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Russian trio arrested for smuggling N. Korea drugs into S. Korea
Posted : 2017-03-30 13:46
Updated : 2017-03-30 15:42
Three Russian nationals have been arrested on charges of smuggling North Korean medicines into South Korea for online sales, police here said Thursday.
The Russians, including a 47-year-old woman, are accused of importing North Korea-made medicines and health supplements via Russia by airmail and selling them without a permit to South Korean consumers through social media sites, Geumjung Police Station in this port city said.
It said the unauthorized import of North Korean goods violates the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act that strictly regulates trade between the two Koreas. Under the act, imports of North Korean medicines and other goods require the approval of the South Korean unification minister.
[Sanctions] [Medicines] [Bizarre]
[K-Terminology] Tired workers turn to 'sibal expense' for satisfaction
Posted : 2017-03-28 15:55
Updated : 2017-03-28 16:45
Some wage earners pessimistic about their future impulsively loosen their purse strings and indulge in treats to relieve their distress, including habitually going home in taxis after work or frequently eating costly gourmet dishes. / A scene from Japanese TV drama "Kodoku no Gourmet" on TV Tokyo
By Ko Dong-hwan
Meet office worker David. His unpromising job sucks the life out of him, obliging him to commute on packed public transport in the early morning rush hour and stay at his desk until late at night.
Exhausted, David resorts habitually to going home in a taxi. He does not mind the monthly cost of about 300,000 won ($270) because he thinks he deserves a comfortable ride after a grueling day in an unsatisfying job. In the taxi, he cares little about the damage to his budget.
White-collar employee Betsy is another in a harsh corporate world that constantly deprives her of private time, replacing it with a mounting workload. The foodie is resolute that her spirit will not be consumed and trampled by the company, so she keeps faithful to her basic instinct by buying a six pack of beer and a box of braised pork meat on her way home late at night. To her, the indulgence that frequently costs over 20,000 won is more satisfying than a sound sleep.
It seems that many unhappy workers go on a spending spree to control their stress and a Korean Twitter user has coined a witty term describing such behavior ? "sibal expense."
Artificial intelligence-based big data analyzer Daumsoft revealed that "sibal expense" was mentioned on social media 13,760 times last year, according to Yonhap News Agency.
The term, whose first part is Korean slang for "fxxx," has been mentioned almost 20,000 times in the first two months of this year, according to the research that analyzed over 468 million blog posts and 8.2 billion tweets from 2014 until Mar. 19.
[Daily life] [Labour] [Capitalism] [Alienation]
Prosecution seeks arrest warrant for Park Geun-hye
Posted : 2017-03-27 11:00
Updated : 2017-03-27 13:21
Prosecutors on Monday requested an arrest warrant for former President Park Geun-hye over a string of corruption allegations that led to her removal from office, they said.
Park faces charges of bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leaking government secrets in connection with a scandal involving her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.
"A lot of evidence has been collected so far, but as the suspect denies most of the criminal allegations, there is a possibility of her destroying evidence," the prosecution said in a statement.
"It would be unfair not to seek a warrant considering that her accomplice Choi Soon-sil, as well as those government officials who followed her direction and the ones who gave kickbacks have all been detained," it said.
[Park Geun-hye] [Prosecution]
[Interview] Chung calls for dialogue with N. Korea
Gov't urged to get ratification before pushing for THAAD deployment
Posted : 2017-03-26 17:41
Updated : 2017-03-27 11:49
By Kim Jae-kyoung
South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyung speaks during an interview at Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore on March 20. / Courtesy of National Assembly
SINGAPORE ? South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun has called for reopening dialogue with North Korea to stop its provocations.
Chung said it is important to acknowledge North Korean leader Kim Jung-un as a negotiation partner.
"Given his experience and other aspects, it is difficult to consider him a dialogue partner. But we don't get to pick our partners," he said during a recent interview here.
He was visiting Singapore to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien-loong over expansion of bilateral cooperation on economic and security issues.
"North Korea must be criticized and sanctioned for its nuclear and missile tests," he said. "However, to change them, we should first bring them back to the negotiation table and make more efforts to listen to them."
Chung's comments came amid escalating tensions on the peninsula as the U.S. and South Korea seek harsher sanctions against North Korea following the reclusive country's series of missile and nuclear tests.
He said sanctions alone can neither solve the nuclear issue nor make the situation any better.
"Tensions are mounting on the Korean Peninsula as the conflict between two great powers is deepening in Northeast Asia (over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system). Korea will be hit hardest if this situation continues," he said.
"We have to work harder to persuade our neighbors and adopt a more creative approach by combining sanctions with dialogue or engagement policies."
The six-term lawmaker urged the Korean government to get a parliamentary ratification for the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery on Korean soil.
[SK NK Negotiation] [THAAD]
N. Korean restaurant workers admitted to S. Korean university following defection
Posted : 2017-03-26 12:01
Updated : 2017-03-26 12:01
A dozen former North Korean restaurant workers have enrolled at a South Korean university nearly a year after their defection, a government official in Seoul said Sunday.
The official said the 12 female defectors were recently granted special admission to the institution, whose identity was withheld. The official added that the defectors felt post-secondary education would be essential to their adjustment to South Korea, and that they each selected their major based on their own interests.
Those 12, along with a male manager, defected to South Korea last April, leaving a Pyongyang-run restaurant in the Chinese eastern port city of Ningbo. The female defectors are mostly in their early to mid 20s.
They began their resettlement process in August, though no further details were disclosed at the time due to concerns over their safety.
North Korea has claimed that the workers were abducted by Seoul's spy agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), and has demanded their repatriation.
Restaurants operated by North Korea in foreign countries have served as a major source of hard currency for the country. The North is suspected of using the money to bankroll its nuclear and missile programs.
North Koreans employed by foreign restaurants are among the 50,000 workers sent abroad by the regime to earn much-needed hard currency to help it tackle economic hardships amid the U.N. sanctions. (Yonhap)
[Election defection] [Abductees] [Incommunicado]
Korea to develop battery-powered submarines by 2027
By Jun Ji-hye
Posted : 2017-03-24 15:32
Updated : 2017-03-24 18:32
The military plans to build three lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery-powered submarines by 2027, according to Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) officials Friday.
Samsung SDI will make the batteries. Hanwha Techwin will develop a system for integrating them into the submarines that Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering will manufacture.
It is part of a long-term project to replace aging submarines. The Navy will have nine 3,000-ton submarines equipped with domestic technologies in a decade if the project is completed as planned, according to DAPA.
The military also plans to build three lead-acid battery-powered submarines between 2020 and 2024. Li-ion batteries last twice as long as lead-acid ones, according to Samsung SDI. The key is to develop advanced Li-ion batteries that can supply power to submarines consistently.
These batteries are now used for electric cars and many electronic gadgets, including laptop computers and smartphones.
