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Choi Soon-sil Screams Blue Murder
By Shin Su-ji
January 26, 2017 11:16
President Park Geun-hye's longtime crony Choi Soon-sil put on another bizarre performance on Wednesday, when she was brought in for questioning by an independent counsel investigating the corruption scandal surrounding them.
Choi was brought in under a fresh arrest warrant after she refused to obey the counsel's summonses six times, claiming she was ill and accusing officials of "repressive investigation."
As soon as Choi reached the lobby of the counsel's office, she started shouting at reporters that she was "being forced to make confessions" and investigators "defamed" her family including her daughter and grandson.
After Park’s media interview, an outpouring of anger on social media
Posted on : Jan.27,2017 14:18 KST
Members of the Emergency Committee for Park Geun-hye’s Immediate Resignation hold a press conference at Seoul Station ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, calling for Park’s swift impeachment, Jan. 26. (Yonhap News)
Before Lunar New Year holiday, candlelight and far-right groups hold duelling demonstrations at Seoul Station
There has been an outpouring of anger on social media after Park Geun-hye used a conspiracy theory to explain her impeachment trial during an interview with an Internet program with a conservative pundit released on Jan. 25. During the interview, Park said she had “the feeling that [the Choi Sun-sil scandal] had been in the works for a long time.”
Chun Woo-yong, a historian, got on Twitter the same day to excoriate Park for her remark during her interview that “the Choi Sun-sil scandal is a huge mountain of lies.” “The huge mountain of lies is Park Geun-hye’s life; the people living in houses built on that mountain are her associates; and the pile of trash produced by those houses are the groups loyal to Park,” Chun wrote.
Han In-seop, a professor at Seoul National University’s law school, posted on his Facebook page a screenshot from Park’s interview with a caption that read, “I heard the rallies supporting me drew crowds twice as big as the candlelight rallies.” “If that’s the kind of briefing Park was been getting, there’s no way she could have gotten anything right about running this country. She’s sick!” Han wrote.
“In the morning [of Jan. 25], Choi Sun-sil badmouthed the Special Prosecutor, and in the evening Park Geun-hye insulted the candlelight rallies. The two reconfirmed that they belong to the same ‘mental community,’” wrote Cho Guk, a professor at Seoul National University.
[Park Geun-hye] [Choi Sun-sil]
President's interview 'disgusting'
By Yi Whan-woo
Criticism is pouring in against impeached President Park Geun-hye after she dismissed the corruption scandal against her and the relevant public protests as being driven with lies and conspiracies in a rare interview, Wednesday.
All parties except for the ruling Saenuri Party denounced Park over her attitude, saying the interview showed why the public loathe her and why she should be removed from power.
This was her first exclusive interview with a Korean media outlet since taking office four years ago. She deliberately chose conservative journalist Jeong Kyu-jae who has been friendly to her as the interviewer in her defense, they claimed.
In the interview, she described the scandal as a "huge mountain heaped up with lies" and it had been plotted for a long time. She also dismissed the ongoing demonstrations demanding her ouster as a "conspiracy."
Judge Calls for Impeachment Ruling by March 13
January 26, 2017 09:56
Constitutional Court justice Park Han-chul, whose term ends next week, said Wednesday the court should rule on President Park Geun-hye's impeachment no later than March 13, when another judge retires.
"Every single justice carries substantial weight in guaranteeing a full and extensive deliberation of a nine-member court," judge Park said. "Even one vacancy could pose a significant threat to the fairness of the verdict."
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Minjoo Party lawmaker faces discipline over nude painting featuring Pres. Park
Posted on : Jan.25,2017 17:02 KST
“Dirty Sleep,” a work of parody by artist Lee Gu-yeong combining the French painter Edouard Manet’s “Olympia” with Italian painter Giorgione’s “Sleeping Venus,” with Park Geun-hye’s face transposed onto the originals showing reclining female nudes.
Painting was featured at National Assembly exhibition of satirical artwork, now accused of being anti-woman
The opposition Minjoo Party decided at an emergency supreme council meeting on Jan. 24 to refer lawmaker Pyo Chang-won to its ethics committee for possible disciplinary action over a controversial exhibition of satirical artwork that included an image of President Park Geun-hye’s face transposed on a nude painting.
“The decision was based on the determination that it was inappropriate for a lawmaker to stage an exhibition at the National Assembly showing artwork with anti-woman aspects,” said party spokesperson Park Kyung-mee.
In a Facebook post, Pyo wrote, “Obviously, this is just my taste, but I felt it was included in the category of ’artistic freedom.‘”
“Many people have remarked that [the exhibition] produced unintended side effects. I respect that, and if I must take responsibility, I will accept it,” he added
[Park Geun-hye] [Protest] [Minjoo]
Impeachment won’t be decided until after Constitution Court president’s term ends
Posted on : Jan.24,2017 16:51 KST
Court has decided to hold additional questioning of witnesses in early February, meaning sentence to come in late Feb. at earliest
The Constitutional Court decided on Jan. 23 to hold additional questioning of witnesses on Feb. 1 and 7 in the impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye.
The decision means no ruling in the case is possible before current court president Park Han-chul finishes his term on Jan. 31.
At an eighth session of arguments on Jan. 23, the court decided to hold questioning of witnesses including former Blue House Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon on Feb. 1 and 7. Park Geun-hye’s legal counsel requested a total of 39 witnesses that day, including Kim and former Senior Secretary to the President for Civil Affairs Woo Byung-woo. The court recognized six of them, along with former K-Sports Foundation secretary-general Jung Hyun-sik as requested by the National Assembly’s side, while deferring a decision on whether to adopt the remainder.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Lee Jae-myung hopes to become South Korea’s “first former laborer President”
Posted on : Jan.24,2017 16:59 KST
Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung declares his presidential candidacy on Jan. 23, at an event, at the Orient Watch Factory in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. (by Lee Jeong-woo, staff photographer)
Seongnam Mayor is currently second behind Moon Jae-in among Minjoo Party presidential hopefuls
Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung threw his hat in the ring for the presidential race on Jan. 23, declaring his plans to become “the Republic of Korea’s first laborer to become President.”
Lee delivered the message in a press conference at the Orient Watch Factory in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, where he went to work for two years as a 15-year-old in 1979.
“We are facing a diplomatic and security crisis because of incompetent and irresponsible pro-Japanese, dictatorial, and corrupt forces, and the vices of inequality and unfairness are thwarting opportunities for all South Koreans,” Lee declared.
“I am now beginning a great journey to sweep away the darkness and despair and make this a fair country,” he continued.
In his declaration, Lee said he hoped to make “a country where the strong and the weak are both equal before the law.”
“There will be no pardoning of [President] Park Geun-hye or [Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman] Lee Jae-yong under a Lee Jae-myung administration,” he added.
Lee went on to announce plans for “autonomous, national interest-centered balanced diplomacy” on diplomatic and security issues, including the reversal of plans to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, the transfer of wartime operational control to South Korea, nullification of the Dec. 2015 comfort women agree with Japan, and an end to South Korea and Japan‘s General Security of Military Information Agreement.
Ban Ki-moon's nephew dodges military duty
Presidential contender suffers another blow
By Kim Rahn
Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's scandal-ridden nephew, Bahn Joo-hyun, is on the wanted list for dodging compulsory military service, according to a media report Tuesday.
The Hankyoreh daily reported that the prosecution indicted Bahn, 39, for violating the conscription law, citing an unidentified high-profile government official. The daily did not say specifically when the indictment was filed.
S. Korea, Fiji agree to boost military cooperation
SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Fiji agreed to promote bilateral military exchanges during their first defense ministers' talks in Seoul on Wednesday.
