UPDATE : 2019.3.22 FRI 17:52
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Headlines, December 27, 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.

KDB completes cash injection into GM Korea

The state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) completed injecting US$750 million into the South Korean unit of General Motors Co. on Wednesday, after it backed a plan by GM Korea to spin off the carmaker's research unit. The KDB and GM signed a deal in May on the rescue package for GM Korea. Under the agreement, the KDB pledged to inject $750 million, while GM agreed to provide $3.6 billion in fresh loans to keep GM Korea afloat.

Parties deliberating over bill on contract workers' safety

Rival parties on Wednesday continued their deliberation over a revised bill aimed at better ensuring contract workers' on-the-job safety following the recent death of a young temporary worker at a thermal power plant. The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and two opposition parties discussed details about the bill, which calls for contractors to take measures to better ensure the safety of contract workers, and mandates stiffer punishments in the event of accidents. But they have yet to reach an agreement on two key contentious points of the proposal.

Ssangyong E&C wins US$750 mln orders in Singapore

Ssangyong Engineering & Construction Co. said Wednesday it has won orders worth US$750 million in Singapore to build expressways that connect the northern and southern parts of the country. Under the contract with Singapore's Land Transport Authority, the South Korean builder will take part in the construction of the N102 and N111 areas of the North-South Corridor.

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

Environment Ministry Admits to Creating Document on Senior Officials

The Environment Ministry has admitted that it had produced a document on the movements of its senior officials. The ministry, which denied producing the document on Wednesday, said on its Web site on Thursday that it produced it at the request of Kim Tae-woo, a former special inspector at the presidential office at around mid-January.

Seoul Metro, Union Workers Reach Agreement in Wage Negotiations

The labor union of Seoul's subway operator has reached an agreement with management, cancelling a general strike planned for Thursday. The union and management of Seoul Metro reportedly concluded the agreement at around 7 a.m. Thursday after overnight negotiations. The two sides are known to have reached a tentative agreement on a two-point-six percent rise in basic wages and measures to improve the peak wage system.

N. Korea's Red Cross: Impact of Sanctions on Basic Medicines Severe

North Korea's Red Cross says that continued global sanctions against Pyongyang are having a serious impact on the supply of basic medicine to the country. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies(IFRC) recently said on its Web site that despite a diplomatic thawing, the humanitarian situation in the communist country remains one of the world’s most chronic and forgotten crises.

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

N. Korea's media report on groundbreaking ceremony for road, railway project

North Korea's state media on Thursday reported on the groundbreaking ceremony the Koreas jointly held a day earlier to mark the launch of a project to modernize and reconnect roads and railways over their border."A groundbreaking ceremony for reconnecting and modernizing the railways and roads of the north and the south on the eastern and western coasts of Korea was held," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an English article.

S. Korea's consumer sentiment rebounds in Dec.

South Korea's consumer sentiment rebounded slightly in December on hopes for a pay hike next year, a central bank poll showed Thursday. The composite consumer sentiment index (CCSI) for this month stood at 97.2, up 1.2 from a 21-month low of 96 a month earlier, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists. It marked the first turnaround in three months, as the index had slid since October.

Seoul stocks dip to almost 2-month low amid U.S. political uncertainties

South Korean stocks finished sharply lower Wednesday to end at an almost two-month low as investors remained wary of persistent political uncertainties in the United States. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 27 points, or 1.31 percent, to close at 2,028.01. Trade volume was moderate at 314 million shares worth 5.33 trillion won (US$4.74 billion), with losers far outnumbering gainers 724 to 128.

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

KDB set to complete cash injection into GM Korea
The state-run Korea Development Bank is set to complete injecting $750 million into the South Korean unit of General Motors Co. on Wednesday, after it backed a plan by GM Korea to spin off the carmaker's research unit. The KDB and GM signed a deal in May on the rescue package for GM Korea. Under the agreement, the KDB pledged to inject $750 million, while GM agreed to provide $3.6 billion in fresh loans to keep GM Korea afloat.

Korea to create innovation academy for software experts
South Korea said Wednesday that it plans to set up an innovation academy next year to educate about 2,500 software experts by 2023 in the latest move to better cope with the fourth industrial revolution. According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the government plans to provide 180.6 billion won ($160.7 million) by 2023 to establish and run a two-year academy modeled after Ecole 42, a French computer programming school.

