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Archive for the ‘Poilace Vivid’ Category

Japan’s move to lower South Korea trade status takes effect

August 28, 2019

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s downgrading of South Korea’s trade status took effect Wednesday, a decision that has already set off a series of reactions hurting bilateral relations. Japanese manufacturers now must apply for approval for each technology-related contract for South Korean export, rather than the simpler checks granted a preferential trade partner, which is still the status of the U.S. and others.

Since Japan announced the decision about two months ago, South Korea decided to similarly downgrade Tokyo’s trade status, which will take effect next month. Seoul has also canceled a deal to share military intelligence with Japan.

South Korea has accused Japan of weaponizing trade because of a separate dispute linked to Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. Japan denies retaliating and says wartime compensation issues were already settled.

“Relations between Japan and South Korea continue to be in an extremely serious situation because of South Korea’s repeated negative and irrational actions, including the most critical issue of laborers from the Korean Peninsula,” Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Suga was referring to South Korea’s Supreme Court ruling last year that said the wartime compensation deal, signed in 1965, did not cover individual rights to seek reparations and ordered Japanese companies to compensate victims of forced labor.

Suga said Japan will continue to try to talk to South Korea. The wrangling has dented what had been a thriving tourism and cultural exchange between the neighboring nations, including Japanese becoming fans of Korean pop music and movies. Some South Koreas are boycotting Japanese goods or joining street protests to denounce Japan.

Hiroshige Seko, minister of economy, trade and industry, said earlier this week that the trade status review was needed for proper checks on exports because of concerns about what could be used for military purposes.

Japan has never specified the security concerns further, or how they originated. Seko also denounced South Korea’s scrapping the military intelligence agreement, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, arguing the trade decision was not directly related to military cooperation.

The intelligence-sharing agreement remains in effect until November. Japan and South Korea have shared information about North Korea’s missile launches, the latest of which happened Saturday.


Duterte in China amid expectation he’ll raise sea disputes

August 29, 2019

BEIJING (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was in Beijing on Thursday for a meeting with counterpart Xi Jinping in which the Southeast Asian leader is expected to discuss a ruling on the disputed South China Sea.

The 2016 Hague arbitration mostly invalidated China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea and found that it violated the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. The row over the waters — a major global shipping route thought to be rich in oil and gas reserves — has for years marred China’s relationship with the Philippines and other neighboring countries with territorial claims over the disputed area, where Beijing has transformed a string of disputed reefs into missile-protected island bases.

Duterte, however, has largely avoided the subject in favor of seeking warmer ties with Beijing. Philippine nationalists and left-wing groups have criticized the president for not immediately demanding Chinese compliance with the arbitration ruling, which came the same year Duterte took office.

The Philippine leader briefly mentioned the issue to Xi on the sidelines of an April conference for China’s Belt and Road global infrastructure initiative, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo indicated Duterte will raise the matter in a more direct way during this visit.

It’s unlikely that Duterte’s move will have any effect on China, said Jay Batongbacal, a maritime affairs scholar at the University of the Philippines. “China’s position will not change just because Duterte changes tune,” Batongbacal said. “At best, Duterte might be seen as using the arbitration discussion as a move to leverage other concessions. At worst, it may be just for show.”

China refused to participate in the arbitration case initiated by Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, and has ignored the ruling. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said last week that the country’s stance has not changed.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana asked Beijing this month to explain the activities of Chinese research vessels and warships in what the Philippines claims as its waters, and accused China of “bullying.”

Lorenzana said that China did not ask for permission to send several warships through the Sibutu Strait at the southern tip of the Philippine archipelago on four occasions between February and July. He said two Chinese research ships have also been operating in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Meanwhile, Philippine military spokesman Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo accused China of “duplicity,” claiming the Chinese warships shut off their identification transponders while passing through Philippine waters to avoid radar detection.

China has said it is ready to work with the Philippines to jointly safeguard maritime security and order. In an apparent attempt to ease tensions ahead of Thursday’s meeting, a fishery association in southern Guangdong province apologized this week for colliding with a Philippine fishing boat in June.