Defense Minister Han Min-koo and his Fijian counterpart Ratu Inoke Kubuabola signed an memorandum of understanding to pave the way for defense cooperation, the Ministry of National Defense said. Seoul has inked such basic military relations with 43 countries.
They also discussed ways to promote cooperation between both countries' peacekeeping forces dispatched to Lebanon and South Sudan, the ministry said.
"Minister Han explained the current security situation on the Korean Peninsula, citing North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs. And he asked Fiji to join international efforts to pressure Pyongyang to give up its nuclear programs," the ministry said in a statement.
Fiji expressed concerns about North Korea's nuclear programs in January last year, when the North conducted its fourth nuclear test.
Parks Lawyers Spring 39 More Witnesses on Constitutional Court
January 24, 2017 11:00
President Park Geun-hye's lawyers have suddenly named another 39 witnesses in her impeachment trial in an apparent attempt to drag out proceedings.
The surprise move to tap 39 witnesses, many of who are likely to deliver testimony that is damaging to Park, came on Friday as the court decided to use transcribed prosecutors' interviews with 46 suspects to save time and summon only a handful in person.
They include her former chief of staff Kim Ki-choon, who is separately under arrest, former national security chief and now ambassador to China Kim Jang-soo, and ex-presidential secretary Woo Byung-woo.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
S. Korea to bolster detection capabilities against N. Korean WMDs
South Korea will bolster its detection and surveillance capabilities this year to better counter North Korea's weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the defense ministry said Tuesday.
In 2017, the military is planning to deploy 10 new weapons systems to more effectively deal with threats posed by Pyongyang's nuclear and other unconventional weapons, the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.
The new systems include chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) reconnaissance vehicles, the towed array sonar system (TASS) designed to detect and track an enemy submarine, unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, and upgraded versions of the new Ulsan-class frigate, it said.
S. Korea unveils book about updated profiles of N. Korea officials
South Korea's unification ministry said Tuesday it released a book containing updated profiles of North Korea's key party, state and military officials including Ri Son-gwon, the new chief of the North's inter-Korean agency.
The ministry released its annual Who's Who on a total of 361 North Korean figures after compiling information based on the North's media reports and announcements, it added.
The book, which also contains short biographies of 61 late officials, was published in a bid to help understand and analyze the North Korean regime, according to the Ministry of Unification.
S. Korea launches advisory body on N. Korea human rights policy
South Korea's unification ministry on Tuesday launched an advisory body to help the government set up its policy on North Korea's human rights in accordance with a law aimed at improving the way Pyongyang treats its people.
The 10-member advisory committee will provide recommendations to the government in carrying out its probe into North Korea's human rights abuses and conducting relevant policies, according to the Ministry of Unification.
The committee members, mainly consisting of professors, will work for a two-year term as the new law on North Korea's human rights went into effect in September last year.
[Softwar] [Human rights]
Ban Ki-moon may end up a storm in a teacup
Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon looks pensive during a welcoming reception held at the official residence of Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in Hannam-dong, Seoul, Friday. / Yonhap
By Kim Hyo-jin
Ban Ki-moon had been touted as the savior for the scandal-ravaged country by many people until he returned home Jan. 12 after eight years as the U.N. secretary general.
That was mainly because he had a unique selling point as a presidential contender.
His biggest asset is lengthy experience as a successful career diplomat and the leader of the global body. People thought this would benefit the country if he becomes the next president.
However, what has been happening since his return is embarrassing.
He is struggling to impress voters amid criticism that he has few ideas about how to revive the country and has ambiguous stances on politically sensitive issues. Bribery allegations surrounding him and his relatives especially grabbed the people's attention.
Since his return, the gap between Ban and frontrunner Moon Jae-in in opinion polls has widened.
Former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon falters as he prepares to run for president of South Korea
By Anna Fifield
January 24 at 1:30 AM
DAEJEON, South Korea — Since Ban Ki-moon returned to South Korea this month — to a hero’s welcome, his arrival at Seoul’s main airport broadcast live on television — the former U.N. secretary general has gone through all the steps required to run for the presidency. But, as the career bureaucrat is quickly finding out, following the traditional playbook doesn’t necessarily equal political success.
Ruling party to announce new name in Feb.
South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party, which faces its biggest crisis following the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, said Monday it will change its name to show its commitment in seeking reform.
Saenuri said it will start gathering public opinions and choose a name that can deliver its conservative political stance.
Seongju and Gimcheon Residents Occupy The Minjoo Headquarters to Stop THAAD Deployment
Jan 18, 2017 | News, News Headlines, US-ROK Alliance
Residents of Seongju and Gimcheon as well as Won Buddhists have pitched tents outside the Minjoo Party headquarters in Seoul and vow to stay until the main opposition party agrees to oppose the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system. They have been there since January 11 to demand the party officially adopt opposition to the THAAD deployment as its party platform. They also demand the formation of a special committee in the National Assembly to pressure the South Korean government to reverse its agreement with the U.S. to deploy the THAAD missile system.
[THAAD] [Protest] [Minjoo]
South Korea’s Identity Gap: Diverging Views on North Korea
By Phillip Lee and Steven Denney | January 23, 2017
>Ernest Gellner held that when the national and political unit are incongruent, the nationalist principal is violated. Politically different, how much longer can North and South Korea be considered the same nation? | Image: Steven Denney
Once upon a time, it was generally regarded as inevitable that the two Koreas would eventually reunify. Most people didn’t even imagine an alternative outcome. The political rhetoric between the regimes in Seoul and Pyongyang was delivered at very high velocity, most certainly, but that was proportional to the shared ethnic brotherhood that leaders in the two capitals knew would, if left recklessly untended, transcend the DMZ, a particularly artificial frontier construct in a world bursting with arbitrary post-colonial dividing lines.
Since the turn of the 21st century, however, the discussion has changed. Now it is possible to imagine the two Koreas never unifying. Lots of people are doing it. In part, this is because the people have changed. Recent and not-so-recent survey data suggest that a widely mooted identity and attitudinal gap within South Korea is getting inexorably wider. Young South Koreans are, for now, disinterested in unification and, indeed, see North Korea in the kind of terms that gives elites a free hand to maintain the status quo. In this essay, Phillip Lee1) and Steven Denney review the survey data and provide fresh evidence from qualitative interviews. — Christopher Green, Co-editor
South Korea’s Identity Gap: Diverging Views on North Korea
by Phillip Lee and Steven Denney
Based on public opinion data, South Koreans have consistently displayed mixed feelings towards North Korea. Data over the last five years suggest a new, and possibly lasting, trend: an increasingly realpolitik attitude towards the DPRK among South Korean youth. According to a January 2015 Asan Public Opinion Report on “South Korean Attitudes toward North Korea and Unification,” the time period between 2010 and 2014 reveals “youth detachment from North Korea” as “perhaps the most important recurring theme in public opinion data” during that time. In a 2013 CSIS PacNet article, Steven Denney and Karl Friedhoff argue that South Korean youth are becoming increasingly conservative on foreign policy issues, especially regarding South Korea’s policy towards the DPRK.
Youth Attitudes Towards North Korea: Survey Data Analysis | The latest wave of the Korean identity survey (2015) provides new grist for the mill. Answers to the question “How do you typically think of Korea” indicate that Asan and Denney and Friedhoff are indeed onto something. Of the five choices provided for answers — “one of us,” “brother,” neighbor,” “other,” and “enemy” – those which denote a sense of closeness based on ethnic or national affinity (one of us and brother) show significant variation across age cohorts, especially between the youngest cohort and everyone else.2) Only 13.8 percent of those ages 19-29 choose “one of us,” 10pp below the mean and the lowest for any age cohort. For “brother,” 15 percent of the youngest age cohort agreed, approximately five percent below the average and, again, the lowest for any age cohort.(See Figures 1 and 2 below.)
