How Wealthy Countries Can Step Up Their Contribution to Fight Global Poverty

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

T5557U

How Wealthy Countries Can Step Up Their Contribution to Fight Global Poverty

Wednesday, 4 December, 2019 – 12:30
Impoverished girl | Photo: REUTERS
Ferid Belhaj
How can the wealthiest nations around the globe continue to help the world’s poorest countries? This is a question that delegates will look to address during a meeting organized by the International Development Association, or IDA, in Stockholm next week.
IDA
The role of IDA, a financial institution and a member of the World Bank Group, is to offer loans, grants and debt relief to poor countries unable to borrow on the terms offered by another arm of the World Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Its member states will gather in the Swedish capital on December 12 and 13 to set the agenda for assistance to these countries for the three-year period starting in July 2020. While countries in the Mena region, including Saudi Arabia, had contributed funds to the previous cycle, it is critical that they – and potentially others – sustain and increase their participation in this forum and support a global public good.

Many people are unaware that countries such as China, India, and South Korea were beneficiaries of IDA assistance in the past but now they have become donors giving back to the international community

This upcoming replenishment, as it is called, is indeed an opportunity for the region as a whole to make its presence felt. Beginning next year, it will be the epicenter of several global events. Saudi Arabia will host members of the G20, Egypt is the chair of the African Union and the UAE is preparing to host the region’s first World Expo. The World Bank-IMF annual meetings will take place in Marrakech in 2021. While these events are significant in their own right, a substantially higher financial contribution from Mena countries to IDA will demonstrate the region’s capacity to lead on long-term challenges such as poverty reduction, inclusive growth, and climate change.

Since its creation in 1960, IDA has become one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries and the foremost instrument to channel multilateral funding where it is needed the most and in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Over six decades, it has provided almost $400 billion for investments in over 100 countries, its support paving the way towards equality, economic growth, job creation, higher incomes and better living conditions. IDA’s work covers primary education, basic health services, clean water and sanitation, agriculture, business climate improvements, infrastructure, and institutional reforms. More recently, it has intervened to bring hope to people affected by conflict and violence.

Since 2000, it has provided more than $88 billion in financial assistance to Arab and Muslim countries. In the previous replenishment, more than 50 percent of the resources were allocated to 28 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, including Djibouti, Syria, and Yemen.

In Yemen, IDA has played a critical role in providing relief and mitigating the lasting impacts of conflict. It has helped Yemenis fight diseases and famine, helped train nearly 12,000 health personnel and immunize 6.9 million children. Through an emergency program, it has helped ensure around nine million vulnerable Yemenis have access to food and other basic necessities.

Meanwhile, the conflict in Syria continues to take a heavy toll. More than 5.6 million people are registered as refugees, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In Lebanon, where many of them live, IDA is helping the country enroll 200,000 children in public schools. In Jordan, IDA assistance is creating 100,000 jobs for Jordanian nationals and Syrian refugees.

Beyond the Mena region, IDA is a development partner for the poorest countries.

International institutions remain important for some of the most lagging regions and communities in the world. Independent assessments have documented the tremendous benefits of IDA’s support for the development of poor countries. Many people are unaware that countries such as China, India, and South Korea were beneficiaries of IDA assistance in the past but now they have become donors giving back to the international community.

Multilateral institutions deserve our utmost support because when misfortune strikes countries, the knowledge and financial resources of these institutions can save, protect and nurture lives. They can provide ideas for development strategies and funds for critical infrastructure. To eliminate extreme poverty and shared growth, they are a valuable ally for governments and citizens.

The World Bank Group is grateful for generous financial contributions from the international donor community to IDA. However, I believe that the more fortunate Mena countries can and must enhance their contribution to this agency. Its economic heft presents an opportunity for the region to take on a leadership role in this forum. It is also a wonderful opportunity to help those in need, which is fully in line with the region’s rich history of generosity towards the less fortunate.

Ferid Belhaj is World Bank regional vice president for Mena

South Korea to continue intelligence-sharing pact with Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

South Korea to continue intelligence-sharing pact with Japan

Protesters demand an extension of the intelligence-sharing pact in front of the US embassy in Seoul on November 22, 2019Image copy right AFP
Image caption Protesters outside the US embassy in Seoul called for an extension of the pact, known as GSOMIA

South Korea says it is to continue a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan that had been threatened by a long-running dispute.

The move was welcomed by the US which had urged the two countries to settle their differences.

