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Headlines, September 17, 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today

Seoul, Washington to launch regular meetings on OPCON transfer

It has been confirmed that Seoul and Washington have officially embarked upon a discussion on the status and role of the United Nations Command (UNC) after the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) is completed. This signals the beginning of a bilateral consultation between the two allies on major issues such as potential disruption or conflicts of command between the future Combined Forces Command (CFC), which will be led by a Korean military official, and the UNC, in the event of emergencies after the OPCON is transferred back to South Korea.

Hyundai Motor to showcase Genesis models in Europe next year

Hyundai Motor Company has decided to launch its Genesis luxury brand in Europe next year, in an apparent move to grow its presence in the European market with Genesis models as they did successfully in the United States. “Genesis will come to Europe next year,” a Hyundai Motor executive told a reporter from the Dong-A Ilbo at the 68th IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt, which kicked off on last Tuesday (local time).

Balhae diaspora upheld their spirits even 200 years after the country’s demise

The Northeast Asian History Foundation has recently published a study book titled (translated) “A new look at the history of the Balhae diaspora.” The publication describes how people of Balhae, a.k.a. “Flourishing Land in the East,” strived for the revival of their country after it was destroyed by the invasion of the Kitan in 926. Publisher in chief Lim Sang-sun, a senior researcher at the foundation, put the spotlight on the autonomous kingdom of Dongdan that the Kitan established after it perished Balhae. The newly-built state had faced constant resistance from the Balhae diaspora since its foundation.

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KBS (http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/)

S. Korea Confirms First Case of African Swine Fever

South Korea on Tuesday reported its first confirmed case of African swine fever(ASF) at a farm in Gyeonggi Province near the heavily fortified border with North Korea. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said that the first case was confirmed at 6:30 a.m. at a pig farm in Paju, northwest of Seoul. The revelation comes after months of quarantine efforts to prevent ASF from spreading south of the demilitarized zone after the first case of the deadly animal disease was reported in North Korea in May. Other Asian countries, including China, Vietnam and Myanmar have also reported outbreaks of ASF.

Justice Minister's Relative Arrested in Fund Investment Scandal

Prosecutors formally arrested a relative of Justice Minister Cho Kuk on Monday on charges linked to a suspicious private equity fund investment in by Cho's family. The Seoul Central District Court issued an arrest warrant for the relative, a son of Cho's first cousin who is also surnamed Cho, on charges of violating the capital market law and abetting evidence destruction. The court accepted the prosecution's request for the writ, saying the suspect may attempt to flee or destroy evidence. It is the first arrest warrant issued for a member of Cho's family since a series of scandals surrounding the minister and his family emerged following his nomination to the post last month.

Trump Says 'Probably Not' Right Time to Visit Pyongyang

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday it is probably not the right time to visit Pyongyang but that he could see doing so sometime in the future. Trump made the remarks to reporters at the White House when asked about a report that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un invited him to the North Korean capital city for what would be their third summit and fourth overall meeting. Trump reportedly said that his relationship with Kim is very good but the time was not right for a visit to Pyongyang. The U.S. president said that he would do it sometime "at a later future," and that depending on what happens Kim would love coming to the United States also. Trump quickly added that "I think we have a ways to go yet," however.

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Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr)

S. Korea reports 1st confirmed case of African swine fever

South Korea on Tuesday reported its first confirmed case of African swine fever at a farm near the heavily fortified border with North Korea. The animal disease was confirmed earlier in the day at a farm in Paju, just south of the inter-Korean border, the agriculture ministry said. The ministry said a 48-hour lockdown has been in place on all pig farms throughout the nation since 6:30 a.m. This means any animal, people or equipment may not be removed from farms for the duration, while those already en route to other farms or related facilities must find a secure place to sit out the temporary lockdown, the ministry said.

S. Korea to mull releasing oil reserves in case of supply disruption

South Korea will consider releasing its strategic oil reserves in case supply is disrupted following drone strikes on Saudi Arabia's crude processing facilities, a senior official said Tuesday. The combined oil reserves held by the South Korean government and local refiners came to 200 million barrels as of 2018. "The government will swiftly push for measures to stabilize supply and demand ... in case oil supply is disrupted," Kim Yong-beom, vice minister of economy and finance, said in a meeting with relevant officials in central Seoul.

Trump says it isn't time for him to visit N. Korea

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday it is not the right time to visit Pyongyang after a newspaper reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un invited him for what would be their third summit. Trump said last week that he expected to meet Kim again "at some point" this year. The South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported Monday that Kim invited Trump to Pyongyang in a letter sent in August. "I don't want to comment on that," Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if he was invited.