[Unification] [Public opinion]
S. Korea's national debt tops W600,000,000,000,000
South Korea's national debt exceeded 600 trillion won ($510 billion) for the first time in 2016, due to increased spending on social welfare and economy-boosting measures, data showed Sunday.
Kim Ki-choon and Culture Minister arrest warrants issued over cultural blacklist
Posted on : Jan.21,2017 15:11 KST
Court cites risk that Kim and Cho Yoon-sun could destroy evidence in issuing warrants
A court issued arrest warrants for former Blue House Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon, 78, and Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Cho Yoon-sun, 51, as requested by the investigative team led by Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo.
Seong Chang-ho, a judge in charge of warrants for the Seoul Central District Court, issued warrants for Kim and Cho in the early morning of Jan. 21. “The court acknowledges the necessity of their arrest because the fact of the crime has been demonstrated and because there are concerns that they might destroy evidence,” the judge said.
[Park Geun-Hye] [Prosecution]
Rejection of Lee Jae-yong arrest warrant shows that S. Korea is still the Republic of Samsung
Posted on : Jan.20,2017 16:41 KST
Outpouring of public anger over court’s denial, as well as messages of support for Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo
Angry and despairing citizens bemoaned the “Samsung republic” South Korea has become after news that a court had moved on the morning of Jan. 19 to reject an arrest warrant against Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, 49, on charges of offering bribes to President Park Geun-hye.
The news also brought an outpouring of support and encouragement for the team of Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo.
”Samsung ranks first in the Republic of Korea hierarchy”
“The rejection of the arrest warrant does not erase the crime that occurred,” wrote the group Emergency Citizen Action for the Resignation of the Park Geun-hye Administration in an emergency statement the same morning.
The group went on to say a 13th pan-national action with demonstrations on Jan. 21 would “set right the justice demolished by the courts.”
[Corporate power] [Park Geun-hye] [Corruption] [Samsung]
US asks Korea to arrest brother of ex-UN chief
By Ko Dong-hwan
The U.S. government has requested Korea's Ministry of Justice to arrest former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's brother on charges of bribery.
The ministry is in talks with the U.S. government regarding Ban's younger brother Ban Ki-sang and his son Bahn Joo-hyun, who were indicted in New York in October.
[Ban Ki-moon] [Corruption]
News on South Korea’s Domestic Policy: the Saenuri Party Split
The breaking news at the end of last year concerned the split in the conservative wing.
As a reminder, on December 20, 2016, former leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, Kim Moo-sung, and former leader of the parliamentary faction, Yoo Seong-min, agreed to withdraw from the Saenuri Party and started to urge deputies who opposed the Head of State to do the same if Yoo Seong-min was not elected Head of Interim Committee that would function as the Party’s executive board while it undergoes renewal and a change of leadership.
Park Used Mobile Phone Under Borrowed Name
By Park Sang-ki
January 20, 2017 09:41
President Park Geun-hye used a mobile phone in someone else's name, her former aide Jeong Ho-seong told the Constitutional Court on Thursday. While this is nowhere near the worst crime she is being accused of, it is common practice among criminals and punishable by up to three years in prison or a maximum fine of W100 million (US$1=W1,178).
Jeong had one as well. "We didn't use phones registered in our own names because of the risk of our conversations being tapped," Jeong said in Park’s impeachment trial. He added that he paid his own phone bill.
Phone Records Prove Nonstop Contact Between Choi and Cheong Wa Dae
By Yang Eun-kyoung, Park Sang-ki
January 19, 2017 09:35
Phone records show that President Park Geun-hye's longtime crony Choi Soon-sil was in touch with Cheong Wa Dae three times a day till at least the end of 2014.
Prosecutors presented the records in the criminal trial of ex-Cheong Wa Dae secretary Jeong Ho-seong on Wednesday. They show that Jeong and Choi were in touch via mobile phone 2,092 times from early 2013, when Park became president, until late 2014.
Contacts included 1,197 text messages and 895 phone calls. Jeong sent Choi 237 text messages alerting her that he had uploaded confidential Cheong Wa Dae documents including Park's speeches on a shared e-mail account. Choi would then revise them and send a text to Jeong saying, "Have a look."
[Park Geun-hye] [Choi Sun-sil]
Court denies arrest warrant for Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong
Posted on : Jan.19,2017 12:13 KST
Special Prosecutor will now have to redraw investigation plan, with it now more difficult to prove Lee and Pres. Park carried out bribery
On Jan. 19, a South Korean court denied a request for an arrest warrant against Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, 49, who is suspected of having given a bribe to South Korean President Park Geun-hye. This represents a major hitch in Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo’s plan to use charges that Lee gave a bribe as a stepping stone to investigate charges that President Park Geun-hye received that bribe. The Special Prosecutor’s investigative team is carefully examining the court’s rationale for rejecting the request for an arrest warrant and considering resubmitting the request.
Jo Ui-yeon, the judge who is in charge of warrants at the Seoul Central District Court, rejected the Special Prosecutor’s request for an arrest warrant after conducting pre-arrest questioning of Lee on Jan. 18. Lee returned home after being released from the Seoul Detention Center, located in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province.
[Park Geun-Hye] [Corruption] [Samsung] [Lee Jae-yong]
Acting president calls for thorough readiness against potential N. Korea provocations
South Korea's Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Thursday called for a thorough security readiness posture, warning of possible North Korean provocations, including cyberattacks, ahead of this year's presidential election.
During an annual security meeting involving the government, military, police and civilians, Hwang also instructed top officials to fully prepare against possible attacks by "North Korean spies, internal radicals and violent extremists."
Hwang made the remarks amid growing concerns that the communist state could engage in provocative acts to influence the presidential election in the South or attract the attention of the incoming U.S. government slated to take office on Friday (Washington time).
[Hwang Kyo-ahn] [North Wind] [SK_Election17]
Populism flourishes as election clock ticks down
Presidential contenders from left, Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myeong; Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon; former leader of Democratic Party of Korea Moon Jae-in; Gyeonggi Province Governor Nam Kyung-pil and Bareun Party lawmaker Yoo Seung-min. / Korea Times file
By Lee Han-soo
As Korea's presidential poll clock ticks down, populist campaign pledges from contenders are flooding the media.
But many experts have branded the promises from conservative and progressive parties unrealistic. This is what the critics are saying:
Ban Ki-moon haunted by awkward slip-ups
By Ko Dong-hwan
Former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, second in presidential opinion polls, is being pummeled by embarrassing headlines and critics over a series of alleged slip-ups.
Ban arrived back in Seoul on Jan. 12 after ending his tenure as United Nations Secretary-General in New York.
Some of the alleged gaffes were verified, while others were a mere blooper or mash-up spread by the anti-Ban movement. The latter's example is a social media video of Ban attending a memorial service at his father's tomb at Eumseong County in North Chungcheong Province on Saturday.
The 12-second video purported to show that Ban infringed tradition by drinking the first glass of liquor reserved for his late father. The rule, respected by most Koreans, says the first glass must be poured on tombs while the second is for drinking.
The video prompted critical comments online, such as Ban "does not know a basic manner" and "everything he does looks out of tune."
But the full video proved otherwise, showing Ban keeping the tradition. Ban's presidential committee said the video was "vilifying and rueful" and Ban "served according to his hometown tradition of the rite, which differs by region."