Seoul announced its decision on Friday, just hours before the pact was due to expire.

Tensions between South Korea and Japan go back decades but have recently led to a series of tit-for-tat measures.

The tensions have historical roots, and the two countries became embroiled in a deepening trade and diplomatic dispute this year.

The intelligence pact, known as GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement), allowed the two countries to share information about North Korea’s military and nuclear activities directly with each other.

Without it, information would have had to go through their joint-allies in Washington, slowing the process down.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talks to reporters about GSOMIA pact with South Korea in Tokyo, Japan on November 22, 2019Image copyrightREUTERS/KYODO
Image captionJapanese PM Shinzo Abe welcomed the “strategic decision”

What has been announced?

In August, South Korea announced it would terminate the intelligence-sharing agreement and Japan removed South Korea’s favoured trade partner status and imposed export controls on its electronics sector.

Earlier this month the leaders of the two countries briefly met at a summit in Bangkok, Thailand, to try to resolve their differences.

Then on Friday South Korea said it would “conditionally” suspend the expiry, with national security official Kim You-geun confirmed that the GSOMIA would not be allowed to lapse at midnight.

He said the Japanese government had “expressed their understanding” but warned that the agreement could still “be terminated at any time”.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said bilateral relations were vital and that South Korea had made a “strategic decision” in sticking with the accord.

A US State Department spokeswoman welcomed the decision, saying: “This decision sends a positive message that like-minded allies can work through bilateral disputes.”

What’s the background?

The two countries share a complicated history. They have fought on and off since at least the 7th Century, and Japan has repeatedly tried to invade the peninsula since then.

In 1910, it annexed Korea, turning the territory into a colony. Resentment over this period, when many South Korean workers were forced to work for Japanese firms, continues today.

The issue was recently brought to the fore by a 2018 South Korean supreme court ruling that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Koreans it used as forced labour.

The decisions drew condemnation from Japan, which argues the dispute was settled in 1965 when diplomatic ties were normalised between the neighbouring countries.

The row has since escalated and has impacted their modern trade relationship, threatening industries such as technology.

China: DPRK warns US against new military drills with South Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

DPRK warns US against new military drills with South Korea

Xinhua

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea gave a stern warning on Wednesday night against a planned joint military drill to be held by the United States and South Korea.

In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, an unnamed spokesman for the State Affairs Commission said the DPRK defined the joint military drill as the main factor for ratcheting up tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

“Despite our repeated warnings, the US and the South Korean side decided to push ahead with the military drill,” he said.

He also said the latest joint military exercises “constitute an undisguised breach of the DPRK-US joint statement adopted on June 12 of last year on the basis of mutual trust and an open denial of the Singapore agreement.”

Seoul and Washington said last week that they would skip their annual joint air exercise, known as Vigilant Ace, and instead hold a scaled-back drill.

The DPRK spokesman said that the United States and South Korea have staged several military drills this year alone, and such acts have already put DPRK-US relations on the verge of a breakdown.

The first negotiations in eight months between the DPRK and the United States on the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula broke down in Stockholm in early October. The DPRK has set the end of the year as a deadline for Washington to offer a deal which is realistic and acceptable by Pyongyang.

The DPRK has issued several warnings in the past two months, saying it would be a mistake for the United States to ignore the year-end deadline and the channel of the dialogue between the two countries is narrowing.

5 Cities With the Largest Subway Systems

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Cities With the Largest Subway Systems

A great subway system is a badge of honor for a city. As writers at City Metric, a website devoted to exploring topics that affect the lives of city-dwellers, discovered, there are lots of ways to measure such a system. Maybe it’s by how many people ride a specific subway in a day or year, or maybe it’s by how many stations there are around a city.

For the purposes of this article, we looked at subways with the longest routes. Here are the top five largest subway systems in the world.

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Credit: Savvapanf Photo/Shutterstock.com

332 km/206 miles

More than two billion people ride the particularly high-tech subway system in Seoul each year. It’s known for its tech, including screens displaying important messages and internet access on its cars. The first line was built in the 1970’s, and today the system includes 22 lines that are still being expanded. Plus, it’s relatively cheap and known for its cleanliness, and all directional signs are written in three languages, including English.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Credit: William Perugini/Shutterstock.com

373 km/232 miles

The much older New York City subway system opened in 1904. Nearly six million people utilize the transit system every day, at about 470 stations — more than any other system in the world. Most of those stations operate 24 hours a day.

