ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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Workers reel from violent union busting
Posted on : Jul.30,2012 12:21 KST
Private security workers from Contractus block the entrance to SJM’s Ansan factory. The hired goons violently broke up a sit-in protest after storming into the plant early in the morning on July 27. (by Ryu Woo-jong, staff photographer)
Management at industrial firms dispatch hired thugs to undermine union rights
By Kim So-youn and Lee Jung-gook, staff reporters
Workers are expressing renewed concerns about an attempt to kill off democratic unions.
The worries come in the wake of lockouts and the hiring of private security workers at the Asan factory of car parts maker SJM and the Pyeongtaek, Munmak, and Iksan factories of Mando Corporation. Workers and management at both companies are involved in tense disputes over wages and collective bargaining.
Korea’s Changing Political Landscape: A 38 North Interview of Dr. Yoo Ho-Yeol with Mike Chinoy
By 38 North
“The military is the most powerful and well organized system instituted in North Korea and therefore, I think the North Korean system could be protected from outside aggression or invasion. It doesn’t matter whether they have the nuclear weapons or not.” ~ Dr. Yoo Ho-Yeol
In the latest 38 North video, Mike Chinoy, Senior Fellow at the US-China Institute, University of Southern California sat down with Dr. Yoo Ho-Yeol, Director and Professor of North Korean Studies at Korea University to discuss the political transitions taking place on the Korean peninsula.
The interview is divided into four parts.
Part I (0:06) takes a closer look into Kim Jong Un’s early months as leader—his hold on power, how he’s navigating his family’s legacy, and what policy directions he seems to be taking.
Part II (9:55) dives deeper into the question of North Korea’s economy under Kim Jong Un. As economic improvement is largely believed to be a key test of the young leader’s legitimacy in the long term, Dr. Yoo analyzes Kim Jong Un’s willingness and ability to make economic changes in the current political environment.
In Part III (20:31), Dr. Yoo and Mr. Chinoy discuss South Korea’s presidential candidates and the prospects for the North Korea factor to influence the upcoming election.
Part IV (27:00) takes a look at the North Korean nuclear issue, examining how US and Chinese foreign policy have influenced the North’s nuclear stance and what is needed to make progress on this contentious issue.
Kim Jong-un’s wife visited South Korea seven years ago
Posted on : Jul.27,2012 15:02 KST
A woman believed to be Ri Sol-ju leaving via South Korea’s Incheon International Airport after the Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon, September 5, 2005. (Yonhap News)
NIS head reports details of her background and the current situation in North Korea to the National Assembly
By Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter and Kim Young-hwan, Incheon correspondent
Ri Sol-ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, visited South Korea in September 2005 and had a child with Kim following their 2009 marriage, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) reported.
Ri was also confirmed to have sung at a New Year’s recital in February 2011, an unusual occurrence for the wife of a North Korean leader.[Ri Sol Ju]
The Cheonan Incident and the Continued International Isolation of North Korea
Two years on, scientists refuse to cease questioning Cheonan sinking
by Stuart Smallwood
Global Research, July 26, 2012
The sinking of the South Korean anti-submarine corvette Cheonan has been a key reason for the ongoing international isolation of North Korea and contributed significantly to the increased tensions on the Korean peninsula in 2010. But doubters of the official explanation continue to resurface.
The South Korean government-commissioned Joint Investigation Group (JIG) said it was irrefutable that a North Korean submarine sank the South Korean vessel with a torpedo on March 26, 2010, killing 46 navy members. However, the debate has been reignited in South Korea over the last two months because scientists have persistently questioned the JIG report.
In late April this year, Dr. Kim Gwang-sop, former rotational program manager at the National Science Foundation in Washington DC, was invited to do a presentation about the JIG report at a Korean Institute of Chemical Engineers conference. His lecture was cancelled at the last minute because the institute told him it was “too political.”
Dr. Kim said cancelling a scientific lecture for political reasons is unprecedented for a non-profit scientific organization.
“As far as I know, no scientific societies have committed such blatant misconduct as the KIChE,” he said via email.
