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Headlines, December 14, 2018

Friday, December 14, 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.

Minimum wage hike improves productivity in manufacturing sector

An increase in the minimum wage has helped improve productivity at South Korean manufacturing firms in general, but its impact varied by sector and size of business, a report said Friday. South Korea's minimum wage has gradually increased since the government first implemented the policy in 1988. Between 2011-2016, the minimum wage rose to 6,030 won (US$5.4) from 4,320 won, according to the report published by the Bank of Korea (BOK). The manufacturing industry saw its productivity improve over the cited period, as higher salaries encouraged employees to work harder and nudged managers to reduce costs.

S. Korea at crossroads over shared mobility

Kim Kil-jun, a taxi driver for 22 years, thought his taxi-hailing app was like a business partner, something that helped him get more fares, but now he feels like the platform has turned on him and become a powerful competitor in South Korea's growing mobility market. The app's operator, Kakao Mobility Corp., began a limited version of its carpooling service last Friday to work out technological details and reflect on various opinions ahead of its launch down the road.

S. Korea to announce measures on auto parts industry

South Korea will announce a set of support measures next week for the country's troubled auto parts industry, a top official said Thursday. Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, said the auto industry is a major priority as South Korea has been struggling to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector, a key part of South Korea's economy. Hong did not provide any further details on the set of measures during a visit to a small auto parts maker in Asan, some 100 kilometers south of Seoul. South Korean auto parts makers face difficulties due mainly to weak sales of cars.


KBS (http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/)

Prosecutors Raid Samsung BioLogics, Accounting Firms

Prosecutors raided the main offices of Samsung BioLogics and its accounting firms on Thursday as part of a probe into alleged accounting fraud. Investigators from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office searched the accounting division of the biotech company in Incheon, west of Seoul, to confiscate evidence. Separate raids were carried out at Samsung Bioepis, Samsung C&C and four accounting firms, including KPMG Samjong Accounting and Deloitte Anjin LLC.

S. Korea Grants Refugee Status to Two Yemeni Nationals

South Korea has granted refugee status to two Yemeni nationals staying on Jeju Island. The Jeju branch of the Korea Immigration Service said Friday that it has reviewed asylum requests of 74 refugees from Yemen and decided to grant refugee status to two of them. The immigration office decided to permit 50 of them to stay in South Korea on humanitarian grounds and rejected the asylum requests of 22 others.

Presidential Aide Unveils Reform Measures for Inspection Team

A senior presidential aide on Friday unveiled a set of measures to reform a special inspection team after some of its members have been accused of irregularities. Cho Kuk, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, said in a news release that the team will be renamed to an inspection team of public officials and include members from the state audit agency and tax authorities to enhance internal checks among themselves.


Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr)

Moon's aide unveils ways to reform inspection team over alleged irregularities

A senior presidential aide on Friday unveiled a set of measures to overhaul a special inspection team as some of its members have been accused of irregularities. Cho Kuk, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, made the announcement as President Moon Jae-in ordered him last week to draw up measures to strengthen presidential officials' discipline. The measures call for diversifying the composition of the team so as to include members from the state audit agency and tax authorities

S. Korea gives 2 Yemeni asylum seekers refugee status

The immigration office on the southern island of Jeju decided Friday to grant refugee status to two Yemeni asylum seekers, the first move of its kind since South Korea began to grapple with their inflow early this year. The immigration office also gave 50 other applicants humanitarian stay permits while denying refugee requests of 22 applicants, according to the Ministry of Justice.

N. Korea to join conference on forestry cooperation in East Asia: source

North Korea will take part in a conference on regional forestry cooperation to be held in China later this week, an official with a South Korean civic group involved in inter-Korean affairs said Friday. The North will send a delegation to the five-day East Asia forestry cooperation conference, which will kick off on Saturday in the Chinese city of Xian, according to the official. The conference will also be attended by experts and officials from South Korea, China, Japan and Mongolia, he added. South Korea will send around 30 people to the event.


The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)

Fewer South Korean companies make it into ‘1 trillion won club’

While the number of South Korean companies with at least 1 trillion won in annual revenue has increased 2.5-fold in the 20 years since the financial crisis, the number has decreased in recent years, a report by local market research firm Korea CXO Institute showed. Based on annual performance figures, 187 firms were part of the so-called “1 trillion won club” in 2017, down from 192 in 2012.

