In the first such case in South Korea, military officials will determine next week whether to discharge a solider who recently undertook gender reassignment surgery, officials said Friday.
South Korea bans transgender people from joining its military but has no specific regulations on what to do with those who have sex change operations during their time in the service.
The non-commissioned soldier entered the military as a male and had a sex change operation last year and is currently hospitalized at a military-run hospital, army spokesman Jeon Ha Gyu said.
It's the first time an active-duty soldier in South Korea has been referred to a military panel to decide whether to end his or her service due to gender reassignment operations, according to Jeon and Defense Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyunsoo.
A rights organization that says it has given counselling to the soldier said the staff sergeant has undergone physiological treatment and hormone therapy for an extended period. A statement from the Seoul-based Center for Military Human Rights said it hopes a "forward-looking" decision will be made at the military meeting it said will take place next Wednesday.
Views on sexuality and gender issues in South Korea have been slowly changing, and several gay-themed movies and TV dramas have become hits and some transgender entertainers have risen to stardom in recent years. Nevertheless, a strong bias against sexual minorities persists.
Activists say transgender people remain likely to face harassment, abuse and insults, and many suffer from depression and have attempted suicide.
Sri Lanka's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Friday lifted a ban imposed on drones within the island country, local media reports said.
The CAA in a statement said drones can now be operated in conformity of civil aviation regulations.
The CAA suspended the operation of all pilotless aircraft including drones last May, soon after the Easter Sunday terror attacks in April which killed over 250 people.
The CAA had said the ban had been imposed considering the volatile situation in the country after the blasts.
Sri Lanka's Cabinet of Ministers has approved a proposal by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to raise the basic daily minimum wage of tea estate workers by 33 percent, local media reported here Friday.
According to the Media Division, the basic daily minimum wage of tea estate workers will be raised from the existing 4.1 dollars U.S. dollars to 5.5 dollars starting from March 1.
President Rajapaksa said that government support to the estate sector through development of infrastructure, tax exemptions and fertilizer subsidies, should also pass on to workers.
Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana was quoted in the Daily FT as saying that a financial relief package provided to Regional Plantation Companies would allow them to provide the daily wage increase.
According to research by the Institute of Policy Studies, a socio-economic research institute, the prevailing wage scheme for tea estate workers was below a living wage standard and in need of reform.
The tea production industry constitutes 10 percent of Sri Lanka's GDP, while tea products make up 12 percent of Sri Lanka's total export value.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Nay Pyi Taw on Friday for a state visit to Myanmar.
Two Myanmar fighter jets escorted Xi's plane as it entered the country's airspace.
Myanmar's First Vice President U Myint Swe and several cabinet ministers warmly welcomed Xi upon his arrival at the Nay Pyi Taw International Airport.
Myanmar children presented flowers to the Chinese president, and local youths and artists in national costumes performed traditional dances and songs.
Waving the two countries' national flags, Myanmar children and youths cheered for the China-Myanmar friendship, and wished Xi a good health.
Along Xi's route from the airport to downtown, huge portraits of Xi and banners celebrating the China-Myanmar friendship and cooperation were also put up to welcome the Chinese president.
Upon his arrival, Xi extended sincere greetings and good wishes to the government and the people of Myanmar on behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people.
Calling China and Myanmar friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers, Xi stressed that the two peoples enjoy a profound "Paukphaw" (fraternal) friendship.
"Since the establishment of our diplomatic ties 70 years ago, we have championed and acted upon the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and made steady progress in our exchanges and cooperation in various areas," Xi said.
The Chinese president said he looks forward to having in-depth discussions with leaders of Myanmar on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest to carry forward the "Paukphaw" friendship and strengthen the comprehensive strategic cooperation.
"I am convinced that the concerted efforts of our two sides will make this visit a success and take the bilateral ties to a new level and into a new era," Xi said.
During his two-day stay, Xi is scheduled to attend a series of state events held by Myanmar President U Win Myint, hold talks with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, meet with Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Min Aung Hlaing, and exchange views with the leaders of Myanmar's parliament and political parties.
Xi will also join Myanmar leaders in a series of celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties and the launching ceremony of the China-Myanmar Culture and Tourism Year program.
It is Xi's first overseas trip this year, and the first visit to the Asian neighbor by a Chinese president after an interval of 19 years.
The airline Hong Kong Express has apologized for having required some female passengers bound for the U.S. territory of Saipan to take pregnancy tests.
The low-cost carrier said in a statement Friday that it began requiring such tests in February 2019, after concerns were raised by Saipan authorities, to ensure U.S. immigration laws were not "undermined."
"We would like to apologize unreservedly to anyone who has been affected by this," it said.
"Under our new management, we recognize the significant concerns this practice has caused. We have immediately suspended the practice while we review it," it said.
The U.S. has been seeking to prevent travelers, especially from China, from heading to Saipan and other American territories to give birth and potentially gain U.S. citizenship for their babies.
The issue surfaced after a Japanese passenger complained late last year that she felt "humiliated" when she was required to undergo such a test while traveling to the island.
Midori Nishida, who lives in Tokyo but grew up in Saipan, said that while preparing to board her flight she was taken to a public restroom and handed a pregnancy test, which came out negative.
"Satisfied that I had no baby in me, the airline staff finally issued me a boarding pass," Nishida said in comments published by the Saipan Tribune.
"I am truly appalled by the entire situation," she said, saying she usually looked forward to visiting Saipan and seeing family and friends. "But after this incident, I can only think of how I will be suspected, investigated, and humiliated before I can return to a place I consider home."