Home Journalism Magazine N, from Taliban to Gaza across War and Peace

Magazine N, from Taliban to Gaza across War and Peace

Magazine N, from Taliban to Gaza across War and Peace

One of the main topics in Magazine N, spring 2024, is the adventurous visit of Afghanistan under the new era of Taliban

Staff Report

Seoul, South Korea

One of the main topics in Magazine N, spring 2024, is the adventurous visit of Afghanistan under the new era of Taliban. The cover comes with Buddhas of Bamiyan, a world- renowned ancient Buddhist site in this country, which was filmed by Tony Lee, a correspondent of “Magazine N” who delivers his coverage of Afghanistan under Taliban rule in December 2023. “We will watch. Will the Taliban lead Afghanistan well?

In 1998, the Bamiyan Caves were dug using military weapons such as tanks and cannons. Traces of ancient Buddhist murals still remain inside the Bamiyan Stone Buddha and the stupas in the surrounding villages, taken from a high mountain on the other side of ancient China and India.

The Taliban, an Islamic extremist armed group, has ruled Afghanistan twice (1996-2001 and 2021-present). The Taliban’s first term in power in Afghanistan was marred by tyranny that suppressed all freedoms. The Taliban, who are entering their second term in power in 2021, say they are different from before, but the West’s gaze towards them is not much different from the past.

Which is the real face of the Taliban: what the Taliban says they are or what the West says about them?

In December 2023, Lee Shin-seok, a reporter specializing in conflict areas for ‘AsiaN’ who faced Afghanistan under the Taliban with his body and mind, tells us the story of the Taliban and Afghanistan  with photos!

It may seem surprising that Afghanistan, where Islam is the official religion, has the Bamiyan Stone Buddha, one of the largest Buddhist relics in the world. However, Buddhist culture was spread throughout Afghanistan, including the city of Bamyan.

Afghanistan- Journalist
Lee Shin-seok, a reporter specializing in conflict areas for ‘AsiaN’ with Afghan people

In December 2023, Lee Shin-seok, a reporter specializing in conflict areas for ‘AsiaN’ who faced Afghanistan under the Taliban with his body and mind, tells us the story of the Taliban and Afghanistan  with photos!

Aurel Stein (1862-1943), a Hungarian-British archaeologist who died in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, argued that the origins of Buddhism were the Sistan (Zabuli Stan) region, which covers present-day southeastern Iran and southwestern Afghanistan. The existence of the Bamiyan Stone Buddha and the prevalence of Buddhism centered on the city of Bamyan support his argument.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Bamiyan Grottoes were full of Western hippies, who lived in the caves and damaged the interior and exterior of the space. In the 1980s, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Soviet soldiers destroyed part of the Bamiyan Caves. And in the mid-1990s, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, and the fate of the Bamiyan Caves turned tragic.

Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban, considered the West’s behavior to be duplicitous. It was dissatisfying to see the West, claiming to be helping Afghanistan, but instead restoring and supporting the Bamiyan Stone Buddhas, which were a local landmark, rather than the suffering people or refugees.

Of the two branches of Islam, the Pashtuns, who follow the Sunni sect, were the majority in Afghanistan, while the Hazaras, who follow the Shia sect, were the minority and lived in the Bamiyan area. Omar thought that the presence of the Bamiyan Stone Buddhas, which were touched by the West, was damaging to Afghanistan’s ethnic homogeneity. The Taliban are from the majority Pashtun ethnic group. They began to suffer, and in 2001, the destruction of the Bamiyan Grottoes with dynamite was broadcast live around the world. Therefore, all kinds of scars remain in the existing Bamiyan Grottoes.

Ironically, the Taliban, who returned to power in August 2021, is making money from Bamiyan Stone, one of Afghanistan’s few tourist resources. The Taliban destroyed the Bamyan Caves because they were tired of the West’s duplicity, but they actually exposed the contradiction of using it because they needed it. The Taliban retook control of Afghanistan for the first time in about 20 years and declared that there would be no previous reign of terror.

However, the West still views the Taliban as oppressing Afghanistan’s freedom, women’s rights, and culture. Which is the real face, the Taliban according to themselves or the West according to them?

Magazine N -Asia Journalists Association (AJA), which was the birthplace of Magazine N and its sister online newspaper THE AsiaN will celebrate its 20th anniversary in November

The editor’s letter to Magazine N readers explained why was it absent for this long time: “I’m going to start this letter with some thoughts as I arrange my office books in the new spring. First, I felt remorse for living with books that I hadn’t read for months or decades and I felt that it was not polite to neglect the books and sorry for their authors and publishers. And I made a pledge to make only books that would be helpful to someone and worthy reading. What plans are you making this spring? First, I ask for your great understanding for not publishing Magazine N issues for six times after changing its publication period from monthly to quarterly due to the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The phrase “the deeper the sin, the deeper the grace” struck me.”