IS-claimed attack on Libya foreign ministry kills at least three
Suicide attackers stormed the Libyan foreign ministry in the capital Tripoli on Tuesday, killing at least three people including a senior civil servant in an attack claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group. Twenty-one other people were wounded in the attack, authorities said. A car bomb exploded near the ministry, prompting security forces to rush to the scene, said special forces spokesman Tarak al-Dawass.

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

Two Koreas set to hold ceremony for inter-Korean railway and road project
South and North Korea were set to hold a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for an inter-Korean project to modernize and reconnect roads and railways across their heavily armed border. A special train carrying some 100 South Korean participants left for Panmun Station in the North's border town of Kaesong, where the event will be held at around 10 a.m.

Moon administration 'evolves' from Roh's on N. Korean human rights
The Moon Jae-in administration is getting tough with North Korea over the regime's human rights abuses, although South Korea is on track for building confidence to help the stalled U.S.-North Korea nuclear disarmament talks move forward. On Dec. 17, the South threw its support behind the U.N. General Assembly's approval of a resolution condemning the North's dire human rights record. It marks the 14th consecutive year the Assembly has passed the document.

Sanctions on North Korea: How will they be lifted?
Since late last year, President Moon Jae-in has tried hard to pitch his ambitious "sanctions-easing" agenda to break the impasse in talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea. The efforts brought mixed results. During his recent trip to European capitals, Moon attempted to win backing for the agenda from British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron, but his efforts fell flat as they didn't say anything positive about "sanctions exemptions" requested by South Korea.

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

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. The regime also abruptly ordered a halt to the construction of a 30-story five-star hotel in Sinuiju last month because Beijing opposed a large casino near the Chinese border, RFA added.

N.Korea Sends Christmas Message to S.Korea
North Korea has sent a Christmas video message to South Korean churches, according to the Unification Ministry on Tuesday. The North's Korean Council of Religionists sent the 98-second video to the Commission on Faith and Order of Korean Churches, a combined organization of Catholic and Protestant churches. It was played at a Christmas concert in Seoul Anglican Cathedral last Friday.

Koreans to Get New Passports, License Plates
The design for Korean passports will change for the first time in 32 years, while vehicle license plates also get a makeover as the number of cars in the country is increasing. The government on Friday unveiled the final designs of the new passports and vehicle license plates. Passports will shed their green cover for a navy one featuring the taegeuk or yin-yang emblem of Korea.

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

NIS forfeits appeal of ruling on disclosure of documents on civilian massacre in Vietnam War
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) recently decided to give up appealing a court ruling ordering it to disclose information related to civilian massacres during the Vietnam War. Observers are now calling on the NIS to immediately release the related documents.

Groundbreaking ceremony for inter-Korean railway linkage to be held on Dec. 26 in Kaesong
Kaesong native Kim Kum-ok and four other divided family members are boarding a train at Seoul Station on Dec. 26 to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony at Kaesong’s Panmun Station for a railway and road linkage and modernization project for the Gyeongui (Seoul-Sinuiju) and Donghae (East Sea) lines.

S. Korean naval vessel’s targeting radar locking onto Japanese plane turns into diplomatic issue
The appearance of a Japanese patrol aircraft within radar tracking range during a South Korean naval vessel’s rescue of a North Korean ship is turning into a diplomatic issue as Japan continues taking issue with a South Korean naval vessel locking its targeting radar on a Japanese patrol aircraft.

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

U.S. court orders N. Korea to pay Warmbier’s parents over 500 million dollars
A U.S. court has ordered North Korea to pay more than 500 million dollars in damages to the parents of Otto Warmbier, a college student who died in a coma after being detained in North Korea, in a ruling that has demanded the highest amount in compensation from the North for illegal detainment and torture. The verdict is expected to add to the pressure of the international community on the regime to improve human rights of its people.

Consumers enraged by BMW’s deceptive business practice
Another BMW caught fire while parked in Gwangju City, doing damage to two nearby vehicles. According to the Gwangsan Police Station in Gwangju on Tuesday, a case was filed at 6:24 p.m. Monday regarding a fire accident on a BMW 320d, parked at an apartment complex in Dosan-dong, Gwangju. Firefighters put out the fire in about 10 minutes with no casualties.

