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Headlines, July 30, 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018

Round-up of important news from major Korean, international dailies, other news sources today:

The Korea Post media (www.koreapost.com) in English, (www.koreapost.co.kr) in Korean.
S. Korean medical team arrives in Laos to assist flood recovery
A South Korean medical team flew into in Laos on Sunday to assist with recovery efforts following the deadly flooding that resulted from the collapse of a dam that was under construction by a Korean builder. An emergency relief team composed of 15 medical personnel and five support staff arrived at Pakse International Airport in Champasak Province, southern Laos, at about 6 p.m. (on local time) aboard a Korean military plane.

LG Electronics installs more than 100 washrooms in Ethiopia
LG Electronics Inc. said Monday it has assisted in the construction of more than a hundred washrooms in Ethiopia in line with its charity efforts in the African country. The South Korean consumer electronics giant said it has provided equipment and materials for the construction of washrooms in a town in Ethiopia, successfully installing them at 115 households so far.

Lotte set to launch new department to boost e-commerce business
South Korea's retail giant Lotte said Monday a new department in charge of the business group's online businesses is set to be launched this week as the conglomerate revs up efforts to cope with the rapid expansion of the country's online market. Earlier in May, Lotte unveiled the plan to inject 3 trillion won (US$2.69 billion) into its e-commerce business in the next five years, integrating online malls that have been separately operated by its affiliates into one with an aim to generate 20 trillion won in sales by 2022.
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KBS (http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/)
S. Korea's Human Rights Watchdog to Probe N. Korean Workers' 2016 Defection
South Korea's human rights watchdog plans to conduct a probe into a group defection by North Korean restaurant workers in 2016 amid allegations that the defection was orchestrated by the South's spy agency. The National Human Rights Commission said that it held a meeting on Thursday and decided to investigate the case to determine if the North Korean workers came to the South voluntarily or if a state agency was illegally involved in the defection.

Pres. Moon to Spend Summer Vacation at Military Facility
President Moon Jae-in is set to spend most of his five-day summer vacation that starts on Monday at a military facility. A presidential office spokesperson said Sunday that the secure location was chosen as it would be easy to brief the president in the event of an emergency. Presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok will also take a summer break during the time Moon will be on his vacation. The move is unprecedented as usually the chief of staff acts as a proxy leader when the president is absent.

US State Department: N. Korea Not Paid for Repatriation of American Soldiers' Remains
The United States says it did not give money to North Korea in return for the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War. U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert told CNN on Saturday that U.S. code grants the secretary of defense the authority to reimburse any country for expenses associated with the recovery and storage of remains.
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Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr)
German automaker BMW faces suit over 'faulty' sedan
A group of South Korean customers filed a class-action lawsuit Monday against German automaker BMW over a defective part that may cause fires in one of its popular sedans, industry sources said. The four owners of BMW 520d sedans lodged the suit with the Seoul Central District Court against BMW Korea and Deutsche Motors, the local distributor of BMW vehicles. The legal action comes after several BMW 520d sedans caught fire while being driven in South Korea.

Ex-top court chief justice receives large 'special activity funds': civic group
Former Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae received a large amount of "special activity funds" amid allegations that he used trials as bargaining chips in the top court's dealings with the presidential office, a civic group said Sunday. The People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), released details about special funds that the Supreme Court doled out to top justices and ranking court officials from January 2015-May 2018. A combined 965 million won (US$862,760) was spent in the name of special activity funds over the period. From 2015-2017, Yang received 23.1 percent of the funds, the group said.

Average wage at S. Korea's top 4 banks nearing 100 mln won mark
The average annual wage for a bank employee working at South Korea's top four lenders is nearing the 100 million won (US$89,700) mark, market data showed Sunday. Assessment of quarterly reports by KB Kookmin Bank, Shinhan Bank, Woori Bank and KEB Hana Bank showed that in the first three months of this year, employees each received 26.8 million won in salary, up 4 percent from the previous year. In 2017, the average wage of these four lenders stood at just over 90 million won. Numbers for this year are likely to surpass 94 million won.
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The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
N. Korea silent on return of US remains
North Korea remained mum on Sunday on its return of the remains of American soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, but it is in fact sending a silent message to the US to swiftly declare mark an official end of war, experts say. In a move that is seen as the first tangible result from the Singapore summit in June, North Korea repatriated 55 sets of remains of US soldiers Friday, which prompted a note of thanks from US President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un via Twitter.

