Man who crossed into North Korea ‘defected to South in 2020’

Seoul defence ministry says it is in the process of verifying facts about incident at the weekend

A man observed crossing the heavily fortified border from South Korea into North Korea last week is believed to be a North Korean who previously defected to the South in 2020 in the same area, Seoul’s defence ministry has said.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff (JCS) said it carried out a search operation after detecting the person on Saturday on the eastern side of the demilitarised zone (DMZ) separating the two countries.

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Abducted son finds family by drawing map of village he last saw aged four

Li Jingwei still recalled key features of his home village 30 years later and made successful appeal for help

Thirty years ago, when Li Jingwei was four years old, a neighbour abducted him from his home village in China’s Yunnan province and sold him to a child trafficking ring.

Now he has been reunited with his mother after drawing a map of his home village from his memories of three decades ago and sharing it on a popular video-sharing app in the hope that someone might be able to identify it.

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Afghan agents pour 3,000 litres of alcohol into Kabul canal amid crackdown

Liquor destroyed after barrels seized and three arrested in capital as Taliban government increases raids over alcohol and drugs

A team of Afghan intelligence agents poured about 3,000 litres of liquor into a canal in Kabul, the country’s spy agency has said, as the new Taliban authorities crack down on the sale of alcohol.

Video footage released by the General Directorate of Intelligence showed its agents pouring alcohol stored in barrels into the canal after seizing it during a raid in the capital.

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‘A normal tactic’: Myanmar’s aid workers vow to press on despite Christmas Eve massacre

Attacks such as the one in which two Save the Children staff died are a harsh fact of life under the junta, say humanitarian workers

“The events of last week are just par for the army’s inhumanity and immorality.”

So says Michael Isherwood, chair of the Burma Humanitarian Mission and program director of Backpack Medics, after Myanmar’s junta massacred more than 35 people, including two Save the Children workers, on Christmas Eve. At the time, the attack garnered international headlines, with the children’s charity calling it “absolutely horrifying”, and the UN urging an investigation.

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World’s oldest person celebrates 119th birthday in Japan nursing home

Kane Tanaka has set her sights on becoming 120 next year, as figures show the number of young adults in Japan in steep decline

The world’s oldest person has celebrated her 119th birthday in Japan, saying she is determined to extend the record by another year.

Kane Tanaka, who has a weakness for fizzy drinks and chocolate, marked the milestone on Sunday with staff at the nursing home where she lives in Fukuoka prefecture, south-west Japan, according to media reports.

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British DJ escapes prosecution after sparking New Zealand’s first Omicron scare

Robert Etheridge, aka DJ Dimension, apologises for ‘my misunderstandings’ in breaking isolation rules and visiting Auckland venues before testing Covid-positive

A British DJ who triggered New Zealand’s first Omicron scare after breaking home isolation rules will not be prosecuted for the time being, authorities say.

“The Ministry of Health does not plan to refer this case to the police at this stage,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it “needs to balance the deterrence effect from any potential prosecution with enabling an environment that does not discourage future cases from assisting with the public health response to Covid-19”.

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Hong Kong’s Citizen News to close citing fears for staff safety

Independent online news portal to cease operations amid ‘worsening environment for media’ in city

The Hong Kong independent news outlet Citizen News has said it will cease operations from Tuesday in the face of what it described as a deteriorating media environment in the Chinese-ruled city and to ensure the safety of its staff.

“Regrettably, the rapid changes in society and worsening environment for media make us unable to achieve our goal fearlessly. Amid this crisis, we have to first make sure everyone on the boat is safe,” Citizen News, which was established in 2017, said in a statement.

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‘There is no money left’: Covid crisis leaves Sri Lanka on brink of bankruptcy

Half a million people have sunk into poverty since the pandemic struck, with rising costs forcing many to cut back on food

Sri Lanka is facing a deepening financial and humanitarian crisis with fears it could go bankrupt in 2022 as inflation rises to record levels, food prices rocket and its coffers run dry.

The meltdown faced by the government, led by the strongman president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is in part caused by the immediate impact of the Covid crisis and the loss of tourism but is compounded by high government spending and tax cuts eroding state revenues, vast debt repayments to China and foreign exchange reserves at their lowest levels in a decade. Inflation has meanwhile been spurred by the government printing money to pay off domestic loans and foreign bonds.

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