“It’s a heartbreaking job, but you get used to the pain”.

 

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I interviewed Kimiko Kuramotto, she has been a volunteer for ACNUR for almost 12 years and now recently, almost three years ago, she’s been promoted to Profile Programme Officer, although she still does some volunteer work. Kimiko Kuramotto is from Tianjin, China. She moved to Spain 15 years ago when she was only 21 years old. ACNUR offered her a volunteer job due to her nationality and her fluency in Spanish, English, Chinese, Japanese and American Sign Language. Her first volunteer work was in Kabul, Afghanistan.

She had to help out an internally displaced camp in Kabul during the Afghanistan war between the USA and Afghanistan. She described it as: –

“The most empowering yet saddening experience I’ve ever had, I couldn’t believe the amount of violence I witnessed, not from soldiers, not from war criminals, but from these internally displaced people, men would hit their wives, children would get abused from their parents, some guy slapped me just because he felt like it! horrible, absolutely horrible.”

She helped out for almost three years until ACNUR assigned her to refugee camp, it was located in Tindouf, Algeria. There were people from all kinds of nationalities, including a Chinese family that was being tortured by the Chinese government because they thought they were terrorists and working undercover for Japan. ACNUR sent them to Tindouf. They didn’t send them to the other refugee camps located in Spain, Greece, Germany and many other countries in Europe because the family didn’t want to. She described this experience as: –

“One of the best experiences I’ll never forget, people were so nice, I played with the children, I even taught them some sign-language, I would talk to the seniors and listen to all of their stories. I would talk to everyone actually. I spent 2 Christmases there and we had a big feast. Wonderful.”

From 2011 to 2013, she had been helping a refugee camp in Kiribati, located in Asia-Pacific. She didn’t talk much about it. She said that it was so saddening that she had to leave a few months before, she said she could wait to get out of that “emotionally draining hell”.

I asked her if she likes being a volunteer, she replied:-

“It’s a nice job, but it has its pros and its cons. But between you and me, it’s a heartbreaking job, but you get used to the pain.”

Lastly, I asked her personal opinion on how we can help out these refugees around the world, including the ones from Asia-Pacific, she deeply exhaled, and explained: –

“People really don’t care about refugees, the donations and volunteers are becoming even smaller, people turn their back on them. I can assure you if they were in their situation, then they would want people to donate and help out. People are becoming cold-hearted and even more selfish. Donations and volunteering even for 2 weeks are extremely helpful. Anything counts.”

She then explained to me how with her new position in ACNUR, she still can help out refugees around the world, especially in Asia-Pacific. She works in the area of Asia-Pacific in which she assists in the planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting of protection and assistance programming for refugees, internally displaced and stateless people in the Asia-Pacific region.

She was incredibly nice and even though I realized that some questions brought her back some bad memories as well as good memories, she never hesitated to give me a nice, complete answer. I definitely enjoyed my interview with her.

Kimiko, thank you! I hope to see you in a near future.

 

Written by Nannie Nino.

 

 

 

Maria Angeles R., an economist in paradise

“Philippines is a dream land, with many futures dreams”

The person interviewed is Maria Angeles R, She is an economist working in the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines. When I contacted her, it was for a simple reason and it is none other than the interest that unleashes the economy of this incredible country, which despite having a great internal inequality in terms of wealth, is a country very slightly exploited and with a number of opportunities yet to be explored. I want to highlight an anecdote that arose during the interview, this was from the person while answering one of my questions, the phone rang and she had to answer it; once she had finished with it she said “excuse me for this interruption, but I will reward you by answering an extra question, “as she smiled a knowing smile.”

My first question was perhaps a little direct, but I wanted to see where I could lead the interview and where not. The question was: in the event of a possible conflict, between the US and North Korea, would the Philippines enter US support? The answer was quick and concise, and this was non another that: “Apologies but this question I can not answer you for internal reasons”; but by her gesture, I noticed preoccupation if this situation came to be real.

