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Explainers add the context that's so needed and often missing from Asian headlines

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Young People in South Korea Don't Want Babies

If you lived in Seoul and earned the average income, it would take you 19 years to buy a home in Seoul. Women still have to choose between career and family. Unemployment rates are high and job opportunities are low. Between inflation and social norms, the younger generation don’t believe that the benefits of having a child will outway the costs. And as a result,the country’s population is at risk. In fact, SK’s population is 51 million and yet, it has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. Even the government’s $37B investment in families with children couldn’t reverse the trend: the rates of both fertility and couples tying the knot are at an all time low, and the country is anxious.

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KFC or McDonalds? In Asia, There’s No Comparison

In Asia, KFC rules supreme over McDonald’s, holding double the market share of their biggest competitor. But there’s a reason why. KFC is an OG in the Asian market, opening up its first store in the Philippines in 1966. Since then, it’s spread to the rest of the continent. But the reason KFC is so successful is not just how long it’s been around: KFC caters to local flavors, bringing to life cultural favorites and then combining them with their addictive staples. You can get a KFC chicken biryani in Sri Lanka, a shrimp donut in Thailand, and Christmas isn’t complete in Japan without a bucket of KFC chicken. But it’s not always beef between KFC and McDonald’s. In fact, they often influence each other’s growth. Over the years, McDonalds has come up with its own menu of Asia-specific items. And while KFC is declining in its home country, the United States, it’s crushing the international market. Its success in Asia comes down to one main thing: being good at listening.

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Why the West Hasn't Returned Asia's Stolen Artifacts - Explained

When you walk through the #BritishMuseum or #TheMet in New York, you will come across millions of objects from around the world – many of which were looted and trafficked to the west from their places of origin in formerly colonized countries. Recently, the governments of some of these countries – like Cambodia, China, and India - have been pushing for the return of these artifacts. But repatriating stolen artifacts to their home countries is complicated and difficult. Why? Because artifacts have often changed hands many times over decades, it’s difficult to trace exactly where and whom they belong to. There are also problems when the artifacts do make it home. In some cases, items returned home are stolen again because they’re in the hands of museums that aren’t the best caretakers. And this isn’t just a problem of the past. Right now, stolen artifact trafficking is the third largest illegal activity in the world, exceeded only by drugs and weapons. WhatsApp and Facebook groups make it easy to connect with smugglers, and it’s estimated that 10 billion dollars-worth of cultural property is trafficked every year. Putting an end to this practice is still an ongoing issue - and we need to keep having these complicated discussions around stolen artifacts and how to return them to their rightful owners in the future.

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How Smugglers Move $23 Billion Worth of Animals

While you’re trying to cope with your insane family chat on WhatsApp and Facebook, animal smugglers are creating hundreds of groups where animals are bought and sold. Facebook search any country and exotic animal and you’ll find groups dedicated to finding endangered pets in any nation. As the world’s 4th largest illegal trade after drugs, human trafficking and counterfeiting, South and South East Asia’s literal and metaphorical appetite for exotic animals and their parts amount to a 20-23 Billion Dollar industry. This harms the animals and our planet. Southeast Asia experiences the world’s fastest rate of deforestation, and an increase of illegal wildlife trafficking will only make things monumentally worse for its biodiversity. The Asian Elephant population has already declined by 50% over the past century. Hundreds of species are likely to go extinct if the trade goes on unchecked. Joy Jeong explains how animals are trafficked, and how activists are tackling the industry.

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The Racist Legacy of the 50-Year-Old White Australia Policy - Explained

It’s easy to look at the racial dynamics of America and believe that’s not who Australia is. Yet, the Asian Australian Alliance recorded 337 hate crimes against Asian Australians over the span of a month and half. In fact, 1 in 5 Chinese Australians reported being threatened or attacked in 2020 because of their heritage. But this is happening in a vacuum. Australia has a racist past to reckon with, starting with the very structure of law. In the 1900’s, legislators passed multiple laws to stop non-white immigrants from gaining legal citizenship. These collections of racist laws that kept immigrants from gaining citizenship were called the White Australian Policy. Why? After World War II, Australia’s population was stagnant and needed new people to rebuild their country. By 1975, the Racial Discrimination Act made it illegal to discriminate against migrants based on race. Remnants of White Australian Policy are ingrained in white Australians psyche. Refugees are met with unwelcomed sentiment in political campaigns like “stop the boats,” migrant populations are given hateful and reductive names, First Nations people are disproportionately met with police brutality, and Asians are blamed for COVID. Racist and xenophobic laws in the past have influenced how white Australians act towards non-white people. Australia is a home for so many, and to be the safe and thriving multicultural it hopes to be, there is further reckoning to be done.

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Attack on Animators - How the Anime Industry Exploits its Workers

Anime is pop-culture. Dragon Ball Z has been translated to nearly 35 different languages. The wildly popular series One Piece aired more than 1000 episodes. Half of Netflix’s 200 million subscribers watch #anime. Anime is so popular that in 2021 the industry was valued at a whopping $24 billion and demand is only going up. However, the working conditions for the people who make our favorite anime does not match the industry’s wild success. Animators in Japan are overworked and underpaid, earning as little as $200 a month. It’s been so bad that in 2010, an animator working at A-1 Pictures, makers of Sword Art Online and Fairy Tail, committed suicide. He was overworked to death - claiming that he was working 600 hours a month. Japanese work culture is famous for overworking their employees to the point of death that that there is a word ‘かろうし’ (Karoshi). Reforming the industry is difficult. For now, fans can support the artists in various ways whether it’s donating directly to them, or informing themselves and others about the realities of the industry, and tweeting at / writing letters to company heads to demand they increase pay.