Must-Reads from Around the World

South Korea's growing multiculturalism prompts the country to redefine Koreanness, China is the world's top importer of illegal timber and Burmese Buddhists call for the country's Muslims to be put into camps.

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Korea’s Demographic Change — In South Korea, the shift from a homogeneous society to a multiethnic one is prompting Koreans to redefine what it means to be Korean, reports the New York Times. The influx of foreign brides from Southeast Asia who marry Korean men in the countryside and the growing number of migrant workers from South Asia who work in Korea’s industrial towns are the main factors driving this development. Ethnicity plays a big role in the self-image of Koreans and “given this cultural backdrop, Korean policy makers face a difficult task integrating multiethnic families while avoiding the social and economic turmoil often blamed on immigrants elsewhere,” writes the Times.

Japanese Adult Adoptions — The Economist examines why family run businesses in Japan are defying the idea that companies decline when they’re controlled by heirs. Research shows that family run companies in Japan have been able to stay competitive because of adult adoptions. “The practice of adopting men in their 20s and 30s is used to rescue biologically ill-fated families and ensure a business heir,” writes the Economist. The arrangement usually works like this: young men marry the daughters of business families, drop their last names, and are adopted by the bride’s family, becoming the head of the clan and the family business.

China‘s Illegal Timber Trade — A new report by an environmental watchdog says China is the world’s number one importer of illegal timber, driving the illicit trade that strips forests in Asia and Africa, notes Reuters. The report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) shows that China’s construction and wood-processing industries, which require a supply of raw materials from abroad, are fueling the demand for timber. In 2011, China “imported at least 18.5 million cubic meters of illegal logs and sawn timber, worth $3.7 billion,” indicate conservative estimates by the EIA.

Mau Mau Documents – Newly declassified documents detailing a massacre that took place during the 1950s Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya have been released, the BBC reports.  The UK Foreign Office documents, which the National Archives released, describe how prison wardens at a detention camp beat 11 Kenyans to death. Three survivors are currently suing the UK government for torture, according to the BBC, before noting, “The government accepts that the colonial administration tortured detainees, but denies liability.”

Muslims in Burma – Buddhists in western Burma are calling for Muslims to be put into camps and sent to “any country that will take them,” the New York Times reports. Recent sectarian conflict in the Rakhine State — which has left more than 167 dead and 100,000 homeless — has also driven many Muslims into closer proximity to the region’s Buddhists, exacerbating the already strained relationship between the two.  According to the Times, “Even the country’s leading liberal voice and defender of the downtrodden, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been circumspect in her comments about the violence.” Though the dispute between Muslims and Buddhists has a long history within the country, the tension has escalated over the past five months.

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