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Headlines, December 19, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 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.

U.S. can lift N.K. sanctions after denuclearization: State Department

The United States is willing to lift sanctions on North Korea after the country dismantles its nuclear weapons program, the State Department said on Dec. 18, 2018. North Korea has increasingly protested the sanctions, warning that they could return U.S.-North Korea relations to the tense "exchanges of fire" last year and "block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever."

Sales of feature phones rising amid smartphone slump: data

The global shipment of feature phones increased in the third quarter of the year amid slowing demand for high-end smartphones, as consumers in emerging markets opted for devices with basic functions, industry data showed on Dec. 19, 2018. According to the data compiled by industry tracker Counterpoint Research, global shipments of feature phones came to 112 million units in the July-September period, up 3 percent from a year earlier.

S. Korea forecast to pull back on fab equipment investment next year: report

South Korea is expected to make the largest investment in fab equipment next year of any country, but the total will still be about 35 percent less than this year, joining the global downward trend, according to a report. The Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) projected South Korea to spend US$12 billion on fab equipment in 2019, a drop of 34.7 percent from this year.

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

Gov't to Select 100 Sites for Urban Regeneration Project Next Year

The government plans to select around 100 venues for its “urban regeneration new deal” program next year. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport says around 30 sites will be announced in March with the rest to be disclosed in the second half of next year.

Japan's New Defense Review Calls N. Korea Imminent Threat

The Japanese government is calling North Korea a grave and imminent threat to the country's security in a book outlining its long-term military strategies. The Japanese defense review released on Tuesday for the first time in five years used the expression, adding the North’s military behaviors are also noticeably damaging regional and international peace and security.

TV Vendors' Alleged Unfair Treatment of Suppliers under Investigation

South Korea’s antitrust watchdog has launched a probe into the suspicions that TV home shopping channels have unfairly treated their suppliers. According to the industry, the Fair Trade Commission(FTC) has been investigating since last week four major home shopping channels owned each by GS, CJ, Lotte and Hyundai.

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

State arms agency seeks to raise anti-corruption index in defense industry

South Korea's state arms agency said Wednesday it has forged a partnership with a local anti-corruption watchdog in a bid to enhance transparency in the defense industry. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said the government-civilian cooperation with Transparency International-Korea is expected to help efforts to raise the nation's anti-corruption index in the defense industry to those of advanced nations.

N. Korean defectors ditch hometown accents for dreams in S. Korea

Seo Ji-seon (an alias), a 20-something college student who defected to South Korea in 2016, was not confident when she had to stand up and speak in front of other classmates until a few months earlier. It was embarrassing and sometimes frustrating when she found others puzzled over what she had just said, apparently due to her strong, blunt North Korean accent, intonation and the dialect words she used.

U.S. monetary normalization, trade dispute big risks for S. Korea: BOK chief

The normalization pace of U.S. monetary policy and the ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing are the two big downside risks that the South Korean economy will have to deal with next year, the central bank chief has said. "The South Korean economy has a high reliance on trade, and its financial market is wide open. We have to be ready to cope with global issues," Bank of Korea (BOK) Gov. Lee Ju-yeol said in a press meeting Tuesday.

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

Less for less’ approach could advance NK-US denuclearization talks: expert

The US could accept a limited version of North Korea’s denuclearization and offer a reward short of sanctions relief to move forward stalled denuclearization talks, experts said Tuesday. Although the extent of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities is uncertain, there is strategic value for South Korea and the US to contain the risks with measures that are short of full denuclearization, said James Acton, a research fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Koreans spent about $250 each on cultural activities in 2018: survey

South Koreans spent an average of around 287,000 won ($253) each on cultural activities this year, according to a recent survey commissioned by a KBS radio program. The survey of 800 respondents between 15 and 69 years old was conducted by World Research & Consulting from Dec. 1-9. It found that 93,211 won was spent on books, 86,855 won on watching movies and 72,246 won on attending music concerts or performances.

LG opens food science lab

LG Electronics said Tuesday that it has opened a new research lab dedicated to food science and technology within its research and development center in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. LG’s food researchers will work at the 630-square-meter lab and study food preservation and processing, kimchi fermentation and related areas, the company said.