[Ban Ki-moon] [SK_Election17]
South Korea in the Center of the Acute Situation in Northeast Asia (NEA)
The beginning of 2017 was marked by the aggravation of the situation in Northeast Asia. And this time the Republic of Korea (ROK) was in the center of this negative trend. We are talking about the consequences of the problem of “comfort women” (more than once discussed in the NEO, and also the flyby by a group of Chinese fighter jets on January 9, 2017 through the ROK’s “Air Defense Identification Zone” (ADIZ).
[SK Japan] [SK China]
South Korea Forms Special Unit to Kill North Korean Leader
Andrei AKULOV | 18.01.2017
Much has been said about North Korea’s nuclear program and missile tests. An all-out war is hardly an option and the prospects for talks are bleak enough. There is a great possibility the problem will be solved by a commando raid. Decapitation strikes are delivered to eliminate an adversary’s leadership to disrupt or destroy its chain of command at the time of crisis about to break out. North and South Korea are still technically at war as they signed an armistice but not a treaty following the end of the Korean War in 1953.
South Korea is about to wrap up the US-backed plans to take out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It is forming a special military brigade this year tasked with removing North Korea's leadership as Seoul looks for ways to counter the Pyongyang’s emerging nuclear missile potential.
[Assassination] [Special forces] [Russian IR] [Decapitation]
Constitutional Court Won't Use Tablet PC as Evidence
January 18, 2017 13:14
The Constitutional Court on Tuesday decided not to admit a tablet PC allegedly used by President Park Geun-hye's longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil as evidence in the impeachment trial.
The tablet PC allegedly contains crucial evidence tying Choi and Park to rampant corruption, but the court accepted argument from Park's lawyers that its provenance is dubious. But the court admitted the diaries of former presidential secretary An Chong-bum recording detailed instructions from Park.
The court is not tasked with establishing Park's criminal guilt or innocence beyond reasonable doubt but merely to judge whether the National Assembly's impeachment motion is constitutional.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
More Defections by N.Korean Diplomats 'Went Unreported'
By Lee Yong-soo, Kim Myong-song
January 18, 2017 13:14
Several North Korean diplomats have recently defected to South Korea but the news has been kept quiet, the former No. 2 in the North Korean Embassy in London said Tuesday.
"A significant number of diplomats came to South Korea," Thae Yong-ho said. "Even now, there are a number waiting to head to the South."
Thae was speaking at a conference hosted by conservatives who defected from the Saenuri Party to launch their own.
Intelligence sources say there has been a marked increase in defections among the North Korean elite since last July, when Thae fled to the South with his family.
One intelligence source said, "The number of North Korean diplomats who defected to South Korea last year stands in the double digits." The source added that includes not just diplomats but also high-ranking officials from Room 39, the Workers Party office that manages leader Kim Jong-un’s private coffers, and military officers.
[Thae Yong Ho] [Defectors]
Special Prosecutors team to question Pres. Park in person before early Feb.
Posted on : Jan.18,2017 15:29 KST
Park likely to comply with questioning; team has no way of forcing her to be questioned if she refuses
The investigative team of special prosecutor Park Young-soo announced plans on Jan. 17 to question President Park Geun-hye in person no later than early February.
Coming after its request the previous day for an arrest warrant against Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong on bribery charges, the team’s decision to publicly announce its questioning schedule for Park - the apex figure in the Choi Sun-sil government influence scandal - signals that it is speeding up its investigation process.
“While we haven’t yet had any contact, we feel in-person questioning of President Park will to be done by early February at the latest,” said special prosecutor’s spokesperson Lee Gyu-cheol in a regular briefing on Jan. 17.
[Park Geun-hye] [Prosecution]
Moon Jae-in extends lead after Ban's return: poll
Hankook Ilbo survey shows wider gap between 2 candidates
By Kang Seung-woo
Moon Jae-in, a former chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), extended his lead over former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the latest poll on potential presidential candidates Wednesday, amid growing public calls for a judgment on the Park Geun-hye administration.
[Election17] [Moon Jae-in]
Choi Soon-sil Denies Everything in Impeachment Trial
By Shin Su-ji
January 17, 2017 11:10
President Park Geun-hye's longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil finally took the stand in President Park Geun-hye's impeachment trial on Monday but denied any wrongdoing.
In a typically volatile and obstructive performance, Choi answered "I don't know" to most questions, except now and then to bristle at her questioners and entangle herself in contradictions.
Ex-top presidential aide, culture minister grilled in corruption scandal
Arrest warrants expected soon over blacklist
By Jung Min-ho
Former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon and Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun were questioned Tuesday over their alleged roles in creating a blacklist of thousands of artists critical of President Park Geun-hye
[Park Geun-hye] [Corruption]
Both leading presidential candidates turn to the right on THAAD deployment
Posted on : Jan.16,2017 17:49 KST
Former Minjoo Party of Korea leader Moon Jae-in wipes away a tear at a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the death of philosopher Shin Young-bok, at a cathedral in Seoul’s Guro district. On the right is Justice Party leader Shim Sang-jung. (by Lee Jeong-woo, staff photographer)
Moon Jae-in now saying renegotiation not possible, while Ban Ki-moon in favor of deployment
Former Minjoo Party of Korea leader Moon Jae-in sounded a realist note on Jan. 15 on the issue of renegotiating the Korean Peninsula deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which he said was effectively impossible.
Meanwhile, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon showed his conservative national security leanings on THAAD, which has become a key issue in foreign affairs and national security.
“The Korean Peninsula is in a quasi-wartime situation, and THAAD must be deployed,” Ban declared.
The move to the right on the THAAD issue from both Moon and Ban - respectively running first and second in ratings as contenders in this year’s presidential election - appears to herald changes in a public opinion landscape where the battle so far has been between those calling for the reexamination of the deployment and others who advocated accepting it as a reality.
[THAAD] [Moon Jae-in] [Ban Ki-moon]
THAAD deal with Lotte may be delayed
By Park Jae-hyuk
Lotte Group's offering of its golf resort as a site to deploy a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery here may be delayed for administrative reasons, according to the Ministry of National Defense, Monday.
However, some observers see that the retail giant has been reluctant to exchange the Lotte Skyhill Country Club in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province, for a piece of military-owned land in Gyeonggi Province, due to Beijing's recent economic retaliations against its operations in China.
During a press briefing on Monday, defense ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said that the administrative process is underway, but the land-swapping deal originally scheduled to be finished by January may be postponed a little.
"An appraisal of the two sites was completed last week," he said. "We expect Lotte to hold a board of directors meeting soon to approve the swap."
Lotte Group, however, said the board of directors meeting of Lotte International owning the golf course has yet to be scheduled, even though the company vowed to follow the government's decision sincerely.
Seoul mayor criticizes Moon's flexible stance on THAAD
Updated : 2017-01-16 10:20
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, a potential presidential hopeful from the main opposition Democratic Party, on Monday criticized fellow party member Moon Jae-in after he seemed to indicate a willingness to backtrack on the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system.
Moon earlier said South Korea may face challenges in canceling the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery as the agreement has already been reached by Seoul and Washington, hinting that his campaign may refrain from taking aggressive opposition. In the past, Moon voiced opposition to the stationing of the anti-missile defense system.
The opposition bloc opposes the plan to install the system in the country by May, citing concerns that such a move will hurt Seoul's ties with Beijing.
"Can a leader who becomes timid in the face of the Washington protect the national interest?" Park said through his social media account.
"The U.S. is our biggest ally and it should continue remain so," Park said. "But we should be able to say no if needed.