Documents reveal power abuse cases linked to National Court Administration
More documents linked to the power abuse scandal involving former Supreme Court Chief Yang Sung-tae have been revealed, including allegations that he used trials involving former forced laborers during Japanese colonial rule of the country as bargaining chips for political favors from the presidential office. The newly unveiled documents were found in computers and USB devices that belonged to Im Jong-heon, former vice director of the National Court Administration. They show that the NCA had contacted Kim Ki-choon, then-chief of staff for former President Park Geun-hye, in its effort to dispatch more judges to overseas government offices.

Defense reform plan focuses on organizational change
The defense reform plan announced last week aims to overhaul the military’s command systems and troop organization amid the country’s growing need to adapt to the changing security landscape and the demographic shift. However, the plan lacks specific measures for changing the operational scheme in the event of a war with North Korea, which had been expected to be incorporated into the reform blueprint since the military floated the idea last year.
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The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Major remodeling due for Incheon airport
Terminal One at Incheon International Airport is scheduled to go through major remodeling which will include rearranging airline departure gates, expanding smart services and passenger convenience facilities. "To provide Terminal One with quality services as good as Terminal Two, we will remodel Terminal One to be similar to (the recently opened) Terminal Two," Chung Il-young, CEO of Incheon International Airport Corp (IIAC), said Sunday.

Soaring eating-out costs weigh on households
Kang, an office worker in Gangnam, southern Seoul, has been refraining from eating out for lunch. He instead goes to the company cafeteria. "I often had samgyetang, or ginseng chicken soup, in summer, but now it costs around 14,000 won per bowl. I was surprised to see an omelet with rice priced at 13,000 won at a casual restaurant. It is difficult to find dishes that are priced below 10,000 won near my office," he said. As eating out expenses are rising following the minimum wage hike and soaring prices of agricultural produce, consumers are complaining that they are losing purchasing power despite their pay raise.

Naver criticized for flip-flopping on content biz
Naver has been hit for flip-flopping on its promises after retracting a plan to merge its Nstore unit in charge of content distribution with its subsidiary Naver Webtoon, just a day after the announcement. In response, the Korea Exchange gave notice that it will deliberate on whether to designate the company as an unfaithful disclosure corporation. The nation's largest portal operator announced in a regulatory filing, which came with the announcement of its second-quarter earnings reports, Thursday, that the firm was going to spin off Nstore and merge it with Naver Webtoon. The firm said its board of directors approved the merger.
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Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
U.S. Could Send Officials to N.Korea to Search for War Dead
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday said the Pentagon could send officials to North Korea to help with the search for the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War. "That is certainly under consideration. Absolutely," Mattis told Pentagon reporters when asked if Washington could send personnel. North Korea handed over a first set of 50 remains the day earlier under an agreement reached at the summit with the U.S. in June.

U.S. Official Urges Firms to Slow Down Business with N.Korea
A U.S. State Department official on Thursday urged South Korean businesses to slow down economic cooperation projects with North Korea. At the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Mark Lambert met 15 executives of companies like Hyundai Asan, KORAIL and KT that have been involved in business projects in North Korea. According to executives who were at the meeting, Lambert explained Washington's opposition to easing sanctions against North Korea in an assertive tone of voice. The key message was that the sanctions are continuing despite the atmosphere of rapprochement, and that executives should not rush ahead with projects in North Korea before sanctions are lifted.

