Friday, January 6, 2020
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post (http://www.koreapost.com/)
Ministry launches team on Middle East tensions in wake of U.S. airstrike killing top Iranian general
The foreign ministry launched a team of relevant officials Sunday to discuss measures to protect South Korean nationals and businesspeople in the Middle East, where tensions spiked after last week's U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general. On Monday, the ministry plans to convene a working-level meeting with officials from other government agencies, including the ministries of industry, land, defense and oceans, to discuss a whole government approach.
N. Korea holds massive rally amid tensions with U.S.
North Korea held a massive rally in Pyongyang on Sunday in the latest move to show its unity amid nuclear tensions with the United States. Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans marched at Kim Il-sung Square, with some of them holding pickets calling for unity, among other things. The participants, including Premier Kim Jae-ryong, pledged to thoroughly carry out tasks set forth at the recent crucial party meeting.
New conservative party sets sail ahead of April parliamentary elections
A new conservative party was launched Sunday, spearheaded by eight lawmakers who defected from the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BP) to build a right-wing party pursuing reforms. Rep. Yoo Seong-min and seven other lawmakers officially announced the launch of the party, tentatively named the New Conservative Party, at the National Assembly, less than four months before the April 15 parliamentary elections. "Those who are willing to guard new conservative values have gathered here ... I am sure that Korean politics will change if people walk on that path one by one," Yoo said at an event to launch the party.
S. Korea's FX Reserves Hit New Record in December
South Korea's foreign exchange reserves rose to a new high last month on the weakening of the U.S. dollar. According to the Bank of Korea on Monday, the total value of the country's foreign exchange reserves came to 408-point-82 billion dollars at the end of December, up one-point-36 billion dollars from a month earlier. The monthly foreign exchange reserves have posted new high records for three straight months since September last year. The central bank said that the depreciation of the U.S. dollar increased the value of non-dollar currencies when converted into the greenback.
'Parasite' Wins Best Picture Award from US' National Society of Film Critics
The South Korean film "Parasite" continues to rack up awards in America. The National Society of Film Critics named Bong Joon-ho's latest the best film of 2019 at an awards ceremony on Saturday. The film took the top prize with 44 votes, defeating "Little Women" and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." Bong also won the award for best screenplay along with fellow writer Han Jin-won.
KBS Poll: 47% of S. Koreans Think N. Korea is Responsible for Stalled Nuclear Talks
A KBS survey finds that about half of South Koreans think North Korea is most responsible for the stalled negotiations with the United States on the North's denuclearization. According to the recent poll of one-thousand-six South Korean adults, 47 percent of the respondents said that North Korea is most responsible for the impasse in the nuclear talks since the collapsed Hanoi summit in February 2019. Thirty-three percent said the United States is responsible, while seven percent blamed South Korea.
PM nominee calls for efforts to resume economic projects with N. Korea
President Moon Jae-in's choice for prime minister called Sunday for joint efforts with North Korea for the resumption of their long-stalled economic projects. Chung Sye-kyun said in a written answer to parliament ahead of his confirmation hearing that the two Koreas need to make efforts to normalize their joint factory park in the North's western border town of Kaesong and a tour program to Mount Kumgang, North Korea's scenic mountain on the east coast, as soon as conditions are met. Chung did not elaborate on what he meant by conditions, but they appear to refer to sanctions relief and U.S. endorsement for inter-Korean economic projects in return for progress on denuclearization.
Hanjin Group founder's adult children file complaint with tax tribunal
Hanjin Group founder Cho Choong-hoon's adult children have filed a complaint with South Korea's Tax Tribunal over inheritance taxes worth 85.2 billion won (US$73 million), a tribunal official said Sunday. The tribunal is reviewing the case, the official said, without elaborating, citing the confidentiality policy regarding taxpayers. In May 2018, then-Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho and his four siblings paid 19.2 billion won in inheritance taxes in the first installment of 85.2 billion won that Cho and his four siblings are required to pay over the next five years.
BTS wins top prize at Golden Disc Awards for 3rd consecutive year
K-pop boy band BTS won the top prize in the album division at a prestigious annual music awards ceremony in South Korea on Sunday. BTS took home "Album of the Year" at the 34th Golden Disc Awards ceremony at Seoul's Gocheok Sky Dome. It marked the third straight year that the septet won the top prize in the album division. On Saturday, BTS also won best digital song in the digital song division. Winners are determined mostly by album sales and digital streaming, according to the organizer of the annual awards.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Schools unite, call Moon's anti-elitism policy 'unconstitutional'
Sixteen of Korea’s elite private high schools have united to oppose the Moon Jae-in administration’s plan to strip them of their administrative autonomy, calling it “unconstitutional” in a joint statement to be submitted to the government Monday. “Abolishing the private school system undermines the diversity and autonomy of education -- a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution -- and forces students into a uniform educational system without regard for individual academic needs,” lawmakers representing the schools said in a press release released Sunday.
