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Headlines, March 8, 2019

The Korean daily media headlines and humor

Friday, March 8, 2019

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.

Uncertainty grows over talks' prospects amid tough words from U.S., ominous activity in N.K.

Since last week's no-deal summit, the United States and North Korea have been expressing hope for more talks, but uncertainty has been growing amid tough words from Washington and lingering doubts over Pyongyang's denuclearization commitment. South Korea has been clamoring for a "mediating" role to keep the nuclear negotiations on track, saying it is ready to have close coordination with the U.S. and increase cross-border cooperation on the belief that better ties with the North could help move the stalled denuclearization process forward. Last week's summit in Hanoi had been widely expected to produce another denuclearization-for-concession deal after the one reached at the first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore last June. The two days of talks were, however, abruptly cut short and ended without an agreement.

Trump says he is disappointed by reported rebuilding of N.K. missile site

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he is disappointed with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over reports the regime is rebuilding a missile facility. Trump was asked by reporters whether he is disappointed amid continued reports that North Korea is reassembling the Sohae satellite launching site it began to dismantle last year. "A little disappointed. Little bit," he said during a meeting with the Czech prime minister at the White House. "We'll see. We'll let you know in about a year."

App-based carpooling to be allowed during commute hours

The government, taxi businesses and a shared mobility operator agreed Thursday to permit app-based carpooling services during morning and evening commute hours. Taxi associations have been strongly opposed to the introduction of carpooling services by Kakao Mobility, the operator of South Korea's largest taxi-hailing app, claiming it will put their business in jeopardy. Under the agreement reached by a consultation body involving the ruling party, the government, taxi businesses and Kakao Mobility, carpooling services will be permitted from 7-9 a.m. and 6-8 p.m., while weekends and holidays will be excluded. They launched the social dialogue body in late January to explore win-win strategies over shared mobility.

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

S. Korea's Nuke Envoy: US Ready to Continue Dialogue with N. Korea

South Korea's top nuclear envoy said that the U.S. is ready to continue dialogue with North Korea. Lee Do-hoon, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, made the remarks on Friday to reporters at Incheon International Airport after returning from his three-day trip to the U.S. Lee said that Washington's assessment of the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi remains as "productive" and "constructive."

US Commander: N. Korea under Close Watch over Possible Missile Activities

The commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command says the United States is closely watching North Korea following reports the regime is moving to resume its missile-related activities. According to the Associated Press, Admiral Phil Davidson made the remark in a meeting with reporters on Wednesday. He said the U.S. is cooperating with its allies, including South Korea, Japan and Australia, to implement sanctions on the North. He added that patrol planes and ships are monitoring possible ship-to-ship transfers of materials subject to the sanctions.

S. Korea's Current Account Surplus Hits 9-Month Low in January

South Korea's monthly current account surplus edged up in January from a year earlier, but dropped to a nine-month low due to slowing exports. According to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea on Friday, the country's current account surplus came to two-point-77 billion dollars in January, slightly up from two-point-64 billion a year earlier. The country posted a current account surplus for 81 straight months since May 2012, but the January figure represents the smallest monthly surplus since April of last year.

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

President to replace several ministers

President Moon Jae-in will name new ministers Friday, his office Cheong Wa Dae said, in a Cabinet reshuffle that is expected to replace several ministers, including the country's point man on North Korea. The list of nominees for new ministers will be announced at 11:30 a.m., according to the presidential office. The Cabinet reshuffle was expected to replace at least six ministers, including Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, as well as the internal affairs minister and minister for small and medium-sized firms.The reshuffle partly comes as four lawmaker-turned-ministers are expected to run in the general elections slated to be held next year but also as the Moon Jae-in administration seeks to enhance its reform drive in the latter half of its single five-year term that will begin later in the year.

U.S. will ask N. Korea for clarification on missile site reassembly: official

The United States will ask North Korea for clarification on the purposes of its reassembly of a key missile facility, a senior U.S. official said Thursday as President Donald Trump expressed repeated disappointment over the activity. North Korea began to rebuild parts of the missile engine testing site in Dongchang-ri in the runup to Trump's second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27-28, according to two U.S. think tanks earlier this week. By Wednesday, commercial satellite imagery showed that the facility may have been restored to normal operational status following its partial dismantlement last year, they said.

