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    Indonesian maid praised for saving employer, others in fire

    An Indonesian domestic caregiver won an award in New Taipei City on Wednesday for being a model foreign worker after saving her 99-year-old employer from a fire four years ago.

    Siti Fatimah, who came to Taiwan in 2012, was hired by a family in the capital city to care for an elderly woman who is wheelchair-bound and had been diagnosed with dementia, The Liberty Times reported.

    Four years ago, the maid was woken by smoke coming from a fire in the neighboring unit at about midnight. Siti got up and carried the elderly woman on her back as they made their way downstairs from the fifth floor to the ground floor.

    As she made an escape with her employer, Siti, fearing that other residents could still be asleep, shouted out loud to alert them to the danger. She was highly praised for her heroic behavior, which helped ensure there were no casualties from the blaze.

    Over the years of her care, the elderly woman, who initially refused to go out because of her disability, has become more active and outgoing again – she would look forward to going for a stroll in the park or to the market with Siti.

    The employer and Siti both regarded each other as family, and they have developed bonds stronger than a genuine grandma and grand-daughter.

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    Kim Jong-un to get photo-op of the century at Inter-Korean Summit

    In a photo-op that looks certain to become iconic, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will waddle across the inter-Korean border in the iconic truce village of Panmunjom at 9:30am on Friday for the third-ever inter-Korean summit, where he will be greeted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and a “traditional honor guard.”

    Details of Friday’s summit were finally made official at a briefing at the press center set up at the KINTEX conference center in the dormitory town of Ilsan, north of Seoul and south of the DMZ, and by a statement released by the presidential Blue House.

    Peace House the venue for tomorrow inter Korean summit. Photo: Asia Times/Andrew Salmon

    Peace House the venue for Friday’s inter-Korean summit. Photo: Asia Times/Andrew Salmon

    Kim’s visit marks the first time a North Korean leader has ever set foot on South Korean soil. The peninsula was divided in 1945; separate states were established in 1948. Polarization was exacerbated by the 1950-53 Korean War, which followed guerrilla fighting and uprisings in the South, but which was ignited by a full-scale North Korean invasion in June 1950.

    Kim will step across the MDL – the military demarcation line with the actual border in the center of the 4 kilometer wide Demilitarized Zone marked by a line of concrete set on a bed of gravel – passing the famed blue huts of “conference row” in Panmunjom.

    On the southern side of Panmunjom he will be greeted by Moon and a “traditional honor guard” of the South Korean military.

    At 09:40am, the two will hold an official welcoming ceremony in front of “Peace House,” the three-story building in the southern zone of Panmunjom, where the talks will take place, before starting the summit at 10:00am.

    There will be a break for lunch, with the delegations dining separately.

    In the afternoon, the two leaders will plant a pine tree on the MDL. The tree in question dates back to 1953, the year the Korean War ended with an armistice. The two leaders will mix soil from Mt Halla – South Korea’s tallest mountain on the southern island of Jeju – and from Mt Baekdu – the extinct volcano on the China-Korea border, and the highest mountain on the peninsula. They will then water it with water from the Han River, which runs through Seoul, and from the Daedong River, in Pyongyang.

    The two are then “likely to engage in friendly chat” as they survey a footbridge in Panmunjom before returning to Peace House for the afternoon session. A welcoming dinner will be held at 6:30pm and then a video, using the façade of Peace House as a screen, will be shown. That will conclude the summit.

    This will be the third inter-Korean summit. The late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il met South Korean presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun in 2000 and 2007 respectively. However, this meeting will be the first for both Kim and Moon.

    Key agenda items are expected to be denuclearization, a peace treaty to end the Korean War and building a “peace regime” on the Korean peninsula.

    The summit will also be a key scene-setter, and possibly agenda-setter, for the upcoming Kim-Donald Trump summit – the first North Korea-US summit, which is expected to be held in May or early June at an as yet to be decided location.

