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Headlines, December 4, 2019

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

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

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

Trump hints U.S. may use military force against N.K. if necessary
U.S. President Donald Trump hinted Tuesday that the United States may use military force against North Korea if necessary, after Pyongyang warned that an end-of-year deadline for the two countries' denuclearization negotiations is drawing near. Trump revived the threat of military action as negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled over how to match the North's denuclearization steps with U.S. concessions.

Banks' capital adequacy ratio up in Q3
South Korean banks saw their financial health improve slightly in the third quarter of this year from a quarter earlier, data showed Wednesday. The average capital adequacy ratio of 19 commercial and state-run banks stood at 15.40 percent as of the end of September, up 0.05 percentage point from the previous quarter, according to the data from the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).

Foreigners scoop up Kakao on improving earnings, biz diversification
Foreign investors' love for Kakao Corp. seems to be showing no signs of a letup, even during their weekslong sell-off spree of local stocks, on expectations that the operator of the country's most popular messenger KakaoTalk may get a further boost from its lucrative platform, content and fintech-related businesses, main bourse data showed Tuesday. From July 1 to Dec. 2, foreigners net purchased Kakao stocks worth 747 billion won (US$629 million), second most behind Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co.'s 947 billion won, according to the data compiled by the Korea Exchange (KRX).

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

US Commerce Secretary: US Hasn't Ruled Out Auto Tariffs
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday that the Trump administration has not ruled out imposing tariffs on imported autos. Speaking to Reuters in New York, Ross said that the U.S. has been having negotiations with individual companies and has had some "very good benefits" from that. Ross added that it "may or may not turn out" that there is any need for the tariff.

S. Korea's FX Reserves Hit New Record in November
South Korea's foreign exchange reserves rose to a new high last month on a bump in returns on foreign assets. According to the Bank of Korea(BOK) on Wednesday, the total value of the country's foreign exchange reserves came to 407-point-46 billion dollars at the end of November, up one-point-14 billion dollars from a month earlier.

S. Korean Defense Cost Negotiator: Talks Going Well; Trump's Comment on Nat'l Sec. Not Mentioned
South Korea and the United States on Tuesday began a fourth round of negotiations in Washington on sharing the costs for the upkeep of U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula. Just hours before the talks, U.S. President Donald Trump said in a news conference that it was debatable whether keeping American troops stationed in South Korea is in the U.S.' national security interest.

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

S. Korea to set up 300 bln-won fund for fintech unicorns
South Korea plans to set up a fund of 300 billion won (US$252 million) to help fintech startups become unicorns with a valuation of more than US$1 billion, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Wednesday. Hong made the remarks at a meeting with economy-related ministers in Seoul to discuss how to foster innovative industries that could become new growth engines for the South Korean economy.

U.S. flies surveillance plane over S. Korea: aviation tracker
The United States flew a naval surveillance aircraft over the Korean Peninsula, an aviation tracker said Wednesday, the latest in a series of flights of its aircraft to monitor North Korea amid concern over the North's military moves. The U.S. navy's P-3C maritime surveillance plane was spotted flying over the Korean Peninsula at 22,000 feet, Aircraft Spots said on its Twitter account without specifying the exact time of the operation. It also did not upload photos showing the flight route.

Chinese FM Wang Yi to arrive in Seoul for talks on bilateral ties, peninsula issue
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was set to arrive in Seoul on Wednesday for talks with his South Korean counterpart on his first trip here since bilateral ties soured in 2016 over the installation of a U.S. missile defense system on the peninsula. His visit to Seoul came amid lingering tensions between the two countries over Seoul's decision to host the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, Washington's campaign against Chinese telecom titan Huawei and its moves to deploy longer-range missiles to East Asia.

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

US flies surveillance plane over S. Korea: aviation tracker
The United States flew a naval surveillance aircraft over the Korean Peninsula, an aviation tracker said Wednesday, the latest in a series of flights of its aircraft to monitor North Korea amid concern over the North's military moves. The US navy's P-3C maritime surveillance plane was spotted flying over the Korean Peninsula at 22,000 feet, Aircraft Spots said on its Twitter account without specifying the exact time of the operation. It also did not upload photos showing the flight route.

