Park’s confidante jailed: The friend of former South Korean leader Park Geun-hye, who was at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal that rocked the country’s business and political elite, has been sentenced to three years in jail, reports Heekyong Yang. The court decision was the first ruling against Choi Soon-sil, a long-time confidante of the ousted South Korean president, who has been arrested and is being held in jail over the corruption scandal that ended her administration.
Dutertenomics-Brains not brawn: Strongman leaders are back in vogue in Asia and no one is tossing around more testosterone than Rodrigo Duterte. William Pesek writes that instead of creating a blood-soaked “Duterte Harry” legacy, the Philippines President should instead focus on tackling the country’s change-averse and nepotistic political system to kick start an economic boom that would really capture the world’s imagination.
Modi’s Washington shopping-list: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Donald Trump for the first time on Sunday and when he does, he hopes the United States will have already approved India’s strategically-important purchase of a US Navy variant of the Predator drone. Sanjeev Miglani and David Brunnstrom write that defence ties flourished with former President Barack Obama but have drifted under Trump who has courted China instead of India as he seeks Beijing’s help to contain North Korea’s nuclear programme.
Qatar-Facing the abyss? Qatar’s economy has so far managed to survive the gripping blockade imposed on it by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain but how long can this last, asks Sami Moubayed? Sanctions will soon start to bite on tourism, services and finance and while some are still confident that international firms will intervene and force the Saudis to end the blockade, the crisis has already had a terrible effect on Qatar’s reputation in global markets.
Pyongyang releases Russians: A North Korean patrol boat intercepted a Russian yacht and towed it into North Korea’s Rason port until the Russian embassy intervened to have the three crew and the vessel released. Asia Times reports that North Korea regularly detains Chinese vessels near its shores and usually demands payment of a fine for their return but the Russian vessel, which was sailing to Vladivostok after wintering in Taiwan, faced no such issues and the incident was resolved in less than 24 hours.