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    South Korea's Moon to meet North Korea's Kim at border for summit

    SEOUL – South Korean President Moon Jae-in will greet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday as the latter crosses a military demarcation line to enter the South for the first summit between the two sides in more than a decade, South Korea said.

    South Korean honour guards will then escort the leaders to a welcome ceremony at a plaza in Panmunjom, the border village where the summit is to be held, the South’s presidential chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, told a media briefing.

    Official dialogue between Kim and Moon will begin at 10:30 a.m. (0130 GMT) at the Peace House in Panmunjom, an hour after Kim is scheduled the cross the border at 9:30 a.m. (0030 GMT).

    “This summit will focus more on denuclearization and securing of permanent peace than anything else,” Im said on Thursday.

    “I feel North Korea is sending their key military officials to the summit as they too, believe denuclearization and peace are important.”

    Kim will be accompanied by nine officials, among them his sister, Kim Yo Jong, who led the North’s delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February and Kim Yong Nam, the North’s nominal head of state.

    In addition, there will be Kim Yong Chol, a former intelligence chief and Choe Hwi, the chairman of a sports panel. The North sent athletes to the Winter Olympics, where the neighbours also fielded a joint women’s ice hockey team.

    Kim Yong Chol was previously chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, a North Korean military intelligence agency South Korea has blamed for the deadly 2010 sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean navy corvette.

    Also in the delegation are Ri Su Yong, a member of the North’s politburo and Ri Myong Su, the chief of the general staff of the Korean People’s Army.

    Ministers on the trip include defence minister Pak Yong Sik, and foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, besides an official spearheading peaceful reunification efforts, Ri Son Gwon.

    South Korea’s delegation is comprised of seven officials, including the ministers for defence, foreign affairs and unification.

    After the end of the first session of talks, Kim Jong Un and Moon will have lunch separately before holding a tree-planting ceremony in the afternoon, Im said.

    A pine tree will be planted on the demarcation line to symbolize “peace and prosperity”, Im said, using soil from Mount Paektu in North Korea and Mount Halla in South Korea.

    Kim and Moon will water the tree with water brought from the Taedong River in the North and the Han River in the South, Im said. Afterwards, Moon and Kim will take a walk together in Panmunjom before beginning the next round of talks.

    At the end of the talks, Kim and Moon will sign a pact and make an announcement, Im said. Later, they will have dinner on the South’s side and watch a video clip themed ‘Spring of One’, he added.

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    Ex-California cop arrested for 'Golden State' murders in the '70s and '80s

    SACRAMENTO – An elderly former policeman has been arrested and charged with eight murders attributed to the Golden State Killer, a serial criminal responsible for dozens of rapes and slayings that terrorised parts of California during the 1970s and 1980s, authorities said on Wednesday.

    The suspect was identified at a Sacramento news conference as Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, in a case officials said was finally solved by DNA evidence about two months after gaining renewed attention in the bestselling book, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.”

    Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones credited the book with helping to generate new tips but said no information was”extracted from that book that directly led to the apprehension.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation has previously said that the man sought in the 40-year-old case was tied to 12 slayings, 45 rapes and more than 120 burglaries in and around Sacramento, the eastern San Francisco Bay area and Southern California.

    The crime spree spanned 10 California counties in all, said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who recalled she was 12 in 1976 when a wave of violent home invasions shattered a “time of innocence” in which area residents routinely left their doors unlocked.

    The suspect, also dubbed by investigators as the “East Area Rapist” and the “Original Night Stalker,” is considered one of the state’s most prolific serial killers, the FBI said.

    “Finally, after all these years, the haunting question of who committed these terrible crimes has been put to rest,”Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters.

    DeAngelo was living in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights when arrested on Tuesday. He had been under surveillance for a few days and was taken into custody without incident as he emerged from his house, Jones said, adding that the suspect appeared “surprised” when confronted.

    He is due to be arraigned in Sacramento, the state capital, on Friday.