Gov't Launches Battle Against Obesity
The government has come up with a wide-ranging campaign against obesity, including giving incentives to people to lose weight and cracking down on TV shows that might encourage binge eating. The government on Thursday announced measures to rein in rising obesity rates until 2022. The Ministry of Health and Welfare will give incentives like free gym coupons and healthcare vouchers to people who score points on healthy habits and health management.
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HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
AI and inter-Korean economic cooperation highlighted as top variables of influence
Companies with organizations in place for research and development (R&D) selected artificial intelligence (AI) and inter-Korean economic cooperation as the top variables expected to influence the development of South Korea’s economy, industry, and technology through 2030. The findings were among those published by the Korea Industrial Technology Association (KOITA) on July 23 from a survey of industry perceptions on the future prospects for industry technology through 2030. For the study, a total of 826 companies with R&D organizations in place were surveyed between June 5 and July 6. The survey adopted a free-response format, with 36 keywords provided as examples by experts in different fields.

A Yemeni family lives in purgatory on Jeju Island
Where are the whales? The ancient Greek poet Arion was a wanderer who played the kithara (an ancestor of today’s guitar) and sang. His beautiful singing voice was like the sound of the heavens, and passersby stopped in their tracks when they heard his music, moved to tears as it washed over their souls. His reputation spread far and wide, and he began receiving invitations to perform around the world. He went to play in Sicily, where the people offered him jewels and expensive gifts, pleading with him to stay on the island forever. But he wanted to go home. Taking his leave as hundreds of Sicilians sadly saw him off, Arion boarded a boat – but the greedy sailors on board tried to kill him and steal his gold and jewels. Arion climbed on the prow and sang the last song of his life before plunging into the dark sea.

Roh Hoe-chan’s death calls into question legitimacy of Political Funds Act
In the end, even Roh Hoe-chan, the “star” of South Korea’s progressive politics, could not stay free of the campaign finance trap. Figures both inside and outside the political establishment denounce the Political Funds Act as a “law that not even Roh Hoe-chan could obey.” The regulations about state subsidies for political parties and campaign fundraising create a system that is drastically tilted in favor of sitting lawmakers and big parties.
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The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Mosquito count significantly lower amid continuing heat wave
Amid scorching temperatures that have lasted for weeks, the count of Culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquitoes that causes Japanese encephalitis is found to be significantly lower this year than last year. According to the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday, the number of Culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquitoes that were collected during the 28th week (July 8 – 14) of this year was eight on average, down by 71.4 percent from 28 that was recorded during the same period of last year.

Expectations rise over U.S.-N. Korea talks at ASEAN Regional Forum
Amid growing expectations that the denuclearization process of North Korea will gather momentum with the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War, all eyes are now fixed on the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) set to be held in Singapore this week. As the ARF is the only regional multilateral forum for consultations on security issues attended by the North as well as where the top diplomats of related countries including South Korea, the United States, and China gather together, each country is rushing to continue negotiations under the table to come up with breakthroughs at the forum.

Gov’t re-measures power demand for this summer
The government has decided to identify the reasons for the failure in predicting maximum electricity needs for this summer, and then modify the figures. The Korea Power Exchange said on Sunday that it would find out why power demands turned out to be inaccurate during a gathering with private-sector experts and relevant government bodies such as the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy and the Korea Meteorological Administration. This summer’s maximum power demand will be updated around Aug. 3 at the soonest. The government expects that this summer will see power demand reach the peak by the second week of August, around which companies gear up back to normal operation after their employees return from vacation.
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JoongAng Ilbo (http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/)
Government sends rescue teams to Laos
The Korean government dispatched two teams of doctors and aid workers to Laos on Sunday to support rescue efforts after a dam breach last week left dozens dead and thousands without a home. The two teams consist of 15 doctors and five volunteers. They will be staying in the affected region, the southern province of Attapeu, for 10 days to treat patients and prevent possible infections.

At North’s embassy, pictures tell story of warm relations
Outside the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, a bulletin board boasts of the reclusive country’s changing relationship with the United States and South Korea. “Chairman Kim Jong-un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea shakes hands with U.S. President Donald J. Trump for the first time upon encounter,” reads one caption written in Korean and Chinese underneath a photo of the two leaders at their historic summit last month.