As a second question, I chose not to change the subject and I insisted again, but from a more general point of view. First, how is the conflict between North Korea and the US affecting the economy in the Philippines? Her reply was more extensive than that of the previous question, but she did not throw herself into the pool as far as I’d hoped. She told me that the Philippines had always shown a cordial relationship with the US and with the previous US president (Barak Obama), common goals and ties had been approached, but now it has been deteriorated a little by the Statements of the current president, Mr. Trump, even by his rejection of the free trade agreement.

Now was the time to have to change the dynamics of the questions, because I was not going to get anything else on the previous subject. I asked about the kind of foreign policy being carried out by President Rodrigo Duterte. She let out a sigh of relief, smiled, and began to tell me that the Philippines is part of ASEAN, which is the Southeast Asian Nations Organization, which is made up of 10 countries, and whose common goal is to create three pillars of Cooperation for 2020: Economy, politics and culture and social. Although this date has been advanced, this group forms alliances with other countries such as New Zealand, Japan, Australia, India and South Korea. However, the Philippines is also part of other agreements, the most notable of which is free trade, although it is currently in negotiations for the controversial president’s policy against drug trafficking.

Taking advantage of the last issue from the previous question, I asked her about her own opinion on the choice of action taken by the president for the fight against drug trafficking. She stared at me, and she answered me in a lower, faint voice, but I commented that she was in agreement with the chosen plans but not with some of the methods that are being applied, since these, in most cases, do not respect human rights.

Lastly, I asked her how she thought about the future prospects of the Philippine’s economy. She was hopeful when she told me that the economy was on the rise (GDP increase> 7% per year) and that the president, Duterte, was doing a great job and has some very good ideas. Some of these include tax reform as well as improved tax collection, increased prosecution of corruption, improvements in foreign investment policies and improvements in social protection.

In conclusion, I am quite comfortable with the way the interview went, even though I was not able to get information on a subject as complex as the conflict in the USA and North Korea. What I have made clear is that the Philippines is struggling to improve and they are very clear how to do it, although sometimes the ways are not appropriate according to humans rights.

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Héctor Hernández Torremocha

Interview with Mikel Vivanco delegate of the North Korea Friendship Association

“The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea is a peace-loving country, thas how describe Mikel Vivanco”

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The special delegate of North Korea in Spain, Alejandro Cao de Benos, with the delegate of the Korean Association of Friendship (KFA), Mikel Vivanco, and Fernando Quevedo, Koryo Books.
By: ALEJANDRA HERNANDEZ

 

My great interest in this great country, that everyone speaks of him, because of the great hermetics that he has, we do not know what exactly happens there, what will happen ?, what do they think ?, etc. Was then I took the task of contacting someone who was very involved in this issue and it was when I discovered the existence of this association, called the “Korean Friendship Association” chaired by the Spanish Alejandro Cao de Bènos de Les and Perez and founded the August 8, 2000, created to provide information in the Western countries on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Creating events, exhibitions and dialogues of all kinds, cultural event development.

It was where I was able to contact Mikel Vivanco, who is currently the Official Delegate of the North Korea Friendship Association in Spain, that I had the opportunity and privilege of being able to interview him and very kindly answered each of my questions.

That first for me is important to know when it was that began to interest in this country, so we started our interview and Mikel said that in the mid-nineties, he remembers that it was how in the University, in semiotics class, a Professor commented that North Korea was a communist country. And Mikel was a Marxist-Leninist, as long as he had a use of political reason, but he had not realized that Korea was really a state related to his ideas. The bad thing is that at that time there were not many publishing houses that published works of the DPRK, so that later, in the decade of the 2000, it was when he could accede to these works, to enter in the KFA, etc. From the first moment the DPRK attracted him, and every day that passes, his admiration for her grows even more.