The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest after the fisherman said a Chinese vessel rammed their anchored boat and abandoned them as it sank in the Reed Bank. “I feel deep regret that this accident had to happen and I would like to express my deep sympathy to the Filipino fishermen,” the president of the Guangdong Fishery Mutual Insurance Association said in a letter sent to the Philippine Embassy in Beijing.

Gomez reported from Manila, Philippines.

S. Korea, Russia differ over warning shots fired at jets

July 23, 2019

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots Tuesday after a Russian military plane twice violated South Korea’s airspace off the country’s eastern coast, Seoul officials said in an announcement that was quickly disputed by Russia.

South Korea said three Russian military planes — two Tu-95 bombers and one A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft — entered the South’s air defense identification zone off its east coast before the A-50 intruded in South Korean airspace. Russia said later that two of its Tu-95MS bombers were on a routine flight over neutral waters and didn’t enter South Korean territory.

South Korea said it was the first time a foreign military plane had violated its airspace since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. According to South Korean accounts, an unspecified number of South Korean fighter jets, including F-16s, scrambled to the area and fired 10 flares and 80 rounds from machine guns as warning shots.

Seoul defense officials said the Russian reconnaissance aircraft left the area three minutes later but later returned and violated South Korean airspace again for four minutes. The officials said the South Korean fighter jets then fired another 10 flares and 280 rounds from machine guns as warning shots.

But the commander of Russia’s long-range aviation forces denied both that the planes had violated South Korean airspace and that shots were fired. “If the Russian pilots had identified such a threat to themselves, they would have immediately given an appropriate response,” Lt. Gen. Sergei Kobylash said, according to Russian news agencies.

He said South Korean military planes escorted the Russian planes over neutral waters, which he called “aerial hooliganism.” South Korea’s presidential national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, told top Russian security official Nikolai Patrushev that South Korea views Russia’s airspace violation “very seriously” and will take “much stronger” measures if a similar incident occurs, according to South Korea’s presidential office.

Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent Russian military analyst, told The Associated Press he believed the incursion could have been a navigation mistake. He also suggested the incident would not have serious consequences because “South Korea right now is not very interested in pressing this into a kind of long-term worsening of relations.”

The former Soviet Union supported North Korea and provided the country with weapons during the Korean War, which killed millions. In 1983, a Soviet air force fighter jet fired an air-to-air missile at a South Korean passenger plane that strayed into Soviet territory, killing all 269 people on board. Relations between Seoul and Moscow gradually improved, and they established diplomatic ties in 1990, a year before the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The airspace that South Korea says the Russian warplane violated is above a group of South Korean-held islets roughly halfway between South Korea and Japan that have been a source of territorial disputes between the two Asian countries. Russia isn’t part of those disputes.

Japan, which claims ownership over the islets, protested to South Korea for firing warning shots over Japanese airspace. South Korea later countered that it cannot accept the Japanese statement, repeating that the islets are South Korean territory. Japan also protested to Russia for allegedly violating Japanese airspace.

South Korea said the three Russian planes entered the South Korean air defense identification zone with two Chinese bombers. South Korea said the Chinese planes didn’t intrude upon South Korean airspace.

The Russian statement accused South Korean aircraft of trying to hamper the flights of Russian jets before “a vague missile defense identification area” that it said South Korea unilaterally defined. Russia said it had raised its concerns about the zone before.

Before their reported joint flights with the Russian planes, the Chinese warplanes entered South Korea’s air defense identification zone off its southwest coast earlier Tuesday, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said. Seoul says Chinese planes have occasionally entered South Korea’s air defense identification zone in recent years.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff registered their official protests with Beijing when they summoned China’s ambassador and defense attache. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was not clear about the situation but noted that the air defense identification zone is not territorial airspace and others are entitled to fly through it.

She took issue with a reporter’s use of the word “violation” to ask about China’s reported activity in South Korea’s air defense identification zone. “I feel that given China and South Korea are friendly neighbors, you should be careful when using it, because we are not clear about the situation,” she said.

