Category Archives: Social Issues

Bittersweet North and South Korean reunions

The last time Lee Hye-gyong saw her mom was when she was 16, almost six decades ago.  Now 75, she was given the chance to reunite with her family after the 1950-53 Korean war.  Her mom is 100.

Last month, 200 families from North and South Korea, 100 from each side, were randomly selected for a rare opportunity to reunite with long-lost loved ones.  But the briefness of it all made the meetings exceptionally emotional.

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“We had five reunion sessions in total, spending two hours with my sister each time, in addition to a one-hour farewell meeting,” younger sister, 62-year-old Lee Kyong-hee, said in her reunification story.  “The moment Hye-gyong entered the reunion hall, I recognized her immediately even though she looks very different from what I remember about her appearance.”

While some critics say these reunification programs are cruel because the meetings are so short and communication after the reunion is still banned, others insist that it’s a step towards reconciliation between the two countries.

Click here to watch a video of the reunions. Be warned, you need tissues for this.

Suzie

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Singaporean cabbie with a Stanford PhD

You can find still find yourself behind the driving wheel of a cab even after forking out loads of cash, and devoting a backbreaking amount of effort and time to obtain a PhD from Stanford. This happened to 57-year-old China-born Dr. Cai Mingjie, who resorted to driving cabs as a way to make ends meet after he was retrenched from his job researching cell genetics at a research institute in Singapore. After facing multiple rejections, he saw the taxi industry filled with job vacancies.

He also started blogging about his experiences. His latest post talks about getting an “indecent proposal” from a bar girl.

Fobber Amy and I are chasing our graduate degrees right now, so here’s to hoping that years from now, we’ll be on the career paths we wish to be on. If we ever do find ourselves in dire straits, the lesson to learn from Cai is to suck up your pride, and take on whatever job you can find.

Emily

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The real Couples Retreat: Malaysia’s beach mends rocky marriages

I wonder if this is where they got the idea for the newly-released movie, Couples Retreat.  In hopes of slowing the state’s soaring divorce rates, Terengganu, in north-east Malaysia, is offering troubled couples a three-day “second honeymoon” free of charge at one of its gorgeous beaches.  The offer is worth about US$440, and interested couples must apply, interview and agree to marital counseling.  So far, the Muslim-majority state has already done a pilot program with 25 couples, attempting to mend relationships on the brink of divorce.

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“I want to strengthen family ties. If a marriage breaks down, it will hurt the children and it will have serious implications on society,” Ashaari Idris, a government official in Terengganu, said.

Growing up in Singapore–just an hour away from Malaysia–I can personally attest to the soothing power of Malaysia’s amazing beaches.  But I wonder if it’s really possible to fix a rocky marriage in just three days??

Suzie

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Philippines’ Typhoon Ondoy death toll hits 293

The number of victims Typhoon Ondoy (also known as Ketsana) has claimed continues to climb, rising to about 293 deaths. In addition, more than 680,000 people are crammed into shelters. The AP reported it as the worst flooding in four decades.

Although I’ve never been to the Philippines, I have a soft spot for the country since my dad spent the early years of his life there. It breaks my heart to see pictures like the one below. Ondoy has also wreaked havoc in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, with estimates of 406 dead in Southeast Asia.

If you’re looking to donate to the Philippines, click here.

As we fobs know, the Chinese believe that bad things happen in threes. A tsunami killed about 150 people people on Tuesday while wrecking American and Western Samoa.  Then, elsewhere in Asia, deaths reached 1,100 in Indonesia from two quakes that happened on Wednesday and Thursday in the city of Padang.

Emily

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