S Korean activists detained
Four South Korean activists have been detained in Liaoning Province since March on suspicion of spying after they interviewed North Korean refugees living in hiding there, an anti-Pyongyang group said yesterday. The South Korean foreign ministry confirmed the four were arrested in Dalian on March 29 on charges of “endangering state security.” One of the four is Kim Young-hwan, a former leader of an underground leftist party who became an activist opposing Pyongyang’s regime. The names of the other three were not given. A South Korean consul in Shenyang met Kim on April 26. The three others presented through local authorities on May 3 written statements declining to see South Korean diplomats, the foreign ministry said.
GPS jamming stops
Pyongyang has stopped transmitting signals that jammed the GPS of hundreds of civilian aircraft and ships in South Korea for two weeks, officials said yesterday. The state Korea Communications Commission said the signals designed to jam GPS halted as of 8:34pm on Sunday. The transport ministry confirmed civilian flights had not been affected since Sunday night. South Korean officials said the signals originated from the border city of Kaesong and began on April 28, forcing sea and air traffic to use other navigational equipment to avoid compromising safety. The reason for the jamming, which Pyongyang has not admitted, was unclear.
Parcels mystify police
Police said yesterday they were mystified by a spate of hair care packages sent from Paris to residents of the South Island’s remote west coast. Four packages mailed from Paris have arrived in the region over the past week, each containing a hair dryer or hair clippers, and cash ranging from NZ$100 (US$78) to 100 euros (US$128), police said. They said the recipients of the parcels, which reportedly contained notes saying “thanks for being a good/true friend,” had no idea who sent them or why. “At this stage police have not made any criminal connection with the parcels and they appear to simply be a goodwill gesture. However, they would like to hear from anyone else who has received a parcel,” a police statement said.
Robotic unicycle unveiled
Look, no hands. Scooting about on a unicycle is no sweat with Honda’s new robotics technology. Swaying your body from side to side is all you need to do to turn, rotate full circle and zip around on the Uni-Cub, which looks a bit like a floating car seat. Reporters got a test ride on the machine yesterday. It takes some getting used to, but responds smoothly and quietly. Honda Motor Co said the Uni-Cub is not dangerous to pedestrians even if it crashes. However, it can only be used on flat surfaces. It will be on display at a Tokyo science museum and go through some tests for feedback. There are no plans yet for a commercial product.
Lady Gaga blocked
Lady Gaga might have to cancel her sold-out show because police worry her sexy clothes and dance moves undermine Islamic values and will corrupt the country’s youth. National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said yesterday the permit for her June 3 concert had been denied. The local promoter, Michael Rusli, told reporters earlier it would be “regrettable” if police didn’t give the clearance, because fans have been eagerly awaiting Lady Gaga.