President Trump besieged by four M-words
Washington pundits are saying that President Donald Trump is being driven to the wall by those four M-words - military, market plunge, media, and Mueller investigation. Furthermore, the neurotic responses from the U.S. president are adding woes to the 4Ms, which represents the political, economic, and social trouble Mr. Trump is currently faced with.

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

Trump counting on summit with Kim Jong-un
U.S. President Donald Trump said in a Christmas Eve tweet that he looks forward to a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, noting “progress” is being made in denuclearization negotiations. Trump posted on Twitter Monday a photo of him in the White House Oval Office receiving a briefing on North Korea from Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, and Allison Hooker, a National Security Council official who specializes in Korean affairs.

Wage calculation for 2019 satisfies neither side
The government is under intense pressure from both businesses and labor unions over the way it plans to calculate wages next year. The business community claims that a government move to include resting hours in wage calculations would result in increased labor costs and could lead to many smaller companies violating the minimum wage regulations.

Small business struggles with wages on the rise
Kim Hee-su, who has operated a small convenience store in Jeo-dong, central Seoul, for the past seven years, currently works 13 hours a day. After the steep rise in the minimum wage this year, the 47-year-old decided to change from three-person shifts to a two-person system to cut costs. A part-time worker takes 11-hour shifts at night in the 33-square-meter (355-square-foot) establishment.

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

U.S. Reaches out to North Korea: Eyes Now on Chairman Kim Jong-un's New Year's Address
Senior U.S. officials continue to reach out to North Korea. They seem to be creating new momentum for the stalled talks between North Korea and the U.S. and trying to block North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from sending out a negative message in his New Year's address. Now, the attention is on North Korea, which has remained silent on U.S. demands for talks after a canceled trip to the U.S. by Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea cum head of the party's United Front Department in early November.

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." The decision has come under attack in terms of equity, for the exchange resumed trading of Samsung Biologics on December 11. Both companies were involved in accounting fraud, and people argued that the latest decision to just delist Kyungnam Pharm was unfair. Such arguments have led to a petition on the Cheong Wa Dae national petition site.

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.

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AJU Business Daily (http://www.ajudaily.com)
Construction of new 3,000-ton sub with lithium-ion battery begins next year
South Korea will start building a new generation of 3,000-ton submarines installed with lithium-ion batteries which allows longer and speedier underwater operations than lead-acid batteries. Construction is to begin in the second half of next year.

Samsung to establish certification center in China for video technology standard
Samsung Electronics will establish a certification center in China for "HDR10+", a new video processing technology standard, as part of efforts to strengthen its alliance with foreign partners such as Warner Brothers, Qualcomm and TCL.

S. Korea completes development of Haegung close-in weapon system for warships
Development of South Korea's close-in weapon system for warships, called "Haegung (sea bow)," designed to intercept missiles and aircraft, has been completed, a state body in charge of procuring military equipment said. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said Monday that the production of Haegung with a dual detector system -- active radar guidance and an infrared detector -- would begin in 2019 for use in frigates and landing ships. It adopted a vertical firing method.

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

AirAsia sells 25 aircraft to US private investment firm for US$768mil
AirAsia Group Bhd, Asia`s leading low-cost carrier, has sold 25 existing aircraft to AS Air Lease Holdings 5T DAC, an entity indirectly controlled by Castlelake LP (Castlelake), in a deal valued at US$768 million. Castlelake is a US-based global private investment firm and an experienced leader in aircraft ownership and servicing.

Korean budget carrier T’way Air adds four new routes to Japan, Vietnam
South Korea’s oldest and third-largest low-cost carrier T’way Air Co. has added four new international routes departing from regional airports to serve growing demand for overseas trips across the country. The company said on Monday that it launched four new routes from Busan, Korea, to Saga, Japan, Oita, Japan, and Hanoi, Vietnam, as well as from Muan, Korea, to Oita on Dec. 22. Launching ceremonies were held at respective airports Gimhae International Airport and Muan International Airport.

HMM to initiate radical reform next year with help of external team
South Korea’s state lender Korea Development Bank (KDB) will put the nation’s leading container carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. on a massive reform next year by injecting a team of outside experts including former workers of now-defunct Hanjin Shipping to snap its loss-making streak for three straight years.

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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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Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koreapost.com

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