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Park Stays Away from Impeachment Trial
By Kwon Sueng-jun
February 27, 2017 10:36
President Park Geun-hye will not be testifying in the final hearing of her impeachment trial on Monday, a possibility the defense had dangled before the Constitutional Court in an apparent bid to drag out proceedings.
That means the court is all set to reach a ruling before acting chief justice Lee Jung-mi retires on March 13.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
[Book Review] 'I want to build a world of justice'
Posted : 2017-02-24 19:17Updated : 2017-02-24 19:18
Moon Jae-in discusses change of government
By Kim Jae-heun
Cover for "A Completely New Nation - Questions from the Republic of Korea and Answers from Moon Jae-in"
Moon Jae-in, former leader of the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), is currently the frontrunner in the presidential race. As the presidential election is set to take place as early as April or May if incumbent President Park Geun-hye's impeachment is upheld by the Constitutional Court, Moon has already started his campaign to strengthen his top position.
His book "A Completely New Nation -- Questions from the Republic of Korea and Answers from Moon Jae-in," released late last month, is one of his first moves to reveal his future vision, suggesting Moon's specific pledges for the country if he becomes president.
In the 360-page long book, Moon begins the story with the word "Jaejosanha," meaning rebuilding of the country from ruins. The liberal candidate strongly argues for a change of government, as involving the President's confidant Choi Soon-sil in state affairs has put the country in crisis. Moon says he believes in common sense, the restoration of justice and battling corruption of the past.
"The people woke up in a nation where principle and common sense have been overturned," Moon said during the press conference for his new book at the Press Center in central Seoul, Jan. 17. "Until now, the top 1 percent controlled the country and the people had to sacrifice and it did not get better whether you worked hard or not.
[Moon Jae-in] [SK_election17]
Korea Faces Demographic Upheavals
By Kim Dong-seop
February 25, 2017 08:54
Korea is experiencing a demographic upheaval this year. The number of births plunged to 406,300 last year, a strong indication that it will further fall to below 400,000 as early as this year.
The economically active population aged 15-64 will start shrinking for the first time this year and country will become an aged society with the proportion of people over 65 exceeding 14 percent of the population.
Only 406,300 babies were born last year, down 32,120 from a year earlier and an all-time low, according to tentative data released by Statistics Korea on Wednesday.
The total fertility rate -- the average number of children that would be born to a woman between 15 and 49 years -- shrank to from 1.24 to 1.17 on-year. The figure is still higher than the all-time low of 1.08 in 2005. In other words, the decrease in births is largely due to the decrease in women of childbearing age.
[Demographics] [Aged society]
Allegations come out of massive Park Chung-hee slush fund in Switzerland
Posted on : Feb.24,2017 14:44 KST
Lawmaker calling for investigation into Swiss bank accounts in various names, which Pres. Park may be aware of
Allegations of a secret Swiss slush fund reportedly established illegally by the Park Chung-hee regime in the 1970s are prompting calls for a government investigation and a swift return of the illegal funds.
During free speaking at a National Assembly regular session on Feb. 23, Minjoo Party lawmaker Noh Woong-rae argued for an investigation based on the “Fraser Report” (originally titled “Investigation of Korean-American Relations”) published in 1978 by the Subcommittee on International Organizations of the US House Committee on International Relations.
“According to the report, the Park Chung-hee administration illegally diverted a commission of around 10-15% of all funds on foreign loans and investments coming in, establishing secret accounts in various names at Switzerland’s largest bank, the Union Bank of Switzerland, and other financial institutions [to manage] the funds acquired in this way,” Noh said.
Noh also suggested that current President Park Geun-hye was aware of the secret fund’s existence
[Park Chung-hee] [Corruption]
Immigration is South Korea’s only solution
BY David Hundt
South Korea is facing a demographic crisis, writes David Hundt It’s going to take something radical to arrest South Korea’s demographic and social decline. Societies can counter population decline by having more babies, allowing more immigration, or a combination of the two. The government has bet on increasing South Korea’s birth rate to overcome its demographic crisis. Its efforts have contributed to a modest increase in births but this has not compensated for the long decline since the 1970s. -
[Immigration] [Demographics] [Naiveté]
Pyongyang: Death of Kim Jong Nam 'conspiratorial racket' by S. Korea
Xinhua, February 23, 2017
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday said the death of a DPRK citizen at Kuala Lumpur last week was an "anti-DPRK conspiratorial racket" launched by South Korea.
The DPRK also blamed the Malaysian side for showing unfriendly attitude when handling the case, the official news agency KCNA reported.
A spokesman for the Korean Jurists Committee said the autopsy was unnecessary as the death had been confirmed as the one due to heart stroke and the deceased man carried a diplomatic passport, according to the KCNA.
The incident was "undisguised encroachment upon the sovereignty of the DPRK, a wanton human rights abuse and an act contrary to human ethics and morality," said the unnamed spokesman in a statement.
The spokesman claimed that South Korea "worked out the scenario" and released false reports that the man was poisoned to death.
"It is regretful that only Malaysia is denying such fact," he added.
[Kim Jong Nam]
'Kim Jong-un must be taken to International Criminal Court'
Posted : 2017-02-22 16:32Updated : 2017-02-23 14:27
By Yi Whan-woo
Calls are mounting for the international community to take North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the International Criminal Court (ICC) after the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, his estranged half-brother, in Malaysia last week.
Groups of anti-Pyongyang activists, including North Korean defectors, and legal experts claim that the murder defies the U.N. General Assembly's resolutions on Pyongyang's dire human rights record and that Kim Jong-un must be punished accordingly.
