Reporters on the Job

The View From Burmese Monks: The Thai border town Mae Sot is a gateway to Burma (Myanmar), about a six-hour drive from Bangkok over a mountain range. It's a vantage point into Burma, and an escape route for those trying to get out. The last time correspondent Simon Montlake had been over this range was in 2004, when he was doing a story on Burmese migrant labor. His trip Thursday was to get a firsthand account from monks who fled after last week's military crackdown (see story).

"I have contacts in a Burmese association of ex-political prisoners here, and they put me in touch with activists sheltering three monks. I agreed not to identify them, or their monastery in Yangon (Rangoon)," he says. "We sat down in a bare room, cross-legged on their bedding and spoke of how the initial protests were peaceful, and that their abbot had asked them to chant prayers to help the people who suffered the fuel price rise. But as we talked, their political frustrations poured out."

More Than an Oompah Band: Correspondent Don Kirk was among a gaggle of press gathered at the border between North and South Korea Thursday night as South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun returned from a three-day visit with his northern counterpart (see story). Roh, his wife, and an entourage of advisers and businessmen, arrived at about 9 p.m. local time, precisely as the South Korean nightly TV news broadcasts began [Editor's note: The original version mischaracterized Roh's mode of transport.]

"Several hundred carefully vetted people were there to give a him a very stylized hero's welcome," says Don. "There were folks waving the South Korean and blue unification flags with a silhouette of the entire Korean nation. There was a real orchestra, not just an oompah band. And school children were singing the unification song." The song, a traditional well-known folk melody, overlaid with unification lyrics, is more often sung at peace rallies, says Don. But President Roh sang along with the school kids.

– David Clark Scott

World editor

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