[Submarines] [Military balance] [Lithium]
Park Grew W1.1 Billion Richer During Tenure
By Jung Nok-yong
March 24, 2017 12:30
Ex-President Park Geun-hye reported that her assets grew W1.18 billion during her four-year tenure to total W3.7 billion as of last year (US$1=W1,123).
In 2016 alone, Park's assets increased by W219 million.
According to data from the Government Public Ethics Committee, Park's home in the posh Samseong-dong area in southern Seoul is valued at W2.7 billion, up W180 million from the year before. Also, Park held W1.03 billion in deposits, up W39 million.
Park reported her total assets at W2.56 billion when she took office in 2013, and that has grown by W200 million to W300 million each year.
[Park Geun-hye] [Wealth] [Media]
[Editorial] Park Geun-hye now must explain her missing Sewol seven hours
Posted on : Mar.24,2017 13:57 KST Modified on : Mar.24,2017 13:57 KST
Workers from the Chinese company Shanghai Salvage prepare to load the Sewol ferry on a barge, near Donggeocha Island, off the coast of Jindo, South Jeolla Province, Mar. 23. They had to move the ferry about 3km. (by Park Jong-shik, staff photographer)
The Sewol ferry has emerged after 1,073 days under the sea. It has been a crushing experience for the South Korean public to see the ghastly marks of blackish rust and scratches, rather than the pale image they once had to achingly view from a distance. That’s to say nothing of the anguished victims’ family members crying that it was their children there on that rusted heap. Why did it take three years for a raising that could have happened overnight? The Sewol itself is testimony to all of us of how mishandled everything has been, from the sinking itself to the failed rescue and now the belated raising.
[Park Geun-hye] [Sewol]
In 14 hours of questioning, Park Geun-hye vehemently denies charges
Posted on : Mar.22,2017 16:35 KST Modified on : Mar.22,2017 16:35 KST
Former President Park Geun-hye makes a brief statement before entering Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to be questioned, Mar. 21. (pool photo)
Park still hasn’t made a genuine apology for Choi Sun-sil scandal, saying only she feels “regretful”
Former President Park Geun-hye underwent 14 hours of intensive questioning by Prosecutors on Mar. 21 over charges of accepting 43.3 billion won (US$38.5 million) in bribes, including 29.8 billion won (US$26.5 million) from Samsung.
The questioning came 11 days after Park was removed from office, and half a year - 183 days - after a Hankyoreh report first broke the Choi Sun-sil government interference scandal. Park is now the fourth former president in South Korean history to be questioned by prosecutors in connection with improprieties during his or her term.
The Prosecutors’ special investigation headquarters, headed by Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office chief Lee Yeong-ryeol, summoned Park on Mar. 21 for 14 hours and five minutes of questioning from 9:35 am until 11:40 pm on a total of 13 criminal charges, including the acceptance of 43.3 billion won in bribes, some of which came from Samsung. After reading the suspect interrogation report, Park left Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office and returned home around 6:55 the following morning.
“Park did not exercise her right to refuse to make a statement during her questioning,” a source with the prosecutors said.
“With some questions, she actively expressed her own opinions, while in other cases she gave short and simple answers,” the source added.
Prosecutors focused their questions on charges that Park used the Blue House, Ministry of Health and Welfare, and other agencies to facilitate the transfer of management rights to Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, receiving bribes in return through Choi Sun-sil and the Mir and K-Sports Foundations. They also questioned her on charges that she collaborated with Choi to set up the two foundations and extort tens of billions of won in funding from 53 companies, and ordered the leaking of Blue House documents. Allegations that Park ordered the drafting of a cultural blacklist at the request of a former high school teacher of hers were reportedly included in the questioning as well.
[Park Geun-hye] [Prosecution]
Park Geun-hye faces likelihood of heavy sentence for bribery charges
Posted on : Mar.22,2017 16:32 KST Modified on : Mar.22,2017 16:32 KST
Former President Park Geun-hye arrives at Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to face being questioned, Mar. 21. (pool photo)
Former president also facing charges such as abuse of power, interference in personnel appointments and exposure of official secrets
The Prosecutors’ special investigation headquarters plans to refer former President Park Geun-hye for trial shortly after reviewing their investigation findings.
With Park currently facing 13 charges, the trial process could last over a year before a final Supreme Court ruling. A heavy sentence of five years or more appears inevitable if bribery charges against her stand up.
The bribe acceptance charges are the key issue. Park stands accused of conspiring with Choi Sun-sil to facilitate the transfer of management rights to Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, receiving a total of 43.3 billion won (US$38.5 million) in return through the Mir and K-Sports Foundations and companies owned by Choi. The total charges and amount of bribes received could rise further as Prosecutors make rapid progress with a supplementary investigation of bribery allegations involving Park, Lotte, and SK. While the Prosecutors differ from the team of Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo in their position on bribery and coercion charges in connection with 20.4 billion won (US$18.2 billion) provided to the two foundations out of the 43.3 billion won passed along by Samsung, the differences appear likely to be resolved during the trial process.
[Park Geun-hye] [Prosecution]
S. Korean military under political attack over N. Korea missile info
Posted : 2017-03-23 15:21
Updated : 2017-03-23 15:21
South Korea's defense ministry came under fire on Thursday for its alleged failure to disclose information promptly on North Korea's latest missile launch which apparently ended in failure.
The liberal Democratic Party launched political attacks on the military for its belated response to the crucial national security incident.
"The military's failure to detect North Korea's firing of a missile shows the height of its incompetency in national defense," stated Rep. Yun Ho-jung, a top policy coordinator at the party.
He said the party will thoroughly investigate the issue through a standing committee on national defense. His party is seen as the favorite to win the presidential election slated for May 9, according to opinion polls.
The news on the secretive communist nation's missile firing was first released by a Japanese news outlet. Kyodo news service, quoting an unnamed government source, reported late Wednesday morning that the North seemed to have tested "several missiles" probably from its east cost. It cited the possibility of a failure in the test launch.
Reporters working in the press room of South Korea's defense ministry in the Yongsan area rushed to contact military officials to verify Kyodo's report, to no avail.
It took more than half an hour for the ministry to send a one-sentence text message to reporters reading, "South Korea and the U.S. are aware of the related matter and North Korea's missile is presumed to have not been fired normally."
South Korean Rearmament Predicting a Tense 2017
In observing the coverage of the next lap of the intra-Korean escalation and periodically answering journalists’ questions, the author would like to pay particular attention to the important issue of the media environment being awash with information on the DPRK missile launches, or concerning North Korea’s sixth nuclear test that will allegedly take place shortly. At the same time, the media is failing to cover events developing in the South in the same direction.
Under these developments, any layman would have a persistent feeling that while one of the countries of the Korean peninsula is constantly arming and threatening peace, the other is taking some kind of counter measures and not contributing to the aggravation of the situation. However, the actual situation is quite different.