[Kim Jong Nam] [ICC]
Former N. Korea diplomat to stay active despite assassination fears
Posted : 2017-02-21 16:59Updated : 2017-02-21 17:15
By Kim Rahn
Thae Yong-ho, the former North Korean diplomat who fled to South Korea last year, said he would not stop his anti-North Korean activities despite safety concerns following the North's alleged assassination of its leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother Kim Jong-nam.
[Thae Yong Ho]
N. Korea may turn to provocation to divert international attention
Posted : 2017-02-21 19:06Updated : 2017-02-21 20:53
By Jun Ji-hye
The South Korean military is strengthening its security in preparation for the possibility that North Korea may conduct military provocations to divert attention away from the murder of its leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother, officials said Tuesday.
[Kim Jong Nam] [SK_Election17] [North Wind]
THAAD Can No Longer Be a Political Football
February 14, 2017 12:57
The mid-range ballistic missile North Korea test-fired on Sunday was a sea-launched projectile upgraded to be launched on land and propelled by solid fuel, which makes it a lot more efficient as a weapon. Launched at a high angle it would have all of South Korea within target range and slam down on targets at a speed of mach 10, rendering Seoul's current PAC-3 Patriot missiles useless.
The only weapons system capable of intercepting it is the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. because, as the name indicates, it intercepts incoming missiles at high altitudes.
[THAAD] [Test] [Pretext]
Why do pro-Park protesters wave Israeli flags?
Posted : 2017-02-20 16:37Updated : 2017-02-20 16:54
By Yi Whan-woo
Controversy is brewing over the use of U.S. and Israeli flags by supporters of the impeached President Park Geun-hye during their weekend rallies that have nothing to do with the countries.
Right-wing groups have organized these rallies to counter much-larger demonstrations demanding Park's removal from power by the Constitutional Court.
Pro-Park counterprotesters have waved the Korean national flag, or Taegeukgi, at the rallies, which they call "Taegeukgi rallies" themselves. Lately, they have also been bringing U.S. and Israeli flags to the political events.
[Park Geun-hye] [Israel] [Bizarre]
How might Lee Jae-yong’s arrest affect Pres. Park’s impeachment trial?
Posted on : Feb.19,2017 08:11 KST
Citizens hold candles and red papers symbolizing red card to President Geun-hye during the fifteenth weekly candlelight demonstration shouting for Park to immediately step down at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, Feb. 18. (by Kang Chang-kwang, staff photographer)
Legal experts say arrest may not have a direct impact, but hurts credibility of Park’s claim that she didn’t accept a bribe
Attention is focusing on what impact Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong’s arrest on bribery charges will have on the impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye.
While it appears unlikely to have much impact due to the many other grounds for impeachment besides bribery, it does appear to undercut the argument from Park’s attorneys that the impeachment cannot be sustained unless bribery is proven.
Among the grounds for Park’s impeachment by the National Assembly was the claim that she demanded 20.4 billion won (US$17.7 million) in funding for the Mir and K-Sports Foundations (controlled by Choi Sun-sil) after receiving a request from Samsung for National Pension Service approval of a merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, which was characterized as receipt of a bribe. Bribe taking was also one of the grounds specified in a 2004 Constitutional Court decision rejecting the impeachment of then-President Roh Moo-hyun (in office 2003-2008).
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment] [Lee Jae-yong]
Spring presidential election looms large
Posted : 2017-02-17 16:23Updated : 2017-02-17 18:57
By Kim Rahn
The odds of an early presidential election are growing after the Constitutional Court decided to hold a final hearing on President Park Geun-hye's impeachment, Feb. 24, and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was arrested on bribery charges.
The court's decision to close its hearings next Friday means that it could decide on the impeachment in early March.
On top of the court decision, the arrest of the Samsung heir for bribery in the corruption scandal involving Park and her friend Choi Soon-sil has raised the possibility of the President's ouster as a bribe recipient.
The court usually makes a ruling one to two weeks after a final hearing _ it took two weeks in the impeachment case for former President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004.
While it usually announces rulings Thursday, the court can select other days of the week for special cases. In Roh's case, it picked Friday.
Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong arrested on charges of bribing Pres. Park
Posted on : Feb.17,2017 15:01 KST
Issuance of warrant for Lee could have the same effect as issuing a warrant for Pres. Park’s arrest
The investigative team led by Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo arrested Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, 49, on Feb. 17 on charges of passing 43.3 billion won (US$37.8 million) in bribes to President Park Geun-hye.
Previously faced with a crossroads in its investigation of Park and Lee for bribery after the late-night dismissal of an initial warrant request on Jan. 19, the team managed to recover with around ten days left before its initial investigation deadline on Feb. 28 by resorting to an aggressive move with the renewed arrest warrant request. The acknowledgement of grounds for Lee’s bribery charges at the court warrant review stage also hints that it may become easier for the team to prove Park’s role in the bribery as well.
[Park Geun-Hye] [Samsung] [Lee Jae-yong] [Corruption]
Ex-Ewha Univ. chief arrested in corruption scandal
Posted : 2017-02-15 11:29Updated : 2017-02-15 16:29
Special prosecutors on Wednesday formally arrested a former university president over allegations she gave admission and grading favors to the daughter of President Park Geun-hye's close friend who is at the center of an influence-peddling scandal.
The Seoul Central District Court issued an arrest warrant for Choi Kyung-hee, who headed Ewha Womans University in Seoul from 2014 to 2016, on charges of obstruction of duty for allegedly giving undue favors to Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of Choi soon-sil.
