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Headlines, August 16, 2018

Thursday, August 16, 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.
U.S. sanctions China, Russia firms over N.K. illicit shipments
The United States on Wednesday sanctioned Chinese and Russian firms for their alleged role in helping illicit trade with North Korea in violation of international sanctions. The Department of the Treasury announced the designations of a Chinese business, its Singapore-based affiliate, a Russian firm and its director general, whose dealings in the U.S. and with American citizens must be blocked.

Banks report 4 pct rise in H1 profits on interest income
South Korean banks reported a 4 percent rise in their combined net profit for the first half of this year, thanks to a solid rise in interest income, data showed Thursday. The combined net profit at banks stood at 8.4 trillion won (US$7.4 billion) for the January-June period, compared with profits of 8.1 trillion won a year ago, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said in a statement. Preliminary interest income for the first half stood at 19.7 trillion won, up 9.5 percent from a year earlier, it said.

Budget spending growth to be accelerated next year: finance minister
South Korea's chief economic policymaker said Thursday that the government will sharply raise next year's budget spending to strengthen its fiscal role in supporting growth and tackling a spate of chronic problems, such as widening income inequality. At a public finance forum, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said given sound tax revenue and need to support innovative growth, the country needs to play a greater fiscal role.
KBS (http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/)
US Slaps Sanctions on China, Russia Firms for Violating UN Sanctions

The United States on Wednesday sanctioned Chinese and Russian companies for their alleged role in facilitating illicit trade with North Korea in violation of international sanctions. The U.S. Treasury announced in a statement that it slapped sanctions on China's Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Trading and its Singapore-based affiliate SINSMS for helping illicit shipments of alcohol, tobacco and cigarette products to North Korea by using falsified shipping documents.

Arrest Warrant Sought for Governor Kim over Opinion Rigging
An independent counsel team has requested an arrest warrant for South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Kyoung-soo over his alleged involvement in an opinion rigging scandal. Special prosecutors on Wednesday requested the Seoul Central District Court to issue an arrest warrant for Kim on charges of obstruction of business in collusion with the blogger "druking." The former ruling Democratic Party(DP) lawmaker is alleged to have communicated with "druking," who led the manipulation of comments on online news stories in favor of the DP ahead of last year's presidential election.

KOSPI Loses 1.48% During Morning Trading amid Turkish Currency Worries
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index(KOSPI) plunged to a 15-month intraday low shortly after Thursday's trading began as the Turkish lira crisis continued to affect market sentiment. The KOSPI dropped 33-point-46 points, or one-point 48 percent, to reach two-thousand 225-point-45 as of 9:55 a.m. The fall came as worse-than-expected Chinese economic indices further dragged down investor sentiment in New York amid the continued Turkish currency woes.
Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr)
Moon urges bipartisan support for inter-Korean ties

President Moon Jae-in on Thursday called for bipartisan efforts to improve the country's relations with North Korea, including parliamentary ratification of his April agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The call came as Moon is set to hold his third meeting with Kim in Pyongyang next month. "As you know, a South-North Korea summit will be held in Pyongyang next month, and I believe it would provide great support when I hold the summit in Pyongyang if the National Assembly ratifies the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration," the president said while meeting with the floor leaders of all five major political parties here, including the ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.

S. Korea, Japan fail to strike deal on fisheries pact
South Korea and Japan failed to renew their fisheries agreement over differences on the fishing quota, but the two nations' fishermen will continue to hold talks over operations in a joint fishing zone, Seoul's oceans ministry said Thursday. The Asian neighbors have held six rounds of talks since April to decide the fishing quota for each other's exclusive waters but were unable to narrow the gap over the fishing quota for cutlassfish and operations in a joint fishing area, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said. Since the last bilateral agreement expired in June 2016, Seoul and Tokyo have failed to see eye to eye on issues of fishing quotas in each other's exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

Galaxy Note 9 wins A+ grade for its display: DisplayMate
Samsung Display Co. said Thursday the Galaxy Note 9 was recognized as the smartphone with the leading OLED display by industry tracker DisplayMate. DisplayMate said the 6.4-inch Galaxy Note 9 deserves to win its highest-ever A+ grade for setting new records in various areas, including posting the highest absolute color accuracy. The industry tracker said the Galaxy Note 9 received a grade of 0.5JNCD, or just noticeable color differences, which is a measure of color delivery accuracy. A smaller number indicates better accuracy, with last year's flagship Galaxy Note 8 holding a comparable figure of 3.4JNCD.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Moon calls for East Asian rail community
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday called for the establishment of an East Asian railroad community, saying that it will lay the foundation for an economic and security community in the region.“At Yongsan, once the starting point of railroads between Seoul and Sinuiju and between Seoul and Wonsan, I propose the creation of the East Asian railroad community today, encompassing six Northeast Asian countries and the United States,” Moon said in his speech at the Liberation Day ceremony held at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan, Seoul.

