Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Biegun to visit China to discuss N. Korea
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun will visit Beijing later this week to discuss the need to maintain international unity on North Korea, the State Department said Tuesday. Biegun will be in the Chinese capital on Thursday and Friday following visits to Seoul and Tokyo, the department said in a brief statement.
S. Korea, U.S. to hold last day of defense cost talks
South Korea and the United States were set to hold the last day of defense cost-sharing talks on Wednesday, but chances of a deal appear to be low as the two sides remain far apart over how much more Seoul should pay.
Rival parties fail to reach agreement over electoral reform bill on fast track
Rival political parties resumed negotiations Tuesday to produce an agreement over a contentious electoral reform bill currently in a parliamentary fast-track process, but failed to make headway. The floor leaders and ranking officials from the ruling Democratic Party (DP), three minor parties and one fringe group held late-night negotiations at the National Assembly to narrow down their differences over the bill.
'4+1' Consultation Body Fails to Reach Agreement on Tuesday
Four political parties and a group of lawmakers preparing to launch a new party held discussions late Tuesday night on a fast-tracked election reform bill but failed to reach an agreement. The group, known as the "four plus one" consultation body, is made up of the ruling Democratic Party, the Bareunmirae Party, the Justice Party, the Party for Democracy and Peace and the group of lawmakers.
Pres. Moon to Hold Summit with Swedish Prime Minister Wed.
President Moon Jae-in will hold a summit with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in Seoul on Wednesday. Lofven will be making a three-day trip to South Korea at Moon’s invitation which was extended as South Korea and Sweden their 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties this year.
US Senate Passes Annual Defense Bill that Restricts USFK Reduction
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a massive 738-billion dollar defense spending bill that restricts the reduction of American troop presence in South Korea. The National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA) for fiscal year 2020 passed the Senate 86-8 after passing the House of Representatives last week by a vote of 377 to 48.
Former National Assembly speaker tapped as prime minister
President Moon Jae-in announced his nomination of Chung Sye-kyun, a six-term ruling party lawmaker and former National Assembly speaker, as new prime minister on Tuesday. If appointed after a parliamentary confirmation hearing, Chung will be South Korea's first prime minister who served as a National Assembly speaker.
Chief financial regulator warns of housing bubble
South Korea's chief financial regulator on Tuesday warned of a home price bubble, a day after the government unveiled the toughest steps ever to rein in a rise in housing prices. "It's a matter of time until house prices fall sharply, though it is not clear whether the decline will occur in the next five or 10 years," Financial Services Commission Chairman Eun Sung-soo said in a meeting with reporters.
U.N. panel grants US$3-mln sanctions waiver to UNICEF for health programs in N. Korea
The U.N. Security Council granted a sanctions waiver for the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) to ship items needed for health programs in North Korea, the U.N. website showed. The U.N. Security Council committee implementation of sanctions against the North approved UNICEF's request for exemptions for items "necessary for the delivery of safe water supply to communities and children" for its health and hygiene programs, the website said.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Analysts, public say surge in housing prices likely despite new policy measures
Housing prices are widely expected to soar despite the stringent regulations enforced by the South Korean government, according to market analysts Tuesday. The government in a surprise move recently unveiled new measures to curb rising home prices, which push for tighter mortgage rules.
‘Multiculturalism is inevitable in Korea’s future’
Over 2 million residents now live in Korea, according to government data. This is more than double the figure in 2007 when the number hit 1 million for the first time. “Multiculturalism is inevitable in Korea’s future,” Kim Do-gyun, president of the Korea Immigration Service Foundation, told The Korea Herald on Tuesday, a day before International Migrants Day.
US Senate passes defense bill with provision against troop drawdown in S. Korea
The United States Senate on Tuesday passed a defense bill containing a provision restricting the drawdown of American troops in South Korea. The Senate voted 86-8 in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which authorizes $738 billion in funding for the Department of Defense. The bill will be sent to US President Donald Trump to be signed into law, which Trump said last week he will do "immediately."
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
US envoy fails to meet North Korea's senior diplomat
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun failed to meet a senior North Korean diplomat at the North's side of the Joint Security Area, also known as Panmunjeom, despite his open request for the high-profile meeting to resume stalled denuclearization talks.
Former Assembly speaker named Prime Minister
President Moon Jae-in has picked ruling party heavyweight Chung Sye-kyun to replace Lee Nak-yon as prime minister. Chung previously served as industry minister during the 2003-08 Roh Moo-hyun administration and has served six terms at the National Assembly before building up extensive corporate experience.
Gov't to create W455 tril. in economic value through AI
The government will generate a total of 455 trillion won ($390 billion) in economic value over the next 10 years by fostering artificial intelligence (AI) through 100 inter-agency projects, the Ministry of Science and ICT said Tuesday. Through the plans, the government is aiming to become No. 3 in terms of digital competitiveness, and No. 10 in living standards of citizens in the world by the end of 2030.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
N.Korea 'Capable of Building Multi-Warhead Missile'
North Korea could build a multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile if denuclearization talks with the U.S. break down, a defense think tank has suggested. The prediction comes after North Korea conducted two engine tests for ICBMs or space rockets this month.