Asia Journalists Association (AJA), which was the birthplace of Magazine N and its sister online newspaper THE AsiaN will celebrate its 20th anniversary in November. In line with this, they are pushing ahead with the following plans. In this regard, they plan to open the Russian and Sindh versions of the online THEAsiaN in the first half of this year. THEAsiaN is now available in Korean, English and Arabic and plans to open additional versions in November this year on the occasion of the 13th anniversary of the THEAsiaN. In this regard, they are closely communicating with AJA members of the relevant countries and working on concrete plans. We will update you on the progress through the 2024 summer edition of Magazine N.

Read: Drastic erosion of women’s rights in Afghanistan continues

When the time comes, there will be also a change in Magazine N. Magazine N is a medium that publisher and founder Lee Sang-ki always keeps grateful of. That’s why he loves it more. The first thing is to upgrade the level of content and differentiation of Magazine N: “We will literally present as many articles as possible that cannot be seen in other media. The 13 manuscripts in this issue contributed by members of AJA may have not been found in any other media in Korea. We will strive to do our utmost to achieve such originality and high quality as much as possible.”

Of the content, there is an article by Chhay Sophal Director of Cambodia News Online, Cambodia, on “S. Korea’s Bridge & Achievements Capture Cambodians’ Hearts in Deep Friendship”:

“After hearing that the Republic of Korea has provided loan to build a bridge in the center of Capital of Phnom Penh, the Cambodians, especially those living in the capital, have strongly cheered. News of the construction of the Cambodia-Korea Friendship Bridge was announced during a meeting between HE Samdech Say Chhum, Head of the Senate of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and H.E Kim Jin-pyo, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, at the Cambodian Senate on September 8, 2023.”

Recently, Chhay Sophal has been awarded his PhD, and in the latest AJA meeting he got sincere congratulations from his friends, who consider themselves members of the same journalistic family.

Alin Ferrer-Garganera Media practitioner, Radio anchor, Philippines, wrote under the title “A peaceful South China Sea”, that Strategic Importance of South China Sea is strategically important to many countries. In terms of trade, the UN Conference on Trade and Development or UNCTAD estimated that around 80% of the volume of global international trade is transported through the seas, and that more than half of this maritime trade is carried out in Asia. Around 40% of global petroleum products pass this route, which is an important consideration for Asian economic powers such as China, Japan and South Korea who are dependent on oil exports that pass this way. In addition, the transfer of liquefied natural gas also finds its way in the SCS, which makes the area a hotspot for the transport of energy.”

Eddy Suprapto CEO of Masagar News, Indonesia wrote on “Post Jokowi Leadership Succession” stating that “Immortality is just a fantasy. It turns out that the only thing that remains is opinion. Through the changing seasons, time changes. Power also has limits. In October 2024, President Jokowi’s leadership will end after ruling two general elections and cannot be reelected. Looking Back In fact, if you look back at Jokowi’s political career track record, it is marked by brilliant achievements. He started his political career as twice elected mayor of Solo, continued to serve as Governor of the Special Capital Region of Jakarta, and then became President of Indonesia. President Joko Widodo is said to be a figure who brings new hope to ordinary people.”

From Pakistan, another dramatic scene has been portrayed by Nasir Aijaz, the AsiaN Representative Islamabad, Pakistan, of the “Hung Parliament” in Pakistan: History repeats itself”

Also from Indonesia, an article entitled “Democracy and the Absence of Opposition in Indonesia” by Abdul Manan Editor at Tempo magazine in Jakarta, Chairman of the National Board of Ethics the Alliance of Independence Journalists Indonesia (AJI), tells us that “The rise of Prabowo-Gibran will of course not bring much change to Indonesia’s political and economic landscape in the next five years. Both of them have determined that their government’s political stance is to continue what Jokowi has done. The additions are free lunches and free milk, which is one of the two selling points in this presidential election.”

From Pakistan, another dramatic scene has been portrayed by Nasir Aijaz, the AsiaN Representative Islamabad, Pakistan, of the “Hung Parliament” in Pakistan: History repeats itself”. General elections for the National Assembly for the new tenure of five years were held on February 8, 2024 in Pakistan but even after two weeks’ time, neither the inaugural session of the assembly has been summoned nor has any political party been able to claim forming the government. Such a situation has developed because of Hung Parliament, where no political party has won the election with absolute majority. As a result of the election, independent candidates from the Pakistan Justice Movement (PTI) led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan won 101 seats, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won 75 seats, and the Pakistani People’s Party (PPP), headed by former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, won 54. Pakistan came into being in 1947 as a result of partition of Indian subcontinent and unfortunately, the newly created country was administered by civil and military rulers for 23 years with ad hoc constitutions and non-elected assemblies named as ‘Constituent Assembly’. These legislatives were so weak that they were frequently dissolved and constitutions abrogated by the rulers.