Paris looks to Korea’s technology, startups for cooperation: French ambassador
In South Korea, France is known predominantly for its rich history, sophisticated culture and luxury brands. But take a deeper look into the history between the two countries, and traces of France can be found across South Korea’s core industries. In the digital era, Paris is seeking to bolster cooperation with Seoul in the field of technology and startups, the top French diplomat in Seoul said.

Trump, Macron and Erdogan clash overshadows NATO summit
US President Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron exchanged fire over the future of NATO on Tuesday, as the French leader attacked Turkey and demanded the alliance rethink its strategy. The three-way battle overshadowed the start of the alliance's 70th anniversary summit in London, threatening to derail efforts to show unity in the face of Russia and China.

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

S. Korean chef takes legal action against Michelin over 'pay-for-star' collusion
A Korean chef, who refused to pay money to a "monetary consultant" allegedly working for Michelin Korea, has filed a complaint with the prosecution alleging fraud and attempted extortion amid growing questions over the authenticity of the local Michelin branch's selection of Korean restaurants for its ratings guide. In addition, Yun Kyoung-suk, the owner of Korean restaurant Yunga-Myunga, is also filing a libel complaint against the organization for its denunciation of her claims.

Kim Jong-un says 'Christmas gift' is up to US
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's appearance in footage released recently by his country's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) have left watchers wondering about his latest wardrobe change. Some North Korea watchers said Kim seems to be building up his image as a young and new leader. Thoughts were that Kim wants to be recognized as the leader of a normal country.

'Heavier penalty for child-porn crimes'
The gender equality ministry has called for sentencing guidelines related to child pornography crimes, following criticism that the Korean judiciary is too lenient on the perpetrators. Gender Equality and Family Minister Lee Jung-ok met with Kim Young-ran, chairwoman of the Sentencing Commission, Tuesday, to discuss the issue.

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

Arm-Wrestling over S.Korean Facilities in Mt.Kumgang Continues
The government on Tuesday said it has notified North Korea that it is willing to demolish some parts of a complex built with South Korean money in the North's scenic Mt. Kumgang resort. A Unification Ministry spokesman said the government has agreed with the operator of long-canceled tours to Mt. Kumgang, Hyundai Asan, to tear down an aging hotel and chalet complex there.

Most Middle Schoolers Don't Understand Science Classes
One out of 10 middle school students understand less than 20 percent of the science subjects they are taught at school, according to a survey highlighting the chronic malaise of Korea's public education system. The survey, by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, shows that 11.5 percent of ninth-graders flunked science subjects last year, almost doubling from around six percent a year since 2015. Fewer than 50 percent understood more than half of what was taught in science classes.

Korea Faces 'Worst Growth Period in 50 Years'
Korea's economy is in the worst shape in 50 years as exports are hit by the protracted U.S.-China trade dispute and slumping semiconductor industry, the Financial Times claimed Monday. "The [Korean] economy is on track for one of its worst two-year growth periods in more than half a century, battered by China's economic slowdown," the daily said.

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

S. Korean unification minister admits Mt. Kumgang facilities need to be revamped
Minister of Unification Kim Yeon-chul acknowledged on Dec. 4 that 340 shipping containers had been “used as temporary accommodations during the pursuit of the Mt. Kumgang tourism project.” “Business operators [including Hyundai Asan] also agree on the need for ‘a complete revamping’ of certain rudimentary aspects,” he said.

Students of gifted schools applying for medical college to be required to return stipends and scholarships
Seoul Science High School (SSHS), a gifted school intended to nurture talented scientific minds, plans to demand the return of education stipends and scholarship funds and revoke school awards as of next year’s incoming class for any students who even apply for a medical college. The provision requiring the return of educational fees is the second to be instituted for South Korea’s eight gifted schools, following the Korea Science Academy of KAIST in Busan. The measure is seen as reflecting the school’s exceptionally high medical college matriculation rate.