S. Korea gears up for family reunions
A South Korean advance team left for North Korea on Wednesday to check on preparations for next week’s reunion event of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. The 18-member team, led by Lee Jong-chol, a Red Cross official, departed for Kumgangsan on the North’s east coast, where the first reunion event in nearly three years will be held from Aug. 20-26, according to the Unification Ministry. The team will inspect facilities, including accommodations and a banquet hall, and consult with North Korea to finalize details of the event. The delegation will stay there until the end of the reunion event.

Day care teacher smothers eight infants to ‘make them sleep’
A day care staff member suspected of suffocating an infant to death was found to have repeatedly abused seven other infants, prosecutors said Wednesday. The investigation team on crimes against women and children at the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office said it has detained and indicted the 59-year-old suspect surnamed Kim on charges of child abuse. Prosecutors also indicted without detention Kim’s twin sister who runs the child care center in Hwagok-dong, western Seoul, and another staff member, 46, for abetting Kim’s crimes.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Seoul offers 'goodwill gesture' to Tokyo

President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that achieving peace, one economic community and free exchanges on the Korean Peninsula is true liberation as the nation marked the 73rd anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese rule between 1910 and 1945. Speaking at an event held in central Seoul, he said the upcoming Pyongyang summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be a step towards denuclearization the signing of a peace treaty to end the 1950-1953 Korean War. Casting true liberation as peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, President Moon said he will be the "driving force" behind a possible summit between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kim as Seoul hopes for a permanent peace in East Asia with Japanese support.

Rejected asylum seekers decry 'no honorable return'
South Korea is a harsh land for asylum seekers. Of 40,470 who have arrived here, almost 20,400 have been evaluated since 1994 and only 839 accepted as of June 2018. That's about 4 percent and compares starkly with the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey and the 2.2 million in Lebanon. So what happens to the 96 percent of asylum seekers in Korea who were rejected? They have nowhere to go, caught between the country they fled and another country that refuses their entry. They can try a different country but the odds of acceptance are nearly zero. These vagrant souls are haunted by "no honorable return," a phrase coined by Ronel Chakma Nani, the director of the Gimpo Immigrant Center in Gyeonggi Province.

Hana fixes eyes on North Korea
Kim Jung-tai, chairman and chief executive of Hana Financial Group, will be heading for North Korea to watch a youth football match for the 4th Ari Sports Cup held in Pyongyang from Aug. 13 to 18, according to the Ministry of Unification and the South and North Korean Sports Exchange Association. The chairman is expected to be joined by KEB Hana Bank CEO Ham Young-joo and several other Hana executives on his trip to the North. The association and the group said Wednesday he has been invited both as "a spectator and a sponsor" of the Ari Sports Cup U-15 competition. Kim is expected to return to Seoul right after the event. KEB Hana Bank is one of the sponsors for the Korea Football Association, and was one of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics sponsors, the group noted.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
N.Korea Bans Foreign Visitors

North Korea has mysteriously banned foreign visitors amid rumors that Chinese President Xi Jinping is going to Pyongyang soon. Radio Free Asia on Tuesday reported that the North has suspended foreign group tours and banned visits by foreign businesspeople until Sept. 5. A businessman in the Chinese city of Shenyang told RFA that he had booked an airline ticket to Pyongyang for mid-August but his North Korean partner asked him to put off travel until after Sept. 5. Several other businessmen had also had to put off trips to Pyongyang. The instruction seemed to come from the regime, he added.

More Small Manufacturers Move Overseas
Smaller Korean manufacturers are packing up and heading overseas in growing numbers because they are unable or unwilling to pay wages and other mounting expenses here. According to the Export-Import Bank of Korea, overseas investment by Korean companies and individuals reached US$43.7 billion last year, the highest since the government began tallying statistics in 1980.