Associated Press writers Jim Heintz and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

S. Korea, Japan fail to resolve growing trade dispute

July 13, 2019

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea and Japan on Friday failed to immediately resolve their dispute over Japanese export restrictions that could hurt South Korean technology companies, as Seoul called for an investigation by the United Nations or another international body.

Tokyo last week tightened the approval process for shipments of photoresists and other sensitive materials to South Korea, saying they can be exported only to trustworthy trading partners. The move, which could affect South Korean manufacturers of semiconductors and display screens used in TVs and smartphones, has triggered a full-blown diplomatic dispute and further soured relations long troubled over Japan’s brutal colonial rule of Korea before the end of World War II.

At their first meeting in Tokyo since the crisis erupted, Japanese officials told their South Korean counterparts that Tokyo saw weaknesses in Seoul’s export controls. They said that the trade curbs were not retaliation for South Korean court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate aging South Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during World War II, according to a Japanese trade ministry official.

Lee Ho-hyeon, an official from South Korea’s trade ministry, said Japanese officials cited inadequate bilateral discussions as a reason why their government tightened controls on high-tech exports to South Korea, but didn’t clearly say whether Tokyo believes Seoul may have illegally transferred sensitive materials to North Korea.

Lee said South Korean officials countered by saying that Seoul has a stronger export control system than Tokyo’s. The Japanese officials also reiterated that they won’t negotiate over the trade curbs and said, without specifying, that there have been “inappropriate” cases regarding Japanese exports to South Korea. When pressed by South Korean officials, the Japanese said the cases were unrelated to illegal shipments to a third country but refused to provide details, Lee said.

He said South Korean officials protested that Japan was providing only “very abstract” reasons for its stricter export controls. “The positions still differ (between the two sides),” Lee said. “We did not see any willingness by Japan to change its measures from this meeting.”

The meeting started in an icy atmosphere, with officials skipping handshakes and staring at each other across the table in silence for several minutes, and continued for nearly six hours. Kim You-geun, deputy director of South Korea’s presidential national security office, said South Korea has been thoroughly implementing U.N. sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. He demanded that Japan provide evidence for claims made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his conservative aides that there may have been illegal transfers of sensitive materials from South Korea to North Korea.

Kim said his government proposes Japan accept an inquiry by the U.N. or another body over the export controls of both countries to end “needless arguments” and to clearly prove whether the Japanese claims are true or not.

He said South Korea has been imposing stringent export controls on arms and sensitive materials that can be used for both civilian and military purposes as a signatory of major international pacts that govern such transactions.

“If the result of the investigation reveals that our government did something wrong, our government will apologize for it and immediately apply measures to correct it,” said Kim, reading a prepared statement on live TV.

“If the result shows that our government has done nothing wrong, the Japanese government should not only apologize but also immediately withdraw the exports restrictions that have the characteristics of a (political) retaliation. There also should be a thorough investigation on (any) Japanese violation,” he said.

South Korea plans to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization. Its trade minister on Tuesday said an “emergency inspection” of companies that process and export the chemicals imported from Japan found no sign of illegal transactions allowing them to reach North Korea or any other country affected by United Nations sanctions.

In Washington, Kim Hyun-chong, another South Korean presidential official, was meeting with officials from the White House and Congress as Seoul sought U.S. help to end its diplomatic row with Japan. Kim Hee-sang, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official, also held talks with State Department officials in Washington.

“The U.S. side has showed a good understanding about (the issue) and expressed a desire to provide active support to resolve the problem as South Korea, the United States and Japan should work together and cooperate in the Asia-Pacific,” Kim Hyun-chong told South Korean reporters after a meeting with U.S. congressional officials.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday that its minister, Kang Kyung-wha, discussed the issue with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who Seoul said expressed an “understanding” of the South Korean position and agreed to facilitate communication through diplomatic channels between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.