The court, which rejected to issue a writ against her last month, acknowledged the need to arrest her this time "based on evidence that have been additionally provided."
A number of other professors at the school have been indicted on suspicions of collaborating with the former chief in helping Chung. Prosecutors suspect that the school in return gained government support in various programs.
The former university chief Choi has been flatly denying the allegations against her.
[Park Geun-hye] [Corruption]
[Editorial] To deal with North Korea, we must build a system of cooperation
Posted on : Feb.14,2017 16:30 KST
North Korea claimed on Feb. 13 that the missile it test launched into the East Sea was a “surface-to-surface intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM),” which it is calling “a new strategic weapon system.” The South Korean government also confirmed that this was a ballistic missile using the new solid fuel that the North applied to its submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). This is a situation that demands new efforts to address the issue of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, which are growing more sophisticated despite the sanctions of the international community
China says inter-Korean tensions at the root of N. Korean missile launch
Posted on : Feb.14,2017 16:33 KST
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson implies North’s missile launch part of an arms race that includes THAAD
China is moving to blame South Korea for North Korea’s ballistic missile launch, arguing that one of the causes of the launch was inter-Korean differences.
“China is opposed to the DPRK’s launch which violates the Security Council resolutions,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang during the regular press conference on Feb. 13.
While calling on countries in the region to refrain from actions that could increase tensions, Geng noted that the UN Security Council would be dealing with this matter and said that “China will take part in the discussions in a responsible and constructive manner.”
Geng also reconfirmed China’s official stance: “As a permanent member of the Security Council [. . .] China has always enforced the Council‘s resolutions in their entirety” and has “made unremitting efforts to facilitate the settlement of the issue of Korean Peninsula.”
The most striking part of Geng’s remarks was his statement that “The root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue lies in the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry has frequently rejected the argument that China should take responsibility for North Korea’s nuclear program by attributing the program to strife between North Korea and the US, but these remarks also mention missiles and inter-Korean conflict. When asked multiple times for confirmation, Geng repeated the same remarks and said, “This is a viewpoint that has been repeatedly emphasized.”
[Test] [China] [Pretend equality]
N. Korea provocation can affect election
Posted : 2017-02-13 15:56Updated : 2017-02-13 21:36
Presidential hopefuls differ over how to handle Pyongyang
By Kim Rahn
All presidential contenders from both the conservative and liberal blocs criticized North Korea's ballistic missile launch, Sunday.
But they expressed different opinions about how to handle the North Korean provocation.
Moon Jae-in, the leading presidential hopeful from the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), called the missile launch a "reckless and foolish act."
On his Facebook page, Sunday, Moon criticized North Korea for carrying out the tests despite multiple warnings from the international community.
"I question the North's ulterior motive of the missile launch in this time of South Korea's confused political situation (following President Park Geun-hye's impeachment)," he said. "If North Korea continues this kind of provocation, it should bear in mind that the Kim Jong-un regime's future will become unpredictable."
The liberal contender, however, did not mention the need for more talks with the North to resolve the issue peacefully, unlike his previous stance. After the North's earlier missile launch in January last year, Moon said the two Koreas should talk to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons development.
Moon's stronger condemnation for the provocation and less stress on talks may be an attempt to woo conservative voters, who say Moon is pro-North Korea and the country's security will be put in danger if he becomes president.
An Hee-jung, the runner-up presidential hopeful from the DPK, urged North Korea to have a forward-looking stance for talks.
"The North's missile launch is a clear violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions banning the country from testing nuclear weapons," An's spokesman Park Soo-hyun said in a statement. "The brinkmanship tactic will only result in isolation. For peace on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea should resolve the problem via talks, not via nuclear weapons."
Another contender from the main opposition party, Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung, said that South Korea and the United States may not be able to control North Korea's future provocations as long as they stick to a sanctions-only policy. "Both the South and the North should refrain from activities that could raise military tension. They have to make efforts to have talks," Lee said in a statement.
Presidential hopefuls from conservative blocs called for sterner and stronger countermeasures than liberal candidates.
Rep. Yoo Seong-min of the minor conservative Bareun Party stressed the need to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery here as soon as possible.
"It is likely for the North to carry out more aggressive and various provocations ahead of the South Korea-U.S. joint military drill in March," Yoo said in a statement. "Based on the strong alliance of the two nations, the South Korean military should be fully ready for any provocation. Also, the ruling and opposition parties as well as their presidential contenders should end the exhausting argument over the THAAD deployment, but support it."
Rep. Won Yoo-chul of the ruling Liberty Korea Party (LKP) (formerly the Saenuri Party) reaffirmed his claim to have South Korea armed with nuclear weapons. "A nuclear umbrella may get torn, and we can't borrow our neighbors' umbrellas every time it rains. We need to wear a raincoat now," he said in a press briefing.
Former Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo, also from the LKP, demanded the government consider a preemptive strike option. "The North will come to the negotiation table for denuclearization when the South resorts to active measures," he said on Facebook.
[Test] [SK_election17] [North Wind] [Provocation]
One Year On: KBS Sends a Helicopter over the Kaesong Industrial Complex
By Christopher Green | February 10, 2017
February 10 marks the first anniversary of the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a unilateral South Korean government action that Sino-NK covered in detail at the time and has looked at from several other angles as well. Today’s onrushing first anniversary prompted several South Korean broadcasters and newspapers to return to the subject. Coverage has included: interviews with KIC business owners; coverage of a press conference on Thursday in which a pressure group of business owners urged the (future) government to reopen the Complex; assessments of the various presidential candidates’ views on what should (and what can) happen next; and a brief graphic story written by a graduate student in the Konkuk University Institute of Humanities for Unification that purports to describe the daily life of a North Korean KIC staff member.