"(Moon) should not change words because he wants more votes," Park continued, adding decisions should only be made by looking into the best interests for the people and the country.
Park claimed the THAAD system will not effectively protect the Seoul metropolitan area with a population of 25 million, demanding a full reexamination.
Citing the adverse impact on the economy due to protest from China, Park said the economy is also an important aspect of national security. (Yonhap)
[THAAD] [Moon Jae-In] [Park Won-soon]
South Korean prosecutors seek warrant to arrest Samsung head for bribery
Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, arrives for a hearing at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Lee Jin-Man/AP)
By Anna Fifield
January 16 at 11:04 AM ?
TOKYO — The dramatic corruption and influence-peddling scandal that has gripped South Korea took another sensational turn Monday when special prosecutors sought to arrest the de facto head of Samsung — and hinted that they might have President Park Geun-hye in their sights next.
The independent counsel investigating the case accused Lee Jae-yong — who is officially the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics but runs the corporate behemoth controlled by his family — of bribery, embezzlement and perjury Monday, and asked a local court to issue a warrant for his arrest. A court will review the request Wednesday.
The prosecutors suspect that Lee ordered his executives to use corporate money to pay bribes to the president’s secret confidante in return for favorable treatment and that he lied about it when he appeared before a parliamentary panel last month.
[Park Geun-hye] [Corruption] [Samsung]
Poll: Support for Moon Jae-in surges to 31%, over Ban Ki-moon’s 20%
Posted on : Jan.15,2017 13:03 KST
Results also show significant increase in support over the past three years for lowering voting age
Support by presidential candidates
A poll by Gallup Korea tracking support for presidential frontrunners in the second week of January found that Moon Jae-in, former leader of the opposition Minjoo Party, remained ahead of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and had increased his lead to more than 10 percentage points.
[Election17] [Moon Jae-in]
[Editorial] Ban Ki-moon already showing he’s not fit to lead the country
Posted on : Jan.13,2017 18:19 KST
Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon moves to take the train to Seoul Station from Incheon International Airport, followed by people carrying signs both supporting and opposing him, Jan. 12. (pool photo)
Among several things that former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed during the press conference he held upon returning to South Korea on Jan. 12, some of his main messages were national unity, international judgment, speaking for the rights of the weak and political change. Ban basically used the press conference to emphasize his experience as UN Secretary-General and to declare that he is the right person to govern the country. Ban’s remarks adequately demonstrate his strong will to power, but given the life he has lived and his recent actions, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this outfit is not the right fit for him.
Ban Ki-moon supports THAAD deployment
Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his wife Yoo Soon-taek receive their resident ID cards at a community center in Sadang-dong, Dongjak-gu in southern Seoul, Friday. / Korea Times Photo by Shin Sang-soon
By Rachel Lee
Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is throwing his full support behind the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery here.
"Economic policies could be altered, but it's not the case when it comes to national security," Ban said. "Concerns are growing over China's retaliation against the THAAD deployment, but it could be resolved diplomatically."
[THAAD] [Ban Ki-moon]
S. Korean foods, kitchenware gaining popularity in N. Korea: RFA
South Korean food products and kitchenware are popular in North Korea despite a strong crackdown on them because of the dissemination of South Korean movies and dramas in the communist country, a U.S. broadcaster, monitored here, reported Thursday.
"Scores or hundreds of boxes of famous South Korean ramen products produced in China are being brought into the North without restrictions as long as their outer packages contain only Chinese letters with no hangeul (Korean alphabet)," Radio Free Asia (RFA) said, citing a Chinese source well-versed in the North.
Words of Warning and Encouragement to South Korean Student Protesters
Young people are at the forefront of change in South Korea. What can they learn from the past?
By Emanuel Pastreich and Ku Yaerin, January 9, 2017.
Dear Student Protesters:
We are deeply inspired to see all of you – college students, high school students, and even middle school students – gathered in Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, candles in hands, waving your hand-crafted posters. It is a noble action for the citizen to take to the street and demand the rule of law and insist on accountability. That so many young people have taken to the streets suggests an awaking of political consciousness in Korea that is heartening.
The media has praised you for the peaceful manner by which you have carried out your protests, going as far as to suggest that Korea is now a model for democracy.
But do not assume that this ordeal is over now that prosecutors are grilling President Park Geun-hye’s buddies like Choi Soon-sil in the impeachment proceedings.
It is entirely possible that this ordeal is only beginning.
[Park Geun-hye] [Protest]
Court Dismisses Park's Account of 'Missing 7 Hours'
By Shin Su-ji
January 11, 2017 10:44
The Constitutional Court on Tuesday dismissed as "insufficient" a 16-page statement from President Park Geun-hye purporting to explain where she was during the 2014 ferry disaster.
Park's lawyers submitted the document 19 days after the court asked her to detail her whereabouts during the notorious "missing seven hours" on April 16, 2014, when she was nowhere to be found as rescue efforts went badly awry and more than 300 young passengers and crew died.
"We asked the president to reveal what she did on the day, but the document appears to be insufficient. It only includes what orders she gave and what reports she received," the court said.
[Park Geun-hye] [Sewol]
[Editorial] Pres. Park’s false claims about Sewol 7 hours are sufficient grounds for impeachment
Posted on : Jan.11,2017 15:46 KST
President Park Geun-hye makes her third statement to the public over the Choi Sun-sil scandal, at the Blue House in Seoul, Nov. 29, 2016. (pool photo)
On Jan. 10, President Park Geun-hye finally submitted a record of her actions on the day of the Sewol sinking (Apr. 16, 2014), but it was rejected by the Constitutional Court, which described the record as “inadequate” and asked her to comb her memory before resubmitting it. Park’s preposterous words and behavior remain a horrifying memory not only for the victims’ families but also for the country as a whole, even now, after 1,000 days have passed. In an effort to bury the truth of that day, Park and her associates have tried to muzzle those who were involved and to cover up facts and fabricate evidence, and they are still doing so today. The record of her actions that Park gave the Constitutional Court is the epitome of her impudence and shamelessness.
What is most unforgivable is that Park and her aides are still attempting to deceive the public with false explanations even after they squandered the “golden time” for the rescue work. After the sinking of the Sewol came to the attention of Jeonnam (South Jeolla) Fire Service at 8:52 am on the day of the sinking and was first reported on television at 9:19 am, the entire country was glued to the screen with concern, but Park claimed that she did not receive her first written report about the accident from her security office until about 10 am.
[Park Geun-hye] [Sewol] [Impeachment]
Ban Ki-moon's brother, nephew charged with bribery in US
Two relatives of former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have been charged with bribery in the United States, in yet another public embarrassment for Ban, 72, who is seeking the South Korean presidency.
The two are Ban's younger brother, Ban Ki-sang, and his nephew, Bahn Joo-hyun, according to reports.
They have been accused in New York of offering money to a Middle Eastern official. Prosecutors claim bribes were given to entice the official to use government funding to buy their building project.
Prosecutors said that in early 2013 the South Korean construction firm Keangnam, of which Ban's younger brother was an executive, was faced with growing debt and sought to sell a building complex in Vietnam known as Landmark 72.
[Ban Ki-moon] [Corruption]
One Dystopian Korea: A Review of Our Aspiration is War by Jang Kang-myung
By Robert Lauler | January 11, 2017
>“We are one” is the sentiment on the fence at Imjingang, the final railroad station before trains from Seoul cross over into the DMZ and North Korea. One new Korean fiction work paints a much bleaker picture. | Image: Sino-NK
There has been an uptick in interest in translated Korean fiction over the last two years. Most prominently, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize in 2016, generating significant curiosity about the author’s other works. A 2015 piece on Korean literature by Ed Park in The New Yorker also put a handful of novels on the team’s shelves. Korean fiction is by no means tumbling pell-mell out of the bookstores of the West, and it probably never will be. Production would be in trouble without support from the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, too. But, for now at least, the future of Korean literature in translation is secure.