London, England

London, England

Credit: andrea flisi/Shutterstock.com

402 km/250 miles

The London Underground, sometimes called the Tube, opened in the 1860’s. Despite the name, most of the lines were built just below the surface with the “cut and cover” method, and many of the newer tracks are above ground. The system includes 11 lines and about 200 stations, and carries about five million daily passengers today.

Category IconGeography
5pts

Daily trivia question

Test Your Knowledge!

Which of these countries is not a member of the European Union?

PLAY!Plane icon

Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Credit: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.com

527 km/327 miles

With almost 11 million daily riders, this is the world’s busiest subway system. It first opened in 1969 and had only two lines for decades, before undergoing a rapid expansion in 2002. And those 11 million daily riders are expected to expand to 18 million by 2021. By then, the subway will account for 60 percent of the city’s public transit ridership.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

Credit: Arwin Adityavarna/iStock

548 km/341 miles

The largest subway system in the world by route length is still expanding, with plans to add seven new lines by 2025. It’s a system that links provinces and provides inter-city transportation — or at least, it will soon. On a regular day, 10 million people use the system. The most recent expansions to the system opened in December.

10 Most Educated Countries

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Most Educated Countries

For most countries, the average education level of the population can be an indicator of its financial stability and literacy rates. It can even contribute to how healthy the country is overall. With all of this in mind, do you know which countries rank as the most educated in the world? While you might be able to guess a few, there may be some countries on the list that surprise you. Here are the top 10 most educated countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

Credit: querbeet/iStock

Luxembourg comes in as the smallest country to make the list. The country has only around 615,70 residents. Luxembourg is a landlocked country, surrounded by Germany, France, and Belgium. According to the OECD, 87% of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have completed at least a secondary education (compared to the OECD average of 84%). Also, 54% of residents in this age group have completed at least some level of higher education. Maybe this has something to do with why Luxembourg comes in as the wealthiest country in the world.

Norway

Norway

Credit: Zarnell/iStock

It probably comes as no surprise that Norway ranks among the most educated countries. The European nation consistently ranks high for various quality of life factors, including healthcare, environmental awareness, and overall happiness. Colleges in Norway are tuition-free, which gives citizens greater access to higher education. The rate of adults with higher education has been increasing in Norway, and the country saw a 5% jump from 2007 to 2017. In 2017, 48% of adults aged 25 to 34 had some level of tertiary education.

Finland

Finland

Credit: scanrail/iStock

Another country with free education, this Scandinavian nation ranks among the most educated in the world. It’s not just Finnish residents that can take advantage of the free education. Non-native residents can get free schooling, as well. The Finnish education system is a stark contrast to that in the United States. Some key differences are that Finnish children receive 75 minutes of recess every day (as opposed to 27 minutes in the U.S.), there is no mandated testing until the age of 16, and most teachers stick with the same group of students for at least five years. It’s no wonder Finland has been ranked as the happiest country in the world for two years running.

Category IconCulture
4pts

Daily trivia question

Test Your Knowledge!

What does Honolulu mean in English?

PLAY!Plane icon

Australia

Australia

Credit: PhotoAllel/iStock

The land down under just barely misses the top five when it comes to the percentage of adults who have a higher education. An impressive 52% of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have completed higher education courses. The country also ranks among the highest level of citizens who have a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is despite how Australia has some of the highest tuition rates in the world.

United States of America

United States of America

Credit: Sean Pavone/iStock

Public opinion on the state of the education system in the United States varies, depending on who you ask. The country is known to have an unbelievable amount of student debt, and tuition continues to be on the rise. On the other hand, the United States has some of the best universities in the world and is one of the world’s strongest powers. So it’s probably not surprising that the U.S. comes in smack dab in the middle of the top 10 most educated countries. The U.S. Census estimates that 59% of adults have completed some college.

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Credit: alex_west/iStock

One thing that sets the United Kingdom apart from other countries is its focus on early education. The country sees high enrollment levels for young children. Education is a top priority for citizens as reports have shown a direct correlation between education level and pay. In fact, one study found that residents with upper education earned on average 48% more than their peers without upper education. The United Kingdom is home to two of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

South Korea

South Korea

Credit: GoranQ/iStock

South Korea places high demands on its students. Consequently, the country has a high number of adults with upper education. When it comes to students graduating from secondary school, Korea ranks number one. 98% of citizens graduate from secondary education. South Korea also ranks number one for attaining tertiary education, with nearly 70% of its residents completing some higher education.

