South Korea Proposes Vetting for Crypto Executives

South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) has proposed significant changes to its reporting requirements for virtual asset service providers (VASP) to regulate the employment of executives in the sector. This amendment would mandate the vetting for executives joining crypto firms.

The proposed changes target crypto executives,
requiring regulatory approval before they can start working in crypto companies. According to a statement on the South Korean government’s website, this move aims to provide the FSC with authority over personnel changes in the
crypto industry. If approved, it will affect the renewal of the VASP licenses.

Under the proposed rules, companies seeking to renew
their VASP licenses would face scrutiny regarding their personnel. The FSC
would have the power to suspend license reviews if authorities are
investigating the company’s personnel for any reason.

Before the amendment becomes law, the FSC is seeking
public feedback until March 4, 2024. The proposed changes are expected to be
effective by the end of March 2024, following reviews and resolutions by
relevant authorities.

Recently, South Korea’s government took a decisive step to address the increasing risks of money laundering facilitated by crypto
mixers. The country’s financial authorities plan to implement regulations targeting these digital tools, which have become popular among
illegal organizations for concealing illicit transactions.

The Need for Regulation

In light of the vulnerability of the financial
system to money laundering , South Korea aims to restrict transactions using crypto mixers by virtual asset business operators. Additionally, the country plans to
monitor global trends and engage in international discussions to formulate a
strategy against the misuse of crypto mixers.

This approach aligns with recent actions by the US
Treasury Department’s FinCEN, which imposed stringent requirements on domestic
financial institutions involved in transactions with crypto mixers.

Besides that, the FSC has banned crypto users in South Korea from
using credit cards to purchase cryptocurrencies, citing concerns about the
illegal outflow of domestic funds and other related risks. According to the regulator, this move addresses
concerns regarding the illegal outflow of domestic funds overseas.

The FSC expressed worries about the increasing use
of credit cards for payments on overseas virtual asset exchanges, raising
concerns about money laundering and speculation.

South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) has proposed significant changes to its reporting requirements for virtual asset service providers (VASP) to regulate the employment of executives in the sector. This amendment would mandate the vetting for executives joining crypto firms.

The proposed changes target crypto executives,
requiring regulatory approval before they can start working in crypto companies. According to a statement on the South Korean government’s website, this move aims to provide the FSC with authority over personnel changes in the
crypto industry. If approved, it will affect the renewal of the VASP licenses.

Under the proposed rules, companies seeking to renew
their VASP licenses would face scrutiny regarding their personnel. The FSC
would have the power to suspend license reviews if authorities are
investigating the company’s personnel for any reason.

Before the amendment becomes law, the FSC is seeking
public feedback until March 4, 2024. The proposed changes are expected to be
effective by the end of March 2024, following reviews and resolutions by
relevant authorities.

Recently, South Korea’s government took a decisive step to address the increasing risks of money laundering facilitated by crypto
mixers. The country’s financial authorities plan to implement regulations targeting these digital tools, which have become popular among
illegal organizations for concealing illicit transactions.

The Need for Regulation

In light of the vulnerability of the financial
system to money laundering , South Korea aims to restrict transactions using crypto mixers by virtual asset business operators. Additionally, the country plans to
monitor global trends and engage in international discussions to formulate a
strategy against the misuse of crypto mixers.

This approach aligns with recent actions by the US
Treasury Department’s FinCEN, which imposed stringent requirements on domestic
financial institutions involved in transactions with crypto mixers.

Besides that, the FSC has banned crypto users in South Korea from
using credit cards to purchase cryptocurrencies, citing concerns about the
illegal outflow of domestic funds and other related risks. According to the regulator, this move addresses
concerns regarding the illegal outflow of domestic funds overseas.

The FSC expressed worries about the increasing use
of credit cards for payments on overseas virtual asset exchanges, raising
concerns about money laundering and speculation.

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#South #Korea #Proposes #Vetting #Crypto #Executives

Socceroos lose to South Korea in extra time of quarterfinal to be eliminated from Asian Cup

The Socceroos have crashed out of the Asian Cup in heartbreaking fashion, suffering a dramatic 2-1 extra-time loss to South Korea after throwing away a 1-0 lead in Qatar.

Craig Goodwin gave Australia the lead when he volleyed home in the 42nd minute in front of 39,632 fans at the Al Janoub Stadium.

Australia then spurned multiple chances to double their lead before a nightmare stint off the bench from right-back Lewis Miller, and two big moments from Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min turned the game in South Korea’s favour.

With Graham Arnold’s charges up 1-0 deep into stoppage time, Miller needlessly dived in late on South Korea’s superstar captain Son, giving away a penalty.

Hwang Hee-chan coolly slammed the spot-kick into the top corner in the seventh minute of injury time to take the game to extra-time.

In the 104th minute, Miller then brought down Hwang on the edge of the area, only for Spurs’ Son to lift a wonderful free kick into the top corner to put South Korea in front.

Australia’s hopes of a comeback were then made all but impossible minutes after the goal when they were reduced to 10 men.

Aiden O’Neill lunged in to attempt to win the ball and caught Hwang with his studs, with his initial yellow card upgraded to a straight red after a VAR referral.

South Korea comfortably saw out the game from there to send Australia packing and tee up a semi-final against Jordan, who beat Tajikistan 1-0 earlier on Friday local time.

For the Koreans, the result partly avenged their 2-1 extra-time loss to the Socceroos in the 2015 Asian Cup final in Sydney. 

Check out how the match unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

Final thoughts

Thanks Sam. A disappointing, but not unexpected result. The Socceroos gave all that they had.

Will you be blogging the Tillies v Uzbekistan Olympic qualifier?

– Mark

Football can be a cruel game, and this is one of the cruellest Socceroos games I can remember.

They were literally a minute away from a heroic 1-0 win over South Korea, only for Lewis Miller’s panicked slide tackle in the box handing their opponents a comeback on a platter.

Hwang Hee-Chan’s penalty took the wind out of Australia’s sails, as did the straight red card to Aiden O’Neill after a dangerous tackle on Hee-Chan in the first stanza of extra-time, taking the Socceroos down to ten.

From there, the team faded and faded. Overall, South Korea were good for this win, but Australia will know that this is an enormous opportunity missed, and will linger in the heads and their hearts for a while.

South Korea now progress to the Asian Cup semi-final against Jordan, while the Socceroos will debrief and then go back to their clubs.

There will be plenty of conversation in the coming days about this game and this tournament, but all I’ll say for now is that I am really proud of how the Socceroos played tonight: they did what they do best, showing us the grit and the fight that captured the whole country in 2022.

Like then, it was a joy to bring you their journey here. I’ll be back on the ABC Sport liveblog later this month to cover the Matildas’ Olympic qualifying games against Uzbekistan, which I hope you’ll join me for.

Until then!


Full time: Australia 1 – 2 South Korea

119′ Chance Korea!

Son Heung-min picks up the ball on half-way and just… jogs forward towards Australia’s defence, with no yellow shirts flooding back with urgency.

He has so much time to choose what to do here as three team-mates flood around. He opts left, sending a perfectly-weighted pass angled left into the box, and his team-mate rockets a shot towards the far post… only for Mat Ryan to throw two big hands at it and palm it away.

The ball rolls out to the other Korean winger, who tries to fire it over Ryan who’s still splayed out in the grass, but somehow it spins out for a goal kick.

Incredible keeping.

116′ Long bombs

Both teams are just pinging the ball over the top of each other’s defences now, hoping one of their fresh-legged forwards can speed in behind the slowing centre-backs and nick a goal.

