Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Special Country Report: “Zambia an amazing tourist destination, home of Seven Wonders of the World”
“The Republic of Zambia has over 70 tribes bringing different cultures and coexisting peacefully. Zambia is an amazing tourist destination and is home of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World--The Victoria Falls or “Mosi-o-Tunya” which means the smoke that thunders. With 20 National Parks spread out throughout the vast country, a safari experience is nothing short of breathtaking.” This revelation about Zambia came from Mrs. Beatrice E.M. Simuusa, spouse of the ambassador of Zambia in Seoul, at a recent interview with The Korea Post media.The interview centered around ladies in Zambia and Korea as the other aspects are normally covered at interviews with the ambassadors. For further details, please visit:
Kim calls for 'diplomatic, military countermeasures' ahead of end-of-year deadline
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for "diplomatic and military countermeasures" for preserving the country's sovereignty and security during an ongoing Workers' Party meeting, state media reported Tuesday, ahead of the impending expiry of Pyongyang's end-of-year deadline for U.S. concessions. He made the calls at the third-day session of the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the North's ruling Workers Party on Monday, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
S. Korea's inflation at record low in 2019
South Korea's consumer prices slowed to a record low in 2019 amid a slowdown in Asia's fourth-largest economy dogged by a protracted slump in exports and weak domestic demand, government data showed Tuesday. According to the data compiled by Statistics Korea, the country's inflation gained 0.4 percent this year, marking the slowest since 1966, when the agency began to compile related data.
Pompeo says U.S. is watching N. Korea closely amid threat of 'Christmas gift'
The United States is watching North Korea closely and hoping the regime will choose a path of peace as it approaches its year-end deadline for denuclearization talks between the two countries, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday. Pompeo made the remark in an interview with Fox News amid concerns North Korea may stage an intercontinental ballistic missile test or other provocation as a threatened "Christmas gift" for the U.S.
Presidential Pardons Granted on Convicted Heavyweights
The government on Monday released the presidential amnesty list, exonerating a total of five-thousand 174 people. Convicted of violating political fund regulations, Lee was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for a year. In addition to the prison sentence, the ex-aide to late former President Roh Moo-hyun had lost his right to hold public office.
Pompeo Says US Hopes N. Korea Chooses 'Path of Peace'
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the United States hopes North Korea will choose a path of peace, not confrontation. Pompeo made the remark in an interview with Fox News, saying that the U.S. is watching movements of North Korea "very closely." Pompeo said that the U.S. maintains its view that it can find a path forward to convince the leadership in North Korea that their best course of action is to create a better opportunity for their people by getting rid of their nuclear weapons.
S. Korea's Inflation Slows to Record Low in 2019
South Korea's consumer prices grew less than half-a-percent this year, the slowest gain in recorded history. According to Statistics Korea on Tuesday, the country's inflation growth slowed on-year to point-four percent in 2019, the lowest since the nation started compiling related data in 1965. The previous low was point-seven percent growth in 2015.
State pension fund's share value in Samsung almost doubles in 3 years
South Korea's national pension fund saw the value of its stock holdings in Samsung Electronics Co. almost double over the past three years, as the tech giant is expected to show improving performance down the road, data showed on Tuesday. According to the data compiled by Korea CXO Institute, a market researcher, the National Pension Service (NPS) held Samsung Electronics stocks valued at 35 trillion won (US$30 billion) as of Friday, marking a whopping 83 percent increase from three years earlier.
Biz sentiment inches up for Dec.: BOK survey
South Korean business confidence edged up for December, helped by an improved earnings outlook in the semiconductor industry, a central bank survey showed Tuesday. The business survey index (BSI) of local businesses stood at 76 for this month, compared with the previous month's 74, according to data from the Bank of Korea (BOK). A reading below the benchmark 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists.
Parliament passes corruption probe unit bill amid opposition lawmakers' protest
The National Assembly passed a controversial bill to set up a separate unit to probe corruption by high-ranking public officials Monday, lending support to President Moon Jae-in's bid to reform the prosecution. A parliamentary vote came about eight months after the ruling party-led bloc placed related prosecution reform bills on a legislative fast track in late April, along with an electoral reform bill.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Justice minister nominee vows to push ahead with prosecution reform
Justice minister nominee Choo Mi-ae on Monday pledged a swift and thorough implementation of prosecution reform, one of the most controversial reform initiatives of President Moon Jae-in and his ruling Democratic Party. Speaking at her parliamentary confirmation hearing, Choo, a five-term ruling Democratic Party lawmaker and former judge, expressed her support for an envisioned independent investigation body to probe corruption of senior government officials, including the president, public prosecutors and lawmakers.
