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Headlines, December 20, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 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.

Cheong Wa Dae says controversial reports were scrapped or not delivered

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday that controversial intelligence reports, allegedly produced by its former investigator, were either scrapped or not delivered. Cheong Wa Dae sought to counter claims by the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) that the reports by Kim Tae-wu, a former member of its special inspection team, suggest that the team has been illicitly gleaning intelligence on opposition politicians and other civilians.

Samsung to update previous devices to use New Bixby

Samsung Electronics Co. said Thursday it will use the New Bixby artificial intelligence platform in devices released before its Galaxy Note 9 flagship smartphone and invite more users to use the latest system.

Number of naturalized S. Koreans nears 190,000 over last 70 years

Nearly 190,000 foreign nationals have become naturalized South Korean citizens over the past seven decades, government data showed Wednesday. The Ministry of Justice said the number of people naturalized here since the enactment of the Nationality Act on Dec. 20, 1948, reached 189,193 as of the end of November.


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

S. Korea, India Agree to Grow Defense Cooperation, Cultural Exchanges

The top diplomats of South Korea and India have agreed to expand trade and cooperation in the defense industry and people-to-people exchanges. Seoul's Foreign Ministry said Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj reached the agreement in their joint committee meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.

US Fed Raises Key Rate, Signals Less Tightening in 2019

The U.S. Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point to a range of two-point-25 percent to two-point-five percent on Wednesday. The latest hike is the fourth this year following quarter percentage point increases in March, June and September.

Taxi Drivers Launch Nationwide Strike

Taxi drivers have begun a nationwide strike in protest of Kakao Mobility's planned launch of a ride-sharing application. Taxi associations expect about 250-thousand taxi drivers across the nation will suspend operations for the one-day strike, which started at 4 a.m. Thursday.


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

U.S. Fed's rate hike schedule creates room for S. Korea's monetary policy: BOK chief

A slower rate hike schedule by the U.S. Federal Reserve may give South Korea greater leeway in terms of setting monetary policy in the new year, the head of the country's central bank said Thursday.

S. Korea vows to thoroughly prepare for destabilizing factors

South Korea will make thorough preparations for any destabilizing factors after the U.S. raised interest rates, a senior official said Thursday. Lee Ho-seung, the first vice minister of economy and finance, also said in a meeting with relevant officials in Seoul that a possible hike in market rates in South Korea is something that is acceptable.

S. Korean PM asks Libya to help win release of abducted workers

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon has asked the Libyan government to help win the safe release of a South Korean and three Filipino workers abducted in the African country, the prime minister's office said Thursday.


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

US special envoy on N. Korea to visit DMZ

A senior US envoy on North Korea will visit the Demilitarized Zone on Thursday to take a first-hand look at the country he's tasked with handling, diplomatic sources said. It was not immediately confirmed whether the envoy, Stephen Biegun, will meet with North Korean officials there. He is set to tour the truce village of Panmunjom along the inter-Korean border, also known as the Joint Security Area, a token of decades-long military tensions and on-and-off dialogue.

Popular TV show’s staff say they worked 29 hours straight

Popular drama series “The Last Empress” has come under fire after allegations emerged that the major network SBS and production company SM Life Design Group made staff work nearly 30 hours in a row. A group consisting of labor union members, including the Hanbit Media Labor Rights Center and Hope-Solidarity Union, filed a report on the matter to the Seoul Regional Employment Labor Office on Tuesday morning.

NK collaboration with foreign scientists may aid nuke development: report

North Korea could be developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of sanctions by collaborating with foreign scientists on "dual use" technology, a new report showed Wednesday. The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, said it analyzed 1,304 papers co-authored by North Korean and foreign scientists to determine the potential applications of the research to military purposes.


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

South Korea, India agree on arms industry cooperation, people-to-people exchanges

The top diplomats of South Korea and India agreed Wednesday to enhance cooperation in the arms industry and expand people-to-people exchanges, Seoul's foreign ministry said. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj held their joint committee meeting in New Delhi to evaluate bilateral ties and cooperation in various areas, including the economy, science and technology, the ministry said in a press release.

