Asia – A Week in Pictures 12 December 2010

December 13, 2010

This week the blog should be called A Week (and a few extra hours ) in Pictures as I wanted to share a couple of images that came in late last Sunday and evaded my net as I trawled through the file. Both are from Thailand and both were shot by Sukree Sukplang. The first is a strong portrait of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej as he leaves hospital in a wheelchair to attend a ceremony to celebrate his 83rd birthday. The picture seems to me to mirror the respect that the Thai people have for their King. What makes me think this I am not sure; maybe its the side light which creates studio-like modelling on the king’s face highlighting every detail of his appearance, the crispness of the clothes, the beauty of the ceremonial medals and the rich colour of the royal sash. Or maybe it’s just the way he is looking back into the lens, his eyes full of dignity and determination.

THAILAND/

 Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej leaves the Siriraj Hospital for a ceremony at the Grand Palace in Bangkok December 5, 2010. King Bhumibol celebrates his 83rd birthday on Sunday.   REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

 The picture of people releasing balloons into the air has amazing diagonal composition with the eye being led up into the darkened sky by the use of the disappearing lanterns as they float up into the darkness, the black space on the left holding in the picture so we don’t float away too.

 THAILAND

 People launch floating paper lanterns into the sky to celebrate Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 83rd birthday in Bangkok December 5, 2010. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

So to the business of this week – In Korea lawmakers from opposing parties fought it out at the National Assembly as the government forced through laws on spending; fist fights, barricades and party members being lifted to safety all in a day’s work for the lawmakers and great photographic fodder for Yong-hak. Another roller coaster week with swings from the cool control and military order of the launching ceremony of the Women Reserve Officers’ Training Corps to the tears and cries of the relatives mourning those civilians who were killed when North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island on November 23.

KOREA/

Lawmakers of opposition parties help their fellow lawmaker (top) who tries to escape as they scuffle with lawmakers of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) at the National Assembly plenary session hall in Seoul December 8, 2010. The opposition lawmakers were trying to prevent GNP lawmakers from passing new bills, including the new year’s budget bill. South Korea’s government rammed through the 2011 budget on Wednesday amid brawls between lawmakers over billions of dollars of spending on controversial projects to clean up the country’s rivers.   REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

KOREA-POLITICS/BRAWL 

 Lawmakers of opposition parties help their fellow lawmaker (top) who tries to escape as they scuffle with lawmakers of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) at the National Assembly plenary session hall in Seoul December 8, 2010. The opposition lawmakers were trying to prevent GNP lawmakers from passing new bills, including the new year’s budget bill. South Korea’s government rammed through the 2011 budget on Wednesday amid brawls between lawmakers over billions of dollars of spending on controversial projects to clean up the country’s rivers.   REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

KOREA/ 

Cadets salute for photographs after the launching ceremony of the Women Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul December 10, 2010. The South Korean Army picked sixty female university students for the college-based, officer-training program for the first time since it started in 1963 to give women more opportunities in the military, local media reported on Friday.  REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

KOREA-NORTH/

Bae Bok-soon, elder sister of Bae Bok-chul, 60, cries as she holds a coffin during the funeral for the two civilians who died when North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island on November 23, in Incheon, west of Seoul December 6, 2010. North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells at the border island in November, killing two civilians, including Bae, as well as two South Korean soldiers in the heaviest attack on its neighbour since the Korean War ended in 1953.    REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

Berlin based photographer Fabrizio Bensch is embedded with German forces in Afghanistan. Although I have seen similar images (and I am sure that the military PR machine would be very happy of this image of a German soldier in Afghanistan) I was very taken by this moment of a child reaching up and touching the German soldier as he patrols in the monochromatic landscape. I think what is most disarming is the obvious warmth of the soldier’s smile as he looks down. On a structural aspect of the picture the point of contact between soldier and child is just one finger that is just about central in the picture. You might have also noticed that the only colour in the whole picture is the dusty pink shoes of the child.

AFGHANISTAN/

A boy follows a German Bundeswehr army soldier with the 2nd Paratroop Company 373 as he patrols during a mission in the city of Iman Sahib, north of Kunduz, northern Afghanistan December 9, 2010.   REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

 A picture that uses a splash of colour to highlight the mood is Gopal’s image of a child struggling with the burden of the weight of her work, collecting old plastic for recycling into plastic bags.  The eye is drawn immediately to the centre of the picture by the red and white stripes of the hat and the next thing you see is the girls face looking down. You don’t need me to suggest to you want she is feeling. As the eye moves out you become aware of the rags of clothes she is wearing and the filthiness of the task she is carrying out. A very strong picture of a small moment of life in Nepal.

