It’s Kim Jong-un’s birthday today – but he’s not the only one with cause to celebrate. The global community is breathing a little easier now that a major US and South Korean military drill that was scheduled to take place right in the middle of the Winter Olympics has been rescheduled. Many feared that the war games running alongside the Olympic Games could lead to more provocative actions from North Korea (as well as tweets from Donald Trump, of course). But now the fear of escalation has eased, helped by the talks between North and South Korea that are scheduled for tomorrow. While the ramifications of pausing the drills are getting attention, US secretary of defence Jim Mattis says there was no political calculation; rather, it was the logistical challenge of the two events happening simultaneously that prompted the change.
If you’ve always thought that Mercedes-Benz has a certain je ne sais quoi, it won’t surprise you to learn that the German car manufacturer has announced plans to move 50 of its designers to France. It will be setting up on the Côte d’Azur – or, more specifically, the Sophia Antipolis Science and Technology Park near Antibes. Dubbed France’s Silicon Valley, it has proved instrumental in propping up the country’s image as a European technology hub and is already home to big names such as Hewlett-Packard and Huawei. Mercedes’ new centre, which will be its fifth foreign design outpost alongside locations such as Beijing and California, underlines Sophia Antipolis’s appeal. Look out for more car manufacturers in search of a Gallic gear change.
Enjoying a coffee on your commute used to be standard procedure for many bus-riding residents in South Korea’s capital – but no longer. Last week Seoul officially began enforcing a new ban: no takeaway coffee cups are to be allowed on public buses. The city ordinance is designed to prevent the accidental spills that had become an increasing annoyance and danger for passengers and a source of disputes in transit. It’s a bold move given the popularity of coffee houses and micro-roasters in this city of more than 10 million. Seoul’s bus drivers now have the authority to turn away anyone carrying a disposable coffee cup; the rules also apply to would-be passengers with foul-smelling food or other products.
Fashion’s winter season will kick off tomorrow as buyers, journalists and brands descend on Florence for their seasonal appointment with menswear fair Pitti Uomo. That the tradeshow has been going from strength to strength over the past few years is, by now, a well-known fact. The number of exhibitors is again increasing and is set at more than 1,200 for this edition, almost half of which will come from beyond Italy’s borders. As proof of the Tuscan fair’s growing allure, among them will be a few who jumped ship from Milan Fashion Week’s schedule, including Corneliani and shoemaker Fratelli Rossetti. But it’s perhaps the announcement that Karl Lagerfeld will be debuting his new menswear line here that seals Pitti’s ever-increasing relevance on the calendar.
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