Elsewhere, NK Pro published an article employing satellite imagery of the KIC to assess the facilities one year after the closure. It notes that none of the factories appear to be operational and that the North Korean organization overseeing the complex seems to have gathered together the private vehicles owned by KIC businesses, possibly to stop them degrading in the harsh North Korean winter. Therefore, the piece concludes that “since last year’s closure, North Korean authorities have worked to preserve its assets, hinting that Pyongyang may be keeping open the option of reopening the complex in the future.”
Despite frosty weather, 800,000 gather to demand Pres. Park’s impeachment
Posted on : Feb.12,2017 13:20 KST
Square in Seoul during the 15th weekly demonstration calling for President Park Geun-hye’s resignation, Feb. 11, on the first full moon of the Lunar Year. (by Lee Jeong-yong, staff photographer)
Size of weekly demonstration increases again, due to concerns over delay in impeaching Park, and growth of right-wing rallies
“It’s hopeless to try to delay the impeachment! Give the Special Prosecutor an extension!” “Put Park Geun-hye in jail! Lock her up right now!”
With the temperature below zero, 800,000 South Koreans gathered to a candlelight rally calling for the swift impeachment of President Park Geun-hye and for an extension of the Special Prosecutor’s investigation. There were 750,000 people at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul alone, along with 50,000 people in Busan, Gwangju and other cities. These people were drawn to the streets by the concern that the Constitutional Court might fall prey to the blatant delaying tactics of Park and her attorneys and be unable to reach a verdict on her impeachment by early March.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Poll shows Ahn Hee-jung challenging Moon Jae-in for Minjoo Party presidential nomination
Posted on : Feb.12,2017 13:35 KST
South Chungcheong governor gaining support as voters look for conviction in who might run the government next
Support for major presidential candidates
South Chungcheong Gov. Ahn Hee-jung is threatening Moon Jae-in’s unchallenged status as Minjoo Party presidential contender, narrowing the gap in support to within 10 percentage points.
The potential change in the primary landscape has meant a shakeup for the party, with some predicting the Ahn “streak” could see him coming from behind to nab the nomination.
Results released on Feb. 10 from a Gallup Korea poll on Feb. 7-9 showed Ahn with 19% support among presidential candidates. The number was up nine percentage points from the week before, when another Gallup survey on Feb. 1-2 showed him at 10%.
Ahn’s growth has been particularly explosive over the past month or so, with a Gallup poll back on Jan. 4-5 putting him all the way down at 3%. Moon held on to first place in the latest poll with 29%, but was down three percentage points (within the margin of error) from 32% the week before.
Then-Unification Minister wasn’t informed in advance about Pres. Park’s ‘unification is the jackpot’
Posted on : Feb.10,2017 17:48 KST
Ryoo Kihl-jae, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies and the first Minister of Unification in the administration of President Park Geun-hye (Hankyoreh file photo)
Though in charge of the relevant ministry, Ryoo Kihl-jae never had phrase fully explained to him
On Feb. 9, Ryoo Kihl-jae, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies and the first Minister of Unification in the administration of President Park Geun-hye, said that he had “been completely unaware” of ‘unification as jackpot,’ an expression symbolizing Park’s unification policy, until she said it.
“Even though I was in charge of the relevant ministry, the first time I heard the phrase ‘unification would be a jackpot’ was when she said it during the New Year’s press conference in Jan. 2014. Even after that, I never did get the full story from the Blue House about that phrase,” Ryoo told the Hankyoreh during a telephone interview on Feb. 9.
Ryoo believes that the “unification as jackpot” approach, or the idea that the unification of the Korean Peninsula could bring an economic windfall, was a phrase of convenience: “The words of the president ought to lead to policy or to further measures, but there weren‘t any instructions or remarks from the Blue House.”
[Park Geun-hye] [Jackpot]
Closed inter-Korean complex becomes key campaign issue
Posted : 2017-02-10 21:57Updated : 2017-02-10 21:57
By Yi Whan-woo
The reopening of the inter-Korean industrial park in Gaeseong, North Korea, is emerging as a presidential campaign issue.
Moon Jae-in and Lee Jae-myung, presidential hopefuls from the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), have pledged to make efforts to reopen the Gaeseong Industrial Complex (GIC) if elected.
They claim this will help restart stalled talks between the two Koreas and save South Korean firms that have plants there. The companies have been suffering snowballing losses following the shutdown a year ago.
But other potential presidential contestants are cautious about joining Moon and Lee amid concerns the resumption of the GIC could be a breach of the U.N. Security Council's (UNSC) nuclear sanctions on North Korea.
The Park Geun-hye government closed the GIC on Feb. 10, 2016, claiming that the Kim Jong-un regime was pocketing earnings from North Korean employees there and funneling funds to the UNSC-banned nuclear program.
N. Korea threatens pre-emptive strike against S. Korea ahead of big anniversary
North Korea has threatened a pre-emptive strike against South Korea if provoked as it marked a key military anniversary, a state media reported Wednesday.