He isn’t the only scientist who has been unable to contribute to the now two-year-old Cheonan debate. Dr. Sam Ahn (Ahn Soo-myong), whose American-based company Ahntech specializes in anti-submarine warfare and had top-secret facility clearance with the US Department of Defense between 1999 and 2008, wrote his own report this year about the scientific impossibility of the JIG’s conclusions. He submitted a section of his report to the Seoul National University Alumni Association for publication but he says it was denied in less than three hours because its contents were too “sensitive.”
N.Korea Stations Attack Helicopters Near Sea Border
North Korea has deployed around 20 helicopters at two bases near South Korea's Baeknyeong Island in the West Sea, according to a government source here. They include attack helicopters that are capable of engaging targets on the ground.
Baeknyeong Island is South Korea's northernmost island that lies just south of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border with North Korea. The North has deployed the attack and transport helicopters at air bases since May, the source said. "They seem to have been put there independently of any military exercises," the source added.
[Buildup] [Inversion] [NLL]
What Is the Point of Talking to Kim Jong-un?
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended a performance earlier this month which included selected scenes from the 1985 Hollywood movie "Rocky 4" where the protagonist, Rocky Balboa, knocks out his fearsome Soviet rival Ivan Drago. The performance also featured the hit song "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, and women dressed in mini-skirts, high-heeled shoes or off-the-shoulder tops reminiscent of the girl bands of South Korea.
[Kim Jong Un]
Activist 'Tried to Organize High-Level Defection from N.Korea'
Activist Kim Young-hwan arrives at Incheon International Airport on Friday after being detained for almost four months in China. /Yonhap
A South Korean activist who returned home on Friday after 114 days in Chinese detention apparently attempted to set up the defection of a senior North Korean official. Kim Young-hwan will hold a press conference on Tuesday to reveal the circumstances surrounding his arrest in China.
KCNA Commentary Slams Lee Myung Bak's Nonsense
Pyongyang, July 23 (KCNA) -- The south Korean Lee Myung Bak regime is resorting to a sleight of hand to conceal its attempted heinous state-sponsored terrorist act. Involved there are TVs, Dong-A Ilbo, Yonhap News and other reptile media. They blared that the north's assertions are groundless, going the length of saying that organizations of "defectors from the north" could have done it.
It is as a despicable act as trying to get the sun eclipsed by palm.
The attempt at demolishing statues of the peerlessly great persons of Mt. Paektu is a heinous politically-motivated terrorist act which the Lee puppet regime pushed forward in an intentional and planned way under the manipulation of the U.S.
Lee struggles to maintain power
By Lee Tae-hoon
President Lee Myung-bak, who is rapidly slipping into lame-duck status, moved quicker than many forecast in making a public apology to the people over a series of corruption scandals involving his key aides.
Insiders at Cheong Wa Dae note that it was his own decision to issue an apology as his staff were indecisive on when and how their boss should confront the disgruntled public.
[Corruption] [Lee Myung-bak]
Murky details from North Korea lead to wild speculation in South Korean media
By Associated Press, Published: July 21AP
SEOUL, South Korea — The surprise news set off a predictable wildfire of speculation and rumors south of the border.
Almost as soon as North Korea announced this week that its army chief had been dismissed due to “illness,” the aggressive South Korean media went into hyperdrive. By Friday a newspaper, citing “unconfirmed intelligence reports,” said Ri Yong Ho may have been wounded or killed in a blaze of gunfire when soldiers loyal to him resisted an armed attempt to detain him.
So which is it — illness or a gun battle? Perhaps neither. North Korea watchers are skeptical of the illness claim, but even an unnamed government official cited in the South Korean account said the firefight “has still not been 100 percent confirmed.”
This is what happens when insatiably curious journalists in Seoul are starved for information about their tight-lipped, isolated rival to the north.
[Media] [Hype] [Disinformation]
Dictator’s Daughter Declares Presidential Candidacy
by James on Wednesday, July 11, 201215 comments
Prominent member of the ruling Saenuri Party Park Geun-hye (daughter of former military dictator Park Chung-hee) formally declared her candidacy for this December’s South Korean presidential elections yesterday.
Announcing the announcement last week, Park took to her Twitter account to say:
@GH_PARK: I dream of a country where anyone can dream of their own dreams and realise their potential and talents. I’d like to make a fresh start and [announce my aims to] create such a country at Times Square on the 10th of July. I hope you come and join me.