    Jones said DeAngelo was an officer in two small-town California police departments during the 1970s – Exeter and Auburn. DeAngelo was fired from the Auburn force in 1979, Jones said, after being accused of shoplifting a hammer and dog repellant from a store.

    Authorities had long speculated the killer had some military or law enforcement training because of his proficiency with firearms and ability to elude capture for so long.

    Jones acknowledged that some of the earlier crimes were committed while DeAngelo was a policeman. But authorities said his name had never surfaced as a suspect prior to the latest break in the case, which they said came from a “discarded DNA sample” obtained by investigators.

    Efforts to capture the killer were renewed in June 2016, when the FBI offered a $50,000 reward for the suspect, who was known for creeping into the homes of couples at night, tying them up and raping the woman before killing both victims.

    Between 1976 and 1978, he committed a wave of burglaries, rapes and killings in the Sacramento area, then centred his attacks in the East Bay before moving on to Ventura and Orange counties to the south, according to the FBI.

    He was formally charged in Sacramento County this week with two counts of murder for the February 1978 killings of Brian Maggiore and his wife, Katie, who were on an evening walk with their dog when they were chased down and slain in what became the first homicide linked to an earlier series of East Bay rapes. Two additional murder charges were filed in Ventura County and four more were brought in Orange County.

    The killings were intensively explored in “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” published in February. Author Michelle McNamara died in 2016, and the book, which topped the New York Times bestsellers list, was finished by a writer hired by her husband, comedian-actor Patton Oswalt.

    Oswalt, best known to television audiences from the hit CBS sitcom “King of Queens,” said in a video posted on social media on Wednesday, “I think you got him, Michelle.”

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    Danish inventor gets life for gory murder of journalist on his submarine

    COPENHAGEN – Danish inventor Peter Madsen was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday for murdering, sexually mutilating and dismembering a Swedish female journalist with premeditation aboard his home-made submarine in Copenhagen harbour in 2017.

    Madsen, dressed entirely in black, sat motionless as the Copenhagen City Court handed down its verdict in a grisly case straight from the pages of a dark Scandinavian psycho-thriller.

    Already well known in Denmark for his submarines and his plan to send a human into space in a home-made rocket, Madsen was detained last August when he emerged from his submarine without Wall, a 30-year-old who was researching a piece on him.

    Later that month, police identified a torso washed ashore in Copenhagen as Wall’s. Her arms, legs and head were found later.

    Madsen changed his version of events several times, finally arguing that Wall had been suffocated by an accidental gas leak.

    But forensic tests found that she had either been strangled or had her throat cut – and that around the time of her death, Madsen had stabbed her in her breasts and genitals with a knife or screwdriver.

    Torso found in Copenhagen waters is missing journalist from submarine, Danish police say

    Judge Anette Burkoe said the panel of judges had been unanimous in finding him guilty of a murder that had been planned.

    During the trial, a police prosecutor said images of women being strangled and decapitated, “which we presumed to be real”, had been found on Madsen’s computer in a laboratory he ran.

    Wall was a freelance journalist whose work had appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Time, the New York Times, the Atlantic Magazine, the Guardian, Foreign Policy and the South China Morning Post.

    She held degrees from New York’s Columbia University and the London School of Economics and had written about topics ranging from gender and social justice to pop culture and foreign policy, according to her LinkedIn profile.


    Wall had been writing an article for the US magazine Wired on Madsen’s race against another Danish group to be the first to send a person into space in a home-made rocket, her boyfriend told the court during the trial.

    Wall had split her time between New York and Beijing, and was planning to move to China with her boyfriend less than a week after the fatal trip.

    Poignantly, she sent him unsuspecting text messages on the evening she was meeting Madsen, reading: “I’m still alive btw”, “But going down now”, “I love you!!!”, “He brought coffee and cookies too”.

    The submarine UC3 Nautilus is seen covered with green tarpaulin in Nordhavn, in Copenhagen, .DenmarkPhoto: Reuters

    Wall’s closest relatives were not present in court; her mother had previously said: “She gave a voice to the weak, the vulnerable and marginalised people. That voice would have been needed for a long, long time. Now, that won’t be.”

