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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 19, 2018)
Page 10 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
February 19, 2018
Hmong fear for spirits of the dead after headstones moved
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The manager of
a cemetery in central California said he
will learn more about Hmong culture and
traditions after an uproar on social media
over headstones that were moved without
the proper ritual.
Mountain View Cemetery manager
Randy Giovannoni said staff moved four or
five upright gravestones to dig a grave
for a Hmong burial, The Fresno Bee
Hmong believe that moving the
headstones without proper ritual disturbs
the spirits of the dead, and that could
cause harm to living relatives, especially
Giovannoni said he did not know moving
headstones was problematic until a
Hmong television station called him about
photos of the headstones being shared
hundreds of times on social media.
“The last thing I want to do is upset the
Hmong community,” Giovannoni said. “If
this is a cultural issue, it was never
brought to my attention. I felt like the guy
Omaha zoo puts red panda
on display ahead of schedule
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Henry Doorly
Zoo & Aquarium in Omaha has a panda on
display — but not the black-and-white
animal from China.
The Omaha World-Herald reported that
the zoo has a red panda on display ahead of
the completion of the zoo’s new home for
the animals — set to open in the spring —
in its Asian Highlands exhibit.
Zoo officials say the two-year-old red
panda named Tofu arrived from the
Detroit Zoo in January. Tofu will
eventually be joined by another female and
a breeding male.
The Omaha zoo first acquired red
pandas in 1987, then phased out the
species in 1997.
Despite the name, red pandas aren’t
related to giant pandas. Red pandas are
close relatives to raccoons, skunks, and
weasels and are the size of a small raccoon.
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in Hawai‘i (who mistakenly issued a
Youa Her of Fresno said she saw a photo
With Koreas Olympic thaw, war-split families want reunions
Continued from page 3
slew of unusual steps: a joint march with
South Korea during the opening ceremony
of the Winter Games; the formation of a
combined Korean women’s hockey team;
and the dispatching of leader Kim Jong
Un’s sister as part of an Olympic
South Korea wants full-fledged, regular
reunions, but North Korea has used the
programs in the past as a way to win aid
and concessions from the South. Experts
say the North also worries expanded
reunions would expose its citizens to
influence from the more affluent South.
Past reunions typically involved
hundreds of Koreans at the North’s
Diamond Mountain resort. The techniques
of choosing participants differed: Seoul
used a computerized lottery system, while
the North reportedly picked citizens loyal
to the Kim family’s leadership. No Korean
has ever gotten a second chance to meet a
Before their 2015 meeting, the Koreas’
most recent reunion program, Kang’s
family held a memorial service for Song
every year because they thought him long
dead. They said they heard from various
people that he was conscripted into the
North’s army while on the way to school in
the early months of the war, and that his
unit was destroyed by American bombing.
But it was Song who looked for Kang’s
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on Facebook that showed the headstone of
her late husband, Seng Her, had been
moved by several feet.
GRAVEYARD GAFFE. Youa Her of Fresno, Cali-
fornia inspects the headstone of her late husband after
it was moved back into position at Mountain View
Cemetery in Fresno, California. The manager of the
cemetery in central California says he will learn more
about Hmong culture and traditions after an uproar on
social media over headstones that were moved with-
out proper Hmong ritual. (Lewis Griswold/The Fresno
Bee via AP)
“I came here at 7:00am. I am very upset.
I was in shock,” she said.
She was one of a number of Hmong
families who went to the cemetery to check
on the headstones of their loved ones.
“I just saw it on social media,” said
Kabao Xiong of Fresno, who has several
relatives buried there. “It’s their home. It’s
not right to move it. They should notify the
families so they are not in such shock.”
Giovannoni said he will meet with a
representative of the Hmong community
to learn about cultural expectations and
will make changes in procedures.
“If someone would have explained, I
would have done something,” Giovannoni
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family before the 2015 reunion.