It is worth recalling here that the South Korean military budget exceeds the North Korean one 25 times on average, and that at least 10 times a year, South Korea conducts large scale military trainings dedicated to attacking the North. Therefore, it is worth observing an increase in South Korea’s military capacity against the background of the global community’s focus on North Korean missiles, and even here, WITHOUT mentioning THAAD, something that the audience might find disturbing.
[SK NK policy] [Military balance]
Poll: 57% of S. Koreans want a “progressive/reformist-leaning administration”
Posted on : Mar.20,2017 17:23 KST Modified on : Mar.20,2017 17:23 KST
Data show a decline in the number of self-identified conservatives and increase in voters who don’t support any party
What kind of administration do you want to come to power and most urgent tasks for politicians
With the presidential election 50 days away in May, survey results show an overwhelming percentage of South Koreans hoping to see a progressive/reformist administration take office - but also strongly held views on social unity as an urgent priority for politicians.
A growing number of voters were also found to have not yet made up their mind as conservatives continue to struggle to find their way in the wake of Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and Ban Ki-moon and Hwang Kyo-ahn announcing that the
Seoul ranks No. 3 among cities with worst air pollution
Posted : 2017-03-21 11:38
Updated : 2017-03-21 19:05
Seoul ranked No. 3 among large cities with serious air pollution Tuesday, a real-time information service said.
According to pollution monitoring website AirVisual, Seoul had an air quality index (AQI) of 174, trailing those of New Delhi (194) and Dhaka (193) as of 10:00 a.m.
Seoul, which has been battling with fine dust particles in recent years, came in second place earlier in the day with a figure of 179.
The high numbers are mainly due to fine dust particles in the atmosphere.
AirVisual is an air quality monitoring and forecasting startup founded by French entrepreneur Yann Boquillod. The pollution map uses data from satellites and more than 8,000 monitoring stations to display global air pollution in real time
The visualization map created by the company shows an AQI on a scale from 0 to 300 and higher scores can translate into health problems down the line, it said. (Yonhap)
Park Questioned Overnight
March 22, 2017 09:31
Ex-President Park Geun-hye spent all night inside the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Tuesday, answering questions about the massive corruption scandal that led to her ouster and reviewing her statement.
Outside, detractors and die-hard supporters chanted slogans while Park answered questions "clearly and calmly," according to prosecutors, and did not insist on her right to remain silent.
Park left her home in Samseong-dong in southern Seoul at around 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday and finally emerged from the prosecutors' office some 22 hours later.
[Park Geun-hye] [Prosecution]
Moon Jae-in leads presidential poll with 33%; Hong Joon-pyo with 2%
Posted on : Mar.19,2017 13:07 KST Modified on : Mar.19,2017 13:07 KST
Favourability of presidential candidates. Favourability (left) and unfavourability (right). From the above, Moon Jae-in, Ahn Hee-jung, Lee Jae-myung, Ahn Cheol-soo, Shim Sang-jung, Hwang Kyo-ahn, Yoo Seong-min and Hong Joon-pyo
Top candidates all liberals, and Minjoo Party leads among political parties, with 46% of support
In a poll by Gallup Korea about presidential candidate preferences, Kim Jin-tae, lawmaker with the Liberty Korea Party, had 1% support, in the first poll result since Kim announced his presidential bid on Mar. 14. In terms of favorability, South Gyeongsang Province Governor Hong Joon-pyo was rated the least favorable.
[SK_Election17] [Moon Jae-in] [Polls]
How to Remove a President: Mass Protests Force Out South Korean Leader Amid Corruption Scandal
March 13, 2017
founder and international coordinator of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing for peace in Korea. Her recent article for Foreign Policy in Focus is titled "Korean Women Take On Trump"
professor of history at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books on Korea, including Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History and North Korea: Another Country.
On Sunday, ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-hye left the Blue House presidential compound and returned to her private residence in southern Seoul two days after South Korea’s Constitutional Court unanimously ruled to remove her from office over charges of graft and corruption. The unanimous ruling strips Park of immunity from prosecution, clearing the way for her to face criminal charges. The ruling followed months of mass protests. Park’s power had been sharply reduced since December, when South Korea’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to impeach her. We speak to University of Chicago professor Bruce Cumings and Christine Ahn, founder and international coordinator of Women Cross DMZ.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-hye left the Blue House presidential compound and returned to her private residence in southern Seoul two days after South Korea’s Constitutional Court unanimously ruled to remove her from office over charges of graft and corruption. The unanimous ruling strips Park of immunity from prosecution, clearing the way for her to face criminal charges. Park’s power had been sharply reduced since December, when South Korea’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to impeach her. On Sunday, she offered a brief statement about her impeachment through a spokesperson.
Interviews with Christine Ahn and Bruce Cumings
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment] [Shaman]
Prosecutors to summon Park Geun-hye for questioning
Posted on : Mar.15,2017 17:56 KST Modified on : Mar.15,2017 17:56 KST
Elementary school kids pass by police on their way home, near former President Park Geun-hye’s house in Seoul’s Gangnam district, Mar. 14. (by Kim Bong-kyu, staff photographer)
Park may try to rally her supporters and use status as former president to avoid being investigated as prime suspect
The Prosecutors’ special investigation headquarters has begun a full-scale investigation of former President Park Geun-hye with an announcement that it will be summoning her for questioning on Mar. 15.
The move comes four days after Park was removed from office and eight days after the headquarters was established. Its unexpected speed appeared based on the determination that growing political controversy as an early presidential election approaches could leave the Prosecutors will less room to maneuver in their investigation - and that it can no longer put off an investigation into Park’s role as the chief offender while other trials in the government interference scandal are well under way
[Park Geun-hye] [Prosecution]
Park Summoned for Questioning
By Sun Jung-min, Park Sang-ki
March 15, 2017 09:24
Prosecutors have summoned ex-President Park Geun-hye to question her over allegations that she colluded with her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil to extort vast slush funds.
Park has refused to submit to questioning since the scandal broke in October but can no longer shelter behind the immunity of high office.
"We notified Park's lawyers that she has to appear at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday," a prosecution spokesman said Wednesday morning.
[Park Geun-hye] [Prosecution]
N.Korean Defectors Complain of Discrimination in S.Korea
March 15, 2017 12:45
Half of North Korean defectors living in South Korea have suffered discrimination, according to a study by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea.
Some 45.4 percent of the 480 respondents said they have been discriminated against because of their North Korean origin. Respondents said they faced discrimination primarily from people in the street (20.6 percent), their bosses (17.9 percent) and co-workers (16.5 percent).
Some 27.7 percent said they did nothing when they became the target of bullying, although 16.2 percent turned to civic groups for help and 13.6 percent said they accosted the perpetrators and told them to stop.
