Bowe Bergdahl and the Voice of War

Ms. Abidika and Champion studio/Shutterstock.com

We can choose not to listen to the voice of war. Ms. Abidika and Champion studio/Shutterstock.com

During my recent visit to Gangjeong, on Jeju Island, South Korea, where a protest community has struggled for years to block construction of a U.S. military base, conversations over delicious meals in the community kitchen were a delightful daily event. At lunchtime on my first day there I met Emily and Dongwon, a young and recently married couple, both protesters, who had met each other in Gangjeong. Emily recalled that when her parents finally travelled from Taiwan to meet her partner, they had to visit him in prison.  

Dongwon, who is from a rural area of South Korea, had visited Gangjeong and gotten to know the small protest community living on the Gureombi Rock. Drawn by their tenacity and commitment, he had decided to join them. When a barge crane was dredging the sea in front of Gureombi Rock, Dongwon had climbed up to its tip and declined to come down. On February 18, 2013, a judge sentenced him to one year in prison for the nonviolent action. 

COMMENTARY: My Parents Arranged my Marriage, and I'm Cool with That

Glenn Haider and Judilee King during a gala in Columbus, Ohio, in December 2013. Photo courtesy of Judilee King/ via RNS

Editor’s note: Judilee King, 22, and Glenn Haider, 23, both grew up in the Unification Church, which is perhaps best known for its arranged marriages and mass wedding ceremonies. The couple will be married at a mass religious wedding in South Korea on Feb. 12. Judilee, who grew up in Nova Scotia, plans to enroll in college in the fall. Glenn, who grew up in New Jersey, is a student at Montclair State University.

Glenn Haider and I first met on Facebook. I was attending community college in Seattle and he was in New Jersey, and while we had a lot of mutual friends through our church, we had never met. His status updates kept popping up on my news feed and one day, mostly out of boredom, I decided to chat him up to see what he was like.

We hit it off and started talking more. Eventually he asked for my number and we started texting. I thought of it as a friendship. We kept talking for a couple of weeks, until it got to a point where I was wondering if he was thinking I wanted something more than a friendship.

8 Countries on UN Human Rights Council Restrict Religious Freedom

Photo by Tom Page via Flickr

The United Nations Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Tom Page via Flickr

LONDON — Eight of the 47 countries that hold seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council imprisoned people in 2013 under laws that restrict religious freedom, according to a new report from Human Rights Without Frontiers International, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Belgium.

The eight UNHRC member states on the group’s second annual World Freedom of Religion or Belief Prisoners List, released Monday, are Morocco, China, and Saudi Arabia (whose new three-year terms begin Wednesday), and current members India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Libya, and South Korea.

Hundreds of believers and atheists were imprisoned in these and 16 other countries for exercising religious freedom or freedom of expression rights related to religious issues, according to the report. These rights include the freedom to change religions, share beliefs, object to military service on conscientious grounds, worship, assemble, and associate freely. Violations related to religious defamation and blasphemy are also included in the report.

DRONE WATCH: The Next Drones?

While there appears to be a lull in drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, are the next targets being prepared? 

The Japan Times reports that as tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high, the possibility of unarmed drones carrying out surveillance over North Korea is increasing.

“Japan and the U.S. might deploy the Global Hawk, a high-altitude reconnaissance drone, at Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture to increase surveillance of North Korea … Interest in monitoring North Korea has been climbing since it began threatening nuclear strikes, and reportedly moved a midrange missile to its east coast Thursday.”

The Voice of America reported a confirmation of the story,

“The Defense Ministry in Tokyo also confirms the United States is considering deploying high altitude aerial reconnaissance "Global Hawk" drones to Misawa air base in northern Japan to monitor North Korea.”

While the Global Hawk is not designed to carry weapons, its surveillance capabilities have made it “one of the best sources of tips for where to send the Predator and Reaper drones, which fly at lower altitudes and fire missiles.” Is that what’s in store for North Korea? 

Obama Nominates Physician, Global Health Expert to Head World Bank

 Photo via Getty Images.

Dr. Jim Yong Kim, nominee for president of the World Bank, at the White House Friday 3/23/12. Photo via Getty Images.

In a move that surprised many in the world of economics and politics, on Friday morning President Obama nominated Jim Yong Kim, the South Korea-born physician, anthropologist and president of Dartmouth College, to be the next president of the World Bank.

Prior to taking the helm at Dartmouth in 2009, Kim, 52, led the global health and social medicine department at Harvard Medical School, of which he is a graduate. Widely considered one of the leading minds in world health, Kim also has served as a director of the HIV/AIDS department at the World Health Organization, where he focused on helping developing countries improve treatment and prevention programs.

Obama called Kim, “an innovative leader whose groundbreaking work to fight disease and combat poverty has saved lives around the globe.” The President said Kim is exceptionally well qualified for the position but brings “more to the role than an impressive record of designing new ways to solve entrenched problems.

“Development is his lifetime commitment, and it is his passion,” Obama said. “And in a world with so much potential to improve living standards, we have a unique opportunity to harness that passion and experience at the helm of the World Bank.”