast food as burgers made of minced beef, fish or vegetables — however does not call them “hamburgers,” Choson Sinbo said. The menu lists “minced beef and bread” or “minced fish and bread” or “vegetables and bread,” all served together with the Korean pickled cabbage dish, kimchi, it said. The minced beef and bread costs US$1.7, it said, a price exceeding half the average worker’s daily income. The state’s per capita income was US$1,065 last year. Choson Sinbo said in March that leader Kim Jong-il had also ordered the opening of the country’s first Italian restaurant in Pyongyang.
Ten die in heavy rains
Heavy rains have triggered landslides and floods that left 10 people dead and forced more than 110,000 others to flee their homes, a state news broadcaster said yesterday. The rains swept across five cities in Hunan Province on Friday and Saturday, and in one badly hit area sent waves of mud tumbling onto a road, a river and several homes, China Central Television said in its midday bulletin. The broadcaster said 10 people died in Hongjiang, a district in the city of Huaihua. The report showed footage of a mountain road hit by a landslide. Several brick and mud houses along the road were evacuated.
Director Yasmin Ahmad dies
Film director Yasmin Ahmad, who won accolades for her deeply felt depictions of everyday struggles with racial prejudice and social barriers, has died of complications from a stroke. She was 51. Yasmin’s close friend, Fatimah Abu Bakar, confirmed her death late on Saturday at a news conference in a Kuala Lumpur hospital. Relatives earlier said Yasmin underwent brain surgery to remove a blood clot on Friday after she suffered a stroke. Tributes poured in yesterday from politicians, entertainers and movie-goers who hailed her films and TV commercials for inspiring people to strive for racial understanding in the multiethnic, Muslim-majority country.