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Headlines, December 13, 2018

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today:

The Korea Post media (www.koreapost.com) in English, (www.koreapost.co.kr) in Korean.

FM Kang calls for Japan's prudence on wartime labor rulings
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha called on the Japanese government Wednesday to be prudent in responding to recent court rulings in Seoul against its wartime slave labor program. Kang delivered the message to her Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, in phone talks, according to her ministry. Kang explained the South Korean government's position on the rulings and called for Japan's "prudent" response, it said but did not elaborate in the two-paragraph press release. It marked their first direct communication since late November, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of about a dozen Koreans demanding the individual rights to compensation for forced labor during World War II.

Finance minister vows to front-load budget to boost economy
South Korea's new finance minister pledged on Dec. 12, 2018 to front-load next year's budget to help boost Asia's fourth-largest economy. Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, said the move is meant to ensure that planned investments can be quickly carried out. On Dec. 11, 2018, the Cabinet approved a plan to front-load 281.4 trillion won(US$249 billion) in the first six months of next year as part of efforts to boost the economy.

Samsung ranks 1st in R&D spending in 2017: report
Samsung Electronics Co. ranked first among major businesses around the globe in terms of spending on research and development (R&D) for the 2017 financial year, a report showed on Dec. 12, 2018. According to the 2018 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard released by the European Commission, the South Korean tech giant spent 13.44 billion euros (US$15.2 billion) in R&D projects over the period. The amount was up 11.5 percent on-year, the report added. It was based on 2,500 companies from 46 different countries.

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KBS (http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/)
38 North: Extent of Destruction of Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site Unclear
A U.S.-based Web site monitoring North Korea says that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site that the North had destroyed in May may not have been completely destroyed. 38 North said on Wednesday that part of the test site remains intact and the extent of the destruction is unclear, calling for a proper inspection for verification. The site said that commercial satellite imagery from late November shows that the two largest buildings at the Command Center remain intact, as do various nearby support facilities for personnel and security forces.

Koreas to Hold Talks on Groundbreaking Ceremony for Road, Railway Projects
South and North Korea on Thursday will discuss details of a ceremony to mark the launch of inter-Korean railway and road projects. The two Koreas will hold working-level talks at the joint liaison office in the North's border town Gaeseong to discuss details of the groundbreaking ceremony for projects to modernize North Korea's railways and roads and connect them to the South. Seoul's Unification Ministry said that South Korean officials will faithfully engage in talks in order to hold the ceremony before the year's end.

Moon Calls GP Withdrawal Verification Historic Event
The two Koreas on Wednesday mutually verified their recent work of withdrawing some guard posts from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and President Moon Jae-in called it a historic event in the 65-year history of the divided Korean Peninsula. Moon visited the national crisis management center at the presidential office and watched the verification process progress in real time on the screen. He said this type of trust is the most important driving force to realize a war-free Korean Peninsula.
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Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr)
Finance minister vows to take contingency measures
South Korea's new finance minister pledged Wednesday to take contingency measures in case of financial volatility amid concerns that external risks could weigh on Asia's fourth-largest economy. Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, said the government will maintain round-the-clock monitoring of financial markets and risk factors, though he didn't elaborate on contingency measures.

Import prices drop by fastest pace in nearly 4 yrs in Nov.
South Korea's import prices fell by the sharpest pace in nearly four years last month due to a drop in crude oil prices, central bank data showed Thursday. As calculated in Korean won, the import price index lost 4.6 percent from a month earlier to a six-month low of 87.96 in November, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK). The 4.6 percent on-month dip marked the sharpest since January 2015, when the index fell 7.5 percent.

Listed firm sales, operational profits fall in 2018: think tank
Nearly half of the country's listed firms reported declines in their sales in the three quarters this year ending September, an analysis by a think tank indicated Thursday. The Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) looked into the performances of 578 listed companies during the nine months and found sales at 268 of them, or 46.4 percent, fell compared with the same period last year. The figure is higher than the 32.5 percent in 2017.


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The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Import prices drop by fastest pace in nearly 4 yrs in Nov.
South Korea's import prices fell by the sharpest pace in nearly four years last month due to a drop in crude oil prices, central bank data showed Thursday. As calculated in Korean won, the import price index lost 4.6 percent from a month earlier to a six-month low of 87.96 in November, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea.

KT launches epidemic prevention platform in Kenya
A Canadian court granted bail on Tuesday to a top Chinese executive arrested at the United States' request in a case that has set off a diplomatic furor among the three countries and complicated high-stakes US-China trade talks. Hours before the bail hearing in Vancouver, China detained a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in apparent retaliation for the Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of the company's founder.

Health law revision proposes graphic warnings on alcoholic beverages
A public health law revision is under review to require pictorial warnings of health hazards on alcoholic beverages, officials said Wednesday. The warning labels will resemble those on cigarette packs, alerting consumers to health risks from drinking and the consequences of drunk driving, according to the officials from the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the parliamentary committee on health.