KDB completes $375m transfer to GM Korea via recapitalization

GM Korea, the local unit of the US automaker, said Thursday that the state-run Korea Development Bank has completed recapitalization of $375 million as part of the rescue plan signed in late April, raising prospects of the automaker and its second-largest shareholder narrowing their differences on GM’s spinoff plan.

Google Korea under tax probe, signaling widening crackdown on foreign tech firms

South Korea’s tax agency has launched an investigation into the local branch of US technology giant Google over allegations of tax evasion on the part of some local YouTubers, a move that signals stepped up government efforts to crack down on foreign tech firms long accused of taking a free ride on lax regulations.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)

Pentagon: North Korea slow to negotiate over US war remains

Months after the White House raised hopes for bringing home thousands of U.S. battlefield remains from North Korea, the returns have stalled. Detailed negotiations on future recovery arrangements have not even begun. The slower pace appears linked to the more talked-about stalemate over North Korea's nuclear weapons.

Vietnam wants to host 2nd Trump-Kim summit: CNN

Vietnam has expressed an interest in hosting the envisioned second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, CNN reported Thursday. High-ranking Vietnamese officials delivered that intent to the South Korean government, according to a South Korean government source quoted by the news channel. Vietnam has been cited in the media as a potential site for the next summit, along with Mongolia and Indonesia.

Main suspect in Strasbourg attack killed in gun battle with police

The suspected gunman who killed three people at a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg was shot dead on Thursday in a brief gun battle with police after being on the run for 48 hours, police sources said. Cherif Chekatt, 29, was killed in the Neudorf/Meinau area of the city shortly after a big police operation was launched around 2100 hrs (2000 GMT) on Thursday about 2 kilometres from where he launched his attack on Tuesday.


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

Defense Burden-Sharing Talks Drag on

Korea and the U.S. on Thursday wrapped up a 10th round of talks in Seoul without agreeing how much Korea should pay for the upkeep of American forces here. That suggests the two sides are unlikely to settle the matter before year's end, when the current five-year cost-sharing agreement expires.

N.Korea's Nuke Test Site 'Not Completely Destroyed'

North Korea's nuclear test site in Punggye-ri may not have been completely destroyed as the regime claimed in May, the website 38 North at Johns Hopkins University said on Wednesday.

The North blew up the Punggye-ri nuclear test site as part of its denuclearization process but admitted only a few reporters and no experts to witness the explosions from a distance.

Why More Jobs Doesn't Mean More Jobs

The number of jobs increased by 165,000 in November, at least on paper, but few of them can feed a family or solve chronic youth unemployment. A closer look at data Statistics Korea released Wednesday shows that most of the jobs are temporary positions, largely for senior citizens and paid for with taxpayers' money. The number of jobs has increased thanks to government-led efforts to create temporary menial jobs in the public sector since October, but the quality of available jobs has worsened.


HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)

National Tax Service begins audit of Google Korea

The National Tax Service (NTS) has reportedly begun a tax audit of Google Korea. Industry observers said the investigation was launched over allegations of tax evasion by high-earning YouTube content producers. The NTS Seoul Regional Office sent investigators to Google Korea headquarters in Seoul’s Yeoksam neighborhood on Dec. 12 to collect accounting ledgers and computer documents. Tax issues related to high-earning content producers for the Google-owned platform YouTube have been consistently raised in the past.

South and North Korea complete mutual inspection of demolished GPs in DMZ

On Dec. 12, representatives from the South and North Korean armies crossed the military demarcation line (MDL) to visit each other’s guard posts (GPs). These visits were aimed at verifying the tentative withdrawal from and demolition of GPs in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in accordance to the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) that the two sides reached on Sept. 19.

NHRCK to recommend S. Korea’s ratification of ILO’s core conventions

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) will soon be recommending to South Korea’s Minister of Employment and Labor that the country become party to two of the International Labour Organization’s core conventions, Conventions No. 87 and 98.


The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)

'Pungye-ri nuclear test site may be reactivated,' 38 North says

38 North, a U.S.-based media that specializes in North Korea, analyzed on Wednesday (local time) that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in Kilju County, North Hamgyong Province may be reused. North Korea has claimed it abolished the test site.

Hyundai Motor Group to spend 1.7 trillion won to help suppliers

Hyundai Motor Group plans to provide support for the local auto industrial ecosystem with a mutual cooperation program worth nearly 1.7 trillion won (15.1 billion U.S. dollars) to overcome the industry’s slump with its suppliers.

