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Park Geun-hye to be quizzed over spy agency embezzlement scandal
Posted : 2017-12-25 13:40
Updated : 2017-12-25 13:40
Prosecutors will question former President Park Geun-hye this week in a detention center as part of their investigation into allegations that the presidential office during her term had received illicit money from the spy agency.
Four officials from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office will visit the detention center on Tuesday to interrogate the ousted chief executive over suspicions that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) had offered her office a total of 4 billion won ($3.7 million) between 2013 and mid-2016.
The move comes as Park has rejected the prosecution's summons, citing health conditions.
[Park Geun-hye] [NIS]
Prosecutors establish special team to investigate possible slush fund at DAS
Posted on : Dec.24,2017 12:57 KST Modified on : Dec.24,2017 12:57 KST
Former President Lee Myung-bak is approached by a protester upon entering a restaurant in the Gangnam district of Seoul for a year-end party on Dec. 18. (by Shin So-young, staff reporter)
The car parts company is alleged to be owned by former president Lee Myung-bak
Prosecutors have set up a special team to launch a full-fledged investigation into allegations of a slush fund at DAS, a car parts company whose real owner has long been alleged to be former president Lee Myung-bak. The anti-corruption department at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office, under senior prosecutor Kim U-hyeon, announced on Dec. 22 that it had set up a team to investigate allegations of embezzlement at DAS raised by People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy.
[Lee Myung-bak] [Corruption]
South Korean guards fire at North Koreans chasing defecting soldier
Posted : 2017-12-21 12:24
Updated : 2017-12-21 13:25
By Bahk Eun-ji
A group of North Korean soldiers retreated after South Korean guards fired at them in the central-western part of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the four-kilometer-wide inter-Korean border, Thursday morning.
The North Korean soldiers were likely searching for a soldier who defected to the South at 8:04 a.m. The South Korean guards fired 20 rounds from their K-3 machine guns at the soldiers.
It is not clear whether the North Koreans fired back but no casualties were reported.
Moon Still Determined to Lure N.Korea to Winter Olympics
By Kim Dong-seok
December 20, 2017 10:48
President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday said he is continuing to persuade North Korea to take part in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
"We'll continue to persuade North Korea until then," he said. "Our government is waiting patiently." Moon added South Korea and the U.S. will probably postpone joint military drills until the Olympics are over.
[Moon Jae-in] [Olympics18] [Wishful thinking]
Foreign Minister identifies three primary international challenges facing South Korea
Posted on : Dec.19,2017 17:08 KST Modified on : Dec.19,2017 17:08 KST
A view of the 2017 conference of the heads of overseas diplomatic offices that took place at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Seoul’s Doryeom neighborhood on Dec. 18 (by Noh Ji-won, staff reporter)
Kang Kyung-wha identifies North Korea, regional cooperation, and diplomatic diversification as areas of focus
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said that South Korea would “suppress additional provocations by North Korea with the international community and strengthen its deterrence against North Korea through the South Korea-US alliance.” Kang made these remarks during the 2017 conference of the heads of overseas diplomatic missions that was held on Dec. 18 at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Seoul’s Doryeom neighborhood.
“During the seven months since the Foreign Ministry declared that foreign policy would be focused on the people, the national interest, and capabilities, in line with the new administration, we have been busily working each and every day to address our diplomatic challenges. We are still confronted by various difficulties,” Kang said. During the conference, Kang identified three chief challenges, namely the North Korean nuclear issue, cooperating with the four powers in the region (the US, China, Japan and Russia), and broadening the foreign policy horizon (diplomatic diversification).
Kang addressed the first challenge, the North Korean nuclear issue, as follows: “North Korea has reached the point where it claims to have completed its state nuclear force with the launch of the Hwasong-15 on Nov. 29. The South Korean government and the international community have responded with a joint effort to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons through tough sanctions and pressure on the principle of not tolerating North Korean nuclear weapons while urging North Korea to halt its provocations and quickly return to the table for talks.
[SK foreign policy]
Defense Security Command investigator indicted on perjury charges in spy framing case
Posted on : Dec.19,2017 17:03 KST Modified on : Dec.19,2017 17:03 KST
The defendant falsely testified that a Korean-Japanese man had not been tortured during interrogation
The investigator with the South Korean Army’s Defense Security Command (DSC) who testified during the retrial of a Korean-Japanese man who had been framed as a spy that the defendant had not been tortured has finally been indicted on the charge of perjury. This is the first time that the prosecutors have indicted an investigator to hold them responsible for perjury during retrials of past incidents.