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

3 teenagers found dead, 7 unconscious

Three high school students died and seven were found unconscious at a holiday home in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, Tuesday. Two of the injured are reportedly in critical condition. According to police and rescue workers, the owner of the accommodation facility found the boys collapsed in the room and reported it to the emergency authorities at 1:14 p.m. The unconscious students were found frothing at the mouth and vomiting, while the four deceased also appeared to have suffered the same symptoms.

Korea still falls far behind in gender equality

A 31-year-old female office worker surnamed Kim has been working at one of the country's top electronics companies for six years and is still perplexed at how her company treats men and women differently. "I've seen many senior female staff leave the company. So far, I only met one female executive and she is unmarried," Kim told The Korea Times.

NK rejects UN human rights resolution

North Korea disputed its alleged human rights violations record Monday (local time) after the United Nations passed a resolution condemning it. This is the 14th consecutive year for the U.N. to approve a resolution calling attention to the human rights situation in the North. Pyongyang reacted angrily to the resolution, which noted U.N. member states "condemn the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights," claiming all the cases cited were made up.

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

Minors Earn More Than W500 Billion from Stocks, Real Estate

Minors have earned more than W530 billion in profits from stocks and real estate they given as a "living inheritance" to save death duties, according to data from the National Tax Service. Some 2,979 minors earned W353.6 billion in profits from stocks they were given by parents or other relatives between 2012 and 2016, and 9,181 of them reported proceeds of W184.5 billion from real estate (US$1=W1,130).

Moon Signals Climbdown on Failed Economic Policies

President Moon Jae-in on Monday signaled a climbdown on the labor and economic policies that have most disastrously backfired and promised to stimulate private-sector growth. Chairing a meeting of economy-related officials, Moon said, "It is important to pursue new economic policies like the minimum wage hike and shortened working hours in harmony with social circumstances so the public can accommodate them."

1 in 6 Workers Paid Less Than Minimum Wage

A record-high 3.11 million workers or 15.5 percent of all employed people were paid less than the minimum wage this year. The reason seems to be that employers were unable or unwilling to shoulder the 16.4 percent minimum wage hike this year. Statistics Korea data show that the one in six workers were paid less than the minimum wage as of August.

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

Income-driven growth” absent from Moon admin.’s 2019 economic policy course

The “income-driven growth” that the Moon Jae-in administration previously presented as its key growth strategy was absent from its economic policy course for 2019. In its place, the administration named priority tasks involving various response measures to boost economic vitality. With the economic policy course announced by the administration at the end of each year representing an important “policy package” providing a glimpse of its direction for governance in the coming year, the change in policy approaches is expected to create some controversy.

Controversy over Barakah power plant construction fiasco continues

The controversy over the allegedly shoddy construction of the second and third reactors being built by South Korea at the Barakah nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates is growing amid the failure of the government and Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) to provide specifics about the size and number of concrete voids and the places where they were discovered.

Prosecutors request dismissal of indictments against defendants connected with Jeju Uprising

“It’s too late now, but I sincerely hope this occasion can be used for healing the pain of all of you here today, of all the people who suffered inerasable wounds to their bodies and minds and who have endured lives of frustration and tears. I request a decision to dismiss the indictments against all of the defendants.”

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

U.S. likely to relieve sanctions on inter-Korean cooperation projects

U.S. special representative to North Korea Stephen Biegun will make a four-day trip to South Korea from Wednesday for a second working-level meeting between South Korea and the U.S. It is rumored that Washington is going to relieve significant number of the sanctions associated with inter-Korean cooperation projects. The intention of the sanctions relief appears to be breaking the deadlock in the stalled nuclear negotiations with North Korea.

Annual sales of Hyundai Santa Fe to surpass 100,000 units

Hyundai Motor’s sport utility vehicle Santa Fe’s popularity does not seem to be dying down one bit. The model joined the 100,000 sales club as of Dec. 6, and the daily sales has risen even after the launch of the company’s flagship crossover “Palisade,” according to data.

Otto Warmbier’s parents seek compensation from N. Korea

The parents of Otto Warmbier, an American university student who died in a coma after being detained in North Korea, have demanded some 1.1 billion dollars (around 1.24 trillion won) in compensation from the North, Voice of America reported Tuesday.