    Madsen, 47, admitted to dismembering the body and throwing it off his 17-metre (56-ft) submarine, but denied murder. But the court found that he had dismembered the body to conceal the evidence of the killing.

    He was also found to have committed “sexual assault without intercourse” in relation to the 14 interior and exterior stab wounds found on Wall’s genitals.

    Forensic tests did not support Madsen’s claim that Wall had suffocated, and the judge said the explanation was not credible and “not consistent with the subsequent decision to dismember the body”.

    A life sentence in Denmark is typically around 15 years without parole. The longest-serving convict in modern Danish history is set to begin his 34th year behind bars this year after the murder of two young adults in 1985.

    Madsen will appeal against the sentence, his lawyer told the court.

    A memorial fund set up in Kim Wall’s name by her parents, brother and friends has received donations from over a thousand individuals.

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    Cosby jurors ask to hear repeat of star defense witness testimony

    NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – Jurors deliberating the fate of comedian Bill Cosby on Wednesday asked to hear once again the testimony of the star defense witness and Cosby’s interview with the police who investigated the 2004 incident that led to his sexual assault trial.

    Actor and comedian, Bill Cosby, is lead by spokesperson Andrew Wyatt, as they arrive for Cosby’s sexual assault retrial case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 25, 2018. Corey Perrine/Pool via Reuters

    Judge Steven O’Neil read Cosby’s deposition from a 2005 civil lawsuit filed by his accuser, Andrea Constand, but deferred the reading of testimony from defence witness Marguerite Jackson before the jury retired for the night. That testimony will be read to the jury Thursday morning by the court reporter.

    Once known as “America’s Dad”, Cosby is going through his second trial for three counts of aggravated indecent assault of a former friend, Andrea Constand, in the Montgomery County court in Pennsylvania.

    Jurors spent six days last year deliberating the same case in the same courthouse before O’Neill declared they were deadlocked.

    Constand, 45, a former administrator of the women’s basketball team at Temple University, Cosby’s alma mater, testified the comedian drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004.

    Constand is one of about 50 women who have made similar allegations against the 80-year-old Cosby going back decades, but hers was the only case recent enough to be eligible for prosecution.

    Cosby has denied the charges, saying any sexual contact was consensual. His lawyers said women were fabricating stories in search of money and fame.

    After receiving instructions from Judge Steven O’Neill on Wednesday morning, the seven men and five women of the jury raised questions three times.

    Two hours into deliberations, the jury, which has been sequestered since the start of the trial on April 9, asked for the legal definition of “consent” in a sexual assault case.

    O’Neill said the question could not be answered under Pennsylvania law.

    Another question concerned a jury request to see two documents prepared by Jackson outlining her accusations against Constand, which O’Neill denied, and the content of several stipulations about evidence, which he granted. The third question asked for the rereading of the Cosby deposition and Jackson’s testimony.

    Jackson, who was barred from testifying in the first trial, told the court Constand once told her “it would be easy” to fabricate an accusation of sexual assault against a celebrity to make money.

    Cosby has remained free on bail. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the three counts, although sentencing guidelines call for the terms to be served concurrently.

    Actor and comedian, Bill Cosby, is lead by spokesperson Andrew Wyatt, to a private room during a break in Cosby’s sexual assault retrial case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 25, 2018. Corey Perrine/Pool via Reuters

    Reporting by David DeKok; writing by Daniel Trotta and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Michael Perry

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    Saudi Arabia pushes back launch of 'entertainment city'

    RIYADH – Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said it has delayed by three days the launch of an ” entertainment city” near Riyadh, part of a series of multi-billion dollar projects as the oil-reliant kingdom seeks to diversify.

    King Salman had been scheduled on Wednesday to launch construction of the 334-square kilometre project in Qiddiya, southwest of Riyadh, touted as the kingdom’s answer to Disneyland.

