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Headlines, October 15, 2019

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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

Top military officials of N. Korea, China highlight bilateral ties

Top military officials of North Korea and China have reaffirmed the importance of bilateral relations, saying defending them is a "noble duty" of their armies, Pyongyang's state media reported Tuesday. Kim Su-gil, director of the General Political Bureau of the North's army, met with Miao Hua, director of the political affairs department of China's Central Military Commission, in Pyongyang on Monday, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

Justice minister offers to resign over corruption allegations

In an unexpected move, Justice Minister Cho Kuk offered to resign Monday amid an ongoing probe into corruption allegations involving his family. "I judged I should not add a burden to the president and the government regarding my family affairs. I think the time has come for me to step down for the successful completion of prosecution reform," he said in a statement. "I was mere 'kindling' for reforming the prosecution. My role as 'kindling' has come to an end."

Moon extends sympathy to Abe over typhoon damages

South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a message of sympathy Monday to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the huge damage caused by Typhoon Hagibis, Cheong Wa Dae said. Moon delivered a message of "deep condolences and consolation" to the prime minister and Japanese people, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung. He also expressed hope that Japanese people affected by the typhoon will recover their "calm, ordinary lives" as early as possible.

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

S. Korea's Men's Soccer Team Gets Hour-long Practice in Pyongyang

South Korea's national soccer team on Monday got in an hour of practice a day before their World Cup qualifying match in Pyongyang. The Korea Football Association said that the South Korean team spent an hour on the pitch at Kim Il-sung Stadium from 8 p.m after arriving in the North Korean capital earlier that afternoon. The team then reportedly headed to the city's Koryo Hotel. It was the first and last practice opportunity for the team on the field's artificial grass before Tuesday's match.

Chinese Premier Visits Samsung Chip Plant in Xian

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Samsung Electronics' semiconductor facility in northwest China, signaling possible closer cooperation between South Korea and China. According to the Chinese government website on Tuesday, Li visited Samsung's chip production plant in Xian, Shaanxi Province on Monday. During the visit, Li reportedly said that the Chinese market is vast and its industries are moving from the low-end to the middle and high-end, which contains huge business opportunities.

Top Military Officials of N. Korea, China Hold Talks in Pyongyang

North Korea's state media said that top North Korean and Chinese military officials held talks on Monday in Pyongyang and reaffirmed the importance of bilateral relations. According to the Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday, Kim Su-gil, director of the General Political Bureau of the North's army, met with Miao Hua, director of the political affairs department of China's Central Military Commission, in Pyongyang.

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

N. Korea's SLBM launch hurt nuclear talks with U.S.: ex-U.S. envoy

A former U.S. envoy for North Korea said Monday that Pyongyang's recent test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile ruined its chances of reaching a nuclear deal with Washington in Sweden earlier this month. Joseph Yun, who served as U.S. special representative for North Korea policy until early last year, spoke at a forum after fresh working-level denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea broke down in Stockholm on Oct. 5.

K-pop star Sulli found dead: police

South Korean singer-actress Sulli, who suffered from online abuse, was found dead at a residence south of Seoul on Monday, police said. The body of the 25-year-old, whose legal name is Choi Jin-ri, was found by her agent at around 3:21 p.m. at a two-story house in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, according to police. Police are investigating to determine the cause of her death on the assumption that she may have taken her own life.

Fintech firm Viva Republica-led consortium applies for internet-only bank

Fintech firm Viva Republica said Tuesday that its consortium has applied for a license to set up a new internet-only bank in South Korea. The consortium includes KEB Hana Bank and Hanwha Investment & Securities, the company said in a statement. The Financial Services Commission has said it will accept applications for an online-only bank until Tuesday.

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

Singer and actor Sulli found dead

Singer-actor Sulli, 25, was found dead Monday at a house in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Provice, police said. Her manager found her dead on the second floor of the house at around 3:21 p.m. He visited the house as he had been unable to reach Sulli after their last phone call, which ended at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Police are investigating the case, but suspect suicide. A suicide note had not been found as of late Monday afternoon.

Support rating gap of rival parties narrows: poll

A poll showed the major conservative party outperforming the ruling party in the approval rating for the first time since President Moon Jae-in’s inauguration. On Friday, a Realmeter poll showed the opposition Liberal Korea Party recording 34.7 percent approval rating while the ruling Democratic Party received 33.3 percent approval rating. The gap in approval ratings has dropped to under-one percentage point, reaching an all-time low since the start of President Moon’s administration, data showed.

Seoul subway workers to go on strike Wednesday

The labor union of Seoul Metro, which operates eight subway lines, announced a three-day walkout starting Wednesday if their demands are not met by the government. The union urged the Seoul Metro, Ministry of Interior and Safety and Seoul Metropolitan Government to meet the demands regarding enhancement of working conditions during a press briefing on Monday. “Seoul Metro has the highest rate of industrial accidents among all public corporations, and this results from the insensitivity to safety due to persisting shortage of the workforce,” said an official of the public transport unions -- to which the Seoul Metro’s union is affiliated.

