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Headlines, November 15, 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

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

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

N. Korea says it sent ultimatum to S. Korea over Mount Kumgang project

North Korea sent an ultimatum to South Korea earlier this week that it will unilaterally remove the South-built facilities from its Mount Kumgang resort unless Seoul tears them down on its own, Pyongyang's official news agency reported Friday. The North's tough stance suggests little room for inter-Korean negotiations that South Korea has sought in an effort to keep the long-suspended tour project that was considered one of the most tangible symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation.

Dongkuk Steel's Q3 loss widens on loss from ties with Brazilian plant

Dongkuk Steel Mill Co., South Korea's third-largest steelmaker, said Thursday that its net losses widened in the third quarter from a year earlier due to losses from equity ties with a struggling Brazilian plant. Net loss for the July-September quarter deepened to 60.1 billion won (US$51 million) from 8.3 billion won a year earlier, the company said in a statement.

Daewoo Shipbuilding suffers 296 bln-won net loss in Q3 on one-off costs

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., a major South Korean shipbuilder, on Thursday reported a third-quarter net loss of 296.4 billion won (US$253 million) due to one-off costs. Daewoo Shipbuilding's net losses for the three months ending Sept. 30 narrowed from 323.9 billion won deficit a year ago, but the result is still a disappointing turnaround from the two previous quarters when the company stayed in the black.

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

S. Korean, US JCS Chairs Meet as GSOMIA Expiration Nears

The military chiefs of South Korea and the United States held annual talks in Seoul on regional security and alliance issues, including a soon-to-expire military intelligence-sharing pact between Seoul and Tokyo. The talks came just ahead of a scheduled meeting of the two nation’s defense ministers, during which a number of potentially difficult pending issues are expected to be discussed.

Former Justice Minister Summoned for Questioning by Prosecution

Prosecutors have summoned former Justice Minister Cho Kuk for questioning, seeking to establish what, if any, connection exists between Cho and over a dozen charges against his wife, Chung Kyung-shim. The summoning comes nearly three months since the prosecution launched an investigation into the Cho family on August 27.

Whole Nation Keeps Quiet for College Entrance Exam

The annual state-administered College Scholastic Aptitude Test took place on Thursday. As nearly half a million test takers sat for the exam at one-thousand-185 locations, the whole nation did all it could to create the most conducive test environment.

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

U.S. military chief vows full use of military capabilities to defend S. Korea

The U.S. military chief vowed Thursday to use "the full range of U.S. military capabilities" to defend South Korea as the allies held annual talks between their Joint Chiefs of Staff chairmen, the two sides said. U.S. JCS Chairman Gen. Mark Milley "reiterated the United States' firm and unwavering commitments to the Republic of Korea and its continued commitment to providing extended deterrence," a joint statement said after the 44th Military Committee Meeting (MCM) between Milley and his South Korean counterpart, Gen. Park Han-ki.

N.K. unveils U.S. proposal of Dec. talks, repeats call for new solution

The United States offered talks with North Korea in December, but Pyongyang is willing to engage only if Washington first unveils a fundamental solution to resolve the nuclear impasse, the North's top nuclear envoy said Thursday. In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the North's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Myong-gil, disclosed that his U.S. counterpart, Stephen Biegun, recently proposed holding a meeting next month via a third country.

Ex-justice minister questioned by prosecutors over family-related charges

Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk was grilled by state prosecutors Thursday over his possible role in his family's alleged wrongdoings, roughly a month after his unexpected resignation. Cho was questioned over allegations that he may have been involved in some of the charges raised against his arrested wife, Chung Kyung-sim. Chung, a university professor, was indicted on 15 counts related to a dubious private equity fund (PEF) investment and her daughter's college admission.

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

Samsung's smartphone share in Japan nearly triples in Q3

Samsung Electronics Co.'s share in the Japanese smartphone market nearly tripled in the third quarter from a year earlier thanks to robust sales of new models, industry data showed Monday. The Korean tech giant shipped about 500,000 smartphones in Japan in the July-September period to take up 6.7 percent of the country's smartphone market, according to the data compiled by Strategy Analytics.

NK nuke envoy voices willingness to meet US, but presses for solution

North Korea's top nuclear envoy said Thursday he is willing to meet with his US counterpart if Washington unveils a fundamental solution to the nuclear impasse by a year-end deadline. Kim Myong-gil said US nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun has proposed nuclear talks with North Korea in December via a third country.

N. Koreans deported according to 'principles' and 'standards': official

Last week's deportation from South Korea of two North Koreans accused of killing 16 fellow fishermen was carried out in accordance with appropriate "principles and standards," a high-ranking unification ministry official said. The two men in their 20s were sent back to the North through the truce village of Panmunjom last week, five days after they were captured near the eastern inter-Korean sea boarder. Three days of investigation found that they had been fleeing authorities after killing 16 fellow crew members on their boat.

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

Moon firm on GSOMIA termination despite 'maximum' US pressure to back down

Washington is putting pressure on Seoul to renew the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Tokyo ahead of the Nov. 22 notification deadline to terminate the pact, which was signed at the U.S. initiative in 2016. Washington has sent key defense officials to Seoul this week ahead of the deadline.

Don't be little Trump, Gen. Milley

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a soldier's soldier. He has had numerous tours of duty in hot spots such as Korea as commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, and in Iraq, Afghanistan and Panama, among others. But remarks by the top U.S. military man since October are raising questions about his image.

