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Headlines, November 14, 2019

Thursday, November 14 2019

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

The Korea Post (http://www.koreapost.com/)

S. Korea's export prices continue to drop in Oct.

South Korea's export prices dropped for a second consecutive month in October due to the strengthening of the Korean won against the U.S. dollar, central bank data showed Thursday.

The export price index -- in terms of Korean won -- came to 99.04 in the month, down 1.9 percent a month earlier, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

Hanwha Chemical shifts to profit in Q3 on strong photovoltaics biz

Hanwha Chemical Corp., a major chemical firm in South Korea, said Wednesday it swung to the black in the third quarter due to robust earnings in its photovoltaics business.

Net profit for the July-September period stood at 111.5 billion won (US$ 95.4 million), turning from a loss of 34.7 billion won a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Korea Electric Power Q3 net down by over half on decreased electricity sales

Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), a South Korean state-run utility firm, said Wednesday its third-quarter net profit more than halved from a year earlier on decreased electricity sales.

Net profit for the three months ending Sept. 30 stood at 241.1 billion won (US$ 206.4 million) on a consolidated basis, compared with 737.2 billion won a year ago, the company said in a regulatory filing.

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

548,000 to Take College Entrance Exam

The annual College Scholastic Ability Test(CSAT) is set to be held at one-thousand-185 test sites across the nation on Thursday, amid cold weather advisories issued for parts of the nation.

Some 548-thousand students will sit for this year’s college entrance exam, which will begin with a Korean language exam at 8:40 a.m. It will be followed by math, English, Korean history and science portions. The fifth and final foreign language exam will end at 5:40 p.m.

US Defense Chief Open to Military Adjustments to Support N. Korea Diplomacy

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper reportedly said on Wednesday that he is open to new alterations in U.S. military activity in South Korea if it helps enable diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

According to the Associated Press, Esper made the remark to reporters aboard a plane en route to South Korea to attend annual defense talks with Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo.

S. Korean, US JCS Chairs to Hold Talks in Seoul

Military chiefs of South Korea and the United States will hold annual talks in Seoul on Thursday to discuss security and alliance issues.

According to officials, Joint Chiefs of Staff(JCS) Chair Park Han-ki and his U.S. counterpart Mark Milley are scheduled to hold the 44th Military Committee Meeting(MCM) at JCS headquarters in Seoul.

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

U.S. defense secretary open to altering military activity in S. Korea

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that he is open to altering military activity in South Korea if it helps diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

Esper made the remark to reporters flying with him to Seoul, where he is due to hold annual defense talks with Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo.

Trump says he will decide on auto tariffs soon

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he will make a decision soon on whether to impose tariffs on imported cars and auto parts.

Trump made the remark to reporters at a meeting with Turkey's president at the White House amid expectations he would announce the decision as early as Wednesday following a six-month delay in May.

Nuclear talks at 'dangerous moment' due to year-end deadline, impeachment inquiry: expert

The United States and North Korea stand at a "dangerous" moment in their nuclear negotiations, an American expert said, citing Pyongyang's looming deadline for U.S. flexibility and an ongoing impeachment inquiry in Washington.

Robert Carlin, a former North Korea analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, made the remarks amid doubts over whether the two countries can engage in another round of negotiations before the year-end deadline following their unfruitful talks in Sweden last month.

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

Pentagon chief open to military adjustments to support N. Korea diplomacy

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Wednesday he was open to new alterations in US military activity on the Korean Peninsula if it helped enable diplomats, who are trying to jump-start stalled peace efforts with North Korea.

Esper did not predict whether he might end up "dialing up or dialing down" such activity, as he spoke to a small group of reporters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on his way to South Korea after North Korea threatened to retaliate if the United States goes ahead with scheduled military drills with South Korea.

Trump says he will decide on auto tariffs soon

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he will make a decision soon on whether to impose tariffs on imported cars and auto parts.

