South Korea’s Olympic athletes may look back at the final medal table and be disappointed not to have finished in the top three. Yet the Pyeongchang games, which ended yesterday, has delivered plenty of political gold for the host nation when it comes to relations with North Korea. Negotiations will now get underway for a possible first meeting between the two Korean leaders in more than a decade – no mean feat. “It takes wisdom and endeavour to keep the inter-Korean dialogue opportunity alive beyond the Olympic Games,” South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in told Monocle in an interview published in the latest issue. Then there is the unpredictable behaviour of key ally the US. According to Moon, dialogue between North Korea and the US is a key priority. Yet bringing Trump to the table may prove to be an even bigger test. Let the real games begin.
Austria’s right-wing Freedom party government could be burnt by its own policy. The government has been pushing to stop the forthcoming ban on smoking in bars and restaurants before it takes effect this May but the Vienna Chamber of Physicians, along with anti-cancer group Austrian Cancer Aid, is pushing back and has launched a formal petition to go ahead with the ban. “We think we will be successful with the petition. We received 250,000 signatures within the first six days,” Thomas Szekeres, president of the Chamber of Physicians, tells Monocle. This is a fitting bout of irony for the Freedom party, whose signature policy of direct democracy is now being used to undermine its agenda. Once a petition receives 100,000 signatures parliament is forced to hold a debate on the issue.
Japanese railway operator Keikyu plans to get creative in Yokohama city by turning a space beneath a stretch of elevated track into a hostel. Working with Yadokari, a Tokyo-based consultancy, Keikyu will convert about 500 square metres of land between Koganecho and Hinodecho stations, on its main line, into a riverside hostel and community lounge. Scheduled to open this spring, it’s part of the railway company’s recent efforts to collaborate with start-ups and artists to find new uses for idle land. Keikyu is’t saying yet how many guests the hostel will accommodate but their plans call for wooden huts with porches squeezed in between the concrete columns supporting the tracks. The thought of having trains rumbling overhead for part of the night won’t appeal to everyone but in one of the world’s most populous metropolitan areas it’s an idea worth exploring.
Brazil is bulking up its naval arsenal but, rather than importing, this time it’s chosen to build at home. The S40 Riachuelo diesel-electric attack submarine is the first to be constructed in Brazil. The three main parts of the submarine arrived at a naval facility in Itaguaí, near Rio de Janeiro, at a ceremony last week. The parts will now enter the final assembly phase, with an eye to integrating the more than 1,000-tonne unit into the Brazilian Navy by 2020. Brazil owes a big thank-you to France for the vessel: Itaguaí Construções Navais, the company behind the sub, is co-owned by Brazilian energy giant Oderbrecht and the French Naval Group. The latter provided the blueprints and internal equipment necessary to keep the project afloat and will help Brazil build three more submarines.
This year we’re in Zürich and discovering all the city has to offer from dips in the lakeside pools to post-event escapes in the mountains. Prepare to be challenged and inspired by a host of thinkers who will be reimagining urban living and exploring our key theme: ‘made in the city’. Book your ticket here.
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