Sohae missile site is not critical part of N. Korea's nuclear infrastructure: official

North Korea's missile engine testing site in Dongchang-ri is not a critical part of the regime's nuclear infrastructure, a senior U.S. official said Thursday. The State Department official told reporters on background that while the Sohae facility should be destroyed as part of North Korea's denuclearization, its importance should not be exaggerated. The remarks come amid reports that North Korea has rebuilt the facility to normal operational status following the breakdown of last week's second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

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

S. Korea to push for artificial rain experiment with China

Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae said Thursday the government plans to step up its cooperation with China to combat worsening pollution by pushing to jointly enforce dust-reducing measures and conduct an artificial rain experiment. The ministry also plans to launch a pilot project to install large air purifying facilities outdoors in major cities, and tighten restrictions on driving on heavily polluted days.

ILO urges Seoul to ratify contract worker convention

As the European Union ramps up pressure on South Korea to ratify four of the eight essential conventions of the International Labor Organization, the UN agency’s Employment Policy Department Director Lee Sang-heon on Thursday emphasized that doing so would ensure improved protection for temporary workers. Korea joined the ILO in December 1991, but has not adopted four of its eight key conventions applied unconditionally to laborers. There are 189 conventions in total.

US positive on N. Korea denuclearization despite 'operational' rocket site

The US still believes the "fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea is possible by the end of President Donald Trump's "first term," a senior official said Thursday, despite warnings a key rocket launch site appears to have resumed operations. The specialized website 38 North and the Center for Strategic and International Studies used commercial satellite imagery to track construction at the site -- which they said began before last week's aborted summit in Hanoi between Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

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

Bolton: 'Trump is open to talking to North Korea again'

U.S. President Donald Trump is open to talking to North Korea again after the breakdown of their second summit last week, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Thursday.Bolton made the remark in an interview on Fox News, noting that the president had been ready for a "big deal" to exchange North Korea's complete denuclearization for a "bright future" for the country. "President's obviously open to talking again," the adviser said. "We'll see when that might be scheduled or how it would work out. But he thinks the deal is there if North Korea is prepared to look at the big picture." Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held their second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27 and 28, but failed to reach an agreement on dismantling the regime's nuclear weapons program.

President to replace several ministers: Cheong Wa Dae

President Moon Jae-in will name new ministers Friday, his office Cheong Wa Dae said, in a Cabinet reshuffle that is expected to replace several ministers, including the country's point man on North Korea.The list of nominees for new ministers will be announced at 11:30 a.m., according to the presidential office. The Cabinet reshuffle was expected to replace at least six ministers, including Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, as well as the internal affairs minister and minister for small and medium-sized firms. The reshuffle partly comes as four lawmaker-turned-ministers are expected to run in the general elections slated to be held next year but also as the Moon Jae-in administration seeks to enhance its reform drive in the latter half of its single five-year term that will begin later in the year. The four lawmaker-turned-ministers, if replaced, will return to the ruling Democratic Party as they still maintain their parliamentary seats.

Korea's homegrown English proficiency test losing steam

Korea's homegrown English proficiency test TEPS reported a net loss last year ― its first in 20 years ― in the wake of a declining number of test takers, reduced usefulness and TOEIC-friendly practices. The Language Education Institute at Seoul National University, which launched TEPS in 1999 to challenge TOEIC's dominance, announced this on Thursday, but didn't provide detailed information, calling it a "business secret." At the peak of its popularity in 2010, nearly half a million people took TEPS and its profit reached 7 billion won ($6.2 million). But the number was cut in half by 2014 and fell to 120,000-130,000 last year, according to the institute.

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

U.S. Keeps Tactical Spy Planes Away From Korea

A group of U.S. tactical reconnaissance aircraft of the U.S. Forces Korea returned to their home base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday after spending an unusually long 40 days in Japan. The U-2S spy planes often fly to Japan when they train with the U.S. Forces Japan, but this time they spent more than 40 days there even though they did not participate in any drills. "Four U-2S's returned to Osan Air Base today after being temporarily deployed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa since Jan. 23," a government official here said Thursday. "They collected intelligence about North Korea from there while participating in the U.S. military's intelligence activities across East Asia."