It’s pretty rudimentary stuff, though. A ball floats in, and is headed away by a centreback. It’s hoofed up-field, only for the opposing centre-back to head it away. It’s been like this for a few minutes as both teams try to figure out what on earth else they can do.

114′ Referee error!

A lovely cross-field pass out to the left for the charging Aziz Behich sees the full-back bring it down beautifully before turning and aiming for a through-ball, but the referee whistles the game dead and points for a free kick to… Korea.

What? The referee gestures for a handball on Behich, but the replay shows the ball was nowhere near either of his arms.

That was such a shame: the Socceroos could’ve carved a rare opening with that run down the wing, but the ref has decided otherwise.

111′ Mat Ryan still flyin’

The Socceroos captain is still on his toes, even if most of his team-mates aren’t anymore.

Australia’s players are making more and more mistakes as they fatigue and lose concentration, but lucky for them Ryan is still wide-awake.

He snapped a shot out of the air a minute ago, and just came sprinting out of his box to calmly collect a through-ball with his foot before passing neatly to a team-mate.

Son Heung-min found too much space a moment later, opening up his body as a sliding Behich came across, but he hooked his shot just wide as Ryan was ready for it to come at him.

So at least we’ve got that.

108′ Behich is down

He’s run a marathon in this game, has Aziz.

Somehow he’s found himself up near Korea’s box, throwing himself around, trying anything to get a foot on the ball and send a cross in.

He tries to work with Bruno Fornaroli, but the ball just doesn’t settle. It’s hoofed into his stomach, and he tries his best to loft the deflection over the Korean defenders and towards the six-yard box, but it floats harmlessly into the goalkeeper’s hands.

Behich then leans down into the grass and clutches at his stomach. Winded, maybe? He gets up and jogs gingerly away a moment later after the Koreans had lumped the ball out so he could receive attention.

He looks cooked.

106′ Big Man Up Top

Harry Souttar is a centre-forward now.

If you were wondering what Graham Arnold’s “break glass in case of emergency” plan was.

Second half of extra time kick off!

105′ South Korea substitutions

Park Yong-Woo is replaced by Park Jin-seop.

Hwang Hee-Chan, who’s been epic in this match, comes off for Oh Hyeon-gyu.

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#Socceroos #lose #South #Korea #extra #time #quarterfinal #eliminated #Asian #Cup

It’s time to hang up on the old telecoms rulebook

Joakim Reiter | via Vodafone

Around 120 years ago, Guglielmo Marconi planted the seeds of a communications revolution, sending the first message via a wireless link over open water. “Are you ready? Can you hear me?”, he said. Now, the telecommunications industry in Europe needs policymakers to heed that call, to realize the vision set by its 19th-century pioneers.

Next-generation telecommunications are catalyzing a transformation on par with the industrial revolution. Mobile networks are becoming programmable platforms — supercomputers that will fundamentally underpin European industrial productivity, growth and competitiveness. Combined with cloud, AI and the internet of things, the era of industrial internet will transform our economy and way of life, bringing smarter cities, energy grids and health care, as well as autonomous transport systems, factories and more to the real world.

5G is already connecting smarter, autonomous factory technologies | via Vodafone

Europe should be at the center of this revolution, just as it was in the early days of modern communications.

Next-generation telecommunications are catalyzing a transformation on par with the industrial revolution.

Even without looking at future applications, the benefits of a healthy telecoms industry for society are clear to see. Mobile technologies and services generated 5 percent of global GDP, equivalent to €4.3 trillion, in 2021. More than five billion people around the world are connected to mobile services — more people today have access to mobile communications than they do to safely-managed sanitation services. And with the combination of satellite solutions, the prospect of ensuring every person on the planet is connected may soon be within reach.

Satellite solutions, combined with mobile communications, could eliminate coverage gaps | via Vodafone

In our recent past, when COVID-19 spread across the world and societies went into lockdown, connectivity became critical for people to work from home, and for enabling schools and hospitals to offer services online.  And with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, when millions were forced to flee the safety of their homes, European network operators provided heavily discounted roaming and calling to ensure refugees stayed connected with loved ones.

A perfect storm of rising investment costs, inflationary pressures, interest rate hikes and intensifying competition from adjacent industries is bearing down on telecoms businesses across Europe.

These are all outcomes and opportunities, depending on the continuous investment of telecoms’ private companies.

And yet, a perfect storm of rising investment costs, inflationary pressures, interest rate hikes and intensifying competition from adjacent industries is bearing down on telecoms businesses across Europe. The war on our continent triggered a 15-fold increase in wholesale energy prices and rapid inflation. EU telecoms operators have been under pressure ever since to keep consumer prices low during a cost-of-living crisis, while confronting rapidly growing operational costs as a result. At the same time, operators also face the threat of billions of euros of extra, unforeseen costs as governments change their operating requirements in light of growing geopolitical concerns.

Telecoms operators may be resilient. But they are not invincible.

The odds are dangerously stacked against the long-term sustainability of our industry and, as a result, Europe’s own digital ambitions. Telecoms operators may be resilient. But they are not invincible.

The signs of Europe’s decline are obvious for those willing to take a closer look. European countries are lagging behind in 5G mobile connectivity, while other parts of the world — including Thailand, India and the Philippines — race ahead. Independent research by OpenSignal shows that mobile users in South Korea have an active 5G connection three times more often than those in Germany, and more than 10 times their counterparts in Belgium.

Europe needs a joined-up regulatory, policy and investment approach that restores the failing investment climate and puts the telecoms sector back to stable footing.

Average 5G connectivity in Brazil is more than three times faster than in Czechia or Poland. A recent report from the European Commission — State of the Digital Decade ( shows just how far Europe needs to go to reach the EU’s connectivity targets for 2030.

To arrest this decline, and successfully meet EU’s digital ambitions, something has got to give. Europe needs a joined-up regulatory, policy and investment approach that restores the failing investment climate and puts the telecoms sector back to stable footing.

Competition, innovation and efficient investment are the driving forces for the telecoms sector today. It’s time to unleash these powers — not blindly perpetuate old rules. We agree with Commissioner Breton’s recent assessment: Europe needs to redefine the DNA of its telecoms regulation. It needs a new rulebook that encourages innovation and investment, and embraces the logic of a true single market. It must reduce barriers to growth and scale in the sector and ensure spectrum — the lifeblood of our industry — is managed more efficiently. And it must find faster, futureproofed ways to level the playing field for all business operating in the wider digital sector.  

But Europe is already behind, and we are running out of time. It is critical that the EU finds a balance between urgent, short-term measures and longer-term reforms. It cannot wait until 2025 to implement change.

Europeans deserve better communications technology | via Vodafone

When Marconi sent that message back in 1897, the answer to his question was, “loud and clear”. As Europe’s telecoms ministers convene this month in León, Spain, their message must be loud and clear too. European citizens and businesses deserve better communications. They deserve a telecoms rulebook that ensures networks can deliver the next revolution in digital connectivity and services.

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#time #hang #telecoms #rulebook

From Argentina to Zambia, the A-Z of how fans are celebrating the Women’s World Cup


It runs in my blood. That’s the common catchcry from fans all around Australia, who reflect on what it means to them to see their country perform at a FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Chicken, beer, and South Korean football

Employees at the Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney are excited to support the women’s team.()

A roar emerges from inside a replica of a traditional Korean hanok, or house. 

Employees from the Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney give a taste of the noise they’ll be generating during the Women’s World Cup as they support their country. 


