Seoul proposes meeting with Pyongyang on dormant North Korean tour project

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, visits the Diamond Mountain resort in Kumgang, North Korea. (KCNA/Korea News Service via AP)
Updated 29 October 2019

Seoul proposes meeting with Pyongyang on dormant North Korean tour project

  • Kim Jong Un last week ordered the destruction of Seoul-built facilities in North Korea’s Diamond Mountain resort
  • The inter-Korean tourism project began in 1998 and was a rare source of foreign currency for the impoverished North

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea on Monday proposed a face-to-face meeting with North Korea over the fate of a long-shuttered joint tourist project at a scenic North Korean mountain.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week ordered the destruction of South Korean-built facilities at the North’s Diamond Mountain resort, saying they look “shabby” and “unpleasant-looking.” North Korea later proposed an exchange of documents to work out details.
The inter-Korean tourism project began in 1998 and was a rare source of foreign currency for the impoverished North, but it was halted in 2008 when a North Korean soldier fatally shot a South Korean tourist there.
Pyongyang has called for the project’s restart since it entered nuclear diplomacy with Washington and Seoul last year. But Seoul cannot revive tours to the mountain and other massive stalled inter-Korean economic projects while international sanctions remain in place over the North’s nuclear program.
On Monday, South Korea sent a message proposing officials from the two Koreas meet to discuss issues on the tourist project including the North’s push to tear down South Korean-constructed facilities there, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. Spokesman Lee Sang-min said South Korea hasn’t yet proposed a specific date and location for that meeting.
Lee said South Korea has determined there should be “some sort of meeting” between the two Koreas to discuss the issue.
The South Korean-made facilities include hotels, restaurants, spas and a golf course.
North Korea didn’t immediately respond to South Korea’s proposals.


COVID-19: Pakistani celebrities who have lived to tell the tale

Updated 35 min 8 sec ago

COVID-19: Pakistani celebrities who have lived to tell the tale

  • Arab News speaks to notable Pakistanis about their experience testing positive for the coronavirus and the road to recovery 
  • Around 234,509 Pakistanis have so far tested positive, many of them politicians and celebrities from the entertainment and fashion industries 

KARACHI: As more and more notable Pakistanis test positive for COVID-19, Arab News spoke to some members of the entertainment and fashion industries about their experience with the coronavirus, the road to recovery and the lessons learnt along the way: 
Abrar ul Haq, famed singer, politician and philanthropist, told Arab News on Sunday that he suspected he had caught the virus while building a coronavirus hospital in Lahore, and soon learnt that his wife and son were also positive, though his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter was not. The family immediately quarantined in different rooms of the house for almost 20 days and received advice from doctors over the phone while the daughter was sent to live with her grandmother.
Haq said he had used his time in quarantine to produce a song, soon to be released on his YouTube channel, which paid tribute to the doctors and nurses fighting against the coronavirus outbreak.
Yasir Nawaz, a film and television actor and director, and his wife Nida Yasir, a famous morning show host, both tested positive for the coronavirus in May, and quarantined themselves in the upper portion of their house, isolating themselves from their children and household staff. The maids who brought them food were given PPE suits to wear, Yasir said. 
“We used disposable plates and cups and didn’t waste our trash outside but kept it in a separate place on the terrace,” Yasir added. 
An asymptomatic carrier, she tested negative for the virus in 14 days and believes a clean diet and strong immune system might have helped keep her safe from complications.
“I was already taking lots of fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Besides I was regular on Vitamin C, Zinc and Calcium for my general wellbeing, that also worked against COVID.” 
Yasir said she had wanted to donate her plasma but doctors advised that as an asymptomatic carrier, her plasma probably had not produced enough antibodies needed for the treatment, which involves the infusion of plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient to a recovering one as a source of antibodies, a widely sought method in Pakistan despite limited information on its effectiveness.
Yasir’s husband Nawaz, however, said he had donated his plasma to Dow University Karachi and was informed by the hospital that his plasma had been infused in a number of patients, of which one woman who had been on a ventilator was now recovering. 
Maheen Khan, a 75-year-old top Pakistani fashion designer, said her symptoms included fever, body pains and headache and she also lost her sense of taste and smell.
“I had read a lot about the virus, so I immediately tested myself and after testing positive, just quarantined myself at home for the next 21 days,” she said, adding that she opted for a “holistic approach” to recovery, staying away from all medication except pain killers and eating raw food like mango with yogurt, milk and honey, and taking lots of Vitamin C. She also tried to rest a lot and do breathing exercises. 
“Calm yourself first if hit by the virus, try your best to be cured at your will but if the symptoms still get worse, see a doctor,” Khan said. “At 75, I put myself on strict care as I was the most vulnerable.”