On “Advancement of intellectual, we need empathy and kindness”, Gunjit Sra Publisher of Sbcltr, India,  takes us to a  general view of the audience during the opening of a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Ram, in Ayodhya, India, Monday, Jan.22, 2024, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi being set to open a controversial Hindu temple built on the ruins of an ancient mosque in the holy city of Ayodhya in a grand event that is expected to galvanize Hindu voters months before a general election, as India enters 2024, it is caught up in a frenzy. The preparations for the much awaited inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya are underway. For almost three decades, two national political parties have contested elections in the country on the basis of promising the Hindu majority a legitimate claim on the revered city (of Ayodhya), with a place of worship at the birthplace of the Hindu deity Ram. This is also the place where the Babri Masjid used to stand, until it was razed to the ground in 1992, as collateral damage in the aftermath of a religious conflict which spanned almost 150 years. Therefore, the inauguration of the temple is historically and emotionally significant for majoritarian Hindus, who at this moment feel righteously avenged in the face of Mughal invasion, by reclaiming a piece of land which was allegedly stolen from them in early 16th century.

Read: Story of a Pakistani who became Korean

It seems that “No one can curtail the sacred duty bestowed upon the Defence Forces” as written by Leo Nirosha Darshan News Editor at Express Newspapers, Sri Lanka, on President Ranil Wickremesinghe, emphasizing the monumental responsibility borne by the security forces, underscored that protecting the sovereignty of the country is paramount. The President clearly stated that no external interference or restriction shall be tolerated.

On December 20th i n 202 3 , President Wickremesinghe, serving as the Chief Guest at the Parade of Cadet Officers during the ceremony of Colours Re-Awarding and Commissioning Parade of Sri Lanka Military Academy, Diyatalawa, highlighted the security forces’ role in safeguarding both the people’s sovereignty and the distinctive identity of Sri Lanka. He emphasized that any attempt to act independently based on racism or religion would pose a threat to the Sri Lankan identity.

Cover photo of Magazine N

More articles are published in Magazine N, by Ashraf Aboul-Yazid Dali (Ashraf Dali AJA President, Egypt): The Philosophy of War in the Middle East, Habib Toumi (Editor in Chief of THEAsiaN English Edition, Bahrain): Middle East: Several layers in a complex geopolitical landscape, Ghina Halik (Journalist of Laha Magazine, Lebanon): Israel-Hamas war worsens Lebanon’s economy, Ivan Lim Former (AJA President, Singapore): Priotise or Prioritise? Uproar Over Missing “i” In Headline, Alireza Bahrami (Editor in Chief of ISNA, Iran): They were anonymous, Kuban Abdymen (Founder of Central Asian Light):  Afghan Taliban’s Controversial Moves Slow Down Central Asia, Chuluuunbaatar Dolgor (Founder of USB, Mongolia): As Mongolia’s Prime Minister Oyun-Eredene nears 3rd anniversary, Joo Eun-sik (Director of Korea Strategic Studies Institute, Reserve Brigadier General): Why Chinese soccer can’t show its spirit, Min Byeong-don (Former military academy principal): President Syngman Rhee’s resourcefulness obtains the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty, Ohjun (Save the Children Chairman, Former UN Ambassador): Rohingya refugee camp with no exit ‘Cox’s Bazar’, Young-jun Kim (Vice President, Korea Institute for Integrative Strategy, Doctor of International Politics): History professor who taught historians, Youngjun Park (Managing director of Hyundai Engineering & Construction, former professor at the Korean Military Academy): Let’s transform the DMZ from a ‘scar of war’ into a ‘place of prosperity’, Poet Choi Myung-sook (Representative Under the Bodhi Tree): Asian disabled people overcome barriers and become one through literature, Park Young-soon (author of <Coffee Humanities>): Coffees listed as UNESCO cultural heritage sites, Kim Yong-gil,  (Reporter〈Dong-A Ilbo〉): Night train to Lisbon, Kim Ji-hye (CEO of Tree and Moon Publishing Company): ‘Editor’s Work’ by Kim Dam-yu… In the era of big data, people who create their own path, Myeong-yoon Park (Ph.D. in Public Health, Chairman of the Korea Health and Nutrition Research Institute): Population extinction, is a hundred medicines invalid?, Ilwon Yoon (author of ‘The Rich Dream of Socialism’ and CEO of Trust Lab): Widang Jeong In-bo’s sad love between a couple of the same age, Nam Moon-woo (former head of Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office Hongseong Branch, former lawyer): The ‘excitement’ of starting to write at the age of 90, Attorney Lee Woo-geun : The old new, the truth of the two faces of ‘Yanews’, Kim Hee-bong (Ph.D. in Educational Engineering, Executive Director of the Korean Leadership Association): Can artificial intelligence (AI) help demonstrate leadership?, Baeil-dong (Pansori Master Singer): A sad life without you, the affection contained in pansori.

Published under the International Cooperation Protocol with The AsiaN (Arabic) Seoul, South Korea  



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