Ties to China shape cautious reaction to Hong Kong protests

August 22, 2019

For Canada and the European Union, they are a “situation.” For President Donald Trump, a potential stumbling block in ongoing trade disputes. And for South Korea, an issue to be monitored. With the notable exception of Taiwan, cautious comments from the few governments willing to speak out on the ongoing protests in Hong Kong fall far short of support for the demonstrators. They are so mild that even the word “protest” itself was left out of the joint EU-Canada statement that was the most recent to infuriate the Chinese government. And the vast majority of countries are unwilling to risk that fury at all.

China’s weapon is also its greatest lure: a population of nearly 1.4 billion. Otherwise known as the world’s largest market, to be opened or closed at will. China has also become a major builder of roads, ports, power plants and other infrastructure in developing countries.

“It’s really an anodyne statement,” Theresa Fallon, a researcher on EU-Asia relations, said of the one released by the EU and Canada. “Of course the Chinese knew that these statements would be made, but they cracked down right away. They have zero tolerance for that. … Everyone is afraid to be punished by China.”


In the early days of the protests, Trump described them as an internal matter. Then he suggested that Chinese President Xi Jinping could resolve the situation by meeting with protest leaders.

On Sunday, he went a step further and said the use of Chinese troops to quell the demonstrations would worsen the current U.S.-China trade dispute, referring to the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

“I mean if it’s another Tiananmen Square, I think it’s a very hard thing to do if there is violence,” Trump told reporters in New Jersey.

He and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about the protests last week, according to Trudeau’s office. The Canadian leader has been among the most outspoken on the protest movement. He said the 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong represent the region’s largest contingent of foreigners.

“We are going to continue to call upon the Chinese government to respect the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement that they have long abided by,” he said earlier this week.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang avoided commenting on Trump’s remarks directly, but referred to the president’s previous statements on the protests.

“We have noticed that President Trump has previously stated that Hong Kong is part of China, and that they must solve it themselves and do not need advice. We hope that the U.S. side can match its acts to its words,” Geng told reporters.

The European Union joined with Canada in a statement Saturday.

“It is crucial that restraint be exercised, violence rejected and urgent steps taken to de-escalate the situation. Engagement in a process of broad-based and inclusive dialogue, involving all key stakeholders, is essential.”


South Korea has avoided criticizing China, its largest trading partner and a country believed to have significant leverage over rival North Korea.

“Our government is monitoring the latest moves in Hong Kong with interest and we hope this issue will be settled smoothly,” the Foreign Ministry said in response to a question from The Associated Press.

South Korea is currently preoccupied with stalled negotiations on how to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons and trade disputes with Japan, and that could make Seoul even more reticent.

Choi Kang, vice president of Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said even if there’s a Chinese crackdown in Hong Kong, South Korea would likely end up expressing little more than “regrets” or “hopes for an early, peaceful resolution.”

As for North Korea, the country’s propaganda outlets have accused the United States and other Western countries of using the Hong Kong case as a chance to slander China and interfere in its domestic affairs.

“To take measure for internal affairs belongs to the sovereignty of relevant country,” the North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary last week. “But the Western forces are obtrusively interfering in China’s internal affair to add fuel to the reckless moves of the dishonest elements, saying this or that.”

It didn’t directly refer to the United States but an earlier Rodong Sinmun commentary said that “the Western countries including the U.S. are using (the Hong Kong issue) as a golden opportunity to defame China while raising the level of threat and blackmail against China.”

North Korea has long bristled at any outside criticism of its own human rights conditions as a U.S.-led attempt to bring down its political system.

A Foreign Ministry statement on Aug. 11 said that “we fully support the stand and measures of the Chinese party and government for defending the sovereignty, security and reunification of the country and safeguarding the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.”


Southeast Asian countries generally have little need or desire to take a public stand on the Hong Kong protests.

Many try to strike a balance between Beijing and Washington, moving toward the Chinese end of the scale in recent years as China has projected its influence more vigorously. The poorer members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar —have become reliant on Beijing’s economic largesse, and virtually all have embraced China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative to help expand their infrastructure, though often with reservations and in the case of the more developed nations, with some hard bargaining.

At the same time, several nations have publicly complained of China’s efforts at expanding its influence, especially its ambitious territorial claims over the South China Sea at the expanse of Beijing’s smaller neighbors.