North Korean defector questioned for possible National Security Act violations
Posted on : Dec.13,2017 18:03 KST Modified on : Dec.13,2017 18:03 KST
Civic group members demanding the repatriation of North Korean defector Kim Ryon-hui demonstration outside the Seoul Police headquarters in the Jongno District of Seoul on Dec. 12. (by Lim Jae-woo, staff reporter)
Kim Ryon-hui claims she was duped into coming to South Korea and wants to return home
Kim Ryon-hui, a 48-year-old defector from North Korea who has asked to return home, was questioned by police on charges of violating the National Security Act. Kim, who describes herself as a “citizen of Pyongyang,” has claimed to have been “tricked by a defection broker” into coming to South Korea.
On the morning of Dec. 12, Kim held a press conference with the civic group Association Urging the Repatriation of Pyongyang Citizen Kim Ryon-hui in front of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s security investigation office in Seoul’s Ogin neighborhood to criticize the police investigation. The press conference, which took place just before Kim’s questioning by police, includes calls for her swift repatriation.
[Returnee] [NSL] [Human rights]
South Korea union membership rate inches up to 10.3%
Posted on : Dec.10,2017 10:48 KST Modified on : Dec.10,2017 10:48 KST
Rate of Union Membership and Number of Union Members
The country has the lowest rate of unionization among OECD member states
Last year, South Korea’s union membership rate was 10.3%, representing a 0.1 point percent increase from the previous year. These figures leave out the Korea Teachers and Education Workers' Union (KTU), which the Park Geun-hye government stripped of its legal status as a union in 2013. If the 53,000 members of the KTU were included, the union membership rate would rise to 10.5%, its highest point since 2008.
According to the 2016 Nationwide Unionization Status, a report released by the Ministry of Employment and Labor on Dec. 7, 1,966,000 members of the total workforce (19,172,000) belonged to labor unions, resulting in a union membership rate of 10.3%. Public servants of level five and above, soldiers and police are not included in the union membership rate. After peaking at 19.8% in 1989, this rate fell into the single digits (9.8%) for the first time in 2010 but has stayed above 10% since 2011. That’s the lowest rate among OECD member states.
'Humanitarian aid for North Korea is basis for unification'
Posted : 2017-12-08 15:28
Updated : 2017-12-08 17:33
Kenneth Bae, the president of Nehemia Global Initiative, speaks during a session of the International Forum for One Korea in Seoul Dragon City, Thursday. From left are Ahn Chan-il, head of the World North Korea Research Center; Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea; Kang Young-sik, the secretary-general of humanitarian aid group Korean Sharing Movement (KSM); Lee Young-jong, the director at Unification Research Center of JoongAng Daily; Bae; Kim Hun-il, the secretary-general of Unitas; and Joo Hyun-lip, head of projects at the North Korea Service for Peace Foundation. / Courtesy of Global Peace Foundation
Civic groups boost unification movement amid security crisis on peninsula
By Kim Hyo-jin
Humanitarian aid for North Korea should continue to better connect the people in the country with the outside world despite heightened missile threats by its regime, civic activists said Thursday.
"North Koreans should be informed that the outside world actually cares about them," said Kenneth Bae, president of the Nehemia Global Initiative who was once detained in a North Korean labor camp. "Helping North Koreans open their minds to the outside world is critical to prepare for a unified Korea."
Kang Young-sik, secretary-general of the humanitarian aid group the Korean Sharing Movement (KSM), added, "Humanitarian assistance still does the role of enhancing North Koreans' human rights. As long as transparency of the distribution process is secured, it should be further facilitated."
[Unification] [Aid weapon]
Ruling party lawmaker calls for inter-Korean summit
Posted : 2017-12-07 14:32
Updated : 2017-12-07 14:32
South Korea should push for a summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the first half of Moon's term, a senior ruling party lawmaker said Thursday.
Rep. Lee Hae-chan of the Democratic Party made the suggestion in a speech set to be delivered at a security conference, saying 2019 will be good for a summit because the year is meaningful as the 100th anniversary of the 1919 nationwide uprising against Japanese colonial rule and the establishment of a provisional government.
"If possible, it's important to push for a South-North summit in the first half (of Moon's five-year term)," Lee said during the conference organized to mark late former President Kim Dae-jung's winning of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize following the first inter-Korean summit ever earlier that year.