The election of Park to the Blue House would be a first. Like many democracies across the world, a woman has never been elected as president in South Korea and Ms. Park’s presidency would cross an important gender barrier in a society that is still seen as fundamentally sexist by some. Launching her bid under the slogan ‘A Country Where My Dreams Can Come True’, Park’s campaign has already come under fire from within her own party for allegedly copying her logo from a rival candidate’s.
[Special series Part 2 - a divine mandate] Park Geun-hye’s past and future
Posted on : Jul.11,2012 11:03 KST Modified on : Jul.11,2012 11:06 KST
Hankyoreh reporters uncover private documents to establish a link between Park’s personal and political worlds
By Song Ho-kyun and Ko Na-mu, Hankyoreh 21 staff reporters
Theme 2: A conservative messiah?
Park Geun-hye doesn’t allow her close associates to act independently- she alone makes all important decisions. Since 2004, when Park appeared at the forefront of South Korean politics, she has been a kind of messiah for conservatives. It is not a coincidence that she has been using some religious terms such as summon, destiny, nirvana or liberation in her writings.
Park has been interested in religion from her days in the Blue House. She graduated from Sacred Heart Girl’s High School and Sogang University, operated by the Catholic Church. She was baptized under the name Juliana.
[Special series Part 3 - Bitterness and Endurance] Park Geun-hye’s past and future
Posted on : Jul.12,2012 16:08 KST Modified on : Jul.12,2012 17:00 KST
Theme 3: Her father’s advocate
Park Geun-hye is often called the incarnation of endurance. In February 2007, Park, her entourage and reporters visited the U.S. They arrived at the airport and passed through the immigration checkpoint. When Park went through a metal detector at security, the alarm rang. She passed through several times without any of her belongings but the alarm didn’t stop. Security guards took her to a separate room to search her.
[Special series part 1-Sense of Betrayal] Park Geun-hye’s past and future
Posted on : Jul.10,2012 15:36 KST Modified on : Jul.10,2012 17:17 KST
Hankyoreh reporters uncover private documents to establish a link between Park’s personal and political worlds
By Song Ho-kyun and Ko Na-mu, Hankyoreh 21 staff reporters
Park Geun-hye, 60, officially threw her hat in the ring for the presidency in an announcement on July 10. It has been fifteen years since she entered politics, but questions still linger about her leadership abilities. Park herself has been quiet. Leadership ability has a major impact on a president’s capacity to run a country. This is why Hankyoreh 21 cautiously ventured to break through the wall of silence and find the real person inside, and to establish a link between Park’s past and present.
Reporters drew on Park’s autobiography and six essays she wrote between her father’s assassination on Oct. 26, 1979, and her own entry into politics in 1997. It was a period that saw citizen Park mixed with Park the prospective politician. Through her words and speech during that time, the Hankyoreh 21 pieced together what she said about politics. These were then compared with her words and deeds since entering the political arena in 1997. Caution was taken against any preconceptions about what Park Chung-hee’s daughter would be like.
Four main themes were identified. Hopefully, they will be keys in unlocking the screen of mystery that covers Park the politician.
Theme 1: Betrayal
Lee's brother imprisoned over bribery charges
President Lee Myung-bak's elder brother was jailed early Wednesday morning after a Seoul court issued a warrant to arrest him on bribery charges.
Lee Sang-deuk, a former lawmaker of the ruling party, has become the first brother of a sitting president to be put under arrest in modern Korean history, dealing a serious blow to President Lee, who is fighting lame-duck status in his final months in office.
[Corruption] [Lee Myung-bak]
South Korean Man Returns From North, is Immediately Arrested
by James on Saturday, July 7, 201231 comments
This week saw some pretty sensational scenes unfold on the normally serene Panmunjom Joint Security Area that divides the two Koreas. South Korea unification activist Roh Su-hui, who had illegal entered North Korea this March to try and promote Korean unification (although many normal Koreans in the South see him as a dictator-worshipping useful idiot) suddenly became centre stage for the North Korean propaganda machine as hundreds of people stood on the Northern side of the border to see him off.