Park Geun-hye returns to detention center after 2.5 months in hospital for shoulder surgery
After being hospitalized for a shoulder surgery, former President Park Geun-hye was returned to incarceration at Seoul Detention Center on Dec 3. Park was admitted to Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital on Sept. 16 for a rotator cuff surgery. She underwent rehabilitation treatment in a VIP room afterwards, which sparked accusations of “special treatment” for a president convicted of serious crimes. Park was sentenced to 25 years in prison under corruption charges in August.

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

‘EU should not use 5G equipment of Huawei,’ says Pompeo
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday (local time) it is critical for EU countries to not use the 5G wireless communication equipment from Chinese tech giants, such as Huawei and ZTE. He suggested South Korea’s Samsung, Sweden’s Ericsson, and Finland’s Nokia as alternatives that compete fairly and abide by the rule of law.

Abe says summit with Moon is being arranged
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday that he is arranging a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Kyodo news agency reported. This is the first time Abe mentioned a summit meeting between South Korea and Japan since South Korea conditionally suspended the termination of a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, known as the GSOMIA, on Oct. 22. During a meeting with government officials and ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on Tuesday, Abe said he is arranging separate meetings with President Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Chengdu, China for this year’s trilateral summit between South Korea, China, and Japan slated for Dec. 23-25.

First South Korean female pilots become battalion commanders
The three female pilots, who were dubbed the “first female red mufflers” for becoming the first South Korean women to enter the Air Force Academy, have become the first female battalion commanders. They are Lt. Col. Pyeon Bo-ra of the 3rd Flying Training Wing, Lt. Col. Jang Se-jin of the 5th Air Mobility Wing, and Lt. Col. Park Ji-yeon of the 16th Fighter Wing, according to the Air Force on Tuesday. Jang was inaugurated as battalion commander on Tuesday while the other two are expecting an inauguration within this month.

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

Removing Containers from Mount Kumgang: Will It Be Enough to Turn the Stubborn North Around?
On December 2, Minister of Unification Kim Yeon-chul (55) announced that he was discussing the removal of hundreds of container accommodations in the Mount Kumgang tourist zone with the business operator, Hyundai Asan. The government has accepted the North’s request to remove the South’s facilities for now, and appear to be using this opportunity to consult with North Korea on resuming tourism of Mount Kumgang. At a debate hosted by the Kwanhun Club, the minister said, “When promoting tourism of Mount Kumgang, we failed to solve the problem of accommodations and temporarily used containers as accommodations.

Liberty Korea Party Agonizes over the Filibuster, Which Boomeranged Back
The Liberty Korea Party found itself in a tight position after its filibuster to block the legislative process on the “Fast Track bills” ended up fueling the public criticism of the party. This has put the brakes on the party’s initial plan, which was to stop the bills on the Fast Track and highlight the ruling party’s “excessive attempt” to ram the bills through the National Assembly. To make matters worse, the parliamentary session, which was to be the stage of the filibuster, was never held and the opposition party lacks an appropriate response to the ruling party’s salami tactics.

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

GS Group Chair Huh Chang-soo to hand over helm to Huh Tae-soo
South Korean eighth largest conglomerate GS Group will be spearheaded by new chief Huh Tae-soo, vice chairman and chief executive of GS Home Shopping Inc. who will succeed Chairman Huh Chang-soo, his elder brother who has offered to resign after 15 years at the helm of the group. GS Group said on Tuesday that its chairman Huh Chang-soo officially tendered his resignation during a presidential board meeting, and his younger brother Huh Tae-soo has been appointed as new leader.

Artificial intelligence in spotlight as new boost to healthcare sector in Korea
The planned initial public offering of two South Korean biotech startups – JLK Inspection and Syntekabio – is raising expectations about broader applications of artificial intelligence in the local healthcare sector to spread up the process of drug discovery and design. The two are due to go public this month. JLK Inspection has developed a platform of 37 AI-based solutions applicable to support doctors’ decision in the diagnosis on medical imaging modalities including MRI, CT and X-ray.

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Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koreapost.com

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