Chinese Fireworks Blamed for Korean Smog

Massive fireworks across China during the Lantern Festival last month were a major cause of surging ultrafine dust pollution in Korea, a study suggests. The festival happens on the 15th day of the first month of lunar year.The Seoul Research Institute of Public Health and Environment said Wednesday, "Pollutants emitted by fireworks in Beijing were carried by northwesterly winds into Korea and remained here. Ultrafine dust that blanketed Korea since last week appears to have been caused by substances sourced to the fireworks." In March last year, the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science published a study showing that fireworks detonated during China's spring festival caused ultrafine dust levels to soar in Korea.

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

Ex-president Lee Myung-bak granted bail with conditions

“A criminal trial can be regarded as a conversation between the defendant’s present self and past self. After being released on bail and going home, I hope you’ll read each and every one of the charges for which you were indicted and thoughtfully reflect on what was done by your past self.” Hon. Jeong Jun-yeong, the judge responsible for the Seoul High Court’s 1st Criminal Division, was speaking to ex-president Lee Myung-bak, who was at the witness stand in Courtroom No. 303 on Mar. 6. The appeals court agreed to accept Lee’s request for bail on Wednesday, but imposed a number of conditions. He must stay at his home in the Nonhyeon neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam District, and is strictly prohibited from contacting anyone other than a select few – his spouse, his immediate family members and his attorneys. Along with providing an unusually detailed explanation of the reasons for conditionally granting Lee bail, the court also had a few requests for Lee and the prosecutors. Analysts think that the court was attempting to placate the South Korean public’s anger about a series of controversial decisions to grant bail to convicted criminals.

Park Geun-hye unlikely to be released on bail as Lee Myung-bak was

After former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, who is appealing a conviction for bribery and embezzlement, was released on bail, attention is turning to another ex-president – Park Geun-hye, who is behind bars at Seoul Detention Center. In short, Park isn’t likely to be granted bail because the requirements for her release are much stricter than they were for Lee. Park will remain in detention during her trial in the influence-peddling scandal, which has been pending at the Supreme Court, through Apr. 16. Park’s period of detention, which ends on that day, has already been extended three times by the prosecutors according to the Criminal Procedure Act. Since bail can only be requested before a defendant’s prison sentence has officially begun, Park could apply for bail, as Lee did, before Apr. 16. But she hasn’t applied for bail thus far.

Seoul’s worsening pollution stems from meteorological conditions and ultrafine dust from China

The recent severity of fine particle pollution in Seoul is the result of worsening domestic meteorological conditions along with the arrival of ultrafine dust originating in Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shenyang, an analysis concludes.Some have also suggested fireworks set off in Beijing during Lunar New Year celebrations in late February have had an impact on atmospheric pollution in Seoul.“January and February ultrafine particle concentrations in Chinese cities were around 23% higher than for the same time period last year,” said Seoul Metropolitan Government Institute of Health and Environment (SIHE) Director Shin Yong-seung in a Mar. 6 briefing at Seoul City Hall.“At 37㎍/㎥, Seoul’s average ultrafine particle concentrations for January and February were the highest in the past five years, and the number of days classified as ‘poor’ for particle dust conditions increased substantially to 23,” he said.

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

Hanoi summit: N. Korea desperate to save negotiations at last minute

CNN unveiled Wednesday the last minutes before the U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi were called off, quoting various administrative sources. “The snub was indicative of the North Koreans' approach to diplomacy - a capricious negotiating style that reared its head once again at the end of the summit in the form of a last-ditch attempt from the North Koreans to draw Trump back to the negotiating table,” reported CNN. The title of the article explicitly described the situation: “A snub and a last minute Hail Mary.”

Korea's 5G telecom service to be available at some countries

Korea’s three major telecommunications service providers are competing to acquire an early foothold in major tourist destinations favored by Korean travelers, such as Guam, Saipan and Japan. The efforts reflect intention to identify new service demands outside of Korea, which has reached saturation. The telecom providers have launched subscriber plans similar to domestic rates and announced plans to provide 5G services overseas.

