Doualy Xaykaothao

Doualy Xaykaothao is a reporter and producer, based in Seoul, South Korea, covering breaking news from Asia for NPR News. Her reports can be heard across all NPR News programs.

Xaykaothao joined NPR in 1999 as a production assistant for Morning Edition and has since worked as an NPR producer, editor, director and reporter for NPR's award-winning programs. As a producer for NPR's Newscast Unit, she was a member of the team receiving the 2001 Peabody Award for its coverage of the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. From 2003 to 2006, she reported for NPR from Bangkok, Thailand, including coverage of the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. In 2006, she served as a fellow for the International Reporting Project at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS with a focus on women inside Nepal's 10 year civil war. Xaykaothao was an Annenberg Fellow for NPR Member station KPCC in Los Angeles in 2007, and was part of the reporting team to receive a LA Press Club Award for breaking coverage of the California wildfires. Most recently, she was a producer with NPR's afternoon newsmagazine All Things Considered, until relocating to Seoul in early 2009.

Xaykaothao is Hmong-American, born in Laos, but raised in Texas. She attended Ithaca College and Empire State College in New York, where she specialized in television, radio, political science, and ethnic studies. Her radio career began at Harlem community radio station WHCR 90.3 FM, where she first volunteered as news-reader. Later, at Pacifica Radio's WBAI 99.5 FM, she worked for the station's resident film critic, the late Paul Wunder. At Pacifica, she also coordinated and produced Asia Pacific Forum, a one-hour program about the diverse Asian communities in the United States and abroad.

For those who are curious, Xaykaothao's name is pronounced "dwah-lhee sigh-kow-tao."

When Kansas native Torrence Riggs was only 24, his Army division, the 103rd infantry, entered southwest Germany.

"I seen a lot of soldier boys with grim faces, I'll tell you that," he says. "I had one, too."

It was 1945, and the people in Germany's Dachau concentration camp had either been worked or starved to death.

Can food revitalize an ailing neighborhood? In Dallas, global flavors seem to be playing a pretty big part in one area's transformation.

For decades, West Dallas was a ramshackle place: a Superfund site with a cement plant, some crime-ridden warehouses and a modest Latino neighborhood known as La Bajada across a potholed two-lane bridge from the glittery downtown.

Run River North is a band that's gotten a few more breaks than most on its level. Last year, the Los Angeles-based Korean-American musicians produced a music video from inside their Hondas. The video went viral — and straight to the carmaker. The company rewarded the group with a surprise performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Today in Long Beach, California, Cambodian-Americans are celebrating their new year with traditional foods, dance and songs. But the festivities also coincide with the anniversary of the Cambodian genocide. During the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror between 1975 and 1979, cities were emptied and nearly one-fourth of the population was executed, starved or worked to death. Doualy Xaykaothao reports.

Cold winds blow through pine trees and across nearby mountains. On the horizon are guard posts and cameras. There's little movement, except for wildlife.

U.S. Lt. Col. Ed Taylor, lives and works on the Korean armistice line that has divided North and South for almost six decades. He even sleeps in a bed right next to North Korea.

"I cannot compare it to anything I've ever done. And I say that with 23 years in the Army and two deployments to Iraq," Taylor says.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. One year ago this weekend, Japan was battered by a devastating earthquake and tsunami. One of the places hardest hit was the coastal community of Yuriage. What was once a beautiful fishing village, and home to a bustling community of thousands, is now a desolate and deserted place. Doualy Xaykaothao reported from there shortly after the earthquake, and has just returned to file this report.

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Teacher Dave Rowlands is talking to his students in a kindergarten class at Imagine Japan, an English-language school in the Miyagi Prefecture of Sendai City. The school is just a short walk from pre-fabricated homes built for families who lost more than just property in the earthquake and tsunami last year.

"What came after the earthquake, was what?" Rowlands asks. "A tidal wave. In Japanese, what do we say? Or in English, actually, tsunami is now used around the world in many languages. Tsunami. We kind of leave the 't' off of there."

The mountain village of Kawauchi lies partly inside the area deemed unsafe because of high levels of radiation in Japan's Fukushima prefecture. Chiharu Kubota uses a high-pressure water gun to hose down buildings there.

Radiation is still leaking from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which suffered multiple meltdowns immediately after last year's earthquake and tsunami.

'Nothing Is Better'

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

Throughout this morning, we're tracking the results of Iowa's Republican presidential caucuses, where Mitt Romney edged Rick Santorum by just eight votes. We're also following other news, including developments from a country that changed its leader with no election at all.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

South Korea's president delivered this message yesterday to North Korea: It will respond strongly to any provocations under North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un. However, in a televised speech, Lee Myung-bak also promised that North-South relations could improve if Pyongyang halts its nuclear weapons program.

Reporter Doualy Xaykaothao recently hit the streets of Seoul, to find out what South Koreans think of the power shift in the north. And for many the answer is simple: They don't care.

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The U.S. military is investigating claims by veterans that they buried barrels of a toxic defoliant at an American base in South Korea three decades ago. Agent Orange was used during the Vietnam War, and it's been blamed for a variety of ailments, including cancer and nerve disorders.

As an American teenager, whenever I asked grown-ups about the Vietnam War, few wanted to discuss it. As an adult, it was just as hard to talk about the war. That's why I never told friends and neighbors about my family's history.

You see, the Vietnam War took place in my family's backyard. My family lived in northeastern Laos, in Nong Het, right on the border with Vietnam. When the CIA needed an ally, they found a charismatic, passionate young man not afraid to die.

That man was my great-uncle, the late Gen. Vang Pao.

In one area of Japan, construction crews broke ground to start installing pre-fabricated homes for tens of thousands of displaced tsunami and earthquake victims. The units will be ready to move into by next month.

Radiation at Japan's troubled nuclear plants is causing new concerns on Sunday. Authorities report that radiation levels in the contaminated water at reactor unit 2 are four times higher than is safe. They have evacuated workers from there. Meanwhile along many coastal communities survivors are struggling with hardship and loss.