UPDATE : 2019.10.19 SAT 10:37
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Headlines, September 19, 2019

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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

U.S. official says he assumes N. Korea continues to make nukes

The top American diplomat for East Asia said Wednesday he assumes North Korea continues to make nuclear weapons but declined to offer details. The remark by David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, comes as Washington and Pyongyang are expected to resume denuclearization negotiations soon, although no meetings have been scheduled. Talks have been stalled since February's summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal due to differences over the scope of Pyongyang's denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.

Trump names hostages envoy as new nat'l security adviser

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday named the current envoy for hostage negotiations, Robert O'Brien, as his new national security adviser. Trump made the announcement on Twitter, days after he fired John Bolton over disagreements on policies including how to denuclearize North Korea. "I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O'Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor," Trump wrote. "I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!"

Mrs. Kloos new chairperson of the Association of the Spouses of the Ambassadors in Seoul

Mrs. Flavia Athena Kloos, the spouse of H.E. Ambassador Mihai Ciompec of Romania in Seoul, has recently been selected as the new Chairperson of the Association of the Spouses of the Ambassadors in Seoul (ASA). Madam Kloos, in the opinion of many people, Koreans and non-Koreans, have a very good impression of Madam Kloos for her good behavior and friendly attitude toward Koreans and also peoples of many different countries of the world diplomatically represented in Korea.

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

Police Identify Hwaseong Serial Murder Suspect

A man in his 50s has been identified as a prime suspect in the infamous Hwaseong serial murders that have remained unsolved for 33 years. The Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency said on Wednesday that it identified the suspect after the National Forensic Service found that DNA collected from a victim's underwear matched with his. The victim is one of ten women allegedly raped and killed by a serial killer in rural areas of Hwaseong city, south of Seoul, between between 1986 and 1991. Police are now investigating if the suspect was responsible for all ten deaths.

US Fed Cuts Key Interest Rate for Second Time This Year

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut the benchmark lending rate for the second time this year. In a Federal Open Market Committee(FOMC) meeting, the Fed decided to slash the benchmark rate by a quarter-point to a target range of one-point-75 to two percent. The rate cut came two months after the Fed lowered the policy interest rate by 25 basis points, the first cut since December 2008.

S. Korea's Nuke Envoy to Visit US for Talks with Biegun

South Korea's chief nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon will depart for the United States on Thursday for talks with his U.S. counterpart ahead of a proposed resumption of nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang. According to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, Lee plans to meet U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun on Friday to discuss how to make substantive progress in efforts for complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

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

BOK chief says U.S. rate cut gives room for additional policy

The head of South Korea's central bank said Thursday the latest U.S. rate cut may have created further room for his country to more actively support the local economy as it grapples with falling exports and sagging investment. On Wednesday (local time), the U.S. Fed slashed its policy rate by 25 basis points to a range of between 1.75 percent and 2.0 percent in its second rate cut in two months -- and the second since 2008. "Of course the U.S. Fed reducing its rate somewhat removes the burden for other countries in implementing their own monetary policies," Bank of Korea (BOK) Gov. Lee Ju-yeol said while meeting with reporters.

S. Korea, Saudi Arabia join hands to commercialize medium-small nuclear reactor

South Korea and Saudi Arabia have agreed to work together for the commercialization of an advanced medium-small nuclear reactor, the science ministry said Wednesday. The agreement for advancing SMART, or the System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor program, came at bilateral talks held on the sidelines of a general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT. The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on comprehensive cooperation in nuclear research and development and a separate pact to set up a joint atomic energy research center by late 2019, the ministry said.

Cheong Wa Dae opens special webpage on Japan's export restrictions

Cheong Wa Dae launched a special Japanese-language popup service Wednesday on its official website as part of efforts to publicize Seoul's position on Tokyo's export restrictions. The service has been added to the Korean and English sites, offering translated scripts of President Moon Jae-in's remarks on the matter, footage of related press briefings with Japanese subtitles and infographics.

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

Trump names hostages envoy as new natl. security adviser

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday named the current envoy for hostage negotiations, Robert O'Brien, as his new national security adviser. Trump made the announcement on Twitter, days after he fired John Bolton over disagreements on policies including how to denuclearize North Korea. "I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O'Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor," Trump wrote. "I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!"

US Fed cuts key interest rate a quarter point, citing 'uncertainties'

The US central bank cut its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year on Wednesday, and Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell vowed to do whatever is needed to keep the economy growing. But the Fed's policy committee is divided, with three of 10 voting members dissenting from the decision, one because he wanted even more stimulus. Powell said policymakers do not expect a recession, but trade uncertainty is creating "cross winds" that are weighing on the economy amid President Donald Trump's conflict with China.