Hwang Pyong-so, director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army (KPA), made the remarks during an event in Pyongyang on Tuesday, one day before the 69th anniversary of the foundation of the armed forces. according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
"If the enemies dare violate the sovereignty and dignity of the country even a bit, the KPA will wipe out the strongholds of aggression through merciless pre-emptive strikes of (North) Korean style and accomplish the historic cause of national reunification without fail," Hwang was quoted as saying.
The regular armed forces was established on Feb. 8, 1948, from the Korean People's Revolutionary Army, the communist guerrilla army, by North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung, grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un. (Yonhap)
[Conditionality] [Media] [Heading]
S. Korea, Indonesia to open joint office for KF-X project
Posted : 2017-02-08 11:36Updated : 2017-02-08 14:12
South Korea and Indonesia will open a joint office in Seoul on Wednesday to carry out close consultations in the KF-X fighter aircraft development project, the state defense procurement agency said Wednesday.
"The opening of the joint office will not only help the two countries exchange views on pending issues during the KF-X project but also allow them to effectively fine-tune differences," Jung Kwang-sun, director general for the KF-X Program Group at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), said in a statement.
Seoul and Jakarta signed a 8.1 trillion-won ($7.1 billion) deal to jointly develop the KF-X/IF-X 4.5-generation fighter in January last year, with the latter investing 1.7 trillion won for a 20 percent stake in the project.
The project is led by South Korea's DAPA, with the Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI), the country's sole aircraft manufacturer, leading the development, the spokesman said.
The preliminary design phase for the KF-X/IF-X began in December and is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2018. A prototype is due to fly in 2021 or 2022, with deliveries scheduled for around 2025, according to DAPA.
South Korea's military has a requirement for more than 100 KF-Xs, while Indonesia's initial requirement is at least 50 IF-Xs. There will be minor differences in operating systems between the two, official sources said. (Yonhap)
[Arms sales] [Indonesia]
Park may end up in jail next month
Posted : 2017-02-07 16:24Updated : 2017-02-08 15:37
By Kim Rahn
President Park Geun-hye may end up in jail in March if the mandate for the independent counsel's investigation into the presidential corruption scandal is extended until the end of that month.
This is also based on the assumption that the Constitutional Court removes her from power by backing the National Assembly's impeachment of the scandal-ridden president at the same time.
To prevent this, Park's lawyers and aides are likely to use delaying tactics so that the court decision will come out after the investigation mandate expires, even if it is extended.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Ex-Gigolo to Testify in Choi Soon-sil's Trial
February 06, 2017 10:57
Choi Soon-sil (left) and Koh Young-tae
Koh Young-tae, a colorful drinking buddy of President Park Geun-hye's confidante Choi Soon-sil, is poised to testify in Choi's criminal trial on Monday.
Koh, an inept apparel designer and one-time gigolo, was a director in a paper company called The Blue K that Choi ran in Seoul, and allegedly helped her meddle in government and pocket huge slush funds.
But their relationship soured in 2014, and Koh turned whistleblower by handing over video footage to TV Chosun showing Choi bossing around Cheong Wa Dae officials at a clothes shop in Gangnam that supply Park's drab wardrobe for overseas visits.
Questioned in Park's impeachment trial last month, Choi accused Koh of making false accusations against her and taking the video footage to tarnish her image.
Park's lawyers have sought to portray the scandal as the fallout of a lover's tiff between Choi and Koh, in which the president played no role.
Koh recently disappeared from the radar amid rumored pressure from Park's camp and other suspects, giving rise to fears that something happened to him.
Samsung leaves S. Korea's biggest business lobby group amid corruption scandal
Posted : 2017-02-06 14:56Updated : 2017-02-06 15:44
Samsung Electronics on Monday announced its withdrawal of membership from the nation's top business lobby as the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) was blamed for its role in a snowballing corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
Samsung Electronics formally submitted a document of withdrawal to the FKI earlier in the day, the company said. Other affiliates of Samsung Group are expected to follow suit.
The move has been widely expected as Samsung Group's de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, told lawmakers during a parliamentary hearing in December that the group would leave the FKI.
Lee was spared detention last month, but Samsung is on alert as Lee and other top executives are facing questions over charges of bribery, embezzlement and others by special prosecutors investigating the scandal.
LG Group and KT Corp. announced their withdrawals from the FKI in December last year.
Prosecutors have charged Choi Soon-sil, a long-time friend of Park, with colluding with the president to strong-arm business conglomerates such as Samsung and LG to donate funds to the two foundations set up by Choi.
The FKI was criticized for playing a middle man between the presidential office and conglomerates. (Yonhap)
[Park Geun-hye] [Corruption] [Samsung]
'AI to make reunification of Koreas more difficult'
Posted : 2017-02-05 18:26Updated : 2017-02-06 15:32
Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari and his book "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind"
Harari blasts Trump for stoking nationalism
By Kang Seung-woo
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the widening technical gap between South and North Koreas will make unification of the two countries more difficult, said Yuval Noah Harari, author of the international bestsellers "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus."
"The rise of AI might make any future integration of North and South more difficult, for both cultural and economic reasons," the Israeli historian said in an exclusive interview with The Korea Times.
"AI is likely to transform the culture and even psychology of South Koreans, and if North Koreans do not undergo a similar revolution, the gap between the populations will become bigger than ever before."
He said the gap is widening every day.
An Hee-jung challenges Moon Jae-in's dominance
Posted : 2017-02-05 16:50Updated : 2017-02-06 12:02
By Choi Ha-young
South Chungcheong Governor An Hee-jung is emerging as a possible game changer in the race for the presidency in which former opposition leader Moon Jae-in is maintaining a firm lead.