In the end, however; if you are eager for new literature that touches on Sino-NK‘s true specialties — Northeast Asian borderlands, Korean ethnic identity, North Korean political economy, China-North Korea relations and the like — you have to dive into the Korean and Chinese markets directly. In this review, Robert Lauler does just that, taking his magnifying glass to the new novel by Jang Kang-myung, author of the cult hit Because I Hate Korea, in which Jang throws down a dystopian vision of the future unified Korea. — Christopher Green, Co-editor
One Dystopian Korea: A Review of Our Aspiration is War by Jang Kang-myung
by Robert Lauler
>Our Aspiration is War, the new book by Jang Kang-myung, which paints a grim picture of post-unification Korea.
Imagine that the Kim regime has finally collapsed. A “Unification Provision Government” has been setup in North Korea and order is maintained through a combination of UN peacekeeping forces and the old North Korean public security bureau. Korean unification, however, is far from complete. The North and South remain separated by the 38th Parallel and North Koreans are not allowed free movement into the South. North Korean drugs flowing across the border are a major issue between the two Koreas. Partly as a result, North Koreans find entering South Korea more difficult than ever.
[Unification] [Scenario] [Fiction] [Drugs]
Choi Sun-sil scandal spreading to create security and diplomatic frictions
Posted on : Jan.9,2017 17:36 KST
South Korean government’s momentum is sapped by domestic turmoil, leaving THAAD and comfort women issues dangling
The Park Geun-hye administration’s governance failures - as exemplified by the ongoing scandal involving confidante Choi Sun-sil - are extending beyond home territory to generate diplomatic and security frictions.
Cases in point include the controversy over deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system and conflicts with Tokyo over the raising of a comfort woman in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan. The statue issue in particular appears poised to upend an agreement reached between the South Korean and Japanese governments on the comfort women issue on Dec. 28, 2015.
The Park administration has repeatedly maintained that it is “consistently pursuing policies” and “faithfully honoring” the agreement. But with its momentum in state affairs sapped by the National Assembly’s impeachment vote against Park late last year, it now finds itself in a predicament where it can’t take action one way or the other. Many experts are saying that with no sure-fire realistic solutions available before the arrival of a new, “democratically legitimate” administration, the administration should focus its capabilities on managing the situation and preventing further deterioration.
[Choi Sun-sil] [SK Japan] [Comfort women]
More Koreans now non-believers, census shows
Christians surpassed Buddhists in their number for the first time in Korea, according to Statistics Korea's census from 2015. / Korea Times file
By Ko Dong-hwan
For the first time, more Koreans consider themselves non-believers than those who say they are believers, the latest census shows.
Non-believers accounted for 56.1 percent of the population ? 27.5 million ? in the Statistics Korea 2015 Population and Housing Census.
The figure has jumped almost 10 percent from 10 years ago, according to the report.
While respondents were mainly into non-Catholic Christians, Buddhists and Catholics, Christians totaled 9.68 million (19.7 percent), topping the number of Buddhists ? 7.62 million (15.5 percent) for the first time.
Buddhist monk in critical condition after setting himself on fire in anti-president rally
By Park Si-soo
A Buddhist monk set himself on fire in an anti-president protest in downtown Seoul on Saturday night, leaving a hand-written memo calling for stern punishment against President Park Geun-hye for the ongoing political scandal.
Ven. Jungwon, 64, was taken to Seoul National University Hospital, where he is now in critical condition, according to his aides.
"He is in critical condition and remains unconscious," said Kwon Young-gook, a lawyer representing an anti-Park civic group "His organs including heart, lung, kidneys and liver are not functioning normally."
The hospital said the monk suffered severe third-degree burns to nearly 70 percent of his body.
Police said the incident took place at around 10:30 p.m. near Gwanghwamun Square. An investigation is under way.
Police found a memo at the scene, in which the monk claimed President Park should be punished for causing a "rebellion." He also called for a Seoul-Tokyo agreement signed in 2015 to resolve the "comfort women" issue to be nullified
"Please don't make my death worthless," the memo said.
[Park Geun-hye] [Protest]
Park Geun-hye and her secretary used illegal burner phones for conversations
Posted on : Jan.8,2017 09:38 KST
Illegal phones were also used for conservations with Choi Sun-sil, who was interfering in government affairs
The Hankyoreh has confirmed that President Park Geun-hye called her former personal secretary Jung Ho-seong (who is now in jail and facing charges) not only on the official Blue House work phone assigned to Jung but also on burner phones that he had acquired separately. Jung had set up the burner phones primarily to talk to Choi Sun-sil (who is also in jail and facing charges), and a large number of recordings have been found of conversations in which Choi gave instructions about how to run the government.
Phone numbers listed with the initials “P” and “S” frequently appear in the call logs on Jung’s burner phones, which were acquired by the team of investigators led by Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo.
Jung told prosecutors who were questioning him that “S” stood for Choi Sun-sil and that “P” stood for President Park. The logs on Jung’s burner phones reportedly also contain records of conversations with Blue House secretaries and administrative staff including Ahn Bong-geun, Lee Jae-man, Lee Yeong-seon and Yun Jeon-chu.
Momentum from candlelight rallies pushing to lower voting age to 18
Posted on : Jan.4,2017 16:57 KST
Young people seeking greater political participation, as South Korea is the only OECD member country where the voting age is 19
The need to extend the vote to 18-year-olds is supported not only by opposition parties and civic groups but also by the National Election Commission. The primary argument is that 18 years is the minimum age for getting married in the Civil Code, for reporting for duty in the Military Service Act, for being issued a driving license in the Road Traffic Act and for taking the civil service test for levels eight and below in government regulations. The minimum age for getting a job in the Labor Standards Act is 15.
Another argument is that lowering the minimum voting age is a global trend. Documents provided by the National Election Commission show that South Korea is the only country among the 35 member states of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) in which voting begins at the age of 19. The initial voting age is 16 in Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, Austria and several Swiss cantons, and it is 18 in the US, the UK, France and all other OECD members.
Choi Sun-sil sought Pres. Park’s favor with Dutch king
Posted on : Jan.4,2017 16:45 KST
Park’s confidante reportedly was seeking a supply contract for KD Corporation, a company run by a friend of hers
New evidence shows that Choi Sun-sil (who is currently in jail and facing charges) also tried to have President Park Geun-hye ask the king of the Netherlands to win a supply contract for the KD Corporation, a company run by Choi’s friend. Park reportedly received at least three or four requests from Choi on the subject via former Blue House personal secretary Jung Ho-seong (who is also in jail and facing charges). While Park claimed during the meeting with reporters covering the Blue House on Jan. 1 that she had not known that the KD Corporation was run by a friend of Choi’s, this has also turned out to be a falsehood.
According to multiple sources with the prosecutors and the special prosecutor‘s team on Jan. 3, Choi (who had been briefed in advance about Park’s schedule) asked Park on several occasions to help the KD Corporation win a supply contract before Park visited the Netherlands or met with key officials. The KD Corporation was run by the parents of an elementary school friend of her daughter Jung Yu-ra. The company had long been trying to arrange a supply contract with Royal Dutch Shell, an energy company that is a joint venture between the Netherlands and the UK. When these efforts proved unsuccessful, the company tried to have Park use her influence as president.
