Sex workers stage protest
Hundreds of sex workers and pimps rallied on Tuesday near a red-light district in Seoul to protest a police crackdown on brothels. A crowd of about 400 people, mostly women wearing baseball caps, masks and sunglasses, chanted slogans like, “Guarantee the right to live” during the four-hour rally. At one point, about 20 protesters in their underwear and covered in body and face paint doused themselves in flammable liquid in an apparent attempt to burn themselves, but others stopped them from lighting any flames. The rally comes weeks after officials began stationing police cars near brothels in a bid to drive away people looking to pay for sex. The sex workers accuse a nearby department store of pushing police to take such measures. As part of their protest, a group of sex workers on Sunday tried to buy expensive items at the department store with only coins; when they were rejected, they placed large piles of coins on the department store’s floors.
Refugee awaits ruling
A North Korean refugee is waging a court battle against the South’s government, claiming 22 relatives in the North were sent to prison after Seoul inadvertently leaked his identity to the press. Lee Kwang-su, 42, said he repeatedly asked officials who were questioning him after his arrival in 2006 to keep his identity confidential for fear of reprisals against relatives, Yonhap news agency reported yesterday. However, he said the information was quickly leaked to the media, which led to the disappearance of his kin in the North. “They were sent to a political prison camp where they would have been condemned to death,” Lee told the news agency. Lee, who now lives in the US, sued Seoul in 2008 for 1.15 billion won (US$1.06 million) in compensation. In October last year, a district court acknowledged authorities inadvertently leaked such details, but said there was a lack of evidence about the fate of his relatives in the North. The court awarded him 35 million won, but Lee appealed the case and is seeking a bigger payout. Another court is scheduled to issue a ruling today.
Evading man falls to death
A former policeman fell to his death from a 16th floor hotel window ledge as he tried to evade a raid by the Islamic morality police, officials said yesterday. Islamic religious department officials carry out regular raids throughout the country, arresting Muslim Malays for khalwat, or “close proximity,” under religious laws that bar unmarried Muslims from being alone with a member of the opposite sex. District police chief Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman said the 49-year-old was with a 40-year-old woman, who was not his wife, when the incident occurred on Tuesday. The country has a dual-track legal system and Islamic courts can try Muslims for religious and moral offenses.
World’s oldest panda dies
State media say the world’s oldest panda has died at the age of 34. The Global Times reported Ming Ming died from old age and had kidney failure. She had been living at a zoo or preserve in Guangdong Province. The China Panda Protection Center in Sichuan Province said in a statement she died on May 7, but it was reported only on Tuesday in local media. More details on her were not available. The newspaper said wild pandas live 15 years on average and captive ones 22 years.