Kim Jong Il’s Former Guard is Critical of Leader
Today, Lee Young-guk is a struggling duck breeder at his rural family-owned spread near the North Korean border. For 10 years, until 1988, Lee was a personal bodyguard for Kim Jong Il, working among the phalanx of trained killers who protected the future North Korean dictator, infamous for, among other things, his fetishes for handguns, imported caviar and foreign-made limousines. The Los Angeles Times reported that Lee oversaw the enigmatic strongman’s younger years as a leader in training, observing a privileged life played out inside grim fortresses and hideaway villas. Eventually, Lee came to detest what he now recalls as a farcical leader who enjoyed unparalleled luxury while his impoverished nation starved. He watched high-ranking officials hide behind trees rather than face the mercurial “Dear Leader,” who was so fearful of duplicity that he constantly switched limousines, so fussy that he demanded his favorite perfume sprayed throughout his villas. Displeasing Kim could mean imprisonment, as it did for the guard sent to a gulag for using one of Kim’s favorite ashtrays. “As time went on, I saw the real evil,” recalls Lee, who defected to South Korea in 2000 and wrote a tell-all book two years later about his experiences. “He’s a man who is not qualified to be a world leader.”


Nepal Caught Between China and India Interests
A recent recording making the rounds in Nepal featured a Maoist party leader speaking to a man with a Chinese accent. During the 12-minute tape, the Chinese voice offers $6.9 million to bribe 50 Nepali legislators for help in forming a Maoist-led government that would favor China over India. Whether the tape is genuine or a part of a propaganda exercise haven’t been established. But according to the Los Angeles Times, the tape reinforced a long-standing view in Nepal: The strategically located, landlocked nation of 30 million people is a playground for its two giant neighbors. In February, Nepal finally voted as its prime minister, Jhalnath Khanal. Among the many challenges facing the new leader is balancing relations with the two neighbors. “My government will deepen and strengthen the relationship with both” India and China, Khanal said shortly after his election. “I haven’t decided yet” which country to visit first., he said. For much of its history, Nepal has been heavily influenced by India. Four million Nepalese work in India. A long, porous border, shared religious traditions and a common history under the British Empire have bound the two. But Chinese trade, aid and infrastructure projects are pouring in, accompanied by Chinese influence and pressure. “The trouble is, we’re right next door to the dragon,” said Kunda Dixit, publisher of the Nepali Times. “We feel the dragon’s fire on our backside. China’s clout is so big. No Western countries are really standing up to them; how do you expect tiny Nepal to do it?”


China Tries To Stamp Out ‘Jasmine Revolution’
Jittery Chinese authorities wary of any domestic dissent staged a show of force to squelch a mysterious online call for a “Jasmine Revolution,” with only a handful of people joining protests apparently modeled on the pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping the Middle East. According to the Associated Press, authorities detained activists, increased the number of police on the streets, disconnected some cell phone text messaging services and censored Internet postings about the call to stage protests in Beijing, Shanghai and 11 other major cities. Police took at least three people away in Beijing, one of whom tried to place white jasmine flowers on a planter while hundreds of people milled about the protest gathering spot, outside a McDonald’s on the capital’s busiest shopping street. In Shanghai, police led away three people near the planned protest spot after they scuffled in an apparent bid to grab the attention of passers-by. Many activists said they didn’t know who was behind the campaign and weren’t sure what to make of the call to protest, which first circulated on the U.S.-based Chinese-language news website The unsigned notice called for a “Jasmine Revolution” — the name given to the Tunisian protest movement — and urged people “to take responsibility for the future.” Participants were urged to shout, “We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness” — a slogan that highlights common complaints among Chinese. The call is likely to fuel anxiety in China’s authoritarian government, which is ever alert for domestic discontent and has appeared unnerved by protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Libya. It has limited media reports about them, stressing the instability caused by the protests, and restricted Internet searches to keep Chinese uninformed about Middle Easterners’ grievances against their autocratic rulers. Extensive Internet filtering and monitoring meant that most Chinese were unlikely to know about the call to protest on February 20. The website,,  is blocked, as are Twitter and Facebook, which were instrumental in Egypt’s protest movement. Tech-savvy Chinese can circumvent controls, but few of the country’s Internet users seek out politically subversive content.