However, almost as soon as he set foot on South Korean soil (or, gravel, as that particular side of the border actually is) everything went a bit Checkpoint Charlie. Roh was immediately restrained by South Korean authorities (after a short struggle) and carried away by a group of security officers, handcuffed and bound with rope (see above — South Korean media has incidentally censored the rope and handcuffs in much of their coverage). Useful information on subsequent the events that unfolded can be found here.
[Human rights] [unification]
Story of a North Korean defector: The misfortune of being a woman in North Korea
Posted on July 2, 2012
by Han Myeong Ok, translated by Stuart Smallwood
The following is the first in series of North Korean defector stories that I have translated for PSCORE (People for Successful COrean REunification). Go here for the original Korean version.
For who is the slogan “Only among our own people”?
Last April 28th I went to the front of the Chinese embassy in Jongno, Seoul in order to attend a rally to stop the forceful repatriation of North Korean refugees. The Chinese government has called the defectors in China illegal aliens and it intends to force them to return to North Korea. Our rally was held to oppose this action and was widely attended by Korean Christian groups and international human rights organizations.
Integrating Defectors Is 1st Step to Successful Reunification
An estimated 570,000 East Germans escaped to West Germany from 1961, when the Berlin Wall was built, until it fell in 1989. Around 420 were shot and killed by border guards on the communist side as they attempted to cross over to the West. West Germans always warmly welcomed East Germans who made the perilous journey, granting them citizenship, jobs, welfare and even providing work training to help them adapt more smoothly to their new lives. No one who crossed over was criticized for switching ideologies.
[Refugee reception] [Takeover] [SK NK policy]
President’s former aide queried
Rep. Chung faces allegations of taking bribes to fund 2007 presidential campaign
By Na Jeong-ju
Chung Doo-un, a three-term lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, was questioned over bribery allegations Thursday with attention being focused on whether prosecutors move will open a Pandora’s box on illegal campaign funds raised during the 2007 presidential race.
Chung, who worked as a key campaigner for President Lee Myung-bak, is suspected of having collected funds from businessmen to finance the campaign, along with Lee’s elder brother and former National Assembly vice speaker, Lee Sang-deuk.
Pro-Pyongyang activist arrested by S. Korean police after making illegal trip to North Korea
By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, July 5, 7:49 PM
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean police have arrested a pro-North Korean activist for making an extended trip to Pyongyang without government approval.
Police in Seoul said they took No Su-hui into custody Thursday after he crossed the Demilitarized Zone into South Korea.
No went to Pyongyang in March, defying South Korean law banning citizens from traveling to North Korea without permission.
The Korean Peninsula has remained in a state of war since a truce was signed in 1953 to end three years of fighting.
With relations at a low point, the government has allowed only a handful of South Koreans to visit Pyongyang in recent years. Last year, a Christian minister was sentenced to prison for making a similar unauthorized trip.
North Korean state media confirmed that No had returned to South Korea.
Seoul to seek UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status for DMZ
Posted on : Jul.4,2012 11:09 KST Modified on : Jul.4,2012 11:10 KST
The DMZ viewed from a South Korean observation post.
South Korea acting unilaterally due to cold inter-Korean relations; North likely to object
By Kim Jeong-su, staff reporter
The government is expecting a decision next week on its unilateral push to have the southern part of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The DMZ is a 4km no-go zone that runs across the Korean peninsula, separating the two Koreas. It was created through a 1953 Armistice Agreement where both sides agreed to move back 2km from the frontline.
Many voiced concern that the decision could end up stirring up conflict with North Korea over a designation that should be serving as an opportunity and symbol for reconciliation. [Provocation]
'NK leader unlikely to face challenge to his power'
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is unlikely to face any challenges to his power as there is no alternative to him in a country that has built a personality cult around his family, a presidential advisory body on unification said Wednesday.
"In a short-term perspective, it is believed that there will be no factor that could challenge for Kim Jong-un's succession to power," the National Unification Advisory Council said in a recent report to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
Kim took over the communist country following the December death of his father, long-time leader Kim Jong-il.
The advisory body made the assessment on grounds that North Korea has been ruled by Kim's family since its foundation in 1948 and that China supports the new leader, believed to be in his late 20s.
[Kim Jong Un]
Hunting for Tunnels to Prove a Threat
Jean Chung for the International Herald Tribune
The Rev. Lee Jong-chang, a Roman Catholic priest and veteran tunnel hunter, at home with a map marked with dark lines to show alleged North Korean tunnels.
