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Headlines, September 30, 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019

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

Military to lower bar for active duty conscripts amid population decline

The South Korean military said Sunday it plans to lower the bar for the conscription of active duty soldiers, as the country's population is widely expected to shrink drastically. The Ministry of National Defense and the Military Manpower Administration are currently in the process of revising related regulations to lower the physical requirements and standards for active duty troops.

Cheonan Dance Fest attended by envoys, 3,000 Koreans, dignitaries from overseas

An impressive opening ceremony of the 2019 Cheonan Heungtaryeong Dance Festival was kicked off at the Cheonan Samgeogi Park and the Cheonan Arts Center in the Cheonan City some 100 kilometers south of Seoul on the evening of September 25 this year in a five-day run. Several thousand people, including representatives from many different countries of the world.

BOK chief hints at further cut growth outlook

The head of South Korea's central bank has painted a dark picture for the Korean economy by noting the local economy may yet again grow at a slower pace than earlier expected amid increased downside risks. In July, the Bank of Korea slashed its growth estimate for Asia's fourth-largest economy to 2.2 percent from the 2.5 percent forecast three months earlier. The revised outlook marks a sharp fall from the 2.6 percent on-year expansion predicted in January.

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

Top Prosecutor Vows to Uphold People's Calls for Reform

The prosecution said in an official statement on Sunday that it would faithfully uphold the people's calls for prosecutorial reform. The Supreme Prosecutors' Office issued the statement in the name of Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl a day after a large-scale candlelight rally was staged in support of Justice Minister Cho Kuk and his drive to reform the prosecution. The top prosecutor said that the prosecution will faithfully uphold the people’s will and the National Assembly’s decision for prosecutorial reform, vowing his best efforts to help realize such reform.

Test Proves Negative for Suspected African Swine Fever Case in South Chungcheong Province

A suspected case of African swine fever(ASF) reported on Sunday in South Chungcheong Province proved to be a false alarm after a test for the disease turned out negative. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said the report came from a slaughterhouse in the area of Hongseong, some 150 kilometers south of Seoul.

Parties Clash over Saturday's Candlelight Rally Calling for Prosecution Reform

Rival political parties clashed over Saturday's candlelight rally supporting Justice Minister Cho Kuk and his drive to reform the prosecution. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party(LKP) downplayed the candlelight protest, saying the number of rally participants was exaggerated. LKP lawmaker Park Sung-joong said on Sunday in a statement that although organizers claim some two million people were present at the rally, initial police estimates peg the number of participants at no more than around 50-thousand.

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

Industrial output up for 2nd consecutive month in August

South Korea's industrial output advanced for the second straight month last month on the back of a rise in the service sector, government data showed Monday. The data compiled by Statistics Korea showed the country's overall industrial output rose 0.5 percent in August from a month earlier. Production in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries fell 1.4 percent last month from a month earlier due mainly to decreased output in cars.

S. Korea still on high alert over additional African swine fever outbreak

South Korea is remaining highly vigilant over additional outbreaks of African swine fever and is stepping up disinfection efforts, although there have been no further confirmed cases of the deadly animal disease in the past two days, the country's agriculture ministry said Sunday. The country has confirmed nine cases of African swine fever since Sept. 17, when the first was reported. There were several suspected cases in the past two days, but all tested negative, according to the ministry.

N. Korean envoy to U.N. 'positive' about U.S.-N. Korea talks

North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Kim Song said Saturday he is "positive" about a possible resumption of denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea. Kim made the remark at a banquet dinner of the 2019 Global Peace Forum on Korea at Columbia University in New York. Asked about ongoing efforts to arrange a working-level meeting between Washington and Pyongyang, Kim told Yonhap News Agency that he is "positive about the prospect."

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

North Korea urges US to turn words into action

A North Korean envoy called on the United States to translate its promises into action ahead of upcoming working-level talks between the two countries to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. “The US should implement the North Korea-US joint agreement with sincerity and bold decision after great deliberation,” Ri Ki-ho, a counselor at North Korea’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, said at the 2019 Global Peace Forum on Korea, held at Columbia University in New York on Saturday.

US veterans of Korean War recall fiercest, coldest battle at Jangjin Reservoir

For Milton Walker and Henry Schafer, the piercing cold and sound of war that surrounded them remains as clear as if it were yesterday. Returning to the country where they had fought after decades, the two American veterans of the Korean War recalled their experience Friday. “We were surrounded when we were attacked in midnight, and I was hit,” Schafer told The Korea Herald in a joint interview in Seoul.