Mikel Vivanco was able to become Official Delegate of this Association, in 2010 who is the 4 in this position have held this position, but personally, he became a member for 11 years ago, who passed through the position of Organization Secretary State and is now Official Delegate. Knowing this information of his achievement as a delegate, I had another concern and that not only I have it, if not the whole world, wanted to know what is the main objective at this time of Korea Who told me that the main thing is to guarantee the Revolution, to continue building socialism, to defend its sovereignty, to improve the economy, to achieve the reunification of the country, and so on. And, above all, but above all and the main thing is to ensure the welfare of the People.

North Korea is a “socialist popular republic” countries such as Cuba, Vietnam where it is still governed by communism, and that in the example of Cuba its inhabitants day by day try to flee and are fed up with the type of government, and it is that it is impossible to live with communism as Government, but with the example of North Korea, according to all its inhabitants are happy in their country, and although there are many who have tried to escape, most say they are happy, for this reason was that I wanted to ask if there was any possibility that the type of government could change in North Korea, and I was astounded by the answer, which clearly said no and did not see it as necessary, because the DPRK possesses a system of social, political organization , Economic and cultural that works very well, told us that this has been historically proven. And that there is also a monolithic unity in the basic and most important aspects: unity of the masses among them, around the Leader, the Party and the People’s Army. And Mikel was able to verify it personally.

The DPRK is also an assembly system: since the citizens are 17 years old they can choose and be elected to represent the Masses. The decisions of the Popular Assemblies are carried out by the Popular Committees. Every week people gather at their place of work to decide how this will work the following week. The masses own the means of production. The People also holds power, the true definition of democracy. He also added that in his opinion, that is something that can not change, and should not change. As I became clearer that the government had never changed, another thing I was very interested to know was whether there is a possibility of reunification between the two Koreas, and if such a agreement could be given as it should be? In addition another thing that obviously had to ask was about the current president of the USA and that it is necessary so that between North Korea and the United States there is a good relationship, first Mikel told us he hopes that come to realize if the reunification Between the two Koreas, since from the DPRK the proposal is that of a country with two systems, based on the great national unity and the foreign non-interference. And in this way the Democratic Confederal Republic of Koryo could be formed. And that this is the first objective of the DPRK in terms of foreign policy, and indeed hopes that if it comes to fruition because this could calm the waters and increase trade between them, it would be the best, and of course I think it would be Something very good because the tension that exists between them with the reunification would diminish and would North Korea grow a lot and perhaps could be to be softer with its own people.

As the president of the United States, Mikel responded with a “No comments” that since the time of Donald Trump, the only thing he has done is throw threats and create a tension and with this that the whole world is with the eyes above North Korea, because of course they always korea looks like the bad countrie iin all around the world and the US as the winner, he added, for a start, it would not be a bad idea for the USA. To leave South Korea and the Asia-Pacific zone, to stop threatening the DPRK and to end its criminal sanctions, all they do is to try to attack the civilian population (which of course does not they get).

And if, in general, he leaves behind all the countries he is currently occupying wildly, he could even do well (or much better) with the rest of the planet. In South Korea, USA. Has military bases in the border and this to guarantee the security of its allies in the face of threats, it was then that I asked if it is true what is said that this border between the two Koreas is the most militarized in the world, but Mikel says he is convinced That it is not so; Which of course is militarized, but there are other areas of the world that are much more. This whole issue between Korea and the US has caused panic throughout the world, the constant threats from the US government, and the constant ballistic tests conducted by North Korea, so I wanted to know if in truth North Korea is prepared for any type of war and the very clear and blunt said yes, that of course it is prepared for any matter that could be given against North Korea, since its objective is to care and to well-being Of their citizens, and before this they are capable and ready in case the US Or another country would come to declare war are ready to respond, I asked him if that is why they do not want to give up the nuclear program and in effect what I predicted was true, he again stated that to give up this in fact it Would suppose his suicide as a nation.

