Need To Know

Editor's note: GlobalPost is in the process of launching a new website today. You might see it when you click on GlobalPost links below, or you might see something strange, like an error message. Please bear with us as we make this transition — we'll be back better than ever.

Saudi Arabia — and a band of other Sunni Arab militaries — began launching airstrikes on Yemen today. They targeted the Shia Muslim rebels known as Houthis, who have been advancing across the country and are threatening the port city of Aden, where Yemen’s Saudi- and Western-backed Sunni president is now residing.

The move represents a dramatic escalation of the ongoing proxy war between Shia-dominated Iran and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia. Yemen is right next door to Saudi Arabia. And an Iranian-backed government there is pretty much the last thing Saudi Arabia would allow.

When peaceful Shia protesters in Bahrain (another Saudi neighbor) took to the streets demanding more rights from the Sunni-led monarchy in 2011, Saudi Arabia sent in a column of tanks to put them down. Saudi Arabia really doesn’t mess around on this issue.

Sectarian battles like this are taking place across the region, many of them fueled by Iran and Saudi Arabia. The rise of the Islamic State has also brought other military powers to the region, this time from the West. The United States has been bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq since August 2014. A month after that it began bombing Syria.

And now it has finally joined the offensive in Tikrit, a key Iraqi city controlled by the Islamic State. There are so many wars being fought right now in the region, it’s getting hard to keep track.

Want To Know

For North Koreans who manage to escape North Korea, life doesn’t suddenly become whimsical and happy. The vast majority are swept up into a new kind of lifelong misery. It could be one of poverty and stigma in South Korea. It could be as an invisible back-breaking laborer in China. Or they could simply be sent back home to face prison and torture.

Not so for Kim Dae-sung, though. He found an entirely different path. He is one of North Korea’s few escapees who have built a successful business in Seoul. The 43-year-old runs flourishing companies that make official baseball hats and trade consumer goods.

And now he wants to help other North Koreans follow him. Kim has a grand plan to narrow the knowledge gap between Nouth and South Koreans. Most North Koreans, for instance, arrive in the South entirely unfamiliar with new technology. Maybe 3 percent are able to find any kind of small success.

“Sipping coffee in his downtown office, he talks about how he has spent the past decade training North Koreans to survive in the business world, through coaching and microloans. He’s also eagerly preparing for the possible collapse of North Korea, planning to open a microfinance institution for its long-impoverished people,” writes GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Geoffrey Cain, who is based in Seoul.

Strange But True

Have you heard of the new Owen Wilson movie, “No Escape?” Have you seen the trailer? Does it look exotic and exciting? How about xenophobic and racist?

Here’s the plot: A naïve dad moves his family to some Southeast Asian locale. Bad move. The locals — savages, let’s call them — fight back in screaming, faceless hordes. Wilson and his very white family try to escape. That’s it. That’s the plot. It’s a zombie movie where the zombies are Asian people.

“The villains appear to be a melange of various foreign rebels. They’re like a neo-Khmer Rouge, with an Islamic State-style glee for murdering Americans, set loose in a ‘World War Z’ landscape with a few Buddhist temples and Hawaiian shirts,” writes GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Patrick Winn, who is based in Bangkok.

Is Hollywood really still making movies like this?