Kim Jong-un stresses ‘aggressive measures’ for security
South Korean authorities are closely monitoring North Korea, following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s mention of “aggressive measures” to ensure sovereignty at the uncommonly long plenary meeting to the North’s ruling party. North Korean media reported Monday that Kim called for “proactive and aggressive measures to guarantee the country’s sovereignty and security befitting to the established political conditions,” on Sunday, the second day of the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
Prosecutors question key witnesses in Ulsan mayoral election scandal
Prosecutors questioned two key witnesses as part of ongoing investigations into Ulsan mayoral election meddling scandal, allegedly involving President Moon Jae-in's secretaries and police, in Seoul on Monday. Im Dong-ho, a former senior member of the ruling Democratic Party, and former Ulsan Mayor Kim Gi-hyeon were summoned to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office in the afternoon for questioning about the allegations that Song Byung-gi, Ulsan's vice mayor for economic affairs, conspired with several presidential aides and police to influence the city's mayoral poll last year in favor of DP candidate Song Cheol-ho.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Kim calls for measures to protect North Korea's security
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for his military and diplomats to prepare unspecified ''offensive measures'' to protect the country's security and sovereignty, the North's state media said Monday, before his end-of-year deadline for the Trump administration to make major concessions to salvage a fragile nuclear diplomacy. During a ruling Workers' Party meeting Sunday, Kim also ''comprehensively and anatomically analyzed'' problems arising in efforts to rebuild the North's moribund economy and presented tasks for ''urgently correcting the grave situation of the major industrial sectors,'' the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.
Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn, facing Japan trial, arrives in Beirut
Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who is awaiting trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct, has arrived in Beirut, a close friend said Monday. He apparently jumped bail. It was not clear how Ghosn, who is of Lebanese origins and holds French and Lebanese passports, left Japan where he was under surveillance and is expected to face trial in April 2020. Ricardo Karam, a television host and friend of Ghosn who interviewed him several times, told The Associated Press Ghosn arrived in Lebanon Monday morning.
KCCI chief blames lawmakers for thwarting innovation
Lawmakers and bureaucrats should be held accountable for the struggling Korean economy, according to the head of the nation's largest business association who stresses deregulation is key to revitalizing Asia's fourth-largest economy. In a recent interview with The Korea Times, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chairman Park Yong-maan expressed his disappointment with policymakers who Park said have been blocking new industries from advancing mainly for their own political gain.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Disaster Strikes Diplomacy and Economy in 2019
The year 2019 brought huge new insecurities for South Korea as it found itself trapped between an erratic and demanding U.S. and an increasingly assertive China, each leaning on the small Northeast Asian country to jump this way or that in their tug-of-war over regional dominance. Amid a sputtering economy, relations with neighbor Japan also plummeted to an all-time low and put more pressure on South Korea's already strained business sector.
Upheavals Ravage Globe in 2019
Unprecedented upheavals, freak weather and general unpredictability were the hallmarks of 2019, a year which saw the president of the world's greatest military and economic power become increasingly unhinged, while populism also reared its ugly head in many other parts of the world. The U.K. elected its own clownish leader by a landslide and Parliament finally voted to quit the EU next year. Meanwhile a trade war between the U.S. and China depressed the entire world economy, fueling even greater clamor for simple solutions to complex problems.
Korea's Economic Vitality Shrinks
Korea's nominal growth has dropped to the bottom in the OECD as its economic vitality dwindles. Korea is estimate to post nominal growth of a mere 1.4 percent this year, coming 34th among the 36 OECD member states -- barely above Norway's 0.5 percent and Italy's 0.8 percent, the rich countries club said Sunday. This is the first time since the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s that the country's nominal growth rate has fallen below two percent.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korean sisters devote lives to orphans in Ecuador
786 Seoljang Road, Janghowon Township, Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. The Community of Jesus Christ is a “very small” order located in the middle of a field. Unlike other convents modeled on medieval European castles, this one is so plain that one would not be surprised to find it was a farmer’s house. The 10 sisters, who had been having their lunch in the refectory, suddenly went into “silent mode” -- perhaps on edge due to the presence of a male in an area typically off limits to men.