Jenny Chung was born in South Korea, but grew up in Australia, and looks after events and concerts at the centre. 

“Even though I’ve lived in Australia for most of my life, I would call Korea my home,” she says. 

Jenny Chung, Jihee Kim, and Joanne Tae will be attending some of South Korea’s matches. ()

“I think a lot of people feel the same way that have been living in Australia for a long time. They feel like Korea is closer to them.

“So every time we have a match like this, we go to a pub and we have chicken and beer, and we watch the tournaments together.”

The Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney runs K-Pop dance classes.()
Joanne Tae is proud to support her team.()
Kate Minji Jung is the manager of education and literature at the Korean Cultural Centre, Sydney.()

Joanne Tae is the Korean language program manager. 

“Hopefully they’ll get to the finals and win the Women’s World Cup,” she says.

“But even if they don’t, we’ll be definitely proud of our players.” 

General Manager of the Korean Cultural Centre, Inji Jung, in a traditional Korean hanok. ()

J-League star gets behind Japan’s women


As a former J-League star, Kentaroh Ohi knows how much football means to the Japanese public.

A junior national representative, Ohi went on to make 483 appearances with three different clubs between 2003-2022, before crossing to Australia in 2023 to represent the Eastern Lions in Victoria. 

During a World Cup, Ohi says, it is common for families to “wake up at all hours”, glued to the TV as they cheer on the Japanese national team. 

Former J-League player Kentaro Ohi is excited to follow the Japanese women’s team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.()

“It’s an amazing atmosphere,” he says.

“Everyone’s up and about.” 

After the Japanese women’s team won the World Cup as underdogs in 2011, the country “went crazy”, he says.

“As soon as they won, the popularity [of women’s football] just skyrocketed in Japan,” Ohi says.

Some of those players also went on to become television celebrities.

Kentaroh Ohi played over 400 J-League games in Japan.()
Knick knacks inside Paprica Japanese restaurant in Melbourne.()
Paprica is run by Japanese football fans.()

Watching women’s sport grow in Aotearoa New Zealand 

Kiana Takairangi and Harata Butler hope the Women’s World Cup can elevate all women’s sport in Aotearoa New Zealand.()

Kiana Takairangi and Harata Butler play in the NRLW for the Cronulla Sharks, but when it comes to the World Cup, they’re ditching the code wars, to support their fellow female athletes.

“I’m a big fan of it myself, the more exposure, the more recognition that we get as female athletes, it’s really great for women’s sport in general,” Takairangi says.

“I feel like I’m in a privileged position to witness women’s sports, women athletes being recognised on an international stage,” Butler adds.

“Being hosted in our little part of the world for our girls to see women striving and achieving and reaching the goals and their dreams to be an athlete. It’s really massive.”


Harata Butler’s Tā moko represents her family’s ancestry.()


Takairangi was born in Australia, and has Cook Islands and Māori heritage, while Butler is from the North Island in Aotearoa. 

“To me, being Māori is my identity,” Butler says.

“It runs in my blood, it holds me grounded, wherever I go in the world, whether that is at home, on home soil, or afar, like here in Australia, it keeps me in tact with my spirituality, my beliefs and my cultural practices.”

Harata Butler plays for the Cronulla Sharks NRLW team. ()

Small, but loud and rowdy Panamanians 

The Altamiranda family are proud of their Panamanian heritage.()

There are only 300 people born in Panama who live in Australia, including the Altamiranda family. 

Andrewfer Altamiranda is the youngest of three boys — the only one of his siblings born in Australia — but his love for Panama, and especially football, runs deep.

“[My family has] been embedding the culture and the customs of the country in me since birth,” he says.

“And that’s how I’m close to Panama, and I’m passionate about my country’s heritage.

“[Panamanians are] very loud and rowdy. We’re very passionate about the culture, the music, the food.

“And once we find someone from Panama as well it’s an instant connection, like a brotherhood or sisterhood.”

Andrewfer Altamiranda plays a Panamanian drum.()

Andrewfer’s mother, Sofia, her husband and two oldest children came to Australia to escape the dictatorship of Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno. 

“We came to this wonderful and beautiful country to make them happy, better life for all of us,” she says.

“We still have [Panama] in our blood. The first time Panama [plays] in this event, it’s wonderful for us to give a lot of support to them.”

The Altamiranda family prepare dinner, while sharing their thoughts about the Women’s World Cup.()
Dayal Ortiz is excited to see Panama’s women on the world stage.()
The Panama women’s team have proven themselves equal to the men by making it to the big stage.()

Andrewfer’s wife, Dayal Ortiz, has only been living in Australia for a few years, and seeing Panama’s women here means a lot.

“We’re going to support [them] because they have done a magnificent job.

“They need to have fun, enjoy. I hope after this they receive all the support for the government that they need to.”

Andrewfer Altamiranda was born in Australia but is passionate about supporting Panama.()

Jamaica punches above its weight


Ranked 43rd in the world, Jamaica punches well above the weight of its just 2.8 million population, qualifying for the two most recent tournaments.

Roderick Grant, a former professional player who now runs a Jamaican food truck business, moved to Australia when he was 15.

He sees the tournament as a new opportunity to inspire young girls to take up the sport.


“It’s going to be excellent because Jamaica is so isolated as a small island,” he says.

“It’ll be a great motivator for the young girls to focus in on something and show that it can be achieved. It’s just hard work and dedication.”

Roderick knows first-hand how ingrained football is in Jamaican life, having gone on to represent his family worldwide.

Ranked 43rd in the world, Jamaica will be hoping to advance past the group stage for the first time at a FIFA Women’s World Cup.()


Roderick Grant knows first-hand how ingrained football is in Jamaican life.()
Roderick Grant found a balance between playing football and bringing Jamaican cuisine to Australian.()

“Football, man, it’s one of those things growing up in Jamaica, you finish school, go home and get changed, straight to the football field in the evening,” he says.

“It’s not even to play as a club, it’s just to play with your friends, your mates, and everyone just pulls teams together. It’s a big part of what we do in Jamaica.”

Football part of Norwegian identity

Sebastian Grøgaard (centre) says football is a central part of Norwegian life. ()

At a celebration for Norway’s ‘Constitution Day’, Norwegian ex-pats get together to celebrate. 

“It was the day that the constitution was signed back in 1814, and it’s also known as the Children’s Day,” says one of the attendees, Bente Ryan.

Norwegian Constitution Day is also known as Children’s Day.()
There are many proud Norwegians in Australia.()
Traditional Norwegian food.()
Norwegian Constitution Day is a time for socialising.()

“So in Norway people will gather in towns and have parades, national costumes, flags, brass bands, lots of ice cream, lots of hotdogs. And it’s a whole lot of fun.”

Amongst the group is Håvard T. Osland, the Norwegian Chaplain to Australia and New Zealand, mainly working as a university chaplain for Norwegian international students. 

“It’s always exciting when your national team is doing really well, and football definitely is a big sport in Scandinavia,” he says. 

“So it really is one of the things that connects us, and is part of our DNA and our identity.”

Chocolate cake brings a smile at the Norwegian Constitution Day.()
Traditional Norwegian outfits.()
The Norwegian colours.()
Traditions are celebrated by Norwegians.()

Generations of Italians share joy together

The Raspoli and Pafralis family say football runs in the blood, with everyone playing locally or watching the national team.()

For generations, family has meant everything to Carmela Rispoli, who moved to Australia in the 1960s and raised four children.

As Italian-Australians, her daughter Philomena Pafralis and granddaughter Natalie Pafralis know when they come together and watch or play, it’s always special.