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The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)

S. Korea reports 1st confirmed case of African swine fever

South Korea on Tuesday reported its first confirmed case of African swine fever at a farm near the heavily fortified border with North Korea. The animal disease was confirmed earlier in the day at a farm in Paju, just south of the inter-Korean border, the agriculture ministry said. The ministry said a 48-hour lockdown has been in place on all pig farms throughout the nation since 6:30 a.m. This means any animal, people or equipment may not be removed from farms for the duration, while those already en route to other farms or related facilities must find a secure place to sit out the temporary lockdown, the ministry said.

South Korea closely monitors Aramco setback

The South Korean government and oil refineries held an unscheduled meeting Monday in response to the setback of Saudi Arabian oil facilities being hit by drone strikes, agreeing that there will be no supply issues for the time being and pledging to closely watch developments. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy convened the emergency meeting with local oil refiners -- S-Oil, Hyundai Oilbank, GS Caltex and SK Innovation -- to inspect supply issues, after President Moon Jae-in ordered the government to promptly respond to the incidents in order to minimize the negative impact on the nation’s oil supply and consumer prices.

Trump says it isn't time for him to visit N. Korea

US President Donald Trump said Monday it is not the right time to visit Pyongyang after a newspaper reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un invited him for what would be their third summit. Trump said last week that he expected to meet Kim again "at some point" this year. The South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported Monday that Kim invited Trump to Pyongyang in a letter sent in August. "I don't want to comment on that," Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if he was invited.

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The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)

First African swine fever case confirmed in Korea

South Korea on Tuesday reported its first confirmed case of African swine fever at a farm near the heavily fortified border with North Korea. The animal disease was confirmed earlier in the day at a farm in Paju, just south of the inter-Korean border, the agriculture ministry said. The ministry said a 48-hour lockdown has been in place on all pig farms throughout the nation since 6:30 a.m. This means any animal, people or equipment may not be removed from farms for the duration, while those already en route to other farms or related facilities must find a secure place to sit out the temporary lockdown, the ministry said.

Trump says it isn't time for him to visit North Korea

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday it is not the right time to visit Pyongyang after a newspaper reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un invited him for what would be their third summit. Trump said last week that he expected to meet Kim again "at some point" this year. The South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported Monday that Kim invited Trump to Pyongyang in a letter sent in August. "I don't want to comment on that," Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if he was invited.

Korea considers releasing oil reserves in case of supply disruption

South Korea will consider releasing its strategic oil reserves in case supply is disrupted following drone strikes on Saudi Arabia's crude processing facilities, a senior official said Tuesday. The combined oil reserves held by the South Korean government and local refiners came to 200 million barrels as of 2018. "The government will swiftly push for measures to stabilize supply and demand ... in case oil supply is disrupted," Kim Yong-beom, vice minister of economy and finance, said in a meeting with relevant officials in central Seoul.

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Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)

Children from Poor Families More Prone to Phone Addiction

Children from low-income households are more prone to smartphone addiction than those of the better off, according to a study by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs published Sunday. The study questioned over 2,500 children across the country in January and February and found that 48 percent in households earning less than 50 percent of the median wage are overly dependent on smartphones. Smartphone addiction is so serious that it practically constitutes the most important part of the day of those affected, while prolonged usage can lead to fighting between family members.

Retired Top Brass Call for Delay in Takeover of Troop Control

Former deputy commanders of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command have urged Cheong Wa Dae to delay the handover of wartime operational control of South Korean troops from the U.S. Lobbies of retired generals who continue to wield some clout among older conservatives have now and then spoken out against the handover, but this was the first intervention by ex-deputy CFC commanders with some actual experience of running joint peacetime operations.

Major Conglomerates Cut Back on New Hires

One in three major conglomerates plan to cut back on new hires this year. The Korea Economic Research Institute said Sunday that a survey by Research and Research of 131 of the 500 biggest companies showed 33.6 percent plan to hire fewer new staff while only 17.5 percent intend to recruit more. The proportion of businesses that will cut back increased nine percentage points from last year, but those planning to recruit more also rose 6.3 percentage points.

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HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)

Moon to meet with Trump in Washington later this month

Coordination of South Korea-US views on resuming North Korea-US negotiations, the end of the South Korea-Japan General Security of Military Sharing Agreement (GSOMIA) and the current trade dispute between Seoul and Tokyo, and negotiations on the two sides’ share of defense costs all appear poised to be major agenda items when South Korean President Moon Jae-in meets US President Donald Trump for a summit during a US visit later this month.

Trump makes conciliatory gestures toward North Korea

Over the past few days, US President Donald Trump has made a series of conciliatory overtures to North Korea, taking a positive attitude about the possibility of a third summit. The next question is how North Korea will respond, as Pyongyang has requested “new calculations” from the US and expressed its willingness to hold working-level talks with Washington at the end of this month. When reporters at the White House asked Trump on Sept. 12 whether he would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this year, Trump said, “At some point, yes.”

