Questions over huge South Korean robot’s role in Demilitarised Zone

A giant South Korean-built manned robot that makes the ground shake under its weight has taken its first steps. The four-metre-tall, 1.5-tonne and human-like Method-2 bears a striking resemblance to the military robots in the movie Avatar. Hankook Mirae Technology, a South Korean robotics company, said it’s the world’s first manned bipedal robot built to work in hazardous areas.

WHAT NEXT? It is unclear how Method-2 will be used. A company spokesman said they received inquiries from manufacturing, construction and entertainment industries. There have even been questions about its possible deployment along the fortified Demilitarised Zone with North Korea.

Social media backlash after Chinese tourists and police brawl at airport

A melee broke out at Hokkaido’s New Chitose Airport last weekend between about 100 Chinese tourists, airport staff and police after heavy snowfall forced the cancellation of some 280 flights. Footage of the incident was broadcast on Japan’s TBS News channel and widely shared on social media, prompting a fierce public response. “They are very, very savage,” a poster named Kato wrote on YouTube about the Chinese tourists.

WHAT NEXT? Police said there were no arrests. A commentator on said the scuffle began because only Chinese flights had been grounded and tourists accused Japanese authorities of discrimination.


South Korean investigators widen Park probe amid blacklist claims

South Korean investigators have summoned the country’s ambassador to France, Mo Chul-min, as they widen their inquiry into a corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye. Prosecutors are investigating allegations the administration blacklisted some 9,000 artists for their political beliefs and denying government support. The backlist reportedly included some of South Korea’s most famous cultural figures including poet Ko Un, whose name frequently surfaces in discussions for the Nobel literature prize.

WHAT NEXT? Cho Yoonsun, the current culture minister who was Park’s senior secretary for political affairs from June 2014 to May 2015, denied accusations she was involved in creating the list.


Duterte’s helicopter death threat: true or just an ‘urban legend’?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened corrupt government officials with being thrown out of a helicopter mid-air, saying: “I have done this before, why would I not do it again?” Duterte also said six people arrested last week during a seizure of more than half a tonne of methamphetamine in the capital were “lucky” he was out of town.

WHAT NEXT? It was not immediately clear when or where the helicopter incident Duterte spoke of took place. His spokesman, Ernesto Abella, suggested it may not have actually happened. “Let’s just say, ‘urban legend’,” Abella told reporters, without elaborating.

Pakistan minister duped by fake news threatens to nuke Israel

Pakistan’s defence minister threatened retaliation to an Israeli nuclear strike via Twitter after apparently being tricked by a fake news site. Khawaja Muhammad Asif was responding to a fake story on the website AWDNews headlined: “Israeli Defence Minister: If Pakistan send ground troops into Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack.” Israel’s Ministry of Defense responded, saying the claims were “entirely false”.

WHAT NEXT? Asif was widely mocked for his blunder. “Our nuclear programme is too serious a business to be left to Twitter-addicted politicians”, said prominent TV journalist Nusrat Javeed.

Russia, China and Pakistan meeting seeks flexible approach to Taliban

Russia, China and Pakistan warned Islamic State’s influence in Afghanistan was growing and the situation there was deteriorating. Meeting in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the three countries also agreed to invite the Afghan government to such talks in the future and they would adopt a “flexible approach to remove certain figures from sanctions lists” in an effort to foster a peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban.

WHAT NEXT? The gathering is likely to deepen worries for Washington that it is being sidelined in negotiations over Afghanistan’s future. Kabul and Washington officials claimed Russia is deepening ties with Taliban militants. Russia has denied providing aid to the insurgents.

Philippines ‘the next Hawaii’ targets gaming revenues as high as Las Vegas

Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada, who is opening a new US$2.4 billion casino resort in Manila, said he hoped to make the Philippines “the next Hawaii”. Okada said he would also be exploring the possibility of operating resorts on the Philippine islands of Palawan and Boracay – both major tourist attractions – in a bid to tap the lucrative Chinese market.

WHAT NEXT? The Philippines is targeting revenues of US$7 billion, about the same level as Las Vegas, by 2020, as part of its bid to become one of the world’s top gambling spots.