NK museum in Cambodia closes as workers repatriated
Cambodia has confirmed the shutdown of seven North Korean businesses in the country, including a museum near the Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap, to comply with UN-led sanctions. According to Japan’s Kyodo News last week, which cited Cambodian government officials, Angkor Panorama Museum recently halted operations, along with six North Korean restaurants. Established in 2015 by the hermit state with a $24 million investment, the museum had been staffed by North Koreans.
Partisan strife looms over police-prosecution power reform
A partisan battle looms over the National Assembly this week on how to reshape investigative powers of the nation’s two law enforcement agencies. The ruling Democratic Party plans to introduce a bill on the revision of the Criminal Procedure Code to curb the power of prosecutors, the last piece in President Moon Jae-in’s judicial reform initiatives. The revision is designed to expand the authority of police in criminal investigations and scrap the prosecution’s power to command probes, in a bid to reshape their vertical relations into a horizontal and mutually cooperative one. By law, all criminal investigations by police are required to be under the command of prosecutors.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
North Korea seeks digital transformation in 2020
North Korea will speed up its transformation into a digital economy this year, following the global trend of integrating cutting-edge information technology (IT) with various conventional industries, according to a Seoul-based think tank. Sah Jin-hwan, a researcher at the Korea Development Bank's Future Strategy Research Institute, said in a recently published report that the country is highly likely to adopt "national development strategies for the digital economy" to transform it into "digital Joseon" in 2020
Parties seek new strategies for election after revision
After numerous rounds of negotiations and debates over the past years, the National Assembly has adopted a new electoral system that will be applied in the upcoming general elections in April. The National Assembly passed an electoral reform bill Dec. 27 that has been pushed ahead by the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and four other minor parties since they placed it on a legislative fast track in late April. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) has strongly protested the reform, staging filibusters.
Samsung to unveil Galaxy S20, Galaxy Fold 2 on Feb. 11
Samsung Electronics will unveil the next Galaxy S flagship phones in addition to a new foldable smartphone at an event scheduled for Feb. 11 in San Francisco, the Korean tech giant said Sunday. In an invitation sent to global media and partner companies, the company said, "Samsung Electronics will unveil new, innovative devices that will shape the next decade of mobile experiences." The Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event will take place at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts at 11 a.m. (local time).
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Cosmetics Exports Grow in December 2019
Korean cosmetics continue to gain popularity overseas. According to the Korea Trade Statistics Promotion Institute on Friday, Korea's cosmetics exports rose to just under US$500 million last month, an on-year increase of around 34 percent. China was the biggest market at around $220 million worth, taking up around 46 percent of all shipments.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
High school voters emerge as new variable in April 15 general elections
In the wake of amendment of the Election Law, voters aged 18 years old are emerging as a new variable in the upcoming April 15 general elections. At the time of the general elections for the 20th General Assembly four years ago, the number of voters aged 19 only accounted for 1.6 percent (677,326) of all voters. With the lowering of the voting age from 19 to 18 this time, more than 500,000 are set to cast ballot as new voters, which will bring the number of “teenage voters” to over 1 million. Different political parties are scrambling to develop “customized election pledges” while paying close attention to the direction of these young voters’ sentiment.
U.S. college students to learn Korean with Bong’s movies
Four films directed by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho will be used as lecture materials at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Georgia Tech was ranked No. 5 in the list of 2020 Top Public Colleges & Universities released by the U.S. News & World Report. According to the News And Post, a U.S.-based media company for Korean-Americans on Friday, Georgia Tech opened an advanced Korean language class named, “Korean films: Bong Joon-ho special,” for senior students this year.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea, Saudi Arabia to set up Korea’s SMART reactor construction JV
South Korea and Saudi Arabia will establish a joint venture that will spearhead the construction of Korea’s small modular reactor (SMR) unit in the Middle Eastern country. The Ministry of Science and ICT signed a revised pre-project engineering contract to jointly set up an entity that will lead the commercialization and construction of a Korea-designed SMR in the oil kingdom with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE).
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