Israel

Israel

Credit: FredFroese/iStock

The education system in Israel is different from those in most of the world, but it still ranks as one of the best. In Israel, most schools are divided by the student’s faith. It is also not uncommon for schools to include weapon training. Because of its strong focus on education, the country has more university degrees per capita than any other country in the world. According to the OECD, nearly 25% of all residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Japan

Japan

Credit: ke/iStock

It may be hard to believe, but Japan does not come in at the top spot when it comes to education. Though the country is world-renowned for its education levels, it falls just short of number one. The amount of tertiary schooling comes in at a staggering 60% for adults between the age of 25 and 34. While the country has one of the highest percentages of adults expected to complete a bachelor’s degree, it has one of the lowest levels for doctorate degrees. Just 1% of its citizens are expected to attain a doctorate.

Canada

Canada

Credit: DenisTangneyJr/iStock

Canada just barely edges out Japan when it comes to adults who will complete some amount of college. A whopping 60.9% of Canadians between the age of 25 and 34 have completed some level of college, whereas that number is 60.4% in Japan. There seems to be some level of correlation between education level and happiness because Norway, Finland, and Canada all ranked among the happiest countries in the world.

Japan to allow 1st export of chemicals to S. Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

Japan to allow 1st export of chemicals to S. Korea under tighter export controls

Xinhua
Japan to allow 1st export of chemicals to S. Korea under tighter export controls

Imagine china

Men hang up banners calling for boycott of Japan in Seoul, South Korean, on August 6, 2019.

Japan will soon issue its first permit for exporting to South Korea some of the chemicals needed in producing semiconductors and display panels since imposing tighter controls last month, local media quoted sources with knowledge of the matter as saying Thursday.

On July 4, Japan made it a requirement to file applications for each transaction for exporting fluoridated polyimide, hydrogen fluoride and photo-resist to South Korea.

The move was believed by Seoul to be economic retaliation for its mishandling of an arbitration process connected to a wartime labor row stemming from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsular.

Japan believes the matter of compensation for wartime laborers was dealt with “finally and irreversibly” in a 1965 pact inked between both sides that covered the issue.

Tokyo, has maintained that the tighter export controls have been put into place due to reasons of national security, but has also called Seoul out for repeatedly breaching previous pacts and causing mutual trust to be diminished.

Japan to remove South Korea from favored trade partners list

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Japan to remove South Korea from favored trade partners list

Decision comes a month after Japan tightened curbs on exports to South Korea of three high-tech materials needed to make memory chips and display panels.

WORLD Updated: Aug 02, 2019 18:44 IST

Reuters
Reuters

Tokyo
Japan’s industry minister Hiroshige Seko.
Japan’s industry minister Hiroshige Seko. (AP Photo)

Japan’s cabinet on Friday approved a plan to remove South Korea from a list of countries that enjoy minimum export controls, a move likely to escalate tensions fueled by a dispute over compensation for wartime forced laborers.

The decision to drop South Korea from the “white list,” a step that has been protested fiercely by Seoul, comes a month after Japan tightened curbs on exports to South Korea of three high-tech materials needed to make memory chips and display panels.

The cabinet has approved the move, Japan’s industry minister, Hiroshige Seko said.

Japan has said the measures are based on national security concerns, citing South Korea’s insufficient export controls as well as the erosion of trust after South Korean court rulings ordered Japanese firms compensate wartime forced laborers.

Japan says the issue of compensation was settled by a 1965 treaty that normalized ties between Tokyo and Seoul.

(The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text, only the headline has been changed)

First Published: Aug 02, 2019 18:31 IST

4 Most Powerful Passports in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Most Powerful Passports in the World

Wouldn’t it be great to travel around the world and never have to worry about going through a lengthy process of applying for a visa. For some, their nation’s passports grant them hassle-free entry to hundreds of far-off countries. For others, diplomatic relations hamper the ability to move around at will.

Here we have the four most powerful passports in the world according to statistics compiled by London-based citizenship and residence advisory Henley & Partners, though, since there are a few ties, the list really stands at nine. Using information gathered from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the firm classifies passports by the ease of which they can obtain visa-free and/or visa-on-arrival admission.

Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden

Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden

Credit: Photology1971/Shutterstock

Four European nations, three of which are Nordic countries, share fourth place with the ability to enjoy visa-free travel to 187 countries. Throughout much of Europe, people from these countries not only enjoy ease of entry but are also classified under the Freedom of Movement act. This human rights act grants individuals the possibility to choose where they live and work. Curiously, Finland, Denmark and Sweden (in that order) made the top 10 of the UN’s 2019 World Happiness Report. Is there be a direct correlation between happiness and freedom to travel? Italians meanwhile can set off on adventures to mysterious places such as Benin, Comoros and Guyana with just their passport in hand.

Germany and France

Germany and France

Credit: Ivan Semenovych/Shutterstock

The Germans and French go one better in third place by having visa-free travel to 188 countries. Since the statistics were first published in 2006, Germany has maintained a top five position and increased their visa-free access by 59. France has done better still in fostering preferable visa relations with 60 new nations. As with their European counterparts in fourth place, the Germans and French can also make use of the Freedom of Movement act. Adventurous citizens of both can pack their bags and set off for lesser-known nations such as Kiribati and Tuvalu.

South Korea

South Korea

Credit: PCCharn/Shutterstock

With visa-free travel possible to 189 nations, South Korea takes second place and starts the Asian domination at the top end of the list. South Korea ranked 11th in 2006 but thanks to the addition of an incredible 74 new visa-free arrangements since, it now has one of the most desirable passports. The entire European continent opens its doors to South Koreans. The citizens can also delight in free and stressless visa arrangements with Caribbean islands and much of Latin America.

Japan and Singapore

Japan and Singapore

Credit: structuresxx/Shutterstock

The prize for the most powerful passport in the world goes to Japan and Singapore. Their citizens can visit 189 countries either visa-free or by a visa-on-arrival agreement. They beat South Korea to the top spot based on the fact that they also have visa-free entry to the world’s four largest economies of China, India, the European Union and United States. Only four nations have this power, the others being Brunei and San Marino. Japan has established new visa-free relations with 61 new nations since 2006 while Singapore has increased their total by 67. With either of these passports in hand you could travel by land from Portugal to Malaysia and only need to prearrange an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) visa for Pakistan.

6 Countries With Only One Border

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Countries With Only One Border

Every country has boundaries. For island nations and the unique country-continent of Australia, that’s water. But other countries literally rub elbows with other nations. For most, there are many shared borders. But a select few have only one border.

Canada

Credit: Marc Bruxells / iStock

Canada is one of three countries in North America and the only one that can claim a single border, and that’s with the United States. To the north is the Arctic Ocean, and its coasts are bounded by the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. However, its entire southern border is shared with the U.S. along with a solid claim to four of the five Great Lakes. Eight of Canada’s 13 provinces touch one or more of 13 U.S. border states. The two nations share the distinguished title of having the longest international border. You might also be surprised to find that the Canada-U.S. border is the busiest border crossing in North America.

South Korea

Credit: JimmyFam / iStock

South Korea sits on the Korean peninsula and shares its northern border with its former compatriot, North Korea. Once a unified and sovereign nation, the two countries have technically been at war since American and Soviet troops officially ended armed conflict in the region in 1953. South Korea’s northern border sits right on the 38th parallel, an artificial border created at the close of the conflict to create two separate nations.

While the 38th parallel sits within the Demilitarized Zone (the DMZ) they are not the same thing. The DMZ refers to a 150-mile stretch of land that runs along the 38th parallel with 1.2 miles of neutral, unfortified grounds on the north and south sides of the parallel. If you’re feeling brave, you can take guided tours to the DMZ, and legally take a few steps into hermit kingdom North Korea.

Lesotho

Credit: EMBorque / iStock

Some countries only have one border because they’re entirely surrounded by another country. While this is rare, there is one more nation that also has this feature. This is known as an enclave countryLesotho is completely enclosed by South Africa and boasts a population of 2 million people. The nation first came to be in the early 1800s under its original name, Basutoland, under King Moshoeshoe I. Over the years, Basutoland fell under British and Dutch control before being returned to its native people in 1966 and renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Vatican City

Credit: piola666 / iStock

As we mentioned, only two countries in the world have the distinction of being an enclave country, and Vatican City is the other one. Its official title is Vatican City State, and it is the home of the Catholic Church. The history of the Catholic Church’s papal states and autonomous rule within Italy and greater Europe is a long and complex one. But to keep it simple, even though the Vatican has existed for centuries, it didn’t become a separate entity from Italy until 1929. The lands are under the control of the Holy See with the pope serving as its ruler. However, even though the Vatican City State is sovereign from Italy, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t need a special visa or even your passport to visit this famed religious state. As long as you can legally enter Italy, you can walk right into the Vatican.