[Choi Sun-sil] [Park Geun-hye] [Cronyism] [Netherlands]
Seoul to set up special unit to remove N. Korea wartime leadership
By Jun Ji-hye
South Korea will set up a special unit this year tasked with removing the North Korean leadership including its leader Kim Jong-un in the case of a war, the Ministry of National Defense said Wednesday.
The ministry advanced the plan by two years as part of efforts to better counter Pyongyang's evolving nuclear and missile threats.
During a New Year policy briefing to the acting president, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, Defense Minister Han Min-koo said, "We are planning to set up a special infiltration brigade with the goal of removing or at least paralyzing North Korea's command structure in the event of a war."
He said the original schedule was to set up such a unit by 2019.
The unit will be established to infiltrate into Pyongyang to remove its wartime leadership that has the authority for ordering the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) including nukes and missiles, he said.
[Special forces] [Decapitation] [Escalation]
Disproportionate Number of Rich Koreans Inherited Their Wealth
By Ryu Jung
January 05, 2017 12:02
Korea has a much higher proportion of rich people who inherited their wealth than the U.S., China and Japan.
Industry tracker CEO Score analyzed the top 40 richest people each in four countries on the Forbes list and found that 25 of the Koreans inherited their money, compared to just 10 in the U.S., 12 in Japan and one in China.
Out of the entire 160, 70 percent grew rich through entrepreneurship and only 30 percent owed their wealth to inheritance.
[Wealth] [Inheritance] [Inequality]
1st Impeachment Hearing Ends After 9 Minutes
By Yoon Ju-heon, Shin Su-ji
January 04, 2017 10:54
The Constitutional Court held its first hearing on Tuesday on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
Constitutional Court President Park Han-chul and eight other judges ended the hearing after only nine minutes because the president failed to show up and answer questions.
Because of the intense public interest, the court allocated 44 out of 112 seats in the courtroom to the public and the gallery filled up 30 minutes before the hearing began.
The judges decided that the president can be represented by her lawyers in upcoming sessions. The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Moon Jae-in emerging as leading contender for Minjoo Party presidential nomination
Posted on : Jan.3,2017 16:59 KST
Experts say Moon will still face challenges in securing the nomination, such as building trust outside his support base
Moon Jae-in is enjoying a definite upswing as a leading contender for the Minjoo Party presidential nomination. New Year’s opinion polls by news outlets on Jan. 1 and 2 showed the former party leader with a solid advantage not only among multiple candidates, but also in hypothetical two-way and three-way races.
The latest polls showed support for Moon in a multiple-candidate scenario in the 25-29% range, up from the 20-25% range as recently as mid-December. Some surveys put his support at over 30%.
Public opinion polls on possible presidential candidates
Moon’s advantage becomes even clearer in two- and three-way race scenarios. A poll commissioned by the Hankyoreh on Dec. 28-29 showed him garnering 51.8% in a two-way battle - well beyond the margin of error to defeat Ban, who drew only 35.9%. Moon also won 44.6% in a virtual three-way race with former People‘s Party leader Ahn Cheol-soo, coming in well ahead of Ban’s second-place finish at 30%. Polls by the Chosun Ilbo, Joong-Ang Ilbo, and Kyunghyang Shinmun newspapers similarly showed him with a solid lead in both two- and three-way scenarios.
[Moon Jae-in] [Election17]
Documentary on Vietnam War massacres wins honorable mention from state broadcaster
Posted on : Jan.3,2017 17:12 KST
Hoa Nyut Thao (left) shoots his documentary “The Last Lullaby,” for Vietnam’s national television broadcaster VTV, about massacres of civilians by South Korean forces during the Vietnam War.
Unusual honor for film about South Korean forces who massacred hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in 1966
“The Last Lullaby,” a documentary on massacres of civilians by South Korean forces during the Vietnam War, won honorable mention honors in its category at the Dec. 24 awards of the state-run Vietnamese network VTV, it was reported on Jan. 2.
The filming of a locally produced documentary on civilian massacres by South Korean soldiers and its selection for honoring by a state-run broadcaster are both seen as unusual. The Vietnamese government has regarded ethnic unity and reconciliation as top priorities since the war‘s end and maintained a stance of not publicly mentioning issues involving past massacres by South Korean forces.
[Vietnam] [War crimes] [Park Chung-hee]
Moon jae-in issues warning to N. Korean leader
By Jun Ji-hye
Moon Jae-in, a leading opposition presidential hopeful, said the Kim Jong-un regime in North Korea will have no future should it stick to nuclear and missile development.
"North Korea's provocative and aggressive attitude, which was seen in Kim's New Year's message, poses a serious threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula," said Moon, the former chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), in a statement Monday. "Kim created a state of anxiety and tension on the peninsula after even mentioning pre-emptive nuclear strikes."
The comments came after the North Korean leader said Sunday that Pyongyang is in the final stage of test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The North's KN-08 road-mobile ICBM with a range of more than 10,000 kilometers is capable, in theory, of hitting targets on the U.S. mainland.
[Moon Jae-in] [SK NK policy] [Liberal]
Poll: Moon Jae-in leading among possible presidential candidates
Posted on : Jan.2,2017 16:35 KST
Former Minjoo Party leader Moon Jae-in (far right) talks with, from left to right, lawmaker Kim Boo-kyum, former People’s Party leader Ahn Cheol-soo, South Chungcheong Province Ahn Hee-jung and former People’s Party leader Chun Jung-bae, at the National Assembly on Dec. 20. (by Kang Chang-kwang, staff photographer)
Moon could be the liberal candidate that goes up against former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
A poll shows Moon Jae-in, former leader of the opposition Minjoo Party and the party‘s likely candidate for the next presidential election, with a lead that exceeds the margin of error not only in a two-way race with former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon but also in a three-way race including former People’s Party leader Ahn Cheol-soo. When Moon faced off against Ban in a poll that Research Plus carried out on behalf of the Hankyoreh from Dec. 28 to Dec. 29 on 1,006 adults around South Korea, Moon had a comfortable lead of 51.8% over Ban, with 35.9%. Moon remained in first even in a three-way race with Ahn, with 44.6% of support compared to 30% for Ban and 13.7% for Ahn. Moon was still on top in a full lineup including all the leading presidential candidates from the various parties, receiving 27.4% of support and coming in 9.1 percentage points ahead of Ban, at 18.3%.
[Moon Jae-in] [Election17]
More than 80% of South Koreans in favor of impeachment
Posted on : Jan.2,2017 16:38 KST
The first preparatory procedure at the Constitutional Court in Seoul’s Jongno district on Dec. 22 on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. On the bottom left are National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee members, and on the right are Park’s legal defense team. (pool photo)
Only 14.9% of poll respondents say Park shouldn’t be impeached, with most saying impeachment should happen by March
A new year public opinion poll by the Hankyoreh found that there is still overwhelming support for President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, with eight out of 10 respondents wanting the Constitutional Court to uphold the motion of impeachment against her. When asked about the timing of the court‘s decision, more than half of respondents wanted the decision to be made by January, while seven out of ten wanted it to be made no later than March.
When asked what decision they think the Constitutional Court should make in its review of the motion of impeachment, 80.2% of respondents in the poll (held between Dec. 28 and 29) said they think Park should be impeached. Just 14.9% said that Park should not be impeached, which means that support for impeachment exceeded opposition by 65.3 percentage points. 4.9% of respondents were not sure or declined to answer.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Number of N. Korean defectors up 11% in 2016
The number of North Koreans escaping to South Korea rose 11 percent on-year in 2016, government data showed Tuesday, as more elites and overseas workers fled the country amid tough international sanctions.