"If a summit takes places in the second half, it would be difficult to guarantee its effectiveness," he said.
[Summit] [Wishful thinking]
Basketball Player to Compensate Team for Faking Korean Ancestry
By Joo Hyung-sik
December 04, 2017 11:57
A Korean court has ordered an American woman who played in the Korean basketball league last season after forging her birth certificate to pay her former team some W700 million in compensation (US$1=W1,085).
Chelsey Lee claimed her paternal grandmother is Korean. She is to pay KEB Hana Bank W745.8 million.
Lee debuted in the 2015-2016 season but faked her documents to beat the foreign-player quota, which is limited to two per team but does not cover those with Korean ancestry.
Her lie came to light when she applied for Korean citizenship in an attempt to play in the women's national basketball team for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Cass still sucks
Posted : 2017-12-04 14:17
Updated : 2017-12-04 15:31
+Cass' clean and fresh slogan tastes like juice
+Ramsay paid mouthpiece
By Andrew Salmon
Good news: A global food-and- beverage A-lister is endorsing a Korean product.
Bad news: The product is hardly A-grade. In fact, it is bland, undifferentiated and ? bar the fact that it is manufactured here ? barely "Korean" at all.
In case you have been in hibernation or on the moon in recent weeks: Badass restaurateur and TV personality Gordon Ramsay is promoting Korea's popular Cass lager.
Fair enough. The Briton is a world-famed celeb specializing in cuisine, so his push may be worth whatever Cass is paying. (Word on the street has it that his recent three-day Seoul tour earned him KRW400 million+, daily. But that is rumor, not the gospel according to St. Mammon. ) Ramsay is a free agent. Likewise, Cass is free to spend its marketing budget as it wishes.
And Cass is not a "bad" beer - any more than America's Budweiser, the UK's Carling Black Label or Australia's Fosters are "bad" beers. They are just dull, "paint-by-numbers" lagers that are well marketed and distributed.
President Moon casts doubts on North Korean claim of ICBM technical completion
Posted on : Dec.2,2017 16:43 KST Modified on : Dec.2,2017 16:43 KST
Photos of the Hwasong-15 missile launch that appeared in the Rodong Shinmun
Remarks are aimed at preventing US and North Korea from escalating tense situation
Attention is focusing on the reasons why South Korean President Moon Jae-in told US President Donald Trump in a phone call on Nov. 30 that North Korea’s Hwasong-15 missile has not been completely developed. While Moon was primarily raising doubts about the ICBM’s technical completion, experts believe that he was also sending a message to the US and North Korea not to allow rash conclusions to lead them into a fatal collision.
The Hwasong-15, Moon said during the phone call, “is clearly the most advanced missile to date which North Korea has developed, but its technology for reentry and for guidance in the terminal stage have not yet been proven, nor is it certain whether [North Korea] has acquired the technology for miniaturizing nuclear warheads.” That was the response Moon made when Trump asked him what he thought about North Korea’s missile. Moon has not accepted the claims of the North Korean government that it has completed its ICBM program and its “state nuclear force.”
[Moon Jae-in] [Hwasong-15] [Tragedy]
South Korean military launches special force to decapitate Kim Jong-un
Posted : 2017-12-03 15:22
Updated : 2017-12-03 16:09
By Bahk Eun-ji
The South Korean Army launched Saturday a special operation force, the so-called "decapitation unit," to eliminate the North's leadership in case of war.
The "decapitation unit," known to be modeled after the U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force, SEAL Team Six and Green Berets, is composed of around 1,000 soldiers and was established under the army's Special Warfare Command.
The brigade's mission is to eliminate the key figures of the North's regime including Kim and to destroy nuclear and missile facilities, according to the sources with knowledge of the process.
The exact name and mission of the brigade has not been specified by the Korean military official, but stressed that it will grow into the country's core of military strength.
The South Korean Army initially planned to launch the force in 2019, but decided to move up the schedule as North Korea continues to raise regional tensions with its ballistic missile launches and nuclear experiments.
NIS proposes name change and relinquishment of investigative powers
Posted on : Nov.30,2017 17:27 KST Modified on : Nov.30,2017 17:27 KST
The National Intelligence Service building
The request is an effort to move beyond recent scandals that have plagued the agency
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) submitted a proposed amendment to the National Intelligence Service Act changing its organization name to the “external security intelligence agency” and relinquishing its investigative powers. The NIS reported the amendment to the National Assembly Intelligence Committee on Nov. 29, explaining that its “focus was on reflecting on and breaking with past misdeeds such as political interference.” The name change is intended as “a pledge to break with deep rooted vices and commit our energies purely to national security and protecting the national interest,” it added.