A new technology on teeth measures radiation levels

A lab appeared at the end of a long set of stairs in the basement. An X-ray mark was evidently shown under a sign titled “X-ray research underway.” There were 23 blue gum modules as big as an adult’s thumb that contained white material the size of a small earring. They were human teeth. “The teeth were pulled out from patients and donated by dental clinics,” said Park Jong-in, a researcher at the Graduate School of Convergence Technology of Seoul National University, at Gwangyo Techno Valley in Suwon City, Gyeonggi Province Wednesday. Choi Gwon, a colleague that stood next to him, said that the teeth, which are 1,000 in total, had obtained approval from The Institutional Review Board. It was a bit creepy to imagine 1,000 teeth.

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

Taean Power Plant Didn't Learn a Thing Despite Death of Kim Yong-gyun

On March 4, a subcontractor employee was seriously injured when he got stuck in the equipment while operating a power station at the Taean Thermal Power Plant, where Kim Yong-gyun died last December. The doctor expected it to take six weeks for the worker to fully recover. After the death of Kim Yong-gyun, the company established work regulations requiring a pair of workers to work as one team, and workers on site claimed that that rule saved the worker's life. But a look at the behavior of Korea Western Power Co., which runs the Taean power plant, and Korea Electric Power Industrial Development, the subcontractor that hired the injured worker A (48), in the process of handling the accident makes one question whether this is the place where an accident that forced the entire country to mourn a young death just three years ago had occurred.

Day 5 of the Worst Fine Dust Situation: This Calls for Mandatory Measures

As the highest concentration of fine dust particles lingers in the air for five consecutive days, on March 5, the ultrafine dust particle level reached record highs throughout the nation since the government first began monitoring it. Even in the "clean" Jeju-do Island, the government launched measures to reduce fine dust particles in the air for the first time on March 4. Schools suspended outdoor classes, and many citizens canceled appointments and hurried home. However, the fine dust particle concentration indoors is no different from the outside, forcing more than a few citizens to suffer inconvenience and fear. The scope of the damage from fine dust is also spreading. It is seriously disrupting economic activities, such as delaying flights by blocking visibility, not to mention harming the human body as a class 1 carcinogen. When the yellow dust begins to blow in, there is no knowing how big the damage will be. At a meeting with reporters at the Ministry of Environment this day, Minister Cho Myung-rae warned, "If the situation continues as it has lately, it could become a great threat to the lives of our people." This was no exaggeration.

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

Invest in disasters - NK, Venezuela - if you want big money: investor guru Rogers

North Korea is a “dead country” and therefore poses a “fantastic opportunity” for any investor who has eyes on big money, said American investing guru Jim Rogers who cites the same reason for investing in national disasters like Zimbabwe and also Venezuela, if he could. “I have been investing for a long time and I have seen that when a dead country changes, it is a great opportunity…North Korea is a dead country so it is very, very cheap. So whenever that (change) happens, and it doesn’t happen many times, very rare when something like that happens. Now, this will be a very fantastic opportunity like investing in China forty years ago,” he said.

S. Korean banks’ bad loans ratio under 1 percent for two straight quarters in Q4

South Korean banks’ non-performing loans (NPL) ratio stayed under 1 percent for a second consecutive quarter in the further quarter last year after major corporate restructuring in the country has been mostly completed. According to data released by the Financial Supervisory Service on Thursday, Korean banks’ NPL ratio stood at 0.97 percent as of the end of December last year, up 0.01 percentage point from three months ago and 0.22 percentage point from a year earlier. It is the second consecutive quarter for the ratio to stand under 1.

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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 http://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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Korean-language Internet edition: http://www.koreapost.co.kr
English-language Internet edition: http://www.koreapost.com
Korean-language print newspaper:
http://pdf.koreapost.co.kr/38/3801.pdf
http://pdf.koreapost.co.kr/38/3802.pdf
http://pdf.koreapost.co.kr/38/3803.pdf
http://www.koreapost.co.kr/pdf/list.php?category=&syear=2018&smonth=03&sday=26&hosu=40
English E-daily: http://www.koreapost.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=8622
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Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koreapost.com

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