Energy self-reliant town highlights Seoul's energy policy

The energy-independent community is regarded as the living example of the Seoul Metropolitan Government's energy-saving plan. As part of its six-year-old One Less Nuclear Power Plant initiative, the city government has designated energy self-sufficient neighborhoods that produce energy and participate in energy conservation activities.

38% of foreign workers are paid less than 2 million won a month

Nearly 38 percent of 846,000 foreign salaried workers in South Korea were paid less than 2 million won a month this year, a government report on immigrants and foreign workers said. It was down from 42.7 percent last year, but still falls nearly 1 million won short of the nationwide average monthly income of regular and temporary workers ― 3.22 million won.


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

U.S. to Review Travel Ban to N.Korea

The U.S. will review a travel ban for Americans to North Korea to facilitate humanitarian shipments to the impoverished state. Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, made the announcement on arrival at Incheon International Airport on Wednesday. He said he is aware that many charities working in the North are concerned that the strict enforcement of sanctions has "occasionally impeded the delivery of legitimate humanitarian assistance" to North Korea.

Kim Jong-un Orders Halt to Border Casino Project

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered a halt to a casino project under construction in the North Korea-China border region, Radio Free Asia reported on Tuesday. Kim ordered officials to stop the entire "troublesome" casino project, according to a source in a Chinese border town who spoke to a North Korean trading company official who was there to lure investment.

N.Korea Vows to Promote Basketball

North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper dedicated the whole page on Tuesday to an article urging North Koreans to create a basketball boom across the isolated country. "Promoting basketball is not only a sports-related matter, but an important project that upholds the objectives of the [Workers] Party," the paper said. "We must rush to elevate the sport to global levels," it added.


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

South Korean production of Renault’s ultra-compact electric car to begin in 2019

Renault’s ultra-compact electric car Twizy will enter production in South Korea in the second half of 2019. During a ceremony at Busan City Hall on the afternoon of Dec. 18, Renault Samsung Motors signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Busan and with car parts supplier Dongshin Motech to work together on creating jobs and relocating the Twizy production facility to Busan.

S. Korea needs to make heroic effort to break N. Korea-US deadlock

The South Korea-US working group will hold its second meeting in Seoul on Dec. 21. This meeting is receiving quite a bit of attention, since it’s being held while the North Korea-US denuclearization negotiations are at a complete impasse. The meeting is supposed to address granting the groundbreaking ceremony for connecting the South and North Korean railroad networks an exemption from sanctions. Since South Korea and the US have no major disagreements on this matter, the question of granting an exemption from sanctions is expected to be resolved smoothly.

Pyongyang seems to want to skip working talks and go directly to summit

As the deadlock in the negotiations between North Korea and the US drags on, the two sides appear to be digging in for the long haul. Since US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his fourth visit to North Korea in October, the US has insisted that it’s not “in a hurry” as it cranks up pressure and sanctions against the North without managing to reach a compromise. Meanwhile, the North is explicitly demanding that it be compensated for denuclearization, an indication that it’s unwilling to make any more concessions.


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

‘N. Korea didn’t take any practical measures for denuke,’ unification minister says

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyun drew the line saying that North Korea has not taken any practical measures for denuclearization and that the denuclearization negotiations between the U.S. and the North is still not under way. The position that “maintaining sanctions is the answer before complete denuclearization” also came from senior government officials. The circumstance for such position is gaining attention as the government, which focused on playing the role of a mediator, admitted on failing to achieve practical denuclearization this year and urged North Korea to engage in additional measures.

Three Gaya artifacts designated as national treasures

Three artifacts of the Gaya confederacy during the 4th and 5th centuries will be designated as national treasures. The Cultural Heritage Administration announced on Wednesday that it will designate Gilt Bronze Crown excavated from the ancient tomb site No. 32 in Jisan-dong, Goryeong (photo), Bronze Seven Bells excavated from the ancient tomb site No. 22 in Bokcheon-dong, Busan, Ironware excavated from the ancient tomb site No. 38 in Bokcheon-dong, Busan.