Trump made the remark to reporters at a meeting with Turkey's president at the White House amid expectations he would announce the decision as early as Wednesday following a six-month delay in May.

GSOMIA to be discussed at top Korea-US commanders’ meeting

The top military commanders of South Korea and the US will meet in Seoul on Thursday to discuss the allies’ military readiness and the security situation on the Korean Peninsula at the 44th Military Committee Meeting

The agenda for the meeting is likely to include issues surrounding Seoul’s General Security of Military Information Agreement with Tokyo, and the ongoing defense cost-sharing negotiations.

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

Police investigate 2 Russians for BASE jumping in Busan

Two Russians have been banned from leaving Korea for a maximum of 10 days while an investigation is underway into their unauthorized parachuting off two high-rise buildings in Busan, according to Busan Haeundae Police Station, Wednesday.

The police found the two at a guesthouse in the southeastern port city Tuesday and asked them to come in for questioning voluntarily ― which they agreed to do. They were later booked without physical detention and police requested the immigration office issue a temporary travel ban, which was approved.

The Korea Times celebrates 50th anniversary of annual translation awards

The Korea Times, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and KB Financial Group, hosted the 50th Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards, Wednesday evening, at the Korea Press Center in central Seoul, presenting prizes to the winners. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the awards aiming to bridge the gap between Korean literature and global readers since its launch back in 1970.

1 killed, 5 injured in state-run defense lab explosion

An explosion at South Korea's state-run defense research institute killed at least one person and injured five others on Wednesday, local fire authorities said.

The incident occurred at 4:24 p.m. at a lab at the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul, according to the officials.

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

Suspicions Grow Over Deportation of N.Korean 'Killers'

The bizarre saga of two alleged North Korean mass murderers and their cloak-and-dagger deportation is starting to develop into a major scandal. The government secretly repatriated the two men on Nov. 7 after they were found adrift in South Korean waters on a squid fishing boat and told investigators that they had slaughtered the captain and 15 other crewmembers.

U.S. Demands 'Reimbursement' for Defense Costs

Washington has demanded a "reimbursement" of expenses for Korea's defense in talks about sharing the costs for the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea. The demand envisions Seoul paying Washington back for extra military resources it deploys for Korea's defense. The U.S. is demanding a total of US$5 billion a year, including these additional costs, a five-fold increase from this year's $1 billion. Korean negotiators demurred, saying the new proposal lies outside that the framework of the Special Measures Agreement governing the deployment of the USFK.

Japan Claims Korea Agreed Not to Use the Term 'Sex Slaves'

The Japanese Foreign Ministry in a startling claim says Korea agreed not to use the term "sex slaves" for women forced into military brothels for the Japanese in World War II. In its Diplomatic Bluebook 2019 published Monday, the ministry writes the term should not be used to label the victims because the expression "contradicts the facts." "This point was confirmed with [Korea] on the occasion of the Japan-[Korea] Agreement in December 2015 and the expression 'sex slaves' is not used in the agreement," the document adds.

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

Mother and 4 daughters commit suicide due to financial troubles

The South Korean police announced on Nov. 12 that a 70-something woman and her three daughters, all in their 40s, who were found dead in an apartment in Seoul’s Seongbuk District had apparently decided to end their lives because of financial difficulties.

“The four women had debt from banks and other financial institutions, and letters demanding debt repayment and a suicide note were found at the scene. Given those circumstances, we presume this tragic incident was caused by the family’s financial problems,” said an official at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

S. Korean unification minister to make first US visit on Nov. 17

South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul is visiting the US for the first time since his appointment. During his trip, he plans to meet with leading figures in the US government and Congress to discuss major issues such as establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and inter-Korean relations.