Korea to Keep Spy Drone Deployment Under Wraps
Military authorities have decided to keep under wraps the entire process of purchasing Global Hawk unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft from the U.S. There will be none of the usual brass bands and ceremonial marking the purchase and handover, and the government will not announce the date of the drones' arrival.
Gov't Unveils Tougher Curbs on Property Prices
The government on Monday unveiled a new set of curbs including lending restrictions aimed at cooling overheated home prices and real-estate speculation. The move comes amid revelations that some senior Cheong Wa Dae officials have seen the value of their properties in posh areas skyrocket despite ostensible curbs. The fresh restrictions include a ban on home loans on properties valued at less than W150 million effective on Tuesday (US$1=W1,174).
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Will Pyongyang answer Biegun’s call?
After Stephen Biegun, the US State Department’s special representative for North Korea, publicly offered to meet North Koreans on Dec. 16, during his visit to South Korea, the next question revolves around the possibility of reviving the North Korea-US negotiations, which broke down in Stockholm in early October. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that Biegun mentioned “feasible steps,” “flexibility,” and “balanced agreements,” all expressions that seem catered to North Korea’s desired approach.
Biegun urges North Korea to return to negotiating table during Seoul visit
As North Korea’s declared end-of-the-year deadline for its denuclearization talks with the US draws closer, Stephen Biegun, the US State Department’s special representative for North Korea and the nominee for deputy secretary of state, openly proposed meeting with the North Koreans. “It is time for us to do our jobs. Let’s get this done. We are here [in Seoul], and you know how to reach us,” said Biegun, who is currently visiting South Korea, on Dec. 16.
Defense Ministry think tank says N. Korea may develop multi-warhead ICBMs
According to a report titled “2020 Prospects and Challenges for the National Defense Policy Environment” that was published by the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) on Dec. 16, North Korea could take steps to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) with multiple warheads next year if its denuclearization talks with the US break down. Though some elements of the military have previously claimed that North Korea is seeking to develop multi-warhead ICBMs, this is the first time the idea has been officially broached by a think tank associated with South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND).
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Trump: U.S. will ‘take care of it’ if N. Korea goes ahead with missile testing
U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday (local time) that the U.S. will “take care of it” if something is “in the works” in North Korea in what appears to be another warning to North Korea. President Trump made the same remarks on Nov. 29, 2017, immediately after North Korea launched a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
China, Russia submit resolution to ease sanctions against N. Korea
China and Russia submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council calling for the partial ease of sanctions against North Korea, including a ban on the project to build railways and roads connecting South Korea and North Korea and the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad, and the resumption of six-party talks. The two countries shared the details of the draft resolution with South Korea before submission.
Daewoo Shipbuilding wins contract to build two VLGCs in 4 years
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. announced Tuesday that it has secured a 190-billion-won order to build two liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers for Avance Gas Holding Ltd. This is the first time in four years that the South Korean shipbuilder has won a contract to build LPC carriers.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Biegun, “Let Me Speak Directly to North Korea, Let’s Get This Done”
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun (pictured), currently in South Korea, publicly proposed a meeting during his stay to North Korea. In a public press conference after discussions with Lee Do-hoon, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the foreign ministry in Seoul on December 16, Biegun said, ”Let me speak directly to our counterparts in North Korea,” and continued, “It is time for us to do our jobs. Let’s get this done. We are here, and you know how to reach us.”
Cheong Wa Dae Instructs Senior Officials with Multiple Homes to Sell All But One
On December 16, Cheong Wa Dae recommended its officials, in secretarial or higher positions, with two or more houses in the Seoul metropolitan area to sell all but one. It asked that the senior officials at Cheong Wa Dae lead by example the “one household, one home” recommendation in order to stabilize the housing market. Reportedly, there are eleven Cheong Wa Dae officials in secretarial or higher positions with two or more houses in speculation prone zones.
Maeil Business News Korea ( http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korean securities firms strengthen digital, human resources to lure super rich
Korean securities companies beefed up their wealth management capabilities with human and machine resources to steal the rich from banks amid record-high fluid liquidity and low interest rate environment. NH Investment & Securities in recent business reorganization on Monday newly established a digital sales division under the wealth management department to strengthen personalized service.
Economy bad or worse, Koreans spend on items that can save time for self-care
“Me”-economy, or individualism consumerism for self-indulgence and convenience have defined the home appliance market in Korea. According to data obtained by Maeil Business Newspaper from electronics retail chain store Lotte Himart, this year’s top five bestsellers were dish washers, household beauty-care appliances, tablet PCs, steam clothing care systems and electric ranges.
DSME wins $163 mn order to build 2 LPG carriers
South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (DSME) bagged a 190 billion won ($162.9 million) worth order from Bermuda-based Avance Gas Holding Ltd. to build two very large liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers, the company announced on Tuesday.
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