Italian-Australian mother and daughter, Philomena Pafralis (left) and Natalie Pafralis (right) love to watch Italy play.()

“It’s just beautiful to get together with the family,” Philomena says.

She was born in Italy and moved to Australia at just one year of age.

Italian nonna Carmela Rispoli (centre) moved to Australia in the 1960s, raising four children including Philomena Pafralis (left), and third-generation Natalie Pafralis (right).()

As for Natalie, there was really no other option, being born into an Italian family and raised in Australia.

“If I didn’t want to do it I didn’t have a choice. I was playing all my life, all my childhood,” she says.

And after all – “Italy has to win because they’re the best in the world,” Carmela cries in Italian.

Portuguese community linked by football

As soon as you walk into the grounds of Fraser Park FC in Sydney’s inner-west, the melodic sounds of an accordion ring throughout the area.

Members of Sydney’s Portugal Community Club are enjoying a meal and listening to the traditional music, while on the football field next door, the senior men’s team is preparing to play.

A man plays an accordion at Sydney’s Portugal Community Club.()
Fraser Park FC in Sydney’s inner-west is connected to the Sydney Portugal Community Club.()
David Palma used to play for Fraser Park FC, and is now a supporter.()

Football and community are inseparable here. 

Andrew Alves was born in Australia, after his parents migrated from Portugal. He used to play for Fraser Park, but now supports the team from the sidelines.

“It’s always been a massive part, the Portuguese community here, and has been for many years,” he says.

His niece, 13-year-old Annabella Vasconcelos, plays football, and is amongst the generation of players watching the tournament and being inspired.

“[I’m] more excited than to have the men’s World Cup here,” she says.

The glue that binds Argentines in Australia

Argentines in Australia are still on a high after the men’s team won last year’s World Cup in Qatar.()

“The women’s World Cup means a lot to Argentinians,” says Alfredo Couceiro of Melbourne City Football Club, based in South Kingsville, Victoria.

This is especially the case, he adds, for those like him who have relocated to Australia. 

“Even if you migrate to another country, your heart is beating for Argentina,” adds fellow Argentinian Melissa Gugliara. 

“Football is born into you [as an Argentinian]. 

“It’s in your veins, it’s in your blood.

“You love it, you become passionate.”

Argentina fans at a fan day in Melbourne.()

Cristian Emanuel Mansilla adds that football is the glue that binds Argentinian migrants.

“We are always trying to connect with other Argentinian people within our community,” he says.

“[With football], we are together the whole time. It’s why we love it; hugging, supporting, singing together.”

Even pets are roped in to support the team.()

Brazilian football ‘like a religion’


No one does football like Brazil, with some of the most passionate supporters and best players in the world.

When Adilson Andrade de Melo Júnior moved to Australia, he knew there was a spread of sports compared to back home in Brazil.

“It’s hard to explain … in Brazil when you talk about football, soccer, it’s part of the culture. It’s a religion in a way,” he says.

Brazilian supporter Adilson Andrade de Melo Júnior performs on drums and other instruments at any match he can attend when they’re playing in Australia.()
Brazilian supporter Adilson Andrade de Melo Júnior performs on drums and other instruments at any match he can attend when they’re playing in Australia.()

“Everyone follows, every four years we stop for this magnificent event.

“Whenever Brazil comes here, myself and a couple of other friends, we get together trying to organise tickets for everyone and being close to each other.

“Last game that Brazil had here we probably had over 300 people sitting together cheering, which was an amazing atmosphere.”

Zambia’s Copper Queens inspiring a nation

Dr Elias Munshya is Zambia’s High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand.()

Zambia is one of eight countries making its tournament debut, and no one is more excited to sing their praises than the country’s High Commissioner for Australia and New Zealand, Dr Elias Munshya.

“It’s a huge, huge time for us,” he says.

“It’s amazing just to see the impact that this qualification of Zambia National Women’s [team] has had on young girls in Zambia.

“These players have inspired a whole generation of young girls that believe in themselves, that they believe they can achieve, that are fighting for equality, that are fighting for equity.”

Nigerians use sport as a form of survival

As Africa’s top-ranked nation, Nigeria’s women’s national team has plenty of support, including from Toyin Abbas.

“From day one, we embedded with soccer because we were colonised by Britain,” he says.

“It’s one of the reasons people play sports in Africa.”

As he knows well as a former professional player, Toyin played football, just as the Super Falcons players do so across the globe.

“People started to see soccer as a form of survival. Like you want to earn a living and it’s tough for some families, it’s very tough for some individuals.

There’s plenty of support from Melbourne’s Nigerian community with sport being a way to make a living for some players.()

“It unifies relations, the people, it binds people together.”

Nigerian supporter, Toyin Abbas says the Super Falcons can win it all at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.()
The Super Falcons are 11-time champions at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament, but have never made it past the quarter-finals at a World Cup in nine attempts.()

As Toyin says, the Super Falcons players will have success if they stay tactically disciplined together.

“We’re going to win the trophy, I will tell you,” he says.

“The Nigerian team, we have what it takes, we can be world beaters.”

Canada to ‘knock people’s socks off’

Stacey, Dylan, and their boys come from Edmonton, Canada.()

Stacey, Dylan and their three boys hail from Edmonton, Alberta.

They’re a long way from home but their Canadian national pride is never far away.

“We’re really, really proud. I think they have a really good chance of winning, [we’re] really hopeful, we will be cheering them on,” Stacey says

Rod Johns is the president of the Canada Club in Melbourne.()

Equally ecstatic is Rod Johns, president of the Canada Club in Melbourne.  

“I think it’s great that they’re coming because the girls don’t get enough exposure, it’s good for soccer in Australia, and it’s good for women’s sports in general, Mr Johns said. 

“Based on their pre-performance I think they’ll knock some people’s socks off, they should do very well.” 


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Morning Digest | Home Minister Amit Shah tells Lok Sabha that government is ready for discussion on Manipur; government approves 8.15% interest rate for PF deposits, and more

Home Minister Amit Shah tells Lok Sabha that the government is ready for discussion

Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the Lok Sabha on July 24 that the government was ready for a discussion on Manipur on the floor of the House as the country needs to know the truth about the sensitive situation in the State.

Union government approves 8.15% interest rate for PF deposits

The Centre on July 24 accepted the recommendation of the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to increase the interest rate of deposits in Provident Fund (PF) to 8.15%.

Dry runs of security software at new Parliament building

The security software of India’s new Parliament building is being updated. The new structure was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28.

Parliament monsoon session day 4 | Logjam persists in Parliament; AAP MP Sanjay Singh suspended

Home Minister Amit Shah asked the opposition on Monday to allow a debate on the Manipur issue to begin in Parliament but the deadlock persisted in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as both sides refused to budge from their stand, with Congress and its allies insisting on a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi first. Relentless protests from opposition members marred proceedings in both the Houses and Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh, one of the more vocal voices in Rajya Sabha, was suspended for the rest of the Monsoon session for repeatedly “violating” the directives of the Chair.

Red diary issue: Sacked Rajasthan Minister Gudha, BJP MLA Dilawar suspended from State Assembly for ‘unruly behaviour’

Sacked Rajasthan Minister Rajendra Gudha on Monday was suspended from the State Assembly for “unruly behaviour” after ugly scenes were witnessed in the House when he raised the issue of a red diary, claiming it held details of irregular financial transactions. BJP MLA Madan Dilawar too was suspended for the remainder of the Assembly. Earlier, Gudha was pushed and shoved by Congress MLAs after he created a ruckus over the red dairy, demanding that he be allowed to make a statement.