Also Mikel told me that they do not want nuclear energy forever, that of course, but that right now they need to have the same armament with which they are constantly being threatened, and that includes all about nuclear.

On the other hand, he said that the DPRK is a peace-loving country: they know very well what war is, and that’s why they do not like it. Well after having talked about these situations of so much tension but obvious it was important to know, it was then that I wanted to change a bit the topic, and that I think is also interesting since to be North Korea a country where we think that the people we can not do nothing, So I wanted to ask Mikel, how is your life that things are the ones that trade is what they produce. what products they export or with which countries do business, because I decided to ask this to Mikel who told me that the most exported are mainly minerals, coal, materials for steel smelting and metallurgy, Textiles derived from chemicals, etc .; Also technological and pharmacological products, Gingseng, Vinalón, even cars and motorcycles. In relation to the export of labor, architects and other qualified technicians are quite solicited. For example, there are monumental works of socialist style in the African continent elaborated by the Mansudae Study of Pyongyang.

The DPRK also has special economic zones with foreign investment (in which the means of production have not been privatized, of course). It trades with many countries, and that Koreans are open to anyone who wants to relate in this aspect, that’s for sure. With the most, China and Russia. It also exports a lot to South Korea.

With this we were about to conclude our interview that before finalizing it with asking him to tell me in 3 words what North Korea means to him, well before this, we know that North Korea has an ideology called JUCHE, that at the beginning It was Marxism-Leninism that was adopted as the official political ideology of the country. However, Leader Kim Il Sung did not want to depend on any of the two communist giants surrounding the DPRK, so it was It was created this original philosophy created by the eternal President Kim IL Sung, Mikel tells us that the human being has destiny in his hands, which also means that the masses control the means of production, something that connects with socialism. It can also be understood as the application of socialism in the Korean way, paying attention to its place in space and time, which reminds us of the idea of ​​”socialism in a country.” It has many more nuances, which link to all aspects of people’s material and spiritual life.

And as I mentioned I before this interview, that this interview we would finish it with telling me in 3 words Which means North Korea,and he told me that s the real line of defense of socialism against imperialism: To barbarity … “Mikel said goodbye very kindly to say these words…

“Well that’s it, I hope it looks good, and tell me if you need anything else. At the end of the message I allow myself to leave you a series of links in case you want to go deeper.

Thanks for all and a hug,

Mikel”.

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So thank to this interview, I make clear a lot of things about North Korea and that Mikel is willing to do another interview in person and keep talking about this great country that is North Korea.

 

 

Taiwan’s supreme court acknowledges same-sex marriage: why it’s a good thing

 

On Wednesday, May 24, the Taiwan Justice Department made the decision to give the ruling In favor of marriage between people of the same sex. This is a bit unusual because as we all know, Asian countries are often characterized by their very restrictive laws regarding the freedom of their population, their very conservative mindset and their discrimination among the LBGTQ community. This was a great move, because it not only means a change of laws, but also a change of mindset.

According to an article of opendemocracy.net, it states that in Asia there are still threats and abuse of power, Contributors have said that while these threats are even far worse in authoritarian regimes, it’s been proven that several countries in Asia such as China lack of freedom of expression. Although, it is being shown that the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen is not like the rest of Asia’s leaders, she is proving that she cares for the freedom of Taiwan’s population.

Not only is this decision affecting only Taiwan in a positive way, but there are also some countries part of Asia that are being affected by this and want to follow into Taiwan’s footsteps, for example Thailand and Cambodia. It is also a big surprise because most of Asia has a very conservative mindset, for example, countries such as China and South Korea.

This decision will also prevent deaths and sexual abuse among the LGBTQ community because according to an article of the huffingtonpost.com, stories have shown that kids and teenagers in the southeast of Asia (for example, Singapore) have been kicked out of their homes after telling their parents about their homosexuality, “corrective” rape has occurred to thousands of teenage girls and boys and sadly is still occurring. Below there is a list of countries and how these countries punish homosexual people.