In its proposed self-amendments, the NIS eliminated the concept of “domestic security intelligence” (anti-Communist and anti-government subversion activities) – which has been abused in the past as a basis for collecting domestic intelligence and interfering in politics. Instead, it stated the scope of intelligence gathering as restricted to North Korea and other countries; anti-espionage, anti-terrorism, and international criminal organizations; and acts of security infringement linked to North Korea.
President Moon criticized over N. Korea handling
Posted : 2017-11-30 16:50
Updated : 2017-11-30 19:14
By Choi Ha-young
Opposition parties and some experts criticized President Moon Jae-in, Thursday, over what they called his dubious stance on North Korea's provocations.
One issue in contention is a pledge he made to prevent a pre-emptive attack on North Korea in the wake of the North's latest missile test, Wednesday, apparently referring to military options being considered by the United States. Hardliners claim such remarks will discomfort Washington while making Pyongyang misunderstand the situation.
In the National Security Council meeting held in response to the missile launch, Moon said, "The country should prevent the situation in which North Korea poses a nuclear threat based on misjudgment or if the United States considers a preemptive attack against Pyongyang."
Until now, the President had avoided using the words "pre-emptive attack. " Instead of using the term, he called for "peace" and "opposition to war."
"That wording could undermine international society's diplomatic leverage in dealing with missile threats," said Rep. Kim Young-woo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party, chairman of the National Assembly National Defense Committee. "The government keeps showing its hand to Pyongyang and the North is gaining time to advance its missile and nuclear capacity."
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy]
N.Korea Is Getting Closer to the 'Red Line'
November 30, 2017 13:07
North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday which it plausibly claims can reach anywhere on the U.S. mainland. Hopes of dialogue had increased during the last 75 days as the North refrained from provocations, but the latest launch dashed them in one fell swoop.
There had even been calls to halt joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, but all that now appears futile. North Korea is only focused on completing its nuclear weapons development regardless of what the international community says. It has no interest in the South's proposals or offers.
[Hwasong-15] [Tragedy] [Red line]
Dialogue with North Korea is unrealistic: prime minister
Posted : 2017-11-29 16:52
Updated : 2017-11-30 15:27
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon speaks during a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club, an association of senior journalists, at the Korea Press Center in central Seoul, Wednesday. / Yonhap
By Kim Hyo-jin
The Moon Jae-in government thinks it is unrealistic to hold talks with North Korea, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Wednesday.
It is more likely to impose additional unilateral sanctions against the reclusive state, he said.
The comments came after the North fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that flew almost 1,000 kilometers before falling into the East Sea earlier in the day.
"The prospect of dialogue with the North is getting slimmer. It is unrealistic to do so while the country is accelerating its missile development," Lee said at a debate session hosted by the Kwanhun Club, an association of senior journalists.
"The government will continue to pressure the country in close coordination with the international community to the maximum level. Seoul may need to consider further unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang."
[SK NK policy] [Tragedy] [SK NK Negotiations]
'The shorter skirts are the better,' says defense chief in pep talk
Posted : 2017-11-28 13:32
Updated : 2017-11-29 08:47
South Korea's Defense Minister Song Young-moo speaks in a mess hall before a lunch with soldiers at the Joint Security Area in the Panmunjeom truce village, Nov. 27. Arriving at the hall late, he promised the soldiers that his speech before the lunch will be short, saying, "the shorter skirts are the better. " / Yonhap
By Ko Dong-hwan
Of all the remarks to boost the morale of South Korean soldiers protecting the inter-Korean border, he picks the wrong one.
Making a sexual remark may boost male soldiers' morale, but Defense Minister Song Young-moo chose the wrong place at the wrong time when he visited the Joint Security Area (JSA) Monday.
Two weeks after a North Korean soldier was shot five times when he dramatically escaped to the South through the JSA in the Panmunjeom truce village, Song visited the scene.
Besides checking out the scene, he met and encouraged South Korean soldiers for managing the incident well.
Song met the soldiers at a lunch in a mess hall, where he arrived late. Being apologetic, he cut short his talk so the soldiers would not have to wait long before eating.
"It's not fun to listen to someone haranguing on and on before a food table," Song said. "People say that the shorter speeches and miniskirts are the better, right?"
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