Supreme Court to hear plea seeking SIT or CBI probe into death of Bihar BJP leader during march

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Tuesday a PIL seeking a probe by an SIT headed by a retired apex court judge or the CBI into the July 13 incident in Patna in which a BJP leader died while taking part in a protest march against the Nitish Kumar government. According to the Supreme Court website, a bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta will hear the PIL filed through lawyer Barun Kumar Sinha on July 25.

Arrest Pak ex-PM Imran: Pak election commission tells Islamabad police

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Monday directed the Islamabad police to arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan and produce him before it on Tuesday in a case linked to contempt of the top electoral body. Irked by Khan’s persistent absence from the hearings, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) instructed the Islamabad IG to arrest the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief for his failure to appear in the contempt case.

President Murmu to visit Odisha from July 25-27

President Droupadi Murmu will embark on a three-day visit to Odisha on Tuesday, coinciding with her completing one year in office. “Murmu will visit Odisha from July 25 to 27. She begins her visit with an interaction with a group of medical students sponsored by (the) ATUT-BANDHAN family and (will) lay the foundation stone for a new building block of the Raj Bhavan, Odisha, in Bhubaneswar,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said. On July 26, Murmu will grace the valedictory function during the 75th-year celebrations of the High Court of Orissa in Cuttack.

Two-day Vijay Diwas event to begin on Tuesday, preparations underway

A two-day event to mark the 24th Vijay Diwas will begin here on Tuesday, commemorating India’s triumph in the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan. Preparations are underway for the event at the War Memorial here with final touches being added. The event will be graced by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Singh will arrive on Wednesday to pay homage to the jawans who laid down their lives for the nation. The families of the martyred soldiers make it a point to visit the memorial each year on the occasion. Many of them have already arrived here for this year’s event.

Bengal Assembly adjourned for day after obituary references

The West Bengal Assembly was adjourned for the day on Monday after obituary references to eminent personalities who died recently. Obituary references were made to eminent Bengali writers Samaresh Majumdar and Sasthipada Chattopadhyay, former State Minister Dawa Lama and former MLAs Prabodh Purkait, Dr Tarun Adhikary. Later, Speaker Biman Bandyopadhyay convened an all-party meeting, but it was not attended by the opposition BJP and ISF. The House will take up reports of different standing committees on Tuesday and Wednesday to be followed by the question and answer session from Thursday, officials said.

IMD forecasts heavy rain in 10 Odisha districts

With the formation of a cyclonic circulation over the Bay of Bengal on Monday, the IMD has predicted heavy rainfall very likely to occur at one or two places in 10 districts of Odisha during the next 24 hours. Under its (cyclonic circulation) influence a low-pressure area is likely to form over the same region during the subsequent 24 hours, the IMD said in a Twitter post. The district for which the yellow warning (be updated) of heavy rainfall has been issued are Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Koraput, Nawarangapur, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Bolangir.

AAP announces nationwide protests on Manipur issue on Tuesday

The Aam Aadmi Party will Tuesday stage protests across the country against the precarious situation in Manipur, party officials said. In Delhi, the protest will be attended by top leaders of the party at Jantar Mantar, they said. Leaders of several opposition parties on Monday demonstrated in the Parliament complex demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi make a statement in the House on the Manipur issue.

North Korea fires ballistic missile after US submarine arrives in South Korea

North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile into its eastern sea, South Korea’s military said Tuesday, adding to a recent streak in weapons testing that is apparently in protest of the US sending major naval assets to South Korea in a show of force. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not immediately say where the weapon was launched from and how far it flew. The launch came hours after South Korea’s navy said a nuclear-propelled US submarine – the USS Annapolis — arrived at a port on Jeju Island. The arrival of the USS Annapolis adds to the allies’ show of force to counter North Korean nuclear threats.

China to review appointments, dismissals of officials at Tuesday meeting: state media

China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, a powerful body that enacts and amends laws when parliament is not in session, will review appointments and dismissals of officials at a meeting on Tuesday, state media reported. The announcement comes one month since Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang was last seen, with China’s government saying he was off for unspecified health reasons. The NPC committee, which meets roughly every two months to deliberate legislation and pass laws, was next expected to meet in August after concluding a scheduled meeting in June.

Jill Biden heads to Paris to help mark US return to UN educational and scientific agency

Jill Biden has represented her country at the Olympics in Tokyo, a king’s coronation in London and a royal wedding in Jordan. She gets another chance to put her ambassadorial skills to work this week when the United States formally rejoins a United Nations agency devoted to education, science and culture around the globe. Biden arrived in Paris early Monday, accompanied by her daughter, Ashley Biden, after flying overnight from Washington to join other VIPs and speak at a ceremony Tuesday at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The American flag will be raised to mark the U.S. return to UNESCO membership after a five-year absence.

Delhi govt to install 500 water ATMs near slums, densely populated areas: Kejriwal

The Delhi government has planned to install 500 water ATMs to provide drinking water treated using the Reverse Osmosis (RO) process to people in slums and other such densely populated areas, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Monday. The Chief Minister, who inspected an RO plant and inaugurated a water ATM at Khajan Basti in the Mayapuri area, said four water ATMs have been installed and 500 are planned in the first phase. Every person will be provided with a card that will let them draw 20 litres of water per day from these ATMs free of cost, he said.

Sindhu, Prannoy keen to regain lost touch; buoyant Satwik-Chirag eyeing another title

Fresh from their Korea Open triumph, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will look to continue their dream run, even as the focus will be on the struggling PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy in the Japan Open Super 750 badminton tournament, beginning here on Tuesday. The 2022 Commonwealth Games-winning Indian doubles pair of Satwik-Chirag on Sunday stunned the world No. 1 pair of Fajar Alfian and Muhamad Rian Ardianto in a hard-fought final to extend their winning streak to 10 matches.

Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams aim to excel in Spain

The Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams are determined to produce their best at the 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation – International Tournament to begin on Tuesday in Terrassa, Spain. The tournament will see the Indian men’s hockey team playing against formidable rivals England, the Netherlands and host nation Spain. The women’s side will also take on England and Spain. The tournament will be particularly crucial for the Indian men as it will serve as a preparatory event for them ahead of the much-awaited Hero Asian Champions Trophy to be held in Chennai from August 3 to 12, ahead of Hangzhou Asian Games.

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North Korea silent about apparent detention of the US soldier

North Korea was silent about the highly unusual entry of an American soldier across the Koreas’ heavily fortified border although it test-fired short-range missiles Wednesday in its latest weapons display.

Nearly a day after the soldier bolted into North Korea during a tour in the border village of Panmunjom, there was no word on the fate of Private 2nd Class Travis King, the first known American detained in the North in nearly five years. The North’s missile launches Wednesday morning were seen as a protest of the deployment of a US nuclear-armed submarine in South Korea the previous day and weren’t likely related to King’s border crossing.

“It’s likely that North Korea will use the soldier for propaganda purposes in the short term and then as a bargaining chip in the mid-to-long term,” said Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in South Korea.

King, 23, was a cavalry scout with the 1st Armored Division who had served nearly two months in a South Korean prison for assault. He was released on 10 July and was being sent home Monday to Fort Bliss, Texas, where he could have faced additional military discipline and discharge from the service.

He was escorted as far as customs but left the airport before boarding his plane. It wasn’t clear how he spent the hours until joining the Panmunjom tour and running across the border Tuesday afternoon. The Army released his name and limited information after King’s family was notified. But a number of US officials provided additional details on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

King’s mother told ABC News she was shocked when she heard her son had crossed into North Korea.

