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Reporters on the Job

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Not The Olympics: North Korean performers held flags during the opening of the country's new Mass Games "Prosper! Homeland!" in Pyongyang Tuesday.

KCNA/REUTERS

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Precautions: When staff writer Sara Miller Llana first moved to Mexico, she says, kidnapping was a big topic . "I heard stories from everyone – ranging from true horror stories to the more common 'express kidnappings,' when you are taken to an ATM and forced to empty it out," she says.

Then, suddenly, she stopped hearing about it. "But just before this teen was found dead after being abducted, my friends and I had started to talk about how things feel insecure again," Sara says.

Partly that's fueled by news along the border about kidnappings. But there have been lots of recent anecdotes, Sara says: A friend 'express kidnapped' on the street at 3 a.m; a friend of a friend who was taken for a week and her family forced to pay ransom.

"The stories I'm hearing in my life are paralleling a rise in kidnapping in general. It's easy to let your guard down when you've lived in a place for a while and nothing has happened to you," Sara notes. "But the other day I had no choice but to get into an unauthorized taxi (where many 'express kidnappings' take place) in a dodgy part of town – and I reverted to an old practice, calling my husband and telling him – in a loud voice so the driver would hear – where I was and when I'd be home. My husband wouldn't be home for hours – but the driver didn't need to know that."

Stepping it Up in Soccer: Correspondent Simon Montlake watched the Olympics opening ceremony last Friday at a rooftop apartment party. The host was Rowan Simons, a Briton who's lived in Beijing more than 20 years. "We got talking about football [soccer] . I realized his interest was more than casual, and that he'd done something to promote the game in China. His company is a joint venture with a license to organize amateur clubs. He's also written a book about his experiences that was recently published in Britain and is being translated into Chinese. He hopes its blunt message – that the government needs to step back and let communities organize their own clubs – might prompt some changes."

– Amelia Newcomb

Deputy World editor

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