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Headlines, August 13, 2018

Monday, August 13, 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.
Koreas set to hold high-level talks to discuss leaders' summit
South and North Korea are set to hold high-level talks Monday to discuss holding a summit meeting between their leaders aimed at deepening inter-Korean relations. The meeting will be held at the northern side of Panmunjom that separates the two Koreas at about 10 a.m., according to the unification ministry. South Korea's delegation will be led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon. His North Korean counterpart will be Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country.

S. Korean shares to move in tight range next week
South Korean shares are expected to be locked in a narrow range next week as investors take to the sidelines amid global trade tension worries, analysts said Saturday. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed at 2,282.79. points on Friday, slightly down from 2,287.68 points a week earlier. The local stock market started mildly lower Monday as institutional and foreign buyers offloaded large-cap shares, mostly offsetting a massive selling spree by individuals. The index, however, turned around and closed higher for three sessions in a row as tech giant Samsung Electronics announced that it will invest 180 trillion won (US$160 billion) over the next three years.

Defense minister holds talks with top Indian military official
South Korea's Defense Minister Song Young-moo has held talks with his Indian counterpart, Nirmala Sitharaman, to discuss ways to expand bilateral ties and collaboration for North Korea's denuclearization, his office said Saturday. During the talks, which took place in India on Friday, they agreed to promptly hold the vice ministerial 2+2 dialogue involving the two countries' foreign and defense ministries, according to the Ministry of Defense.
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KBS (http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/)
Presidential Aide Questioned in Opinion Rigging Probe

Presidential secretary Song In-bae returned home late Sunday after being questioned for over 13 hours as part of the probe into the online opinion rigging scandal involving the blogger "druking." Song left the office of the independent counsel team in southern Seoul at around 11 p.m. Sunday. He told reporters that he provided a detailed and honest testimony, expressing hope that the investigation team will shed light on the scandal soon.

S. Korea Bans Port Entry of 4 Ships that Transported N. Korean Coal
South Korea has banned the port entry of four ships confirmed to have imported North Korean coal into the country. A Foreign Ministry official said Sunday that the government had prohibited four ships that were used to transport resources banned under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2371 from entering local ports from Saturday. The four ships -- the Sky Angel, the Rich Glory, the Shining Rich and the Jin Long -- were confirmed to have transported North Korean coal into South Korea last year in violation of the 2017 resolution, which bans the North from exporting coal, iron ore and other minerals.

S. Korea to Report N. Korean Coal Shipments to UNSC Next Week
South Korea is preparing to report its investigation results on alleged illegal North Korean coal shipments to the United Nations Security Council next week at the earliest possible date. Seoul's customs office announced its probe results on Friday, which says that three South Korean firms imported North Korean coal and pig iron from Russia on seven occasions between April and October last year in an apparent violation of a UN sanctions resolution. A government official said Saturday that the government is translating the probe results and making related preparations to send its report to the UN Security Council.
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Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr)
Gov't-issued bonds surpass 1,000 trillion won for first time

South Korea-issued bonds hit 1,000.2 trillion won (US$885.52 billion) as of early last week, surpassing the 1,000 trillion-won mark for the first time, the Korea Financial Investment Association (KOFIA) said Monday. Government bonds accounted for 671.64 trillion won of the total, and purpose bonds 328.56 trillion won Tuesday. The sum is more than double the 427 trillion won in 2008, the year the country was swept up in a global financial crisis. Bond issuance has been on the increase in recent years, recording 801 trillion won in 2014, 879 trillion won in 2015, 918 trillion won in 2016 and 953 trillion won in 2017.

Samsung says it wishes to become first to release foldable smartphone
Samsung Electronics Co. said Monday it wishes to become the first in the world to release an operational foldable smartphone, raising the possibility that it may showcase the first product in the near future. "We are focused on bringing innovations favored by consumers, rather than just becoming the world's first. In terms of the foldable phone, however, we do not want to miss the first spot," said Koh Dong-jin, who heads Samsung Electronics Co.'s IT and Mobile division. The remark came as global tech manufacturers, including U.S. Apple Inc. and China's Huawei, have been making preparations to release foldable phones.