LG Chem-SK Innovation dispute reveals workforce vulnerability

The months-long legal dispute between South Korea’s major battery makers centering on alleged talent poaching has shaken up other rivals, according to industry sources Sunday. Many companies are reportedly concerned about holding on to their employees and protecting their intellectual property rights. After LG Chem accused SK Innovation in April of recruiting as many as 76 of its employees and stealing its trade secrets, some news reports have suggested the poaching has crossed borders.

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

Thumb up or down? Nation divided over scandal-hit justice minister

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in southern Seoul, Saturday, to call for reform of the prosecution and to condemn the "unfair investigation practices" disclosed during its probe into the allegations involving Cho's family. It was the largest protest since the ones that took place at the end of 2016 to call for impeachment of then-President Park Geun-hye over a massive corruption scandal.

Cheong Wa Dae's poor communication skills

Cheong Wa Dae's weak communication skills have come under fire following a series of questionable responses to controversial issues, internationally and domestically. From a global perspective, the presidential office's shortcomings in communication are feared to hamper international trust in Korea and undermine its position in key security decisions concerning Northeast Asia.

15% of expats here are illegal immigrants: report

Nearly 15 percent of foreigners staying in Korea are illegal aliens, with Thais taking up the largest ratio, government data showed Sunday. According to the data submitted by the Ministry of Justice to Rep. Lee Eun-jae of the Liberty Korea Party, 370,889 foreigners were staying here illegally as of July ― 15 percent of total foreign residents. About half of them, or 164,135 people, entered the country through visa waiver programs and have not departed.

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

Pro-Anorexia Sites Draw Alarming Numbers of Korean Teens

Pro-anorexia websites and social media accounts are starting to draw alarming numbers of Korean teens as well. Young people, mostly girls, who promote the bizarre "pro-ana" trend do not eat properly and starve themselves until their weight drops to 30-40 kg. When they do eat a proper meal, they feel guilty and exhibit bulimia symptoms of binging and forcing themselves to vomit.

Stomach Remedies Banned Over Cancer Scare

Health authorities on Thursday banned the sale of 269 common stomach drugs containing the antihistamine ranitidine. The Food and Drug Safety Ministry said analysis of seven imported and domestic ranitidine medicines revealed that they contained excessive levels of the carcinogen N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). That prompted the ministry to halt the import, production and sale of all brand-name and generic drugs containing ranitidine. An estimated 1.44 million patients are given the common stomach-ulcer and heartburn medication in Korea.

Most Children in Shelters Abused by Parents

There has been no letup in the number of children who are placed in foster care because their parents abuse them, even as the total of abandoned children is declining. The number of abandoned children fell from 4,994 in 2014 to 3,918 last year, but that of children placed in shelters due to parental abuse grew from 1,105 in 2014 to 1,532 in 2016, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Thursday.

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

The antitank barricades that dot the landscape in border towns near DMZ

The most prominent military structures on the border region in Gyeonggi Province are the barbed-wire fences along the Han River and the antitank structures built along the roads and waterways. After the experience of being left defenseless against People’s Army forces with Soviet-made T-34 tanks in the early stages of the Korean War in 1950, the South Korean military went to work after the armistice busily setting up antitank barricades and dragon’s teeth” on roads and rivers.

Exploring the DMZ

Cutting across the midsection of the Korean Peninsula, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) has ironically been the world’s most heavily militarized zone for the past 70 years. With more landmines buried than can even be determined, it is a “national border,” but one that no person can cross. Now a new wind is blowing into this space of total separation. With their military agreement on Sept. 19 of last year, South and North Korea agreed to develop measures to prohibit all military training in the DMZ region and turn it into a zone of peace. In that instant, the DMZ was reborn as a land of hope, ushering in a new future for the peninsula.

A day in the life of a Korean student

“I’ve been going to afterschool academies since my third year in elementary school. On weekdays, it’s 10 pm by the time classes finish. On the weekends, I go to academies to memorize English sentences or answer reading questions. When I ask my mom why I have to study so much, she tells me, ‘These days they have entrance exams for high schools too.’ I wonder how long I have to keep doing this. If all the academies closed on Sundays, wouldn’t we at least be able to rest that day?”

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

Japan should make concessions for S. Korea, if necessary,’ says a politician

The Yomiuri Shimbun has quoted Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai saying that South Korea should make efforts for smoother diplomatic relations, but Japan should make the first gesture and make concessions, if necessary. The Japanese newspaper reported that the secretary-general talked about the worsening South Korea-Japan relations during the filming of a program for BS TV Tokyo on Friday and emphasized that Japan should be more mature and have the broad-mindedness to listen to South Korea and respond appropriately.