SME owners pessimistic about future of economy
Lee Jung-min, who runs a small business in Seoul, has been trying to figure out how to cope with the rise in labor costs expected for next year. “We take home whatever we have left after paying all the expenses,” said the businessman in his 30s. “Every penny counts for people like us and it looks like things will get difficult next year.” Lee isn’t the only self-employed person in Korea with serious concerns about making ends meet in the future.
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The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Why Not Raise the Minimum Wage when the Economy Grows?” President Answers Citizens, “Change Is Hard, But It Will Be for the Better Once It Settles”
For President Moon Jae-in, who had claimed to be the "president of Gwanghwamun," his pledge to have a glass of soju with the citizens getting off work had always remained on the to-do list in his mind. On the evening of July 26, President Moon finally checked it off his to-do list at a pub in Gwanghwamun. The reason the president chose to meet the people now was because he wanted to listen to their thoughts amid the continuing debate on the achievements of his economic policies, such as the raising of the minimum wage.

Military Lacks Ability to Carry out Self-Reforms: Martial Law Incident Lost
The military is under attack for lacking self-discipline with massive reforms of the military approaching. The criticism was triggered by an embarrassing argument over the martial law document between Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo (69, photo) and the Defense Security Command (DSC). The Defense Security Command argued that Minister Song had received a report on the problematic document, but had neglected the issue, while the defense minister retorted that that was a "perfect lie." As their argument intensified, the nature of the issue, the gravity of the document that had planned to destroy our constitutional order, appears to be lost. Public opinion is calling for a major operation of the military, but the government's plans to drive reforms in the military centered on Minister Song has also been disrupted.

Samsung Accepts Arbitration on “Semiconductor Leukemia”: An End to a Decade Long Dispute
Samsung Electronics has decided to unconditionally accept the proposal of the arbitration committee to resolve the disputes concerning cases of leukemia caused in the process of manufacturing the company's semiconductors. Banolim, a group advocating the health and rights of workers in the semiconductor production line, also decided to accept the committee's solution, so the conflict between the two parties, which had lasted for over a decade, is likely to end at last. According to Samsung Electronics on July 22, the company delivered their decision to accept the public proposal recently released by the arbitration committee (chaired by Kim Ji-hyeon, a former Supreme Court justice) for the resolution of issues concerning diseases, such as leukemia, at semiconductor plants, the previous day. This day, Banolim also officially delivered their consent of the arbitration committee's proposal.
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AJU Business Daily (http://eng.ajunews.com/korea)
LG Chem pledges not to purchase conflict resources
LG Chem, a major producer of petrochemical products and batteries for electric vehicles, will not purchase conflict resources such as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold mined from disputed areas to join an international campaign aimed at reducing incentives to extract and fight over them. LG Chem, affiliated with South Korea's LG Group, said that it would stop purchasing natural resources extracted in conflict zones in an effort to strengthen corporate social responsibility. Last year, the company prohibited the use of raw materials acquired through unethical methods.

S. Korea envisions gradual troop reduction and greater fire power
South Korea's defense ministry proposed a gradual troop reduction to cope with rapid demographic changes caused by a low birthrate, suggesting the military would hire more civilian staff for noncombat military posts and increase the number of female officers. By 2022, the number of active-duty troops will be cut down from 618,000 to 500,000, the ministry said in its reform blueprint presented to President Moon Jae-in at a meeting of military commanders. Accordingly, the length of mandatory military service for draftees will be cut by three months.

