Daily Update – July 20

South Korea

Politics – The Constitutional Court ruled, for the fourth time, today in favor of a smoking ban in all restaurants.  A restaurant owner, who name is not mentioned in the article, complained to the court that the ban violated his rights as a property owner, and added the government had failed to pay him in return for his loss because of the ban.  The court ruled against the complainant, saying the ban does not violate the constitution and the government does not have to pay for the losses since the owner made changes he did not have to make.  This is the fourth time a case against a smoking ban has been argued at the Constitutional Court, all have ended in a ruling in favor of the ban.

THAAD continues to rise several questions throughout the political landscape of Korea.  The current debate deals with the issue of the deployment of THAAD being incorporated into the United States Missile Defense System, a move which would place relations with China and Russia.  An article in the Hankoyreh details the debate between the Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo and other political parties. Minister Han has said that the deployment of THAAD in Korea would be simply as a deterrent against North Korean provocations and not place South Korea in the US Missile Defense.  Opposition parties, however, disagree with this argument.  If South Korea is placed in the United States Missile Defense structure in Asia, this move may have detrimental effects on the Russia and China relationships with South Korea.

Economy – The Bank of Korea reported a fall of fake bank notes detected in South Korea.  In the first half of the year, the number of fake bank notes detected in South Korea fell by 76% from a year earlier.

Over the past few days, several large companies have had employees strike to push for improvements in working conditions.  Hyundai, a major manufacturer in South Korea, has had worker strikes for 3 days at its Ulsan factory.  Currently, Sanaeuri, the traditionally conservative party in South Korean politics, is calling for the strikes to end, citing the wage of the average Hyundai workers.

Culture – A South Korean man was detained while attempting to enter North Korea.  The individual, whose identity was withheld, went to China and sought assistance from Urriminzokkiri, a pro-North Korean group.  He also sought assistance from the North Korean embassy in China.  He has been detained in violation of the national security law, which bans South Koreans from engaging in conversations with North Korean in any manner.

North Korea

Due to a slow time of news in North Korea, I am going to just give two stories.

A woman in her 40s committed suicide in North Ryanggang Province.  Her actions were as a result of the State Security Department and the Ministry of State Security agents pressuring her to work in the 200-day campaign, in spite of physical ailment.  This highlights the physical resolve that occurs throughout the campaigns in North Korea, as well as how much pressure is placed on its citizens throughout the campaigns.

North Korea is continuing its fight against foreign mobile phone users in its country.  Currently, the government is soliciting informants to arrest those who are using imported phones, and also calling for citizens to ensure each other is abiding by North Korean law and not using an imported phone.  The phone crackdown is just another in Kim Jung-uns quest to consolidate power by stricktly enforcing the laws of the country.



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