“I can’t see Travis doing anything like that,” Claudine Gates, of Racine, Wisconsin, said.

Gates said the Army told her on Tuesday morning of his son’s entrance to North Korea. She said she last heard from her son “a few days ago,” when he told her he would return soon to Fort Bliss. She added she just wants “him to come home.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the US government was working with North Korean counterparts to “resolve this incident.” The American-led UN Command said Tuesday the U.S. soldier was believed to be in North Korean custody.

“We’re closely monitoring and investigating the situation,” US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told a Pentagon news conference, noting he was foremost concerned about the troop’s well-being. “This will develop in the next several days and hours, and we’ll keep you posted.”

It wasn’t known whether and how the US and North Korea, which have no diplomatic relations, would hold talks. In the past, Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, provided consular services for other Americans detained in North Korea. But its embassy’s Swedish diplomatic staff reportedly haven’t returned to North Korea since the country imposed a COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020 and ordered out all foreigners.

Some observers say North Korea and the US could still communicate via Panmunjom or the North Korean mission at the UN in New York.

Cases of Americans or South Koreans defecting to North Korea are rare, though more than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea to avoid political oppression and economic difficulties since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Tae Yongho, a former minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, said North Korea is likely pleased to have “an opportunity to get the US to lose its face” because King’s crossing happened on the same day a US submarine arrived in South Korea. Tae, now a South Korean lawmaker, said North Korea won’t likely return King because he is a soldier from a nation technically at war with North Korea who voluntarily surrendered to the North.

Panmunjom, located inside the 248-kilometres-long Demilitarized Zone, has been jointly overseen by the UN Command and North Korea since its creation at the close of the Korean War. The bloodshed has occasionally occurred there but has also been a venue for diplomacy and tourism.

Known for its blue huts straddling concrete slabs that form the demarcation line, Panmunjom draws visitors from both sides who want to see the Cold War’s last frontier. No civilians live at Panmunjom. North and South Korean soldiers face off while tourists on both sides snap photographs.

Tours to the southern side of the village reportedly drew around 100,000 visitors a year before the coronavirus pandemic, when South Korea restricted gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19. The tours resumed fully last year.

A small number of US soldiers went to North Korea during the Cold War, including Charles Jenkins, who deserted his army post in South Korea in 1965 and fled across the DMZ. He appeared in North Korean propaganda films and married a Japanese nursing student who had been abducted from Japan by North Korean agents. He died in Japan in 2017.

In recent years, some American civilians have been arrested in North Korea for alleged espionage, subversion and other anti-state acts, but were released after the US sent high-profile missions to secure their freedom.

In May 2018, North Korea released three American detainees who returned to the United States on a plane with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a short period of warm relations. Later in 2018, North Korea said it expelled American Bruce Byron Lowrance. Since his ouster, there have been no reports of other Americans detained in North Korea before Tuesday’s incident.

Their freedoms were a striking contrast to the fate of Otto Warmbier, an American university student who died in 2017 days after he was released by North Korea in a coma after 17 months in captivity.

The United States, South Korea and others have accused North Korea of using foreign detainees to wrest diplomatic concessions. Some foreigners have said after their release that their declarations of guilt were coerced while in North Korean custody.

Sean Timmons, a managing partner at the Tully Rinckey law firm, which specializes in military legal cases, said if King is trying to present himself as a legitimate defector fleeing either political oppression or persecution, he would be dependent on North Korea’s leadership to decide if he can stay.

He said it will likely be up to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to decide King’s fate.

“It’s going to be up to the whims of their leadership, what they want to do,” Timmons said.

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North Korea’s launch of 1st spy satellite fails; sirens cause panic in Seoul

North Korea said its attempt to put the country’s first spy satellite into orbit failed Wednesday, an apparent embarrassment to leader Kim Jong Un over his push to boost his military capability in the protracted security tensions with the United States and South Korea.

The statement published in state media said the rocket carrying the satellite crashed into waters off the Korean Peninsula’s western coast after it lost thrust following the separation of its first and second stages. It said scientists were examining the cause of the failure.

The rocket was launched about 6:30 a.m. from the northwestern Tongchang-ri area, where North Korea’s main space launch center is located, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

South Korea’s military said the rocket had “an abnormal flight” before it fell in the waters. It also said it bolstered its military readiness in close coordination with the United States. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that no object was believed to have reached space.

Evacuation orders

The North Korean launch had prompted brief evacuation orders in South Korea and Japan.

The South’s capital city of Seoul issued alerts over public speakers and cellphone text messages telling residents to prepare for evacuation. But there were no reports of damages or major disruption and Seoul later lifted the alert.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon apologised for confusion caused by the city’s emergency alert sent out but defended the decision to do so. He said while the alert might have been an overreaction, it was not a mistake despite the safety ministry saying the alert was sent out in error. 

The Japanese government activated a missile warning system for its Okinawa prefecture in southwestern Japan, believed to be in the path of the rocket.

“Please evacuate into buildings or underground,” the alert said. Authorities later lifted the calls for evacuation.

A top North Korean official had said Tuesday that the country needed a space-based reconnaissance system to counter escalating security threats from South Korea and the United States.

U.S. condemns launch

The United States strongly condemned North Korea for the launch, which used ballistic missile technology in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

President Joe Biden and his national security team were assessing the situation in coordination with U.S. allies and partners, National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge said.

It is not clear if a North Korean spy satellite would significantly bolster its defences. The satellite disclosed in the country’s state-run media didn’t appear to be sophisticated enough to produce high-resolution imagery. But some experts note that it is still likely capable of detecting troop movements and big targets, such as warships and warplanes.

Space-based surveillance system

Recent commercial satellite imagery of the North’s main rocket launch center in the northwest showed active construction activities indicating that North Korea plans to launch more than one satellite, however.

And in his statement Tuesday, Ri Pyong Chol, a close associate of leader Kim Jong Un, said the country it would be testing “various reconnaissance means.”

He said those surveillance assets are tasked with “tracking, monitoring, discriminating, controlling” and responding, both in advance and real time, to moves by the United States and its allies.

With three to five spy satellites, North Korea could build a space-based surveillance system that allows it to monitor the Korean Peninsula in near real-time, according to Lee Choon Geun, an honorary research fellow at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute.

During his visit to the country’s aerospace agency earlier this month, Kim emphasised the strategic significance a spy satellite could have in North Korea’s standoff with the United States and South Korea.

The satellite is one several high-tech weapons systems that Kim has publicly vowed to introduce in recent years. Other weapons he has pledged to develop include a multi-warhead missile, a nuclear submarine, a solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile and a hypersonic missile.

Denuclearization talks with the U.S. have been stalled since early 2019. In the meantime, Kim has focused on expanding his nuclear and missile arsenals in what experts say is an attempt to wrest concessions from Washington and Seoul. Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has conducted more than 100 missile tests, many of them involving nuclear-capable weapons targeting the U.S. mainland, South Korea and Japan.

North Korea says its testing activities are self-defense measures meant to respond to expanded military drills between Washington and Seoul that it views as invasion rehearsals. U.S. and South Korean officials say their drills are defensive and they’ve bolstered them to cope with growing nuclear threats by North Korea.

The U.N. imposed economic sanctions on North Korea over its previous satellite launches, which it views as covers for testing its long-range missiles. China and Russia, permanent members of the U.N. council who are now locked in confrontations with the U.S., already blocked attempts to toughen sanctions over Pyongyang’s recent ballistic missile tests.