Foreign-made diesel vehicles losing market share in S. Korea
Diesel-powered vehicles that have come to dominate the South Korean import market are starting to feel the impact of Volkswagen's emissions scandal and recent fires that have affected BMW models, industry watchers said Sunday. Corporate data showed that while diesels, made mostly by German carmakers, accounted for 68.8 percent of all imports in 2015, up from 22.4 percent in 2009, that figure had come down to 46.3 percent as of July of this year, compared with 44.9 percent for cars that run on gasoline. The 1.4 percentage point gap could be overturned, especially with more BMW luxury cars catching fire here and public opinion, typically sensitive towards safety issues, turning sour, an industry source said.
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The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
NK ramps up call for S. Korea to implement Panmunjom Declaration
A day ahead of scheduled high-level talks, North Korea ramped up its calls for South Korea to implement the agreement reached between their leaders in April, and lambasted Seoul for its slowness to do so. Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean propaganda website, cited Seoul’s “blind obedience” to the US-led sanctions as a major reason behind lackluster progress on implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration, adopted at a landmark summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 27.

S. Korean citizen caught re-entering NK
A South Korean citizen who was repatriated from North Korea last week was arrested on Sunday morning for attempting to illegally enter the communist country, local reports said. According to the reports, a 34-year-old man surnamed Suh drove an SUV through the checkpoint on the South Korean side of the Unification Bridge in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, which leads to the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas, without undergoing proper inspection. Suh was caught by South Korean troops at the joint security area of Panmunjom, at a reservoir located 6 kilometers away from the bridge.

Court to rule on ex-governor’s sexual harassment case
Former South Chungcheong Provincial Gov. An Hee-jung, who pleaded not guilty to all of the sexual assault charges against him, will receive his sentence Tuesday, some five months after his former secretary made a highly public rape accusation in March. Last month, prosecutors requested four years in prison for An, who has been charged with five counts of indecent act by compulsion, four counts of sexual abuse by occupational authority, and one count of indecent acts through abuse of occupational authority. An has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, saying that his relationship with his ex-secretary was “romantic” and consensual.
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The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
'Retained earnings are not all cash'

Politicians and businesspeople are locking horns yet again over an issue concerning retained earnings. Retained earnings under shareholders' equity on balance sheets are the surplus from a company's net income after paying dividends to investors. Lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) recently claimed that companies are hoarding too much of their retained earnings without investing them to create jobs.

Public against national pension changes
People are becoming more worried about life after retirement as the government is seeking to extend the mandatory national pension subscription period by five years to better finance the depleting pension fund. According to the National Pension Service (NPS), the pension fund is expected to bottom out by 2056 or 2057, three to four years earlier than the NPS predicted five years ago. So the government is contemplating extending the subscription period to the age of 65 from the current 60.

Major, minor parties divided over special activity funds
Concerning lawmakers' special activity funds and the redrawing of precincts, major and minor parties are locked in a dispute after the recent court decision to reveal the details of the past use of those funds. While the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and major opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) insist on keeping the funds and disclosing the receipts for expenses instead, the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BMP) and Justice Party continue to claim the funds by law shouldn't be given to lawmakers.
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Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Intercity Buses Threaten to Stop Services Over Minimum Wage

Six intercity express bus operators running services between Incheon and Seoul on Thursday threatened to suspend business because they cannot afford the minimum wage hike. The companies said they will ground a total of 259 buses on 19 routes between Incheon and various terminals in Seoul like Sinchon, Seoul Station and Gangnam Subway Station from Aug. 21. They account for 75.3 percent of all 344 intercity buses between Incheon and Seoul. Chaos is expected during the morning and evening rush hours unless the operators can be persuaded to change their minds.

Dozens of S.Koreans to Man Border Liaison Office
South Korea is expected to dispatch a large permanent staff of 25 to 30 people to the cross-border liaison office that will open in the former Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea this month. A government official said staffers will be picked up from the Unification Ministry and other agencies. "The number will be in the double digits," a Unification Ministry official said. That is a larger staff than that of most of South Korea's overseas missions.

Hyundai to Stop Production of Diesel Sedans
Hyundai will stop production of diesel versions of four models amid sluggish sales, the carmaker said on Thursday. "We decided to eclipse diesel sedans as they are quickly replaced with eco-friendly cars amid low demand," a Hyundai spokesman said. "In the long term, diesel versions are available for some popular SUV models only." Under the decision, the diesel versions of the Sonata sedan, i30 hatchback, Grandeur sedan and Maxcruz SUV are no longer manufactured as of Friday, and only those remaining ones in stock will be sold. Hyundai plans to launch a new large SUV at the end of this year, so it decided to discontinue the production of the Maxcruz SUV.
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HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Former assistant to Lee confirms ex-president’s meetings with Woori Financial Group chairman

Kim Hee-jung, the senior personal secretary to former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and one of Lee’s most trusted subordinates, has reportedly confirmed the contents of a memorandum kept by Lee Pal-sung, former Woori Financial Group Chairman, during questioning by the prosecutors. Kim also testified that Lee Pal-sung had a tailor visit the office of Lee Myung-bak during his term as mayor of Seoul to take his measurements for a suit. During a Aug. 10 hearing in Lee Myung-bak’s trial, which is being heard by Hon. Jeong Gye-seon, with the Seoul Central District Court’s 27th criminal division, the prosecutors released a report of the statement that Kim made during questioning.