Police find suspect in 30-year-old Hwaseong serial murder case

After decades of futile searching, investigators have made belated progress in the “Hwaseong murders” -- a series of rapes and murders that shocked South Korea in the 1980s. Officials of the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency said Wednesday that they had narrowed down the prime suspect to a man in his 50s who is currently serving a prison sentence for another rape and murder. “In July this year, we sent part of the evidence to the National Forensic Service, which result showed that the DNA of the suspect matches at least two of the 10 cases,” officials said.

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

US is actively engaged to help resolve Korea-Japan row: official

The United States is actively engaged in efforts to resolve the current trade and historical row between South Korea and Japan, and will continue to encourage both sides to find "positive solutions," a top U.S. official said Wednesday. David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, made the remark at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, saying that he has spent a "considerable" amount of time on the issue in his two and a half months in office. "We are actively engaged. Because that activity may not be visible publicly, it doesn't mean it's not happening," he said, citing a trilateral meeting between the top diplomats of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan in Bangkok last month.

Presidential aide apologizes for 'clash' with foreign minister

Key presidential aide Kim Hyun-chong took to Twitter Wednesday to express his views on the intense public attention to his "argument" with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha earlier this year. "There are concerns about the differences between officials in charge of foreign affairs and national security," Kim said. "It is due to my lack of virtue. I lost composure while trying too hard to establish the best policy in the whirlwind of international affairs. I will be more humble and work harder." In the message, he did not deny the reports of a verbal clash with the foreign minister.

'It will take 300 years before contaminated water is safe to discharge into sea'

Nuclear experts from around the world are condemning the Japanese government's possible move to discharge radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. The plan is raising concerns especially in Korea, Japan's closest neighbor, as the discharged water will have a direct influence on the marine life and ecosystem in its territorial waters and eventually the people themselves. As of Aug. 22, about 1.1 million tons of contaminated water are being stored in 977 tanks at the power plant in Fukushima, which was destroyed by an earthquake and resultant tsunami in 2011. The Japanese government has said it will only build more facilities through 2020 and this will bring the total stored to 1.37 million tons.

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

Korea to Develop Laser Drone Killer

Korea plans to develop an anti-aircraft laser weapon by 2023 in preparation for threats like recent drone attacks on Saudi oil fields. It eventually wants to upgrade it into a high-powered laser weapons system capable of intercepting even enemy fighter jets or reconnaissance satellites flying over the Korean Peninsula. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Tuesday it will invest about W88 billion beginning this year to develop the weapon and deploy it warfare-ready (US$1=W1,191).

Korean Box Office Sees Worst Summer in 6 Years

Korean cinema experienced no smash hit this summer as none of the new releases in the last few months surpassed the 10 million viewer mark. Most films disappeared from theaters soon after opening, except for "Extreme Job" (January), "Parasite" (May) and "Exit" (July). According to the Korean Film Council, ticket sales for Korean films hit their lowest point in seven years last month. Monthly ticket sales for August had been over 20 million since 2013, but dropped to 18 million this year. Although the total number of viewers from January to August increased from last year, Korean films failed to occupy even half of the box office except in January and February, when "Extreme Job" was playing.

Apple Cuts iPhone Prices, But Not in Korea

Apple has slashed the price of its latest iPhone, but not in Korea. According to Apple's Korean website, the iPhone 11 64 GB costs W990,000 (US$1=W1,191). The Pro and Pro Max, also 64 GB, cost W1.39 million and W1.55 million including VAT. But in the U.S. the iPhone 11 retails for US$699-$769 depending on state taxes. That is equivalent to around W915,000, W75,000 cheaper than in Korea. The price differences are similar for the Pro and Pro Max.

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

South Korea and Japan debate issue of dumping contaminated water at IAEA general conference

The governments of South Korea and Japan debated the possibility of dumping contaminated water from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor into the ocean during a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The South Korean government has called on the international community to respond to the potential release of contaminated water, which it claims could have an impact on countries around the world. For its part, the Japanese government said it hasn’t decided how to dispose of the contaminated water and that it’s being transparent about disclosing related information.

Trump says conditions for N. Korea visit aren’t ready yet

When asked on Sept. 16 whether he was willing to visit North Korea, US President Donald Trump said the conditions aren’t ready yet, and won’t be for some time. Though Trump has taken a proactive stance toward dialogue, emphasizing his positive relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, these remarks suggest that a concrete agreement about denuclearization would have to be reached before such a visit can take place. When asked by reporters at the White House whether he’s willing to go to North Korea, Trump said, “Probably not. [. . .] I don’t think we’re ready for that.”

Defense Ministry and UNC discuss UNC’s role after OPCON transfer

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense and the United Nations Command (UNC) have initiated high-level deliberations in order to address a disagreement over the status and role of the US-led UNC after wartime operational control, or OPCON, of the South Korean military is returned to Seoul. During a command post exercise that was recently carried out by South Korea and the US, the two sides reportedly debated whether the UNC would participate in crisis management on the Korean Peninsula following the OPCON transfer and whether the UNC would exercise command over the future Combined Forces Command (CFC), which will be led by a South Korean four-star general.