Tourists Are Main Lifeline for Famous Korean Restaurants
The main lifeline for famous Korean restaurants are not locals but tourists, recent data suggest. Based on an analysis of visitors to famous restaurants in Busan, Gangneung, Jeju, Jeonju and Yeosu via SK Telecom's smartphone navigation app T map, it said tourists accounted for up to 97 percent of their customers. Local residents accounted for a mere three percent.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
South Korea supplies electricity to building set to house inter-Korean joint liaison office
South Korean electricity was supplied on Aug. 14 to a building in the Kaesong Industrial Region (Kaesong Complex) that houses an inter-Korean joint liaison office set to office shortly. The electricity supplied to the building, which formerly housed the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation consultation office, represented only the necessary amount for operation of the joint office. The supply was intended as a test ahead of the office’s opening and is unconnected to a resumption of operations at the Kaesong Complex.

South Korea reports results of investigation of North Korean coal imports to UN
The South Korean government reported findings to the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea from its investigation into deliveries of North Korean coal to the South. “The South Korean government sent a letter to the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea on Aug. 13 that contained its measures in connection with the North Korean coal matter,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs senior official said on Aug. 14. The Korea Customs Service previously referred the case to prosecutors on Aug. 10 with a recommendation to indict three individual importers and three businesses on charges of bringing a total of 35,038 tons of North Korean coal and pig iron valued at 6.6 billion won (US$5.8 million) into South Korea on seven occasions between Apr. and Oct. 2017 with the aim of profiting on the sale of the coal, which is subject to an import ban.

South Korean government orders uninspected BMW vehicles to stay off road
The South Korean government has taken the step of ordering vehicles that fall under the BMW recall but have not received a safety checkup to stay off the road. The government is planning to take stern measures against the owners of vehicles who continue driving in defiance of this order by pressing charges against them if their car catches on fire or gets into some other accident.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
S. Korea seeks to get back to ‘driver’s seat’ on Korean Peninsula issues

President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday said that the development of South-North Korean relations is “not an additional outcome of development in North Korea-U.S. ties” but is the “driving force that promotes denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Speaking at a ceremony in central Seoul marking Korea’s independence from the 1910-1945 Japanese colonial rule, the president said that "true liberation" can only be achieved when the two countries establish a lasting peace and economic community.

Korean chipmakers increase investment in first half on strong sales
As major business conglomerates are unveiling large-scale investment and hiring plans, the total amount of investments by Korea’s top-30 conglomerates this year has surged by more than 20 percent from last year. According to a survey by CEO Score, the top-30 conglomerates invested a combined total of 45.7 trillion won (40.4 billion U.S. dollars) during the first half of this year, up 24.2 percent from a year earlier.

Not-guilty verdict for Ahn Hee-jung draws mixed responses
“I am sorry and I am so ashamed,” Ahn Hee-jung, former South Korean governor of South Chungcheong Province and one-time presidential hopeful, said Tuesday on the courthouse steps, after he was acquitted of all charges of sexually assaulting an aide by the Seoul Western District Court. Immediately after the ruling was announced, Kim Ji-eun, Ahn’s former secretary and the plaintiff, released a statement through her lawyers. Kim attended the first trial Tuesday, but did not stand before the press afterwards. Her lawyer, Jang Yun-jung, read out the statement about the ruling instead.
JoongAng Ilbo (http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/)
Pompeo may be returning to Pyongyang soon
North Korean and U.S. diplomats secretly held discussions in the inter-Korean village of Panmunjom last Sunday, according to diplomatic sources Tuesday, amid speculations that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may be making another visit to Pyongyang soon. The two sides discussed denuclearization and a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War at the North Korea-controlled Tongilgak building, along with Pompeo’s possible trip, said sources. They were expected to hold additional meetings this week.

Red tape causes ‘reverse discrimination’ on firms
Last November, SK Group sold off SK Encar, Korea’s No. 1 used-car business. Launched by the conglomerate in 1999, it had an impressive 818.9 billion won ($723 million) in revenues in 2016. “Though the company wasn’t doing bad business,” said a SK spokesman, “we were unable to grow while being told by the government that we were infringing on the territory of SMEs.” In 2013, the government designated the selling of used cars as a business most suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and it actively discouraged conglomerates like SK from getting involved.