Netflix subscribers tripled to 900,000 in Korea over a year

Without a doubt, the buzzword of this year's broadcasting industry was Netflix. Among the 24 respondents for our survey, 10 pointed out Netflix’s rapid growth as the most outstanding news for the industry.


JoongAng Ilbo (http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/)

Moon continues economic tour

President Moon Jae-in focused on South Gyeongsang’s manufacturers Thursday on a third leg of a national tour visiting local economies, vowing full support for innovating small and medium-sized companies with the infusion of information and communication technology.

Inspection of hot water pipes finds scary spots

After the rupture of a hot water pipe killed one man and scalded dozens of people last week, the Korea District Heating Corporation (KDHC) inspected 686 kilometers (426 miles) of hot water piping that is more than 20 years old and found irregularities in 203 places.

Taking care of the aged is top social issue

With Korean society aging rapidly, the quality of life of older people is becoming a major issue, especially with fewer children supporting their parents. Another big change in society is the sharp increase in the number of men taking paternity leave.


The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)

Korean and Japanese Symbols of #MeToo, Seo Ji-hyeon and Shiori Ito Speak Words of Comfort to the Victims of the World

Shiori Ito walked in carrying a load heavier than her body weight. Prosecutor Seo Ji-hyeon (45, left) ran towards her when she saw Ito enter. "Did you have anything to eat?" "Aren't you tired?" When Seo practically snatched some of the bags off Ito, she laughed and said apologetically, "I'm really okay...."

Don't Ignore the Cries of the Non-regular Workers, “We Don’t Want to Die Anymore”

Another young non-regular worker hired by a subcontractor died while on duty alone. In the early hours of December 11, Kim Yong-gyun (24), site operator at the Taean Thermal Power Plant of the Korea Western Power Co., was found dead, caught in a conveyor belt that transported coal

Protect Cho Kuk: Ruling Party and the Government End Their Silence and Fight Back

The future of Cho Kuk (photo), senior secretary for civil affairs, has emerged at the center of the nation's politics, as a series of allegations concerning the irregularities conducted in the special inspection team of the Cheong Wa Dae Office of the Secretary for Anti Corruption triggered controversy.


AJU Business Daily (http://www.ajudaily.com)

Koreas to hold symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for renewal of transport artery

South and North Korea will hold a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the launch of an inter-Korean project to connect roads and railways and modernize North Korea's outdated lines. The South's unification ministry said in a statement Thursday that the ceremonial event would be held on December 26 at a North Korean station near the suspended inter-Korean industrial zone in Kaesong north of the border. Some 100 officials from each side would attend the ceremony.

Kakao dealys official launch of ride-sharing service after self-immolation

South Korea's web service giant Kakao put off the planned launch of a smartphone app-based ride-sharing service this month as anger mounted among taxi drivers over the self-immolation of a 57-year-old driver outside parliament. Taxi unions and other related groups threatened to organize strong protests after setting up an altar outside the National Assembly complex to pay tribute to the driver identified as Choi Woo-ki, who immolated himself by dousing his body with inflammable liquid in his car on Monday.

Vietnam regards S. Korea as crucial trading partner in new global order: forum

Vietnam regards South Korea as a crucial trading partner as the Southeast Asian country accelerates reform and opening to join the global free trade order and becomes a strategically important place for foreign companies seeking to expand their presence in Southeast Asia, said a prominent Vietnamese businessman-politician said.


Maeil Business News Korea ( http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)

Malaysia ranks fifth in Asia for digital readiness

Malaysia ranked fifth among top 10 developing economies in Asia for its readiness to support online shopping, based on the 2018 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Business to Consumer (B2C) e-commerce index.

S. Korea’s general machinery exports top $50 bn this year for first time

South Korea’s exports of general machinery topped $50 billion this year for the first time, thanks to a rise in demand in key markets China and the U.S. with the booming manufacturing and construction markets, as well as emerging markets such as India, government data showed Thursday.

LG Electronics to launch ESS for small 100kW solar plants

LG Electronics Thursday will start selling new energy storage system (ESS) designated to solar power plants with smaller capacities from Friday. The all-in-one ESS package for 100 kilowatt solar power plants brings together power conversion and management systems, batteries and other equipment that can simplify the installation process.

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
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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