The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 8 August 2016

Image: Ahn Young-joon/PA Images

Lacking harmony

K-pop stars are in the midst of a discordant stand-off. Since Seoul’s decision to deploy the US missile-defence system Thaad following North Korea’s latest series of ballistic-missile launches, China’s bureau of press and media informed national papers on Friday that it’s going to be tough for South Korean stars henceforth. Shares in the country’s entertainment companies have since plummeted and many upcoming launch events for K-dramas are stalled or have been cancelled. This untoward impact will likely extend to the country’s consumer products, especially cosmetics, which recently enjoyed a sales surge. China, Russia and North Korea have criticised the deployment of Thaad, saying that it is a threat to their security.

Image: Ramada Hotel

Out with the ‘old’

Dubai is fond of record-breaking buildings – biggest this, longest that – but its first world record was altogether lighter in touch. The tallest stained-glass mural in the world, designed by late luminary John Lawson (better known for his churches), has towered over the atrium of the angular Ramada hotel in the Bur Dubai neighbourhood since the 1980s. At the end of August the Ramada faces the wrecking ball to make way for a mega complex. The decision has raised the question of what will happen to Lawson’s piece, with the owners appealing to government and other hoteliers to keep the 41-metre-tall structure local. Dubai, a city that boomed on building hotels, should take note of this piece of private patronage; it may have been built but four decades ago but it’s still an artefact of hospitality history.

Image: David Hsu

Peak performance

Mountain Day seems an odd idea for a national holiday unless you live in Japan where – with more than 70 per cent of the land taken up by them – it makes perfect sense. New to the calendar on the 11 August, it was conceived to give people the chance to “come close to mountains and appreciate the benefits”. Outdoor brands and alpine municipalities couldn’t have asked for a better business opportunity. At Mount Takao – a popular day-trip hiking destination from the capital – outdoor firms Patagonia, Coleman, Marmot, Millet, Berghaus and The North Face will join mountaineering media company Yama-kei Publishers for a day of workshops, seminars, lectures and pop-up shops. There’s also plenty of shopping action downtown: Odakyu Department Store in Shinjuku and outdoor-goods shop L-Breath in Kanda are looking to ring up big sales on everything from climbing boots to backpacks.

Image: Chris Wattie/Reuters

Natural selection?

This week Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced that he’s overhauling the selection process for the position of Supreme Court justice by forming a non-partisan committee. It will whittle down candidates to a handful for the PM to choose from; qualified candidates will also be allowed to nominate themselves. Trudeau says the move is aimed at greater transparency but some MPs have baulked at the lack of parliamentary participation. What ever the case, when Canada’s Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell retires on 1 September, his replacement will be likely be found much more swiftly than in the US, where Antonin Scalia’s seat in the US Supreme Court will remain vacant until after the presidential elections.

From Monocle 24

The Menu

In Germany, family firm Van Nahmen has discovered a fondness for single-variety fruit juices made from a selection of regional options. One is the Red Sternrenette: traditionally famous as a Christmas decoration, this apple has a unique taste when made into a gourmet juice. Nik Martin went to visit the factory in the tiny town of Hamminkeln.

From Monocle Films

Best bike shops

Makers who bring something special to their industries are easy to love – and so is cycling. These elements combine in bike shops in Toronto, Buenos Aires and Zürich, where imaginative artisanship combines with rational urban-cycling design.

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