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

Embattled justice minister resigns

Besieged Justice Minister Cho Kuk announced his resignation Monday, saying he had accomplished his mission to get the government's reform plan for the prosecution on track. The sudden announcement came just three hours after he had disclosed a second set of reform measures. He said he made the decision to leave to ease the political burden on President Moon Jae-in and his administration.

58 dead, rescuers in 'day and night' hunt for missing after Japan typhoon

Fresh rain threatened to hamper efforts by tens of thousands of Japanese rescuers searching for survivors after a powerful typhoon that by early Tuesday had killed 58 people. Typhoon Hagibis crashed into the country on Saturday night, unleashing high winds and torrential rain across 36 of the country's 47 prefectures, triggering landslides and catastrophic flooding. The death toll from the disaster has risen steadily, and national broadcaster NHK early Tuesday said 58 people had been killed, according to authorities, while more than a dozen were still missing.

Moon vows to push prosecution reform forward

President Moon Jae-in offered a public apology over the growing fuss relating to the deepening investigation into corruption allegations on Justice Minister Cho Kuk and his family. "I was hoping Minister Cho would lead the reform of the country's prosecutors' office, but this is looking unlikely. Consequently, I am very sorry for causing a lot of conflict among the public," Moon said at the start of a meeting with senior presidential aides at Cheong Wa Dae, Monday, according to press pool reports.

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

Footballers Told to Behave During Stay in Pyongyang

South Korean footballers were told by a Unification Ministry official to be extra cautious while they stay in Pyongyang for a rare World Cup qualifier between the two Koreas there. The match will be held at Kim Il-sung Stadium and is part of the second round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. They were briefed in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Oct. 8 ahead of their departure for Pyongyang on Tuesday. The No. 1 priority is to bring back whatever they carry in.

Young People 'Bear Brunt of Moon's Economic Policies'

A conservative U.S. think tank last week denounced the economic policies of the Moon Jae-in administration and warned that young people are the worst affected by them. Riley Walters of the Heritage Foundation said in a commentary on Oct. 7, "The progressive policies of [Korean] President Moon Jae-in are a threat to his nation's economy. Young people in [Korea] are suffering most from those policies as youth unemployment continues to rise." "Since his election, Moon has been increasingly imposing his policies at an enormous cost to [Koreans]," Walters added, including a drastic hike in the minimum wage and shorter working week.

Cho Kuk Finally Resigns Amid Massive Protests

Justice Minister Cho Kuk finally stepped down on Monday, just 35 days after taking office as public anger grew and criminal investigations threaten to engulf his entire family. President Moon Jae-in had mysteriously bulldozed Cho's appointment through despite massive protests amid allegations of wrongdoing by his wife and other members of his family. His performance at his confirmation hearing only deepened suspicions, and irregularities in his daughter's admission to several top schools look like an open-and-shut case.

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

US reconaissance aircraft reportedly condts operation from Greater Seoul toward East Sea

The E-85 Joint STARS (J-STARS), a US Air Force airborne ground surveillance aircraft, reportedly conducted an operation flight from the Greater Seoul area toward the East Sea. The aircraft, which is capable of closely observing activities with North Korean surface-to-surface missiles, transporter erector launchers (TELs), coastal and long-range artillery, and submarine bases, was making its first operation flight over the Korean Peninsula and surrounding waters since early last year. Its journey appears to signal intensifying US reconnaissance activities against North Korea since the latter’s launch of the Pukguksong-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on Oct. 2.

Lee Nak-yeon set to attend enthronement ceremony for Emperor Naruhito

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon is set to represent South Korea at the enthronement ceremony for Japanese Emperor Naruhito on Oct. 22. With South Korea-Japan relations at a standstill since Japan’s surprise decision to impose expert control measures in July, many are watching to see whether Lee’s visit can get dialogue started again between the two sides. The Office of the Prime Minister announced on Oct. 13 that Lee “is scheduled to visit Japan form Oct. 22 to 24 to attend the emperor’s enthronement.” The office explained that Lee’s schedule would include attending the ceremony and a palace banquet on Oct. 22 and a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Oct. 23. The visit would also include meetings with major Japanese political and business figures and a roundtable discussion with representatives of the Korean community in Japan.

South and North Korea to face off in Pyongyang for 2022 World Cup qualifier

South Korean reporters and videographers are waiting with bated breath for permission to travel to North Korea for a game between the South and North Korean football teams. The game, which will be the second Asian qualifying round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, is taking place at Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang at 5:30 pm on Oct. 15, but as of Oct. 13, authorization had not been granted. “On the afternoon of Oct. 11, we received a message from the North Korean football association stating that visas would be granted for the 55 people on the South Korean athletic contingent [25 athletes and 30 staff]. Given the lack of a response about the media team, we emailed them back on the same day, but the only reply we got yesterday was about the team,” a source with the Korea Football Association (KFA) said on Sunday.

