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Headlines, May 15, 2019

The Korean daily media headlines and humor

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Food assistance needs to be sent to N. Korea before Sept.: unification ministry official

South Korea is pushing to send food assistance to North Korea no later than September to help ease worsening food shortages in the impoverished state, a unification ministry official said Tuesday. Seoul is drawing up plans to provide food aid as the North is suffering food shortages apparently aggravated by global sanctions and years of unfavorable weather conditions. The government has launched efforts to collect public opinions before determining when, how and what kind of help it will send to the North.

Drivers Seoul buses have last-minute negotiation with management leaders

Yesterday, last-minute negotiations were under way between unionized bus drivers nationwide and their employers over wage hikes on the eve of a planned strike that would halt the operation of nearly half of the nation's buses. The Moon Jae-in government and the ruling Democratic Party have announced plans to increase indirect financial incentives for loss-making bus companies, but unionized bus drivers in Seoul and most other regions have not reacted positively.

Samsung showcases latest semiconductor tech at foundry forum

Samsung Electronics Co. said Wednesday that it showcased its latest semiconductor technologies and foundry solutions to fabless companies and design houses to expand its presence in the global market. The world's largest memory chip maker introduced its new foundry and cloud platform during the Samsung Foundry Forum held in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday (local time), attended by some 800 semiconductor industry officials and partners.

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

Bus Drivers in Major Cities Cancel Strike

Unionized bus drivers in Seoul, Busan and many other major cities and provinces canceled a planned strike on Wednesday after reaching last-minute wage deals with their management. Bus drivers in eleven cities and provinces planned to stage an all-out strike on Wednesday, but the planned strikes were canceled. In the southeastern city of Ulsan, bus drivers and management managed to strike a deal at around 8:20 a.m. after marathon talks, avoiding a massive walkout.

S. Korea's Job Growth Falls Below 200,000 in April

South Korea's job growth fell below 200-thousand in April after posting above the mark for two straight months. According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of employed people stood at 27-point-03 million in April, up 171-thousand from a year earlier. The on-year job growth was in a slump for about a year until January when the economy added just 19-thousand jobs, but the figure jumped to above 250-thousand for the next two months. However, it slipped below 200-thousand again in April.

Top Diplomats of US, Russia Discuss N. Korea

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with his Russian counterpart to discuss cooperation on various issues including North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met for three hours on Tuesday in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi in Russia. The two sides demonstrated gaps in their views on how to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea, with Washington stressing continued sanctions and Moscow emphasizing the need to provide security guarantees.

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

Taxi driver burns himself to death in apparent protest of ride-sharing services

A taxi driver burned himself to death Wednesday in an apparent protest of the introduction of carpooling services by the country's taxi-hailing app operators. The 76-year-old man, identified only by his surname, Ahn, set fire on himself at around 3:19 a.m. near Seoul Plaza in central Seoul, according to police. He was immediately taken to a hospital where he died. Ahn is believed to have burned himself in protest of the adoption of carpooling services, given that he reportedly put signs expressing opposition to shared mobility on his taxi.

Gov't to allow 5 new duty-free shops in major cities

The government decided on Tuesday to allow large local retailers to open five new duty-free shops in major cities including Seoul as part of efforts to spur domestic consumption and promote the tourism industry, the finance ministry said. Under the decision made after a relevant committee meeting earlier in the day, the government will issue licenses to local retail conglomerates to open three duty-free outlets in Seoul, one in Incheon, west of Seoul, and one in the southwestern metropolitan city of Gwangju, according to the ministry.

Bus drivers in Seoul, major cities cancel planned strike after reaching wage deal

Unionized bus drivers in Seoul, Busan and all other metropolitan cities and provinces canceled a planned strike on Wednesday after reaching last-minute wage deals with their management. Labor and management at about 200 bus companies nationwide held marathon negotiations until early Wednesday morning over wage hikes for drivers who will suffer a reduction in income after the implementation of the mandatory 52-hour workweek in the bus industry in July.

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

Jobless rate rises to 4.4% in April

South Korea's jobless rate rose to 4.4 percent in April, government data showed Wednesday, in the latest sign of a weak job market amid an economic slowdown in Asia's fourth-largest economy. The unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage point from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea. It also marked the highest level for any April since 2000, when the corresponding figure stood at 4.5 percent.