[Refugee reception] [Defectors]
Citizens gasp as Park Geun-hye is unrepentant to the very end
Posted on : Mar.14,2017 16:51 KST Modified on : Mar.14,2017 16:51 KST
Riot police, reporters and supporters crowd outside Park Geun-hye’s private home in Seoul’s Gangnam district, Mar. 13. (pool photo)
Park still saying the “truth will come out”, while offering no apology for Choi Sun-sil scandal
On the evening of Mar. 12, Ahn Ji-hun, 34, watched a live broadcast of former president Park Geun-hye returning to her home. Perhaps because of Park’s personal history, Ahn had felt a little compassion for her. But now, he says, that compassion is gone.
“Seeing her smiling as she reached her house sent chills down my spine. It was so shocking,” Ahn. “When I saw pro-Park lawmakers gathered in front of her house to welcome her, it felt like she was a president who had finished her term in office or a leader who was being oppressed. My feelings of pity shriveled up.”
Now that Park Geun-hye is gone, what will come along to replace her?
Posted on : Mar.14,2017 16:47 KST Modified on : Mar.14,2017 16:47 KST
Participants enjoy a cultural performance at the 20th Saturday candlelight rally, titled “All of the Candlelight Days Have Been Great,” at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square on the evening of Mar. 11. (by Kim Bong-kyu, staff photographer)
For candlelight revolution to be fully successful, South Korea needs a system where corrupt officials are kept out of office
Even with Park Geun-hye’s defiance of the Constitutional Court ruling upholding her impeachment, the history of the Republic of Korea will clearly be forever divided between before and after March 10 - or its political history, at least. That’s how great the significance was of the country’s top leader being toppled through the power of the people.
While the objective driving force may have been the 17 million candle-holding citizens who poured into streets in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square and elsewhere around South Korea for 20 weekly demonstrations over the past four months, it’s the fact that the impeachment ended peacefully and without bloodshed that shows - even without quoting the New York Times - the evolution, development, and pride of South Korean democracy. With the candlelight honorary citizens’ revolution and the Constitutional Court’s unanimous ruling removing the president from office, South Korean democracy succeeded in building a firm enough position that no further retreat is possible. It was a high-water mark for procedural democracy, an achievement that South Korea can justly boast before any country in the world.
Second, Park Geun-hye’s ouster marked a turning point in ushering out not only the president herself but also the so-called “Park Chung-hee paradigm,” an approach deeply rooted in Park’s father
[Park Geun-hye] [SK_election17]
Park’s ouster leaves next administration with diplomatic and security headaches
Posted on : Mar.14,2017 16:46 KST Modified on : Mar.14,2017 16:46 KST Print
Acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn closes his eyes as he arrives at the Central Government Complex in Seoul, Mar. 13. (Yonhap News)
After election in May, new government will have to manage THAAD deployment, and relations with China and Japan
The four years of the Park Geun-hye administration left the diplomatic and security environment around the Korean Peninsula worse off than before. South Korea-China relations celebrated a high-water mark in Sep. 2015 with Park’s attendance at a celebration of China’s World War II victory, at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. These days, they are in dire straits over the unilateral decision to deploy a THAAD missile diplomacy system in South Korea. In terms of relations with Japan, Seoul reached a surprise agreement on the comfort women issue on Dec. 28, 2015; now, pressure to renegotiate it is intense, with widespread objections to what is seen as its hastily concluded terms. Whichever administration takes office in South Korea two months from now will inherit a diplomatic and security situation bordering on ruin.
[Hwang Kyo-ahn] [SK_election17] [THAAD]
Seoul to step up anti-N. Korea diplomacy in Singapore, Sri Lanka
Posted : 2017-03-14 16:52
Updated : 2017-03-15 11:26
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se arrives at Incheon International AIrport, Tuesday, to leave for Singapore and Sri Lanka. / Yonhap
Foreign Minister Yun leaves for Singapore, Sri Lanka on 3-day trip
By Yi Whan-woo
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se embarked on a three-day trip to Singapore and Sri Lanka, Tuesday, to discuss North Korea's threats to regional security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
It said Yun met Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan first, Tuesday, before flying to Colombo for talks with Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Wednesday.
Yun is expected to make his last-ditch effort as a top South Korean diplomat to urge the international community to step up pressure on Pyongyang, according to senior foreign ministry officials here.
[SK NK policy]
[Editorial] Instead of unity, impeached Park Geun-hye seeding conflict and division
Posted on : Mar.13,2017 17:38 KST Modified on : Mar.13,2017 17:38 KST
Former President Park Geun-hye greets pro-Park politicians and supporters as she arrives at her private home in Seoul’s Gangnam district, Mar. 12, two days after the Constitutional Court ruling upholding her impeachment. (by Kim Kyung-ho, staff photographer)
On Mar. 12, the third day after the Constitutional Court decided to uphold Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, Park left the Blue House and returned to her home in Seoul’s Gangnam district. Considering that she had not been the president since Mar. 10, when the decision was made, she ought to have left the Blue House residence immediately. Late or not, it was right for her to vacate the premises.
But even on the day that Park departed from the Blue House, she did not show any remorse or contrition. She greeted the supporters and pro-Park politicians who were waiting in front of her old house with a smile and shook their hands as if nothing had happened. She made no mention of respecting and submitting to the impeachment decision and no call for national unity. In a statement that was read by her spokesperson, she did say she would “carry all the consequences with her,” but she also said she “believed the truth would be revealed, even if it took some time,” making clear that she means to fight the court’s decision instead of submitting to it.
S. Korean President Impeached. Fake News Vs Real News
Interview with Hyun Lee and Tim Shorrock
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Final candlelight demonstrations become festival to celebrate a new beginning
Posted on : Mar.13,2017 17:30 KST Modified on : Mar.13,2017 17:30 KST
Participants enjoy a cultural performance at the 20th pan-national action, titled “All of the Candlelight Days Have Been Great,” at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square on the evening of Mar. 11. (by Kim Bong-kyu, staff photographer)
Across South Korea, citizens commemorate a successful movement for Park’s impeachment, while looking ahead to new challenges
“You are the ones who made this victory happen!”
Attendees erupted in cheers at the cry from Emergency Citizen Action for the Resignation of the Park Geun-hye Administration situation room chief Park Jin, who was emceeing a candlelight demonstration at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square on the evening of Mar. 11.
The citizens gathered at the square congratulated each other on the “candlelight victory” achieved through their shared efforts. Greeting total strangers next to them with messages of “Great job” and “Thank you,” they also remembered to give thanks to the real hidden forces behind the demonstrations.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Prosecutors seeking travel ban on Park, search and seizure of the Blue House
Posted on : Mar.13,2017 17:33 KST Modified on : Mar.13,2017 17:33 KST
Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office in Seoul’s Seocho district, which is investigating the Choi Sun-sil government interference scandal
Out of office, Park Geun-hye no longer has immunity, and will have to face charges of abuse of power and bribery
Now that Park Geun-hye is no longer immune from prosecution because of the Constitutional Court’s decision to remove her from the presidency, the Prosecutors’ special investigation headquarters, which is investigating the Choi Sun-sil government interference scandal, is considering placing a travel ban on the former president. The Prosecutors are also reportedly looking into the option of carrying out a search and seizure on the Blue House, which they were prevented from doing last year.
