Top Asian News 5:07 p.m. GMT

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A middle-aged man is walking through a quiet Seoul neighborhood when he suddenly stops. He lights a cigarette, cupping his hands to shield the flame from the winter wind, and takes a deep draw, remembering how things used to be. He's a former policeman, a broad-shouldered man with a growling voice and a crushing handshake. Back where he came from, he says, he was someone who mattered. "In North Korea, people were afraid of me," he says. He says it wistfully, almost sadly, like a boy talking about a dog he once had. "They knew I could just drag them away." That fear meant respect, and bribes, in the North Korean town where he lived, a place where the electricity rarely worked and the Internet was only a rumor.

The speaker of Brazil's parliament is denying reports that he has offshore financial accounts. The Brazilian news portal UOL says Eduardo Cunha is one of hundreds around the world with accounts administered by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in offshore accounts. Cunha on Twitter says he "never had any relationship whatsoever, be it direct or indirect" with such an offshore account. Cunha is leading an attempt to impeach President Dilma Rousseff while also fighting money-laundering allegations in connection with a corruption investigation at the state-run oil company Petrobras. He's also facing possible removal from office for allegedly lying to a congressional committee when he denied having foreign bank accounts.

BEIJING (AP) — Mainland Chinese media ignored a film festival award by "Ten Years," a collection of five shorts that depict a gloomy future for Beijing-ruled Hong Kong, where freedom of speech has all but disappeared. "Ten Years" won out over the favorite, crime thriller "Port of Call," in the best film category at Sunday's Hong Kong Film Festival. "Port of Call," which won seven awards, had been nominated in 13 categories and "Ten Years" just one. Mainland media failed to mention the win by "Ten Years," with at least one entertainment site omitting it from its list of winners. Online site Tencent, which often broadcasts film ceremonies, put up videos of other winners accepting awards.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — At least six police officers have been killed in a Taliban ambush on their convoy in Afghanistan's northern Balkh province, an official said on Monday. Abdul Manon Raoufi, operational commander for police in the region, said insurgents attacked the convoy Sunday night in the Dawlat Abad district. The police were on their way to neighboring Jawzjan province after conducting an anti-insurgent operation in Balkh when the ambush happened, he said. No group has claimed responsibility. Raoufi said an insurgent leader of the Taliban was also killed in the gunfight. Separately, in eastern Nangarhar province, two people died and six others were wounded in a bomb explosion Monday, said Hazrat Hussain Mashreqewal, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines on Monday launched the first public immunization program for dengue fever, seeking to administer to a million schoolchildren the world's first licensed vaccine against a mosquito-borne disease that the World Health Organization estimates infects 390 million people a year globally. Hundreds of fourth-graders at a public school in metropolitan Manila's Marikina city were given the first of three shots of Dengvaxia. Some of the pupils received their vaccination shot under the glare of cameras during a festive ceremony at a gymnasium festooned with multicolored bunting and preceded by songs and dances performed by the children.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Lines of people from women holding babies to school age children, with a hand held up to show they're for hire, are a ubiquitous sight on the Indonesian capital's busiest roads during rush hour. But not this week. Traffic-clogged Jakarta plans to suspend its peak-time rule of three people to one car from Tuesday. And the passengers for hire, known as jockeys, who helped drivers cheat the traffic controls, will be out of a job. By lifting the 3-in-1 rule, city authorities will be testing what happens to congestion. If there's no difference to the number of cars on the road, they'll know that a system in place for more than a decade is broken.

BEIJING (AP) — Animal rights activists are seeking to shut down an annual summer dog meat festival in southern China blamed for blackening the country's international reputation as well as fueling extreme cruelty to canines and unhygienic food handling practices. Activists from a coalition of groups said Monday that they will continue press for the festival to be banned as well as legislation outlawing the slaughtering of dogs and cats and the consumption of their meat. While an estimated 10-20 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China, the June 20 event in the city of Yulin has come to symbolize the cruelty and lack of hygiene associated with the largely unregulated industry.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Saudi King Salman on Sunday during his first official visit to the kingdom, home to a large number of Indian laborers and a major trade partner that supplies around 19 percent of India's crude oil imports. Modi's visit underscored the major business ties between the two countries, despite Saudi Arabia's historically close relationship with India's long-standing rival Pakistan. Modi visited Pakistan in December, suggesting a thawing of relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. Saudi Arabia is traditionally India's largest supplier of crude oil, and India is one of the world's largest consumers of crude.

In this photo by Shizuo Kambayashi, a woman takes a photo as she rides a boat through a sea of cherry blossom petals on the Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo. The country's iconic flower, "sakura," is in full bloom in the capital, drawing visitors from around Japan and overseas. Some 100 people lined up for rental boats, despite a seasonal rate of 800 yen ($8) for a 30-minute ride. Watching petals falling from the arcade of cherry trees makes the Chidorigafuchi section of the moat one of Tokyo's most popular viewing sites. Viewing blossoms from the water is also a quieter experience than in Tokyo's parks, where many people have drinking parties under the cherry blossoms.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Thousands of U.S. and Philippine troops, along with Australian defense forces, began annual drills Monday to prepare to quickly respond to a range of potential crises, including in the disputed South China Sea. The exercises have been opposed in recent years by China, which has territorial disputes in the South China Sea with several countries, including the Philippines, and suspects the drills are part of efforts to contain Beijing. Washington and Manila say the drills are not directed against China, and that they also focus on responding to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will fly to the Philippines to witness some of the 11-day exercises, underscoring the importance Washington puts on the joint combat drills that have been staged 32 times, said U.S.

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