N. Korea repatriates first batch of American troop remains on day of victory
A U.S military transport aircraft carrying the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War landed in an air base in South Korea Friday after a cross-border flight to a North Korean airport. The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, escorted by two jet fighters, touched down at the Osan air base about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Seoul shortly before 11 a.m. (0200 GMT), according to pool reports. The plane brought back the remains kept in an airport in the North's eastern coastal city of Wonsan.
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Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
SK Hynix to buy back $1.6 bn shares, build a new factory
Just a day after reporting a record high earnings for the second quarter, South Korea’s second-largest memory chipmaker SK Hynix Inc. announced a 1.8 trillion won ($1.6 billion) share buyback with a plan to build a new chip factory showing its confidence about its business. SK Hynix said in a regulatory filing on Friday that it will buy back 22 million common stocks worth total 1.83 trillion won based on Thursday’s closing price of 83,100 won per share. The total amount of shares for the company’s buyback plan would change depending on the stock price change, it said. SK Hynix has no plan to cancel the shares for at least six months, it added.

SK Innovation’s Q2 OP more than doubles thanks to robust petroleum biz
South Korea’s largest oil refiner SK Innovation Co. reported its operating profit for the second quarter ended June more than doubled from a year ago thanks to increased earnings in petroleum business. SK Innovation in a regulatory filing on Sunday said its operating profit on a consolidated basis soared to 851.6 billion won ($761 million) for the second quarter ended June, up 103.2 percent from a year ago. Net profit soared 75.5 percent to 512.6 billion won from a year earlier, and sales rose 27.5 percent to 13.44 trillion won over the cited period.

U.S. private equity fund KKR to invest in new distribution center in Incheon
U.S. investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) & Co. Inc. aggressively seeking for real estate investment targets in Asia will invest in a new logistics center in Incheon, South Korea that would cost about 300 billion won ($268.6 million) to build. Incheon Metropolitan City on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with KKR and SK Incheon Petrochem Co. to build a distribution center on 55,733 square meter site owned by SK Incheon Petrochem in Seoknam-dong in Incheon’s Seo District. The 300,000 square-meter floor area center with seven floors above ground and one underground floor will be built based on total investment of 300 billion won.
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What’s ticking around the world at this second?
See what the world media around the world have to report:
USA Today www.usatoday.com aallman@gannett.com
The New York Times www.nytimes.com inytletters@nytimes.com
Wall Street Journal www.wsj.com support@wsj.com, service@wsj-asia.com
Financial Times www.ft.com ean@ft.com
The Times www.thetimes.co.uk help@timesplus.co.uk
The Sun www.thesun.co.uk talkback@the-sun.co.uk
Chinese People's Daily www.people.com.cn kf@people.cn
China Daily www.chinadaily.com.cn circulation@chinadaily.com.cn
GwangmyeongDaily www.gmw.cn webmaster@gmw.cn
Japan's Yomiuri www.yomiuri.co.jp japannews@yomiuri.com
Asahi www.asahi.com customer-support@asahi.com
Mainichi www.mainichi.jp
Le Monde www.ilemonde.com
Italy LaRepubblica www.quotidiano.repubblica.it vittorio.zucconi@gmail.com
Germany Frankfurter AllgemeineZeitung www.faz.net anzeigen.ausland@faz.de
SüddeutscheZeitung www.sueddeutsche.de forum@sueddeutsche.de
Australia Brisbane Times www.brisbanetimes.com.au syndication@fairfaxmedia.com.au
Sydney Morning Herald www.smh.com.au
Colombia Reports http://colombiareports.com
Bogota Free Planet http://bogotafreeplanet.com bfp@bogotafreeplanet.com
El Universal http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english
Andes http://www.andes.info.ec/en
Ecuador Times http://www.ecuadortimes.net
The Jordan Times https://www.jordantimes.com
LSM.lv http://www.lsm.lv/en
The Baltic Times http://www.baltictimes.com lithuania@baltictimes.com, estonia@baltictimes.com, editor@baltictimes.com
El Pais http://elpais.com/elpais/inenglish.html
Philippine Daily Inquirer https://www.inquirer.net
Daily News Hungary http://dailynewshungary.com
Budapest Times http://budapesttimes.hu
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The Korea Post is running video clips from the different embassies.
Azerbaijan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR8CBpcQ4WM
Sri Lanka: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hByX92Y2aGY&t=22s
Morocco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfFmp2sVvSE
And many other countries.
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Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koreapost.com

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