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

Surveillance accusations against Blue House grow

Accusations that the Moon Jae-in Blue House spied on private citizens broadened on Tuesday after a local broadcaster reported that the presidential office’s special inspection bureau looked into a corruption allegation about Airport Railroad, a private operator of trains connecting Incheon International Airport and downtown Seoul.

UN General Assembly slams North on rights

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution Monday calling for accountability for systematic and widespread human rights violations in North Korea for the 14th consecutive year, a move immediately rejected by Pyongyang’s top diplomat to the United Nations. The non-binding resolution co-authored by Japan and the European Union condemned North Korea “for diverting its resources into pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles over the welfare of its people” and was passed by consensus in the 193-member General Assembly headquartered in New York.

Renault Samsung moves Twizy’s production to Busan

Renault Samsung Motors’ micro electric vehicle (EV) Twizy will be produced in Busan from next year. The Korean unit of the French carmaker Renault on Tuesday inked a partnership with the Busan Metropolitan City and local car parts manufacturer Dongshin Motech to relocate Twizy production from Valladolid, Spain, to Korea.

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

Nation’s Economic Policy Veers Toward Growth Centered on Large Corporations and Civil Engineering

On December 17, the government released the "2019 Economic Policy Direction." This is an economic plan for the third year of the Moon Jae-in government. The government claimed that the basic direction was to establish the foundation for an innovative and all-inclusive country, where everyone can live well together. At the same time, the government announced that it would concentrate on the promotion of four items.

Reaching the Korea-Russia Friendship Bridge at the End of the Donghae Line: An Emotional Experience

South Korean inspectors who took part in the North-South Korea joint inspection of the Donghae railway line in North Korea returned on December 17 after completing a ten-day inspection. The government will dispatch an advance party to North Korea this week and begin preparations for the groundbreaking ceremony for the connection and modernization of the Gyeongui and Donghae Line railways and roads scheduled for December 26.

The Delisting of Kyungnam Pharm: Same Accounting Fraud as Samsung, Why the Different Penalty?

The Korea Exchange decided to delist Kyungnam Pharm, igniting controversy. On December 14, the Korea Exchange referred to Kyungnam Pharm and announced, "After a comprehensive review of the company's continuity, management transparency, and financial stability, we have decided to delist the company due to problems of management transparency."

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AJU Business Daily (http://eng.ajunews.com/korea)

Three high school students found dead in pension

Three high school students were found dead and seven others remained unconscious at hospitals after a barbeque party in a pension during a trip that followed a college entrance exam. Firefighters detected a high concentration of carbon monoxide in the rooms.

KAI releases prototype of home-made light attack helicopter

The prototype of South Korea's home-made light attack helicopter armed with a machine gun and guided anti-tank missiles was released after years of development based on European technology. It is the first light armed helicopter (LAH), developed by South Korea's sole aircraft maker, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), to replace an aging fleet of MD500s and 70 AH-1S Cobra. The prototype was shown in a ceremony Tuesday at KAI's headquarters in the southern city of Sacheon.

Lotte's informatization wing partners with Toronto-based AI blockchain company

Lotte Data Communication, the data informatization wing of South Korea's Lotte Group, forged an alliance with a Toronto-based artificial intelligence and blockchain technology company to venture into Canada's blockchain-based supply chain management industry, Lotte Data said in a statement Tuesday that it signed a memorandum of understanding with Datametrex to co-develop a block-chain-based supply chain management (SCM) for Canadian livestock products.

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

GM Korea shareholders approve R&D spin-off

The plan to set up a new research & development (R&D) entity by GM Korea Co., the local unit of U.S. auto giant General Motors Co., has passed the final hurdle after its second largest shareholder state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) reversed from its earlier stance that opposed to the move.

HCM City works to further improve investment environment

HCM City has always taken on board suggestions from foreign businesses, including Japanese, for improving its investment environment and living conditions and adopting appropriate policies to enable foreign investors to operate here, according to its People`s Committee.

KakaoPage acquires Indonesian top webtoon platform Neobazar

KakaoPage, a mobile content platform operator in South Korea, has acquired Neobazar, an Indonesian game publishing and webtoon service company. KakaoPage acquired 125,082 shares of Neobazar, or a 68.81 percent stake, for 13.8 billion won ($12.2 million), it said in regulatory disclosure on Tuesday.

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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.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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http://www.koreapost.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=8136

Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koreapost.com

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