Hyundai Motor to build Santa Cruz SUV at Alabama plant

Hyundai Motor will build its Santa Cruz pick-up style trucks at the firm's Alabama plant in 2021, aiming to gain a stronger foothold in the North American market, the company said Thursday. The Santa Cruz, which was first introduced as a concept vehicle at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, will have an open bed like a pickup truck and a lower profile like compact sport utility vehicle (SUV), according to the company.

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

U.S. Insists Korea Must Extend Intel Pact with Japan

Washington is piling pressure on Seoul to renew a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo and increase its share of the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea. A diplomatic source in the U.S. said on Wednesday, "Washington is preparing two statements for two eventualities -- the pact expiring or being renewed." The pact expires next week and Korea has said it will not renew it amid a drawn-out spat with Japan.

U.S. Congressional Leader Dismisses Troop Pullout Talk

A U.S. congressional leader has dismissed talk in the administration of withdrawing American troops from South Korea as "stupid." Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said, "It would be stupid to withdraw the forces, and I would be opposed to it."

Bulk of New Jobs Menial Positions for Elderly

The number of employed people grew by more than 400,000 last month, but most of the newly employed were elderly and took menial jobs created by the government. Statistics Korea said Wednesday that 27.51 million people were employed as of October, up 419,000 from the same period last year. On paper, the employment rate stood at 61.7 percent, the highest for the month in 23 years. Unemployment stood at three percent, down 0.5 percentage points on-year.

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

Key to solving GSOMIA issue is within Japanese government, not S. Korea’s

In the countdown to the termination of South Korea and Japan’s General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the US is ratcheting up pressure on South Korea to extend it. US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley arrived in South Korea on Nov. 13; he will be joined by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Nov. 14.

The US’ pressure to extend GSOMIA lacks any gesture of respect for S. Korea

The US is cranking up pressure on South Korea to extend its General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan, which is supposed to end at 12:01 am on Nov. 23. Even though the Moon administration has publicly said several times that it won’t change its position on GSOMIA until Japan lifts its export controls on South Korea, the US continues to demand an extension. Despite South Korea being a key US ally in Northeast Asia, the Americans aren’t saying anything about respecting its decision on this matter.

Blue House says GSOMIA termination will proceed unless Japan withdraws export controls

With several key US national security figures voicing concerns about South Korea and Japan’s General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) ending in 10 days, the Blue House stated that it plans to allow the agreement to end as scheduled unless Japan moves to withdraw its export controls.

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

Robot to open door, perform inspection for upcoming Genesis

Hyundai Motor Company has decided to build a delivery showroom dedicated to its Genesis models where robots inspect cars in the metropolitan area next year. When a car is delivered to a customer, a robot will open the door and push various buttons inside the car in order to confirm‎ that everything works properly. Robot-enabled inspection at delivery to customers is the first technology of its kind in the world.

Illegal processing of tobacco leaves drove people in small town to cancer

The final investigative results by the South Korean government revealed that carcinogens released from a fertilizer plant near a rural village called Jangjeom in Iksan, North Jeolla Province have caused 22 cases of cancer, 14 of which led to deaths, among 99 residents of the village. This is the first case that the South Korean government acknowledged the epidemiological relationship to non-specific conditions, such as cancer, which can be caused by multiple factors.

Trump’s impeachment hearing fails to find a smoking gun

The first live impeachment hearing on U.S. President Donald Trump over his Ukraine scandal took place on Wednesday (local time), garnering much public attention, but it failed to reach a critical mass in tipping the scale towards impeachment. The witnesses provided testimonies backing the existing allegations, but most of them were already known facts.

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

"We Shouted in Front of the Embassy for 30 Years, But Japan Did Not Come Out"

Lee Yong-soo (91), an elderly "comfort women" victim in the Japanese military spoke tearfully on her knees in a courtroom at the Seoul Central District Court in Seocho-gu, Seoul. "Your honor, I am innocent. I was taken to Japan at an age when I should have been blooming and returned to Korea after suffering from electric shock and all kinds of torture. If Japan has nothing to hide, shouldn’t they appear in court? Japan, which refuses to appear in court, is the one that is guilty."

Will the Reduction of USFK Troops Be a Variable in the Defense Contribution Negotiations?

Will the "USFK variable" shake the table in the negotiations on the 11th Special Measures Agreement (SMA) concerning the defense contributions between South Korea and the United States? The head of the U.S. military mentioned the skepticism held by Americans on the need and cost of U.S. Forces in Korea, turning eyes toward its impact on the negotiations on defense contributions.

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

S. Korea cuts target stockpile level for Tamiflu from 30% to 25%

South Korea’s health ministry said on Thursday it has downgraded its target stockpile level of Tamiflu, a popular drug approved to treat influenza, from 30 percent against population to 25 percent, citing the country’s preparedness in production of generic flu drugs in case of epidemic. The Ministry of Health and Welfare said the latest target adjustment is based on a flu pandemic modeling study and expert opinions.

Vice fin min verbally intervenes to ease supply concerns in Korean debt market

A senior finance ministry official on Thursday intervened verbally to ease the supply concerns in the Korean bond market that significantly dampened trade despite two rate cuts by the Bank of Korea. Kim Yong-beom, vice finance minister, on Thursday, said the concerns over oversupply in the market have been exaggerated.

Debt by SMEs in major banks tops $378 bn in Korea, half held by self-employed

Debt by small- and mid-sized businesses, more than half of which is held by the self-employed, has surged this year and poses as a growing risk for the financial sector. According to the country’s major banks – Shinhan, KB Kookmin, Woori, KEB Hana, and NH NongHyup – on Wednesday, the outstanding loans held by SMEs stood at 441.9 trillion won ($377.6 billion) as of the end of October, up 28.47 trillion won from late last year.

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