Disturbing regional peace

Before Tuesday’s launch, both South Korea and Japan said such a move would undermine regional peace. The South Korean Foreign Ministry warned that North Korea would face consequences.

After repeated failures, North Korea successfully put its first satellite into orbit in 2012, and the second one in 2016. The government said both are Earth-observation satellites launched under its peaceful space development program, but many foreign experts believed both were developed to spy on rivals.

Observers say there has been no evidence that the satellites have ever transmitted imagery back to North Korea.

U.N. chief condemns launch

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the military satellite launch, the spokesperson for the U.N. chief said. “The Secretary-General strongly condemns the military satellite launch conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the Secretary-General, said in a statement.

The secretary-general added any launch by Pyongyang using ballistic missile technology was “contrary” to the relevant Security Council resolutions.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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U.S. to dock nuclear submarines in South Korea for 1st time in 40 years

Presidents Joe Biden and Yoon Suk Yeol on Wednesday will sign an agreement that includes plans to have U.S. nuclear-armed submarines dock in South Korea for the first time in more than 40 years, a conspicuous show of support to Seoul amid growing concern about nuclear threats by North Korea, according to senior Biden administration officials.

The planned dock visits are a key element of what’s being dubbed the “Washington Declaration,” aimed at deterring North Korea from carrying out an attack on its neighbour. It is being unveiled as Mr. Biden is hosting Mr. Yoon for a state visit during a moment of heightened anxiety for both leaders over an increased pace of ballistic missile tests by North Korea over the last several months.

The three senior Biden administration officials, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement, said that Mr. Biden and Mr. Yoon aides have been working on details of the plan for months and agreed that “occasional” and “very clear demonstrations of the strength” of U.S. extended deterrence capabilities needed to be an essential aspect of the agreement.

The agreement seeks to allay South Korean fears over the North’s aggressive nuclear weapons program and to ward off the country from restarting its own nuclear programme, which it gave up nearly 50 years ago when it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The U.S. and South Korea also would coordinate more deeply on nuclear response strategy in the event of the North attacking the South — but operational control of such weapons would remain in U.S. control, and no nuclear weapons are being deployed onto South Korean shores.

The agreement also calls for the U.S. and South Korean militaries to strengthen joint training and better integrate South Korean military assets into the joint strategic deterrence effort. As part of the declaration, South Korea will reaffirm its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, an agreement signed by several major nuclear and non-nuclear powers that pledged their cooperation to stem the spread of nuclear technology, the officials said.

As a candidate for the presidency last year, Mr. Yoon said he would call for the increased deployment of U.S. bombers, aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines to South Korea as he looked to offer a firmer response to the North’s threats than his predecessor Moon Jae-in.

In the midst of the Cold War in the late 1970s, U.S. nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines made frequent port visits to South Korea, sometimes two to three visits per month, according to the Federation of American Scientists. It was a period when the U.S. had hundreds of nuclear warheads located in South Korea.

But in 1991, the United States withdrew all of its nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, and the following year Seoul and Pyongyang signed a joint declaration pledging that neither would “test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.” But as the North has repeatedly violated the joint declaration over the years, there’s been increased support in South Korea for the United States to return nuclear weapons to the country.

One Biden administration official cautioned it is “crystal clear” that there are no plans by the administration for “returning tactical or any other kind of nuclear weapon to the Korean Peninsula.” Instead, administration officials said they envision that the visit of ballistic missile submarines will be followed by the U.S. military more regularly deploying assets such as bombers or aircraft carriers to South Korea.

North Korea’s increasing nuclear threats, along with concerns about China’s military and economic assertiveness in the region, have pushed the Biden administration to expand its Asian alliance. To that end, Biden has thrown plenty of attention at Mr. Yoon as well as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Next week, Mr. Biden will host Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for Oval Office talks.

In the past year, North Korea has been steadily expanding its nuclear arsenal, while China and Russia repeatedly block U.S.-led efforts to toughen sanctions on the North over its barrage of banned missile tests.

The stepped-up testing by North Korea includes the flight-testing of a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time earlier this month. The recent test is seen as a possible breakthrough in the North’s efforts to acquire a more powerful, harder-to-detect weapon targeting the continental United States.

Besides nuclear deterrence, Mr. Biden and Mr. Yoon, and their aides, also are expected to discuss Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. The Biden administration has praised South Korea for sending some $230 million in humanitarian aid to Kyiv, but Mr. Biden would welcome Seoul taking an even bigger role in helping the Ukrainians repel Russia.

Mr. Yoon’s visit comes just weeks after the leaks of scores of highly classified documents that have complicated relations with allies, including South Korea. The papers viewed by The Associated Press indicate that South Korea’s National Security Council “grappled” with the U.S. in early March over an American request to provide artillery ammunition to Ukraine.

The documents, which cited a signals intelligence report, said then-NSC Director Kim Sung-han suggested the possibility of selling the 330,000 rounds of 155 mm munitions to Poland, since getting the ammunition to Ukraine quickly was the United States’ ultimate goal.

One Biden administration official said that Mr. Biden planned to talk to Mr. Yoon about “what it means for all like-minded allies to continue to support Ukraine” and ask the South Korean leader “what the future of their support might look like.”

Besides their talks on Wednesday, Mr. Biden and Mr. Yoon are scheduled to host a joint news conference. In the evening, Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden will honour Mr. Yoon and his wife, Kim Keon Hee, for a state dinner at the White House.

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North Korea fires cruise missiles as allies stage drills

A TV screen reports about North Korea’s missile launch with file image during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on March 22, 2023.
| Photo Credit: AP

North Korea launched cruise missiles toward the sea on March 22, South Korea’s military said, three days after the North carried out what it called a simulated nuclear attack on South Korea to protest its military drills with the United States.

North Korea has stepped up its weapons testing activities, saying they are in response to the ongoing South Korean-U.S. military training that it sees as an invasion rehearsal. Analysts say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un likely intends to enlarge his arsenal to win greater outside concessions, while trying to boost an image of a strong leader amid domestic economic hardships.

The 11-day South Korean-U.S. drills are to end on March 23. But North Korea is expected to continue its weapons tests as the United States reportedly plans to send an aircraft carrier in coming days for another round of joint drills with South Korea.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected “several” cruise missile launches from the North’s eastern coastal town of Hamhung. It said the missiles flew into the waters off the North’s east coast and that South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities were analyzing further details.

The launches are the North’s sixth round of missile tests this month and the fourth since the U.S. and South Korean militaries early last week began large-scale military drills, which include field exercises and computer simulations. The field training is the largest of its kind since 2018 .The Joint Chiefs of Staff said the South Korean military will maintain a firm readiness and successfully complete the rest of the drills with the United States.

North Korea keeps a huge stockpile of ballistic missile systems whose tests are banned by multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. Eleven rounds of U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea since 2006 were approved because of North Korea’s previous ballistic missile and nuclear test explosions.

Cruise missile tests by North Korea aren’t prohibited by the U.N. council. But experts say they still pose a serious threat to its neighbors because they are designed to fly at a lower altitude to avoid radar detection. Experts say the main mission of North Korean cruise missiles include striking U.S. aircraft carriers or other big enemy ships in the event of conflict.

North Korea has called some of its cruise and ballistic missiles “strategic” weapons, a suggestion that it wants to arm them with nuclear warheads. Foreign experts debate whether the North has overcome the remaining technological hurdles to possess functioning nuclear missiles.

