Breaking News: Court Upholds Attackers Sentance

Today, South Korea’s top court upheld the sentence of Kim Ki-Jong for assaulting U.S. Ambassabor Mark Lippert in 2015.  Kim was at the same breakfast event as Lippert, at which Kim assaulted Lippert with a knife.  The attack resulted in Lippert needing over 80 stitches.

The attack coiencided with joint military drills occurring in South Korea, thus during a very tense time on the peninsula in 2015.

Many argued that Kim should be sentenced under the National Security Law.  The law bars South Korean nationals from engaging in act benifiting North Korea or communicating with North Koreans.  However, a lower court decided that Kim, despite making arguments which are very similar to those of North Korea, is not an anti-state actor.  The top court upheld this decision.

Kim’s sentence involves the time for the assualt and an 18 month sentance handed down for assaulting a prison guard and a doctor.

Reported by Yonhap News

Daily Update – September 23

South Korea

Politics – South Korean special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs at South Korea’s Foreign Ministry Kim Hong-kyun met with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei.  At the meeting, the two acknowledged the need for a swift, punitive new round of UNSC sanctions following North Korea’s fifth nuclear test.  Kim also discussed Chinese trade with North Korea, in particular Chinese importation of North Korean coal, to which Wu said China is working to maintain the tough measures on North Korea and will continue to do so.  The two also favored the possibility of a three-party talk involving the United States, South Korea and China to discuss the issue of North Korea’s continued provocations.  Kim will meet with his Russian counterpart Igor Morgulov in Moscow next Thursday to continue discussing North Korea’s provocative behavior.

This trend continued as South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se called for stronger sanctions in his keynote speech at the United Nations General Assembly currently underway in New York.  Yun took things a step further, however, and said that North Korea was ridiculing the authority of the United Nations, calling into question North Korea’s ability to be a member of the international institution.

Economy – Bankers in Korea staged an industry-wide strike in opposition to the introduction of a performance-based salary system.  The Korean Finical Industry Union gathered at Olympic stadium today to push their opposition to the system.  At first, the KFIC reported that over 100,000 bank employees would participate in the strike, crippling the sector for the day.  However, only around 65,000 in total showed up as of 1pm (Korean time) and there has been no significant slowing of business in the banking sector as a result of the strike.

Culture – The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra appointed two guest conductors to fill in for Chung Myung-whun, who stepped down as the conductor last year.  The two new conductors are Thierry Fischer, a world-renowned conductor from Switzerland, as Principal Guest Conductor and Markus Stenz, a German conductor who has served as the principal conductor of the Gurzenich, Cologne for 11 years, as Conductor-in-Residence.  The two will be on a three-year contract with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

North Korea

30 North Koreans who were caught in China trying to escape are currently being held by State Security Agents in a prison in Shinuiju.  During their imprisonment, they have been subjugated to beatings and forced labor while in horrid conditions; cells have leaky ceilings and meals consist of cornmeal mixed with grass and sand.  Many of the prisoners do not have enough energy to even sit up in their cells.  This situation highlights the human rights violations by North Korea and the international media must not let this be overshadowed by the nuclear weapons pursuit.

Daily Update – September 21

South Korea

Politics – South Koreans are growing more concerned over the structural integrity of the nuclear power plants after several aftershocks rocked the Gyeongju area throughout the week.  Citizens are starting to ask why the plants were built in the region, while the government argues the plants are rated to withstand up to a 7.0 magnitude earthquake and that the aftershocks will have no effect on the structural integrity of the reactors.  Currently, scientists from several major universities are on site monitoring the effect of the major quake and aftershocks on the nuclear reactors and the rest of the region.

A B-1B Lancer bomber landed at Osan base in South Korea as a response to North Korea’s provocations.  A second bomber also flew over South Korea, though it returned to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.  Lieutenant General Thomas W. Bergeson was quoted as saying that the B-1B is just a tool in the arsenal which could be used to defend the Korean peninsula.  He also highlighted the strength of the U.S.-Korea alliance in the wake of North Korea’s continued provocations.  There is speculation that North Korea may continue its provocative behavior this year, with a couple of the tunnels at Pyungye-ri showing signs of North Korea hiding its behavior.

Economy – South Korean firms’ saw sales decreases during the second quarter, but profitability rose from a year earlier.  Firms with over 12 billion won ($10 million) in assets fell 1.9 percent in the April to June period.  Conglomerates saw sales fall 2.3% this quarter, which, though noteworthy, is a slower rate of decline from last year – 5.3% second quarter.  Despite this drop, the average profit margin of companies rose to 6.3%, up from 5.8% last year.  Companies’ financial health also grew by 0.6%.

Culture – South Korean pop giant YG Entertainment is seeking a lawsuit against the alleged hacker of Big Bang leader/rapper G-Dragon’s personal Instagram account.  G-Dragon had opened the account on a private setting, letting his friends see pictures of his personal life.  The account was hacked and made public and a third party also edited photos and tried to pass them off as real photos, adding to the damage and scandals which started to spread from the incident.

North Korea

North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho had a handshake with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday at the UN General Assembly Meeting.  Picture from Yonhap News:aen20160922000300315_01_i

Radio Free Asia reports that North Korea is developing a plan to punish the farmers if another typhoon causes damage in North Korea.  Sources contributing to the article said that North Korean farmers are asking for advice on how to prevent damage from a future typhoon.  This report comes after Typhoon Lionrock dropped several feet of rain on North Korea, killing between 130-200 people and displacing around 100,000.  Many farmers are critical of the threat, citing that North Korean central government is more focused on detonating a nuclear device than assisting its farmers.  Threat or not, another typhoon would cause irreparable damage in North Korea’s farming sector.