NEPAL

A girl carries sacks of discarded plastic in Kathmandu December 9, 2010. Plastic is sold as a raw material to local companies that manufacture shopping bags. REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar

The Taliban attacked a conference of elders who had gathered to discuss how to combat attacks by the Taliban in the North West of Pakistan, 40 people were killed.  The physical pain quietly obvious in Fayaz’s picture of an injured man covered in anti-burns cream his beard singed and matted from the blast.

PAKISTAN-VIOLENCE/

Kareem Khan, 50, who was injured in suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan’s Mohmand region, lies at the Lady Reading hospital in Peshawar after having cream applied on his burns December 6, 2010. Suspected Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 40 people at the office compound of a top government official in northwest Pakistan on Monday, demonstrating the ability of militants to strike high-profile targets in defiance of army offensives. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

Demonstrations also featured heavily in Asia this week as people took to the streets to protest over corruption. Yusuf catching the moment when a policeman has broken ranks to hurl a stone back at the protestors – just look at the number of rocks and stones and the feet of the gathered police, his pose almost balletic in front of the steel wall of shields. In Kashmir, the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front took to the streets claiming that the Indian army had violated their human rights. Fayaz used a slow shutter speed and slighly under exposed the image to highlight the burning torches and give a feeling of menace and threat. In the Philippines students dedicated the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity annual Oblation run to support the students who demonstrated in London against the hike in tuition fees (congratulations to Matt Dunham, friend and competitor for his exclusive picture of Charles and Camilla getting caught up in the demonstrations). What I like about Romeo’s picture is that for sure everyone who sees it will have to read the caption to find out what the hell is going on. Why are there naked men walking past smiling female students holding a sign that says “FREE”?

 INDONESIA

A policeman throws a stone to protesters during an anti-corruption protest in Makassar December 9, 2010. REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad

KASHMIR

Activists of Kashmiri separatist party, the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), hold torches during a procession to mark International Human Rights Day in Srinagar December 10, 2010. The procession was held to protest against what the JKLF say are human rights violations by the Indian security forces on Kashmiris. JKLF, which declared a ceasefire in 1994 against Indian security forces, says it leads a political struggle for Kashmir’s complete independence from both India and Pakistan, who claim the region in full but rule in parts. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli

 PHILIPPINES/

Members of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity walk naked during the annual Oblation run in the University of the Philippines in Manila December 10, 2010. The fraternity dedicated this year’s run to protesting the recent budget cut for the university, which threatens the quality of education and may result in an increase in tuition fees, local media reported on Friday.    REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Tokyo hosted the international Pole Championship which is run by the International Pole Dance Fitness Association (IPDFA). They have sections for men, women and disabled contestants. Looking at their web site all you have to do to enter is send portrait picture, a biography and video of your routine un-edited, with close ups and full body length and fill out the on-line form. What has amazed me about the pictures from this is the combination of strength, balance and grace it takes to compete and how far from its roots pole dancing has come. There are media reports that the IPDFA are in talks with the Olympic Associations to make pole dancing a test event as aerial sports. Have a look at Toru’s picture and make up your own mind – graceful sport, dance or just voyeurism?

JAPAN/

Italy’s Giulia Piolanti performs a pole dance at the International Pole Championship in Tokyo December 9, 2010.    REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Last is a round up of pictures from the region which are added just because I like them. I get why people might dress up as pandas to look after baby pandas, but standing on a barrel in floods with an umbrella just seems bizarre. The last two I have included as I just like the shape and the way the eye is led around the image.

CHINA/

A researcher dressed in a panda costume carries a panda cub after its physical examination at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong National Nature Reserve, Sichuan province December 3, 2010. The 4-month old cub, the first in the centre to be trained for reintroduction into the wild, is monitored by hidden cameras. Researchers performing physical examinations on the cub wear panda costumes to ensure that the cub’s environment is devoid of human influence, according to local media. REUTERS/Stringer

INDIA/

A boy stands on a container in a flooded street after heavy rains in the southern Indian city of Chennai December 6, 2010. REUTERS/Babu

ASIA-COMPANIES/SENTIMENT

People walk in a business district in Chiba, east of Tokyo December 2, 2010. Business sentiment at Asia’s top companies rebounded in the fourth quarter as corporations shrugged off concerns that the debt crisis unfolding on Europe’s fringes will hobble global growth.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai

ASIA-COMPANIES/SENTIMENT

A man walks past a traffic junction at a shopping district in Taipei December 7, 2010. Business sentiment at Asia’s top companies rebounded in the fourth quarter as corporations shrugged off concerns that the debt crisis unfolding on Europe’s fringes will hobble global growth.  REUTERS/Nicky Loh

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