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The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Kang, Kono discuss forced labor ruling
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha discussed with her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono the recent rulings by South Korea's top court ordering Japanese companies to compensate victims of forced labor, in a phone call held Wednesday. The minister explained the government's stance on the ruling, and "urged a cautious response" from Japan, the foreign ministry said in a press release. Tokyo has maintained that compensation for forced labor victims was paid in a deal reached in 1965 to settle colonial era issues, and wants the government to nullify the ruling. In an earlier-issued statement, the government stated it was inappropriate for it to intervene in rulings made by judiciary.

Koreas verify demolition of guard posts
The two Koreas have verified the demolition of 11 guard posts each along the border, with inspectors from each side crossing the military demarcation line (DML) for the first time since the signing of the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement, the Ministry of National Defense said Wednesday. Eleven inspection teams from the North and South, led by colonels, checked the sites of the former guard posts. They crossed the border on 11 small footpaths connecting each side, built over the past 10 days for the one-day verification.

LKP's new floor leader tasked with resolving factional division
Rep. Na Kyung-won, the newly elected floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), faces the daunting task of settling a factional division to prepare for the general elections in 2020. Rifts between rival factions are a deep-rooted problem inside the conservative party since the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. Na, the first female floor leader of the conservative party, started her first day on the job by meeting with National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang and floor leaders of the other parties.

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Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)

U.S. Envoy Says Korea Must Do More for Alliance
.U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Harry Harris on Tuesday implied that Korea should pay more for the upkeep of U.S. forces here. Harris said Washington is grateful for the considerable resources Korea is providing to the bilateral alliance, but that it can and should do more. Harris was speaking at a Christmas party hosted by the Korea-America Friendship Society on Tuesday.

Kim Jong-un Purges His Corrupt Guards
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has purged senior officers of the Supreme Guard Command for corruption, the Tokyo Shimbun reported on Tuesday. The purge was carried out in October as a result of an audit by the Workers Party's Organization and Guidance Department, the daily quoted a source in Beijing as saying. The chief of the command's political department was caught in possession of millions of dollars, and other purged senior officers were reportedly involved in the same case. The command is essentially Kim's private army and consists of about 120,000 elite troops.

Hyundai Releases 1st Large SUV in 3 Years
Hyundai released its new Palisade SUV in Korea on Tuesday after unveiling it at the Los Angeles Auto Show late last month. It is the carmaker's first large SUV since it discontinued production of the Veracruz in 2015. The Palisade completes Hyundai's SUV lineup, which also includes the compact Kona, small Tucson and midsize Santa Fe. The car is receiving an explosive response with a surprisingly large number of pre-orders.

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HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Kim Jong-un’s Seoul visit likely to be postponed until after NK-US summit in early 2019
Amid the decreasing likelihood of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un paying a reciprocal visit to Seoul before the end of the year, some expect that his visit will not take place until after the North Korea-US summit in early 2019. “This is a situation where it would take us time to prepare even if North Korea did get in touch with us, and the North has apparently not reached a decision yet. If the North Korea-US summit ends up being scheduled for the end of January, that could be another factor,” a senior official at the Blue House said on Dec. 11.

Irregular worker at Taean Power Plant dies from machinery accident
The 24-year-old man liked listening to the songs of K-pop boy band BTS. He would sing to blow off stress. He had a healthy appetite, but his favorite food was fried chicken. People said he “got along well with others” and was “full of passion.” After graduating from a vocational school and completing his military service, this young man was hired on Sept. 17 as a contract worker by Korea Engineering and Power Services, a facility management subcontractor at Taean Power Station, which is operated by Korea Western Power.

Taean Power Plant tragedy and the grim practice of outsourcing risk
A tragedy spawned by the outsourcing of risk claimed the life of another young subcontracting worker with the death of 24-year-old Kim Yong-gyun. The discovery that Kim, who died on Dec. 11 after being caught in a machine at the Taean Power Station in South Chungcheong Province, was a subcontractor employee hired for a contracted position last September has prompted calls to end what many see as a vicious cycle of outsourcing critical work to irregular workers.
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The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Canadian court grants bail for arrested Huawei CFO
With China imposing strong actions on Canada for arresting Huawei Vice Chairman and CFO Meng Wanzhou, the U.S., which has requested the arrest of Meng, appears to deploy a stick and carrot approach by accepting China’s demands in the trade war with the U.S.

Moon calls inter-Korean GP removal ‘exemplary case’ in trust building
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that the two Koreas’ process to verify their recent work to withdraw some guard posts (GPs) from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) will turn the heavily fortified area into “land of peace.” His high assessment of the implementation of the September 19 inter-Korean military agreement is seen as an expression‎ of Moon's strong commitment to fulfilling what was agreed during his September summit in Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid Pyongyang’s silence about Seoul’s invitation of Kim to the South.