People in small workplaces stripped of basic labor rights

Lee Jeong-gi, now 51, began his life as an industrial trainee at Peace Market, Seoul, at age 18. He has spent the last 33 years since then behind a sewing machine, without ever being enrolled in Korea’s four mandatory insurance programs. He works more than 90 hours a week at a tiny sewing factory with fewer than five employees. Lower volume and high-handed clients have made his wages even lower than they were 30 years ago. A safari jacket that sold for 12,000 won (US$10.27) in the late 1980s recently dropped below the 8,000 won (US$6.85) mark.

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

U.S. could withdraw from NATO if Trump is reelected

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday (local time) in Washington D.C. The meeting has attracted higher attention than other summits as it was the first time for the two leaders to meet after U.S. forces withdrew from Syria and Turkey’s attack on Kurds and the launch of “open hearing” on Trump’s impeachment.

Hyundai claims manufacturer’s title in 2019 World Rally Championship

Hyundai Motor Company has won the 2019 World Rally Championship for the first time, one of the most recognized auto racing rallies along with Formula 1 (F1).

The Korean automaker announced on Wednesday that it has grabbed the manufacturer’s title at the World Rally Championship, which is a mixed surface rally where drivers ride over both uneven dirt roads and paved roads.

U.S. pushes S. Korea to increase its share of defense costs

Following last week’s visit by four senior U.S. State Department officials, including David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which was intended to put pressure on South Korea to sharply increase its share of defense cost and to rethink its decision to scrap a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, top-level U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley are scheduled to visit South Korea on Wednesday.

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

"Abide by the Labor Standards Act," Cries of the Chun Tae-ils at Small Worksites

This year marks the 66th year of the Labor Standards Act, which was enacted during the Korean War in May 1953. However, there are workers who have been neglected in the blind spot of the legislation. They are the ones working in workplaces with less than five employees.

Two Years Since the Pohang Earthquake, "Why Won't the State Fix Our House, when the State Caused the Earthquake?"

This was what Yi Sun-o (72) said, when we met him at the Heunghae Gymnasium, a shelter from the earthquake in Buk-gu, Pohang in Gyeongsangbuk-do on November 10. Yi has been staying here for nearly two years since he left his home, damaged by a 5.4-scale earthquake, which occurred on November 15, 2017. His house was damaged with cracks running down the walls and rainwater leaking into the house. He received 200 won from the government, but it's hardly enough to repair his house to its pre-earthquake state.

One Month to 1-Year Anniversary of Kim Yong-gyun: Power Plants Refuse to Budge

The one-year anniversary of the death of Kim Yong-gyun (24), an employee of a subcontractor--a.k.a. non-regular worker--who died after being caught in a conveyor belt while working alone at the Taean Thermal Power Plant in December 2018, is just a month away, but power plants have made little progress in implementing the recommendations by a special investigation committee on labor safety at coal-fired power plants (a.k.a. Kim Yong-gyun special committee), which was established after the death of Kim. Reportedly, the government is considering the controversial conversion of subcontractor employees to regular employees of subsidiaries, instead of implementing the special committee's recommendation to have power plants directly hire the workers.

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

Shinsegae pulls off record sales in Q3 thanks to luxury focus

South Korean retail giant Shinsegae Inc. enjoyed its best-ever quarterly sales for the July-September period as its luxury-focused operation survived the overall domestic consumption slump.

Food, home and savings concern Koreans most in spending

Eat, live and invest are the three things that concern South Korean the most, a survey showed.

According to a consumption pattern survey conducted by the Korea Consumer Agency on 8,000 Korean adults from July 24 to Aug.30, the largest 21.4 percent picked food and dining as spending priority.

SK Hynix sets up image sensor R&D center in Tokyo to challenge Sony’s dominance

South Korea’s SK Hynix has set up an image sensor research center in Japan, a powerhouse in the field of imaging sensor chips led by Sony Corporation. The world’s No. 2 memory chip maker aims to leverage its R&D resource there to attract top research talent and close its technology gap with global players in the system semiconductor, according to industry sources on Tuesday.

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Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koreapost.com

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