By then, Song’s parents and elder
brother (Kang’s husband) and the
daughter Song had so enjoyed mounting
on his shoulder — all of whom lived at the
Gangneung house — had died. So Kang
went to the North Korean mountain with
her children who had never seen him and a
nephew who remembered him as a boy.
“It was like meeting a man who had been
dead,” Kang says. “He left us when he was
young ... Then I met him again when he
became an old man with white hair. But he
still resembles my mother-in-law so much,
who was very beautiful.”
Kang’s 63-year-old son, Song Young-jin,
attended that meeting and became
attached to the uncle he never thought
much about. “We want to see him 10 more
times,” he says.
Kang’s neighbor, Kwon Sun Ku, 76, met
his elder brother for three days at
Diamond Mountain in 2005. He learned
that his brother, Kwon Sun Oh, who
disappeared during the war, had been
living on the northern side of the divided
Gangwon province, to which Gangneung
city belongs. It would probably take an
hour or so by car to reach his brother’s
place if there was no mine-strewn
“I want to exchange letters with him and
meet him to find how he’s been doing since
lots of things have changed over the years,”
Kwon said it was difficult to have “real
conversations” with his brother, who he
recalled answered incoherently because of
worry about being monitored. But it was
still a tearful reunion with a man who
shared his family’s thick eyebrows and
gave Kwon a ride on his bicycle to a
hospital for seven months to treat bone
cancer on his leg.
“I showed my scars on the leg to him ...
and I told him that ‘Brother, this is why I
cannot forget you,’” Kwon says.
During Kang’s reunion, Song asked
about an English-Korean dictionary he
used at school, something that not every
student possessed at the time. After
returning home, her family found they still
have the dictionary with his name written
on the cover. Kang’s son said he would give
it to Song if they are allowed to meet him
The last time Kang saw Song, in 2015,
he had boarded the bus to go home. He
extended his hands out the window to hold
hers. He wept. And the bus drove off.
Kang’s family built their current
tile-roofed house after tearing down the
old thatched house. But other than that,
they say, not much has changed since Song
lived here. The old walnut tree is still in
the front yard, and the foliage on the hill
behind the house is the same.
“I want him to stay overnight here,”
Kang says. “I want to make meals for him
and tell him how we’ve lived.”
Philippines objects to China’s
naming of undersea features
“Shirtless” Tongan skier, others
“live to fight another day”
Continued from page 4
research missions in Benham Rise after
officials said the Philippines’ undisputed
sovereign rights in the potentially oil- and
gas-endowed body of water off its
northeastern coast came under question.
The president followed up with a
warning that he will order the navy to fire
if other countries extract resources from
within his country’s exclusive economic
zone, a 200-nautical mile stretch of sea
where a coastal state has internationally
recognized exclusive rights to exploit
resources under a 1982 U.N. treaty.
Foreign ships can pass but cannot fish or
extract oil and gas from the under the
There were no immediate comments
from Chinese Embassy officials.
Chinese and Philippine officials met in
Manila and discussed proposed joint
projects in the South China Sea. They said
China and Southeast Asian nations would
begin negotiations early next month on a
“code of conduct” aimed at reducing the
risks of armed confrontations in the
Continued from page 8
fighting for medals here, but it is good to
feel this Olympic spirit. We have had a lot
of bad news (in the world) recently, so it’s
good to keep up this Olympic spirit.”
Madrazo was the last competitor to cross
the finish line, proudly waving a Mexican
flag he grabbed as he was heading to the
As he crossed, Taufatofua was there to
greet him with a hug.
“Pita and I hugged and said again, ‘We
live to fight another day,’” Madrazo said.
“It made me cry. It was the best feeling
The popular Taufatofua said he will be
back. He plans to compete at the 2020
Olympics in Tokyo, but wouldn’t say in
what sport. He said it may be in something
that includes water.
“Three Olympics, three different
sports,” he said. “Let’s see if it can be done.”
For now, he has another goal.
“My focus right now is to help Tonga get
rebuilt,” Taufatofua said. “We got hit by a
cyclone, so I want to focus on that.”
That’s another thing worth fighting for.