Red carpet filled with color for Oscars ceremony after tumultuous Hollywood year

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90th Academy Awards - Oscars Arrivals - Hollywood, California, U.S., on Sunday - Nominee for Best Visual Effects, Christopher Townsend. (REUTERS)
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2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Arrivals Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Sunday. (REUTERS)
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This image released by Fox Searchlight shows Frances McDormand in a scene from "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," which is nominated for an Oscar for best photo. (AP)
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90th Academy Awards - Oscars Arrivals – Hollywood, California, U.S., 04/03/2018 - Jennifer Lawrence. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Elizabeth Chambers, left, and Armie Hammer arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP)
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Leslie Mann arrives at the Oscars on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP)
Updated 05 March 2018
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Red carpet filled with color for Oscars ceremony after tumultuous Hollywood year

LOS ANGELES: Stars arrived on the Oscars red carpet on Sunday under sunny but breezy skies for an Academy Awards ceremony filled with suspense over which will win the best picture, and whether the Hollywood sexual misconduct scandal will steal the spotlight on the movie industry’s biggest night.
“Get Out” actress Allison Williams, “I, Tonya” supporting actress Allison Janney, supporting actor nominee Christopher Plummer and “Spider-Man” star Tom Holland were among the early arrivals. Women sported flowing blue, lavender and white gowns often embellished with sequins and crystals.
Sandra Bullock, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Black Panther” star Lupita Nyong’o, Jane Fonda and Nicole Kidman are among an eclectic lineup of presenters due to take the stage on Sunday.
The best picture Oscar — presented at the end of the 3-1/2-hour show — is anyone’s guess this year.
Fox Searchlight fantasy romance “The Shape of Water” with a leading 13 nominations, Fox Searchlight dark comedy “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and Universal Pictures racial satire “Get Out” all have a fighting chance, awards pundits say.
“I think ‘Get Out’ seems to have the momentum right now,” said Dave Karger, special correspondent for entertainment website IMDB.com.
“Three Billboards,” the tale of an angry woman seeking justice for her daughter’s killer, scooped honors earlier this year, but “Get Out,” a bold horror movie that became a talking point around modern-day race relations in America, won best picture at Saturday’s independent Spirit Awards.
Hollywood also has other issues on its mind, including the sexual misconduct scandal that has brought down dozens of once-powerful men, and lingering questions over racial and gender fairness in the movie business.
The Time’s Up campaign against sexual harassment in the workplace, spearheaded by celebrities including Reese Witherspoon and Ava DuVernay, will be recognized in some form in Sunday’s ceremony, organizers say.
History could be made on Sunday.
“Get Out” director and writer Jordan Peele is vying to become the first black man in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 90-year history to win a directing Oscar.
“Lady Bird” director Greta Gerwig could be only the second female to take home that prize when the decision of the 8,000 academy members is announced.
“Every year, the discussion around the awards is less and less who will win, but how many women are nominated, or how many blacks and Asians lost,” said Tom O’Neil, founder of awards website GoldDerby.com.
Host Jimmy Kimmel has the task of navigating the wider political themes with the celebrations. He is also expected to turn into a running joke last year’s embarrassing best picture envelope mix-up that saw musical “La La Land” being declared winner instead of “Moonlight.”
No such suspense surrounds the main acting races, where Frances McDormand is heavily favored to win for her turn as an angry, grieving mother in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and British actor Gary Oldman’s performance as wartime leader Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” is widely expected to bring his first Oscar.
In the supporting actor categories, odds are on Allison Janney for “I, Tonya,” and Sam Rockwell for “Three Billboards” after they swept previous awards.


’No place for a mother’: S. Korea battles to raise birth rate

(FILES) This photo taken on March 22, 2016 shows a child gesturing to a woman at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul. (AFP)
Updated 18 December 2018
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’No place for a mother’: S. Korea battles to raise birth rate

  • Now 27, she has been rejected at several job interviews as soon as she revealed she had a child, and has given up seeking employment, trying to set up her own trading business instead

SEOUL: When Ashley Park started her marketing job at a Seoul drugmaker she had a near-perfect college record, flawless English, and got on well with her colleagues — none of which mattered to her employer once she fell pregnant.
Nine months after she joined, Park said, “They said to my face that there is no place in the company for a woman with a child, so I needed to quit.”
All the women working at the firm were single or childless, she suddenly realized, and mostly below 40.
Park’s case exemplifies why so many South Korean women are put off marriage and childbirth, pushing the country’s birth rate — one of the world’s lowest — ever further down.
Earlier this month Seoul announced its latest set of measures to try to stem the decline, but critics say they will have little to no effect in the face of deep-seated underlying causes.
Many South Korean firms are reluctant to employ mothers, doubting their commitment to the company and fearing that they will not put in the long hours that are standard in the country — as well as to avoid paying for their legally-entitled birth leave.
When Park refused to quit, her boss relentlessly bullied her — banning her from attending business meetings and ignoring her at the office “like I was an invisible ghost” — and management threatened to fire her husband, who worked at the same company.
After fighting for about six months, she finally relented and offered her resignation, giving birth to a daughter a month later. Aside from a brief stint at an IT start-up that did not keep its promise of flexible working hours, she has been a stay-at-home mother ever since.
“I studied and worked so hard for years to get a job when youth unemployment was so high, and enjoyed my work so much... and look what happened to me,” Park told AFP.
Now 27, she has been rejected at several job interviews as soon as she revealed she had a child, and has given up seeking employment, trying to set up her own trading business instead.
“The government kept telling women to have more children... but how, in a country like this?” she asked.

The South’s fertility rate — the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime — fell to 0.95 in the third quarter of 2018, the first time it has dropped below 1 and far short of the 2.1 needed to maintain stability.
As a result of the trend, which has been dubbed a “birth strike” by women, the population of the world’s 11th largest economy, currently 51 million, is expected to start falling in 2028.
Many cite reasons ranging from the expense of child-rearing, high youth unemployment, long working hours and limited daycare to career setbacks for working mothers.
Even if women hold on to their jobs, they bear a double burden of carrying out the brunt of household chores.
Patriarchal values remain deeply ingrained in the South: nearly 85 percent of South Korean men back the idea of women working, according to a state survey, but that plummets to 47 percent when asked whether they would support their own wives having a job.
Employment rates for married men and women are dramatically different — 82 percent and 53 percent respectively.
Now nearly three-quarters of South Korean women aged 20-40 see marriage as unnecessary, an opinion poll by a financial magazine and a recruitment website showed. But almost all children in the South are born in wedlock.

Against that backdrop, the South’s government has spent a whopping 136 trillion won ($121 billion) since 2005 to try to boost the birth rate, mostly through campaigns to encourage more young people to wed and reproduce, without success.
Earlier this month it announced yet another round of measures.
They included expanding child subsidies of up to 300,000 won ($270) a month, and allowing parents with children younger than eight to work an hour less each day to take care of their offspring.
More daycare centers and kindergartens will be built, and men will be allowed — but not obliged — to take 10 days of paid birth leave, up from the current three.
But many measures were not legally binding and carried no punishment for firms that denied their workers the promised benefits, and the package met a disdainful response.
“The government policies are based on this simplistic assumption that ‘if we give more money, people would have more children’,” the Korea Women Workers Association said in a statement.
Seoul should first address “relentless sexual discrimination at work and the double burden of work and housechores” for women, it added.
The centrist Korea Times newspaper also questioned whether such “lacklustre” state policies would bring in real change unless the government tackled the real drivers of women shunning marriage and childbirth.
“Unless these harsh conditions for women change, no amount of government subsidies will convince women having children is a happy choice.”