[Park Geun-hye] [Prosecution]
Park Geun-hye’s ouster leaves an economic leadership vacuum
Posted on : Mar.13,2017 17:32 KST Modified on : Mar.13,2017 17:32 KST
On the afternoon Mar. 12, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance Yoo Il-ho presided over a roundtable for Cabinet ministers in economy-related areas at the Gwanghwamun Central Government Complex in Seoul. (provided by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance)
South Korea now must manage China’s economic retaliation over THAAD, growing household debt and low growth
Park Geun-hye’s ouster as president leaves the South Korean economy facing a political leadership vacuum. It also comes at a moment when a number of external risks are becoming realities, including China’s economic retaliation over the THAAD deployment decision and the US’s protectionist pressures and moves to speed up its interest rate hikes. For the next two months, South Korea’s economic control tower will face the tasks of managing those external risks and wrapping up Park’s now momentum-deprived economic policies, leaving more room for the next administration to respond to long-term downturn conditions.
For the moment, the economic team’s biggest task is responding to formidable external risk factors. First among them is economic conflict with China, which has reached a fever pitch as the THAAD deployment enters its execution stage. Beijing has responded with a string of official and unofficial economic retaliation measures, with repercussions that could very likely spread to areas such as tourism, culture, and trade.
Another concern is the increasingly protectionist line from Washington since the arrival of the Donald Trump administration.
[SK Problems] [THAAD] [China SK] [Trump] [Protectionism]
Spy agency likely to become No.1 target of reform
Posted : 2017-03-13 15:50
Updated : 2017-03-14 09:56
The National Intelligence Service, located in Naegok-dong, southern Seoul, faces mounting calls to revamp itself. The spy agency has been at the center of political turmoil during the last two conservative governments due to its alleged ties to those in power. / Korea Times file
By Choi Ha-young
South Korea's spy agency conducted illegal surveillance on the Constitutional Court's judges, according to a former National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent reported by broadcaster SBS.
The news hit the NIS March 4, amid growing confusion ahead of the Constitutional Court's ruling to unseat President Park Geun-hye, Friday.
Opposition parties and presidential hopefuls blasted the agency. According to law, the NIS cannot gather intelligence on domestic affairs, except those involving terrorism, espionage or crime rings.
"The necessity to totally reform the NIS became clearer," said Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), odds-on favorite to become the next president. "There's no alternative other than the turnover of political power."
In January, Moon pledged to change the NIS's role in collecting domestic information, echoing civic groups' longtime calls. "I will revamp it as a capable intelligence agency focusing on North Korea, security, terrorism and international crime," he said.
[NIS] [Moon Jae-in]
Park Makes Last Exit from Cheong Wa Dae
By Jung Nok-yong, Choi Seung-hyun
March 13, 2017 09:40
Park Geun-hye left Cheong Wa Dae for the last time on Sunday evening, where she had been holed up until the Constitutional Court unanimously relieved her of the presidency two days earlier.
On arrival at home 20 minutes later, she shook hands with hundreds of supporters who had been camped out there chanting slogans and a dozen lawmakers and aides who greeted her, but went into the house without comment.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Intertwined Lives Cast Light on Korean Society
By CHRISTINE HYUNG-OAK LEE
MARCH 10, 2017
EVERYTHING BELONGS TO US
By Yoojin Grace Wuertz
356 pp. Random House. $27.
The title of Yoojin Grace Wuertz’s debut novel, “Everything Belongs to Us,” is a statement of defiant optimism. It echoes a line from early in the novel, when an officer admonishes a rebellious protester he has jailed. “Not everything is your plaything,” the officer says. “Not everything belongs to you.”
The year is 1978, and that protester is named Jisun, who, along with Namin and Sunam, is Wuertz’s literary conduit for 1970s Korean history — a time when President Park Chung-hee’s fixation on economic recovery after the Korean War entailed suppressing all forms of political dissent and allowing inhumane working conditions to flourish. The title of Wuertz’s novel is therefore steeped in irony too: Under a program of authoritarian industrialization, everything belongs to something else — to country, to patriarchy, to capitalism. Wuertz has written a rich and descriptive case study — or a “Gatsby”-esque takedown, if you will — of 1970s South Korea. Reading “Everything Belongs to Us” is as much an education in sociology and history as it is a story about people, and the characters are so memorable they lend an intimacy to that history.
Park accused of 'illegal occupation' of Cheong Wa Dae
Posted : 2017-03-11 20:11
Updated : 2017-03-11 22:57
By Park Si-soo
The leader of the minor Labor Party has accused former President Park Geun-hye of "illegal occupation" of the presidential residence.
"She is no longer the President and she is obliged to leave Cheong Wa Dae," said Lee Gap-yong, leader of the party, shortly after filing a petition with the Jongno Police Station calling for her forced removal from the presidential residence.
"Cheong Wa Dae is an extremely confidential facility that can only be open to authorized personnel, With Park, that is no longer the case," Lee said, calling on police to arrest Park immediately in order to remove her from Cheong Wa Dae.
Park is still at the presidential residence despite the Constitutional Court's historic ruling on Friday that removed her from office. She also remains mum over the verdict with her desperate supporters vowing to "disobey" the decision and take action to restore Park to the presidency. Police have warned they will not tolerate violence or acts challenging the rule of law under any circumstances.
According to reports, Park is likely to leave Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday or Monday and move to her house in Samseong-dong in southern Seoul. But no one in the presidential office has confirmed or denied such a report.
S. Korea eyes 'swarming drone warfare'
Posted : 2017-03-12 15:27
Updated : 2017-03-12 15:27
Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kang Ho-in delivers the opening speech at a conference on drones at the Federation of Korean Industries Head Office Building in Yeouido, Seoul, on Mar. 10. / Yonhap
By Ko Dong-hwan
The South Korean Army is considering using drones equipped with explosives, an army official said Sunday.
The army plans to carry out extensive research into "military swarming, which is already in operational use in the U.S., China and Russia, to our ground and naval operations," the official said.
The battlefield tactic uses dispersed combat units to attack designated targets at once.
The research will focus on the possibility using AI-based drones, and on ways to develop techniques based on Korea's advanced science and technology.
After impeachment, South Korea may reset relations with China and North Korea
Park Geun-hye, who was ousted as South Korea’s president Friday, salutes during her inauguration on Feb. 25, 2013, at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Lee Jin-man/Associated Press)
By Anna Fifield March 10 at 3:04 PM
SEOUL — After the historic ouster of President Park Geun-hye on Friday, scandal-weary South Koreans began turning their attention to a new election due within 60 days — and to the prospect that her successor could try to reset relations with neighboring North Korea and its powerful patron, China.
In the three months since Park was suspended over corruption allegations, plunging the country into limbo amid protracted impeachment proceedings, the regime in North Korea has launched five ballistic missiles and a volley of threats, and is accused of ordering the assassination of the leader’s half brother.