Trump slams ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit on Twitter

What would the White House had looked like if Donald Trump had not been elected president? This was the question sketched by a U.S. comedy show over the weekend. President Trump took to Twitter to slam the show, suggesting possible legal action against it, and controversies ensued over the freedom of expression‎.


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

Four ‘new towns’ near Seoul are decided

The government selected four areas around Seoul to allow developments of 155,000 apartment units to stabilize the real estate market. Distance was a key factor. All four areas are 30 minutes from the nation’s capital. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport the areas that have been selected for the building of so-called new towns are Gyeyang District in Incheon, and in Gyeonggi, Wangsuk District in Namyangju, Gyosan-dong in Hanam and Gwacheon.

Biegun is spending four days in Seoul for range of talks

Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, kicked off a four-day visit to Seoul Wednesday to meet with his South Korean counterpart a week ahead of a groundbreaking ceremony for an inter-Korean railway project.

BOK head admits minimum wage issues

The chief of Korea’s central bank has admitted that the steep minimum wage hike had a negative impact on the country’s job market, a noticeable shift from his previous intentionally vague stance on the policy’s impact. Gov. Lee Ju-yeol told reporters late Tuesday that a two-digit rise of the minimum wage for two consecutive years will have a significant impact on the labor market.


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

KDB May Have Stopped GM Korea from Withdrawing, But….

On December 18, the Korea Development Bank (KDB) decided to accept General Motors (GM) Korea's plans to separate the research and development (R&D) branch into an independent corporation. The separation of the R&D branch of GM Korea had triggered controversy, as it was suspected of being a preliminary step in withdrawing production from South Korea.

High School Boys on a Trip to Gangneung Fall Victim to Gas Poisoning

On December 18, three teenage boys were found dead and seven others were found unconscious at a lodging in Jeo-dong, near Gyeongpodae, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do. The ten boys were seniors at Daeseong High School in Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul.

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.


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

Envoy says U.S. will 'reevaluate' ban on travel for humanitarian aid to Pyongyang: Yonhap

The United States will "reevaluate" its ban on American citizens' travel to North Korea early next year to facilitate aid groups' delivery of humanitarian assistance to the communist state, a U.S. nuclear envoy said.

Former steward wins partial victory in legal battle against Korean Air

Park Chang-jin, a former Korean Air steward who was forced to kneel in a "nut rage" incident in 2014, won a partial victory in his legal battle against the disgraced first daughter of Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho.

Samsung to showcase new version of lifestyle TVs at CES 2019 in January

At CES 2019, a trade fair in Las Vegas in January, Samsung Electronics will demonstrate the new version of its premium lifestyle TVs, Frame and Serif, which go beyond the traditional concept of TVs.


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

MAHB`s record-breaking profits bring risks to the Malaysian economy and tourism industry: AirAsia

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd`s (MAHB) record profits, which the group claimed to be attributed to an increase in passenger service charge (PSC) and growth in passenger numbers, come at a cost to the Malaysian economy and tourism industry, said AirAsia Group.

Korea’s instant noodle exports likely pass new milestone of $400 mn in ’18

Ramyeon has become a household name for instant noodles that used to be referred as ramen in Japanese language, and latest data shows global appetite for Korean fast noodle remains hearty. According to the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT) on Wednesday, Korea shipped out $385 million worth packaged instant noodles, or ramyeon, from January to November, up 11.2 percent from a year-ago period.

SK, Seoul join up to create no late-night passenger-reject zones for cab hailers

SK Telecom, pitting its cab-hailing app against chat platform operator Kakao, has teamed up with Seoul to ensure late-night taxi drivers do not pick and choose passengers to their liking. People hailing a ride via SK Telecom’s T map taxi app from temporary taxi stands in popular districts of Gangnam, Hongdae and Jongno would automatically be assigned to the nearest taxi in the area, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Tuesday. No taxis subscribed to the service can reject passengers from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. during the year-end peak season from Dec. 21 to 31.

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
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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