Daily Update – September 19

South Korea

Politics – A few days after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the southern South Korean city of Gyeongju, a 4.8 magnitude aftershock rattled through the city.  In light of the recent events, the South Korean government released new guidelines for buildings.  Future developments in Korea which are greater than 1 story must be earthquake resistant, while new buildings which are over 16 stories must be approved.  This is not the first push for earthquake resistant structures in South Korea; according to a statement by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, earthquake resistant buildings were introduced in Korea around 1988.  Currently, buildings three stories and higher are subjected to this measures.  These changes will take effect in January of next year.

South Korean president Park Geun-hae will host a gathering of officials for a workshop to discuss the security and economic issues facing South Korea.  The workshop will be attended by several high-ranking government officials, including Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, and will take place on Saturday.  North Korea’s September 9 nuclear test will take center at the workshop.  This is the first workshop of its kind since 2013.

Economy – Shin Dong-bin, the chief of Lotte, was summoned by state prosecutors to testify on a string of charges being levied against him.  The charges include embezzlement and breach of trust.  Shin apologized for the causing concerns, saying he will cooperate fully with the police investigation into Lotte Group.  Lotte has been embattled over a series of scandals – Shin and his brother were locked in a struggle for managerial powers, earlier this month Shin’s brother Dong-joo was questioned for embezzlement, and Lee In-won was found dead in an apparent suicide while waiting for a summons by prosecutors.  Shin was called as the probe was coming to an end.

Korean air is looking into a new funding strategy for the Hanjin Group.  Korean Air is the parent company of the Hanjin shipping group.  After the Korean air executive board, in an emergency meeting, failed to pass a 60 billion won into the company.  Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho vowed earlier this month to inject 100 billion won into the company, of which 40 million would be from his own estate.  The board did come to agreement on securing 60 million won in loans, but later reversed the decision after reaching the conclusion that the structure of the loan could be subject to breach of trust.  Last week, Cho injected 40 billion won into the company and Hanjin Shipping Chairwoman resented 10 billion won.  Hanjin officially declared bankruptcy on August 31, and a judge has ordered the group to return all its chartered ships to owners.

Culture – Chinese tourists amount to a huge economic and cultural exchange for South Korea.  However, in recent days, Chinese tourists have come under the spotlight for committing violent crimes in South Korea.  The most recent case was Sunday evening when a 61-year-old Korean woman died in a hospital on Jeju Island.  The woman was stabbed 8 times while praying in a chapel the day before, after which she made an emergency call while still conscience.  She died after being rushed to a hospital.  According to the Korea Times, police believe misogyny is the motive for the crime.

South Korea is calling on foreigners and Koreans to report errors on signs written in foreign languages.  Signs in public areas, such as subway stations, historic areas, tourist information centers, are the targets.  Experts will assess the claims received by the office, and will determine which signs are to be fixed.  Following this campaign, Seoul will launch a team of 80 foreigners from Japan, China and English-speaking countries to improve tourism services for foreigners.  These ideas are to assist in developing a more internationally competitive tourism market in Seoul City.  For those interested and in Korea, this Korea Times article has information on how and who to contact to report any errors.

North Korea

North Korea claimed it successfully tested a new rocket engine through official state media on Tuesday.  This comes after various trips to scientific sites by Kim Jung-un, adding to the possibility of a long-range missile test on the anniversary of the Foundation of the Worker’s Party on October 10.  This is the first military trip Kim has made since the September 9 nuclear test.  38North released an article with satilite images showing the preparations for the test dating September 17th.  This year has been highly provocative, with two nuclear tests and the possibility of more tests should raise caution and discussion throughout the world.

Leadership Watch

Today, Kim Jung-un was present at the Sohae testing site when North Korea conducted its ground test of a new missile engine.  After the test, Kim expressed his satisfaction at the result of the test, while also praising the scientists responsible for the test.  Kim also called for more efforts to develop space in the next five years, thus fulfilling the 5-year program for national aerospace development.  Kim’s comments shed a little light on the reasoning for the test, as it may lead to another satellite launch.  However, many are still skeptical and believe the test foreshadows a forthcoming missile test.

Yesterday, September 18, Kim Jung-un visited the Kosan Combined Fruit Farm.  While at the farm, Kim toured the room for revolutionary history teaching, lauded the history of the farm, and watched vehicles and forklifts in action on the farm.  This was Kim’s second visit to a farm last week; he also visited Farm 1116 on September 13.

(Note: Leadership watch source material is from North Korean official media and should be treated as such.  Today’s leadership watch articles were published on KNCA’s english website.)

 

Leadership Watch Feature Canceled

It is with a heavy heart I announce the cancellation of the Leadership Watch weekly post, before it even starts.  This blog is a lot to maintain, and I want to ensure each post is worth the read, so I am going to cancel the separate feature.  Now, that being said, leadership watch will still be on this blog.  In order to see this feature, please look in future Daily Updates and in the Leadership Watch category.  This move will ensure the material is presented appropriately and will also ensure I am able to take a break from posting every now and then.  Thanks for your understanding and I look forward to integrating this feature into my Daily Updates.

Leadership Watch Feature Update

I promise this feature is coming, I am just trying to ensure it is worth posting and will be full of diverse information.  This weekend I will post the first Leadership Watch, which may be very minimal, but I will work to expand the feature with each post.  Thanks for your patience as I work out all the kinks of running this site as I go.  Thanks for your patience.