75% of younger S. Koreans want to leave country
Young South Koreas, between the ages of 19 and 34, feel more anxious about life than the older generation, a new study has found. And even among the younger generation, the level of anxiety is higher among women than men. As a result, 79% of women want to leave Korea, as do 72% of men. On Dec. 15, a presentation titled “Diagnosis of Gender Conflicts from a Youth Standpoint and Suggested Policy Responses for an Inclusive State: A Gender Analysis of Fairness Perceptions” was delivered at the Korea Women's Development Institute’s 119th Gender Equality Policy Forum.
Seniors expected to comprise 49.6% of S. Korean household heads by 2047
Over 40% of household heads in all South Korean cities and provinces apart from Sejong will be 65 or older by 2047 as societal aging continues, a report predicts. Sejong, home to a central government complex and other public institutions, was found to show the slowest rates of population decline and aging.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
U.S. flies reconnaissance planes over Korean peninsula on Monday
The United States has been deploying its reconnaissance aircrafts tasked with monitoring North Korea’s military moves, as the North has ratcheted up tensions ahead of the new year by holding a multi-day plenary meeting of the Central Committee of its ruling Workers’ Party. The U.S. RC-135W Ribet Joint, equipped with advanced electronic sensors capable of sensing signals related to preparation for missile launches, flew over the Korean peninsula on Monday, according to Aircraft Spots.
Obama names ‘Parasite’ as one of the films of the year
Many works of Korean directors and writers have appeared on former U.S. President Barack Obama’s list of 2019 movies and books. Obama has revealed his 18 favorite movies of this year on Sunday (local time) on his social media including “Parasite” directed by Bong Joon-ho. Among the 18 movies were “Ford v Ferrari,” a movie about cars starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon and “Marriage Story” starring Scarlett Johansson, which has received positive reviews for telling an honest and real story about marriage and divorce. The list also includes “Amazing Grace” that follows legendary black singer Aretha Franklin, who was dubbed “the Queen of Soul.”
Kremlin: Trump, Putin talk over phone on counter-terrorism cooperation
The Kremlin announced that U.S. President Donald Trump had a phone call discussion with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Sunday on several topics of interests including strengthening cooperation of counter-terrorism. Experts say that the fact that Russia unilaterally unveiled the phone call at the highest level reflects political interests intertwined between the two countries.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
The “Lee So-sun of 2019” Standing up Against the “Outsourcing of Danger”
“Since the death of her son to this day, for five years, his mother has led her frail body, stood at the forefront of the workers, and struggled against all cruel suppression. One day, she will definitely be recorded in history.” This is what lawyer Cho Young-rae wrote about Lee So-sun, the mother of Jeon Tae-il after completing A Single Spark: The Biography of Chun Tae-il (Jeon Tae-il) in the summer of 1976. The death of a worker half a century ago changed the life of his mother, and this shook the society for a long time. As Cho had predicted, Lee So-sun went down in history by standing at the forefront of demonstrations at all times, despite hundreds of arrests by the police.
A Foreign Tourist Arrived in South Korea Every 1.8 Seconds: Foreign Visitors in Korea Expected to Exceed 17.5 Million This Year to Set a Record High
A record-breaking number of foreign tourists visited South Korea this year, and to celebrate this the government organized an event on December 26. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization announced that they held the event, “Your Korea Mesmerizing the World” at the Incheon International Airport this morning to celebrate the fact that over 17.2 million foreign tourists entered the country. The 17,250,000thforeign visitor to enter Korea was Eko Prasetyo’s family from Indonesia.
Maeil Business News Korea ( http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea’s Dec CPI up 0.7% in fastest gain in 6 months, ends 2019 at a record low
South Korea’s consumer prices climbed 0.7 percent in December from a year earlier, rising at the fastest pace in six months. The country’s consumer price index (CPI) in December was 105.12, adding 0.7 percent from the same month a year ago, Statistics Korea said Tuesday. Korea’s inflation has remained stuck below 1 percent since January, the longest stay in zero territory since data releases began in 1965, fueling concerns of a looming deflation. In September, consumer prices dipped 0.4 percent to mark the country’s first-ever negative inflation reading. Prices remained flat in October and inched up a mere 0.2 percent in November.
Samsung and LG to take on each other in TV, AI technologies at CES 2020
South Korea’s electronics giants Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. will vie for Korea’s best title in TV and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies at the upcoming world’s biggest electronics tradeshow in January. Samsung Electronics is expected to unveil its newest MicroLED technology-based TV set and its U.S. development team-led AI project named Neon for the first time at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to be held in Las Vegas on Jan. 7-10. Along with them, the company is expected to introduce the latest AI-based speaker Galaxy Home Mini, IoT-fitted refrigerators and smart TVs.
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