Soaring elderly population outnumbers Busan, Daegu, Daejeon combined

The government has embarked on research into whether it should raise the threshold at which it considers people senior citizens from the current 65 years old to 70. Though South Korea has followed UN standards stipulating the age of seniors, the recent move to fine-tune it comes amid rapid growth in the percentage of Koreans who are aged 65 or above. A decade ago, 10.39 percent of Koreans were aged 65 or over -- 5.15 million out of 49.59 million citizens, according to the Ministry of Interior and Safety.

Seoul mulls sending food aid to Pyongyang before October

The South Korean government is considering sending food aid to North Korea before the harvest season at the request of a UN agency that called on the international community to support Pyongyang, which is facing its worst food crisis in 10 years, a ministry official said Tuesday. Citing a recent joint report from the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization on North Korea’s food situation, a Unification Ministry official said May to September would be an appropriate time to provide humanitarian food assistance to the North.

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

US refuses to address North Korean demand for ship's return

The U.S. State Department said Tuesday it has no comment to make regarding North Korea's demand for the return of a U.S.-seized cargo vessel. A North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson earlier denounced the seizure of the Wise Honest as an "unlawful and outrageous act." In a statement to state media, the official said the U.S. should "ponder over the consequences its heinous act might have on the future developments and immediately return our ship."

Korean seowon recommended for UNESCO World Heritage

Korean neo-Confucian academies known as "seowon" are likely to become South Korea's 14th World Heritage designated by UNESCO. According to the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA), Tuesday, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an advisory body for UNESCO, recommended the seowon to be inscribed on UNESCO's world heritage list. Seowon refers to private education institutions of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). They generally consisted of a school to prepare for the Confucian-based civil service examination and a Confucian shrine.

KEPCO set to charge more for electricity

Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) is poised to raise electricity rates as it continues to lose money amid the Moon Jae-in government's drive to phase out nuclear power and expand the use of expensive renewable energy, according to industry analysts Tuesday. The state-run power company published a report stressing Korea's heavier reliance on renewable energy sources has led to higher costs of generating electricity, which the analysts said is a bid to assert the necessity to raise utility rates and gauge public opinion over potential price hikes.

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

Rice Prices in N.Korea Plummet Despite Food Shortage Claims

Food prices have been on the decline in North Korea for nearly six months, despite claims of an alarming food shortage there. Rice prices have dropped about 1,000 won per kg in big cities like Pyongyang over the past six months. There is speculation that either the food shortage is not as severe as the regime claims or the regime is controlling prices to quell potential unrest. In Pyongyang, rice prices have been dropping since last November, when a kilogram cost 5,000 won, ending up at 4,000 won as of April 30, according to the Daily NK.

Moon Discusses Food Aid for N.Korea with WFP Chief

President Moon Jae-in met with World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley on Monday to discuss food donations to North Korea. Beasley, who is in Seoul for a forum organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, also met with Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. The U.S. government had made it clear it will not intervene if South Korea sends food aid to the North. But North Korea has just carried out several missile tests again, so the South Korean government's haste has raised some eyebrows.

Seoul Mayor Proposes Relocating SNU Hospital

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon has proposed relocating Seoul National University Hospital from Yeongeon-dong to Chang-dong in northern Seoul. The proposal involves moving the prestigious hospital to the site of the depot of Seoul Metro when it is vacated in 2024. Park wants to turn the area into a hub for biotechnology and medical research. In an interview with the Chosun Ilbo, Park said, "I proposed the idea to SNU to build the world's best and largest medical hub there. I met with SNU President Oh Se-jung last month and explained this plan. It seemed like he was considering it positively."

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

Chun Doo-hwan arrived in Gwangju by helicopter before troops opened fire on civilians
The US Army confirmed the existence of a South Korean Security Command special forces unit of “plainclothes operatives” and reported it to the US Department of Defense during the Gwangju Democracy Movement in May 1980, an eyewitness claimed. Concrete evidence was also presented to suggest that claims of Gwangju being infiltrated by North Korean special forces during the events of the democracy movement – at a time when the Korean Peninsula was subject to close observation by two US military spy satellites – are false.

Document emerges linking Chun Doo-hwan to suppression of Gwangju Democratization Movement
Former President Chun Doo-hwan, 88, received reports on death penalty decisions regarding individuals involved in the Gwangju Democratization Movement following the event’s suppression, a document states. The document is further evidence that Chun, as then head of the Defense Security Command (DSC), was directly or indirectly involved in the events of May 1980, despite claims in his memoirs that he was unconnected with the situation in Gwangju at the time.