BMW cars that have been inspected or are not subject to recall continue to combust
As BMW cars that have received a safety checkup or are not subject to the recall continue to spontaneously combust, suspicions about the cause of the fires continue to grow. The company insists that this is simply a matter of a defective part, but experts are raising the possibility of a larger problem, perhaps related to software. Government authorities are also being blamed for exacerbating the situation by their lackadaisical response. Multiple automobile experts who spoke with The Hankyoreh on Aug. 10 said the biggest dilemma in the BMW car fires is that the cause of the fires remains unclear. Given the uncertain diagnosis of cause, distrust is growing about the safety checkups and recall measures that the company is implementing.

North Korea announces “unchanged will” to implement Singapore Joint Declaration
North Korea announced that it remained “unchanged in our will” to “implement in good faith [. . .] step by step” the Joint Declaration from a recent summit with the US. “The U.S. should, even at this belated time, respond to our sincere efforts in a corresponding manner,” it urged. On Aug. 9, the US government announced that it was in dialogue with the North on nearly a daily basis by telephone and email. The situation means that discussions and negotiations are still going on despite large differences in opinion on matters including a declaration ending the Korean War and the reporting and inspections of nuclear facilities and materials.
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The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Cheong Wa Dae seeks joint participation of Moon, Kim at UN General Assembly

South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae plans to realize a joint participation of the two Korean leaders in the United Nations General Assembly mid-September, in New York City, through a third inter-Korean summit since South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s inauguration. It intends to provide a breakthrough to the stagnated nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea, and furthermore make a war-ending declaration become a reality this year.

Hanwha Group to invest 22 trillion won and hire 35,000 employees
Hanwha Group announced on Sunday that it would invest a total of 22 trillion won and hire 35,000 people over the next five years beginning in this year’s second half. The nation’s No. 8 conglomerate has thus joined a massive investment and recruitment spree that started with LG Group in December last year, followed by Samsung, Hyundai Motor, and Shinsegae groups. Hanwha’s investment translates into 4.4 trillion won, which represents a 37 percent increase from 3.2 trillion won in annual average investment made by the company over the past three years.

S. Korea’s welfare system has a long way to go
The government’s welfare schemes often include measures to “cut down expenses” for recipients to pay for basic needs and health services. By doing so, recipients can save their money though they are not directly provided with cash from the government. The most representative example would be benefits to help people reduce medical expenses for services that are not covered by a health insurance. If diagnosed with one of the five types of cancer, namely stomach, liver, breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer, patients can receive 2 million won (2.2 million won for medical care recipients) a year for a total of three years.
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JoongAng Ilbo (http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/)
Pyongyang says Seoul is dragging feet on projects
North Korea reproached the South on Sunday for siding with the United States’ “sanctions scheme” against the regime, saying such “blind obedience” was hampering progress in fulfilling the Panmunjom Declaration signed by the leaders of the two Koreas on April 27. The critique came a day before relatively high-level officials from both countries were scheduled to meet in the truce village of Panmunjom. Local analysts believed the regime was sending a message in advance.

Korea’s economy is slowing, warns OECD
The Korean economy will slow down in the near future. According to the statistics released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Sunday, the composite leading indicator, or CLI, for Korea fell 0.3 points from a month earlier to 99.2 in June. That is a warning sign that the Korean economy will worsen in six to nine months time, as the country suffers from declining domestic consumption and shrinking investments. The CLI predicts the future direction of an economy. The index is focused on turning points - peaks and troughs - and the patterns in the indices are likely to be followed in the business cycle with a six- to nine-month time lag.

Hyundai creates separate sound zones in cars
Hyundai Motor has developed a sound system for vehicles in which passengers and the driver can hear different songs or make totally private phone calls. It is the first such system in the world, the carmaker announced Sunday, and will be offered in Hyundai Motor cars within a year or two. Korea’s largest carmaker calls the system a “separated sound zone” and unveiled it on its official website and on YouTube last Sunday.
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The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Will the Inter-Korean Autumn Summit Be Held Early in Late August or Early September?

North and South Korea will hold the fourth high-level talks of this year at Panmunjom on August 13. The unification ministry announced that the officials will discuss issues concerning the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang, which President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un, chairman of the North Korean State Affairs Commission agreed to hold in the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration. Working-level discussions on the declaration of the end of war and reports on North Korean nuclear facilities between North Korea and the United States are in a deadlock, so there have been talks of an inter-Korean summit scheduled for this fall to be held early in late August or early September in an effort to seek a breakthrough.