By CHOE SANG-HUN
Published: July 2, 2012
HWASEONG, South Korea — “Some people think I’m crazy,” says Kim Jin-cheul, a Christian preacher who is convinced that North Korean soldiers are digging tunnels that extend under the capital, Seoul, 30 miles from the border, and have reached this town, 10 miles farther south, where he ministers to a congregation of nine families.
“Imagine hordes of crack North Korean troops streaming out and taking the whole city hostage!”
Don't Provoke Us, Lee Warns N.Korea
President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday warned North Korea on Tuesday against further provocations, saying that China is under increasing pressure from the international community to stop supporting Pyongyang's bellicose behavior.
China “is taking steps to promote stability and balance in Northeast Asia," Lee told an advisory group of prominent figures, according to presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha. "We are making it clear that we will respond to whatever provocations North Korea makes several times over," Lee said. "We also asked China to relay this position to North Korea."
Kim Jong-il Ordered Mass Production of Nukes
A leaked internal document from North Korea's Workers Party says former leader Kim Jong-il ordered the mass-production of nuclear bombs, the Tokyo Shimbun reported Monday. Kim died in December last year.
The 19-page document was written in February to indoctrinate mid-level party officials.
It quotes Kim as saying, "We are not spending time on uranium enrichment technology to use just for civilian industrial use. It is natural that such a technology will lead to nuclear bombs from the military point of view." He then issued instructions to "produce a large quantity of nuclear bombs."
Kim also warned that unless the U.S. economy recovers, President Barack Obama could take special interest in the North Korean nuclear issue to regain popularity. "If the enemy [the U.S.] proposes dialogue, we should imply that this is unnecessary," Kim is quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the document shows that current leader Kim Jong-un has put significantly more stress on the economy. "We need to establish the order in which decisions on economic issues made by the Cabinet are accepted," he said. "The party leadership should give active support to functionaries in the economic or administrative sectors."
Schoolkids More Aware of N.Korean Threat
Youngsters in South Korea are growing more aware of the threat posed by North Korea, a survey suggests. The reasons for the waning support for North Korea in the South appear to be the death of former leader Kim Jong-il, the hereditary succession by his son Jong-un and political scandals involving leftwing South Korean politicians.
The Chosun Ilbo conducted a joint poll with the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations of 1,498 elementary, junior and high school students in Seoul in late June and found that 91 percent are now persuaded that North Korea sank the Navy corvette Cheonan and was at fault for shelling Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.
This is a massive increase from a mere 64.4 percent in a similar survey in late 2010 who believed North Korea sank the Cheonan and 57.7 percent who blamed North Korea for shelling Yeonpyeong Island without provocation. At that time, 16 percent said "unnecessary attacks" by the South prompted the North to retaliate.
N.Korean Dealer of 'Supernotes' Nabbed
Prosecutors here have arrested a North Korean agent who made money for the regime by exchanging US$100 "supernotes" in China. The woman was the first person to be nabbed in the South in connection with the forgeries, which owe their name to their excellent quality.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Monday said it indicted the 46-year-old agent of North Korea's State Security Department identified as Lee on charges of attempting to infiltrate South Korea by pretending to be a defector, and of circulating some $570,000 worth of supernotes in Beijing and Shenyang from 2001 to 2007.
Lee has a master's degree in economics from Kim Il-sung University and was sent to Shenyang in 2001 after undergoing spy training specializing in counterfeit money and currency trading, according to prosecutors.
[Counterfeit] [Espionage] [Refugee reception] [North Wind]
Officials play hot potato with blame for botched military pact
Posted on : Jul.3,2012 11:40 KST
Military pact with Japan to be judged in National Assembly and by the public
By Ahn Chang-hyun, staff reporter
On July 2, President Lee Myung-bak spoke for the first time on the Cabinet’s closed-door passage of a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan. His first comments came while presiding over a meeting of presidential secretaries. Though the delayed agreement with Japan has had the country in an uproar for the past week, Lee did not make even a token expression of regret, let alone an apology as the country’s leader.
