BBC NEWS (UK), AL JAZEERA (Qatar)
ISLAMABAD - Senior Pakistani militant leader Mullah Nazir has been killed by a US drone strike, Pakistani security officials say.
The drone attack killed at least least five fighters including the militant Wednesday night in the northwest tribal district of South Waziristan, according to security officials, reports BBC News.
Pakistani Militant Mullah Nazir - Source: Youtube screenshot
The US drone fired two missiles at Nazir's home, several officials said.
"The attack by a US drone late last night targeted a house in the An-goor Adda area in South Waziristan on the Afghan border," Al Jazeera"s Kamal Hyder reported.
"Mullah Nazir was among those killed. The strike happened at a time when the US wants to talk with the Taliban... this is a major setback."
Reports say Mullah Nazir's deputy, Ratta Khan, was also killed in the attack.
Nazir was the leader of one of four major militant factions in Pakistan accused of sending fighters back to the Afghan Taliban to fight international coalition troops there, adds BBC News.
Analysts say Mullah Nazir had formed an alliance with the government and opposed the Pakistani Taliban, with whom he was at odds because he favored attacking US forces in Afghanistan rather than Pakistani soldiers
He was wounded in a suicide bomb attack in November.
Drone strikes have largely increased since US President Barack Obama took office in 2009.
Hundreds of people have been killed, sparking public anger in Pakistan. Islamabad has continuously called for an end to the attacks saying they violate the country's sovereignty.
Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.
SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.
The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.
It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.
Seoul housing prices top London and New York
In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.
According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.
Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.
One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.
According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.
Playing the stock market
At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.
A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."
In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.
42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s
Game of survival
In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.
But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.
This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.
- Death & Debt: More French Heirs Renounce Succession Of ... ›
- The Ancient Art Of Debt Relief, A Brief History - Worldcrunch ›
- South Korea Owes Iran Billions But Won't Cough Up The Cash ... ›