Love of Korean pop links UK teenagers with Palestinian refugees

BTS at the 2017 American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theatre LA Live.
Updated 06 February 2018

Love of Korean pop links UK teenagers with Palestinian refugees

LONDON: The sugary pop songs of South Korean groups BTS, EXO and BlackPink might be sung in Korean but it has not stopped Palestinian refugee teenager Tasnim from being an avid fan from her home in war-torn Syria.
To Tasnim’s surprise, it is a love shared by students at London’s Connaught School for Girls with whom her school in Damascus holds Skype calls as part of a project to connect refugee students in the Middle East with European and US pupils.
“My favorite kind of music is K-pop music, Korean music,” exclaimed Tasnim during a recent video call, sitting alongside classmates from two schools in the Syrian capital run by aid agency United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA).
“Do you like BTS?” 14-year-old British student Asiya replied, before excited chatter erupts between the two groups about their favorite “K-pop” performers.
“Did you hear their latest song? Do you like BlackPink?” said Tasnim, wearing a white hijab, as does Asiya in London.
More than half a million Palestinian refugee students attend 700 UNRWA schools across Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, the aid agency said.
UNRWA was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949 after thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1948 war that followed Israel’s creation.
“Even though we are worlds apart ... we’re all teenagers, so we found some common ground,” said Asiya, who volunteered to join the “My Voice, My School” project run by UNRWA and social enterprise Digital Explorer to learn more about refugees.
“It was quite ironic because we were on a conference call to people in Syria and we were talking about Korea.”
UNRWA says it currently supports 5.3 million Palestinians across the Middle East, including in Gaza and the West Bank.


Indian restaurant offers ‘COVID curry’ to scared customers

Updated 03 August 2020

Indian restaurant offers ‘COVID curry’ to scared customers

  • India has had 1.8 million cases, the third-highest in the world behind the United States and Brazil

JODPHUR, India: An Indian restaurant is hoping to win back customers afraid of eating out during the pandemic with a special “COVID Curry” and “Mask Naans.”
“This has been a really tough time for us and for our entire sector,” Yash Solanki, owner of the vegetarian Vedic eatery in the western city of Jodphur, said.
The fried vegetable balls have been shaped to look like the “crowned” coronavirus, while the accompanying breads look like surgical masks.
Solanki said that they had also added, and advertised, that their COVID curry had extra Indian herbs and spices that are good for people’s health.
“Even with recently relaxed curbs, the fear still dominates. People are still very reluctant to eat out,” Solanki said.
Almost 800 people are dying daily from coronavirus in the world’s second-most populous nation, with around 50,000 new infections reported every 24 hours.
The country has had 1.8 million cases, the third-highest in the world behind the United States and Brazil, and more than 38,000 deaths.