The leaders of both Australia and New Zealand have been measured in their comments.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison disagreed last week that the protests were beginning to show the “sprouts of terrorism,” as a Chinese official said, but he didn’t criticize the statement directly.

“My view is one to seek to de-escalate things, to encourage the chief executive of Hong Kong to be listening carefully to what people are saying in Hong Kong and work toward a peaceful and calm resolution of what is a very serious issue,” he said.

Australia warned China against interfering in related demonstrations in Australia after a Chinese diplomat praised Chinese students who clashed with supporters of the protests in Brisbane.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern denied she was constrained in what she could say about China, and said her country’s stand on the protest movement has been consistent. China is a key export market for New Zealand and has overtaken Australia as New Zealand’s largest trading partner. The agricultural-driven economy of New Zealand relies on selling billions of dollars’ worth of milk powder to China, which is used in infant formula.

“De-escalation, peaceful dialogue on all sides, and, of course, a restoration of the ‘One China but two systems’ philosophy that has been in place for a significant period.”


Britain handed Hong Kong over to Chinese rule in 1997, but 156 years as a colony left a mark.

Its last governor, Chris Patten, called for the government to be “outspoken” in defending the city’s freedom.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has previously described Britain as open for business from China and is now embroiled in Brexit, has been uncharacteristically silent on the protests. But his foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, “condemned violent acts by all sides but emphasized the right to peaceful protest, noting that hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people had chosen this route to express their views.”

China said Wednesday a staffer at the British Consulate in Hong Kong, who was earlier reported missing while on a trip to the mainland, has been given 15 days of administrative detention in the city of Shenzhen for violating a law on public order. The British Foreign Office has said it is “extremely concerned” about his situation.


In Taiwan, support for the protests has been widespread, including among young Hong Kongers studying in the self-ruling democracy that China claims as its own territory.

On Saturday, a student group called “Hong Kong Outlanders” organized flash mobs, street film screenings and sit-ins in more than half a dozen cities, including in front of Taipei’s famous Taipei 101 skyscraper that is a frequent destination for Chinese visitors. Support groups have also collected hardhats and set up public outdoor galleries of protest art known as Lennon Walls.

“We understand that the leaders cannot speak up for Hong Kong because of the financial situation. It’s politics and money,” said Dora, a Hong Kong native living in Taiwan, who only gave her first name for fear of reprisal. “But we’re still reaching out for support and help from people of different countries to do whatever they can to help us.”

Public opinion surveys show generally strong but not overwhelming public support for the government’s backing of the protests, perhaps reflecting a general unwillingness for Taiwan to be identified with Hong Kong’s situation.

Though Taiwan was a Japanese colony for 50 years until 1945, Taiwanese are swift to point out that they have been a de-facto independent state since Chiang Kai-shek relocated his Nationalist government there in 1949, rather than a British colony or a special administrative region governed by Beijing.

Perhaps more than anything, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen says and many believe the protests show China’s “one country, two systems” framework that Beijing also proposes imposing on Taiwan simply cannot work.

Tsai has expressed her personal support for the protests and said the island would consider taking in Hong Kong residents seeking asylum, something that drew an angry rebuke from Beijing on Monday. Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Taiwan’s offer would “cover up the crimes of a small group of violent militants” and encourage their “audacity in harming Hong Kong and turn Taiwan into a “heaven for ducking the law.”

Ma demanded that Taiwan’s government “cease undermining the rule of law” in Hong Kong, cease interfering in its affairs and not “condone criminals.”

Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Kiko Rosario in Manila, Philippines, Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand, and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

Hong Kong arrests men with gang links over mob attack

July 23, 2019

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong police say they’ve arrested six men, some with links to triad gangs, following a violent attack on pro-democracy protesters at a subway station over the weekend that saw dozens injured.

Senior police official Chan Tin-chu said the men, aged 24-54, were held for “unlawful assembly” and are being investigated for taking part in the attack late Sunday night. Some of them are villagers, and their occupations range from drivers and hawkers to renovation workers, he said.