A total of 1,414 North Koreans came to South Korea last year, compared to 1,275 tallied for 2015, according to a preliminary data provided by the Ministry of Unification.
The total number of North Korean defectors in South Korea reached 30,208 as of end-December.
The 2016 tally marked the first time that the pace of annual growth picked up since 2011 when the North's leader Kim Jong-un took office.
The number of defectors reaching the South peaked at 2,914 in 2009, but the pace of growth had fallen off since 2011 as Kim strengthened border control and surveillance over North Koreans.
An end to South Korea’s middle power moment?
30 December 2016
Author: Jeffrey Robertson, ANU
The Park Geun-hye administration started with an ambitious middle power foreign policy agenda. But as President Park’s time in office seems set to come to an end, South Korea’s middle power prestige may fall victim to South Korea’s domestic politics.
Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop talks as her foreign minister counterparts listen during a media conference after holding the 8th foreign minister's meeting known as MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia) in Sydney, Australia, 25 November 2016 (Photo: Reuters/David Gray)
Park had several policies seeking to utilise South Korea’s middle power status. The ‘Eurasia Initiative’ aimed to establish a logistics and energy network through North Korea, Russia, Central Asia and on to Europe. Park’s ‘trustpolitik’ idea was intended to encourage reciprocal reconciliation with North Korea. The Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI) sought to overcome the ‘Asia paradox’ of high levels of economic interdependence but low levels of trust and political cooperation. And the grouping of Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia (MIKTA) aspired to become a forum for middle powers to convene on global issues.
But despite the middle power zealotry, successes on the foreign policy front have been few and far between. With strains in the North Korea relationship, the Eurasia Initiative, ‘trustpolitik’ and NAPCI all faced an uphill battle from the start. Now, as the Park administration enters interminable decline, what’s left of the fruits of middle power diplomacy may also wither on the vine.
[Middle Power] [SK foreign policy]
Park Breaks Sulk to Deny Everything
By Jung Nok-yong
January 02, 2017 10:41
Embattled President Park Geun-hye abruptly came out of weeks of seclusion on Sunday to deny all the allegations in a massive corruption scandal and claim she was set up.
The hastily called press conference at 1 p.m. was Park's first public appearance since her presidential powers were suspended under the National Assembly's impeachment bill on Dec. 9, and the first time since the notoriously incommunicative president came to power that she has faced the press at Cheong Wa Dae.
Cameras and recording devices were banned, but Park appeared eerily calm as she answered questions from reporters for about 40 minutes and denied every allegation of extortion, abuse of power and neglect of duty.
[Park Geun-hye] [Choi Sun-sil]
Korean navy plane drops REAL MISSILES into East Sea
The Korean navy's P-3CK on patrol. / Courtesy of Twitter
By Lee Han-soo
A Korean navy's P-3CK, a maritime patrol aircraft, accidentally dropped weapons into the East Sea on Sunday.
The accident happened around 6:10 a.m. during a patrol off the coast of Yangyang county, Gangwon Province, when a co-pilot accidentally pressed the emergency weapons release switch.
"One of the plane's crew mistakenly touched the emergency weapons release switch instead of a buoy that detects submarine sound waves," said a navy official. "The weapons were not armed and did not explode."
The missing weapons include two harpoon missiles, two torpedoes and two depth charges and are worth about 4 billion won ($331,317),
The navy has sent a mine sweeper and salvage ship to salvage the weapons if possible.
"We apologize for the blunder on New Year's day," said a navy official. "The navy will make sure that the accident does not recur."
S. Korean Navy conducts maritime drill amid N. Korea threats
Updated : 2017-01-02 14:47
South Korea's Navy on Monday carried out a New Year maritime drill off the Korean Peninsula to bolster its defense capabilities against North Korean threats.
Under the supervision of the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Um Hyun-seong, some 20 warships and aircraft took part in maneuvers aimed at dealing with provocations by North Korea, the Navy said in a statement.
Adm. Um urged sailors to "stay focused on their duties and stand ready to fight at any time" as North Korea could raise military tension if it miscalculates that South Korea and the U.S. will not be able to respond effectively as they are undergoing political changes.
[Exercises] [Threat] [Media] [Heading]
New Year's wish of anti-president protesters: transparency
By Park Si-soo
People who joined the 10th mass rally against the President in central Seoul on the last day of 2016 had a common wish: more transparency in politics and society.
"The (Park Geun-hye) scandal reflects a lack of transparency in our political system and ineptitude of social forces that are supposed to keep the establishment in check," said Park Hyung-tae, 75, who joined the rally with his wife and two adult sons. "What I expect next year is more transparency in politics and a restored checks-and-balances system."
[Park Geun-hye] [Protest]
Another Foreign Ministry official indicted for sex-related crime
Updated : 2017-01-01 14:59
By Lee Jin-a
Another foreign ministry official has been indicted for committing a sex-related crime in Seoul.
Prosecutors said Saturday they had indicted a Foreign Ministry secretary surnamed Kim for secretly filming women's bodies.
According to the prosecution, Kim used his cell phone to film the women 16 times in cafes, on buses and in the Foreign Ministry complex in Seoul from last April to August.
Navy says Sewol ferry sinking not caused by submarine collision
The deadly sinking of the Sewol ferry two years ago was an accident, which left 295 dead and nine missing, not caused by the ship colliding with a submarine, the Navy said Tuesday.
The response comes after an online commenter named "Zaro -- Netizens' investigation team" argued that the ferry sinking was the result of the the passenger ship hitting a submarine in a nearly nine-hour-long documentary released Monday via YouTube.
But the Navy flatly denied the documentary as being based on "groundless" suspicions, saying there was no submarine in operation or conducting drills in the nearby waters on April 16, 2014, when the accident took place.
Ambassadors' gifts to President kept at Choi Soon-sil's home
By Rachel Lee
Some gifts and cards foreign envoys in Seoul had given to President Park Geun-hye were found in the house of her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, according to the independent counsel team, Friday.
The discovered gifts ? supposed to be kept inside Cheong Wa Dae ? show how special the relationship between the two was, the team said.
They discovered the items during a recent search of Choi's home and offices. They did not elaborate on the kinds of gifts or who sent them to the impeached President.
"We will look into how the gifts were kept in Choi's home, not at Cheong Wa Dae," an investigator said on condition of anonymity. "As it is not normal to keep presents at a friend's home, this case indicates how unusual the Park-Choi relationship was."
It could also be an act of diplomatic impudence if it is true that Park has kept gifts from ambassadors at Choi's home.
What will the new South Korean President be faced with?
Author: Konstantin Asmolov
On New Year’s Eve, the author will allow himself to get distracted from the routine affairs by pondering what the Republic of Korea is expecting after Park Geun-hye. Whoever comes to power and under whatever scenario, either Ban Ki-moon or Moon Jae-in or Ahn Cheol-soo, the new president will be faced with a set of tough challenges, the response to which will be very complex, as some of these problems are inevitable and unavoidable.
The major problem is demographic in nature. While the fertility rate is decreasing, the South Korean population is getting older. According to a forecast by the National Statistical Agency of the Republic of Korea published on December 12, 2016, last year, the country’s population amounted to about 51 million 10 thousand people, with 36.2 persons out of 100 persons of working age accounting for people of incapacitated age (children) and the elderly. In the traditional families, senior children supported their parents. Now, however, this function is borne by the state. According to the opinion polls, only 10% of people over 60 live on their children’s incomes, while 49.7% continue working, as the South Korean pension system is far from perfect and only “feeds” civil servants.
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