Fans mourn S.Korean actor after fatal car crash

This picture shows a damaged car of late South Korean actor Kim Joo-Hyuk after his car crashed into an apartment wall and flipped over in Seoul on October 30, 2017. (File photo by AFP)
Updated 01 November 2017
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Fans mourn S.Korean actor after fatal car crash

SEOUL: Grieving South Korean film fans packed a Seoul hospital Wednesday to pay their respects after the death of an actor dubbed “Korea’s Hugh Grant.”
Kim Joo-Hyuk, 45, died Monday from head injuries after his Mercedes crashed into an apartment wall and flipped over. No other vehicles were involved, police said.
Kim, whose father was also a famous actor, made his debut in 1999 and quickly gained popularity for his roles in several romantic comedies, earning himself the nickname.
More recently he moved into grittier parts. He was named Best Supporting Actor at the Seoul Film Awards last week for his role in the movie “Confidential Assignment,” in which he played the leader of an organized crime gang from North Korea.
“It is my first time to win a movie award,” Kim said at the ceremony. “It is as if my parents, who are in heaven, are giving me this award.”
Several top celebrities went to pay their respects at a remembrance altar set up in the Seoul hospital where his body was taken.
Large arrangements of white flowers — the color of mourning in Korea — lined the corridors, which were crowded with media and sobbing fans.
Kim’s death was one of the most searched words on South Korea’s Naver portal on Wednesday.
“He was one of those actors that made me smile. I still can’t believe it,” said one user.
“I thought he would become a veteran actor like his father, it’s very sad. May he rest in peace,” wrote another.
Kim was the 20th most searched terms on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, as overseas fans also grieved his passing.
“Kim Joo-Hyuk was one of the very few South Korean actors I liked, my god,” posted a Chinese commentator.


No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

Updated 21 January 2019
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No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

  • The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths
  • With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw

BAGHDAD: Roaring along Baghdad’s highways, the “Iraq Bikers” are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their shared enthusiasm to help heal Iraq’s deep sectarian rifts.
Weaving in and out of traffic, only the lucky few ride Harley Davidsons — a rare and expensive brand in Iraq — while others make do with bikes pimped-up to look something like the “Easy Rider” dream machines.
“Our goal is to build a brotherhood,” said Bilal Al-Bayati, 42, a government employee who founded the club in 2012 with the aim of improving the image of biker gangs and to promote unity after years of sectarian conflict.
That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics.
“It is absolutely prohibited to talk politics among members,” Bayati told Reuters as he sat with fellow bikers in a shisha cafe, a regular hangout for members.
“Whenever politics is mentioned, the members are warned once or twice and then expelled. We no longer have the strength to endure these tragedies or to repeat them,” he said, referring to sectarian violence.
With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw.
But while their style is unmistakably US-inspired — at least one of Bayati’s cohorts wears a helmet emblazoned with the stars and stripes — these bikers fly the Iraqi flag from the panniers of their machines.
The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths. One of their most recent events was taking part in Army Day celebrations.
Some are in the military, the police and even the Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Shiite militias which have taken part in the fight to oust Islamic State from Iraq in the last three years.
“It is a miniature Iraq,” said member Ahmed Haidar, 36, who works with an international relief agency.
But riding a chopper through Baghdad is quite different from Route 101. The bikers have to slow down at the many military checkpoints set up around the city to deter suicide and car bomb attacks.
And very few can afford a top bike.
“We don’t have a Harley Davidson franchise here,” said Kadhim Naji, a mechanic who specializes in turning ordinary motorbikes into something special.
“So what we do is we alter the motorbike, so it looks similar ... and it is cheaper.”