DoubleU CEO is top-paid exec in first half
DoubleU Games Vice President Park Shin-jeong was Korea’s highest-paid executive in the first half of the year thanks to the massive profits earned from a stock option. According to the Financial Supervisory Service and financial information provider FnGuide, Park received more than 23 billion won ($20.3 million) in the first half, the most among senior executives at Kospi and Kosdaq listed companies. Park’s salary was 175 million won and bonuses amounted to 350 million won. But the 39-year-old pocketed 23 billion after selling the 373,347 shares he received as stock options in April.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
President Moon to Meet Chairman Kim for Third Summit Next Month in Pyongyang

On August 13, North and South Korea agreed to hold the third inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in September. The two Koreas did not release the specific date, but the meeting between President Moon Jae-in and Chairman Kim Jong-un is likely to be held in mid-September. The focus is on whether the upcoming summit will be able to provide a breakthrough in dialogue between North Korea and the United States, which has been in a deadlock on the issues of denuclearization and the declaration of the end of war.

Ruling and Opposition Parties Opt to Remove Special Activity Expenses for Lawmakers
On August 12, ruling and opposition party lawmakers reportedly opted to eliminate the special activity expenses of the National Assembly. On August 8, the Democratic Party of Korea and the Liberty Korea Party had agreed to maintain the special activity expenses, while improving transparency by obligating lawmakers to submit receipts of their spending. But as the controversy intensified with the Bareun Mirae Party and the Justice Party refusing to accept the special activity expenses and the public growing more critical of the parties’ decision, lawmakers seem to have decided to remove the budget item.

Former MBC Executives Who "Served" for the Park Geun-hye Government as Directors of the Foundation for Broadcasting Culture?
On August 10, the Korea Communications Commission announced a list of nine directors to lead the Foundation for Broadcast Culture, a major shareholder of MBC, for the next three years. This position comes with immense power, for the director has the authority to select the president of MBC, a public broadcasting company. The National Union of Media Workers and civic groups immediately protested the latest announcement, because it included Choi Gi-hwa, former director of planning and Kim Do-in, former director of programming and production at MBC. The two men were responsible for biased media coverage and unfair labor practices when serving in important positions at MBC during the Park Geun-hye government.
AJU Business Daily (http://eng.ajunews.com/korea)
S. Korean conservative groups stage anti-government rally

Despite a record-breaking heat wave which has killed dozens of people, thousands of conservative activists led by some Christian groups held an anti-government rally Wednesday, denouncing a peace offensive by South Korean President Moon Jae-in towards North Korea. About 3,000 people, including many young and old members of various Christian groups, gathered at a public plaza in central Seoul, demanding Moon's resignation for colluding with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Construction begins on world's largest by-product hydrogen power plant
Construction began in South Korea Thursday to build a 50-megawatt fuel cell power plant using by-product hydrogen as fuel. It would be the largest of its kind in the world. Daesan Green Energy, a joint venture led by Hanwha Energy and Korea East-West Power, is responsible for the construction and operation of the new power plant which will cost about 255 billion won ($224 million).

LG Electronics to provide U.S. mobile carrier with 5G smartphone next year
Sprint, an American mobile carrier, will release fifth-generation (5G) smartphone designed by South Korea's LG Electronics in the North American market during the first half of next year. "Sprint is moving fast on the road to 5G and we are thrilled to announce the first 5G smartphone with the innovative team at LG," Sprint said in a statement uploaded onto its website.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea’s factory jobs fall to four-year low in H1

South Korea’s factory jobs fell to four-year lows in the first half amid waning competitiveness in major car and ship manufacturing sector and due to higher labor cost from hike in minimum wage and cutback in workweek hours. According to data released by the Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of employed in the manufacturing sector shrank to 4,521,000, the lowest for the first six-month period in four years. The figure rose to 4,625,000 during the first half of 2016 but shriveled to 4,553,000 a year after.

Hyundai Motor exceeds 1 million car production and sales in Brazil
South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. achieved 1 million milestone in production and sales in Brazil in less than six years it entered the market. The country’s leading automaker held a ceremony to celebrate the achievement at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Sao Paulo on Tuesday (local time). It pulled off the 1 million unit in output and sales in Brazil, whereas it had taken Renault and Fiatt needed 11 years, Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen 15 years and General Motor and Ford 20 years.

Korea’s PPI gain likely hit above 3% in July, fanning inflationary pressure
South Korea’s producer prices are rising at alarming pace of 3 percent due to higher costs of labor, loans, and imports on top of unseasonable climate, a movement that can add supply-end inflationary pressure and spell a dangerous economic mix of stagflation against sluggish domestic demand. According to data released by the Bank of Korea, Korea’s producer price index (PPI) in June rose 2.6 percent on year to 104.41 in June, a jump from 1.2 percent gain in January.
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
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.

Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koreapost.com

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