Taiwan has become Asia’s pioneer, showing a true evolution in its politics, culture and traditions, even giving the possibility to its people of enforcing their rights of who to choose and love in marriage, whether it’s an heterosexual or homosexual relationship. Every human-being has the right to search for happiness, and if that happiness is same-sex marriage, then so be it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The art of the accusation

The cross accusations between North Korea and the US.

Ever since World War II, the United States and North Korea have been confronting and accusing each other. Presently, the situation has not improved, but it could be said that it has worsened significantly. The main actors of these accusations are Kim Jong-Un (North Korea) and Donald Trump (USA), who instead of trying to mediate in international politics, are once again a concern for the international community.
The usual accusations are not all of the same typology or thematic, but they have a clear objective, which in none other than to destabilize the image of the opponent, and at the same time they are adding even more “wood to the fire”. Earlier this week, a North Korean newspaper published a report accusing the US CIA of conspiring to attack North Korean’s leader in an attempt to murder him.

trump lol

Earlier this week, US newspapers published a report on China’s support for the US and the unpolite attention Kim Jong-Un allegedly had with the Chinese government, which is a bit ironic because North Korea is highly dependent on China and might even need its help… in case of a possible armed conflict. This is what is known as state marketing. Not everyone knows the existence of this department of government that the states have, whose purpose is none other than trying to make their people and even the rest of the world see what they want us to see through the media. There are clear, fully verified examples in which the US has used its state marketing services, like for example in the Vietnam war, the conflict with Fidel Castro (Cuba) and even more recently, the war in Afghanistan.

Recently Mr. Trump has made a series of very unfortunate statements, something very common since he began his electoral program last year (2016). These are statements where he shows his great ego and almost touching totalitarianism. In which he warns North Korea, that if they continue to ignore the international community, they will be punished with force, for example the US has already punished them with economic sanctions, but they haven’t stopped their nuclear activities and other military actions.

22 is too many

A large part of the world population is wondering: Why is President Donald Trump acting this way? Well, there is a study that explains the necessity of the US to enter a new war, not because of a mere economical, geographical or political issue, but because the American army cannot remain without activity in American territory, since this causes a great problem in society. The number of suicides among American military has increased exponentially recently, due to their lack of activity when they return from conflict. (20- 22 daily suicides according to Mission 22).      

To conclude, quoting Bertrand Russell: “Scientists strive to make the impossible possible. Politicians, for making impossible the possible.”

                                             

 

Mike Pence’s Asia-Pacific Tour

 

What at first glance seemed like a formal visit, to solve a small discontent over the breach of an agreement, really had a greater background. In many newspapers, they showed the meeting between the two representatives, where a simplistic approach was made to the visit of the US Vice President (Mike Pence) to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Australia). 

This is about the visit of Mr. Pence, as a matter of implication and commitment on the part of the US, to resolve the Australian complaints, on the problems produced by the pact signed by former President Barack Obama two years ago. This is about the relocation in the USA, of about 1250 migrants who are in centers in the island of Papu Manus (Australia) and it was not until April 2017, when the US through its vice president (Mike Pence), took those complaints into account and decided to take appropriate action.

The moment chosen by Mr. Pence, it could be said, is the result of the great telephone clashes filtered in different media, in the last weeks between Trump and Turnbull (among other great leaders). Here is a glimpse of the need for the US to iron out alliances with its allied countries, as Trump is once again unable to conduct a foreign policy with education, respect and consistency over others. But this has been the main theme of the visit, and there is a phrase that sums it up very well: “A winning car must be backed by a great driver, team of mechanics, tires … but it will never be the best. M. Schumacher, “with this I want to show the great need that the US has to keep all its possible Asia-Pacific allies holding hands, in case it needs any of them in a possible conflict.”