North Korea’s state media didn’t immediately confirm Wednesday’s launches. But it carried a statement by senior Foreign Ministry official Jo Chol Su, which protested what it called recent U.S. diplomatic attempts at the U.N. Security Council to push with the North’s denuclearization.

Mr. Cho said North Korea will view any outside bid to force it to surrender its nuclear weapons as “a declaration of war.” He said North Korea will sternly deal with such an attempt in line with its escalatory nuclear doctrine.

After more than 70 missile tests last year — the largest number for a year — North Korea has extended its provocative run in weapons demonstrations in 2023, launching around 20 missiles in 10 separate events. The weapons that were tested this year included short-range nuclear-capable ballistic missiles capable of striking South Korea and intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to attack the mainland U.S.

This picture taken on March 16, 2023 and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 17 shows the launch of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at Pyongyang International Airport.

This picture taken on March 16, 2023 and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 17 shows the launch of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at Pyongyang International Airport.
| Photo Credit:

On March 12, the day before the South Korea-U.S. drills began, North Korea test-fired two cruise missiles from a submarine. In February, North Korea launched what it called four long-range cruise missiles that demonstrated potential to strike targets 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) away.

On March 19, Mr. Kim supervised a test-firing of a short-range ballistic missile launched from what was possibly a silo dug into the ground. State media called it a simulated nuclear attack on unspecified South Korean targets that was meant to send a “stronger warning” to the United States and South Korea over their drills.

The North’s media said a mock nuclear warhead placed on the missile detonated 800 meters (2,600 feet) above water, an altitude that some experts say was aimed at maximizing damage .It was the first time for North Korea to publicize such an altitude for detonating a nuclear weapon though it has previously claimed to have conducted simulated nuclear strikes on its rivals.

By disclosing such information, North Korea likely wanted to intimidate South Korea and the United States. After a test last week of the country’s longest-range Hwasong-17 ICBM, Mr. Kim told state media that the launch was meant to “strike fear into the enemies.”

The North’s testing spree indicates Mr. Kim is emboldened by his advancing nuclear arsenal. Last year, North Korea legislated a law that authorizes the preemptive use of nuclear weapons.

South Korea and the United States have been responding by expanding their joint military exercises .Seoul’s Defense Ministry said earlier Wednesday that South Korea and the U.S. are planning to conduct a live-fire exercise that would be “unprecedented” in scale in June.

As part of the ongoing joint drills, South Korean and U.S. troops on March 22, staged live-fire training at a site near the land border with North Korea. Col. Brandon Anderson, Deputy Commanding Officer of the 2nd Infantry Division, stressed that the drills were defensive in nature.

“We are (going to) continue to do it,” he said. “It is what we expect to do in conflict and to be good at it.”

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Are US military drills in Asia Pacific a veiled attempt to curb Chinese power?

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Recent US military activity in the Asia Pacific is on the rise, including drills in the Philippines and South Korea as well as a recent submarine deal struck between the US and Australia. China has meanwhile accused the US of encircling the country. FRANCE 24 speaks with an expert to shed light on the mounting tensions.

The US said Tuesday that it will hold the largest joint military exercises ever with the Philippines next month, which would include, for the first time, live-fire exercises in the disputed South China Sea and a simulated defence of a tiny Philippine island nearly 300 kilometres (190 miles) south of Taiwan. The announcement came on the heels of concerns voiced by China over similar military drills conducted by the US and South Korea on the Korean peninsula.  Washington and Seoul on Monday launched their largest joint military exercises in half a decade, provoking a harsh response from North Korea as it fired two missiles into waters off its east coast.

With tensions rising in the Asia Pacific, FRANCE 24 talked to Marc Julienne, head of China Research at the Centre for Asian Studies of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) to shed light on the current situation.

FRANCE 24: China has expressed concerns over US drilling in the Asia Pacific as well as the recent deal brokered by AUKUS, which would see the US supply nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Tuesday criticised the US for maintaining a Cold War mentality. Do you find the critique valid? Is the US looking to ‘contain’ China?

Marc Julienne: Chinese President Xi Jinping and his newly appointed Foreign Minister Qin Gangboth used severe language last week with regard to the US, condemning it for preserving a ‘cold war mentality’ and, for the first time, accusing it of deploying a ‘containment’ strategy vis-à-vis China. This is quite new in China’s political discourse, and while we can hear echoes of that in some American publications, the terminology is absent from US public discourse.

The term ‘containment’ is in itself quite controversial because it dates back to the Cold War era, the context of which completely differs from our current period. I can’t say whether the US is trying to ‘contain’ China or not, but we can nevertheless observe external factual changes: On the one hand, China is looking to break up the current world order and to conquer new territories as it gains more power. The country is aggressively expanding its military might, whether it is on the Himalayan border, in the South China Sea, East China Sea or regarding Taiwan. On the other hand, the US is seeking to maintain the current world order by reinforcing its security measures.

What we need to understand is that such actions are rarely one-sided and do not solely concern the US and China. Other countries in the Asia Pacific have also started to perceive China as a clear threat and have asked for the US to ramp up its forces in the region. Even the Philippines, which has since long maintained a rather ambivalent relationship with China and the US, has recently welcomed the addition of four US military bases.

To what extent do the US recent engagements in the Asia Pacific reflect a shift in focus from Europe despite the war in Ukraine? What is your take on the matter? Is the US leaving Europe to fend for itself in order to concentrate on China?

I don’t see that happening in the near future. The US has been the main arms supplier to Ukraine since the war broke out early last year and it has very recently pledged additional military aid to Ukraine. For now I don’t see the US disengaging from Europe. Nevertheless, worries over a potential US retreat from the region are quite legitimate. Countries in Europe, especially those in the centre and in the east with disputed territories, would not be able to fend for themselves in the case of an invasion. And such fears have been stoked high since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Moreover, we have to remember that when the Ukraine war broke out, many were worried about the opposite case — that the US would withdraw its military bases from the Indo-Pacific region to focus on Russia and Ukraine. But that has clearly not been the case.

But of course we can’t exclude a scenario where the US decides to concentrate all its forces in Asia to counterbalance China. We saw a similar scenario happening when the US withdrew its forces from Afghanistan to redeploy them in the Indo-Pacific region.

China’s Xi Jinping has vowed to ‘advance the process of reunification’ with Taiwan and has not ruled out achieving his goal by force as he recently took up his third term in office. North Korea meanwhile has launched several ballistic missiles threatening its southern neighbour. What role will Europe play if ever a war breaks out in the region?

[Contrary to popular belief], Europe’s role may not be as clear-cut as it may first appear. Since war is impossible to predict we can only hypothesise. In the unfortunate event that China tries to take Taiwan by force, Europe would first look to the US for leadership, whose intervention is not guaranteed! The US has strategically maintained an ambiguous attitude over the past few decades on whether or not it would provide military support in case of a Chinese invasion of the island, and Europe’s stance largely depends on that.

If the US is to intervene and lead a coalition with Japanese and Korean forces, then Europe would presumably show support as it condemns all unilateral changes to the status quo, a position that the United Nations also shares. The EU is likely to apply sanctions on China, similar to that imposed on Russia over the Ukraine war. Whether or not Europe would send troops, however, is an entirely different question.

I think perhaps a more interesting question is what will happen in case of an invasion of South Korea by North Korea. The US would undoubtedly intervene, but would China intervene as well on North Korea’s behalf? The two countries’ alliance being much less sturdy, it’s possible that China would choose to play the role of mediator instead of engaging in direct intervention. And I think that just goes to show how much weight China has in the global order.

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