Since ex-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon withdrew from the race last week, An has overtaken Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung as a distant runner-up in popularity polls largely thanks to growing support from conservative voters in the Chungcheong region.
Although it is too early to say whether An will be able to catch up with Moon, some analysts cautiously predict that there could be an upset in the Democratic Party of Korea's (DPK) presidential primary.
The latest poll showed An's support rating at 11 percent, while Moon has 32 percent.
There are some reasons for predicting a surge by An down the road.
While Ban's sudden exit has left conservative voters bewildered, An struck a chord among them by promising to share power with conservative politicians, if elected, in an effort to unite the country that has been suffering from sharp ideological divisions.
Staff Bar Investigators from Raiding Cheong Wa Dae
February 03, 2017 12:40
In a fresh farcical development in the corruption scandal that has engulfed President Park Geun-hye, investigators on Friday morning squared off against Cheong Wa Dae personnel in attempting to raid the presidential office.
The independent counsel investigating the scandal obtained a search warrant from the Seoul Central District Court a day earlier and turned up at Cheong Wa Dae at 10 a.m.
But Cheong Wa Dae staff physically barred the doors and refused to let them in citing "security concerns." A Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said the presidential office is a "secure facility." "But we will cooperate as much as we can by submitting documents upon request," he added.
One investigator who was still trying to persuade staff to yield said, "Even with a physical clash it seems impossible to search Cheong Wa Dae unless we get into the office."
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Desperate for a presidential candidate, conservatives pushing Hwang Kyo-ahn
Posted on : Feb.3,2017 15:51 KST
Prime Minister and acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn meets US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, at the Central Government Complex in Seoul, Feb. 2. On the right is South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo. (Blue House photo pool)
Prime Minister and acting president could galvanize hardline conservatives, but would have less bipartisan appeal than Ban Ki-moon
As the unprecedented scenario of an early presidential election resulting from the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye becomes a distinct possibility, South Korean politics are day after day facing unfamiliar and never before encountered situations.
Not only is this the first time that there has not been a viable conservative candidate in a political arena that has long worked to the advantage of conservative parties, but we have also witnessed the bizarre spectacle of the triumphal return of the former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who came back to South Korea after 10 years abroad to be fêted as the “conservative messiah.” And then he left the stage after just three weeks, fuming about politics and throwing the conservatives into a catatonic stupor.
But these unfamiliar scenes are likely to be just the beginning. Pull out your popcorn, because a sensational show put on by the conservatives is about to go on air. The casting is in the hands of the Saenuri Party, which is in full panic mode. According to the preposterous plot now unfolding, the party that is most responsible for the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye wants her replacement to be her own number-two man, who himself shares some of the blame for her impeachment.
[Hwang Kyo-ahn] [Conservatives] [SK_election17]
Poll: 75% of South Koreans feel Kaesong closure not helpful to inter-Korean relations
Posted on : Feb.3,2017 15:49 KST
Current administration has cut off all lines of dialogue, and one year ago closed the Kaesong Industrial Complex
A recent survey showed that seven out of 10 South Koreans believe that the government’s closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex did not help improve inter-Korean relations. Furthermore, 80% of respondents believed that dialogue with North Korea is necessary for the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. With the one-year anniversary of the South Korean government’s shutdown of the Kaesong Complex coming up on Feb. 10, the National Assembly commissioned Gallup Korea to carry out a poll of 1,030 adults on Jan. 18-19 (±3.1% margin of error and 95% confidence level).
According to the results of the survey, which were released on Feb. 2, to the question, “How much do you believe the measure to close the Kaesong industrial complex helped improve relations between North and South Korea?” 75.9% of participants responded, “It was not helpful,” and a mere 15.7% responded, “It was helpful.” Furthermore, 54.6% responded that “The Kaesong Industrial Complex should be reopened,” and 34.7% responded that “The Kaeseong Industrial Complex should remain closed.”
[Kaesong] [Public opinion]
Family of framed and executed lawmaker awarded $2.35 million from government
Posted on : Feb.3,2017 16:07 KST
Kim Kyu-nam was among many overseas scholars falsely accused of espionage under Park Chung-hee regime
Kim Kyu-nam, a Democratic Republican Party lawmaker, is arrested for alleged involvement in a European espionage incident fabricated by the South Korean spy agency.
A South Korean court has ruled that the government must pay 2.7 billion won (US$2.35 million) to the family of Kim Kyu-nam, a Democratic Republican Party lawmaker who was executed during the Park Chung-hee regime for alleged involvement in a European espionage incident fabricated by the South Korean spy agency.
In a civil suit filed by 23 members of Kim Kyu-nam's family, demanding indemnification for his wrongful conviction and execution, Seoul Central District Court, presided over by Judge Kim Young-hak, ruled on Feb. 2 that the government must pay 2.72 billion won to the plaintiffs.
Along with the East Berlin spy incident, the European espionage incident is one of several fabricated under the guise of maintaining public security during Park's reign. In the 1960s, Park’s regime accused more than 20 South Korean scholars studying in England and other European countries of carrying out spy activities for North Korea because they had visited East Berlin, which was under communist rule at the time. Kim Kyu-nam was indicted, along with Park Noh-soo, who was working at Cambridge University, for activities that benefited the enemy, such as visiting North Korea, in violation of the National Security Law. They were sentenced to death in July 1970. Kim filed an appeal, which was denied, and he was executed in July 1972.
