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VOA Asia Weekly: South Korea Holds Rare Military Parade

VOA Asia Weekly: South Korea Holds Rare Military Parade
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Soldier who fled to North Korea in US custody. Indonesia bans sales of goods on social media. US troops march alongside South Korean military in Seoul. More women pulling rickshaws in Tokyo.

South Korea holds a military parade for the first time in 10 years amid North Korean threats.

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Chris Casquejo in Washington. That story is coming up, but first, making headlines:

The Pentagon said Wednesday that Private Travis King is in U.S. custody, after North Korea expelled him. King crossed the heavily fortified border between the two Koreas on July 18, while on a civilian tour of the Joint Security Area.

China said it will safeguard territorial sovereignty over an area in the South China Sea where the Philippines on Monday cut a floating barrier installed by Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday without specifying any concrete action.

Indonesia has banned transactions of goods on social media platforms in a new regulation, its trade minister said Wednesday, as Jakarta aims to rein in direct sales on major platforms it says are harming millions of small businesses.

Huawei Technologies is showcasing a series of new products including its latest Mate 60 smartphone series. But some experts say because Huawei was forced to develop its own Harmony operating system while limited by U.S. sanctions, the Chinese tech giant is unlikely to reclaim international markets.

South Korea on Tuesday hosted senior diplomats from China and Japan for a rare trilateral meeting seen as trying to ease Beijing's concerns over the two U.S. allies' tightening cooperation between themselves and Washington.

South Korea held its largest-scale military parade in downtown Seoul, the first such event in ten years, to commemorate its upcoming Armed Forces Day on October 1st. As VOA’s Nike Ching reports, the parade comes amid heightened tensions between the two Koreas.

Thousands of troops took part in Seoul’s largest military celebration in a decade, showcasing South Korea's defense capabilities with a display of weapon systems ranging from attack aircraft, tanks, to navy vessels.

The parade comes as South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol says his country faces increasing threats from North Korea.

“Despite repeated warnings for decades from the international society, North Korea has been advancing their nuclear and missile capabilities, and even openly threatening nuclear use. These are existential threats to the Republic of Korea and also a significant challenge to world peace."

The public got its first look at several new weapon systems, including a long-range surface-to-air missile developed to intercept ballistic missiles from North Korea.

Some South Koreans say they are not so concerned about the threat of an imminent attack.

“Sometimes my husband is on duty from early morning because of (North Korea’s) missile launches. But I really don’t think that anything will happen.”

“North Korea has been bluffing for more than decades, so I really don’t think that a nuclear war in the Korean peninsula will occur.”

For the first time, South Korea’s drone operation command joined the parade.

In another first, and as relations have been described as reaching “new heights”, American troops marched alongside the Korean military, marking seven decades of their military alliance.

Nike Ching, VOA News, Seoul.

U.S. President Joe Biden hosted leaders from Pacific Islands Forum countries on Monday.

Biden announced the U.S. will establish diplomatic relations with the Cook Islands and the island nation of Niue. He also pledged funds for climate assistance and infrastructure, but U.S. lawmakers have to approve those funds.

Visit for the most up-to-date stories.

I’m Chris Casquejo.

And now, we leave you in the heart of Tokyo.

In the traditionally male-dominated workforce of rickshaw pullers, women now make up nearly a third of the pullers at one Tokyo company.

Once a person is hired, they must undergo rigorous training, including pulling a rickshaw that weighs up to 551 pounds, or 250 kilograms.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.