Gov’t should support Hyundai Motor’s hydrogen vehicle vision
Hyundai Motor Co. on Wednesday unveiled its vision for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), vowing to invest a total of 7.6 trillion won (6.7 billion U.S. dollars) in FCEVs to produce 500,000 hydrogen cars per year and create 51,000 new jobs. The plan is Hyundai’s commitment to break through the domestic auto industry’s escalating crisis by investing in new technologies.
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JoongAng Ilbo (http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/)
Inspections of guard posts are first in 65 years
South and North Korea on Wednesday began joint inspections of guard posts dismantled last month as part of an inter-Korean military agreement - the first time troops from the two technically warring countries visited each other’s military installations in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) since the end of the 1950-3 Korean War.

North rights issue is card to be played by Trump
North Korea was designated a violator of religious freedom for the 18th consecutive year, the U.S. State Department announced Tuesday, as Washington ups pressure on Pyongyang on human rights. North Korea was named among 10 countries of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing [and] egregious violations of religious freedom,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement Tuesday.

DP proposes electoral reform after the New Year
The ruling Democratic Party (DP) proposed Wednesday that rival parties agree on ways to reform the election system next January and move to handle a bill on revising Korea’s election law the following month. Minor parties are staging protests against the DP and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) to pressure them into adopting a new proportional representation system to reform the country’s parliamentary election system.

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The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
The Carpool Issue Drives a Taxi Driver to Set Himself on Fire: What Has the Government Been Doing?
On December 10, a taxi driver in his fifties left a suicide note expressing his opposition to Kakao's carpool service and died after setting himself on fire in front of the National Assembly. The carpool service is a business that for a certain fee connects people with similar destinations during rush hour. The taxi industry has fiercely opposed the carpool service claiming it as a threat to their right to live. Meanwhile, Kakao launched a pilot service on December 7 and decided to officially launch the business on December 17, eventually leading to the regrettable tragedy.

Electoral Reform: Heed the Warning, "We Hate the Democratic Party More than the Liberty Korea Party"
The National Assembly managed to pass the budget, which was the largest issue in the regular parliamentary session, but the year-end political situation is depressing. After lawmakers reached an agreement on the budget, excluding the electoral reforms, the three opposition parties--the Bareun Mirae Party, the Party for Democracy and Peace, and the Justice Party--turned their backs claiming that it would be difficult to cooperate with the reform tasks promoted by the government and ruling party.

Peace and Human Rights on the Korean Peninsula Should Begin with Discussions on Amending or Annulling the National Security Act

President Moon Jae-in said, "We need to dismantle the remnants of the Cold War and establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula to guarantee human rights and a decent human life for all our people," in his congratulatory message on December 10, the 70th Human Rights Day. The president further elaborated, "Human rights are guaranteed by peace, and peace is secured through human rights." He also said, "I expect to realize human rights and democracy, peace and prosperity together on the Korean Peninsula." Just as the president said, it is difficult to think of peace apart from human rights in the Korean reality.

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AJU Business Daily (http://www.ajudaily.com)
Extent of destruction to shut down nuclear test site remains unclear, 38 North
North Korea should allow inspectors to visit all key areas in its nuclear test site with detailed layout maps and equipment, 38 North, the website of a U.S. research institute, said, suggesting the extent of destruction to shut down the site remains "unclear."

N. Korean leader unlikely to visit Seoul this year:
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae thinks it would be difficult for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to visit Seoul this year, a presidential official said Wednesday. There was speculation that the North's leader might make his first trip to Seoul before the end of this year, with Cheong Wa Dae saying that it plans to prepare for a potential visit, though nothing has been decided. "We judge that it would be difficult for Chairman Kim to visit Seoul this year," a presidential official said.

Celltrion at center of debate over inter-affiliate trading of domestic market rights
Celltrion, a pioneer in South Korea's booming biosimilar industry, is at the center of debate over unconfirmed allegations that its affiliate, Celltrion Healthcare, in charge of marketing, sales and distribution has violated accounting rules.
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Maeil Business News Korea ( http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Kia Motors to field next-gen Soul crossover nicknamed “Booster” in Q1
Booster is what Kia Motors Corp. has nicknamed for its next-generation Soul compact crossover coming out in Korea in the first quarter. The Korean automaker announced Thursday it commenced the mass production of its new Soul compact crossover on Monday at its manufacturing lines in Gwangju, South Jeolla Province in Korea. It aims to launch the all-new crossover, which made its world debut at the LA Auto Show late last month, in the first quarter of next year in Korea.

Half of Korea’s listed firms report reduced earnings, 20% in red this year
More than half of South Korea’s publicly listed companies saw their earnings slide in the first three quarters of this year from a year ago, with 20 percent in the red. A study released by Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) on Thursday showed that out of the country’s 578 listed firms, 59.5 percent reported a year-on-year fall in their operating profit in the January-September period, with the number rising for two straight years from 41.2 percent in 2016.

Lotte brings in UK furniture brand The Conran Shop to Korea
London-based high-end furniture and home furnishing store chain The Conran Shop will open its first South Korean outlet in the second half of next year in partnership with the country’s leading department store chain Lotte Department Store.
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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 Heraldwww.smh.com.au
Colombia Reports http://colombiareports.com
Bogota Free Planet http://bogotafreeplanet.combfp@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

<저작권자 © 코리아포스트, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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