[Park Chung-hee] [Repression] [NSL]
South Korean opposition party keeps top post in polls
Xinhua, February 2, 2017
Moon Jae-in, former head of the biggest opposition Minjoo Party, kept his top post by a wide margin after former UN chief Ban Ki-moon dropped his bid for presidential race, local media reported on Thursday.
Ban, the career South Korean diplomat whose second, five-year tenure in the top UN post terminated at the end of last year, returned to his home country three weeks earlier.
He was welcomed in the conservative camp as the powerful presidential contender, but he abruptly pulled out of the presidential race on Wednesday as his support scores tumbled following the lunar New Year's holiday.
According to a survey of 1,000 voters conducted Wednesday to reflect Ban's withdrawal, the former Minjoo Party chief garnered 25.5 percent in approval scores, beating rivals by a wide margin. It was carried out by Realmeter at the request of Maeil Business newspaper.
Ban Ki-moon Abandons Presidential Bid
By Jeong Woo-sang
February 02, 2017 09:25
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday abruptly announced that he is giving up his presidential bid.
"I will give up my pure aspiration to achieve a change in politics under my leadership and unify the country," Ban said at a hastily arranged press conference.
Ban led opinion polls along with former Minjoo Party leader Moon Jae-in with a 20-percent approval rating shortly after his return to Korea on Jan. 12, but by Wednesday that had slid to just 13.1 percent.
[SK_election17] [Ban Ki-moon]
Navy Puts Anti-Submarine Choppers into Service
By Lee Yong-soo
February 02, 2017 12:24
The Navy on Wednesday put four AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopters into service.
The batch was part of eight of the European-made maritime helicopters the Navy purchased, a spokesman said. They were delivered in June last year. Another batch delivered in December will be put into service in July.
Wildcat choppers carried on frigates will carry out combat missions against submarines and other ships as well as maritime patrol missions.
[Military balance] [Arms sales]
Government blacklist stretched beyond culture, across South Korean society
Posted on : Feb.1,2017 16:08 KST
Former Blue House Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon is brought in for questioning on charges of writing and managing a government blacklist, Jan. 22. (pool photo)
Database was created with more than 8,000 blacklisted figures and more than 3,000 organizations
The investigative team led by Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo has learned that the blacklist that the government of President Park Geun-hye used to suppress those on the left was composed and implemented not only in the areas of art and culture as initially believed but in fact across all areas of South Korean society. The Blue House set up a body called the Private Sector Organization Funding Task Force, with the participation of all the Blue House senior secretary offices, which began to filter out left-leaning figures by carrying out an exhaustive survey of 463 government committees. To accomplish this, the task force created the first draft of a database in May 2014 containing more than 8,000 left-leaning figures and more than 3,000 problematic organizations. The Special Prosecutor’s team has concluded that this entire process was ordered by Park and by her former Chief of Staff, Kim Ki-choon.
[Park Geun-hye] [Repression]
Supreme Court confirms Park Chung-hee’s blood oath not a forgery
Posted on : Feb.1,2017 16:25 KST
Former President Park Chung-hee while in the Japanese military. President Park Geun-hye. “Biographical Dictionary of Japanese Collaborators” (published by the Center for Historical Truth and Justice in 2009)
Judge orders three defendants to pay damages to the Center for Historical Truth and Justice
The South Korean Supreme Court has confirmed a damages ruling against Kang Yong-seok, the lawyer who argued that former president Park Chung-hee’s blood oath of allegiance to Japan was a forgery. The blood oath appears in the “Biographical Dictionary of Japanese Collaborators,” published by the Center for Historical Truth and Justice.
[Park Chung-hee] [Japanese collaborator]
Research reveals Koreans' genetic roots
Posted : 2017-02-02 04:00Updated : 2017-02-02 09:51
By Yoon Sung-won
Seen above is a skull of an ancient female human collected from a cave named "Devil's Gate" in eastern Russia, north of Tumen River.
Genome analysis of human DNA from the Neolithic era has revealed for the first time that modern Korean people have genetic roots with an ancient people from the Russian far east and southern Asia, according to Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Wednesday.
The Genomics Institute of UNIST's biomedical engineering department, international archeologists, biologists and genome researchers from Britain, Russia and Germany have sequenced and analyzed the genome of female Eastern Asians who are estimated to have lived some 7,700 years ago.
Their DNA samples were collected from a cave named "Devil's Gate" in eastern Russia, north of the Tumen River. The research is the world's first analysis on an ancient genome collected from East Asia, UNIST said.
The research team compared the Devil's Gate cavemen's genome to those of multiple Asian modern day ethnic groups. Consequently, they discovered that a genome combination of the ancient Devil's Gate cavemen and indigenous people of Vietnam and Taiwan best matched Koreans.
Pres. Park vows retaliation if her impeachment is overturned
Posted on : Jan.31,2017 17:25 KST
Modified on : Jan.31,2017 17:25 KST
Opposition voices criticism of comment, saying Park has “declared war on the public”
President Park Geun-hye has declared that if her impeachment is overturned in the Constitutional Court, the prosecution and the media will be dealt with by the strength of the people, it was reported on Monday. There is growing controversy over how the comment could be analyzed as an intention to retaliate against the prosecution investigating the Choi Sun-sil-scandal and the media who have raised suspicions about the situation.
On Jan. 26, on his self-run broadcast, “Jeong Gyu-Jae TV”, Korea Economic Daily editor-in-chief Jeong Gyu-jae released a video column titled “The President Park Geun-hye Interview Backstory”. Jeong said that when he asked if Park was planning to handle any excess or missteps committed by the prosecution or the media if her impeachment was overturned, Park replied, “The newspapers say this and that. This time everything has come out, so it will turn out that way based on the people’s strength.” Jeong interviewed Park at the Blue House on Jan. 25.