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

One year on, inter-Korean military agreement makes little progress

The South Korean military authorities said Wednesday that the September 19, 2018 inter-Korean military agreement made substantial contributions to easing the military tensions and building trust between the two Koreas. The cessation of mutually hostile activities in the ground, maritime and aerial buffer zones agreed between the two Koreas are being implemented, while the two sides are working together to block illegal fishing by a third country via their wired and wireless telecommunication network, evacuate patients in frontline areas, and exchange typhoon damage information on a nearly daily basis, Seoul’s military said.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong met with Crown Prince

Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday (local time) during his visit to the Middle Eastern nation. The meeting came three months after a previous one in Seoul in June. According to Saudi Press Agency, the two discussed investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia in the fields of technology, industry, construction, energy, smart cities and other business opportunities for cooperation between the Kingdom and Samsung Group.

Interview with co-director of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

“Seoul is an experimental city that suggests many things to learn not only for developing countries but cities in advanced regions such as Europe and the U.S. This is because Seoul’s experience of going through ultra-fast growth in a condensed manner is new even for advanced nations,” said Francisco Sanin, co-director of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism at the Syracuse University in the U.S. He gave a lecture titled “Why Collective City” at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on September 8.

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

African Swine Fever Penetrates South Korea

The African swine fever (ASF), with a mortality rate of 100%, has been detected in Paju, Gyeonggi-do. A pig showing symptoms has also been found in nearby Yeoncheon, igniting concerns of a spread of the virus. Pork prices are showing signs of a surge. On September 17, Kim Hyeon-soo, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, held a press conference at the government office in Sejong-si and announced, "Pigs that died in a pig farm in Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do on September 16 were found to be positive for the African swine fever," and added, "Accordingly, the disease alert level has been raised to 'serious.'" At around 6 p.m. on September 16, the farm in Paju reported the death of five mother pigs, and quarantine authorities conducted a close examination and confirmed the outbreak of the African swine fever.

"I Recall Chun Tae-il When Things Get Tough," Says Kim Yong-hui After 100 Days Atop a Camera Pole

Kim Yong-hui (60), a worker laid off by Samsung, has spent 100 days atop a CCTV camera pole, 25 meters above the Gangnam Station crossroad in Seoul as of September 17. He was fired by Samsung Techwin (currently Hanwha Techwin) 24 years ago for taking part in union operations, and he wants an apology and to be reinstated by the company. Kim watched the Supreme Court send the case of Lee Jae-yong (51), vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, back to the lower court on his cell phone atop the pole.

Leader of Major Opposition Party Shaves His Head: Strategy to Prolong the "Battle of Cho Kuk"

Hwang Kyo-ahn (62), leader of the Liberty Korea Party shaved his head calling for the dismissal of Justice Minister Cho Kuk on September 16. He was the third to shave his head following Liberty Korea Party lawmaker Park In-sook and independent lawmaker Lee Un-ju. In a struggle for the dismissal of Cho, the Liberty Korea Party has conducted one-man protests, a hunger strike and this day, the shaving of the party leader's head, only to trigger criticism for the party's "old-fashioned ways," "disguise as the weaker party," and "making a mockery of politics."

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

Samsung heir discusses business opportunities with Saudi crown prince

Jay Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. and de facto head of South Korea’s largest conglomerate Samsung Group, met with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia during his recent visit to the Middle Eastern country and discussed ways to cooperate smart city projects, sources said Wednesday. According to multiple sources from the conglomerate circle and Saudi Press Agency, Lee met with Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday and discussed partnership in “technology, industry, construction, energy, smart cities and great opportunities for cooperation between the Kingdom and Samsung Group,” Saudi Press Agency reported.

Senior citizen households to triple in 2047 amid rapidly aging society

The number of elderly people aged over 65 that live alone is forecast to triple in 30 years in South Korea, another big burden to Asia’s fourth-largest economy that has been rapidly losing labor force due to the country’s sinking fertility rate, data showed Wednesday. According to 2017-2047 demographic data released by Statistics Korea, longer life expectancy is expected to elevate the number of households headed by older people. In 2017, the largest 46.7 percent of households were headed by those in their 40s and 50s, but after 30 years in 2047 will be dominated by those in their 60s and 70s (41.2 percent).

Korea’s export-import prices rise in August aided by weaker KRW

South Korea’s export and import prices gained in August from the previous month on a weaker Korean won against the U.S. dollar, helping the chip export prices snap a 12-month losing streak. According to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK) on Wednesday, the nation’s export price index rose 1.5 percent on month to 101.90 in August, but down 3.9 percent from the same month a year ago. The index had stayed negative for two months, falling 2.2 percent in June and 0.3 percent in July.

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