Daily Update – August 29

South Korea

Politics  – THAAD deployment is continuing to rear its head in South Korea.  Today the ruling Saenuri party officially adopted the deployment of THAAD as its official position.  This move will help Park gather support for the deployment since now it is the accepted party position.  However, the Minjoo party, currently the majority in South Korea’s National Assembly, remains indecisive on the issue.  Choo Min-ae, recently elected Minjoo Party of Korea chief, may draw the line on Saenuri on this issue, a strategy which may see the party oppose the deployment of THAAD in Korea.

The Ministry of National Defense in South Korea selected 3 new, possible deployment sites for the future deployment of THAAD.  The original deployment site was slated to be at Seongsan artillery battery.  Citizens of Seongsan, however, came out in protest of the location, citing that the battery’s radar may have negative effects on the environment. Two of the new locations, Mount Yoemsoek and Mount Kkachi, had failed South Korea’s initial feasibility test.  Lotte Skyhill Golf Club, therefore, is the more promising of the three new locations.  Despite this new development, it will be a joint decision of the United States and Korean officials as to the location of THAAD on the Korean peninsula.

In presidential politics, Ahn Cheol-soo hinted at a possible presidential bid on Sunday.  If he chooses to run, Ahn would be making his second attempt at the office.  In a press conference on Sunday, Ahn promised to enact “reasonable reform” if elected.  He also said that next year’s election would be a collision of the old and new.  Currently, Ahn is ranked 3rd, according to a Realmeter poll, among presidential hopefuls.  Number one in the poll is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at 24.1%, followed by Moon Jae-in at 17.7%.  Ahn received a mere 9.7%.

Economy – KTB Securities made its first overseas investment, buying an Airbus A330-300 aircraft run by Singapore airlines.  Investors are slated to receive principle and interest for six years until the leasing period expires.  This purchase was made as KTB works to become an investment banking specialist.

South Korea’s foreign short-term debt rose $2.7 billion dollars since June, totaling in at $106.8 billion dollars.  This equates for 27.3% of South Korea’s total debt, a rise of .5 percentage points.  Meanwhile, South Korea’s net foreign investment and assets reached a record $234.1 billion, up $21.3 billion.  Currently, South Korea has a total of $1.193 trillion dollars invested overseas, a rise of $26 billion dollars in the last 3 months.

Culture – A new South Korean Television show highlights a major shift in South Korean culture.  More young people are eating, shopping, and even drinking alone, in a society which is normally characterized by many social activities done in groups – some restaurants refuse to serve those who eat alone because they do not make portions small enough for only one person.  “Drinking Alone” follows a cast of characters as they choose, for a variety of reasons, to drink and do other activities alone.

North Korea

Many North Korean trade officials based in China are being recalled.  Those recalled are not struggling with procuring foreign currency; however, they are the ones which are more successful at the task.  They are being recalled due to rumors spread about their personal lives by other traders.  Foreign currency has long been a lifeline of the regime, and it is likely they will work to replace or reinstate many of those who were recalled so they can work to earn more currency for the cash-strapped regime.

A recent United States State Department report released to congress details the abuses of North Korean workers based overseas.  The report includes lists of countries which forcibly repatriate North Koreans, as well as ones who have North Korean workers stationed in the country, including those with formal ties to the regime.  This comes as the United States has been stepping up pressure on North Korea for its human rights abuses, adding to the July sanctions levied on North Korean leader Kim Jung-un for human rights violations.  Another report is said to released to congress, this report will focus on the prison camps in North Korea.


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