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Today in Korean history

April 16 1906 -- An express train from the southeastern port city of Busan travels 450 kilometers to Seoul in 11 hours, a record speed for that era. In 2004, the nation's new high-speed Korea Train Express, or KTX, covered that distance in about two hours and 40 minutes.

Canada to suspend $20 million in Commonwealth funds while Sri Lanka holds chair

OTTAWA - Canada is suspending $20 million in funding to the Commonwealth while the chair of the secretariat is occupied by Sri Lanka because of human rights concerns. Prime Minister Stephen Harper boycotted the Commonwealth summit last year in Colombo, Sri Lanka, because of concerns about the government's human rights record. Canada is a member of the British Commonwealth of former colonies.

Canada suspends Commonwealth funding

Canada's government announced Monday the suspension of funding to the Commonwealth over rotating chair Sri Lanka's alleged rights abuses. While Sri Lanka remains chair of the 53-member bloc, Canada's Can$10 million (US$9 million) annual contribution to the Commonwealth Secretariat will instead go for two years toward combatting the practice of child, early and forced marriage.

Bulgaria recovers ancient gold artifacts from smugglers

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's state security agency said it had recovered a trove of 15,000 priceless gold artifacts dating back to the third millennium BC from a smuggling ring. Officials said the collection, which included three gold necklaces worn by women of high social status, would be given to Bulgaria's National Museum of History.

S. Korea joins international fleet review in China

BEIJING, April 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will send two warships to an international fleet review in China, an official at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing said Monday. About 30 warships from 10 nations, including China, Australia, India and Pakistan, will join the fleet review to be held in China's eastern port city of Qingdao next week, the official said. South Korea will send a 4,500-ton destroyer and a 2,300-ton frigate to the naval ceremony, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Games take up over half of S. Korea's cultural exports in 2012

SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's games exports in 2012 came to US$2.6 billion, more than half of the country's export of cultural products, far outdoing K-pop, a report showed Monday. The country's export of computer and mobile games accounted for 57 percent of South Korea's overseas shipment of cultural goods, which came to $4.6 billion in 2012, the report by the state-run Korea Finance Corporation showed. The figure was also 11 times the $235 million in exports of music-related contents over the cited period.

N. Korea warns S. Korea will pay dear price for slander

SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned Monday that it will force South Korea to pay a dear price for its criticism of the North's dignity, the latest in a series of verbal threats against the South. The rival Koreas agreed in February to halt cross-border slander during their first high-level talks in seven years. Still, the North has since claimed South Korea hurled mud at the North's leadership and its social system with the communist country citing, among other things, anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

South Korea, Japan to hold rare official talks on 'comfort women'

SEOUL (Reuters) - Senior South Korean and Japanese officials will meet this week to discuss Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women, South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday. Ties between the two close U.S. allies have long been poisoned by what South Korea consider Japan's failure to atone for its wartime past, including the issue of so-called comfort women, forced to work in Japanese brothels.

S. Korea, U.S., Japan to hold defense talks ahead of Obama's Asia trip

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea, the United States and Japan plan to hold a high-profile defense meeting in Washington this week in their latest effort to boost trilateral security cooperation ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to the key Asian allies, Seoul's defense ministry said Sunday.

Guinea-Bissau heads to polls to elect new leaders

Voters in Guinea-Bissau head for the polls Sunday in search of a president and parliament to return stability to a country plagued by drugs and upended by a military coup. The polls cap four decades of chaos caused by a series of mutinies since Guinea-Bissau won independence from Portugal, and commentators have called for the new regime to finally bring the military into line.
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