    “King Salman will inaugurate next Saturday the Qiddiya project, which is the new entertainment, sports and cultural destination in the kingdom,” the state-run Saudi Press Agency said, without explaining the delay.

    Construction for the first phase of development, which would include high-end theme parks, motor sport facilities and a safari area, is expected to be completed in 2022, officials say.

    The facility highlights a “relentless effort to develop giga-projects that will help achieve many direct and indirect economic returns”, project official Fahd bin Abdullah Tounsi was quoted as saying in a government statement on Monday.

    Qiddiya chief executive Michael Reininger has said the project in the entertainment-starved kingdom is expected to draw foreign investment, but gave no figures.

    Saudi Arabia has dazzled investors with plans for three hi-tech “giga projects”, funded in part by its sovereign wealth fund, but sceptics question their viability.

    Aside from Qiddiya, the kingdom has unveiled blueprints to build NEOM, a mega project billed as a regional Silicon Valley, in addition to the Red Sea project, a reef-fringed resort destination – both worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Such projects are the brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, architect of a sweeping reform programme dubbed “Vision 2030”.

    The reforms stem partly from a motive to boost domestic spending on entertainment as the kingdom has been reeling from an oil slump since 2014.

    Saudis currently splurge billions of dollars annually to see films and visit amusement parks in neighbouring tourist hubs like Dubai and Bahrain.

    In February, Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority said it would stage more than 5,000 festivals and concerts in 2018, double the number of last year, and pump $64 billion in the sector in the coming decade.

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    Iconic Magnum photographer Abbas dies

    The legendary Iranian-born photographer Abbas, who covered wars and revolutions across the world during a glittering career behind the lens, died Wednesday in Paris, his Magnum photo agency said.

    Abbas, who was 74, joined Magnum in 1981 and covered conflicts and unrest in Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Middle East, Iran, Chile and Cuba as well as documenting South Africa under apartheid.

    “He was a godfather for an entire generation of young photographers,” Magnum president Thomas Dworzak said.

    “An Iranian transplanted to Paris, he was a citizen of the world who documented without rest wars, disasters, revolutions and uprisings.”

    Abbas was “a great gentleman and one of the best photographers I have ever met,” Jean-Francois Leroy, director of the ‘Visa pour l’image’ photography festival in Perpignan, southern France, wrote on Twitter.

    “Abbas was a great among the greats,” Reporters Without Borders president Pierre Haski said on Twitter. “His work was huge and covered so many areas.”

    Abbas travelled the world to learn about religion, a fascination born out of the Islamic Revolution in his home country, which he covered from 1978 to 1980, before exiling himself for 17 years.

    “He is someone who had big and very committed documentary projects, and for the long term,” said photography historian Clara Bouveresse, author of a reference book on Magnum.

    “His book on the Iranian revolution in 1980 was a way of telling this event in detail with a sequence, a narration. He was someone for whom the way of organising images, of sequencing them, counted enormously,” she said.

    Abbas documented Islam around the world from 1987 to 1994, publishing “Allah O Akbar: a journey in militant Islam”, before focusing on Christianity, animism, Buddhism and Hinduism.

    “For him, the work of the photographer did not stop at the moment when he pressed the shutter. It continued in the selection of images, the proofreading of the work and in the production of a story,” added Bouveresse.

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    New York Times' Weinstein investigation to be developed as film

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A behind-the-scenes dramatization on how the New York Times broke the story that accused powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of a pattern of sexual misconduct will be developed as a feature film, one of its backers said on Wednesday.

    Film producer Harvey Weinstein attends the 2016 amfAR New York Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan, New York February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

    Annapurna Pictures and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment acquired the film rights to the story by journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, Annapurna spokeswoman Ashley Momtaheni said.

    The story sparked the #MeToo movement exposing workplace harassment and won a Pulitzer Prize last week.

    The film will show how the journalists’ story came together and will be treated in a similar way to 2015 Oscar winner “Spotlight,” about the Boston Globe’s reporting on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Momtaheni said.