S. Korea-US defense cost sharing talks to begin this month

Amid continuing pressure from US President Donald Trump for American allies to pay more for US troops stationed within their borders, South Korea and the US are slated to begin their defense cost-sharing negotiations this month. The two countries will be renegotiating their Special Measures Agreement (SMA), which will define South Korea’s financial contribution to US Forces Korea (USFK) starting next year. South Korea and the US have reportedly agreed to initiate negotiations for the 11th SMA at the beginning of September and are currently making the final adjustments on the exact schedule of those negotiations.

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The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)

Seoul, Washington to launch regular meetings on OPCON transfer

It has been confirmed that Seoul and Washington have officially embarked upon a discussion on the status and role of the United Nations Command (UNC) after the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) is completed. This signals the beginning of a bilateral consultation between the two allies on major issues such as potential disruption or conflicts of command between the future Combined Forces Command (CFC), which will be led by a Korean military official, and the UNC, in the event of emergencies after the OPCON is transferred back to South Korea.

Hyundai Motor to showcase Genesis models in Europe next year

Hyundai Motor Company has decided to launch its Genesis luxury brand in Europe next year, in an apparent move to grow its presence in the European market with Genesis models as they did successfully in the United States. “Genesis will come to Europe next year,” a Hyundai Motor executive told a reporter from the Dong-A Ilbo at the 68th IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt, which kicked off on last Tuesday (local time).

Balhae diaspora upheld their spirits even 200 years after the country’s demise

The Northeast Asian History Foundation has recently published a study book titled (translated) “A new look at the history of the Balhae diaspora.” The publication describes how people of Balhae, a.k.a. “Flourishing Land in the East,” strived for the revival of their country after it was destroyed by the invasion of the Kitan in 926. Publisher in chief Lim Sang-sun, a senior researcher at the foundation, put the spotlight on the autonomous kingdom of Dongdan that the Kitan established after it perished Balhae. The newly-built state had faced constant resistance from the Balhae diaspora since its foundation.

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The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)

Turning a Blind Eye to Radiation and the Rising Sun Flag: A “Political Olympics” Coached by Abe

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is turning into a propaganda forum to promote the "safety from radiation." Japan insists on holding baseball and softball matches in the Fukushima region, contaminated with radiation following the Great East Japan Earthquake and on supplying ingredients from Fukushima to the restaurants in the Athletes Village. Apparently, this is characteristic of political propaganda in support of the Shinzo Abe government, which stresses a "safe and strong Japan."

"A Ban on Religious Activities Is Also Persecution" Court Recognizes an Iranian Christian Convert as a Refugee

An Iranian who converted to Christianity after encountering the faith in South Korea was recognized as a refugee by the court in his first trial. The court ruled that a situation denying the freedom of religious activities was also persecution, even if the person requesting refugee status did not have any experience of being persecuted in the past.

"Contaminated Water from Fukushima, No Solution Other than to Release the Water into the Sea"

On September 10, Japanese Minister of Environment Yoshiaki Harada announced, "There is no solution other than to boldly release the water (into the sea) and dilute it," as a way to treat the contaminated water from the first unit of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. He said it was a "simple opinion," but more controversy is expected as his words could be interpreted as preparations to release the radioactive water into the sea. The Japanese government had claimed that it had yet to decide on how to treat the contaminated water.

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Maeil Business News Korea ( http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)

Korean refiner shares up, airlines down after oil prices surge on attacks in Saudi

Shares of Korean oil refiners jumped Monday on anticipation of strengthening in gasoline prices as the result of disruption in the world’s biggest petroleum supplier following Saturday’s drone attacks in Saudi Arabia that knocked out more than half of the country’s crude output, equivalent to 5 percent of world supplies. Brent crude futures upon the news opened Monday at $71.95 after adding the biggest-ever intraday gain of $11.73 per barrel, or 19 percent, in Singapore. The Brent then pared some of that to trade 12.35 percent higher at $67.66 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe.

Hyundai Motor to invest additional $300 mn in Alabama plant in U.S.

South Korea’s top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. will invest an additional $300 million in its Alabama plant in the United States to produce its newly developed smart stream engines as demand for its cars in the country is on a steady rise. According to multiple foreign media reports on Monday, Hyundai Motor plans to invest $292 million in Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) from November this year to April next year to add a manufacturing facility to produce its new smart stream engines using the continuously variable valve duration (CVVD) technology.

LG Chem, SK Innovation CEOs meet, but still far from out-of-court settlement

The chief executives of South Korea’s two major battery makers LG Chem Ltd. and SK Innovation Co. ? met for the first time on Monday since the two have been locked in lawsuits over technology theft issues, but fell short of reaching an out-of-court settlement. According to the two companies, Shin Hak-cheol, vice chairman and chief executive of LG Chem, and Kim Jun, chief executive of SK Innovation, met on Monday to exchange views on pending legal issues between the two.

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