“Some of them have triad backgrounds,” he said. “I believe that more … will be detained soon. Police will not condone any form of violence.” Police are still investigating the motive for the attack, Chan said, without providing further details on the alleged links to the triads, which refer to powerful organized crime syndicates in Hong Kong. The triads control certain neighborhoods in the city and are believed to have strong political influence.

A gang of white-clad men armed with metal rods and wooden poles beat up anti-government protesters and others inside a subway station in Hong Kong’s Yuen Long neighborhood late Sunday, injuring 45 people, including a man who remained in critical condition.

More than 100,000 people took part in the latest rally in the city earlier that day to demand democracy and an investigation into the use of force by police to disperse crowds at the summer-long protests. Some protesters on Sunday directed their ire at China, pelting its office in Hong Kong with eggs, spray-painting a wall and defacing the Chinese national emblem.

As demonstrators made their way home, the white-clad men descended on a group of them at the subway station. Videos showed them charging into the trains and beating up people who tried to defend themselves with umbrellas.

Police have come under fire for being slow to respond to the violence against the protesters. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said police were stretched thin due to the massive crowds and denied accusations that her government colluded with the assailants.

The assault escalated a crisis that had thrown the former British colony into turmoil after millions of people took to the streets in waves of protest against an extradition bill that would send suspects for trial in China. Critics see it as rising Chinese influence and fear it will chip away at Hong Kong’s freedoms promised under a “one country, two system” formula since it returned to China in 1997.

More protests have been planned, but the latest violence has fueled fears that China’s People’s Liberation Army may intervene.

New faces to watch in the pool on the road to Tokyo Olympics

July 28, 2019

GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — An American named Michael. Teenage girls from three different countries. A Hungarian who took down Michael Phelps’ favorite world record. New faces emerged in the pool at the world championships a year out from the Tokyo Olympics. They all have potential to make the podium in what would be the first games for each of them.

Here’s a look at the talent pool:


He has been generating attention since turning pro at 14 and skipping college swimming. Andrew is coached by his father using a method that emphasizes swimming at low volume all at race pace. The 20-year-old from Kansas reached his first worlds final in Gwangju and barely missed a medal in the 50 butterfly, finishing fourth with a personal-best time. Andrew has a win over Caeleb Dressel (50 fly, 2018 U.S. national championships) and remains poised to become a breakout star.


She stunned four-time world and Olympic champion Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden to win the 100 butterfly in the biggest international meet of her career. The 19-year-old who swims at Michigan helped Canada to bronzes in the 4×100 free relay and 4×100 medley relay. She was a key part of the Canadian women’s team earning eight medals.


He turned heads by breaking Michael Phelps’ 10-year-old world record in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:50.37. That bettered Phelps’ mark by 0.78 seconds in the American’s favorite event and was more than three seconds faster than the other medalists. Milak was already the European champion and junior world record holder in the event, but the 19-year-old’s fame shot through the roof after erasing Phelps’ mark. No longer is Katinka Hosszu the most famous Hungarian swimmer. How Milak copes with the increased attention and his ability to follow up with a medal in Tokyo will prove whether he has staying power or is a one-hit wonder.

REGAN SMITH, United States

The 17-year-old from Minnesota introduced herself to the world in the 200 backstroke, lowering the world record in the semifinals before nearly doing it again in the final. Smith won gold in 2:03.35, beating her nearest rival by a whopping 2.57 seconds. Her 100 back split of 57.57 seconds in the 4×100 medley relay set a world record, too. She qualified for only one individual event in Gwangju but figures to add several more in the Olympics, including the 100 back.


Nicknamed “The Terminator,” the 18-year-old from Tasmania upset Katie Ledecky to win the 400 freestyle, finishing a full second ahead of the American star. Turns out Ledecky was ailing throughout the world meet, but Titmus’ presence makes things interesting for Ledecky, who has trounced the competition since the 2012 Olympics. Titmus earned silver in the 200 free, bronze in the 800 free and gold in the 4×200 free relay at worlds.

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