Japanese edition of comfort woman’s story to be published

Efforts are underway to publish a Japanese version of cartoon “Pool (Grass)” by Kim Keum-suk, which tells the story of Korean "comfort woman" Lee Ok-seon under the Japanese military, the Tokyo Shimbun reported on Sunday. The Japanese edition of the cartoon book, which was published in Korea in 2017, will have 480 pages, and is scheduled to be released in January next year.

Pompeo in trouble over Trump’s Ukraine scandal

It seems that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is not safe from the Ukraine scandal, which prompted an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. It is alleged that State Department officials have been involved in the White House’s inappropriate contact with the Ukrainian government. The allegations, if proven true, are expected to deal a serious blow to the political career of Pompeo who is toying with the idea of running for the Senate.

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

Cho Kuk Was on the Phone with the Head of Investigators when They Searched His House

Minister of Justice Cho Kuk (54) disclosed on September 26 that he had spoken with the head of the prosecutors' investigation team when they conducted a search of his house on September 23. Kang Gi-jung, senior Cheong Wa Dae secretary for political affairs (pictured below) also said, "We asked the prosecutors for a quiet investigation," triggering controversy over outside pressure on the investigation. Conservative opposition parties including the Liberty Korea Party and the Bareun Mirae Party have taken a hardline stance on this issue, proposing an impeachment of Minister Cho and calling for the dismissal of Senior Secretary Kang.

Another Workers Dies at a Shipyard, Just 6 Days after Accident at Hyundai Heavy Industries

Only six days after an employee of a subcontractor died in an accident at Hyundai Heavy Industries, another employee of a subcontractor died while working at a shipyard. According to the Korean Metal Workers' Union of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions on September 26, Ji (35), an employee of A, a subcontractor that supplied blocks to Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in Geoje, Gyeongsangnam-do, died after he was caught under a 10-ton block used to build ships at around 9 a.m. this morning. The Metal Workers' Union believes that Ji, a crane signaler, died while unhooking the shackle, which connects the block and the crane wire, after the crane loaded the block onto a truck.

Ruling Party Mentions Kim Jong-un’s “Possible” Trip to Busan, Drawing Fire for Trying to Change the “Cho Kuk Situation”

People inside the ruling party and government are spreading words about a possible trip to Busan by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this coming November. The mood between North Korea and the United States recently turned in favor of resuming talks, encouraging expectations that progress in denuclearization talks could have a positive affect on the improvement of inter-Korean relations. Such expectations seem to be the basis of the rumor on Chairman Kim's visit. On September 25, some members of the ruling party went a step further and mentioned that relevant discussions were actually in progress with North Korea.

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

Dr. Doom sees a worldwide recession from 3 scourges in the making

The global economy is heading towards inevitable recession from triple scourges – a prolonged trade war between the United States and China, geopolitical crisis stemming from Iran, or hard Brexit, Britain’s exit from the European Union, warned famed economist Nouriel Roubini. “A global recession can be triggered by either escalation of U.S. and China trade war, or possibly hot war between U.S. and Iran that will spike oil prices, or a hard Brexit that will damage Europe and affect the rest of the world,” said the economics professor of New York University’s Stern School of Business, better known as Dr. Doom for predicting the 2008 global financial crisis in an interview with Maeil Business Newspaper on Friday.

Hydrogen a better green option for Korea than solar, wind power: IEA chief

Hydrogen can be a more sustainable and realistic option than solar or wind power for Korea in its phase out from fossil fuel, according to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). “All government and business leaders are keen to see hydrogen as a key part of the energy future,” Birol said Friday in a session titled “Global Energy Markets: Today and Tomorrow” at the 20th World Knowledge Forum hosted by Korea’s Maekyung Media Group in central Seoul. Birol has served for 15 years at the IEA, a Paris-based intergovernmental organization established under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.

Hyundai Motor, Cummins team up in fuel cell power solution for e-trucks

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. and American engine maker Cummins Inc. have teamed up to collaborate on supplying fuel cell powertrains to commercial vehicle companies in North America. The Korean automaker said Friday that it has entered a memorandum of understanding with Cummins to jointly work on developing and commercializing electric and fuel cell powertrains. Under the agreement, the two companies will cooperate on combining Hyundai Motor’s fuel cell systems with Cummins’ electric powertrain, battery, and control technologies. They aim to supply their electric and fuel cell powertrains to local commercial vehicle companies in North America.

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