Add to that China’s anger over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system to South Korea and uncertainty about President Trump’s administration in Washington, and the lack of leadership in South Korea could hardly have come at a more sensitive time.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment] [SK NK policy] [SK China] [Foreign policy]
[Editorial] A people’s victory, and the dawn of a new spring for South Korea
Posted on : Mar.11,2017 13:53 KST Modified on : Mar.11,2017 13:53 KST
The foolish and wicked president was ultimately driven from power. Justice always prevails in the end. She received her just deserts for her sins of looking down on the public and exploiting government power for her own ends, which rocked the country to its very foundation. After a long winter, when spring is finally on its way, the sick and rotten branch fell to the ground. And in its place, a new shoot is starting to sprout.
While Park’s dismissal from office took the form of the Constitutional Court upholding the motion for impeachment, in reality it was the victory of common sense and reason. This was not a matter of left and right, a showdown between progressives and conservatives, or an issue of class or ideology. The candles burning in the public squares throughout the winter represented the craving for the rule of law and democracy, and the Constitutional Court responded to this with its unanimous decision for Park’s ouster.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
[Editorial] Seoul must steer other countries toward a resolution to North Korea nuclear issue
Posted on : Mar.10,2017 16:06 KST Modified on : Mar.10,2017 16:06 KST
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a press conference for the fifth session of the 12th National People’s Congress in Beijing, Mar. 8. (AP/Yonhap News)
Amid reports that the US Donald Trump administration plans to set a new approach to North Korea policy by the end of the month, China’s activities have also been picking up. Differences between the two countries remain large, but there’s also some chance a compromise could be reached. It’s time for Seoul to leave behind the limitations of its persistently hard-line policies and show the diplomatic skill to steer other countries toward developing an effective policy framework.
86% of South Koreans in favour of Park Geun-hye’s impeachment
Posted on : Mar.11,2017 13:59 KST Modified on : Mar.11,2017 13:59 KST
Number was up from previous Mar. 8 survey, with just 6% saying they “cannot accept” the impeachment ruling
Eight of ten South Koreans favorably view the Constitutional Court’s Mar. 10 ruling removing Park Geun-hye from the presidency, survey results show.
A survey of 1,008 adults aged 19 and over conducted by the polling agency Real Meter, commissioned by MBN and Maeil Business Newspaper, just after the decision showed 86% responding the Constitutional Court had “done the right thing” when asked for their views on the ruling upholding Park’s impeachment.
The number was up 9.1 percentage points from the 76.9% who supported the impeachment in a Mar. 8 survey by the same agency. Another 12% of respondents said the court’s impeachment decision was “a mistake,” a drop of 8.3 percentage points from the 20.3% who opposed the impeachment in the Mar. 8 survey.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
After impeachment, Park Geun-hye waging a silent war
Posted on : Mar.11,2017 13:55 KST Modified on : Mar.11,2017 13:55 KST
Park has not made any statement to diffuse her supporters’ anger, or said she’ll now step aside gracefully
The Blue House on Mar. 10, after the Constitutional Court upheld the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, before one of Park’s last nights staying at the Blue House.
Park Geun-hye has been waging what amounts to a silent protest since being removed from the presidency after the Constitutional Court’s Mar. 10 decision upholding her impeachment.
Park has not made any statement to appease public sentiment and call for wider unity, let alone apologized for her violations of the Constitution and law and her damage to her office. The silence may indicate that she intends not simply to protest the outcome of the trial, but to refuse to comply with it.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Ousted from the presidency, Park Geun-hye to be questioned by prosecutors
Posted on : Mar.11,2017 13:56 KST Modified on : Mar.11,2017 13:56 KST
Prosecution Service flag flaps in the wind outside the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in Seoul’s Seocho district. (by Kim Tae-hyeong, staff photographer)
Park faces various criminal charges, including involvement in bribery case with Samsung and Choi Sun-sil
The investigation of former President Park Geun-hye is drawing new attention now that she has been stripped of immunity to prosecution with the Constitutional Court’s Mar. 10 decision removing her from the presidency.
While prosecutors have the option of detaining Park for investigation given the gravity of the crimes she is accused of, widespread sympathy for her and the political situation with the approaching election are factors that cannot be ignored.
The Prosecutors’ special investigation headquarters, headed by Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office head Lee Yeong-ryeol, appears likely to begin coordinating with Park’s team as early as the beginning of next week on a date for in-person questioning. Park dodged questioning several times, citing various grounds. On Feb. 9, she agreed to undergo closed-door questioning on the Blue House grounds by the investigative team of Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo, only to cancel the appointment over its prior reporting in the media. Park also refused in-person questioning by prosecutors last November.
But with Park losing her immunity to criminal prosecution with her ouster from the presidency, prosecutors now have the option of forcibly investigating her if she refused to comply with in-person questioning. Prosecutors have said they plan to make a decision on whether to arrest Park, after she is questioned.
[Park Geun-hye] [Prosecution]
US, China and Japan all pledge to work cooperatively with next S. Korean president
Posted on : Mar.11,2017 13:57 KST Modified on : Mar.11,2017 13:57 KST
Issues of THAAD to complicate US and China relations, while Japan watching for implementation of comfort women agreement
The US, Chinese, and Japanese governments unanimously said they planned to form productive and cooperative relationships with the next South Korean administration regardless of the outcome of the Constitutional Court’s Mar. 10 ruling removing Park Geun-hye from the presidency.
But with each countries’ interests at play, some differences do emerge in the particulars. Washington does not intend to back down on deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, while China harbors hopes for THAAD’s withdrawal and Tokyo is visibly on edge over the possibility of renegotiating its agreement with Seoul on the comfort women issue.
Park Geun-hye’s four years in office leave a legacy of corruption, division and incompetence
Posted on : Mar.10,2017 17:41 KST Modified on : Mar.10,2017 17:41 KST
Scandal involvement Choi Sun-sil finally undid Park, who broke a series of promises to listen and unify the country
“Regardless of whether or not you support me, I will continue listening to your diverse opinions. Through reconciliation and a policy of national unity, I will work to sever the historical bonds that have provoked severe division and conflict for the past half century.” —President-elect Park Geun-hye’s acceptance speech from December 2012
Former President Park Geun-hye ascends a staircase to the Blue House on Feb. 25, 2013, after her inauguration ceremony as the 18th president of South Korea. (Blue House photo pool)
The four years of Park Geun-hye’s presidency was a time in which she ran in the exact opposite direction from the promises she made in her presidential acceptance speech. Domestically, she engaged in divisive politics throughout her time in office, separating “us” from “them,” and she piloted the Korean Peninsula into stormy seas with her hardline and unilateral foreign policy. She sowed discord in politics by degrading the National Assembly, which is supposed to represent the people, into a rubber stamp of the executive branch of government, and even more seriously she failed in her basic responsibility of protecting South Koreans’ lives and safety.