Fighter procurement, other state initiatives likely to be put on hold
By Lee Tae-hoon
The ruling Saenuri Party said Monday that it wants to delay key state initiatives including a fighter jet acquisition program and the privatization of Incheon International Airport Corp.
“A storm of controversy has erupted over the signing of a military intelligence agreement between Korea and Japan, the plan to sell a stake in Incheon Airport, the next-generation fighter program and the privatization of Woori Financial Group,” said Rep. Lee Hahn-koo, floor leader of the ruling party. “Lawmakers of the 19th National Assembly will raise all of these issues.”
Pro-NK body warns S. Korea against arresting unification activist
A pro-North Korean body warned South Korea Tuesday against arresting a unification activist who will return to Seoul later this week after his illegal trip to the North.
Ro Su-hui will return home Thursday through the border village of Panmunjom that separates the two divided Koreas, the North and South Headquarters of the Pan-national Alliance for Korea's Reunification said in a joint press release carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
Ro, the vice-chairman of the alliance's headquarters in Seoul, made an unauthorized trip to North Korea on March 24 to attend a memorial service to mark the 100th day anniversary of the death of its long-time leader Kim Jong-il.
DPRK Woman Interviewed upon Her Return Home (2)
Pyongyang, July 1 (KCNA) -- DPRK woman Pak Jong Suk was interviewed by Korean and foreign reporters on Thursday.
She returned home after being taken away to south Korea.
She laid bare the truth behind the rackets over "defectors from the north" kicked up by the south Korean puppet regime and their miserable plight.
My father died but I thought I would eke out a living as there were my half brothers and sisters and relatives in south Korea. But that was a very naive idea.
After returning to N. Korea, defector condemns S. Korea
Pak Jong-suk, a North Korean woman who returned to her communist homeland after defecting to the South, gestures during a press conference held by the (North) Korean Central News Agency, Thursday. Yonhap
By Kim Susan Se-jeong
A North Korean defector appeared at a press conference in the nation’s capital upon returning to Pyongyang to “denounce” the life defectors endure in the South.
“Pak Jong-suk, who went back into the arms of the Republic after being dragged to South Korea, held a press conference on the 28th for local and international reporters at the People’s Palace of Culture,” reported the North’s Korean Central News Agency.
“The jobs available to defectors are lowly, difficult jobs such as cleaning rubbish, washing dishes and serving,” said Pak about life in the South. “The suicide rate is five times higher than the average person.”
Pak claimed she was lured by South Korean agents to leave her home in Cheongjin, North Hamgyeong Province, under promises that she would be reunited with her father, who went south in the Korean War (1950-1953).
President’s brother summoned by prosecutors for massive corruption
Posted on : Jun.30,2012 13:04 KST
Political heavyweights to finally be probed for alleged taking of bribes
By Son Won-je and Kim Tae-gyu, staff reporters
Prosecutors are investigating three former and current lawmakers for allegedly accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from Solomon Savings Bank chairman Lim Suk.
The joint investigation team for savings bank corruption in the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office Central Investigations Division, headed by Choe Un-sik, is investigating allegations that former New Frontier Party (NFP) lawmaker Lee Sang-deuk, Democratic United Party (DUP) floor leader Park Jie-won (Mokpo, South Jeolla), and NFP lawmaker Chung Doo-un (Seodaemun-B, Seoul) for allegedly receiving the funds in the second half of 2007. Lim is currently being detained.
Lee Administration to Score Lowest Growth of Any Gov't
The Lee Myung-bak administration came into office in 2008 with economic growth as its top priority but seems destined to be remembered as achieving the lowest growth rate of any administration.
If the economy grows just 3.3 percent this year, as the government projected on Thursday, the average growth rate over the five-year tenure of the administration would amount to a record-low 3.2 percent.
The direct cause is the global economic crisis triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
Korea Remembers Yeonpyeong Naval Battle
Ten years ago this Friday a live-fire battle with North Korean patrol boats in the West Sea left six South Korean sailors dead. The country commemorates the victims with a ceremony this morning at the Navy's second fleet in Pyeongtaek.
President Lee Myung-bak is the first-ever president to mark the occasion. The government took steps to recognize the sailors' sacrifices by naming six ships after them.
Thousands of people including bereaved families and fellow officers will attend the event.
[Buildup] [NLL] [Yeonpyeong]
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