Haiti/Dominican Republic

Credit: 1001nights / iStock

So we know that there are a few nations in the world with only one border, but sometimes these countries occupy the same general lands. A perfect example of this is the island of Hispaniola, which is home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. If you remember your history lessons, Christopher Columbus mistook the island for India on his initial voyage in 1492. We’ll fast forward through the history lesson and say that the island was divided between the French and Spanish. The French created Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), and the Spanish created La Republica Dominicana or the Dominican Republic. During the island’s colonial days, relations between the two island states were strained, and to a degree, they still remain difficult today. However, both countries are popular tourist destinations for Americans and Europeans.

United Kingdom/Ireland

Credit: benstevens / iStock

Another popular “one island, two nations” situation is in Europe, although this one is a bit of a technicality. When you think of the United Kingdom, your first thoughts are of London, Manchester, or other famed cities in England. But the United Kingdom is comprised of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. So, since Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the entire nation can claim a single border with the Republic of Ireland. Once again, this border is created by a complicated history.

Northern Ireland was created in 1921 after popular opinion—and the Government of Ireland Act of 1920—pushed for the northern portion of the island to remain with the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland was home to unionists and descendants of Britain. So, it’s understandable that they wanted to remain with their motherland. Today, both nations are also popular destinations with thriving tourism industries.

South Korea: 5 Architectural Marvels in Seoul

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Architectural Marvels in Seoul

In the aftermath of the 1950 Korean War, which saw Seoul all but brought to ruins, the city underwent a huge renovation program that focused on practicality and the rebuilding of the city as quickly as possible. Fast-forward to today and the vibrant capital of South Korea boasts an eye-catching cityscape that features a veritable cornucopia of contemporary architectural designs. Here’s our list of five of the most impressive buildings to see in this UNESCO Creative City.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Credit: TwilightShow / iStock

At the heart of the Dongdaemun fashion district is a neo-futuristic landmark designed by the award-winning British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. Its mushroom-like exterior is instantly recognizable for its undulating shapes made from a combination of aluminum, concrete, steel, and stone. The Dongdaemun Design Plaza functions as a cultural center and has five exhibition halls. Among its most popular attractions is a design market and food court. This was Korea’s most Instagram-tagged location in 2015 and it is a major venue for the bi-annual Seoul Fashion Week. The surrounding park offers the chance to see the masterpiece at varying angles.

Ewha Womans University

Credit: pius99 / iStock

View the Ewha Campus Complex from above and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is an urban park. Arrive at ground level and you’ll soon realize that it is in fact an underground faculty building. A wide, valley-like promenade provides access to this ingenious construction by French architect Dominique Perrault. He created a tranquil education space that, despite its subterranean setting, is airy and bathed in natural light reflected in interior mirror panels. The park, which is also the campus roof, is used as a recreation area by students.

Lotte World Tower

Credit: sayun uranan / Shutterstock.com

The world’s fifth tallest building reaches a height of 1,821 feet in Seoul’s Songpa-gu district. Its tapered shape is purposely designed to appear smooth against the city’s mountainous backdrop, while the pale-hued glass is a reference to Korean ceramics. In spite of its size and thinness, the Lotte World Tower can withstand winds speeds of 178 miles per hour and magnitude-9.0 earthquakes. Occupying the 123 floors are retail units, offices, private residences, and a luxury hotel. Visitors can ride a double-decker elevator to the top-floor Seoul Sky observation deck.

Samsung Jong-no Tower

Credit: ARTYOORAN / Shutterstock.com

Rising above downtown Seoul is the 433-feet-tall Samsung Jong-no Tower, inaugurated in 1999 by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly. This 33-floor office block is unique in that floors 23 through 30 have been removed, leaving an empty space topped by what at night resembles a UFO. Anyone familiar with Viñoly’s work will know that removing floors is a recurring theme: check out the 432 Park Avenue skyscraper in Manhattan. At one time there was a restaurant located on the floating upper floors, which granted fortunate diners unprecedented views of Seoul’s skyline.

Some Sevit – Seoul Floating Islands

Credit: dumpling123 / iStock