[Park Geun-hye] [Corruption] [Incompetence]
[Correspondent’s column] The ghastly specter of a preemptive military strike on North Korea
Posted on : Mar.10,2017 16:11 KST Modified on : Mar.10,2017 16:11 KST
Talk of a move that would cause war on the Korean peninsula was irresponsibility stirred up in the media
For more than two months, and for as long as half a year, the specter of a military attack on North Korea has loomed over the Korean Peninsula. Fortunately, several reports have said that the administration of US President Donald Trump has ruled out a preemptive strike in its ongoing review of North Korean policy. That ghastly specter will soon fade away, as if it had never been there at all.
There is a conceptual difference between a preemptive strike, which is launched when there are indications that North Korea is about to attack with a nuclear weapon or missile, and a preventive strike, which is designed to destroy North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities. Since the two concepts are conflated so much, it’s better just to lump them together under the rubric of a military strike.
[Military option] [Preemptive] [Preventive]
Park yet to leave presidential residence
Posted : 2017-03-10 16:54
Updated : 2017-03-11 12:56
President Park Geun-hye was ousted Friday, but she refused to leave Cheong Wa Dae immediately, saying it will take time to repair her long-vacated private residence in southern Seoul and move her belongings. / Yonhap
By Kim Rahn
Park Geun-hye, the ousted leader of the country, has not left Cheong Wa Dae or made any comments on the Constitutional Court's ruling to unseat her Friday amid subsequent violent rallies by her supporters.
Her silence is feared to aggravate protests from her loyalists and throw the nation into more confusion, while all political parties called for steps to overcome the trauma of her impeachment and move the nation forward.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
History of the scandal: How the impeachment drama has unfolded
Posted : 2017-03-10 11:29
Updated : 2017-03-10 17:52
Park makes a third public apology on Nov.29, with a conditional offer to resign if the parliament arranges a stable power transfer. / Korea Times file
By Eom Da-sol, Park Si-soo
The Constitutional Court's landmark ruling has stripped Park Geun-hye of her presidency as well as legal shields that have blocked her prosecution and other legal action.
The decision makes Park the nation's first democratically elected leader to be ousted in a widespread corruption and influence-peddling scandal that has rocked the country for months.
Park saw her presidency suspended by the National Assembly in December. And after 92 days, she was permanently removed from the seat, marking the end of her tumultuous 1,475 days in office.
The following are the major events showing how she rose and fell — and crashed to a president-turned-criminal suspect.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
A framework for Nordpolitik following the death of Kim Jong Nam
by Hyuk Kim and Yeseul Woo
Hyuk Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a research fellow for Nuclear Policy and the James A. Kelly Korean Studies Program at Pacific Forum CSIS. Yeseul Woo (email@example.com) is a Vasey fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS. The online version of this PacNet can be found here.
On Feb. 13, 2017, Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was assassinated in Malaysia. South Korean responses to the murder have been mixed. For some, it is confirmation of the tyrannical, despotic nature of the Pyongyang leadership, a call to stiffen South Korean resolve and a reminder to double down on security measures. For others, it is proof of North Korean insecurity and one more example of the need to reach out to Pyongyang and convince it that the outside world is not implacably hostile. We believe this act is an opportunity for young South Koreans to forge a bipartisan consensus on how to deal with North Korea.
[Kim Jong Nam] [Assassination] [North Wind]
S. Korean President Park Geun-hye removed from office
China.org.cn, March 10, 2017
South Korean President Park Geun-hye was permanently removed from office, the Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.
By law, Park will be required to leave the presidential Blue House as she officially lost all of presidential power and her title as incumbent president.
The bill to impeach Park was passed in the National Assembly on Dec. 9 by an overwhelming majority. A total of 20 hearings had been held since Feb. 27.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Constitutional Court Ousts Park
March 10, 2017 11:46
The Constitutional Court in a unanimous decision announced Friday morning upheld the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, who was immediately stripped of office.
Park, the country's first democratically elected leader to be forced out of office, must presently leave Cheong Wa Dae, where she has been holed up since the National Assembly voted to impeach her in December.
Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi reads the final ruling in President Park Geun-hye's impeachment trial in the Constitutional Court in Seoul on Friday.
In a ruling read out live on TV as both supporters and opponents massed around the court, the court said the president "seriously impaired the spirit of... democracy and the rule of law."
Acting chief justice Lee Jung-mi said Park's actions "betrayed the public's trust in the president and constitute unforgivable violations of the Constitution."
The court accepted that Park conspired with her longtime crony Choi Soon-sil to extort vast sums of money from conglomerates and allowed Choi to meddle in government business.
NIS provided support for right-wing groups that “share its ideas”
Posted on : Mar.9,2017 16:03 KST Modified on : Mar.9,2017 16:03 KST
Financial support for political groups directly violates the NIS’s own regulations
The Special Prosecutor’s investigative team investigating the Choi Sun-sil government interference case obtained a statement from former National Intelligence Service (NIS) director Lee Byung-kee that the agency provided financial support to conservative groups, it was confirmed on Mar. 8.
The team summoned Lee for questioning on Jan. 2 after a search and seizure of his home in connection with drafting of culture and arts blacklist.
According to the team and other sources, Lee, who served as NIS director from Jul. 2014 to Feb. 2015, said during his questioning by the Special Prosecutor in January that NIS support to conservative groups was “something we’ve been doing since before for groups that share our ideas.”
Moon Jae-in's view on THAAD disputed again
Posted : 2017-03-08 16:54
Updated : 2017-03-08 17:43
By Kim Hyo-jin
Moon Jae-in, the leading opposition presidential hopeful, is taking flak from conservatives after he raised questions about the timing of the arrival of some U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery equipment.
The critics said Wednesday that Moon's position is only serving the interests of China and North Korea at a time when a resolute unified voice is needed against them.
On Tuesday, Moon reiterated that any decisions on the deployment should have been left to the next government.
"I don't understand why the government is doing it this way," Moon, the former leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), told reporters.
"I believe the next government can make a rational decision that meets the interests of security and the economy through consultations with the U.S. and China. Speeding up the deployment will only leave little room in diplomacy for the next government."
Moon has said repeatedly that the deployment lacks public consensus.
[THAAD] [Moon Jae-in]
Top court rejects lawyers' protection request for N. Korea defectors
Posted : 2017-03-08 11:19
Updated : 2017-03-08 11:43
The Supreme Court said Wednesday it has upheld lower courts' decision to dismiss a request from a group of progressive lawyers for the protection of a group of 12 former North Korean restaurant workers who defected to South Korea last year.
Members of the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, or Minbyun, filed a petition in May last year demanding they be allowed access to the former employees of a North Korean restaurant in China to ascertain if their defections were forced or voluntary.
The 12 employees, all women, and one male manager worked at a North Korean restaurant in China before arriving in Seoul in April 2016.