California Highway Billboard Promotes Korean Claim to Dokdo Island
Daniel Hwang, the owner of a hamburger stand along Highway 17, halfway between San Jose and Santa Cruz, Calif., has what he describes as an extremely important message to deliver to the American public. “Dokdo Belongs to Korea!” reads a banner sponsored by the Korean American entrepreneur atop a pass between the two Bay Area cities, reports the Korea Times. The islets, called “Takeshima” by the Japanese, are located between Korea and Japan and have been at the heart of a territorial dispute between the two neighboring countries for decades. Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun once described them as a symbol of his country’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule after WWII. Still, most Americans remain unaware of Korea’s claims to the islets. It’s something the self-described Korean nationalist says he hopes to change, pointing out that some 30,000 vehicles pass the sign on a daily basis, with drivers often stopping in to ask what the sign means. Visitors to Hwang’s hamburger stand will also see a showcase of abuses committed during the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula, including images of so-called “comfort women,” used as sex slaves by the Japanese military during the war. Hwang first put up the billboard six years ago, and says it has been vandalized or torn down several times since then. According to the Korea Times, it was the first billboard in the United States to promote Korea’s claim to the island.


UC Riverside Study Finds That Asian Americans Are Not Viewed as Ideal Leaders
Asian Americans are widely viewed as “model minorities” on the basis of education, income and competence. But they are perceived as less ideal than Caucasian Americans when it comes to attaining leadership roles in U.S. businesses and board rooms, according to researchers at the University of California, Riverside. In a ground-breaking study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers found that “race trumps other salient characteristics, such as one’s occupation, regarding perceptions of who is a good leader,” said Thomas Sy, assistant professor of psychology at UC Riverside and the lead author of the study. The peer-reviewed paper, “Leadership Perceptions as a Function of Race-Occupation Fit: The Case of Asian Americans” reports that “understanding the effects of race on leadership perceptions is important, in part, because the U.S. workforce is increasingly racially diverse, and organizations are realizing that the inclusion of racial minorities constitutes a competitive advantage in a global market,” according to the researchers. “However, racial minorities are often perceived to be less suitable for management positions in the United States, as evidenced by a persistent glass ceiling for these groups, lower managerial promotion ratings, lower job suitability ratings, and individuals’ attributions of success and failure.” Asian Americans represent approximately 5 percent of the U.S. population and are projected to account for 9 percent of the population by 2050. However, they account for only .3 percent of corporate officers, less than 1 percent of corporate board members and about 2 percent of college presidents, despite their higher representation in business and professional occupations. This study is the first on Asian Americans and perceptions of leadership, and may explain why fewer Asian Americans advance to senior positions of leadership than their education, experience and competence would suggest, Sy said.


Cyclist Has Wood Removed From Leg After Crash
Malaysian cyclist Azizulhasni Awang staggered across the line at the Track World Cup with a bronze medal and a 7.8-inch piece of wood sticking through his left calf. Awang had surgery Feb. 20 to remove the massive splinter, a day after a crash at the Manchester Velodrome in England, sent it through his leg. Awang managed to remount his bike after the high-speed crash in the Keirin final and stagger across the line to claim a bronze medal. He was rushed to the hospital but doctors waited until the following day to carry out the procedure to remove the splinter. “Operation done. Splinter taken out cleanly,” Awang wrote on his Twitter account. “Thanks for the prayer n support.” Awang, who is renowned for his trademark wheelie as he crosses the line, has been ruled out of the world championships next month. “He was in a lot of pain but he’s a really tough kid, all these Keirin riders are,” Malaysia coach John Beasley was quoted as saying on the Daily Telegraph website. “It was decided to leave it overnight to get a specialist surgical team in and scan the injury from all angles to aid the operation. “The good news is that there doesn’t appear to be much nerve damage, which is your first worry.” The focus now for the 23-year-old Awang is getting back in shape in time for the 2012 Olympics in London.


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