    The film is not expected to focus on Weinstein himself, Momtaheni added.

    The original investigation by Twohey and Kantor into Weinstein’s alleged behavior was published in October last year.

    The two reporters were honored last week with a Pulitzer Prize, the highest honor in American journalism, along with Ronan Farrow who reported on Weinstein for the New Yorker magazine.

    More than 70 women have accused Weinstein, once one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures, of sexual misconduct, including rape. Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.

    A representative for Weinstein did not have immediate comment on the deal.Annapurna has partnered in the past on films with The Weinstein Company, Weinstein’s former production company which is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

    Plan B is best known for producing three Oscar best picture winners, 2006’s “The Departed,” 2013’s “12 Years a Slave” and 2016’s “Moonlight.”

    Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Leslie Adler

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    A 'new Koreatown' silenced by Canada van attack

    TORONTO – The van that killed 10 in Toronto on Monday plowed through the heart of a vibrant Korean community in Canada’s largest city, barreling past a cluster of Korean restaurants, a grocery store and a popular street vendor that sells red bean waffles shaped like fish and other Korean treats.

    The attack killed two South Korean citizens and one Canadian Korean, and injured at least one South Korean citizen, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A fifth person, listed among the injured, appeared to have a Korean name.

    Among the dead was Chul-min “Eddie” Kang, 40, a chef with a local restaurant chain, local media reported. Toronto’s Korea Times Daily reported that another victim was an international student.

    On Wednesday, authorities in Toronto worked to formally identify victims, a process they have said will take a number of days. Local news media reported that Renuka Amarasingha, an employee with a local school board and a single mother, grandmother Dorothy Sewell, and Anne Marie D’Amico, an employee of asset manager Invesco Canada, had died.

    Toronto van massacre driver charged with murder, most victims women

    June Hur, who works at a local library, said the area around Yonge Street and Finch Avenue is increasingly thought of as the city’s new Koreatown. An older Korean neighborhood, which dates back to the 1970s, is located in the city’s downtown.

    “To see such violence happen right in that area, it just feels like something was stolen from us,” said Hur, after visiting the site on Tuesday. Standing on the street, she said, her knees felt weak.

    Oh Seong Kim was in his second-floor salon Monday afternoon when he heard loud thunks, ran to the window and saw six or seven bodies on the ground as the van hurtled down the sidewalk.

    He watched the van hit a young woman who worked at a Korean food cart, he said – “a very good person,” he said, someone he would see often when she came in to use the washroom but whose name he did not know. Reuters could not confirm her name or condition.

    Kim froze, he said. Hours later he lay awake in bed, and every time he closed his eyes, he returned to the scene. He has worked in the area for a quarter century.

    “It’s a good community. Everybody gets together and helps,” he said.

    In the wake of the attack, a tarp covered a body outside Ssam, a Korean barbecue restaurant just north of the food stall. None of the staff were hurt, but by coincidence manager Jay Kang shares a Korean given name with one of the victims.

    “I got a lot of phone calls that day,” he said. “Everyone thought it was me, because I’m always in this area.”

    Kang said the neighborhood was very quiet on Wednesday. He expects it to stay that way for several weeks, but “it’s not the important thing right now.”

    Toronto police officer draws praise for refusing to shoot van suspect

    According to Canada’s 2016 census, about two-thirds of the people in that Willowdale district where the attack took place have a first language other than English or French. More than 10,000 people out of close to 118,000 surveyed identified Korean as their first language.

    Along with a community of immigrants from North and South Korea, Canada hosts a significant number of international students. According to government data there were 27,816 Korean international students in Canada in 2015, the third-highest of any country, behind China and India.

    “I can’t believe this horrible incident happened in our community,” said Hanna Lim, a Korean-Canadian who used to live near Yonge and Finch and still has friends there.

    “This used to be a really nice area very cheerful, bright, full of Korean, Chinese people. Now look at this: It’s empty.”

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