Pyongyang has claimed that Seoul's spy agency lured them, calling for an immediate repatriation, but South Korea said that they defected on their own free will.
South Korea's district and appellate courts rejected Minbyun's petition, saying the North Koreans already left their resettlement center in the South last summer and there was no evidence or circumstances indicating their freedom was restrained.
The Supreme Court endorsed the lower courts' decision this week, saying Minbyun's petition doesn't constitute a legal proceeding and the previous rulings contained no legal misinterpretation. (Yonhap)
[Election defection] [Abductees]
Park Solicited Bribes from Samsung, Probe Finds
By Park Sang-ki
March 07, 2017 09:36
Independent counsel Park Young-soo on Monday brought five criminal charges against President Park Geun-hye including taking massive bribes from Samsung and blacklisting thousands of "hostile" cultural figures.
The independent counsel brought the charges after a three-month investigation that ended last week but, according to him, was only able to scratch the surface of the president's crimes.
"The probe accomplished just half due to the limited period and uncooperative attitude of those subject to the investigation," Park Young-soo told reporters.
[Park Geun-hye] [Corruption]
Gov't Boosts Reward for Intelligence from N.Korean Defectors
By Kim Myong-song
March 06, 2017 12:02
The government is quadrupling the reward for North Korean defectors who come to South Korea with valuable intelligence or other crucial assets to W1 billion (US$1=W1,158). The last time the government increased the money was back in 1997.
The Unification Ministry on Sunday said defectors who bring the South valuable military assets will get up to W1 billion for a naval vessel or fighter jet, up from the current W150 million, W300 million for a tank or guided weapon, up from W50 million, and W50 million for an artillery piece, machine gun or rifle.
The higher reward aims to prod more members of the North Korean elite to defect after the defection of a former deputy ambassador to the U.K.
"Thirty thousand North Korean defectors who came to South Korea have been given resettlement assistance, but only a few hundred received rewards," a ministry spokesman said. "It's an incentive for defectors to offer valuable information."
He added the hike reflects inflation.
Park, Choi confirmed as accomplices in corruption scandal: special prosecutor
Posted : 2017-03-06 14:59
Updated : 2017-03-06 15:56
Independent Counsel Park Young-soo on Monday announced the results of the 70-day investigation of the Park Geun-hye scandal. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
Independent Counsel Park Young-soo on Monday announced the results of the 70-day investigation of the Park Geun-hye scandal. The major findings are:
1. The team looked into about 900 computers and mobile phones secured in 46 raids.
2. The team confirmed a "blacklist" and a "white list" of musicians and artists. Among those responsible for the lists' creation are President Park Geun-hye, her friend Choi Soon-sil, former culture minister Cho Yoon-sun and former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon.
3. Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong embezzled 43.3 billion won and handed it to "President Park Geun-hye and Choi Soon-sil" as a bribe in return for the President helping Lee's succession to lead the nation's biggest conglomerate.
4. President Park used a mobile phone registered under a borrowed name, which is illegal. Park used the phone to communicate with Choi and her aides.
5. Park received medical treatment from unauthorized doctors more than 100 times.
6. It was unconfirmed whether Park received medical treatment on the day of Sewol sinking, April 16, 2014. Her whereabouts from 10 p.m. of April 15 to noon on April 17 remain accounted for.
7. The investigation team has frozen Choi's properties valued at 270 billion won.
8. Choi was confirmed to have illegally meddled in overseas business projects including ones in Myanmar, by taking advantage of her close ties to the President.
9. Many issues remain uninvestigated due to lack of time.
[Park Geun-hye] [Choi Sun-Sil] [Lee Jae-yong] [Corruption] [Sewol]
Poll shows overwhelming majority of S. Koreans still in favour of Park’s impeachment
Posted on : Mar.5,2017 10:45 KST Modified on : Mar.5,2017 10:45 KST
Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul is filled with participants chanting slogans in a demonstration calling for President Park Geun-hye’s resignation, Mar. 4.
Opposition to the impeachment has increased by four percentage points, but mostly unchanged since Dec. 9 motion
As the countdown begins for the Constitutional Court’s ruling in President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment trial, polls show there is still overwhelming support for her impeachment.
On Mar. 3, Gallup Korea announced the results of a poll that it carried out on Feb. 28 and Mar. 2, on 1,010 adults around South Korea. The poll found that 77% of respondents supported Park’s impeachment, four times the percentage of respondents who were opposed (18%). In the poll carried out from Dec. 6 to Dec. 8, 2016, shortly before the motion of impeachment passed the National Assembly on Dec. 9, 81% of respondents supported Park’s impeachment and 14% were opposed. While support for impeachment has dropped and opposition risen by 4 percentage points, respectively, over the past three months, the majority of South Koreans are still in favour of the impeachment.
“Despite numerous variables, including the trial in the Constitutional Court, the Special Prosecutor’s investigation and the aggressive defense by Park and her supporters, the terrain of political opinion remains the same. The very fact that support for impeachment has been maintained like this for three months is significant,” said a spokesperson for Gallup Korea. Levels of support for impeachment were high across all age groups and regions, with opposition to impeachment (76%) only exceeding support (14%) among supporters of the Liberty Korea Party.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment] [Public opinion]
South Korea Clings on to Fear of Kaesong Industrial Complex Future
By Christopher Green | March 02, 2017
In a Jangmadang translation published on February 10, Sino-NK highlighted the extent to which many in South Korea retain a keen interest in the fate of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), even though more than a year has now passed since it was unilaterally closed by the Park Geun-hye administration. Of course, the demise of the inter-Korean manufacturing zone in response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test on January 6, 2016 means that millions of dollars of South Korean assets remain stuck in limbo inside North Korea. The thought of such a large paper loss turning into a real one is enough to concentrate minds.
But over and above the financial questions that the closure inevitably raises, the KIC is also a potent symbol of economic and political engagement between North and South Korea in the period 1998-2007. Its fate has an emotional component.
More than one million gather for 17th demonstration for Park’s impeachment
Posted on : Feb.27,2017 17:04 KST
Protesters incensed over Park’s failure to cooperate with investigation and lack of extension for Special Prosecutor’s investigation
A million people came together once more. On Feb. 25, the fourth anniversary of Park Geun-hye’s inauguration as president, the largest crowds this year assembled at Gwanghwamun Square and called for Park’s four years to be brought to an end. South Koreans were brought to the plaza by their rage over the disrespect that Park’s attorneys have shown for the Constitutional Court during her impeachment trial and over the absence of any indications that Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is acting president, will extend the Special Prosecutor‘s period of investigation.
During the 17th candlelight rally, which was held just two days before the final arguments in the impeachment trial before the Constitutional Court and three days before the end of the mandate of the investigative team led by Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo, one million people gathered at Gwanghwamun Square, 40,000 people in Gwangju and 25,000 people in Busan, with a total of 1.07 million people around the country (according to estimates by the Emergency Movement for Park’s Resignation).
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment] [Protest]
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