[Park Geun-hye] [Impeachment]
Nearly $6 million flowed from chaebol to far right groups over three years
Posted on : Jan.31,2017 17:24 KST
Members of the Korea Parents Federation and other right-wing groups hold a protest outside Yeongdeungpo Police Station in Seoul on Sep. 19, 2014, after a driver was allegedly assaulted by a member of a Sewol sinking victim’s family. (Yonhap News)
Alongside blacklist, government also put together whitelist of groups that received financial support
The investigative team of Special Prosecutors has learned that the Blue House received money from South Korea’s four largest chaebols (Samsung, the Hyundai Motor Company, SK and LG) to fund pro-government demonstrations by conservative and far-right organizations such as the Korean Parent Federation (KPF) and the Moms Brigade. An executive from Samsung’s Future Strategy Office personally attended all the fundraising meetings, which were organized by the Office of the Blue House Senior Secretary for Political Affairs, to discuss the amount of funding and the organizations to support. Former Blue House Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon (currently under arrest) was also closely involved, urging the leading chaebol to provide financial support to these organizations. Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo is weighing the option of charging Kim and others with abusing their power by implementing not only a blacklist for suppressing those on the left but also a whitelist for supporting those on the right.
[Chaebol] [Front] [NGO]
[BREAKING] Ban Ki-moon drops presidential bid
Posted : 2017-02-01 15:33Updated : 2017-02-01 15:47
Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday he will not run for South Korean presidency.
Ban returned to South Korea last month and was widely expected to run in the presidential election that is expected in a few months to come, but his putative candidacy ran into a series of stumbles.
"I will withdraw from politics," he told reporters at a press conference. "I'm sorry for disappointing many people."
South Korean Provocative acts: Imaginary and Real Ones
The author spent early January 2017 commenting on the sensational news that “the American and South Korean special forces have agreed to eliminate the leader of North Korea.” In particular, on January 4, the Defence Minister Han Min-goo introduced a document entitled “Strong National Defence together with the People: Action Plan for 2017.” Among other issues, it contains the idea to create a special operations regiment tasked with the neutralization of the top military leadership of North Korea, including Kim Jong-un. Later on, the Ministry explained that they had planned to create it in 2019 but it was decided to accelerate the process. In the event of war, the special forces will have to get to Pyongyang “to immobilize the entire structure of power that directs military actions” and kill the top generals of the North. American military officers will participate in the creation of the regiment.
Talks about “murdering Kim Jong-un” are not a new occurrence. On October 13, 2016, during a meeting with military reporters the US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russell said that if Kim Jong-un gave the order to deliver a nuclear attack, he would die immediately. Of course, they tried to correct his words immediately: he intended to talk about the possibility of pre-emptive strikes on key military installations and bases of the North Korean leadership, at worst, the destruction of the political system under the control of Kim Jong-un.
Korean troops' killings in Vietnam still unresolved
Nguyet Thi Thanh, one of the survivors of a Vietnam War massacre committed by South Korean soldiers, speaks at a weekly demonstration by former comfort women in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, during her first visit to Korea last April. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
'Peace is possible when putting myself in the shoes of an assailant'
By Choi Ha-young
Koreans usually see themselves from the point of view of the victims, for example, of wartime sex slavery under Japanese imperialism. So, more than 40 years after the Vietnam War ended, it is difficult to find any feelings of guilt here over Korea's role in that war, even if the nation sent over 300,000 soldiers to Vietnam. There, 16,000 of them died and some still suffer long-term effects from exposure to defoliants.
According to a Vietnamese military report published in the 1980s, South Korean soldiers killed about 5,000 Vietnamese civilians. Some researchers speculate the number could be as high as 9,000.
[Vietnam] [War crimes] [Park Chung-hee]
S. Korea's ambassador to Myanmar questioned over corruption scandal
South Korea's Ambassador to Myanmar Yoo Jae-kyung was questioned by investigators Tuesday over allegations a close friend of President Park Geun-hye, who is at the center of an influence-peddling scandal rocking the country, was involved in his appointment as the top envoy.
Yoo appeared before the office of the independent counsel team looking into the scandal that led to President Park Geun-hye's impeachment, in southern Seoul after he returned to South Korea earlier in the day.
The probe team suspects that Park's jailed friend Choi Soon-sil was behind the appointment of the 58-year-old as the ambassador in May 2016. Yoo, a former senior executive at Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co., had no experience in diplomacy until the appointment.
There have been allegations that Choi recommended Yoo to the president to gain economic profits through businesses in Myanmar. Choi and Yoo are known to have had a face-to-face meeting in March 2016
[Choi Sun-sil] [Corruption]
S. Korea unlikely to OK civic group's move to contact N. Koreans
South Korea is unlikely to approve a move by a local civic group to contact North Koreans in China next month, citing inter-Korean tensions, a government official said Tuesday.
The South Korean Committee for the Joint Implementation of the June 15 Summit Declaration seeking to hold joint events requested the unification ministry last week approve its plan to meet with its North Korean counterparts in Shenyang on Feb. 7-8 to discuss ways to promote exchanges between the two Koreas.
The ministry said that it is not likely to give the green light at a time when North Korea has raised tensions with nuclear and missile provocations.
"It is not proper to seek such civilian contacts between the two Koreas, given the grave security situation," a ministry official said.
[Inter-Korean] [Peace effort]
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