Pence toured Asia-Pacific for 10 days in April, stopping in different countries (South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia). Where he had high level meetings with very clear purposes, which are no other than to strengthen security relations. Due to two very notable causes, such as North Korea’s continuity in the missile test and the increase in Chinese military pressure in certain areas with its neighbors. For example, this week the US, has sent a very specific defense vessel, with the excuse that they were to test with the Australian Army. Although his most transcendent and provocative visit has been to South Korea. Where he dealt with senior leaders on various issues, but the main one was North Korea. Both countries are in a moment of high tension where both are boasting about their possible power.

And to conclude, take a small reflection, on a reality visible to all the population that has read a little about the bad forms, even on some unpleasant occasions of Donald Trump. Do you think that a nation like the US should be acting with the North Korean conflict, in the way it is doing? Do you think it is necessary to act like a rooster in a pen?

“Cheap labor has always been the advantage of Asian garments”

Italian clothing brand Alcott’s owner Mr. Salvatore Colella talks about their business, reasons behind doing business with Asian garments and how it affects the bringing a betterment in the relation between countries.

Alcott was born in 1988 from a great idea: to offer a product of trend and quality, at an economic price, so that the fashion was accessible to all. The ambitious business project collected in the years a great success, placing Alcott among the first Italian brand in the fast fashion retail sector. With the Alcott and Alcott Los Angeles brands, the company is present today with more than 150 outlets worldwide.

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What are the main reasons for choosing Asia for manufacturing garments? The current global apparel market is valued over $3000 billion, which is about 2% of world’s GDP. There are over 25 million people involved directly or indirectly with apparel manufacturing and over 60% are from Asia. The garment manufacturing in a collective way started in Asia in about 1950 in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong. American companies were producing in there in selling in USA. Since then the industry spread in all over Asia for good number of workplace, cheap and qualified work force, quality products, mass production capacity and national focus.

Is that why you started doing business with Asian manufacturers? “Of course. To fulfill our production capacity with the best possible price and quality we chose Asia as our no.1 manufacturing continent.”

What is the current production and economic status of Alcott? Alcott currently produce their 70% of the garments in Bangladesh and the rest 30% is spread amongst China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea and Turkey including some Italy also. And for the record in 2015-16 the company’s turnover was $250 million.

What kind of problems are you facing nowadays? Our company sometimes face the transit time and shipping problems. As our main production country is Bangladesh, it takes about 30-35 days to reach the garments to reach Italy. We face port conjestion 3-4 times every year in Bangladesh. And sometimes we face problems for strikes when the production factory work but outside movement is not possible for the shipping.

Do you think it is strengthening the relation between countries? “You see, Alcott is now importing about $100 million from Bangladesh and other Asian countries. As we are a growing company and our focus on importing garments from Bangladesh is very promising. So, yes. I think the relation between the countries is strengthening through economic growth.

How do you feel about the workers in Bangladesh and what type of relation do you have with them? And what differences do you spot between the employees of Italy and Bangladesh? There is a significant difference between the employees in Italy and Bangladesh. In our company, all employees are under Italian and EU regulations. On the hand in Bangladesh the employees are working Bangladeshi and ILO regulations. We can not actually compare this two stages of people. Italy is a developed country and Bangladesh is one the fastest growing countries.

So do you like doing business with Bangladesh? “Absolutely. We are very happy doing business in Bangladesh. Actually the production percentage of our company shows it all whether we like doing business with Bangladesh or not.”

Has there been any change in your market? Since the starting of our company, we were importing mainly from China. But over the past few years Chinese garments industry and fashion moved too high and became too expensive. So we had to go to Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan etc. In coming future there will be no changing unless we face a serious problem in Bangladesh.

Is the company’s purpose connected to you own? “Yes. 100% percent. But if you see broadly, our business ultimately helps our country’s economic growth.” Our company creates work opportunity not only in Italy but also in Bangladesh. Actually more Bangladeshi workers are earning their livelihood than our company’s employees. “Look, while focusing at our own profit, we kind of help balancing economic status is both countries.”

 

INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.