In Japanese folklore, turtle monkey demons can steal your soul… by pulling it out of your anus. Fortunately, they have easily detachable arms and like cucumbers.
In southern and south-eastern Asia and the Pacific, teeth were blackened or lacquered to keep them intact and healthy.
Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books have a long history in the Soviet Union and Russia, from illegal translations in the 1960s to a film in the 1980s to an unauthorised retelling sympathetic to the orcs in the 1990s.
When a location is abandoned by humans, nature returns. Sci-fi author Bruce Sterling calls these feral landscapes involuntary parks.
Shengguan Tu is a board game from a millennium ago that charts players’ rise through the many layers of Chinese bureaucracy.
In 1953 No Kum-Sok defected from North Korea. He brought a MiG-15 Soviet jet fighter with him.
From 1996 onwards vast swathes of peat swamp in Borneo were cleared to make rice paddies. But then the swamp caught on fire.
The Poison Damsels of ancient Indian mythology were assassins who could kill someone with a look or a touch.
Soviet Russia kept undesirables (criminals and political dissidents) away from view by banning them from coming closer than 101km to major urban centres.
In ancient art from Europe to India a particular artistic motif frequently appears: a male or female figure grabbing two wild creatures, one in each hand. These are the Master and Mistress of Animals.
In 2005 a French helicopter pilot landed on top of Mount Everest. In 1972 another French pilot flew more than 12,000 metres up… and then his engine stopped.
The USS Johnston was sunk in the Battle off Samar in World War II. Its wreck descended into the Philippine Trench, the third deepest trench in the world, and we know of no deeper wrecks.
Every four or five years there is an election in North Korea. They are not especially competitive. Or at all competitive.
Princess Anne and Prince Ludwig of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg liked flying and spying, respectively. Both disappeared under mysterious and separate circumstances.
According to several accounts, in 1803 a tiny boat with transparent windows washed up on the shores of Japan. Inside, one woman and one big mystery.