Ji Seong-ho, 35, a North Korean defector who appeared at President Trump’s State of the Union address, is from Hoeryong, near the border with China. He told Reuters last year about the wooden crutches that he left North Korea with in 2006.
This is an edited translation of his story:
“I lived as a child beggar in North Korea. I was stealing coal from a train when I fell off and lost my leg and my hand.
I had to bring the crutches with me. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have made it here. The state doesn’t help you in North Korea, and people who need crutches make their own. Mine are therefore not factory-made so they’re not perfect and break easily.
I had several pairs of crutches but they all broke, and this was the last pair. I used these crutches for 10 years, until I was 25, when I arrived in South Korea.
I would steal coals from moving trains and fall off, destroying my crutches. Or I would get beaten up by the police and they’d take and then break my crutches. When they broke, I would make new ones. When I had new ones, I could go back outside.
When I first arrived in South Korea I thought about throwing them out.
South Korea’s intelligence agency gave me a prosthetic leg. My friends said I should throw the crutches out and not think about North Korea. They said I should show Kim Jong Il I was living a new life in South Korea and throw out everything I had from the North. Some asked if I got upset when I saw my crutches.
But I couldn’t just throw them out. To make my crutches, my friends had given me some wood that they had bought, and someone I knew in North Korea who had carpentry skills had made them. It was my father who added the final touches.
There is a lot of love from my North Korean friends and family in these crutches. So I didn’t throw them out. The South Korean government gave me some new crutches because the wood from my North Korean ones is hard and painful. But I still keep them, so as not to forget those memories.”
(Translated and written by Heekyong Yang and James Pearson Edited by Sara Ledwith)
Say hello to the iCar? Volkswagen turns to Apple for help making electric cars
By Andreas Cremer
Volkswagen is looking at Apple products for guidance on how to style its new generation of electric cars, its top designer said, as the automaker aims to turn profits on battery-powered vehicles when they launch in 2020.
The U.S. tech giant has brought about a design aesthetic with its iPhone and iPad that set it apart from rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd; and Sony Corp and helped make it the most valuable company in the world.
For Europe’s biggest automaker, adopting simplicity as the guiding principle for future styling of electric vehicles (EVs) marks a departure from the era before its 2015 “dieselgate” emissions scandal, when vehicle design conveyed the German group’s engineering prowess and technological ambitions.
“We are currently redefining the Volkswagen values for the age of electrification,” Klaus Bischoff, head of VW brand design, said in an interview. “What’s at stake is to be as significant, purist and clear as possible and also to visualize a completely new architecture.”
With regulators slashing emissions on a fast timetable, dieselgate has also energized the costly shift to EVs that is necessary to compete in China, VW’s largest market, and to avoid future fines in Europe.
Previously a laggard on electrification, VW has pledged 34 billion euros ($42.45 billion) of investment in EVs, self-driving technology and digital mobility businesses across the group by 2022.
The core namesake brand alone will spend 6 billion euros on a new modular platform dubbed MEB designed to underpin over 20 purely battery-powered models such as the I.D. hatchback, I.D. Crozz crossover and the I.D. Buzz microbus.
Bischoff said VW will use the Geneva auto show on March 5-7 to give early guidance on what the post-I.D. generation of EVs might look like, but declined to elaborate.
Bischoff belongs to VW’s old guard, having worked a quarter of a century in VW’s design operations and the past decade as head of the core brand’s design.
He became famous through a video shot at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show that has since drawn over 2 million hits on YouTube.
It showed Bischoff being yelled at by former CEO Martin Winterkorn, who was inspecting a model by South Korean rival Hyundai and had discovered something that had displeased him.
“In the past everything was very centralized, very narrow boundaries were set on the road of success,” Bischoff said. “Today is the most exciting time of my career because I’m allowed to do things that didn’t use to exist that way.”
‘People would die for Olympic medal, I nearly did’
Canada’s Mark McMorris described his comeback from life-threatening injuries to the podium at the Pyeongchang Olympics as a “miracle” and said inspiring others with his story was worth more than the slopestyle bronze he won on Sunday.
Snowboarding near his home in British Columbia with his brother Craig in March, McMorris caught an edge as he took off for a jump and spiraled into a tree.
He broke his jaw and left arm, ruptured his spleen, suffered a pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed lung.
“People would die for a medal at the Olympics and I nearly did,” he said on Monday, a day after his medal-winning run at the Phoenix Snow Park.
“It’s definitely a miracle and I’m really thankful… to be able to motivate and inspire others – that’s bigger than any medal, right?”
McMorris’ remarkable comeback drew praise from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who tweeted: “What a journey back to the podium for @MarkMcMorris. Mark – your tenacity and courage inspire so many of us.”
McMorris tweeted two photographs on Monday, one of him in the hospital following his crash and the other on the medal podium. They were accompanied by a caption: “Thank You Life.”
The Canadian could add yet another chapter to his success story before the end of the Games, as McMorris is seen as a gold medal contender in the new Olympic discipline of Big Air.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)
Tokyo elementary school is so EXTRA AF with Armani uniforms for students
A public elementary school in Tokyo’s upscale shopping district of Ginza has raised parents’ eyebrows with a plan to adopt uniforms designed by Italian fashion brand Giorgio Armani for its students, media said on Thursday.
Taimei Elementary School is introducing the uniforms for incoming pupils, each costing more than 80,000 yen ($729), including optional items, or more than three times as much as current ones, the Huffington Post said.
Armani’s Japan head office, located in Ginza, is just 200 meters (219 yards) away from the grade school.
“I was surprised, and wondered why such luxury brand-designed uniforms have been picked for a public elementary school,” an unnamed mother was quoted by the Huffington Post as saying.
“I’m worried that a wrong notion that something expensive is good and something cheap is bad could be imprinted on children,” said the woman, whose child is set to start at the school in April, when a new school year begins.
In a letter to parents last November, headmaster Toshitsugu Wada said Taimei was a landmark in Ginza, and the decision to adopt the Armani-designed uniforms aimed at creating an atmosphere suitable for such a school, the Huffington Post said.
Taimei officials were not immediately available for comment, but Wada posted a statement on the school’s home page, promising to provide sufficient explanation on the plan for new uniforms.
“With humility, I take the criticism that explanation has been insufficient and not well-timed. I will go on explaining carefully to those concerned.”
(Reporting by Kiyoshi TakenakaEditing by Clarence Fernandez)
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