Samsung Reaches Out to Government and Speeds up Lee Jae-yong's Return to Management
On August 8, the Samsung Group announced plans to newly invest 180 trillion won and directly hire 40,000 workers, displaying the group's willingness to help create more jobs in South Korea as well as seek a foundation for future growth. In general, the group seemed to actively cooperate with the Moon Jae-in government's policy for innovative growth. However, considering the group's “five new future business projects” announced eight years ago, we will have to wait and see if the new plans will lead to meaningful results. With the latest announcement, Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and the actual leader of the Samsung Group is expected to accelerate his public return to management after being released on probation in an appellate trial in early February.

Military's Investigation of “Personal Reputation” Limited to Irregularities and Corruption: Failure to Remain Politically Neutral to Be Punished According to the Military Criminal Act
Systematically, it will be impossible for the military's Intelligence Support Command, which will launch next month after the restructuring of the Defense Security Command (DSC), to exert “omnipotent” power like its predecessor. According to the Presidential Decree on the Intelligence Support Command, the enactment of which the government announced on August 6, the new command will not be able to investigate the “personal reputation” of soldiers and civil servants in the military. If the command fails to remain politically neutral, it will be punished according to the Military Criminal Act.
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AJU Business Daily (http://eng.ajunews.com/korea)
S. Korea bans port entry of four foreign cargo ships

Four foreign cargo ships have been banned from entering South Korean ports for violating United Nations sanctions that ban the shipment of North Korean mineral resources. The four ships included the Belize-flagged Shining Rich, the Belize-flagged Jin Long, the Sierra Leone-registered Rich Glory and the Panama-registered Sky Angel, which were used to carry banned North Korean coal and other mineral resources into South Korea.

Satellite imagery shows ongoing work in N. Korean nuclear complex: 38 North
Satellite imagery indicates ongoing work on the secondary cooling system for a graphite-moderated reactor used to extract weapons-grade plutonium at North Korea's main nuclear complex, but the reactor is probably not operating, according to 38 North, the website of a U.S. research institute. The nuclear complex in Yongbyon has been at the center of attention since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to push for denuclearization at talks with U.S. and South Korean leaders this year. A five-megawatt reactor in the complex has been used to extract weapons-grade plutonium.

N. Korean coal, pig iron shipped to S. Korea in violation of U.N. resolution
South Korean companies were found to have imported about 35,038 tons of North Korean coal and pig iron last year through a Russian port, using forged documents or other illegal means, in violation of United Nations sanctions banning the shipment of mineral resources from the impoverished country. The Korea Customs Office (KCS) said Friday that North Korean coal and pig iron worth a total of 6.6 billion won ($5.87 million) were brought into South Korea seven times from April through October last year. It referred three importers and three business entities to state prosecutors for indictment.
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Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Bayer to resume aspirin sales in S. Korea

Bayer Korea Ltd., local subsidiary of German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG, announced on Friday that it will resume sales of 500-milligram aspirin tablets in South Korea, 20 months after it voluntarily recalled the anti-inflammatory and fever-reducing drug in 2016. Bayer Korea said that its 500-milligram aspirin tablets will return to the shelves in Korea this year. The company voluntarily recalled them in December 2016 after it found that the dissolution rate of some of its aspirin tablets produced at its manufacturing facility in Indonesia did not meet the safety standard. Dissolution rate refers to the rate at which a drug’s active ingredients dissolve in the body.

Ssangyong Motor reaches wage agreement with union
South Korea’s Ssangyong Motor Co. settled annual wage agreement with its labor union, marking the ninth straight year to reach a deal without a strike. Nearly half or 1,636 workers of 3,265 members who took part in vote agreed to a wage deal that freezes base salary and pays out a bonus of 1 million won ($885), the company said Friday. Ssangyong Motor is the fourth largest automaker based in Korea and owned by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra. It has been struggling to improve its business amid sagging domestic demand and intensifying competition.

S. Korea’s Shinsegae DF partners with China’s Ctrip
Shinsegae DF Inc., duty-free store operating unit of South Korea’s retail conglomerate Shinsegae Group, has joined hands with China’s largest online travel agency Ctrip to offer membership service with hopes to woo more Chinese consumers. Shinsegae DF said on Friday that it will offer consumers membership subscription service via Ctrip website, becoming the world’s first duty-free store operator to partner with Ctrip, an online platform in China with over 300 million users offering travel-related services such as accommodation, flight reservation, and tour packages.
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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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