Park Geun-hye was more concerned with national image than compensation for forced labor
Ex-president Park Geun-hye said “make sure we aren’t humiliated” while instructing her staff to send the Supreme Court the government’s opinion about its second review of a lawsuit requesting compensation for Koreans forced to provide labor during the Japanese colonial occupation, according to the person who served as senior secretary for foreign policy and security at the Blue House at the time. Park’s remarks apparently reflected her concerns that South Korea’s national prestige would be damaged if the Supreme Court finally recognized Japan’s responsibility for compensating the victims of forced labor.

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

Lotte chairman meets with President Trump in White House

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House Monday (local time), becoming the first South Korean conglomerate leader to have such a meeting since Trump took office in January 2017. While he had expressed a sense of discontent over the sharing of the defense cost with South Korea, Trump has apparently welcomed Lotte’s investment in the United States worth some 3.1 billion U.S. dollars.

'N. Korea turns to cryptocurrency,' says U.S. official

“Some countries and rogue actors (are) trying to turn to digital currencies to offset the impact of economic sanctions,” said U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker. Voice of America reported that Under Secretary Mandelker joined an annual meeting hosted by CoinDesk, a news site specializing in digital currencies, in New York on Monday. “Time and again, as regimes and bad actors are cut off from the global financial system, they search for alternatives (in digital currencies),” she said at the event. The Under Secretary cited the case of Park Jin-hyok, a North Korea hacker indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for financial frauds in September last year, as an example.

Seoul mayor promises food aid to North Korea

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon met with World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley on Tuesday and promised his support for food aid to the disadvantaged in North Korea. After meeting with President Moon Jae-in on Monday, Mr. Beasley once again emphasized the seriousness of the food shortage in North Korea by saying, “A recent survey found that about 40 percent of the total population in North Korea is suffering from food shortage.” He added that a North Korean adult needs 580 grams of ration a day but the amount will drop to 120 grams a day before this year’s harvest. The situation in North Korea is so dire that the ration is cut to one-fifth of the necessary amount.

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

Polarization and Inequality

President Moon Jae-in said he would create a world where "people come first" and "a country where the people are the owners," when he entered office. At the same time, the Moon Jae-in government presented income-driven growth as its main economic policy. When money enters the pockets of the low-income and ordinary people, they consume more and sales increase. When the increased sales lead to investment, the government expected this to trigger economic growth. The government believed that a growth policy centered on large corporations and exports over the past fifty years had widened the gap between the rich and the poor and created an underprivileged group of people, and they attempted to shift the paradigm. They believed it difficult to overcome the slow growth and polarization with the existing framework. They vowed to build a country where the low-income and vulnerable people alienated from fast growth could also live happily.

Public Opinion Emerges as the Primary Gateway for Food Aid to North Korea: Government Expected to Adjust the Speed

Despite North Korea's short-range missile launch, U.S. President Donald Trump reaffirmed his trust in North Korea, and the South Korean government plans to promote food aid to North Korea as scheduled. However, new tasks have emerged: domestic public opinion on food aid has deteriorated after a series of military protests by the North, and it is uncertain as to whether North Korea will accept the assistance. Stressing the need for humanitarian aid, the government plans to collect public opinion, so it appears the government will naturally adjust its speed in providing food assistance to the North.

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

KEPCO sinks deeper in red in Q1 due to higher global fuel costs

South Korea’s state utility firm Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) saw its operating loss widen from a year ago in the first quarter tanking to its worst-ever result for the quarter due to higher global fuel costs taking a heavy toll on the company upping reliance on eco-friendly renewable energy sources. KEPCO said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that its consolidated operating loss for the January-March period was 629.9 billion won ($530.7 million), widening from the 127.6 billion won loss in the same period a year ago, and the worst for the first quarter. The result came far below the market estimate of a loss in the 300 billion won range.

Asiana Airlines tender process to kick off as early as July

The tender for Asiana Airlines Inc. will open in July, but whether the sale plan will go as hoped remains uncertain with none so far expressing interest in Korea’s second largest full-service carrier. Credit Suisse AG, the M&A adviser assigned by Asiana’s parent Kumho Industrial, is readying to conduct due diligence on the airline before structuring a sale strategy and officially kicking off the auction process, Lee Se-hoon, an official at the Financial Services Commission (FSC), said in a briefing on Monday.

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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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