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

N. Korea exploits a loophole in Abkhazia to make foreign cash

The Washington Post reported Sunday that North Korea is sending down workers to Abkhazia, a country within Georgia that has yet to be authorized as a nation by international organizations, in a bid to avoid the sanctions imposed by the United Nations. The communist regime exploited the loophole that non-UN member states are not obligated to comply with the resolutions against Pyongyang.

S. Korean prime minister set to visit Japan amid soured ties

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon’s planned visit to Japan to attend a ceremony proclaiming the enthronement of Japan’s Emperor Naruhito on Oct. 22 has apparently attracted positive responses in Japan. The upcoming trip of the prime minister, who has experience working as a correspondent in Japan and extensive network with Japanese government officials, could serve as a chance to find ways to mend ties between South Korea and Japan. Yet, experts remain cautious about whether Lee’s visit can lead to actual progress in the two countries’ bilateral relationship.

Mobile ID card to be launched this month

A “mobile ID” service will be made available by the end of October through which people can verify their identity to make financial transactions only with information saved in e-wallets on smartphones. This will enable accredited certification on mobile devices, and people will be able to open bank accounts both online and offline even without their certificate of resident registration or driver’s license.

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

Public Opinion Expressed in the Square: It's Now Time for Politics

On October 12, the candlelight demonstration for reforms in the Prosecution Service was held as a crowd filled 2.7km around the Seocho Station intersection. The theme of the ninth and last demonstration was "We'll Be Back." Participants called for the Prosecution Service to stop its excessive investigations, for lawmakers to quickly pass the bills on the Fast Track (bills on the establishment of an investigative body for corruption involving high-ranking public officials and on the adjustment of investigative rights between the police and the Prosecution Service), for the Liberty Korea Party to return to politics, and for the press to eradicate long-established bad practices in the industry and to write about the truth with integrity. Lines of people cried out in a voice that refused to die down, "Put an end to the old system here and now" as they concluded "season one" of the candlelight demonstrations

Prime Minister Lee to Attend Crowning Ceremony in Japan on Oct. 22 and May Meet Prime Minister Abe

On October 22, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon will represent our government and attend the crowning ceremony of King Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan. Prime Minister Lee is expected to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his three-day trip to Japan. This will be the first meeting of state representatives at the highest level since the Supreme Court ruling on forced labor during the Japanese occupation over a year ago, and attention is on whether it will be a breakthrough in improving bilateral relations. On October 13, the Office of the Prime Minister announced, "Prime Minister Lee will visit Japan on October 22-24 to attend the crowning ceremony of King Naruhito." The prime minister will depart on October 22 and attend the crowning ceremony in the afternoon. The prime minister is expected to attend a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Abe on October 23, so the two men are expected to meet.

Politicians Lash out at the Court and the Prosecution Service Threatening Democracy

The Liberty Korea Party fiercely condemned the court after it dismissed the request for an arrest warrant for the younger brother of Justice Minister Cho Kuk. For the second day, they attacked the judge overseeing warrants, blaming his past as a former prosecutor and the fact that the chief judge who appointed him was a member of the Society for the Research of Our Law for the latest decision. Floor leader Na Kyung-won said, "It was a dismissal tailored to Cheong Wa Dae, a dismissal to protect Cho Kuk." She further said, "When we look at the relationship of the judge overseeing the warrants, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and the chief judge of the Seoul Central District Court, we can find a controversial bias in ideology." As a former judge, she went too far when she mentioned groundless ideological standards. The lawmakers of the Liberty Korea Party even announced that they would visit the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the chief judge of the Seoul Central District Court in protest.

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

Netmarble named candidate to take over for Woongjin Coway

Netmarble Corp., South Korea’s leading online game publisher, is set to take over Woongjin Coway, the country’s top home appliance rental service company, through purchase of the controlling stake of 25 percent for an estimated 2 trillion won ($1.7 billion). The game company disclosed Monday that it was informed Woongjin Group approved of the choice of Netmarble as the exclusive candidate to acquire a 25.08 percent stake in home appliance rental business Woongjin Coway.

S. Korean lenders to tighten loan requirements in Q4 amid sluggish economy

South Korean lenders are forecast to tighten loan requirements for households and companies in the fourth quarter this year amid the economic downturn that has slowed income growth while increasing credit risk, a survey showed on Monday. According to a survey conducted by the Bank of Korea (BOK) on loan behavior of financial institutions, the outlook for comprehensive lending practices index of local lenders stood at 2 for the October-December period. The index – between minus 100 and 100 – measures financial institutions’ lending practices such as whether they will tighten screening rules.

Korean rate to revisit record low of 1.25% via a cut this week: economist poll

Korea’s policy rate is expected to revisit the historic low of 1.25 percent as experts generally see a cut at Wednesday’s rate meeting, survey showed. In a poll by Maeil Business Newspaper, eight out of 10 economic experts predicted that Korea`s central bank will cut the policy rate from 1.50 percent to 1.25 percent, all-time low kept from June 2016 to November 2017. The other two expected inaction. Deflationary concerns were cited as the biggest reason.

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